Sunday, November 7, 2010

Score Hockey - A Look Back at the Original

Panini's 2010-11 Score hockey product finally hit shelves over the last week, and like many collectors and bloggers I've busted my first hobby box. Instead of showing you all the cards (I might do this anyway) I figured I would take a different approach. A few weeks back I bought a factory set of Score's first ever hockey set. Released 20 years ago, it's the set from which the recent Panini release draws its inspiration.

I bought so many of these back in the day but I'm not sure if I ever completed the set or not. Regardless, this one only cost me $8 at the local hobby shop. Standard set consists of 440 cards, and the factory set comes with 5 exclusive Eric Lindros cards. How exciting. Here are some of the highlights of the set.

#1 - Wayne Gretzky - The first 311 cards are of the standard base design. This wasn't my favorite as a kid but I've come to appreciate it more over time. The design is meant to mimic the lines of a hockey rink, with the top and bottom red border representing the goal lines, the two blue lines and center red line in between. One thing that anyone with a decent chunk of these has undoubtedly noticed is that the colored lines bleed over the edges of the card, so when you have a stack of them together it truly looks like a small hockey rink contained within your card box.

At the top right is the Score logo, and the team logo is contained within a circle at top left. The bottom has the players name and position in a very basic font, as well as a player silhouette logo that corresponds to the position. This sort of reminds me of the 1973 Topps baseball release:

It's not an exact match as the '73 Topps baseball release featured a black outline of the player against a colored circular backdrop, whereas the Score hockey release features a colored outline against the plain white border of the card. The backs are pretty nice as well:

The hockey card scene really exploded in 1990-91. Other than some oddball sets here and there, the 80's were all about Topps and O-Pee-Chee. But as the 1990 saw the release of inaugural sets from Upper Deck, Score and Pro Set to name a few. Upper Deck's 1990-91 set is generally regarded as superior to Score's release, and rightfully so. I do give Score's set credit though, as it included photos on the backs of the cards. The small head shots don't compare with Upper Deck's large back photos or "tamper proof" holograms but I think they look better than what Topps/O-Pee-Chee released the same year. In fact, the lack of photos on the back is one of my biggest gripes so far regarding Panini's new release, but that's for another post.

#2 - Mario Lemieux - I'm sure most people thought the white jersey/yellow helmet combo was atrocious, but I kind of like it. It would be cool to see the Pens bring this look back for a game or two.

#3 - Steve Yzerman - As you can tell by cards 1 - 3, Score frontloaded the beginning of the set with many of the game's superstars.

#8 - Joe Sakic - Early card of Joe sporting the awesome Nordiques logo.

#10 - Patrick Roy - Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Patrick Roy were amongst the guys at the top of the hockey world as the 90's began, and as a result there is a heavy dose of each of them in this set, especially Gretzky.

#15 - Chris Chelios - Chelios actually played the 1990-91 season with Chicago, his first of many with the Blackhawks.

#43 - Alexander Mogilny

#46 - Peter Sidorkiewicz

#70 - Ron Francis - Just a few months after this card was released, Hartford would send Francis to Pittsburgh in one of the worst trades of all time. It was a crushing blow to fans, and within a few short years the franchise would migrate to Carolina.

#79 - Bill Ranford - The photography isn't spectacular but there are some solid cards, like this one.

#146 - Brendan Shanahan - Shanahan would rack up 29 goals and 141 PIM in 90-91, his final year in New Jersey.

#155 - Doug Gilmour - Gilmour scored just 20 goals in the 90-91 season, the least he had tallied since entering the league. One thing I would like to point out is the creepy way that Score blurred the faces of the people in the crowd. It's not that noticeable upon first glance, but it's done on many cards in the set and just looks odd once you notice it.

#156 - Paul Fenton - Paul is the first horizontal card I decided to show. As is the case with most sets, I prefer them to the vertical cards. The Jets' uniform works really well with the colors on the border of the card.

#166 - Dave Taylor - I included Dave as another prime example of crowd face-blurring...

#179 - Jeremy Roenick - 1990-91 was the first of 4 consecutive fantastic seasons for Roenick, during which he would score over 400 points.

#186 - Mark Recchi - Mark has the distinction of being amongst a very small group of players with a card in both the original 1990-91 Score set and in the 2010-11 Panini release. That's some longevity right there!

#210 - Ed Olczyk - If you watch Chicago Blackhawks games, or any hockey at all on the Vs. network, you've undoubtedly heard Olczyk on color commentator duty. He does a great job in my opinion.

#212 - Kevin Dineen - Another nice horizontal card.

#218 - Zarley Zalapski - Here's one of the "prizes" the Whalers got in the Francis trade with Pittsburgh, ugh. Nice looking card though.

#230 - Dino Ciccarelli - Ciccarelli will be inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame tomorrow night. I know he never won a Cup, but in my mind 600 career goals and 1,200 career points seems Hall-worthy.

#255 - Bob Errey - Another nice horizontal card.

#275 - Grant Fuhr

#280 - Doug Wilson - Great photo of one of the game's last helmet-less players...

#282 - Stephane Beauregard - I like the helmet.

#289 - Clint Malarchuk - I'm sure everyone reading this already knows, but if you're not aware Malarchuk was involved in probably the most horrific sports injury I've ever seen when his neck was slashed open by the skate of opposing player Steve Tuttle. If this is news to you, and you want to satisfy your curiosity, just be warned that it is not for the faint of heart. It's the kind of video that makes you feel a little sick. Still curious? Don't say I didn't warn you.

#290 - Guy Lafleur - Another guy who played sans helmet.

#300 - Brett Hull

#312 - Patrick Roy - All-Star - Cards 312 - 323 are the subset for First and Second Team All-Stars. Same as the base set but with the All-Star logo replacing the team logo, and some super high tech "trails" technology used on the photos.

#313 - Ray Bourque - All-Star

#315 - Mark Messier - All-Star - Messier was coming off a Stanley Cup Championship, one he won without the help of Wayne Gretzky. The Oilers lost in the conference finals in 90-91 though, and dealt Messier to the Rangers.

#317 - Brett Hull - All-Star - Hull was coming off a monster season in which he scored a league-leading 72 goals.

#321 - Wayne Gretzky - All-Star - Gretzky was relegated to Second Team All-Star as former teammate Messier beat him out as the First Team center.

#327 - Mike Modano - All-Rookie Team - Modano, like Mark Recchi, also has a card in Panini's 2010-11 set. Mike, feeling somewhat spurned by Dallas' lack of a contract offer, is playing for the Wings and has 2 goals and 2 assists so far on the young season. Definitely a future Hall-of-Famer, 550+ goals, 800+ assists, and easily one of the greatest US-born players of all time.

#328 - Rod Brind-Amour - All-Rookie Team

#331 - Edmonton Oilers - Stanley Cup Champions - This is definitely in the running for my favorite card in the set. I love the horizontal photo of goalie and Conn Smythe winner Bill Ranford hoisting the Cup as Mark Messier looks on from the background.

The back gives you a nice series summary, where unfortunately we have to read about how the Oilers neutralized the Bruins' top scorers en route to the Stanley Cup Championship.

#335 - Al MacInnis - Blaster - Cards 332 - 345 are where the set gets really cheesy with this subset that highlights the player's best attribute using a one-word description. MacInnis' explosive slap shot earns him Blaster honors.

#336 - Wayne Gretzky - Sniper - Gretzky is credited as a Sniper...

#337 - Mario Lemieux - Sniper - Super Mario is a Sniper as well. He scored 123 points in 89-90, despite playing in just 59 games. Sort of a microcosm of Lemieux's career, it's scary to think how much more productive he could've been if it weren't for injury and illness. Over 1,700 points in just 915 games. Gretzky had 1,100+ more points than Lemieux, but played in 500+ more games than Lemieux did.

#338 - Wayne Gretzky - Magician - Gretzky is not only a Sniper, but a Magician as well. Impressive.

#339 - Steve Yzerman - Magician - Yzerman was somewhat overshadowed by Gretzky and Hull, but scored 62 goals and 127 points in 89-90.

#340 - Cam Neely - Banger - Neely's 117 PIM earned him the Banger title.

#344 - Patrick Roy - Stopper

#346 - Brett Hull - Record Setter - Hull gets a record setter card as he set the mark for most goals in a season by a right wing with 72 goals in 89-90. He would go on to best even that mark with 86 goals the following season.

#347 - Wayne Gretzky - Record Setter - Gretzky's record setter card signifies that he surpassed Gordie Howe as the all-time leader in career points.

#348 - Jari Kurri - Record Setter - At the time, Kurri held a lead on Gretzky with 92 playoff goals to Gretzky's 89:

Gretzky would eventually surpass Kurri and finish his career with 122 playoff goals, number one all-time.

#351 - Brett Hull - Season Leader

#352 - Wayne Gretzky - Season Leader - Gretzky was the only player in the league to reach triple digits in assists with 102.

#353 - Wayne Gretzky - Season Leader - He would also tack on an even 40 goals for a league-leading 142 points.

#354 - Patrick Roy/Mike Liut - Season Leader - Roy and Liut tied for the lead in Goals Against Average, although Roy had more wins and a better save percentage.

#355 - Gil Perreault - Hall of Famer - The set contains one card for each of the three 1990 Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductees. Gilbert played all 17 of his NHL seasons with the Sabres and surpassed the 500 goal and 800 assist marks.

#356 - Bill Barber - Hall of Famer - Injury cut Barber's career to just over 900 games, but he still topped 400 goals, 400 assists, 600 PIM and won two Stanley Cup championships with the Flyers in the mid-1970's.

#357 - Fern Flaman - Hall of Famer - The final Hall-of-Fame inductee was more of a bruiser than a scorer. Known as a physical checker, Flaman retired with 1,370 penalty minutes.

#358 - Bill Ranford - Conn Smythe - Cards 358 - 367 are the award winners from the 1989-90 season. As I mentioned previously, Billy Ranford captured the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP while leading the Edmonton Oilers to the Cup.

#360 - Mark Messier - Hart Memorial - Messier took home the Hart as league MVP.

#361 - Wayne Gretzky - Art Ross - Gretzky won the scoring title and thus the Art Ross.

#362 - Sergei Makarov - Calder - Sergei Makarov would capture Rookie of the Year honors. He had a long and successful career in Russia before joining the NHL, and thus won the award at age 31. Because of this a provision was put in place requiring a player to be 26 years of age or younger in order to be eligible for the award. Because so many of his good years were behind him prior to joining the NHL, he lasted just 6 seasons, plus an unsuccessful 4 game comeback attempt with Dallas in 1996-97.

#363 - Ray Bourque - Norris - Bourque won his third Norris trophy for league's top defenseman in 1989-90. He would earn a fourth the year this card came out, and then a fifth later in his career.

#364 - Patrick Roy - Vezina

#365 - Rejean Lemelin/Any Moog - Jennings - The Jennings trophy is awarded to any goaltender who appears in at least 25 games for the team that allows the fewest goals in the league. This used to be the purpose of the Vezina trophy, but the Jennings trophy took its place with the Vezina shifting to a more general "most valuable goaltender" award.

#366 - Brett Hull - Lady Byng

#368 - Wales Conference Championship - The Bruins swept the Capitals in 4 games to win the 1990 Wales Conference Championship.


#369 - Campbell Conference Championship - The Oilers disposed of the Blackhawks in 6 games in the Campbell Conference finals en route to their fifth Stanley Cup championship in 7 years.


#398 - Mats Sundin - The final 60 cards of the set are the rookies, with cards 381 - 423 being these prospect cards. Mats Sundin was probably the most successful from this bunch.

#402 - Kay Whitmore

#404 - Kris Draper - The recently retired Kris Draper...

#411 - Link Gaetz - If you haven't heard of him before his story is a pretty entertaining one, although a bit sad.

#419 - Terry Yake

#422 - Andrew Cassels - I always think of Cassels as a Whaler and forget that he started with Montreal.

#428 - Jaromir Jagr - Cards 424 - 439 are the 1st Round Draft Pick rookies. Jagr's card is probably the second most sought after from the set. My God he looks ridiculous.

#429 - Shawn Antoski - Jagr doesn't have the worst haircut of the bunch though, check out what Shawn Antoski is sporting!

#431 - Mark Greig - Mark looks nervous here. Perhaps he had a feeling that he didn't belong. Great job drafting by the Whalers here, as Greig saw action in 125 total NHL games. Some of the guys taken after him? Ever heard of Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, or Martin Brodeur?

#435 - Owen Nolan - Nolan was taken 1st overall in the 1990 draft. There was a time when I prized this card more than any other from the set.

#436 - Keith Primeau - Primeau went 3rd overall to Detroit, a pretty solid pick.

#439 - Martin Brodeur - Brodeur's rookie is far and away the most valuable card in the set. He joins Mark Recchi and Mike Modano in having a card in both the original 1990-91 Score set as well as Panini's recent release.

#440 - Eric Lindros - The final card in the set is the Eric Lindros Future Superstar card. The hobby was completely obsessed with Eric Lindros around this time, everyone thought he was the next in the Howe/Gretzky line of stars. In fact, Score gave you an extra 5 card Eric Lindros set with your factory set purchase:

#B1

#B2 - In Oshawa Generals uniform...

#B3

#B4

#B5 - This set is actually pretty great, but I don't want to leave you with those 5 terrible Lindros inserts as a last impression. Instead, here are my 5 favorite goalie masks from the card backs:

#5 - Stephane Beauregard

#4 - Bill Ranford

#3 - Jon Casey

#2 - Tom Barrasso

#1 - Patrick Roy

Well that's 1990-91 Score in a nutshell. Considering how inexpensive it is now, I think it's a pretty essential set for any hockey set collector. The design has grown on me over time, the backs are nice, and Score had Eric Lindros and Martin Brodeur in their 1990-91 set, a claim Upper Deck can't make. To be fair though, it's missing cards of Fedorov and Pavel Bure, both of which were present in Upper Deck's inaugural set (although Score did issue a Fedorov card in its Rookie/Traded set).

In any event, I feel like I definitely got my $8 worth! What do you think of the first ever Score set, love it or hate it?

10 comments:

MattR said...

They're nice cards. Could have done without the draft pick cards and the Lindros things. I like Score's cards but can't stand the cards of guys who haven't even played yet.

Captain Canuck said...

I remember when these came out. No one liked them then. Not many like them now.
I can still recall throwing thse out boxes at a time back in '92... you couldn't sell them by the pound...

John Bateman said...

I thought it was an OK set when it first came out but after seeing what came out in the last 20 years - I realize now that it is a great hockey set - it had it all great front design, great photo's, great subsets, great back design. They only problem I have are the horizontal photos (I don't like sets with horizontal photos unless the whole set is horizontal). That seems to be the only thing wrong with the 2010-11 Score set - too many horizonatal cards

Mark said...

I didn't collect hockey sets (just random cards) then. Thanks for sharing. I remember many of the names.

night owl said...

These cards came out right during my hockey card collecting phase (1989-92), so I had a few. Don't know what happened to them.

I remember the Malarchuk injury vividly. I was living in Buffalo at the time and the video was played over and over again on the local news. You almost got immune to it.

Fuji said...

Thanks for the amazing review... great information... and awesome scans.

I love this set... simple design, but it stood the test of time. In fact... I'd love to find some of this wax and bust it.

shanediaz82 said...

Thanks for the comments guys. I wasted countless hours scanning in every single card from the entire set, so I'm glad at least a few people read and enjoyed it!

Casey said...

This post takes me back! I like this set more than the new Score release.

I remember when these came out. If I remember correctly, you could see the first and last card in the pack because they came in those thin baggy like wrappers.

I think that I still have a ton of these cards in my parents basement; I should go look.

waxpacktimemachine said...

Great flashback! A few points:
1. I miss the Whalers
2. I miss the Nordiques
3. The Brett Hull base card has to be one of the best Hull Photos ever on a hockey card

Adam said...

I just picked this up at a card show recently myself. Great stuff! I knew the Brodeur rookie was in there but wasn't sure what else since I haven't cracked it open yet.

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