Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2021-22 Season

Every NHL head coach was involved in hockey at a high level prior to coaching in the world’s best hockey league. Some were NHL players, while others played major junior, collegiate, or minor pro hockey before coaching. Thus, all 32 NHL head coaches have had at least one hockey card issued sometime during either their playing or coaching careers.

Here is a list of rookie cards for every head coach in the NHL. Some had mainstream “rookie cards” found in sets  like Topps, O-Pee-Chee, Upper Deck, and Pro Set cards. Others did not play — or did not play long — in the NHL. In their cases, I tracked down the earliest trading card that coach had. I’ve indicated the value of each card and how difficult the card is to find today.  

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David Backes’ First Hockey Card

2001-02 Lincoln Stars #2: David Backes

Today, 15-year NHL veteran David Backes signed a one-day contract with the St. Louis Blues so that he could retire as a member of the team he spent most of his career with. The Blues picked Backes in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in the second round, 62nd overall. Five years later, Backes made his NHL debut, played 10 seasons with the Blues, and then another five seasons split between the Boston Bruins and the Anaheim Ducks.

But 20 years ago, a fresh-faced, 18-year old Backes was playing Junior A hockey with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and was included in the team’s 2001-02 trading card set. Of course, back then Backes was a little shorter and a lot lighter 

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The 35 Best Hockey Cards from 1990-91

Hockey cards exploded in popularity during the 1990-91 season. Baseball, football and basketball cards had steadily gained momentum during the 1980s. In 1990, it was hockey’s turn. Upper Deck, Score and Pro Set joined incumbents Topps and O-Pee-Chee to release hockey card sets that season. This resulted in an arms race between the five companies, who tried to outdo each other and make cards of the best prospects and hottest rookies before their competitors did. 

As a result, a slew of great rookie cards were issued that year. The 1990-91 NHL season had arguably the best rookie class of any year for hockey card collectors. The NHL rookie of the year winners from 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994 all had rookie cards made during the 1990-91 season. And over a dozen future Hall of Fame players had rookie cards in ’90-91. 

The downside was that most hockey cards from 1990-91 were produced in such vast amounts that it is considered the start of the “Junk Wax Era” for hockey cards. 

Yet not all hockey cards issued during the 1990-91 season are worthless. In addition to some great rookie cards, there are also some hidden gems and a legendary chase card. Plus, any card on this list with a high PSA or BGS grade can fetch a premium on the secondary market. 

But graded or ungraded, these are the 35 best hockey cards from 1990-91 that every hockey card collector should own. 

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The Wyatt Russell Hockey Rookie Card

Did you know that Wyatt Russell has a hockey card? Yes, the actor who plays John Walker — a.k.a. the new Captain America — in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier used to be a pro hockey player. His hockey card is from a set of movie trading cards made to promote the film Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Russell’s life — going from hockey player, to actor playing hockey player, to actor playing Captain America — took an interesting and unconventional road. 

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Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2020-21 Season

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. 


Check out the best Hockey Rookie Cards on Gold Card Auctions


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.

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The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2020

The COVID-19 Pandemic has delayed everything, from “pausing” the 2019-20 NHL season, to postponing the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. It has even delayed the induction of new members into the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame. But the wait is finally over.

A Wayne Gretzky rookie card recently sold at auction for $1.29 million dollars. Meanwhile, the 10 cards on this list would only cost you $5 combined. Yet, they are all priceless in each of their own, awful ways.

So here they are, the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2020. 

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The 15 Best Hockey Cards from 1989-90

Hockey card collecting was on a precipice during the 1989-90 season. It hadn’t yet taken the plunge into the abyss of overproduction, inflated prices and rookie cards of practically anyone who got within 10 feet of an NHL uniform — succinctly known as the “Junk Wax Era.”  Hockey cards were rapidly becoming more and more popular, accelerated by the trade of Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988.

Yet, only two companies issued mainstream sets that season. The 198-card Topps set was sold in the U.S. and its near-identical, though slightly larger, cousin O-Pee-Chee sold a 330-card set in Canada.


View the Top Wayne Gretzky rookie cards on GCA


But if you dig a little deeper, you will find that there were many other cards issued that year that stray from the beaten path — from team-issue cards to minor and junior league trading card sets, to cards printed on the side of food boxes. 

Here is a look at the 15 best hockey cards from the 1989-90 season. Keep in mind that most of these cards aren’t particularly valuable, with most ranging from $2 to $5 each — and even that might be pushing it. Anyone with a love of hockey cards and hockey history should consider having these in their cardboard collection. 

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The Quest for Khabibulin

One collector. One mission. 24 cards.

Collector Daniel Gilchrist has collected everything and anything related to Nikolai Khabibulin for 25 years. He owns several game-used goalie sticks, a game-used jersey and game-used goalie pads once worn by “The Bulin Wall.” He also has dozens of autographs and thousands of cards of Khabibulin, who is — if you haven’t guessed it by now — Gilchrist’s favorite player.

Gilchrist set out on one of his biggest collecting goals in 2016 when he decided to track down all 24 Nikolai Khabibulin logo patch cards from the 2013-14 Upper Deck Edmonton Oilers Collection trading card set. Although the pieces of Oilers logo aren’t from a game-worn jersey, they are still a sight to be seen when assembled. Gilchrist recently talked with Puck Junk about what challenges there were in his quest to collect all 24 logo patch cards of his favorite player.

Sal Barry: How long have you been a hockey card collector?

Daniel Gilchrist: Since I was 14. My family moved from Winnipeg to Edmonton in 1988, a few days after Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Kings. My cousins sent me a care package when we moved, and it had a bunch of hockey cards in it, including a Brett Hull rookie card. That’s how I got started.

SB: How did Nikolai Khabibulin become your favorite player?

DC: It’s actually a pretty funny story. Continue reading “The Quest for Khabibulin”

The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2019

You didn’t think I would forget about honoring bad hockey cards this year, did you? I launched the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame in 2017 with an inaugural class of 10 horrible hockey cards, and then followed up in 2018 with another 10 equally-awful cards. In 2019, another batch of baddies get their due.

Usually, I unveil the honorees right around the time the Hockey Hall of Fame holds it’s induction ceremony, but these past few months have been busy for me. Really busy. (If you read The Hockey News, then you’ve seen what’s been keeping me busy.) Fortunately, we still have a little time left in the year, so without further ado, may I introduce the Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2019.

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Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2019-20 Season

Some NHL head coaches had long careers in the NHL, instantly giving them credibility to the players that they mentor. Other NHL head coaches got nowhere near an NHL rink during their playing days, but worked hard and finally ended up in “The Show” behind the bench.

Regardless of their path, it is always fun to see what an NHL head coach looked like during their playing days. So, for a third year in a row, I’ve dug up a rookie card for each and every NHL head coach. For you non-collectors out there, a “rookie card” is usually understood to mean a player’s first card in a mainstream set, like Topps, O-Pee-Chee or Upper Deck, among others.

However, because many NHL head coaches never actually played in the NHL — or if they did, it was only for just a few games — they never got an official rookie card. In their cases, I decided to share those coaches’ earliest-known trading card — even if it was from a minor league or junior league team.

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