Review: 1997-98 Pinnacle

NOTE: Sheng Peng is another new author for Puck Junk. He is a Los Angeles Kings fan and has collected hockey cards since the 1990s. Here is his review of one of his favorite sets. And you can check out Sheng’s blog here.
– Sal

 1997-98 Pinnacle #93 - Curtis JosephIn the quest to put out product quickly and cheaply, sports cards manufacturers, like drug dealers, have consistently undervalued the power of quality.

Of course, it’s because they know the junkies will keep buying.

This doesn’t mean that the addicts have lost all discernment, however. Personally, I fiend for powerful sports photography in my cards.

Granted, investing in sports photography is not a moneymaking venture for card companies.

 1997-98 Pinnacle #171 - Kevin HatcherBut occasionally, those of us who appreciate a beautifully-photographed set are given a treat. From the first years of Upper Deck to Topps’s Stadium Club, and even now, with Upper Deck’s annual flagship release, we see cards that capture the grace of Sergei Fedorov gliding and the crunch of Rob Blake hitting and the explosion of 16,000 fans screaming.

Pinnacle, which debuted so ignominiously by having different sports share the same funereal design in 1991and 1992and 1993, finally chucked the black for sun dresses in their 1994-95 flagship release, continuing this theme until their last release in 1997-98 (before the brand’s recent revival by Panini).

1997-98 Pinnacle was one of my first boxes ever because of its affordability and stunning photography. I also pulled one of my first big pulls from it. But before we get to that, let’s spotlight a few of those wonderful pictures:

1997-98 Pinnacle #31 - Jarome Iginla
1997-98 Pinnacle #31 Jarome Iginla

If pucks had nightmares…  (back)

1997-98 Pinnacle #75 - Pierre Turgeon
1997-98 Pinnacle #75 Pierre Turgeon

Look, it’s Pierre Turgeon backchecking. (back)

1997-98 Pinnacle #89 - Olaf Kolzig
1997-98 Pinnacle #89 Olaf Kolzig

The Sabres and their admirable crease etiquette. (back)

1997-98 Pinnacle #98 - Jocelyn Thibault
1997-98 Pinnacle #98 Jocelyn Thibault

T-Bo’s career in a snapshot. (back)

1997-98 Pinnacle #106 - Trevor Linden
1997-98 Pinnacle #106 Trevor Linden

Before they traded him to the Islanders that season. (back)

1997-98 Pinnacle #108 - Matthew Barnaby
1997-98 Pinnacle #108 Matthew Barnaby

A beautiful card. (back)

(Here’s an even more beautiful card.)

1997-98 Pinnacle #146 - Ray Ferraro
1997-98 Pinnacle #146 Ray Ferraro

“Are you serious, Coach? You’re putting me with Tsyplakov again?” (back)

Pinnacle also used horizontal photos for cards #91-108, resulting in two gorgeous collages that were tailor-made for nine-card sheets.

 1997-98 Pinnacle #91 to #99
Cards #91 to 99
Top Row: Steve Shields, Nikolai Khabibulin, Mike Modano
Middle Row: Jocelyn Thibault, Felix Potvin, Brian Leetch
Bottom Row: Ron Tugnutt, Ken Wregget, Curtis Joseph
Click picture to see larger
 1997-98 Pinnacle #100 to #107
Cards #100 to #107
Top Row: Trevor Linden, Theoren Fleury, Ron Hextall
Middle Row Joe Juneau, Mark Recchi, Mike Peca
Bottom Row: Matthew Barnaby, Dainus Zubrus, Donald Audette
Click picture to see larger

Besides pretty pictures, what else can you get from 1997-98 Pinnacle?

There are Marian Hossa and Olli Jokinen RCs. And the first 100 cards of the 200-card base set have Rink Collection and rarer Artist Proof parallels.

1997-98 Pinnacle Rink Collection #PP65 - Chris Chelios
1997-98 Pinnacle Rink Collection #PP65 – Chris Chelios
1997-98 PInnacle Artist Proof #55 - Mike Richter
1997-98 PInnacle Artist Proof #55 – Mike Richter

Then, you have surprisingly still-in-demand inserts.

1997-98 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #2 - Dominik Hasek & Curtis Joseph
1997-98 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #2 – Dominik Hasek & Curtis Joseph (front)

Team Pinnacle, a staple since Pinnacle’s debut, features star duos like Wayne Gretzky and Paul Kariya, Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, and Steve Yzerman and Doug Gilmour in this 10-card set, with very rare mirror parallel versions.

1997-98 Pinnacle Masks #5 - Patrick Roy
1997-98 Pinnacle Masks #5 – Patrick Roy

Masks, instituted in Pinnacle’s second year, showcases the masks of star goalies like Roy, Brodeur and Curtis Joseph. There’s also a rarer die-cut version of this 10-card set.

1997-98 Pinnacle Epix Play Purple #E8 - Martin Brodeur
1997-98 Pinnacle Epix Play Purple #E8 – Martin Brodeur

Epix, new to this year, remains the most popular insert from this set. Some cards go beyond Beckett book value even today. In order of least to most scarce, the 24-card cross-brand set (also released in Pinnacle Certified) had four tiers, Play, Game, Season, and Moment, and each tier featured three levels of color, Orange, Purple, and Emerald (with print runs as low as 50 for Season Emerald and 30 for Moment Emerald). So through four tiers and three colors, an Epix master set consisted of 288 cards.

You also have a shot at a Press Plate (from this set) and a Certified Souvenir. The Press Plates still do nicely with a Brendan Shanahan recently going over $200. As for the Certified Souvenirs, I’m curious what those are (they were offered in various Pinnacle sports sets that year).

Rating 4 out of 5You can still find a box of 1997-98 Pinnacle for under $20 today. That’s a great gamble for the price (I pulled an Epix Moment Emerald Mark Messier and immediately flipped it on e-Bay for $60, a tidy profit for a $15 box) and your eyes (and wallet) will thank you for it.

BONUS
1997-98 Pinnacle had a confusing variety of packaging that offered differing insert odds. This was a mid-90’s hobby norm, and I’ve outlined the varieties of packaging that you can choose from:

1997-98 Pinnacle Hockey Hobby Box

  • Rink Collection 1:11
  • Artist’s Proof 1:39
  • Epix 1:21
  • Masks 1:89
  • Masks Die Cut 1:299
  • Team Pinnacle 1:99
  • Authentic Press Plates 1:2,250
  • Certified Souvenir 1:3,888

1997/98 Pinnacle Hockey 20 Pack Box

  • Rink Collection 1:11
  • Artist’s Proof 1:39
  • Epix 1:21
  • Masks 1:89
  • Team Pinnacle 1:99
  • Authentic Press Plates 1:2,250
  • Certified Souvenir 1:3,888

1997/98 Pinnacle Hockey Canadian 36 Pack Box

  • Rink Collection 1:11
  • Artist’s Proof 1:39
  • Epix 1:21
  • Masks 1:89
  • Team Pinnacle 1:99
  • Authentic Press Plates 1:2,250
  • Certified Souvenir 1:3,888

1997/98 Pinnacle Power Pack Hockey Box

  • Pinnacle Power- 1:1 (24-card blow-up set of the base set)
  • Rink Collection- 1:5
  • Artist Proof- 1:15
  • Epix- 1:7
  • Masks- 1:39
  • Masks Die Cut- 1:89
  • Team Pinnacle- 1:43

1997/98 Pinnacle Hockey Collector’s Tin

  • Rink collection 1:4 Tins
  • Artist’s Proof 1:13 Tins
  • Team Pinnacle 1:33 Tins
  • Masks 1:30 Tins
  • Masks Die Cut 1:100 Tins
  • Epix 1:7 Tins

NOTES
200 cards
Card size: 2 1/2″ wide x 3 1/2″ tall
Click here to download a printable checklist

14 thoughts on “Review: 1997-98 Pinnacle”

  1. I love this set. I got a box cheap off DA Cardworld last year. The photography is great. I love how the back has a different picture than the front. Something most sets don’t do anymore. But I bought one of tins this year, and the collation was crap. I had several doubles within the same tin.

  2. I bought a box of 97/98 Pinnacle last year for under $20. Finally opened it last month. I was pleasantly surprised as I didn’t know anything about the set. Like you mentioned, great photographs on the card fronts and backs. The backs had write-ups that someone actually put some effort into writing – talking about how the team obtained the player, their junior or college career, their play in the prior year, their style of play. The inserts are ok. The Epix inserts are an interesting concept across multiple brands and parallels. I may try and put together the Rink Collection if I can pick some up cheaply. The only disappointment was the collation. I got about 25-30 doubles out of about 200 cards in the box. I would have preferred to almost complete the base set from the box.

  3. introduced my grandson to hockey cards the other day.came across a box of 20 for 20 dollars,i am a big hockey cards junkie a never knew they were still out there and finally finished my base set and more

  4. You forgot to mention the Mirror variants of the team pinnacle cards, which are worth a lot more. I never saw any, but I believe that they come in two variations at least, with a mirrored front and a mirrored back variant. Not sure if they do come in variations with both sides mirrored or not. Anyhow, these are still being sought after as well.

    1. I believe that the author of this article, Sheng Peng, did not mention the Mirror Variants of the Team Pinnacle cards because they don’t exist. He has not seen any. In fact, no one I know has seen them, which does not confirm or deny their existence. But after 15 years, if NO ONE has seen these cards, then they probably DON’T exist 🙂

      Sal

  5. I collect these press plates and I have about 70 of the press plates if someone could tell me more about these cards that would be awesome I only started collecting them because in 98 I opened a Wayne Gretzky team pinnacle 1/1 black and ever since then I have been buying every one I find.. Look forward to talking about them

    1. Hi Jordan, I read that you have a Pinnacle press plate Gretzky. I also own one. Can you tell me which black press plate card you actually have? Is it the front or back image and do you know which card number since press plates were made for all the regular and Epix cards in 1997-98. Thanks for your reply. Regards, Alex

        1. Hi Jordan and Alex,

          Maybe you guys could share scans of these cards to share on this site? I’m sure other readers would love to see some 1/1 Gretzky cards.

          Sal

  6. How do I get the photo on here I would be more then happy to share a photo or two I have 82 pinnacle press plates now

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