Curses! Hoyled again!

Gary Smith - 1971-72 Topps Hockey

Gary Smith set an NHL record for losses (48) in 1970-71.

OK – not so much again as still, but I wanted to get that title claimed before someone else did.  This is a second part of the neat trade I made with Mark Hoyle some time ago.  At my typical glacial pace, I should be done posting it within a year or two.

From the moment OPC and Topps began producing separate hockey sets in 1968-69, the OPC set was always larger.  Obviously, this meant that there were players found in OPC that would not be found in Topps. What I only came to realize in the past year or so was that for much of the 1970s, OPC would also drop a handful of players from the set Topps produced.

I had known for a long time, for example, that Topps had a standard-issue card of Gordie Howe in 1971-72 instead of the OPC retirement special and that they’d also produced a 1973-74 Ken Dryden that OPC dropped as he sat out that season to article in a law office.  What I didn’t know was that there were a bunch of others.  A number were players who had retired or were not playing the season.  A few defy explanation.

Knowing that Mark had a good supply of 1970s Topps, I sent the list of missing players and asked if he had any.  He did.  As a result, he was able to do something that hasn’t happened to me in at least 25 years: he sent me 70s hockey that I’d never seen before.  They’re fascinating.  It’s like looking at extremely well-made customs.

Gary Smith was the Seals’ starter in 1970-71.  He became the first goalie to play more than 70 games in a season and set the single-season record for losses.  It still stands.  (Note – Gary wasn’t a half-bad goalie. He had help losing that often.)

Gary Smith - 1971-72 Topps back

He was traded to Chicago just prior to the 1971-72 season.  Why was he dropped from the OPC set?  I have no idea whatsoever.

Don Marcotte was coming off his best season to date in 1973-74.  He was a big contributor and would be for the rest of the decade and beyond.  Why was he dropped from 1973-74 OPC?  No clue.

Don Marcotte - 1973-74 Topps

You can tell it’s Topps because it’s blue. OPC had no blue cards.

Long-time Canadian national-team player Fran Huck at least makes sense.  He left St. Louis for the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA.  This is his only NHL card.

Fran Huck - 1973-74 Topps

The helmet makes this card look newer than it really is. Looks like an 80s shot dumped into a 70s border.

Bobby Sheehan wasn’t re-signed by the Black Hawks after 1975-76 and didn’t sign with anyone until the Oct 8, 1976, when he inked with Detroit.  It’s possible that OPC dropped him from the set thinking he wouldn’t have an NHL gig that season.  They were sort of right.  He’d be up and down from the minors for the rest of his career, ending in 1982-83.

Bobby Sheehan - 1976-77 Topps

Barry Wilkins jumped to the WHA (Edmonton) for 1976-77.  That explains his absence from OPC.

Barry Wilkins - 1976-77 Topps

I’ve now decided that this will be something I have to chase.  I might not try to polish off those sets, but at the very least, I need to find these unique-to-Topps cards.  That’s the completist in me.  The next step, I suppose, is to find all the Topps cards for which OPC did a complete picture swap.  There are a bunch of those between 1968-73.

Thanks, Mark!  These are really cool.

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10 Responses to Curses! Hoyled again!

  1. commishbob says:

    Love these cards. Mark is an awesome guy!

    Gary Smith was 6’4″?? Like his card says that was pretty big for a goalie back then. And he stole a piece the Vezina Trophy in ’72, It helps if you are part of a tandem with Tony Espo. I guess.

    • 1967ers says:

      He and Ken Dryden were both monsters by the standard of the day. Maniago was also tall – I think 6’3″.

      The thing I wish I could see is Gary Smith with the puck up near centre. That would be worth the price of admission.

  2. Mark hpyle says:

    I’m hitting a show this weekend. I will try and find the few other Topps cards you need. I think I still have the list.

  3. sanjosefuji says:

    Awesome title and great vintage hockey. Love the 71/72 design.

  4. In my younger days I think I knew there were some differences between Topps & OPC hockey – i.e. the 1981-82 OPC set didn’t have the goofy East/West breakdown that Topps did… But I didn’t realize until the last couple of years that, during my key collecting target of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, OPC sets were larger… and now I’m learning that it wasn’t always just sticking on an extra “series” of cards. So much to learn about these things…

  5. cardman99 says:

    I have most of the cards shown here, thanks to my childhood LCS selling older Topps cards at a fraction of the price of their OPC counterparts – I never realized until now that these cards didn’t appear in the OPC sets.

  6. Ryan says:

    I too only found out about the Topps variations recently. If you look at the 1972 set there are a ton. I also grabbed all of the 1980s Topps cards where the players did not have the “traded” tag added to them. Let me know if you want a full list. I also have duplicates of many of them, let me know if you want to trade.

  7. rnhaas says:

    Hey there, was wondering if I could send you a book I wrote about the Burke-era Leafs. PPP said you might be interested. If you are, email me at riley.haas@gmail.com

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