Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jocelyn Thibault Jersey Card

The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Montréal Canadiens tonight, and I thought I could I'd feature a goalie who has played for both teams, Jocelyn Thibault.

A Montréal native, Thibault had a so-so career in Juniors that was rich in controversy, including accusations that his father issued his head coaches threats if they didn't play the diminutive goalie enough; all those efforts may have worked, however, as the Québec Nordiques made him the 10th overall pick in 1993, ahead of such players as Brendan Witt (11th), and All-Stars Kenny Jonsson (12th), Adam Deadmarsh (14th), Jason Allison (17th), Finnish legend Saku Koivu (21st), Todd Bertuzzi (23rd), Janne Niinimaa (36th), Bryan McCabe (40th), Éric Dazé (90th), Miroslav Satan (111th), Tommy Salo (118th), Patrick Lalime (156th), Manny Legace (188th), Pavol Demitra (227th), and Kimmo Timonen (250th).

The Nordiques really wanted to hand Thibault the net, often playing him ahead of Stéphane Fiset although Fiset was better and readier; plans changed a bit when the team moved to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995, and even more so when the Habs made Patrick Roy available on the trade market following an infamous game against the Detroit Red Wings.

At the time, Avs GM Pierre Lacroix went back to an offer previous Habs GM Serge Savard had made him a couple of months earlier, (Roy for Fiset and power forward Owen Nolan), but new (and newbie) GM Réjean Houle insisted on receiving Thibault as well as two forwards who would become disappointing, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. Oh, and Houle threw in Habs captain Mike Keane in there as well, to avoid a controversy with his refusal to learn French to appease the team's fanbase.

So instead of trading the best goalie in the world for another #1 netminder and an All-Star winger, Houle gave away said best goalie as well as his captain and top penalty-killer for an unproven kid in nets and two wingers who wouldn't close out the decade with the team.

Poor Thibault, who had tremendously huge pads to fill with his frail 5'11", 170-pound frame - and never could. As a matter of fact, it's only when he was traded out of Montréal's pressure-cooker to the Hawks that he finally met the expectations that had been put on him, earning an All-Star Game nod in an 8-shutout season in  2002-03; indeed, he has more shutouts with the Hawks (28, in parts of six seasons) than all other teams he played for combined (11 with five teams over parts of 10 seasons).

It's fitting, then, that I first feature him wearing the Hawks' red (then-away) uniform, on card #10 of Pacific's 2001-02 Atomic collection and Authentic Game-Worn Jerseys sub-set:
It features a white game-worn jersey swatch.

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