Monday, September 21, 2015

Eric Weinrich Autograph Card

It's a hard day for the hockey world with the passing of Todd Ewen, yet another enforcer falling to depression and suicide. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentle giant who once held the NHL lead in goals with 4 in the first 7 games of the 1992-93 season (from a 4-goals-in-3-games streak), ahead (or tied with, I'm not sure anymore) Brett Hull; because of Ewen, at the beginning of every season, I look at the scoring leaders to identify that given year's recipient of the "Todd Ewen Award" as the player with the unlikeliest odds of keeping the pace and finishing with a breakthrough/statistical anomaly-type of season.

He will be missed, and he's yet another argument not only against the role of the enforcer in today's NHL but hockey fights in general, and of increasing research into CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, i.e. the study of how multiple concussions affect how the brain functions and causes depression so bad that suicide is pretty much the most usual outcome).

That being said, there was also a smaller news item making the rounds today, as Eric Weinrich, the New Jersey Devils' second-round pick (32nd overall) at the 1985 draft, will go back to his roots as the team's development coach for defensemen.

I had written about his career as a player last February, but it bears repeating that he knows the game and rigors of the NHL through-and-through, having himself been an elite prospect, a decent offensive defenseman, and then evolved into a defensive specialist over time. He's been traded during the summer and at the trade deadline, and even knows what it's like to get drafted ahead of time, as the Buffalo Sabres had initially selected him in 1984 when he was too young to even be eligible.

He also knows how to deal with adversity, as he was a member of the Devils when they were still a joke (the early 1990s), the Chicago Blackhawks when they were irrelevant (most of the 1990s) and the Montréal Canadiens in their worst three years ever (1998-2001), when people didn't even try to remember the organization's good old days. He knows a thing or two about dark times, so he'll be able to tell the kids more than just "hey, at least you're not playing for the Arizona Coyotes".

I wish him the best, and am confident he'll do a fine job (though having the kind of depth on D that the Devils have, they'll make him look good as much as the opposite, I'm certain).

Here he is rocking the Hawks' classic red (then-away) uniform, about to enter back-checking mode, from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set (the signed insert version of card #30, autographed in thin black sharpie):
It's the more common "Silver Version" of the card.

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