Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rod Brind'Amour: Two Autographed Cards

I must admit, I initially thought there'd be more Broad Street Bullies and Big Bad Bruins featured when I first came up with my "scary" Halloween theme for October. Heck, the Philadelphia Flyers even have the colour scheme in their regular palette...

So I'll make up for it by featuring Rod Brind'Amour, a true leader whose statistics at times resembled those of a power forward even though he played center, who twice passed the 100-penalty minute mark and had nine seasons near or over the point-per-game mark in his 20-year career.

His career-high for goals was 37 (1992-93), while his tops for assists (62) and points (97) were hit the following year, both times with the Flyers, after two seasons with the St. Louis Blues.

He mainly served as alternate captain in Philly, but he did fill in as actual captain when Eric Lindros would be injured. He was eventually traded to the Carolina Hurricanes (for Keith Primeau, essentially a future captains trade), whom he led to two Stanley Cup Finals, including a Cup victory in 2005-06 against the Edmonton Oilers.

In his other two Finals, with Philadelphia in 1996-97 and with Carolina in 2001-02, his teams fell to the Detroit Red Wings in short series.

So here's to his days of wearing the "A" in orange and black, first featuring their away uniform, on card #86 from Upper Deck's 1994-95 SP set, one I never actively collected but traded for when it came to specific players (this one may have been an add-on):
And here he is wearing their white (home) uniform, on card #78 from Fleer/Skybox's 1996-97 Fleer set:
He signed both at the same time but with different blue sharpies, as it was dying out on the first card (the Fleer). He added his jersey number (17) with the newer pen.

The two-time Selke Trophy winner (2005-06 and 2006-07) has suited up for Team Canada a number of times, winning gold at the 1994 World Championships, but was also on the second-place 1996 World Cup team as well as the disappointing 1998 Olympics showing - that time when Lindros was made captain ahead of Wayne Gretzky, that head coach Marc Crawford selected Ray Bourque for the shootout ahead of Gretzky or Steve Yzerman, on a roster that included Rob Zamuner but neither Scott Niedermayer nor Mark Messier.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stu Grimson Autograph Card

There may not have been a better nickname for an NHL enforcer in the 1990s than Stu Grimson's "The Grim Reaper", although it took him years to actually get the hang of it and stop being a punching bag and magnet for penalty minutes.

Grimson was drafted twice: 186th overall (10th round) by the Detroit Red Wigs in 1983, and 143rd overall (7th round) by the Calgary Flames in 1985, after failing to land a contract with the Wings. He only played 4 games over two seasons with the Flames before switching organizations and making his mark with the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he developed a heated rivalry against the Wings and their tough guys, Joey Kocur and Bob Probert.

He would eventually play for the Wings, though, in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, losing in the Stanley Cup Final to Jacques Lemaire's trap-happy New Jersey Devils, but his time with the Hawks and his two stints with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim are what I remember best of him.

Upon retiring, he finished his law degree and became a lawyer, even working with the NHLPA during and after the 2004-05 lockout.

Nowadays, he's also a part-time colour commentator for the Nashville Predators, the team he last played for, in 2001-02, when he posted 2 points and 76 penalty minutes in 30 games.

Here he is with the Mighty Ducks' classic purple and teal (away) uniform, on the signed insert silver version of card #152 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
It features an on-card black sharpie signature.

He might be affable in real life and smiling on the card, but keep in mind he collected 2113 penalty minutes in 729regular-season NHL game sand another 120 in 42 playoff games. You did not want to mess with him on the ice from 1990 until 2001.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Kelly Chase Autograph Card

From 1985 until 2000, there weren't many tougher hockey players than Kelly Chase. At any level.

In his three seasons in the WHL (1985-88) with the Saskatoon Blades, Chase was never a point-per-game player, though he fared decently, raising his points totals from 25 to 46 to 55 and his goals totals from 7 to 17 to 21. But it was his penalty minutes totals that impressed the St. Louis Blues enough to sign him as a free agent: 172, 285 and 343.

He wasn't done making an impression on them, however, as he collected 278 penalty minutes - as well as 14 goals and 7 assists for 21 points - in just 38 games with the IHL's Peoria Rivermen in 1988-89, earning a 43-game call-up the following season in which he accumulated 4 points and 244  PIMS.

He spent more time with the Rivermen in 1990-91, as the Blues attempted a Cup run with a core made up of Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Curtis Joseph, Jeff Brown, Scott Stevens, Rod Brind'Amour, Paul Cavallini, Gino Cavallini, and the veteran leadership of Rick Meagher and Harold Snepsts - ultimately falling in the second round. Chase made the most of his time in the IHL that year, spending 406 minutes in the penalty box in 61 games, scoring 20 goals to go with 34 assists (54 points) in the process.

He spent three more years with the Blues, topping the 200-PIM mark every time before the Hartford Whalers claimed him off waivers right before the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season got underway.

After two and a half years in Connecticut and two games with the Toronto Maple Leafs to close off the 1996-97 season, he returned to the Blues for three more seasons to retire in the one uniform that most will remember him by.

Which is, ironically, not the one In The Game chose to feature him in on card #A-HC from their 2012-13 Decades - The 1990s set and Autograph sub-set,which instead shows him wearing the Whalers' final dark blue (away) uniform:
It features a black-sharpied on-card signature.

He won a King Clancy Memorial in his return to the Blues for his community work (mainly the Gateway Special Hockey Program, a program he started in the early 1990s to help those with developmental disabilities participate in organized hockey) and now serves as the team's colour commentator during radio broadcasts.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Box Break: 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee Hockey

This year, $35 nets you 14 packs of Upper Deck's 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee via blaster box, with 6 cards per pack, for a grand total of 84 cards, plus the two at the bottom of the box:
What one needs to know when purchasing OPC cards is that, for old times' sake, UD has kept the set's vintage there's-nothing-to-see-here approach of basic cardboard, matte colour on the side with the picture, dry on the other:
Once that much is clear, the 660-card set can be fun to collect, because all the cards are basically signature-ready (no coating), and each team has 15 or so players represented, factoring in the multiple (and mostly useless) inserts.

There are checklists cards, to ensure the fewest people possible want to complete their sets; I got the St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils, so nothing to write home about:
The rookie cards (a.k.a. "Marquee Rookies") are cool, and I pulled Anthony Mantha, Kevin Gravel, Daniel Altshuller, and Scott Kosmachuk:
The League Leaders cards as well,though they're really just an excuse to showcase the stars more often, such as Braden Holtby:
One really stupid sub-set is the Retro Parallel cards, of which I got Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Justin Bailey (RC), Viktor Arvidsson, Seth Jones, and Casey Cizikas:
There were cool foil versions of both regular and rookie cards, as can be attested by Brett Connolly and Brendan Leipsic:
There was also a flashback to my youth with this Connor McDavid mini card:
But the best insert was without a doubt the Playing Card of Johnny Gaudreau:
Alex Galchenyuk was the only current member of my hometown Montréal Canadiens that I pulled and I got very few players from Canadian teams, so my chances at TTM autographs are slim to none.

This is a box I wish I had paid $15-20 for, not $35 after taxes.

I give it a C+.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sheldon Souray Autographed Card

Montréal Canadiens. Booming shot to receive Andrei Markov's perfect passes. Grit. Fights. Before Shea Weber, there was Sheldon Souray.

Who knew a New Jersey Devils draft pick (third round, 71st overall in 1994) would one day set the Habs' record for powerplay goals for a defenseman (19, for 26 total goals, in 2006-07)? He'd been traded for Vladimir Malakhov, one of the most talented yet laziest defensemen ever to play in the NHL, so it was 50/50 as to whether Souray would pan out.

And because the Canadiens needed grit first and foremost at the time, in his first three seasons with the team, Souray - who had just scored 4 goals in 182 games with the Devils - scored three goals per, but averaged more than a pair of PIMs per as well.

After sitting out the 2002-03 season entirely to recover from multiple hand surgeries, he scored 15 in 2003-04, then 12 more in 2005-09.

Following his record-setting season with the Habs, however, fresh off an eighth-place finish in the Norris Trophy race, he signed as a free agent with his hometown Edmonton Oilers. Although it didn't end well for him in Edmonton, his contract buried in the AHL with the Hersey Bears because of a disagreement with management over medical issues, he still managed a 23-goal, 53-point season with the Oil in 2008-09.

He had a decent bounce-back season with the Dallas Stars in 2011-12 (6 goals, 15 assists,21 points and 73 penalty minutes in 64 games), he signed a three-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks, but was sidelined for two of them. He did manage a career-best +19 rating in his last season, in 2012-13 before, essentially, waiting at home for his contract to expire so he could officially retire.

He married model Barbie Blank - also known as WWE Diva Kelly Kelly - earlier this year. Things had not ended particularly well with his first wife, Baywatch, Playboy and Fantasy star Angelica Bridges.

Here he is wearing the Canadiens' white (then-home) uniform, on card #258 from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Parkhurst set:
He signed it in (fading) blue sharpie.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Zdeno Chara Swatch Card

It used to be easy to defend Zdeno Chara from critics: at 6'9", his elbows are at everyone else's head, so accidental dangerous hits are bound to happen. There was no excusing this, however:

Playing for Claude Julien's Boston Bruins has a tendency to bring the bully out of anyone, including scrawny little fuckers like Gregory Campbell and even respectable players like Patrice Bergeron at times, so imagine how bad it gets when a douchebag like Brad Marchand or a tower of power like Chara buys into the "we're allowed to be dirty" mantra.

And yet, it has netter them a Stanley Cup (2011), another Cup Final (2013), and a Presidents' Trophy (2014). Chara himself has won the Norris Trophy in 2009 to go along with two First Team All-Star nods (2009 and 2014) and three Second Team All-Star selections (2008, 2011 and 2012) since moving to Boston as a free agent after the Ottawa Senators made the hard decision to keep Wade Redden instead.

As the game has gotten faster, he's been looking more and more exposed out there, and at age 39, we may be reaching a time where not only isn't he on the B's top pairing, but he may soon also no longer be on their first powerplay unit despite his booming shot.

Still, with all the team and individual success he's known, he has been the most successful Bruins captain since Ray Bourque. Like Bourque, he could very well end up in the Hall of Fame.

Here he is wearing the Bruins' black (now-home) uniform, on card #48 from Panini's 2011-12 Pinnacle set and Threads sub-set:
It features a matching black game-worn jersey swatch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

9-Pack Break: 2016-17 Upper Deck Tim Hortons

Here's a third pack break from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Tim Hortons Collector's Series hockey cards. I got plenty of Montréal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets players this time around, as well as regular-issue cards of Johnny Gaudreau and Artemi Panarin, so I'm happy...

As far as inserts go, I'm starting to have a few doubles, such as the Henrik Sedin Local Leaders card below; the Erik Karlsson is new, but he's in all of the sub-sets, so it's getting a tad repetitive:
This Clear Cut Phenoms card of Dylan Larkin is nothing short of awesome, as it's made of see-through plastic à la classic Ice cards:
 I got two Pure Gold cards, a double of Jordan Eberle's and a new one of John Tavares:
There were also four Game Day Action cards, including two of Karlsson, plus one each of Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid:

As far as the whole collection goes, here's where I'm currently at:

1: Tim Horton
2: Duncan Keith
3: Roberto Luongo
10: Corey Perry (x2)
11: Anze Kopitar
23: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
24: Filip Forsberg
26: Blake Wheeler
30: Henrik Lundqvist
31: Carey Price
33: Henrik Sedin
34: Dustin Byfuglien (x2)
36: Cory Schneider
39: Tuukka Rask
50: Johnny Gaudreau
54: Adam Henrique
57: Rasmus Ristolainen (x2)
65: Erik Karlsson (x2)
67: Max Pacioretty
68: Jaromir Jagr
69: Mike Hoffman
70: Braden Holtby
71: Evgeni Malkin
72: Artemi Panarin
73: Dylan Larkin
80: Sam Reinhart
82: Connor Hellebuyck
83: Ben Bishop
88: Patrick Kane
90: Evander Kane
92: Evgeny Kuznetsov
94: Jason Spezza (x2)
95: Jordan Eberle
97: Connor McDavid (x2)
CC-5: Dylan Larkin
FF-7: Erik Karlsson
PP-1: Johnny Gaudreau
PP-8: Henrik Lundqvist
PG-7: Jordan Eberle (x2)
PG-11: John Tavares
LL-2: Taylor Hall
LL-3: Max Pacioretty
LL-4: Erik Karlsson
LL-5: Tyler Bozak
LL-6: Henrik Sedin (x2)
GDA-3: Johnny Gaudreau
GDA-7: Connor McDavid
GDA-9: Erik Karlsson (x2)
GDA-10: Sidney Crosby
GDA-13: Ryan Miller
GDA-14: Alex Ovechkin

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Randy Moller: Two Autographed Cards

In keeping with my Month of Toughness, I thought it was time to go blue with former Québec Nordiques first-rounder (811th overall in 1981) Randy Moller.

First things first, he was a solid defender. His +/- statistics were usually among his team's best, such as his second-place on the Nords in 1984-85 (+29) and his team-leading +13 (yeah, sad), on the New York Rangers in 1990-91.

One of the reasons his +/- was so high despite never hitting the 30-point mark was that he was feared. While he could take the puck away and make a decent first pass, his main attributes were his shoulders, which delivered extremely hard hits, and his fists, which he used to bruise opponents' faces relatively often. Those attributes made the Battle of Québec (Nordiques versus the Montréal Canadiens) a much bloodier rivalry than its cousin Battle of Alberta.

And yet, he didn't necessarily look so tough or mean on card #297 from O-Pee-Chee's 1983-84 O-Pee-Chee set, which he signed in blue sharpie:
I assure you, however, that he was.

As the team entered the 1990s in a devastating rebuild, they sent him to the Rangers for fellow defensive defenseman Michel Petit, a local boy.

However, all the hits and fights started taking their toll, and with the Rangers, he only dressed for 60, 61 and 43 games in just under three seasons, leading them to trade him to the Buffalo Sabres (for Jay Wells), with whom he played for in 126 games over two seasons, including 78 in 1993-94, the year he posted his third-highest career penalty minutes totals, with 154 - but also his lowest full-season points total, with 13.

Of his days in New York, I have this signed card from Pro Set's 1991-92 Series 1 set (card #163 in the series):
He signed with the Florida Panthers prior to the 1994-95 lockout-shortened season, but only suited up in 17 games before announcing his retirement, his body aching too much to continue playing.

Younger readers may remember him as the Panthers' radio play-by-play announcer, whose goals celebrations were often tinged with pop culture references:

He was so enjoyable that when a spot opened for him to be the team's TV colour commentator, he was the only possible choice.

He's also the obvious choice to represent #21 in my Nordiques Numbers Project.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jason Allison Jersey Card

I briefly mentioned Jason Allison yesterday and figured I could feature the one-season captain (in 2000-01) of the Boston Bruins today.

Allison was a Washington Capitals draft pick, going 17th overall in 1993, but the Caps grew tired of the power forward's slow development and sent him to the Bruins after three years of alternating between the NHL and AHL and during his fourth season, where he failed to crack their top line.

In his first full season in Boston, in 1997-98, he exploded for 33 goals, 50 assists and 83 points to go along with 60 penalty minutes, resulting in a top-10 finish in Hart voting and top-15 in Selke voting; he kept that pace throughout his time in Beantown, with a high of 36 goals and 95 points in 2000-01.

The Bs then sent him to the Los Angeles Kings (with Mikko Eloranta, for Jozef Stumpel and Glen Murray), where he would enjoy a similar production rate - 74 points in 73 games in 2001-02, and 28 points in 26 games in 2002-03), but injury troubles forced him away from the game for a year and a half.

He made his first comeback with the rough-and-tumble Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005-06, posting 60 points in 66 games with 76 penalty minutes before the speedier game and personal issues forced him out... until 2009-10, when he attempted a second comeback, this time with Brian Burke's truculent Leafs, eventually failing to make the team, but making enough of an impression on Philadelphia Flyers forward Darrell Powe's helmet:

He retired with 485 points and 441 penalty minutes in 552 regular-season NHL games as well as 25 points and just 14 PIMs in 25 playoff games.

Here he is wearing the Kings' black and purple uniform from the turn of the millennium, on card #DM-JA from Upper Deck's 2002-03 Series 1 set and Difference Makers sub-set:
It contains a white game-worn jersey swatch.

He also won two gold medals with Team Canada at the World Juniors, in 1994 and 1995.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Brendan Witt Autograph Card

In the 1990s, the Washington Capitals had a habit of selecting tough guys early in the draft, and they continued down that path in 1993 when they made Brendan Witt the 11th overall selection, ahead of the likes of All-Stars Kenny Jonsson (12th), Adam Deadmarsh (14th), Jason Allison (17th), Finnish legend Saku Koivu (21st), Todd Bertuzzi (23rd), Janne Niinimaa (36th), Bryan McCabe (40th), Éric Dazé (90th), Miroslav Satan (111th), Tommy Salo (118th), Patrick Lalime (156th), Manny Legace (188th), Pavol Demitra (227th), and Kimmo Timonen (250th).

However, none of those players have 1424 career penalty minutes, nor were run over by an SUV making an illegal turn only to participate in his team's (the New York Islanders, at that point) morning skate mere hours later.

The Caps loved Witt so much they made him co-captain (with Steve Konowalchuk) for the 2001-02 season, until they revoked the title from him at the beginning of the following season; he eventually asked for a trade in 2005, a demand the team acquiesced to in March 2006, sending him to the Nashville Predators for former Caps first-rounder Kris Beech and the first-round pick that became Semyon Varlamov.

A three-time member of the 200-PIM club in Juniors, his highest single-season total in an NHL sin bin was the season he split between the Preds and Caps, with 209, followed by 131 in 2006-07 with the Isles.

Upon retiring, he and is family moved to a log cabin in Montana, which he put up for sale earlier this year as the group was preparing to move to California so their daughter could study in marine biology.

In The Game included him in their 2013-14 Enforcers set (and Autograph sub-set), showing him with the Capitals:
It's card #A-BW in the series.