Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jeff Hackett Autographed Card

Jeff Hackett, to me, was a weird case: he was the best player on the Montréal Canadiens during, arguably, the team's worst seasons ever. He was a bit of a step down from his successor, José Theodore, but much of a step up from his predecessor, Jocelyn Thibault - he was stuck between two JTs.

He was a stand-up goalie who played his angles well and would also use the butterfly technique often, but not as 'a style' - in that regards, I could totally relate: despite my favourite goalie of all time (and the reason why I donned the pads in the first place) being Patrick Roy, I played more like Hackett and another later Habs' goalie, Cristobal Huet. And, quite like them, I was often the most regarded player on terrible teams, and when the team got better, I was on my way out, replaced by someone I felt I could play as well as.

At the time when I met Hackett, though, Huet wasn't even close to being on the radar, so Hackett was, really, the one I identified with the most, which made our encounter that much weirder. It was early September, 2002; Theodore had just won his Hart and Vezina trophies and was the main attraction at the team's Jamboree, held right outside the Bell Centre. Hackett could walk amongst the crowd and barely be disturbed, like the rookies and fourth-liners of the team, while the other 'star' players, namely Theodore, Mike Ribeiro and Saku Koivu had thousands of fans lining up (or, more accurately, ganging up) to seek autographs.

So I approached Hackett with this card, a 2000-01 Stadium Club (by then, Topps had removed the name O-Pee-Chee from most of its products, so while the series had originally begun as O-Pee-Chee Stadium Club, this series was only Stadium Club, with the Topps logo displayed in the back and no mention whatsoever of O-Pee-Chee) card, #19 in the series, showing Hackett drinking water during a break, drops of water flying all around his helmet.

And instead of being happy that he was receiving some kind of attention, he looked angry and gave me a stare that seemed to mean ''now, that fat bastard probably just wants to sell this on Ebay, he doesn't even look like a fan'', which could explain why his autograph seems a bit botched. The only way I can describe the face he made is that he looked exactly the same as if he'd surrendered 7 goals on 15 shots after Theodore had stopped over 40 the night before, and telling a reporter, after the game ''how do you think I feel?'' - he had a temper, and it seemed ignited on that day. Needless to say, I didn't stay around him too long and moved on to someone else, probably Donald Audette.

Regardless, to me, he was the only good thing to come out of the late 90s/early 00s for the Habs. I associate him to the Canadiens just as much as with the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks; yes, I'm aware he was also an Islander, a Bruin and a Flyer (not to mention a Phantom), but I don't associate him with those teams as much.

No comments:

Post a Comment