Clemente’s Corner: Hockey Collectors Should Make a ‘Pitt’ Stop to Learn Penguins History

Take a stroll through downtown Pittsburgh and there’s a lot of American history to take in. The second-most populous city in Pennsylvania after Philadelphia – known both as “Steel City” for its role in that industry and the “City of Bridges” for its 446 spans – has also plenty of sports history.

Aside from the Steelers and Pirates (sorry football and baseball fans), the Penguins could very well be the team that has left the deepest impression on the city. In fact, the Penguins have also played a vital role in the history of the NHL, especially since Mario Lemieux was drafted by the team in 1984.

Over the next 40 years, the team has made the playoffs 28 times and lifted the Stanley Cup in 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016 and 2017. In the process, fans got to delight in the scoring heroics of Lemieux, then Jaromir Jagr and later Sidney Crosby.

Those five championships – proudly displayed on the façade of PPG Paints Arena – are part of the city’s iconic downtown. But the streets around the arena – usually bustling with fans – are empty these days. The Penguins, for the second straight season, failed to make the postseason.

My travels took me to Pittsburgh last month just as the playoffs got underway. Instead of taking in a game, I went on a search for – what else? – Penguins memorabilia. Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: Hockey Collectors Should Make a ‘Pitt’ Stop to Learn Penguins History”

Clemente’s Corner: Rookies You Should Collect Besides Connor Bedard

Say the word “rookie” and the name Connor Bedard instantly comes to mind. It’s a reflex. None of us can help.

While the Chicago Blackhawks center may very well be on his way to taking the Calder Trophy, there are other rookies – even sleeper ones – that may be worth gobbling up now given that the majority of people are so laser-focused on acquiring Bedard.

Players like Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils and Leo Carlsson of the Anaheim Ducks have lived up to the preseason hype, although both have been overshadowed by Bedard mania. Both Hughes and Carlsson remain in the mix – although they are longshots – to capture the Calder.

Instead, here are five NHL rookies from this season (not named Bedard) who remain under the radar and worth chasing:   

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: Rookies You Should Collect Besides Connor Bedard”

Clemente’s Corner: Connor Bedard’s Young Guns Prices Do Not COMP-ute!

Amid the usual sea of Michael Jordan, Mark Grace and Walter Payton cards and jerseys, another – much younger – athlete was prominently on display at the recent Chicago Sports Spectacular.

Connor Bedard was very much on the minds and tongues of many at the three-day event, the Windy City’s biggest sports collectables gathering and one of the best-attended regional shows in North America.

And Bedard’s Young Guns card was hands down the most-talked about item – even by those who don’t typically buy hockey. It was a card that had shaggy-haired teens carrying silver cases scurrying about in search of it, while seasoned collectors shook their heads (some in disgust) at some of the prices in the showcases.

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: Connor Bedard’s Young Guns Prices Do Not COMP-ute!”

Clemente’s Corner: Stephane Matteau Recalls His Memorable Playoff Goal 30 Years Later

The year was 1994 and the New York Rangers were having a magical season. Captained by Mark Messier, the Broadway Blues were a team built to win under coach Mike Keenan. Featuring veterans Adam Graves, Kevin Lowe, Glenn Anderson and Steve Larmer, the Rangers would eventually hoist the Stanley Cup by season’s end after beating the Vancouver Canucks.   

The win ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought. Thirty years later, Rangers fans still fondly recall that championship run.

Along the way, the team gave fans a series of memorable moments. The biggest is undoubtedly Stephane Matteau’s incredible game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Looking back, those seven games were one of the best playoff series ever contested.

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: Stephane Matteau Recalls His Memorable Playoff Goal 30 Years Later”

Clemente’s Corner: An Interview with Ken Reid

Canadian sports broadcaster Ken Reid knows hockey. He also knows hockey cards. A collector since childhood, Reid, who works for Canadian broadcaster Sportsnet, has written books about the hobby.

Author of “Hockey Card Stories: True Tales from Your Favorite Players” and “Hockey Card Stories 2: 59 More True Tales from Your Favorite Players,” Reid’s writing exudes passion and love for the cards we all grew up collecting.

It is Reid’s blend of humor, nostalgia and concise storytelling that makes him one of the finest sports journalists of our era. When he’s not making you feel like a kid again, Reid does a very good job telling stories you’ve never read before. You always come away entertained and learning something new at the same time whenever you pick up one of his books.

Reid, 49, has a new book out called “Hometown Hockey Heroes,” released this past October. This one – a series of inspiring and entertaining stories about local legends who defined the game in Canada – is another great addition to your bookshelf. Once again, he does a great job in both the nostalgia and storytelling department.

“Ken Reid’s writing style feels like shooting the breeze with a good friend,” said Tim Micallef, a fellow Sportsnet host. “In his new book, we find out where Reid’s unmatched passion for the game comes from. Take the trip from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, all the way to Kimberley, British Columbia, and discover the legends that dotted every corner of this country, the kind of stories that helped elevate the game from sport to religion in many parts of Canada.”

In fact, Reid’s latest book was inspired by his childhood adoration for Dana “T-Pot” Johnston, who played Junior C for the Pictou Mariners in Nova Scotia. The book also delves into other hometown heroes, including Robbie Forbes, who arrived in Newfoundland in the mid-80s with NHL dreams and ended up leading the Corner Brook Royals to a Canadian Senior Hockey title. Forbes, it should be noted, is also Sidney Crosby’s uncle; something else I learned from Reid’s book.

I caught up with Reid at the recent Sport Card Expo in Toronto, where we talked about his new book, hockey cards, goalies and why Wayne Gretzky is still the man after all these years.

Clemente Lisi: What’s your new book about?

Ken Reid: This book is from the heart. It’s based on my childhood hockey hero,  Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: An Interview with Ken Reid”

Clemente’s Corner: What The National Can Learn From The Sport Card Expo

The Sport Card Expo held twice a year in Toronto is Canada’s largest and longest-running collectibles show. It’s also the type of show that can teach a few things to the National Sports Collectors Convention held in the United States each July.

It was the second Expo I attended. The first was the Spring 2022 Expo, which is normally held in April, but was delayed until June that year due to the pandemic. The Fall 2023 Expo, like the 2023 National, was bigger than ever. For the first time, the Expo spanned three halls and the four-day extravaganza took up 200,000 square feet of space.

[Photo by Clemente Lisi]
In many ways, the Expo is like the National. It featured over 400 dealers and many corporate booths, including Upper Deck, eBay, PSA and Beckett.

In other ways it was very different – and in a good way. Here are three things the National can learn from the Expo.

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: What The National Can Learn From The Sport Card Expo”

Clemente’s Corner: Five New Hockey Card Sets to Collect This Fall

Fall brings with it two things. The start of a new NHL season and a bunch of hockey card releases.

There’s nothing like ripping packs while watching games. Those looking to scratch that rip itch have lots of releases to look forward to between now and the end of the calendar year. 

Here are five releases (with release dates) to watch for over the next three months:  

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: Five New Hockey Card Sets to Collect This Fall”

Clemente’s Corner: The Legacy of Jack Adams

Here’s a quiz question that could stump even the biggest hockey fan: Name the only person in history to win the Stanley Cup as a player, manager and general manager? 

Stumped? The answer is Jack Adams. 

If that name is familiar it’s because Adams has a trophy named after him: the Jack Adams Award. It is given each year to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.” 

Who was Adams?

Why does he still matter?

Should collectors even consider chasing his cards?

These are the questions I was searching the answers for when I read recently that Adams’ rookie card had turned 100 years old.  

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: The Legacy of Jack Adams”

Clemente’s Corner: 5 Things We Learned from This Year’s National Sports Collectors Convention

As a lifelong sports fan, there are some moments I will never forget. 

Kirk Gibson’s walk-off homerun in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, the New York Rangers winning the 1994 Stanley Cup to end a 54-year championship drought and the U.S. soccer team capturing the 1999 Women’s World Cup on penalty kicks, followed by Brandi Chastain’s now-legendary goal celebration.

Add the 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention to that list.

Sure, the 43rd edition of the NSCCC was not a sporting event. Nonetheless, it did bring fans – in the form of collectors – together in one place as it does every summer. 

This year’s five-day extravaganza made Chicago the hobby capital of the world, attracting a record crowd to the sun-drenched Windy City. The sprawling convention floor space, spread out across three areas totaling 600,000 square feet, featured 750 exhibitors, including Puck Junk.

Show promoter John Broggi said the attendance at this National set the record, surpassing the 1991 show in Anaheim that featured 100,000 attendees. Thursday, Friday and Saturday saw the most traffic, while Sunday saw the lightest turnout given that many hobbyists had decided to leave by the afternoon. For those who did stay until the end it turned out, as is typically the case, the best day for deals on cards and unopened wax.

There’s a lot you can learn about the hobby we love by attending the National. Here are five takeaways from this year:

Continue reading “Clemente’s Corner: 5 Things We Learned from This Year’s National Sports Collectors Convention”