I was surfing around on eBay and some listings there reminded me of some of the hockey magazines of yesteryear that I used to buy.
Hockey Digest was always the easiest to find in Cincinnati; towards the early 1990s, I think I could even find it at Kroger’s. It was TV Guide-sized and printed on newsprint with a glossy cover. They actually had a good mix of articles on different aspects of the sport. I also remember that at the end of every issue, they had lists of current NHL rosters with each player’s nationality listed. Back then, there were still some teams where every player listed was Canadian, although that dwindled over time. I think this magazine may still exist, but I haven’t seen it for some time.
Goal was the official NHL magazine. It was glossy and every issue had a pull-out centerfold (clothed!) of an NHL player. Some of them are still taped to the walls in my parents’ attic. In some NHL cities in the 1970s and 80s, the teams sold Goal with the team’s program inside of it. I have some issues like that from Cleveland Barons and Pittsburgh Penguins games that my uncle gave to me. But you could also buy the magazine on newsstands. I used to be able to find it at Little Professor at Hyde Park Plaza. It was probably the best-written hockey magazine easily available in Cincinnati in the 1980s. It had a pretty wide array of articles — profiles of NHL players and teams, articles about amateur hockey, interviews with celebrity hockey fans, etc. I wish the NHL would bring Goal back. I know they have that FaceOff magazine that comes out occasionally, but that seems to be mostly geared towards kids. I’d also like to see the Goal/program combo again. That would be better than the cheap free programs with nothing worth reading in them they give out at Jackets games.
Hockey Stars was the trashiest of the magazines. It was printed on newsprint with a glossy cover and had some glossy pages inside with pinups of NHL players. It was really only worth buying for those pictures, because the articles were mostly crap. Every other year, Stan Fischler would recycle his article about “Are Rangers Fans Out of Control?” I think some of those pictures are still taped up in my parents’ attic as well. I think Hockey Stars was available at Little Professor too, but for some reason I only remember buying it at King News downtown, which was where the Contemporary Arts Center is now.
Inside Hockey was short-lived. It was published by The Hockey News and was around for a couple of years around 1990-92. It was glossy and well-written, and one of the few attempts to create a hockey magazine that wasn’t just aimed at kids. I think most of the issues I had I bought in Canada; I don’t think Inside Hockey ever made it to newsstands in Cincinnati. Maybe Fountain News (I believe King was gone by this point). Along with Goal, this is the old hockey magazine I’d most like to see make a comeback.
Of course, The Hockey News was and is the summum bonum of hockey magazines. It wasn’t available at all in Cincinnati in the 1980s. The first time I ever saw it was when we were in St. Louis in 1986, and I was attending my first-ever NHL game. Our hotel had The Hockey News in its gift shop, and I bought a copy and was amazed by it. It had so much information on junior leagues and minor leagues and college hockey and ads for weird and wonderful hockey equipment like Micron Quadriflex skates. My parents soon bought me a subscription as a gift, and it was a veritable lifeline of information each week in those pre-‘net days. I still pick it up occasionally, but with the internet giving instant access to far more news and information than even THN can cover, it doesn’t seem quite as worthwhile as it did back then. Incidentally, the Giant Eagle on Neil has had the same issue of THN on their magazine shelves since last fall.
There were occasionally other mysterious hockey magazines that would show up at Little Professor or Fountain or King News at the start of the season. They were season preview issues that went by various names and were similar in design and content to Hockey Stars. They may have been published by the same company, or just some other purveyor of cheap hockey magazines on newsprint.
Most of these old hockey magazines got thrown out or taken to Half Price Books over the years. Occasionally I wish I still had more of them, or at least the issues of Goal and Inside Hockey.