Saturday, November 17, 2012

Top 60 Hockey Cards Redux! Part Two

As promised, here are the next 20 cards in my second attempt to identify my top 60 hockey cards...

Card #21 - 1979-80 Topps #175 - Gordie Howe

I started the last post with Gordie Howe and I'll do it again this time.  I think this card will be a permanent resident here, no matter how many times I re-do this list.  It's one of the best Hartford Whalers cards ever made.  What I love most about the card though is the season it represents.  51-year-old Howe played in all 80 games for the Whalers in '79-80, scoring 15 goals, 26 assists and 41 points, and leading the Whalers to the Stanley Cup playoffs.  We will never see anything like that again in the NHL.

I don't see how I can possibly leave this card featuring Mario Lemieux and George Bush Sr. on my list when I now have this one:

Card #22 - 1985-86 Topps #9 - Mario Lemieux RC

I don't really think much explanation is necessary here.  That might have been the single easiest decision to make throughout my whole process.  One of the premier rookie cards from the first decade that I ever collected cards.  This is actually one of the cards that made me start to think about doing this list over.

Card #23 - 1972-73 Topps #1 - Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Champs

Here's a survivor from the first list, card #1 in the 1972-73 Topps set, which pays tribute to the 1972 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.  Growing up a Whalers fan, I wasn't exposed to much post-season play at all, much less post-season success.  When the team left Hartford and I became a Bruins fan by default, it wasn't exactly a pretty stretch for the B's either.  So, for the longest time this was the card I had in my collection that most closely represented my favorite team winning it all.  I also like the card because Topps did not issue team checklist cards in the '72-73 release, so as Stanley Cup Champs the season prior the Bruins were the only team to get their own card in the set.

Last time around I chose this 1976-77 Topps Tony Esposito to be included in my list.  It doesn't hold any special significance to me, I just picked it up on eBay because I was able to win it for very little coin.  It really is a nice looking card, and I do want to include Tony Esposito in my list, but I'm going with this one instead:

Card #24 - 1974-75 Topps #170 - Tony Esposito

Maybe I'm a bit biased because I just finished this set off, but I think this Esposito is much nicer than the one above.  This has to be one of the best goalie cards of the '70s.  I don't think there's one thing I'd change about this card, it's close to perfect.

I can see why I chose this card for my first list.  Back in the day, as a 12-year-old at the time, I would have thought that this Eric Lindros SP die-cut insert from 1994-95 Upper Deck was about the best card one could possibly own.  Back in the day they didn't have cards like this one though:

Card #25 - 2010-11 Panini Dominion Brass Bonanza #1 - Bobby Hull Auto

Look, I know he only played 12 total games for the Whalers at the very end of his career (9 regular season, 3 playoffs), but that doesn't detract from my love of this card.  First of all, I've wanted a Hull on-card auto for years, so when I heard about this one I knew it was time to bite.  I also wanted to include this card because it represents my favorite insert set from any product over the past few years, the Brass Bonanza autographs from 2010-11 Panini Dominion.  I don't ever buy high-end wax, but I do snipe singles on the secondary market if I'm interested enough, and like most collectors I agree that Panini hit a definite home run with the inaugural release of their super-high-end product.  I liked these so much that I ended up completing the entire 10-card set.  I am really grateful to own one of the 24 copies of this Hull auto that exist out there.  Sorry die-cut Lindros, you didn't stand a chance...

I can see what I was going for when I chose this card last time around.  I was on a pretty big 2008-09 Upper Deck kick at the time, in fact I actually selected three cards from that flagship set for my list of 60.  I think this photo of the Sedin twins is great, and it's certainly a unique card.  Top 60 material though?  Not really.  Don't worry Canucks fans, I've selected another 'Nucks card to replace this one:

Card #26 - 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee #327 - Cam Neely RC

I didn't really have much '84-85 O-Pee-Chee the first time I put my list together, but since then I've come a long way, in fact I'm just a few commons away from finishing the set I believe.  Like most hockey card collectors, I feel that it's up there among the best sets of the decade, and may actually be the best set of the decade.  Neely's rookie is one of the best cards in the set, and certainly a more fitting choice here than the Sedin twins.

I picked this '82-83 Stastny In Action card last time, and even at the time I knew that what I really wanted to go with was his rookie card from '81-82 Topps.  Time to correct that, '82-83 O-Pee-Chee Stastny is out, and '81-82 Topps Stastny is in:

Card #27 - 1981-82 Topps #39 - Peter Stastny RC

I have no problem admitting that I'm very biased towards the 1981-82 Topps set.  I think it's a really nice-looking, extremely under-rated set that can be had very, very cheap.  I'll cover that in another post, but for now I feel good that I got the Stastny rookie in here.  This is another of those cards that I like enough that I bothered to chase down a graded copy as well:

I selected this 1962-63 Topps Ted Hampson for the original list simply because it was one of my oldest cards at the time.  Well, a lot has changed since then and I have quite a few older and more interesting cards now.  Time for Ted to shuffle his dinged, wrinkled, creased and stained self on out of my list, in order to make some room for this card:

Card #28 - 1954-55 Parkhurst #99 - Plante Foils Teeder

This is a card I don't think I've shown here before, although I've had it for well over a year now.  I still don't have very many cards from the '50s at all, but of the few I do have this is one of the two or three I like most.  I really, really like '54-55 Parkhurst, enough that it might be the first set of the '50s that I try to chase some day.  I'm a ways off from that, since I'd like to finish off the '70s and '80s Topps runs before moving onto anything older, but for now I'm happy to have this one at least.  This cost me less than a blaster shipped, which I thought was more than reasonable given the condition.

There's no shortage of Wayne Gretzky on this list, but I think this one was a mistake.  Sure, it's kind of unique that the card is #99, and I did pull it myself from a pack which gets the card more points in my book.  Even still, it just doesn't belong here.  Instead, I'm going with a different horizontal card from the previous decade:

Card #29 - 1973-74 Topps #160 - Syl Apps

I think it's fairly obvious why this card was chosen.  Why Topps would go with posed off-ice portraits for much of the decade instead of using great in-game photos like this is beyond me.  I could see this one coming off the list someday, but for now I think it's a solid upgrade over the Gretzky O-Pee-Chee leaders card.

Card #30 - 1988-89 Topps #120 - Wayne Gretzky

See?  Still plenty of Gretzky.  Much like the '79-80 NHL Entries card I chose in the last post, this one is on the list due to the historical event that the card signifies.  This trade and the Ron Francis trade come to mind as the most memorable trades of my lifetime as a fan.  I think this also represents one of the few times in the decade where in my opinion Topps did something better than O-Pee-Chee in a hockey release.  I've always preferred this photo to the one O-Pee-Chee used for its '88-89 Gretzky card.  This is another one that I thought was slab-worthy:

Ron Francis belongs on this list for sure.  He is the player that you think of when the Whalers are mentioned.  An absolute classy professional who made everyone around him better, and one of the most under-rated players ever to lace up skates.  This particular Francis card has gotta go though.  I did pick up an on-card auto a while ago, which I really like, but I'm going with this card instead:

Card #31 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #123 - Ron Francis RC

Last time I did the list I didn't select this card because it was fairly new to my collection.  I don't really get that logic in retrospect, this card is just much, much better than the '85-86 Topps Francis.  Besides, it's not new to my collection anymore.

I think we can all agree that Rob Zettler is unquestionably a bad-ass, but selecting this card for my first list was one of my biggest errors a couple of years ago.  Here's a much nicer card:

Card #32 - 1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #254 - The Stanley Cup

Ah, much better!  I fell in love with this card when I stumbled across it on Check Out My Cards over a year ago now.  I have a few Stanley Cup cards, but this one from the '70-71 O-Pee-Chee set is my favorite because it reminds me of a pop art piece.  I think it's appropriate to dedicate one of my 60 selections to the greatest trophy in professional sports.

Card #33 - 1981-82 Topps #18 - Jari Kurri RC

Jari's rookie survives the cut and makes the second list as well.  I admit that this selection is based largely on feelings of nostalgia, but nonetheless it is a rookie card of a Hall-of-Famer.

I told you I have a thing for '81-82 Topps...

Al Arbour and his goofy glasses were lucky to make the list previously.  He's getting replaced by what I feel is one of the weaker selections from this attempt:

Card #34 - 1980-81 Topps #190 - John Davidson

This John Davidson is one of my favorite goalie cards from the early-'80s.  It's basically here for three reasons; the brown goalie gear, the low crouch, and the mask.

Bernie Federko doesn't look very pleased at being removed from the top 60.  Sorry Bernie, it's nothing personal, I just can't leave a guy with this many Stanley Cups out:

Card #35 - 1970-71 Topps #55 - Jean Beliveau

One of the most successful individuals in NHL history, and by all accounts one of the game's true gentlemen.  One day I hope to own an even older Beliveau, but this late-career Topps card is certainly more than a worthy placeholder in the meantime.

Card #36 - 1989-90 Topps #113 - Joe Sakic RC

I had to keep at least one '89-90 Topps card on my revised list since it was the very first set I collected and hand-collated as a kid.  Sakic's rookie was the obvious choice.  I selected this one for my Ultimate Hockey Card franken-set a while ago as well.  I know this card is over-produced and not worth a whole lot, but that's all the more reason that everyone should have a copy.

Card #37 - 1968-69 Topps #123 - Tim Horton

1968-69 Topps is probably the set from the '60s that I've made the most progress on, with 26 cards in hand.  This Tim Horton is my favorite Maple Leaf card, and one of my better cards from the '60s period.

Here's an original selection that I've been anxious to eliminate.  I did enjoy watching Gilmour as a player, but as a card this leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Card #38 - 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee #185 - Doug Gilmour RC

Here's Gilmour's rookie instead, another Hall-of-Fame rookie card from the vaunted '84-85 O-Pee-Chee set.  Until recently I only had '84-85 Topps cards, and Gilmour wasn't on the checklist for the Topps set, so this is a relatively new card for me.

Gary Smith's '79-80 Topps card certainly had its place in my original list, because I wanted to include some more obscure, goofy cards to keep the list from simply becoming my "Top 60 Most Valuable Cards".  I went a little heavy on '79-80 Topps overall, so I'm going to remove Gary this time in favor of another bizarre card from the year prior:

Card #39 - 1978-79 Topps #243 - Jim Bedard

This card is just awesome.  Bedard didn't have a long career in the NHL, but he did play for many years overseas.  Here he just looks like the last kid to be picked for a team in gym class.

It pains me a little to see this Glen Sather rookie card fall off the list, but it's only being bumped for an even better Bruins rookie:

Card #40 - 1980-81 Topps #140 - Ray Bourque RC

In case you can't tell, I am a big rookie card guy when it comes to hockey cards.  Bourque's one of the game's all-time best defensemen, and would have been the best defensemen to ever wear a B's sweater had it not been for Bobby Orr.  Even though the 1980-81 Topps scratch-off puck design drives me nuts, I still like this card quite a bit.

There's the second batch of 20.  I'll have the third and final post up by mid-week...


Jeff Wilk said...

Feel free to reject that Tony O right into my collection. :)

Looking forward to the next list.

Robert said...

I picked up the 76-77 OPC version of that Esposito card at the Expo last weekend. Took me right back to when I was 9 years old...great card

Dave H said...

The 54-55 Parkies are lots of fun, especially if you want to get crazy and do both the Premium Back and the regular backed cards..

I am sure you never get tired of looking at that sweet Lemieux.

Drop The Gloves! said...

I agree with all the rejected/replacement cards except for two:

1) While the Stanley Cup card is both vintage AND awesome, it can't touch the Zettler card. The only thing that even comes close is the UD Pavl Bure card where he is wearing rollerblades.

2) The Bedard is great (did I send you that one?) but that Gary Smith card is UNREAL! Really, though, both cards represent the two extremes of life in the NHL: Happy to be there and ugh.

Anonymous said...

You were busy! I didn't even see this post arrive. :)

Bedard has one of the cooler '79-80 cards out there. I don't know whether it's in the Topps set.

I like the Espo upgrade. That's one of the nicer '74-75 shots.

Also a fan of '54-55 Parkhurst, though I have long hated the premium backs. I always wanted to read the bios and stats.

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