They were the posters a generation of sports fans grew up with – the old white-bordered action posters that were sold through those old checklist-style advertisements in Sports Illustrated for the decade 1978-87. Fans of NBA Basketball, NFL Football, and MLB Baseball always had a great selection to choose from ; however, hockey fans will remember well: the selection of NHL posters ranged from limited to non-existent! It seems the publisher of the posters, Marketcom Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri (which went out of business in 1993) never saw it necessary to add an NHL license to its portfolio of sports.
As far as we can tell, there were only two NHL hockey posters published in the history of Marketcom SI posters. First, there was this poster of the legendary Phil Esposito, who was winding down his Hall of Fame career as a member of the New York Rangers at the time this poster was published (1980):
You can see the small New York Rangers team logo at bottom-right, which indicates that this was produced on a limited team-direct license, not an NHL license. This is certainly one of the tougher white-border SI posters to find; I can only recall seeing this one available online once, and in 10 years in business, we’ve never had one in stock!
Another nearly impossible-to-find SI poster is the one-and-only Wayne Gretzky release in the series:
This one was published under license from Gretzky himself. Throughout the 1980s, Gretzky battled with the NHL and NHLPA regarding merchandising rights, and often went out on his own to make some extra cash. This was one of his side-deals, which, it seems, did not last for more than a year or two, and for this one single poster design. It is one of the most sought-after SI posters of the white-border era, and will always get better than $150 in decent condition.
(Note: there were several “White-border” New York Islanders posters published in the late-1970s and early-1980s, which included Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, and Pat Flatley. However, these were published by Long Island, NY -based Starline Inc., the design is slightly different, and these were not part of the Sports Illustrated collection.)