The Las Vegas Golden Knights had a very successful inaugural season, first winning 51 regular season games, then powering its way to the Stanley Cup Finals. No, the Knights didn’t win in the Finals — that would have been a little too perfect — but the team was still inspiring and made many new fans along the way. So, it is only natural that Upper Deck would capitalize on the team’s popularity and success and release a Vegas Knights boxed set. Anyone who found themselves cheering for the gray and gold should definitely give this set a look.
On the surface, the 2018 calendar year may have seemed a bit slow when it came to hockey cards and collectibles. Only one company makes licensed NHL hockey cards, so there is no real head-to-head competition. Still, that didn’t stop one card company from foiling the plans of another. Plus, there was plenty of competition in a record-breaking auction. A few other significant happenings took place in the world of hockey collecting. Here is my list of the top hockey collectible stories for 2018.
Happy New Year! Before we get into new content for 2019, I wanted to do a recap of Puck Junk’s most-read articles of 2018, and a brief update on what’s been going on with this website.
First, I am happy to report that readership at Puck Junk was at an all-time high in 2018. Traffic for this site grew about 37% between 2017 and 2018. And let me assure you, it is much more gratifying to write when more people read what I put up here.
The increase in readership was in big part because several new writers have joined the Puck Junk team, giving their unique perspectives on hockey and hockey collectibles. Their fine work has made it possible to update Puck Junk more frequently since the start of the 2018-19 season; perhaps you have noticed that this site has been updated almost every day since October?
Also, a lot of you wanted to know what happened to the Puck Junk Podcast and if it is going to return. It has been over a year since co-host Tim Parish and I recorded our last podcast. There are several reasons why the show has gone on hiatus, but basically it boils down to lack of time, technical problems and a decision for me to focus more on writing. Look, I love producing audio and video content, but those take substantially more time, and get substantially less traffic than a well-written article. But to answer the question, I think the Puck Junk Podcast will make its return sometimes this month, once I complete a large side project.
Anyway, below are the top articles that were published on Puck Junk during the 2018 calendar year. If you missed any of these, be sure to give it a read.
I will be the first to admit that I’m a little slow when it comes to buying and opening Panini Hockey Sticker packs.
This is because I’m too cheap to spend $1 per pack (plus tax) for however many packs it takes to build a set; it’s usually over 100. I also don’t want to spend around $40 plus shipping on a box. So, I usually wait until the season ends. Then the price drops significantly, I purchase a box or two, and trade for or buy whatever stickers that I still need.
Panini Hockey Stickers usually have terrible collation. Earlier this year, I purchased a 2016-17 box, and 57 out of 350 stickers (roughly 16%) were doubles. Despite shoddy collation, I still like Panini Hockey Stickers enough to try and build a set every year.
However, this box might be a turning point for me with Panini Hockey Stickers because the collation was actually darn near perfect.
With the NHL hockey season back in full swing, we take a look at five hockey books from the 2017-18 season that are well worth the read. And if you aren’t a hockey fan, don’t worry; these books will still appeal to anyone who loves reading about sports.
“Gratoony the Loony”
by Gilles Gratton and Greg Oliver
Gilles Gratton had a short, tumultuous career in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association during the 1970s – but not because he lacked talent. The oddball goalie, best known for his lion mask, was sometimes said to be better than Ken Dryden when it came to his ability to stop pucks. The problem was, Gratton hated playing hockey.
“Gratoony the Loony: The Wild, Unpredictable Life of Gilles Gratton,” explores the life and times of one of hockey’s most colorful characters. Despite having the talent to garner a six-figure contract – great money for a pro hockey player in the 1970s – and representing Canada in international tournaments, Gratton sought interesting and absurd excuses to get out of playing hockey. Some nights, he couldn’t play because of a bad horoscope. Other nights, Gratton’s war wounds – incurred during his “past life” as a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition – made it too painful for him to play. The list goes on.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Longtime collectors will remember when Upper Deck used to make hockey cards written in French for fans in Quebec in the early 1990s. Taking that idea to a whole new level, in 2017 Upper Deck issued hockey cards written in Chinese, and gave them to attendees of the NHL’s “China Games” — a two-game preseason series between the L.A. Kings and the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings won the first match 5-2 on September 21 in Shanghai, and again in the shootout 4-3 on September 23 in Beijing.
The series marked the first time that NHL games were played in China, and for many in attendance, it was probably the first time they saw a live hockey game. Likewise, it was probably the first time many of the Chinese in attendance saw a hockey card too. Upper Deck gave away an eight-card panel of hockey trading cards.
China may not be big on hockey, or hockey cards for the matter, but fans in attendance got some pretty sweet cards.
S’up, y’all? Let’s look at another box of cards I wasn’t willing to pay full price for. This is another “four cards per pack, eight packs per box” hobby box which seems to be the going rate for products sitting around the just-above-C-note suggested retail price.
Upper Deck Trilogy Hockey has been around for a quite a while now, at least since 2003-04, and has typically put out some quality cards, with exciting hits above the Upper Deck Series One and Series Two bench mark. Have they kept the ball rolling this year, or have these cards taken a step back?
Hello again. The nice thing about holidays is that merchandise such as hockey cards go on sale. I bought a few boxes, so let’s take a look at UD Ice: It’s not just a controversial government agency anymore! Continue reading “Box Break: 2017-18 Upper Deck Ice”
There are two products I look forward to when the new season starts. One is Upper Deck’s flagship Series One and Series Two, and the other being SP Authentic. These two releases seem to be very solid year after year. So I stopped by my local shop and picked up a box for $100. I rushed home to break open this box with my wife. Here are the results.
Player not working? Listen to it on SoundCloud.
This past Friday, I was a guest on “Hockey Today” with Mick Kern on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. We talked about who collects hockey cards these days and why, my custom cards of Scott Foster, collecting Tim Horton’s cards and my favorite hockey card sets of the 2017-18 season.
Running time is just over 13 minutes, so press play and enjoy. ■
Special thanks to Mick Kern and SiriusXM NHL Radio Network for the audio clip.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.