Every 1993-94 Hockey Card Set Ranked

The 1993-94 season was my favorite year to collect hockey cards. Everything about that season was just so right for me. I was living with my Grandmother and going to a local junior college, so my cost of living was low. I was working full-time at a card and comic book shop, so I could buy new cards at a deep discount. I had just gotten my drivers licence, so I could drive around Chicago to other card shops or local shows to find the last few inserts I needed for a given set. Plus, I was still promoting a monthly neighborhood show, so a lot of times people would bring me cards that I needed. My situation in life made collecting easy for me that year.

As for the cards themselves, the 1993-94 season was the last year before hockey card collecting got out of hand. Packs were still affordable, with most between $1 and $3. (The 1994 NHL Lockout would change that, but that’s a story for another time.) There were really no short prints, other than the odd insert, so sets were fairly easy to complete. There were some great insert sets, but not so many different insert sets like it is today, where you can buy a box of cards and get 40 different inserts across 10 different insert sets. There were five different card companies competing with each other, so they had to try hard to do better than one another.

For example, Topps finally got with the program and printed its flagship set on quality card stock, with gloss coating and full-color backs. The company also issued the set in two series, so it could include rookies and traded players in their new uniforms later on that season.

Unfortunately, there were some casualties. Pro Set had gone bankrupt in 1992-93, and while it tried to issue a set for the 1993-94 season, its license was revoked by the NHL. The NHL also mandated that companies could only issue two sets per season, so Topps had to jettison its unpopular Bowman Hockey set, while O-Pee-Chee stopped making its own smaller, premium “Premier” set, as the “Premier” name would be used by both Topps and O-Pee-Chee that year for their large, two-series card sets.

One addition to this year’s ranking is how each company included Alexander Daigle in their sets. Daigle was selected first-overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Pinnacle Brands — which made the Score and Pinnacle hockey card sets — had worked out a deal with Daigle, so that only they could picture him in a Senators uniform until he played in an NHL game. The other companies could not use a “Draft Day” photo, nor could they use photo manipulation to put his head on a different Senators player’s body. Thus, they had to get a little creative in how to picture that season’s hottest rookie in their hockey card sets that year.

As I have done with the 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 sets, here is my retrospective and ranking of every hockey card set issued in 1993-94.

#1 – Upper Deck

Claiming first place for the fourth year in a row is Upper Deck, who really upped its game with its 1993-94 set.

Number of Cards: 575 cards. The first 310 cards (1-310) were found in Series One packs, while the last 265 cards (311-575) were found in Series Two packs.

Insert Cards: 10 Gretzky’s Great Ones, found in Series One packs and jumbo packs; 10 Future Heroes, found in U.S. Series One hobby packs; 20 Hat Tricks, found in Series One jumbo packs; 6 Next In Line, found in Series One packs; 8 Award Winners, found in Canadian Series One packs; 10 NHL’s Best, found in U.S. Series One retail packs; 15 Program of Excellence, found in Canadian Series Two packs; 20 Silver Skates, with 10 found in U.S. Series Two hobby packs and the other 10 found in U.S. Series Two retail packs; SP4 hologram card of Teemu Selanne, found in Series One packs. An oversized Wayne Gretzky card was found on the bottom of Series One boxes. There was also Silver Skates redemption card that could be mailed in for the entire Silver Skates set, and a Silver Skates gold card that could be mailed in for a gold parallel version of the Silver Skates set. Wait…shouldn’t that set have been called Golden Skates instead of Silver Skates? Finally, there was an 180-card insert set called SP, which was found one per Series Two pack and two per Series Two jumbo pack.

1993-94 Upper Deck SP insert card

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Adrian Aucoin, Anson Carter, Jamie Langenbrunner, Bryan McCabe, Chris Osgood, Mike Peca.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in This Set: Sergei Brylin, Sergei Gonchar, Rudy Poeschek, Kimmo Timmonen.

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Todd Harkins (48 games), Ralph Intranuovo  (22 games), Keith Osborne (16 games), Doug MacDonald (11 games), Anatoli Fedotov (4 games), Philippe DeRouville (3 games), Chad Penny (3 games), Dan Ratushny (1 game), Oleg Belov, Jef Bes, Roman Kadera, Richard Kapus, Tomas Klimt, Patrik Krisak, Mikko Luovi, Tomas Nemcicky,  Jukka Ollila,  Vitali Tomilin (all 0 NHL games each).

How did Upper Deck include Alexandre Daigle? Upper Deck waited for the season to start before issuing its Series One set. The card uses a photo of Daigle from a preseason game, as evidenced by the Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary patch on his uniform, which was worn by players during the 1992-93 season and the 1993-94 preseason.

Fun Facts: This was the first time Upper Deck would release its flagship set in two distinct series. In the prior three seasons, the company would put the update cards in “High Series” packs, which had a mix of the older and newer cards. This bothered collectors, who were basically buying packs that had cards they mostly already had. Some “Team Scoring Leaders” subset cards can be found with the “World Junior Championship” logo erroneously stamped in gold foil on the front, while some “World Junior Championship” cards can be found missing the logo.

Why Upper Deck is #1? Upper Deck’s 1993-94 set features a simple, colorful, elegant design, with a hockey stick bordering the bottom. Most card backs use a second, large photo with stats underneath. This is the first time that Upper Deck would orient its stats horizontally under the photo, instead of vertically alongside the photo. This was also the first time that Upper Deck gave collectors what they really wanted, which is two standalone series. The World Junior Championship subset returns for another year, featuring rookie cards of several future NHLers, and enough insert sets to keep most collectors busy.

Lasting Legacy: Upper Deck is the only company making NHL trading cards today. If you wanted to own every Upper Deck Hockey set, you would want this one too. Even if you are a newer collector, this one is worth putting in pages and on your shelf.

#2 – Fleer PowerPlay

Claiming the spot as the second-best hockey set of the 1993-94 season is PowerPlay, a new set released by Fleer for the season. PowerPlay literally stood out among its competitors because the cards were bigger, measuring 4 11/16″ tall.

Number of Cards: 520 cards. Series One packs had the first 280 cards (1-280), while Series Two packs had the last 240 cards (281-520).

Insert Cards: 12 Second Year Stars; 10 Gamebreakers; 10 Global Greats; 8 Netminders; 20 Point Leaders; 10 Rising Stars; 16 Rookie Standouts; 10 Slapshot Artists.

1993-94 Fleer PowerPlay Gamebreakers insert card

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Adrian Aucoin, Jason Arnott, Darren McCarthy, Chris Osgood, Garth Snow, Jocelyn Thibault. Future NHL coach Peter Laviolette also has a rookie card in this set.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in This Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Neil Eisenhut (16 games).

How did Upper Deck include Alexandre Daigle? Fleer waited until later in the season and issued a card of Daigle in PowerPlay Series Two.

Fun Facts: A magazine ad for PowerPlay printed a card at “actual size,” and then urged readers to hold up a standard hockey card to compare the size difference. This was the only PowerPlay set ever released.

Why Fleer PowerPlay is #2: PowerPlay was the modern-day “Tall Boys” set, and made great use of the 25% extra space. Most of the photos on the card fronts are full-body shots, while the back uses a photo that is about the size of a photo used on a regular-sized hockey card. Card backs also list up to 10 years of stats (or a short biography if the player has less stats) and vitals such as height and weight. It was fun to collect something different in 1993-94, and PowerPlay was definitely different.

Lasting Legacy: This was the only PowerPlay set that Fleer released, and that is too bad. Most likely, the oversized nature of the cards was a turnoff for collectors, who were used to standard-sized cards and standard-sized card supplies. Upper Deck would issue several sets called “Power Play” (two words) in the future, but the cards were the standard size.

#3 – Leaf

Another new set — by a new player in the hockey card market — takes the number three spot in my ranking of 1993-94 hockey card sets.

Number of Cards: 440 cards. Series One packs had cards 1-220, while Series Two packs had cards 221-440.

Insert Cards: 10 Freshman Phenoms, 10 Gold Leaf All-Stars, 15 Gold Leaf Rookies, 10 Hat Trick Artists, 10 Mario Lemieux Collection, 10 Painted Warriors, 10 Studio Signature Series.

1993-94 Leaf Studio Signatures insert card

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Darren McCarthy, Jocelyn Thibault.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in This Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: n/a

How did Leaf include Alexandre Daigle? Leaf issued a card of first-overall pick Daigle as a part of Series Two. The card front uses a photo of Daigle from a preseason game, as his jersey has the commemorative patch worn during the 1992-93 season and 1993-94 preseason. The photo on the back appears to be from a regular-season game.

Fun Facts: Mario Lemieux was signed by Leaf to be its spokesman. Hence, Lemieux appears on the box, and also had a 10-card insert set about his career randomly found in packs of Leaf cards.

Why Leaf is #3? OK, Leaf really dropped the ball on rookie cards in its set, missing out on guys like Chris Osgood and Sergei Gonchar. But the design of the 1993-94 Leaf set is so AWESOME that it makes up for that. The card fronts have a gold foil “Leaf” logo, and the player’s name in gold foil, plus a 3D-looking team logo that appears to pop off the card. The back has the team logo in holographic rainbow foil. Both sides use diagonal bottom borders, giving the set a feeling of motion. But what really makes this set awesome is the way the players are superimposed in front of buildings or other landmarks from the city that they play in. We see Jeff Brown in front of the St. Louis Arch, Pat Lafontaine in front of Niagara Falls, Kevin Hatcher in front of the Capital Building, Tommy Soderstrom in front of the Liberty Bell, Pat Falloon in front of the Redwood Forest, and more. Many times, the players look like a Godzilla-like monster, but it’s COOL. This set is worth having for the creative design alone.

Lasting Legacy: Leaf is still around today, and still making hockey cards, albeit without a license from the NHL or the NHLPA. Mario Lemieux is still their spokesman, and frequently appears on Leaf cards, sans Penguins logo.

#4 – Parkhurst

Parkhurst, in its first year as an Upper Deck release, takes the number four spot on my list of 1993-94 hockey sets.

Number of Cards: 540 cards. Series One packs had cards 1-270, while Series Two packs had cards 271-540.

Insert Cards: 10 East Stars, 10 West Stars, 10 First Overall, 20 Cherry’s Playoff Heroes, 40 Parkie Reprints, 20 Calder Candidates (Silver). There were redemption cards for the entire Silver Calder Candidates set, and another redemption cards for a Gold Parallel Calder Candidates set. Additionally, every card has an Emerald Ice parallel that swaps out the silver foil for green foil. Finally, a Wayne Gretzky card commemorating his 802nd-career goal was found in Series Two packs. This card resembles Gretzky’s 1993-94 Upper Deck card, with an additional foil stamp on the front reading “802 All-Time Goal Scorer.”

1993-94 Parkhurst East Stars insert card

Original Cost: Around $1.50 – $2.00 per pack.

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Darren McCarthy, Jocelyn Thibault,  Oleg Tverdovsky.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: Anders Eriksson, Janne Niinimaa.

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Johan Davidsson (83 games), Mathias Johansson (58 games), Zdenek Nedved (31 games), Hank Lammens (27 games), Fred Knipscheer (20 games), Tomas Vlasak (10 games), Mikael Hakansson, Josef Marha, Tommi Miettinen, Jani Nikko, Ladislav Prokupek, Nikolai Zavarukhin (all 0 NHL games each).

How did Parkhurst include Alexandre Daigle? Parkhurst Series One came out after the start of the NHL season, and used photos of Daigle from a preseason game, as indicated by the Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary patches that were worn by all teams during the 1992-93 season and 1993-94 preseason.

Fun Facts: After Pro Set went out of business last season, Upper Deck produced Parkhurst cards starting with the 1993-94 set. Unlike the prior two seasons, there was no Parkhurst Final Update set issued at the end of the season.

Why Parkhurst is #4?: Upper Deck really raised the bar with Parkhurst in 1993-94. At the time, foil wasn’t done to death, so the silver foil logo, team name and trim gave the cards a feeling of quality, while the Emerald Ice parallels really stood out. But to truly appreciate the set, you have to put in in nine-pocket pages. Every NHL team in Series One has nine cards, so you get a page of Ducks, a page of Bruins, and so forth, with Sensational Sophomore and Parkhurst Prospects subsets rounding out the last 36 cards. Each NHL team is again given nine cards in Series Two, with the last 36 cards in that series dedicated to World Junior Championship players. I’ve always liked it when sets group cards by team. Parkhurst isn’t necessarily more creative or interesting than Upper Deck, PowerPlay or Leaf, but it is still a worthwhile set to own.

Lasting Legacy: Like practically every set from 1993-94, Parkhurst was overproduced, so you can still find the complete set relatively cheap.

#5 – Topps Premier / O-Pee-Chee Premier

Other than the fact that Topps cards are in English and O-Pee-Chee cards are bilingual, the Topps Premier and O-Pee-Chee Premier sets are identical. Therefore, they are being treated as language variations of one set instead of two separate sets.

Number of Cards: 528 cards. Series One packs had cards 1-264, while Series Two packs had cards 265-528.

Insert Cards: 24 Black Gold, 12 Finest, 23 Team USA (Topps packs only), 19 Team Canada (O-Pee-Chee packs only). The entire 528-card set also has Gold Parallel versions, found one per pack.

1993-94 Topps Premier Black Gold insert card

Original Cost: Around $1 per pack.

Language Variations: Topps cards are written in English on the backs. O-Pee-Chee cards are bilingual (English/French) on the backs.

Topps (top) and O-Pee-Chee (bottom) card backs.

Notable Rookie Cards: Darren McCarthy and Jocelyn Thibault.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in This Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Players Found Only In This Set: Al Conroy (114 games)

How did Topps/O-Pee-Chee include Alexandre Daigle? Topps and O-Pee-Chee issued a card of Daigle in Series Two packs.

Fun Facts: This is the first of two years that Topps and O-Pee-Chee would issue their flagship sets branded as “Premier,” mirroring the designs and checklists of one another. A nine-card promotional sheet of Topps Premier cards were given away prior to the set’s release. In the Gold Parallel set, the checklists were replaced by players (#263 – Martin Lapointe, #264 – Kevin Miehm, #527 – Myles O’Connor, #528 – Jamie Leach) because no one really wants a Gold Parallel of a checklist.

Why Topps Premier / O-Pee-Chee Premier is #5?

OK, maybe Topps and O-Pee-Chee are a little higher on this list due to nostalgia points. But the 1993-94 season is the when Topps and O-Pee-Chee finally got with the program by issuing hockey set in two separate series, upgrading the quality of the cards to match what other companies did — including full-color backs and photos on both sides — and otherwise just trying not to suck as bad as they did with their standard sets the past three years. The checklist is pretty deep, has cards of players selected by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Florida Panthers expansion teams, All-Star cards, and a “flag-themed” subset that evokes the old 1963-64 Parkhurst hockey set. Plus, Premier was the only set to feature a player’s complete NHL and WHA stats, if applicable, for players like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. The lack of rookie cards is a rub against Premier, but otherwise it is a great set, and worth having if you want to own a full run of Topps — or O-Pee-Chee — sets.

Lasting Legacy: Topps would issue hockey sets for another 10 years before getting ousted from the hockey card business. But this would be the second-to-last set issued by O-Pee-Chee, who would be bought by Nestle in 1996. From 1996-97 onward, O-Pee-Chee cards would be issued by Topps — either as insert parallels or sold in Canada by Topps under the OPC name — and then later by Upper Deck.

#6 – Pinnacle American / Pinnacle Canadian

The 1993-94 Pinnacle American and Pinnacle Canadian sets are being counted as variations of the same set, since both use the same design, photos and checklist.

Number of Cards: 511 cards. Series One packs had cards 1-236, and Series Two packs had cards cards 237-511. There was a special insert card commemorating Wayne Gretzky’s 802nd career goal that was issued in Series Two packs and is number 512 in the set. However, the card was only found in Series Two jumbo packs and is considered an insert instead of a standard card in the set.

Insert Cards: 27 Captains, 6 Expansion Draft Picks, 10 Masks, 15 Nifty Fifty, 9 Super Rookies, 30 Team 2001, 12 Team Pinnacle. Captains, Super Rookies, Team 2001 and Team Pinnacle inserts were also available in bilingual versions. Autographed cards of Eric Lindros could be found in U.S. packs, while autographed cards of Alexandre Daigle could be found in both U.S. and Canadian packs. Both U.S. and Canadian packs also had a special insert, found on in every 100 packs, of Brett and Eric Lindros. The photos vary between the U.S. and Canadian versions.

1993-94 Pinnacle Team 2001 insert card

Original Cost: Around $2 per pack. 27-card jumbo packs were $2.99 in the U.S. and $3.99 in Canada.

Language Variations: English-only cards were sold in the United States. Bilingual cards (English/French) were sold in Canada.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Sergei Brylin, Jamie Langenbrunner, Bryan McCabe, Chris Osgood, Mike Peca, Jocelyn Thibault.

1993-94 Pinnacle Jamie Langenbrunner rookie card

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Ben Hankinson (43 games), Maxim Sushinski (30 games), Maxim Bets (3 games), Andy Brink, Pavel Desyatkov, Ashlin Halfnight, Jason Karmanos (all 0 NHL games).

How did Pinnacle include Alexandre Daigle? Pinnacle had an endorsement deal with Daigle that allowed them to photograph him in his NHL uniform prior to the start of the NHL season. So, it appears that Daigle was photographed in an on-ice photo shoot, much like the company did with Eric Lindros in 1992-93.

Fun Facts: Unlike the 1992-93 sets, the U.S. and Canadian versions of Pinnacle use the same photos on the card fronts. A six-card sheet of promos was given away. Single cards were also given away as promos. These cards have the upper-right corners clipped off.

Why Pinnacle is #6?: Like a reliable, second-pairing, stay-at-home defenseman, Pinnacle does everything right, but isn’t particularly flashy. The front photos are action-oriented, and the card backs all use team-issued head shots of the players. The head shots on the card backs are actually my favorite feature about Pinnacle, because it gives you a chance to see players without their helmets and goalies without their masks. (Like I said, pragmatic, but not very exciting.) “Then and Now” subset cards are fun because they show a veteran player alongside his rookie photo, but the World Junior Championships cards are so overdesigned, especially the backs, that I get nauseous just looking at them.

It hurts just looking at this card…

Lasting Legacy: The 1993-94 Pinnacle Hockey set is a solid release, and not at all expensive should you wish to track a complete set down today.

#7 – Donruss

Number of Cards: 510 cards. Cards 1-400 were sold in 12-card packs, while cards 401-510 were sold in 10-card “Update” packs.

Insert Cards: 15 Elite, 10 Ice Kings, 15 Rated Rookies, 28 Special Print, 23 USA World Juniors, 23 Canada World Juniors.

1993-94 Donruss Elite Series Inserts #9 - Patrick Roy

Original Cost: Around $2.49 a pack.

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Darren McCarthy,  Chris Osgood, Garth Snow, Jocelyn Thibault.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Phil Crowe (94 games), Ed Patterson (68 games), Kevin Smyth (58 games), Evgeny Namestnikov (43 games), Keith Redmond (12 games), Justin Duberman (4 games).

How did Donruss include Alexandre Daigle? Like many of the other card companies that year, Donruss used a photo of Daigle from a preseason game on the front of the card. The back uses an early season photo of the first-overall pick.

Fun Facts: This was the first Donruss Hockey set ever produced. L.A. Kings superstar Luc Robitaille was pictured on the boxes and wrappers. Only 4,000 cases of 1993-94 Donruss Update were produced.

Why Donruss is #7?: Like Pinnacle, Donruss isn’t a bad set, but it isn’t great, either. Other than full bleed photos, what does it have going for it? The front design isn’t all that exciting, and the backs — like Pinnacle — only have one year of stats and career totals, plus vitals. The full-bleed pictures on the back are kind of neat but make the stats practically unreadable. Card backs either have a horizontal or vertical orientation; I find that inconsistency annoying when browsing the set in pages and trying to read the cards. Again, Donruss isn’t terrible, but the sets higher up on the list do a better job.

Lasting Legacy: Donruss was a major player in hockey cards during the mid-1990s, lasting until the 1997-98 season, and was spun off into other sets like Donruss Elite, Donruss Limited and Donruss Preferred. The Donruss brand was briefly resurrected by Panini for the 2010-11 season.

#8 – Stadium Club

 

Number of Cards: 500 cards. Cards 1-250 were sold in Series One packs, while cards 251-500 were sold in Series Two packs.

Insert Cards: 23 All-Stars, 12 Finest, 24 Master Photos, 23 Team USA.

1993-94 Stadium Club All-Stars insert card

Original Cost: $2.49 a pack.

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Chris Osgood, Darren McCarthy, Jocelyn Thibault.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: Longtime enforcer Jim Cummins (511 games over 12 seasons) has his only rookie card in this set.

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Robin Bawa (61 games)

How did Stadium Club include Alexandre Daigle? Daigle was included in Series Two packs, pictured playing in a regular season game for the Senators. The card notes that his NHL debut was on 10-6-93, but that is not the date the photo on the card was taken.

Fun Facts: The first series was also sold in Canada and is referred to as “Stadium Club OPC,” though the cards are printed in just English, and not bilingual like other OPC cards. The only way to differentiate the OPC versions is that OPC cards have “Printed in the USA” on the back. “First Day Production” parallels were found one per box, while a “Members Only” parallel box set was available via mail order.

Why Stadium Club is #8?: Stadium Club is a premium set, with full-color fronts and backs, full-bleed photos and gold foil. But that feels run-of-the-mill in a season full of cards with full color fronts and backs, full-bleed photos and gold foil. At least Topps ditched the laughable practice of picturing the player’s “Rookie Card” — really, his first Topps card — on the  back, instead opting to use a second photo. Card backs also have stat meters, like the old Transformers tech specs, that rate players on abilities such as speed, passing and playmaking ability.

Lasting Legacy: Stadium Club Hockey lasted from 1991-92 to 1995-96, went on hiatus for a few seasons, then returned in 1999-2000 and continued until 2002-03.

#9 – Fleer Ultra

Number of Cards: 500 cards. Cards 1-250 were sold in Series One packs, while cards 251-500 were sold in Series Two packs.

Insert Cards: 10 Adam Oates Career Highlights (with 2 more available as a mail-away offer), 10 All-Rookies, 18 All-Stars, 6 Award Winners, 10 Premier Pivots, 10 Prospects, 10 Red Light Specials, 6 Scoring Kings, 10 Speed Merchants, 20 Wave of the Future.

1993-94 Fleer Ultra Premier Pivot insert card

Original Cost: Around $2.49 per pack.

Language Variations: English only.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Adrian Aucoin, Darren McCarthy, Chris Osgood, Jocelyn Thibault.  Future NHL coach Peter Laviolette also has a rookie card in this set.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: David Littman (3 games). Brad Turner (3 games).

How did Fleer Ultra include Alexandre Daigle? Daigle’s card was included in Series Two, and uses photos taken earlier that season.

Fun Facts: Fleer Ultra increased its set size from 450 cards to 500 cards this season. A sheet of nine promo cards was given out prior to the release of the set. The center card on the promo sheet has the Fleer Ultra logo and boasts “You Can’t Buy A Better Hockey Card!” But I beg to differ.

Why Fleer Ultra is #9?: In my ranking of every hockey card set from 1992-93, Fleer Ultra placed second. So, you are probably wondering why my ranking of this set went from second-best to second-worst. There are two reasons. First, the quality of Fleer Ultra’s competitors vastly improved, making Fleer Ultra feel less special this season. Second, Fleer Ultra didn’t do anything new. The design of the 1993-94 set is just a redesign of the 1992-93 set; it doesn’t feel new. Back during the 1993-94 season, that was reason enough for me to ignore this set. Why collect cards that look like the ones you already have — especially if there are more interesting sets to buy, like Leaf, Premier and even Fleer’s own PowerPlay set?

Lasting Legacy: Fleer Ultra lasted until the 1996-97 season, then was revived by Upper Deck in 2005-06.

#10 – Score

1993-94 Score Series One card (front and back)

Number of Cards: 662 cards. Series One packs contained cards 1-495, plus a redemption card for an Alexandre Daigle card, which was number 496. Series Two packs contained cards 497-662.

1993-94 Score Series Two card front
1993-94 Score Series Two card back

Insert Cards: 24 Franchise, 22 International Stars, 9 Dynamic Duos and 45 Pinnacle All-Stars were found in American packs. 24 Dream Team, 9 Dynamic Duos, 22 International Stars and 45 Pinnacle All-Stars were found in Canadian packs. The photos on the International Stars, Dynamic Duos and Pinnacle All-Stars cards differed between the American and Canadian releases. An additional 5 All-Star cards were available via a mail-in offer. There was also an Eric Lindros All-Star card inserted one in every 360 packs.

1993-94 Pinnacle All-Stars card found in Score Series One packs. This Jeremy Roenick card is the American version.

Original Cost: Around $1.00 per pack.

Language Variations: English-only cards were sold in the United States. Bilingual cards (English/French) were sold in Canada.

The only difference between Score American (left) and Score Canadian (right) card backs is the inclusion of some French text at the bottom of the card. The card fronts are identical.

Notable Rookie Cards: Jason Arnott, Darren McCarthy, Chris Osgood, Garth Snow, Jocelyn Thibault.

Notable Rookie Cards Found Only in this Set: n/a

Rookie Cards of Bit Players Found Only In This Set: Gord Kruppke (23 games), Rick Knickle (14 games), Peter Ciavaglia (5 games), Shawn Rivers (4 games).

How did Score include Alexandre Daigle? Pinnacle Brands, which produced Score and Pinnacle hockey sets, signed an endorsement deal with Daigle. The company boasted that they were the only ones allowed to show Daigle in his Senators uniform until he played in an NHL game. The company had a similar arrangement with Eric Lindros the prior season, and was able to use photos of Lindros from an on-ice photo shoot in its Score and Pinnacle sets. This allowed the company to produce its hockey sets and time their releases with the start of the season, while the other companies would have to wait for Lindros to play in an actual game before picturing him on a card. Pinnacle Brands’ plan was to do the same in fall of 1993 with Daigle.

However, that apparently did not happen, as redemption cards — instead of Daigle cards — were inserted into packs of Series One.

The back of the card gives instructions on how to redeem it for the Daigle card, and states that the cards would be shipped out once he made his NHL debut.

Eventually, collectors who redeemed the redemption card received the Daigle card (#496), which is considered the last card in Series One.

As you can see from the photos above, Pinnacle Brands used pictures from a photo shoot, as these were produced prior to the start of the season.

Score also included Daigle as a part of the Series Two set.

The Series Two card uses photos taken from games.

Fun Facts: Score Series One sucked so hard that the company did a complete redesign for Score Series Two. A magazine ad promoting Score Hockey cards boasting that their set would be the only set to get a card of Daigle in his Senators uniform pictured the first-overall pick dressed in different outfits, including a Mountie uniform and a nurse’s uniform.

Why Score is #10?: I hate the design of Score Series One cards and love the design of Score Series Two cards. That makes it hard for me to like this set. Even Pinnacle brands knew that the Score Series One design was a stinker; why else would a company redesign a trading card set mid-season? In fact, do you ever remember a trading card set — from any sport — being redesigned entirely from Series One to Series Two? Series One cards have a boring design and lack gloss, foil or other embellishments that were becoming the norm by 1993, making the cards look cheap and dull. Series Two, on the other hand, had an eye-catching layout on both the front and back, as well as gloss, and were so much nicer overall. At 662 cards, Score is the biggest hockey card set from the 1993-94 season. If Score had used the design of Series Two for Series One as well, then this would be my favorite set — instead of my least-favorite set — of 1993-94.

Lasting Legacy: As far as I know, this is the only hockey card set that changed its entire design from Series One to Series Two. This is also the last time that Score issued bilingual cards for the Canadian market.

***

One aspect that stands out to me about the 1993-94 season is that it was the first year the NHL and the NHLPA really clamped down on what could and could not be done in a licensed set of NHL trading cards. So, no cards of draft picks or prospects who had yet to make their NHL debut. And no cards from international competitions, other than the World Junior Championships. Furthermore, fun photos like those used on cards of Pavel Bure and Doug Weight were gradually becoming a thing of the past, as the NHLPA eventually would get to approve every photo used on a hockey card.

Like the prior three years of hockey cards from the 1990s, hockey cards from the 1993-94 season were overproduced, and other than the odd insert, are not difficult to find today. Pretty much any of the sets on this list can be purchased for the price of a blaster box — or sometimes even half of that. These sets are loaded with stars and Hall of Fame players, such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Martin Brodeur, Luc Robitaille, and many more, and will give you a great look at hockey history from a quarter-century ago

What do you think of this ranking of the 1993-94 hockey sets? What was your favorite and/or least favorite hockey set from that year? What sets did you like or dislike back then, but have a different opinion about now? Leave a comment, as I’d love to know what you think. 

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

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Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

3 thoughts on “Every 1993-94 Hockey Card Set Ranked”

  1. You asked, so here goes:

    ’93-94 was a mini-renaissance for me after I largely sat out ’92-93 to concentrate on prior years. I ended up collecting more than I expected, but failed to complete any set at the time. My favorite was Leaf. I opened all of one pack of Leaf that year and was blown away by it. Didn’t hurt that I pulled a beautiful Signature Series insert of Doug Gilmour. I love this set so much that I now own a master set of it, including the extremely elusive Lemieux autograph (despite it being serialed to 2000.) Well, I ALMOST have a master set. I’ve heard tell there is a promo card of Patrick Roy with a different photo on the card back. I don’t have that yet.

    Upper Deck was a solid 2nd, but I didn’t finish it off until over a decade later. May still go back and complete the inserts some day.

    I bought more Score than anything else. It was the first product out of the gate, the price was right, and I did like the card design. Score Part 2 was kind of a wacky departure, but I did buy a box of it. Not as fond of it as you are.

    I agree with you that Ultra didn’t change, but it wasn’t broken. Finished Series 1, but neglected Series 2.

    I had a bunch of Topps – may have even finished Series 2 – but it found me more than me seeking it out. But I will say that I LOVED the Finest inserts of former 1st rounders and I was quite fond of the Black Gold as well.

    No grade on Donruss, Stadium Club, Parkhurst, Powerplay, or Pinnacle, none of which I collected that year. I basically did one set per manufacturer.

  2. Solid year to collect hockey as almost every design killed it. Problem with purchasing few cards sets such as Score series 2 and Fleer Ultra that they are capable off bricking. Good luck getting them peel off without paper loss

  3. 1993-94 was a fun year hockey cards. I was 13 and believed Daigle was the next Gretzky. I opened a ton of 1993-94 Topps/O-Pee-Chee in an attempt to get Daigle’s gold parallel, which was selling for a lot… even in Las Vegas.

    I 100% agree that Upper Deck was the best set that year. I have slowly been rebuilding me 1990’s hockey sets after losing them while “growing up”.

    Great blog post as usual!

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