Sunday, March 10, 2019

Completed Set: 1990-91 Score Hockey

1990-91 proved to be a watershed season for hockey cards. Suddenly Topps and O-Pee-Chee weren’t the only boxes on store shelves. Now you also had Upper Deck, Score, Pro Set, Bowman, and O-Pee-Chee Premier to choose from.

Score’s first attempt was a good one. Their photography wasn’t quite on the level of Upper Deck’s, but overall it was still more interesting than the usual from Topps, who always seemed to include a lot of the “standing around during warmups” images on their hockey cards. (As a kid who had a certain amount of loyalty to Topps/OPC back then, even I had to acknowledge that fact, and opened quite a few packs of Score Hockey that year.)

As for the card borders, Score went with a rather safe yet appealing design, featuring a blue line/red line/blue line motif along the side borders and a player silhouette on the bottom right that’s reminiscent of the 1973 Topps baseball set.

When I rediscovered my childhood collection a few years ago, this was one of the sets that was almost complete. And I’m happy to say that I’ve now picked up the few cards I needed to complete it. The set still isn’t in a binder, because I usually reserve binders for pre-1990s sets. However, after looking through the cards again, maybe I’ll put them in pages one day after all.

Here are some of my favorites:

Wayne Gretzky, #1
There’s Wayne-O, doing his classic “cross the blueline, glide to a stop on right skate while winding up,
then shoot” maneuver. The action shots in this set are impressive, and often capture the moment quite well. 

Rod Langway, #20

It’s nice that you can see one of Rod Langway’s opponents giving chase in the background.
I feel like that doesn’t happen too often on hockey cards. 

Rob Ramage, #36

Even more impressive than the vertical action shots are some of the horizontal ones.
Score framed this card of Rob Ramage blasting one from the point rather nicely. 

Don Sweeney, #51
Another great horizontal shot that’s framed very well, and captures a “hockey moment”. Looks like Don Sweeney may have just dropped back to collect the puck, and now he's circling around to transition up the ice. If you’re a Bruins fan, you might give Score a bonus point for a clear shot of the Bruins crest on Sweeney's jersey and the New England Sports Network advertisement on the boards in the background. 

Daren Puppa, #60

Yet another horizontal card, this one from a vantage point not usually seen.
It almost feels like you’re on the ice and part of the play. (Top right! Shoot!)

Glen Wesley, #97
 Glen Wesley putting some mustard on a pass. 

Shayne Corson, #213

It’s always great to see a goal celebration on a hockey card.
(Although the dude in the Flyers jersey behind the glass is not impressed.) 

Brett Hull, #300
 This might be my favorite card in the set. 

Here’s an example of a card back. Two whole paragraphs filled with information,
which was standard for Score back then, no matter the sport.

Bill Ranford, #345

A statuesque Bill Ranford making the glove save. 

Jaromir Jagr, #428

Had to add the baby-faced Jaromir Jagr. 

Eric Lindros, #440
Score signed Eric Lindros to an exclusive contract that season, which allowed them to place the future superstar on an NHL hockey card. It was a pretty big coup at the time, as “Lindros Mania” was everywhere.

Along with the photography hits, though, Score had some misses. Mostly they involved cropping decisions. Sometimes, in order to get that follow-through, or to show the player controlling the puck, Score decided to partially crop the player out of the frame. What you get is a card that shows the entire hockey stick and a lot of empty rink space. It works alright for the horizontal cards, but not as much for the verticals.

Kelly Kisio, #37

Tom Laidlaw, #69

Dave Chyzowski, #372

However, if you look through the entire set, you’ll see that a majority of the time 1990-91 Score gets it right. A very solid overall effort for their inaugural hockey set. Probably a bit underrated, too.

What are your thoughts on Score’s first try at hockey?


  1. Congratulations! I have not completed any hockey sets yet, I'm curious to see which will be the first. I like the Score design/set that year. It's pretty iconic. Are you going to try to complete both versions?

    1. Thanks Billy! I hadn't thought about completing the Canadian version of the set, but being that it's so similar to the American version, I just don't think I need the extra cardboard taking up space at home.

      However, one of the nice things about cards from the early 1990s is that you can probably still buy an entire box, open the packs, and build a set for 20 or 30 dollars.

  2. much better RW&B design than the baseball equivalent which I've never card for. I like this one! Space is the only reason I don't collect hockey...that and I cant afford two sports!

    1. If you find a tiny bit of space for hockey cards at some point, let me know. I can find some duplicates to send your way.