Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tim Raines Swatch Card

It's finally done!

My favourite baseball player of all time and childhood hero Tim Raines will enter the Hall Of Fame, as a member of the Montréal Expos no less, joining Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as such! And, in true Raines fashion, he personally answered a ton of congratulatory tweets before his fingers probably went numb from all the typing. He's just that classy.

Although I have recently lost my day job, I may still make the trip to Cooperstown this summer for the induction ceremony. It could very well be my final nod to baseball, what with my interest in it waning dramatically after the shit that went down in the team's final decade.

And Raines was there nearly until the end; his return in 2001 and subsequent trade to the Baltimore Orioles so he could play with his son - just the second time a father-and-son tandem had played for the same team after the Griffeys (Ken and Ken Jr.) - were probably the lone heartwarming story after Pedro Martinez' Cy Young win in 1997, which makes for just two feel-good stories after the 1994 Players' Strike.

And so I present you with a card I traded for this summer (for a bunch of signed basketball and baseball cards), #SS-TR from Upper Deck's 2008 Sweet Spot set and Sweet Swatch Memorabilia sub-set:
It shows him wearing the Expos' classic powder-blue (away) uniform, but contains a white game-worn jersey swatch.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Doug Weight: 2 Autographed Cards

I'd been hinting at it since 2013, but the New York Islanders have finally fired head coach Jack Capuano and replaced him with former captain Doug Weight.

Weight was a successful player, both in the NHL and internationally as a member of Team USA, the leading scorer of the 1991 World Juniors (ahead of one Eric Lindros), a 1996 World Cup champion and Olympic silver medalist (2002).

In Gary Bettman's league, he surpassed the 100-point mark with the Edmonton Oilers - whom he also captained - in 1995-96, and was a huge part of a contending veteran core with the turn-of-the-millennium St. Louis Blues with fellow American legend Keith Tkachuk.

He's also a four-time All-Star, a Stanley Cup champion (Carolina Hurricanes, 2005-06), and one of only 84 players with 1000 career points.

Will he actually get to right the ship, or are the Isles just waiting for Gerard Gallant to agree to contract terms? Or perhaps GM Garth Snow is waiting on the Boston Bruins to fire Claude Julien, who knows?

In the meantime, here's Weight as an Islander, first wearing their white (away) uniform on card #256 from Upper Deck's autograph-friendly 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee set:
And here he is wearing the team's blue proto-retro/current home uniform, on card #378 from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Series 2 set:
He signed both in blue sharpie during his tenure as Isles assistant coach and assistant-GM.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Matt Stajan Jersey Card

Matt Stajan appeared in his 900th career NHL game last night against the Edmonton Oilers, a feat made all the more important when one realizes the plights he's been through, from being a fan-criticized star with the Toronto Maple Leafs to losing his newborn son three years ago to being a buy-out candidate this summer after a disappointing 2015-16 season with the Calgary Flames (17 points in 80 games), and a possible expansion draft candidate next summer.

46 games into 2016-17, he's already just about matched last year's production (4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points) and he's found a comfort zone playing on the third line of a playoff contender. In my opinion, the Flames are one big-name goalie from securing a postseason berth for only the second time since their failed Stanley Cup run in 2003-04 - and the market's flooded with them, from Jaroslav Halak to Ben Bishop to Marc-André Fleury to Steve Mason to perhaps just taking a flyer on Keith Kincaid.

I live Stajan and I've always liked the Flames, so of course I wish them well.

Here he is wearing their red (home) uniform, on card #TS-MS from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Artifacts set and Treasured Swatches sub-set:
It features two game-worn jersey swatches, one white and one red.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Cédrick Desjardins Two Autographed Pictures

Cédrick Desjardins' NHL statistics look very good as a whole, what with a career 2.42 GAA and .919 save percentage, but the last two times the Tampa Bay Lightning gave him ice time, his numbers took a bit of a hit:
from Hockey Reference
On a team that employed the likes of Vezina nominee Ben Bishop, Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis and super-prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy, there was no way he was going to be given another chance after that.

Following his second stint with the Bolts, which was itself linked with two stints within the Montréal Canadiens organization, he signed two-way contracts with the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings organizations, but marred by injuries was unable to sign with an NHL-affiliated team for the current season, which is why he's now playing with the LNAH's Jonquière Marquis, sharing the net with another former Habs prospect, Loïc Lacasse.

His save percentage might look low with the Marquis at 0.893, but his record stands at 6-1-1 in 8 games; Lacasse is showing an .898 save percentage - good for third in the league - with a 12-3-1 record.

The Marquis have used a ton of current and former NHL prospects this season, including Calgary Flames draft pick Hugo Carpentier, Slovakian star Juraj Kolnik, Washington Capitals pick Benoit Gratton, Jean-Simon Allard (Buffalo Sabres), Stefan Chaput (Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins), Jonathan Paiement (Rangers), Samuel Groulx (San Jose Sharks), Jean-Michel Bolduc (Minnesota Wild), Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau (Sharks, Nashville Predators), and Maxime Sauvé (Bruins). That's a lot of talent for a league considered to be "semi-pro"...

Not many goalies have been able to be relegated down to the LNAH and make their way back to the NHL, but it's not impossible; Sébastien Charpentier comes to mind as one, perhaps Desjardins will be able to as well.

In the meantime, here's a look back at what he looked like in Tampa, first with the regular-issue white (away) uniform, which perhaps would look NHL-worthy if it didn't have the TAMPA BAY typefont:
And here he is wearing the Bolts' blue (home) uniform:
It shows him in his final NHL game, February 6th, 2014, post-fight with the Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonathan Bernier (18:17 of the third period), after teammate J.T. Brown had run into Bernier in the final throes of a 4-1 loss.

Both 4x6 pictures were signed in person in blue sharpie, in April that year, when he faced the Hamilton Bulldogs in a road game (I think the Bulldogs, with Dustin Tokarski in net, lost 3-1 that night). Ironically, the Habs - the Bulldogs' head team - had acquired Tokarski in exchange for Desjardins...

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Jean-Sébastien Giguère Patch Card

Here's a pretend patch card manufactured by Upper Deck for their 2003-04 Trilogy set, featuring Jean-Sébastien Giguère of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks:
It's card #108 as per the back, probably a variant of the original.

I have featured Giguère many times before and will feature him many more times as well, as he was one of my regular pulls - and a goalie I admired very much. That Conn Smythe performance was one for the ages...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bobby Butler Autograph Card

Former Hobey Baker finalist Bobby Butler has been plying his trade abroad for the past two seasons, first in Sweden with famed MoDo Ornskoldsvik Hockey Club last season (19 points in 49 games), and this year in the KHL; he started with Zagreb Medvescakand and is now playing for Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo (3 points in 6 games).

The Ottawa Senators had originally signed him as a free agent out of college before buying him out, enabling him to sign with the New Jersey Devils, who eventually waived him, prompting the Nashville Predators to pick him up before trading him to the Florida Panthers for T.J. Brennan.

To be honest, I don't really remember him from any other team than the Sens...

Which is fitting, because that's how I'm featuring him today, wearing their white (away) uniform:
That's card #A-BU from Upper Deck's 2011-12 Artifacts set and Autofacts sub-set, featuring a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Jaime Hammer Autograph Card

Jaime Hammer realized she wanted to appear in the famed Playboy magazine when she and a number of her classmates spent a night at the Playboy Mansion in what was dubbed the Midsummer Night’s Dream Pajama Party, back in 1999... when they were 17.

A little over four years later, she became the first Arizona State University student to grace the magazine's front page for its College Girls edition. She went on to appear in numerous editions of the famous nudie zine, as well as Penthouse, where she was Pet Of The Month for November 2007.

She has also appeared in Perfect 10, Exercise & Health, and Open Your Eyes.

A Chicago native, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her modeling career, but has since relocated to Las Vegas.

Nowadays, there are videos of her floating around porn sites where she undresses and lightly touches herself. She is also credited with appearing in some 40 softcore porn films as Sophia Taylor, though I do not know the extent of her, uh, participation in any of the scenes.

Prior to today, I wasn't aware of her doing anything but appearing in picture spreads and trading cards. I have a few of her Playboy trading cards I'd wanted to get signed in person eventually...

In any event, here she is, from Benchwarmer's 2006 Holiday set (card #14 of 16):
It features a beautiful on-card autograph in black sharpie. BW cards use some kind of coating that makes penny sleeves reflect badly when scanned, but this is a beautiful card to the naked eye.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Grayson Boucher Autograph Card

Grayson "The Professor" Boucher is a "streetball" (street basketball, i.e. looser rules, more spectacular, less attention to defensive positioning) athlete who played conventional basketball in community college but wasn't even a standout star there, explaining why he never got a call from the NBA. That, plus the fact that he's 5'10".

Here he is pissing off a 6'8" Chinese player with tactics that don't go over in "regular" basketball:

He was an extra playing on two separate teams in the 2008 Will Ferrell vehicle Semi-Pro; I'll have to watch it again to see if I recognize him in there. Honestly, any excuse to watch Ferrell as Jackie Moon perform Love Me Sexy is good enough for me...

Here he is on card #27 from Panini's 2011 Americana set and Private Signings sub-set:
It shows him wearing normal street clothes and features a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph. It's numbered 205/799.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Henrik Karlsson Jersey And Autograph Card

It's time to get cracking on #35 in my Flames Numbers Project, Henrik Karlsson.

Back when Miikka Kiprusoff was the best goalie in the world, the Calgary Flames had two youngsters they thought would one day be able to relieve him when he retired, Leland Irving and Karlsson.

Considering Irving is currently playing in Finland (for the Kouvola KooKoo) and Karlsson is with the KHL's Astana Barys this year (2.64 GAA and .918 save percentage with 6 shutouts in 39 games so far with former NHLers such as Kevin Poulin, Nigel Dawes, Dustin Boyd, Brandon Bochenski, Martin St-Pierre, Kevin Dallman, Cam Barker, and Vitaly Kolesnik), one can assume they were wrong.

However, since leaving for Europe, Karlsson has posted elite-level numbers:
From HockeyDB
Goalies usually take longest to develop (compared to forwards, who may be NHL-ready by 18-22, and defensemen, who usually enter their prime around 24-26), and large-sized players as well; Karlsson was both, standing at 6'5" and weighing 215 pounds, though he moves quickly and has a good glove hand.

He's now 33; I'd give him a shot as an NHL backup, for two or three years. A couple of teams are either thin at the position or have poor luck with their goaltending this year; it wouldn't hurt to look at other options for next season...

Here he is wearing the Flames' current red (home) uniform:
That's the "all dressed version" of card #185 from Upper Deck's 2010-11 SPX set - his rookie card - which includes both an on-sticker blue-sharpied autograph and a big, black, event-worn (rookie photo shoot) jersey swatch. And not a cheap jersey; the card specifies: "Authentic Jersey". Thanks, UD. The card is numbered 521/799 and was pulled from a multi-sport repack box.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mariusz Czerkawski Jersey Card

If you didn't know anything about hockey and read about Mariusz Czerkawski's career on Wikipedia or something of that ilk 100 years from now, you'd think he was Brett Hull.

We're talking about the first Polish player to play in the NHL, a guy who, when playing for his national team, accumulated 39 points (27 goals, 12 assists) in 25 Juniors-level games and 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in in 36 mens' teams games, despite often being the only NHLer on the roster, more often than not playing against teams made up entirely of stars and semi-stars. He was doing it by himself.

And if, again, you didn't know anything about hockey and read up on the NHL, some teams would would appear as more important than the others, namely the Original Six, and perhaps the 1980s dynasties Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders. Well, Czerkawski played for both the Oil and the Isles, as well as three Original Six teams: the Montréal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs. If you didn't have the context that we do - how they all sucked at the end of the 1990s and early 00s - you'd think he may be the link, the one common thread, between great and historical teams.

And he had two 30-goal seasons, and two more over the 25 mark - in the Dead Puck Era. Heck, his All-Star game participation, in the midst of a 70-point season, was probably fully warranted, seeing as he led the Isles with nearly 30 points more than the team's second-best scorer and the fact that the goalie they used the most that year was Kevin Weekes, with 32 games played (Roberto Luongo followed with 24, and Félix Potvin appeared in 22; Luongo had the best save percentage of them all at .904).

Those of us who followed the latter stages of his career, however, feel he fizzled greatly at the end, putting a damper on a relatively fine career, not unlike Sergei Berezin or Sergei Samsonov.

Here is a card showing him wearing the Habs' white (then-home) uniform, which is #14 of Pacific's 2003-04 Exclusive collection and Authentic Game-Worn Jerseys sub-set:
The back is even super-specific as to where the blue game-worn jersey swatch is from:
It's from his days with the Isles, with a matching picture on the back! That's what I call attention to detail!