Alright, the first 20 cards are behind us, time for cards 21-40. In this installment we've got Hall-of-Famers, nerdy eyeglasses, hockey's greatest trophy, stunned fans, a couple of good personal stories and we even see that the cultural fads of the 1970's leaked their way into the sport of hockey. Onwards and upwards...
#21 - 1975-76 Topps #30 - Stan Mikita - Stan's rocking his trademark bulbous helmet on this 1975 Topps card. To be honest with you, I'm not sure why I like this one so much, I just do.
#22 - 1971-72 Topps #20 - Phil Esposito - I think I had the scanner lid open by mistake when I scanned this one, gotta go back and fix that. This was an easy choice, as I mentioned previously 1971-72 Topps/O-Pee-Chee is one of my favorite hockey card designs. This card also came out when Esposito was coming off his best season ever, having registered career highs in goals (76) and points (152) in 70-71. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he's wearing plaid pants.
#23 - 2006-07 Parkhurst #87 - Willie O'Ree Autograph - Don't think this one needs much of an explanation. It's one of the few times I've gone out of my way to find and purchase an autographed card. Every good hockey collection should have a Willie O'Ree card.
#24 - 1968-69 Topps #123 - Tim Horton - This was a very recent purchase, probably the newest card added to my collection on this list. It's a prime example of "eBay patience". I watched this card up for auction with a $39.99 starting price, which I knew I wouldn't pay for it, and to nobody's surprise it went without a bid. The seller re-listed the card with a $29.99 start price, a little better but still unreasonable. Once again the auction ended with no bids. Probably frustrated at this point, the seller tried a third time with a $20 Buy It Now auction with the ability to make an offer. I bid $15 and the seller accepted. I chose to include it because I didn't want to ignore the Maple Leafs, an original 6 team, and the Hall-of-Famer and coffee giant is my favorite Leaf card.
#25 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #AW7 - Ed Belfour Award Winners Hologram - Much like the Lindros die-cut card in Part 1, this was chosen because it was an innovation in card production, something a little different that I liked at the time. Yes, I know Upper Deck had holograms the year before in the 1990-91 set, but have you ever looked at one? They're awful. If your lighting is poor you could spend ten minutes just trying to figure out who's on the card. They were much more successful the second time around.
#26 - 1990-91 Score #290 - Guy Lafleur - I know what you're thinking, it's a crime to feature Lafleur in anything but a Canadiens uniform. This was one of the first Lafleur cards I owned though and the one I recall most vividly. Since Lafleur had achieved much of his greatness before I was even born I saw him in a different light as a kid. He wasn't a league-leading scorer or multiple Stanley Cup winner. He was "that older guy with the long hair who doesn't wear a helmet". What can I say...
#27 - 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Retro #574 - Bernie Parent - Ironically, I generally detest parallels, yet my favorite set from 2008-09 is just that, the O-Pee-Chee retro parallels. At one per pack this 600 card set still does pretty well in the secondary market and is an absolute beast to complete. Someday I hope to get there, I'm right around 400/600. How great is the photo on this one?
#28 - 1974-75 Topps #91 - Al Arbour - The man who would coach the Islanders to 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 80's, and the last NHL player to wear glasses while playing. Great card, why doesn't anyone do coach cards any longer?
#29 - 1988-89 Topps #51 - Darren Pang - This photo is a classic. Apparently Topps feels the same way, as it was included in their 2001-02 Archives set.
#30 - 1971-72 Topps #83 - Doug Roberts - This one has some sentimental value for me, as Doug was an instructor at the hockey camp I attended for a few summers as a kid.
#31 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #156 - Mario Lemieux - Choosing a Mario Lemieux card was tough, but I think this 91-92 Upper Deck card showcasing Mario with hockey's most prized trophy might be my personal favorite.
#32 - 1990-91 Score #331 - Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Champions - Junk wax era perfection. Very few photos manage to capture a moment like this one does. Plus, the 1990-91 Score design, which can sometimes be downright hideous, actually compliments the Oilers logo and jerseys very well here. Not only that, but Mark Messier's lurking in the background, which makes me feel better about the fact that I omitted him from my list otherwise.
#33 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #170 - Dion Phaneuf - You could probably guess at my top 60 for quite some time and never come up with this one, but I think it might be my favorite card released since I got back into collecting in 2007. Bone-crushing hits are a part of the game, and in my mind are not featured on cards nearly enough. I mean can you think of many cards from the 80's, or the 90's for that matter, that depict a jarring check? What puts this card over the top for me are the reactions from the fans in the crowd behind the glass. You really get the feeling that this was one hell of a check, I mean look at this guy:
He certainly looks as though he just witnessed something grisly. This woman's reaction is even more classic though:
Look at the pure disgust there! Well done Upper Deck, that is one fine hockey card!
#34 - 1980-81 Topps #31 - Mike Liut Rookie - Liut was the Whalers goalie when I first began watching games in the late 80's, but I like this card better than any I could find where he's sporting the Hartford green and blue. I also wanted to point out what I think is one of the worst designs ever, the 1980-81 Topps/O-Pee-Chee "scratch-off" design. Using an object such as a coin to scratch off the black substance on the puck (much like you would a lottery scratch ticket), you would reveal the name of the player depicted on your card. All this has done for anal people like myself is forced us to find either all scratched or all unscratched cards for our set. My set is nearly all unscratched, but the handful of cards that are scratched bother me and are going to be replaced someday.
#35 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #293 - Peter Stastny In Action - I hemmed and hawed on going with Stastny's rookie card from 1981-82 Topps, but ultimately decided that it looked too similar to the Kurri rookie I featured in Part 1. Instead, you get this 82-83 O-Pee-Chee In Action card. The photo is much better anyway. I'm watching the Bruins/Thrashers play to a half-empty arena in Atlanta as I type this, and am wondering why the Thrashers can't be "relocated" to Quebec as the Nordiques. If I were commissioner...
#36 - 1979-80 Topps #38 - Wayne Stephenson - The second Flyer goalie card in this segment. I mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a good goalie mask, and this is may be the best mask featured on any card I own.
#37 - 1991-92 Pro Set French #101 - Wayne Gretzky Autograph - I think it's safe to say this is my single favorite hockey card. To this day it's my one and only TTM request, and receiving the card back was one of the highlights of my collecting youth. If I had to sell my entire collection tomorrow and could keep only 3 total cards, from any sport, this would be one of them.
#38 - 1972-73 Topps #7 - Playoff Game #6 - This card represents a significant game in Boston hockey history, the game when the Bruins captured their last Stanley Cup championship, over 38 years ago. Since the Whalers never even came close, I've never had the experience as a hockey fan of having the team I watch and root for win it all. The way the Bruins have been playing over the last week or so, I'm starting to think I'll be waiting a good deal longer...
#39 - 1979-80 Topps #103 - Gary Smith - I knew this one would make the list, it was one of the 5 or 10 cards I had already picked out before I even started looking around. Yes, this card looks ridiculous enough on its own, but to truly appreciate it you have to see Gary's card from the beginning of the decade, just 9 years earlier:
Amazing huh? Off the top of my head I can't think of a better set of before and after cards illustrating the effects of 1970's cultural fads on a hockey player. Can you? If so, I'm impressed!
#40 - 1967-68 Topps #38 - Glen Sather Rookie - We go back to the 60's to finish off this lot of 20. This was one of the most satisfying pick-ups I've had at under $4. It's a nice Bruins rookie to have in the collection, but to me it's equally great to have the rookie card of the GM and architect of the 1980's Edmonton Oilers dynasty.
I hope you enjoyed these, the final 20 cards will be posted tomorrow....
Not to rub it in or anything, but... - As you may have heard, the Cubs will be playing in their first World Series game since 1945 this evening. Though it's impossible to put into words, I kno...