That Hull Photo

Brett Hull’s 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee/Topps may be the last iconic rookie card, appearing a couple years before before the explosion of the hockey card industry. (Aside: 1990-91 marked the debut of Bowman, O-Pee-Chee Premier, Pro Set, Score, and Upper Deck. [Double Aside: Quick, how many rookies does Sidney Crosby have? Tyler Seguin?]) I think most collectors wouldn’t have trouble conjuring up this photo in their mind. Hull looks young, he is without a helmet and his hair is styled in a classic hockey player cut. He appears to be simultaneous confident and starry-eyed. And, of course, an away Blues sweater is painted over his Calgary jersey. However, it’s not the singular Hull card that year. Brett makes five total appearances in O-Pee-Chee sets that year; his airbrushed photo makes four.

The first two are part of the OPC sticker set that season. These are about the 3/4 the size of a normal card and these are half that. The first is shared with Jim Kyte, the second, Tom Barrasso. If you think O-Pee-Chee had quality control issues when it came to printing their base sets you obviously haven’t seen their stickers.

On the backs of some of the stickers, O-Pee-Chee had Future Stars mini-cards. The photo makes it’s fourth and final appearance. Lastly, the only Hull card (slash sticker) from that season to feature a different photo and it’s from the OPC Mini set.

I’m assuming O-Pee-Chee didn’t get the photo from the mini in time for their base set and sticker release which is a shame; it’s a nice shot. In fact, Hull was mired bad photography for a while, his ’89-’90 and ’90-’91 cards featuring variations on his bad haircut.

Does anyone else collect stickers?

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O-Pee-Chee Booklets

One of my (many) other collecting interests is comic books so I was pleased when I found a bunch of these cheap at a card show a couple months back. Both the 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee and Topps sets featured these card-sized comic book inserts. (I believe some–or all?–of the OPC versions are in French.) They’re eight pages long, printed very colorfully (see the yellow brick building below) on newsprint, and are VERY corny. They remind me of those old Hostess pie advertisements that ran in the seventies as well. I wasn’t exactly expecting these to be Kirby/Lee-esque but they seriously make Bazooka Joe look like it was written by Alan Moore. The front borrows the photo from the player’s corresponding base card, often cropped. The Gordie booklet is a bit interesting as it appeared in the O-Pee-Chee set while the actual card did not. I’m not quite sure why the colors are changed. Note the green jersey and black collar instead of the white and red.

I can’t really stress how goofy this comics are. They have the same tone, humor, and positivity as the cartoons from the backs of cards from around the same time.

A few things come to mind. Why did they chose to do such a morbid panel on Howe fracturing his skull? Why does it directly precede a panel about him being hockey’s iron man? In what world are people walking by windows featuring human sized robots and somehow connecting that with Gordie Howe? Where’s Gordie’s number in the second panel? Why is the Maple Leaf goalie wearing number zero?

Collect all 24 booklets!

More Puzzles

Joe Daley doesn’t really interest me as a player. Even his name is boring. Like many others in the late-sixties and seventies, he bounced around the NHL a bit and then found some success in the weaker WHA. He spent his entire WHA career with the Jets, winning three Avco Cups, and retired right before they joined the NHL. Apparently, he was one of the last mask-less goalies in the NHL (though he did wear one in the WHA). But he retired before I was even born so I had to look all this up.

I do like this card, though. The 1976-77 O-Pee-Chee WHA design is nice enough, there’s the old Jets logo and sweater, brown leather pads, and a nice shot of Daley sliding across the crease, miming a save. Then there’s the Canadian All-Star banner (that year’s WHA All-Star Game featured players from the Canadian teams playing players from the American teams), bookended in green stars that are inexplicably dotted with a spot of red.

The truly great thing about this card, though, is that the back is part of a puzzle of Bobby Hull. I’m only half done. Too bad it doesn’t aline this nicely in the binder:

You can probably guess that on the backs of the American All-Stars, there’s a puzzle of Gordie Howe.

This Post is Brought to You by the Molson Brewing Co.

I’m not quite sure of the upside of sponsorship on practice jerseys. Who’s there? Where’s the marketing potential, to the fellow players on the team? (Then again, many Flames appear wearing them in the ’83-’84 set, so maybe that was their plan all along?) I like Molson, it was my hockey/Bruins beer of choice but since the Molson family have purchased the Canadiens I’ve faced a conflict of interest. I switched temporarily to Black Label but then I figured out the brand was owned by Molson so I’m back to square one. Most of you are probably wondering why a good Boston boy isn’t drinking Sam Adams but I’m on an adjunct professor’s budget and I prefer pilsners. Anyways, this is one of my favorite cards from the early eighties. Great design, great colors; somehow that ugly green/blue balance out the red and yellow of Calgary’s jersey. Plus, Lemelin looks so cool. I have no doubt that he’s hiding a can or two of Molson in his glove.

Lemelin and Andy Moog split time in the net for the Bruins the first few seasons I got into hockey, leading them to the Cup Finals in 1988 and 1990, winning the Jennings Trophy for lowest combined GAA during the latter season.

The back of the card mentions the Flames playing in the old Stampede Corral during Lemelin’s rookie season. I was going to write a little about it as I’ve done with other strange  and vacated NHL arenas but instead, I’ll let this picture do the talking.