Hockey cards try to capture the spirit of hockey, from the graceful skill to the savage physicality.
However this Phil Roberto card to the right, card #3 in the 1977-78 OPC/Topps collection, is the only NHL hockey card in history to feature a fight.
Though fighting has always been a part of the game, the NHL marketing departments steer away from it. This includes in the world of hockey cards, where the NHL has to approve images of such thuggery. And that simply is not going to happen. You can't celebrate it, or endorse it. That would be wrong. And possibly litigious.
So somehow this Roberto card slipped through the cracks. Despite the fact that it is the only card in history to feature a fight, the card is of little collectible value. It is essentially a common card, selling for just a few dimes.
It's funny that Roberto of all people is photographed in a fight. In the 1970s goon era, Roberto was almost a saint in comparison to the worst offenders. The former Niagara Falls junior star played in a solid 385 NHL games, though his career was mostly undistinguished. He only picked up 464 PIMs in that time. I don't know how many fights he got into, but I'm thinking they were few and far between.
No, Roberto was actually thought to have a career as an offensive catalyst, but he never really got going after a freak accident that essentially cost him 1 and 1/2 seasons. A glass door fell on him. He put up his arm to protect himself, but he was cut badly. Originally a Montreal draft pick, Robert would score 75 goals and 181 points in a career that best remembers him as a St. Louis Blue.
Roberto has remained active in hockey, coaching and managing in the Southeastern United States with ECHL teams like the Colombus Cottonmouths and Birmingham Bulls.
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