The early oughts is a period I have little interest in collecting. It was a dark time for the Bruins–the promise and hope Joe Thornton brought with him upon being drafted was never quite delivered, with great regular seasons ending in first round exits to Montreal. Ditto hockey cards. Most sets feature loud designs and color and there’s far too much gloss. (There’s an obvious correlation between the gaudy aesthetics of both logo and jersey and cards during this time.) Which is why the 2001-02 Topps Heritage set is so great. The 2001-02 Topps Heritage Hockey set is based on the 1957-58 set. Topps didn’t produce a set in 1955-56 or 1956-57, so hence the skip in Heritage sets. Right off the bat, this one suffers from malady most of the Heritage Baseball sets do: the Heritage logo. The whole TOPPS HERITAGE mark in the top left or right corner really takes you out of it. In the 2002-03 set (below) the logo is much more subtle and sort of disappears into the crowd but here, it screams out for your attention, just in case you forgot that Curtis Joseph didn’t play in the late-fifties.
The design looks nice, very close to the original (with bonus trademark signs!) and translate well to contemporary times. The colorful background juxtaposes nicely with the white border. The SPs are less short printed than the previous set, making it much easier to complete. Again, Topps invents all-star and award winner subsets but more on that later.
The goalie cards look nice.
There’s 187 cards in the set, the final 50 are SPs of rookies and “high-numbered transactions” featuring players in their new uniforms. Ilya Kovalchuck is the big rookie here, the rest, not so much. Though that’s double the SPs from the previous year, they’re not printed at a ridiculously low number (the 2000-01 set are numbered /1955). There’s also a parallel subset of the 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee set which do not always correspond uniform-wise with their base counterpart.
Side note: most of these feature action shots. The original set used studio portraits except for the Ken Dryden card, which I find to be the best looking.
The set really comes together nicely in a binder:
I love a good looking page. This one is all stars, all vertical, and without any subsets or checklists. The colors really stand out, it almost looks like pop art!