When I first found out that OPC had not only added a bunch of players to the Topps set but flushed a number of them as well, one name particularly caught my fancy. For no reason I can adequately explain, I have long wanted a copy of the 1971-72 Tony Featherstone.
I finally have one, thanks to the efforts of Mark Hoyle. It arrived during a very busy time (which is also how the blog managed to go dormant for so long) and was a very welcome sight.
I think part of it my fascination with this card is that this is the only NHL card Tony ever had (he’s in the 1975-76 WHA set) and he was something of a mystery to me. Who was he? Why did he only have the one card and why was he pitched out of the OPC set?
Tony was a first-rounder of the Seals in 1969, drafted seventh overall from Peterborough. He projected to be a decent scoring winger with some toughness and at the time this card was printed, he’d just finished a rookie season of eight goals and eight assists. The totals aren’t overwhelming, but one can never tell by looking just how much ice time he got.
So what happened to kick him out of the OPC set? On Oct. 6, 1971, Tony was traded to Montreal for goalie prospect Ray Martyniuk. Montreal was extrememly deep at forward and Tony would have been buried. He’d spend the next two years in the AHL. I guess OPC figured that out and used the card on someone else. (Card #106 in 1971-72 OPC is Dick Redmond, also of the Seals.)
Tony’s stat lines show some of the most dramatic year-to-year swings I’ve ever seen. In 1971-72 in the AHL, he’d score just 15 points (5G 10A) with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. The following year? 49 goals, 54 assists, 103 points. That would get him a shot with the North Stars in 1973-74, for whom he’d score 9 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. (He was slowed up with a hand injury.) The following year? 25-38-63 for the Toronto Toros of the WHA. He followed that with 11 points in 32 games and was out of hockey the next season.
The other card that arrived with Tony was one of the 1971-72 Leaders. OPC did away with all of them, which is unfortunate as they’re pretty cool-looking. This one tracks goalie wins, which today has completely fallen off the radar as a stat unless we’re looking at all-time leaders. Season-to-season, nobody says much about it.
The cast of characters is about who one would expect – the goalies who played the most for the best teams. The Espo shot is the same as is on his regular 1971-72 card, while the Cheevers would see the light of day again for his 1972-73 third-series card with the Cleveland Crusaders.
What’s really remarkable is that Johnston and Cheevers placed second and third in total wins despite playing on the same team. It tells you something about Boston’s record that year. Eddie Johnston went 30-6-2 while Cheevers was 27-8-5.
Thanks again, Mark. It was a nice surprise at a busy time.