1992-93 O-Pee-Chee – Rick Tocchet
Lately, ever since he broke his jaw, it’s been pretty obvious to notice that Sidney Crosby has something wrong with his helmet. Something to do with protecting the injury.
What has been lost in all of this is that the same thing happened to Rick Tocchet back during the Penguins’ second Stanley Cup run in 1991-92. Sure, they say it wasn’t as bad as Sid’s, but Tocchet did fight Kris King right after returning. What are you doing, Sid? Leading the league in playoff goals? Alright, whatever.
Here’s my question – which jaw-protecting helmet was better? I’d say there are pros and cons to each, and it’s pretty tough to decide:
-Jaw protector matches helmet colour
-Tough factor with no visor and limited facial coverage
-Open-faced motorcycle helmet cool
-Jaw protector attached to awful early 1990’s Jofa helmet
-That is the only con needed
-Appears to provide actual protection for a player with a history of head injuries
-Not attached to awful early 1990’s Jofa helmet
-Cage-style design allows for easier communication with teammates and coaches
-Appears to be part of ill-fated Itech full face shield
-Might as well just wear ill-fated Itech full face shield
-Cage-style design allows for easier communication with officials
Realistically, if I was going to rock one of these, it would probably be Tocchet’s, even though it’s just hideous. I like to kick it old school, what can I tell you.
1994 O-Pee-Chee – Mitch Williams
Where have I been, you ask? Don’t worry about it. I’m back.
So, earlier today I was introduced to the following trailer: http://vimeo.com/65751635
This got me thinking about Mitch Williams. As it turns out, that low and inside pitch that he threw to Joe Carter was the last pitch he ever threw for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Even though he pitched more career games and innings for the Texas Rangers, Mitch will always be a Phillie to me. I will certainly never think of him as a Houston Astro, as he appears on the lovely piece of O-Pee-Chee cardboard above.
To be fair, I’m not sure the Houston Astros want to remember Mitch Williams all that much either. He was about as good there, consistently, as he was on his pitch to Carter in Game Six. He had a 7.65 ERA in 25 games, six saves and a walk rate of 10.8 per nine innings. All of that for just $2.5 million. In 1994 dollars. Good deal!
At least he still had that great mess of a mullet. It’s almost worth a roster spot on its own.
1992 Topps – Mike Huff
1989-90 O-Pee-Chee – Mike Hough
So, they may have spelled their names differently, but Mike Huff and Mike Hough might very well be related to each other.
How we know they’re different people:
Mike Huff was a marginal Major League Baseball player who played in 369 total games for the Dodgers, Indians, White Sox and Blue Jays. Mike Hough was a pretty regular NHL’er for over a decade, retiring after the 1998-99 season when he realized that playing for the New York Islanders, Utah Grizzlies and Lowell Lock Monsters in one season wasn’t fun anymore.
How we’re not sure they’re different people because we’ve never seen them in the same room together:
Both of the Mike Huffs/Houghs were born in 1963. The baseball version was born in Honolulu, and the hockey version was born in Montreal. Yeah. Honolulu. Sure, Mike Huff. Also, both are listed at 6 feet 1 inch tall. Convenient. The kicker here is that Mike Huff, again, conveniently, never became a regular Major Leaguer, which made it much easier to manage his professional hockey career in the NHL. He just joined his baseball team midseason once he was done on the ice. I’m convinced this is true and I won’t listen to your reasons why it’s not.
2012 Topps – Charlie Furbush
Charlie Furbush is proof that impressive names in sport are not restricted to previous generations, but are, in fact, for the modern man as well.
His name might not stay a secret for long, because he’s pretty good, but mostly because his name is Charlie Furbush. Furbush. Come on, universe. Don’t give me stuff like this. Challenge me.
Although, let’s be honest, a name like this probably would have been more appropriate in, say, the 1970’s. Think about it. It’ll make sense soon.
1981 Topps – Roy Howell
Did you know that Roy Howell was an American League All-Star in 1978? I’ll bet you didn’t – but now you do.
Did you also know that Roy Howell, while rocking the shit out of the no-flap helmet, had an absolutely spectacular beard for a guy with almost no visible eyebrows? Now you do.
Roy was one of the best players on some absolutely brutal baseball teams in Toronto, and set the stage in the city for another guy who had some success with the no-flap helmet, even though that guy wore it in the field. Still, good job, Roy.
1999-00 Upper Deck – Wendel Clark
The 1999-2000 season was Wendel Clark’s last ride in the NHL, and it ended as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and a 6-game series loss to the New Jersey Devils, which included one of the greatest ovations I’ve ever seen in his last game at the Air Canada Centre. A lot of Leaf fans remember that one.
A lot of fans, however, don’t remember his 13-game stint with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier that season – and I think we’d probably not remember that. Actually, let’s just forget about Quebec, the Islanders, Detroit and Tampa Bay as well, and watch this video instead:
And also this hockey card:
1990-91 Bowman – Wendel Clark
There, that’s better.
1990-91 Upper Deck – John Slaney
At the NHL draft, when a player’s name is called by his new team, he takes the stage and is given a new hat and a jersey for his first NHL photo opportunity. This photo opportunity usually takes place with the team’s owner, the general manager, head coach, someone’s kid, and a couple of other people who I’m sure do a hell of a job for the team.
Usually, the player takes a moment to try to make himself look presentable. Other times, like at the 1990 NHL Draft, players like John Slaney decide that the best way to wear a bad hat is to perch it atop a bad bowl haircut as awkwardly as possible. In Slaney’s case, he obviously followed three key rules to draft headwear:
1. Ensure the hat is worn as loosely as possible and make zero effort whatsoever to resize it.
2. Ensure the team’s logo is almost impossible to see on the hat due to the upward angle of the brim.
3. Ensure that everyone knows you cut your own hair with a pair of lefthanded scissors (you know, the ones with the green handles. Come on.)
Now, I think Slaney is owed a bit of a break on this one – but for one reason and one reason only: his winning goal against the USSR in the 1991 World Junior tournament (see goal #6 on the linked video). Come to think of it, how much shit does John Slaney get away with in life for scoring that goal? I’m not saying he shouldn’t, just asking. If I scored that goal, I’d want some mulligans too.
So, since today is Wayne Gretzky’s 52nd birthday, I thought I’d take a moment to recognize something that is often forgotten. Sure, he scored 894 goals and 2857 points. Sure, he once scored 50 goals in 39 games and ended up with 92 that year. Ok, so he won four Stanley Cups, a couple Canada Cups, and guided Team Canada to the Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002. I get it. He was a pretty good player in a decent league.
I’m not here to talk about that shit. I’m here to talk about a haircut that I was always jealous of and just could not pull off, no matter how hard I tried. It was a haircut that transcended genres. It had enough mullet in it to party with the best of them, but enough business in it to be serious to the point that it could single-handedly make hockey grow in the US Sunbelt. It said “I’m from Brantford, and I respect the common man, but I’m also from Los Angeles, and I’m better than you.” It said “I’m too good for St. Louis, I’ll go to New York instead, bitches.”
The haircut was the Wayne Gretzky, and it’s in the Hall of Fame. Respect it.
1990-91 Pro Set – Bryan Trottier
So, the NHL lockout appears to be over. I can’t begin to compose all my thoughts about that, so I am going to focus them instead on honouring one of the great players of the NHL’s past, from a time before The Lockout Era started.
Lots of people remember Bryan Trottier for his six 100-point seasons, his Art Ross Trophy win in 1979, his six Stanley Cups as a player, or for his assault on Brian Bellows with Kevin Stevens.
What he isn’t often remembered for is his mustache. Trottier’s mustache was a staple of the New York Islanders’ success, and then it helped push Pittsburgh over the top in 1991 and 1992 as well. You’ll notice the Islanders have been terrible since Trottier’s mustache left, and Pittsburgh almost lost their team when he left there. These things are more than just a coincidence. They are part of a Mustache Legacy.
1981 Fleer – Charlie Spikes
With a name like Charlie Spikes, having a nickname as a professional baseball player seems rather redundant. However, Charlie Spikes had a great nickname to go along with his natural nickname – the “Bogalusa Bomber,” because of his hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana and his alleged ability to hit home runs. Despite seasons of 23 and 22 home runs in 1973 and 1974, Spikes never lived up to the expectations that surrounded him, and fizzled out of baseball by 1980. However, in terms of great baseball names, he is Hall of Fame in my books.