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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Lost Cards: 1986-87 OPC Jimmy Mann

  I am not sure why, but for some reason I equate Jimmy Mann to being the ultimate draft bust.  Mann was the first player ever selected by the Winnipeg Jets in a NHL Entry draft.  The Jets joined the NHL after the WHA folded, and lost many of their stars to NHL teams, who had owned their NHL rights.  The Jets got to restock via an expansion draft but Jets and the other ex-WHA teams were shuffled to the end of the draft order for the NHL Entry Draft.  The Jets got the 19th overall pick in the 1979 draft and selected Jimmy Mann of the QMJHL's Sherbrooke Canadiens.
  It's odd that I considered a player selected 19th overall, who played over 200 career games, the ultimate draft bust.  It's true that the next two players selected were Michel Goulet and Kevin Lowe.  It's true that Mann's 30 career points is about 130 less than the second lowest total of players drafted in the first round.  It's true that Mann is only one of two players selected in the first round that played less than 590 career games.  Although it's also true there are many players in other drafts years selected higher than 19th overall whom never played a single game in the NHL.  So I really have no idea how I equated Jimmy Mann as the ultimate draft bust.  It's a notion that formed as a child and I can't remember why.
  Mann put up some decent numbers in junior to backup his high draft position.  He had back-to-back 80+ points and 260 PIM with the Sherbrooke Castors.  He was a QMJHL First Team All-star in 1979 and had 14 goals and 26 points in 12 play-off games.
  Mann joined the Jets for the 1979-80 season.  He scored his first career goal against Curt Ridley of the Vancouver Canucks.  It was a powerplay goal and the game winner in a 5-3 victory.  It was the last time he scored a powerplay or game-wining goal in his career.  Mann led the NHL in PIM, 287, during his rookie season.  Mann had career highs across the board in his rookie season with 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, and 287 PIM in 72 games played.  In his second season, Mann led the Jets in PIM, 105, while playing in 37 games.
  Mann would become infamous in 1982.  On January 13, 1982, Mann sucker punched Paul Gardner.  Gardner missed 21 games due to a broken jaw.  Mann was suspended 10 games and charged, and convicted of assault.  At the time, it was one the sixth longest suspension in NHL History.  Gardner had earlier cross-checked the Jets Doug Smail in the face.  In retaliation, Jets coach, Tom Watt, send Jimmy Mann over the boards to send Gardner a message.
  Mann's reputation was tarnished as he had gone from prospect to enforcer to goon.  Mann spent another season and a half with Jets, scoring one goal, 2 assists and 134 PIM in 68 games after the incident.  He was sent down to the minors in November of 1983 and stayed there until he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for a 5th round draft pick.  Mann would be used sparingly with the Nordiques.  Although part of the team, he was not dressed during the infamous Good Friday brawl between the Nordiques and Canadiens in the second round of the 1984 play-offs.
  Mann suffered a serious abdominal injury in December of 1984.  He returned to the team late in the season but the injury nagged him for the next few seasons and was severe enough for him to miss the entire 86-87.  Mann signed as free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 87-88 season.  It was an injury plagued season as Mann missed time due to elbow and groin injuries.  He accumulated 53 PIM in 9 games the Penguins and also 61 PIM in 10 games in the minors.  After spending the 88-89 season in the minors, Mann retired.
  Certainly looking back, Mann did not live up to his potential but I also feel he doesn't live up to my labeling him as the ultimate Draft Bust.  There are some top 10 picks who never played a NHL game and plenty of top 5 picks never played a full season.
  Mann's career in cards turned out to be a bust.  After getting cards in his first two seasons, the 80-81 and 81-82 set, Mann disappeared from OPC.  Mann took notice of this and actually blamed Alan Eagleson, NHLPA head and agent for Paul Gardner, for blackballing him from the hockey sets.  The story is also covered in Hockey Card Stories.  I agree that Mann was not cardboard worthy after the 81-82 release, but that's where I come in.  I couldn't find a decent picture of Mann as a Penguins so his Lost Card will be him as a Nordique.

1986-87 OPC #275 Jimmy Mann

1986-87 OPC #275 Jimmy Mann


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1984-85 OPC Dave Richter

  At 6'5" and 220lbs, Dave Richter was a big man.  He was the classic clear the front of the net defender.  He was on the ice for his truculence and to stick up for his teammates, not speed or offense.  He played 365 games over 9 seasons but only got a single NHL card.
  Drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the 10th round, 205th overall, only 5 players were drafted after Dave in the 1980 draft.  Dave graduated from Michigan University and made his NHL debut on March 13, 1982 against the St. Louis Blues.  He spent the majority of the 82-83 season in the minors but became a semi-regular with the North Stars in 1983-84. On December 12, 1983, he scored his first career NHL goal against Glen Hanlon (a previous Lost Card recipient) of the New York Rangers in a 6-4 loss.  Richter finished the season with 2 goals, 5 points, and 132 PIM in 42 games.  Richter had another semi-regular season with the North Stars, playing in 55 games, netting 10 points and was second on the team with 221 PIM.
  Ritcher, who misses games every season due to minor injuries, started the season injured but finally became a regular with the North Stars until he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the end of November, 1985.  The trade brought Todd Bergen to the North Stars, who was covered in a previous Lost Rookies.  Richter's style seemed like a perfect match for the Flyers, as he become the resident tough guy on defence.  Instead, his time with the Flyers was short.  Richter had 2 assists, and 138 PIM in 50 games.  The Flyers were the top team in Wales conference, 110pts, but were upset by the New York Rangers, 78pts, in the first round of the play-offs.  Richter was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season.
  Richter had a career year with the Canucks in 86-87, setting career highs in games, 78, assists, 15, and points, 17, while tying a career high in goals with two.  He also let loose on offensive by setting a career high with 35 shots, including a four shot outburst against the New York Rangers.  OPC took notice of the burly dman accomplishments and bestowed a rookie card upon Richter.
  Richter returned to earth the next season with 6 points in 49 games.  He did set a career high in PIM, with 224.  His season was cut short when he was suspended 10 games for leaving the penalty box to join a fight.  After getting into a fight earlier in the period, Richter was still in the box when the period ended with a skirmish breaking out in the Islanders end.  Richter joined the fray, instead of staying in the box or headed to his team's bench.  Richter got into a fight, got suspended and then got traded in the off-season.
  Richter was traded to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Robert Nordmark and a 2nd round draft pick in the 1990 draft, which seems a lot to trade for a third pairing defenceman. Although the Blues were desperate to toughen up.  The 1990 draft pick later went back to the Blues in a multi-player trade that sent the Blues 1991 2nd round draft pick to the Canucks.  So they basically traded the Blues back their 1990 2nd rounder for the Blues 1991 2nd rounder.  The Canucks then traded the 1991 second round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Jyrki Lumme.  So the Canucks basically traded Richter for Nordmark, and Lumme.   It's amazing how much, and the many ways, the Blues contributed to the Canucks 1994 Stanley Cup run.


1989-90 OPC Dave Richter
  Richter Played a season and two games for the Blues.  He made his final NHL appearance in the 1989-90 season and retired after spending 1990-91 in the minors.  He never had a card made of him during the 1990 junk wax boom.
  To rectify an OPC omissions of the Dave Richter, I mocked up this 1984-85 OPC Dave Richter Lost Rookie card.  I also made a 89-90 OPC card of Richter as a Blue above.  I couldn't find any reasonable Flyers pictures of Richter, so I wasn't able to add a Flyers card as well.

1984-85 OPC #403 Dave Richter


1984-85 OPC #403 Dave Richter

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Lost Cards: 1986-87 OPC Lucien Deblois

  Lucien Deblois has a fun name to say.  At least it was when I was a kid, and when I say it out loud today as an adult, yeah, it's still a fun name.  Deblois finished his career 7 games shy of 1000.  He had 552 points over 15 seasons.
  Deblios was drafted in the first round in both the WHA and NHL drafts in 1977.  He was selected 8th overall by the New York Rangers in the NHL and 9th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the WHA.  Deblois chose the NHL and began the season wit the Rangers.  He scored his first NHL goal against Doug Favell of the Colorado Rockies, November 2nd, 1977.  Deblois would go on to be a Cy Young award finalist scoring 22 goals and 8 assists.  This effort was also enough to garner Deblois with a rookie card in the 1977-78 set.
  Deblois, along with four other players, were traded by the Rangers early in the 1979-80 season in a deal with the Colorado Rockies for Barry Beck.  After two more 20 goal seasons, three in his first four seasons, Deblois was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Brent Ashton.
  Lucien had a pair of 50 points seasons before a career year in 1983-84, setting career highs across the board with 34 goals, 45 assists and 79 points.  The following offseason, Deblois and the Jets had a contract dispute which led to his trade to the Montreal Canadiens for Perry Turnbull.  Deblois was never able to find his scoring touch in Montreal, netting 54 points in 112 games over two seasons.  He did win a Stanley Cup in 1986, but after netting 0 points, and a -4 in 11 games, Deblois never played a minute in the Finals.
  By this time Deblois was more of a depth piece as he began a journeyman's journey by signing up for a second tour of duty with the New York Rangers.  Three years, 184 games and 74 points later, Deblois returned to La Belle Province of Quebec, this time signing as a free agent with the Quebec Nordiques.
  Deblois played a role in the Eric Lindros sweepstakes in 1991.  The Toronto Maple Leafs had infamously traded away their 1991 1st round pick to the New jersey Devils for Tom Kurvers the previous season, assuming their fortunes were going nowhere but up; turns out they were quite wrong.  20 games into the season, the Leafs and the Nordiques were the two worst teams in the league, so a deal was worked out to benefit both clubs.  The Leafs traded a prospect and draft picks to the Nordiques for three veterans, including Deblois.  The trade solidified the Nordiques tank job, finishing last overall, and the Leafs improved to 2nd last overall and saved themselves the embarrassment of trading away the golden ticket in the Lindros sweepstakes.  Instead the New Jersey Devils were stuck with selecting future HHOFer Scott Niedermayer.
  Deblois was traded from the Leafs during the following season, 1991-92, to the Winnipeg Jets.  Deblois retired at the end of the season, with the franchise he had the most personal success with.
  OPC seemed to forget about Deblois after his trade to the Montreal Canadiens.  He did get a horrific airbursh job for the 1984-85 set but didn't reappear until in a card until the 1990 junk wax boom.  So before getting to his "official" Lost Card, I thought I would throw in a 1988-89 OPC of Lucien during his second stint as a NY Ranger.

1988-89 OPC Lucien DeBlois

  And here is the Deblois Lost Card, a 1986-87 OPC while he was a member of the Stanley Cup Champions, the Montreal Canadiens.  Bon Appetit.

1986-87 OPC #274 Lucien Deblois

1986-87 OPC #274 Lucien Deblois



Thursday, October 3, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Todd Bergen

  Todd Bergen burst onto the scene with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1985, but a combination of an abdominal injury, and a combustible relationship with head coach Mike Keenan, had Bergen out of the league by the following season.
  After going undrafted in 1981, Bergen was drafted in the 5th round, 98th overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Bergen's tier 2 junior team, the Prince Albert Raiders, had won the Centennial Cup two seasons in a row and was promoted to the WHL as an expansion team for the 1982-83 season.  Bergen broke out in the 83-84 season, scoring 57 goals in 43 games for the Raiders.  He started the following season with the Hershey bears of the AHL.  After scoring 39 points in 38 games, the Flyers called Bergen up.
  In Bergen's first career game, January 8, 1985, he scored two goals, including the game winner.  The following game, he injured his abdominal muscles and missed the next 25 games.  Upon his return on March 10th, Bergen had a goal and two assists in a 11-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Bergen finished the season with 11 goals and 5 assists in 14 games.  Bergen started the play-offs hot, netting 10 points in his first 7 games, but cooled off dramatically, with only 3 points in his final 10 games.  
  Bergen refused to report to the Flyers 1986 training camp and was suspended from the team.  Originally the story was Bergen refused to report due to personal reasons and planned on retiring to play professional golf.  Rumours swirled about that Bergen wanted a better contract and refused to play for Flyers coach Mike Keenan.  In November of 1985, Bergen was traded in a four player trade to the Minnesota North Stars.  Upon being traded, Bergen told reporters he left the Flyers due to refusing to play for Mike Keenan.  Bergen was upset at the way Keenan treated him in the press, his usage under Keenan, and also how the team, particularly Keenan, treated his injury, as if he was faking it.
  Bergen's injury trouble followed him to Minnesota.  He showed up in Minnesota with a pulled abdominal muscles and wouldn't accept convention treatment.  He missed the entire 85-86 season and a large part of the 86-87 season.  Bergen played in the AHL in 86-87, scoring 23 points in 27 games with the Springfield Indians of the IHL.
  Bergen once again refused to report a training camp, as he held out of the North Stars camp in 1987.   Bergen claimed he was owed $130k backpay.  The North Stars claimed the Flyers owed it.  Before a ruling was held, Bergen decided to retire for good from professional hockey and once again try professional golf.  I can't find any results on his golf career.
  Bergen was quoted in The Hockey in 2004 as claiming "I didn't disappear, I got disappeared."  While Bergen was a very gifted player, and also 6'2', many questioned his desire to play and decisions he made during his short NHL career. As such, he never had a NHL card, or even a team issued card.  If OPC was aggressive as today's card companies, this is what a Todd Bergen rookie card may have looked like.

1985-86 OPC #274 Todd Bergen (RC)

1985-86 OPC #274 Todd Bergen (RC)