On Tuesday night, Paul MacLean will coach his first NHL game in Winnipeg, a city where he was a star player during the 1980s.
MacLean has guided the Senators to a winning record through 23 games, enjoying the same success as a rookie head coach as he did as a first-year player in the league. MacLean burst onto the NHL scene with a 36-goal campaign for the Winnipeg Jets in his first full season in the league.
However, for all of his success as a rookie, Paul MacLean does have one glaring error: His 1982-83 O-PEE-CHEE hockey card.
At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with MacLean’s rookie card. His name is spelled correctly, he’s wearing a Winnipeg Jets jersey and his trademark mustache is prominent in the photo.
But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that MacLean doesn’t look anything like a fresh-faced rookie. Instead, he looks like a pretty grizzled veteran…one that goes by the name of Larry Hopkins.
Indeed, the folks at O-PEE-CHEE had a brain cramp and mistakenly put the photo of Hopkins—an NHL journeyman who played only 60 games—on the rookie card of Paul MacLean. The Sens’ head coach admits he was hurt when he first saw someone else’s face on his NHL rookie card.
“Your initial reaction is disappointment. It was a big deal to have a hockey card,” recalls MacLean. “Larry Hopkins was a friend of mine in Winnipeg and he never got a hockey card. So at the end of the day, he ended up with one and I got one.”
If a trading card company makes a mistake on a player’s rookie card today, it’s not that big of a deal. There are countless card companies on the market now, so if your O-PEE-CHEE rookie card has the wrong photo, you can always fall back on your Upper Deck one.
But 30 years ago, O-PEE-CHEE was essentially the only game in town, so MacLean had to live with the error on his rookie card. One member of his family was so upset with the situation that she contacted the O-PEE-CHEE company in London, Ontario.
“My mother actually wrote the company and told them that this wasn’t my picture," said MacLean. "They actually sent her a great big 8 x 10 picture of me to make up for the mistake,” adds MacLean. “Now it doesn’t mean a lot – but back at the time, I know my mother was upset about it. And if your mother is upset, it’s a big deal."
And for the record, MacLean says he will sign that rookie card – with the picture of Hopkins on it – because he never turns down an autograph request.