Friday, April 25, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #25 - Danny Lawson

Danny Lawson fans all know that this is his rookie card. People who aren't fans, now know that fact too. Nothing new or groundbreaking with the front side of this card as it appears to look like many of the others in the set but the back holds something interesting. 

Here is the back side of the card and the first line struck me as being odd. "First drafted by the WHA's Miami Screaming Eagles". What? Miami had a WHA team? Well upon further review, there was intention for there to be a Miami team but because they couldn't get a stadium build etc, they ended up starting in Philadelphia instead of Miami.After one season in Philly, the franchise then moved to Vancouver for two seasons before finally going to Calgary where it met its death in 1977.

Danny Lawson was a fringe NHL player who played a few seasons in the NHL after having a solid junior career. Then he joined the WHA was an offensive star before ending his career at the age of 30. He tried a comeback or two but never could stick anywhere in North America and sadly he passed away at the young age of 61 due to cancer.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #24 - Pat Hickey

For all those interested, this is indeed a Pat Hickey Rookie Card and the 8th so far in the set of 66 cards. While it books for a mere 4 dollars, that doesn't detract from the fact that he is among some of the finer rookies found in the set. Pat did what many wanted to do and that was start in the WHA and carve out a respectable NHL career. Pat did that very well actually by playing two years with the Toros before joining the Rangers for the best years of his career. In 77-78, Pat Hickey put up an impressive 40 goals with the Rangers and he followed it up with 34 the next year and a career high of 75 points.

Here is the back side of the card and as you can see he put up very respectable numbers during his rookie season in the WHA. One neat fact about Pat is he was definitely not a clutch player. During his career he averaged 0.63 points per game in the regular season which includes some pretty sub-par final NHL seasons. His playoff numbers were atrocious. During his time in the NHL he scored just 5 playoff goals in 55 games to go along with 11 assists. If you combine those together you get a shabby 0.29 points per game. Pat certainly was no Claude Lemieux but he was still a pretty good player nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #23 - Ron Buchanan

 The jersey is looking a little too pink in this photo. I assure you it isn't my scanner either! Ron also has a Mona Lisa thing going here with his facial expression. This could be da Vinci's favourite hockey card if he could have had one.

Like so many WHA players, Ron was a junior and minor hockey league star who did well for himself in the WHA. We was in the latter half of his career when he started and as a result he was out of hockey by 76-77. This is his rookie card for Buchanan fans out there so it is a must have if you have a PC based on him. What I didn't know is Ron's father played in the NHL like he did. Ron played 5 games in the NHL and his father Mike played 1 game in the 51-52 season.

Friday, April 11, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #22 - Larry Lund

Larry Lund played with Gordie Howe, can you say that? Larry didn't play in the NHL or was ever drafted in the NHL so in that way, Larry is no better than me. Larry was an excellent minor/WHA hockey player and unfortunately he was never able to get himself on with an NHL club and before the WHA was finished, Larry was.
Larry was an offensive forward who peaked in 74-75 with 33 goals and 108 points. During 74-75 Larry actually had more points than Gordie Howe and no one can ever take that away from him. In addition to being in the WHA Hall of Fame, Larry owns a Brew Pub in his hometown of Penticton BC.

Monday, April 7, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #21 - Ron Ward

There are two things that Ron Ward did very well in life. The first is evident from this picture as well as from his hockeydb photo. This man knew how to grow body hair better than anyone on the planet. I think based on what appears to be a mohair sweater under his equipment that he could out do Robin Williams.

The second thing he did well was rack up points in the minor leagues. Ron had 7 career points in the NHL over 89 games but was averaging more than a point a game in his WHA career. The statement on the back of the card says it all. "If there were no WHA, there's a good chance that Ron might not be playing major league hockey today".

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #20 - Dave Dryden

I don't think I have paid as much attention to these cards as I have since I started these posts. Looking at this card, I was able to learn lots of cool stuff and apparently Dave and I have LOTS in common. Here is the front side of the card. Dave and his brother Ken do have very similar autos which was one cool thing I discovered.

The similarities between Dave and I are pretty cool too. First we are both named Dave. Second, we both graduated from the University of Waterloo. Third, we are both teachers and I used to play goalie when it came to road hockey and even strapped the pads on a few times in ice hockey too. My lone minor hockey league start was a win! Lastly, we were both born on the 5th day of the month. I am definitely thinking a TTM letter is coming your way Dave, hopefully you don't mind signing for a fellow Dave.

BTW, if you are Canadian, then hopefully this Dave's post reminds you of the best Dave song in the world.

Monday, March 31, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #19 - Mike Pelyk

Mike Pelyk was another NHL'er who was lured to the WHA by a hefty contract. Some sources I have seen suggest that he was offered a million dollars to jump to the WHA. I am not sure over how many years that contract was intended to be fore, but in the end he was back in the NHL by 1976 and out of hockey by 1978.

Here is the back side of the card. Apparently he was the property of the Stingers and was loaned to the Blazers. I am curious to know how common these deals were back in the day? Hard to imagine a player like Brent Seabrook or Scott Hartnell being lent to another club in the same league.

Interestingly enough, this card is Mike's only WHA card despite playing two years in the league. Another neat fact is he would only ever appear in one other set after this year and that is the 76-77 OPC set.

For all interested, here is his final hockey card

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #18 - J.C Tremblay

Card number 18 is J.C Tremblay and this 5-time Cup winner and 6-time All-Star has one of the nicest signatures I have ever seen on cardboard. Jean -Claude had a pretty amazing NHL career before he jumped to the WHA where he continued to play at a very high level. He lead the Nordiques in scoring the first year he was in the WHA which is impressive since he was a defenseman.

Here is the back side of the card. I only realize when I was doing this post that my card has a nasty crease/ripple by his name on the back. Might have to upgrade this one too eventually. J.C was named to the WHA Hall of Fame but was never able to get into the NHL Hall of Fame.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #17 - Anders Hedberg

As far as legit rookies go, there are none bigger in the set than Anders Hedberg. Anders was without a doubt one of the biggest superstars in WHA history and as a rookie he scored 53 goals and had 100 points. The following three seasons Anders followed it up with 50, 70 and 63 goals respectively. Even when he made the jump to the NHL as a Euro-pioneer he still was among some of the better scorers in the league with  three consecutive 30 goal seasons. A knee injury did wipe out his 81-82 season but he did battle back and score 30 goals once more and in his final year he still finished 5th in team scoring with 20 goals and 51 points in just 64 games.

I think the back of this card is one of the most informative I have ever read in my life. For years and years I wonder why stats from the euro-leagues always was light on information and appeared to be missing vital stats in my opinion. But apparently, stats aren't that important especially back in the 70's and 80's so websites like Hockeydb and hockey card makers often had difficulty finding the same stats we use in North America because they often weren't recorded. For another example of what I am talking about, check out Vladislav Tretiak's stats on hockeydb.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #16 - Tom Simpson

Now we are repeating all teams in the set as this is the second Toros player to appear in the set. Tom Simpson was a 40 goal guy in junior and a 50 goal guy in the WHA. Sadly he never made it to the NHL and was playing in Amsterdam before the 1980's.

Here is the back side of the card. Tom appears to have enjoyed playing other sports and despite his solid shot and skating he was never good enough to carve a career in the NHL. Originally Tom was drafted in 1972 by the St. Louis Blues in the 6th round ahead of "King" Richard Brodeur.

Monday, March 17, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #15 - Ron Climie

 The second card in the set to feature an Oilers jersey is Ron Climie. Unlike the first, you get a good full shot of what their uniform looked like. Certainly different than the Oilers jerseys of NHL fame but you can see some similarities with the Logo. Ron was drafted by the Blues in 1970 but unlike many of the other post, Ron never played in the NHL at all.

Cool fact on the back, Ron apparently was traded for Darryl Sittler! Ok, maybe the rights to Darryl Sittler but if he ever wanted to play in the WHA it could have been one of the most lopsided trades ever. Nevertheless, the Oilers scored Ron Climie and he lead the team in scoring during the 73-74 season but faded pretty fast after that. During that same year, Darryl Sittler was 22 years old and he scored 38 goals and 84 points which were tops for the Buds that season. Pretty similar numbers in pretty different leagues.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #14 - Gerry Odrowski

The first Road-Runners card in the set doesn't disappoint as it features a nice clear view of the uniform. I am not hating what I see, hard to say if I would be a lover of it either. Definitely lots of points are earned here for originality. As far as cards go, this is one of the rougher ones in my set, and I might try and replace it some day.

Another pretty cool comic on this card. Apparently forwards kill penalties with a Tommy Gun. Gerry started off in the NHL at a very young age but then for some reason found himself in the WHL for a number of seasons. When the NHL expanded Gerry found himself back in the NHL and then back to the WHL. Like a many other fringe NHL'ers Gerry found a permanent home in the WHA where he scored more points than he did at any other level. In 309 NHL games, Gerry scored 31 points, in the WHA he scored 130 points in 27 few games.

Friday, March 14, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #13 - Wayne Rivers

I am very disappointed that my first San Diego Mariners card in this set doesn't feature a full look at the baby blue jersey. Wayne seems to be very pleased to be having his photo taken in front of a cinder block wall. I do think this set would have been much cooler if it had featured action shots but if course you get to see the player more close up with a studio shot.

Here is the back side which features a comic that might be a little confusing. Apparently a player receives a penalty if their stick is carried over their shoulders. Unless the rule has changed, I am pretty sure it isn't a penalty to carry a stick over your shoulders unless you make contact with another player. If that was indeed true, then here is Wayne Gretzky, caught in the act and guilty as sin:

Back to the other Wayne, Wayne Rivers was a fringe NHL'er during the 60's and early 70's but after he made the jump to the WHA he was transformed into a 50 goal scorer. Certainly facts like this hurt the statistical accomplishments of many players who played in the WHA.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #12 - Bobby Whitlock

 Is anyone else out there like me? The second you see an Indianapolis Racers jersey you DON'T think Bobby Whitlock? Not sure if it is just me, but Wayne Gretzky a guy who only played 8 games for the franchise is what first comes to my mind. However, regardless, what would seem like a lame jersey actually appeals to me because Wayne wore one, now I want one.

On a different note, what do you think caught Bobby's eye? Agent? Young Lady? Someone stealing the wallet from his pants? Someone forgot to tell Bobby this was going to be the photo for his rookie card and that maybe he might want to pay attention.
With only 66 cards in the set and 14 teams in the league, there really is only room for a couple cards from each team. Bobby was the leading scorer for Indianapolis in the 74-75 season which is why he was included. The previous year, Bobby was a member of both the Cougars and the Sharks. In spite of his apparently amazing shot, Bobby only ever played in one NHL game but was a decent minor league player who also benefited greatly from the WHA.

Friday, March 7, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #11 - Norm Beaudin

 The Jets uniforms are ones that I did think were pretty cool for the time period and sort of stayed cool over the years. At some point in my life I think I may try and track down a WHA Bobby Hull Jets Jersey. In the meanwhile, we have Norm with a CCM stick that features a heel that could do some damage.

The trend continues and Norm too was a borderline NHL'er like many in the set so far but was an excellent AHL and WHA player. Playing on a line with Bobby Hull can bring out the best in many players and Norm benefited pretty significantly. Best season for Norm professionally was 38 goal and 103 point season with the Jets in 72-73. When you compare that with his 3 career points in 25 NHL games I think Norm owes a great deal of gratitude to the WHA.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #10 - Mike Walton

 Next card in the set is Mike "Shakey" Walton. This is the first Fighting Saints jersey we have seen in the set and I can see how it might have some cult appeal but I am not a fan. The jersey would be great for "swatches" in today's jersey cards but as a whole it looks pretty "dreck".

As you can see from the back of the card Shakey was no slouch in the scoring department. Mike was a star in junior who translated that into a decent NHL career. Mike was then poached into the WHA where he signed a three-year $450 000 contract with the Saints. He scored 136 goals and 281 points in those three years before heading back to the NHL. Between the two leagues he scored 337 goals, 392 assists for 729 points. According to Wikipedia, Mike is selling real estate these days in Toronto. Not sure if that hockey school is still running but that would be cool if it was (mostly for Mike).

Monday, March 3, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #9 - Gerry Pinder

Another very interesting jersey in WHA history are the Cleveland Crusaders. The colours are indeed White and Purple. I am not sure if they were just shooting for an alliteration or if there was a historical context behind the name Cleveland Crusaders. If you know, let me know! Gerry played the most games in Crusaders history by donning the Purple with pride 304 times.

Another reoccurring theme here, Gerry played a couple NHL seasons, and then jumped to the WHA. Unlike some though, he was done the year before the league was done. Another classic comic here. "cutting a player is a major penalty". Maybe Chris Simon should have collected cards like this as a kid.

Friday, February 28, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #8 - Tom Webster

Tom "Hawkeye" Webster is the next card in the set. Like many of the other players listed so far, Tom was a star in junior and had a good season with Detroit in 70-71 before jumping to the WHA. Like many of other others listed, Tom played very well in the WHA scoring at least 30 goals a season every year except the last one where he was limited to just 15 goals in 20 games. Like many of the others, Tom didn't really have much of a hockey career as a player after the WHA folded.

Tom did go on to become an NHL head coach and was even Gretzky's coach in LA for three seasons.
One thing I didn't realize was Tom was a member of Team Canada at the 74 Summit Series and he coached the World Juniors in 1989 to a fourth place finish. Tom did win in 1991 as an assistant coach of the Team Canada at the Canada Cup tournament.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #7 - Rosaire Paiement

Rosaire was a minor league star who benefited from the WHA like many fringe players. He turned out to be a pretty consistent WHA player who averaged nearly 30 goals a year in his first 4 WHA seasons. Still, never broke out as a superstar like he was in the EHL with the Jersey Devils but was a solid WHA player.

Here is the back side. As you can see, it is one of my rougher condition cards from the set with a crease or two on the bottom right. I really like the comic on this one, which states defensemen always wear ankle guards. That is something that was true...disappeared and now is making a comeback again.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #6 - Bryan Campbell

When I see this card, I can't help but find myself drawn to the jersey. There were some pretty great jerseys in the WHA and some pretty bad ones. What are your thoughts on this one? Personally, not a fan of them at all. In 1972 the franchise was the Philadelphia Blazers, then in 1973 they were the Vancouver Blazers. After two seasons in Vancouver they moved to Calgary to become the Calgary Blazers Cowboys and by 1977 they were done.

Bryan Campbell was another player who was decent in the NHL and was a star in the WHA. Clearly the talent wasn't as strong in the WHA but that shouldn't diminish some of the players accomplishments in the WHA either. What I find interesting on the back of the card is the cartoon of the referee. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #5 - Serge Bernier

Serge Bernier was a decent NHL'er who defected to the WHA after its first season. What is neat about this card is we all know the Nordiques, but check out the colours. Much different that the Nordiques of the 80's and early 90's.

Serge played 6 seasons in the WHA all with the Nordiques and another 8 seasons in the NHL with Philly, LA and Quebec. Serge played his best season in 74-75 when he scored 54 goals and 122 points. He did score 20 goals twice in the NHL but his best days were during his six season in the WHA where he put up 230 goals and 556 points. Serge Bernier is also a WHA Hall of Famer much Ulf Nilsson from my last post.

Monday, February 24, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #4 - Ulf Nilsson

The fourth card in the set is also a rookie, this time it is Ulf Nilsson. There are 30 official rookies in this set and Ulf Nilsson is one of the bigger ones. With a book value of $12 dollars, it is tied with Anders Hedberg as the most expensive rookie in the set. Ulf had an amazing WHA career which included 4 straight years of at least 114 points per season and a career average of 35 goals and 121 points per season in the WHA. His transition to the NHL was good but an injury caused by Denis Potvin seriously hampered his career and forced him into an early retirement. Despite the injury, Ulf still averaged nearly a point per game in both the regular season and the playoffs in the NHL.

No stats, just facts! Ulf was inducted into the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

Friday, February 21, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #3 - Wayne Dillion

Card number three in the set is a Wayne Dillon rookie. Wayne is a classic case of a player who was awesome in junior and used the WHA to launch himself into the NHL. Wayne was drafted by the Rangers after two seasons in the WHA. The Rangers made him their first pick (12th overall) after 95 points season in his second year. Wayne struggled with injuries and couldn't match his WHA success in the NHL and by 1982 was completely out of hockey.

The comic on the back seems so silly, but not everyone back in the day may have known the puck is made of rubber. Check out that rookie season in the WHA. His point total was good enough for third that year behind Wayne Carleton and Gavin Kirk. The next season, he lead the team in scoring (beating Frank Mahovlich) before leaving for the NHL. Wayne would make one more WHA appearance in 1977-78 with the Birmingham Bulls but by then he wasn't the same player he was at the start of his career.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

74-75 OPC WHA Set Card by Card #2 - Bruce MacGregor

74-75 OPC WHA  #2 - Bruce MacGregor
After the first card in the set, OPC goes with the same pattern for all the other player cards in the set. The left side of the front features a team banner with a player making a play on the puck. Below the banner is the position and name of the player and the right side of the card features a large photo with a facsimile auto. All the photos in the set are studio shots.

The backside of the card is very well used. Personal vitals and card number on the upper left. Cartoon on the upper right and the middle of the back is loaded with bilingual text. At last on the bottom are last seasons stats and career totals. If the player was in the NHL last year (73-74) all the stats are NHL. If the player played in the WHA the previous year then their stats are entirely WHA (Gordie Howe being the exception).

Bruce MacGregor was a long-time NHL'er (15 seasons) before he jumped to the WHA. He played two seasons with the Oilers before retiring from hockey. Bruce was an assistant GM with the Oilers in the 80's winning 5 Cups with them.