Saturday, June 27, 2020

Hockey Card Update & Interlude

It's been pretty much all-baseball here at the CH blog so far, with only one hockey card-flavored interlude so far. I'm rolling out a hockey card obsession very, very slowly, and dipping a toe into a couple of sets and personal preferences here and there, just to see what takes.

The one thing I knew I simply had to do was collect complete Topps sets of all of the Oakland Seals/California Golden Seals teams from their inception in 1967-68, through their demise and move to Cleveland (to become the Barons for a mere two seasons) in 1976-77. I never got to see the Seals play, but I did get to once hear an epic rant from my Grandfather, who told me about the time he went to see a Seals game at the Oakland Coliseum and forgot where he'd parked, leading to a two-hour late-night search after the game for his car. If you want to know more about the Seals, this book and this documentary are well worth checking out.

Right now, I've either got in my posession every single Topps Seals card created for their nine NHL seasons, or it's one of the few stragglers still on the way from one of my SportLots orders. Having just "released" my SportLots box this morning, I'll have a complete Seals collection by the end of the week. OMG what a major accomplishment! No single card cost me more than $3, and most were around 20 cents. That there was really my first and only hockey collecting goal....but of course others soon followed.

I saw some of these 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee WHA cards on someone else's blog, and then I got pretty damn excited about completing the 66-card set. 66 cards? I can do that. I've got 32 of them so far, which makes me 48.5% of the way there. I've always been fascinated with failed, defunct professional sports teams, and the WHA had some great ones: the San Diego Mariners, the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Vancouver Blazers, the Michigan Stags, the Cleveland Crusaders and so on. Wayne Gretzky played in the WHA, as did Gordie Howe, Gerry Cheevers and loads of other legends. The cards I have certainly aren't EX/NM, but that's okay. They speak to another long-gone time in hockey - one without helmets, overseas players and a US television contract.

Something I'd never heard of before three months ago - because I had never really been collecting hockey cards - was Parkhurst cards. Now I know it was a top Canadian brand of the 50s and early 60s during the Original 6 era, and I couldn't believe how gorgeous their cards generally looked. Expensive, though - not for the faint of heart. I took a particular shine to the look of the 1958-59 cards, and decided to buy one, whatever it ended up being. Enter one Barry Cullen of the Toronto Maple Leafs for $6, the cheapest decent-condition Parkhurst card I could find from that year. The card says he'd "potted" 16 goals the year before for the Leafs. Wikipedia says he played until 1960 for Toronto and Detroit before calling it a day.

So now that I've got a lone fabled Parkhurst in my collection, maybe it ends there, maybe not - but of course I'll look out for more. The brand, after a several-decade hiatus, continues to this day.

As I was wrapping up my Topps Seals collection, I thought I might poke around online to see what other sort of posthumous California Golden Seals cards might be out there: tribute cards and what have you. Here are a few 21st-century cards put out by In The Game for goalie Gilles Meloche, who is universally thought of as the most talented human being that the Seals ever put on the ice, including a card of his with the Barons:

I'm absolutely going to continue my quest for any post-1970s Seals cards that might be out there. If you've got a line on any good ones, please let me know. Finally, I decided to make a concession to modernity and collect a modern player. I strongly considered Patrick Marleau, who has been my #1 favorite San Jose Sharks player for over twenty years, and still is......yet if I'm being honest, I find the uber-talented Marleau simultaneously both one of the nicest guys and one of the least interesting people in hockey. I just could not rouse myself for the undertaking of collecting his entire career, for some reason. Perhaps that will change. 

Instead, I decided to focus on exciting, short-term San Jose Shark and Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne, "the Finnish Flash" and probably my #2 favorite hockey player I've ever watched outside of fellow Hall of Famer and non-Shark Peter Forsberg - whom I may collect next, and who in his prime was absolutely the single most dominating player I've ever seen. Here's what little I've got from  Teemu so far. More hockey interludes on this blog as interesting cards filter in.


  1. I never saw the Golden Seals play but I must've pulled one of the Seals cards in the pack I bought in 1975 because it's the only way I continue to experience nostalgia for that franchise. Wish I knew which card it was, but I just went through COMC and none of them look familiar.

  2. Teemu was fun to watch back in the day and it's fun to discover a card of his from time to time. I even have a few autographs of his from the time I went down to Anaheim for Ducks Casino Night.