Clemente’s Corner: 5 “Patricks” You Should Start Collecting in March

2007-08 Upper Deck #210 - Patrick Kane

It’s March! That means a great many things. There’s the start of March Madness, followed by spring. For hockey fans, it is the end of an anxious time following the NHL trade deadline.  

It’s also the month where many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, there’s a hockey connection.

The name Patrick and hockey have a very long history. There was once a Patrick Division. It was formed in 1974, then a part of the Campbell Conference. The division moved to the Wales Conference in 1981 and existed for 19 seasons until 1993. It was originally named in honor of former New York Rangers defenseman Lester Patrick. It has been known as the Metropolitan Division since 2013.

There’s also the Lester Patrick Trophy presented each year by the NHL and USA Hockey since 1966. Since the award takes into consideration of the recipient’s contribution to the sport in the United States, it is not considered an NHL trophy because it can be awarded to players, coaches and officials outside the NHL.

There have been a great many NHL players named Patrick. Maybe you are considering becoming a player collector. If so, here are five players named Patrick you should consider collecting:   

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Clemente’s Corner: Hockey Cards I Love

February is a month devoted to love. The shortest month of the year features as its centerpiece Valentine’s Day every February 14. It’s a day devoted to buying flowers and greeting cards for that special guy or girl in your life.  

For those of us who collect hockey cards, Valentine’s Day could also be a day to reflect on what cards we love the most. Whether you’re a set collector or you just buy up singles (or both!), everyone has cards they love most.

A major part of the hobby for those of us who have been around for a while is nostalgia. It isn’t unusual to associate a card or set with a special moment from our past, especially if your collecting days date back to childhood. I can still tell you 30 years later where I was when I purchased or pulled a certain card.

Yes, loving little pieces of cardboard featuring photos of men in hockey gear isn’t for everyone. Having said that, this hobby is a lot more than that. It’s about love of a sport, fandom around a certain team and a connection to the people and places of our past. In other words, it’s more than cardboard.  

Here are three cards from my collection that I love most and why:  

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Goodbye and Thank You, Bobby Hull

Chicago Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull — nicknamed “The Golden Jet” — passed away on Monday at the age of 84. I had heard rumors late last year that Hull was in poor health, but I was still surprised when the news broke of his passing. 

There are two camps of writers who have eulogized Bobby Hull over the past few days.

There are those who want to stick to his myriad of accomplishments, only touching on Hull’s history of domestic abuse and racist comments.

And there are those who really just want to demonize him, but will begrudgingly acknowledge that Hull was one of hockey’s all-time greats. 

I am going to take a third approach. Continue reading “Goodbye and Thank You, Bobby Hull”

Finding the Right Pages to Store Your Odd-Sized Trading Card Collection

If you are like me, you enjoy putting your trading cards in pages and albums, so you can protect your collection in a way that also lets you easily look at it. But one point of frustration for collectors is when they come across cards that are not the standard 2-1/2” by 3-1/2” size. What’s a card collector supposed to do with postcards, odd-sized team-issued cards, or even cards that are just a touch larger than normal size? Fortunately, BCW has you – and your cards – covered, as it has archival-safe pages that will fit almost any collectible.

The goal of putting your cards in pages is to protect them with as little “wiggle” room as possible, because you do not want the card to shift around or slide out of the pockets when you are flipping through a binder. Here’s a breakdown of the different pages that BCW has available to store your collection of odd-sized cards. Read the rest of the story at the BCW Supplies Blog. 

Puck Junk’s Top Articles of 2022

Hello Puck Junk readers, and Happy New Year! Before getting into new content for 2023, I wanted to give my annual list of the previous year’s top stories, as well as a recap of what’s going on with the Puck Junk website and podcast.

In October 2022, celebrated its 15th Anniversary. Thank you. all for your support! This site has come a long way — from a fun little blog that had zero traffic, to the blog and podcast that it is today. If I did not have readers like you, reading this right now, I probably would have quit doing this a long time ago. 

Speaking of support, readership was pretty even from 2021 to 2022. Even though card collecting cooled off a bit, die-hard collectors were still coming here in 2022 to read about hockey cards, collectibles, and culture.

I guess we can add conventions to that list, too, since a lot of our articles and podcasts have been about the National Sports Collectors Convention and the Toronto Sport Card Expo. 

Surprisingly, it isn’t just Americans and Canadians who visit this site. Readers from 139 different countries visited Puck Junk in 2022. Most of our visitors comes from (in order) Canada, followed closely by the United States, with Finland, Sweden, and Czechia rounding out the top five. 

Listenership of the Puck Junk Podcast grew a bit in 2022. Most of our podcast listeners are from the United States, then Canada, Germany, Finland and — checks notes — Australia? Yep, we have listeners from “Down Under.” 

Although I fell short of my goal of releasing a new podcast episode every week, we still put out 31 episodes during the 2022 calendar year. That’s five more than the 26 podcasts we released in 2021, so that’s improvement I can live with. Our most-popular podcast episode for 2022 was about the 2021-22 Upper Deck Series Two Hockey cards, followed by our ’90-91 Retrospective about the groundbreaking 1990-91 Upper Deck Hockey card set.

Even though I love podcasting, my number one passion is writing. Fortunately, Puck Junk has several contributors who are willing to share their own perspectives on hockey cards, collectibles, and culture. Below is the list of Puck Junk’s most-read articles that were published in 2022. 

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Clemente’s Corner: Card Shows You Must Attend in 2023

National Sports Collectors Convention

What makes collecting cards most fun is meeting others who share the same interests. There’s no better way to do that than attending card shows. It’s also a great place to meet other hockey collectors.

I got to attend a good number of shows in 2022. I went to my first National Sports Collectors Convention last summer in Atlantic City, N.J. A few weeks prior to that, I attended my first Sport Card Expo in Toronto.

Sure, buying hockey cards on eBay or other platforms is easy, but card shows bring people together, spark debates about the hobby and help create friendships. As a result, I hope to get to more shows in the new year.  

So many shows, both local and regional, have popped up just as the hobby has grown in popularity since the pandemic. There’s more demand for such get-togethers and that’s a great thing. The explosion in “Trade Nights” is another example of how the demand for get-togethers (as well as the chance to buy and sell cards) has also gone up in popularity.   

There’s yet a date for the 2023 Toronto Sport Expo (typically held in the spring and fall), but here are five other shows you should circle on your calendar scheduled for the first half of this year.  

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The Islanders at 50: How to Own a Piece of Team History

The New York Islanders are celebrating a milestone this season. The other hockey team from New York is turning 50 and even a Rangers fan such as myself can pause to pay homage to a rival franchise.  

Founded in 1972, the Islanders immediately made an impact at the time when the NHL was looking to grow. After just two years of existence, the Isles would go on to secure 14 consecutive playoff berths. It was during that impressive run that the Islanders captured four straight Stanley Cups, dominating the league between 1980 and 1983.

The team’s 19 straight playoff series victories – spanning a time between 1980 and 1984 – remain a feat that is the envy of any North American sports team. The Islanders remain the last team of any major U.S. sport to win four consecutive championships.  

The team’s heyday, however, was followed by an era plagued by scandal, mismanagement and low attendance. The team has failed to win a division title since 1988 and went a staggering 22 seasons without winning a playoff series, a negative streak that finally ended in 2016. The team moved into a new arena last season, trading the famed Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for the new UBS Center.

Collectors interested in Islanders memorabilia and collectables, both past and present, will focus their energies on the eight former members of the team inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, seven of whom (Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier, coach Al Arbour and general manager Bill Torrey) were all key members of that early ‘80s dynasty.

From trading cards and autographs to more whimsical items such as music albums and bobbleheads, here are a series of collectibles you may want to add to your wish list (especially now as the holidays draw closer) to commemorate the Islanders’ milestone season.

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Clemente’s Corner: Collecting Hockey Autographs Through-the-Mail

How the Pandemic Turned Me Into a TTM Nut

It was two years ago that the pandemic forced all of us to stay home. Like many of you, I used much of my downtime to do things around the house. It also forced me to organize my card collection.

I can’t say it’s quite as organized as I would like it to be. It was during that process, however, that I refocused some of my hobby energy. I didn’t know what to do with the many junk wax base cards that I had amassed over the decades. Some I gave to charity. Others were given away to trick-or-treaters. Even with that, I had tons left over.

That’s when I discovered TTM – short for Through-the-Mail – autograph collecting. My kids and I decided why not mail cards to former NHL players to see if we could get them back signed. In doing some research online, I realized that there was an entire community out there who have been doing the same thing for years – and with much success. I watched YouTube videos and read blogs where collectors bragged about their returns. I was hooked.

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The Best 2022-23 NHL Game-Night Giveaway Items

It’s the start of the 2022-23 NHL season, where 32 teams play a slate of 82 regular-season games, with the hopes of winning enough to make the playoffs — or losing enough to get a high draft pick. But what better way to draw fans to a meaningless home game on a frigid Tuesday night in February than by giving them some novel trinket that they’ll soon sell on eBay — be it a bobblehead, poster, or the ever-popular magnetic schedule? 

Surprisingly, nearly half of  the teams — 14 out of 32 — are not giving anything away this year. These tended to be either Canadian teams  or U.S. teams in large markets like New York or Boston. 

Of the 18 teams that are having at least one giveaway, nine of them are giving out magnetic schedules. In fact, the Penguins are giving out magnetic schedules TWICE. 

Some of the better items that hockey fans can hope to get at a game this season include a Trevor Zegras action figure,  a Devils-themed Marvel comic book, and a Gritty hula dancer figurine.

Both the Ducks and the Coyotes are giving away something called a “Dad Hat.” If you are a father and know what that is, please let me know. 

The Kraken are giving away a league-high five bobblehead figures this year, while the Red Wings will give away four. The Blues are also giving away four bobbleheads, but all on the same night. I bet that will cause a few fights amongst the kiddos on the drive home. (“No fair! I got the Colton Parayko bobblehad! Why can’t I have the Brayden Schenn bobblehead? Mom!”

Below is a list of the best promotional items that NHL teams will be giving away to help draw fans to games over the season. 

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It’s Puck Junk’s 15th Anniversary!

Earlier this week was the 15th Anniversary of when I launched Puck Junk. After several months of designing and developing, made its debut on October 5, 2007. My first article published on this site was about the 2007-08 Victory Hockey card set, followed by articles about the fake Wayne  Gretzky Indianapolis Racers card, and the 1988-89 Frito Lay Hockey set

The first-ever article on was about the 2007-08 Victory Hockey card set. My opinion on Victory has softened over the years. 

I originally wanted to start a hockey website in 2006, when I got back into hockey card collecting as a hobby. But my job at the time kept me busy and with little energy for any extracurricular activities. When I quit my job in late summer of 2007, I finally had the time to make Puck Junk happen. 

Another incentive for me to start this website was that I — incorrectly — thought that no one would ever give me a chance to write about hockey or hockey collectibles. Starting this website gave me an outlet to do that, but it led to so much more. 

Over time, my writing improved. I became a freelance writer for The Hockey News, Beckett Hockey Magazine, and several other publications — some that are no longer around. I was a regular guest on XM Radio and later on Sports Byline USA to talk about sports collectibles. And in 2015, I got my Master’s Degree in journalism. That was also the year I started the Puck Junk Podcast with Tim Parish.

A lot of my thoughts about running Puck Junk for so long are unchanged from when I reflected on this site’s 10th Anniversary back in 2017, so I don’t want to rehash any of that here. 

Instead, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the old screen shots and site banners from over the years. Admittedly, I did not take many screen shots of this website; I mean, why would I?

But I do have all of this website’s banners, which shows how Puck Junk’s look and feel has changed over the years, and how it has evolved from *just* a hockey card blog to a website about hockey cards, collectibles, and culture. 

Please take a visual stroll with me down memory lane. 

Continue reading “It’s Puck Junk’s 15th Anniversary!”