The year 2021 would not be complete until 10 more cards are inducted into the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame. Since 2017, this website has honored the most-horrendous hockey cards ever made. Some cards use bad photos, other cards have janky paint jobs…and some cards are just straight-up awful and should not have been made in the first place.
So, before we can ring in 2022, let’s take a look at some of the worst hockey cards ever made.
The Bad Paint Job Category
Back in the day, Topps and O-Pee-Chee busted out their brushes and repainted photos of hockey players when they were traded. The results were never good.
1979-80 Topps #147: Peter Marsh
This Peter Marsh card could qualify for either the Bad Paint Job Category or the Bad Photograph Category. It’s that good. Wait, I mean that bad! The giant hair helmet atop Marsh’s melon — not to mention the unibrow! — makes this card all kinds of ridiculous.
But big hair and an even bigger eyebrow were pretty common on 1970s hockey cards, which is why this is being inducted in the Bad Paint Job Category. Just look at whatever the hell Marsh is supposedly wearing, which looks less like a hockey jersey and more like an oversized tunic that a peasant would wear at a renaissance faire. And whomever painted over the photograph didn’t even TRY to use the Winnipeg Jets’ team colors, either. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2010.)
1989-90 O-Pee-Chee #278: Borje Salming
Poor Borje Salming! Not only did he end his stellar career with one forgettable season in Detroit, but O-Pee-Chee saw fit to repaint his jersey so that he appeared to be playing for the Red Wings. Unfortunately, they also painted the UFO from Close Encounters of the Third Kind landing on his head.
The Bad Photograph Category
Remember, folks: someone got PAID to take these photos. Someone also got PAID to select these photos to use on hockey cards.
1997-98 Black Diamond #138: Cameron Mann
If this card had a smell, it would stink! For some reason, the photographer thought it would be funny to show Cameron Mann, a Bruins’ draft pick and member of the Canadian Junior Hockey Team, holding his nose shut while holding a hockey skate — presumably his own — near his face. Alas, scratch-n-sniff hockey cards don’t exist, and that’s probably for the better. (First mentioned — in the comments — on Puck Junk in 2019.)
1991-92 Pro Set Platinum – Platinum Performers #PC8: Rob Blake
Why is this photo of Kings’ defenseman Rob Blake bad? Let’s count the ways:
1. You can’t see his face.
2. He is falling backwards.
3. His ass is about to crush teammate Kelly Hrudey’s head.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, then also note that the photo has an orange tinge at the bottom, meaning that it was slightly overexposed. That happened sometimes to negatives that were at the beginning of a roll of film during the old school, pre-digital photography days.
So, to recap, the photo for Blake’s “Platinum Performers” card doesn’t show his face, but it does show him falling backwards and on top of his own goalie. Dennis Potvin would be proud! (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2013.)
1989-90 Procards AHL/IHL #22: Gordie Walker
If you are Mike Bossy, then you are allowed to hold a flaming hockey stick when photographed. Such pictures are appropriate when you score 50 goals in the NHL for nine seasons in a row. But if you’re some guy who scored 21 goals in the minors the previous year…well, maybe that flaming hockey stick just isn’t meant for you. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2012.)
The Bad Idea Category
Hockey cards so bad that they shouldn’t have been made.
2015-16 Full Force – Thermal Threats #TT-AH: Andrew Hammond
Is that an Oompa Loompa? Or the Annoying Orange? Or the Master Control Program from TRON? Nope! It’s Andrew Hammond, proving once again that hockey cards can indeed be Nightmare Fuel. (Just ask Casey Jones!) This particular card is from an insert set called “Thermal Threats” that were found in packs of 2015-16 Full Force Hockey. I guess the idea was to picture what a player would look like if he was being burned alive. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2016.)
1997 Sports Illustrated for Kids #623: Eric Lindros
Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine is probably as popular among adults as it is for kids because of the nine-card sheet of trading cards that are included in every issue. (Hey, those cards might be worth something some day!) The October 1997 edition of SI for Kids featured nine cards that used illustrations of pro athletes in Halloween costumes — including Eric Lindros dressed as a ballerina. This card was a bad idea because it puts a guy in a skirt for a cheap laugh, though the back of the card states that no one would make fun of Lindros if he *did* wear a pink tutu. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2018.)
The Bad Mistake Category
When a card company makes an unforgiveable error. This year has two such cards that will forever be linked because of a really bad oversight.
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #105: Steve Larmer
1983-84 O-Pee-Chee #106: Steve Ludzik
During the 1983-84 season, the rookie cards issued for Blackhawks forwards Steve Larmer and Steve Ludzik accidentally swapped their photographs. Larmer appears on Ludzik’s card, while Ludzik appears on Larmer’s card.
Look, I get it. They’re both named Steve and they both play for the Blackhawks. Larmer wore number 28, Luzik wore 29. So, mixing up their photos on their respective rookie cards seems like a forgivable oversight. That is until you consider that Larmer won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1983. Botching the photo on the rookie of the year’s rookie card isn’t an honest mistake but a lazy one. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2009.)
The Bad Mascot Category
Most hockey mascots are lame, so putting a mascot on a hockey card automatically makes it a bad hockey card. But in order to be in the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame, the mascot card has to be next-level lame. This year, one mascot card made the cut.
1999-00 Cleveland Lumberjacks: Buzz the Beaver
Buzz looks like he hails from an LSD-addled hallucination: from his angry, furrowed brow, to those soulless, dead eyes, to what appears to be one giant tooth protruding from his maw. Buzz is one butt-ugly mascot and the blurry background makes this card even worse. Just looking at it makes me want to vomit. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
Which of these cards do you think is the worst of them all? And what card do you think should make it into the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame in 2022? Leave a comment and let me know!
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■