Monday, May 12, 2014

Tom Draper: 4 Autographed Cards

I mentioned in a post 4 years ago how a conference from Tom Draper inspired me to move forward in my life, and inspired at least 3 NHLers and one NFL player to continue on their career paths to making a living as pro athletes, and I decided to write to him to tell him about it as well. So I sent a letter (and these 4 cards) to his home on March 11th, 2014, and got all of them back today, May 12th (2014), signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (35) tagged at the end, 62 days later. I thought he might keep the extras, but he sent them back, so I'll be able to share them with other guys he's inspired (perhaps Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Mathieu Darche, Ben Guité, Jean-François Darche, Alexandre Burrows or even my brother).

As I was re-reading my post from 2010, though, I realized I may have sounded dismissive of his achievements, which is far from the case. Just the Hap Holmes award (the AHL's equivalent to the Jennings trophy though rarely shared because it comes with the additional condition of having played in at least 50% of the team's games) is most impressive.

Ironically, Quebecers may have won it more often than any other nationality: Connie Dion, Bob Perreault (twice), Marcel Paillé (twice), Denis DeJordy, André Gill, Gilles Villemure (twice), Daniel Bouchard, Michel Deguise, Michel ''Bunny'' Larocque, Robert Holland, Maurice Barrette, Sam St-Laurent, Vincent Riendeau (twice), Jocelyn Perreault, François Gravel, Jean-Claude Bergeron, André Racicot, Boris Rousson, Jean-François Labbé, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, Martin Biron, Simon Lajeunesse, Mathieu Chouinard, Draper and Dany Sabourin. Marc Lamothe and Steve Valiquette are from Ontario, in case you were wondering.

He was good enough to play NHL games in six different seasons for three separate teams (with two stints with the Winnipeg Jets, who had drafted him with the 165th pick in 1985). I was convinced I had a signed card depicting him with the Jets (likely from his 1997-98 season with the IHL's Québec Rafales), but I cannot find it; still, I now have cards of him wearing both of the Buffalo Sabres' 1980s classic uniforms:
They are both from Pro Set's 1992-93 Parkhurst (French Canadian Edition) set and both sport the NHL's 75th anniversary patch, with the one on the left - in their white (home) uniform being card #240 in the set (also serving as his official rookie card for the brand), and the one on the right - in the blue (away) uniform - being from the League Leaders sub-set (card #448), showing him as the rookies leader for wins, and the added bonus of being a throwback to the 1960-61 Parkhurst set.

Best of all, he has a different mask on each one.

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