1974-75 Lipton Soup #29 — Gregg Sheppard

74-75 Lipton - Sheppard 1That escalated quickly.

Twelve days after certain defeat the Bruins are back in the Conference Finals, for the second time in three years, to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gregg Sheppard, who would go on to play for both teams, came to the Bruins to help fill the void of Derek Sanderson and others taking off for the WHA. (Sanderson would be back, rather quickly, actually.) Sheppard played a large role in the Bruins’ run to the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, netting eleven goals in the playoffs. He was traded to the Penguins a few years later, playing in Pittsburgh until retiring in 1982. I never saw Sheppard play but his size, stats, and knack for playoffs goals reminds me of Brad Marchand. Sheppard isn’t what interests me about this card, though, it’s the set itself. Lipton produced a 50-card set in 1974-75 on the back of their soup boxes. (If you have a couple of minutes be sure to read this great post on the set over at Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains.) The cards are a bit smaller than your traditional card and they had to be hand cut out of the boxes but they have a nice, simple design and are full of close cut, action shots like the one above, which look even nicer when compared to the plethora of ugly portrait shots O-Pee-Chee featured regularly back in the seventies.

But back to the Penguins.

I’m not sure if the Bruins have a chance this round. Pittsburgh has too much firepower, too many offensive weapons. They had a perfect month back in March, when they went 15-0-0, the first time ever in the history of the NHL.

Then again, I didn’t think they had a shot against Vancouver in 2011, or down three goals with 10:30 left against Toronto in Game 7.

74-75 Lipton - Sheppard 2


The Brief and Frightening Reign of the Cleveland Barons, Pt. 5

1977-78 OPC GirardI’m just going to go come out and say it: this card is a total mess. First, there’s a quality issue; it’s as if it’s a photo of a photo. And then there’s the strange, circular crop job at the top. I’ve spent hours pondering why it’s like this, trying to figure out a reason but I can’t. What makes it even stranger is that O-Pee-Chee used the exact same photo in his 1976-77 card without the black spot. So who knows. Also, there’s the usual airbrushing of his jersey. I particularly enjoy how the front trimming has been painted white but it remains yellow (from the old Seals jersey) on the inside by the nape of his neck. At least with Merrick’s they got the collar and shoulders right. Poor Bob. Even his smile is bad, reminiscent of a child’s third-grade school picture, taken right after gym class.

I’ve always wondered why some of the 77-78 cards used a all caps and a different font for the names on the back. Again, Merrick for reference.

1977-78 OPC Girard2

The Many Masks of Ed Staniowski

81-82 OPC StaniowskiTrevor, from supportingtheminnow, recently sent me a box full of 1981-82 and 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee. By far my favorite of the lot is the Ed Staniowski on the left. There’s so many little things going on that I love: the angle, the old Jets logo, the brown leather pads, the red and sky blue border, the addition of the French “gardien” along with goalie, and, of course, the painted mask. Wow. Staniowski wore a number of terrifying masks throughout his career but this is one of my favorites. (It’s a shame you can’t see the other side because it’s fantastic.) This led me to do some research on Staniowski’s cards to see if he’s wearing his other masks. Unfortunately, he only has eight cards (well, six and a sticker and a team postcard) and of those, he’s only wearing a mask in four of them and none feature his other Jets masks or his famous Blues mask with two of the eighth note logos over his eyes. O-Pee-Chee loved the portrait shot back in the eighties, I’m not quiet sure why they didn’t have goalies wear their masks. Anyway, I’ve scanned and posted all of the masked cards below.

1979-80 O-Pee-Chee

Great photo, great design, great card, great set. I love the couple rooting him on behind the glass. I like to pretend they’re his parents. Somehow, his stance makes the mask scarier. He looks like a four-footed monster.

79-80 OPC Staniowski

1980-81 O-Pee-Chee

This one barely qualifies as mask isn’t really on. Love the angle of his stick and the glare. This would be Staniowski’s last card with the Blues before he was shipped off to the Jets. I really wish this card featured the logo mask I mentioned up. Interesting note: former Bruins Hannu Toivonen wore a tribute to it back in 2008.

80-81 OPC Staniowski

1981-82 O-Pee-Chee Stickers

Full on Jason Voorhees here. This is such a great photo and simple design I’ll forgive the airbrushed jersey. I have a bunch of stickers from this set and the photography is very good, better than the actual card set. I prefer to treat these stickers as cards and keep them loose instead of adhered to the album but their non-standard size makes them difficult to store. Any one have a binder solution to this?

81-82 OPC Staniowski sticker

Staniowski ended up playing a handful of games for the Whalers at the end of his career. Alas, there are no cards, or even photos online, that show his mask, though if a message board poster who claims to own a game worn mask of his is correct, he switched to a bird cage.

I like the idea of posting about masks through cards. I’m going to try and do this again–maybe with Mike Liut–in the near future.

81-82 OPC Staniowski 2

The Brief and Frightening Reign of the Cleveland Barons, Pt. 4

77-78 Greg Smith1I’ve been working on this project, of scanning and posting each Cleveland Barons card from the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee set, since about the start of this blog over a year ago. Aside from the single card or two, the 1977-78 set is the only one to feature players in a Barons sweater, so I thought it’d be an interesting idea to post all of them in one place. Unfortunately, I used up all the historical anecdotes about the franchise (and all my jokes about the city of Cleveland) in the first few posts so the project stalled. But I’m recommitting to it, so if you like, you can follow it by using the tag “Barons“.

Greg Smith was drafted by the Seals and moved to Cleveland along with the franchise in 1976. He played with the Barons for both their seasons. His rights were protected when the club merged with the North Stars and the extra players were dispersed in a draft. He stayed in Minnesota for three seasons and remained in the NHL until 1988, being one of the last remaining Barons (and Seals) to retire. Dennis Maruk is the answer to that trivia question–having lasted one more year. More on him another time.

77-78 Greg Smith2

Double Takes

A recent post over at Diamond Cuts and Wax Stains on Nick Beverley got me thinking about reusing photos/very similar shots for multiple sets, particularly back-to-back years by the same company. O-Pee-Chee seems to have done this on a fairly regular basis during their first run. I can think of a couple off the top of my head, outlined below, but I’m sure there are many others.

1971-72 and 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Gilles Marotte

First up, a couple of early seventies cards of Gilles Marotte. I honestly can’t tell if they’re the same picture or just from the same photo shoot, I keep on going back and forth with the verdict in my mind. Marotte was a very good player that made a couple of all-star teams but he’ll probably be best known as part of the worst trades in NHL history being swapped in a package by the Bruins for Ken Hodge, Fred Stanfield, and some guy named Esposito. Two quick asides: 1. Marotte is a letterman jacket away from being one of Bif Tannen’s cronies, and, 2. Why the Kings don’t use this as their primary logo I’ll never know.

1976-77 and 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Dan Maloney

I’m almost certain I’ve seen these two Maloney cards together before somewhere on the web but I can’t remember where. O-Pee-Chee also seems to be cribbing their own design here, just sliding the team name and logo to the bottom of the card. Also, what is it with the 1977-78 set that makes so many cards look airbrushed? That is, on top of the ones that actually are.

1990-91 and 1991-1992 O-Pee-Chee

Not the same photo, but as close as you can get. I wonder if these were both taken during the same game at the opposite ends of the ice. It’s like those what’s the difference? puzzles that were in Highlights magazine and every touch screen bar game where you need to circle the differences in two photos. (Speaking of Highlights, Upper Deck should totally do Goofus and Gallant cards that feature cheap shot artists like Matt Cooke and Lady Byng winners and put them as an SSP inserts set in O-Pee-Chee next year.)

1991-92 Bobby Orr BayBank

91-92 Baybank Orr1My friend gave me these a few years ago, before I got back into collecting and I filed them away in a box and kind of forgot about them until now. Back in the eighties and early-nineties Bobby Orr was the spokesperson for BayBank–a local chain of banks that merged with Bank of Boston to become BankBoston, which were then bought out by Fleet, which were then bought out by Bank of America. There’s three cards and an 8×10 and they were given away at bank locations and Bruins games. I only have the first two, in fact, I didn’t even know there was a third until I started doing research for this post. In a bit of irony, these cards feature BayBank’s blue and green colors which were also the colors of the Whalers who, if you grew up in central Massachusetts, competed for your loyalty. (I grew up closer to Hartford than Boston.) But I’m not going to turn this into another Hartford Whalers post. I promise. The juxtaposition of these black and gold photos from the seventies with the blue and green borders and BayBank’s logo that screams I’m-from-the-eighties is jarring.

The second card inverts everything. The colors are swapped, Orr’s name goes to the bottom and the company’s name shoots to the top. I think I like this one better though, I like the angle up against the boards, how little tape is on his stick.

Not surprisingly,  BayBank chose to omit Orr’s stats from the two seasons he played in Chicago on the back. I like the simplicity of the backs and how they (mostly) show his career stats. The third card in the set is the best but I don’t have it: Orr is digging the puck out along the boards with Bobby Clarke and his mop right behind. In 1995, BabyBank produced another card, both a standard and oversized version.

91-92 Baybank Orr1 back

1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini #24 — Mike Liut

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut1The aspect of collecting I like best is finding cards I’ve never seen before, especially when they’re something old. This is why the last three posts have been on footballer and cricket cards from the sixties and seventies; even though I know very little, if anything, about the players on the cards, they’re new and exciting to me while still being vintage. I think this is why I don’t like vintage baseball as much as hockey. I’ve seen all the sets and designs a hundred times before.

I recently bought the 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Mini set and while I had seen most dozens of times on other blogs and around the internet I came across this Mike Liut card which I had not. I’m surprised I hadn’t because 1. it’s of a Whaler and. 2., it’s Mike Liut. I would say his cards are featured rather prominently on many blogs due to his terrifying, horror film-esque masks. (Some day, I’m going to do a post on all of Liut’s OPC cards because he looks like such a badass in every one.) Somehow, this one slipped through the cracks until I was thumbing through the set, giving me one of those “Ah!” moments that become fewer and farther between the more and more we collect.

I like the fuzzy white borders on this set, it adds a literal haze of nostalgia to the cards. Plus, it really works well with the white of the Whalers sweater here. I like the font, too. The whole thing looks a little like the Scanlens Cricket cards from earlier in the week.

1987-88 OPC Mini Liut2