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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

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Lost Rookies: 1986-87 OPC Mark LaForest

  Mark "Trees" LaForest played in parts of six NHL seasons, but yet only had a single NHL card.  A bit of a late bloomer, not only was Mark undrafted by the NHL, he didn't make the OHL until he was 19 years old.  After playing his overage season in the OHL with the North Bay Centennials, Mark was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Red Wings in 1983.
  Mark bounced around the minors for two seasons before putting up solid numbers with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL in 1985-86.  He was called up to Detroit in December of 1985 and made a huge impression in his first NHL game, beating the heavily favoured Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1.  LaForest made 35 saves in the upset.  On January 28, 1986, Mark notched his first career shutout, stopping 26 shots in a 7-0 victory over the Washington Capitals.   Otherwise, there were very few highlights in Mark's rookie NHL season.  He finished 4-21-0, .845, and 4.96 GAA with one shutout.  For the goalie fight fans, there was one highlight as LaForest fought Clint Malarchuk, and the two went at it, "like a couple of hippos, all padding and blubber."
  On a bright note, Laforest was sent down to play in the 1986 AHL playoffs and backstopped the Red Wings to an AHL Calder Cup Championship.  The following season, LaForest spent the majority of the season in the AHL, winning the "Baz" Bastien Trophy as the league's top goalie.  He did spend 5 games in the NHL, going 2-1-0, .892, and 3.30.  During Detroit's surprising play-off run, LaForest was called upon to be the back-up.  During the second round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he gave a pair of tickets to a Wings play-off home game to some friends who were living across the boarder, and river, in Windsor.  The friends showed their appreciation, and loyalty, by going to the game with faces painted blue and white in support for the Leafs.   On an unrelated note, LaForest never did play another game with the Red Wings.

1987-88 OPC Mark Laforest.

  The Red Wings traded LaForest to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2nd round pick during the 1987 off-season.  LaForest went 5-9-2, .874, 3.72, with a shutout in 1987-88.  He saw his first career play-off action in the 1988 play-offs.  With the Flyers losing 4-1 in game Four against the Washington Capitals, LaForest replaced starter Ron Hextall between the pipes early in the third period.  The goalie change invigorated the Flyers as they roared with three 3rd period goals and then Murray Craven potted the game winner in overtime.  The win gave the Flyers a 3-1 series lead in the best of 7.  The Flyers tried the same recipe in Game 5 as LaForest entered the game in the 3rd period with the team again down 4 to 1.  They didn't get the same result as the previous game as the Flyers lost 5-2 and Laforest was kicked from the game for being the third man in a fight.  Hextall played the rest of the series as the Flyers went on to lose three straight games, including game 7 in overtime, and the series.  

1988-89 OPC Mark LaForest

  Mark played another season as Hextall's back-up for the Flyers, going 5-7-2, .871 and 4.12.  He lost his back-up gig when the Flyers traded for Ken Wregget of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1989 trade deadline.  He finished the season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL.

1989-90 OPC Mark LaForest

  In a neat twist, the Flyers traded LaForest the the Maple Leafs in September of 1989, for a pair of late round draft picks.  An early season injury to Jeff Reese, opened the door for LaForest.  After winning his first game as a Maple Leaf, a 8-4 victory over the Washington Capitals, LaForest endeared himself to the Leafs fans by dropping the blocker and fighting New Jersey Devils goalie Sean Burke.  Laforest became part of a 1A-1B goalie timeshare with Allan Bester, which ended in January when LaForest injured his knee when he fell on the ice... while walking in front of his house.  This reopened the door for Jeff Reese to regain the net and Laforest was the odd man out when the play-offs began.
  Laforest set a career high with nine wins during the 1989-90 season and with the junk wax boom of 1990, he finally got a rookie card.  His one and only NHL card was from the 1990-91 Upper Deck set.  He was shutout of all the other sets.  

1990-91 OPC Mark Laforest

  Laforest was traded to the New York Rangers in the 1990 off-season along with another feisty player, Tie Domi for Greg Johnston.  Buried in the Rangers depth chart behind former Vezina winner, John Vanbiesbrouck, and future star, Mike Richter, LaForest never played a game for the New York Rangers.  He spent the entire 1990-91 season with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL, where he won his second career "Baz" Bastien Trophy as the AHL's top goalie.  He is one of only two goalies to win the "Baz" Bastien Trophy multiple times. LaForest played two seasons playing for Binghamton in the AHL.
  Mark was left unprotected by the Rangers in the 1992 NHL Expansion Draft.  He was drafted by the Ottawa Senators as the 4th, and final, goalie of the draft.  LaForest never made the team.  He spent the majority of his two seasons as a Senator in the AHL.  He did not make his debut as an Ottawa Senator until March 4th, 1994.  Like all Senators goalies during the early 90s, he didn't fare too well, posting a 0-2-0, .823 and 5.59 in five games.  
  LaForest never had a card as a Senator.  I was not much of a hockey card collector in the mid-90s and I am not much of a fan of any of the sets.  This was when foil became popular and foil is difficult to replicate in photoshop.  Not a design I can be proud of, font issues again, but I felt I should post a Senators card of LaForest.  

1994-95 Upper Deck Mark LaForest

  LaForest was without a NHL contract following thr 1993-94 season and spent the rest of his career playing in the minors.  He retired from professional hockey in 1997.  He is still active in NHL Alumni games and has played in Alumni Outdoor Classics for the Flyers and Maple Leafs.
1986-87 OPC #278 Mark LaForest (RC)

1986-87 OPC #278 Mark LaForest (RC)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Lost Cards: 1992-93 OPC Norm Foster

  It took awhile for Norm Foster to make the NHL.  Originally drafted 230th overall, in the 11th round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, Norm did not make his NHL debut until 1991.

  Norm was drafted straight out of the BCJHL.  He opted to go to college instead of junior hockey and played four seasons with Michigan State University in the NCAA.  During those years he was able to win two different championships.  He won a Gold medal as a member of Team Canada in the 1985 WJHC.  Norm backstopped Michigan University to the 1986 NCAA Championship, winning top goalie of the tournament.

  Norm 's first professional season was 1987-88, with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL.  After that, he spent three seasons in the AHL before making his NHL debut during the 1990-91 season.  With starters Reggie Lemelin, and then Andy Moog, going down to injuries, Norm found himself as the #1 goalie in Boston... for a week.  It didn't start out too good with Norm losing 6-2 against the Pittsburgh penguins in his NHL debut on February 2, 1991.  He bounced back the next night with his first career win, which was also against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  His last game as a Bruin was a 6-5 win against the Oilers on February 7th.  After playing three straight games for the Bruins, Norm was benched as Lemelin made his return from injury.  Foster finished the season with the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL.  

  Norm had a rookie card in the 1991-92 Upper Deck set, but was shutout of all other sets.  In fact, that was the only NHL card ever produced of Norm.  I couldn't find any usable pics of Norm as a Bruin so I couldn't add anymore Bruins cards to Norm's portfolio.

  Although Norm changed franchises to start the 1991-92 season, he didn't change teams.  He was traded from the Bruins to the Edmonton Oilers for a 6th round draft choice, but he remained  a member of the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL.  With back-up Peter Ing playing poorly in Edmonton, and starter Bill Ranford twice going down to injuries, Foster was called upon to play a career high 10 games during the 1991-92 season.  He went 5-3-0, .891, and 2.79.  Including allowing only 6 goals during  four game winning streak.  It wasn't enough for the Oilers, as the team made a trade with the Quebec Nordiques for back-up Ron Tugnutt

1992-93 Fleer Ultra Norm Foster

  With Tugnutt now in the fold, Foster found himself again starting the season in the AHL.  He would never return to the NHL.  Although he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1993, he never played a game for the team.  He retired after the 1994-95 season.  

  3rd and 4th string goalies tend to get forgotten about by the card companies.  There are goalies who played in several NHL seasons with several different teams but yet only have 12 cards -  all rookie cards.  For some reason, Norm Foster jumped out at me as someone who needed another card.  This was also my first go at the back of 1992-93 OPC.  I think it went pretty good, although there was a large amount of space to fill with text, and since I am not bilingual, meant I needed twice as a much to say on the back.

1992-93 OPC #397 Norm Foster

1992-93 OPC #397 Norm Foster

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lost Cards: 1995-96 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Gary Leeman


   Gary Leeman is best known for two things - scoring 50 goals as a Maple Leaf, and being traded for Doug Gilmour.  Or at least, that is how I remember him.  

  Leeman was drafted by the Toronto Maples in the 2nd round, 24th overall, in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft.  He was drafted as a defenseman.  After scoring 86 points in 70 games with the Regina St. Pats of the WHL, he won the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league's best  Defenceman and was a 1st Team All-star.  After the WHL season ended for the St. Pats, Leeman made his NHL debut, playing two games in the 1983 play-offs in the first round against the Minnesota North Stars.

1982-83 OPC Gary Leeman (pre-RC)

  Gary broke camp as a member of the Maple Leafs for the 1983-84 season.  Leeman scored his first career NHL goal on December 10th, 1983, against Reggie Lemelin of the Calgary Flames.  Since was still under 20, the Leafs loaned him to Team Canada to play in the World Junior Hockey Championships.  Canada finished 4th.  Leeman finished his rookie season with 4 goals and 8 assists in 52 games.  It earned him a rookie card in the 1984-85 OPC set

  During the 1984-85 season, Leeman began to spend more time as a forward and eventually made the transition to a full-time.  Gary struggled through the injury bug during his first three NHL seasons, playing in 52, 53 and 53 games during his first three NHL seasons.  

1985-86 OPC Gary Leeman

  Gary started to show signs of breaking out during the 1985-86 season.  He had 32 points in 53 games during the regular season .  A turning point was a two month trip to the AHL in January.  He scored 28 points in 23 games with the St. Catherine's Saints.  Upon being recalled,  Leeman scored five points in the last five regular season games and then added 12 points in 10 play-off games.  Leeman did not make either the 85-86 or 86-87 OPC sets.

1986-87 OPC Gary Leeman

  Gary built on his late season success during the following season.  He had 52 points in 80 games, including 20 goals, during the 1986-87 season.  Gary followed that up with back-to-back 30 goal seasons.  It was all a lead-up to a career season in 1989-90.  Leeman led the Leafs with 51 goals and 95 Points.  He became only the second player in Toronto Maple Leafs history to score 50+ goals in a a season.  Leeman and the Leafs ended the 1980's as a team on the rise.  The Leafs had a solid youth core, including players like Leeman who had improved on his point total in each of his seven NHL seasons.  As a team, the Leafs finished 3rd in the league in goals.  
  It all came crashing down in the 1990-91 season.  The Leafs dropped to 18th in the leagues for goals scored, and Leeman regressed to scoring only 17 goals and 29 points in 52 games.  Leeman missed two months of the season with a shoulder injury.  Although before the injury Leeman only had 5 goals and 10 points in 19 games.  Leeman did shows signs of life near the end of the season, netting 6 goals and an assist in the final 10 games.  There was also discord in the dressing room.  Teammate Al Iafrate was going through a rough divorce and Leeman was dating his ex-wife.  Iafrate requested a trade due to personal reasons.  He was traded in January, while Leeman was injured.
  The following season was no better for Leeman.  He was suspended for four games for hitting Minnesota North Stars player Mark Tinordi across the jaw with his stick.  His goal total continued to nose-dive.  He had 7 goals in 34 games before the Leafs traded him to the Calgary Flames, in one of the all-time bad trades in NHL history.  It was a ten-player deal, which is the largest in NHL history, and the one in which the Leafs received Doug Gilmour.  
  Leeman was buried on the depth chart of the Flames, behind Theo Fleury and Sergei Makarov.  Over parts of two seasons with the Flames, Leeman had 11 goals and 23 points in 59 games.  During the 1992-93 season, Leeman again asked to be traded and was sent to the Montreal Canadiens for Brian Skrudlund.  The trade put some spring back in Leeman's stride, as he netting 13 points in his first 9 games as a Canadien.  He slowed down as the season came to an end, finishing with a total of 18 points in 20 games as a Hab in 92-93.  Leeman suffered an ankle injury on April 2nd and missed the final five games of the regular season and first two of the play-offs.  Leeman was nagged by injuries throughout the play-offs and only played in 11 of the Canadiens 20 play-off games, scoring 3 points.  He did dress for the entire Stanley Cup Finals and got to lift Lord Stanley's Mug as NHL champion. 

1993-94 Score Gary Leeman

  While writing up this post, I decided I should try to make a card out of the picture of Leeman hoisting the Cup.  I went with 1993-94 Score since I figured I could create a template quickly and I like the simplicity of it.  Unfortunately, the font wasn't that simple.  The font I used was the closest font I could find, but it's still a bit off.  I almost went against posting this.
  Injuries continued to nag Leeman.  Leeman played only 31 games, scoring 15 points, during the 1993-94 season.  He missed time due to shoulder and forearm injuries.  Leeman also played 23 games with the Canadiens; farm team in the AHL.  Leeman was a free agent for the 1994-95 season, which was a lock-out shortened season.  Leeman signed on with the Vancouver Canucks.  In ten games, he scored goals.  He didn't play in the final two months or play-offs for the Canucks, or their farm team.  I am not sure if there was another injury or a healthy scratch.
  After playing in Europe for the 1995-96 season, Leeman took another crack at the NHL.  He played two games for the St. Louis Blues, scoring one assist, while spending the rest of the season in the minor leagues.  Leeman returned to Europe for the 1996-97 and played there until he retired in 1999.
  Leeman finished his career with 199 goals and 466 points in 667 games.  After scoring 51 goals in 80 games during the 1989-90 season, he finished his career scoring 47 goals in his last 208 games.
  Leeman's last NHL card was an autograph insert from the 1994-95 BAP set.  Which is arguably not a NHL set, since it was only authorized by the NHLPA and not the NHL.  All the players were either featured in street clothes or NHLPA jerseys from the 4-on-4 NHLPA charity games they played during the lock-out.  So while it was a Vancouver card of Leeman, it was not a Vancouver Canucks card.  I couldn't find a picture of Leeman from his two game stint as a Blues, so instead Leeman's career capper is a 1995-96 Upper Deck Collector's Choice.  

1995-96 Collector's Choice Gary Leeman

1995-96 Collector's Choice Gary Leeman

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Bob Froese

  The tale of  Bob Froese is a Tale of  Two Cities.  In Philadelphia, he was one of the best goalies in the NHL.  In New York, he was a middling back-up.  In both cities, he played in the shadows of former Vezina winners.
  Froese was originally drafted in the 10th round of the 1978 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues.  Froese never signed a contract with the Blues.  Instead he played three seasons with the Saginaw Generals in the IHL, culminating with the league championship, the Turner Cup in 1981.
  The Philadelphia Flyers signed Froese to a contract during the 1981 offseason.  Bob was sent to play with the Maine Mariners and to back-up International star Pelle Lindbergh.  Lindbergh was called up to the NHL late in the 1981-82 season and Froese followed him with a midseason call-up during the 1982-83 season.
  Lindbergh was injured during an mid-season exhibition game against the Soviet Union on January 6th, 1983.  Froese was recalled and made an immediate impact.  He set a record, since broken*, by winning his first 8 career starts.  He began his career with a 13 game unbeaten streak, which included 3 shutouts.  He was named player of the week for January 23, 1983 and co-player of the Month.  Once Lindbergh was full healthy, Froese was regulated to back-up goalie.  Froese was 9th in Calder voting, while Pelle finished 5th.  Froese finished his rookie season going 17-4-2, .896 and 2.52.  His 2.52 GAA was second best in league.  Both Lindbergh and Froese had rookie cards in the 1983-84 OPC set.  It's the only year they both made the OPC set.
  Froese outplayed Pelle during the 1983-84 season.  Froese's number slipped a bit but he still finished top 5 in GAA, 3.15, and Wins, 28. as well as top ten in save percentage, .887.  Froese started the play-offs, but the Flyers were swept in three game by the Washington Capitals.  It was the third consecutive year the Flyer lost in the 1st round of play-offs, going a combined 1-9 in those years.
  Froese found him playing back-up with the 1984-85 season began.  Although Froese played great, it was Lindbergh who got the majority of the starts.  Froese was played sparingly and against the lesser teams.  Before getting injured in December, Froese was 7-1-0, .920 and 2.09.  A knee injury against the Winnipeg Jets cost Froese two months of the season.  Lindbergh started 28 out of the next 29 games before Froese returned to the crease.  Froese played back-up the rest of the season, finishing with a 13-2-0, .909, and 2.39 GAA.  His Save Percentage and GAA would have led the league if had played enough games.  Lindbergh won the Vezina trophy that season, on the strength of wining 40 games.  The Flyers finished first overall during the NHL regular season and finally made it out of the first round.  The Flyer, with Lindbergh between the pipes, went to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Edmonton Oilers.  His only start was the Flyer's last game in the play-offs, after Pelle was injured in Game four.  The Flyers lost 8-3 in Game Five of the Finals.  Froese gave up all eight goals.
  Froese did not get a card in the 1985-86 set.  With OPC cutting back its set from 396 cards to 264, as well as Lindbergh's breakout season, Froese was a easy choice for the cutting room, floor.  Originally was going to use a different picture for this card, but how could I pass up a Brad Marsh cameo.

1985-86 OPC Bob Froese

  The Flyers regular season success continued early on during the 1985-86 season.  To start the season Lindbergh was 6-2, while Froese went 5-0.  Tragedy struck the team in the early morning of November 10, 1985.  The evening before, the Flyers were having a team party.  Pelle Lindbergh had a few too many drinks and drove his Porsche into a pole.  He was hospitalized and taken off life support on November 11th.  One of the first things Bobby Flyers GM had to do was cancel a pending trade.  There was already a deal in place to trade Bob Froese to the Los Angeles Kings for defenceman Jay Wells.  
  Froese was to start the next game, but suffered a groin injury during practice when a shot broke his protective cup.  He returned a week later to post a 3-0 shutout against the Hartford Whalers.  Froese had a career year in 1985-86.  He led the league in wins, 31, GAA, 2.55, Save Percentage, .909 and shutouts, 5.  Froese, and teammate, Darren Jensen, won the William Kennings trophy.  He finished 2nd in Vezina voting, by 2 points to winner John Vanbiesbrouck, and was voted 2nd Team All-Star.  While Froese had another great regular season, the Flyers lost in the first round of the play-offs against John Vanbiesbrouck and the New York Rangers.  Froese was outplayed by Vanbiesbrouck and took the brunt of the blame for the early play-off exit.
  Even as the runner-up for the Vezina trophy, Froese found himself starting the season as the back-up goalie for the Flyers, to rookie Ron Hextall.  Hextall got off to a blistering start and Froese only played in three games, and winning all three, before the Flyers traded him to the New York Rangers for Kjell Samuelsson and a 2nd round draft pick on December 18, 1986.  Frustrated by lack of playing time, and tension with Mike Keenan, Froese had requested to be traded.  The prior season, Froese was the runner-up to Vanbiesbrouck in the Vezina voting, now he was runner-up to him in the Ranger's depth chart.  Hextall went on to win the Vezina trophy, while Froese finished 5th, one spot ahead of Vanbiesbrouck.  The Flyer and Rangers had a first round rematch.  This time the heavily favored Flyers won in 6 games.  Froese started two games, winning one and losing one, but Vanbiesbrouck was still the #1 goalie with the Rangers, as he started four games.  Froese finished the season 17-11-0, .885, and 3.64.  It was his last winning season in the NHL.
  Froese spent the next three seasons playing behind John Vanbiesbrouck.  He went 22-32-8, .874, and 3.59 during those three seasons.  One of the almost highlights came on November 29, 1987 when Froese was credited with scoring a NHL goal.  He was, temporally, the second goalie in history to score a goal.   Temporarily, since after video review, the goal was later changed to David Shaw.  OPC gave him a card during the 1987-88 set, but he was left out of subsequent sets.   

1988-89 OPC Bob Froese

 So I made up a 1988-89 OPC, as well as a 1989-90 OPC.  

1989-90 OPC Bob Froese

  Froese entered the 1989-90 season again as the back-up but found himself as the odd man out by January.  Rookie Mike Richter was recalled due to an injury to John Vanbiesbrouck.  Richter, who was also Froese's new roommate and student,  quickly jumped over Froese and began to challenge Vanbiesbrouck for the starting job.  Froese played his last NHL game on January 25, 1990.  He was saddled with the loss, after coming in of relief of Richter in a 8-5 loss to the Calgary Flames.  
  Froese reaggravated a shoulder injury during the 1990 Rangers training camp and he would eventually be forced to retire due to the injury.  Froese became a goalie coach for the Rangers and later the New York Islanders before answering the call of a higher power.  Froese became a pastor.  When he informed Islanders GM Mike Milbury of his decision, Milbury asked how much the church was offering him.  Froese always felt a calling to cloth.  Although he put it aside to play hockey, it became stronger after Lindbergh's death, and inevitable once he was retired.
  Froese never did get a card after the 1987-88 OPC set.  With the emergence of Mike Richter, Froese was bumped down the depth chart and wasn't included in the 1990 Junk Wax boom.  So here is a 1990-91 OPC career capper of Froese.

1990-91 OPC #532 Bob Froese

1990-91 OPC #532 Bob Froese

  Bonus:  Froese did kinda have a card made of him.  Upper Deck used to make commentative sheets for hockey.  From what I can gather, these were giveaways at the game.   A version of a Bob Froese Upper Deck made one of those sheets.  What is interesting is that Froese was featured on a sheet released in February 18, 1991, although he had not played a single game that season.   So although I couldn't find the same picture, I mocked up a 1990-91 Upper Deck Bob Froese. 

1990-91 Upper Deck Bob Froese

* Froese's record of 8 straight career wins to begin a career was bested by Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators.  A big difference is that Froese won his eight games in 8 starts appearances over a three week span.  It took Emery 3 season, plus a lockout, and 12 games, including three in relief, to win his first 9 career decisions.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Dan Daoust

 Dan Daoust was born in Montreal, Quebec, but grew up in Ontario.  He played with the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL.  Daoust and the Royals won the highly controversial 1980 Memorial Cup.    Even though he had back-to-back 40 goals seasons, Dan was not drafted by any NHL team.  There were concerns about Daoust's size, which was generously listed as 5'10" and 160lbs.  Unable to get a NHL contract, Daoust signed on with the Nova Scotia Voyagers of the AHL, the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate.  In his first professional season, Daoust led the team, and finished second in the league, with 98 points.  His play earned him a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
  Daoust spent another season in the AHL before making his NH debut on October 6, 1982.  The next night, he notched his first career point, an assist, against the the Boston Bruins.  He played again on October 9th, but then only played one more game as a Canadien, on November 23rd, before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 3rd round pick on December 17th.  I am not sure if he was injured or a healthy scratch during that time. The Canadiens were deep at the Center position, including fellow rookie, Guy Carbonneau, and Daoust did not fit in the team's plan.
  Daoust never had a card with the Canadiens.  He did get a rookie card in the 1983-84 OPC set as a Maple Leaf.  Since I found a neat picture of him as a Hab, I decided to make a rookie card of him as a Hab in the 1982-83 set.  Daoust sported quite the afro early in his playing days.  In the 1970s, OPC would sometime include players who had no NHL experience in their sets.  I don't remember them doing it for any player during the 1980s.  I wonder who was the last player OPC/Topps put on a card without any NHL experience, prior to the Junk Wax boom.

1982-83 OPC #401 OPC Dan Daoust (RC)

1982-83 OPC #401 Dan Daoust (RC)

  Dan was given more opportunity to play in Toronto and he took full advantage of it.  He scored 51 points in 48 games as a Leaf during the 1982-83 season and made the 1983 All-Rookie Team.  The following season, he set career highs with 18 goals, 56 assists and 74 points.  The following season, 1984-85 was a disaster for the Maple Leafs as they continued their downward spiral.  The team finished last in the NHL and last in goals scored.  As a team they scored 50 less goals than the previous season.  Daoust point total dropped to 54 points.  Although the Leafs team goal total would bounce back the follow season, it was a sign of things to come for Daoust.
  Daoust was bumped down the depth chart in 1985-86.  The Leafs had acquired Tom Fergus, and top prospect Russ Courtnall was finally fulfilling his high draft pick status.  That left the former top two Leafs centers, Daoust and Peter Ihnacak fighting for ice time on the bottom two lines.  Daoust was asked to take on a more defensive role.  Although Daoust thrived in that role, his point total basically fell of the side of the earth.  His 20 points in 1985-86 was the highest season total for the rest of his career.  OPC made a card for Daoust in 86-87 but he would not make the set again until 89-90.  So here is a 1987-88 card of Daoust.

1987-88 OPC Dan Daoust

And now a 1988-89 OPC of Daoust for the Danny Doooo mega-collectors out there.

1988-89 OPC Dan Daoust

  Daoust played for the Maple Leafs until the 1989-90 season.  In his final season as a Leaf, Daoust led the team with 4 shorthanded goals and 8 short handed points.  After the season, he signed overseas with the Swiss league.  He played professionally overseas until he retired in 1997.
  Daoust never received any cards in 1990-91 Junk Wax boom.  I assume he announced his intentions early to sign over seas, well before the card companies finalized their checklists.  Dan returned to the Toronto area after his stint in Europe.  He still lives in the Greater Toronto Area and is active in Alumni hockey.
  So for the first timer ever, two Lost Cards in one post, I present a 1990-91 OPC Dan Daoust career capper.

1990-91 OPC #531 Dan Daoust

1990-91 OPC #531 Dan Daoust