2002-03 Topps Heritage Hockey

The third and final Topps Heritage Hockey set is based on the iconic 1966-67 set. I’m not sure why Topps skipped ahead after the 2000-01 and 2001-02 sets mimicking 1954-55 and 1957-58, their first two releases, respectively. This was the one that originally drew me to collect all three Heritage sets. It’s also the nicest of the three. Aside from having the best design, it’s also the one Topps got closest to replicating. The 2000-01 set is kind of a mess, the photos are too sharp in comparison. While the 2001-02 looks pretty good this one definitely feels the most vintage.

The big downside here are the 30 or so SPs. Some of are stars but others are rookies. There’s a Spezza rookie, which is nice, but most of these guys never panned out. It’s hard to justify paying $5 for an Alexander Svitov card, so I’ll probably never complete the set. I do have all the base cards and a handful of SPs. Here are the highlights:

#10 — Pavel Bure Bure was one of my first favorite hockey players, mostly because he had a 99 rating for speed and slapshot in NHL ’95.

#21 — Teemu Selanne Another NHL ’95 great. Also, I had forgotten how awful those Sharks jerseys were. This is my main problem with Heritage sets. They have a great vintage design but then some of the photos on the cards juxtapose really awful, modern jerseys. Look at Selanne and then the Maple Leaf behind him. It’s so anachronistic it throws everything off.

#37 — Paul Kariya To completely contradict myself, I LOVE the original Might Ducks jersey, especially the purple one. It’s probably misplaced nostalgia but I still love everything about them, even the asymmetrical stripes.

#49 – Martin Havlat I promise not to turn this into a critique of early-00s sweaters and logos but I really miss the Senators wearing these.

#67 — Mark Recchi I love that Recchi went out on top, retiring after winning Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. If only Marchand had passed to him in the waning seconds and let him score the empty netter.

#81 — Stu Barnes Wearing a Buffalo jersey that says “New York” which the Sabres wore and then auctioned off for a 9/11 benefit. I haven’t seen these on any other card.

#82 — Alexander Mogilny Alexander the Great was my second favorite player. When he got traded to the Canucks and paired up with Bure, I almost lost it. I bought an ugly orange and yellow Canucks jersey and wore it to school almost every single day in eighth grade. I had an issue of Beckett with the two on the cover and worshipped it. I really wish I still had it.

#114 — League Leaders Penalty Minutes It’s strange that Topps decided to invent these League Leaders cards, they didn’t appear in the original set. Worrell had 354 penalty minutes that season.

It’s too bad Topps discontinued Heritage Hockey after that. I would love to see the 1965-66 or 1968-69 set and a few from the seventies, though Upper Deck did do the 1979-80 set through their OPC Retro inserts.

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