The Worst Hockey Cards of All-Time is a new feature at Houses of the Hockey. On occasion, we’ll be highlighting some of the ugliest, funniest, and error-ridden cards both past and present.
The 1990 – 91 Hockey Pro Set is a look at the slightly inaccurate side of trading cards.
Pro Set was founded by Ludwell Denny in 1989. Denny had a licensing agreement with the NFL which made him the first card maker officially associated with a professional sports league. This of course, was all going on at the peak of the trading card frenzy. Everyone and their dog was collecting cards and Pro Set did everything they could to capitalize on this, even releasing a 100-card PGA Tour set in 1990. Nice.
Rumor has it that Denny believed another way to cash in on this massive craze was error cards. I mean, if you have a card, and there’s a mistake, then it’s gotta be worth more…right? Now although this isn’t confirmed, judging by this set, it seems very plausible that he maybe tried to “slip” a few errors into the set.
To date, there are 93 known cards in the first edition of this set with mistakes on them (that’s 7.5% of the set). Some are very small, (like after Clint Malarchuk’s neck got sliced open, his card says “he was back in action after 2 days” – I think that might be a little off) and some are a bit more unforgiving. Here are my top picks:
1 – Borque Or Bourque?
What better way to kick off an NHL hockey card collection than to misspell the name of the guy on the very first card, who also happens to be one of the game’s biggest stars. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ray Borque. If there’s any consolation to having card #1 with a huge – and what I thought was an inadmissible spelling mistake – was that they remained consistent. Meet Phil Borque, proud squatter on card #228.
Aside from the Bourques, I’ve counted over a dozen spelling mistakes in this collection. I’m going to give you two more of my favourites, and it’s really just me nit-picking. Behold cards #183 with Glen Healy (corrected card shown) and #42 with Joe Nieuwendyk. Let me take this time to remind you that this was in fact a real, authorized card set for the NHL. Ohh yeah, Pittsburgh is misspelled (sans “h”) on a few cards, too.
To Pro Set’s credit, they did spell the next two guys names correctly. Unfortunately, they put the wrong pictures on both cards. Peter Stastny’s card #175 has a picture of Sundstrom on the front. The dead give away is the giant number 17 on the arm of Sundstrom in the picture. On the flip side, you can actually read “Stastny’s” name on the back of his jersey on card #176 which is supposed to belong to Sundstrom.
Uggh. Dave Andreychuk’s pretty face can be found on both the back of his card #17 and Scott Arniel’s #18. Dave Gagner stole the real estate on the back of Brian “tit-fucker” Bellow’s card #130 and Joe Murphy sneaks into Marin Gelinas’ card #83. Ohh yeah, Joe Sakic apparently wore sweater number 88, according to card #257. Eric Lindros on the brain of the Nordiques much?
Hats off to the research team at Pro Set for at least finding some mildly entertaining information about some of these guys. Like relationship status. Did you know in 1991, both Daren Puppa (or “Poops”) on card #365 and Dave Andreychuk on card #363 have themselves listed as “single” on the backs of their cards. Hey Ladies! Judging by the fronts of both cards I can see why they were single. Puppa looks like a female trucker and Andreychuk looks like a stroke victim. Just saying…
They also really capitalized the quirky corner of the market with little nuggets like the back of card #76, Bob Probert. The first line of the card reads: “Bob had a much publicized drug and alcohol problem that caused him to miss most of last season”. Wow, thanks Debbie Downer. These cards were for kids, right?
October 26th, 1990 in Winnipeg, Wayne Gretzky became he first pro hockey player to ever reach 2,000 points. It was a pretty big milestone, and kudos to Pro Set for commemorating it with card #703. Unfortunately, they’ve got one of Wayne’s career stats wrong saying he had a career 2.33 GOALS per game average and not a 2.33 POINTS per game average. I mean, I know just as much as the next guy how great Wayne was, but could you imagine a career 2.33 goals per game? Another great stat can be found on the back of card #676 where Brian Sutter, coach of the St. Louis Blues, has his career record as 0-69-21 when it should in fact be 70-69-21 after 2 modest seasons of coaching in St. Louis.
Unlike full length films, I’m pretty sure there’s no minimum for how large your set has to be when creating one – which is why I’m so confused as to why they would waste cardboard on some of these. Like card #681. Who wouldn’t want their own RON ASSELSTINE referee card?! The back of his card has an interesting tidbit, which I think Vancouver and their fans were not aware of: “…No goalkeeper is entitled to exercise the privilege of captain or alternate captain on the ice”. Well how ’bout that. Another gem in this set? Card #705… the puck. Yup, the puck has its own card, making it physically possible to trade Claude Lemieux for one. The back of the puck’s card has valuable information on how to bake your own pucks, if you decided to ever do so. I seriously recommend you don’t.
As if reading this post didn’t already make you realize how depressing this set of cards was, the fine folks at Pro Set wanted to make sure you kept coming back. Enter the Discount Card. Yes, that flaming puck card with the big 10¢ symbol on it reminds you after every pack you opened that they’d be more than happy to continue to provide you a sub-par product AT A DISCOUNT. Funny how the times have changed though, this offer is good for anyone in North America except residents of KS, WA and WY – expansion sites for Gary Bettman I’m sure.