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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Lost Cards: Jiri Crha

  O-Pee-Chees sets of the early 80s are known for their poor pictures, especially of the goalies.  In the 1981-82 OPC set, there are 32 goalie cards.  Out of the 32, there are 22 on which the goalie is not even wearing his mask/helmet.  Check out Jiri Crha's rookie card below.

#315 - Jiri Crha
  Crha was a 29 year old rookie when he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs near the end of the 1979-80 season.  He had spent his previous seasons in Czechoslovakia.  The Maple Leafs had actually won a bidding war for Crha's services.  Chra spent the majority of his first season, learning the North American style of hockey, in the AHL and also as a third goalie for the Maple Leafs.  On February 16, 1980, Crha, sporting one of the ugliest masks ever, makes his NHL debut, coming in for the injured Curt Ridley.  Crha would play well the rest of the season and would be the #1 goalie for the Leafs for the 1980-81 season.  While Crha was the Leafs best goalie in the regular season, he bottomed out in the play-offs.  The Leafs would be swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the New York Islanders.  The series wasn't even close.  The Leafs lost 9-2, 5-1 and 6-1.  Crha would never play again for the Leafs.  He would only play 3 more games in North America before going overseas to play in Germany.  He is sometimes mentioned by Leaf fans as one of the worst goalies who ever played for the Leafs.  I think it based more on bitterness that reality.  There were some high hopes for Crha, (think Jonas Gustavsson) but instead he was basically one and done.
  When I came across Crha, I thought he had a really cool mask, his second mask that is.  I thought it was a great injustice that he had such a bland hockey card.  So I set out to change that.

1981-82 OPC Jiri Crha - Remastered

  In the end, I made two alternate versions.  I love the picture on the left.  The colours pop and his mask is on full display, but in terms of pixels, it's a low quality picture.  The card on the right has a much better quantity, in terms of pixels.  The mask is on display, but it's not as exciting as the first card I made.  Which card do you prefer? 

2014 Update since for some reason I was looking up Crha again
First goal scored against Crha was scored by Jordy Douglas.  Gordie Howe got an assist.
Ex-teammate David Shand calls Crha as the worst goalie on the planet.
Nobody can find the game Shand is refering to


  1. They are both pretty good cards, but I prefer the one on the left, you seem to be a little closer to the action with that shot.

  2. agree with you about the left shot being a bit better, but when you enlarge the image, the pixelation is too bad. So I go with the one on the right.

    I remember Crha from when I was a kid... just picked up his auto a couple of weeks back.