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  • Writer's pictureDerek Ochej

An all time All-Rookie team

For this post we are looking at the insert cards for the 1990-91 Upper Deck All-Rookie Team. All-rookie teams have been selected by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since the inaugural team in 1982-83. The eligibility for the all-rookie team is the same as the Calder Trophy for rookie-of-the-year: play no more than 25 games in the previous season, or six games in each of the previous two seasons, and be under the age of 26 at the start of the season.

The 1990-91 team is arguably the greatest all-rookie team of all-time. Let's break this down into bullet form for maximum impact:

  • Four of six players would become Hall of Famers (Jagr isn't there yet, but will be soon)

  • 2 Hart Trophies;

  • 4 Pearson Trophies;

  • 2 Selke Trophies;

  • 5 Art Ross Trophies;

  • 1 Norris Trophy;

  • 4 Jennings Trophies;

  • 2 Vezina Trophies;

  • 16 All-Star team selections; and

  • 7 Stanley Cup victories.

Taking a quick look at all the other all-rookie teams, only two really compare to the 1990-91. The early 90s was truly blessed with talent, as the 1992-93 team boasted Hall of Famers Eric Lindros, Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer, along with serviceable talents Felix Potvin, Vladimir Malakhov and Joe Juneau. Thanks to the 2004-05 lockout, the 2005-06 team features Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Henrik Lundqvist (we won't deduct points for Dion Phaneuf's appearance).

The 2007-08 team may challenge in terms of Hall of Famers: Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at forward and Carey Price in goal. But for now, the 1990-91 all-rookie team stands alone on top.

As for the cards themselves, I'm a big fan of the snow-the-camera style pictures. Rob Blake gets my vote for the best snow shower. I also wonder what happened to the jersey, gloves and sock kits that each player used for these photo shoots? Were they recycled for future teams, or left as a memento of the occasion? An even better fashion trend is all of the late 1990s suits on display on the reverse of the cards (Belfour except). Speaking of Belfour his card features an extreme rarity - a photo of a smiling Belfour.

Card # 39 - Ed Belfour All-Rookie Team

An unsigned free agent out of the University of North Dakota, Belfour had played 23 games for the Blackhawks in 1988-89, amassing a disappointing 4-12-3 record. He would spend the 1989-90 season in the most late 80s/early 90s way, by playing with the Canadian National Team. From that season, wow, just buckle up your seat belts for the results of 1990-91.

The 26-year old Belfour would lead NHL goalies in terms of games played (74), wins (43), shots against (1883), saves (1713), save percentage (.910), goals against average (2.47) and minutes (4,127). Eddie the Eagle would also rack up the hardware at the NHL awards, winning the Calder Trophy as rookie-of-the-year (59 of 66 first place votes), the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals scored against, the Vezina Trophy as best goalie (19 of 21 first place votes) and be named to the First All-Star team (included on 99 per cent of ballots). Belfour would also finish third in Hart Trophy voting for MVP, behind Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky.

Behind Belfour’s stellar play, the Blackhawks would win the Norris Division, but fall in the division semi-finals to the Minnesota North Stars, the eventual Campbell Conference champions.

He would come down to earth for the 1991-92 season, playing only 52 games, winning 21, and sharing time with a promising goalie from Europe named...Dominik Hasek. While his individual numbers would drop, the Hawks would make the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991-92, losing to the Penguins on the back half of their back-to-back titles.

Belfour put together arguably the best rookie season by a goalie since Tom Barrasso, who also won the Calder and Vezina, but did not win the Jennings.

Card # 40 - Sergei Fedorov All-Rookie Team

A fourth round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, the 21 year-old Russian centre would lead all rookies in scoring with 31 goals and 48 assists in his premiere season. That would be good for second in team scoring behind Steve Yzerman. Fedorov would finish second in Calder Trophy voting, and garner a few votes for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward.

The Red Wings, just beginning to move out of the Dead Things era, would finish third in the Norris Division, and lose in seven games in the first round to division rival St. Louis.

Fedorov would improve upon his individual totals in 1991-92, scoring 32 goals and 54 assists while finishing second in Selke Trophy voting. The Wings would win the Norris Division that season, but fall to division rival Chicago in the second round.

Card # 41 - Ken Hodge All-Rookie Team

The son of long-time NHLer Ken Hodge Sr., Hodge Jr. was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the third round of the 1984 draft. He would play five games for the North Stars in 1988-89 and then spend time in the AHL and IHL before a trade to Boston in the summer of 1990. Fun fact - Hodge was traded for a draft pick which turned out to be Jere Lehtinen, the three-time Selke Trophy winner.

In 1990-91 with the Bruins, Hodge would score 30 goals and 59 points, finishing second to Fedorov in rookie goal scoring. He would also finish third in Calder Trophy voting behind Belfour and Fedorov.

The Bruins as a team would win the Adams Division and make it to the Wales Conference final before losing to the eventual Cup champs from Pittsburgh.

Hodge would find his rookie season a tough act to follow, appearing in only 42 games for Boston, scoring six goals and recording 17 points. Out of all the players on the Upper Deck All-Rookie Team, Hodge definitely had the most disappointing career.

Card # 42 - Jaromir Jagr All-Rookie Team

Jagr’s pre-NHL days were covered in the Canada Cup section, so let’s get to his rookie season. You will recall Mario Jr. was the fifth overall pick of the Penguins in 1990. He makes the All-Rookie Team as a left winger, although he would play right wing for the majority of his career.

Jagr would score 27 goals and 57 points in his rookie season, and finish sixth in Calder Trophy voting. His real reward would come in winning the Stanley Cup in his rookie season, putting up three goals and 10 points in the playoffs, including this beauty in the first round versus the New Jersey Devils.

For an encore, in 1991-92 Jagr would up his goal and point totals to 32 and 69, win a second Stanley Cup while also scoring another ridiculous playoff goal against all-rookie teammate Belfour.

Card # 43 - Rob Blake All-Rookie Team

Blake was a fourth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 1988 draft, coming out of a non-hockey school in Bowling Green University in Ohio. He played four games with the Kings in 1989-90 season, but would break through as a full time NHLer at the age of 21.

In his rookie season of 1990-91, Blake would score 12 goals and 45 points, leading all defencemen in scoring. Facing some heady competition in the rookie of the year race, Blake would finish a respectable fifth in Calder voting.

The Kings would win the Smythe Division in Blake’s rookie season, losing in the division final to the Edmonton Oilers. In his sophomore season Blake’s numbers would decrease, totaling seven goals and 27 points.

Card # 44 - Eric Weinrich All-Rookie Team

A second round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 1985, the Maine University defenceman would spend time in the AHL, with the United States National Team and appear in 21 games with the Devils between 1988-90 before his rookie season.

In the 1990-91 season Weinrich would score four goals and 38 points, tying Rob Blake for the lead in assists by a rookie defenceman (34). The Devils would finish fourth in the Patrick Division, and draw the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. The Devils would take the Pens a full seven games, even leading the series 3-2 before losing out to the eventual champs.

Weinrich’s rookie season would be his high point in terms of point production, and in 1991-92 he would put up similar numbers (seven goals and 32 points).

In the next post we will look at more rookies - one of the players featured will stand out among his peers.

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