November 3rd – 12th, 1979

Finally, putting a timeline to the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Hockey print run using player trade dates, card images and events as markers

Working out the timeline for the print run is made harder with no variations to delineate a print run from updates, in that there is only one version of every 1979 OPC card. If we could map variations, then we’d really have something. So, the only empirical knowledge we have are trade dates and how they are reflected in the card design, a distinction not shared in the Topps version.


The approach to determining the timeline was simple; record when every trade occurred (for a player with a card) and compare the trade to the cards to see if any there are any differences, thinking that the timeline might reveal itself when I came to the point when trade statements weren’t being added to the card design. This finally did happen on November 2nd, 1979 – the three trades between the Rockies and the Rangers consisting of Barry Beck, Pat Hickey and Mike McEwen – each card updated with a traded statement. But the players with cards in the next trade, on November 13, 1979 between the Blues and the Penguins – Bob Stewart for Blair Chapman – had no traded statements, each in their old uniform on their old team’s card. Bingo.


As the table below reveals, the distinct periods of time in 1979 / 80 in which each status dominates also reveals that they didn’t pay attention to certain player’s cards. In going back a few years, the series includes a number of players who enjoyed a number of seasons in the NHL throughout the mid-late 70’s, but who’s image was still pulled from the WHA or CHL archives rather than send a photographer out to take a new picture. Also interesting to note is that the last trades made and recorded with the correct layout and wearing the correct jersey on the correct card are Wayne Dillon and Barry Melrose, traded to the Jets and pictured playing at home in Winnipeg against Boston. According to their schedule that year, they played Boston twice in 1979, once in each city, and the home game was on Friday, October 26, 1979, which was when this picture must have been taken. This was also the last weekend before the suggested print run period. Since no other players with cards are reflected in their correct jerseys after this date, this was the last picture taken for the set. Other than images of players from Expansion teams (which consists mostly of images from ’75 – ’78 seasons), a disproportionate number of images were taken when teams were hosting the Washington Capitals.


Some assumptions do have to be made for all of this to be an accurate measuring stick, and one is that, at no time was there a substantive decision made to move forward with the print-run when O-Pee-Chee had knowledge of a trade and decided not to record it. If so, the only time that would make sense would be in the last few weeks of November when they might have been trying to rush to the holiday market and a few other trades came through that they chose to ignore. There were fourteen trades (of players who have cards) between the suggested timeline and the end of the year. It stands to reason that OPC would have been aware of end-of-year trades from simply being in the business for decades, and yet still decided to go to print, likely with the intention to fulfill a production and distribution schedule which needed to be initiated at the beginning of November to succeed.

A second print run?

When we talk about having a card from the first print-run, what we are really saying is “when the first batch of cards were printed” or “in the earliest days of the print-run”, because after comparing the cards to the trade schedule, there is no clear evidence of the company doing anything to the series after November 13, 1979.

“In 1974 Topps changed its release strategy. No longer were cards released in series, but all at once. From 1974 until 1992, Topps would release brands in this fashion, with two small exceptions in 1974 and 1976, when Topps issued its first traded sets. Topps’ rationale for this change from multiple series to a single series is visible on an advertisement on a Topps wax box in 1974, which explains that making all cards from the set available in a pack will Keep Topps baseball exciting and selling all season long. – Artie Zillante, Chair, Professor of Economics, November 25th, 2007.

1979 NHL Trade Table

June 1978 – November 1980

A timeline table of players who were traded and also had a card in the 1979 / 80 OPC series

LEGEND: New Card / New Photo | New Card / Old Photo | Old Card | TIMELINE EVENT

June 15th, 1978


Bob Stewart
North Stars > Blues

June 16th, 1978


Thomas Gradin
Black Hawks > Canucks

August 8th, 1978


Bob L. Murdoch
Minnesota > Blues
(’78 Cleveland Barons jersey, NHL Rookie Card, CHL since ’71, 54 games with Blues, returned to CHL until ’80)

TOPPS: Kings card

Dale McCourt
Detroit > LA
Awarded as compensation to LA for signing restricted free agent Rogie Vachon by Detroit

October 5th, 1978


Walt McKechnie
North Stars > Maple Leafs

October 9th, 1978


Pierre Bouchard
Montreal > Washington
(claimed from Montreal in ’78 Waiver Draft, NHL voided trade and he retired in protest, later joined Capitals March 16, ’79)

November 9, 1978

Photo taken for the Gretzky rookie card, Springfield Mass., against the New England Whalers at the Springfield Civic Center. The Bruins photographer Steve Babineau was there to get a shot of Gordie, but a number of images came from that night; basically anyone in the series wearing a WHA Whalers jersey.

December 29th, 1978

TOPPS: Same card

Dennis Ververgaert
Canucks > Flyers


Kevin McCarthy
Flyers > Canucks

January 16, 1979

TOPPS: Same card

Richard Mulhern
Flames > Kings

TOPPS: Same card

Bob J. Murdoch #276
Kings > Flames

March 12th, 1979


Jocelyn Guevremont
Sabres > Rangers
(’78 Sabres jersey)

May 24th, 1979


Curt Bennett
Blues > Flames

June 7th, 1979

TOPPS: Same card

Phil Myre
Blues > Flyers

TOPPS: Same card

Blake Dunlop
Flyers > Blues

June 9th, 1979


Barry Gibbs
Blues > Islanders > Kings


Terry Richardson
Blues > Islanders
(another trade to come)

June 13th, 1979


Don Kozak
Canucks > Hartford > Springfield
(from expansion)

June 14th, 1979


Terry Richardson
Islanders > Whalers

The NHL Expansion (WHA Merger)

Friday, June 22nd, 1979

For a complete list of the players introduced / claimed back, please see Wikipedia


Rick Hampton
Kings card, Cleveland Barons ’78 jersey. (more)

TOPPS: Blackhawks card

Bobby Hull
Left Chicago to play for the Jets from the WHA start to finish; jersey airbrushed to look like he came from Chicago. The Topps version has Hull on a Blackhawks card in a “Chicago” jersey. (more)


J. Bob Kelly
Edmonton acquires J. Bob Kelly from Chicago, but OPC uses the Flyers’ Bob Kelly image, so right new team, wrong image. J. Bob Kelly added the “J” to try to differentiate himself, but this card is proof this didn’t work. See how this card should have looked.


Dave Semenko
Minesota > Oilers
(correct card)
Reclaimed by Minnesota from Edmonton, traded back to Edmonton Aug. 9. Why is this card the only player from the expansion with the correct card layout?


Ron Plumb
Wasn’t traded, stayed with Whalers from WHA to NHL (rookie card), his only NHL season, shown in his ’75 San Diego Mariners jersey. Plumb had three years after ’75 with Cincinnati they could have used.


Roland Eriksson
Minnesota ’76-’78, June 7, ’78 signed as free agent by Vancouver for 35 games, January ’79 signed as free agent by Winnipeg (WHA) for 33 games, September 27, 1979 moved to Sweden for their entire season. Never played for Winnipeg in the NHL.

The Topps Print Run

June 25th – August 9th, 1979

This marks the last date when a Topps card was updated.

June 28th, 1979


Barry Melrose
Nordiques > Jets
(photo: Oct. 26, 1979)


Jamie Hislop
Jets > Nordiques

July 2nd, 1979


Bill Lochead
Rockies > Rangers

July 9th, 1979

TOPPS: no statement

Ken Dryden

July 25th, 1979


Wayne Dillon
Rangers > Jets
(photo: Oct. 26 1979)

August 1st, 1979

TOPPS: Nordiques card

Richard Brodeur
Nordiques > Islanders

August 3rd, 1979

TOPPS: Pittsburgh card

Pete Mahovlich
Penguins > Detroit

TOPPS: Detroit card

Nick Libett
Detroit > Penguins

August 9th, 1979


Dave Semenko
North Stars > Oilers
(the last correct card, ’78 Oilers jersey)

The NHL Entry Draft

Thursday, August 9, 1979

The NHL selected 126 players for entry, to be conducted after the NHL-WHA merger. The four WHA teams had joined the NHL on the condition that they be placed at the bottom of the draft order, as opposed to the top of the order, the usual for expansion teams. Also, the minimum draft age was lowered from 20 to 18 to coincide with the merger causing three years of draft picks in the same draft resulting in the best draft classes in history.

No player drafted has a hockey card in the ’79 OPC series. Perhaps Topps had already assembled the layout for the sheets and gone to print. If so then the timeline for the Topps print run predates August 9th, 1979.

August 16th, 1979

TOPPS: Flyers card

Wayne Stephenson
Flyers > Capitals

August 22nd, 1979

TOPPS: Kings card

Dale McCourt
Wings > Kings > Wings
** COURT CASE RESOLUTION DATE ** McCourt got a temporary restraining order on Sept. 18, ’78 allowing him to stay with the Red Wings until the case was resolved until this day, August 22nd, 1979. He never played for LA, Topps airbrushed a Kings uniform when the initial trade took place August 8th, ’78 and went to print, all OPC could do was update with a statement at this time.

TOPPS: Detroit card

Andre St. Laurent
Red Wings > Kings

August 30, 1979

TOPPS: Canadians card

Pat Hughes
Canadiens > Penguins
Discover the printing error that contaminated numerous Gretzky rookie cards

TOPPS: Pittsburgh card

Denis Herron
Penguins > Canadiens

October 5th, 1979

TOPPS: Sabres card

Rene Robert
Sabres > Rockies

TOPPS: Rockies card

John Van Boxmeer
Rockies > Sabres

October 10th, 1979


Don Laurence
Flames > Blues


Ed Kea
Flames > Blues

TOPPS: Blues card

Garry Unger
Blues > Flames
(rights only)

October 23rd, 1979


Bobby Lalonde
Flames > Bruins

October 26th, 1979

Date of the last photos taken for the print run: Game between Jets (3) v. Bruins (2). For the Jet’s Melrose / Dillon cards to be the correct layout, the print run must have happened after this date.
Winnipeg Arena

October 30th, 1979

TOPPS: Detroit card

Greg Carroll
Detroit > Whalers
(Free Agent Released July ’80; 6 games with Springfield, 71 with Hartford ’79-’80)

November 2nd, 1979

TOPPS: Rockies card

Barry Beck
Rockies > Rangers

TOPPS: Rangers card

Pat Hickey
Rangers > Rockies

TOPPS: Rangers card

Mike McEwen
Rangers > Rockies

The O-Pee-Chee Print Run

Saturday, November 3rd – Monday November 12th, 1979

The point where trades are no longer being recorded

November 13th, 1979

Bob Stewart
Blues > Penguins

Blair Chapman
Penguins > Blues

December 7th, 1979

Gord Lane
Capitals > Islanders

Mike Kaszycki
Islanders > Capitals

December 10th, 1979

Bobby Schmautz
Bruins > Oilers

Per-Olov Brasar
North Stars > Canucks

December 13th, 1979

Dave Farrish
Nordiques > Maple Leafs

December 21st, 1979

Ron Sedlbauer
Canucks > Black Hawks

Harold Phillipoff
Black Hawks > Canucks

December 27th, 1979

Pat Boutette
Toronto > Whalers
(no statement – image taken either December 30, ’78 or March 28, ’79; standing next to Tom Rowe in a ’78-’79 Capitals jersey)

Bob Stephenson
Whalers > Toronto

December 30th, 1979

Joel Quenneville
Toronto > Rockies

Lanny McDonald
Toronto > Rockies
(no statement – image taken either December 30, ’78 or March 28, ’79)

January 2nd, 1980

Jack McIlhargey
Canucks > Flyers

January 4th, 1980

Kris Manery
Minnesota > Canucks

There are 34 additional trades between January 4th and the end of August, ’80, which is when Topps would have gone to print for their 1980-81 series. None of the following trades have updated cards in the ’79 OPC run.

January 10th, 1980: Dave Hutchison Toronto > Chicago (toronto card), Pat Ribble Chicago > Toronto (chicago card)
January 17th, 1980: Alan Hangsleben Whalers > Capitals (whalers card) Tom Rowe Capitals > Whalers (capitals card)
February 8th, 1980: Ivan Boldirev Flames > Canucks (flames card) Darcy Rota Flames > Canucks (flames card) Don Lever Canucks > Flames (canucks card) Brad Smith (no card)
February 10th, 1980: Richard Mulhern off waiver from LA > Toronto (LA card)
February 16th, 1980: Pat Ribble Toronto > Capitals (chicago card) Mike Kaszycki Capitals > Toronto (islanders card)
February 18th, 1980: Tiger Williams Toronto > Canucks (toronto card) Jerry Butler Toronto > Canucks (toronto card)
February 25th, 1980: Bobby Schmautz Oilers > Colorado (still bruins card)
February 27th, 1980: Bobby Hull Jets > Whalers (jets card, “Chicago” Jersey)
March 3rd, 1980: Walt McKechnie Toronto > Rockies (toronto card)
March 10th, 1980: Jerry Korab Buffalo > LA (buffalo card) Butch Goring LA > Islanders (LA card) Bill Harris Islanders > LA (islanders card) Bill Harris Islanders > LA (islanders card)
March 11th, 1980: Don Murdoch Rangers > Oilers (rangers card) Cam Connor Oilers > Rangers (oilers card) Ron Low Oilers > Quebec (Quebec card, capitals jersey)
June 6th, 1980: Randy Holt LA > Flames (no card but in penalty minutes card) Garry Unger Flames > LA (flames card blues jersey)
June 10th, 1980: Dave Shand Flames > Toronto (flames card)
June 11th, 1980: Barry Dean Flyers > Oilers (flyers card) Mike Palmateer Toronto > Capitals (toronto card) Robert Picard Capitals > Toronto (capitals card)
July 1st, 1980: Jean Pronovost Flames > Capitals (flames card)
July 15th, 1980: Gilles Gilbert Bruins > Detroit (bruins card) Rogatien Vachon Detroit > Boston (detroit card)
August 6th, 1980: Gord Smith Jets > Rangers (jets card)
August 21, 1980: J.Bob Kelly Flyers > Capitals (Photo Actually Bob Kelly, wrong team)
September 4th, 1980: Al Smith Whalers > Rockies (whalers card)
September 15th, 1980: Andre Dupont Flyers > Quebec (flyers card)
October 6th, 1980: Richard Brodeur Islanders > Canucks (islanders card, “Chicago” jersey)
October 30th, 1980: Bill Stewart Buffalo > Blues (buffalo card)
November 11th, 1980: Jere Gillis Canucks > Rangers (canucks card)
November 21st, 1980: Jack McIlhargey Flyers > Hartford (still canucks card)

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