Review: 1997-98 Springfield Falcons

Nice design, two future stars, make for a worthwhile set

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Shane Doan Not everyone who laces ’em up in the minors will make it to the NHL, but it is always cool to see the players who do at a point in their career before they become famous. For me, a minor league team set is worth picking up if it has just one player in it who goes on to NHL stardom.

The 1997-98 Springfield Falcons team set  features cards of not one, but two players who would go onto NHL stardom–Shane Doan and Daniel Briere. And the design isn’t the usual over-designed nonsense of the late 1990s.

1997-987 Springfield Falcons Sealed Team Set
Set sealed in cellophane wrapper.

Player Selection 5 out of 5
Minor league team sets try hard to include everyone, which I always found to be one of their more appealing aspects. There is no “I” in “TEAM,” and though every team has its best players, you need to suit up 20 guys to play a game. The ’97-98 Falcons set has cards of 22 players as well as Head Coach Dave Farrish and Assistant Coach Ron Wilson.

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Jason Doig
Jason Doig (view back)

Front Design 4 out of 5
Cards of the mid-to-late 1990s always irked me because they had too much going on: wacky fonts, drop shadows, motion blurs, gradients, multiple photos on the front, foil, gloss and/or neon colors. (The awful design of the Cleveland Lumberjacks set from 1999-00 still makes me a little queasy.)

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Scott Langkow
Scott Langkow (view back)

But the 1997-98 Springfield Indians set is different. A motion blur is utilized on the background of each players’ photo, which gives the cards an exciting look and draws your eye to the in-focus player. The bottom of each card has a logo, player name, position and “AHL 1997,” all tied together with a yellow “swoosh.” The sponsor logo and player’s number–both barely a whisper–are tucked in the upper-right corner.

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Dave Farsish
Head Coach Dave Farrish (view back)

Other than the large, blue “AHL 1997”–which would have made more sense if it read “FALCONS 1997”–this set is better-dressed than most minor-league team sets of the era.

Stats & Info / Back Design 4 out of 5
The back of each card has a very non-traditional layout. Stats like height, width and birthdate–which are usually small–are given prominence and take up more than half of the card. On the right side, the past 3 seasons of a player’s stats are displayed. Interesting that the stats are perpendicular–and not parallel–to the rest of the data on the back of the card.

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Scott Langkow (back)Because the back of each card isn’t jam-packed with data, the end result looks nice. You almost enjoy the look of these because they are so different than the norm. The silver and black ink add to the cool factor, too.

Rating 4 out of 5This set is better than your average minor league team set. It looks good, front and back, and has two cards of future NHL stars.

BONUS
Here are cards of 5 men who had notable careers in the NHL.

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Chad KilgerChad Kilger – Kilger played 714 games in the NHL in a career that spanned 15 seasons. (back)

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Trevor LetowskiTrevor Letowski – He played 8 seasons in the NHL and another 2 in the Kontinential League in Russia. (back)

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Ron WilsonRon Wilson – Prior to his tenure as assistant coach for the Springfield Falcons, Wilson spent 16 years in the NHL, scoring 326 points in 832 games. (back)

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Shane DoanShane Doan – Doan played 39 games in the AHL during the 1997-98 season–his only time in the minors over the past 16 years. (back)

1997-987 Springfield Falcons - Daniel BriereDaniel Briere – Briere scored 92 points in 68 games for the Falcons in 1997-98 and was named the AHL’s rookie of the year. (back)

NOTES
26 card set
– 24 Falcons cards
– 1 PHPA advertisement card
– 1 AHL website advertisement card
Card Size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ tall
Click here to download a printable checklist

Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

2 thoughts on “Review: 1997-98 Springfield Falcons”

  1. I really like your set reviews, Sal. This time, I was eager to check the checklist of this set If I will be lucky enough to find any Slovak player in this set and after finding Richard Lintner (defenseman with pretty solid international career, who played in more than 100 NHL games) I was really glad. Now, I have to find this card for some reasonable price 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *