Monday, November 30, 2015

Ken Linseman Autograph Card

Nicknamed ''The Rat'' initially because Bobby Clarke said he looked like one, Ken Linseman eventually lived up to that moniker from being one of the dirtiest and peskiest players of the 1980s, mostly with the Boston Bruins, but also the Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers.

For a bit of an idea on how he played, picture current Bruins pest Brad Marchand - now picture him as an even better point producer, and a dirtier player. The only thing they don't have in common is that Linseman was neither a diver nor a faker.

Throughout his 15-year NHL career, The Rat had 10 seasons where he hovered around the point-per-game production, scoring as many as 33 goals (with the Oilers in 1982-83) and 92 points (with the Flyers, in 1981-82); he won a Stanley Cup with Edmonton in 1983-84 and reached the Final with Philadelphia (1979-80) and Boston (1987-88).

His career statistics read as follows: 256 goals, 551 assists, 807 points, and 1727 penalty minutes in 860 regular-season games, and another 43 goals, 77 assists, 120 points and 325 penalty minutes in 113 playoff games. He was tremendous under pressure, and his defensive work was recognized by garnering a few Selke votes in 1987-88.

Here he is sporting the Bruins' black (away) uniform of my youth, from Panini's 2012-13 Classic Signatures set (card #162 in the collection):
It's the signed insert version, autographed on-card in blue sharpie.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Blake Wheeler Quad Jersey Card

Looking at the NHL's top-10 points leaders, you'll see familiar names: Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane, reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, former Art Ross winner Daniel Sedin, and Taylor Hall; one player who's somewhat new to that elite portion of the leaderboard is Blake Wheeler, though his 25 points in 25 games aren't really a surprise, as he's been near the point-per-game average often since becoming a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

The Minnesota native now plays relatively close to home, but he was originally drafted 5th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes, although he signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent after failing to agree to terms with the fledgling Arizona franchise. A towering power forward at 6'5'' and 225 pounds, he theoretically fit in perfectly with the Bruins, though he may have been a tad more skilled and fast than the brutes Claude Julien typically prefers to coach; he's now the centerpiece of the Jets' offense, to the joy and delight of hockey fans everywhere.

I'm a huge fan of his work, both on the ice and off. He's active on Twitter showing direct appreciation to his fans of all walks of life - from childhood friends to handicapped children to corporate buddies and sponsors - and cares for the community offline as well. He and his wife (a Bostonian) are extremely appreciated in Winnipeg.

I didn't yet have a card of his showing him in one of the Bruins' offbeat uniforms, so I traded for this card last summer, which shows him with their 2009-10 Winter Classic jerseys, inspired by the team's 1955-67 design and 1948-49 (relatively childish) logo:
It's card #QJ-BW from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Black Diamond collection, part of the Quad Jersey sub-set, featuring no less than four white game-worn jersey swatches - three similar, and with one different mesh.

Get used to seeing his name atop the league leaders, because nothing can stop him when he gets his groove on and, at age 29, he's just getting started a five-year cycle of domination.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Patrick O'Sullivan Autograph Card

I hinted at Patrick O'Sullivan's troubles with his father when I featured him in 2013, but he came out with his autobiography a month ago where he goes into much further detail just how skewed of a relationship it was.

There are pretty much scenes of torture in there, at the hands of a father, John O'Sullivan, whose own hockey dreams were left in the minors and who channeled his anger and aspirations onto his son, as many hockey parents are wont to do. Patrick had a bit of a temper in Juniors and ealy in his professional career, taking retaliatory penalties as a means to let his anger out, until a stint with the Minnesota Wild put him in Jacques Lemaire's path, which went a long way into providing him with guidance, leading to added maturity.

After all was said and done, he managed to win two gold medals with Team USA (2002 U-18 and 2004 World Juniors) and appear in 334 NHL games, scoring 58 goals with 103 assists for 161 points.

Here he is wearing the Edmonton Oilers' awful initial white (away) Reebok uniform, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers set, with card #FI-PO of the Franchise Ink sub-set:
It's signed on-sticker in thin blue sharpie.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Jason Taylor Jersey Card

Jason Taylor played in the NFL for 15 seasons, which included three stints with the Miami Dolphins and a season each with the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

He may eventually make into the Hall Of Fame, located in Akron, Ohio, where he played College Ball. He currently ranks sixth of all time in sacks and holds the NFL record for most fumbles returned for touchdowns (6).

He was a force on defense, participating in the Pro Bow six times, getting named All-Pro four times, and was the Defensive Player Of The Year for the AFC twice.

He entered the top-10 in sacks by bringing none other than New England Patriots QB Tom Brady down. He now appears poised to have a career in broadcasting, having appeared on numerous game analysis shows to provide feedback.

Here he is from Topps' 2007 Bowman Sterling set (card #BSVR-JT of the Authentic Game-Worn Jersey sub-set, featuring a game-worn light teal uniform swatch):
He's seen sporting the Dolphins' white uniform, #99 (an impressive number to hockey fans); later on in his career, he wore the captain's ''C'' with Miami.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Keith Evans Autographed Card

I might be cheating or at the very least stretching it a bit by including Keith Evans as #64 in my Expos Numbers Project, considering he never actually played for the Montréal Expos - or any other MLB team, for that matter - in the majors; instead, the 220th pick of the 1996 draft spent most of his time in AAA ball with their affiliate Ottawa Lynx.

He had a couple of 70-strikeout seasons with the Lynx but mostly had a losing record in the NCAA (15-22 in three seasons), in AA (8-11 over two seasons) and AAA (13-27 over five seasons). He was a starting pitcher at every level except AAA, where his ball control was no longer enough and his lack of a powerful fastball definitely hindered him.

And yet here he is, in a major card set, from Topps' 2000 Bowman collection (card #433 in the set, his Rookie Card, showing him wearing the Expos' final striped white uniform in training camp (no name plate on the back):
He signed it in blue sharpie in either 2000 or 2001 when he was playing in Ottawa.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pavel Datsyuk Jersey Card

If you think you've seen this picture of the best hands in the NHL before, it could be because Pavel Datsyuk is pretty much in the same position on this card as when I featured him two years ago. But that's because he always keeps his body compact so it's harder to strip the puck off him, and he lets his hands take it through as many adversaries as he needs to to reach the other end.

After sitting out the first month and a half due (another) injury - he has only suited up for more than 85% of the Detroit Red Wings' games once in the last five seasons, and that was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign - the Russian Magic Man's return helped slot all Wings forwards in their ideal spots, namely Brad Richards who finally looks like the #2 center they'd been looking for in the past couple of years.

Despite just a goal and an assist (and a -1 rating) in six games thus far, he's looked solid if a bit rusty, and the Wings get to keep their first line intact. I think Detroit has the roster to make the playoffs even without him, but it'll be easier if he can suit up for at least 50 games.

He's signed through next season, after which I think he'll call it quits here before playing a final season in the KHL, possibly with legendary club Moscow CSKA (a.k.a. Central Red Army).

Here's a card of his I purchased on Ebay recently, from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts set (it's card #LSLR-PD of the Lord Stanley's Legacy Relics sub-set):
It shows him wearing the Red Wings' classic red (now-home) uniform, with a matching game-worn jersey swatch included. I'm usually a huge fan of Artifacts products, and I bought this one to have an idea of what they were up to this year; while I haven't seen the entirety of the set, this card looks more like a Panini product from years past (perhaps the Game-Worn Gear set more specifically), not the same level I'd been used to from this brand.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Craig Anderson: 2 Autographed Cards

At this point, many of you realize Craig Anderson is one of my favourite active goalies, because he gets the job done with little fanfare, steadily rocking along on underdog teams and quietly pulling back-to-back shutouts just to bring his stats line back to normal (.921 save percentage, 2.61 GAA, a fifth-in-the-league 508 total saves despite ranking 18th with ''just'' 15 games played) after a sub-par couple of games (and that 7-goal outing against the Nashville Predators especially) had scared off those who just look at the standings but never watch the games.

Anderson's not a nobody: he finished fourth in Vezina voting twice; he outplayed Carey Price both times they faced each other in postseason play (last year, and two years prior to that), and he suited up for Team USA at the World Championships twice (2006 and 2008). But the fact that he plays for a small-town Ottawa Senators team often leaves the goalies playing in the bigger markets (Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Steve Mason) getting more air time than he does.

Speaking of Team USA, here's one of two cards he signed for me in blue sharpie after one (dominating) game versus the Montréal Canadiens during the last playoffs:
It's card #155 from In The Game's 2011-12 Between The Pipes set (part of the Stars And Stripes sub-set), showing a close-up of him and his mask - though it's a picture of him with the Sens, not actually the American team.

Which brings us to card #348 from Panini's 2013-14 Score set, where he's displaying his full mastery of the butterfly move with a save with his left pad, wearing the Senators' red (home) uniform:
This one will be my first entry of Anderson's in my Sens Numbers Project, rocking #41.

He has terrific leg-rebound control; that was a move I used to love doing myself, either sending the puck away to the corners where my defensemen would recuperate it, or if there wasn't any traffic in front of the net and I wanted to show off a bit, I'd kick-pass it the other way to a defenseman who was back-checking so he could send the play back into the offensive zone right away.

As I've mentioned before, I also (mostly) wore Brian's equipment, and I liked to keep my glove hand lower than most goalies do nowadays, because moving it upwards quickly is more natural than sending it down, so I'd keep it just above parallel to the ice, say at 30-35 degrees, which means that on plays where it was shot low, that picture is pretty much what I looked like - except with a Vaughn blocker and Victoriaville stick. And a full-cage Jofa helmet instead of a mask.

Anderson has two more years past this season as the Sens' #1 goalie; currently standing at 34 years old, he should be exiting his prime by then and might be ready, mentally, to mentor the Sens' next budding star in nets, which looks right now to possibly be Matt O'Connor.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Allen York Autograph Card

Watching the New York Islanders' poor goaltending against the Montréal Canadiens over five periods in back-to-back games so far, I decided it was the right time to feature Allen York, the goalie the Columbus Blue Jackets chose with the 158th pick in 2007.

Don't get me wrong, I was a goalie myself, and just getting drafted is a much bigger accomplishment than I will ever have between the pipes, let alone playing 11 NHL games and having a positive record at 5-3-2 and a .920 save percentage with the Jackets in 2011-12.

But since last year, his star has fallen off a bit, his save percentage sitting below .900 in both the AHL and ECHL; his goals-against average of 4.00 with the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) and 5.60 with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL) are disastrous this season.

In 2013-14, he not only played for six different teams, but four (Syracuse, Texas Stars, Charlotte Checkers and Rockford IceHogs) in the AHL alone. All told, since 2010-11, he has played for 12 teams in 4 leagues, in addition to Team Canada at the 2013-14 Spengler Cup (with a 3.57 GAA and .867 save % in 3 games).

But, hey, the Crunch re-signed him this summer, and (Syracuse GM and Tampa Bay Lightning assistant-GM) Julien BriseBois and (Bolts GM) Steve Yzerman probably know what they're doing, seeing as the parent club probably has the best goaltending depth in the world with Vezina candidate Ben Bishop, promising incumbent Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Latvian wunderkind Kristers Gudlevskis.

And sometimes it's those long shots that fare the best against strong offenses.

So here he is, wearing Columbus' beautiful alternate uniform, from Panini's 2013-14 Prizm set (card #A-AY of the silver variant), featuring a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph:
The scan really doesn't do this card justice; it's a really impressive piece of foil and cardboard.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nick Leddy Jersey Card

As my hometown Montréal Canadiens played the New York Islanders in Brooklyn for the first time last night, one Isles player who really stood out was defenseman Nick Leddy. It seemed every time he was on the ice, he carried the puck from one end of the ice to the other on his own and dictated play.

Even the statistics are telling: on a team that lost 5-3, he played 25:44 and was a +2. That's right, without him, it's a 5-1 game. Honestly, he looked a bit like Duncan Keith out there last night; I honestly think that the fact they both wear #2 is no coincidence.

The Minnesota native already has a World Juniors bronze medal on his resume, and he'll be suiting up for Team USA for a number of years, possibly on the top pair with Seth Jones.

The Habs and Isles close out a home-and-home series on Sunday at the Bell Centre, and while I do not yet have tickets for the game, I'm tempted to go in part to see him play live. Although, technically, I have all the time in the world, seeing as he signed a 7-year deal with the Islanders last February.

Here he is back in his days with the Chicago Blackhawks, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2013:
It's card #GJ-NL from the UD Game Jersey sub-set of Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 1 collection, showing him in the Hawks' classic red (now-home) uniform, with a white game-worn jersey swatch inserted in it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Sean Monahan: 2 Autographed Cards

I realize I featured Sean Monahan just last August, but the Calgary Flames' first-line center is now my first successful return of the 2015-16 season, which was the highlight of my bronchitis-fueled day:
I had sent him these two cards on November 4th and got them back today (November 20th), merely 16 days later, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (23) tagged at the end.

Monahan is a born leader, having captained teams at both the Midget and Juniors levels, and despite being just 21 years old, already has a very impressive two-way game that has seen him post 6 goals and 14 points in 20 games, a pace close to what he accomplished last year (31 goals and 62 points in 80 games).

He's won gold with Team Canada at the U-17s and U-18s, and I'm certain he'll have chances of doing so at the mens' level as well.

Here are the two cards, first wearing the Flames' alternate uniform, from Upper Deck's 2014-15 MVP set (card #108 in the collection):
And here he is wearing their usual white (away) uniform, with card #1 from UD's 2015-16 MVP set:
With my previous post factored in, I now have collectible cards of his in each of the Flames' current jerseys.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scottie Upshall Jersey Card

And I'm back, after almost a week in the Las Vegas region (minus a day in the Arizona winter where I caught bronchitis)!

To start things off on a light note, I decided to feature a hard-working player who changes teams often, Scottie Upshall, the Nashville Predators' first round pick (6th overall) in 2002. He may not have become a 40-goal man like Alexander Semin (13th) or a Conn Smythe winner like Cam Ward (25th) or Duncan Keith (54th), but he's appeared in nearly 600 games and consistently puts up some 30 points on the board while adhering to a team concept, playing a physical game that remains within the boundaries of acceptable plays most of the time - and such physical play may have been even more important prior to the 2005 crackdown on obstruction.

He was one of three players to sign an actual contract after coming into the St. Louis Blues' training camp on a PTO this year, with Scott Gomez and Martin Havlat.

Here he is in the Preds' pre-Reebok-stripe yellow uniform, from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Series 1 set (card #J-SU of the UD Game Jersey sub-set):
It contains a white game-worn jersey swatch.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Gabriel Dumont Autograph Card

Gabriel Dumont is at a crossroads of sorts, as he is currently in his third NHL contract, a one-year pact that will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent if he fails to suit up in 59 games (and a restricted one if he does).

He has yet to translate his two-way play to the NHL but has proven to be an efficient shut-down fourth-line center at the top level, playing with speed and grit - it's just that the offense hasn't made the leap from the AHL with him.

However, the Montréal Canadiens do see value in his leadership skills, as he will serve as the St. John's IceCaps' captain this year, after serving in the same capacity last season when the team's AHL affiliate was called the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Like the Habs, the IceCaps lead their division so far with a 7-3-2 record, led offensively by Bud Holloway and Daniel Carr, with help from Michael McCarron, Charles Hudon, Christian Thomas, Sven Andrighetto and Mark Barberio. Holloway (originally a Los Angeles Kings draft pick) and Barberio (a Montrealer from the Tampa Bay Lightning system) serve as alternate captains.

Here is a card from Panini's 2013-14 Contenders set (#I-GD of the NHL Ink sub-set), which he signed on-card in blue sharpie:
It's a nice action shot that shows just enough of the Habs' classic red jersey.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Martin Havlat: 3 Autographed Cards

As it happens relatively often, I've fallen behind on the hockey news when it comes to my blog; part of that is my professional life, part of it is having lost my desktop computer and all the scans I'd prepared on it, but mostly it's because so much is happening around the NHL and the sport at the moment.

So, I'll take it one step at a time, and start with the most recent news, which is that Martin Havlat scored a goal last night (assisted by Scott Gomez), in his first game of the season, after having been signed to a PTO by the St. Louis Blues (like Gomez).
Havlat was originally the 26th player chosen at the 1999 draft; the Ottawa Senators saw in him the same thing they saw in Marian Hossa two years prior, and it's true that perhaps he would have had that career path had he been luckier on the injury front. Alas, he was not, and he has lost a step or two since garnering Selke and Lady Byng votes with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008-09. At that point, the 2000-01 Calder runner-up had already had 3 of his 7 NHL seasons significantly cut by injury, and had only played 73, 72, 67 and 68 games in the other four.

He was, however, nearly a point-per-game player who could play well at both ends and control a game's momentum. He then spent two seasons with the Minnesota Wild in which his point production remained steady (54 points in 73 games in 2009-10 and 62 points off 22 goals in 78 games the following season), but his -19 and -10 differentials were not becoming of what he had shown in the past.

A trade to the San Jose Sharks led to more bad luck (including a broken hamstring from getting his skate caught on the bench) and he wound up on the New Jersey Devils last year, merely registering 14 points in 40 games on one of the worst teams in the league.

I met him a few times between 2002 and 2005, when he was with the Sens. These three cards are probably from the same session, judging by the black sharpie used to sign them.

First, from Upper Deck's always-beautiful see-through plastic 2001-02 Ice set (card #31), wearing the team's superb black uniform:
Wearing the Sens' red uniform comes card #OTG13 from the Own The Game (and Rookie Points) sub-sets of the 2001-02 Topps collection:
And, finally, here's card #142 from the YoungStars sub-set of Topps' 2001-02 Bowman collection:
I wish him continued success. The Blues could use it, and he deserves it. I want him to end his career on a high note, and on his own terms. I honestly do not feel like the Blues are Cup-worthy (nor true contenders), but if he can finish his season playing with the Czech Team at the World Championships and add to his medal count (which already includes gold in 2000 and bronze in 2011, plus gold at the 2000 World Juniors), it would still be better than if he'd called it a day after not having had a contract after training camp.

And, hey, maybe he plays well enough this year that he scores himself a contract for next season. That would be great as well.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Érik Bédard Swatch Card

Nearly five years ago, I traded a football jersey card (some quarterback, I don't remember which one) to someone who'd read my blog for this card of baseball pitcher Érik Bédard:
It's card #CC-EB from Upper Deck's 2007 Masterpieces collection (and Captured On Canvas sub-set), showing him with the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he had his best seasons; as a mater of fact, he even finished fifth in Cy Young voting in 2007 on the strength of a 13-5 record with 221 strikeouts and a 3.16 ERA.

It was one of only three seasons in which his ERA was below 3.50; injuries were a big part of his career - he'd even had ''Tommy John'' surgery on his pitching arm (left) as far back as 2003, when he was barely out of college. He retired earlier this summer after attempting a comeback with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who hired him as a pitching coach instead.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Braden Holtby Autograph Card

When I listed the best Canadian goalies of the moment yesterday, I deliberately left one guy out despite feeling that he's the country's best bet in the long run, 26-year-old Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals.

He always had potential, though back in his draft year, in 2008, he was ranked behind Thomas McCollum (30th), Chet Pickard (18th), Jacob Markstrom (31st), Peter Delmas (61st), Harri Sateri (106th) and Anders Lindback (207th); Jake Allen (34th), Tyler Beskorowany (59th), Michael Hutchinson (77th), Marco Cousineau (83rd), and Jacob De Serres (84th) were also drafted before him, as the Caps used the Los Angeles Kings' 93rd-overall pick to select him.

He climbed the ranks one step at a time, first playing in the ECHL (making the All-Star Team), then was impressive enough in the AHL to earn a call-up with the Caps during which he was good enough to earn First Star Of The Week honors in March 2011, before being sent back to the Hershey Bears.

As is the case with most young goalies, it took him a while to find consistency, and one could argue he only really found it last year, when he finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting and 18th for the Hart. The Caps were convinced enough to give him a $6M salary for the next five years, though.

So, in keeping with the theme, here's a card of his from a relatively recent trade (a month or so at a trade show) wearing Team Canada's white uniform, from Upper Deck's 2014-15 O-Pee-Chee set (card #TCS-BH of the Team Canada Signatures sub-set):
Ironically, the only time he's ever worn the maple leaf in an international competition was at the U-18s in 2006-07, where he let in 2 goals in half a period, good for a 13.58 GAA and .833 save percentage...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marc-André Fleury Team Canada Jersey Card

So, uh... who are the best goalies in the NHL, some 10-15 games in?

Mike Condon leads the league in goals-against average (1.57) and ranks in the top-10 in wins (6) and top-5 in save percentage (.940), so he's a candidate.

Henrik Lundqvist is tied with Jake Allen and Michal Neuvirth for the lead in save percentage (.945), is fourth for GAA (1.80) and has the second-most number of wins (7), while Allen's two shutouts leave him with a 1.71 GAA and Neuvirth leads the league in shutouts (3).

Jaroslav Halak (1.85, .928 and 2 shutouts), Carey Price (2.01, .936, 7 wins and 2 shutouts), Jimmy Howard (2.01, .934), Corey Crawford (6-4-1 and 2 shutouts on a team not expected to gel until Christmas) and Frederik Andersen (2.03, .935) are also having fine seasons, as expected.

But if one goalie played like an MVP, like a Hart winner this season, it's without Marc-André Fleury, who stands third in GAA (1.74), sixth in save percentage (.939) has the second-most shutouts (2) and a 7-5-0 record on a team that scores 2.21 goals per game. I'm not even sure the Pens win even one game this year without his stellar goaltending; he's this season's Price/Devan Dubnyk so far.

It's not something that was expected just a few years ago, after a second (or third) consecutive poor playoff showing, but with the help of a sports psychologist, he's been able to recover and has been a bright spot for Pittsburgh even in the postseason, and has been their saviour this year as well while Sidney Crosby takes his time getting in gear.

For a few seasons now, when asked who the best Canadian goalies were in the NHL, Price, Crawford and Roberto Luongo would be my go-to guys, but Flower's making it hard to bypass him now - and this year, he might even be The Guy who'd get the nod to start, because many a coach would want to ride the hot hand.

Which brings me to this card I got in a jersey card trade a little more than six months ago, from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 1 set (card #GJ-MF of the Game Jersey sub-set), showing him playing for Team Canada with an IIHF-game-worn two-colour jersey patch:
He played for Canada three times, winning consecutive World Juniors silver medals in 2003 and 2004 (earning Top Goalie honors the first time), as well as a gold medal as the back-up at the 2010 Olympics in an all-Quebecer trio with Luongo and Martin Brodeur.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mark Streit: 2 Autographed Cards

The Montréal Canadiens plowed through the New York Islanders (and my favourite goaltender Jaroslav Halak) last night, and it inspired me to feature a player who was a captain when he was with both teams, wearing the ''C'' with the Swiss Team while with the Habs and with the Isles themselves during his tenure on Long Island before signing on with the Philadelphia Flyers; I'm talking, of course, about Mark Streit.
Drafted 262nd overall by the Habs in 2004 - into his mid-twenties - Streit crossed the Atlantic to join a team that wasn't sure where to make him fit at first; he was a little tentative against the Eastern Conference's big forecheckers and became a liability in his own end at times, but his speed, booming shot and hockey sense were obvious, so head coach Guy Carbonneau used him as a bit of a rover, alternating him between the third pair on the blue line and the fourth-line up front, with some powerplay time.

Eventually, as Sheldon Souray (and his own supersonic shot) left as a free agent, Streit became the go-to guy to receive Andrei Markov's wizardly passes for one-timers, which led to a 13-goal, 62-point season in 2007-08 in which he finished 13th in Norris voting (Markov was sixth).

He would finish in the top-10 in Norris votes in his first two seasons with the Islanders, even participating in the 2009 All-Star Game held in... Montréal. That game had an extremely Canadien feel to it, featuring then-current Habs Markov, Mike Komisarek, Alexei Kovalev, and Carey Price, former Habs Streit and Souray, rumoured Hab-to-be Vincent Lecavalier, hometown boys Roberto Luongo, Stéphane Robidas, Jean-Sébastien Giguère and Martin Saint-Louis, Ottawa-region natives Marc Savard and Dan Boyle, French-Canadian Jonathan Toews, and Zach Parise, the son of former hometown hero Jean-Paul Parisé.

Nowadays, even with the Flyers' pretty awful defense, on a team that seldom wins games, Streit still gets the job done, as can be attested by his 3 goals and 4 assists (7 points) in 13 games so far this season, with only a minus-1 to account for as a differential. He put up 52 points last year, and 44 the season before that.

Granted, at 37 years of age, his best years are probably behind him, and if he wants to win a Stanley Cup, Philadelphia could do him a favour by trading his rights away for draft picks like they did Kimmo Timonen last year, but he still has another season beyond this one with a $5.25M cap hit (although it only pays $4M, so a cash-strapped team who wants to artificially reach the cap floor might be interested in taking his contract on, but those teams are rarely contenders).

I think he's better off staying in Philly and mentoring their young studs next year; it's nice to have guys like Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg in the pipeline, but they will need some dependable veteran leadership to calm them down and provide some pointers; after all, it's not like head coach Dave Hakstol has ever played in the NHL...

Here are a couple of cards he signed for me during the lock-out season (I think), first showing him wearing the Habs' white (now-away) uniform, but listing him as a member of the Islanders, from Upper Deck's 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee set (card #444 in the collection):
Then there's this ''pure'' Islanders card, from Panini's 2012-13 Score set (card $297), where he's sporting their god-awful black-orange-and-grey alternate uniform, which may have been the trial version of their current alternates:
It's hard to tell here - because those monstrosities had text (and the jersey number, football-style) instead of a logo in front - but he's wearing the captain's ''C'' with the Isles.

He signed both cards in black sharpie, adding his uniform number with the Isles (2).

Thursday, November 5, 2015

10-Pack Break: 2015-16 Upper Deck Tim Hortons

These are the last 10 packs of Upper Deck's 2015-16 Tim Hortons Collector's Series cards I could get my hands on (they are now sold out everywhere I've been), and I also completed a trade with Brad to score a few more cards.

Here are the new inserts I scored myself, starting with three new die-cut cards of Zach Parise, Sidney Corsby and Alex Ovechkin (to go with a double of John Tavares and a triple of Jonathan Bernier):
I also got these two Shining Futures cards, Filip Forsberg (for the third time, though I traded one) and Nathan MacKinnon:
There's this nice Platinum Profiles card of Ovechkin's:
And these Season Highlights checklist cards of Ondrej Pavelec (again) and Johnny Gaudreau:
As far as the trade goes, I nabbed the Gaudreau highlight card, the Parise die-cut and this Jacob De La Rose Shining Futures card:
The trade also got me the following regular-issue cards that I also pulled in these ten packs (oops): Gustav Nyquist, Jaden Schwartz, Jason Pominville and Ryan Getzlaf, as well as those of Milan Lucic, Teddy Purcell, MacKinnon and Gaudreau.

All told, these are the cards I'm still missing: 4, 6, 8, 11, 12, 13, 20, 22, 25, 27, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 42, 44, 46, 48, 49, 50, 52, 54, 60, 64, 65, 70, 71, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 83, 86, 92, 93, 97, and 98.

And this is the (updated) list of those I have:
1: Tim Horton
2: Eric Staal
3: Andrew Hammond x2
5: Mark Giordano
7: Kyle Turris x2
9: Tyler Johnson
10: Corey Perry x2
14: Jamie Benn
15: Ryan Getzlaf x2
16: Andrew Ladd
17: Radim Vrbata
18: Ryan Strome x2
19: Jonathan Toews
21: James Van Riemsdyk x2
23: Sean Monahan
24: Jiri Hudler
26: Blake Wheeler
28: Claude Giroux
29: Jason Pominville x2
30: Henrik Lundqvist
32: Jonathan Quick
33: Henrik Sedin
40: Henrik Zetterberg
41: Jaroslav Halak x2
43: Adam Henrique
45: Jonathan Bernier x4
47: Taylor Hall
51: Teddy Purcell
53: Jeff Skinner
55: Roberto Luongo x2
56: Milan Lucic
57: Drew Doughty
58: Kris Letang
59: Gustav Nyquist x2
61: Rick Nash
62: Johnny Gaudreau 
63: Tyler Ennis
66: Brian Gionta x3
67: Max Pacioretty x2
68: Jaden Schwartz x2
69: Kyle Okposo
72: Sergei Bobrovsky x2
75: Nathan MacKinnon
80: Ryan Johansen
81: Phil Kessel
82: Tomas Plekanec x2
84: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins x3
85: Steve Mason
87: Sidney Crosby
88: Patrick Kane
89: Tyler Seguin
90: Steven Stamkos
91: John Tavares
94: Corey Schneider
95: Tomas Tatar
96: Ryan Miller
99: Dustin Byfuglien
100: Cammalleri x3

Which means I am now at 58/100 of the regular set and am missing 42. After 40-some packs and an 11-card trade.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jean-Gabriel Pageau Autographed Card

There were three heroes for the Ottawa Senators tonight, as they beat the Montréal Canadiens in overtime at the Bell Centre - and I got two of them to sign for me tonight. (And I still have two cards I haven't posted from the other one from last year's playoffs in the pipeline).

It was hard to decide who I should feature first, but I decided to go with the player who scored the Sens' first goal of the evening on a shorthanded breakaway, Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Pageau, who will turn 23 next week, is currently in his first full-time NHL season, but if the Sens played the Habs more often, he'd already be a 50-point player despite playing on Ottawa's third line more often than not. He already has 6 points in 8 regular-season career games against Montréal - including an identical shorthanded goal less than a month ago - and 11 points in 18 games factoring in the playoffs (including a hat trick).

He reached the point-per-game level in both the LHJMQ and AHL, so it's safe to predict he will start hitting the 40-to-60-point soon enough in the NHL as well. As it stands, though, he's a penalty-killing machine who hopes to become the next Daniel Brière.

Here he is with the Gatineau Olympiques, from In The Game's 2011-12 Heroes And Prospects set (card #49 in the collection), which he signed in (dying) blue sharpie:
The Sens are in good hands with Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad and Pageau at center. And I'm glad to officially start a player collection of his.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tomas Fleischmann & Milan Hejduk Dual Jersey Card

Today's card comes from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Rookie Update set (card #237 of the Rookie Inspirations sub-set), a Dual Jersey Card featuring a rookie and a veteran that I got as an add-on in a trade roughly a year ago:
I guess Tomas Fleischmann and Milan Hejduk were paired on this card because they're both Czechs... because there was no way for UD to know they would eventually both suit up for the Colorado Avalanche in 2010-11, with Fleischmann posting 21 points in 22 games to revive his career before moving onto the Florida Panthers.

He had three other seasons where his point production averaged nearly one per game, in 2009-10 with the Washington Capitals (23 goals, 28 assists, 51 points in 69 games) and in consecutive years with the Panthers, in 2011-12 (27 goals, 34 assists, 61 points in 82 games) and 2012-13 (12 goals, 23 assists, 35 points in 48 games).

Paired with David Desharnais on an unusually strong third line with the Montréal Canadiens this season, he currently stands at 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 13 games having signed a one-year deal after attending training camp on a PTO. He had three points against the Winnipeg Jets last night in a 5-1 win.

Still, those numbers are far from Hejduk's, who won the Maurice ''Rocket'' Richard Trophy as the NHL's best goal-scorer (with 50) in 2002-03 and finished his All-Star career with 805 points (375 goals, 430 assists) in 1020 games (plus another 34-42-76 in 112 playoff games, culminating with the 2001 Stanley Cup). He surpassed the 70-point mark on five separate occasions, with a high of 98 in 2002-03.

Internationally, Fleischmann has a bronze medal from the 2002 U-18s, while Hejduk has Olympic gold (1998) and bronze (2006), as well as a bronze medal from the 1998 World Championships and a third-place finish at the 2004 World Cup. With Jaromir Jagr and Dominik Hasek, he was the Czech Team at the turn of the millennium.