With the year winding down, it’s about time we enshrine some of the worst hockey cards ever made into the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2023.
This year’s Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame Class is headlined by three new members in the Bad Paint Job category as well as three members in the Bad Photo category. Also represented this year is the Bad Idea category, the Bad Mistake category, and the Bad Head Swap category. But really, is there such thing as a good head swap on a trading card?
Anyway, I present to you, the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2023!
The Bad Paint Job Category
Why pay for a photo of a player when he get traded to his new team when you can just make one yourself? And that’s what Topps and O-Pee-Chee did back in the day by painting a new uniform onto a traded player’s photo. The results were usually…not great.
1975-76 Topps #244: Ted Irvine
Ted Irvine was traded from the New York Rangers to the St. Louis Blues during the summer of 1975. Topps wanted to alter a photo of Irvine so that it looked like he was with the Blues. There’s just two problems here.
First, whoever repainted this photo did a laughable job of it. I mean, they kind of tried with the shoulder yoke, even adding the thin blue lines around the yellow stripes – only to give up when they got to the numbers by outlining the digits with light blue(???) instead of yellow.
But the bigger problem is that they used a photo of the wrong Ted; that floating head on the card belongs to Ted Harris, who was a member of the Flyers the previous season and then retired by the time this card came out. That also explains why the player in the photo is wearing number 25, as Ted Harris wore 25 with the Flyers in 1974-75.
The “artist” who retouched this photo should get five minutes for bad airbrushing and a game misconduct for using the a photo of the wrong player. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2008.)
1976-77 O-Pee-Chee #240: Cesare Maniago
Cesare Maniago’s trade from the Minnesota North Stars to the Vancouver Canucks resulted in a hastily-repainted photograph being used on his 1976-77 O-Pee-Chee trading card – turning the goaltender into a modern art masterpiece. The loud colors and Maniago’s giraffe-like neck make him resemble a painting by artist Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). For those of you who slept through their Humanities classes in college, Modigliani was the guy who painted the weird-lookin’ people with long necks.
Works of art are worth millions of dollars, but this “work of art” is worth a million laughs. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2011.)
1981-82 O-Pee-Chee #93: Gary McAdam
This O-Pee-Chee Gary McAdam hockey card is an even-worse version of its Topps counterpart that was released in the United States. McAdam was traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Detroit Red Wings midway through the 1980-81 season, so the sensible thing to do would be to find a photo of McAdam in a Red Wings uniform. Instead, Topps had someone mush some red finger paint all over a photo of McAdam, then draw a janky-looking Red Wings logo onto it.
But then McAdam was traded to the Calgary Flames early in the 1981-82 season, so the sensible thing to do would be to draw a janky-looking Flames logo over the janky-looking Red Wings logo. Instead, O-Pee-Chee decided to just put a white piece of paper over the Red Wings logo – kind of like how Fleer put a black box over the words “F— FACE” that adorned the baseball bat pictured on Billy Ripken’s 1989 baseball card.
As if using the Flames logo and “FLAMES” team name on the card wasn’t enough, O-Pee-Chee also added the text “Now with Flames,” so we knew they weren’t messing around!
It looks like McAdam is staring at that text in disbelief that he had been traded twice in the same calendar year. But he’d get used to it, as he’d change teams another four times over the next four seasons. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2018.)
The Bad Photograph Category
Sometime during the 1990s, card companies realized that they did NOT have to show hockey players playing hockey, or at a hockey rink, or even wearing hockey gear. (I blame you, Pavel Bure!) This led to a lot of silly photographs where the “hockey” aspect was completely optional.
1991-92 Upper Deck #444: Doug Weight
Why was this card of Doug Weight overlooked by the Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame for so long? Who knows? It could be because it was overshadowed by other bad hockey cards from the 1991-92 Upper Deck Hockey card set – such as Pavel Bure wearing Rollerblades at the beach and the Star Rookies Checklist…which coincidentally also features Weight and two New York Rangers teammates at the beach.
But 2023 is finally THE YEAR that this card earns its recognition as one of the best “worst” hockey cards ever made. As you can see, Weight is standing on the wet sand of a beach with a hockey stick in hand and skates slung over his shoulder…because wearing Rollerblades at the beach is cool, but wearing ice skates at the beach would just make the whole thing silly. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2017.)
1992-93 Stadium Club #408: Mike Ricci
Hockey players rather be playing hockey in the spring than golfing, but poor Mike Ricci and the Philadelphia Flyers missed the playoffs during Ricci’s first two seasons in the NHL – meaning he got to play a lot of extra golf those years. Perhaps that is why Ricci is pictured sitting in a golf cart – and looking none too pleased about it – on his 1992-93 Topps Stadium Club hockey card. It’s not a great card for the guy picked 4th-overall in the 1990 NHL Draft. Even the back of the card has a picture of Ricci’s Topps card from the previous year – and THAT doesn’t even show him playing hockey. Instead, he’s wearing a suit and making a duck face.
The only thing this card does right is mention on the front and back that Ricci is now a member of the Quebec Nordiques, probably so no one mistakes this for one of those Pro Set PGA Golf cards.
1998-99 UD Choice #93: Dino Ciccarelli
Awww! Dino Ciccarelli is feeding a rhinoceros at a zoo in Florida. Adorbs! UD Choice was one of those kid-friendly sets that had a cheap price point of 99 cents, included inserts such as stickers or mini-bobblehead paper dolls, and cutesy photos like this one – THAT SHOULD NOT BE ON A HOCKEY CARD!
Come on! Dino scored 608 goals and 592 assists in his 19-year NHL career when he wasn’t whacking opponents in the head with his stick. Showing Dino feeding a carrot stick to a rhino instead of feeding a puck to his teammate was just a lame choice for his UD Choice card.
The Bad Idea Category
Hockey cards that should not have been made but were for some reason.
1988-89 ProCards AHL/IHL: Doug Foerster
The Maine Mariners minor league team set made by ProCards in 1988-89 included a card of Doug Forester, the Mariners’ ticket sales and public relations guy. Forester looks like a deer in headlights wearing a Bill Cosby sweater.
It was up to each team to decide who got included in their set of hockey cards that year. Some teams just focused on the players, while others also included coaches, general managers, or trainers. Heck, the Peoria Rivermen even included a card of their secretary, but at least she seems to be enjoying herself.
Doug, on the other hand, looks like he was forced at gunpoint to have his picture taken. But if you had a moment back in 1988, I’m sure he did a great job at selling you a season ticket package for all Mariners’ home games.
1959-60 Parkhurst #36: Stafford Smythe
“Yay! I got a card of the boss’s son!” said no kid ever when opening packs of hockey cards and getting this card of Stafford Smythe, the son of Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe. According to this 1959-60 Parkhurst card, the younger Smythe was the Leafs’ “Chairman of the Hockey Committee,” which sounds like one of those token jobs a dad gives his son when he DOESN’T want them to be the coach, GM, or team president. I mean, forget about getting a card of a star center or top-notch tendy when you can get the Chairman of the Hockey Committee!
The Bad Mistake Category
Mistakes that should never have been made but were still immortalized on hockey cards.
1987-88 Topps #172: Tony McKegney
When Tony McKegney was traded from the New York Rangers to the St. Louis Blues, Topps chose to doctor a photo of the winger to make him look like he was with his new team. And they did a halfway decent job of it. Halfway.
Topps selected a photo of McKegney in a blue Rangers uniform for his 1987-88 hockey card, so not much work had to be done. Whoever retouched this photo covered the red and white on the collar of the Rangers’ jersey with blue and gold. Technically, they should have used a bit of red, too, as the Blues added a bit of red to the collars of their jerseys starting in 1985, but we’ll forgive that.
However, what we won’t forgive is that the person who “fixed” this photo for Topps forgot to cover up the Rangers logo on McKegney’s helmet – which would have been pretty easy to do; just throw a little blue paint over the Rangers logo and we would have been none the wiser. Instead, McKegney looks like he’s (sort of) wearing a Blues jersey with a Rangers helmet. (First mentioned on Puck Junk in 2010.)
The Bad Head Swap Category
Cut and paste has come a long way since then.
1970-71 O-Pee-Chee #182: Pete Stemkowski
OK, let’s address the elephant in the room – Pete Stemkowski’s head is way too big for the rest of his body. This badly-altered photograph, where Stemkowski’s head has been plopped on some hapless Rangers’ shoulders, looks as if a bobblehead figure has been tipped forward and is about to fall on top of us.
But making this card ten times worse is Stemkowski’s HUGE eyes, peering into our minds, like he is trying to hypnotize us into thinking this is a pretty good card.
And…come to think of it…I like this card…this card…this card…is great…
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 2024? Leave a comment and let me know!
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■