1991-92 Upper Deck cards #647 – Bloodlines: Valery and Pavel Bure
When the hockey card market suddenly got crowded in 1990, companies had to find a way to stand out from their competition. Parallels and inserts were not yet commonplace, so card makers resorted to an age-old tactic to make as many cards of the most popular players as possible: subsets. One subset in particular – Upper Deck’s “Bloodlines” from their 1991-92 release – features a memorable card of the Bure brothers “enjoying” a day at the beach.
The concept of subset cards was certainly nothing new by the 1990s. Topps and O-Pee-Chee had produced some great cards of award winners, league leaders and Stanley Cup Playoffs for years. However, the emergence of Upper Deck on the hockey card scene took the subset to a new – and occasionally absurd – level. The company’s early sets featured players on special cards ranging from Canada Cup and Young Guns, to Russian Stars and Ice Hockey World Championship Pool A Seniors.
Although Upper Deck could get a little carried away at times, they also created some very memorable subset cards. One such set was the “Bloodlines” series that debuted in the 1991-92 High Number Series. Among these gems are the six Sutter Brothers, and a double snow shower courtesy of the Cavallini Brothers. However, the best of the bunch is “The Bure Brothers.”
Pavel Bure’s exploits are well-documented, as “The Russian Rocket” netted 437 goals over a 12-year NHL career. He also had previously made his Upper Deck debut on a Young Guns card in 1990-91, before making his NHL debut the following season. Upper Deck was determined to include the hot rookie in their 1991-92 set as well, resulting in what has to be the most unusual photo shoot of the sniper’s career. Bure appeared in a bizarre senior yearbook-esque photo, decked out in brightly-colored shirt, shorts, and rollerblades, hanging from a railing down by the beach.
If Pavel had wished for any remaining beach photos to wash away with the tide, his hopes were dashed when the “Bloodlines” card appeared later in the season. Not only is he featured yet again in his silly beach attire, but younger brother Valeri (spelled “Valery” on the card) was roped in as well. All of 17 years old, the younger Bure looks every bit as uncomfortable as Pavel. Also, the “Bloodlines” card is not recognized by Beckett as Valeri’s true rookie card, despite the fact he would not make another cardboard appearance until his World Junior Championships single two years later.
The Montreal Canadiens liked what they saw of Valeri’s polo shirt and fluorescent wheels enough to select him in the second round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Although he wouldn’t achieve the level of success at the NHL level as his older brother, Valeri did marry Candace Cameron (DJ Tanner on 1980s sitcom “Full House”).
The Bures would team up again on the 2001-02 Florida Panthers, though undoubtedly with less flair than their “Bloodlines” pairing a decade before.