Photo of Dominik Hasek at Age 19

Six years before he would make his NHL debut, goaltender Dominik Hasek was 19 years old, plying his trade with Tesla Pardubice in Czechoslovakia. This is the Tesla Pardubice team photo from the 1984-85 season, with Hasek in the front row, third from the right. 

Here is a closer look at Hasek and his Beatles haircut:

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Career in Cards: Johnny Bower

Hockey lost another legend on Tuesday when Johnny Bower passed away at age 93. Bower was one of the greatest goalies during the NHL’s Original Six Era. He was also one of the greatest minor league netminders, too. Bower spent 12 years in the NHL and another 12 in the AHL, and didn’t retire until he was 45. Thus, he had accomplished careers in the best and second-best hockey leagues. 

Here we take a look back at the career of the “China Wall,” illustrated with his hockey cards. from the 1950s and 1960s.  Continue reading “Career in Cards: Johnny Bower”

Interview: Hockey Documentary Filmmaker Dale Morrisey

Dale Morrisey shoots footage for his new film, “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans.”

Dale Morrisey is a filmmaker with a passion for hockey documentaries. His latest work, entitled “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans,” takes a long look at a long-forgotten NHL team. The Americans pre-date the “Original Six” Era and contributed more to the long-term success of the NHL than most would credit them for. At the same time, the Americans were a horrible team, struggling for years, first in New York City and then finally Brooklyn.

Morrisey, 45, was born in Oshawa and is, in his words, “a long-suffering Maple Leafs fan.” He previously wrote and directed documentaries “The Father of Hockey” (2014) and “Hockey’s Lost Boy” (2016). Recently, he spoke about his newest work, and why anyone should care about a team that’s been dead for over 75 years.

Sal Barry: Please explain the meaning behind your film’s title, “Only the Dead Know the Brooklyn Americans.”

Dale Morrisey: That’s from Thomas Wolfe’s short story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” which appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1935. The gist of the story is that it takes an entire lifetime to know Brooklyn, and even then, you wouldn’t know all of it. So, we played off of that, because the Brooklyn Americans area forgotten team, and only someone who was around back then would really know and understand who they were.

SB: The Americans have been gone for how long now?

DM: About 76 years.

SB: Why would anyone care to know about the Americans today?

DM: That’s a good question; I’ve been asked it a lot. Continue reading “Interview: Hockey Documentary Filmmaker Dale Morrisey”

Hockey Hall of Fame Inducts 2017 Class

(Note: I am now a contributing writer for Sports Collectors Digest. Here is an excerpt of my first article for SCD.)

The Class of 2017 received hockey’s ultimate honor November 13, when seven new members were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees included: Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Danielle Goyette. Those five were 2017’s additions to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s player category. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and longtime collegiate coach Clare Drake were this year’s addition to the builders’ category.

Excerpt from Sports Collectors Digest, Vol. 46, No. 26, December 22, 2017. Article also published online here.

Selanne, who retired at the close of the 2013-14 season, was inducted in the first year of eligibility, while Kariya, Recchi, Goyette and Andreychuk had to wait some time before getting their due. All of these players had long and successful careers, either on the professional or international stage – and sometimes both. Here is a look at each player’s accolades that make them “Hall-worthy,” as well as some of their earliest hockey cards. 

Slow as molasses

“Nobody thinks I want to be a Hall of Famer,” said Dave Andreychuk at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “You think about just trying to play in the NHL, you think about just trying to make your team better. Lots of it is about who’s with you.”

Andreychuk’s coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, John Tortorella, once said that Andreychuk was “slow as molasses, but for some reason he gets it done.”

Tortorella may have been describing Andreychuk’s play – especially in his Tampa Bay years, when he was at the close of his career – but it could describe his wait for the Hall of Fame; it took a while, but now he’s in. 

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2017

Now that Puck Junk has been a part of the online hockey community for 10 years, I feel that it gives me  little street cred when it comes to hockey cards. So today, I would like to announce the creation of The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame

Literally close to one million hockey cards have been produced over the past 105 years. Some were truly great, most were just OK, and many were bad. But some were really bad. The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame plans to immortalize the worst of the very worst. 

In order to be considered for the PJ BHC HOF (rolls of the tongue, eh?) I have only one criteria: the card in question has to transcend its category and be exemplar — gee, just like a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame supposedly does, too.

For example, not every O-Pee-Chee card with a poorly repainted photograph will qualify for inclusion. Many cards from the 1960s to the early 1990s used doctored photos; to make the cut, it’s gotta be a cut above. 

That said, say hello to The Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. 

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Book Review: The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story

The name O-Pee-Chee was synonymous with hockey cards for more than two decades. While the London, Ontario company had its beginnings in making gum, the company would ultimately be best known — especially in the 1970s and 1980s — for its annual set of hockey trading cards. Richard Scott’s new book, “The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story,” gives the history of the long-gone company that gave hockey fans many long-lasting memories.

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Book Review: Gratoony the Loony

Gilles Gratton was one of pro hockey’s most colorful characters. He had a short, tumultuous career in the NHL and WHA in the 1970s, and is better known for his awesome goalie mask and strange behavior than for stopping pucks. He had enough talent to land six-figure contracts and play for Canada internationally. Sometimes, Gratton was said to be an even better goalie than Ken Dryden — when he felt like playing. But Gratton had almost no desire to play pro hockey. Now, almost 40 years after he retired from the game, Gratton decided to write a tell-all of his, ahem, interesting career. 

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The End of ‘Birth Year Numbers’ is Here

..and for that I am glad.

The trend of birth year jersey numbers in the NHL will go away this season. What I am referring to is when a player elects to wear a number on his jersey that the same number as the year of his birth. Sidney Crosby popularized this trend when he decided to wear 87 because he was born in 1987. 

This continued for more than a decade, but it will finally come to an end. 

Good.

What was maybe a novel concept of an NHL player wearing the year of his birth on his back has long wore out its welcome, becoming as lame as adding “er” or “ie” to make a nickname, i.e. “Kaner” or “Sharpie.”

Just look at the following examples of Millennial creativity at work:  Continue reading “The End of ‘Birth Year Numbers’ is Here”

Book Review: Tales of a First-Round Nothing

We all knows what happens to a first-round draft pick who goes on to an exceptional career in the NHL. They rack up accolades and are talked about even long after their playing days have ended. But what about the players who don’t make it? What are their careers or lives like after the shot at NHL stardom is long past? “Tales of a First-Round Nothing: My Life as an NHL Footnote,” written by Terry Ryan in 2014, is a hilarious autobiography of a highly-touted prospect who didn’t pan out. But just because Ryan only played in eight NHL games is no reason to ignore his 228-page memoir. In fact, that’s all the more reason to read it. 

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Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2017-18 Season

Each NHL coach followed his own unique path to get to where he is today. Some were accomplished NHL players who were immediately given a shot as an assistant coach upon retirement. Others were career minor leaguers, toiling in some of hockey’s most obscure ranks, before working their way up those ranks later on in life to finally appear in the NHL from behind the bench. Still, some never even played minor pro, hanging ’em up after junior and starting their coaching careers young. 

For the start of the 2017-18 season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at each NHL head coach’s rookie card.  Continue reading “Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2017-18 Season”