Puck Junk Podcast: August 6, 2020

Episode 66: Collecting Mario Lemieux

In Episode #66 of the Puck Junk Hockey Podcast, Sal Barry and Tim Parish focus on the greatest “Number 66” ever: Mario Lemieux! They discuss the many, many different Mario Lemieux insert and tribute sets that were issued over the years, as well as some of the more offbeat Super Mario cards. Sal and Tim also talk about the new “Red Penguins” hockey documentary, the NHL playoffs so far and new hockey cards released this week. 

Show Notes, Links and Images:
Profile on CBC announcer Jim Hughson (CBC
“Red Penguins” streaming links (iTunes & Amazon Prime Video)
Topps Now Hockey stickers (Topps
Panini hockey cards at the Panini online store (Panini
Upper Deck Game Dated Moment card for Week 43 (Upper Deck Blog
More about the LeBron James card that sold for $1.8M (Sports Byline USA)
The card that Randy Carlyle won’t autograph (Puck Junk)
Career In Cards: Mario Lemieux (Puck Junk)
More about Warren Young, Mario Lemieux’s teammate (Puck Junk)
Tim’s list of Mario Lemieux insert and tribute sets (PDF

Images and set reviews of various Mario Lemieux cards. 

1985-86 Topps #9 – Mario Lemieux (rookie card) – set review here.

1992-93 Clark Bun Mario Lemieux #3

1992-93 Clark Bun Mario Lemieux card – set review here

1993-94 Leaf Mario Lemieux Collection #3 - Mario Lemieux

1993-94 Leaf Mario Lemieux Collection #3 – set review here.

1997-98 Mario Moments #13 - Mario Lemieux

1997 Mario Lemieux Moments Card #13

1997 Mario Lemieux Moments Empty Wrapper for Pack #6

1983 Canadian National Junior Mario Lemieux postcard – set review here

2001-02 Topps #328 - Mario Returns

2001-02 Topps #328 – Mario Returns

1996-97 Metallic Impressions Mario Lemieux Set 

1997-98 Pacific #66 Mario Lemieux (found in packs of 2001-02 Pacific)

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Follow Tim Parish on Twitter @TheRealDFG.
Podcast music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard.

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Titillating Sports: Red Penguins

Sal Barry was a guest on Titillating Sports with Rick Tittle to discuss the new hockey documentary “Red Penguins,” which is about the strange business partnership between the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Russian Red Army hockey team and the Walt Disney Corporation. They also talk about the NHL playoffs “in the bubble” thus far.

You can learn more about Rick Tittle here and listen to full episodes of his show here. Special thanks to Sports Byline USA for providing this audio clip.

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Follow Rick Tittle on Twitter @RickTittle
Follow Sports Byline USA on Twitter @SportsBylineUSA

“Red Penguins” Movie Released Today

“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. 

However, “Red Penguins” is finally available as of today via streaming services. You can stream “Red Penguins” on iTunes and on Amazon Prime Video for $5.99.

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.

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The Russian Penguins: An Oral History

The Bizarre and Unforgettable Partnership Between the Pittsburgh Penguins and CSKA Moscow

It was about the pucks and bucks, first and foremost, but lest we forget the acrobats, blood-soaked mascots and accidental on-ice sex acts. There’ll never be another partnership like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and CSKA Moscow, which changed Russian hockey forever.

It’s 1993, and the historic CSKA Moscow program – a.k.a. the Central Red Army Hockey Club – is nearing defeat. All of the team’s best players – Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Pavel Bure, Sergei Fedorov and many others – have headed for the greener pastures of the NHL. Funding for sports clubs is no longer a priority for the Russian government, and CSKA is broke. It can’t afford uniforms or equipment, and almost no fans come to watch the team.

SERGEI BRYLIN: (Left winger, CSKA 1991-92 to ’92-93 & CSKA/Russian Penguins 1993-94) The whole country was going through a transition, from the Soviet Union to Russia. Obviously, hockey wasn’t the main priority. My first two years playing for the Red Army were pretty challenging years.

CSKA reaches out to several NHL teams looking for support. The Pittsburgh Penguins answer the call. The Penguins’ ownership group, which includes Tom Ruta, Howard Baldwin and his wife Karen Baldwin, forms Penguins Army International Limited, a joint venture between the Pens and Central Red Army. Superstar Mario Lemieux and actor Michael J. Fox are also involved as silent partners.

TOM RUTA: (Co-owner, Pittsburgh Penguins; co-owner/president, Russian Penguins) We created a company where the Pittsburgh Penguins owned 50 percent and the Russian partners owned 50 percent. That’s the structure they required at the time. You couldn’t have Americans owning 51 percent of a Russian company.

HOWARD BALDWIN: (Co-owner, Pittsburgh Penguins; co-owner/chairman/CEO, Russian Penguins) We thought we could make money because good players were coming from the Red Army team. If a Russian player was drafted, the NHL team who picked him would have to pay a pretty fat fee to his Russian team, I think it was around $250,000 for a first-rounder.

RUTA: At first, we’d give all the draft money to CSKA, until they got on their feet, and then we’d split it with them. So, in the beginning, they’d be able to rebuild their program and pay all their bills. And then eventually, we’d get a 50-percent share.

HOWARD BALDWIN: We also thought a partnership would give us an edge in knowledge on Russian players and give us a way to get sponsorships, because North American companies were looking to come over and start doing business in Russia.

RUTA: The Red Army was a great hockey program, and Howard didn’t want to see it die. And it was dying for want of a small amount of money. Read the rest of the story at The Hockey News.

Video: Sal Barry Guest Appearance on Pittsburgh Hockey Now

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. 

Love hockey collectibles and/or hockey culture? Join the new Puck Junk Facebook Group and follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Blake’s Takes: The Trade Deadline Approaches

Last week we saw a few major trades in the NHL. I’ll dive deep into those and why I think all teams involved actually made smart decisions. I’ve scoured the internet for a few other takes I think everyone will enjoy, too!

Continue reading “Blake’s Takes: The Trade Deadline Approaches”

Blake’s Takes: A Look Ahead to Next Season

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. 

Continue reading “Blake’s Takes: A Look Ahead to Next Season”

Top 5 Serious Stanley Cup Contenders

Sixteen wins. This is what it takes to win the hardest trophy in sports. Although regular season success is often used by analysts to predict post-season play, only one President’s Trophy winner has taken home the Stanley Cup this decade, the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks. Sometimes, the wear and tear of an 82-game regular season proves to be too much. The team which raises the cup in June must have enough mental and physical resolve, and undoubtedly some luck, to power itself through two months of grueling hockey. Below are the five teams that have the personnel and coaching to seriously contend for the Stanley Cup.

Continue reading “Top 5 Serious Stanley Cup Contenders”

Five Really-Lopsided NHL Trades

What makes a trade lopsided? Many hockey fans think it is when one team gets the better players, declaring that that team had “won” the trade. But getting the better players doesn’t necessarily mean that team always wins.

For example, look at the Wayne Gretzky trade. One could rightly surmise  that the Los Angeles Kings won that exchange, since they acquired the game’s greatest player in the deal. But consider that the Edmonton Oilers got $15 million in the trade, which allowed them to stay afloat, and won the Stanley Cup in 1990 with some of the assets they received. The Kings raised their profile exponentially with Gretzky on their team, but did not win a Stanley Cup Championship until 2012, long after that trade had any bearing. 

That trade doesn’t seem so lopsided anymore when you look at it that way, does it?

With today being the NHL trade deadline, here is a look at five lopsided trades, where one team clearly benefited, while the other got hosed. 

Continue reading “Five Really-Lopsided NHL Trades”

Review: 2018-19 Upper Deck Pittsburgh Penguins Giveaway Set

At the Pittsburgh Penguins game on January 6, 2019, the team celebrated the 10th anniversary of its 2009 Stanley Cup Championship. (Wow, a decade has passed; I feel so old.) The Penguins invited back many of the retired players from that roster to join with the current players from that team in the celebration. A few of the current players who have moved on to different teams, such as Marc Andre Fleury, sent video messages to be played during the event.

The Penguins and Upper Deck teamed up and gave to each fan in attendance a nine-card set commemorating that Stanley Cup run. Continue reading “Review: 2018-19 Upper Deck Pittsburgh Penguins Giveaway Set”