Sunday, March 16, 2014

Gerard Gallant: 7 Autographed Cards (Part 1)

Another return I got on Friday, although this one didn't take over 2 years. I had sent Montréal Canadiens assistant coach Gerard Gallant a fan letter and these 7 cards (6 is usually the limit I set myself) on February 25th, 2014 and got them all back, signed in blue sharpie, on March 14th, 2014, so 17 days later, in the span of which the Habs went on a week-long California road trip:
Born in Summerville, Prince Edward Island, Gallant played his junior hockey in Québec's LHJMQ and was an offensive juggernaut in the league. His first season, played with the Sherbrooke Castors, saw him put up no less than 102 points in 68 games, leading to his being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings that summer (6th round, 107th overall in 1981), ahead of long-time defenseman Bruce Driver (108th), star defenseman and Stanley Cup winner Steve Smith (111th) and goalie Greg Stefan (128th), among others.

His second season in the ''Q'' was just as good, notching 92 points and 260 penalty minutes in 58 games with Sherbrooke. His third and final season started relatively slowly with the St. Jean Beavers (53 points and 139 penalty minutes in 33 games), compared to how he exploded after a mid-season trade with 26 goals, 75 points and 105 penalty minutes in just 29 games with the Pat Lafontaine-led Verdun Juniors. Plus another 14 goals and 33 points (with 84 penalty minutes!) in 15 playoff games...

After a season and a half of AHL hockey with Detroit's affiliate Adirondack Red Wings, Gallant made the move to the NHL, where he carved his niche for a year and a half before finding a spot on the Wings' top line with Steve Yzerman. He then started a spectacular run of four straight 30-goal seasons (38, 34, 39 and 36 respectively) which also happened to be four consecutive 200+ penalty-minute seasons (216, 242, 230 and 254).

Injuries were a factor in 1990-91 when he only played 49 games (10 goals, 26 points, 111 penalty minutes and a +6 rating), but he was back to his old, rugged self the next two years, with 187 and 188 penalty minutes, respectively. Unfortunately, his offensive statistics started to decline as the three-time point-per-game producer (with a high of 93 points in 1988-89) became a 30-point man for his final two seasons with the team.

After having played for the Wings for 9 seasons and served as an alternate captain for half of them, Gallant signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a free agent prior to their sophomore 1993-94 season. He played in 51 games, scoring 4 goals and totaling 13 points, with 76 penalty minutes. 1994-95 was a lock-out season, so he played in just one game without registering on the score sheet, ending his NHL career at 615 games played, 211 goals, 269 assists, 480 points and a staggering 1674 penalty minutes. Just as consistent come playoff time, his record stands at 18-21-39 in 58 post-season games, with 178 penalty minutes.

Here's a look at the cards, first with the Wings' white (then-home) uniform:
Both show him sporting the 'A' on his jersey, the card on the left (from Pro Set's 1992-93 Parkhurst set, French Canadian version, card #269 in the set) showing him watching the play from afar, while the card on the right (from Score's 1990-91 Score, card #180) shows him right by the side of the net, awaiting a pass or a rebound.

And these three show him wearing the Wings' red (then-away) uniform, all of them with the 'A' on his chest as well:
On the left, looking primed to lay a tough hit on an opponent, from Upper Deck's 1990-91 Series 1 (French Canadian version, card #134); in the middle, with the puck in front of him, looking to make a play, seemingly at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens, from Pro Set's 1991-92 Series 1 (French Canadian version, card #63); and on the right, battling two San Jose Sharks along the boards and not liking what he sees - or smells - from Score's 1992-93 Score (French Canadian Edition, card #119).

                                    (continued in the following post)

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