You can have your Wayne Gretzky rookie card; you can have your Mario Lemieux rookie too. I’ll take that huge box in the corner that you don’t even look at, you know, the so called common cards. They are the ones I love. They take me back to my childhood and sometimes well before it. They may not be slick by your definition, but they sure are by mine.
Huge sideburns, male perms, mullets, mustaches, style and occasionally horrible air-brushing. These cards have stories, they help define an era. This blog aims to get the story of these great cards from the very men that are on them.
The first question that comes to mind when I look at Joe Daley shuffling across his crease is, “who or what is he trying to stop?” The lights are out, the crease is lit.
This photo alone, the pose, the gear, the logo, the perm, takes you right back to the height of the WHA’s Rebel years. On one glorious day, or night, we’re not sure quite sure, Joe Daley struck a pose.
“I have no idea when it was taken or how it was taken,” says the 69-year-old Daley, who played with the Jets for their entire seven-year WHA run.
Back in the day, posing for a card was almost the norm. And why wouldn’t it be, when you were as styling as the then 33-year-old Joe Daley was, you should take the time to do it right.
“The earlier ones, when I was I in the National League, I know you used to pose for them. They’d come around, you’d sit on a stool or something and that ended up being the one on the card. I think later on, I don’t know whether they got one of the local guys to take some pictures or get some action shots from games or what, but some of them were pretty odd ballish.”
Odd ballish indeed. That’s a great way to describe this card. And it’s a card that Daley gets to see on a more than regular basis. He’s no stranger to his card board. In fact for the last 23 years he’s operated “Joe Daley’s Sportscards” in Winnipeg.
Daley, who also played in the NHL for Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit, sees the 76-77 O-Pee-Chee all the time. And he also sees the reactions on the faces of some younger fans that come by his store, when a father will tell his son that the straight haired guy standing behind the counter, once tended goal, 70s perm and all.
“There are a few things hanging around in the store with my picture on it. Of course a dad will point that out to a young child. Then I can see the kid kind of looking out the side of his eye at me thinking ‘I don’t know whether dad’s telling me the truth.’
Joe is more than ready to admit that his hair on the card was “modified.” But he wasn’t alone when it came to style and the WHA. He had the curly locks and he had the sideburns. This card proves that once upon a time Joe Daley was all 70s rebel. Just like the WHA.
“There were various styles and long hair wasn’t out of the norm and there are still some guys with an awful lot of hair.”
“Now things are a little different. Guys are making a lot of money so they probably got beauticians that are looking after them from time to time. Back then we just kind of went with the flow and some guys wanted to be a little bit different, and I guess I was just one of those guys.”
And he was. And that’s what this piece of cardboard tells us over 35 years later. It captures a time when maybe there weren’t as many clichés, when players were a little more open to express their style, their swagger. At least in the WHA.
“It was different, unique, rebellious, but growing and responding to the wishes of the fans and that was giving us a chance to provide some pretty good hockey.”
And it gave Joe Daley one pretty cool hockey card. However in his younger days it was no big deal. It’s not like he was at training camp, tearing through the latest box of O-Pee Chee trying to pull one of his crease posing cards out of a pack.
“I never really thought much of it,” says the three-time AVCO Cup champion. “You don’t know that at the time you’re getting your picture taken that someday these are going to be the things that people will want to have in their collections.”
But now, all these years later, the 1976-77 OPEE-CHEE and his other cards, provide a link to some glorious days.
“I’ve accumulated them (his cards) and it’s just neat to be able to look at the card. It brings back a lot of memories from the time period of the card.”
“My cards are not overly priced but they’re cherished by many people including myself and my family. When people travel across the country I always tell them to try and go into the shops and pick up a few if they’re going to come back through Winnipeg, because I’d certainly buy them off of them because it’s always a pleasure for me to autograph one and give it to a smiling kid here in the store.”
A smiling kid who’s probably asking, ‘Did that guy really have all that curly hair?’ Don’t worry; all those perms didn’t cost much anyway.
“The good thing about it was my cousin is a hairdresser, so I used to get them at bargain prices.”
If you have an old card that you just need to know more about, hit Ken up on twitter @SNKenReid.