Thursday, January 2, 2014

Completed Set - 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier Hockey

The hockey card landscape was changing during the 1990-91 season.  No longer were Topps and O-Pee-Chee the lone wolves on the horizon.  Their standard, cardboard stock and (let's be honest) less-than-impressive photography wasn't going to cut it in the new decade, not in the face of newcomers like Upper Deck (fancy counterfeit-proof holograms!).  Even lesser brands like Score and Pro Set had to at least be in the peripheral view of the folks at O-Pee-Chee.  The response?  O-Pee-Chee Premier.

These cards may not seem like much now, in fact you can find a complete set in great shape for $20 or so, maybe less.  As someone who was collecting at the time though I assure you, people went absolutely insane for this set.  Three figures plus for a wax box, single cards booking at well over $20, just a pack would set you back $6 or more at the hobby shop if I recall correctly.  Why did the set do so well?  Despite just a 132-card checklist some really great rookies made the cut, like 500-goal scorer Peter Bondra here.

The design was nice, clean and, for the time period, crisp.  When you consider that this card was released by the same company just one season earlier you can see how far they'd come:

There are a good mix of veterans and stars included.  Sure, there are some misses on the checklist, but not many.  When you consider that there were 21 teams at the time, 132 cards isn't very many for a set (roughly six cards per team) but they hit the mark for the most part.

Dino was a very under-rated player, did you know he scored 608 career goals and 1,200 career points?  I knew he was a Hall-of-Famer, but had forgotten that his numbers were that good.

Another very solid player with a rookie card in the set.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 of course, it's not hard to see why looking at their roster.

Any set from 1990-91 has the benefit of featuring the Hartford Whalers and their glorious green...well...everything.

John Cullen did not get to share in the Stanley Cup glory though, having been traded to Hartford in the "trade that shall not be mentioned on this blog".

The other side of the trade that shall not be mentioned.

Here's the first of the "big three" rookie cards that collectors went ballistic over back in the day.  This was my personal favorite of the three, as I was a big Fedorov fan.  There weren't a ton of cards of his at the time either.  Topps and O-Pee-Chee's flagship sets were devoid of Fedorov, and Score missed him in their 440-card flagship as well, although they did get him into the smaller Young Superstars and Rookie/Traded sets.  In terms of legit rookies (sorry Pro Set), it was basically this card and the '90-91 Upper Deck card.

I've always liked this card of The Great One.  If 2,000 career points isn't a stat worthy of the front of a hockey card, then I don't know what is.

Matching the color of the photo border to the team was a small touch that really makes this set.  On certain cards, like this Ron Hextall, it really stands out.

Sort of a strange farewell card of Guy...

Here's the second of the big three rookies, Jaromir Jagr.  When the Penguins won the Cup, then won it again the next year, this card just sky-rocketed.  It's amazing to see Jaromir still tearing it up at the NHL level all these years later.  His card is the most valuable in the set, and rightfully so.

The North Stars battled all the way to The Stanley Cup Finals in 1991 before running into the Penguins.  Mike had a hell of a career, with the most career goals and points of any US-born player.  Nowadays his rookie card is the second most valuable card in the set behind the Jagr RC.

Another rookie of a very solid player.  As a kid I was huge on Mogilny because he had been linemates with Fedorov and Pavel Bure in Russia, and all three were enjoying success at the NHL level.

Nedved had just been taken second overall by the Canucks, so this card (featuring airbrushing?) was definitely one to get at the time.  Petr was never really an elite level player though (save for one amazing season with the Penguins) and this rookie now books for a buck.

The rookie card of the guy chosen one pick before Nedved, first overall in the 1990 draft.  Owen had a decent career and lasted 18 seasons at the NHL level.

Here's the final of what I recall being the three biggest rookies when the set first came out, Jeremy Roenick.  I think this is a pretty iconic rookie, although I'm biased based on this being right in my wheelhouse as far as childhood collecting goes.

Another really good's easy to see why this set was such a success.

So many Hall-of-Famers...

Here's the last big rookie I'll show, 1989 #1 overall pick and Hall-of-Famer Mats Sundin.  Just an amazing rookie class in this set, and I didn't even show some other lesser-known rookies like Tie Domi, Jeff Hackett, Mike Ricci and Curtis Joseph.

I still can't believe the teams that the Penguins managed to assemble in the early '90s...

So there you have it, a junk wax era classic, 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier.  I actually have an extra set available if anyone would like to trade (very little) for it...


JediJeff said...

Dig those waffle board blockers on some of the goaltenders in the pictures. AWESOME!

Hackenbush said...

A lot of great players. The design for most of the card is fine but I really don't like the gold stripe at the top, particularly the weird font and coloring for the word "Premier". That whole element looks tacked on.

Fuji said...

This set is loaded. I remember paying top dollar for packs in hopes of pulling a Fedorov or Jagr. Can't believe complete sets sell for under $20. I need to pick one up.

jacobmrley said...

Jagr is not only still in the league, he is on my Devils. Rooting for Jaromir Jagr is still so weird but the man can still play at the age of 41.

Unknown said...

I love this set! Was so happy when I finally got the last cards to complete the set as a kid. I remember it being very costly! Would love to have a 2nd one, you have one available?

shoeboxlegends said...

Matthew, I traded my spare set to Fuji (who beat you by a couple comments and a couple months). I'll look around and if I have a third set I'll hit you up, but I don't believe I do. Sorry!

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me the cost of an unopened mint condition box of these cards?

Unknown said...

Can anyone tell me the cost of an unopened mint condition box of these cards?

Ron said...

I remember I was allotted 20 cases that year. They were sold before I received them at a big profit. I think it was 400-500% profit. It was crazy. I kept 1 case. Then the market crashed. I donated the remainder of my case to a children's home.

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