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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Reed Larson

  After winning heaps of accolades, and a National Championship, while playing for his home state,  Minnesota University, in the NCAA, Reed Larson was drafted 22nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd round of 1976 NHL Amateur Draft.  A tough defenseman with a cannon for a shot, Larson was the top ranked American in the draft.
  Larson's university career came to an unceremonious end as he was suspended for assaulting an official during a regular season game during the 1976-77 season.  He turned pro shortly after and joined the Red Wings for the end of the 76-77 season, netting one assist in 14 games.  Larson fared much better in the 1977-78 season.  He scored his first career goal against Denis Herron of the Pittsburgh Penguin, on October 26, 1977.  It was the game-winning goal.  He finished the season with 60 points in 75 games.  At the time, 60 points was a season record for rookie defencemen.  
  As a member of the Red Wings, Larson was an incredibly consistent player.  From 1978 to 1986, Larson scored between 17 to 27 goals per season, and 58 to 74 points.  During his time with the Red Wings, he set franchise single season records for Defencemen in goals, 27 (still a team record), assists, and points.  During the 1983-84 season, he became the All-Time American-born career points leader.  The following season, he became the All-Time American-born Career Goal leader.  He has since been bumped down to 35th for points and 50th for goals.  Larson appeared in three All-Star games for the Red Wings, scoring a goal during the 1980 All-Star game that was held in Detroit.
  The Red Wings had little team success during Larson's time with them.  The Red Wings were nicknamed the Dead Wings during the 1970s and consistently one of the leagues worst teams until the late 1980s.  During the 1985-86 season, Larson was traded to the Boston Bruins for Mike O'Connell.  At the time of the trade, Larson was leading the Red Wings in points.  The change of scenery did not work for Larson.  He was no longer the top defenceman, as the Bruins already had Ray Bourque.  Larson had 36 and 34 points in his two seasons as a Bruin, as injuries hampered his play.  He missed the end of the 1988 regular season with an injury and was in and out of the line-up during the play-offs, including the finals against the Edmonton Oilers.  He was in the line-up for the Game Four tie against the Oilers, the night the lights went out.  The last time game in play-offs history.
  Larson was a free agent after the 1988 season, but suffered nerve damage in serious car crash during the off-season.  The injury raised questions regarding his health.  He was able to sign with the Oilers near the end of training camp.  He played exactly ten games with the Oilers, scoring nine points.  Four of those points, came in a single game.  He was traded to the New York Islanders for future consideration in December.  With the Islanders, he scored 20 points in 33 games.  The Islanders were sellers at the trade deadline and Larson was traded to the North Stars for a 7th round daft pick.  Larson netting 9 points in 11 games as a North Star.  So for the season, Larson played on three teams, scoring 38 points in 58 games. 

1989-90 OPC Reed Larson - Oilers - Islanders - North Stars
  Larson was a free agent during the 1989 off-season.  With interest dwindling in the former All-Star, Larson signed to play with HC Allege overseas in Italy.  Larson did return to the NHL one last time.  He was signed by the Buffalo Sabres in March of 1990 and played a single game.  After the season he returned to Italy to play professionally until 1994.  At 38 years old, Larson returned to Morth America and played 9 games in the IHL with the Minnesota Moose during the 1994-95 season.  He was elected to the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
  Larson's last NHL card with in the 1988-89 set as a Boston Bruin.  After playing for three teams during the 1988-89 season, he did not get a OPC card and his one game stint with the Sabres did not draw any interest from any manufacturer.  Surprisingly, there is a high quality picture of Laron's brief stint with the Sabres.  So here is a career capper of Larson.

1990-91 OPC #530 Reed Larson
1990-91 OPC #530 Reed Larson

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Lost Rookies: 1988-89 OPC Glenn Healy

  Glenn Healy has become more known as a hockey personality than as a hockey player.  Let's look a closer look at Glenn Healy the hockey player.  Healy attended Western Michigan University in the early 80s and went undrafted by the NHL.  He signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings in 1985.  Healy was called up to the Kings in November of 1985, as starter Bob Janecyk was out with injuries.  Healy played his first NHL game on Novermber 25, 1985, when entered the game in relief of Darren Eliot.  The Kings were down 3-0 to the Hartford Whalers when Healy entered the game during the 1st period.  The game ended 9-0.  Shortly after the Kings made a trade for new starter Roland Melanson and Healy was buried on the depth chart.
  Healy spent the majority of his first two professional seasons in the AHL.  In 1987, Healy broke camp as the back-up goalie for the Kings.  He won his first NHL game on October 28, 1987, a 5-2 victory against the New York Rangers.  His first career shutout was against the Vancouver Canucks on February 28th, 1987.  Healy was used sparingly down the stretch, playing 3 of the teams last 13 games, but took over the starting gig in the play-offs after Melanson gave up 9 goals in the play-offs opener against Calgary.  Healy went 1-3 during four play-off games as the Kings were eliminated in the first round.
  Healy began the 1988 season as the back-up but became the starter after Melanson gave up 11 goals to the Calgary Flames on October 16th.  The 1988-89 season was Wayne Gretzky's first season as a King.  As the season progress, there became a glaring weakness with the Kings - the goaltending.  On February 22nd, the Kings traded a package of players, including back-up Mark Fitzpatrick, to the New York Islanders for Kelly Hrudey.  Healy's days as the #1 in LA were over.

1989-90 OPC Glenn Healy

  And so were his days in LA.  Healy was a free agent in the 1989 off-season and was signed by the New York Islanders, who had to give up a 4th round pick as compensation.  The Islanders now had the Kings duo of goalies from the previous season.  Healy and Fitzpatrick, barring injuries, split the crease with the Islanders over the next four seasons.  Both goalies got rookie cards with the Islanders during the 1990 junk wax boom.  Although neither made the premier set of OPC Premier, who instead included Islanders rookie goalie prospect Jeff Hackett.  So I figure I will add an OPC Premier rookie of Healy for the high-end 1990 junk wax collectors.  Healy set a NHL record, since surpassed, by saving 51 shots in a shutout, against the Vancouver Canucks on January 16, 1990.

1990-91 OPC Premier Glenn Healy

  Healy was a key performer in my favourite all-time hockey moment - David Volek's 1993 game 7 overtime winner.  Healy was the Islanders starting goalie during their surprising run in the 1993 play-offs.  The Islanders 1993 Game 7 series win over the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champs Pittsburgh penguins is one of hockey's greatest play-off upsets. 
  Healy was a impending free agent in the 1993 off-season and was unlikely to resign with the Islanders.  Healy was left unprotected in the 1993 expansion draft was selected as the 3rd goalie overall by the Anahiem Mighty Ducks.  Then the next day there was another phase of the expansion draft.  This time, the three older expansion teams, the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, were able to pick players from the the two new expansion teams, Anaheim and the Florida Panthers.  This phase was added since the three older expansion teams were historical bad, and were somewhat screwed over in the previous expansion drafts compared to the Ducks and Panthers.  Healy was not protected by the Ducks and was picked up by the Lightning, who then immediately traded him to the New York Rangers, who had lost goalie John Vanbiesbrouck in the expansion draft.  That's four teams in two days for Healy.  He went East coast to West Coast to South Coast to East coast, and in the end just moved across town.
  It was a good move for Healy.  Although he returned to being a back-up goalie, he won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994.  Healy spent four seasons with the Rangers.  He received his lone career Vezina vote in 1995, in a season he only played 17 games.  Healy signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1997 to serve as the team's back-up.  In 2000, Healy became a frivolity as he became the first known NHL player to be injured by bagpipes.  He was attempting to mend his bagpipes when he cut himself with a pair of scissors.  Healy retired after the 2000-01 season.  Healy was featured sparingly during his last few seasons with the Leafs.  He did get a career capper with Pacific, who were solid in giving players career cappers, in the 2001 set.  I figured I'd do a 2000-01 UD Vintage for Healy since it's a set I really like, and already have a template for.  Not the most flattering picture (someone must be winding up for a slapshot), but surprisingly there was not an abundance of full-body pictures of Healy as a Leaf.

2000-01 UD Vintage Glenn Healy 

  After retiring, Healy was a director in the NHLPA and then a colour commentator for Hockey Night in Canada with CBC.  I would say as a commentator, he was not beloved, but his opinions kept viewers tuned in and kept his career going.  As mentioned earlier, Healy never had a Kings card, so it's fitting that I made him a  Lost Rookie, and in the purple and gold no less.

1988-89 OPC Glenn Healy (RC)

1988-89 OPC Glenn Healy

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lost Rookies: 1986-87 OPC Jay Miller

  When I think of 1980s enforcers, I think of Jay Miller.  Miller and Bruins had legendary battles against Chris Nilan and John Kordic of the Montreal Canadiens.  So I was surprised when I learned Miller never had a rookie card until the 1990 Junk Wax boom, after he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.  And even then, only Upper Deck was the only set that included Miller in 1990.  So that makes Jay a perfect candidate for the Lost Cards and Lost Rookies.
  Miller was originally drafted 66th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1980 NHL Entry draft. Three picks later, the Oilers draft Jarri Kurri at 69th overall.  Miller was attending the University of New Hampshire and continued to play there until he graduated in 1983.  He played a handful of games with the Fredicton Express, the Nordiques AJL affiliate, before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars.  After a season in the North Stars minor league system, he was released.
  Miller, who was born near Boston, attended the Boston Bruins 1985 training camp and impressed the team with his toughness.  He was signed to a contract on October 1st, 1985 was sent to the minors to begin the season.  After notching 10 points and 113 PIM in 18 games, he was called up to the NHL.  In his first NHL game, on November 23, 1985, Miller fights Dave Brown.  He scores his first career goal against Tom Barrasso of the Buffalo Sabres on December 2nd, 1985.  Miller finishes his rookie season with 3 goals, 0 assists and 178 PIM in 46 games.

1987-88 OPC Jay Miller

  Miller played 3 and half seasons with the Bruins. He was at the forefront of many Adam division battles.  During his his three full seasons with the Bruins, he had 436 PIM in 79 games, for 5.5 PIM per game, against Adam division opponents.  Against all other divisions, he had 254 PIM in 100 games or 2.5 PIM per game.  Divisional play was fierce during the late 1980s.  Miller was on the ice for the NHL's last in-game bench clearing brawl, Bruins versus the Quebec Nordiques on February 26, 1987.
  Miller set a career high with 304 PIM during the 1987-88 season.  Good for 6th highest in the NHL that season.  The Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup finals, but lost in 1988.  Miller was injured in the first round but returned in the third round.  He still managed to accumulate 124 PIM in 12 games, which led all players.

1988-89 OPC Jay Miller 

  Miller was traded to the Los Angeles Kings during the 1988-89 season.  He was the future considerations in a Bobby Carpenter for Steve Kasper deal.  Miller finished the season 6th in PIM, with 301.

1989-90 OPC Jay Miller

  Playing as Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard came with perks.  Miller set a career high with 10 goals in 1989-90 and then with 20 points in 1990-91.  Miller, now 32, was battling a bacterial infection during the 1992 training camp was cut by the Los Angeles Kings.  Unable to get signed by another team, Miller retired.

1992-93 OPC Jay Miller

  Over his seven year career, Miller only got seven NHL cards.  None as a Bruin, and none during the 1992-93 sets.  His 1990-91 Upper Deck is his lone rookie card, which is odd for a player during the junk wax boom.  So he has a career capper above, but below is his 1986-87 OPC Lost Rookie.

1986-87 OPC #277 Jay Miller (RC)

1986-87 OPC #277 Jay Miller (RC)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Lost Cards: 1988-89 Ed Hospodar

  Ed "Boxcar" Hospodar played 9 seasons in the NHL.  He racked up 1314 PIM in 450 games plus and additional 206 PIM in 46 play-off games.  He earned the nickname Boxcar due to his bodychecks.  It was like being hit by a Boxcar, and it rhymed with his last name.  It was in the play-offs that his more memorable moments occurred, the good and the infamous.
  Hospodar was drafted 34th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1979 Entry Draft, sandwiched between goalies Pat Riggin (Lost Cards), and Pelle Lindbergh, (Lost Cards).  Hospodar made his NHL debut on November 21, 1979.  It was a good debut as he notched an assist, and was a +3 in a 6-4 loss.  For the season, he played 20 games, had one assist, and 76 PIM.  Ed scored his first play-off goal against the Atlanta Flames in Game 4 of the first round.  It was the game-winning goal in the Atlanta Flames last game in Atlanta.  The team relocated during the summer.  Ed likes to joke that he knocked the Flames out of AtlantaHe received a rookie with OPC in the 1980-81 set.
  The 1980-81 season was Ed's best season.  He scored his first NHL regular season goal against Ron Grahame of the Los Angeles Kings in a 6-3 loss on November 2, 1980.  Ed finished the season setting career highs in goals, 5, assists, 14, points, 19, a plus 10 and 219 PIM.  He set a single period play-off record on April 9th, 1981 with 39 PIM in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings.  At the end of the first period a brawl broke out as the teams were leaving the ice.  As seen in the video, he escalates the brawl by fighting Marcel Dionne and later on takes on Dionne and goalie Mario Lessard at the same time.  As part of his 39 PIM, Hospodar received two game misconducts.  Hospodar set a Rangers play-offs record with 93 PIM in 1981.
  Hospodar continued to mix things up in the 1981-82 season, but added to Clark Gillies reputation as the leagues best fighter when Gillies broke Hospodar's jaw.  Hospodar missed almost 2 months.  When he returned, he mixed it up less and played some of his best hockey, notching 6 points in 11 games.
  The Rangers traded Hospodar in the offseason to the Harford Whalers for Kent-Erik Andersson.  Hospodar played two seasons with the Whalers.  He scored one goal, ten points and 362 PIM in 131 games as a Whaler.  Hospodar never had a Topps card and his last OPC card was in the 1981-82 set.  I wanted to feature Hospodar in the 83-84 OPC design but the Whalers wore the Cooperalls that season and I couldn't find a good picture of Ed in them.  So instead, he gets the 84-85 treatment.

1984-85 OPC Ed Hospodar

  Hospodar was released by the Whalers in the 1984 offseason.  He signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.  Hospodar fit in well with the Broad Street Bullies.  He played in the 1985 Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, a series the Flyers lost in five games.  In the 1985-86 season, Hospodar exploded, by his standards, for four points in a five game stretch.  Immediately afterwards he was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars in a four player deal, Hospodar, and Todd Bergen (Lost Rookie) in exchange for Dave Richter (Lost Rookie) and Bo Berglund.  Hospodar played out the season in Minnesota before being released in the offseason.
  Hospodar re-signed with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 1986 offseason.  He had another Hospodarian season, 45 games, 4 points and 136 PIM.  He was used sparingly in the 1987 play-offs, playing only 5 games in first three rounds.  Although he was a scratch for the Wales Conference Finals Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens, he played a major role in inciting a rule changing brawl.
  Shayne Corson and Claude Lemieux of the Montreal Canadiens had made a ritual out of staying on the ice during pre-game warm-up until the other team had vacated.  They then played a game of pass and shot the puck into the opponents empty net.  The Flyers felt this was disrespectful and warned Lemieux and Corson not to do it.  For the Game 6 warms-ups Hospodar and Chico Resch (Lost Cards), stayed on the ice until Corson and Lemieux left, without shooting the puck into the Flyers net.  It was a ruse.  As the two Flyers left the ice, Corson and Lemieux, who had been hiding in the hall, skated back on the ice and shoot the puck into the flyers net before Hospodar and Resch could stop them.  Hospodar was able to grab Lemieux and started wailing on him as Claude turtled.  Resch held off Corson.  It wasn't long until the players from both dressing rooms, in various states of undress, streamed onto the ice.  Doug Crossman, from the Flyers, was on the ice in his flip-flops.  The brawl went on for about 10 minutes.  At one point it was petering out until Corson jumped a Flyer and it started up again.  Eventually the players wore themselves out and the officials took the ice to facilitate the players returning to their dressing rooms.  One player who was notably missing in fracas was goalie Ron Hextall.  According to Keenan, he locked Hextall in the equipment cage once the brawl started.  The Flyers went on to win the game, and the series.  They lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in seven games against the Edmonton Oilers.

  Hospodar was suspended for the remainder of the play-offs.  In the off-season the NHL drafted new rules regarding leaving the bench and the number of players who can dress for pre-game warm-ups.  Mike Keenan, the Flyers coach had dressed 24 skaters, 6 more than needed, for the warm-ups.

1987-88 OPC Ed Hospodar

  The Flyers left Hospodar unprotected in the 1987 waiver draft and he  was selected by the Buffalo Sabres.  In 1987-88, his final NHL season, Hospodar had one point and 98 PIM in 42 games.  He started the 1988-89 season in the AHL, but retired after playing five games.

1988-89 OPC #272 Ed Hospodar 

1988-89 OPC #273 Ed Hospodar