Like sets throughout the 1970s, the Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets once again shared a design. In 1980-81, though the Topps set had a very questionable feature which, living in Canada, I didn't know about at the time, but would make the Topps set much harder to come by in top condition later.
One of the more bizarre sets Topps has produced, the 1980-81 set was identical in design to the O-Pee-Chee equivalent, except they used some black scratch-off material to hide the players' names. On the wrappers, they called this a "rub-off quiz." Since kids would want to know which player was pictured on the card, it is relatively tough to find cards with the pucks in unscratched condition. I have all the Bruins in unscratched condition, along with all the Gretzky cards from that year, and finally an independently complete 264-card set. The O-Pee-Chee set has 5 additional Bruins players, including the Brad McCrimmon rookie, but of course the key rookies of this year were Bourque and Messier. Sadly, the Messier rookie is only in the O-Pee-Chee set.
The O-Pee-Chee release is my very first memory of opening packs at the Esso on Algonquin. I remember being able to buy a pack or two a week, and I can still taste how awful that stale gum got toward the end of the winter.
Looking back, I noticed that while Gerry Cheevers finished tied for second in the league in shutouts, he didn't even get a base card – the goalie featured in the Bruins team set was Rogie Vachon, who got traded from Detroit (and has awful airbrushing to prove it). Cheevers retired at the end of the season, so he only appears on a league leaders card (and notice Vachon is there too – same picture, but in red).
|2||Ray Bourque Record Breaker|
|22||Jim Craig RC|
|94||Team Leaders / Checklist|
|129||Al Secord RC|
|140||Ray Bourque RC|
|167||League Leaders (Peter McNab)|
|168||League Leaders (Gerry Cheevers)|
|350||John Wensink (now with Nordiques)|
|354||Brad McCrimmon RC|
|390||Richard Mulhern (now with Leafs)|