Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tomas Plekanec Autograph Card

Just like his teammate and fellow underdog Jaroslav Halak, Tomas Plekanec looks really good wearing the Montréal Canadiens' bleu-blanc-rouge... even if, in this case, it is with a Hamilton Bulldogs' crest on the chest.

Currently sitting 6th among NHL scoring leaders, Plekanec hasn't had it easy, but has improved his play and statistics every single season since reaching the Czech Elite League in 2000. In two full seasons with HC Kladno, he accumulated 18 and 23 points - just about half a point per game; during those two seasons, he also participated in 2 World Juniors tournaments, gathering two points (a goal and an assist) the first time, and 7 in 7 games the next.

He then went to the AHL, playing for the Bulldogs, where, playing alongside Chris Higgins, had seasons of 46, 66, and 64 points, but - more importantly - playoff performances of 5 points in 13 games (2002-03), 7 points in 10 games (2003-04), and 6 points in only 4 games in 2004-05 as the Bulldogs' unchallenged leader.

That performance is what got him to make the team for the Canadiens the following season, where he garnered 29 points in 67 games (as well as 4 assists in 6 playoff games). At this point, he had shown some promise, but the Habs' brass had begun favoring Higgins instead - Higgins was soon promoted to top-line status while Plekanec was seen as en eventual third-line center at best (and trade bait at worst), behind Saku Koivu and Mike Ribeiro.

In 2006-07, he reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time and had 47 points in total. Then came his breakout season: 29 goals and 40 assists, good for 69 points, centering the team's first line between Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Kovalev, leading the Canadiens to a first-place finish in the conference. Always his own harshest critic (and a terrific team player deflecting the attention from Carey Price's less-than-stellar showing against the Philadelphia Flyers, where he was outplayed by their backup goalie Martin Biron), Plekanec took the blame for the Habs' early exit by claiming he'd played ''like a little girlie''.

The following year, Plekanec took a lot of flak from Montréal media and fans by 'merely' posting 39 points on the board; there was suggestion and misconception that his 'lack of production' might stem from his still ''playing like a girlie'' and not driving to the net as often as he should have, but no one ever mentioned the part about Andrei K's coming in partied-out and unable to perform and Kovalev's hitting the posts three times more often than he shot pucks in the net. Instead, they put the blame on Plekanec, who was relegated to second-line status after the All Star break (still carrying Andrei K around, but with Kovalev moved with Koivu and Alex Tanguay). Additionally, he was still being used as the team's top penalty-killer.

This season, rid of playing under Kovalev's shadow - he has since moved on to the Ottawa Senators - and despite having changed linemates every period for the first 25 games of the season, he has managed to be the most consistent point-getter on an offensively-challenged team. So much so that for the past dozen games or so, not only has he awakened Andrei K - who had been in a scoring coma for the first quarter of the season - but coach Jacques Martin has also assigned the team's most exciting player, sniper Mike Cammalleri, to man the left wing with them - to great success.

Faithful to their usual Habs bi-polarity, media and fans are just now requesting the team sign him to a long-term contract, rather than throw ''the girly man'' to the wolves. Gotta love this town!

Speaking of love, this card has everything a fan could want: the NHL team's colours, the AHL team's logo (adding a 'rareness' effect to the card), and a manufacturer-guaranteed autograph that seems to say 'Tout Pleky' (and really, this year, mostly, has been 'All Pleky' indeed). It's taken from In The Game's 2005-06 Heroes And Prospects series, and is card #A-TPC in the collection.

Here's to wishing he gets a medal at the Olympics - I wonder who they'll pair him with. Jagr?

No comments:

Post a Comment