Sunday, May 5, 2013

José Theodore Autographed Card

The numbers are astounding: almost 650 NHL games, almost 300 NHL wins, a 2.68 GAA and .909 save % while playing for awful teams, a 30-7-7 season (including a 20-0-4 run to finish the season) the only time he played for a decent team (Washington Capitals), a Vezina (2002), a Hart (2002), a Crozier (2002) and a Masterton (2010) trophy, World Junior gold (and 'best goalie' award, 1996), a goal scored in the same game he recorded a shutout (the only goalie ever to do so), World Cup gold (as a back-up, 2004), and winner of 4 straight Molson Cup awards (best player of the season for the Montréal Canadiens, before it was awarded by fan vote).

That's a lot of hardware. That's José Theodore.

I don't know if it'll be enough to enter the Hall Of Fame, but if he doesn't, it won't be because of his on-ice performances, it'll have been because because of the abundance of media and social networks, who cover athletes at an unprecedented level compared to previous generations, where every off-ice incident is scrutinized and every bad game is blown out of proportion and erases 10 great games' worth of press.

Gerry Cheevers is in the Hall - no NHL hardware, and only two Stanley Cups to show for having played with Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito in a 12-team league. And 230 wins in 418 games.

Harry Lumley is in the Hall, with 330 career wins in 803 games, and half his career with a GAA over 3.00, a few times over 4.00 (yet two seasons under 2.00). One Cup and one Vezina in a 6-team league, in an 18-season career.

I won't be shocked or angry if Theo doesn't make it in, but in my opinion, he should be considered ahead of Curtis Joseph, on par with Ed Belfour. He was more important to his teams than Joe Nieuwendyk, Larry Murphy, maybe even Eric Lindros. He's of that category right below the Greats - the sure-shots, like Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur. The one currently occupied by the likes of Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist.

It's because of that respect I have for Theo that I own as much memorabilia of his as I do, including this 1997-98 Score card (#42 in the set) from Pinnacle Brands, signed in blue sharpie in 2001 or 2002 at a team event:
Then again, there are two Habs who are more deserving to be in the Hall that aren't, so those injustices should be corrected first: defenseman Jean-Claude Tremblay, snubbed for his WHA defection, and Guy Carbonneau, not only the best defensive forward of his generation and a tremendous captain, but the best checking forward of all time and the epitome of a Selke trophy winner, who should not be a 100-point player.

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