Blake’s Takes: Tampa is in Trouble

In this week’s edition of Blake’s Takes, I give my two cents on the impact of the Nikita Kucherov suspension and look forward at a potential playoff matchup. I also show some love to an unloved team and predict another award.

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The Top 5 NHL Free Agents of 2019

Editor’s Note: Joe Banish is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please welcome him in the comments below. 

Each season, at least one high-profile free agent is available, causing fans to speculate if he will stay with his current team, or go to another team that can give him more money — or a better chance to win the Stanley Cup. Here are five high-end free agents that will make a splash wherever they sign in the offseason. 

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How Players Fared After Ditching Their Beards

It was an end of an era this week when Brent Burns helped Joe Thornton shave off his beard. [Photo Credit: Brent Burns/Twitter]
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.

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The 5 Biggest Offseason Moves of 2018

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.

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Interview: Jim Pappin, 2-Time Stanley Cup Winner and 5-Time NHL All-Star

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the honor of being the last team during the “Original Six Era” to win the Stanley Cup — and they have Jim Pappin to thank for the large part he played. The Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens four games to two in the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Pappin led all Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs, with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 12 games. 

Championships seemed to follow Pappin wherever he went during the early part of his career. In 1964, he won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs. In 1965 and 1966, he won back-to-back Calder Cup Championships with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. After his second Stanley Cup Championship in 1967, Pappin won another Calder Cup in 1968; that’s five championships in five seasons. 

Pappin was later traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, where he was consistently one of the team’s top scorers during the early-to-mid 1970s, and played in five NHL All-Star Games. 

Recently, Pappin was signing autographs at AU Sports, a sports card and memorabilia store near Chicago, and graciously answered a few questions about his career. 

Sal Barry: You led the Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs in 1967 — including four goals and six assists in six games during the Finals. What went right for you in the playoffs? 

Jim Pappin: If you work hard in the playoffs, you don’t have to work in the summertime (laughs). They always say, if you play hard and win the Championship, you get bottled beer instead of draft beer. It’s a good incentive. 

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That Time the Capitals Played the Maple Leafs…at Montreal Forum

1979 Sportscaster #56-05 – Montreal Forum

OK, I will admit that the title is a lie. The Capitals and Maple Leafs played many games at the Montreal Forum —  just never against each other at the Montreal Forum. But the card above states otherwise. What’s going on here? 

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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”