Posts Tagged ‘short prints’

Camille Henry - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys

Camille Henry’s playing weight was 145 pounds.  It is claimed on the card that this would sometimes range all the way up to 150, but that may have been the difference between being in and out of skates.  It’s not clear.  At one weigh-in in 1965 he was 138, but asked the team not to post it for fear of embarrassment.

Typically, when a player is really small, his survival (perhaps literally) in professional hockey is dependent on him being really, really fast.  Henry’s nickname, “Camille the Eel” would suggest as much.  The odd thing is that he wasn’t.  He didn’t skate particularly well at all.  His nickname came from the same sort of ability that Wayne Gretzky had – the ability to find an open space in the scoring areas and never be hit directly while doing so.  Henry was elusive with great hands and this enabled a pro career that spanned 1953-70.

Born in Quebec City, Camille burst onto the public stage in 1953-54 with the Rangers.  He scored 24 goals as a 21-year-old, which doesn’t sound like a ton, but in the dead-puck era of the early 1950s, this was good enough for sixth overall.  He won the Calder over Montreal’s prize rookie, Jean Beliveau.  (In fairness, Beliveau only played 44 games and wins this in a walk if he played a full season – just based on points per game.)

Someone with a lot of time on their hands determined (since the NHL didn’t track this officially yet) that 20 of those 24 goals came on the power play.  Certainly, for someone lacking speed and size, that was the best time to find open ice.

The Calder win didn’t seem to settle the minds of the Rangers’ brass on Henry and they stuck him in the AHL for most of the couple of seasons. His scoring ability eventually won out, though, and starting with the second half of 1956-57, he became one of the Rangers’ most effective scorers for most of a decade.  If he dressed for at least 50 games, Henry was a lock for 20 goals.  He bettered 25 goals five times, twice scoring 30-plus.  He peaked at 37 in 1963.  He was a top-ten goal scorer six times in his career and was named to the Second All-Star team in 1958, the same year he won the Lady Byng for gentlemanly play.  He probably deserved a few more of those trophies as only once in his career did he top 10 penalty minutes in a season.

The Rangers disposed of most of their veterans in the mid-1960s and retooled.  This saw Henry shipped to Chicago in February, 1965.  Chicago was much more heavily-stacked up front than New York and Henry’s numbers dipped.  He spent more time in the minors.  When expansion came in 1967-68, a lot of veterans made NHL reappearances.  Henry surfaced again in New York, then spent his remaining NHL days in St. Louis.  He finished with 279 goals and 528 points in 727 games – all good totals for the era.

He coached briefly, but struggled with health issues (diabetes) which tied into financial issues.  He was beneficiary of a nice settllement from the NHL when the Eagleson/pension suit finally reached its end, but didn’t really get to enjoy it for long.  He died of complications from diabetes in 1997 at age 64.
Camille Henry - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys back

Gary Bergman - 1964-65 Topps Tall BoysOne of the joys of collecting Tall Boys in hockey is that one of every five cards is a short print.  Unlike today, where short-printing is basically a marketing ploy designed to drive value, this was just an effect of the sheet design.  The set was released in two 55-card series.  The sheets were printed eleven cards across, nine rows deep.  A full series was printed on rows one through five, then the first four rows would repeat as rows six through nine.  The centre row of cards thus was printed at only half the rate of the rest of the set.  I have no idea why they chose to do this, other than it probably had to do with the sheets of card that were either available of would conveniently fit in the cutting machines.

The second-series short-prints have been long-known to collectors and they are annoyingly expensive.  Relatively nondescript RCs can run $250 if they’re short-printed.  The existence of first-series short-prints was long suspected, but only proven a few years back when an uncut sheet of 1964-65 Topps was unveiled at the Toronto Expo.  Experienced collectors could guess at the contents of row number five, but it was cool to see it proven.

Interestingly, the prices of the first-series short-prints saw about a two-month bump, but this never really held because Beckett, for whatever reason, never updated the designations in their guides. While the information on the short-prints is out there, the guides don’t have it.

The first of the first-series shorties (in terms of numerical order) is the Gary Bergman RC.

Like Bill Hay, Gary Bergman was comparatively old to be a rookie.  He was 26 in 1964-65, a veteran of a number of minor-league seasons.  He’d belonged to both Chicago and Montreal since leaving junior but hadn’t had an NHL look with either.  In the summer of 1964, Detroit picked him up in the intra-league draft.

Detroit had been a fourth-place team in ’62-63 and ’63-64 and had struggled to keep the puck out of their own net.  In 1964-65, they finished first overall and cut their goals against by 29, finishing two off the league lead.  Bergman can’t be credited for all of that, but this was the first of nine straight seasons where he’d give the Wings solid two-way play.  He never made an All-Star team or won an award, but he was good enough to be chosen for Team Canada in 1972 and was an absolute rock on defense.  Guys like Park, Savard and Lapointe made the rushes, but Bergman stayed back and did the heavy lifting.  It was Bergman whose shin guard was kicked through by Mikhailov in Game Seven.

Bergman’s character was one of the standouts in the made-for-TV series about the 1972 Summit.  The team was hurt by players grousing about ice time and a number of high-profile players bailed and went home as their respective training camps were getting underway.  Coach Harry Sinden called the team together so everyone could air their grievances.  Bergman’s character quipped, “Well, what about me? I was promised a vacation and I can’t get off the (bleeping) ice!”

Bergman continued his solid play for the Red Wings as the team began to slide in the early 1970s.  He found himself dealt to Minnesota early in 1973-74, required for 1974-75, then deal again to the woeful Kansas City Scouts for his last season.

Gary Bergman’s play in 1972 garnered new attention when the team reached it’s 25th anniversary in 1997 and the games were re-released on VHS and DVD.  Sadly, he died of cancer in December, 2000.  He was 62.

Gary Bergman - 1964-65 Topps Tall Boys

Topps clearly didn’t love him, either, as Gary wasn’t a goalie.