Dammit, Stark - where was your warning?
Over this past weekend, winter bowled into the Chicagoland area like Pete Rose into Ray Fosse - surprisingly and with great force. On Thursday, Chicago's temperatures were in the 70's... by Saturday morning, we already had wind chill readings in the teens. To re-purpose a popular quote from a certain comedic classic, "...and summer gave autumn a miss and went straight on into winter."
On the bright side, maybe I can finally get back into Blackhawks hockey now that the weather matches the sporting season. The Cubs hangover has been quite real and it's tough to get into the ice hockey sort of mood when it's warm enough to wear shorts. That clearly hasn't affected the Hawks themselves though, seeing as they've shot out of the gate to a 13-4-2 record.
While the Blackhawks were extinguishing the Calgary Frames this past Friday, I popped into my LCS to buy some four-pocket pages. In order to flesh out my purchase a little bit, I decided to peruse the vintage hockey selection in search of new additions for my Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection. Luckily, I was not disappointed:
We start off with a pair of 1975-76's from Topps.
Grant Mulvey was one of the biggest names in franchise history that I hadn't yet acquired. "Granny" played all but twelve games of his 586-game career with Chicago and holds the franchise record for most goals in a game (five, plus two assists). Unfortunately, his career was cut short in 1984 by a spate of injuries. Meanwhile, teammate and fellow winger Germain Gagnon was more of a journeyman, seeing time with Montreal, Chicago, Kansas City and New York during his career.
On the latter card, I love the dichotomy in safety equipment between Germain and the skater he is guarding - old school vs. new school.
Now we jump a year ahead with this set of 1976-77 Topps singles, both of which feature some on the terrible airbrushing jobs that Topps was known for at this time.
This Bobby Sheehan is not the same one that played bass for Blues Traveler, though you might say he gave the NHL and WHA a "Runaround," having played for an eye-popping 12 different teams during his playing days. No wonder they had to airbrush him, he never stayed in one place long enough to get photographed! On the other hand, Gilles Villemure only played with two different clubs, New York and Chicago, including only 21 games with the latter as a backup to the legendary Tony Esposito.
Remember that phase where jam bands were all the rage?
Moving on, this time we hop two seasons into the future with a pair of 1977-78 Topps:
Jim Harrison spent three seasons with the Blackhawks towards the end of his 17 year career in the NHL/WHA. The center's time with the team wasn't particularly notable and, excepting a three game cameo with Edmonton during the 79-80 season, would mark the end of his time in the pros.
Randy Holt was known as one of the toughest players in the game when he was active - the defenceman still holds the NHL single-game record for penalty minutes (67). Holt was drafted by the Hawks in 1973 and rode the shuttle between the minors and the NHL for the next several years, never finding a regular role until he was traded to the Cleveland Barons, just as the 77-78 season was getting underway.
The brawl that helped lead to Holt's infamous record
With that, we've come to the end of my latest vintage hockey splurge and, all told, I spent about a quarter per card. While Chicago may be just beginning a long and harsh winter, at least it provided me the motivation to add these aged gems to my collection and to start paying attention to the best of the winter sports.
I guess it's not all bad.
Although, I severely doubt my disposition will remain as sunny the first day it snows or the temperature dips below zero. I guess the only solution is to search out more cheap vintage hockey cards to keep my mood above the freezing mark. I think that plan is just crazy enough to work.