So the other night I stopped by my local shop and made a purchase that I was extremely happy with. Here's a picture I snapped when I got back home:
What you see here are 20 wax packs of 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee hockey and 17 wax packs of 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee hockey. Now, the first question that always comes to mind with wax this old is whether it has been tampered with or whether the packs have already been searched and re-wrapped. This definitely entered my mind but I went for it anyway, and I had a couple of good reasons to do so.
First and foremost, I trust the owners of this shop. The two guys that run the place are great, and since I discovered it a few months back about 95% of my card spending has gone to them. They pointed out before even showing me these that the wrappers failed the "blow test", meaning if you turn it upside down and blow across the back, the two flaps where the wax wrapper should be sealed pop up slightly. This can sometimes indicate that the pack was searched and repacked. It could also mean that the seal just wore off over time, but like I said they were very up front with me about this.
The second reason I went for it is that I love these two sets, and my collection is severely lacking cards from both. Even if they were searched the cards are in mint condition and with this many packs I'll end up with a few hundred mint condition cards to put me well on my way towards these two sets.
Finally, because of the uncertainty on the status of these packs, the owners didn't feel comfortable putting them out on the shelf. They're smart enough to know that if someone buys just a pack or two and doesn't pull anything great, they will complain that they weren't legit. For that reason they set these aside for me because they know I am a big hockey guy and I like the older stuff. Because they couldn't put them out and because I'm a frequent shopper they sold them to me for $1 a pack. Yes, that's right, a buck. I would've probably paid this price even if I knew for sure that they were searched.
Most of the packs I took home in an unopened state, as you can see in the picture. I plan to enjoy them slowly over time. I did open 2 packs of each year in the shop though, and was very encouraged by what I found. First of all, in each pack the card at the bottom of the stack (closest to the front of the wrapper) has literally become one with the enclosed stick of petrified gum. The fact that there was gum present, and that it had completely molded to the card, shows if nothing else that if these were repacked it was done a long time ago. Supporting this argument is the fact that in each pack I opened the card at the top of the stack, where the back of the wrapper was sealed together, had wax stains on the front from where the pack was sealed up. If someone repacked these they were careful enough to make sure that these top and bottom cards stayed as is. Finally, in the 4 packs that I opened I pulled some pretty decent cards, a couple of which probably wouldn't have been left behind by a pack searcher. Here are a few highlights just from these initial 4 packs. First, the 2 packs of 1983-84:
I think a lot of people overlook Mike Bossy or forget just how much of a sniper this guy was. Most fans know he is a Hall-of-Famer, but when I mentioned to the shop owners after pulling this card that he scored 50+ goals in each of his first 9 seasons they thought I was joking. Those 9 50 goal seasons are still the record for most consecutive. Not only that but he and some guy named Gretzky are the only two players to record 50 or more goals 9 times. They're also the only two players to record more than 60 goals 5 times! The most impressive thing is that Bossy played only those 9 seasons, plus a 10th where he missed close to 20 games and still netted 38 goals before back injuries forced him out of the game at the age of 30.
In just 10 seasons he scored 573 goals, racked up 1,126 points, won the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year (the first player to score 50+ in his rookie campaign), became the second player to accomplish the 50-in-50 feat (50 goals in the first 50 games of the season), and won the Lady Byng trophy 3 times. Oh yeah, he also won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups with the Islanders and captured the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP as well. Talk about going out on top!
In 62 games with the B's in the 1982-83 season Peeters went 40-11-9 with a 2.36 Goals Against Average, capturing the Vezina trophy. He is also known for giving up Mario Lemieux's first career goal. To tie him back to the Bossy card above, in the 79-80 Stanley Cup finals he gave up the overtime goal to Bob Nystrom in game 6 that gave the Islanders what would be the first of their 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships.
One of the Jets' all time greats. Man those were some sweet uniforms...
Finally we have Lanny McDonald's base card. Despite having precious few cards from this set this is the 3rd one of these in my collection. I've shown it on the blog before. That about does it for the 2 83-84 packs I opened. I did a little better I think with the 2 82-83 packs:
Here's the Minnesota North Stars team leaders card. I've always been partial to Dino Ciccarelli who registered career highs in goals (55) and points (106) in the 1981-82 season.
Second year card of Hall-of-Fame defenseman Larry Murphy.
This was easily one of my favorite cards from these couple of packs. Stoughton was a scoring threat in Hartford for a few seasons, scoring 40+ goals for the team in 4 straight years, from 1979-80 through 1982-83. In two of those seaons he netted 50+. He spent the mid to late 70's in the WHA though, where he was inconsistent, and as a result his career NHL totals are lacking a bit. He still averaged nearly a goal every two games in the National Hockey League.
I don't have much to say about Pat, and he's definitely a common, but I just thought the photo was strange on this one. Pretty tightly cropped shot for a goalie card...
Another Hall-of-Famer. This time the shop owner got me with a fact I was somehow unaware of. Rod Langway was born in Taiwan. Somehow I never noticed this on the back of his cards.
After 5 consecutive 100 point seasons, Trottier fell just short in 1982-83, registering 89 points. When he retired at the end of the 1993-94 season though he was 6th all time in career point total. Oh yeah, he was also part of 6 Stanley Cup winning teams (the 4 consecutive Cups the Islanders won in the early 80's as well as the back to back Penguin championship teams of the early 90's).
One of my favorite 80's players, Peter Stastny. If you ever watch the NHL network you've seen the "Moments on Ice" shorts they mix in with commercials during their broadcasts. I caught a great one the other day on how Stastny and brother Anton defected from Czechoslovakia to join the Quebec Nordiques.
Finally, we have the Edmonton Oilers team leader card featuring the Great One. I love this card because it represents one of the greatest seasons in the history of the NHL, Gretzky's 1981-82 campaign. The numbers on this card are simply mind-blowing. Gretzky's astounding 92 goals is a record that stands to this day and one of his many records that will likely never be topped. Tack on a cool 120 assists and you're looking at a 212 point season! The most amazing thing to me is that this is one of four 200 point seasons he registered within a five year stretch. In the final of those 5 years, the 1985-86 season, he would top even this 212 point mark, registering 163 assists and 215 points (both records that stand to this day as well). He recorded over 1,000 points in those five seasons alone! Best of all, this card is number 99 in the set, a nice touch.
Well, that about wraps it up for the few packs I've opened so far. I'll be sure to post the rest of what I pull when I get around to opening.
Cards from Canada - This past weekend's Signature Sundays post was brought to you by my longtime hobby buddy Douglas, who blogs at Sportscards from the Dollar Store. As I ind...