Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bill Muckalt Autograph Card

Bill Muckalt. To many, that name is synonymous with ''journeyman NHLer'', but to me, he was a prospect whose career was ultimately derailed by injuries and who was part of two of the biggest trades of his time: the one that sent Félix Potvin to the Vancouver Canucks, and the one that sent Alexei Yashin to the New York Islanders and Zdeno Chara and Jason Spezza to the Ottawa Senators.

Drafted by his hometown team, the Canucks, in 1994, Muckalt spent 4 years honing his craft in the NCAA before turning pro, and he proved to be an instant hit, with 16 goals, 20 assists and 36 points in 73 games in his rookie season in 1998-99, good enough for the Isles to want him as the centerpiece - and Kevin Weekes as the replacement netminder - when the Canucks went and got Potvin.

Unfortunately, injuries came along pretty early, limiting him to 12 appearances the year of the trade and 60 games the next full season (in which he still managed to score 11 goals and collect 26 points) before they sent him packing to Ottawa, where he was buried in the depth chart behind right wingers such as Daniel Alfredsson, Marian Hossa, Martin Havlat, and Chris Neil. Not able to do himself justice as a power forward behind such a skilled group (and one tough enforcer), he was released at the end of the season, signing a free agent contract with the Minnesota Wild, where a dislocated shoulder would hinder him for two full seasons.

Upon retiring, he turned to coaching, and after stints in minor Junior-level leagues has now been an assistant coach with the Michigan Tech Huskies for the past 4 seasons.

This card, from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set (#291 in the collection, signed on-card in thin black sharpie) shows him in the Canucks' turn-of-the-millennium black (away) uniform:
He shares the spot for #17 with Ryan Kesler in my Canucks Numbers Project.

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