One of the little oddities of this set is that it includes the only card of a trainer that I’ve seen in 30-plus years of collecting.
Frank Paice wasn’t expected to have a card this year. I’ve seen a photo of the printers’ proofs on the Topps site (can’t find the link) and when they were prepping the set, this card was meant to be of rookie goalie Marcel Paille. Someone caught the error (unusual in itself?) and rather than getting a photo of Paille to fix the card, they kept on and switched the name and write-up to Paice.
Paille got his RC the next year, and as a high-numbered tall-boys short print, it’s one of the more expensive postwar goalie RCs in existence.
The Paice RC doesn’t really come at a premium.
The last three pages of the set are all Rangers. This was a team that was not in a good place. They finished 21 points out of the playoffs and only a conpletely abysmal Bruins team was worse. They fired their coach midstream and didn’t get any better. Still, the seeds of what would become a very, very good team are starting to appear. By happenstance, the cards of Ratelle, Gilbert and Hadfield – the GAG line that tore up the league in the early 70s, appear side by side on Page 7.
Poor Harry Howell played 24 years in the bigs (21 in the NHL and 3 in the WHA) and only played on two teams that made it out of the first round of the playoffs – the 1974-75 San Diego Mariners and the 1975-76 Calgary Cowboys. He deserved a better fate. An outstanding defenseman who might be best-known for being the last Norris winner prior to Bobby Orr, Harry spent 17 seasons in New York. Junior Langlois was the last Bruin to wear #4. A big, mobile guy, he played for four teams between 1957 and 1966. Larry Cahan came to the Rangers from the Leafs. Really big for the era at over 220 pounds, Larry also played for Oakland and LA. Jim Neilson is just a rookie here. A top-notch defender on the really good Ranger teams, he’d play in New York till 1974, moving on to Oakland and Cleveland. Al LeBrun didn’t get into a game in 1962-63. He actually only played 6 NHL games – 4 in 1960-61 and 2 in 1965-66 (a back injury in the minors that cost him all of 1963-64 didn’t help). Still, he’s on two cards, of which this is the second. Former captain of his junior team, great things were expected but didn’t materialize. Earl Ingarfield spent 9 years in New York before heading off to Pittsburgh and Oakland. The 26 goals, 31 assists and 57 points shown on this card were all career highs. Andy Bathgate was the biggest star in the Ranger lineup. A brilliant skater and stickhandler despite bad knees, Bathgate had tied for the NHL scoring lead in 1961-62, losing out to Hull for the Ross because he had fewer goals. He’d score 35 goals and 81 points this season and be traded to the Leafs late in 1963-64. Dean Prentice was another long-serving Ranger, having broken in with the team in 1952. Always a solid scorer, he’d have 19 goals and 54 points this year, though he’d be traded to Boston in February for Don McKenney. Andy Hebenton held the NHL iron-man record, playing 630 consecutive games from 1955 through 1964. The streak ended with his demotion to the minors. Andy never missed a regular season game as a player.
Ted Hampson struggled to find his place in the NHL for a long, long time. He’d broken in with Toronto and had sporadic ice-time with the Rangers. At age 30 in 1967-68, he got a break with the Red Wings and became a solid scorer, peaking at 26 goals and 75 points for the 1968-69 Seals. He’d finish in 1976 with the Nordiques in the WHA. Dave Balon also blossomed after the age of 30, scoring 33 and 36 goals for the Rangers in 1969-70 and 1970-71. In 1974, he was diagnosed with MS, which progressively robbed him of the use of his body until his death in 2007. Bert Olmstead was an old warrior who’d won a bunch of Cups in Montreal and Toronto. Claimed by the Rangers in the draft in June, 1962, he retired rather than switch teams again. Jean Ratelle was an incredible junior who seemed forever poised for stardom. It took him till age 25 to really hit his stride, and from 1967 onwards, he was one of the best centres in the game. He had 109 points in just 63 games in 1971-72 and finished with 1267 for his career. Rod Gilbert’s number 7 would be retired by the Rangers. Though he’d had a couple cups of coffee with the big club, this would be his first full season. He overcame a broken back as a junior. He’d retire in 1977-78 with over 1000 points, all scored as a Ranger. Vic Hadfield seemed set to be a winger who’d rely on toughness and contribute maybe 35 points. All that changed when he lined up with Gilbert and Ratelle. In 1971-72, he exploded for 50 goals and 52 assists and ended his career with over 300 goals. He runs a golf place not far from my house (so does Andy Bathgate, for that matter). I’ve talked about Frank Paice already. Camille “the Eel” Henry won the Calder in 1953-54 and scored over 20 goals nine times for the Rangers, peaking at 37 in just 60 games in 1962-63. Bronco Horvath had had some great seasons with Boston in the late 50s as part of the Uke Line. By 1962, he was 32 and slowing down. He’d be lost to Toronto on waivers late in the season. He’d see limited action in the NHL but continued in the minors (almost all with Rochester) until 1969-70.
Not a lot on the last page. Pat Hannigan had come out of Toronto’s system, the third of three Hannigan brothers to do so. (The older Hannigans were friends of Tim Horton and it was their efforts in the restaurant business that got Tim looking at food as a post-NHL career option.) Pat had seen some action in ’60-61 and ’61-62 as a checker, but wouldn’t appear in the NHL again until 1967-68, when he’d put in a season (plus seven games) with the Flyers. The team card actually seems to have a new picture on it, which wasn’t alawys true with Topps. I say this because I can’t find Doug Harvey. Not sure which farmhand is the second goalie. The checklist is the second that Topps produced for hockey – the first was in 1961-62. All earlier Topps sets had no checklists.
Thus ends the set. With the posts on this blog about 1979-80 hockey, 1980 Australian Football and now 1962-63 Topps, there have been a lot of blue-edged cards lately. Outside of the wood-grained 1966-67 set and the red and green 1973-74 set, there aren’t a lot of coloured borders in hockey. This is good, because corner wear on coloured cards is a serious pain.
This will be the only vintage set I finish off for a while. I have a few that are in the ballpark and if I’m lucky, I might get through two of 1957-58 Topps, 1958-59 Topps and 1961-62 Topps next year. Of the rest, only 1954-55 Parkhurst even stands a chance. Time to get busy.