Sunday, March 21, 2010

Steve Bégin Autograph Card

One of the most lovable grinders in the NHL, Steve Bégin is now on his fourth or fifth different team, the Boston Bruins, but he started out as a Calgary Flames draft pick before belonging to the Buffalo Sabres, who put him on waivers, where he was claimed by the Montréal Canadiens. He had his best years as a Hab, and was a definite crowd favourite.

He was praised for his gritty, emotional play and work ethic; he once tried to hit a Bruins player and missed, falling face-first in the boards, losing teeth and bleeding profusely in the process; he just told the trainers: ''patch me up, I'm going back in''. The next day, it was announced he had needed over 30 stitches to close the wound.

Like Robyn Regehr, he wore an 'A' on his jersey as a statement to his force of character. Sure, he never played a full NHL season, but he can't be expected to, because he plays the game harder than anyone else. He blocks shots, not only with his skates and leg pads, but also with his groin. Here's a video tribute to the man - watch as he avenges a hit on Georges Laraque - that's right, the tiny Bégin was the league's toughest enforcer's bodyguard. Also check the picture at 4:04, when he leaves a scrum in order to go in another fight to protect the team's best player, Andrei Markov.

He has never scored 15 goals in a single NHL season, and wasn't even a point-per-game player in junior hockey; it didn't stop the Val D'Or Foreurs from retiring his number and for the Flames to pick him 40th overall (second round, 1996). He won the 2006-07 Jacques Beauchamp trophy as the Canadiens' best unheralded player, the ''fourth star award'', if you will.

This card (#228) is from In The Game's 2001-02 Be A Player Signature Series set, just like the Chris Phillips card I mentioned a few days ago, except it is a ''premium'' insert, as it is ''gold''. It was also signed in black sharpie directly on the card, and is one of the cards I care about the most.

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