The 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee NHL hockey card set was significant for a few important reasons. It marked the first O-Pee-Chee set since the very early 1940’s. It also marked the first time players from the 1967 NHL expansion teams were featured on cardboard.
The set consists of 216 cards, 84 than the Topps sister set. The book value for a full set of 216 is $2,500 while a common card is valued at $8. Like all sports card set, this one celebrates the season before, in this case, the 1967-68 National Hockey League season.
While the whole set is important to any hockey card collector, there are six must have 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee cards. Not surprisingly, three of the six feature Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins.
Bobby Orr - 2
The number 2 card is the most valuable with a book value of $350 and is the regular card of Bobby Orr. $350 is great but a far cry from the $3,000 his 1966-67 Topps rookie card is valued at but still one of the more valuable Bobby Orr hockey cards. 1967-68 was Orr’s second year in the league and, due to injury, played just 46 of Boston’s 74 regular season games. The star defenseman scored eleven goals and assisted on 20 for 31 points.
In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Orr played all of Boston’s four games as the Bruins were swept in the opening round by the Montreal Canadiens. This was significant as it was Boston’s first playoff series since 1958-59 when they fell in the opening round to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It meant that the building of a championship team had begun and in just two short years, the team would hold the Stanley Cup.
Checklist - 121
The number 121 card is a simple checklist. Yet, this hockey card is valued at $250. Checklists first appeared as part of the 1961-62 Topps set. Often, checklists from vintage hockey card set are valued high.
In some cases, they are the most valuable cards in the set. Why? The checklist was a booby prize. These unwanted cards were often thrown away without a second thought. It is due to shear scarcity that they are sought after cards decades later.
Bernie Parent - 89
The number 89 card is the highest valued rookie card in the 1968-69 O-Pee-Chee set. Also valued at $250, this card features goaltender Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers. Bernie’s NHL career started in 1965-66 with the Boston Bruins. Despite being the number one goalie on the team and playing in 39 of Boston’s 70 regular season games, Topps did not release a hockey card with his mug on the front.
1967-68 was Bernie’s third year in the NHL. He probably would have been part of the 1967-68 Topps set but, as mentioned, players from the six expansion teams were not included for some reason. Parent played in the NHL until the end of the 1978-79 season. In 1973-74 and 1974-75, he helped the Flyers win consecutive Stanley Cup championships. In each of those seasons, Bernie was awarded the Vezina Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy. He is now a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Bobby Orr - 200
The number 200 card shows Bobby Orr as a First Team All-Star. This card is valued at $150 and is the highest valued of the all-star cards. 1967-68 was the first of eight consecutive years that Orr was named a First Team All-Star defenseman.
The other defenseman on the First Team was Tim Horton of the Toronto Maple Leafs. None of Bobby’s Boston teammates were on the first squad but Phil Esposito was Second Team centre and Johnny Bucyk was Second Team left wing.
Bobby Orr - 214
The number 214 card is yet another belonging to Bobby Orr of the Bruins. This time, Orr is being honoured as the recipient of the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman. Like his all-star selections, this marked the first of eight consecutive times he would win the award.
This is the highest valued of the special trophy cards in the set. The next most valuable belongs to a teammate of Orr. Derek Sanderson is on the front of card number 213 as the Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year. Bobby Orr won the same award the year before.
Gordie Howe - 29
The number 29 card belongs to the great Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings. This card is valued at $100 and is a long, long way from the 1951-52 Parkhurst Gordie Howe rookie card that has a book value of $3,000.
In 1967-68, Howe scored 39 goals and assisted on 43 for 82 points while playing all 74 regular season games for Detroit. He placed third in the NHL for goals, behind Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks. Howe was eighth in the league for assists and third in the race for the Art Ross Trophy behind Mikita and Phil Esposito.
Gordie did this all on a Red Wings team that finished last in the six team Eastern Division and second last overall in the 12 team NHL. Detroit had the second most goals scored in the league but they also allowed more goals than any other team in the NHL in 1967-68.