Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Joel Otto: 4 Autographed Items

I got mail at my old place on Monday, one that made it there despite there not being enough postage on the envelope (thanks, Canada Post employees, some of you have a heart!) and that only took 21 total days round trip. I'd written Joel Otto a fan letter that I sent along with these 4 cards on March 24th, 2014, care of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen - where he is an assistant coach - and got them all back on April 14th (2014), signed in black sharpie, with the clearest signature I've seen in a long time:
In today's NHL game, Otto would have been a prized commodity: a 6'4'', 220-pound right-handed centerman who played tough, won face-offs and was among the top-3 of his generation in shutting down the opposition (second perhaps only to Guy Carbonneau, in my opinion, with Bobby Carpenter in third place). If neither of them rings a bell, picture Tomas Plekanec's shut-down ability, Patrice Bergeron's ability in the dot, and Ryan Getzlaf's size - in one mean player.

A two-time Selke nominee, he won the Stanley Cup in 1989 as a member of the Calgary Flames, with whom he spent the first 10 years of his career before moving on to the Philadelphia Flyers for the final three. Except for his last season, he was always good for 40-60 points, close to 20 goals and over 150 penalty minutes a year, and his playoff statistics are also impressive: 27 goals, 47 assists, 74 points, and 205 PIMs in 122 career games, and astonishing stats when his team went deep in the postseason: a 5-10-15 output in 20 games in 1985-86 as the Flames lost the Cup to the Montréal Canadiens, and 6-13-19 in 22 games in 1988-89 as the Flames took their revenge on the Habs.

A Minnesota native, he represented Team USA many times internationally, including at two World Championships, the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups (he was team captain for the latter), the 1996 World Cup (which the U.S. won), and the 1998 Olympics.

Let's have a look at the cards, first those showing him wearing the Flames' classic red (away) uniform, starting with this 1990-91 Score (American) card (#128 in the set) by Pinnacle Brands, with the 1989 Cup Finals patch on his left shoulder, entering the offensive zone in control of the puck:
Next up is this Pro Set 1991-92 Series 1 card (#37 in the set), sporting the alternate captain's 'A', which was pretty much a fixture on his chest:
And a sticker from Panini's 1992-93 Panini set (#43 to stick in the collector's album), sporting the NHL's 75th-anniversary patch that all teams wore that year, fighting for prime in-slot real estate in front of the New York Rangers' Joe Cirella:
And finally, showing him in the Flames white (then-home) uniform, from Pro Set's 1992-93 Parkhurst set (the French Canadian Version, card #253 in the collection), sporting both the 'A' and the 75th patch in a weirdly-cropped picture that barely shows Los Angeles Kings goalie Kelly Hrudey:
Again: what a tremendous return!

I am fairly confident that he will be on the Flames' coaching staff before long, as an assistant (possibly associate) coach in charge of both the powerplay and the penalty kill - in which he both excelled.

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