Counter-programming: 1970’s Hockey On Super Bowl Sunday

I’m generally not one of those “big day” people.

…Which is not to say that there aren’t days I get excited about, I’m just less inclined to get worked up about some of the “traditional” big days. Sometimes when I don’t share the common definition of a big day, I have a tendency to push back a bit.

…So this is me pushing back.

Bengt Gustafsson was one of my favorite Capitals back in the day, and may be the guy who got me to appreciate the Swedish style of hockey.  Whenever there’s an international hockey competition, like in the Olympics, I always root for the Swedes… And sometimes I even root for the country where I’m actually, you know, a citizen.
1981-82 OPC Bengt Gustafsson
I’m not sure which amuses me more about this 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee card:  The way they replaced the Topps wordmark with an uninteresting “O-PEE-CHEE” while leaving the outline of “Topps” at the top of the card,  or the way that Bengt Gustafsson’s name “steps on” the border around the Caps logo. Way to sweat the details, guys.

I remember Vic Hadfield from his Ranger days (and from when my father devoutly watching the Rangers kept me from watching the TV shows I REALLY wanted to watch). I didn’t remember that Hadfield had been the Captain, but he held that post for three seasons, including the season where the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup finals. When Hadfield was traded to the Penguins in 1974, Brad Park became the captain.
1973-74 Topps Vic Hadfield
Hadfield’s semi-dorky grin reminds me of my friend Bruce (He says as if you care).

I got extra value on this card… Four  hockey players for the price of one 1977-78 OPC!  Bryan Watson is obviously in the forground;  in the back is (possibly) Garnet Bailey (#9?), (more confidently) Rick Green (#5) and Terry O’Reilly (#24 with the Bruins)
1977-78 OPC Bryan Watson
In researching the guys on this card I found that Bryan Watson currently runs Bugsy’s Sports Bar in Alexandria, VA (just outside of DC).

Unlike the other cards in this post, I’ve owned this next card since the 1970’s;  I’m just posting it here because I wonder if the photo was taken at the same game as the Bryan Watson card.
1977-78 Topps Hockey Terry O'Reilly
Of course, there were a lot of hockey photos taken whenever each team made a trip to the Cap Center…

This next card was a card I was not looking for in any way at all, it’s just something I stumbled across while looking for other 1976-77 O-Pee-Chees….but how could I walk away from a mug like this?
1976-77 OPC Ralph Klassen
Ralph’s hockey sweater isn’t airbrushed because he changed teams, he’s airbrushed because his team moved from Oakland to Cleveland.  What’s interesting about it is that Topps cards still showed the team as the Seals (which is why “Barons” is green rather than red). In O-Pee-Chee, the only Seals card is the team card, and everybody else shows “Barons”… and it looks like any cards that were uniquely OPC (like this one) have the airbrushing. Admittedly, this conclusion was drawn after about 38 seconds of research.

As it turns out, Ralph had another noteworthy card the following year.  I got this O-Pee-Chee card simply because I like the action shot (plus it’s a somewhat rare Barons action shot).
1977-78 Ralph Klassen
If you don’t know the Cleveland Barons from a hole in the ground (or your ass or your elbow or anything else), they started out in 1967 as the Oakland Seals, became the California Golden Seals in 1970 and moved to Cleveland and became the Barons in 1976. After two losing and poorly-attended seasons in Cleveland, they merged with the also-struggling Minnesota North Stars after the 1977-78 season.

Check this out… In June, 1979 Ralph Klassen was the property of four NHL teams in one day. He started the day with the Colorado Rockies.  The Hartford Whalers claimed him in the expansion draft (the four former WHA teams were treated mainly as expansion teams). The Whalers traded him to the Islanders.  The Islanders then included him in a separate three team transaction that sent Klassen to the Blues.  So, to recap, he went from Denver to Hartford to Long Island to St. Louis so fast that his agent probably called him and said “You’re in St. Louis now, don’t worry about how you got there”.


I’ll close this out by caving into imagined peer pressure. Here’s my prediction for The Big Game: Seahawks 24, Patriots 21.

Let’s see how foolish I look Monday morning.

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5 thoughts on “Counter-programming: 1970’s Hockey On Super Bowl Sunday

  1. The Rangers TV play-by-play guy in the 60s was Win Elliot (your Dad may remember him). He used to call Hadfield ‘Two Sticks’ either because he thought it was a clever take on his uni number (#11) or because he had trouble remembering Hadfield’s name. Given what I recall of Ol’ Win I’m betting on the latter.

    The Rangers used to broadcast their weekend games (which they played in the afternoon mostly) on tape delay at night. In my house it was strictly forbidden to turn to any channel or station that might give the result before my Dad and I got together in the basement to watch the re-broadcast.

    • I vaguely remember Win Elliot, but not from the Rangers broadcasts… I think he was a sportscaster on NY radio as well. WCBS, maybe? Just a guess.

      The games I remember featured Bill Chadwick and Jim Gordon… I also remember Marv Albert doing games, but for me The Big Whistle and Jim were THE GUYS who did Rangers TV.

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