As you probably know, Topps recently launched a website where collectors are invited to vote for the top 60 Topps baseball cards of all-time. It seems most collectors have some gripes with the cards Topps put up for vote, and it's hard to blame them. Recently, Night Owl (and I'm sure some other bloggers that I just haven't stumbled across) created his own list. It seemed only right that someone compile one for hockey cards, so I began scouring my collection to see what I could come up with. I'm going to break this into 3 20-card posts like Night Owl to make it easier for me to type up and for you to read.
A couple of disclaimers before we get started. First of all, these are my current top 60 cards from my collection. All of the scans are of my actual cards, if I don't own it you won't see it here. So, while I'd love to include a 1950's Parkhurst Gordie Howe, that's not a possibility (yet). Secondly, this is not a "60 Most Valuable Cards in My Collection" post. There are a variety of reasons a card would make this list. True, a couple of them are more expensive, iconic cards but a ridiculously goofy face is just as likely to get you into the top 60. Finally, and most importantly, I encourage your comments! Lists like this provide great fodder for argument, so let me know where you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear your feedback.
So here we go, cards 1-20 in random order:
#1 - 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier #100 - Jeremy Roenick Rookie - When O-Pee-Chee released its inaugural Premier set in 1990 collectors went crazy for it. It had a few great rookie cards and a design that looked pretty impressive compared to what was provided by Topps and O-Pee-Chee in the 80's. It's held up better over time than probably any set from this year. If you don't believe me try finding a wax box for under $70.
#2 - 1987-88 Topps #83 - Bernie Federko - Probably my favorite card from the 1987-88 set. Bernie's facial expression is priceless.
#3 - 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA #49 - Al Smith - Growing up a Whalers fan, I had to include at least one card from the team's WHA years. Al Smith's great mask made this one an easy choice.
#4 - 1976-77 Topps #100 - Tony Esposito - I wanted a Tony Esposito card to be included and this is one of my favorites, although there were 3 or 4 others I could've easily chosen.
#5 - 1962-63 Topps #55 - Ted Hampson - Ted here is one of my oldest hockey cards. This card has definitely seen better days but hey, it's almost 50 years old. Besides, that wretched lower left corner gives the card character.
#6 - 1977-78 Topps #75 - Cleveland Barons Team - I chose this card because for the longest time I didn't even realize that the Cleveland Barons were at one point an NHL franchise. Formerly the Golden Seals, the Barons lasted just two seasons in the NHL (missing the playoffs both times) before merging with the Minnesota North Stars. I wish Upper Deck would do team cards like this in their modern flagship set.
#7 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #128 - Nicklas Lidstrom - One of the more recent cards on my list. I think this is a great shot of the grizzled veteran on the bench. Lidstrom continues to perform at age 40 and is once again a part of early season Norris trophy discussions. Definitely one of the best defenseman of all time.
#8 - 1994-95 Upper Deck SP Insert #149 - Eric Lindros Die-Cut - These inserts were among the very first die-cut hockey cards I remember my friends and I getting. I would've traded just about anything for this Lindros back in the day, but as it stands I got it out of the quarter box at the local hobby shop not too long ago.
#9 - 1989-90 Topps #113 - Joe Sakic Rookie - 1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee is the set I collected more than any other as a kid, and for quite some time this Sakic rookie was the most "valuable" card I owned. I had two or three of them and I thought I would make a killing one day selling my extra copies. I've learned quite a bit since then!
#10 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #99 - Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers Leaders - This was a recent addition to my collection, pulled from a pack not too long ago. I think it's the perfect example of just how dominating Gretzky was during his era, and the fact that it's card number 99 in the set is a nice touch.
#11 - 1981-82 Topps #18 - Jari Kurri Rookie - The 1981-82 Topps/O-Pee-Chee design is definitely amongst my favorites of all time. There were many different cards I could've chosen from this one, but I settled on Jari Kurri's rookie. I remember this one vividly from my youth, Kurri looks more like a nervous little kid than a dangerous scorer.
#12 - 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Glossy #5 - Ken Dryden - One thing you'll notice looking through my list is that I'm a fan of great goalie masks. Enough said.
#13 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #54 - Pavel Bure - The Russian Rocket was one of my favorite players as a kid. Terrible yet instantly recognizable card.
#14 - 1989-90 Topps #74 - Doug Gilmour - Another of my favorites from the 89-90 Topps set. I still have no idea why the background on this card is greenish/yellow, and somehow it took me years to realize there's a player's face in there.
#15 - 1977-78 Topps #134 - Mike Milbury Rookie - If you live in New England and don't know who Mike Milbury is, you're probably not much of a hockey fan. In fact, no matter where you live, if you follow hockey you've heard of Mike Milbury.
#16 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #47 - Mario Lemieux & George Bush - This card from the 1991-92 Upper Deck set is not something you see every day. In fact, I can't think of another hockey card off-hand where a president is pictured...
#17 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #2 - Mike Bossy Record Breaker - As one of the best pure goal scorers of all-time, I had to include a Bossy card. I settled on this Record Breaker card, which celebrates his career season in 1981-82 (64 goals, 83 assists, 147 points). I know I've said this before but it's scary to think how many more goals Mike may have scored if he was able to stay healthy.
#18 - 1971-72 Topps #70 - Gordie Howe - What's not to like about this card? One of the best players to ever lace up skates on one of the best designs to ever grace a hockey card. Gordie will make another appearance later on the list.
#19 - 1974-75 Topps #169 - Kansas City Scouts Team Card - This one was picked for much the same reason as the Cleveland Barons card earlier in this post. I started collecting hockey cards in the 1989-90 season, and had a few cards as old as 1981-82, but anything from the 70's was a mystery to me. I didn't know about the KC Scouts until my second go at collecting more than 15 years later!
#20 - 2007-08 Upper Deck #208 - David Krejci Young Guns Rookie - We round out the first 20 with the proper Upper Deck Young Guns rookie of my favorite current NHL player, David Krejci. Every little thing this guy does on the ice has a purpose, his "hockey IQ" is amazing. You can really see how critical he is to the team when he misses time, I think if he hadn't gone down last year in the playoffs the B's wouldn't have choked that series away to the Flyers. Ugh...
Well, there's your first 20. Cards 21-40 will be posted tomorrow. What do you think?
no. 499 - 5th series checklist - *Who is the man:* Since these cards were issued in 1971, we can assume that the batter on the checklist card, whoever he is, is a Cardinal, Red, Phillie ...