Happy third night of Hannukkah and merry Christmas Eve. This edition of Blake’s Takes won’t be very festive, but it will have some interesting content. Last week was a busy week in the NHL. Taylor Hall was finally moved and Ilya Kovalchuk is now a free agent! I’ll also highlight a breakout performer and take a closer look at one of my favorite plays of the week.
This week marks my 52nd week writing this column. Although I’ve been writing Blake’s Takes for a bit over a year, this felt like the perfect time to celebrate. I want to thank everyone who reads this column each week. I appreciate all of your support and I have really enjoyed the experience. A special thanks to my number-one fan, Aaron Walters, for all of the kind words. Here’s to another 52 weeks!
The NHL is buzzing right now and takes are easy to come by. For this week’s Blake’s Takes, you can expect a Jack Hughes update and additional Devils’ news. Also, I’ll feature one of the best rivalries in the sport that flared up over the weekend and highlight what could be this year’s best goal.
NHL GMs were busy this week dishing out a ton of money in extensions. I’ll look into four of the most impactful deals and why one of them could open the floodgates for the many unsigned RFAs.
Trading Cards Brought to You by Smokey the Bear
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention sponsored a set of Los Angeles Kings trading cards during the 1988-89 season. Of course, we know this Department best by their mascot, Smokey the Bear. The anthropomorphic bear told us, over the years, that “only you can prevent forest fires.” Since the set bears Smokey’s face on the front, the set is usually referred to as the “Smokey” or “Smokey the Bear” Kings set. As is the case with most team-issued sets, many lesser-known players — as well as the coaches — are featured throughout.
The offseason has been slow, but with so many RFAs unsigned, that should change soon. For now, there were a few interesting things to happen in hockey this week, most notably the NHL’s decision to not opt-out of the current collective bargaining agreement. Also, potentially-huge extension and another big jersey announcement.
With free agency having settled, hockey news has slowed down over recent weeks. So, I decided this week would be the perfect time to start my season previews. Each week, I’ll choose a few teams to feature and assess what we can expect from them this year. This week features the Sabres, Penguins, and Kings. I also take a look at one of the more-surprising extensions signed last week.
During the past season, several rookies like Elias Pettersson, Rasmus Dahiln, Andrei Svechnkiov and Brady Tkachuk were extremely popular with collectors based on their performance. Add them to the list of players who had breakout performances last season, but rookie cards from prior years like Jordan Binnington, Nikita Kucherov, Dylan Larkin, and Mikko Rantanen. The better a player performs, the higher the demand for — and the cost of — his rookie card becomes.
But collectors can still find several bargains out there, though these players’ rookie cards may not be bargains much longer. Here is a list of young NHLers that can still be considered bargains based on how they have developed with their teams and how they have been received by collectors up to this point.
A.K.A. 6 NHL Awards We Still Want to See
Another NHL season is in the books, meaning it’s time for the annual postseason awards. Each year, the NHL gives its award to the best goalie, best defenseman, most
(popular) valuable player, yada, yada, yada. What the NHL really needs is some fun awards, so last year I came up with the Puck Junk Awards, to recognize this year’s surprise goalie, toughest mofo and best (worst?) boomerang player, among others. Here are the winners of the 2019 Puck Junk Awards.
The St. Louis Blues did it. They won their first-ever Stanley Cup. This week’s Blake’s Takes looks at how the Blues conquered hockey’s Mt. Everest and who the key players were along the way. I also highlight the first few major moves of the offseason.
Thirty years ago, the 1988-89 hockey season was winding down. Wayne Gretzky was in his first season with the Los Angeles Kings, while the Calgary Flames would go on to win their first Stanley Cup Championship. Hockey legends Marcel Dionne and Lanny McDonald retired at the end of the season, while Guy Lafleur successfully started his three-year comeback.
It was also a simpler time for hockey card collectors. There were only two mainstream hockey sets to collect — Topps and O-Pee-Chee — and there were not yet any Eric Lindros cards for speculators to hoard. In fact, the word “hockey cards” and “investments” weren’t even uttered in the same sentence back then.
The 1988-89 season was also when I first discovered hockey — and thus started collecting hockey cards. So, here is a look at the 10 best hockey cards from the 1988-89 season. These are not necessarily the most valuable or most-rare hockey cards from that year; rather, these are cards that have significance and should be in any serious hockey card collection.