No Stanley For Old Men: 2020 Edition

Which Grey Beard in the “Playoff Bubble” Do You Want to See Win the Stanley Cup? 

It took what felt like forever, but Round One of the 2020 NHL Playoffs is finally underway. (And yes, this blog post is two days late; I’m working on “Quarantine Time” here, so bear with me.) After a four-and-a-half month pause, followed by Round Robin and Qualifying Round games, we have our 16 playoff teams, ready to put it all on the line to be winners of the 2020 Stanley Cup Championship. 

But with the playoffs, the inevitable questions are always raised:

What player hasn’t yet won the Stanley Cup yet during their career?

What grizzled old vet will retire at season’s end without ever hoisting the Stanley Cup? 

What all-time will never get to sip champagne from Lord Stanley’s Cup?

And considering the COVID-19 pandemic, I don’t think any NHL player is going to want to drink from the Stanley Cup this October. Regardless, there are players who play for nearly two decades who will never have the opportunity to drink from the Cup then think better of it. 

Every year, playoff teams are chock-full of young, eager players who have seemingly all the time in the world to win the toughest championship trophy to win in all of sports. But every team also has some more experienced players who know that they don’t have all the time in the world, or even a wily old veteran that has stuck around to give it one more go before hanging ’em up. 

Here is a look at the oldest player on each 2020 Stanley Cup playoff team and why we’re hoping for each one of them to win, even if we don’t like the team they play on. 

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Are Any of Us Ready for Another Senators Jersey?

What is the worst kept “secret” in the NHL right now?

Definitely the announcement of the Ottawa Senators jersey re-branding, which uses a slightly modified version of the 1997 Senators logo. 

Is it time? 

Are we ready? 

Will it help? 

Continue reading “Are Any of Us Ready for Another Senators Jersey?”

The Russian Penguins: An Oral History

The Bizarre and Unforgettable Partnership Between the Pittsburgh Penguins and CSKA Moscow

It was about the pucks and bucks, first and foremost, but lest we forget the acrobats, blood-soaked mascots and accidental on-ice sex acts. There’ll never be another partnership like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and CSKA Moscow, which changed Russian hockey forever.

It’s 1993, and the historic CSKA Moscow program – a.k.a. the Central Red Army Hockey Club – is nearing defeat. All of the team’s best players – Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov and many others – have headed for the greener pastures of the NHL. Funding for sports clubs is no longer a priority for the Russian government, and CSKA is broke. It can’t afford uniforms or equipment, and almost no fans come to watch the team.

SERGEI BRYLIN: (Left winger, CSKA 1991-92 to ’92-93 & CSKA/Russian Penguins 1993-94) The whole country was going through a transition, from the Soviet Union to Russia. Obviously, hockey wasn’t the main priority. My first two years playing for the Red Army were pretty challenging years.

CSKA reaches out to several NHL teams looking for support. The Pittsburgh Penguins answer the call. The Penguins’ ownership group, which includes Tom Ruta, Howard Baldwin and his wife Karen Baldwin, forms Penguins Army International Limited, a joint venture between the Pens and Central Red Army. Superstar Mario Lemieux and actor Michael J. Fox are also involved as silent partners.

TOM RUTA: (Co-owner, Pittsburgh Penguins; co-owner/president, Russian Penguins) We created a company where the Pittsburgh Penguins owned 50 percent and the Russian partners owned 50 percent. That’s the structure they required at the time. You couldn’t have Americans owning 51 percent of a Russian company.

HOWARD BALDWIN: (Co-owner, Pittsburgh Penguins; co-owner/chairman/CEO, Russian Penguins) We thought we could make money because good players were coming from the Red Army team. If a Russian player was drafted, the NHL team who picked him would have to pay a pretty fat fee to his Russian team, I think it was around $250,000 for a first-rounder.

RUTA: At first, we’d give all the draft money to CSKA, until they got on their feet, and then we’d split it with them. So, in the beginning, they’d be able to rebuild their program and pay all their bills. And then eventually, we’d get a 50-percent share.

HOWARD BALDWIN: We also thought a partnership would give us an edge in knowledge on Russian players and give us a way to get sponsorships, because North American companies were looking to come over and start doing business in Russia.

RUTA: The Red Army was a great hockey program, and Howard didn’t want to see it die. And it was dying for want of a small amount of money. Read the rest of the story at The Hockey News.

The 38-Year Old Rookie: How Injuries Opened the NHL Door for a Veteran Journeyman

Connie Madigan was a force in the minor leagues for 15 seasons before finally getting a crack at the NHL

Cornelius ‘Connie’ Madigan didn’t raise many eyebrows when he made his NHL debut on Feb. 6, 1973, with the St. Louis Blues. The team was so beset by injuries that 12 defensemen suited up for them that season.

However, the 38-year-old Madigan set a record that night that still stands: he was the oldest rookie to play in the NHL. And with today’s game being all about speed, it’s a safe bet that distinction will never be surpassed.

Back then, Madigan didn’t know he was setting a record. He was just happy to finally get a shot in the NHL. “Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly told me after a game that I was the oldest NHL rookie,” said Madigan, now 84. “I told him it should have been a long time ago.”

Don Cherry, who played with and against Madigan in the minors, added: “Connie should have gotten his chance when he was in his 20s or early 30s. He would have been a lot better. But a lot of guys were like him and never got a shot.” Read the rest of the story at The Hockey News.

Four Tips for Moving Your Collection

Moving to a new home is a stressful time – even more stressful if you also have a collection that needs to be moved. In a perfect world, you buy a house and then start filling it with sports cards and other treasures, without ever having to worry about getting your collection safely from Point A to Point B.

But things don’t always happen that way. Maybe you rediscovered collecting a few years after college, dug up your old collection out of your parents’ basement, and took it back to your apartment to rekindle your interest. Or maybe you sold your house for that bigger and better house. Regardless of the reason, when you move, you want to move your collection without it getting damaged. After living in the same place for 12 years, I recently had to relocate myself and my sports card collection to a new home. Here are four tips on how to do it safely and effectively.

1. Get organized

This almost goes without saying, but a little organization goes a long way. If you have the time and room, several weeks before a move is a great time to sort your collection, as it will make packing and unpacking easier. Gather up all of the same type of collectibles and get them into one area so that you can pack them together. Many collectors, myself included, have a habit of stashing things here and there. For example, I had some hockey pucks displayed on a shelf, more pucks in a box in my closet, and even more pucks in a 1,600-count card Shoe Storage Box that was stashed with my cards. Once I got all my pucks in a row, I realized that I’d need a heavy-duty box with handles to move them in.

It is best to box similar items together for two reasons. Read the rest of the story at the BCW Supplies Blog

Everything You Need to Know About the Upcoming Virtual Expo

As many of you know by now, the Spring Sport Card Expo is taking place this weekend as a “Virtual Expo.” Sure, you won’t be able to walk around a convention floor and sift through cards until your fingers are numb. We all miss that experience, but the promoters of the Sport Card Expo are giving us the next-best thing: the first-ever Virtual Expo! It will be an opportunity to meet other collectors, buy some cards and other collectibles, and hear special guests tell stories during panel discussions. If that wasn’t cool enough, the Virtual Expo is now free for attendees. Read on to learn about what you need to get the most out of this weekend’s upcoming “Virtual Expo.”

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What if…the Quebec Nordiques Drafted Denis Savard?

How a series of backroom deals 40 years ago robbed the Quebec Nordiques of a future superstar — and gave the Chicago Blackhawks one of their all-time greats

Forty years ago today, on June 11, 1980, the NHL held its annual draft in Montreal. With the third overall pick, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Denis Savard, a skillful and speedy center who became the face of the franchise during the 1980s. Savard dazzled fans with his moves and was part of the team’s rebuild towards respectability. Any media guide or team-written biography will tell you of Savard’s offensive prowess. What is almost never mentioned is that Chicago’s selection of Savard was a perfect storm of backroom negotiations by the Blackhawks, a poor decision by the Quebec Nordiques, unfair rules against expansion teams – and the stellar play of a fellow Quebecor named Réal Cloutier.

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Hockey is Officially Back: Breaking Down the 24-Team Playoff

*Clears throat* Hockey is back, baby!

On Tuesday, the NHL released a video of commissioner Gary Bettman explaining the NHL’s decision to push through the COVID-19 pandemic and finish the season. A lot was explained, some things tentative and others not. I’ll break down Bettman’s explanation and gives my thoughts on the now official 24-team playoff. Continue reading “Hockey is Officially Back: Breaking Down the 24-Team Playoff”

How to Get a David Ayres Rookie Card

The whole sports world has been abuzz about David Ayres, the 42-year old emergency backup goaltender who manned the pipes when both Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders went down with injuries in a February 22 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ayers, who works for the Toronto Marlies AHL team as a facilities manager and Zamboni driver, was on hand for the Maple Leafs should either team need an emergency goalie. He played in nearly half of that game and stopped eight out of 10 shots that he faced, recording the win in the Hurricanes’ 6-3 victory. He is the first EBUG to be credited with a win in an NHL contest.

Of course, whenever an EBUG makes an appearance, the question is if he will be featured on a hockey card. And the answer is yes — Ayres will be featured on two hockey cards this year. One you can purchase between now and the morning of Friday, March 6, as a part of Upper Deck’s “Game Dated Moments” set. The other Ayres card will come out in May, but will be much tougher to get.

So, if you’d like to own a David Ayres rookie card right now, but don’t understand how Upper Deck E-Pack works, never bought hockey cards online before, or haven’t bought trading cards since they came packaged with gum, then read on.

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Hockey Road Trip Across the Carolinas

Hello, hockey nerds! Today, I’m hopefully going to wow all of you, and maybe inspire some of you to go on a Hockey Road Trip. Over the summer, Tom Dundon, The Most Interesting Man in Hockey, reached an agreement with the Greenville (South Carolina) Swamp Rabbits to become the ECHL affiliates of the (North) Carolina Hurricanes. This made a lot of sense as they are only little more than an hour’s drive from Charlotte where the Calder Cup Champion AHL affiliate Charlotte Checkers play. Almost as soon as this was announced, my friends and I waited with bated breath for the schedules of all three teams to be published and looked for a time to visit on a Lost Hockey Weekend Roadtrip. That perfect weekend ended up being January 17 to 19, 2020.

My wife, my best friend and I planned this weekend because all three teams were playing at home on consecutive days; the Canes played on Friday, the Bog Bunnies on Saturday, and the Checkers on Sunday afternoon, which was all too perfect because with a three hour drive back, it meant that we only had spent one night out of town and without having to take a day off of work!

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