With the @nhl Entry Draft starting today, it’s only fitting that I post about one of the legendary hockey hoaxes. This upgrade is an extremely rare @paniniamerica insert; there are ONLY 25 copies of the Gold version, which I’m featuring here.
Taro Tsujimoto -
1. Taro was the first player of Asian descent to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft, but he didn’t exist.
2. In protest to the slow process of drafting over telephone during the 1974 draft, Punch Imlach, the GM of the @buffalosabres, drafted the mysterious center, Taro Tsujimoto, as the 183rd pick.
3. Both Taro and his Japanese team, the Tokyo Katanas, were entirely made up. “Tsujimoto” was borrowed from the name of a market near Buffalo owned by Joshua Tsujimoto, and a “Katana” is a Japanese sword (sabre). Punch did not reveal the joke until right before the start of training camp, even though Tsujimoto had a locker stall and was listed on the training camp roster.
4. Panini created this card in honor of the hoax in 2011. Only 1 in 20 boxes contained a rare Tsujimoto card, and, as mentioned, only 25 copies of the Gold version were printed.
5. Panini has never officially revealed who depicted the legendary Tsujimoto on the card, but Internet lore uncovered that the photo is of John Lee, a former Chinese Canadian defenseman from Woodstock, Ontario, who played for @lakestatehockey from 1972-73. At the time, John owned a company that was a longstanding licensee of NHL products. He was asked to portray Tsujimoto by a friend at the @nhlpa because John was one of the few players of Asian descent that played high level hockey in the 1970s.
Hope you all enjoy the 2022 Entry Draft weekend! Good luck to all of the prospects whose dreams may come true!