Happy 2016. While I am excited about the new year and all the potential it brings, I would like to take just a moment to reflect on 2015. It was a heck of a year at Puck Junk. This site enjoyed more visits in 2015 than in the previous two years combined, and I have all of you to thank for that. There’s a good chance that you’ve already read these “Top Articles of 2015.” But if not, here is a handy list of this site’s “must reads” for 2015.
Last night, I spent three hours binge-watching Keep Your Head Up, Kid: The Don Cherry Story. The plan was to watch half of the miniseries one night before bed, and the other part the next night, but it was so much fun that my girlfriend and I decided to watch it in one sitting — bedtimes be dammed!
The made-for-TV miniseries, which originally aired on CBC in 2010, is about everyone’s favorite — or sometimes least favorite — hockey commentator Don Cherry. The two-part biopic chronicles “Grapes” long minor-league hockey career then gets into his coaching career and eventual tenure on Hockey Night in Canada. It was written by his son, Tim Cherry.
Athletes are immortal to us. They are bigger, faster and stronger. They accomplish amazing feats of physicality that we can only dream of. So when an athlete passes away during the midst of their career, it usually comes as a shock. How could this person die? They’re so much better, at least on the surface, than everyone else? “From Triumph to Tragedy in the NHL” is a book by first-time author Brad J. Lombardo that profiles six NHL players who died during their careers: Bill Masterton, Terry Sawchuk, Tim Horton, Pelle Lindbergh, John Kordic and Steve Chiasson.
Twenty-five years ago, the trading card landscape was changed forever when three new companies entered the hockey card market. I recently wrote an article for The Hockey News about this crazy time — when people were stockpiling Sergei Fedorov rookie cards like they were gold bullion — and how it eventually led to the 1992 NHL players’ strike The article is in THN’s 2015-16 Season Preview issue, but you can also read it (for free!) at the THN website here. Check it out, and let me know your favorite memory of the 1990-91 season. ■
When I first opened my copy of “Golden Oldies: Stories of Hockey’s Heroes” and glanced at the table of contents, I was a bit confused. I wasn’t sure why author Brian McFarlane selected such an oddly diverse group of subjects for his new book. McFarlane, who has written over 80 books, is hockey’s foremost historian and a former Hockey Night in Canada host. So it seems silly for me to question his choice of subjects.
Then again, most anthology books are tied around a particular era or subject. It’s hard to find a common theme between Sprague Cleghorn, Clint Malarchuk, Eddie Shack, Bob Johnson and the 18 others featured in the book.
After two chapters, the connection became clear. All of these former players and coaches have great stories to tell.
Mario is the big five-oh! All-time great Mario Lemieux is 50 years old today. Despite numerous ailments and injuries, plus a three-year retirement, Lemieux had one of the most remarkable NHL careers. He won six scoring titles, was league MVP three times, played in 10 NHL All-Star Games, was a First Team All-Star five times and a Second Team All-Star four times. The list goes on and on.
More importantly, he saved the struggling Penguins franchise numerous times. His stellar play was a big reason why the team won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992. He purchased the team in the late 1990s, keeping the team in Pittsburgh. His comeback in 2000 also helped the struggling team by increasing interest (and ticket sales) for the Pens. Lemieux also helped secure the deal for a new arena in Pittsburgh. He has helped the Penguins off the ice as much as he did on the ice.
To celebrate Mario’s big five-oh, here is a look at his career, illustrated with some of his best cards. Continue reading “Career in Cards: Mario Lemieux”
True, Hasek played in his first official NHL game as a member of the Blackhawks on November 6, 1990. He may have even appeared in a preseason game before then. But Hasek’s debut with the Blackhawks came on September 15, 1990 — 25 years ago today — when he took part in the team’s annual Red-White Scrimmage.
This wasn’t an official game. No ticket stubs exist, as it was free to get in, and no newspapers recapped it the next day. All that we have is this roster that was typed out, photocopied and passed out to fans during the first period.
Al Arbour, who passed away at age 82 on August 28, had a long career as a professional hockey player, and an even longer career as an NHL coach. Arbour broke into the NHL during the Original Six Era and played pro for 18 seasons between the NHL and the minor leagues. But he is best known for his success behind the bench: 22 seasons, one Jack Adams Award, second all-time in wins and four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships.
Here is a look at both of Arbour’s careers — as a player and as a coach — illustrated with various hockey cards and collectibles issued over six decades. Continue reading “Career In Cards: Al Arbour”
One of my favorite ways to remember a historical event of the Tampa Bay Lightning is to save the newspaper from the morning after. That all started back in 2004, after the Lightning eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers and won the Eastern Conference en route to their first Stanley Cup appearance. It was only by chance though, that I ended up getting my hands on and then keeping these historic headlines.
You might enjoy the play of high-scoring forwards or hard-hitting defenseman more than that of puckstoppers, but “The Goaltenders” Union” is a must-read book for any hockey fan. It will get you up to speed on many of the game’s goalkeepers — not just the stars, but numerous rank-and-file netminders that have manned the pipes over the past 100 years.