Joy of a completed set: 1957-58 Topps Hockey (Part 1)

1957-58 was the second Topps hockey set and the first since the 1954-55 season.  As Topps had managed to secure the rights to the four American-based teams but had not actually produced any cards, this is the first time that any player from Detroit, New York, Boston or Chicago had seen the light of day in three years.  As a result, the set has a bucketful of RCs in it – four of which are notable Hall-of-Famers: Bucyk, Hall, Pilote and Ullman.

As with 1957 Topps baseball, this set marks the beginning of the standard 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 card size.  It’s also the last hockey set based entirely around painted black-and-white images.  Topps went to full-colour photography in 1958-59, though the occasional painted shot still appears as late as 1963-64.  The set was printed in the States, but distributed in Canada by OPC.  I am not certain whether it had any US distribution at all.

As with the ’52 Parkhurst set I posted my first full page from, I’ve been working on this set since the 1980s.  A number of cards I bought at that time have been replaced, but a few survived the cut for this set.  The Howe still needs upgrading.  I’ve filed this under “not right now.”

Just because these things tend to get really, really long, I’m breaking this into a few pieces. Today will cover cards 1-18.

PAGE 1 – cards 1-9

1957-58 Topps - Cards 1-9

Just a note – my scanner is greying out these cards a bit.  They’re extremely bright in person.  It’s one of the things that make this set fun.

The set starts out with Bruins.  Boston finished fourth, a game under .500, but still made it to the Final.  The early 60s were bad times for Boston, but at this point, they were a pretty solid team.

This is the last set Topps organized by teams until 1961-62.

#1: Real Chevrefils was coming off a 31-goal season, which would be the best of his career.  He would score just 10 more goals in the NHL over the next two seasons, dropping to the minors at age just 26.

#2: Jack Bionda (RC) was best-known in Canada as a lacrosse player, in which he was a big star.  He would play just 93 NHL games but carry on in the minors until 1967.

#3: Bob Armstrong was a respected stay at home defenseman who played parts of 11 NHL seasons.  1957-58 was a poor one, though, and a third of it was spent with Springfield of the AHL.

#4: Fernie Flaman was captain of the Bruins.  Tough and a hard hitter, Flaman would score just 15 assists in 1957-58 (no goals) yet still earned a spot on the 2nd All-Star team and was third in Norris voting.

#5: Jerry Topazzini scored 25 goals in 1957-58, the best total of his career.  He’d add 9 more in 12 playoff games as the Bruins lost to Montreal in the Final.  My favourite story of Topazzini was the time he and Henri Richard were at a golf tournament and someone asked them whether they’d ever won a Stanley Cup.  “We’ve won ten of them between us,” Jerry said (I’m paraphrasing), not mentioning that Richard had all ten.

#6: Larry Regan (RC) was the Calder Trophy winner in ’56-57, but never again matched that level of production.  He’d lose 11 games to injury and score just 11 goals in 1957-58.  In the middle of the following season he’d be dealt to Toronto, with whom he’d play the balance of his NHL career.

#7: Bronco Horvath (RC) was a terrific find for the Bruins.  Picked up in the 1957 Intraleague Draft after having spent most of 1955-56 in the minors, he scored 30 goals (fifth in the NHL) for the Bruins and led the team with 66 points.  He, Stasiuk and Bucyk made up the “Uke” line – a name that certainly would not be used today.

#8: Jack Caffrey only played seven games for the Bruins, scoring one goal.  This was the end of his NHL career, even though he was just 23.  He scored well in the minors until his retirement.

#9 Leo LaBine had been a decent scorer but would only score 7 goals for the Bruins this season. A noted trash-talker and pest, “the Lion” played 11 seasons in the NHL and continued in the minors until 1967.

1957-58 Topps - cards 1-9 backs

PAGE 2 – cards 10-18

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 10-18

#10: John Bucyk (RC) was traded from Detroit to Boston (with cash, even) for the rights to Terry Sawchuk.  Bucyk has been painted into a Boston uniform.  The picture was taken while he was still with Detroit.  Bucyk would be the only member of the Uke line to survive the bad times in Boston and would score 545 goals as a Bruin, retiring in 1978.

#11: Vic Stasiuk is the only member of the Uke Line who was a Bruin prior to this season.  A guy who didn’t really find his place in the NHL elite until he was 26, Stasiuk would score 21 goals and 56 points.  His 35 assists were 9th overall.

#12: Doug Mohns spent the first 11 years of his career as a pretty good puck-moving defenseman, became Stan Mikita’s winger for half a dozen years in Chicago, then turned back into a blueliner again for the last part of his career – 22 seasons in all, finishing with the expansion Captials in 1974-75.

#13: Don McKenney (RC) gets forgotten when top centres of the 1960s get discussed, but he was a fixture at the all-star game, had four top-ten finishes in points, won a Byng and was in the running a bunch of other times.  A shoulder injury in the 1964 Stanley Cup Final took the steam out of his career, which ended with the 1967-68 St. Louis Blues (and in the minors a year later).

#14: Don Simmons (RC) would play the bulk of Boston’s games this season and the next, then settle into a backup role with Toronto and New York.  He was the second goalie to regularly wear a mask, after Plante.

#15: Allan Stanley is rarely thought of as a Bruin, but it was here that his career was reborn after things went poorly as a highly-touted Ranger prospect.  He was considered a major driver behind Boston’s trip to the Final and was about to get a new lease on life as Tim Horton’s partner in Toronto, starting in 1958-59.  He was Boston’s top-scoring defenseman with 31 points.

#16: Fleming Mackell was Bostons’s second-leading scorer with 20 goals and 60 points.  He led the league in playoff scoring with 14 assists and 19 points in 12 playoff games.  Sadly, injuries would cut into his next two seasons, which would be his last in the NHL.  He would play in the minors and in senior hockey until 1968.

#17: Larry Hillman (RC) played his first NHL games in 1954 as an 18-year-old, retired in 1976 at age 39 (in the WHA), but really only established himself as a regular after about 1966 (he really was a victim of the six-team league).  During the entirely of the 1967 Stanley Cup playoffs, he and partner Marcel Pronovost were on the ice for only one even-strength goal against.  Hillman played all 70 games in 1957-58, scoring 22 points.  His next season in which he played every game came in 1969-70.

#18: Leo Boivin was a veteran blueliner who hit like a ton of bricks despite being only 5’7″. He would succeed Don McKenney as Bruin captain between 1963 and 1966.  Boivin only played 33 games due to injury in 1957-58, but dressed for all 12 playoff games and led the league in playoff penalty minutes with 21.

1957-58 Topps Hockey - cards 10-18 backs

Had sort of hoped to do a third page, but in the interest of getting posted, I’ll cut it here. as it happens, that’s also the end of the Bruins.  Next up – Chicago.

This entry was posted in Joy of Completed Things, Vintage Hockey and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Joy of a completed set: 1957-58 Topps Hockey (Part 1)

  1. shanediaz82 says:

    W-H-O-A! Drooling over here. Beauty of a set, congrats on completing it and looking forward to seeing the rest.

  2. Mark hoyle says:

    That set is a beauty. Congrats

  3. Beeeeeeeee-yooooo-teeeeeee-ful! Congratulations on your accomplishment! Can’t want to see the rest!

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