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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lost Cards: 1985-86 OPC Ken Solheim

  Ken Solheim had a unremarkable NHL career, 39pts in 135 carers over 5 NHL seasons.  What I found remarkable were a pair of trade the Minnesota North Stars and Detroit Red Wings made involving Solheim.
  Solhiem was drafted in 1980 by the Chicago Black Hawks in the second round, 30th overall.  The 1980-81 season was a busy one for Ken.  He spent the majority of the season in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers.  Ken led the WHL with 68 goals and was selected as a 1st team All-Star.  He made his NHL debut a memorable one as he scored against Pete Peeters of the Philadelphia Flyers, on December 10th.  Ken played five games before being returned to the WHL.  The Hawks would trade Solheim to the Minnesota North Stars before the turn of the calendar.  Solheim would notch points in his first three games with the North Stars before being sent down after playing 5 games with the club.  After the Medicine Hat Tigers were eliminated from the WHL play-offs, Ken would make two appearances for the North Stars during their Stanley Cup run.  He scored in his first playoff game on Don Edwards of the Buffalo Sabres, and also played in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals against the eventual champions, the New York Islanders.
  Ken was unable to build on his rookie season.  He scored 9 points in 29 games with the North Stars, and spent the majority of the 1981-82 season in the minors.  In the 1982-83 season, Ken scored 6 points in his first nine games, and then proceeded pointless for the rest of the NHL season.  His lack of scoring earned Ken a demotion to the minors and a trade to the Detroit Red Wings for future considerations.  Ken failed to net a point in his last 16 games as a North Star and in his 10 games as a Red Wing to close out the season.
  Solheim was cut from the Red Wings roster during training camp and spent the 1983-84 season with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL.   Ken failed to impress the Red Wings during the 1984 training camp, and he was traded back to the Minnesota North Stars for future considerations.  In both deals between the North Stars and Red Wings, the future consideration were never fulfilled.  He was affectively traded as the future considerations from the original deal.  Solheim for Solheim.
  Solheim was able to make the North Stars roster for the 1984-85 season and set career highs across the board, including games played, 55, goals, 8, and points 18, but again had trouble sticking in the NHL and finished the season in the AHL.
  A free agent in the 1985 offseason, Solheim was signed by the Edmonton Oilers.  Solheim only played six games for the Oilers, but was part of NHL history.  Solheim scored the second goal of the game versus the Quebec Nordiques on February 14, 1986.  The goal was assisted by Wayne Gretzky.  The Oilers scored 8 goals that night, Gretzky assisted on seven of them, tying a NHL record.  The only goal Gretzky did not assist on was, a shorthanded goal by Mark Napier, while Gretzky was in the penalty box.
  Solheim would retire by the 1986-87 season.  He finished his career with 39 points in 135 games.  Solheim received a card in the 1983-84 OPC set.  A rather confusing card.  OPC hideously airbrushed Solheim into a Red Wings jersey, but added a "Now with Minnesota" and showed Solheim as a North Star.  Solheim was still technically a Red Wing during the 1983-84 season.
  So I gave Ken Solheim a OPC proper card.  The best picture I could find was of Solheim obstructing Rod Langway of the Washington Capitals from a preseason game.  So the 1985-86 OPC set becomes the logical choice, although it is not a rookie card.

1985-86 OPC #272 Ken Solheim

1985-86 OPC #272 Ken Solheim

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Baseball: 1986 NL Stars

  I previously showed off the 1986 American League Stars, now it was time to move onto the senior circuit and showcase the stars of the National League.

Carter led the World Series Champ Mets with 105 RBI.
Davis was a runner-up to Carter for the Silver Slugger at Catcher.
Gwynn led the NL in At-bats, 642, Hits, 211, and Runs Scored, 107.

Krukow set career bests in wins, 20, ERA, 3.05, and was a finalist for the NL Cy Young.
Two-time NL MVP, Dale had an off-year, only hitting 29 HR and 83 RBI.
Parker led the Reds with 31 HR and 116 RBIs.

Raines stole 70 bases for the sixth consecutive season and led the NL with a .334 BAA.
On the worst team in the NL, Rhoden won 15 games and finished 4th in ERA, 2.84.
Schmidt led the NL with 37 HR, 119 RBI and a .937 OPS

Cy Young Winner Mike Scott, had a NL best 2.22 ERA and 306 SO.
Fernando led the NL with 21 wins and finished 2nd in Cy Young voting.
Worrell saved 36 games and won NL Rookie of the Year

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1977-78 OPC Gordie Laxton

  Good lord, look at that hairGordie Laxton played parts of 4 NHL seasons, all with the Penguins.  Drafted 13th overall in the 1975 Amateur draft, Laxton began the 1975-76 season with the team and started between the pipes on opening night.  After notching a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals, Laxton didn't see NHL action again for almost a month.   After starter Michel Plasse went down with an injury, Laxton would win his next two starts before playing himself to the bench, and eventually the minors.
  The Penguins made wholesale changes in net for the 1976-77 season.  Plasse and Gary Inness were out, while Dennis Herron returned to the Penguins.  Laxton again made the team out of camp and again secured a victory in the season opener, in relief Herron, who had his arm broken in the first period.  Laxton facilitated a trade with the New York Rangers to bring in Dunc Wilson, by allowing 17 goals in his first two starts of 1976.  Injuries would help Laxton secure a few more starts over the next few seasons.  His last start, a 8-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in 1979 would be the last time he played in the NHL.  Laxton would toil in the minors until he retired in 1983.
  Laxton finished his career with 17gp, 4-9-1, and a 5.56 GAA.  Hardly the type of number that would earn you a NHL card.  That hair though!  I couldn't resist.  I did the front of the design after doing the two other goalies from the Penguins for that season.  I am finding the fonts of the 70s to be harder than the fonts of the 80s cards.  Mostly due to the excess use of italics or bending the text.  In this design I didn't use text but the line tool, pencil and fill to do the team name.  If I can find an easier way to do the fonts, I will do more of this set.

1977-78 OPC #397 Gordie Laxton (RC)

1977-78 OPC #397 Gordie Laxton (RC)

  Bonus cards
1977-78 OPC Denis Herron and Dunc Wilson

Monday, June 17, 2019

Baseball: 1986 AL Stars

  I really liked how the 1986-87 OPC Howard Johnson came out.  So I decided to do one for each team.  I didn't realize how many teams use blue and red as their primary colours.  I also think I could have gone with a dark green for the text on Canseco.  Now to start work on the stars of the NL.

Baines was a triple crown winner for the lowly White Sox, 21 HR, 88 RBI, .296 Avg.
Barfield led the majors in home runs with a career best of 40. 
Boggs hit a league best .357.  He hit .350 of better in 4 consecutive seasons.  He's also of my favourite players so I did him a card instead of AL MVP and Cy Young winner, Roger Clemans.

Brett struggled through injuries but still posted a .401 on base.
Rookie of the year Canseco swatted 33 homers and 117 RBI.
Carter hit 29 Hrs and led the majors with 121 RBI.  

Higuera won a career best 20 games in his sophomore season.
Mattingly hit 31hr, 113rbi, .352 avg and a ML leading .967 OPS.
Oddibe led the Rangers with 105 runs scored and 33 stolen bases.


Presley led the basement dwelling Mariniers with 27 HR and 107 RBI.
Puckett hit a career high 31 HR, and won his first of six Silver Slugger awards.
Ripken led all major league shortstops with 25 HR and 81 RBI.

Trammell hit 21 HR and stole 25 bases while leading the Tigers with a .277 avg
Witt led the AL winning Angels with 18 wins and was a Cy Young finalist.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Lost Cards: 1988-89 Pierre Larouche

  Pierre Larouche is one of eight players, and the first, to score 50 goals with two different teams.  Pierre is also one of seven players* to score 40+ goals with three different franchises.  A highly skilled scorer, "Lucky" Larouche was often considered aloof, self-centered and a defensive liability.
  Pierre set records for points, 251, (since broken) and assists, 157 (still a record), while playing for the Sorel Esperviers in the QMJHL in 1974.  The Montreal Canadiens had four picks within the top 12 in the 1974 Amateur draft and it seemed like a good fit for the top rated Quebecois in the draft.  The Habs passed on Larouche twice, at the 5th and 7th, spots before the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Larouche 8th overall.
  Larouche finished second in Calder voting in 1974-75 and then recorded career highs in goals, 53, assists, 58 and points,111, while finishing 5th in league scoring during his sophomore season.  Pierre followed it up with a lackluster 63 points in 65 games.  A one way player, Larouche claimed that  "if they want me to play defense, they can me another $150,000."  The following season, the Penguins traded Pierre in a four "Peter" trade for another player who former 100pt scorer who had fallen from grace, Pete Mahovlich of the Montreal Canadiens.
  Pierre Larouche was now a Montreal Canadien, but so was coach Scotty Bowman.  Bowman and Larouche clashed over Larouche's easy-going style and lack of defence.  Larouche won two cups in Montreal but was not a factor in those Cup runs, only playing in 11 of 32 play-off games, and netting 7 points.
  The stars aligned for Larouche in 1979-80.  Bowman had vacated the head coaching job in Montreal, Pierre was moved to the top line with Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt, and he had relatively good health, playing in 73 games.  Larouche scored 50 goals, becoming the first player to score 50 goals with two different franchises. The next season, injuries and perceived indifference returned to Larouche's play, as he netted 53 points in 61 games.  During the 1981-82 season, Larouche was back in the doghouse.  Rumour is the Habs management became incensed when a grinning Larouche, a happy-go-lucky guy, wore a fur coat and Cuban cigar on a road trip with the team.  Larouche had been scratched the previous three games and would be scratched for another two, when the Habs traded Larouche to the Hartford Whalers in a deal for draft picks.

Even in this video, Larouche does not speak like the typical cliché player.

  Although Larouche was a point-per-game player in Hartford, 90pts in 83gp, Pierre was limited due to injuries and the Whalers missed the play-offs in back-to-back seasons.  The New York Rangers signed Larouche as a free agent in 1983 offseason.  Larouche scored 48 goals in his first season as a Ranger.  Larouche is the only player in history to score 45+ goals with three different franchises.  Injuries and perceived indifference caught up to Larouche again.  After netting 63 points in 65 games in 84-85, Larouche, and Mike Rogers, the top two scoring forwards on the Rangers, were sent to the minors to begin the season. Believed to be a message to the rest of the team, new coach Ted Sator sent the veterans to the AHL to begin the season.  Larouche was particularly distressed since the team promptly gave away his number 10 to rookie Kelly Miller and also separated him from the other verteans, by sending him to play for the Philadelphia Flyers AHL team, Hershey Bears, as compensation for the Rangers hiring Ted Sator.  The Rangers finally recalled Larouche in January, and he scored 9 goals in his first 10 games, and 20 in 28 games for the season.  He led the Rangers in play-off scoring as the team defeated the conference's top two teams, the Philadelphia Flyers, 110pts, and the Washington Capitals, 107pts,  but lost to the eventual Stanley Cup winners, the Montreal Canadiens in the Wales final.

The return Broadway and Larouche addressing his critics

  Larouche scored 63pts in 73 games the following season.  10 games into the 1987-88 season, Pierre suffered a career ending back injury.  He officially retired during the 1989 training camp.
  Larouche's final card was part of the 1985-86 OPC set.  I used the 1988-89 OPC set as his final career card.  Larouche had reclaimed his #10 jersey after Kelly Miller was traded to Washington.

1988-89 OPC #267 Pierre Larouche

1988-89 OPC #267 Pierre Larouche

  I mocked up a 86-87 OPC design to commemorate his triumphant return and to capture his time in jersey #24.  Also partially fills the void OPC left in its sets, a la Pierre.

1986-87 OPC Pierre Larouche

  And while we are at it,  OPC skipped Pierre in the 1983-84 set, as he only played 38 games due to injuries.  So here is another missing Larouche card filled.

1983-84 OPC Pierre Larouche

*And the other players to score 40 with three different teams: Frank Mahovlich, Joey Mullen, Dino Ciccarelli, Pat Verbeek, Brendan Shanahan, Alexander Mogilny and Marian Hossa.  Now name the franchises...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Baseball: Howard Johnson

  My favourite team as a child was the New York Mets and Howard Johnson was my favourite player.  He had power and speed.  HoJo was the second player in MLB history to record three 30 HR - 30 SB seasons.  Johnson and Darryl Strawberry are the only teammates in MLB history to record 30/30 seasons in the same season, 1987.  Johnson had a monster season in 1991, leading the NL with 38 HRs, 117 RBIs, finishing second with 107 runs and nabbing 30 bases for his third 30/30 season.  Unfortunately, the Mets glory day were past and Johnson finished 5th in NL MVP voting while the Mets finished 20.5 games out of a play-off spot.
  Here's a quintet of Howard Johnson in OPC hockey card style.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1980-81 Goran Hogosta

  Goran Hogosta made a name for himself at the 1977 World Hockey Championships.  Although Sweden had to settle for a Silver Medal, Hogosta backstopped his team to two victories against the powerhouse USSR squad, winning 5-1, and 3-1.  This drew the attention of the New York Islanders and they signed Hogosta to a 2 year deal worth $170k.
  Expectations were high.  There was talk of the Islanders dealing Billy Smith or Glenn Resch.  Hogosta never did live upto those expectations.  He played a total of 9 minutes with the Islanders, sharing a shutout with Billy Smith.  Those 9 minutes made Hogosta the first European born, and trained, goalie to play in the NHL.  It was Hogosta's only playing time with the Islanders, facilitated by Billy Smith's generosity.  Hogosta would be sent to the minors to get some playing time on Nov 17th and would remain there until the WHA-NHL merger.
  With the merger of the WHA, there was a bunch of wheeling and dealing as the ex-WHA teams tried to keep its stars and NHL teams tried to exercise their rights.  The Islanders attempted to reclaim Richard Brodeur from the Quebec Nordiques.  The Nordiques thwarted the attempted by making Brodeur a Priority Selection.  The Islanders, not to be denied, made a trade for Brodeur, by sending Hogosta to Quebec and leaving Gerry Hart unprotected in the 1979 expansion draft.
  Hogosta began the season with the Nordiques and started in their NHL franchise opener.  He recorded the franchises first NHL win, and first NHL shutout.  Hogosta had a mid-season trip to the minors, but returned after the Nordiques traded Ron Low.  In his final game, he allowed 9 goals to the Hartford Whalers, including 7 in the second period.  It was his last season in the NHL, as Goran moved back to Sweden and played professionally until 1984.
  I got inspired to make a Goran Hogosta card while making a Lost Card for Richard Brodeur.  I went with the 1980-81 OPC since I was drawn to this picture of him as a Nordique.

1980-81 OPC #399 Goran Hogosta (RC)

1980-81 OPC #399 Goran Hogosta

  But alas, I am an Islanders fan so I decided to take a crack at making a 1978-79 card.  Although I really like this set design, due to Mike Bossy, I found the warped text to be difficult to reproduce.  I might take another crack at this set design later.  I am please with the result but the team name needs work.

1978-79 OPC Goran Hogosta