Chris Kontos fans may be disappointed, but most other hockey fans who collect cards should find a lot to like among Upper Deck low series, Topps and Stadium Club.
Kontos, the offensive surprise of the season, never had more than eight goals in a season and was obviously not a candidate to be on one of the Tampa Bay Lightning's few cards in any set.
Upper Deck, except for its lapse with the composite Eric Lindros card, again presents a lineup of good-looking cards.
All eight expansion-team players are shown in their new uniforms (Topps and Stadium Club list the new teams but have the players in last year's uniforms). Card-front art continues the Upper Deck tradition of strong action photos. Memorable photos include Patrick Roy airborne as an opponent slides into the net, Bill Ranford sprawled in front of the goal -- shot from above, a three-picture sequence of Jaromir Jagr shooting and Brett Hull kneeling in front of a goal full of pucks.
Upper Deck gets high marks for artwork. Card fronts feature logo pucks in motion, and team checklists again include drawings of players.
But Upper Deck has gotten subset/insert set fever in a bad way. The 440-card set includes a 16-card World Junior Championship subset, a 21-card Russian Stars subset and an 18-card World Championships subset. Then there are the insert sets: Wayne Gretzky, All-Rookie team, Euro-Rookie holograms and Euro-Stars -- 44 more cards.
Topps' 528-card set (Lindros, the added starter, is No. 529) is vintage Topps. The company resisted the urge to put dinky, fuzzy arena photos on card backs as it had on baseball and football. So backs are clean, giving basic personal data, year-by-year NHL stats (with a league-leading total in red) and playoff totals in a green box. Subsets are restricted to old-fashioned ones: league leaders, highlights, top rookies and All-Stars. Photos are nice, nicer than those of its higher-priced cousin, Stadium Club.
SC Like Topps, Stadium Club includes Lindros as an extra card, No. 501 in a set of 500. Except for some motorcycle madness (Rick Tabaracci, Neil Wilkinson and Rob Zettler posing on cycles), it's not a remarkable set. It's standard Stadium Club fare, virtually identical to previous sets of all sports in that line. The team nicknames in gold on the card fronts are difficult to read unless they happen to have a dark uniform as background. Most of the photos are too busy, and the subject rarely stands out. An exception, and a winner in any set, is the picture of Roy, who's shown on a horizontal card making a glove save, extended from edge to edge.
Clifford Allison benefit cards
Action Packed has produced a special, limited-edition three-card set of the Allison family to benefit the children of Clifford Allison, who died Aug. 13 from injuries sustained in an accident during race practice. The sets feature Bobby, Davey and Clifford Allison, are numbered and enclosed in a binder. Each of the 5,000 sets also includes a copy of a poem written by Clifford Allison's wife, Elisa. Sets may be purchased for a $25 donation to The Children of Clifford Allison Trust Fund, c/o Bobby Allison Racing, P.O. Box 3320, Hueytown, Ala. 35023. Allow four to six weeks for delivery.
Classic Games is finishing its 450-card Classic Best minor-league factory set with a 50-card update set due out this month. Featured are Paul Shuey and Derek Jeter, the two highest drafted players to sign and play last summer.
Robin Yount's and George Brett's 3,000th hits have been commemorated on silver coins by Chicagoland Processing. Coins cost $29.95 each plus $5 shipping and can be ordered by calling (800) 765-0123. There are also 500 two-piece matching serial number display sets for $82.95 plus $5 shipping.
Nov. 17, baseball card show, North Point Plaza Bingo Hall (I-695, Exit 41), 5-10 p.m., (410) 563-9032.
Nov. 22, baseball card show, Security Holiday Inn (I-695, Exit 17), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.
Nov. 29, baseball card show, Towson Sheraton (I-695, Exit 27A), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.
Dec. 6, baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn (I-695, Exit 26 S), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (410) 239-7446.
Dec. 6, baseball card show, Freedom District Fire Hall, Sykesville (Route 32 between I-70 and Route 26), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., (410) 922-8366.
Card of the Week
SkyBox for 1992-93 continues its use of computer graphics but in a comparatively subdued manner. Series I has 350 cards -- draft picks, players, coaches, Olympic highlights and Magic Johnson and David Robinson insert sets. Backs feature candid photos and pro and college totals. Foil packs contain 12 cards.