Steve Bégin was an impossible-to-dislike grinder and penalty-killing specialist with a huge heart who was almost a spiritual captain on the Montréal Canadiens from 2003 until 2009, often needing a ridiculous injury to keep him off the ice, usually two at once.
He was forced to retire after years of enduring hip pain that the Boston Bruins' medical team had told him was "normal" for "many" hockey players, that could be operated on upon retiring. Three and a half years after retirement, he still ails, despite an operation by the Nashville Predators staff.
Still, he and Georges St-Pierre held a press conference earlier today promoting Challenge U, an app that enables folks to earn their high school diploma. Bégin, who had to quit school to move from Trois-Rivières to Val d'Or to play Juniors, has now vowed to finish high school before his teenage daughters, one of whom is a Senior.
So, yeah, he's still impossible to dislike.
Here he is with the Calgary Flames, the team who drafted him 40th overall (second round) in 1996 and with whom he retired, wearing their red turn-of-the-millennium red (away) uniform, on card #299 from Topps' 2000-01 O-Pee-Chee set and NHL Prospects sub-set:
First, here he is wearing the team's white (then-home) uniform, on card #257 from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Parkhurst collection:
Habs Numbers Project and Flames Numbers Project (twice).
He signed all three cards in blue sharpie, adding his uniform numbers (7 and 22) at the end, though it seems he mixed up the numbers on the Flames and white uniform Habs cards!