Saturday, May 23, 2015

Éric Dazé Autograph Card

On the eve of a game that could be the turning point in the series pitting the Anaheim Ducks against the Chicago Blackhawks (and because as I was cleaning house I came onto a box full of early-alphabet cards), I figured I'd feature one of the few bright spots in a not-so-great turn-of-the-millennium Hawks team, Éric Dazé, with this card (#179 in the series) from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player collection, showing him in the team's classic red (then-away) uniform, signed on-card in black sharpie:

Dazé was a fourth-round pick in 1993 because while his scoring talent was undeniable, many scouts were less than thrilled that he wasn't overly physical despite his 6'6'' frame and 220-some pounds; few could deny his shot was world-class and he could pass well, too, and while he wasn't the fastest man on the ice, he could keep up with linemates Tony Amonte and Alexei Zhamnov for a while.

In a way, considering the back injuries that plagued the latter half of his career and still has him in pain to this day, ten years after his final NHL appearance despite numerous surgeries, it's better that he didn't play like a wrecking ball or we might not have had a chance to even witness what he did bring to the table.

He played more than 60 games only six times in his career - spent entirely with the Hawks - and hit the 30-goal mark four times, with a high of 38 in 2001-02, the year he not only played in the All-Star Game but was also chosen as its MVP.

He also had two seasons in which he played more than 50 but less than 60 games - and he hit the 20-goal mark both times anyway, which he did in every season in which he played more than 20 games. And this was in the clutch-and-grab Dead Puck Era, mind you. He was also the runner-up in Calder Trophy voting in 1995-96, and finished his career with 226 goals in 601 games.

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