21-card set of Canada’s top junior players is pure gold
The 1983 Canadian National Junior Team set was one of my “Holy Grails” as a hockey card collector. I first laid eyes upon this set at a sports card show way back in 1991, when $100 for a set of cards was a “lot of money” for me. Hell, that’s still a lot of money, but it’s worth it. This amazing postcard-sized set, which was released during the 1983 World Junior Championships, features most of the young men who played for Canada’s Junior Team – including 17-year old prospects and future Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman.
Player selection 5 out of 5
Of the 21 cards, there are 19 player cards, one team logo card and one roster card – which lists all 22 players but places asterisks next to the three who were absent during the photo session, and thus not a part of this set It looks like Marc Habscheid, Brad Shaw and Paul Boutilier had something better to do on the day of the photo shoot. No matter. What makes this set worth having are the players who are present.
Two of the biggest names in hockey during the 1980s and 1990s are found here – future NHL superstars Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux. While these two cards are pretty amazing, the rest of the lineup isn’t too shabby either. Mike Vernon, Pat Verbeek and Dave Andreychuk all had successful NHL careers. And while many other players were not exactly superstars – such as James Patrick, Mike Eagles, Sylvain Turgeon, Gary Leeman, Joe Cirella and Patrick Flatley – they would all have accomplished NHL careers.
Card design 4 out of 5
For a 1980s-era junior team set, the design is actually quite attractive. The typical white borders are doffed in favor of more vibrant red borders. A hint of white does outline the player photographs, creating visual continuity with the red and white player uniforms. The upper right corner of the border “cuts” diagonally into the photograph to allow room for the Canadian National Team logo. This keeps things from getting too monotonous with horizontals and verticals. It is a shame that the same treatment was not used in the lower left-hand corner for the player’s name – instead, their names are superimposed over the bottom of the photographs, almost as if player names were an afterthought.
The photographs themselves are nothing spectacular, the majority being full-body shots of the players in uniform, standing on the ice while trying not to fall over from boredom. However, three of the pictures are close-up head and shoulder shots. Perhaps Tony Tanti, Joe Cirella and Paul Cyr forgot their skates at home? That or they wanted to show off the fact that they still have their own teeth. While the photos are typical for 1980s junior sets, the borders, blue backdrop and logo placement more than make up for the unexciting photography.
Stats & info n/a
None, as the backs are blank. But here’s an interesting stat. Of the 19 players in this set, 14 would have long NHL careers, two would appear in just under 100 NHL games, and two would appear in less than a dozen. Only one player – Dale Derkatch – would never see action in the NHL.
Several team photo cards exist. A photo of the 1983 squad was produced, measuring in at 5″ by 7 1/4″.
Pre-rookie cards of Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux are two big reasons to pick up this set. Most of the players achieved some degree of success at the professional level, making it an interesting cross-section of NHL players for the next decade.
BONUS: The entire set
Since you don’t see this set every day, I thought it would be cool to show images of all of the cards Click on any picture to start the slide show.
21 card set
- 19 player cards
- 1 team logo card
- 1 roster/checklist card
Card size: 3 1/2″ wide x 5″ tall
Also issued (but not part of the set)
- 1982 Team Photo (7 1/4″ x 10 1/4″)
- 1982 Team Celebration (7 1/4″ x 5″)
- 1983 Team Photo (5″ x 7 1/4″)
Click here to download a printable checklist