This week is about milestones, contract extensions and bad teams.
Happy Super Bowl Monday! This week, I take notice of the work of a few young superstars and a huge league initiative. Plus, the return of the Unloved Team of the Week.
The Chicago Wolves have been a top-notch hockey team over the past 25 years, winning two Turner Cup Championships in the old IHL and two Calder Cup Championships in the AHL. Many former NHL stars, future NHL stars and minor league legends played for the team over the past quarter-century. Earlier this month, the Wolves issued a trading card set honoring its best players. Like past team sets, the Wolves’ 25th Anniversary team set does not disappoint.
This week, I focus on a few major moves down in Raleigh, as well as the 2019 NHL All-Star Game in San Jose.
The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the first big deal of 2019 has already happened. Plus, the death of the World Cup of Hockey.
If there are two things that Bruce Dowbiggin loves, it is sports and business – or more specifically, the intersection between the two. He is a former sportscaster for the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) and writer for The Globe and Mail. Dowbiggin was a part of the investigation that put Alan Eagleson, the corrupt former head of the NHL Players’ Association, in prison.
He has also written numerous books about sports and business. His latest work, entitled “Cap in Hand,” explains how parity and the salary cap are ruining professional sports in North America. Dowbiggin recently spoke with Sports Collectors Digest about his new book, why pro sports must change, and how soccer gets it right.
Sal Barry: Why would someone want to read “Cap in Hand”?
Bruce Dowbiggin: If you’re like a lot of sports fans, who wonder why it is that every season starts with eight to 10 teams that basically say “we’re not going to try and compete,” then I think you’re going to want to read this book. This is a book about how we got to where sports are today, to the point where it is that teams don’t care about winning, that teams are tanking. It’s all in the service of parity for the major league sports in North America. I make the argument that the usefulness of parity is over. We want a new sports economy, and it’s time that the people that run the leagues understood that.
SB: So, why write a book about the salary cap?
BD: I wanted to write a book about the 10 or 12 most-significant player contracts in history. I wanted to show the evolution from Babe Ruth to current contracts today. My publisher suggested that I put it in a bigger context. So, that’s where the idea came in, about how salary caps have done more harm to pro sports in North America than they have to help.
SB: Why is the salary cap the main culprit?
BD: As you know, in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, we’ve lost seasons or half-seasons. We’ve lost considerable amounts of time where leagues have locked out its players to get salary caps. Was it worth it? No, it wasn’t. Whenever there is a labor lockout, the owners and their commissioner are always talking about that somehow this is going to keep ticket prices restrained. That doesn’t happen at all.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
In this week’s Blake’s Takes, I look at the increase in offense this season, Erik Karlsson’s recent resurgence, and say goodbye to Rick Nash.
It was a relatively-quiet week in the hockey world, but I was able to uncover a few stories worth talking about, including Mike Peluso’s lawsuit against the New Jesey Devils and a revived Dallas Stars.
Player not working? Listen to it on SoundCloud.
Last week, I was a guest on the radio talk show Sports Byline USA, hosted by Ron Barr. Those of you who played the video game NHL ’94 or some of the other early games by EA Sports will of course remember Barr, who was literally “in the game,” introducing the teams and players.
Barr and I talked about NHL ’94 and the game’s enduring popularity 25 years later, the NHL94.com website and the “Pixelated Heroes” documentary. We then talk about the sports memorabilia industry and some of the gimmicks that trading card companies use today to stimulate sales.
Run time is EXACTLY 15 minutes, so grab a beverage, click play and enjoy! ■
Special thanks to Ron Barr and Sports Byline USA for the audio clip.
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.