In just a five year major league hockey career, there were only three hockey cards produced with the face of Gilles Gratton featured on the front. Yet, the goalie is somewhat of a cult classic due to his apparent goaltending skills and his bizarre antics.
The rookie card of Gilles Gratton is number 65 of the 1974-75 O-Pee-Chee World Hockey Association series. According to Beckett Hockey Monthly, the Gilles Gratton rookie card is worth up to $8.00, or twice the value of a common goalie. He next appeared in the 1976-77 O-Pee-Chee / Topps series and his final card came in the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee / Topps series. In both the NHL cards, he appeared as a New York Ranger. Both cards are rated as Semi-star/goalie.
Gratton starred in the Ontario Hockey Association with the Oshawa Generals from 1969-70 to 1971-72. In his final two seasons, he played the bulk of Oshawa’s games and was selected an OHA Second Team All-Star in his final season of junior hockey.
The Buffalo Sabres drafted Gilles Gratton in the fifth round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, 69th overall. Gilles shunned the NHL and played the 1972-73 season with the Ottawa Nationals of the WHA. He followed the franchise as they were relocated to Toronto as the Toros the following season. In all, Gratton played three seasons in the WHA from 1972-73 to 1974-75, appearing in over 50 games each season.
In 1975-76, after his NHL rights being sold from Buffalo to the St. Louis Blues, Gratton made the jump to the NHL but played just six games with St. Louis. His wish to return to the WHA was thwarted by the Blues and he retired for the the first of two times in his career.
For the 1976-77 season, Gratton became the property of the New York Rangers and shared the goaltending duties with John Davidson. The
following season, the Rangers sent Gilles down to the AHL and after just one game with the New Haven Nighthawks, he retired for good.
So – why is a player that played just one full year in the NHL a cult legend? The answer is that Gilles Gratton definitely lived up to his nickname “Gratoony the Loony”. Here are just some of the things that made Gilles Gratton one of a kind:
- Legend has it that he refused to play a game with the Toronto Toros because the moon was not properly lined up with Jupiter.
- Gratton was known to growl at opposing players.
- Gilles was a complete believer in reincarnation and claims to know all his past lives in vivid detail. His most recent was supposedly as a Spanish Count.
- Gratton was (and presumably still is) an exceptional classical pianist. The kicker is that he never had a single lesson.
- He was known to hang around at the rink naked.
For fun, I’ve set a personal challenge to collect 100 Gilles Gratton cards before the end of 2011. I currently sit with four (74-75 O-Pee-Chee, 76-77 O-Pee-Chee, 77-78 Topps, 77-78 O-Pee-Chee). I will be scouring card shows and eBay auctions in order to ‘corner the market’ on Gilles Gratton hockey cards! Stay tuned for updates…