Last year, I started The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame as a way to immortalize the very worst hockey cards ever made. Yes, cards like Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr rookie cards will always be a cherished part of the hobby — but so should cards that feature bad photographs or of even worse ideas.
Thus, The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame Class of 2018 is an exciting mix of the bad, the ugly and the awful. These are all cards that you can’t un-see, yet they still make hockey card collecting an enjoyable hobby in their own weird kind of way.
The Bad Paint Job Category
So many cards have been shoddily repainted from the late 1960s to the early 1990s, that not all of them could be a part of the Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. Thus, it is high time that these three repainted rejects were recognized for their wretchedness.
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #131: Ken Solheim
It sucks when you get only one hockey card in your NHL career, and it is as terrible as this one. Ken Solheim was traded by the Minnesota North Stars to the Detroit Red Wings at the tail-end of the 1982-83 season. O-Pee-Chee did not have a photo of Solheim in a Red Wings uniform, so they had an artist take a red crayon to his North Stars uniform for his 1983-84 card. But then confusingly, the card still has a North Stars logo at the top, and a line of text that reads “Now with Minnesota,” as if he had just been traded back to the North Stars. Coincidentally, Solheim was indeed traded back to the North Stars — but a year after this card came out. Ironically, Solheim was traded back to the North Stars for himself, as he was originally traded for “future considerations,” and then traded back for “future considerations.” (First mentioned on Puck Junk way back in 2007.)
1975-76 Topps #189: Bill Clement
Center Bill Clement was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he won two Stanley Cup Championships in a row, to the last-place Washington Capitals. And if that wasn’t enough to make him cry, well Topps had an artist “update” the photo on Clement’s 1975-76 card — but only from the waist-up. Big Bill’s jersey was repainted, with a wonky-looking Capitals logo and the never-flattering “00” on his sleeve, but his pants and socks were still left in the Flyers’ colors of black and orange. What makes it look particularly silly is that there are Capitals players visible in proper uniforms, making Clement look like he just swapped sweaters between periods. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2011.)
1986-87 O-Pee-Chee #243: Gary Nylund
Gary Nylund signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1986, and it was kind of a big deal because players under 30 almost never signed free agent deals back then. O-Pee-Chee hastily repainted Nylund’s Maple Leafs uniform to look like ‘Hawks attire, but did a poor job in the process. The striping on the neck and sleeves is all wrong, and they didn’t even bother recoloring Nylund’s helmet or glove, either. But what takes the cake is the terrible Blackhawks logo, which looks like it was first distorted by a fun house mirror before being applied to Nylund’s chest. Even Nylund seems to be stunned in disbelief on how bad this card is. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2010.)
The Bad Photograph Category
Repainting photos has been pretty much a no-no in the trading card world since the early 1990s, but fortunately, the hobby will never run out of bad trading card photos.
1981-82 O-Pee-Chee #317: Dave Farrish
It’s a bad sign when you are barely on your own hockey card. Yet this was the best photo of Dave Farrish that O-Pee-Chee could buy. He played 74 games for the Maple Leafs in 1980-81, so there should have been at least two photos of Farrish to choose from. Now I wonder how bad that other picture must be. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
1991-92 Ultimate Draft Picks #48: Kerry Toporowski
This card is ass. No, literally. Kerry Toporowski’s ass takes up like 25% of the card, which is about 52% too much. Meanwhile, his face is nowhere to be seen; not on the card front, and not on the back, either. For years, I just assumed it was because the photographer at the staged prospects game didn’t get a good shot of Toporowski. But the real reason, according to the book “Hockey Card Stories 2,”is that Toporowski actually wasn’t at that game/photo shoot. So the card company allegedly put Brent Bilodeau in a jersey with Toporowski’s name on it and photographed him from the back. It’s a lousy photo of a first-round bust masquerading as a fourth-round pick, wearing a generic jersey while falling on top of a guy in a meaningless scrimmage on a worthless hockey card. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2013.)
2003-04 In The Game Action #172: Teemu Selanne
Even good hockey players get bad cards, which was the case when Teemu Selanne signed with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent in July of 2003. The card uses a photo of Selanne on a TV screen — or perhaps it is the JumboTron at the Pepsi Center — but it looks more like he is sitting at the bottom of a giant fish tank. All this card needs is some air bubbles emanating from Teemu’s nostrils. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2017.)
The Bad Idea Category
Hockey cards that should never had been made in the first place.
1991-92 Upper Deck #54: Pavel Bure
Just like Bobby Orr inspired a generation of young defensemen to become offensive-minded, this card of Pavel Bure inspired a generation of bad hockey cards. Sets like Be A Player, which used to picture NHL players in regular clothes, just being regular dudes and doing everyday regular dude things, owe its existence to this card. So does Pinnacle, which became notorious for using really offbeat photographs. This Upper Deck card of the Russian Rocket in Rollerblades, chillaxing at the beach on a clear blue day was a trailblazer — for better or for worse — making it acceptable for cards to picture NHL players outside of a hockey setting. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2011.)
1988-89 ProCards: Sheryl Reeves
During the 1988-89 season, card company ProCards produced minor league team sets for AHL and IHL teams. The team sets sold for about $3 each, and it was up to each team as to who they wanted to include. The Peoria Rivermen went overboard (pun intended), and included cards of 21 players, as well as their coach, assistant coach, trainer, general manager, assistant general manager, sales manager and administrative assistant. Yep, the team’s secretary, a woman by the name of Sheryl Reeves, got her own hockey card. It was a nice gesture by the Rivermen, but ultimately not the kind of card that someone purchased multiples of for future investment value. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2009.)
1990 Score Rookie & Traded Baseball #100T: Eric Lindros
All right, I know what you’re thinking. This is a baseball card — not a hockey card — so why is it a part of the Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame? It makes the grade because it is a card of hockey player Eric Lindros, and it made hockey fans/collectors/speculators gullible enough to pay as much as $10 for this card when it first came out. Despite what the back of the card implies, Lindros wasn’t really a multi-sport athlete like Bo Jackson. Really, it came down to the fact that Lindros signed an endorsement deal with Score, so they make as many different cards of the future first-overall pick as they wanted. This included shoehorning him into a baseball card set. Also, the duck face he’s making on the card is pretty epic. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
The Bad Mistake Category
This new category for 2018 is for when a card company makes such an egregious error that it cannot be forgiven.
2010-11 Pinnacle City Lights #85: Jeff Skinner
Jeff Skinner was the rookie of the year in 2011, yet this rookie card of him shows the wrong city in the background. The Hurricanes play in Raleigh, NC, but the backdrop is Charlotte, NC. The two cities are about a three-hour drive away from each other, and are heated rivals in college sports. So, putting Jeff Skinner in front of Charlotte would be like putting Sidney Crosby in front of the Liberty Bell. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2014.)
That’s another 10 cards inducted into The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame. Combined with last year’s inaugural class, that gives this Hall 20 honored members total.
So, who do you think should make the Hall in 2019? Leave your nomination, and reason why, below. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.