Saturday, November 28, 2015

Patrick O'Sullivan Autograph Card

I hinted at Patrick O'Sullivan's troubles with his father when I featured him in 2013, but he came out with his autobiography a month ago where he goes into much further detail just how skewed of a relationship it was

There are pretty much scenes of torture in there, at the hands of a father, John O'Sullivan, whose own hockey dreams were left in the minors and who channeled his anger and aspirations onto his son, as many hockey parents are wont to do. Patrick had a bit of a temper in Juniors and ealy in his professional career, taking retaliatory penalties as a means to let his anger out, until a stint with the Minnesota Wild put him in Jacques Lemaire's path, which went a long way into providing him with guidance, leading to added maturity.

After all was said and done, he managed to win two gold medals with Team USA (2002 U-18 and 2004 World Juniors) and appear in 334 NHL games, scoring 58 goals with 103 assists for 161 points.

Here he is wearing the Edmonton Oilers' awful initial white (away) Reebok uniform, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers set, with card #FI-PO of the Franchise Ink sub-set:
It's signed on-sticker in thin blue sharpie.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jason Taylor Jersey Card

Jason Taylor played in the NFL for 15 seasons, which included three stints with the Miami Dolphins and a season each with the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

He may eventually make into the Hall Of Fame, located in Akron, Ohio, where he played College Ball. He currently ranks sixth of all time in sacks and holds the NFL record for most fumbles returned for touchdowns (6).

He was a force on defense, participating in the Pro Bow six times, getting named All-Pro four times, and was the Defensive Player Of The Year for the AFC twice.

He entered the top-10 in sacks by bringing none other than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady down. He now appears poised to have a career in broadcasting, having appeared on numerous game analysis shows to provide feedback.

Here he is from Topps' 2007 Bowman Sterling set (card #BSVR-JT of the Authentic Game-Worn Jersey sub-set, featuring a game-worn light teal uniform swatch):
He's seen sporting the Dolphins' white uniform, #99 (an impressive number to hockey fans); later on in his career, he wore the captain's ''C'' with Miami.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Keith Evans Autographed Card

I might be cheating or at the very least stretching it a bit by including Keith Evans as #64 in my Expos Numbers Project, considering he never actually played for the Montréal Expos - or any other MLB team, for that matter - in the majors; instead, the 220th pick of the 1996 draft spent most of his time in AAA ball with their affiliate Ottawa Lynx.

He had a couple of 70-strikeout seasons with the Lynx but mostly had a losing record in the NCAA (15-22 in three seasons), in AA (8-11 over two seasons) and AAA (13-27 over five seasons). He was a starting pitcher at every level except AAA, where his ball control was no longer enough and his lack of a powerful fastball definitely hindered him.

And yet here he is, in a major card set, from Topps' 2000 Bowman collection (card #433 in the set, his Rookie Card, showing him wearing the Expos' final striped white uniform in training camp (no name plate on the back):
He signed it in blue sharpie in either 2000 or 2001 when he was playing in Ottawa.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pavel Datsyuk Jersey Card

If you think you've seen this picture of the best hands in the NHL before, it could be because Pavel Datsyuk is pretty much in the same position on this card as when I featured him two years ago. But that's because he always keeps his body compact so it's harder to strip the puck off him, and he lets his hands take it through as many adversaries as he needs to to reach the other end.

After sitting out the first month and a half due (another) injury - he has only suited up for more than 85% of the Detroit Red Wings' games once in the last five seasons, and that was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign - the Russian Magic Man's return helped slot all Wings forwards in their ideal spots, namely Brad Richards who finally looks like the #2 center they'd been looking for in the past couple of years.

Despite just a goal and an assist (and a -1 rating) in six games thus far, he's looked solid if a bit rusty, and the Wings get to keep their first line intact. I think Detroit has the roster to make the playoffs even without him, but it'll be easier if he can suit up for at least 50 games.

He's signed through next season, after which I think he'll call it quits here before playing a final season in the KHL, possibly with legendary club Moscow CSKA (a.k.a. Central Red Army).

Here's a card of his I purchased on Ebay recently, from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts set (it's card #LSLR-PD of the Lord Stanley's Legacy Relics sub-set):
It shows him wearing the Red Wings' classic red (now-home) uniform, with a matching game-worn jersey swatch included. I'm usually a huge fan of Artifacts products, and I bought this one to have an idea of what they were up to this year; while I haven't seen the entirety of the set, this card looks more like a Panini product from years past (perhaps the Game-Worn Gear set more specifically), not the same level I'd been used to from this brand.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Craig Anderson: 2 Autographed Cards

At this point, many of you realize Craig Anderson is one of my favourite active goalies, because he gets the job done with little fanfare, steadily rocking along on underdog teams and quietly pulling back-to-back shutouts just to bring his stats line back to normal (.921 save percentage, 2.61 GAA, a fifth-in-the-league 508 total saves despite ranking 18th with ''just'' 15 games played) after a sub-par couple of games (and that 7-goal outing against the Nashville Predators especially) had scared off those who just look at the standings but never watch the games.

Anderson's not a nobody: he finished fourth in Vezina voting twice; he outplayed Carey Price both times they faced each other in postseason play (last year, and two years prior to that), and he suited up for Team USA at the World Championships twice (2006 and 2008). But the fact that he plays for a small-town Ottawa Senators team often leaves the goalies playing in the bigger markets (Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Steve Mason) getting more air time than he does.

Speaking of Team USA, here's one of two cards he signed for me in blue sharpie after one (dominating) game versus the Montréal Canadiens during the last playoffs:
It's card #155 from In The Game's 2011-12 Between The Pipes set (part of the Stars And Stripes sub-set), showing a close-up of him and his mask - though it's a picture of him with the Sens, not actually the American team.

Which brings us to card #348 from Panini's 2013-14 Score set, where he's displaying his full mastery of the butterfly move with a save with his left pad, wearing the Senators' red (home) uniform:
Anderson has terrific leg-rebound control; that was a move I used to love doing myself, either sending the puck away to the corners where my defensemen would recuperate it, or if there wasn't any traffic in front of the net and I wanted to show off a bit, I'd kick-pass it the other way to a defenseman who was back-checking so he could send the play back into the offensive zone right away.

As I've mentioned before, I also (mostly) wore Brian's equipment, and I liked to keep my glove hand lower than most goalies do nowadays, because moving it upwards quickly is more natural than sending it down, so I'd keep it just above parallel to the ice, say at 30-35 degrees, which means that on plays where it was shot low, that picture is pretty much what I looked like - except with a Vaughn blocker and Victoriaville stick. And a full-cage Jofa helmet instead of a mask.

Anderson has two more years past this season as the Sens' #1 goalie; currently standing at 34 years old, he should be exiting his prime by then and might be ready, mentally, to mentor the Sens' next budding star in nets, which looks right now to possibly be Matt O'Connor.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Allen York Autograph Card

Watching the New York Islanders' poor goaltending against the Montréal Canadiens over five periods in back-to-back games so far, I decided it was the right time to feature Allen York, the goalie the Columbus Blue Jackets chose with the 158th pick in 2007.

Don't get me wrong, I was a goalie myself, and just getting drafted is a much bigger accomplishment than I will ever have between the pipes, let alone playing 11 NHL games and having a positive record at 5-3-2 and a .920 save percentage with the Jackets in 2011-12.

But since last year, his star has fallen off a bit, his save percentage sitting below .900 in both the AHL and ECHL; his goals-against average of 4.00 with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) and 5.60 with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL) are disastrous this season.

In 2013-14, he not only played for six different teams, but four (Syracuse, Texas Stars, Charlotte Checkers and Rockford IceHogs) in the AHL alone. All told, since 2010-11, he has played for 12 teams in 4 leagues, in addition to Team Canada at the 2013-14 Spengler Cup (with a 3.57 GAA and .867 save % in 3 games).

But, hey, the Crunch re-signed him this summer, and (Syracuse GM and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant-GM) Julien BriseBois and (Bolts GM) Steve Yzerman probably know what they're doing, seeing as the parent club probably has the best goaltending depth in the world with Vezina candidate Ben Bishop, promising incumbent Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Latvian wunderkind Kristers Gudlevskis.

And sometimes it's those long shots that fare the best against strong offenses.

So here he is, wearing Columbus' beautiful alternate uniform, from Panini's 2013-14 Prizm set (card #A-AY of the silver variant), featuring a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph:
The scan really doesn't do this card justice; it's a really impressive piece of foil and cardboard.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nick Leddy Jersey Card

As my hometown Montréal Canadiens played the New York Islanders in Brooklyn for the first time last night, one Isles player who really stood out was defenseman Nick Leddy. It seemed every time he was on the ice, he carried the puck from one end of the ice to the other on his own and dictated play.

Even the statistics are telling: on a team that lost 5-3, he played 25:44 and was a +2. That's right, without him, it's a 5-1 game. Honestly, he looked a bit like Duncan Keith out there last night; I honestly think that the fact they both wear #2 is no coincidence.

The Minnesota native already has a World Juniors bronze medal on his resume, and he'll be suiting up for Team USA for a number of years, possibly on the top pair with Seth Jones.

The Habs and Isles close out a home-and-home series on Sunday at the Bell Centre, and while I do not yet have tickets for the game, I'm tempted to go in part to see him play live. Although, technically, I have all the time in the world, seeing as he signed a 7-year deal with the Islanders last February.

Here he is back in his days with the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2013:
It's card #GJ-NL from the UD Game Jersey sub-set of Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 1 collection, showing him in the Hawks' classic red (now-home) uniform, with a white game-worn jersey swatch inserted in it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sean Monahan: 2 Autographed Cards

I realize I featured Sean Monahan just last August, but the Calgary Flames' first-line center is now my first successful return of the 2015-16 season, which was the highlight of my bronchitis-fueled day:
I had sent him these two cards on November 4th and got them back today (November 20th), merely 16 days later, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (23) tagged at the end.

Monahan is a born leader, having captained teams at both the Midget and Juniors levels, and despite being just 21 years old, already has a very impressive two-way game that has seen him post 6 goals and 14 points in 20 games, a pace close to what he accomplished last year (31 goals and 62 points in 80 games).

He's won gold with Team Canada at the U-17s and U-18s, and I'm certain he'll have chances of doing so at the mens' level as well.

Here are the two cards, first wearing the Flames' alternate uniform, from Upper Deck's 2014-15 MVP set (card #108 in the collection):
And here he is wearing their usual white (away) uniform, with card #1 from UD's 2015-16 MVP set:
With my previous post factored in, I now have collectible cards of his in each of the Flames' current jerseys.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scottie Upshall Jersey Card

And I'm back, after almost a week in the Las Vegas region (minus a day in the Arizona winter where I caught bronchitis)!

To start things off on a light note, I decided to feature a hard-working player who changes teams often, Scottie Upshall, the Nashville Predators' first round pick (6th overall) in 2002. He may not have become a 40-goal man like Alexander Semin (13th) or a Conn Smythe winner like Cam Ward (25th) or Duncan Keith (54th), but he's appeared in nearly 600 games and consistently puts up some 30 points on the board while adhering to a team concept, playing a physical game that remains within the boundaries of acceptable plays most of the time - and such physical play may have been even more important prior to the 2005 crackdown on obstruction.

He was one of three players to sign an actual contract after coming into the St. Louis Blues' training camp on a PTO this year, with Scott Gomez and Martin Havlat.

Here he is in the Preds' pre-Reebok-stripe yellow uniform, from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Series 1 set (card #J-SU of the UD Game Jersey sub-set):
It contains a white game-worn jersey swatch.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gabriel Dumont Autograph Card

Gabriel Dumont is at a crossroads of sorts, as he is currently in his third NHL contract, a one-year pact that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent if he fails to suit up in 59 games (and a restricted one if he does).

He has yet to translate his two-way play to the NHL but has proven to be an efficient shut-down fourth-line center at the top level, playing with speed and grit - it's just that the offense hasn't made the leap from the AHL with him.

However, the Montréal Canadiens do see value in his leadership skills, as he will serve as the St. John's IceCaps' captain this year, after serving in the same capacity last season when the team's AHL affiliate was called the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Like the Habs, the IceCaps lead their division so far with a 7-3-2 record, led offensively by Bud Holloway and Daniel Carr, with help from Michael McCarron, Charles Hudon, Christian Thomas, Sven Andrighetto and Mark Barberio. Holloway (originally a Los Angeles Kings draft pick) and Barberio (a Montrealer from the Tampa Bay Lightning system) serve as alternate captains.

Here is a card from Panini's 2013-14 Contenders set (#I-GD of the NHL Ink sub-set), which he signed on-card in blue sharpie:
It's a nice action shot that shows just enough of the Habs' classic red jersey.