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5 Classic Seasons and Hockey Heroes This Summer
 
New Strat-O-Matic Releases for Basketball, Football and Hockey Pay Tribute to Wilt-Russell Clashes, Stabler and Elway Champions, Lemieux and Messier, and the Latest NHL Hall of Famers
 
By Glenn Guzzo
 
            Five classic-season releases and Strat-O-Matic’s first Hockey Heroes set will bring to life legendary championship teams and many of the greatest basketball, football and hockey players ever to play.
 
            Over the summer, Strat-O-Matic will issue its re-creations of the following seasons:
 
            In the 1963-64 and 1964-65 NBA seasons, the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain rivalry was in full force, with Russell’s Boston Celtics winning both titles, but not without a dramatic seventh-game struggle in the 1965 semi-finals. It was also prime time for Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, many other Hall of Fame players and such new NBA stars as Jerry Lucas, Nate Thurmond and Dave DeBusschere.
 
            The 1976 NFL featured 10 teams that won at least 10 games each. The mightiest of all was Ken Stabler’s Oakland Raiders, 13-1 and then the convincing winners over Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman and the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl. Re-live huge seasons from Walter Payton, Franco Harris, O.J. Simpson, Bert Jones, Lydell Mitchell, Lawrence McCutcheon and Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense, among many others.
 
            Fast forward to the 1997 NFL and find out if your version of the Denver Broncos also can break the curse of their prior Super Bowl failures in the battle between John Elway and Green Bay’s Brett Favre. It’s also a big year for QBs Dan Marino, Warren Moon, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Oakland’s Jeff George and Mark Brunell of upstart Jacksonville (11-5). This was MVP Barry Sanders’ 2,053-yard rushing year, obscuring monster seasons from RBs Terrell Davis, Jerome Bettis, Eddie George and others.
 
            On the ice, the New York Rangers had MVP Mark Messier, Norris Trophy winner Brian Leetch and the best regular season (105 points) in the 1991-92 NHL, but it was the league’s highest-scoring team, Mario Lemieux’s Pittsburgh Penguins that repeated as Stanley Cup champions, sweeping Jeremy Roenick’s Chicago Blackhawks in the final.
           
            For hockey fans, the first star of this summer might be the forthcoming 108-card Hockey Heroes set, which will offer career cards for the Hall of Fame players elected since Strat-O-Matic’s 2005 Hall of Fame offering. That means superstars Brett Hull, Joe Sakic, Dominik Hasek and 2015 inductees Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger, Phil Housley and Sergei Federov, but also Russian Valeri Kharmalov. There’s such on-their-way to the Hall players as Teemu Selanne and several exciting surprises, from the Original Six years all the way to the present.
 
            As always, the football and hockey releases will feature six top teams each in card form and all the teams on Windows game rosters. The basketball releases are for Windows only.
 
The carded teams:
 
1976 NFL: Oakland, Minnesota, Baltimore, New England, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh
 
1997 NFL: Denver, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
 
1991-92 NHL: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Montreal, New York Rangers, Vancouver
 
Hockey Heroes: 108 players divided into six teams, each stocked with 11 forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders.
 
            Check the Strat-O-Wire soon for sport-by-sport descriptions of each season.