Monday, November 17, 2014

Steve Ott Jersey Card

Full disclosure: I traded 5 cards for this one, not because that's how big a Steve Ott fan I am, but because I want as many cards as possible of alternate uniforms, and I'm a huge fan of the Dallas Stars' so-called ''uterus'' jersey:
What a sight! Red, black and green works very well in this context, and if it wasn't for the bull's horns peering downward / forward, they might still be wearing it today instead of having it be a relic on a 2005-06 Series 1 card from Upper Deck (#J-SO1 of the UD Game Jersey sub-set), with a swatch from their black-and-green uniform.

Ott - the 25th pick of the 2000 NHL Draft, ahead of Justin Williams (28th), Niklas Kronwall (29th), Ilya Bryzgalov (44th), Jarret Stoll (46th), Antoine Vermette (55th), Paul Martin (62nd), Lubomir Visnovsky (118th), Travis Moen (155th), Henrik Lundqvist (205th), Matthew Lombardi (215th), and Paul Gaustad (220th) - has evolved into the type of player everyone wants on their team.

It wasn't always that way, of course, because when he started out, he was all about annoying opponents (he learned to tell guys off in pretty much each language spoken in the NHL) and delivering questionable hits to injure them, often leading to suspensions. He accumulated 279 penalty minutes with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs in 2004-05, though that was far from the team record held by Dennis Bonvie (522 in 1996-97).

He has seven seasons with more than 100 PIMs in the NHL - most of them over 150, all of them from his time in Dallas. He had two 90-PIM seasons with the Buffalo Sabres (granted, one was during the 48-game, locked-out 2012-13 season, and he only played 59 games the next year), but though he displayed a knack for grandiose hits, he stayed on the right side of the fine line he's asked to tread.

As a reward for his new-found respect for opponents, the Sabres named him an alternate captain in 2012-13, then bestowed him with the actual captaincy (shared with Thomas Vanek) in 2013-14, though both would be traded before the season was over. I had predicted those moves in an earlier post.

And so he and Ryan Miller were sent to the St. Louis Blues at the trade deadline, though only Ott was retained last summer, signing a two-year extension. He brings the Blues a solid two-way game, leadership, toughness, and the ability to shut down the opposition's second line on a nightly basis while giving his own team's top two lines some well-deserved rest.

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