Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kirsty Lingman Autograph Card

I would like to take a moment to wish one of my favourite models, New Zealand's own (and Los Angeles-based) Kirsty Lingman, a Happy Birthday with this Limited Edition (#18/25) purple autograph variant of card #62 from Benchwarmer's 2014 Hockey set:
Kirsty is a fan of hard rock and heavy metal who travels to see shows (though most do make their way to L.A./Las Vegas, so she'd be good anyway), and has been known to work as a photographer and bartender on the side as well. Here's what the back of the card looks like:
It shows her playing around with a Koho goalie stick, the type Patrick Roy popularized after his 1993 Stanley Cup and second of three Conn Smythe wins.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

My Expos Numbers Project: An Introduction

Why limit a good and fun concept to just hockey when I have enough signed baseball cards to seriously consider adding a Montréal Expos Numbers Project to all my hockey ones (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, and my Nordiques Numbers Project).

It'll be harder to finalize because baseball has more players in uniform (factoring in spring training and the 40-man roster after the trade deadline), but I start with the advantage that the team no longer exists, and no new number will be worn.

The first Canadian (and first non-U.S.) team to join Major League Baseball (in 1969), the team had its two best seasons when strikes disrupted play: the 1981 division win, and the magical 1994 season where they were leading the majors with a month left of play when the playoffs were cancelled as players walked out, which rang the beginning of the end for the team, who started its first official fire sale.

There'd been prior instances of the team trading highly-paid veterans for youth when they were being priced out of the team's budget (Gary Carter), but post-1994, it actually became official team policy to always trade players when they hit their prime and were about to earn serious dough. From the first wave (Delino DeShields, Marquis Grissom, Larry Walker, John Wetteland) to the second (Pedro Martinez, Jose Vidro, Vladimir Guerrero) to seasons where it was a single player to when the Evil Twins came from New York with empty promises and ran the team to the ground so they could profit from its sale and trade up, to the Florida Marlins.
So, here I am attempting to collect autographed/memorabilia stuff from players representing every number worn by a member of the Expos. So far, I have featured 34; here they are:

Managers: Bill Virdon and Buck Rodgers.

3: Jose Vidro and Junior Noboa: check!
4: Mark Grudzielanek: check!
6: Ryan McGuire: check!
11: John Tamargo: check!
12: Wilfredo Cordero: check!
13: Jeff Fassero: check!
15: Curtis Pride (also wore #16) and Jeff Huson: check!
16: Tom Foley: check!
19: Fernando Seguignol: check!
20: Mike Fitzgerald: check!
21: Larry Jaster: check!
23: Mitch Webster: check!
24: Darrin Fletcher: check!
25: David Segui: check!
27: Andy McGaffigan: check!
29: Tim Wallach (and again here): check!
30: my favourite ball player of all time, Tim Raines (and Cliff Floyd): check!
32: Dennis Martinez: check!
33: Carlos Perez and Peter Bergeron: check!
34: Gil Heredia (also wore #52): check!
35: Otis Nixon: check!
37: Buck Rodgers: check!
41: Brian Barnes (also wore #47): check!
44: Tim Burke and Ken Hill: check!
45: Michael Barrett (also wore #5), Carl Pavano and the great Steve Rogers: check!
46: Kevin Gross: check!
47:  Brian Barnes (also wore #41): check!
50: Jay Tibbs: check!
51: Randy St. Claire, Mike Thurman, and Scott Stewart: check!
54: Tim Scott: check!
55: Bill Sampen: check!
57: John Wetteland: check!
62: Henry Mateo: check!
64: Keith Evans: check!
66: Andy Tracy: check!

Andy Tracy: Two Autographed Rookie Cards

Andy Tracy was by no means a baseball superstar in the Majors, but when he attended Bowling Green University, he starred at both baseball and football; he went back to his alma mater after retiring - he's currently the baseball team's hitting coach.

Tracy holds the distinction of having been drafted twice - first by the Philadelphia Phillies, then the Montréal Expos; it was in Montréal that he would have his best season (2000) in most categories, including games played (83), at-bats (192), hits (50), home runs (11), on-base percentage (.339), walks (22), and so forth. The only time he bested his 2000 batting average (.260) was when he had 5 hits in 12 at-bats with the Phillies in 2009, good for a .417 average.

He was also in the Phillies' organization when they won the 2008 World Series, but only appeared in 4 games (2 plate appearances) in the regular season and none in the playoffs. He was one of the most popular players on their AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley IronPigs, however, and once held the distinction of being the oldest minor-leaguer in the U.S.

And to think 2000 was his rookie year, things were looking up, he was backing up Lee Stevens (first base) and Michael Barrett (third base, before his move to catcher)... it did not quite turn out that way:
from BaseballReference
He signed two copies of his Rookie Card - #T2 from Topps' 2000 Traded And Rookies set in blue sharpie for me back in the day:
These Spring Training pictures will enable me to slot him as #66 in my Expos Numbers Project; he wore #46 (2000) and #22 (2001) in the regular season.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tim Cheveldae Autograph Card

Tim Cheveldae led the NHL for games played (72), wins (38), saves (1978) and minutes played (4236) with the Detroit Red Wings in 1991-92 on his way to a fourth-place Vezina finish. That year, however, he finished with a 3.20 GAA, outside the top-10 (Patrick Roy led the league at 2.36, Ed Belfour was a distant second at 2.70 and Chris Terreri was tenth at 3.18) and a .886 save percentage (Roy led here as well with .914, ahead of a three-way tie comprised of Bob Essensa, Curtis Joseph and John Vanbiesbrouck at .910; Tom Draper was tenth at .895).

But as goaltending improved greatly over the next half-decade, Chevealdae, who was a classic 5'10" dive-and-reflex goalie yet wasn't the most energetic or combative, failed to evolve with the times, which is likely what got goalies like Essensa a longer look while Cheveldae, for his part, was out of the NHL by the age of 28.

He took care of the interim between Essensa and Nikolai Khabibulin for the Winnipeg Jets, then played in the minors for the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins organizations, and his save percentage never reached the .900 at the NHL level.

His final season of pro hockey came in 1997-98, when he appeared in 38 games for the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder.

Here he is wearing the Wings' red uniform on card #A-TC from In The Game's 2012-13 Decades - The 1990s set and Autograph sub-set:
It's hard-signed in black sharpie, with his uniform number (32) tagged at the end.

It is said that he is now a firefighter on a military base in Saskatchewan.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ed Olczyk Autographed Card

Ed Olczyk was drafted third overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1984, then went on to play in the NHL for 16 seasons. His career highlights include playing his first three and final two seasons with the Hawks, winning the Stanley Cup in 1993-94 with the New York Rangers, posting four point-per-game seasons, surpassing the 30-goal mark four times (with a career-high of 42 with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1987-88) and hitting the 90- and 88-point marks in 1988-89 and 1989-90 respectively, again with the Leafs.

He also suited up for the Winnipeg Jets (64 games over two seasons), Los Angeles Kings (67 games), and Pittsburgh Penguins (68 games over parts of two seasons), and infamously coached the Pens in 2003-04 and 2005-06, with an abysmal .354 showing (a 31-64-14-4 record).

He has since moved on to the broadcast booth, working as an NBC hockey analyst mainly for Hawks' games, as well as being a hair transplant advocate (and satisfied customer, apparently).

Today, however, I wanted to acknowledge his fight against colon cancer. Indeed, he had surgery last week and will undergo further treatment in the coming months. "Edzo" is expected back in the analysts' booth upon recovery. We wish him the best.

Here he is on card #222 from Upper Deck's inaugural 1990-91 Series 1 collection:
It shows him wearing the Leafs' 1980s blue (away) uniform; he signed it in blue sharpie a couple of years ago while working a game at the Bell Centre.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Justin Williams Jersey Card

It's unclear what Justin Williams had in mind this summer when he signed a two-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes, who will likely not be making the playoffs during that time.

Perhaps he was chasing the money, as he'll be making an average of $4.5M on a 35-year-old (i.e. "un-buyout-able") contract when he made $3.25 in his previous deal with the Washington Capitals. Maybe the pressure of being nicknamed "Mr. Game 7" got to him, as the Caps once again fell in the second round last season; not to worry, Williams will now be appearing at World Championships under the Team Canada banner during the NHL postseason from now on.

He'll find these Canes are a far cry from the team he won the 2006 Stanley Cup with, despite Cam Ward still plying his trade in nets and the likes of Ron Francis (GM), Rod Brind'Amour (assistant-coach), Glen Wesley (defensemen development coach), Sergei Samsonov (player development coach), Jeff Daniels (scout manager), and Ray Whitney (pro scout) still around the team after retiring.

Then again, at least he's found work. I'm currently unemployed, as are the likes of NHL free agents Dennis Wideman, Milan Michalek, Thomas Vanek, David Pastrnak, Brooks Laich, Drew Stafford, Nick Schultz, Mike Ribeiro, Jakub Kindl, Nikita Zadorov, Jiri Hudler, Teddy Purcell, P.A. Parenteau, Chris Neil, Boyd Gordon, Scottie Upshall, and former captains Jaromir Jagr, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, and Brian Gionta.

Williams should, in my opinion, be designated as the team's captain for the couple of years that the team still plays its games in Raleigh and when it's unclear which of the next generation of players will be able to take on that responsibility and lead the team back to respectability.

Which is why I chose to feature him today wearing the Canes' former red (home) uniform, hints of which will be found on their new Adidas uniforms:
That's card #UA-JW from Fleer's 2008-09 Fleer Ultra collection and Ultra Uniformity sub-set, manufactured by Upper Deck, featuring a white game-worn jersey swatch. The team's 10th Anniversary patch is on full display in the picture.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Oilers Numbers Project: An Introduction

Long-time readers are probably familiar with my Habs Numbers Project, where I'm attempting to get a collectible item - ideally an autograph, but a jersey card will do - of a representative of every jersey number ever worn by a member of the Montréal Canadiens.

Since it's well underway and moving along nicely, I thought I could do the same for the Edmonton Oilers, seeing as I've already published 47/78, so I'm roughly halfway there just by what I've already written, without counting my existing and extensive backlog.
Spoiler alert: I don't have anything from Wayne Gretzky. I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to, either, and he doesn't sign TTM, understandably - though many collectors confuse his autopen for an autograph. Which, when I get there, I might also count, myself (though I don't have one of those either).

Here's what I have:

1: Ty Conklin: check!
2: Eric Brewer and Lee Fogolin: check!
4: Kevin Lowe: check!
5: Steve Smith and Ladislav Smid (again here): check!
6: Jeff Beukeboom: check!
8: Joe Murphy: check!
9: Bill Guerin: check!
10: Shawn Horcoff, Pat Falloon, and Nail Yakupov: check!
12: Adam Graves: check!
13: Ken Linseman: check!
14: Raffi Torres: check!
16: Kelly Buchberger: check!
17: Jari Kurri: jersey card check!
18: Craig Simpson: check!
19: Boyd Devereaux and Patrick O'Sullivan: check!
21: Vincent Damphousse and Andrew Ference: check!
22: Charlie Huddy: check!
23: Sean Brown: check!
24:  Theo Peckham and Kevin McClelland: check!
25: Mike Grier: check!
26: Mike Krushelnyski and Brad Winchester: check!
27: Scott Mellanby, Georges Laraque and Boyd Gordon: check!
28: Craig Muni: check!
29: Ty Conklin: dual jersey card check, will look to improve
30: Bill Ranford: check!
31: Grant Fuhr: jersey card check!
33: Dan McGillis: check!
35: Dwayne Roloson: jersey card check!
37: Lennart Petrell: check!
38: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: check!
39: Doug Weight: check!
40: Devan Dubnyk: check!
42: David Oliver: check!
44: Chris Pronger: jersey card check!
48: Ryan Hamilton: check!
49: Theo Peckham: check!
51: Philippe Cornet and Andrei Kovalenko: check!
54: Chris VandeVelde: check!
56: Teemu Hartikainen: check!
57: David Perron: jersey card check!
58: Jeff Petry: check!
62: Mark Arcobello (also wore #26): check!
64: Nail Yakupov: check!
68: Tyler Pitlick: check!
77: Tom Gilbert: check!
78: Jordan Eberle (also wore #14): check!
81: Taylor Fedun: check!
83: Ales Hemsky: check!
85: Petr Klima: check!
89: Sam Gagner and Mike Comrie: check!
91: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson: check!
94: Ryan Smyth: check and check again!

Captains: Fogolin, Lowe, Buchberger, Ference, Smyth

Numbers 50, 53, 61, 63, 66, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 79, 82, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95, 96, 97, and 98 have not been worn by Oilers players, which means I'm looking to fill these:

3: Al Hamilton is the only one who's worn this number in team history
7: Paul Coffey, Martin Gélinas, Jason Arnott and Dan Cleary are good calls
11: Well, that's Mark Messier
15: This number changes owners almost yearly
20: Five players wore it in 1994 alone, 27 in total
31: Eddie Mio, Grant Fuhr and Curtis Joseph have all worn this with success
32: Miroslav Satan, Ron Tugnutt and Mathieu Garon come to mind
34: I'll be writing Donald Dufresne next year, but Fernando Pisani would also be nice
36: Tough guy Dennis Bonvie may have worn it the longest - 2 years
41: Brent Gilchrist or Jean-François Jacques might be the easiest to get
43: Dennis Bonvie and Jason Strudwick have worn this one
45:  I liked Shawn Belle
46: Tough guy Zack Stortini would rule
47: Paul Comrie or Marc-André Bergeron work here
52: Allen Rouke and Jerred Smithson have worn this one
55: Igor Ulanov and Alex Henry were tough defenders
59: Brad Hunt is the lone bearer, and it happened this year
60: Sébastien Bisaillon wore this in 2010
65: Mark Napier wore this in 1987
67: Gilbert Brulé never replied to any of my TTMs
71: It's a toss-up between Petr Sykora and Lubomir Visnovsky
76: Bryan Young had it for one season
80: Ilya Bryzgalov, may have missed my chance with this one
84: Oscar Klefbom wore it last year
88: Rob Schremp wore it half a decade ago
93: It's between Petr Nedved and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
99: The Great One, Wayne Gretzky

Mike Krushelnyski Autograph Card

Despite a 6'2", 200-215-pound frame that could have made him his era's best power forward, Mike Krushelnyski wasn't one to force physical play. Instead, "Krusher" played the periphery, using his decent hands to accumulate 20-goal seasons, although he was able to actually withstand hits on the boards and maintain puck control.

He posted career-highs in 1984-85 for goals with 43 (17 more than his second-best season, 26 in 1988-89), and his tops for points was 88 (23 more than the 65 he had in 1982-83), but because he was unable to keep up with Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri on the left wing of the Edmonton Oilers' top line, co-head coach John Muckler turned him into a third-line checking center, saying:
"He has a lot of skill, in addition to his size and strength. But there are psychological problems involved in working with Gretzky. You have to do things on blind faith, assuming he'll get the puck to you - and that's hard to do. A lot of times, Krusher was so astounded by what was happening that he'd fail to react. He couldn't believe the pass he'd just received, so there'd be no shot at all."
 And that makes sense.

Still, he won Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1985, 1987 and 1988, and reached the Conference Finals with the Toronto Maple Leafs twice; I find it really funny that a guy who was known as a checking center had his only four seasons in the minuses be the four years he played on a decent Leafs team, 1990-94.

He also suited up for the Boston Bruins (who selected him in the sixth round, 120th overall, in 1979), Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings. He was part of two major trades involving the Oilers, who acquired him from Boston in a one-on-one deal for Ken Linseman, then sent him to the Kings along with Wayne Gretzky and Marty McSorley for Jimmy Carson, the picks that became Jason Miller, Martin Rucinsky and Nick Stajduhar, and $10M.

Here he joins Brad Winchester as #26 in my Oilers Numbers Project, with card #FI-MK from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers Collection and Franchise Ink sub-set:
It shows him wearing the Oilers' classic white (home) uniform and features a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Jean-Jacques Daigneault: Two Signed Cards

J.J. Daigneault was a serviceable NHL defenseman who started out as a fast-skating, puck-moving type who was prone to puck-handling mistakes and may have been considered a defensive-zone liability, yet evolved into a dependable, serviceable defender later in his career.

As such, in his current position as the Montréal Canadiens' defense coach since 2012, he is teaching players to learn from his past mistakes, and not to make them themselves.

A childhood friend and teammate of Pittsburgh Penguins legend and owner Mario Lemieux and current Habs GM Marc Bergevin, chances are he'll never be out of work for long in hockey, but I am under the impression that this may be his last season in this current stint in Montréal; Claude Julien is back and will want to work with folks he knows, guys that complement his areas of expertise, and I feel Doug Jarvis might be on his way back, although he's just one year into a similar position with the Vancouver Canucks. The 'Nucks let head coach Willie Desjardins go last April, taking Perry Pearn and Doug Lidster along with him to the unemployment office, and I believe that when the transition is assured between the players and new bench boss Travis Green is assured, he'll be allowed to look for new opportunities as well.

Too bad this will come months after Phil Housley left the Nashville Predators for the Buffalo Sabres, as Daigneault, a former Preds defenseman who coached three of the team's defensemen in Montréal (P.K. Subban, Alexei Emelin and Yannick Weber) would have been a perfect fit there.

Here he is back in that era when the Preds had a fine "dark" (blue, with grey and yellowish-gold as highlight colours) uniform, sporting the alternate captain's "A", on the signed insert version of card #76 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
It's the "silver" version, which he signed in black sharpie. Obviously, one of these is available for trade (or may be included as a bonus in another trade).

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mike Komisarek Autographed card

Mike Komisarek.

A defensive defeseman whose stay-at-home physical style complemented Andrei Markov the longest with the Montréal Canadiens, an All-Star Game participant both from Habs fans stuffing the ballots for the Centennial home-ice game and because Markov made him look much better than he actually was, whose career high was 4 goals (a total he reached in both 2006-07 and 2007-08) yet had the Toronto Maple Leafs knocking at his door with an unbelievable five-year, $22.5M deal (with a $4.3M cap hit), which of course the Leafs spent a compliance buyout on after four seasons. He did convince the Carolina Hurricanes to take a chance on him, but could only suit up for 32 games (4 assists, 14 PIMs) in 2013-14 before retiring and going back to University of Michigan to finish his degree.

Chances are he's finished with that, because the Buffalo Sabres announced earlier today he'd been named as a Player Development Coach, presumably with the organization's young defensemen.

Here he is from his days in Toronto, across the lake from Buffalo, wearing their classic blue (home) uniform, on card #345 from Upper Deck's 2011-12 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in blue sharpie later that year.

Habs and Leafs fans like to rag on Komisarek - the former because he went to their team's long-time rivals as a free agent, and the second because of how disappointed they were that their prized free agent couldn't possibly live up to his contract's expectations - but both should keep in mind that he was, indeed, a hard-to-play-against defender, among the best in the league at shutting down the opposition and a fine defensive-zone checker... until he took on Milan Lucic in a fight and lost any hockey sense he ever had. And things only got worse when he tried to get his revenge, and again while playing for Toronto.

There are no two ways about it: Lucic ended this guy's career.