Every 1992-93 Hockey Card Set Ranked

Trading card companies continued to raise the stakes during the 1992-93 season, as the hockey card market continued to boom. Fleer entered the marketplace with its premium “Ultra” set, while Score doubled down, making truly unique sets for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Coincidentally, for the first time in their 25-year partnership, Topps and O-Pee-Chee released hockey sets that were different in design from one another. Meanwhile, Upper Deck continued to thrive, while Pro Set barely limped to the finish line. A lot happened with hockey cards 25 years ago.

However, the biggest news in hockey collectibles at the time was that 19-year old rookie Eric Lindros was going to make his NHL debut. Up until that point, only Score could legally include Lindros in its sets, due to an endorsement deal he signed with Score in 1990. That deal expired once Lindros became an active NHL player. With his debut imminent, but no photo of Lindros in a Flyers uniform readily available, the card companies had to figure out how they were going to include “The Next One” in its hockey card sets.

Here are my rankings of all 13 major hockey card sets released during the 1992-93 season. I count Score Pinnacle “U.S.” and “Canadian” (or “English” and “Bilingual,” if you prefer) as separate sets for reasons I’ll explain later. Also, this list does not include Panini stickers, because most collectors don’t consider those as “cards.” Nor does this list include small sets like McDonald’s, or oddball stuff like Season’s Action Patches.

So, will Upper Deck be number one for three years in a row?

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1991-92 Pro Set Rink Rat Fan Club

Remember those little 10-cent off coupons that we got in packs of Pro Set Hockey cards during the 1991-92 season? That year, those discount cards advertised the “Rink Rat Fan Club.” Every pack of Pro Set Series One and Series Two had a special offer to “join the Rat Pack” for $3.95.

The full text reads as follows:

Join the Official NHL RINK RAT FAN CLUB
Join the Rat Pack today and be a part of terrific merchandise offers, Rink Rat club kit merchandise, and team updates. Rink Rats also have an opportunity to be a part of nationwide Rink Rat events and are eligible to win a trip to an opening night game! Sign up today!

The other side had the sign-up form. 

I will admit that back in the day, I had no desire to join the Rink Rat Fan Club. It sounded like something for a little kid, and not at all interesting to a teenage boy — even one like me who collected hockey cards. Not for a second did I consider joining it. 

Also, a few years prior I had joined the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Turtle Force Fan Club,” and still remembered how disappointing that was. It took over a year to get my TMNT fan club kit — and all it consisted of was a red bandanna and a cardboard membership card. 

So, it would not be for another 25 years or so that I would even wonder what “Rat Pack” members got for their $3.95. 

Fortunately, I was able to track down a complete Rink Rat Fan Club kit, which consisted of two separate mailings: one in the fall/winter of 1991 and the other around March of 1992. Note that these items got mixed up a bit between then and now, so I did my best here to put them in the order that fans received them, based on the copyright dates on the items, which version of the Pro Set logo the items use, and the enclosed letters from “Rink Rat.” I did make some assumptions based on that information, but if you know something I don’t, please chime in. 

Looking at this now, if I knew what $3.95 would have gotten me, I would have joined that Rink Rat Fan Club in a heartbeat. Surprisingly, club members got some pretty nice collectible items for four bucks. 

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Every 1991-92 Hockey Card Set Ranked

While a lot of hockey cards were made during the 1990-91 season, the 1991-92 season was like a movie sequel: bigger and bolder, with more of everything.

More cards? Check.

Larger sets? That too.

Extra inserts? You bet! 

The amount of sets made, and cards to collect, nearly doubled, with companies releasing two or three sets each in an attempt to cash in on the boom. Hockey card revenue from the 1991-92 season, generated from the brisk sales, spiked to $15 million and was even a major cause of the 1992 NHL Players’ Strike. 

That’s funny if you think about it, because hockey cards in the 1991-92 season were worth $15 million to the players and owners – money worth fighting over — and yet hockey cards from that year are practically worthless today. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open up your collection a little bit to some of these “neo-vintage” (don’t call ’em “junk wax”) sets. Maybe you have room in your collection for one, or a few, of these — assuming you don’t have them already. So here is my ranking of every 1991-92 hockey card set. 

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My 2017 National Haul

Truth be told, I’ve kind of outgrown the desire to recap the various cards and collectibles that I acquire at shows. Part of it seems like bragging (“Look how much money I spent!”) and part of it seems rather trivial (“Yep, I found that Ilya Bryzgalov rookie card in the quarter box!”). Plus, I’d rather write other articles, like making fun of a horrible hockey card, reviewing the best and worst hockey card sets ever made, re-imagining an old NHL draft, or interviewing a current or former player. 

However, in the last Puck Junk Podcast, I *did* say that I would show some of the items that I got at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention. So, as promised, here are the highlights of my 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention haul:

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Review: 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey

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#26 – Ed Belfour (view back)

It was a frosty Chicago afternoon in late December of 1991. I was on break from school. The “Christmas money” was burning a hole in my wallet. It burned hot enough to make me brave the cold and venture out to the local mall. For those who grew up in Chicago, the mall I speak of was the Brickyard. Back in its heyday, the Brickyard Mall was Chicago’s premier indoor shopping center. It was torn down in 2002 and rebuilt as an outdoor monstrosity, but I digress. 

#52 - Wayne Gretzky
#52 – Wayne Gretzky (view back)

The Osco Drug store at the Brickyard had one side of an entire aisle dedicated to just sports cards. But behind the camera counter is where they kept the good stuff; cards like Upper Deck or Stadium Club, and not the usual 50-cents-per-pack swill like Topps or Score. Behind the counter was a full, unopened box of hockey cards that I had never seen before: Pro Set Platinum Series One. 

At a glance:
– 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey
– 300 cards
– 20 “Platinum Collectible” inserts
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Download checklist

Man, was I excited! Even though I religiously read Beckett Hockey Magazine, this was the first I had heard of Pro Set issuing a high-end set of hockey trading cards. I don’t recall what they cost, but I think they were around $1 per pack. I eagerly purchased the entire box. I hurried home and opened every pack while sipping hot cocoa, and made two complete, 150-card sets; the good old days indeed.

Pro Set Platinum Hockey logo.
Pro Set Platinum Hockey logo.

Now, 25 years later, I think it would be fun to take a look back at the first, last and only set of Pro Set Platinum hockey cards.  Continue reading “Review: 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey”

1991-92 Pro Set St. Louis Blues Midwest Collectors Show Promo Cards

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Pro Set cards may have made the most overproduced hockey trading cards from the hockey card boom years, but if you look around hard enough, you will find a few rarities among the clutter. One example are these four St. Louis Blues cards, which were given away at the Midwest Sports Collectors Show. The convention took place on November 15-17, 1991 in downtown St. Louis, featured over 300 tables and had Blues’ star Adam Oates and baseball legend Mickey Mantle as autograph guests. Fans could also get these four exclusive Blues cards, made by Pro Set.

Although not particularly rare, they are enough of an oddball variant that a completest might want them. Also, the promo set features a Blues’ player that probably should not have been included.

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Ralph Macchio: Celebrity Hockey Captain

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1991-92 Pro Set Platinum #295 – Ralph Macchio, New York Islanders Celebrity Captain

Today, a former New York Islanders captain celebrates his 55th birthday. No, not Denis Potvin, though he did just turn 63 about a week ago. Nor is it the birthday of Clark Gillies, Brent Sutter or Patrick Flatley. Today is the birthday of former New York Islanders Celebrity Captain Ralph Macchio. Yup, The Karate Kid himself once donned the “C” for the Islanders. Well, sort of.

Back in the 1991-92 season, as a part of the NHL’s 75th Anniversary celebration, all teams appointed a celebrity captain. Continue reading “Ralph Macchio: Celebrity Hockey Captain”

The Two NHL Records of Helmut Balderis

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Custom Hockey Card by Sal Barry

Helmut Balderis set an NHL record 27 years ago. On November 2, 1989, the 37-year old right wing scored a goal for the Minnesota North Stars in a 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks at Chicago Stadium. By doing so, he became the oldest player in NHL history to score his first goal in the NHL.

However, that was actually Balderis’ second NHL record. Continue reading “The Two NHL Records of Helmut Balderis”

Every 1990-91 Hockey Card Set Ranked

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Twenty-five years ago, the hockey card market grew exponentially when three new companies — Upper Deck, Pro Set and Score — joined Topps and O-Pee-Chee, bringing the number of hockey card manufacturers to five. Not only that, but Topps issued a second set of cards, branded as Bowman, while O-Pee-Chee released a set called O-Pee-Chee Premier, giving collectors a total of seven hockey sets that season.

The year 1990 was clearly the start of the “hockey card boom.” No longer were hockey cards just the stuff of specialty shops; now every grocery, drug and convenience store carried hockey cards. Likewise, practically everyone saw hockey cards for their investment potential, hoarding cards of hot rookies as well as established players. The increased revenue even led to the NHL Player Strike of 1992. But overproduction, along with the decline of the market in 1992, led to 1990-91 sets plummeting in value.

Looking back a quarter-century later, it is easy to dismiss the entire 1990-91 season as “junk wax.” Yes, the companies printed tons of cards and flooded the market. Even 25 years later, you can find unopened boxes of 1990-91 cards for around $5 and complete sets for $10 or less. It is kind of sad that newer collectors can buy the cards from my childhood for less than what they actually cost during my childhood.

Just because those sets are “worthless” doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile to have in your collection…assuming, of course, that you don’t already have them. And maybe you don’t. Perhaps you are a newer collector, or maybe you didn’t bother with hockey cards in 1990-91. Today, you can pick up a hearty dose of nostalgia, history and rookie cards for less than what a blaster box costs.

That said, here is my ranking of every 1990-91 hockey set. Those of you over 30 can feel free to disagree.

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Remembering the 1990 Chicago Hockey Show

1990_Chicago_Hockey_Show_TicketTwenty-five years ago today was the first — and last — Chicago Hockey Show. This two-day, noting-but-hockey event was truly ahead of its time, almost two decades before the Chicago Blackhawks started holding their own annual summertime convention. Held on August 25 and 26, 1990, the Chicago Hockey Show gave fans an opportunity to meet and get autographs from current and former ‘Hawks players. There was a dealer room that was focused almost exclusively on hockey memorabilia, from game-used jerseys to hockey cards.

And speaking of hockey cards, Pro Set was on-hand, giving out samples from their forthcoming 1990-91 hockey set several weeks before you could buy the cards.

As a young hockey fan in 1990, the Chicago Hockey Show was almost too good to be true.

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