Blake’s Takes: The 2021-22 Season Starts Tomorrow

The day we’ve been waiting for is almost here. The 2021-22 NHL season starts on Tuesday at 7:30 pm EST when the puck drops in Tampa Bay as the Lightning take on the vising Penguins. In addition to looking at the upcoming season, I’ll also look at a massive contract extension, and a few very notable injuries. 

Happy Monday and let’s get this season started.

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Blake’s Takes: Kaprizov Locked Down in St. Paul

The Kirill Kaprizov standoff has ended. The Russian-winger will suit up with the Wild this season after signing a massive extension. That will be my first take of the week. I’ll also report on new jersey patches, the league’s outlook on full arenas, and a few other interesting tidbits.

Happy Monday!

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Blake’s Takes: Outdoor Games at Lake Tahoe

Last week was perhaps the most exciting week of the NHL season. The league hosted two outdoor games at Lake Tahoe. The broadcast was incredible and the league might have created one of the most-attractive made-for-TV sporting experiences we’ve seen yet. I’ll share my thoughts on the Lake Tahoe experiment in this week’s column.

In addition to the outdoor games, the past week wasn’t short for headlines. New Jersey named their newest captain and a few other milestones were achieved. As usual, I’ll also share with you one of my favorite plays of the week.

Happy Monday!

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Blake’s Takes: Power Moves in Pittsburgh

Football season is over, which means hockey season is officially in full swing. Last week we saw a major front-office move. With the lack of other major storylines, I’m bringing you some of my favorite highlights I saw across the NHL last week. Buckle up because you’re in for some fun.

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Blake’s Takes: GM Moves and Fun Goals

There wasn’t any monumental news around the league this week. At least none that forced me to edit my column at the last minute. This week, I’ll tie up a few more loose ends and highlight a few former GMs that made headlines. I’ll also share with you one of my favorite uniform concepts and a few special goals.

Happy Monday!

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Blake’s Takes: Lightning One Win Away

After everything that’s happened since the league paused for COVID-19 back in March, the Stanley Cup will be lifted this week. Tampa Bay won three straight games, but couldn’t close it out against Dallas in Game 5. They’ll face off again in Game 6 tonight with Tampa up 3-2 in the series.

The Stanley Cup Finals has provided its share of storylines, from the return of Steven Stamkos, the dominance of Joe Pavelski, and bad luck of Tyler Seguin.

Outside of the Stanley Cup, the other 30 teams have been busy handing out extensions and making trades.

You can find five of my favorite storylines below.

Also, here’s the best song I heard last week!
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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.

Subscribe to the Puck Junk Hockey Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play MusicSpotifyiHeartRadioStitcherPodchaserPocketCastsCastbox , Castro,
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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.

Love hockey? Join the Puck Junk Facebook Group, subscribe to Puck Junk on YouTube, and support this site and buy a shirt from the Puck Junk Online Shop

 

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.