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