O-Pee-Chee produced a number of WHA sets in the late-70s that Topps passed on. These cards epitomize the league itself; they’re alternatingly brilliant on haphazard. The photography is dark and often in need of cropping, half of the cards feature mismatched sweaters and logo (or the infamous “Now with…”), and there are plenty of studio shots.
I picked up a lot of cards from the 1976-1977 and 1977-1978 sets because I’m slowly trying to pick away at both the NHL and WHA O-Pee-Chee sets from 1977. This Al Smith card was included. I love it. There’s a great in-action shot, of Al wearing the old WHA Whalers jerseys (in my mind, where the Whalers never left for Carolina, they still wear these as their alternate sweater). It has the great, harpooned W logo on the border, the whale on Al’s shoulder, and that terrific mask.
Al Played in the 1978 Avco Cup Finals with the Howes, and stayed with the team after they jumped to the NHL a couple years later.
The backs of this set don’t match the front in terms of a design. They’re a mess. Although we get a nice little blurb about the player (I especially love this one) there’s barely an statistics. The blue/brown text on tan stock doesn’t help either…