A couple of years ago, I finished the 1977-78 Topps Hockey base set. It was, and still is, the oldest hockey set I've completed. And although at the time I was aware of a small insert set that went along with the base set, I didn't pay it much attention. After all, I was still busy celebrating the main set completion.
However, time has since gone by, and I've been looking for another set to complete. Not really up for a big set build, I've been going back to some of the sets I've already completed to see if there's anything else I can add to them. For example, wax box bottoms, instant win cards, stickers, and the like.
So, I looked into the glossy inserts for this '77-78 set. There are only 22 cards in total, which I thought was very doable. And back when these cards were available as wax packs in local drug stores and supermarkets and the like, one glossy came in each pack. I figured it would only be right to find all 22 and add them to the 1977-78 binder.
With a combination of trades on TCDB and a few little purchases on sportlots.com, the set was complete. Here are all 22 cards, in number order.
First up we have Wayne Cashman on the prowl behind the net, Gerry Cheevers sporting those classic leather pads, and a miscut Bobby Clarke. (Maybe I'll replace that one someday.)
Next it's Marcel Dionne, who's possibly heading to the penalty box after a scrap, Ken Dryden with a super-cool, classic paint job on the mask, and Jethro (a.k.a. Clark Gillies) lookin' tough.
Guy Lafleur is captured in a moment of stillness, soon to be going 30 mph no doubt, Reggie Leach is giving a little stick chop to a Rangers player on the face-off, and Rick MacLeish is chasing after a loose puck. Looks like he's going to get there first.
Now it's Dave Maloney playing some defense, Rick Martin on the offensive, and Don Murdoch with some nice hockey hair. It seems like most players made a deliberate effort to sign their names in whatever open white space existed on the photo, which is really nice.
Here's Brad Park coasting around as some Captials look on from the bench, Gilbert Perreault showing us that classic Sabres logo, and Denis Potvin, who has likely either just thrown a body check, or is looking to throw one. If you've noticed by now that these cards go in alphabetical order by the player's last name, give yourself a bonus point.
Next we have Jean Ratelle battling along the boards, Glenn Resch loosening up in pre-game warmups, and Larry Robinson skating into the frame to assess the scene in front of him. These cards measure 2 1/4 by 3 1/4, so they're a little smaller than standard. The cardstock is a little different too, and card fronts have a slight gloss. Another interesting point is that these cards were issued with square corners, too. (Same players, same order.) I'm not sure about the distribution rates, or if that was a regional thing, but the square-cornered versions appear to be more scarce.
Steve Shutt positions himself for a one-timer while Darryl Sittler shows us his nimble crossover step. Meanwhile, Tim Young darts toward the goal from the left wing. Shutt had a monster year, with 60 goals. As for Tim Young, this was only his second season in the league, but he had a career year with 29 goals, 66 assists (T-3rd in NHL), and 95 points (T-5th in NHL).
I actually went slightly out of order with those three cards, however (19, 20, and 22), in order to leave card 21 on its own.
It's a horizontal card! There's Rogie Vachon, ready to make a save. What a terrific photo.
Now here are some card backs.
Not much to talk about there. But there are some talking points about this set.
For instance, as I was putting it together, I wondered how the players were selected. Did they represent the all-star selections from the previous year? Well, most of the all-stars were included, but not all. Borje Salming and Guy Lapointe are missing.
So, how were the players chosen? I investigated a bit further:
The set consists of 13 players from the Wales Conference and 9 players from the Campbell Conference, so Topps didn't use that factor as a guide.
The set consists of 4 goalies, 4 defensemen, 7 centers, 4 left wings, and 3 right wings, so Topps didn't quite use that factor as a guide, either.
There were 18 teams in the NHL at that time, and only 9 are represented in this insert set:
4 Boston Bruins
4 Montreal Canadiens
3 Philadelphia Flyers
3 New York Islanders
2 Los Angeles Kings
2 New York Rangers
2 Buffalo Sabres
1 Toronto Maple Leafs
1 Minnesota North Stars
Strike that factor from the equation, as well.
So what is it? Well, the choices seem to be based on the points leaders from the previous season. But even so, Topps left out players that could have very well been included, like Lanny McDonald (5th in goals, T-8th in points), Borje Salming (T-3 in assists), Wilf Paiement (6th in goals), Peter McNab (T-8th in goals, T-11th in points), Phil Esposito (13th in goals, T-17th in points), and Butch Goring (T-10 in assists, 12th in points).
So why not swap in a few of those guys for Boston's Wayne Cashman, or the Rangers' Dave Maloney or Don Murdoch, who didn't show up near the top of the scoring leaderboards? It would have been fun to see the wider variety of uniforms that Wilf Paiement of the Rockies, Dennis Maruk of the Barons, or Guy Charron of the Capitals would have brought to the set, for example.
Regardless, it's still a nice little set, and I'm happy to have completed it and added it to my '77-78 binder.
And that leads to a question for you readers:
When you complete a base set, do you then go for insert sets like this one?
And if you already have the base set in a binder, do you add the insert set at the end? Or maybe the beginning? I add mine at the end of the binder.
Share in the comment section, and thanks for reading!