You didn’t think I would forget about honoring bad hockey cards this year, did you? I launched the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame in 2017 with an inaugural class of 10 horrible hockey cards, and then followed up in 2018 with another 10 equally-awful cards. In 2019, another batch of baddies get their due.
Usually, I unveil the honorees right around the time the Hockey Hall of Fame holds it’s induction ceremony, but these past few months have been busy for me. Really busy. (If you read The Hockey News, then you’ve seen what’s been keeping me busy.) Fortunately, we still have a little time left in the year, so without further ado, may I introduce the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2019.
The Bad Paint Job Category
Repainting photos of a hockey player when he changed teams was a time-honored tradition of Topps and O-Pee-Chee during the vintage days of collecting. Because card companies didn’t really need the most up-to-date photos back then; all they needed was some tempera paints and a number four brush (painting skills optional). So, what altered atrocities made the cut for this season?
1976-77 Topps #213: Bobby Orr
Everything about this hockey card is wrong — starting with the premise. Bobby Orr on the Black Hawks? Sorry, but no. Other than an Oshawa Generals or NHL All-Star jersey, seeing Orr in anything but a Bruins sweater is borderline sacrilege; even more so if you consider that Orr only ended up with Chicago because his agent lied to him. As a lifelong ‘Hawks fan, this whole fiasco makes me hang my head in shame.
So, this card has a lot of baggage. It’s the game’s greatest defenseman, playing on a team that he never should have played for. But he actually isn’t playing for the Black Hawks here. Instead, Orr’s Bruins uniform has been repainted to look like he is with the ‘Hawks. It’s a terrible card of a terrific player. I know that this was standard practice for Topps at the time, but why didn’t the company at least opt for a close-up picture, where there would be much less uniform showing. It would look way less ridiculous than this.
1980-81 Topps #242: Rick Vaive
Or maybe not! Topps used a close-up pic of Rick Vaive on his 1980-81 card, and with a little paint and a lot of TLC, gave us this mess-terpiece. Vaive was traded from the Canucks to the Maple Leafs, and an artist repainted Vaive’s jersey, and his hair too, for some reason — maybe to cover up a yellow Canucks helmet? That could very well be true, as his cheek and neck (where a helmet strap would have been) also appear to be repainted as well. Making this card even worse is the black scratch-off surface obscuring the player’s name on the front, a “feature” that was unique to Topps cards in 1980-81. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2014.)
1981-82 Topps #99W : Don Luce
Is it possible for a player to be self-aware of how bad he looks in his own trading card? Because Don Luce appears to know just how bad he looks. He was traded from the Sabres to the Kings towards the end of the 1980-81 season, and Topps may have intended to repaint Luce’s uniform to purple and gold, but a subsequent trade in the offseason nixed those plans. Instead, Luce’s photo was half-heatedly repainted; they got the torso, arms and legs, but didn’t bother repainting his Sabres’ gloves to match his Toronto uni. And that hollowed-out bowling ball of a helmet is still in Sabres blue. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2007.)
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #169: Steve Christoff
Come on! Steve Christoff is an American hero! He was a member of the “Miracle on Ice” hockey team that won the gold medal in 1980. He deserves better than this. After playing for team USA in 1980, Christoff played two-and-a-half years with the North Stars. He was traded to the Flames for the 1982-83 season, then traded back to the North Stars prior to the 1983-84 season. O-Pee-Chee decided to recolor Christoff’s uniform — with Crayola pencils, apparently — but then he was traded again, to the Kings, prior to the start of the 1983-84 season. Confused? I sure am. But hey — this card makes a sweet cameo in the hockey movie “Youngblood” during the “Tea with Ms. McGill” scene. Don’t believe me? Let’s roll the tape.
(Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2010.)
The Bad Photograph Category
A picture is worth a thousand words, but a bad picture is worth immortality in the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame.
2003 Czech Stadion World Stars #539: Jozef Stumpel
Stumpel has that look on his face of a man who has been “holding it” for a long time, but finally got to “go,” if you know what I’m saying. Like, that time back in college when you saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King with your friends, and had to hold it for what felt like an eternity because you thought the movie was going to end any minute. But any minute was really another 90 minutes of tying up loose plot ends before you could experience sweet, sweet relief. That’s what Stumpel looks like here. This photo wasn’t used on a mainstream card — though would you really be surprised if it was? — but rather on a card given away in a Czech sports magazine called Stadion. which apparently includes trading cards of sports heroes looking like idiots. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk earlier this year.)
1995-96 Pinnacle #134: Olaf Kolzig
This Olaf Kolzig Pinnacle card from 1995-96 is so bad that it is awesome. But let’s not kid ourselves; it is still bad. Ollie the Goalie’s “Hot Dog Card” is legendary among longtime hockey card collectors for its hilariousness; it’s a backup goalie holding a hot dog with his name written in mustard. Making it even worse (better?) is that Kolzig was photographed with a wide-angle lens, making his schnoz look three times as wide. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
2002-03 Fleer Throwbacks #23: Todd Ewen
The pose struck here by Todd Ewen seems more befitting of a pro wrestler than an NHL hockey player. Or maybe Ewen thought he was holding a hot dog and bit down before remembering that it was a puck. Is this photo fun? Yes. Is it flattering? No — unless looking like the team logo is flattering. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008 and again in 2014.)
1997-98 Upper Deck #34: Jarome Iginla
At first glance, it appears that this is the disembodied head of Jarome Iginla, floating creepily behind a rack of sticks. (Because how else would a disembodied head float?) Then you notice Iggy’s hand in the lower-right corner of the card and realize that he’s wearing a black shirt. This would be a great photo of, say, a mass murderer, but not so much for a hockey player (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2014.)
The Bad Head Swap Category
Literal cut-and-paste jobs gone awry.
1971-72 O-Pee-Chee #229: Dave Balon
Dave Balon looks like Sloth from The Goonies a good 14 years before that movie came out. The head picture alone could qualify for the Bad Photograph Category, due to the missing tooth and the way each of Balon’s eyes appear to be from two different people….again, just like Sloth. The fact that his melon is noticeably bigger than it should be and placed crookedly upon someone else’s shoulders only makes Balon appear more doofy.
The Bad Idea Category
Hockey cards so bad that they shouldn’t have been made.
1991 Arena Draft Picks #4: Peter Forsberg
The 1991 Arena Draft Picks hockey card set is all kinds of bad, as it showed that year’s top draft picks — but not Eric Lindros, who was THE top pick — wearing tuxedos and pretending to skate. Yes, pretending. The players were actually photographed in the locker room, and the ice shavings were superimposed later. While all the cards in this set are terrible, the one of Peter Forsberg is next-level loathsome because it also erroneously lists the future Hall of Fame center as a defenseman. (Previously mentioned on Puck Junk in 2016.)
These 10 beauties bring up the total number of cards in this Hall of Fame to 30. Be sure to also check out the inductees from 2017 and 2018.
So, who do you think should make the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame in 2020? Leave your nomination in the comments below. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.