Goodbye and Thank You, Pierre Pilote

Like so many other hockey fans, I was surprised and saddened when I learned that former NHL defenseman Pierre Pilote passed away Saturday night at the age of 85. 

I never saw Mr. Pilote play; he retired long before I was born, so I can’t attest to what kind of player he was without paraphrasing what others have already said, especially during the past few days. However, I have met Pilote many times during the past decade, and can speak to as what kind of person he was towards Blackhawks fans. 

Pilote was at the annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention practically every year since it started in 2008. I also met him at the National Sports Collectors Convention when it was in Chicago in 2011 and 2015, and at numerous Sun-Times Sports Card Shows, where he usually signed autographs for charity as a part of The Fergie Jenkins Foundation.

As you would probably expect of someone who was the Black Hawks team captain for seven years, Pilote was nothing short of awesome when interacting with the fans. Continue reading “Goodbye and Thank You, Pierre Pilote”

10 Must-Own Blackhawks Rookie Cards

twitter1The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s oldest team. A wealth of great players have donned the iconic sweater during the team’s 90-year history. Anyone who collects cards and considers themselves a ‘Hawks fan should really track down rookie cards of these 10 all-time great players. Some cost $1, others $10 and some well over $100, but if you get them all they will form the foundation of an impressive Blackhawks collection. Continue reading “10 Must-Own Blackhawks Rookie Cards”

Deja Vu Tuesday: Patrick Kane

The exact same photograph of Patrick Kane was used on two different hockey cards during the 2011-12 season. At first, I thought this could have been an honest mistake. But then my research led to an unusual conclusion: what if one card company deliberately decided to use the same photograph to troll their competitor? 

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Panini America and My Long-Lost Redemption Card

How long is too long when waiting for a redemption card to arrive? Six months? A year? Two years? More? My most recent redemption took nearly four years of waiting, followed by four weeks of nagging, but it finally arrived. 

Recently, in my never-ending request to clear the piles of cards off of my desk, I found a redemption card that I had redeemed long ago. This was supposed to get me an autographed Akim Aliu rookie card from the 2012-13 Panini Limited Hockey set. I opened a box of these cards way back in mid-2013, registered the redemption number via Panini’s website, and then forgot about it. So did Panini. 

Continue reading “Panini America and My Long-Lost Redemption Card”

Book Review: A Guy Like Me

Scott’s “storybook ending” gets a book

All-Star. Author. MVP. Enforcer. John Scott may be the only one who can claim to be all of the above. In his new autobiography, “A Guy Like Me: Fighting to Make the Cut,” Scott takes us through his journey on how he went from a fourth-line enforcer to All-Star MVP. Anyone who wanted a tell-all about last year’s drama surrounding Scott’s controversial inclusion in the NHL All-Star Game will get that here — and more. 

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Top 10 Hockey Collectible Stories of 2016

Happy New Year! With the holidays and other obligations requiring my focus over the past few weeks, I needed to take a little break from Puck Junk and turn my attention elsewhere. But now I am back on track and ready to start writing about hockey goodness once again in 2017. 

Before we get on with the new, I thought it would be good to take a look back at the year that was 2016. Yes, a lot of cool people died — rest in peace, Princess Leia and Ziggy Stardust — and a mean Oompa Loompa was elected as U.S. President.

But 2016 wasn’t a bad year for hockey collectors. We saw the introduction of a new way to buy cards, a new type of hockey card altogether, and so much more. Here are the biggest hockey collectible stories of 2016.  Continue reading “Top 10 Hockey Collectible Stories of 2016”

The Inside Story on the Eric Semborski Hockey Card

semborski_frontEmergency backup goalies are a celebrated story-of-the-day that happen usually once per season, when a seemingly Average Joe gets to be an NHL player for a game. Who could forget the Washington Capitals web producer who got to be the Caps’ emergency backup in 2008 and again in 2013? Or when Jim Schoenfeld’s son, Nathan, backed up the Arizona Coyotes for a game last season? Most recently, Philadelphia native Eric Semborski was an emergency backup for the Chicago Blackhawks when they played the Flyers in Philly on Saturday. But Semborski got something his predecessors didn’t: he got his own hockey card.

Two, in fact.

In the Topps Skate digital trading card app, Semborski was the subject of two hockey cards, released just four days after he suited up for the ‘Hawks. 

“It all came together pretty quickly,” said Mike Salerno, App Producer of Topps Skate. Continue reading “The Inside Story on the Eric Semborski Hockey Card”

2015-16 Upper Deck Chicago Blackhawks Arena Giveaway Promo Cards

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Seven exclusive Chicago Blackhawks trading cards, made by Upper Deck, were given away at a Blackhawks game during the 2015-16 season. At a glance, these closely resemble the standard 2015-16 Upper Deck hockey cards found in packs of Upper Deck Series One and Series Two. However, upon closer examination there are several notable differences. Furthermore, some cards even use entirely different photographs, making for an odd, offbeat parallel for team or player collectors.

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Review: 1998-99 Blackhawks Legends

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Pizza Hut restaurants in Chicago offered a five-card set of Blackhawks Legends during the 1998-99 season. I don’t remember the specifics, but I think you had to buy a pizza to get one of these cards. I also think that they gave out a different card each week for a five-week period. I vaguely recall clipping an ad about this offer out of a newspaper.

I also recall that I was two blocks shy of our nearest Pizza Hut’s delivery range. I was living at my college’s dormitory, located in downtown Chicago, and didn’t have a car. I wanted these cards bad enough that I even offered to meet the Pizza Hut delivery driver at the corner of their delivery boundary, but NOOOOO, they’d only deliver to a street address, and not to the corner of Congress and Dearborn.

Fast forward to 2016, and I finally tracked down all of these Blackhawks Legends cards. They weren’t particularly expensive, and a nice collector even gave me the last card that I needed — Bobby Hull — for free. But in all of my years of collecting, I don’t see these pop up too often online or at shows. That said, here is a review 17 years in the making.

Continue reading “Review: 1998-99 Blackhawks Legends”

Making of “Youngblood” article on THN

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Earlier this month, The Hockey News published an article that I worked diligently on writing: “Blood, Guts & Glory – The Making of Youngblood: An Oral History.” For those who subscribe to the magazine, it is in the current issue. However, THN also put my “Youngblood” article on their website for everyone to read.

For those who don’t know, “Youngblood” is a hockey movie that came out in 1986. The film starred Rob Lowe as an aspiring hockey player from the U.S. who joins a junior team in Hamilton, Ontario. The film co-stars Patrick Swayze (who sadly passed away in 2009) as the Mustangs’ team captain.

While Lowe, through his agent, refused to talk with me about “Youngblood,” I still spoke with many awesome sources: director and writer Peter Markle, cinematographer Mark Irwin, hockey coordinator Eric Nesterenko (a veteran of 20 NHL seasons) and former OHL player George Finn, who played the bad guy. I also interviewed a stunt double and two background hockey players, including Steve Thomas.

You can read the article at The Hockey News’ website here