Friday, May 27, 2016

Martin St-Louis Jersey Card

So the World Cup of Hockey rosters were completed today, and there were a few surprises: Phil Kessel left off Team USA, P.K. Subban, Brent Seabrook, Corey Perry (who a week ago captained the World Championship-winning team) and Kris Letang left off Team Canada, John Klingberg left off Team Sweden and Alex Galchenyuk left off the Young Stars team.

Subban's omission comes as the Montréal Canadiens' GM, Marc Bergevin, stands as one of Canadian GM Doug Armstrong's assistants, which is reminiscent of when Steve Yzerman didn't select his own Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin Saint-Louis for the Olympics in 2014... which brings me to this card:
It's card #WC-ML from Upper Deck's 2004-05 Series 1 set and World Cup of Hockey Tribute sub-set, featuring a black game-worn Lightning jersey swatch.

Tampa had just won the Stanley Cup and the league was hosting just its second World Cup (the continuation of the former Canada Cup, whose name was stained by Alan Eagleson's legacy) as a cash-grab just before getting into a lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season entirely. Three of Tampa's players made the team that year: Saint-Louis, the reigning Art Ross winner; Brad Richards, the reigning Hart Trophy winner; and then-captain Vincent Lecavalier, who was named the tournament's MVP.

The Lightning officially had the three best forwards in the game. Game breakers. That the salary cap eventually broke apart: Richards was the first casualty, as a not-quite-point-per-game player in the regular season though truly efficient in the post-season, followed a few years later by Lecavalier being bought out. St-Louis asked to be traded after Yzerman's snub, and led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final that year and the Eastern Conference Final the next - against Tampa, ironically.

And, thus, what "could have been" never was.

I rarely root for Team Canada in international competitions because it doesn't represent me and people like me. I usually root for an underdog, like Slovakia, or a nice story, like Russia at the Sochi games. In this iteration of the World Cup, however, countries like Switzerland and Slovakia have been merged as one "sub-Team Europe" that makes little to no sense (the Swiss don't care about losing to the Czechs as much as the Slovaks, I guarantee you) if you're going to make it an actual international competition.

And I say this as a kid whose best live hockey experience was the 1991 Canada Cup and 1996 World Cup. Plus, all games are being held in Toronto. This tournament might not even exist to me come September.

1 comment:

  1. Nice card! I didn't know Upper Deck released cards celebrating the World Cup of Hockey. Interesting.