Sunday, October 5, 2014

Alexei Zhamnov Autographed Card

I met Alexei Zhamnov a few times in the 1990s, including at the training camps before his final two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets (1994-95 and 1995-96); at the time, the Jets were doing some ''pre-scouting'' which they disguised as ''helping the community'', by helping minor-league coaches improve their craft, learn the team's playbook (grooming them, pretty much), and the like, and instead of using professional players to do so, they flew some of us junior-age ''prospects'' to use as examples, which doubled as private scouting sessions. All four goalies were from Québec, then considered a land of expertise on the matter - and I was one of them.

I can't tell which season this card's from, and I can't find my other two or three, but I'd scanned this one a while back and figured I could use it today:
It's from Score's 1993-94 Pinnacle set (card #56, the crease up top is from the penny sleeve, not the card, although it has a few banged corners), as he was coming off a 25-goal and 72-point season (in 68 games), finishing third in points among all NHL rookies. His teammate and linemate Teemu Selanne would score 76 goals and finish with 132 points to win the Calder Trophy, though.

With 719 points in 807 games (and 19 in 35 playoff games), starting off in a high-scoring era but spending most of his career in the Dead Puck Era, Zhamnov had a remarkable career as a top-line center. He had eight consecutive 20-goal season (with a high of 30 in the lock-out-shortened 1994-95), and nine in total; he had seven 60-point seasons, but he never played a full 80- or 82-game schedule.

The injury bug got him worse near the end of his career, playing 23 games with the Chicago Blackhawks and just 20 with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003-04 (still managing 18 points with each), then a mere 24 games with the Boston Bruins in 2005-06 before retiring.

He played in All-Star Games and was even on an end-of-season All-Star Team, meaning he was considered the second-best center in the NHL in 1994-95. He was once traded one-for-one for Jeremy Roenick, and captained the Blackhawks.

Internationally, he has a trio of Olympic medals he garnered with Team Russia: gold (1992), silver (1998) and bronze (2002).

Upon retiring, he became the general manager of KHL team HC Vityaz Podmoskovje.

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