My Own Winter Classic: Hockey Cards Featuring Extinct 1970’s Teams

The NHL is playing a game outside today… a game between the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field, where the temperature isn’t supposed to get out of the teens.  At least they don’t have to worry about the hardness of the ice…

It’s been over a dozen years since the NHL fatally pissed me off, so I’ll probably watch some of the game, but only some.  I know it would never work this way, but I sometimes wish they’d take advantage of all the extra space they have in a stadium and install an international-sized rink, one which is 4 meters (just over 13 feet) wider than a standard NHL rink. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy the game more on a wider rink, so you can be sure I’ll be watching some Olympic hockey in just over a month.

Anyway, it’s only a little warmer where I am, so I’m more likely to spend part of my day trying to organize my cards, including my hockey cards.

I recently got a small batch of hockey cards from COMC, and about half of them feature teams which existed in the 1970’s when I was a kid, but are now long gone.  Those cards are being featured today.

I love the 1979-80 Topps/O-Pee-Chee set, but the insanely-priced Gretzky rookie prevents me from making its completion a goal… However I couldn’t resist an O-Pee-Chee card from the set which features Ron Plumb in a WHA San Diego Mariners uniform.

How old was this photo at the time?  Plumb played for the Mariners in the 1974-75 season, then played 3 seasons for the Cincinnati Stingers, and this card was meant to represent his final of three seasons with the Whalers (New England and Hartford).  The Mariners’ folded just before training camp for the 1977-78 season.

Here’s another 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee card which features an old photo… Rick Hampton is pictured with the Cleveland Barons.

For those who need a refresher, the Barons started out as the California Golden Seals, moved to Cleveland for the 1976-77 season and lasted just two seasons before merging with the also-struggling Minnesota North Stars.

One of my moderate collecting goals is to collect the now-gone NHL teams of my initial hockey collecting years: The Barons, the Kansas City Scouts and the Colorado Rockies.  The Seals kinda sorta fall into the same category, even though they were gone before I started to follow hockey.

For 43 cents, I couldn’t resist this 1974-75 OPC card.  How’s this for novel:  Stan Weir actually played for the Seals during that 1974-75 season!  He would, however, be traded to Toronto after the season…

A couple of months ago there was a post over at Shoebox Legends about a very nice autographed O-Pee-Chee Lanny McDonald card he’d acquired.   The stats on the back of the card listed McDonald’s two seasons with the NHL’s Colorado Rockies, and if you look at the comments, you’ll see that I say something about going to COMC to buy cards of Lanny with the Rockies.  Here’s the first:

This is a 1980-81 Topps card; this set had a scratch-off “Guess the player’s name” gimmick which I thought was ridiculous as a kid and even more so now. Fortunately, scratched-off cards are cheaper and I would just as soon have them scratched-off.  The same year’s O-Pee-Chee set didn’t have the scratch-off, but also didn’t change the light grey print used for the player’s name.

This second card is from another gimmick-y Topps hockey set: in 1981-82, Topps had “East” and “West” packs… The “East” Packs had cards from a 66-card national set plus another 66 cards from an “East” set. In the Western part of the US, their packs had the 66 National cards (which I suppose can be considered to be double-printed) and 66 West cards.  I bought a bunch of packs when I lived on Long Island, so I’ve got most of the National and East cards, but this card – #82W – is my very first card from that “West” subset-of-sorts.

If you do the math, the “master set” of 1981-82 Topps Hockey stands at 198 cards.  The 1981-82 O-Pee-Chee set had 396 cards.

As mentioned before, sometimes other people’s blogs will inspire me to buy a card… but sometimes it’s something I write that results in inspiring myself. A while ago I wrote a “Forgotten Franchises” post about the WHA’s Toronto Toros, and I became intrigued by Paul Henderson, who was a Canadian national hero for his play in the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

The Toronto Toros would move to Alabama to become the Birmingham Bulls; that’s the team that this card shows.

No such backstory for this card of Jim Park of the Indianapolis Racers… Just a desire to own a card of someone in a Racers uniform.

I probably should’ve saved this card for a “Forgotten Franchises” post on the Racers… and come to think of it, I’m overdue for another post in that series so consider this a teaser for that upcoming post (which I haven’t started, so there’s no telling when it will see the light of day).


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