Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brian Rolston Autograph Card

Brian Rolston turned out to have made a pretty good career for himself, enough that he played for the same team twice, well, twice - once (well, twice...) with the New Jersey Devils, and now in his second stint with the Boston Bruins.

A formidable two-way player who should have won a Selke trophy at least once, his booming slap shot is so heavy he usually mans the point on the powerplay, in addition to centering the penalty-kill. He's the type of guy you want on your team to man the third (used to be second) line, as his experience in key games and determination know no boundaries. He's won a Stanley Cup with the Devils, as well as a Tampere Cup (1993), a World Cup (1996) and an Olympic silver medal (2002) with Team USA.

He has reached the 30-goal plateau on four different occasions, and been near the 60-point mark seven different times, with a career-high of 79 (34 of them goals) in 2005-06.

He's one of the main reasons why the Minnesota Wild were so difficult to play against after the last lock-out, so it's ironic this one, should it last as long, could put an end to his career, as he has surely slowed down in recent years and can no longer play 20 minutes per game which, frankly, shouldn't be his role anyway. On a team like the Bruins where he's behind Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin on the depth chart, third-line minutes, second unit PP (40 seconds or so), and second unit PK (30-40 seconds or so) should enable him to reach the 35-to-40-point mark without putting the burden of making others produce while shutting down the opposition.

He was a part of two major trades in his career; first, in 1999, he was traded by the Devils to the Colorado Avalanche for, essentially, playoff juggernaut Claude Lemieux (draft picks also went both ways), then the Avs traded him to the Bruins in 2000 with a first-rounder and Samuel Pahlsson and Martin Grenier for Dave Andreychuk and Ray Bourque.

Many will remember him for taking a slap shot that made Jean-Sébastien Giguère duck, with the puck passing over his head for a game-winning goal in 2007-08; I also recall his 2-goal, 2-assist (on two goals by Yanic Perreault) performance at the 2007 All Star Game in a 12-9 win for the Western Conference, where the MVP of the game was Daniel Brière from the losing team when either Rolston or my favourite player Joe Sakic (4 assists, +6) would also have deserved the title.

This card from Classic's 1994-95 Draft Picks set (card #33 in the Autographs checklist, numbered #1891/2400) sees him wearing the Albany River Rats' uniform, when they were the Devils' top AHL affiliate. It was signed in blue sharpie.

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