The 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee hockey card set represented the sixth consecutive year of production for the Canadian-based firm. Working closely with Topps through a special marketing agreement, as usual, the two sets from the companies that year were largely the same. O-Pee-Chee’s inclusion of some key rookies, though, helped them stand out from U.S. based Topps.
The 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee cards were a standard 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ issue. The look, however, differed quite a bit from other typical 1970s trading card issues. The cards featured a unique all green or red border with a player image inside of a jagged rectangular shape. At the bottom were the player’s team name inside of a banner with his name and position printed in yellow directly underneath that.
The reverse looked like the standard vintage Topps/O-Pee-Chee backings, featuring a cartoon, statistics, and biographical information. The ‘OPC’ name was at the bottom along with the mention that they were printed in Canada.
Some players, like Bobby Orr (pictured) were depicted on All-Star cards instead of regular cards.
As usual, O-Pee-Chee relied upon a full lineup of star players. Bobby Orr, Guy Lafluer, and Bobby Clarke anchored the set in terms of veterans. Others appearing, though, helped fill out the checklist a bit. The set included plenty of other big names that hockey fans will recognize, including Stan Mikita, Alex Delvecchio, Marcel Dionne, Bernie Parent, Gil Perreault, Tony Esposito, Phil Esposito, Darryl Sittler, and more.
Ironically, one of the biggest names in hockey wasn’t found – at least not on an individual card. Ken Dryden, one of the top goalies of the day, was included on a League Leaders card. However, he didn’t get an individual card as he did in the 1972-73 Topps issue or in the 1972-73 O-Pee-Chee set.
Additional stars are also found in the set’s League Leaders subset.
While there are enough stars here to keep things interesting, it’s the rookies that lead the way in this set, however. Hall of Famer Larry Robinson is the biggest in the set. He’s joined by several other stars including Billy Smith, Bill Barber, Gilles Gilbert, Terry O’Reilly, Dave Schulz, and others. The Robinson and Smith cards join that of Orr to make up the three most valuable cards in the release.
In addition to the big names and key rookie cards, another thing about the 1973-74 O-Pee-Chee set that made it unique was the presence of insert cards. Two different insert sets were available to collectors. The first, a ‘Rings’ insert, included 17 cards in the set and was found in Series 1 packs. Series 2 packs included Team Logos insert cards. The Rings inserts included a perforated cardboard ring that fans could ‘assemble’ and wear.
1973-74 O-Pee-Chee Prices
As with most vintage hockey issues, the O-Pee-Chee set is a bit pricier than its Topps counterpart. In the case of the 1973-74 sets, the O-Pee-Chee issue is worth significantly more because of the Robinson and other rookie cards not found in the Topps set. Robinson’s card starts around $30-$40.
The Orr card remains the most valuable in the set with prices starting at around $25 for a decent, ungraded example and climbing into the hundreds for mint, graded copies.
Complete sets start in the $200-$250 range. Those insert sets have some value, too. Each sells for around $100 each when complete.
You can see 1973-74 OPC hockey singles, lots and sets for sale and auction on eBay by clicking here.