Pizza Hut restaurants in Chicago offered a five-card set of Blackhawks Legends during the start of the 1998-99 season. I don’t remember the specifics, but I think you had to buy a pizza to get one of these cards. I also think that they gave out a different card each week for a five-week period. I vaguely recall clipping an ad about this offer out of a newspaper.
I also recall that I was two blocks shy of our nearest Pizza Hut’s delivery range. I was living at my college’s dormitory, located in downtown Chicago, and didn’t have a car. I wanted these cards bad enough that I even offered to meet the Pizza Hut delivery driver at the corner of their delivery boundary, but NOOOOO, they’d only deliver to a street address, and not to the corner of Congress and Dearborn.
Fast forward to 2016, and I finally tracked down all of these Blackhawks Legends cards. They weren’t particularly expensive, and a nice collector even gave me the last card that I needed — Bobby Hull — for free. But in all of my years of collecting, I don’t see these pop up too often online or at shows. That said, here is a review 17 years in the making.
Player Selection: 4 out of 5
The five players in the 1998 Pizza Hut Blackhawks Legends set are Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall, Tony Esposito, Denis Savard and Steve Larmer. All of these players are ‘Hawks all-time greats. Except for Larmer, all of these players had their numbers retired by the Blackhawks and are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Larmer did win the Calder Trophy in 1983 as the NHL’s best rookie, and played in 884 consecutive games for the Blackhawks, so he too is a legend. (And honestly, Larmer should have his number retired AND be in the Hall of Fame, but that’s an argument for another day.)
However, Stan Mikita — the all-time scoring and games played leader for the ‘Hawks — is noticeably absent. They really should have been a sixth card to include Mikita, or he should have replaced Larmer in the set.
Front Design: 4.5 out of 5
The design is simple and not overdone. There’s a big player photo, a Blackhawks’ logo, a Pizza Hut logo, the player’s name and “Blackhawk Legends” at the bottom. (Strange that they used the singular form “Blackhawk” and not the plural “Blackahwks.”) Maybe changing the gray border to red would have made this design a little more exciting, but all in all these cards look fine; almost like cards from the 1980s and not the late 1990s.
Stats & Info / Back Design: 2 out of 5
About 75% of the back of each card is filled with coupons. The rest of the card offers little room for stats, but it tries. Regular season and playoff goal, assist and point totals are given for Hull, Savard and Larmer. Regular season and playoff win, loss and GAA totals are given for Hall and Esposito. There are also a few sentences about each player, highlighting their careers with the ‘Hawks.
These cards were given away at Pizza Hut during the start of the 1998-99 season. Presumably, you’d get one with a purchase, and I believe a different card was given out each week. The cards are printed on thin plastic, like a credit card, but flexible. Corners are rounded. Coupons on the back could be peeled off and used for discounts on future orders. However, each coupon also has a bar code that could be scanned instead, so collectors didn’t have to make the card “less mint” by removing the coupons. Anyone who collected all five cards could get a free medium pizza with the purchase of a medium or large pizza.
The Pizza Hut Blackhawks Legends is a nice little set that die-hard ‘Hawks fans will like, but the absence of Stan Mikita makes it feel incomplete.
Here are front and back views of every card in the set, as well as the short bio from the back of each card.
Glenn Hall #1 – Hall played in 503 consecutive games, setting a league record, and earning himself the nickname “Mr Goalie”. He backstopped the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Championship in 1961 and was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.