Why the Chicago Blackhawks 2019 Winter Classic Jersey is a Winner

[Photo Credit: Adidas]
What’s black and white and red all over?

Not the new Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic jerseys! Those are black and white — but red is nowhere to be found. Yesterday, the team unveiled the jerseys that they will wear at the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins on January 1, 2019, and I absolutely love this design.  Continue reading “Why the Chicago Blackhawks 2019 Winter Classic Jersey is a Winner”

The Quenneville Era is Over in Chicago

Coach Q Fired After 10 Seasons.
Will His Replacement Last 10 Months?

The biggest news in the hockey world on Tuesday — and probably for this entire week — was the firing of Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Because when a team fires the second-winningest coach in NHL history, it’s kind of a big deal. 

Quenneville’s departure comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak and a 6-6-3 record to start the 2018-19 season. Jeremy Colliton, the head coach of the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, was named Quenneville’s successor. Assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen were also let go, while Barry Smith was moved from the ‘Hawks front office to an assistant coaching role. 

Like a lot of Blackhawks fans, I am disappointed that Coach Q was fired. Quenneville was to the Blackhawks what Mike Ditka was to the Bears or Phil Jackson was to the Bulls.  Continue reading “The Quenneville Era is Over in Chicago”

Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94

NOTE: This interview with Jeremy Roenick was originally published in the October 2013 issue of Beckett Hockey Magazine. Because very few of you probably saw it, and it was five years ago, I am reprinting it here, just in time for the 25th Anniversary of NHL ’94. 

Jeremy Roenick electrified crowds during his 20 seasons in the NHL with his hard-nosed, high-scoring style of play. He reached the 50-goal plateau three times and was the third American-born player to score over 500 career goals. When he retired in 2009, Roenick scored  513 goals and 703 assists in 1363 games. A year later, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and is currently a studio analyst for NHL games broadcast on NBC.

Yet, to a generation of hockey fans, Roenick is perhaps better known as being one of the best-ever video game characters to grace a TV screen. NHL ’94, released in fall of 1993 and currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, is considered the best video game from the classic gaming era. In the game, which used the names and attributes of real NHL players, Roenick was nearly unstoppable. His great speed and agility, along with one of the hardest and most accurate shots, make J.R. the biggest offensive threat in NHL ’94.

In the Genesis version of the game, a programming mistake — known as the “weight bug” — made lightweight players actually more difficult to knock down while also making them hit harder. This resulted in Roenick being a total wrecking ball in NHL ’94, with a better mix of offensive skills than Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.

Movie-goers would also learn about Roenick in the 1996 film Swingers, starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. In a memorable scene, the  characters are playing NHL ’94 (although the cutaway shots of the game are actually from Electronic Arts’ previous hockey game, NHLPA Hockey ’93). When accused of playing unfairly, Vaughn’s character Trent replies “Y’know, it’s not so much me as Roenick; he’s good.” This cemented Roenick’s status as a pop culture icon and a video game legend.

Recently, Roenick talked with Beckett Hockey about his video game notoriety, games he played growing up, and what it’s like to be a cover athlete.

Sal Barry: The video game NHL ’94 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I’m sure you remember that game.

Jeremy Roenick: I do. Very, very well. The NHL ’94 game is the one topic that is mentioned to me most often to me in my lifetime. Continue reading “Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94”

Deja Vu Tuesday: Doug Wilson

Chicago Blackhawks fans remember Doug Wilson as a workhorse –a gritty, reliable defenseman that always gave a sense of comfort and dependability when he was on the ice. Not-so-die-hard Hawks fans may remember him as one of the last players in the league to play without a helmet. After spending most of his playing career with the Blackhawks, Wilson was traded in 1991 to the brand-new San Jose Sharks. He played with the Sharks for two seasons before moving into a management position, now sitting as the team’s General Manager.

Upper Deck has made most of the hockey cards released over the past 15 years, and even though the card may not say “Upper Deck,” cards like SP Authentic, Parkhurst Champions and Fleer Retro are all made by Upper Deck. So, it is no surprise when the same photo of a player appears on different cards in different sets. There is one, less-than-flattering photo of Wilson that Upper Deck has used on various autographed and memorabilia cards over and over again. 

Continue reading “Deja Vu Tuesday: Doug Wilson”

Interview: Jim Pappin, 2-Time Stanley Cup Winner and 5-Time NHL All-Star

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the honor of being the last team during the “Original Six Era” to win the Stanley Cup — and they have Jim Pappin to thank for the large part he played. The Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens four games to two in the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Pappin led all Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs, with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 12 games. 

Championships seemed to follow Pappin wherever he went during the early part of his career. In 1964, he won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs. In 1965 and 1966, he won back-to-back Calder Cup Championships with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. After his second Stanley Cup Championship in 1967, Pappin won another Calder Cup in 1968; that’s five championships in five seasons. 

Pappin was later traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, where he was consistently one of the team’s top scorers during the early-to-mid 1970s, and played in five NHL All-Star Games. 

Recently, Pappin was signing autographs at AU Sports, a sports card and memorabilia store near Chicago, and graciously answered a few questions about his career. 

Sal Barry: You led the Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs in 1967 — including four goals and six assists in six games during the Finals. What went right for you in the playoffs? 

Jim Pappin: If you work hard in the playoffs, you don’t have to work in the summertime (laughs). They always say, if you play hard and win the Championship, you get bottled beer instead of draft beer. It’s a good incentive. 

Continue reading “Interview: Jim Pappin, 2-Time Stanley Cup Winner and 5-Time NHL All-Star”

Goodbye and Thank You, Stan Mikita

Stan Mikita in 2010. [Photo by Sal Barry]
The Chicago Blackhawks lost a cherished member of their alumni on Tuesday when Stan Mikita died at age 78. Mikita played 22 seasons in the NHL, all with the ‘Hawks, and was the team’s all-time leading scorer. He helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 1961 and won numerous individual awards.

With the exception of a few alumni games, I never saw Stan Mikita play. He retired in 1980 and I started watching hockey in 1989. All my interactions with Mikita were not as a spectator, but just as a fan who admired what he accomplished. And Mikita was always good to us fans — even though the Blackhawks organization wasn’t always so good to him. 

Continue reading “Goodbye and Thank You, Stan Mikita”

Your Blackhawks Convention Checklist

What You Need to Know Before Going to the ‘Hawks Con This Year

There’s lots to see and do at the Blackhawks Convention. [Photo by Shellie Lewis]
NOTE: David Schauer is another new member of Team Puck Junk. Please give him a shout out in the comments below!

The annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention is right around the corner, and we at Puck Junk thought it might be a good idea to share some of the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years of attending. In fact, this is the 11th annual convention and I personally have gone to the last nine. I’m still kicking myself for missing the first one. All of that experience adds up to a unique insight on what to expect and tips to make your visit even better.

Continue reading “Your Blackhawks Convention Checklist”

The 10 Biggest Hockey Stories of 2017-18

By Sal Barry, Kyle Scully, Blake Isaacs & Jim Howard

Before we fully turn our attention to the season that lies ahead, here is a look back at the biggest hockey stories of the 2017-18 season.

Continue reading “The 10 Biggest Hockey Stories of 2017-18”

The First Annual Puck Junk Awards

A.K.A. 6 NHL Awards We’d Like to See

The 2018 NHL Awards take place tonight. Seeing the same great players over and over win trophies and make boring speeches is fine and all, but what hockey needs is a little variety to its awards. So here are six all-new and exciting trophies that the NHL should give out to these six unique and interesting players. But the NHL is more likely to give Quebec its next expansion franchise than to acknowledge the feats of these guys. I guess that leaves it to me. So I present to you the First Annual Puck Junk Awards!  

Continue reading “The First Annual Puck Junk Awards”

Book Review: Game Change

“Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey”  is the latest treatise by Ken Dryden, and a difficult book to categorize. 

As the title implies, the book tells the story of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador, who died at 35 — but “Game Change” isn’t a traditional biography.

It explains how concussions and traumatic head injuries affect the brain, body and mind — but “Game Change” isn’t a scientific journal entry. 

It also recounts how the NHL, over the past century, has reached its current level of violence and physicality — but “Game Change” isn’t a history book. 

“Game Change” is more than the sum of its parts, and like its name implies, it may very well change the sport of hockey. Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender and six-time Stanley Cup-winner, has written several other hockey books. “The Game,” Dryden’s seminal work, is widely-considered to be the best hockey book ever written. “Game Change” may became the most important hockey book ever written, as it thoroughly discusses hockey’s concussion problem — illustrating it with Montador’s biography — and how to fix it. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Game Change”