Not since the bearded women in Monty Python’s Life of Brian has a beard been as famous as the one belonging to the San Jose Sharks’ “Jumbo” Joe Thornton. Its removal earlier this week marked the end of an era, but will such a move affect his All-Star caliber abilities? Let’s look at a few similar cases as we pray for the best.
Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1988, Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings. While no move made during this offseason could ever top that, some NHL GMs were nonetheless working on blockbuster deals of their own. Here are the five biggest moves of the 2018 offseason.
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.
March 3 was National Hockey Card Day, which has become an annual tradition for collectors in the United States and in Canada.
Sponsored by Upper Deck, National Hockey Card Day was started in 2009 in Canada and came to the United States in 2012. Hockey fans could visit a participating sports card shop and get a free pack of exclusive hockey cards.
The cards given out differ by country. The U.S. set focuses more on American players, while the Canadian set keys in on Canadian players. The cards were given out in five-card foil packs, and each set consisted of 16 total cards; the first 15 cards are found in packs, while the 16th card could only be acquired with a $10 purchase. Additionally, there were a few chase inserts.
Both the U.S. and Canadian packs had ten different Victory Black rookie cards of popular first-year players. These cards, numbered 13-22, continue the Victory Black set given away at the Fall 2017 Toronto Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo. Canadian fans also had the opportunity to pull five retro Young Guns reprint cards, while U.S. fans could find five Vegas Golden Knights cards. There were also long odds of getting an autographed card.
Retailers who spoke with Sports Collectors Digest noted that National Hockey Card Day had a positive effect on their stores. Some dealers put up posters advertising the event and emailed their customers, while others went all-out, with sales on hockey products and raffles for signed memorabilia.
“It was unbelievable,” said Jim Amerey, co-owner of West’s Sports Cards in Edmonton. “Lots of people. I can’t count them. We give away packs for three days because there’s a lot of people who can’t come on Saturday, so we do it on Sunday and Monday, too.”
“We did really well with it, but we also had some youth hockey teams come in,” said Steve Wilson, owner of Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, about 40 miles north of Chicago. “Some of the kids were here for the first time. And a week later, we’ve already seen some of them come back and spend some of their money, so that’s always a good sign.”
National Hockey Card Day was a hit in Las Vegas, home of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
“Saturday was pretty insane,” said Mark Hansen, manager of Legacy Sports Cards in Las Vegas.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
…with Sal Barry & Tim Parish
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Sal & Tim (@theRealDFG) are back for a long-overdue, but always fun, edition of the Puck Junk Podcast. Topics in this podcast include: 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee Platinum Hockey, coaching change chaos (!!!), the upcoming expansion draft and Zach Werenski, the most badass rookie in the NHL this season.
Total time is 47 minutes, so get comfy and hit play! ■