The Chicago Wolves have been a top-notch hockey team over the past 25 years, winning two Turner Cup Championships in the old IHL and two Calder Cup Championships in the AHL. Many former NHL stars, future NHL stars and minor league legends played for the team over the past quarter-century. Earlier this month, the Wolves issued a trading card set honoring its best players. Like past team sets, the Wolves’ 25th Anniversary team set does not disappoint.
Player Selection (4.5 out of 5)
The set consists of 25 player cards, which is a nice number for a 25th anniversary team set. Naturally, all of the franchise leaders are here, such as Steve Maltais and Wendell Young. Fan favorites like Scooter Vaughan and Chris Chelios, who finished his Hall of Fame playing career with the Wolves, are included. The set is a who’s who of the team’s best players, as you would expect.
The only reason I don’t give a full 5/5 for player selection is because there are two notable omissions: goaltender Jake Allen and former head coach John Anderson. Allen had a monster season for the Wolves in 2013-14, leading all AHL goalies in every statistical category and winning top goalie honors. Then again, he only spent one season with the Wolves — but it was a hell of a season. Anderson was the Wolves coach for 14 seasons, including the four that the team won league championships, but I could understand that the set is supposed to focus on the team’s best all-time players. Still, being a Wolves fan literally since day one, including those two would have put this anniversary card set over the top.
Front Design (4.5 out of 5)
Card fronts used a stylized photo of each player, who is pictured in either a white or maroon Wolves jersey. This gives the cards a nice consistency, as players are not shown in “one-off” jerseys, such as the ones the teams wear on St. Patrick’s Day or other special events.
Under the player’s picture is his uniform number, name, and the seasons he played on the Wolves. The Wolves 25th anniversary logo is in front of the player’s number, obscuring it slightly, and making single-digit numbers a bit hard to read. Not the end of the world, though.
Stats & Info / Back Design (4.5 out of 5)
The card backs display the player’s career stats with the Wolves, and give some facts and details about their career if space allows. At the bottom is a Vienna Beef logo. Vienna Beef usually sponsors the Wolves’ team sets each year, and the company’s logo is always small and unobtrusive. My only complaint is that the text is really small, BOLD ALL CAPITAL LETTER TEXT that is hard to read.
Cards were given away to the first 2,500 fans who attended the Wolves game against the Rockford IceHogs on January 19, 2019. The cards came in a team set bag. The cards are unnumbered, but were put in order of the player’s uniform number, then by last name if two players wore that same number.
Obviously, if you are not a Chicago Wolves fan, you won’t lose any sleep if you don’t own this set. But if you are a Wolves fan, you need to get this set. The cards look great, and all of the team’s best and/or favorite players are here.
Five Chicago Wolves who also played for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Al Secord – Secord played his entire NHL career without a helmet. He retired in 1990 to get his commercial pilot’s license, and wore a helmet when he came out of retirement to play with the Wolves.
Chris Chelios – One of the greatest Chicago Blackhawks ever, Chelios finished his 28-year(!) pro hockey career with the Wolves.
Karl Stewart – After three seasons with the Wolves, Stewart played 37 games for the Blackhawks in 2006-07.
Rob Brown – Brown played 40 games for the Blackhawks in the early 1990s.
Ray LeBlanc – LeBlanc played one game for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1992 after his near-miracle on ice at the 1992 Winter Olympics. He was the starting goaltender for the first Wolves game in team history. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.