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”
Dominik Hasek’s final game with the Chicago Blackhawks was Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals. But when was his Blackhawks debut?
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.
Continue reading “Dominik Hasek’s Blackhawks Debut”
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”
Editor’s Note: Zach Bare is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please give him a warm welcome — even if you’re not a Lightning fan 🙂
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.
Continue reading “The Tampa Bay Lightning: A Championship in Newspapers”
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.
Continue reading “Book Review: The Goaltenders’ Union”
Chicago Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman has had a busy summer, attempting to get the team under the salary cap before the start of the 2015-16 season. Some popular players were offloaded to create cap space: first, rising star Brandon Saad, followed by All-Star winger Patrick Sharp. These trades won’t be fondly remembered by ‘Hawks fans in the years to come, but they are from far the worst moves the team has ever made.
During the Blackhawks’ 89-year history, the team has made several trades that looked bad from the get-go. These moves were usually made because of personality conflicts with the coach or short-sightedness by management, with devastating effects in the years to come. Here are the five worst trades in Blackhawks’ history.
Continue reading “The 5 Worst Trades in Blackhawks History”
This month is the 25th anniversary of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. It was one of the deepest drafts in NHL history. Headlining were four highly-touted forwards and a goalie All five were considered can’t-miss prospects; more on them in a bit. But the two biggest names selected in 1990 were Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr.
So, let us pretend that we could re-do the first round of the 1990 NHL Draft, hindsight being 20/20 and knowing what we know now. Imagine we get a copy of Grays Sports Almanac, a la “Back to the Future: Part II,” photocopy it 21 times, go back in time (the hard part of this scenario), and give a copy to each NHL GM in 1990. Here is how the first round of that draft probably would have looked.
Continue reading “Re-imagining the 1990 NHL Draft”
Every June, when the NHL doles out its annual awards to the game’s best players, the argument of renaming the NHL’s trophies is always brought up. And not without good reason. Almost all of the awards are named after either players who skated nearly 100 years ago, or are former executives — many of whom did all they could to keep player salaries rock-bottom during the Original Six Era.
That said, it is high time to rename the NHL awards. Here’s a rundown of every major NHL award, why it needs to be renamed and a suggested new name.
Continue reading “It’s Time to Rename the NHL Awards”
Hear the name “Hull” and you instantly think either “Bobby” or “Brett,” depending on your age. “The Third Best Hull,” is about Dennis Hull — Bobby’s younger brother and Brett’s uncle. He might be the third-best hockey player named Hull, but Dennis is a first-rate author who knows how to tell a good story.
Continue reading “Book Review: The Third Best Hull”
In the opening pages of “Black Ice,” a 12-year old Valmore James is teaching himself to ice skate after-hours in a darkened hockey arena. Meanwhile, his pet dog is making a game of emerging from the shadows, knocking James to the ice, and running away. James believes that if he could learn to skate while dodging a charging Doberman, he would be able to avoid getting hit when playing hockey.
But during his career, it was other hockey players who would try to avoid getting hit by James. In his autobiography, “Black Ice: The Val James Story,” we follow James, as he makes the unlikely journey as a young man, transplanted from Florida to New York, who learns how to play hockey as a teenager and becomes the first African American to skate in the NHL. We also learn about the endless racially-charged hatred that he had to endure because of the color of his skin. Continue reading “Book Review: Black Ice: The Val James Story”