1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Team Logos: Beckett Pricing Insider
This edition of the Beckett Pricing Insider is sponsored by Grizzly Sports Cards.
I’m a sucker for the “new to me” concepts of collecting. Those little niches of the Hobby that are unfamiliar or just don’t make the highlight reels of social media outlets as collectors show off their “big hits”. For example, the WHA isn’t exactly new or exciting for the modern collector, but vintage collectors love some of the names associated with the league. Gordie, Mark, and Marty Howe all make appearances in the short-lived alternative to the NHL as well as Bobby Hull, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, and Bernie Parent, just to name a few. However, what has piqued my interest are the WHA logos that can be found in the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee Team Logos inserts.
The set is littered with team logos from the WHA, all of which are short prints, thus adding value for collectors. What I am fascinated by are the team themselves and their respective histories. Hockey fans are well aware of clubs like the Nordiques, Jets, Oilers, and Whalers all of which were part of a merger with the NHL in 1979, but it’s those teams that didn’t make it but are represented on cardboard in this set that I really enjoy.
Teams like the Cleveland Crusaders, who joined the league in ’72 but folded in ’76 with a franchise record of 150-144-20. The team’s leaders were Gary Jarrett, who amassed 223 points over his 298 games with club and netminder Gerry Cheevers, who was one of the most high profile names to be signed away from the NHL for the WHA. The Crusaders folded after the NHL’s California Golden Seals moved to The Land in ’76 and becoming the Barrons and it was determined by the owner Nick Mileti that they simply could not compete with the NHL and eventually relocated to Minnesota after a proposed moved to Florida wasn’t approved.
When I worked for the Seattle Mariners we once hosted a series against the Miami Marlins in which the Mariners were the away team because the band U2 booked a concert series at Marlins Park and gave the boot to the home team. This resulted in a poorly advertise stretch of “home” games for the M’s and an even worse-attended series. It was a concept that I was unaware of, but the Chicago Cougars were more than aware of it when in 1974 a presentation of Peter Pan ousted them from their home arena, during the Avco Cup Finals, which resulted in the club playing two home games at the Randhurst Twin Ice Arena and not the International Amphitheatre. This short-lived franchise saw just three seasons of actions with an overall record of 94-132-8 and is more known for the “Peter Pan Incident” than anything else.
If there was a star franchise of the WHA it was the Houston Aeros. The team that was unwanted by the residents of Dayton, OH, where they were hoping to play as a charter team of the league, landed in Houston where they dominated the Western Division, winning that title in ’74,’75, ’76, and ’77. Factor in the two Avco Trophy wins in ’74 and ’75 as well and you can understand why this team, lead by the Howe family, was a force to be reckoned with. The franchise overall record of 285-170-19 was one of the best six-year runs in all of hockey. Their owner, Kenneth Schnitzer, tried on several occasions to have the franchise merged into the NHL but was denied on each attempt. Sadly, the franchise was the only WHA team to win a championship that did not end up in the NHL.
There are of course the Saints, Sharks, Nationals, Blazers, and Raiders in this set as well, all victims to either mergers or franchise foldings. On a whole, the 30 card set isn’t going to break the bank and it’s a fun walk down memory lane for vintage collectors and modern sports history lovers like myself.