Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ryan Walter Autographed Card

Sure, I officially made Claude Larose my entry for #11 in my Habs Numbers Project, but throughout my youth, only Ryan Walter was worth mentioning as the number's keepsake, until the courageous and talented Saku Koivu came along and elevated it even higher - on any other franchise, possibly even as high as the rafters.

Walter was a different sort of beast altogether.

After captaining Team Canada at the 1978 World Juniors, he was drafted second overall by the Washington Capitals that year, behind Bobby Smith and ahead of Wayne Babych (3rd), Mike Gillis (5th), Ken Linseman (7th), Dan Geoffrion (8th), Brad Marsh (11th), Larry Playfair (13th), Steve Tambellini (15th), Al Secord (16th), Dave Hunter (17th), Steve Payne (19th), Joel Quenneville (21st), Curt Fraser (22nd), Steve Christoff (24th), Don Maloney (26th), Al Jensen (31st), Tony McKegney (32nd), Stan Smyl (40th), Paul Messier (41st), Curt Giles (54th), Kevin Reeves (69th), Lou Franceschetti (71st), Ted Nolan (78th), Jim Nill (89th), Tom Laidlaw (93rd), Keith Acton (103rd), Paul MacLean (109th), Don Wadell (111th), Jerry Price (Carey's father, 126th), Craig MacTavish (153rd), Kevin Constantine (154th), Bob Froese (160th), Risto Siltanen (173rd), Steve Weeks (176th), Darryl Sutter (179th), Anton Stastny (198th), Viacheslav Fetisov (201st), Chris Nilan (231st), Rick Wilson (232nd), and Louis Sleigher (233rd), in a draft that was heavy on players who would become coaches and managers.

Walter himself would eventually become a motivational speaker and an assistant coach with his hometown Vancouver Canucks in his second career, after experiencing such highs as a player as being made the NHL-record (since broken many times by the likes of Steve Yzerman, Vincent Lecavalier, Sidney Crosby and Gabriel Landeskog) youngest captain in history with the Capitals, posting a 38-goal and 87-point season with them in 1981-82, being traded to the Montréal Canadiens (with Rick Green, for two-time Norris winner Rod Langway, Selke winner and NHL ironman record-holder Doug Jarvis, Craig Laughlin and Brian Engblom) to play with Guy Lafleur and Doug Wickenheiser, getting named to the 1983 All-Star Game, winning the Stanley Cup in 1986 and losing it to the Calgary Flames in 1989, to signing with the Canucks as a free agent at the turn of the 1990s.

Throughout his playing career, he went from playing like a power forward and accumulating penalty minutes from his hard checks to being an offensive force to being a terrific shut-down center and penalty killer. He did it all for the team, and his teams had success when he was around.

He finished his career with 264 goals via seven 20-goal seasons, 382 assists, 646 points and 946 penalty minutes in 1003 regular-season games, and another 16 goals, 35 assists and 51 points in 113 playoff contests, with just 62 penalty minutes in the postseason.

Here he is wearing the Habs' classic red (then-away) uniform, on card #275 from O-Pee-Chee's 1984-85 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in black sharpie when Bob Gainey hired him to speak with player prior to the start of the season a few years ago.

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