Esa Tikkanen may have won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, but he missed out on having a card in the Official NHL ’94 Trading Card Set. You might want to blame a video game programmer as for the reason why.
Back in the fall of 1993, Electronic Arts released a video game called “NHL ’94.” It was the company’s third installment in their annual hockey series, and is still considered one of the best sports video games ever made. “NHL ’94” was available for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega CD and for the PC.
Enclosed with the game was a special offer for a set of 225 “Hint Cards” that would help make you a better player. You could order this set of hockey cards directly from Electronic Arts for $19.95, plus $4 shipping and any applicable taxes
Each team had 6 player cards — one goalie, two defenseman and three forwards. But the New York Rangers only had 5 player cards.
Cards in the set were grouped together (i.e. the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are cards 1 – 6, the Boston Bruins are cards 7 – 12, etc.). Cards numbered 85, 86, 87, 89 and 90 are of Rangers players, while card 88 is a “designer tip” card.
Electronic Arts must have originally planned to have 6 Rangers players in this set, but then decided to replace one of them with a designer tip card. This probably happened early enough in production that the box and promotional materials would advertise the set as having 155 player cards (a 6th Ranger would bump that up to 156 player cards), but late enough that they couldn’t re-order the set.
And yes–card 88 should have been Esa Tikkanen. In the “NHL ’94” video game, he is the Rangers’ top left winger.
The card that replaced Tikkanen as card 88 is called “The Wong.” Each of the designer tip cards have a “move” named after someone who helped make the game. This one is named after game programmer Amory Wong.
So, why did Mr. Wong’s “designer tip” get a card, and not everyone’s favorite superpest, circa 1993? I have no solid answer, other than maybe someone at EA did not like Esa Tikkanen. By the way, Barry Melrose is listed in the credits under “Special Thanks,” most likely as some sort of hockey consultant. At the time, he was coach of the L.A. Kings, and would have been familiar with Tikkanen from his days with the Oilers. Maybe Melrose got to pick what one player to remove from the set to make room for an extra designer tip card. Just speculation here, but if you were a coach in the Smythe Division circa 1993, who would your least favorite player be?
As for the tip itself – passing the puck from the boards to the slot for a one-timer–seems less like a “tip” and more like common sense.
Anyway, if Mr. Wong’s player tip really had to be included, why bump Esa from the set? There are a few worse cards that should have been omitted instead:
NHL Logos– EA’s previous hockey game, “NHLPA ’93” did not feature NHL logos. But we know NHL team logos are in the game because it’s called “NHL ’94.” Did we really need a card touting this “feature?”
Like my last “Lost Card” article, I decided to make a custom Esa Tikkanen card for this set. I think it came out well.
Too bad I couldn’t find a good shot of Esa in the blue Rangers jersey. Otherwise, I think this card fits in nicely. ■