Friday, August 26, 2016

Patrick Poulin Autograph Card

Once viewed as a blue-chip prospect - he was drafted ninth-overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1991 after a 32-goal and 70-point season in 56 games with the St. Hyacinthe Laser, ahead of the likes of Martin Lapointe (10th), Brian Rolston (11th), Philippe Boucher (13th), Pat Peake (14th), Alexei Kovalev (15th), Markus Naslund (16th), Glen Murray (18th), Martin Rucinsky (20th), Dean McAmmond (22nd), Ray Whitney (23rd), Zigmund Palffy (26th), Steve Staios (27th), Sandis Ozolinsh (30th), Jozef Stumpel (40th), Yanic Perreault (47th), Chris Osgood (54th), Igor Kravchuk (71st), Alexei Zhitnik (81st), Mariusz Czerkawski (106th), Dmitri Yushkevich (122nd), Brian Holzinger (124th), Oleg Petrov (127th), Dmitri Mironov (160th), Igor Ulanov (203rd), and even Brian Savage (171st) - Patrick Poulin became a reliable middle-six forward for a lot of the 1990s.

His best offensive season was his rookie year, when he posted 20 goals, 31 assists and 51 points with the Whalers, who sold high on him and traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks after just 9 games in the 1993-94 season, when he had just amassed 3 points (2 goals and an assist); he was accompanied by Eric Weinrich while Steve Larmer and Bryan Marchment went to Hartford.

For his next two trades, he was accompanied by Ulanov, first from Chicago to the Tampa Bay Lightning (for Enrico Ciccone and an exchange of draft picks), then from Tampa to the Montréal Canadiens (with enforcer Mick Vukota, for sniper Stéphane Richer, prospect David Wilkie and pest Darcy Tucker).

The late-1990s Habs were a cemetery for hockey players, particularly local boys (Patrick Traverse, Vincent Damphousse, Marc Bureau, Jocelyn Thibault, Éric Houde, François Groleau, Jonathan Delisle, Sylvain Blouin, Jean-François Jomphe, Frédéric Chabot, Alain Nasreddine, Dave Morissette, Jesse Bélanger, Christian Laflamme, and possibly the team's worst free-agent signing ever, Randy McKay), and Poulin was no exception. After posting 31 goals and 75 points in 277 games over five seasons with the Canadiens, he retired after spending the end of the 2001-02 season with their farm team, the Québec Citadelles.

Here he is in better times, wearing the Whalers' final away (dark blue) uniform, from Topps' 1992-93 O-Pee-Chee Premier set:
It's card #85 in the collection, which he signed in blue sharpie in 2002, with his then-number (24) tagged at the end.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sam Reinhart Jersey Card

Sam Reinhart had a fine rookie season, scoring 23 goals with 19 assists for 42 points in 79 games on the lowly Buffalo Sabres, particularly when taking into consideration his 9-game audition the previous year, where he barely registered an assist and looked extremely out of place with the pros.

He's neither flashy nor dominant, but he has good puck control and can both pass and score well enough to be a fine second-line center in the NHL - not unlike his current linemate Ryan O'Reilly - which is fine for Buffalo, who consider Jack Eichel a shoe-in for the top-line spot.

He apparently also has some leadership skills, having captained his Junior team (Kootenay Ice) as well as wearing an "A" for Team Canada on the gold-winning team at the 2015 World Juniors. He also played for his national team at the 2016 World Championships (gold), the 2012 (bronze) and 2013 (gold) U-18s, and the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (gold, as captain).

Here he is wearing the Sabres' white (away) current/retro uniform, on card #FA-SR from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts set and Frozen Artifacts sub-set, which features a yellow game-worn jersey swatch:
I bought it on Ebay to get a feel for the set - which usually ranks among my favourites - and opted into not buying a box after all. It seems like UD phoned in the design on this, compared to years past.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cody Ceci: Two Autographed Cards

The Ottawa Senators finished checking things off their "to do" list earlier today when they signed hometown defenseman Cody Ceci to a two-year deal that will pay him $2.25M the first year and $3.35M the next for a $2.8M cap hit that will leave him with two more years of RFA status with arbitration rights afterwards, meaning if the Sens don't offer him at least $3.35M per on his next deal, he will be allowed to become a free agent.

The 15th-overall pick of the 2012 draft, Ceci not only grew up in Ottawa suburb Orléans, but also played his Junior hockey with the OHL's Ottawa 67's; his being drafted took Jared Cowen - the ninth-overall pick in 2009 - down the Sens' depth chart, leading to his trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs last season (for Ceci's current defensive partner, Dion Phaneuf).

When the Sens fell out of playoff contention last season, he was named to Team Canada for the World Championships and brought home the gold medal, posting six points from the blue line in 10 games. He's really growing into his own and looks to become a top-pairing defender some day.

He signed these two 2012-13 Heroes And Prospects cards by In The Game in blue sharpie last season; here's a close-up of one:
It's card #72 in the series. He added his jersey number at the time (83) at the end of his signature; he wears the #5 jersey with the Sens.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sam Gagner Swatch Card

It's been a rough couple of years for Sam Gagner, after he set an Edmonton Oilers record for most points in a single game (8, tied with Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey). He's bounced around some, first belonging to the Tampa Bay Lightning without getting to play for them, then posting a relatively disappointing 41 points in 81 games as the Phoenix Coyotes' first-line center, before spending last season splitting his time with the Philadelphia Flyers (16 points in 53 games) and their AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms (6 points in 9 games).

That's right - the former sixth-overall pick who shares an Oilers record with The Great One spent parts of last season in the AHL.

And this summer, he signed a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets; at $650K, it's a no-risk proposition for the Jackets, but if he can't produce, it may spell the end of his NHL career, so it's high-risk for him, personally.

I wouldn't take a chance on him on my team, if I were GM, but at the same time, I wouldn't wish him any ill will either. I hope he gets his career back on track for his sake.

Here he is back when things were looking up, wearing the Oilers' classic/retro/current home uniform, on the jersey insert version of card #34 from Panini's 2012-13 Dominion set, featuring a huge matching game-worn jersey swatch:
Again, my only gripe with Dominion cards is how ridiculously thick they are, so much so that they're impossible to put in binders without ripping the plastic open. Cards don't have to be half an inch thick if the swatch they contain doesn't require that much space.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

DeAndre Jordan Autograph Card

DeAndre Jordan is currently playing for Team USA at the Rio Olympics.

In his professional life, he plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, a team I only knew of as a kid because my neighbour once gave me a card of Danny Manning's. A team I might have thought no longer existed were it not for disgraced owner Donald Sterling.

And that's pretty much the extent of my basketball knowledge for today, save for showcasing this card of Jordan's, #I-JO from Upper Deck's 2009-10 SP Signature Edition set and Ink Credible sub-set:
It features an on-sticker, blue-sharpied autograph and is numbered 241/499.

It's from pretty early in his career - prior to his second season - so it may be his first signed card. I got it in a multi-sport re-pack.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Réjean Houle Autographed Card

When Marc Bergevin traded P.K. Subban earlier this summer, there were many flashbacks of the doomed Patrick Roy trade that Réjean Houle had made in 1995 that set the Montréal Canadiens back for a decade.

Nowadays, Montrealers are wondering which of the two ranks as the franchise's worst of all time, with the Chris Chelios trade being thrown in the mix as well. Time will tell, but I think the Subban trade definitely will rank in the top-5 (worst), while the Roy one will prove to have been more costly, as the Habs were still a Stanley Cup contender at that point (and Roy won two more Cups and an NHL-record third Conn Smythe Trophy with the Colorado Avalanche), whereas the team isn't a true contender nowadays, with Carey Price consistently failing to perform once the playoffs start.

And though I love and respect Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov to no end and will defend them until the end of time for being the most consistent Canadiens players of the past decade, perfectly sliding to playing even smarter when their prime/speedier years were seemingly behind them, Max Pacioretty has not proven to be the leader nor the complete player winning teams must have on their top line, having spent most of the 2015-16 season at center ice waiting for a pass that would send him on a breakaway instead of helping his teammates out in the defensive zone; Alex Galchenyuk has not yet been given a full year to show he can withstand the pressure of being that top-line center he was drafted to become; Nathan Beaulieu might never become Markov's successor as two-way top-pairing defender and powerplay quarterback, and it would be unfair to expect 2016 first-round draft pick Mikhail Sergachev to do so right away as well.

There is a fine core to build around in Galchenyuk, Markov, Plekanec, true leader (and thus possibly next-in-line to get traded) Brendan Gallagher, Alexander Radulov for one year and Shea Weber for three, Andrew Shaw, 30-year-old hard hitter Alexei Emelin, Jeff Petry, Zachary Fucale, and Sven Andrighetto to name a few - but important pieces of the puzzle are still missing. Things a workhorse and showman like Subban could hide.

Already, Bergevin's tenure as GM is more fruitful than Houle's simply because of a Conference Final in 2014; it might be the extent of his success, however, and Houle's playing career was a lot more impressive.

Houle wasn't just an extra, he was an integral part of the Canadiens' teams of the 1970s that won him five Stanley Cups, a three-time 20-goal scorer, with a high of 30 in 1977-78. He also had a successful three-year stint in the WHA with the Québec Nordiques, leading the team to the Avco Cup Final (losing to the Houston Aeros) after posting 40 goals and 92 points in just 64 games; he had a 51-goal and 103-point season the following year, good for fifth and eighth in the league, respectively.

Still, he bleeds red, having spent all of his eleven NHL seasons with the Habs, then having been a Marketing VP for the team before being assigned to the General Manager position; even after his dismissal in 2000, he remained on board as a Team Ambassador, greeting fans at games and attending social events on behalf of the Canadiens' various foundations.

It was at one of these events that he signed this card for me in black sharpie, #34 from Parkhurst's 2003-04 Original 6 (Montréal Canadiens) set manufactured by In The Game:
"Peanut", as he has been referred to since his playing days, remains a terrific human being, as can be attested by this heart-wrenching story. And his easygoing and generous personality has served him well in life, everywhere except at the GM position, where his ruthless peers took advantage of him and never returned the favours he did for them.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Mike Dunham Autograph Card

Mike Dunham was a winner for pretty much his entire life.

Sharing goaltending duties with Garth Snow for the University of Maine Black Bears, Dunham went 6-0-0 in his second season in 1991-92, and an incredible 21-1-1 the next as the team won the NCAA championship, justifying the New Jersey Devils selecting him 53rd overall at the 1990 draft, the same year they chose Martin Brodeur with the 20th pick; the pair would share the William Jennings Trophy as the tandem with the league's lowest goals-against average in 1996-97.

As the 1993-94 came to a close, he suited up for the Devils' AHL farm team, the Albany River Rats, following a Team USA eighth-place finish at the 1994 Winter Games in which he shared the net with Snow again.

He won the 1995 Calder Cup with the River Rats and sharing the Playoff MVP award (the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy) with Corey Schwabb, forcing the parent team to give him a legitimate shot at making the NHL. He was left unprotected at the 1998 Expansion Draft, however, and the Nashville Predators made him one of the five (!!!) goalies they selected, along with Frédéric Chabot (Los Angeles Kings), Mike Richter (New York Rangers, although he was on the verge of becoming a free agent and chose to re-sign with NY), Tomas Vokoun (Montréal Canadiens) and Mikhail Shtalenkov (Mighty Ducks of Anaheim).

He would share the net with All-Star Vokoun for four solid seasons before an injury to Richter forced the Rangers to acquire his services in exchange for third-line forward Rem Murray.

Snow, who had just been named the New York Islanders' GM, signed Dunham to his final NHL contract, a one-year pact with the Isles for the 2006-07 season, to help guide (and in case of injuries to) Rick DiPietro.

Internationally, Dunham won silver with the American team at the 2002 Olympics and bronze at the 1992 World Juniors and the 2004 World Championships.

Here he is with the River Rats, on a card from Classic's 1993-94 4 Sport set, signed in thin blue sharpie, that is numbered #1449/2960:
Yes, he should have used Brian's gear instead of the brand's second-tier Heaton equipment, but he enjoyed a decent career regardless.

He has been the Isles' goaltending coach since 2008-09, adding the same duties to their AHL counterpart Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the past two seasons as well.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Peter Bergeron Autographed Card

Last year, I made Peter Bergeron #33 in my Expos Numbers Project. This year, he goes in as #70, with card #U-2 from Fleer/Skybox's 1999 Tradition Update set, which is his rookie card, that he signed in black sharpie:
He's worn a lot of numbers for the Montréal Expos over the years, the result of being a fringe player. I've seen him wearing #70, 30, and 77 in training camp, and 33 and 11 during regular-season play. And that's off the top of my head, although those last few seasons of baseball in town are a bit of a blur.

Oh yeah: fuck Jeffrey Loria, David Samson and Bud Selig. That will be all.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ville Leino Swatch Card

Ville Leino will be playing for the Swedish League's Växjö Lakers next season, whose captain is Tomi Kallio.

It's been a while since his two most successful seasons in North America, namely the 2008-09 season that was split between the Grand Rapids Griffins (15 goals, 31 assists and 46 points in 57 games, plus another 13 points in 10 playoff games) and the Detroit Red Wings (5-4-9 in 13 regular-season games and two assists in 7 playoff games) and the 19 goals, 34 assists and 53 points in 81 games he posted with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010-11, not to mention his 21 points in 19 postseason games the previous season as Philly lost in the Stanley Cup Final (an NHL rookie record he shares with Dino Ciccarelli).

His huge free agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres - which made him the league's most overpaid forward not named Scott Gomez - led to a buyout, and after failing to make the Boston Bruins out of training camp, made his way to the KHL's Zagreb Medveščak, the Swiss League's Kloten Flyers, and the KHL's Riga Dinamo before making his way to Sweden.

The well-traveled Finn failed to make Team Finland's upcoming World Cup roster, what with the likes of rookies Patrick Laine and Sebastian Aho making the cut (the fourth-overall pick of the last draft, Jesse Puljujarvi, also mysteriously failed to make the cut).

Here is Leino in what were undoubtedly better days, wearing the Flyers' current/retro orange (now-home) jersey, on card #VI from Panini's 2010-11 Zenith set and Winter Warriors sub-set:
It features a black-and-white stitch piece of Prime Jersey game-worn material (dual-coloured, triple-stitched).

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Alex Goligoski Jersey And Autograph Card

Right before the 2016 draft, the Dallas Stars traded impending unrestricted free agent Alex Goligoski to the Arizona Coyotes for a fifth rounder; that they traded his rights meant they didn't have the impression that he would re-sign with the offensive powerhouse team, but that they couldn't get a second-rounder back means they didn't think the Coyotes had much of a shot, either.

It turns out Coyotes GM John Chayka did a hell of a job selling his team and all of Arizona (considering no one knows where the team will play past next season), because Goligoski signed a five-year deal to help Oliver Ekman-Larsson anchor the team's blue line while helping develop their young talent.

A Stanley Cup winner in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008-09,Goligoski has become a dependable offensive blue liner who isn't bad in his own end; he posted 37 points in 82 games last season and another 7 points in 13 playoff games as the Stars were one win away from the Western Conference Finals, although Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues was by no means close.

The 31-year-old plays a safe game and should not regress for the duration of his contract, which makes him Chayka's first consensus good signing.

Here's an "all dressed" card of his from his days with the Pens, on card #75 from Upper Deck's 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Premier set, featuring no less than four jersey swatches (two white, two black) and an on-card autograph signed in blue sharpie:
Don't get fooled by the claim on the front of the card (Authentic Game Used), however, as the back of the card specifies the jersey was worn in a rookie photo shoot:
Oh well, mistakes happen, I guess.