Guest Hockey Writer – Naim Cardinal

First of all, I would like to thank my Twitter buddy, Dub Mentality, for having an amazing card blog and for reminding us of our appreciation for the days of old card collecting and “junk wax.” As well, I would like to thank him for giving me this opportunity to share my wax ripping experience with 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee Hockey. I will be writing the review in “Dub style” to honour his awesome blog site.Back in 1990, I was nine years old and lived in a small town in northern Alberta called Fort Vermilion. At the time, there were eight of us in my family living in a four bedroom house in “Alberta Housing”-a small neighbourhood in the community that consisted mainly of low-income housing. I was the middle child of our family and the second oldest boy-well, third because my parents had adopted one of my older cousins. We all grew up playing shinny on the outdoor rinks and also street hockey in the middle of winters that would quite often see temperatures dip down to -40C (-40F for my American friends). Here we would play for hours pretending that we were NHL greats such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Patrick Roy, and even tough guys like Bob Probert or Joey Kocur-which lead us to “drop the gloves” quite often. Maybe it was the long winters or the fact that hockey was bred into our genes as Canadians; but, we were addicted to hockey and loved playing and watching every game that was on CBC Hockey Night in Canada. It was here that we watched our favourite players and teams and learned the game from guys like Ron McLean and Don Cherry. Despite our love for the game, unfortunately, my brothers and I were financially unable to join any leagues due to the costs of registration, equipment, and travel. But, we found a way to connect to hockey through our long games in the cold weather, Hockey Night in Canada, and collecting hockey cards.I remember the first time I had seen a hockey card. I was seven years old and visiting my cousin. That day he took us to his bedroom and proudly pulled out a photo album full of 1988-89 O-Pee-Chee (OPC) Hockey from his sock drawer. I say “photo album” because it was an actual photo album and this was what we used back in the day to display our cards before we were able to get our hands on any 9 card sleeves. 1988-89 OPC was a great set and featured rookies such as Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan, Pierre Turgeon, and aforementioned tough guy Bob Probert. The moment I laid my eyes on those cards I was instantly hooked. I thought it was so cool to see all of my heroes-Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, and others on a piece of cardboard. I had no idea we even had hockey cards in our small town and had to get some! The next year in 1990 my older brother, cousin, and I began our card collecting life. My older brother and cousin were four and five years older than me so they understood card collecting much better than I as they put their cards in protective holders and I kept mine in a little shoe box that I carried with me everywhere I went. Eventually, the cards began to see some wear and the corners were quite rounded due to all the shuffling around that I put them through. I remember quite often being scolded by my older brother for not taking proper care of my cards.

As I mentioned earlier, we were living in low-income housing so buying hockey cards for us wasn’t always high on my parents priority list. However, I remember one occasion where I missed an opportunity to have some hockey cards as I was out playing with some friends and came home to find that, while I was out, my older brother and cousin got some 1989-90 OPC Hockey cards from the corner store-and I did not. They had all their cards out on the table as they were sorting through in front of me. I was devastated and immediately started crying (I was eight years old and a crybaby, okay?) as I knew I probably would not have the chance to get some again for some time. Well, fortunately for me, my auntie was over at the house that day and she must have felt really sorry for me (or wanted me to stop being pathetic) because, while I was crying in my room for 45 minutes she went out and came back with a full box of 1989-90 OPC Hockey cards. I had no idea that any of this was going on but she came back in the house, called me out of the room, and presented me with the full box of cards. My eyes lit up, my heart felt warmth, and an unbreakable smile came across my face. I was so grateful and will always remember how she made me feel that day as I thanked her immensely and ripped through all 48 packs, opening as gracefully as possible (much to the dismay of my older brother and cousin).That was my first full box of cards ever and just recently I picked up another box of 1989-90 OPC Hockey from Wayne’s Sports Cards here in Edmonton, AB. This was my second full box of these cards since my auntie bought me that first box in 1990. On the bottom there are four “box bottom” hockey cards that featured Mario Lemieux, Tomas Sandstrom, Mike Ridley, and Petri Skriko. On the side of the box there is a description stating that there are four different box bottoms and a total of 16 cards that you could cut out and collect. Inside, the cards come wrapped in blue and white wax packs with a hockey player on the front celebrating a goal and there are 48(!!) Packs per box. As well, there was one stick of gum (I will get to this later) in each pack and don’t worry I didn’t eat the 27 year old gum. However, I do remember the distinct taste of the gum in the packs and also remember sharing the 48 sticks of gum with my siblings from that lone box in 1990. Furthermore, this was near the end of the era of wax as the next year in 1990-91, during the collecting craze, multiple companies entered the hockey card scene and that year very few of them besides O-Pee-Chee and Bowman used wax packs.

The cards themselves are, in my opinion, a very nicely designed set as they have a blue border on the top and bottom with an icy pattern down the side edges. Some of the cards were updated by O-Pee-Chee with a “now with” signifer as many trades were made during the season and new jerseys were airbrushed in the highest quality technology of the time. The backs of the cards include a light and dark pink shading with a no colour border. As well, there is biographical information and full statistics from every NHL season and the most previous playoff. The cards also include information about highlights from the season such as game winning goals and personal statistical highs for the player if any occurred during the season. There are 330 cards in the set and I have most of the cards together but, there were some casualties in this box and I don’t know exactly how many cards that I needed were in the pile of damaged cards because I threw them out before sorting them.Now onto the gum! Although I did appreciate the gum that was in these packs while I was growing up, on this particular occasion I did not. As I mentioned earlier, every single pack had a stick of gum in it. So, that meant there were 48 sticks of gum within this box and gum sitting next to a hockey card for 27 years doesn’t have a good outcome. Unfortunately, although the gum did still present a nice smell, it was attached to every single card and was not coming off as it was fused to the front of each card. 48 packs of cards. 48 sticks of gum. 48 ruined cards.Over the years, OPC has also made Topps as its counterpart and O-Pee-Chee has always been considered to be more valuable to collectors. However, in this particular season OPC started to mass produce their hockey cards more so than in the past and Topps made less cards. Thus, leaving Topps as the more valuable hockey card set from this particular year. As well, this set includes the rookie cards of NHL greats such as Joe Sakic, Theoren Fleury, and Brian Leetch. While also producing a solid crop of NHL rookie cards that saw Trevor Linden, Tony Granato, Craig Janney, Shayne Corson, and Gary Roberts included in the set. In my particular box I was very happy to find two Joe Sakic rookie cards, a Trevor Linden, and a Brian Leetch within the box. But, was not happy to find a second Trevor Linden rookie card with gum plastered to it.

Despite the gum fiasco, I really enjoyed opening this product. The cards themselves are beauties and it was during my first year of being a collector so it brought back so many memories for me. The overall “value” of the cards is not as much as other sets because it was O-Pee-Chee’s season of mass production as we entered the card craze. However, I feel these cards have a lot of sentimental value (thank you, auntie) and there are many quality rookies to be found within. If you find ones that are worth sending in for grading it will be your lucky day! Many of the cards in this particular box were “touched” or had some wear on the edges so I probably won’t be sending in any of the rookies from this box for grading. Nonetheless, I have seen many quality grades on the market from this product-so you would still have a very good chance of receiving 9s and possibly 9.5s from BGS. Overall, it was a fun rip and give these cards a 3 on the Dub-O-Meter and probably would have given them a 4 were it not for all the damaged cards.

Naim Cardinal

3 thoughts on “Guest Hockey Writer – Naim Cardinal”

  1. This is gonna sound crazy… but I’d actually love to one day add a gum plastered rookie card to my Sakic collection. If anything… it’d be an awesome conversation piece.

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