Card of the Week: Return to Sender

1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #131 – Ken Solheim

Ken SolheimLook at the back of this card of Ken Solheim, and you will see that he was traded from the Minnesota North Stars to the Detroit Red Wings near the end of the 1982-83 season.

Flip the card over to the front, and you’ll notice that Solheim’s North Stars uniform has been airbrushed over, so as to look like a Red Wings uniform.

However, the card still has a North Stars name and logo at the top, as well as an annoying little bit of text that reads “Now with Minnesota”.

Now with Minnesota? And yet, Solheim’s North Stars jersey has been painted over to look like a Red Wings jersey. What’s going on here? What team is he on?

You’d almost think that Solheim was traded from Minnesota to Detrot and then back to Minnesota. But that is not the case here – well, not yet anyway. Solheim was not with Minnesota at the time this card was released.

The North Stars traded forward Ken Solheim to the Red Wings on March 8, 1983. Since he only played a scant 10 games with the Red Wings at the end of that season, one could assume that there were no photos of him as a Wings player readily available – hence O-Pee-Chee going through all the trouble to doctor the photo so that Solheim looks like a member of Detroit.

At the time of the card’s release in 1983-84, Solheim was indeed a member of the Red Wings’ organization, playing for Detroit’s minor league team in Adirondack. But for some reason, O-Pee-Chee goofed, and added the text “Now with Minnesota”, as well as using the North Stars logo, team name and border colors, which just makes Solheim’s rookie card one confusing mess.

I can never get over how detail-oriented the O-Pee-Chee airbrush artists were in the 1980s – painting folds and wrinkles on the jersey, as well as glares and highlights on the helmet…even attempting to replicate the Red Wings logo as accurately as possible. This was at a time when there was no such thing as Photoshop. Don’t get me wrong – those repainted cards serve as the “comic relief” of hockey sets from yesteryear. But I would almost say that this would be a nice card if someone didn’t mistakenly stamp “NOW WITH MINNESOTA” on it. I can only imagine the poor airbrush artist, ready to bask in the glory of his latest photographic alteration – only to realize that some hack graphic designer screwed up big time and used the incorrect logo and colors on the card.

Ken SolheimAs for Ken Solheim…well, it sucks when you only get one NHL trading card in your career, and it gets messed up this badly. Ironically, though, the card kind of foreshadowed the next year of his career.

Solheim would end up getting traded back to the North Stars before the start of the 1984-85 season – but remember, this is a 1983-84 card that was released a year before this trade back. So, the fact that the card shows him as a Red Wing, but says “Now with Minnesota” is just a coincidence.

When Minnesota traded Solheim to Detroit in March of 1983, it was for the ever-popular “future considerations”. Solheim apparently did not live up to expectations – failing to crack the Wings’ lineup in 1983-84. Before the start of the 1984-85 season, Detroit sent Solheim back to Minnesota, nullifying the deal for “future considerations”. In a sense, Solheim was basically “loaned” to the Red Wings, played a year for their minor league team, and then given back to the North Stars.

Perhaps the Red Wings management took a cue from this card. 

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk


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

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