Although head coaches are an important part of an NHL team, they are usually not included in most hockey card sets. So while Upper Deck may never make a card of John Tortorella — snarling at a referee from behind the bench — that doesn’t mean he wasn’t on a hockey card once upon a time. All of the 31 men who are NHL head coaches played hockey at one time or another in their lives — so that usually means they’ve appeared on at least one hockey card.
For the past four years, I’ve managed to track down a rookie card for each and every NHL coach who had one. For you non-collectors out there, a “rookie card” is usually understood as that player’s first card in a mainstream set, like Topps, O-Pee-Chee or Upper Deck.
However, because many NHL head coaches never actually played in the NHL — or if they did, it wasn’t very long — they never got an official rookie card. In those cases, I show off that coach’s first-ever trading card, be it from their minor or junior league playing days, or from a little-known team-issued set.
As a bonus, I’ve also indicated the value (in US $) and how rare each card is, on a scale of ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ to ★ ★ ★ ★ ★. Some of these cards are ridiculously-easy to find — I’m looking at you, Rod Brind’Amour — while others are tough.
So, kick back and enjoy this trip down memory lane, when these bench bosses weighed less and got paid less, but had more hair.