Tuesday, January 15, 2008

77-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA

Rosaire Paiement, New England Whalers, Indianapolis Racers, WHA, 77-78, O-Pee-Chee, hockey, hockey cardsNothing shows the WHA's instability better than its final O-Pee-Chee set. More than a quarter of the cards in the relatively small 66-card set have "Now with. . ." printed somewhere on the front. Four of the twelve teams that existed during the 76-77 WHA season folded prior to the release of O-Pee-Chee's 77-78 set, which would have made it hard for O-Pee-Chee to release a full sized set with the correct teams listed on each player's card, so they really didn't bother to try to get it right.

The lack of up-to-date photos makes for a nice variety of jerseys with all eight surviving teams included (Birmingham Bulls, Cincinnati Stingers, Edmonton Oilers, Houston Aeros, Indianapolis Racers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets) as well as the four teams that folded after the 76-77 season (Calgary Cowboys, Minnesota Fighting Saints, Phoenix Roadrunners and San Diego Mariners) as well as, for some reason, the Los Angeles Sharks, a team that relocated to Michigan after the 73-74 season, and the NHL's Vancouver Canucks. Since the set is only 66 cards you mostly get the WHA stars, like Bobby Hull, Frank Mahovlich and the Howe brothers, this unfortunately means players like the Carlson brothers, who played the Hanson's in the movie Slap Shot do not get cards. It's not hard to understand why O-Pee-Chee did not make another WHA set even though the league lasted until the 78-79 season-- the league was constantly on verge of going under, and judging from the number of photos reused from previous WHA sets, O-Pee-Chee had better things to do than make cards for the rebel league.

One of the nice things about this set is the number of action shots. O-Pee-Chee was sometimes guilty of putting too many boring shots of people standing around or posing. While this set does have some of that, it also has some pretty good photography, especially for a set from the 70's. There is action, and there are rad game photos of goalies. I'd also like to point out how much I love the fuzzy edges and off-centering. Sure, it means the cards aren't in mint condition, but they have so much character. Some of the cards have the line of copyright information at the bottom of the card, some have a little at the both the top and bottom, while others don't have it at all. Beautiful!

My favourites:

#1
- Gordie Howe - Gordie doesn't get a regular card in the set, just this one commemorating his 1000th professional goal. Note the Plexiglas boards!

#2
- Jean Bernier - I like the crude old Nordiques jersey and that wearing a helmet is notable enough to get mentioned on the back.

#3 - Anders Hedberg - He's got the crazy-eye!

#14 - Don McLeod - I wish we could go back to the days of double-chinned goaltenders.

#37 - Terry Ruskowski - This card came with a little piece of authentic 77-78 O-Pee-Chee gum stuck to it!

#41 - John McKenzie - if you can believe it, gramps here played another two seasons after this photo was taken.

#49
- Al Smith - Goalies looked so badass in the 70's.

5 comments:

Jonny Chance said...

best post in a while

hockeydad said...

plenty of creeps and mouth breathers in this set.
i want to win the avco cup!

Jamie said...

I opened a pack over ten years after this set came out and was fascinated to see the shade of orange the gum had turned...

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