Hockey lost another legend on Tuesday when Johnny Bower passed away at age 93. Bower was one of the greatest goalies during the NHL’s Original Six Era. He was also one of the greatest minor league netminders, too. Bower spent 12 years in the NHL and another 12 in the AHL, and didn’t retire until he was 45. Thus, he had accomplished careers in the best and second-best hockey leagues.
(Note: I am now a contributing writer for Sports Collectors Digest. Here is an excerpt of my first article for SCD.)
The Class of 2017 received hockey’s ultimate honor November 13, when seven new members were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees included: Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Danielle Goyette. Those five were 2017’s additions to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s player category. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and longtime collegiate coach Clare Drake were this year’s addition to the builders’ category.
Selanne, who retired at the close of the 2013-14 season, was inducted in the first year of eligibility, while Kariya, Recchi, Goyette and Andreychuk had to wait some time before getting their due. All of these players had long and successful careers, either on the professional or international stage – and sometimes both. Here is a look at each player’s accolades that make them “Hall-worthy,” as well as some of their earliest hockey cards.
Slow as molasses
“Nobody thinks I want to be a Hall of Famer,” said Dave Andreychuk at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “You think about just trying to play in the NHL, you think about just trying to make your team better. Lots of it is about who’s with you.”
Andreychuk’s coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, John Tortorella, once said that Andreychuk was “slow as molasses, but for some reason he gets it done.”
Tortorella may have been describing Andreychuk’s play – especially in his Tampa Bay years, when he was at the close of his career – but it could describe his wait for the Hall of Fame; it took a while, but now he’s in.
Like so many other hockey fans, I was surprised and saddened when I learned that former NHL defenseman Pierre Pilote passed away Saturday night at the age of 85.
I never saw Mr. Pilote play; he retired long before I was born, so I can’t attest to what kind of player he was without paraphrasing what others have already said, especially during the past few days. However, I have met Pilote many times during the past decade, and can speak to as what kind of person he was towards Blackhawks fans.
Pilote was at the annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention practically every year since it started in 2008. I also met him at the National Sports Collectors Convention when it was in Chicago in 2011 and 2015, and at numerous Sun-Times Sports Card Shows, where he usually signed autographs for charity as a part of The Fergie Jenkins Foundation.
If you enjoy card games like “Trumps” — where the highest card wins — or “Go Fish,” but wish they somehow involved hockey, then you should check out Legends International Ice Hockey Trumps Game. It is a new card game from Switzerland that features 40 eye-catching illustrations of the best hockey players from around the world.
Sold as a full deck online, Legends Trumps Game shows your favorite Hall of Fame players like you’ve never seen them before.
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In the newest Puck Junk Podcast, Sal and Tim (@TheRealDFG) discuss the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees: Sergei Makarov, Rogie Vachon, Pat Quinn and Eric Lindros. Did you know that each of these inductees all were at the center of controversy, at one time or another, during their careers? We talk about that too.
Also in this episode:
Upper Deck’s exclusive autograph deal with Auston Matthews.
Playing fantasy hockey on the Topps NHL Skate mobile app.
Martin Brodeur playing in the upcoming Blues alumni game.
Tim’s kids opening packs of 1991-92 Stadium Club Hockey.
Podcast #19 is SUPERSIZED at 1 hour and 1 minute — and it’s totally free! What a bargain! Theme music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard.
Oh, and here are the two articles mentioned in the podcast:
Yesterday, Eric Lindros was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame — and deservedly so. If you look at Lindros’ entire body of work — from his days as a phenom in junior hockey, to competition on the international stage, to his eight years in Philadelphia — he belongs in the Hall. Sure, his productivity sharply declined at the end of his career, but the same could be said of many other Hall of Fame players. Lindros wasn’t just awesome in his prime; he was awesome from day one. Here we will take a look at the career, illustrated with some of his best hockey cards, of one of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2016 inductees.
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.
Chris Pronger has accomplished everything you would expect from an elite NHL defenseman. He’s won the Stanley Cup, the Norris Trophy and the Hart Trophy. He was the captain of three different NHL teams, was on the cover of two different video games and lead the league in plus/minus two times, for what it’s worth.
Pronger also excelled in international competitions, winning gold once at the World Junior Championships and twice in the Olympics. He was drafted second overall in 1993 and would still be a force on the Philadelphia Flyers’ blue line if not for the injuries that ended his career in 2011.
Naysayers will bemoan the fact that Pronger is still technically an active player — heck, he even got traded back in June — so he has no business being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame until his last paycheck as a player clears. Obviously, Pronger, who suffers from post concussion syndrome, won’t be playing pro hockey again, so there’s really no controversy.
In honor of Pronger’s Hall of Fame induction, here is a look at his NHL career, accompanied by some of the more interesting hockey cards issued during the past two decades.