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Monday, October 19, 2020

Latest Puck Junk Podcast: The One In Which We Tear Into the New 2020-21 O-Pee-Chee

We haven't had a new show in about a month or so but it's time to put out a new show. In the latest episode, Sal and I discuss the trade frenzy that has kicked off the off-season, the Cup win by the Lightning, and the draft. We also discuss the upcoming Virtual Expo 2.0 and new hockey card releases.

We then take a detailed look at the new 2020-21 O-Pee-Chee Hockey card set by Upper Deck. Sal & I both opened a box and give our opinions and breakdown on this juggernaut of an early season release.

Check it out where you get your Pods.

Subscribe to the Puck Junk Hockey Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Podchaser, PocketCasts, Castbox , Castro,

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Support this podcast and buy a shirt from the Puck Junk Online Shop.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Today In Penguins History (10/14/1982)

There has been a long history of deep seeded hatred between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Here's some proof.  On this day in 1982, the Penguins and Islanders had an epic battle...literally...with the Isles trouncing the Pens 9-0 at the Nassau Coliseum.

Why post this in an otherwise, generally positive Penguins feature?  This game saw a record number of penalty minutes at 233.  That's right.  233 Penalty Minutes!!! 

The first period was nothing out of the ordinary other than two goals by Butch Goring (who would later get the hat trick) and a few run of the mill minor penalties.  But then things started to heat up.  Pittsburgh's Marc Chorney took an interference call about two minutes into the second and the chippiness started to escalate.  Two minutes later, a fight broke out between Pittsburgh's Pat Price and NY's Duane Sutter, instigated by Price but finished by Sutter.  Despite the effort, this did nothing to light a fire and bring any momentum to the Pens game.

Five goals were scored by the Islanders in the second period, all within six and a half minutes of each other, all by five different players.  Nothing could keep them off of the scoreboard.  Kevin McClelland tried once again to spark something on the Pens bench by battling Stefan Persson at the ten minute mark.  Still nothing seemed to work.

With only four minutes left in the third period, and already down 9-0, a melee broke out.  Pat Price grabbed Duane Sutter for a second go around.  At the same time, Randy Carlyle battled with Brent Sutter, assisted by Doug Shedden.  The Penguins' Marc Chorney jumped off the bench and joined Doug Lecuyer and Kevin McClelland in battling a pile of Islanders that included exchanging blows with Clark Gillies.

In the end, the score remained the same at 9-0 and it was the worst loss the Penguins have had to date with the "other" NY club.  After all was said and done, the game ended with the Penguins being assessed 125 PIMs, while the Islanders were caged for 108 PIMs.

I'll just leave the stat line of PIMs down here so you can see the carnage for yourself.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Today in Penguins History (10/11/1984)

1985-86 Topps Mario Lemieux RC

On this date in 1984, Mario Lemieux, future HOFer, future team owner, and overall savior of hockey in Pittsburgh (not once, but twice), scored his first goal...on his first shift on the ice in a Pens sweater...on his first shot.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Some Odds And Ends At Seasons End

I had written up a few items that I thought were big stories of the 2019-20 NHL season. Of course, all of mine involve the firing/suspensions of various NHL personalities. You can read the full article that our crack team of writers worked on (not the drug), posted over on Puck Junk if you want to check it out.  We wrap up the Top 11 Stores of the 2019-20 NHL Season.  The full article...

Sports are not immune to parallels that exist within the society that surrounds it. A wise-man once said, “The world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you may not be right for some.”  Indeed.  Despite the sometimes seemingly deliberate best efforts to remain on their own island, the hockey world made quite a few headlines this year in their appeasing of the woken masses of cancel culture fanatics.  This is the tale of three vocal knights of hockey broadcasting.


As many of you are probably aware, the dulcet tones that filled the airwaves for 38 years on Hockey Night In Canada were silenced on November 9, 2019. Don Cherry, one of the most popular sports personalities, for better or for worse, was no stranger to controversy.  The 85 year old has been an outspoken proponent of the “good old days” of hockey as well as a constant, often xeno-centric, supporter of all things Canadian for his entire career.  Whether it was coming after Ovechkin for excessive celebration, disparaging the entire Russian Federation hockey program, calling out officiating on national TV, or criticizing Canadian team GMs for not having enough players from Planet Maple Leaf on the roster, Don has years of front line training in speaking his mind. 

But this time, even dapper Don’s obnoxiously fantastic wardrobe couldn’t save him from his comments he made on air during a “Coach’s Corner” segment of the show.  When discussing the upcoming Remembrance Day in Canada with co-host Ron MacLean, Cherry very adamantly drew attention to what he saw as a lack of disrespect from the people of Toronto when it came to displaying poppy’s to honor the country’s fallen military heroes.  He said, “You people ... that come here, whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey.  At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada.”  That statement, as well as the many that preceded it, probably would not have garnered much attention in the past but not this time.  Sportsnet viewed his statements as nothing more than divisive hate speech and relieved the former NHL coach of his duties, setting off a firestorm of debate that still comes up today. 

Cherry’s hero/anti-hero character brought both support and ire from both sides of the coin with people speaking out against his anti-European (and at times misogynistic) views and many applauding him for saying the things that live in the mind but never dare to leave the mouth.  Regardless of what stance you take (or took), it was clear that Don Cherry’s schtick had run its course…or had it.  You can still find Don but now on his podcast, the Grapevine along with his son and grandson. He still touts the show as him “telling it like it is” without the filter.  I’ve listened to quite a few shows and to me, this is the Don I missed, the story-telling Don that waxes on about tales of his life in hockey. 


Love them or hate them, the guys over on Barstool Sports podcast Spittin’ Chiclets are hockey royalty when it comes to making the interview rounds.  With former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonette (since 2018), along with co-host RA (Rear Admiral) and producer Mike Grinnell, the show focuses on hockey topics of the day as well as features guests that have included the likes of Connor McDavid, Chris Pronger, Auston Mattews, Derek Sanderson, Ron MacLean, and Sidney Crosby, to give you a sample of variety.  The show is known for its irreverent humor and discussions about hockey, life, sports, betting, and general “guy stuff”, to use an overused phrase.  It is also probably the closest thing most fans will ever get to an actual professional hockey locker room experience.  The point is, this is one of the reasons why many of their guests seem to feel much more open and honest with their discussions and you won’t hear the “pucks in deep” talk.  But sometimes, things can go south.

Former Blackhawk, Flyer, 2x Coyote, Shark, King and at the time, NHL analyst for NBC, Jeremy Roenick, joined the guys for a show on December 19th, 2019.  This wasn’t the first time JR had been on the show.  He had appeared before, talking hockey, his job, his family and anything else the guys wanted to discuss.  Always known as the jokester in his playing days, he even once told a very detailed story of the epic prank he played on Torey Mitchell while they were in Las Vegas (and it is EPIC, so go find it). This latest episode took a different turn though, as JR went a little “blue” as the comedians used to say.  He was describing his personal relationship with co-worker Kathryn Tappen and his wife, describing Kathryn as the most professional sports personality he has ever worked with.  He then continued describing their summer vacation to Portugal, making quite a few references to his thought of always wanting a three-some with both of the “blonde bombshells”.  He also joked of his equal-opportunity love making desire for another co-worker, saying he wouldn’t mind taking a crack at Patrick Sharp if given the opportunity since he was “so beautiful”.

While many listeners and fans of the show saw through most of this as mindless humor, the executives at NBC did not.  Neither did those that supplied the thousands of carefully penned and thought out pieces of literary prose directed at NBC’s various social media platforms (otherwise known as hate mail).  In today’s social climate, the pressure to hold people accountable for their actions outside of the work environment but while still under employment of corporations, especially high-profile/public interest ones has never been higher.  A few days later, NBC issued a statement expressing their disappointment in JR’s comments and suspended him indefinitely without pay.  Tappan, admitting that she would still remain friends with JR, also publically stated she found his comments inappropriate.  Regardless of apologies, both public and private, Roenick has not graced the airwaves of NBC, NBCSports, or any of their affiliates since the incident. 


Never the straight-laced, analytics guy in the studio, Mike Milbury generally takes the path he is most comfortable with and that’s speaking whatever comes to his head at that moment.  That is exactly why NBC brought him in; to be the antithesis of all others before him.  Now I could feasibly drone on with dozens of puns and bad jokes related to footwear and their use as weapons to describe “Mad” Mike Milbury but his actions pretty much speak for themselves.  Despite his long, long history of saying some “not so PC” remarks either on the air, in interviews, in the studio, or in various articles and by-lines, he always seemed to get a pass as the blathering idiot that no one listens to anyway (at least in my mind).  For the sake of this becoming the Slam Mike Milbury Epitaph of Infinite Sorrow [patent pending], I’ll stick to the most recent event; the one that finally brought the hammer down on his NBC career, for now.

On August 20th2020, during the Islanders 4-0 shellacking of the Washington Capitals, conversation began amongst the co-hosts of the broadcast, which included Milbury and longtime broadcaster John Forslund.  Since the unprecedented bubble-life began, varieties of stories about players adapting to their new, unique environments came to light.  Forslund mentioned, “if you think about it, it’s a terrific environment,” describing the players that are team oriented and enjoy being engrossed in routine.  To which Milbury replied, “Not even any woman here to disrupt your concentration.”  I’m pretty sure no shoe was going to beat that statement back from whence it came. 

NBCSports quickly took to their social media outlets, relaying their disappointment in Milbury’s comment, calling it “insensitive” and “insulting” and that they planned to handle it accordingly.  Mike shortly released a statement, apologizing (once again) for his remarks, regretting his mistake, and stepping down from the NBC team for the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Citing his comments as being irreverent and adding flavor to the broadcast, many of Mad Mike’s proponents took to the socials to defend his statements but this time it was just too much.  Lest we forget the 2012 comment about then Penguins coach Dan Bylsma who he said should have “taken off his skirt and gone over there” to fight then Flyers head  coach Peter Laviolette.  Or maybe the time he made light of concussion issues, using Sidney Crosby as an example and calling him a “punk”?  How about the time when he affectionately referred to the Sedin twins as Thelma and Louise?  Or the time he referred to golfer Tiger Woods as Tiger “Wuss” and told him he would send a goon squad to “tidy” him up a bit after he made a comment about hockey players injury recovery (I actually didn’t mind that one).  Still not enough?  Lets see…calling Pierre McGuire, on air, a “soccer mom” for his opinion on a dangerous play, repeatedly using some form of the phrase “hit ‘em with your purse”, monologing on the “pansification” of the game, oh, and don’t forgot the assault charge that was later dropped against him for grabbing and berating a pee-wee hockey player (they are 12 at that level in case you were wondering).

Again, whether you picked a side in the Milbury case (or his one before this, or the one before that, or the one before that, etc), is irrelevant when the Cancel Culture Squad mobilizes.  Milbury decided (or was told) the attention he brought was too much of a distraction and he didn’t want to “interfere with the athletes as they try to win the greatest trophy in sports.”  Well at least he got that part right.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Today in Penguins History (10/5/1982)

On this day in 1982, the Penguins played their first game against the new franchise in New Jersey.  Not only was this the first time Pittsburgh visited the Brendan Byrne Arena, but it was also the first regular season game to be played in Newark.  The teams skated to a 3-3 tie when all was said and done.

Goals were first scored by Don Lever (the first ever by a Devil), followed by another tally by Hector Marini.  The Penguins would answer with three goals, two from Rick Kehoe (including a power play goal 13 seconds into the third to take the lead) and another from Pat Boutette.  The game was capped by a goal from Merlin Malinowski to tie it.

But ultimately I think the six goals were overshadowed by the amount of penalties in the game.  There were 16 penalties dished out which included a total of 38 minutes; 19 for the Pens and 19 for the Devils.  This also included a fight between Pat Price and John Wensick.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Latest Puck Junk Podcast: The One In Which We Discuss The Greats

In the latest episode of the Puck Junk Podcast, Sal and I discuss one of the nicest sets of the early 2000s that came out by Fleer. It's the 2001-02 Fleer Greats of the Game set, which is jam packed with HOFers and hockey legends. This set may have flown under the radar for many but we wanted to shed some light on a highly underrated set, both by design and player selection.

We also chat a bit about some new releases, my weekend trip to my LCS, and the latest in #GDM and #ToppsStickers. 

Check it out if you haven't already.

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