Picture it: June 16, 1990. BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia was buzzing with anticipation as the 1990 NHL Entry Draft kicked off. Who would go when? Would the top prospects indeed be drafted in order? Would there be any surprises? Utter atrocities?
Enter The Hair. But was Jaromir Jagr’s mullet really an atrocity? From a fashion standpoint in 1990, well, not so much. And his being drafted 5th overall? That really wasn’t cause for shock and awe either, just case in point as to why NHL Central Scouting needed to include European players in their rankings.
But wow, whoever was behind one of the cameras that day taking portraits of the newly drafted players clearly had a single goal in mind: To make the rookies look like rookies. They succeeded at gold star level and in the process took massive liberties with a number of things, most notably Jagr’s sassy Czech fashion sense. Just where was his hair? His glorious mullet? Now you see it, now you don’t? If they had the opportunity, they likely would have made him wear socks and sandals, too. For all we know, they did.
Their efforts have been well-preserved in the 1990-91 Canadian Score hockey card set. With the very likely unintentional efforts of Pro Set and Upper Deck, the top five picks in the 1990 draft managed to escape with a memorable, unregrettable yet somewhat unforgettable recap of their draft experience in hockey card form, at least as far as this hockey fan is concerned.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a guy with a great mullet, a guy who has taken the time to write “METALLICA” on the back of his jean jacket in felt marker, a guy who… yeah, you just can’t make these “First Round Draft Choice 1990″s look “cool” because they were stuck in such awkward poses and the backdrop screams grade nine school portrait… wow, the parentals would have offered up their first borns to these lads.
Could any of the guys properly put the hats on their heads or were they required to place them so that they hovered at least a half an inch over their draft day, perfectly coiffed hairdos? (May Day! May Day! May Day! I will hate you forever for this! But in a loving way.)
When Upper Deck tossed the following card into their set – a check list card with this majestic photograph, comparatively – you really wondered if these poor guys had been set up by Score. From gawky and graceless rookie draft cards to future superstuds of the NHL? Hey! Score! Just what were you doing to these poor fellas?
Take Owen Nolan. Score did him no favours with his card. Drafted first overall by the Québec Nordiques, a surprise as Mike Ricci was in the top spot going into the draft, he went from “I’m not sure I should have been drafted first, oh, dear…” to “Yeah, I think I could get the hang of this,” to “Helloooo, and here I am. Ailier droit, alright.” (Had this been basketball, the Pro Set card would have been a three point shot leading up to a slam dunk at the All-Star Weekend.)
And then there was Petr Nedved who was drafted second overall. Score wanted nothing to do with him (read: the Don Cherry Effect) and left him out of the set completely. That was probably a good thing because Nedved, as you might have noticed from the Upper Deck check list card above, had an excellent way of making himself look awkward. (Sometimes, he and Jaromir Jagr enjoyed looking awkward together and this awkwardness became commonplace throughout Nedved’s career, but I digress…)
Pro Set’s attempt at an apple only made Upper Deck’s card with Nedved casually reaching for his glass of water look oh, so slick. Doesn’t this Upper Deck card exude class? Doesn’t it instantly portray a long, successful NHL career? Check out those pinstripes! (And my sarcasm.)
Keith Primeau, who unfortunately became another NHLer whose career ended prematurely as a result of post-concussion syndrome, came third. Again, Score, congratulations! Upper Deck made Primeau look like the gleaming future NHL star he would be. Check out that handshake, and just look at that solid grip. Score? You made this look like an “I might think about think about being confident” baby portrait. (Readers, please take a few minutes to check out stopconcussions.com, a site Primeau co-founded with former European pro Kerry Goulet. It’s an invaluable resource.)
And then the guy who was supposed to be the leader of the pack, Mike Ricci. He’d spent all of the 1989–90 season sitting at the top of the prospect pile. While he was supposed to be King of the Castle, he wound up being the guy who went fourth in the draft.
Yup, the man who has most recently been made fun of based solely on his physical appearance – yes, even hockey fans are that shallow – with comparisons most easily made to Canadian rock god Geddy Lee. Okay, maybe some hockey fans are actually awesome? Wait, can you redeem yourselves with a little RUSH trivia? No? Well, did you know Ricci’s a Stanley Cup Champion? Oh yeah, he’s that awesome.
Well, back in 1990, Ricci was a fresh-faced kid who had put in a solid three-year junior career in Peterborough and who had provided the balance in the OHL battle between Good vs. Evil. Ricci versus Lindros, oh… let’s leave it at that. And at the draft, he took it all in stride. He put on a new shirt, and everything was great.
Just look at him. What a beauty!
(And hell yeah, I’m serious.)
(1) Was 1990 really 23 years ago?
(2) Has Jagr sold his soul? He seems to be improving in all areas, hairdo figuring prominently imo.
It must be noted that the 1990-91 Canadian Score hockey card set borders on ridiculous for some hockey fans as it contained six Eric Lindros cards, but as it was the inaugural set for the company it seemed a lot of folks looked past that detail. Plus for us kids grabbing cards up, we didn’t care much. We just wanted more!