Card of the Week: Who Are Those Guys?

1992-93 Wheeling Thunderbirds #20: Those Guys

You are probably asking yourself, who are “Those Guys” – those two middle-aged men clad in yellow polo shirts.

Are they the team’s owners? Coaches? Equipment guys?

The ushers? Ticket takers? Concession stand workers? 

Nope – they are the guys who produced a team set of minor league hockey cards. This might be the most self-serving hockey card of all time.

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2022-23 Upper Deck AHL Hockey Box Break

Upper Deck issued its 2022-23 American Hockey League trading card set in June of 2023. The set has 150 cards of AHL players – some prospects who will go onto long careers in the NHL, and others who played a handful of NHL games but went on to long careers in “The A.” 

Fortunately for minor league hockey card enthusiasts, this set isn’t too hard to put together. There are 100 base cards and 50 short-printed Star Rookies – and you get one Star Rookie in each pack!

A box of 2022-23 Upper Deck AHL costs around $50 and has 12 packs. Each pack has 10 cards. Here’s a look at what’s inside a box of 2022-23 Upper Deck AHL. 

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Book Review – Conflicted Scars: An Average Player’s Journey to the NHL

It seems like every NHL player who has some degree of success writes a book when their career comes to an end. But what about the thousands of players who don’t make it to the NHL?  What sacrifices did they make  — and what scars did they pick up — along the way to ultimately fall short of reaching their dreams? In “Conflicted Scars: An Average Player’s Journey to the NHL”, ex-NHL draft pick Justin Davis talks about the hazing by teammates, horrid living conditions, and health risks he endured while playing major junior in the Ontario Hockey League. The physical scars may quickly heal, but emotional scars sometimes take decades to even be discovered before the healing can begin. 

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2021-22 Upper Deck AHL Hockey Box Break

Upper Deck’s 2021-22 American Hockey League card set was released in the late summer of 2022 and features the top 150 players in “The A.”

That’s right– only 150 players. After last year’s 200-card set, Upper Deck cut back its 2021-22 AHL set to a more manageable size. Instead of 150 base cards and 50 “Star Rookies,” this year’s set has 100 base cards and 50 Star Rookies. 

You got your mix of prospects — many who have already made an appearance in the NHL — as well as bubble players and “lifers” who spent the majority of their career in the league. 

A box of 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL hockey cards costs about $50. Each box has 12 packs with 10 cards each. Boxes contain at least one autographed card, plus 12 Star Rookies cards, and one parallel card. 

Let’s see what I got in my box of 2021-22 Upper Deck AHL Hockey. 

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2020-21 Upper Deck AHL Box Break #2

I have been a fan and collector of minor league hockey cards ever since I bought a ProCards Saginaw Hawks team set in 1989. I enjoy cards of future NHL players, as well as “borderline” players who are sometimes called up to the parent club but never got their own hockey card.

Needless to say, minor league hockey cards have evolved a lot over the past 30+ years. They no longer use dark photos and have plain, black-and-white card backs. Upper Deck’s 2020-21 American Hockey League card set is every bit as good in quality as its other hockey card sets, with crisp, color photography, glossy coating, and silver foil. At first glance, you might mistake these for Upper Deck Series One, save for the fact that they picture AHL players instead of NHL players. 

Last week, I opened a box of 2020-21 AHL cards; you can read about that here, as that break gives more details about the set. Let’s see if this box is better, worse, or about the same as my first break. 

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2020-21 Upper Deck AHL Box Break

2021-22 has been a strange year for hockey card collectors. This season, there were still cards from the 2020-21 season coming out in the middle of the 2021-22 season. One such set is 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL, which features cards of future NHL prospects, as well as star players from the second-best hockey league in the world. 

2020-21 Upper Deck AHL hockey cards costs around $50 for a 12-pack box. Each pack has 10 cards. Each box promises six “Star Rookie” cards, an autographed card, a numbered parallel, and an additional chase card. 

I recently opened a box of 2020-21 Upper Deck AHL. Here is what I got. 

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Book Review: Thin Ice

Most hockey books chronicle the tales of elite players who were great at an early age, usually playing against older kids before going on to renowned  hockey programs en route to an NHL career. “Thin Ice: A Hockey Journey from Unknown to Elite — and the Gift of a Lifetime” is not that book. Instead, “Thin Ice, ” by Ryan Minkoff, is for the rest of the players; those who work hard, get passed over again and again, yet have the drive to keep going, no matter the odds against them. 

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Puck Junk Podcast: June 5, 2020

The NHL and Racial Justice

In this episode, Sal Barry is joined by guest co-host Blake Isaacs, the author of the weekly Blake’s Takes column. They discuss the reaction to the past week of violence and civil unrest by the NHL and some of its players. Sal and Blake also talk about the Red Wings’ next team captain and the logo design for the Henderson Silver Knights. 

Show Notes and Links:
Shea Weber’s statement (
John Tavares’ statement (Twitter)
Jonathan Toews’ statement (Instagram)
NHL statement calls on racial justice (
How J.T Brown’s protest reveals the worst of hockey’s racist and political bias (SB Nation)
John Vanbiesbrouck Resigns After Using Racial Slur (New York Times)
List of Bail Funds for Protestors across the Country (via GitHub)
Black Lives Matter Chicago (official website
Henderson Silver Knights logo details (picture)
Henderson Silver Knights official website
Toledo Walleye logo (picture)
Peoria Rivermen logo, circa 2006 (picture)
Lansing Lugnuts Mascot “Big Lug” (picture)
Kia Soul commercial with hamsters (YouTube)

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Follow Blake Isaacs on Twitter @bisaacs1995.
Podcast music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard.

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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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Review: 1987-88 Flint Spirits Team Set

The Flint Spirits had a great 1987-88 season. Much of that success was owed to future NHLer John Cullen, who led the International Hockey League in scoring with 157 points (48 G, 109 A) in 81 games, and then led his team in the playoffs with 26 points (11 G, 15 A). Cullen was named IHL rookie of the year. Unfortunately, the Spirits lost the Turner Cup Finals to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. Still, the team had a pretty good run, as well as a decent set of trading cards. 

The 1987-88 Flint Spirits team set is a typical minor-league team issue, with darkly-lit photos and an underwhelming design. But that’s pretty normal for 1980s minor league hockey cards. 

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