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.