pack I posted nearly five years ago now.
1990-91 Upper Deck - #44 - Mark Messier
Right now you might be asking yourself how someone who professes his love of vintage cardboard so often could actually choose a '90-91 Upper Deck card over an 80-year-old beauty. Well, hear me out...
Even though I didn't particularly like or dislike Mark as a player, I really felt that Messier deserved to be included in this franken-set. I mean the guy played for 25 years at the NHL level (and in the WHA before that!), was a 15-time All-Star (including 4 First Team selections), Conn Smythe, Hart and Lester B Pearson award winner, and captured 6 Stanley Cups! Mark amassed more career points than anyone not named Gretzky! Yes, I know longevity was a factor there, but you don't end up #2 on the all-time scoring list by chance.
As far as what Messier card would make the cut for my set, it wasn't the easiest decision. I mainly collect Topps hockey and not O-Pee-Chee when it comes to the older stuff, and Topps inexplicably ignored Messier for the first few years of his career. In '80-81 he was included on the O-Pee-Chee checklist (his true rookie card), but not Topps. '81-82? Same thing. The next two years Topps did not release a hockey set, but when they returned for '84-85 they still left him off the checklist (other than a card in the All Star subset). The following year, '85-86, same thing, no Topps card!
I decided on this particular card for two reasons. First of all, the '90-91 Upper Deck set was a game changer in terms of the hockey card landscape, just like their '89 release was for baseball. I hadn't selected a 1990-91 Upper Deck card yet so it was high time I did so.
Secondly, and most importantly, this card depicts what I find to be the most impressive aspect of Messier's career. After winning four Stanley Cups with Gretzky, I'm sure fans in Edmonton doubted whether they'd ever win another once he was dealt to Los Angeles. Well it only took Messier and the boys two seasons to bring another Cup to Edmonton, this time sans Gretzky. Not only that, but he went on to capture another one with New York in '94, and we all know the drama related to that one, including the famous guarantee in the Eastern Conference Finals.
All his points, trophies, All-Star selections and other accolades aside, those two Stanley Cups after the Gretzky days are what impress me the most about Mark. I couldn't think of a better card to represent this than card #44 from Upper Deck's inaugural hockey release, which shows a smiling Messier in the locker room after that 1990 Cup win.
So, there's my choice. If you want to view all 18 cards that I've selected so far you can see that here. What do you think? Should I have picked the Brodeur, Ice Kings, or any of the other cards over the Upper Deck Messier? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!