“Red Penguins” is a new hockey documentary about the strange partnership between the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Russian Red Army hockey team and the Walt Disney Corporation. Back in the early 1990s, the famed Red Army hockey team was broke, so it reached out to NHL teams for help. The Pittsburgh Penguins answered the call, and for two seasons co-owned the Red Army team, re-branding it as the Russian Penguins.
Things went well at first. Pittsburgh Penguins ownership brought in a marketing team that introduced “North American Hockey” to an unsuspecting Russian fan base — from opening-night theatrics, game-night giveaways, strippers (seriously), bears drinking beer and more. It was nothing like Russian hockey fans had ever seen. Unfortunately, this also drew the attention of the Russian Mob, who wanted a piece of the action, too. And that’s when things really go off the rails.
If this story sounds familiar to you, it is because I wrote about it last year for The Hockey News. Last fall, “Red Penguins” was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival and received strong reviews. The film was set to be released in theaters this spring, but then the COVID-19 pandemic swept the continent and closed theaters.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Last month, Sal Barry and Tim Parish were guests at the Sport Card Expo’s “Virtual Expo,” hosting the Puck Junk Hockey Podcast live and making fun of some bad hockey cards. Of course, some of these cards you probably know already, such as “Mad” Mel Bridgeman and “Cowboy” Doug Gilmor. But there are sure to be a few surprises here too. Video is 30 minutes long.
Sal Barry and Tim Parish break two boxes and then review 2019-20 Upper Deck Ice hockey cards in the latest Puck Junk Video.
Ice was released out earlier this summer, with boxes selling in the $100-$120 range. Each box has five packs and each pack has five cards. There are 50 base cards and 100 rookie cards in the set, with some RCs being signed and limited to just 99 copies each.
Who got the bigger hits? Who gave Ice a better score? All these questions and more are answered in the video. Watch it, then leave a comment and let us know what you think about 2019-20 Upper Deck Ice hockey cards.
If you are anything like me, you are probably thinking, “Man, what the world really needs right now is another chubby geek opening packs of trading cards on YouTube.”
Thus, I am happy to report that I am going to start doing hockey card pack breaks on YouTube. Or perhaps I should say restart, as I did do a few pack breaks on YouTube back in 2011, when I was less chubby but equally as geeky.
Truth be told, I’ve been itching to restart making pack break videos ever since the COVID-19 pandemic gave me good reason to shelter-at-home. I work from home, and spend most of my time at home. I’m around my collection a lot more, and rediscovered a two-column shoe box of unopened hockey packs from various sets and years…and I think it is time I start opening these packs!
But before I could attempt to become the George Lucas of hockey card pack break videos — who you calling scruffy-looking? — I had to change my living situation first. I had to find a new place to live, pack my belongings, move, unpack and get settled. I’m unpacked and settled enough that I can finally start creating some videos.
To launch the return of my pack break videos, I’m starting with a pack of my favorite cards of all-time: 1990-91 Pro Set Hockey Series 1. You get a lot of cards in the pack — and I actually got an extra card in this one. Plus, I pulled a pretty good card…well, good for Pro Set.
If you watch this video, please fire off a comment, either here or on YouTube. Let me know what you think, either about the video itself and how it could be better, or about the cards that I got in this pack. Oh, and please be sure to subscribe to the Puck Junk YouTube Channel. ■
I was a guest on Pittsburgh Hockey Now, discussing my article for The Hockey News about the Russian Penguins. For those who don’t know, the Russian Penguins were a joint venture between Russia’s Red Army hockey club and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins from 1993 to 1995. If that sounds like a crazy idea, well…it was. The Russian Penguins had everything from strippers to mobsters, as well as a few future NHL players, too. I also show off a few rare pieces of Penguins memorabilia. ■
This is the video we all need right now. Slap Shot actor Jerry Houser and former NHL defenseman Dale Tallon take turns interviewing each other. And it’s pretty darn funny.
Houser, who hockey fans remember best as Dave “Killer” Carlson from the 1977 film Slap Shot, is a longtime TV and movie actor. And hockey fans all know Tallon, who has been in the NHL for 50 years now as a player, color commentator and team executive. He is currently the GM of the Florida Panthers.
Tallon and Houser sat down for this interview prior to the game, and Tallon does an admirable job when being put on the spot. This was perhaps the best exchange between the two:
HOUSER: People don’t talk to you all that much; find out who you really are. Who are you really?
TALLON: Actually, I’m Alan Thicke in a bigger body.
HOUSER: Oh, then I don’t have to worry about getting any passes from you.
Later in the interview, Houser talks about how hockey has grown in Los Angeles over the past 20 years and how Wayne Gretzky coming to L.A. has increased interest in the Celebrity All-Star Team.
The game between the Celebrity All-Stars and Blackhawks Alumni was played sometime in September of 1989, and I recorded it on a VHS tape when it was televised a few weeks later in early October of 1989. (The Blackhawks even blacked out live broadcasts of charity hockey games back then. Seriously.) Thankfully, my VHS copy still works 30 years later, because the world needed to see Killer Carlson interviewing the future Panthers GM. ■
This was the intro to Game 6 of the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals, which aired in the United States on SportsChannel America. The next season, SportsChannel changed the intro animation, but thankfully retained the awesome theme music. Admit it — you at least thought of playing air guitar while watching the intro. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Wayne Gretzky has endorsed numerous products, and thus has been in a lot of commercials during and after his NHL career. But many of the commercials were either footage of Gretzky playing hockey intercut with shots of products, or of him seriously explaining that whatever he was shilling was a good thing. Boring!
So, in honor of The Great One’s Birthday today, I came up with a list of the 10 funniest Wayne Gretzky commercials.
Tomorrow is the 2017 NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. During the show, the Vegas Golden Knights will also reveal who they selected in the expansion draft. If you haven’t already thought about that, do so now; a show that will heap praise upon the NHL’s best players will also highlight those not good enough to stay on their current teams.
The NHL Awards have been cringe-worthy in its attempts to be funny for as long as we care to remember– with B-list comics making D-list jokes — while also seemingly trying to pander to non-hockey fans. Adding in expansion draft “revelations” can only make this year’s award show even worse.
This got me thinking about the 1997 NHL Awards Show, which conveniently took place 20 years ago (people love anniversaries, as do I). The NHL Awards in 1997 tried to be funny, but in a sweet way, and succeeded where current NHL Awards shows do not. The 1997 show was hosted by Ron MacLean, who is serious but has a sense of humor. The 1997 NHL Awards Show had a good mix of celebrities who actually liked hockey as award presenters, jokes that aren’t bad and some humorous segments that introduced the awards nominees. Future rap sensation Drake even made a cameo as a 10-year old boy.
But the best were these comedy sketches that served as “bumpers” before and after commercial breaks. I dare the NHL to once again at least attempt something as funny as “The Wig Helmet.” Read on, and you’ll soon understand what I mean. Here is a rundown, with images and video clips, on why the 1997 NHL Awards Show was the best NHL Awards Show — ever! Continue reading “Why the 1997 NHL Awards Show was the Greatest NHL Awards Show Ever”