The Ralph Macchio Hockey Rookie Card

Cobra Kai and Karate Kid Star Macchio Got His Own Hockey Trading Card in 1991-92

Last week, Cobra Kai Season 4 premiered on Netflix and quickly became the streaming service’s most-watched series. But did you know that Cobra Kai and Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio had his own hockey card 30 years ago? Here’s how –and why — it happened. 

Back during the 1991-92 season, as a part of the NHL’s 75th Anniversary celebration, all teams appointed a Celebrity Captain. Some teams picked former players, such as the Canadians and Bruins choosing Maurice Richard and Terry O’Reilly, respectively, as their Celebrity Captains. The Blackhawks tabbed James Belushi for the role, while the Penguins went with Pittsburgh native and children’s television icon Fred “Mister” Rogers. And the New York Islanders selected actor Ralph Macchio to be their Celebrity Captain.

Macchio was born on Long Island, was an Islanders fan since the 1970s, and had several notable acting credits to his name. Most prominently, he starred as Daniel Larusso in The Karate Kid (1984), which was one of the defining movies of the 1980s, as well as its two sequels, The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III. He also had starred in The Outsiders (1983) and Crossroads (1986). Since Macchio is a hockey fan, is from Long Island, and is an accomplished actor, the Isles could not have chosen a better Celebrity Captain; though what that role entailed, I’m not entirely sure. 

Anyway, towards the end of the 1991-92 season, trading card company Pro Set included some — but sadly, not all — of the NHL Celebrity Captains in its 1991-92 Pro Set Platinum Hockey Series Two set. Fortunately, Macchio made the cut and is pictured wearing an Islanders jersey, prominently brandishing the captain’s “C,” on the front of his hockey cards. 

1991-92 Pro Set Platinum #295: Ralph Macchio (Celebrity Captain, New York Islanders)

He is also wearing gloves for some reason — maybe to drop them before his next fight? (If you’re going to suit up, Ralph, you should do it all the way like the Jets’ Celebrity Captain Burton Cummings did.)

The back of the card details Macchio’s acting credits to date:

Celebrated for his performance as Johnny in Francis Ford Coppela’s The Outsiders and for title roles in The Karate Kid and its successors, Ralph Macchio has been named Celebrity Captain for the New York Islanders. Macchio, who has continued to prove his talent on the screen, stage and television, most recently appeared in the movie My Cousin Vinny and has completed the television film Garwood with Martin Sheen for ABC.

Taking on roles that stretch his career, Macchio portrayed the victim of the progressive aging disease, progenia, in the ABC television movie The Three Wishes of Billy Grier, recently performed in an off-Broadway production of Only Kidding, and starred opposite Robert De Niro in the public theater production of Cuba and His Teddy Bear.

The writeup should have mentioned that Macchio is an Islanders fan and from Long Island. It also should have noted the epic guitar duel, — for his soul! — between him and Steve Vai in the film Crossroads

Even though I assume Macchio’s stint as Celebrity Captain ended at the close of the 1991-92 season, he continued to rep the Islanders long after. He gave the team a shoutout on Twitter when they played what was going to be its last regular season game at Nassau Coliseum: 

The next year, the Islanders gave away a Ralph Macchio bobblehead figure at their December 23, 2016 game against the Sabres — and it was perfect.

ralph_macchio_bobblehead
“Sweep the leg, Johnny!” [Photo Credit: New York Islanders]
As a fan of martial arts and of hockey, my worlds have collided! It’s a bobblehead of Ralph Macchio decked out in a full Islander uniform while doing the crane kick from The Karate Kid. I can practically hear “The Moment of Truth” by Survivor playing in the background. 

Macchio’s decades-long love of hockey found its way into  Cobra Kai Season 4. In Episode 2, entitled “Then Can Fly,” Johnny Lawrence tricks Daniel Larusso into getting into a fight — with five hockey players! It’s a funny, action-packed scene worth four minutes of your time. Here’s the clip: 

Now, I’d bet my Ralph Macchio hockey rookie card that this scene was his idea.

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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

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