Friday, April 2, 2010

Emmanuel 'Manny' Fernandez Autographed Card

It's pretty hard to believe the Philadelphia Flyers signed career minor leaguer Sébastien Caron yesterday from a team who was eliminated in the Swiss league to send him straight to face the Montréal Canadiens tonight when there's an NHL-caliber goalie who has actually won hardware in the best league in the world (the Jennings trophy, twice, once with the Minnesota Wild and once with the Boston Bruins) and is a free agent - Emmanuel 'Manny' Fernandez.

It started perfectly for Fernandez: he was picked 52nd overall by the Québec Nordiques in the 1992 NHL draft and was destined to form a superb all-francophone duo with Stéphane Fiset that would dominate for years... but he kept being surpassed by others in the team's hierarchy, notably Jocelyn Thibault, so the Nordiques sent him to the Dallas Stars, where he proved to be a more than capable backup, perhaps even a good starter, and then the Wild took a chance on him. With Dwayne Roloson, they were probably the best goaltending duo in the league for a few years running. When Roloson left, Fernandez did a decent job as the team's #1 goalie, until Niklas Backstom, younger, was deemed mature enough to take the reins himself.

That's when Fernandez signed with the Bruins. His first season was marred with injuries, but in his second season, he and Tim Thomas proved to be the league's best goaltending duo as they won the Jennings. Signing Thomas to a long-term, high-paying contrat this summer showed Fernandez the door, though, and he is still a free agent today, thus available to the Flyers.

This beautiful card (#42), from Upper Deck's 2000-01 Pros & Prospects set, was signed in person by Fernandez in blue sharpie, while we were both guest teachers at a goaltending summer school in Montréal, in the summer of 2004.

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