Thirty years ago, the 1988-89 hockey season was winding down. Wayne Gretzky was in his first season with the Los Angeles Kings, while the Calgary Flames would go on to win their first Stanley Cup Championship. Hockey legends Marcel Dionne and Lanny McDonald retired at the end of the season, while Guy Lafleur successfully started his three-year comeback.
It was also a simpler time for hockey card collectors. There were only two mainstream hockey sets to collect — Topps and O-Pee-Chee — and there were not yet any Eric Lindros cards for speculators to hoard. In fact, the word “hockey cards” and “investments” weren’t even uttered in the same sentence back then.
The 1988-89 season was also when I first discovered hockey — and thus started collecting hockey cards. So, here is a look at the 10 best hockey cards from the 1988-89 season. These are not necessarily the most valuable or most-rare hockey cards from that year; rather, these are cards that have significance and should be in any serious hockey card collection.
2009 Upper Deck Heroes #488:
Hometown Heroes Tony Romo / Mike Modano
I had no idea that this card existed. It features an illustration of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and Dallas Stars center Mike Modano. If the two of them combined into a giant super monster, it would be called ROMODANO, play two sports, make $30 million per year…and breathe fire!
Finding unknown gems like this is the reason why I love rummaging through quarter boxes at card shows. Although honestly, this could have been from a dollar box — and it was a dollar well-spent.
Before he would score one of the most famous goals in New York Rangers history (“Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!“), Stephane Matteau was a young winger on a stacked Calgary Flames team. He played 78 games for the Flames in 1990-91, so there should have been plenty of photos of Matteau for Topps to choose from for Matteau’s 1991-92 Stadium Club hockey card. But for some reason, they picked this picture, which fails on so many levels that it’s kind of sad.
This hockey card recently came to my attention, so of course I had to give it my spin.
File this one under good hair days. Gold Star Medals McGee back there is absolutely besides himself at the sight of Big Buff, being all footloose and fancy-free. He must be cut from the same cloth as Brian Burke.
George H.W. Bush, who was the 41st President of the United States, passed away Friday night. He was 94 years old. Prior to his term as President (1989-1993), Bush was, among other things, a pilot for the navy during World War II, the head of the CIA for a year and the U.S. Vice President for eight years. During his Presidency, Bush welcomed the Pittsburgh Penguins to the White House to congratulate their 1991 Stanley Cup Championship, as commemorated on this 1991-92 Upper Deck hockey card.
2016 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions Goudey #24: Dominik Hasek
Seriously, what is with this card? Why was it even made? Companies like Upper Deck issue these multi-sport sets such as Goodwin Champions, where players are purposely shown outside of a game setting and in plain clothes — so that the companies do not have to pay royalties to the sports leagues.
Last year, I started The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame as a way to immortalize the very worst hockey cards ever made. Yes, cards like Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr rookie cards will always be a cherished part of the hobby — but so should cards that feature bad photographs or of even worse ideas.
Thus, The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame Class of 2018 is an exciting mix of the bad, the ugly and the awful. These are all cards that you can’t un-see, yet they still make hockey card collecting an enjoyable hobby in their own weird kind of way.
1991-92 Pro Set #Cc3 – Pat Falloon
1991-92 Pro Set #CC4 – Scott Niedermayer
Longtime collectors will no doubt remember the 1991-92 Pro Set cards of Pat Falloon and Scott Niedermayer that were inserted into packs of 1991-92 Pro Set Hockey Series One, only to be pulled early on in production for reasons unknown. This caused the value of these two cards to soar during the early 1990s, becoming the stuff of legend, before eventually becoming the stuff of dollar bins. But what many collectors do not realize is that these two cards sparked a change in the hockey card industry.
So what happened here? Did these cards disappear because they violated an agreement with the NHL, with the NHL Players’ Association or with Falloon and Niedermayer — or all of the above?
Becoming a coach in the NHL may arguably be harder than becoming a player in the NHL. While the NHL has roughly 700 jobs for players — not counting call-ups from the minors — there are only 31 jobs for head coaches. Making the task even more daunting is that there is no clear path to become an NHL coach.
Sometimes, an accomplished NHL player is given a shot as an assistant coach when they retire. Other times, a player might spend their entire career in the minor leagues, retire from playing, and then work their way up through those same ranks again, finally appearing in the NHL, but as a coach. Some NHL head coaches never even played minor pro, instead opting to coach once their junior careers wrapped up.
Chicago Blackhawks fans remember Doug Wilson as a workhorse –a gritty, reliable defenseman that always gave a sense of comfort and dependability when he was on the ice. Not-so-die-hard Hawks fans may remember him as one of the last players in the league to play without a helmet. After spending most of his playing career with the Blackhawks, Wilson was traded in 1991 to the brand-new San Jose Sharks. He played with the Sharks for two seasons before moving into a management position, now sitting as the team’s General Manager.
Upper Deck has made most of the hockey cards released over the past 15 years, and even though the card may not say “Upper Deck,” cards like SP Authentic, Parkhurst Champions and Fleer Retro are all made by Upper Deck. So, it is no surprise when the same photo of a player appears on different cards in different sets. There is one, less-than-flattering photo of Wilson that Upper Deck has used on various autographed and memorabilia cards over and over again.