Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rick Tocchet Autograph Card

Power forward: a rare type of hockey player who possesses both the skills of a sniper (capability to score goals) and a grinder (hard-nosed role player who hits opponents in order to retrieve the puck and/or extenuate them). Usually among the most respected in the dressing room.

Examples: Jarome Iginla, John LeClair, Keith Primeau, Todd Bertuzzi, Cam Neely.

And Rick Tocchet.

I'll forever associate Tocchet to the Philadelphia Flyers, because he spent his first 7 1/2 and last 2 1/2 seasons with them, but he might like to have a special thought for the Stanley Cup he won with the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992.

He ended his career with 440 regular-season goals, 952 points and 2972 PIMs (yes, nearly 3000!) to go with a 52-60-112 production in 145 playoff games (471 PIMs), a Cup, another Finals, and a Conference Finals with the Flyers in 2000 in which he managed 11 points in 18 playoff games near the end of his career. He was also a four-time All-Star.

He amassed 150 penalty minutes or more (three times near the 300 mark) in his first 9 seasons ending his streak with 252 in 1992-93, nearing that plateau again in 1997-98 (157) and 1998-99 (147) as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. That's just about where this card comes in, their original ''coyote on peyote'' white (home) uniform:
It's from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player (127 in the set) signed on-card in black sharpie. Apart from the autograph, the cards are exactly the same as the regular version, so you always had to be extra careful when opening packs to look for the 'special' ones. I've seen people open a pack in a store, get one auto and throw the rest away, and of course there'd be another one in it!

On a lesser note, he played a year and a half for the Los Angeles Kings, two half-seasons with the Boston Bruins and 13 games with the Washington Capitals, but non-hockey fans will mostly remember him from having run an illegal gambling ring while an assistant coach in Phoenix (one of his high-profile clients was Janet Jones, Wayne Gretzky's wife) while hockey trivia aficionados will remember his short head coaching stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning in which he merely won 53 of 148 games, finishing 5th and 4th of the worst division in the league, back when the franchise was a joke.

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