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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Yves Courteau

  Long time, no post.  I have this sitting in the draft folder, so I may as well share it or it may never see the light of day.  

  Yves Courteau, a former #1 overall pick in the QMHL in 1980, made an impressive NHL debut with the Calgary Flames in 1984, assisting on two goals in his first NHL game.  He was never able to secure a full-time position in the NHL and eventually retired due to injury.
  Yves went into the 1982 NHL Entry draft as a projected top ten pick but fell to second round and was drafted 32nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings. While Yves enjoyed his best seasons in junior, playing alongside Mario Lemieux, the Red Wings traded Yves to the Calgary Flames.
  Yves made a successful NHL debut on October 13, 1984, collecting two assists.  He scored his first career goal ten days later.  Even with the early success, Yves never secured a full-time job in the NHL.  After two season in the Flames organization, Yves was traded to the Hartford Whalers.  In his second training camp with the Whalers, Yves suffered a shoulder injury, that would eventually cause him to retire.
  Yves never earned a NHL card.  Here is my version of a 1985-86 OPC Yves Courteau rookie card.


1985-86 OPC #270 Yves Courteau (RC)

1985-86 OPC #270 Yves Courteau (RC)



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lost Rookies: 1980-81 OPC Brent Ashton

  Brent Ashton is best known as, previously, being the most traded man in NHL History.  He was traded a total of nine times during his NHL career.  A career that started with the Vancouver Canucks in 1979.  Ashton scored 23 goals and 48 points in 123 games for the Canucks, before being traded to the Colorado Rockies, via the Winnipeg Jets, in the 1982 offseason.  Ashton did not earn a rookie card until the 1982-83 OPC set, after leading the Rockies in points.  Below is how a 1980-81 OPC Brent Ashton rookie card may have looked.


1980-81 OPC #397 Brent Aston (RC)

  Trivia:  Three of the players Ashton was traded for during his career, were 40 goal scorers.


1980-81 OPC #397 Brent Ashton (RC)

  Brent played a single season with the Colorado Rockies before the team moved to New Jersey.  OPC was pro-active for the 1982-83 set and had the team pictured in their new New Jersey Devils jerseys.  As opposed to a logoless team set like the Calgary/Atlanta Flames in the 1980-81 set.  While Ashton rocked a classic 80s mullet in his 82-83 card, I believe it's fitting to throw in an 82-83 Colorado Rockies Ashton card for the all the Colorado Rockies fans out there.

1982-83 OPC Brent Ashton

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lost Cards: 1985-86 OPC Chris Nilan

  It's surprising that an anglophone American Boston born player would become a fan favourite in Montreal, but Chris Nilan did just that.  "Knuckles" Nilan pounded his way into the hearts of Montreal Canadiens fans during the 1980s.  Often at the center of many a fracas, Nilan patrolled the ice, and manned the penalty box, for 523 games and, a franchise record, 2248 PIM as a Canadien.
  Nilan had a rookie card in the 1983-84 OPC set, and was also part of the 1984-85 OPC set.  When OPC made the decision to cut down its hockey card set from 396 cards to 264, Nilan was one of the causalities, despite setting career highs in goals, points and leading the league in PIM for the second consecutive season.  This how a 1985-86 OPC Chris Nilan card may have looked.

1985-86 OPC #266 Chris Nilan


1985-86 OPC #266 Chris Nilan

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lost Rookies: 1986-87 OPC Gates Orlando

  Gaeteno "Gates" Orlando played parts of three season in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres in the mid 1980s.  Gates was an undersized, 5'8, 180lbs, skilled center whose size and decision to play NCAA hockey over North American junior, let him slip to 164th overall in the 1981 draft.  During his brief NHL career he split time between the Sabres and their farm club, the Rochester Americans.  His team leading 22 points helped the Amerks win the AHL Calder Cup in 1987.  The next season, he crossed the Atlantic to play pro and went on to a successful career in Italy, including representing Italy at two Olympic games.
  In 2011, Gates was diagnosed with a rare heart disease, sarcoidosis.  His heart would eventually give out, but he was saved by the defibrillator vest he was wearing.  On April 4th of 2012, Gates had an artificial heart transplant.  He lived with the artificial heart for over a year until a donor heart could be secured and implanted.  Gates made a full recovery and is, obviously, a big fan of organ donors.  He currently works as a scout for the New Jersey Devils.
  Gates never had a NHL card.  So below is what a 1986-87 OPC Gates Orlando card may have looked.  Quality Gates Orlando Sabres images are in short supply on the internet.  I almost decided against mocking up a card for Gates but you have to give him some love for what he has been through.


1986-87 OPC #267 Gates Orlando (RC)


1986-87 OPC #267 Gates Orlando (RC)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Jeff Brubaker

  Jeff Brubaker played 178 career NHL teams.  During those 178 games, he played for seven different teams. After racking up 307 PIM for the Peterborough Petes in junior, Brubaker was drafted by the Boston Bruins, 102th overall in the 1978 draft.  He was courted by the WHA's New England Whalers and would eventually sign with the Whalers during the 1978-79 season.  The Bruins did not exercise their rights to reclaim Brubaker upon the the NHL-WHA merger of 1979.
  Upon entering the NHL, the New England Whalers became the Hartford Whalers.  Brubaker would play three games in 1979-80.  He notched his first career point against the Philadelphia Flyers on in his second career game.  It was an assist on a powerplay goal by Blaine Stoughton.  The following season Brubaker would get his first career goal, January 9th on Eddie Mio of the Edmonton Oilers, and the next night, his first career fight, versus Barry Legge of the Winipeg Jets.
  The following preseason, Brubaker was left unprotected and was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the waiver draft.  Brubaker would only play 5 total games with the Canadiens, but two of those games were play-off games.  In one of those two games, Brubaker helped kick off a 1st period line brawl versus the Quebec Nordiques.  Brubaker would not play again the NHL play-offs.
  Brubaker was once again left unprotected at the waiver draft the following preseason.  This time he was selected by the Calgary Flames.  He played four games with the Flames that season.  As a free agent he signed on with the Provincial rival, Edmonton Oilers.  Only to be once again left unprotected and selected in the waiver draft.  This time, by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1985-86 OPC #269 Jeff Brubaker (RC)

    Brubaker's set career highs across the board during his first season with the Leafs in 1984-85.  He finished ninth in the league with 209 PIM.  Brubaker was unable to follow it up and was placed on waivers by the Leafs after accumulating 0 points and 67 PIM in 21 games.  He was picked up by the Edmonton Oilers.  He injuried his ankle after playing four games with the Oilers.  He wouldn't play another game with the Oilers.
  Brubaker returned the NHL for the 1987-88 season when he was traded to the New York Rangers after a short stint as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers organization.  The next season, after signing with the Detroit Red Wings, would be his last as a professional hockey player.  He played a single game with the Red Wings.
  Brubaker would being his coaching career the following season.  He won the league championship in his first season in the ECHL with the Greensboro Monarch.  At one time, he held the record for most wins by a coach in the ECHL, since surpassed by John Brophy
  Brubaker never had a rookie card during his playing days.  There were a few team issued postcards but he never made the cut with O-Pee-Chee.  I figured his best shot would have been the 1985-86 OPC set.  The 1985-86 set was cut down to 264 cards after being 396 cards the previous few years.


1985-86 OPC #269 Jeff Brubaker (RC)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Ken Strong

  By 1982, after years of bickering, the Toronto Maple Leafs and all-star, and former captain, Darryl Sittler were at the end of their ropes.  In January of 1982, the Leafs dealt fan favourite Sittler to the Philadelphia Flyers for Rich Costello, a 2nd round pick, 25th overall - used to select Peter Ihnacak, and future considerations.  The future considerations turned out to be Ken Strong.
 
1985-86 OPC #268 Ken Strong (RC)

  In the end, the trade is considered a candidate for the worst Maple Leafs trade ever.  Although Sittler only netted another 205 career points in 252 games before retiring, the return for the fan favourite was lackluster.  Ihnacak had a promising rookie season with 66 points, but then quickly faded away.  Costello played 12 career NHL games.  Strong played 15 career games. 

1985-86 OPC #268 Ken Strong

  Strong would fall out of favour with Maple Leafs management, as the Leafs wanted Strong to add pugilistic elements to his game.  After a shoulder injury, Strong would not return to the NHL after the 84-85 season.  Strong went overseas in 1987-88 to play in Austria.  Strong eventually became a dual-citizen and played for Austria in the 1994 Olympics. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review: Hockey Card Stories


http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/1770411976/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=390961&creativeASIN=1770411976&linkCode=as2&tag=canarock-20

  Hockey Card Stories: True Tales from Your Favourite Players by Ken Reid was released in October of 2014.  I put it on my Amazon Wishlist and Santa was thoughtful enough to leave a copy under the tree for me. 
 This book is a must read for any hockey card aficionado, especially if you long for the old days when O-Pee-Chee was the dominate, and sometimes only, brand.  The author, Sportsnet's Ken Reid, picked out 61 cards from his personal collection and then called up 59 players on those cards to see what they thought of them.  The book is divided up into ten chapters, with each chapter featuring five to six players.  Each player's story lasts 4-6 pages.
  The cards range from 1971 to 1991 -  all O-Pee-Chee.  There is a solid range of players, from HHOFers, such as Tony Esposito and Bobby Orr, to one game wonder, Bill Armstrong.  Player's reactions of their cards range between pride, to indifference.  Although most, especially the guys with the 1970s cards, expressed embarrassment over their photos.

An example from the WHA chapter
 
  The book read like a bunch of short articles, or blog posts.  In fact, some of the stories were previously published online a few years ago. Check them out if you want a sampling of what is in the book.  Most stories are directly relates to the card pictures, but a few seem to use the card more of a jumping off point to cover the player more in general. 
  One of the more interesting stories was the 1984-85 OPC Ken Linseman.  I alwasy knew it was an obvious airbrush job, but there is more to it than that.  It's Linseman's head, but not his body.  I will let you google it, or go out and buy the book to learn more. 

The FrankenCard.

  This was a very interesting book to read but it left me wanting more.  I have always wondered what players thought about their cards and what type of cards or memorabilia collections they might have.  Perhaps there will be a sequel.  I do hope so.
  I definitely recommend this book to any true hockey card fan.  There are no stories about game-used jersey or serial numbered cards, so perhaps not a great buy for anyone who has never ate gum from a pack of cards.  It has a $19.95 cover price but, as always, can be had for cheaper online.  Let's finish with a word from Ken Reid himself.