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1990 coaching fashions, courtesy of NHL Pro Set

5 Jan

Rick Ley

I’ve been collecting hockey cards off and on for nearly 25 years. I still purchase a few boxes and random packs but honestly at this point the thrill of finding a valuable rookie card is often overshadowed by finding older, out-of-style cards.

So I’ve told most of my family members who frequent secondhand stores to scan the shelves for cheap hockey cards and, lucky for me, here are some awesome examples of cards I received this year for Christmas.

These cards are from the 1990-91 NHL Pro Set (series two) and feature NHL head coaches.

My personal favorite is Bob Murdoch, screaming rather vehemently at someone off camera to his left. Murdoch was obviously a standout in the NHL’s ‘big glasses and a red tie era.’ He also won the 1989-90 Jack Adams Award as coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Bob Murdoch

I’m giving honorable mention for the big glasses and a red tie getup to the Hartford Whaler’s Rick Ley (top, left) and runner-up honors to the Philadelphia Flyers’ Paul Holmgren:

Paul Holmgren

Rick Dudley, then head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, looks absolutely chill in his photo. And why wouldn’t he? The back of the card indicates that he finished third in the previous year’s Jack Adams Award voting. I imagine hipsters of today, whether they know it or not, owe much of their fashionable inspiration to Mr. Dudley.

Rick Dudley

And there’s three-time Jack Adams award winner Pat Burns, pictured here coaching the Habs, proving classy never goes out of style:

Pat Burns

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First goals, milestones & the Geno show December 17, 2011 at CEC

18 Dec

So last night I went to the Pens game with my good friend Ham Slap. I didn’t know what to expect with the recent injuries to the team and many people joked beforehand that Buffalo was essentially facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton baby Penguins. If you missed it, here’s what went down: 

Jason Williams: first NHL goal, third star

Simon Despres: first NHL goal, second star

Evgeni Malkin: hat trick and two assists, first star

We also saw Carl Sneep put up his first NHL point in his first NHL game; Marc-Andre Fleury’s 200th career win in net; Pascal Dupuis’ 300th career NHL point; and Brooks Orpik’s 100th career NHL point.

What a night! I can remember seeing some milestones in the ’90s at the Civic Arena but I was much younger then and didn’t fully appreciate them. At that time, I never bothered to wonder what my team would look like without Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Tom Barrasso. And while last night’s game wasn’t any more important than any other regular season game, I’ll always remember it fondly. After the turmoil of 2007 when Pittsburgh nearly lost this team to Kansas City, I’m glad to see promising young players getting their name on the scoring sheet at CEC for the first time.

p.s. here is Geno’s first star interview:

Dear Ray Shero, please draft Brandon Saad

21 Jun

The NHL draft takes place this Friday, June 24 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN. And while all eyes are on the top six to eight players, one Pittsburgher could make history as the highest drafted native of the ‘Burgh to ever be drafted by an NHL team. In fact, the first round could see a trio of Pittsburghers (John Gibson, Brandon Saad and J.T. Miller) walk to the stage. That really blows my mind.

Growing up a few counties east of this city in the 1970s and ‘80s, I didn’t know much of anything about hockey until Mario Lemieux was drafted. There just wasn’t much news about the NHL or any other forms of hockey in my hometown. But Mario changed all of that. And as the Penguins won more and more games (and Wayne Gretzky won a Cup with Edmonton and then made a splash in Los Angeles), the NHL moved into the limelight locally and I became more and more addicted to the game. My friends and I scoured the USA Today in the mornings for box scores on games, I began searching out hockey cards (hard to find back then!) and of course we all bought Penguins merchandise and took road trips to the Civic Arena.

But one thing we didn’t do is take up the game. And that’s because there simply wasn’t anywhere in my neighborhood to find an ice rink — let alone skates, sticks or even pucks.

In the spring of 1991 I moved to Pittsburgh to attend college. A year later I watched the Penguins win their second Stanley Cup and my friends and I paraded through the streets drinking beer and high-fiving fellow hockey fans. Hockey hit the mainstream in Pittsburgh and more attention was paid to the game at the grassroots level.

I still have never laced a pair of skates, held a real hockey stick or stepped on to a sheet of ice. But obviously a lot of kids in this region did. It will be nice to see a few more of them drafted this Friday. It would be even nicer to see one of them come home to play.

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