A response to the NHL / WHA merger on June 22, 1979. The NHL allowed all their clubs to claw back all of the players who had left for the WHA. Exceptions were made for Gordie Howe who stayed with the Whalers and didn’t have to go back to Detroit, and Bobby Hull of the Jets who didn’t have to return to Chicago. Its unclear why Hull got the traded statement and not Howe.
Since the coming-together of the two leagues was seen by the NHL as an expansion and not a merger, no previous stats were recognized (which is why Gretzky’s rookie year is 1979 with the Oilers and not 1978 with the Racers), as these were “new teams” in the league. The Hull card reflects this position, with a degree of vigor that seems like a surprising amount of work to go through to make it look like he was being traded from Chicago, as they went so far as to airbrush the Blackhawks jersey over his Jets jersey from his 1975 O-Pee-Chee WHA portrait, as seen in the examples.
Is this just an effort to be accurate, or trying to make the NHL happy. If accurate, then they need to explain the J. Bob Kelly, Ron Plumb and Rick Hampton cards.
If they did this for both the Topps and OPC print runs, then neither print run could have happened before June 22nd, 1979.
’75 OPC WHA