Sunday, February 5, 2012


When I see vintage hockey photos (to me that means from the 50's and 60's) they often contain an essence of focus.

Sharp, distinct moments captured on film. The players look like 'real people' as opposed to the machine churned stars of today. Helmetless, they have character and individuality. The composition as a whole is simpler too. No logos on the boards, the lighting makes it feel like the player in focus is the only one on the ice.

To me, they are a world apart from photos in today's NHL.

Both have their pros and cons - don't get me wrong. I enjoy a lot of current day pics, but there's just something about a quality vintage photo.

This card really reflects that.....and more.

1992 Ultimate
#32 John Bower

First of all......John Bower? John?

In the years and years that I have been collecting cards, admiring goalie and their masks and just being a fan of hockey, I have never heard Mr. Bower referred to as John.

I had to do a double take just to be sure that this card was indeed of "The China Wall" himself. But looking at that mug, there was no doubt.

Back to the card. I've never seem this photo floating around in my numerous searches of goalies and their masks. Granted, I don't do a ton of Johnny Bower searches, but he has worn the fibreglass there have been searches.

A lot of the things I mentioned above come into play with regards to this card.

Other than the fact there's a flying puck shot just over the net, you'd think Bower was the only one on the ice. The shot seems so isolated. I love that you can actually see a shadow going up the back boards. Something you would never see in today's game. Makes me wonder what kind of flash setup the cameras had back in the day.

And for Johnny that's some good air. Because those pads are overly light. I can't recall too many goalies these days giving a leap like that.

So much action captured so precisely. I love that there's no blur at all in the shot (something that can occur with sports photos...or fast moving action in general). It blends the stillness of photo with the action of real life. Something no video or film can do.

That's part of the reason I love hockey cards. The appreciation of the photographer's effort is put on display. Like a little mini gallery.

And while I am a big fan of black & white photos, I only wish this fabulous pic would have been presented in color.

One last note...on the back of the card, John (as he's listed as well) didn't become an NHL regular until the age of 35. Most NHLers today are out of the game by that age if they haven't broken into the league as a regular.



  1. Well put. My first thought was one of yours, that's a lot of weight to get that far in the air. A thought about the photography of the time. Were the stadiums that dark or was the film that slow because so many of the pictures look as if they were taken in the dark. It gives them almost an other-worldly look.

  2. I think it was a bit of both. Today's game is optimally lit for TV and photo.

    I agree with the odd effect it created years ago.