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.  

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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:

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Clemente’s Corner: Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 National Sports Collectors Convention

Welcome to Chicago! More specifically, the village of Rosemont, which is located just outside the Windy City where this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention takes place.

The 43rd edition of the National will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center between July 26-30, 2023. It is where the hobby — collectors, dealers and the major trading card companies — comes together once a year.

The NSCC dates back to 1980 in Los Angeles and has grown into the collectibles industry biggest event. The 1991 convention, during the height of the Junk Wax era, held in Anaheim is considered the highest-attended National. Last year’s NSCC in Atlantic City, N.J., according to organizers, was also well-attended despite the venue’s location.

This year’s venue, on the other hand, is known to collectors and dealers since it has hosted previous Nationals. It is also home to the Chicago Sports Spectacular, one of the best regional sports card and memorabilia shows in the country.

Here’s what you need to know before heading to Chicago this month.  

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Clemente’s Corner: Top 5 Connor Bedard Cards to Collect Before He’s Drafted

Hockey fans are already looking forward to the start of next season with the 2023 NHL Draft that’s slated to take place on June 28 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

For only the second time in team history, the Chicago Blackhawks will select the No. 1 overall pick after winning the top spot in last month’s NHL Draft Lottery. The Blackhawks have only had the first pick once and that was in 2007 when the team selected Patrick Kane, who helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups. Sixteen years later, the Blackhawks will most likely add highly-touted prospect Connor Bedard to their 2023-24 roster.  

Bedard has had a busy few weeks. Earlier this month, he was one of 106 prospects invited to take part in this year’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. He was also recognized as the most outstanding player in Canadian Major Junior Hockey and given the CHL David Branch Player of the Year Award. This past season, Bedard was ranked the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of draft after finishing first in points in the WHL this season with 143 points (71 goals and 72 assists) in 57 games.

Bedard, who turns 18 on July 17, has been called a generational talent who many have already compared to Connor McDavid. Collectors will have plenty Bedard cards to chase later this year. His Young Guns card and other Upper Deck rookies are likely to turn next season’s releases into some of the most-sought after products in the entire hobby.

For now, there are several options out there for those looking to collect cards of the budding center, especially for those who like junior league and national team cards. These cards don’t generally get hobby love, but they are fun to collect and do give people a chance to get their hands on cards of Bedard before he makes his professional debut. 

Here are five Connor Bedard cards to collect ahead of this year’s draft:

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Clemente’s Corner: 6 First Round Playoff Heroes Worth Collecting

Role Players and Small-Market Stars Shine Brightest in the NHL Playoffs

The NHL playoffs rarely disappoint in terms of fun and drama. The first round has been a slog, but also a round tinged with upsets.

The record-breaking Boston Bruins, among the favorites in the Eastern Conference to reach the Stanley Cup Final, were dumped out early by the Florida Panthers in seven games. Over in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers series with the Los Angeles Kings stood out as the most-exciting – only overshadowed by the Seattle Kraken eliminating the defending champions Colorado Avalanche. 

Both upsets – the Panthers beating the Bruins and the Kraken beating the Lightning – went to seven games. Having the President Trophy winners and the defending Stanley Cup Champions bounced out of the playoffs — and in the same night! — is truly amazing. 

Also, not having any team sweep was certainly a sign of how talented even the lower seeds have been this spring.

Teams aside, the playoffs are also about individual skill. For card collectors, the playoffs can help or hurt a players’ value. Of course, this is just the start. The playoffs are a two-month grind that involves lots of grit and some luck.

One of the biggest storylines from this first round is the ability of second-fiddle players, not the stars, to shine. Whether it meant scoring key goals or making that big play, it was the sidekicks that have shined brightest so far.

Here’s a look at six players who have done just that, while seeing their stocks go up. All figures cited below based on eBay sales and

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Clemente’s Corner: Alexis Lafreniere Needs Time to Be a Hockey Hobby Star

I am a New York Rangers fan. I don’t hide that fact from readers. It’s also the reason why I feel like I have to defend Alexis Lafreniere.

Chosen first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, Lafreniere has been a topic of conversation even before ever skating a shift for the Rangers. That’s because he came into the league during the pandemic at a time when interest in the overall hobby skyrocketed. Sal and Tim tackled this very topic on the Puck Junk Podcast back in March 2021, during Lafreniere’s rookie season.

Three years later, there’s still debate over whether Lafreniere is a bust or has yet to come into his own. I choose to argue the latter. Let me explain.

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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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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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