Monday, May 16, 2011

Claude Giroux: 3 Autographed Cards

I sent Claude Giroux the five cards picture above on March 30th and got all of them back on May 13th. These two were returned unsigned:


I guess he wanted to preserve the sanctity of his rookie card and didn't want to think back to last year's playoffs...

I'd been following his career closely since his days in Juniors, after he got drafted; I even took two trips to Hull/Gatineau to watch him play, which is where I purchased these cards (unsigned - he signed them in blue sharpie in the mailing):


They are both from In The Game. The card on top is from the 2007-08 Heroes And Prospects collection (card # 45) while the one on the bottom is from the 2008-09 Heroes And Prospects set (card #85). I'm not usually a fan of the colour orange on clothing, but the Gatineau Olympiques pull it off rather well, I think.

He also took the time to sign one of his Philadelphia Flyers cards, from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Victory set (card #141):


Maybe I'll send him the other two back in a few years to try to complete my ''different jerseys'' collection, but I'm the meantime I'm quite satisfied that this up-and-comer took the time to sign these three cards. He is becoming so productive that the Flyers can now afford to seriously consider letting go either Mike Richards or Jeff Carter to land a top-notch goalie to get them to the Cup. And should they get there, Giroux is clutch enough to land the Conn Smythe trophy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Corey Crawford: 4 Autographed Cards

Let me start by saying I was very disappointed to see Corey Crawford not be nominated for the Calder trophy, as he put up elite-goalie statistics in his very first NHL season for a depleted Chicago Blackhawks team he nearly took to the second round  after casting former Olympian Marty Turco to the sidelines. I might even have nominated him for the Vezina instead of Pekka Rinne (although Tim Thomas is pretty much a shoe-in to win it).

''Crow'', as he is often called by teammates, had a longer-than-expected road to the NHL, considering how dominant he'd been at all levels: a 17-3-1 record and 1.92 GAA in Midget AAA leading to four exemplary Junior seasons in the QMJHL for the Moncton Wildcats where, apart from the first year, he always accumulated twice as many wins as losses, a GAA in the twos and a save percentage above .915 - including an incredible 2003-04 playoff run where he went 13-6, 2.15 and .940, showing the Hawks some promise after they'd made him the 52nd overall pick in the 2003 draft.

He holds quite a few Moncton records: best GAA (2.47 in 2004-05), most wins (35, in 2003-04), and most shutouts (6, 2004-05). He was twice named to the Q's second All-Star team (2004 and 2005).

With Nikolai Khabibulin and then Cristobal Huet with the parent club, Crawford was relegated to the AHL for his apprenticeship. His first stop was with the Norfolk Admirals, as evidenced by these 3 cards from In The Game:
The one on the left is from the 2005-06 Heroes And Prospects set (card #236); the one in the middle is from  the 2006-07 Heroes And Prospects set (card #72); and the one on the right is from the 2006-07 Between The Pipes set, the Future Stars sub-set (card #9).

When the Hawks changed their AHL affiliation to the Rockford Ice Hogs, Crow got to match his Hawks' jersey design with a logo reminiscent of the Iowa Chops - a superb combination, as can be attested by this 2007-08 Between The Pipes card (#8, the Future Stars sub-set):
I sent Mr. Crawford these 4 cards with a fan letter on March 29th and got them back on May 9th, all signed in black sharpie, all personalized ''À Sébastian'', in French, with his jersey number (29) added. It made my day, to say the least.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Roman Hamrlik: 4 Autographed Cards

Some of my friends, over the years, have complained about Roman Hamrlik's play, somehow expecting more out of the veteran's play but, in all honesty, in the past few years when a team leader such as Andrei Markov went down, The Hammer elevated his play, took charge and often played double the amount of minutes he should have.

When I sent Hamrlik these 4 cards on November 23rd, 2010, I was surprised to realize I didn't have any of him in the Montréal Canadiens' uniform. Seeing as he could leave as an unrestricted free agent this summer, I was hoping to have a signed memento in my local team's colours, but perhaps it was not meant to be. Ironically, in December, opening packs of different brands of 2010-11 cards, it seemed I got him in every other pack I opened. But I am happy with the cards I did send, which I received, all signed in black sharpie, on May 4th, 2011:

First, two depicting him with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had made him the very first pick overall in the 1992 draft:
The card on the left, where the signature gets a little lost on the foil, is from Donruss' 1996-97 Leaf Limited set (card #4), while the one on the right is from Score's 1993-94 Score set (card #131). For a while, he was ranked second on the team's all-time assists list, in part due to his best year ever, in 1995-96, when he tallied 16 goals, 49 assists and 65 points. He spent six seasons with Tampa, his longest tenure in the NHL.

After leading the Edmonton Oilers' defense squad for 3 seasons at the end of the 90s, he moved on with the New York Islanders, where he would have 46- and 41-point seasons, and another 16-goal campaign.
The card on the left, seeing him sport the team's away uniform, is from Upper Deck's 2003-04 MVP set (card #268); it seems the autograph's ink didn't quite stick to the card on that one, which is odd, considering it wasn't all that glossy. The card on the right has him in the Isles' home uniform, from Topps' 2000-01 Stadium Club set (card #221).

After the Islanders, he spent the locked out 2004-05 season playing with his older brother for ZPS Zlin in the Czech league, and two seasons with the Calgary Flames before joining the Habs.