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Friday, November 22, 2019

Lost Cards: 1988-89 OPC Wilf Paiement

  Drafted 2nd overall in the 1974 draft by the expansion team, the Kansas City Scouts, Wilf Paiement entered the league with high expectations and retired as the second best player to wear the number 99 in NHL history.
  Paiement had 82 points in 135 games over two seasons with the atrocious Scouts.  The NHL had doubled in size in 1966, from 6 to 12 teams, and added another six between 1970 and 1974, then include the WHA's vying for talent and the talent pool was quite diluted for the Scouts.  The Scouts performed as bad at the box office as they did on the ice.  The Scouts only lasted two seasons in Kansas before moving to Colorado, becoming the Rockies.

1974-75 OPC Wilf Paiement (Variant)
  While the Rockies continued to perform poorly on the ice, Paiement led the team in scoring for three straight seasons, amassing 228 points in 223 games.  During this time, Paiement earned the reputation as a dirty player, due in part to his antics at the 1977 World Hockey Championship for Canada.  Then at the start of the 1978 season, Paiement solidified that reputation with a stick swinging incident against Dennis Polonich.  Paiement was suspended for 15 games.  At the time, it was the second longest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice incident.  Polonich would later sue Paiement over the incident, and be awarded $850k.  Paiement finished the season as the Rockies leading scorer, netting 60 points in 65 games.
  Paiement was traded to the Toronto Maples Leafs in the infamous Lanny McDonald fiasco.  Wilf already had big shoes to fill by replacing McDonald, but then also switched to jersey number 99.  He is only one of three players to ever wear the number 99 in the NHL.  Wilf originally lived up to expectations as he led the Leafs in scoring, while setting a career high, with 97 points in 1980-81.  The following season, Paiement, and the Leafs, struggled.  With the Leafs being 10 points out of a play-off spot at the trade deadline, and Paiement only netting 58 points in 69 games, the Leafs traded Paiement to the Qubec Nordiques for Miroslav Frycer.
  Paiement chose a new jersey number, and finished the season strong, scoring 13pts in 8 games for the Nords and added 12 more points in 14 play-off games.  Paiement played in a support role for the Nordiques, whom already had future HHOFers Peter Stastny and Michel Goulet.  Paiement had 223 points and 680 PIM in 280 games with Quebec.  The team made the Wales Conference Final twice during Paiement's time, losing both times, in 1982 and 1985.
  Paiement struggled with Quebec during the 1985-86 season and was traded to the New York Rangers.  Paiement was part of the Ranger's cindarella play-off run.  The Rangers, who barely made the play-offs, upset the top two teams in the Wales Conference before losing to the Patrick Roy and the Montreal Canadiens.
  Wilf was left unprotected in the 1986 waiver draft and was selected by the Buffalo Sabres.  He scored 20 goals in 57 games for the Sabres.  Paiement signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins the following offseason, resulting in OPC airbrushing him into the set.  Paiement played more games in the minors than with the Penguins in 1987-88 and retired at the end of the season.
  Paiement was a tough, although sometimes dirty, player.  Over his career, he had 16 Gordie Howe Hat Tricks, just two shy of Rick Tocchet's record.  Paiement  retired with 356 goals, 1759 PIM in 946 career games.  A very good player, who had the right mix of offense and truculence for the era he played in.
  Paiement was a victim of the OPC cutbacks as he was left out of the 1985 and 1986 sets.  He never had a card produced of him as a New York Ranger, nor as a Buffalo Sabre.  I could not find reasonable pictures of Wilf as a Ranger or Sabre.  I would be grateful if anyone could steer me towards one.  Although I am able to present a career capper for Wilf as a 1988-89 OPC Lost Card.

1988-89 OPC #270 Wilf Paiement

1988-89 OPC #270 Wilf Paiement


  1. I had no idea he wore #99 for a time. Do you think players on other teams gave him a lot of grief for that? Or maybe it was early enough in Gretzky's career that he hadn't really "claimed" that number yet.

    1. There were a couple of players who had #99 but they gave it up once it was obvious that Gretzky was in fact the Great One by 1982.