This week’s Blake’s Takes dives into Matt Duchene’s run in Ottawa and the impact of both trades. I also take a look into the hit that earned Connor McDavid his first suspension and another jersey retirement ceremony.
A stick to the face, a car door covered in paint marker and hearing “Hot dogs!” screamed at him was just one day of Phil Kessel’s experience of meeting fans outside of the new Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility. Can you blame the guy for being so secluded? This is just one of the many instances I have unfortunately had to witness when interacting with players.
Let’s get one thing straight: I am not an autograph hound. I am not a re-seller. I am just a fan of the game. NHL players are extremely talented and hard-working, but in the end they are just like you and me, and want to be treated with respect.
Think about it. If you walked out of your job every day and 20 people that you’ve never seen in your life ran up to you screaming, waving markers in their hands and asked you to autograph something, it would get old, wouldn’t it? So, with that perspective in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts for interacting with players.
Out of the Motor City and into the Flames
It’s been a while since I’ve made fun of a bad hockey card — so here are two hockey cards that are bad on many levels.
During the 1980-81 season, Gary McAdam was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings.
McAdam skated in 40 games for the Red Wings during the latter half of the 1980-81 season. So, did Topps use a picture of McAdam as a Red Wing for his 1981-82 hockey card?
If you traveled back to 1974 with a couple of $20 bills, you could get a lot of great Detroit Red Wings merchandise for a pretty good price. A while ago, I came across this list of Detroit Red Wings souvenir items that were available directly from the team via mail order during the 1973-74 season.
Before I begin this book review, it is necessary to disclose that I never liked Sean Avery during his NHL career. At the same time, I tried my best to have an open mind and be fair when reading his autobiography; what I think of the man should have no bearing on whether or not his book is entertaining or worth reading.
Also, note that Avery’s book goes by two different titles. In the U.S., where he spent his entire NHL career, his book is called “Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey,” while in Canada it is called “Offside: My Life Crossing the Line.” The covers vary slightly, but the book is otherwise the same. However, the Canadian title seems more fitting, as Avery was one to push boundaries on and off the ice.
“Ice Capades,” a.k.a. “Offside” — which I will herein refer to as “Avery’s book” — is co-authored by Micheal McKinley, who previously wrote “Hockey: A People’s History” and “Hockey Night in Canada: 60 Seasons.” Avery prefaces his memoir by stating that it is not his intention to change readers’ opinion of him. But reading his book might just soften your opinion on — as Avery calls himself — hockey’s most-famous third-line player.
Leonard “Red” Kelly had four careers. He spent roughly the first half of his 21 years in the NHL as a defenseman, and the latter half as a forward. Kelly also served in Canadian Parliament for two terms and later coached in the NHL for a decade.
So, it is hard to believe that it took 50 years since Kelly’s final shift — he was on the ice when the Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup in 1967 — for a book to be written about him. While there was a short children’s story about Kelly in the 1970s, “The Red Kelly Story” gives the eight-time All-Star the all-star treatment that he deserves.
Now 89 years old, Kelly has done more in one lifetime than most people could do in four. Continue reading “Book Review: The Red Kelly Story”
When Gordie Howe passed away earlier this month, he left behind a legacy that will never be matched. Sure, Wayne Gretzky surpassed Howe in points, but even Gretzky has repeatedly stated that Howe was the greatest. No other player has skated 26 seasons in the NHL. And while Jaromir Jagr may surpass that record, he would be hard-pressed to play until he was 52 years old.
Howe was the power forward that all other power forwards want to be. He could score and intimidate. He was mean on the ice, and yet his opponents have nothing but kind words to say about Mr. Hockey.
Because his career was so long — 26 years in the NHL and 6 years in the WHA — Howe had many trading cards released during his wonderful career. Here we take a look at some of Mr. Hockey’s best hockey cards.
Andy Bathgate, the Hall of Fame forward known best for his years with the New York Rangers, passed away on Friday at the age of 83. He spent 17 seasons in the NHL, scoring 973 points (349 G, 624 A) in 1.069 games. Bathgate was named to the NHL All-Star Team four times, won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and appeared in the annual NHL All-Star Game each year from 1957 to 1964. Here we take a look at Bathgate’s career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards. Continue reading “Career in Cards: Andy Bathgate”
John Scott’s selection to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game is not without precedent. Having a guy known more for punching than puckhandling play in the NHL All-Star Game, while rare, has happened on several occasions.
Then there is the curious case of Chris Nilan, whose near-appearance in the 1991 All-Star Game was, until now, the most controversial selection ever made.
But neither Scott, or Nilan before him, would have been the first pugilist to play in an NHL All-Star Game. Continue reading “A History of Enforcers in All-Star Games”
Al Arbour, who passed away at age 82 on August 28, had a long career as a professional hockey player, and an even longer career as an NHL coach. Arbour broke into the NHL during the Original Six Era and played pro for 18 seasons between the NHL and the minor leagues. But he is best known for his success behind the bench: 22 seasons, one Jack Adams Award, second all-time in wins and four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships.
Here is a look at both of Arbour’s careers — as a player and as a coach — illustrated with various hockey cards and collectibles issued over six decades. Continue reading “Career In Cards: Al Arbour”