The Flint Spirits had a great 1987-88 season. Much of that success was owed to future NHLer John Cullen, who led the International Hockey League in scoring with 157 points (48 G, 109 A) in 81 games, and then led his team in the playoffs with 26 points (11 G, 15 A). Cullen was named IHL rookie of the year. Unfortunately, the Spirits lost the Turner Cup Finals to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Still, the team had a pretty good run, as well as a decent set of trading cards.
The 1987-88 Flint Spirits team set is a typical minor-league team issue, with darkly-lit photos and an underwhelming design. But that’s pretty normal for 1980s minor league hockey cards.
Continue reading “Review: 1987-88 Flint Spirits Team Set”
The Stanley Cup Finals continue. The Blues are now down 2-1 to the Bruins after Jake Binnington’s worst game as a pro. Torey Krug has put the Blues on notice and the Bruins’ powerplay continues to roll. We also have some exciting news in the AHL and ECHL.
Continue reading “Blake’s Takes: Bruins Break Binnington”
The 2019 American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Finals start on Saturday (schedule here). The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes, take on the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Las Vegas Golden Knights. AHL teams only play against teams within their conference during the regular season, so this is the first time this year that the Checkers will take on the Wolves.
Jim Howard, Puck Junk’s resident “Caniac,” and Sal Barry, who has followed the Chicago Wolves the past 25 years, give their insight as to which team will win. Either way, it won’t be a sweep.
Continue reading “2019 Calder Cup Preview: Charlotte Checkers vs. Chicago Wolves”
The Chicago Wolves have been a top-notch hockey team over the past 25 years, winning two Turner Cup Championships in the old IHL and two Calder Cup Championships in the AHL. Many former NHL stars, future NHL stars and minor league legends played for the team over the past quarter-century. Earlier this month, the Wolves issued a trading card set honoring its best players. Like past team sets, the Wolves’ 25th Anniversary team set does not disappoint.
Continue reading “Review: Chicago Wolves 25th Anniversary Card Set”
“Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey” is a book that was adapted and made into the 2012 movie Goon that starred Sean William Scott. That movie, in turn, led to the 2017 sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Because of the success of the two Goon movies, the “Goon” book — published in 2002 and long out of print — shot up in value and was generally difficult to find.
Fortunately, Doug Smith — the goon himself — and co-author Adam Frattasio decided to update and release a second edition of the book, now entitled “Goon: Memoir of a Minor League Hockey Enforcer.”
Continue reading “Book Review: Goon, Second Edition”
For the first four years of his professional career, it looked like Carter Hutton was doomed to the minors. During a three-year span, Hutton was called-up from the minors and appeared as a backup for a handful of games; first for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009-10, then the San Jose Sharks in 2010-11 and then the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12. But Hutton never actually played in any of those games.
The same seemed destined to happen in 2012-13, when the Blackhawks called up Hutton a few times during the lockout-shortened season to ride the pine. Finally, in their last regular season game of 2012-13, the Blackhawks started Hutton in his first NHL game — a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. After that, he grew into a dependable backup netminder; first for the Nashville Predators, and then last season for the Blues.
During two of his years in the minors, Hutton had two trading cards that used the exact same photo — which was weird because they were cards for different teams.
Continue reading “Deja Vu Tuesday: Carter Hutton”
“I know what you’re thinking,” my friend told me when he loaned me this book, “the title is depressing. But the book isn’t.” Well, that’s mostly true.
“They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven: A Dream, a Team, and My Comeback Season” is the story of Ken Baker, a former NCAA goalie and NHL prospect whose pro hockey aspirations were cut short by an undiagnosed brain tumor. Baker quits hockey and settles into a career as a journalist, interviewing celebrities for publications like People and US Weekly. But the effects of his tumor worsen, making Baker suicidal. Soon after, his brain tumor is discovered; most of it is removed, the rest is rendered benign by medication. He gets married and is about to settle into the “happily ever after.” That is, until Baker has what he refers to as “The Dream.”
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Almost every season since 2000-01, Choice Marketing has issued a team set of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2015-16 Wilkes-Barre Penguins set is worth a look from hockey card collectors because of the nice design and, more importantly, because many of the players in this set went on to play in the NHL.
Continue reading “Review: 2015-16 Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins Team Set”
Most hockey fans undoubtedly remember the 2012 movie Goon, which starred Sean William Scott as a bar bouncer who makes it onto a minor league hockey team because of his fighting prowess. That movie — which now has a sequel called Goon: Last of the Enforcers — is very loosely based on this book “Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey,” which came out a decade earlier and is currently out of print. Despite the dissimilarities between the movie and the book, “Goon” is a book worth tracking down.
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Earlier this month, Upper Deck released a new set of American Hockey League trading cards. Like the 2014-15 and 2015-16 AHL sets, this year’s AHL set is sold in packs and consists of 100 base cards and 50 short-printed cards. (The inaugural 2014-15 Upper Deck AHL set was released as a 100-card boxed set.)
This year’s AHL set is a good mix of prospects who will make it in the NHL, players who have been up-and-down between the NHL and AHL, and players who have not played much in the NHL but excel in the “A.”
A box of 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL trading cards costs around $40 and contains 20 packs. Each pack has five cards. I recently opened a box. See the results of the break…after the break.
Continue reading “Box Break: 2016-17 Upper Deck AHL”