Card of the Week: Kerry Toporowski

1991-92 Ultimate Draft Picks #48 – Kerry Toporowski

1991-92 Ultimate Draft Picks #48 - Kerry ToporowskiWe all love to make fun of crummy hockey cards, from the awful “updated” photos from the 1970s and 1980s, to the cheesy pictures from the 1990s and 2000s. But the worst disservice to both the player and the fans is when the card doesn’t even show what the player looks like.

You may recall the infamous card of goaltender Bryan Pitton in Score’s 2010-11 set, where we see a sweet photograph of the back of his head. Well, this card may be worse. Back in the 1991-92 season, a short-lived card company called Ultimate pulled the same crap. They made a 90-card set of draft picks, but didn’t even bother to show the face of a San Jose Sharks prospect named Kerry Toporowski. In fact, there’s more of his butt on this card than his head!

If you never heard of Toporowski don’t feel bad. Back in 1991, all anyone was talking about was first overall draft pick Eric Lindros. Toporowski was more of a long shot. He was drafted in the 4th round because of his physical style of play. The Sharks soon traded him, along with a second round pick in next year’s draft, to the Chicago Blackhawks for Doug Wilson, who served as the Sharks’ first team captain and all-star representative.

Toporowski never made it to the NHL, and is perhaps best remembered for the ungodly amount of penalty minutes he racked up in junior and minor league hockey. Some of his highlights include:

  • 63 penalty minutes in 3 games for the Spokane Chiefs in the 1991 Memorial Cup Tournament — that’s 21 PIMS per game!
  • 505 penalty minutes in 65 games for the Spokane Chiefs (WHL) in 1990-91.
  • 206 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Indianapolis Ice (IHL) in 1991-92.
  • 413 penalty minutes in 63 games with the Quad City Mallards (ULH) in 2000-01.
  • 52 penalty minutes in 3 games for the Portland Pirates (AHL) in 1997-98.

Seeing as how he was the 67th overall pick, this set would have been no worse if Ultimate excluded Toporowski. Why even bother making a card when the best photo you have is the player falling on top of another player — and it’s from the back?

What’s even more mind boggling is that the photo on the back of the card also shows Toporowski from behind — as if the photographer was afraid he’d break his lens on Kerry’s mug.

1991-92 Ultimate Draft Picks #48 - Kerry Toporowski (back)Yep, the head-to-ass ratio is about the same in this picture too.

And here’s the clincher: the cards from this set are from a photo shoot set-up by the card company. Meaning, Ultimate paid the players to scrimmage so that they could be photographed for the cards. Heck, you even see the goalies’ faces on the backs of their cards, but no one bothered to snap a pick of Toporowski while he was tying his skates?

Over two decades later, and I still find it irksome that a company would try to pass this off as a trading card.

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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

3 thoughts on “Card of the Week: Kerry Toporowski”

  1. I think this was a form of censorship. Someone with that many minutes in penalties could possibly have some serious black eyes or other facial contusions which could scare young collectors away from cards and hockey all together.

    Or he told them to focus on his best feature which was his back cheeks.

    1. Ya know, I never thought about black eyes or facial cuts. Then again, a little makeup could usually cover that stuff up. It just seems plain weird that his face is hidden.

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