The first list I made was for the Goalies of the 1980-81 OPC set. This was at a time when most goalies still wore masks, but some were already moving over to the helmet and cage or the combo mask, as introduced by Dave Dryden. Unfortunately, OPC was still mainly using pictures from warm-ups for goalies, so masks were a rare sight in their sets at the time. At least warm-up shots were a step up from the posed shots that littered the 70s.
For the 1980-81 set, only seven masks and one cage made the set. There were 28 other goalie cards that did not feature a goalie wearing a mask or helmet. Only seven cards in the set could be considered action shots.
There were a few curious omissions from the set. Gerry Cheevers was not included since he retired in the offseason, although it would have been nice to have a career capper for him. Although this oversight gave me a chance to add Cheevers to the Lost Cards series on this blog. Also curious was the omission of Mario Lessard. There was actually no Los Angeles Kings goalies in the set. Canadiens #1 netminder Michel Larocque never made the cut, instead OPC inserted Canadiens rookie Richard Sevigny. Sevigny only played 11 regular season games and none in the play-offs. It would also been nice to see Rob Holland in the set. Rob played 44 career games, with 34 of those coming in the 1979-80 season. He never had a OPC card made of him.
For the strange additions, the biggest head scratcher is Doug Soeteart. Soeteart played 8 games in 79-80 and a total of 51 over the past five seasons, but OPC decided this was the year to have a Soeteart rookie card. With the addition of Soeteart, the New York Rangers had three goalies in the 80-81 set. Jim Craig made the set but based on the his Olympic play and Gold medal for the USA, it's difficult to argue against his inclusion.
For top cards of the set, there is not a lot to choose from. All the images are from the Trading Card Database website. Here are my runner-ups.
|1980-81 OPC #333 - Ron Low|
I considered docking points on this card since it is the same picture used for Ron' Low's card in the 1979-80 OPC set. The only thing they changed was the "Now with Oilers". In the 79-80 set, they had "NOW WITH NORDIQUES". I guess the proper utilization of capital letters was an improvement. The rest of goalie cards in this set are just too bland. There are actually only three painted masks in the set.
|1980-81 OPC #31 - Mike Liut|
Mike Liut had a classic mask while with the Blues. Although it's a bit odd that he went to a plain white mask after donning a much more elaborate design while playing with the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA.
|1980-81 OPC #190 - John Davidson|
I have to give the nod to John Davidson for being the top goalie card in the 1980-81 set. it was a close call between him and Liut but Davidson's card screams 1980. First , you have the painted mask. Next is the exaggerated crouch positioning. Lastly, is the net to goalie ration. Even with a goalie on his back in today's game, there is less net showing. One of the reasons there were so many goals back then.
As for the worst goalie card in the set, that dishonour goes to Bob Sauve. This is actually Sauve's fourth OPC card, all with the Sabres. After two photo-day shots, he actually had a pretty nice card in the 79-80 set. Sauve led the NHL is GAA in 1979-80 and OPC rewards him with another photo-day head shot.
|1980-81 OPC #266 - Bob Sauve|
Overall, the 1980-81 OPC set is massively unsatisfying for a goalie card collector. While at 35 goalies, it's one of the biggest sets for goalies, but the picture selection is dreadful overall. It's the first set of the 80s, and certainly the forerunner for worst set, with regards to goalies.