Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Michel Goulet Jersey Card

Oh, how I wish this were a Québec Nordiques card!

Michel Goulet... the Péribonka (a small village of 500 near Lac St-Jean, Qc) native made quite a name for himself in the 1980s, playing alongside the Stastny brothers - four straight 50-goal seasons, followed by two of 49 and 48, four 100-point seasons and two more with over 90 - he was a force to be reckoned with for my favourite team growing up.

And, sure, by the end of the 80s, his point production was down a bit, and the team was losing a little too regularly, but he was still almost a point-per-game player in his last season in Québec (45 points in 57 games, following a 64 point/69 game season) when he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks with Greg Millen for three guys who never really made an impact with their new team - Daniel Vincelette, Mario Doyon, and Everett Sanipass. Oh, what a terrible trade!

It was while in Chicago that he made it to the Stanley Cup Finals - losing to the repeat champions Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games - with a team that also included superstars Chris Chelios, Ed Belfour, Steve Larmer, Jeremy Roenick (who infamously said, after his team lost the last game, ''that's fine, I'm still young, I'll win it someday''), Brent Sutter, Steve Smith, Dominik Hasek, Jimmy Waite, and one of my favourite perennially-forgotten players, Rob Brown.

Unfortunately, Goulet's career was cut short on March 16th, 1994, at the Montréal Forum, where he'd played in so many epic games as a Nordique. Sensing the end was near, knowing it would be one of the last times he would make that trip since he only had 'a few more' years left, he asked for the team's permission to have his wife fly aboard the team plane so she could see him play at the Colisée de Québec and Forum and visit friends and family - the first time he ever made such a demand - and the team agreed. It was in front of his wife that a freak accident occurred, during which he fell to the ice, unaided by either teammates or opponents, for no apparent reason, and slid head-first into the end boards; the play was continuing, but (Canadiens' goalie) Patrick Roy, in a moment of great humanity and fair-play, held his arms in the air and screamed at the referees to get their attention and got them to stop the play. He laid on the ice for several minutes before he could be taken away on a stretcher, in a coma.

He awoke from his coma 45 minutes later, in the ambulance, and his first reflex was to ask the medics if they could drive him back so he could finish the game. He would never suit up in an NHL game, a victim of post-concussion syndrome and post-trauma symptoms.

A year to the day after the accident, the Nordiques retired his #16 jersey. He was named to the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1998, sandwiched between two Stanley Cups (1996 and 2001) won as the Colorado Avalanche (the team the Nordiques became when they moved to Colorado in 1995) director of player personnel. He has since graduated to assistant general manager.

This card, even if it depicts him wearing the Blackhawks' red jersey, sports an awkward white patch with red stains that look a bit like washed-out blood. It's a little creepy, and I hope it isn't from his last game. It is a 2001-02 Fleer Legacy card by Fleer (at the time manufactured by Skybox), the Tailor Made sub-set (the third player of only eight to have jersey cards in this sub-set, the others being Dino Ciccarelli, Tony Esposito, Guy Lafleur, Denis Savard, Larry Robinson, Mario Lemieux and Borje Salming).

No comments:

Post a Comment