Another thing I am going to do on my blog is feature sets and subsets (both good and bad) that I have picked up over the years. In cases that are subsets I will try and show as many or all the cards and in the case of sets I will highlight some of my favourites. First one I am going to do is the 1991-92 UD Euro-Stars insert set. I managed to get many of these cards back in the day, but a couple months ago, my local card shop was selling complete sets for like 2 bucks so I snapped one up.
This set was released during the 1991-92 season as a 1-per jumbo pack insert with the 1991-92 UD hockey. Packs featured 17 cards including 1 Euro-Star card instead of 12 cards in the regular hobby packs. The set itself consisted of 18 cards featuring many of the young European NHL'ers as well as a couple veterans. One notable exclusion was Pavel Bure, for some reason Robert Kron made it into the set instead of him. Well, strap on your time machines and lets party like its 1992!
Card 1 - Jarmo Kekalanien
Jarmo was a pretty popular name in the NHL at one point, those of you in my age range might also remember Jarmo Mylyss of Minnesota and San Jose fame. However, Jarmo Kekalainen was more Euro than Star and only lasted in the NHL 55 games.
Card 2 - Alex Mogilny
The first true star in the set. Mogilny may or may not find himself in the Hall of Fame, but the kid does have a Cup ring, 8-30+ goal seasons and a 76 goal season which really was sensational for all those that remembered it! As you can see from the card fronts, the design is very similar to the 91-92 UD Base set and the Euro-Stars emblem on the front features the flag from each country the player was born in.
Here is what the backs of the cards look like. Simple and all text.
Card 3 - Bobby Holik
One of the best two-way players in the whole set. He could punish you with hits or punish you on the score sheet. Bobby might be best remember by some for scoring a huge 9 mill a year deal from the Rangers, but I will always remember him for his 9 seasons with 20+ goals.
Card 4 - Anatoli Semenov
Anatoli was nearly 30 when he finally came over to the NHL. During the 80's he was one of Moscow Dynamo's best offensive players before coming over to the Atlantic. Unfortunately, there wasn't much left in the tank and he couldn't produce the same number in the NHL. He did bounce around a few clubs before retiring in 97 after scoring 68 goals and 194 points in 362 NHL games.
Card 5 - Petr Nedved
Petr was the second overall selection in the 1990 NHL draft. That means that he was picked higher than 250 other players. He did put together a rather nice career which includes career highs of 45 goals and 99 points in 95-96 with the Pens. I really think he did turn out to be a top 10 pick in the draft, even maybe a top 5 pick. However, Canuck fans, if you could do it all over again, do you think Jagr might have been the better Czech choice?
Card 6 - Jaromir Jagr
Very few would disagree, one of the best players in the set and one of the best players to play in the last 20 years period. I have never been too sure where I stand with him personally, but I do respect his talent!
Card 7 - Tomas Sandstrom
Oh what could have been! Sandstrom was a player who had just great natural goal scoring talent, but he trouble staying in the line-up. There were two occasions where he scored 40+ goals and both time were seasons he didn't even get to 70 games played. During his 15 year career he would only average 65 games a season but still managed to average 26 goals a season. His rookie card can be had dirt cheap and I think he was one of the best Finnish players of all-time.
Card 8- Robert Kron
Robert Kron was the rookie shorthanded goals leader in the 90-91 NHL season. Not really an offensive star, he did break 20 goals twice and lasted a solid 771 games in the NHL. A good player yes, a Euro-Star...maybe not.
Card 9 - Sergei Fedorov
In the early 90's his rookie cards were must, I remember a french UD version of his rookie selling for nearly 200 dollars. If the dotcom bubble busting in 2000 didn't cause that guy to take a bath with his toaster, knowing the rookie is only worth $4.50 today might! With that being said, Fedorov took a page from Steven Yzerman and did an amazing job evolving from an elite offensive threat to an even better two-way player. Another amazing player in this set!
Card 10 - Esa Tikkanen
Ahhh the Tick. Tikkanen and Claude Lemieux are the two names that come to mind when you combine clutch with agitation. In 1990 the Oilers won the Cup without Gretzky and one of the main reasons was Esa's 13 goals during that post-season.
Card 11 - Christian Ruuttu
If you were to spell his last name in Scrabble, it would use almost all the U's in the bag. Ruuttu had some pretty solid years with the Sabre from 86-91, but then fall off a bit before being out of the NHL at the age of 31.
Card 12 - Peter Bondra
Certainly one of my favourite players in the set! Bondra was one of the more under-appreciated goal scorers from the 90's who still managed 500 career goals in 1083 career games. He has a higher career goals per game average than some HOF's including Yzerman, Howe, Believeau and Shutt. If he had been able to stay a little healthier or had a quality centre, I felt he could have had 600 goals easily.
Card 13 - Mats Sundin
If I could ask Mats Sundin one question, it would be: "Do you wish you could have stayed in Quebec?". There is no doubt that Mats was a great player and a good leader. Just imagine him with Sakic, Forsberg, and Roy. When Quebec moved to Colorado, they could have easily won a few more Cups with Sundin in the line-up.
Card 14 - Dominik Hasek
The only horizontal card is for the only goalie in the set. Love him or hate him *I am the latter, he is one talented player and this card is a pretty good one from his rookie year. Of course, being an insert card it isn't classified as a true rookie, but for collectors of Hasek, this card is a must.
Card 15 - Johan Garpenlov
Anyone who has the complete set of 90-91 UD will remember Johan as the other guy on the Young Gun Checklist with Sergei Fedorov. He spent a majority of his career with expansion teams and was greatly inconsistent collecting 20 goals seasons and non-20 goal seasons. His most successful season was with the Panthers when they went all the way to the Cup final in 96, he scored 23 goals that season and another 4 goals in the playoffs. He would only score 23 more regular season goals in the next 4 seasons before leaving the NHL for the Swedish Elite League in 2000.
Card 16 - Alexander Godynyuk
Please don't let the number fool you, this isn't Doug Gilmour. Alex wasn't even brought in to the NHL to score, but what he was brought in to do isn't entirely clear. He didn't last very long and is another example of a player that was more Euro than Star.
Card 17 - Ulf Samuelsson
Card 18 - Igor Larionov
So what if he was 31 years old, he was Euro and a Star right? Still I might have complained more if Sergei Makarov had made the set! In reality, Larionov did have a very long and product NHL career despite the late star. His best NHL season came at the age of 35 when he scored 21 goals, 71 points. Igor was named to the hockey hall of fame in 2008.
Well there you have it, the 1991-92 UD Euro-Stars set. 18 cards of some of the best players in the NHL at the time born outside of North America. I do think it was a shame Bure was not included, but apart from that, the set is strong and has aged rather well. For as much as I disliked the super over production of cards from UD that year, this set is a nice little collection that would fit in 2 binder pages and offers collectors a nice assortment of Europe's best. I certainly give this set a favorable 4.5 out of 5.