A nice surprise was waiting for me at home when I finished work early today, these four signed cards from Montréal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta:
I had sent them to him with a fan letter, care of the Habs, on January 31, 2013, and got them all back today, June 14th, 2013, signed in thin blue sharpie, with his jersey number (21) tagged at the end. He's wearing the captain's 'C' on all of them, which wasn't the case the first time I had a success from him two years ago.
He has just finished his fourth season in Montréal, his third as captain, his second in which he played all regular-season games - both resulted in first-round exits, oddly enough. While I wasn't convinced when the team named him captain, he has proven to be a rugged, hard-nosed reliable scorer who leads by example. There may be louder voices in the dressing room now, but he could serve as the best example for Brendan Gallagher - just like Erik Cole was for Max Pacioretty last season.
It's fitting that he scored the 20,000th NHL goal in team history last March. He is entering his final contract year next season, but GM Marc Bergevin seems to like the team spirit he's seeing and want to continue with more or less the same group moving forward, so I wouldn't be surprised if Gionta were extended for two or three more seasons, albeit at a salary lower than his current $5M per season - possibly 3.5.
I was happy to get him to sign cards in both regular uniforms, as attested below, first with the red (home) uniform:
It's from Panini's 2012-13 Score set (card #253), and shows him in his regular spot in front of both an opponent's net and a defenseder twice his size.
The next two cards show him in the Habs' white (away) uniform, first a beauty from the 2010-11 Crown Royale collection (die-cut, card #54) by Panini (probably their prettiest set):
And also from the 2011-12 Score set (card #248), still by Panini:
I try to avoid writing to players too close apart because I don't want to annoy them, but this time, I figured two years was a decent wait, and he hadn't had cards published where he's sporting the 'C' yet, and that could account for some forgiveness.