Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gary Leeman: 6 Autographed Cards (Part 1)

So my last three returns involve former Calgary Flames... I had sent Gary Leeman these 6 cards on April 1st, 2014, and got them all back, signed in blue sharpie with his jersey number (11) tagged at the end, Tuesday, April 15th (2014) - a 14-day return!
Leeman had an extraordinary career in which he played just about every possible role on the ice (though fairweather fans always ''blamed'' him for not repeating his high-scoring prowess from his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs).

And I get that, really I do. I mean, improving from 21 goals (52 points) in 1986-87 to 30 goals (61 points) in 1987-88 to 32 goals and 75 points (in just 61 games!) in 1988-89 to an astonishing 51 goals and 95 points in 1989-90, Leeman looked like he could compete with Brett Hull for a long time. But after struggling through injuries and an ever-changing cast of teammates for the following year and a half, he was sent to the Flames in the largest trade of all time, as 10 players changed teams, with Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville, Ric Nattress and Rick Wamsley headed to Toronto, and Leeman, Alexander Godynyuk, Jeff Reese, Michel Petit, and Craig Berube going to Calgary.

But the Flames only gave Leeman two half-seasons before shipping him off to the Montréal Canadiens to finish off the 1992-93 season, and his 18 points in 20 games were impressive, particularly when one considers he wasn't even on the team's top two lines. As a matter of fact, on that Stanley Cup-winning team, he came after 40-goal right winger Brian Bellows, center-turned-winger Denis Savard, checking winger Mike Keane, 97-point center Vincent Damphousse, 94-point center Kirk Muller, sniper Gilbert Dionne, and future 50-goal man John LeClair on the depth chart. Oh, and the best defensive center of all time in Guy Carbonneau, who needed his 20 minutes of ice time per game to check the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mats Sundin and Pat Lafontaine.

So Leeman succesfully went from go-to sniper to ''cog in the machine'', but too many people still wanted him to be the 50-goal man even well into his 30s, so the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues miscast him themselves, forcing him to expatriate himself to Germany to end his career; he did end up with 15 goals and 56 points in 54 games with the Hannover Scorpions over two seasons to finish in style.

All in all, we're talking about a guy who played nearly 700 NHL games, played for three different Canadian teams (and two more in the AHL - the St. Catharines Saints and Fredericton Canadiens), was one goal short of the 200 mark, put up 466 points and 24 more in 36 playoff games, and has his name on the Cup. He can be proud of himself every time he looks in the mirror, because he has accomplished a lo during his career. Enough to warrant my featuring three cards of his with the despised Leafs...

And here they are, all showing him wearing their classic blue (away) 1970s-1980s uniform:
On the left, from Pinnacle Brands' 1990-91 Score (American) set (card #40); at center, from Upper Deck's 1990-91 Series 1 (French Canadian Version) set (card #243); and on the right, from Topps' 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee (card #22), during a pre-game warm-up with Ken Wregget behind him.

                           (continued in the following post)

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