Arturs Irbe, Chris Osgood, Chris Pronger and Markus Naslund.
When these Panini stickers were released, it was right smack dab in the middle of the NHL owner’s lockout on the NHLPA. So imagine that a lot of hockey fans were a little put off by the inactivity on the ice. This in turn caused a massive backlash in the hockey collectible industry. New hockey stars emerging was overshadowed by the finances of hockey. Fleer/SkyBox International had the rights to distribute these Panini stickers in 1994-95 and sales were not good. A decision was made to destroy “stagnant stock” and that is why this year of Panini is one of the hardest to get in over 30 years of NHL Panini stickers. A few boxes and cases obviously sold throughout North America, but try asking for these compared to other Panini years and you will understand the scarcity. The most common stickers from this year command a minimum of $1 each. Semi stars go anywhere from $2-$5 each and super stars from this time go from $6-$19. The 2 Gretzkys and 1 Roy sticker command a price of $35 each. For some this news may be shocking or even unbelievable. However, after buying and selling in the hockey stickers market for the last 30 years, it is clear what these stickers are worth on the open market. If you want bargain stickers, look at the 1989 O-Pee-Chee or 1991 Panini, I have Roys and Gretzkys for a fraction of the cost. There are over 35 Rookie stickers in this set including 2 Foil insert sub-sets. The unused album from 1994 Panini was being sold at some 7-Eleven convenience stores back in 1994 but no sticker packages to be found. When I asked the clerk where the sticker packages were, he gave me a very quizical look. You can imagine that a lot of these albums got returned or thrown out because collectors did not have stickers available to put in them. The 1994 albums are not at all easy to find. When you see the scans, I have taken the time to scan both the front and back of each sticker. Only the best for the best NHL Panini stickers ever made. There are 275 overall physical stickers to collect which includes 239 regular issue plus a 26 Rookie Lettered sub-set plus as additional 10 League Leader Lettered sub-set. Sticker numbers 235-339 have 2 stickers each on them which brings the actual checklist for this year to 280 stickers. You want the good stuff? This is the good stuff. The caviar and Dom Perignon of hockey stickers is the 1994-95 NHL Panini series.
The size of each full sticker is 6.1 cm X 8.6 cm (2.4 in X 3.39 in). There were 50 packages in each wax box which originally retailed for $0.49 USD/ $0.59 CAD per pack. Each package contained 6 stickers. The minimum number of packages needed to make a full set (assuming absolutely no doubles) is 45. The original album $1.19 USD/$1.39 CAD cover featured Patrick Roy, Mark Messier, Felix Potvin, Doug Gilmour, Pavel Bure, Mike Modano, Jaromir Jagr and Arturs Irbe. The 1994 Stanley Cup winners were the New York Rangers with Brian Leetch the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs MVP.
The NHL changed the names of their conferences to Eastern and Western. All teams still played 84 games but the playoff format was changed from division playoffs to the top 8 teams from each conference making the playoffs and team No.1played team No. 8, team No. 2 played team No.7 and so on. After allegations of “throwing” the last game of the season (and fined $100,000 by NHL boss Gary Bettman), the Senators draft Alexander Daigle with the 1st overall pick. The NHL’s officials went on strike for 16 days in November of 1993 before coming to a settlement. Cam Neely scores 50 goals in the 49 games that he played. Mike Richter of the New York Rangers topped the league with 42 regular season wins. John Vanbiesbrouck (who was plucked from the Rangers by Florida in the expansion draft) was a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. His 21 wins on the expansion Panthers also made him a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as goalie of the year. Oilers rookie Jason Arnott debuts with a stellar 33 goals in his rookie season. Brian Leetch (34 playoff points) becomes the first ever American born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim made Paul Kariya their first ever draft pick in June of 1993. Kariya won the Hobey Baker Award and led the University of Maine Black Bears to a National Championship.
The NHL expanded to 26 teams for the 1993-94 season as they add the Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks both set an expansion team record with 33 wins in their inaugural season. The Senators continued to suffer in the league basement with their 14 wins in 84 games. The Minnesota North Stars move to Dallas and are known as the Stars for the 1993-94 season.
Gretzky tied Gordie Howe for most career goals (801) on March 20th 1994 against the Sharks. A couple days later on March 23rd 1994, Wayne broke Gordie’s record when buddy Marty McSorley and Luc Robitaille fed him a pass that led to goal number 802, becoming the NHL’s all time leading goal scorer. Gretzky won his 4th career Lady Byng Trophy as well as his 10th and final Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champion. Wayne scored 38 times added 92 assists finishing with 130 points to capture the scoring title. The 1993-94 season marked the first time in Wayne’s career that he did not get to play in the playoff season. Gretzky has a cameo (#224 Jeff Norton) appearance that is included in the Gretzky stickers from this set. I’ve included it as it is a pretty cool shot of Wayne in the background. This series featured 2 Gretzky stickers (One regular issue and one Foil). His points per game ratio for this 81 games played season was 1.60.
This album measures about 4.9 cm X 6.5 cm (1.93 in X 2.56 in) and comes to you in near mint condition and currently sits empty with no stickers.