Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Cam Talbot has spent the past 3 seasons changing leagues and jerseys more often than underwear. Undrafted, he went from the University of Alabama-Huntsville to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack when the New York Rangers signed him as a free agent. He then split the 20110-11 season between the Wolf Pack - which became the Connecticut Whale midway through the season - and the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors, earning a call-up with the Rangers but seeing no ice time.
He is currently #3 on the Rangers' depth chart in nets, after superstar Henrik Lundqvist and top backup Martin Biron. Some New York writers are having fun at his expense for always getting called up but never playing.
This beautiful foil card came in a pack of Panini's 2011-12 Certified (card #160) and is from the Freshman Signatures sub-set. It is signed on card in blue sharpie.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Definitely one of the best American players of all time, Mike Modano retired at the beginning of the season when no team would offer him a contract. He spent all except one season as a member of the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, with his lone season with another organization coming last year, his hometown Detroit Red Wings.
A staple of international competition, Modano played for Team USA 11 different times (which makes guessing which edition this jersey emanates from a useless endeavour), winning the silver medal at the 2002 Olympics as well as the 1991 Canada Cup, and gold at the inaugural 1996 World Cup (the Canada Cup's replacement). All this in addition to 2 Stanley Cup finals (one Cup, with Dallas, in 1999), an All-Rookie Team nod in 1990, and 8 All Star games.
This card is from In The Game's 2011-12 Canada Vs. The World set, the World Junior Grads insert sub-set (card #WJG-25). It is the Silver Version, but as with the Ryan Miller card, I have no idea how many were made.
Ryan Miller has probably been the best goalie in the world for the past 2 years, with a Vezina trophy and a silver medal at the Olympics to show for it. And he's from the famous Michigan Miller family, which has already produced 5 NHLers.
Sure, this season hasn't exactly started off on the right track - he was even yanked last night after surrendering 5 goals on 15 shots in just less than 30 minutes - but you can count on him to bounce back in a major way. And, as long as the Buffalo Sabres make the playoffs, with the team they have, they can beat any team there.
This card is from In The Game's 2011-12 Canada Vs The World set, the Global Greats jersey sub-set (card #GG-19), featuring a dark blue swatch of Miller's former AHL team, the Rochester Americans. And, yes, I find it weird that they took an AHL jersey rather than a Team USA one, but it's a nice big swatch, so that's that. Also, I'm aware that it being a 'Silver Version' means something about the number of cards produced, but I have no idea what it is and the product's webpage doesn't say.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
I've been following Matt Carkner's career since he was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens (my hometown team) 58th overall in the 1999 draft. It was a second-rounder, but he was the Habs' first pick because the New York Islanders' held the Habs' first-round pick (10th overall, they chose Branislav Mezei with it, not a big loss) from the Trevor Linden trade.
The Habs never signed Carkner, though, so after his time in juniors - all with the Peterborough Petes - was done, the San Jose Sharks signed him and sent him to their AHL affiliate Cleveland Barons, where he spent the better part of 5 seasons, dressing for just 1 Sharks game, in which he collected an assist and a penalty.
After a season in the Pittsburgh Penguins' system, he was signed by the Ottawa Senators, who assigned hid to their AHL affiliate in Binghampton for two years. Since 2009-10, however, he has been a full-time Senator, serving as the Sens' official enforcer and also a reliable presence defensively. In many respects, he reminds me a bit of Lyle Odelein, a former Habs crowd favourite.
This season, he has just played 4 games so far, as he was injured; he came back on December 10th.
I sent him the two cards, care of the Sens, on November 19th - the same day I sent these ones to former Senator Peter Sidorkiewicz - and got them both back, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (39) added on the end, on December 14th - less than a month later!
The card on the left is from Panini's beautiful 2010-11 Score set (card #348), while the one on the right is from Panini's equally stunning 2010-11 Crown Royale collection, card #8 from the Achievements sub-set (numbered 399/499), celebrating his first NHL goal, which came 10 years after he was drafted, against the Islanders' Martin Biron. He also scored a triple-overtime goal in the playoffs against the Penguins' Marc-André Fleury that year.
Friday, December 9, 2011
An Adams division rival who played the Québec Nordiques and Montréal Canadiens often made it so that I could see Peter Sidorkiewicz in at least a third of the games he played when I was growing up, even though back then not all games were televised.
Born in Poland, Sidorkiewicz' family moved to Canada in time for him to play through the Canadian minor hockey system, culminating in his playing for the OHL's Oshawa Generals, leading to his being drafted by the Washington Capitals, who eventually traded his rights away to the Hartford Whalers, who let him perfect his game for 4 seasons with their AHL farm team, the Binghampton Whalers.
After splitting duties with superstar goalie Mike Liut for a season - earning an All-Rookie Team nod in the process - he was given the net full-time in the following season when the Whalers sent Liut to... the Capitals.
After 4 successful seasons with the Whalers, however, he was left unprotected for the expansion draft and he was the very first player chosen by the Ottawa Senators. The inaugural season may not have been the easiest, but Sidorkiewicz provided the team and its fans most of its brightest moments, as can be attested by his presence at the 1992-93 All Star Game. He was so good, in fact, that the New Jersey Devils traded for him at season's end - for 3 players, a goalie (Craig Billington), a forward (Troy Mallette), and a draft pick. Unfortunately for him, Martin Brodeur took the #1 goaltending job, and Sidorkiewicz only played 4 games over 5 seasons in Jersey, spending the bulk of his time in the minors.
Still, All-Rookie and NHL All Star - that's a heck of a career.
I sent these 5 cards and a fan letter to Sidorkiewicz's home on November 19th (2011). I got them back on December 7th, all signed in black sharpie. In my letter, I mentioned that I, too, as a goalie, used to wear more than one brand of gear, with Brian's also being my choice of glove, as can be attested here, when I played for the Bantam AAA Sens in a summer league prior to moving on to the Midget AAA level:
I did use Vaughn blockers, though, not Brown like him.
Onto the cards:
These three are of Sidorkiewicz in the Whalers' early-90s home (white) and away (green) jerseys; these would change a bit before their move to Carolina. Notice how the team's logo is white on their away jerseys - just like in their WHA and early NHL days - but that the home one has it coloured in green and blue.
The card of the left is from Upper Deck's 1991-92 Upper Deck set (card #325), classy and simple with the white borders. I also like the picture on the back, making a glove save on a shot that's clearly too high, with Randy Ladouceur checking a New York Islanders player behind the net:
The card on the right is from Score's 1992-93 Score (Canadian) set (card #41), while the one in the middle is from Fleer's 1992-93 Fleer Ultra set (card #150) and despite showing him in the Whalers' uniform, has his listed as a member of the Senators. That's because 'premium' sets such as Ultra were produced later in the year, so they had enough time to update their data at least to Opening Day.
But the following two cards are the ones I prefer, not just because the signature fits with the uniforms, but because I actually really liked the Sens' original jerseys: black, red and white, how could you go wrong?
The card on the left, where he is sporting the home (white) uniform, is from Score's 1992-93 Pinnacle set (card #371). Pinnacle was Score's premium brand, and as the card market started to switch (93-96), they tried to re-brand themselves by changing the company's name to Pinnacle Brands, trying to market itself as premium-first, with Score becoming their lone low-level product.
The card on the right, with the dark (away) jersey, is from Pro Set's 1992-93 Pro Set collection (card #125).
Ironically, the face-only team picture on the back of each card has him wearing the other jersey:
I must say I really like how he went out of his way to sign all the cards at the bottom, keeping the integrity of the pictures and of his poses. And he took the liberty of putting the cards in penny sleeves - which I hadn't even included (here's why, thanks again Sal!). All of that in less than three weeks!
Monday, December 5, 2011
I went to a dollar store last week and they had packs of Panini's 2011-12 Score, which I had originally purchased two boxes of, and I figured at a buck apiece, they weren't all that expensive, so I purchased 5 packs.
35 cards in total, 4 Highlights cards, 5 glossy, 1 Net Cam and 3 Hot Rookies, plus the one pictured above of Adam Henrique, autographed (blue sharpie on a sticker). I like Panini's thought process here, to tack a sticker on the card for the autographs: it allows for a faster turnaround, enabling the cards to be in the packs rather than be sent redemption-style, plus it helps to differentiate between the cards you pulled up already autographed and those you'll collect yourself, which will likely be direct on the card.
As for Henrique, he is a stud. He plays for the defensively-minded New Jersey Devils and still managed to rack up 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 22 games so far, including 6 in his last 5 games, 10 in his last 10. The former third-round pick (87th overall in 2008) has won the Memorial Cup twice in juniors, and a silver medal (with Team Canada) at the World Juniors. A winner just like the Devils like 'em.