Sunday, December 3, 2023

Impromptu Pack Rip at the Golf Course

I'm going to continue last week's post with a fun story: 
My brother—the same one I've played golf with all season—knows that I'm a card collector. He also remembers my high school and college hockey days very well, as he was of an impressionable young age back then.
So when he came across some dollar packs of 1990s hockey cards at a thrift shop a few weeks ago, he couldn't help but pick them up. Fast forward a few weeks, and he smartly presented them to me as a surprise, after a round of golf.

Color me impressed. And nostalgic.

You see, Those packs are from years when I myself was young and impressionable and really getting into ice hockey, and I certainly ripped my share of those exact packs during the 1990-91 and 1992-93 seasons.

Did we open them right then and there?

Yes. Yes we did. My brother took the 1990-91 pack, and I took the 1992-93 pack. Here are the results, along with a bit of commentary I shared with little bro about some of the players.
1992-93 Upper Deck:

My pack started out a bit bland, but Esa Tikkanen was a very important part of all those Oilers Stanley Cup teams of the 1980s. (He also helped the Rangers to their Cup in 1994.)

My brother and I played our share of video games back in the '90s as well, including some of the NHL games from EA Sports. Cliff Ronning, who was a solid player, don't get me wrong (306 goals and 563 assists for 869 points in 1,137 games played), appeared in one of the early versions of the NHL video games with an absurdly high skill set—way too high for him. The reason? Ronning was a schoolmate with the man who went on to found EA Sports. So, one old friend helped out another. And hundreds of thousands of kids probably selected the Vancouver Canucks as their video game team that year as a result.
Pierre Turgeon had some monster years for the Islanders, which coincided with my high school hockey days in New York. Back then I took guitar lessons for a while, and when my instructor told me that he had also started to give lessons to Mr. Turgeon, I couldn't believe it. I remember asking if he'd bring one of my Pierre Turgeon hockey cards to a lesson for an autograph, but he politely declined. And I totally get it now.


No personal stories with these three guys. Teppo was an excellent player (and that might be Wayne Gretzky behind him). The other two gents didn't play much at all in the NHL.

One of my hockey teammates called Scott Lachance "Scott LaGroin" because the poor guy seemed to be plagued by injuries for a couple of years there.
And that's that. Not much of a pack, overall. Lots of good, nicely cropped action shots, however. The only stars were Turgeon and Hasek.
Now my brother's pack, 1990-91 Upper Deck: 
A Felix Potvin rookie card, right out of the gate! Team Canada won the World Juniors that year. The roster included some pretty big future stars, like Eric Lindros and Scott Niedermayer. As for Ulf Dahlen and his North Stars uniform, my brother specifically commented on how cool it was. He was pretty young when the team moved to Dallas, but he's still well aware of those Minnesota uniforms all these years later.
Based on that glare, I don't think too many people messed with Mario Marois. And look, there's Theo Fleury on a horizontal card, about to score a goal at the All-Star game.
My brother was amused by the hockey-player-in-a-tuxedo card, but Brett Hull racked up the awards in the early '90s, so it's no surprise.

Contrary to what many hockey fans seem to think, I actually like the style of Maple Leafs jersey that Wendel Clark is sporting here. As for the Winnipeg Jets team checklist featuring Thomas Steen, my brother appreciated the fancy '90s artwork. 
Welp, no big rookies like Sergei Fedorov or Pavel Bure, but the Felix Potvin card was a solid pull, and the best one in the pack. Add in a couple of All-Star cards, a Brett Hull award winner card, and Wendel Clark, and I think my brother won that fairly lackluster pack battle.
Regardless, it was a fun rip. At first I wondered if it was the first time anyone had ever opened up a couple of packs of hockey cards on the golf course, but then I figured that no, it probably happens in Canada all the time. Heck, instead of playing for $5 a hole, there are probably some Canadian folks who play for a pack of hockey cards per hole. If not, maybe next season my brother and I will start that tradition. 
How about you readers? What's the most interesting place you've ever opened a pack of trading cards?


  1. Hasek wins the first pack.
    Potvin wins the second pack.
    Nowhere interesting for me. Mostly at home. A few at the trolley stop when I was living in San Diego.

    1. Trolley stop is interesting! If it was a busy stop, I'm sure you had at least one fellow commuter looking over your shoulder to see what packs you were opening.

  2. Being hockey, I can't really add anything to the main part of the post. However, I can say that I really miss those early, thicker foil Upper Deck wrappers. Those were so great. If one can be nostalgic for a sound, than I'm nostalgic for the sound that those packs make when being opened. It's a sound that's very difficult to describe, but if you know it, you know it.

  3. Two of my all-time favorite sets here. Always brings back great memories to see that puck/logo on the '92-93 set and the team color marble borders of '90-91. Having completed both sets log ago, I do miss ripping open packs and appreciating the assortment of great action photos and artwork.

    1. Agreed, Chris. The designs have really held up well over the years. Great memories for me, too.

  4. Big fan of 90-91 UD Hockey's design. I actually love the Score and Pro Set designs from that year too. As for ripping packs, can't think of anything too crazy. I know I've opened packs in the car before. And they technically weren't wax packs, but I opened up those Mother's Cookies envelopes at baseball games.

    1. Same here, Fuji. 1990-91 was a pretty cool year for hockey cards. Opening a pack of cards at a baseball game seems like something everyone should do at least once, right?

  5. Fun packs, thanks for the Ronning trivia!

    1. You're very welcome, Jafronius! Those early EA Sports games were so fun.