Now that Puck Junk has been a part of the online hockey community for 10 years, I feel that it gives me little street cred when it comes to hockey cards. So today, I would like to announce the creation of The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame.
Literally close to one million hockey cards have been produced over the past 105 years. Some were truly great, most were just OK, and many were bad. But some were really bad. The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame plans to immortalize the worst of the very worst.
In order to be considered for the PJ BHC HOF (rolls of the tongue, eh?) I have only one criteria: the card in question has to transcend its category and be exemplar — gee, just like a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame supposedly does, too.
For example, not every O-Pee-Chee card with a poorly repainted photograph will qualify for inclusion. Many cards from the 1960s to the early 1990s used doctored photos; to make the cut, it’s gotta be a cut above.
That said, say hello to The Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.
The Bad Paint Job Category
Just like the Hockey Hall of Fame has its categories — players, builders and officials — so too does this Hall of Fame. High-scoring forwards are usually shoe-ins for the HHOF when they retire. Likewise, cards where the photos have been repainted — some say airbrushed, but on many you can clearly see strokes from an actual brush — will be the bread and butter of the Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame.
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #226: Mel Bridgman
If repainted trading cards were works of art, then the 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee card of Mel Bridgman is The Mona Lisa. The photo of the scowling, toothless center is so bad that it could qualify for The Bad Photograph category if the card wasn’t ridiculously recolored. That’s what puts this card over the top by a mile (or 1.609 kilometers for my Canadian friends). Notice how the helmet — colored gray for some inexplicable reason — appears to float around Bridgman’s head, instead of snugly fitting on it. Making it all even more hilarious is the fact that Bridgman is playing for the New Jersey Devils, a team that was so bad in 1983-84 that Wayne Gretzky called them a “Mickey Mouse organization.” Coincidentally, this card makes Bridgman look like a cartoon character. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
Speaking of Gretzky…
1988-89 O-Pee-Chee #221: Mike Krushelnyski
When Gretzky was traded to the Kings in 1988, Mike Krushelnyski was sent to L.A. too, for some reason. Whereas The Great One got a great card of him holding up the new L.A. Kings home jersey, his transplanted teammate was not so lucky. The Kings had used their new silver, black and white uniforms for barely two months when this card came out, so no one above the age of five would miskate this piss-poor painting for a photograph. Why does the jersey have such dark shadows in its folds, yet the light above Krushelnyski’s head is bright enough to practically wash out his black helmet? And why is he wearing a black helmet with a white jersey — or wearing a white jersey against opponents also wearing white jerseys? This card didn’t even fool the card company, who added the text “Traded to Kings 8-9-88” just so they could sleep at night. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
1986-87 O-Pee-Chee #209: Warren Young
The recoloring of Warren Young’s Red Wings uniform to look like a Penguins uniform is bad enough, but making this card even more laughable is how the Pens’ logo was slapped on crookedly. The funny thing is, O-Pee-Chee didn’t need to go through all the trouble; Young was a Red Wing for one season, but played for the Penguins the previous year, so O-Pee-Chee could literally have just used a photo of him from two seasons ago. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2010.)
The Bad Photograph Category
If repainted photos are the high-scoring players, then bad photos are the hard-hitting defensemen in this Hall of Fame.
1987-88 O-Pee-Chee Leaders #14: Glen Hanlon
Back in 8th grade, this card of Detroit Red Wings goaltender Glen Hanlon made my friends giggle uncontrollably when I showed it to them during recess one day. Hanlon here is, uh, handling his cup while a photographer snapped away. Why would the photographer take this photo, or try and sell it to a card company afterward? And why would a card company buy this photo and then put it on a hockey card? Although not as bad, having an embarrassing hockey card photo back in 1987 is kind of like having an embarrassing photo circulate on social media today. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
2010-11 Score #545: Bryan Pitton
It’s the back of the dude’s head — and he’s facing an explosion. Also, the guy was like a fifth-stringer who was called up one day to sit on the bench for the Oilers while Nikolai Khabibulin was in jail or whatever. So, it wasn’t like Bryan Pitton really needed to have a hockey card, but here we are. This card is so bad that I actually made a video about it, which in turn led to Pitton’s teammates gluing heads of lettuce to his locker. It’s true. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2011.)
1981-82 Topps #130E: Denis Potvin
Because nothing says “Super Action” quite like an All-Star defenseman falling backwards and on top of his own goaltender. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2007.)
The Bad Head Swap Category
Only one this year, but it is arguably the best Bad Head Swap hockey card of all time.
1971-72 O-Pee-Chee #156 – Rogatien Vachon
Go ahead — stare at this Rogatien Vachon card for five second without either laughing or being a little grossed out. It looks like someone is wearing Vachon’s face like a mask, though with a little imagination, it could instead be that Vachon is wearing a really furry turtleneck sweater. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2014.)
The Bad Idea Category
Cards that just didn’t need to be made.
1992-93 Pinnacle #233: Doug Gilmour (Sidelines)
Is Doug Gilmour dressed up as Woody from Toy Story? Or is he supposed to be a metrosexual cowboy? Neither. This card came out in 1992-93, a good three years before Toy Story graced the screens, and a decade before metrosexual was even a word. According to the back of this card, Gilmour wanted to be an actor when he retired from hockey. And according to IMDB, this card didn’t help. Today, there is no way in hell that the NHL Players’ Association would allow a picture like this on a hockey card, and we’re all better for that. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2012.)
1993-94 Classic #113: Paul Kariya
It’s a painting of Paul Kariya — on fire! — that doesn’t even look like Paul Kariya. He’s skating among the clouds, and if that isn’t bad enough, the artist drew him as a right-handed shot, even though he’s a lefty*! Yet, this card still looks more realistic than Mike Krushelnyski’s 1988-89 card. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2009.)
(* – Thanks to Carl for reminding me that Paul Kariya is actually a left-handed shot. This terrible card has fooled us into thinking otherwise for decades!)
The Bad Mascot Category
Any trading card of a hockey team mascot could arguably qualify as being a bad hockey card, since most hockey mascots are lame and don’t deserve hockey cards to begin with (but never you, Skates). While the lameness of the mascot is a contributing factor, the card itself has to be equally as bad.
1989-90 7th Inning Sketch OHL # 174: Casey Jones
This mascot is creepy as hell, but adding to the creep factor is that he is emerging from the shadows. Remember the character M.T. Promises from the 1980s kids’ show The Great Space Coaster? Jones looks like a more-threatening version of him. Seriously, if I was five years old and saw Casey Jones at a hockey game, I’d be bawling my eyes out. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2011, and then again in 2014 because I obviously have issues.)
That makes a nice, even 10 cards for the inaugural class of The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame.
So, who do you think should have made the cut for the inaugural class, or who should be elected to the Hall in 2018? Leave your nomination — and your reason why — below. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.