The 1960s were a time of upheaval and growth for the NHL, and the 1969-70 Topps hockey set put the finishing touches to a decade of change.
Topps’ wax packs now carried a few more cards but the prices in each sport had morphed from a nickel to a dime between the spring release of baseball and the fall and winter sports. Each pack contained a pair of player stamps (more on that later).
The NHL expanded from its “Original Six” for the 1967-68 season, but players from all 12 teams were not included in a Topps set until the following year. The 1969-70 set represents the second time the expansion teams were included, and each team had its own section of consecutively numbered cards. A checklist rounded out the 132-card set.
The Montreal Canadiens, who won their second straight Stanley Cup and fourth in five seasons, occupied the first 11 spots in the set. The St. Louis Blues, who were swept in the Cup finals to lose to Montreal for the second straight season, were represented in card No. 12-21.
The photography is good for this set, but the players appear to be posing in front of a concrete wall, giving the appearance of a large mug shot. The player’s shadow is quite visible on the wall behind them, too.
The players’ photographs are framed with a white border that is thin at the top and left-hand side of the card. The cards measure 2½ inches by 3½ inches and carries the team logo for each player in the upper left-hand corner of the card front.
The player’s name appears in block letters at the bottom of the card within the largest part of the white-bordered frame, with his team name underneath in even larger block letters. On the right side of the card, set against a thick white border, is an illustrated hockey stick. The player’s position is revealed in a puck-like design in the extreme right-hand corner of the card.
The card back is dominated by a gray background that frames a golden-yellow center. The card number is enclosed inside a white circle at the top left-hand corner, and the player’s name is centered across the top in white block letters. His position and team are located in italic white type on the next line, with smaller white type under that used for vital statistics.
The backs also include a biography and statistics from the previous season, along with his career stats. Below the biography was either a cartoon or a place to paste one of those insert stamps of the player.
The only major rookie of note in this set is Serge Savard (card No. 4). Veterans anchoring the set include Gump Worsley (No. 1), Bobby Orr (No. 24), Phil Esposito (No. 30), Gordie Howe (No. 61), Bobby Hull (No. 70) and Bernie Parent (No. 89).
On the positive side, there are 27 Hall of Famers in the 132 card set.
Of the 9,141 cards submitted to PSA for grading, more than half earned grades of at least PSA 8. There are 128 gem mint specimens and 1,467 that have been graded at PSA 9. Of the PSA 10s, one is a Bobby Orr card, two are of Howe and there are three of Hull. No PSA 10s have been submitted for Esposito, Parent, Worsley, Savard and Stan Mikita.
Only two of the 1,211 cards submitted to SGC came back graded gem mint. One was of Bob Placer (No. 13) while the other was of Johnny Bucyk (No. 26). There were 31 cards that graded at SGC 96.
Complete sets are relatively affordable with EX/MT type, crease-free sets usually available for $300-$500. Surviving packs–even display boxes and wrappers–are rare. In fact, the lone display box sold at public auction we uncovered was sold in 2010–for $761.
There are nearly 2,000 listings on eBay for cards from the 1969-70 Topps hockey set. Click here to see.