Friday, May 22, 2015

1968-69 O-Pee-Chee Bill Masterton

It has been a while since I made a hockey card for this site. Now we're deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs, so I think it's time.

Each year the NHL awards the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey". Most often the award is given to a player who has overcome a serious injury or illness. 

Masterton played 3 years for the University of Denver winning the Frozen 4 Championships in 1960 and 1961.  At the time he graduated he was the Pioneers all time leading scorer. He was signed by the Montreal Canadiens but during the original 6 era there was very little opportunity for a minor league player. In 1967 the NHL expanded to 12 teams and opportunity knocked. He was signed by the Minnesota North Stars.

Masterton played just 38 games that season. On January 13, 1968 he was checked at center ice. His head hit the ice knocking him out, bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. He briefly regained consciousness but his head injuries were too severe. He died 30 hours later.  

There have been several award cards bearing his name but Bill Masterton has never had a card of his own. Even though the league expanded to 12 teams in 1967-68 the hockey cards issued that year only featured Original 6 teams. In the 1968-69 set expansion teams like the North Stars had cards as well. But Topps and O-Pee-Chee never made a card for Masterton. I created this one for Bill Masterton and borrowed the "In Memoriam" banner from the 1964 Topps Ken Hubbs baseball card.

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