a img { display:none; } a:hover img { display:block; } -->

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Lost Rookies: 1988-89 OPC Ken Baumgartner

   Ken "Bomber" Baumgartner was one of my favourite players when I was a child.  I was an Islanders fan and they didn't have much on go other than Lafontaine and the truculence of Baumgartner and Mick Vukota.  Looking back, it's shocking to see that Baumgartner was an Islander for only about two seasons.

  Ken played his junior hockey with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL.  He was selected as the Scholastic Player of the Year in 1984 and won a Memorial Cup in 1985, which included a fight with Bob Probert that spilled into the penalty box. The Sabres used their last pick, 245th overall, in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft to draft Baumgartner.  

  Baumgartner never played for the Sabres as he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in January of 1986 as part of a five player deal.  Ken finished his junior career in 1986, and like many young adults, visited Europe.  Ken was a dual-citizen of Canada and Switzerland.  He played the 1986 season in the Swiss league.  It was a change of pace for Baumgartner as fighting was not part of the European game.  Although he still managed to rack up 85 PIM in 36 games.  He attributes his time in the Swiss leagues as key to him making the NHL.  Instead of focusing on fighting, he had to focus on playing a complete game.  He returned to North America at the end of the Swiss season and began his career in the Kings organization.

  Ken made his NHL debut on January 4th, 1987 and immediately went to work, earning the first penalty of the game, then later starting a line brawl after a elbowing New Jersey Devils' captain, Kirk Muller.  For his first career game, he accumulating 19 PIM, including a game misconduct.  He scored his first career goal on March 19, 1988 against Glen Hanlon of the Detroit Red Wings.  In the 1988-89 season, Ken set a career high with 286 PIM, while only playing in 49 games.  In two seasons and a bit, Ken played 91 games for the Kings, notching 10 points and 501 PIM.  That's an average of more then 5 PIM per game!

1989-90 OPC Ken Baumgartner

  The Kings traded Baumgartner and Hubie McDonough to the New York Islanders for struggling sniper, Mikko Makela on Novermber 29, 1989.  The trade jumpstarted the Islanders.  The Isles were 5-18-3 before the trade but went 23-6-3 after the trade was made.  The momentum wore off as the Isles went on a 1-14-5 run and found themselves in last place in the division.  The team rallied for the last two games of the season, winning both, including against the Philadelphia Flyers in their last game of the season.  The final standings in the Patrick Division had the Flyers last with 71 points, the Pittsburgh Penguins in 5th with 72 points, and the Islanders with the last playoffs spot at 73 points.

  Although the first place New York Rangers made quick work of the Islanders in five games during the first round, game one at Madison Square Gardens was a memorable, and controversial, one.  With a little over a minute to play, the Islanders leading scorer Pat Lafontaine, 54 goals and 105 points, was the recipient of a shoulder to head check from James Patrick.  A clean hit in 1990; a game misconduct in 2020.  Lafontaine suffered a concussion and was carried off the ice on a stretcher.  The Rangers fans cheered, as John Cougar Mellencamp's Hurts So Good was played in the arena while Lafontaine laid on the ice.  Outside the arena, Ranger fans rocked the Ambulance that Lafontaine was in.  Inside, it was still a one goal game, with the Rangers leading 2-1 with a minute and change to play.  

  After an Islanders icing with two seconds left to play, and still down by one, Islanders coach, and HHOFer, Al Arbour, sent a message.  He sent his top 4 PIM leaders onto the ice, Baumgartner, Vukota, Gerald Diduck and Gary Nylund, as well as Bryan Trottier (No wonder Trottier was bitter at the Islanders when he left).  The Rangers countered with their heavyweights including Chris Nilan, Kris King, and Mark Janssens.  The Rangers lined their players up near the blue-line instead of the face-off circle to show they weren't looking to fight.  Instead of lining up for the face-off, Baumgartner skated in circles like a caged animal waiting for the puck to drop, getting wound up to charge the Ranger players.  The brawl was a black-eye for hockey, as well as for Al Arbour.  The NHL suspended Vukota for 10 games, and Baumgartner for one.  The Islanders were fined $25,000.  Lafontaine would miss three games before returning to play in the series game 5 finale. 

1991-92 OPC Ken Baumgartner
  Baumgartner played another season and half for the Islanders before being traded.  His career totals as an Islanders were 175 games played, 13 points, and 678 PIM.  He was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1992 trade deadline.  On December 9, 1995, Baumgartner scored a goal against the Dallas Stars.  He did not score again until, two franchises later, October 10, 1998.  He had a goalless drought of 194 games, which just outside of the top 10 all-time in the NHL.  In 1997-98, while playing for the Boston Bruins, Baumgartner had zero goals and one assist in 82 games.  Baumgartner retired following the 1998-99 season.
  Baumgartner's career numbers, 54 points, 2242 PIM in 696 games, and on-ice actions scream GOON!  Juxtapose that with his off-ice accomplishments.  He was the 1984 WHL Scholastic Player of the year.  During his playing days he attended Hofstra University and earned a degree in business.  He was the Vice-president in the NHLPA union.  After retiring he earned a MBA at Harvard and works in Finance.  Not the type of guy who basically fought for a living or dying his skin yellow and with a mohawk.
  Baumgartner's first NHL card was during the 1990-91 junk wax boom.  He never did have one as a Los Angeles King other than a team-issued card.  So here is Ken Baumgartner's 1988-89 OPC rookie card with a picture from this fight with McSorley.

1988-89 OPC #276 Ken Baumgartner (RC)

1988-89 OPC #276 Ken Baumgartner (RC)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Lost Cards: 1975-75 OPC Gump Worsley

   "Little round man of the Ranger nets just as quick with a quip as he is with a kick save." says the back of Lorne "Gump" Worsley's 1962-63 Topps card.  Without a doubt, Gump was one of the hockey's more memorable personalites.

  Lorne Worsley was bestowed the nickname "Gump" as a child, due to as resemblance to Andy Gump of The Gumps comic strip.   Not exactly a flattering comparison.  Gump dreamed of playing professional hockey but due to his lack of size, he was sent to man the pipes.  The change in positions benefited Gump greatly.  He tried out and made the Verdun Cyclones of the Quebec Junior Hockey League in 1946.  This was back during the era of sponsorship and since the Rangers sponsored the Cyclones, they now owned Worsley's NHL rights.  

  Worsley turned pro in 1949 and spent three seasons in the minors from 1949 to 1952 until he caught a break.  Future Hall of Famer goalie Chuck Rayner was injured during the 1952 preseason.  Worsley started the season as the Ranger's goalie.  Worsley was sent back down when Rayner returned in mid-November.  About two months later, Rayner, succumbed to injuries, and retired.  Worsley was recalled and finished the season for the Rangers.  Gump was 2-10-3, 3.67 before Rayner's retirement and 11-19-5, 2.74 afterwards.  His strong play in the second half of the season helped earn him the Calder Trophy as the league's best rookie.  To reward Gump for his play, the Rangers sent him to the minors and signed another rookie goalie, Johnny Bower, to take over in net.  Gump had reported to training camp over-weight and demanding a raise.  Gump Worsley is the only Calder winner to not play the season after winning the Calder.

  The following season, 1954-55, Gump and Bower switched roles.  Bower went to the minors and Gump was the starter.  Gump was the Rangers starter for the next nine seasons, although he was twice sent to the minors for Marcel Paille.  The Rangers were one of the worst teams during the Gump's time with them, only making the play-offs four times in 10 seasons.  During that time, Gump lead the league in losses three times.  Gump holds the tops two spots for most Saves and Most Shots Against in a single NHL season.  When a reporter asked Gump what team gives him the most trouble, Gump replied "The Rangers".  

1962-63 Topps Lorne Worsley

  After being a fixture on Broadway, Gump was involved in a blockbuster trade.  As part of the seven player trade, Gump was sent to his hometown, Montreal.  Going the other was legend Jacques Plante.  It was a contentious trade in Montreal.  Plante and Worsley entered the league at about the same time.  Worsley had a Calder trophy and led the league in losses three times.  Plante had 6 Stanley Cups, 6 Vezina trophies and a Hart trophy.  It didn't help matters when Worsley was injured in his first month as a Hab and spent the rest of the season, and start of the next, in the minors upon his return.  

  At age 35, it appeared Gump's NHL career might be over.  He began the 1964-65 season in the minors.  Injuries once again opened the door for Worsley.  After a injury to Charlie Hodge, the Canadiens recalled Gump.  Gump played well enough for the Canadiens to carry two goalies the rest of the season.  The tandem backstopped the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup victory, with Gump earning a shutout in game seven of the Finals. 

  Overall, Gump played six seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, wining two Vezinas and four Stanley Cups.  Everything was going great for Gump, until the NHL expanded in 1967.  Not only did the NHL expand in size, it expanded in time zones by expanding west, including two teams in California.  Gump was always trepid regarding flying, had a breakdown during a rough flight on November 23rd of 1968.  The Montreal Canadiens were flying to Los Angeles, with a stopover in Chicago.  After some turbulence between Montreal and Chicago, Gump left the team and drove back to Montreal.  He was off for over a month on medical leave before rejoining the team.  Gump regained his starting job from rookie Rogie Vachon, but injuries knocked him out of the play-offs.  The Canadiens went on to win their 4th Stanley Cup in five years.  

1969-70 OPC Gump Worsley

  The following season Gump found himself as the back-up to Rogie Vachon, who was about 16 years his junior.  By early December, Rogie had started 75% of the games.  Scheduled to start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gump was pulled aside, and the start given to to Rogie.  Gump had clashed with coaches over practicing and he was sent down to the minors to get more practice.  Instead of reporting, Gump retired.

  Gump's retirement last about four months.  He was talked into playing for the Minnesota North Stars.  The Canadiens traded his rights to the North Stars and Gump made his debut on March 4, 1970.  One of the factors for Gump unretiring was that Minnesota was a central team, there would be no long east-to-west flights.  He played four and half seasons for the North Stars.  His 2.12 GAA in 1971-72 was third best in the NHL.  He only played one more time in Montreal, a 7-2 loss in the 1971 play-offs.

1972-73 OPC Gump Worsley

  After injuries ended Gump's 72-73 season, he was certain that he had played his last NHL game.  After watching Ken Dryden and Tony Esposito give up a combined 45 goals in the Stanley Cup Finals, Gump figured he still had another year left in him.  Although Gump did the unthinkable, at least for Gump who was a strong proponent against the goalie mask.  When asked about wearing a goalie mask Gump replied "My face is my mask," and then suggested that any goalie who wears a mask is scared.   Although when Gump took the ice for his final season he did so wearing a goalie mask, at least for a few games.  Gump has said "I wore one for the last six games of my career", but evidence suggests he used it for at least his first game of the season, and the last game of the season, while playing without for a number games in between.  He wore a mask during his final season to protect his eyes, although he usually played without as he found the mask too hot.  

  Upon retiring, Gump's 860 career regular season games were 2nd most all time.  Upon retiring he became a scout for the Minnesota North Stars.  He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980 and passed away in 2007.

  Gump was the second last goalie to play a NHL game without wearing a mask.  Andy Brown was the last and did it a few weeks after Gump last did.  This pictures of Gump wearing a mask are fairly rare, although there is a video of his final game online,  so when I came across this picture, which was decent quality, and combined with the fact he never had a proper career capper, I decided to action was needed.  Here is the Lost Card of 1974-75 OPC #397 Lorne "Gump" Worsley.

1974-75 OPC #397 Gump Worsley

1974-75 OPC #397 Gump Worsley

Friday, December 4, 2020

TTM: Dan Daoust

   This is the second time I received a TTM from Dan Daoust.  The first was back in 2013.  I sent to him again since I now had some custom cards for him to sign, which were featured in a previous Lost Cards.  He signed both, kept the copies I offered him and returned a note saying "Nicely done with the cards".  It's always a warm fuzzy feeling when a player keeps the customs offered and the cherry on top is when they include a short note.  
  What is interesting is that he only played 4 games with the Canadiens but remembered his number with them.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

TTM: Mario Brunetta

   I am sure my regular readers, if there are any, noticed I missed a few regular Thursday updates of the Lost Cards.  I am back to a similar situation I was in early in the year.  I still don't have a permanent home to call my own.  I do have my computer but there is not enough space for it.  So while I can venture behind and under the desk to switch a half dozen plugs around, I just haven't had the spark to do so.  I guess 2020 is finally getting to me.  

  In the meantime, I did send out a few TTMs and this will give me a chance to revive a long lost feature on the blog, showcasing my returns.  I sent out 4 cards to Mario Brunetta and received all 4 back in 10 days.  I sent an extra copy of the 88-89 OPC, complete with back, offered up for Mario to keep, but he sent it back signed as well.  On one hand, it's nice to have an extra, but on the other hand, I actually prefer when the player keeps the extra custom card.  Considering Mario never had a OPC card I figured for sure he would have kept one.  Granted I really have no idea how many TTM requests he gets and how many custom cards gets sent to him.  It's possible he already had a few copies from other senders.  Regardless, it was great to get these back.  I will have to get my computer hooked up one day soon, make a few more customs and also print off a few more for TTMs.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Lost Rookies: 1988-89 OPC Mario Brunetta

   When I was a child, Mario Brunetta was a favourite of mine.  I used to do mock leagues, with boxscores and trading cards.  I have a notebook or two full of seasons tucked away somewhere in my parent's basement.  What I did find were the trading cards, unfortunately, Brunetta was out of my mock league, the "Super Hockey League" before I started making cards.  

  Brunetta, born in Quebec City, was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 8th round, 162nd overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft.  Brunetta played two more seasons in the AHL before turning pro in 1987.  Following a quick audition with the Fredericton Express, going 4-1-0, Brunetta was called up to the NHL.   After losing his first NHL start, 5-4 in overtime, to the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 31, 1987, Mario bounced back in his next start beating the Harford Whalers, 5-3 on November 7th.  Mario was the back-up the majority of the season to incumbent Mario Gosselin, but had a nice ten game run in February to March.  He went 8-2-0, .905 and 2.81 during that stretch, before finishing the season losing 4 straight games, allowing a combined 21 goals.  

  The Nordiques acquired Bob Mason in the 1988 offseason, and along with Ron Tugnutt, pushed the two Marios, Brunetta and Gosselin for creasetime.  After a solid win over the Minnesota North Stars, Brunetta quickly lost ground in the race for the crease, allowing 18 goals in 166 minutes, 6.51 GAA, over the next four games he played.  He was demoted and finished the season with the Halifax Citadels.  

1989-90 OPC Mario Brunetta

 The 1989-90 season was not much better for Brunetta.  He started the season with Halifax but was called up to the Nordiques in November.  As like the previous season, he won his first game, and then things went downhill over the next few.  He was sent back to the AHL after going 1-2-0, .869, and 4.08 in six games.  The Nordiques were historically bad during the 1989-90 season.  They tied the record for least points by an non-expansion team, 31 points, and worst win percentage by a non-expansion team, .194.  The Quebec goalies combined to set a record by most goalies used in a NHL season with 7, since beaten.  Brunetta finished the season, and his North American career, in the AHL.

1990-91 Bowman Mario Brunetta  

  After not finding any appealing offers to stay in North America, Brunetta followed his family roots to Italy.  He played four season in Italy while becoming an Italian citizen.  As a citizen, he represented Italy thrice at the World Hockey Championships, in 1995, 1998 and 2002, and also at the 1998 Winter Olympics.  After playing twelve seasons in Europe, Brunetta retired at age 35.  

  Although he had a few minor league and European cards during his playing days, Mario never had a NHL.  The obvious choice was a 1988-89 card.  I was a huge fan of Brunetta, and fellow Nordique rookie, Jason Lafreniere.  While neither panned out in the NHL, I am pretty sure they were MVPs in my fictional SHL.

1988-89 OPC #275 Mario Brunetta (RC)

1988-89 OPC #275 Mario Brunetta (RC)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Borje Salming

  During the 1970s, with the influx of expansion teams and watering down of talent, games in the NHL were often being decided by fists shots, just as much as they were with wrist shots.  The game became far more rough and brawls became more common place.  At the same time, a new group of pioneers were joining the NHL, the Europeans.  They brought along with them a reputation of being highly skilled, but soft, and easily physically intimidated.  In the 1973, Borje Salming was one of three Swedish players to join the NHL. 

  The first Swedish trained player to try the NHL was Ulf Sterner in 1965.  Not used to the physical style of play, Sterner played one season in North America, appearing in 4 NHL games, before retruning to Sweden.  In 1969, the IIHF, hockey's main governing body in Europe, adopted body-checking rules similar to the NHL.  This made the jump from Europe to North America a bit easier.  In 1972,  Thommie Bergman became the second European trained player to play in the NHL, when he signed on with the Detroit Red Wings.  The following season, three players made the jump from Europe, as Salming and Inge Hammarstrom signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tord Lundstrom signed with the Red Wings.  Out of the four Swedish players, it was Borje who made the biggest impact.

  The discovery of Salming was a bit of a fluke.  The Maple Leafs sent scout Gerry McNamara to Sweden to scout Inge Hammarstrom.  Instead he was captivated by Salming.  McNamara was so impressed, he corralled Salming in the team's dressing room and asked him to join the Leafs on the spot.

  Salming notched an assist in his first NHL game, against the Buffalo Sabres on October 10, 1973.  His first goal didn't come until January 23, 1974, against Michel Larocque of the Montreal Canadiens.  Salming finished the season with 5 goals, 34 assists for 39 points.  He finished third in Calder voting for best rookie.  OPC bestowed "The King" with a rookie card in the 1974-75 OPC set, but it was a posed shot, so here's an action upgrade.  

1974-75 OPC Borje Salming (RC)

  Borje quickly became one of the NHL's best defenceman and fan favourite in Toronto.  So enamored were the fans, that Borje was nicknamed "The King".  Over the next six seasons, Salming was a member of the 1st Team All-Star once and five times as a 2nd Team All-Star.  He set career highs with 78 points in 1977-78 and had 19 goals in 1979-80.  More important than any of the statistics, Salming earned the respect of his opponents with his toughness.  Swedish and Europeans were categorized as timid and soft.  In particular, Swedish players were referred to as "Chicken Swedes".  While Salming didn't drop the gloves very often, he played a physical style and refused to be intimidated.  Salming proved that some European players had the determination and toughness to be stars in the NHL.
  OPC/Topps did fairly well with Salming cards, giving him action or on-ice shots for most of his cards.  There was one in particular I felt needed an upgrade, the 1977-78 OPC.  Not only does it suffer from a corny pose, Salming is not even looking at the camera.  

1977-78 OPC Borje Salming

  By the late 1970's, more Western Europeans were coming over.  Eastern Europe was made up of Communist states and the players were not allowed to join the NHL.  In 1979, the NHL had a mid-season three game series, coined the Challenge Cup, with the Soviet Union.  Salming was one of three Swedes, along with 23 Canadians, to play for the NHL All-Stars.  Salming was pointless in three games as the Soviets defeated the NHL All-Stars two games to one.  It would have been cool if OPC had a subset or inserts of the players from the Tournament in the 1979-80 set.  Could you imagine if the set had a Vladislav Tretiak rookie to go along with the Gretzky?

1979 OPC Borje Salming (CC)

  The 1980s were dark days for the Leafs and Salming saw his point totals drop off.  After scoring a career high of 78 in 1977-78, Salming's point total decreased every season for the next 10 seasons.  One part of the issue were injuries.  During the 80's, Salming only played 70+ games twice.  A knee injury in March ended Saliming's 1984-85 season.  The next season he missed over two months due to injury, playing only 41 games.  
  In May of 1986, Salming admitting in an interview that he had tried cocaine "five or six years ago, but not since".  This admission came shortly after Sports Illustrated posted an hockey article of an alleged Edmonton Oilers cocaine problem.  The NHL set their drug rehabilitation program back decades by suspending Salming for the entire 1985-86 season.  By the time the season started, his suspension was reduced to eight games.  
  The 1986-87 season got worse for Salming.  On November 26, 1986, Salming suffered one of the more infamous on-ice injuries.  After being knocked down in the goal crease, Salming had his face stepped on by Gerard Gallant, who was being pushed backwards over Salming.  Salming received 250 stitches in his face.  The "Chicken Swede" returned to play in two weeks with a giant scar running up his face.  Salming looked more like a James Bond villain than a hockey player, white kitty-kat and all.
  Salming played 16 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  His last card as a Maple Leaf was in the 1988-89 set, a warm-up shot.  Not a fitting way to cap Salming's time as a Maple Leaf.

1988-89 OPC Borje Salming

  Salming signed as free agent with the division rival Detroit Red Wings during the 1989 off-season.  Salming was tired of losing and was hoping a chance at a Stanley Cup.  Salming joined the Red Wings in time for OPC to give him the airbrush treatment.

1989-90 OPC Borje Salming

  The switch of teams for Salming saw a switch of fortune for those teams.  The Red Wings went from first place in the Norris to last and out of the play-offs.  While the Maple Leafs, who had missed the play-offs  the previous season, climbed the standing to 3rd in the Norris.  Salming played in 49 games, netting 19 points.  1989-90 was Salming's final season in the NHL.  He returned to Sweden to play three more seasons, including the 1991 Canada Cup and 1992 Olympics.  In 1996, Salming became the first European-trained NHLer to be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

  Salming's retirement from the NHL left him out of the 1990 junk wax boom.  I kept it old school and created a 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee to cap off his career.

1990-91 OPC #533 Borje Salming
1990-91 OPC #533 Borje Salming

Friday, October 16, 2020

Lost Cards: 1988-89 OPC Willi Plett

  Willi Plett is the career leader in all statistical categories for players born in Paraguay.  Willi Plett is the only player born in Paraguay to play in the NHL.  His parents immigrated from Russia to Germany and then to Paraguay after World War II.  Willi born in 1955, moved with his family to Canada in 1956.
  Drafted in the 5th round, 80th overall, in the 1975 Draft, by the Atlanta Flames, Plett made his debut on December 17, 1975 against the Minnesota North Stars, notching two shots on goal in a 3-2 loss.  Plett played 4 games for the Flames in 1975-76, without scoring a point or a penalty minute.  He spent the majority of the season with the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL.  Plett had 9 points in 9 play-off games as the Oilers won the Adams Cup as CHL Champions.
  Plett made a big impact with Flames in 1976-77, culminating with winning the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.  Willi began the season in the CHL but was recalled after scoring 12pts and 68 PIM in 14 games.  His first career NHL goal came against Gary Simmons of the Cleveland Barons on November 12, 1976 in a 3-3 tie.  Plett scored 7 goals and 7 assists in his first 10 games.  For the season, Plett scored 33 goals, 56 points and 123 PIM.  He led the Flames, and all NHL rookies in goals.  
  The next three seasons were a bit of a disappointment for Plett, as his scoring totals dipped from his rookie season.  He had 43 points in both 77-78 and 78-79 before dropping to 32 in 80-81.  In the same stretch his PIM increased each season, a trend that would continue during his tenure with the Flames franchise.  The Flames were a disappointment in Atlanta as well.  Although they were better than .500 in the regular season during Plett's four seasons, the team lost in the first round each year, going a cumulative 2-10 in those four play-offs.  Off the ice, the situation was more dire, as the team struggled to have 10,000 home attendance for its games and were playing in an out-of-date arena.
  The team was sold and relocated to Calgary for the 1980-81 season.  OPC gave the team the airbrush treatment for its set, removing the logo from the jerseys.  A few seasons later when the Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey, OPC took a set of early or pre-season photos and had all the players in their new uniforms.  I'm going to give Plett the Rockies/Devils treatment and update his 1980-81 card in a Calgary Flames jersey.

1980-81 OPC Willi Plett

  The move to Calgary seemed to energize the team and Plett.  In Calgary's first NHL game, Plett a goal and two assists.  Plett set, or tied, career highs in several categories, including goals, 38, and points, 68.  He seemed to particularly like playing in Calgary, scoring 25 goals and 46 points in 38 home games.  The Flames finally won a play-off round, with Plett scoring the series winner in double-overtime, as they advanced all the way to the Conference Final.  Plett had 12 points in 15 play-off games.
  There was a dip in Plett's scoring the next season, as he dropped to 21 goals and 57 points.  Plett set a Flames record, since broken, with 288 PIM.  The Flames as a team regressed, as they dropped from 92 points to 75 in the regular season, and were swept in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks.
  In the 1982 offseason, Plett, along with a 4th round draft pick, was traded to the Minnesota North Stars for Steve Christoff, Bill Nyrop, and a 2nd round draft pick.  It's a unremarkable trade as neither of the draft picks amounted to anything, Nyrop opted to play in Germany instead of Calgary and Christoff was dealt away after a season.  
  Plett score a goal and assist in his first game as a North Star and two minutes into his in second game, he got suspended for 7 games for a retaliatory lumberjack chop with his stick to the back of Greg Stefan's head.  Plett finished the season with 25 goals, 39 points, 170 PIM in 73 games.  Prior to this season, Plett had increased his PIM total in each of his 6 full seasons as a Flame.  Plett had a card in the 1983-84 OPC set.  It turned out to be his last during his career.
  Decreasing PIM was a trend that found Plett being a healthy scratch from the Stars line-up early in the 1983-84 season.  Plett and coach Dave Mahoney were having differing views as to Plett's style of play and amount of ice time.  16 games into the season, Plett had 6 points and 25 PIM.  Frustrated by Plett's decreasing truculence, Plett was benched.  Plett must have hot the message.  After retruning to the line-up, Plett had 33 points and 291 PIM in 55 games.  He set a career high with 316 PIM during the 1983-84 season.  

1984-85 OPC Willi Plett

  The following season was marred by injuries for Plett.  He missed time due to shoulder and groin injuries, which would resurface during the rest of his NHL career.  In 47 games, Plett scored 14 goals, 28 points and 157 PIM.  He had a good play-offs, scoring nine points and 67 PIM in nine games.

1985-86 OPC Willi Plett

  The 1985-86 season saw the continued decline of Plett's offensive numbers, while shoulder injuries continued to limited him.  Plett scored 10 goals, 17 points and 231 PIM in 59 games. 

1986-87 OPC Willi Plett

    The trend continues as Plett fails to score double-digits in goals for the first time in his career.  He has 6 goals, 11 points and 261 PIM in 67 games played.

1987-88 OPC Willi Plett

   Plett's time in the Black and Blue Norris Division had taken a toll on him.  In the 1987 offseason, the North Stars signed up and coming enforcer Basil McRae as a free agent.  As the beginning of training camp, Plett was traded to the New York Rangers.  Plett never played a regular season game with the Rangers, as he seemed a bit hesitant to fight during the preseason.  He was left unprotected for the waiver draft and was picked up by the Boston Bruins.  
  Plett set career lows in goals, assists and points, while racking up 170 PIM in 65 games.  Willi had a bit of a resurgence in the 1988 play-offs, with points and 74 PIM in 17 games.  The Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup final against the Edmonton Oilers.  Willi retired in the 1988 offseason.  
  His career started out with a lot of promise.  He was one of the top power forwards in the game at the turn of decade in 1980.  Injuries and age caught up with him.  Willi was the NHL career play-off PIM leader when he retired.  He is currently 5th on the list.  
  OPC/Topps dropped Willi pretty quickly after his trade to the North Stars.  It's really surprising he didn't get a card in the 19854-85 set, the last of the decade to have 396 cards.  By the time he was in Boston, he was shell of his former self and had been long off of OPC's radar.  I did this picture and design used on another blog, but it didn't give Willie an authentic 1988 OPC treatment as it didn't list his entire career stats on the back.  With the lack of an official career caper and missing in action in the OPC sets for the last half of his career, I decided I would do a Lost Card career caper of Willi Plett.  

1988-89 OPC #274 Willi Plett

1988-89 OPC #274 Willi Plett