Friday, March 3, 2017

Doug Crossman Autographed Card

After stringing together six wins following the switch from Ken Hitchcock to Mike Yeo behind the bench, the St. Louis Blues have reverted back to their norm and lost five straight, prompting onlookers to say things like "That's the Yeo we know and love: expect nothing, receive even less"...

The Blues have been in the NHL since 1967, the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup (or even made the Final). That was some 50 years ago. Coming into the league with St. Louis were the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars and California Seals. That's 2, 3, 2, and 1 (as the Dallas Stars) Stanley Cups, and a team that no longer exists, meaning the Blues are the only remaining team from the 1967 expansion to not yet have won a Cup.

It's not for lack of trying, either. They did reach the Final in their first three seasons, with Scotty Bowman behind the bench, and playing in a weak conference, but they were swept all three times, first twice by the Montréal Canadiens (of whom they had many alumni, including Hall Of Famers Doug Harvey, Dickie Moore and Jacques Plante) then the Boston Bruins.

Financial and internal power struggles became the norm for much of the 1970s and 1980s, but they tried building powerhouse teams in the 1990s, usually centered around the decade's purest sniper, Brett Hull, and mostly goaltender Curtis Joseph as well. Other stars such as Grant Fuhr, Chris Pronger, Al MacInnis and even Wayne Gretzky came into play, but it just never panned out in an era where three teams (Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche) won most of the Cups, with the Philadelphia Flyers as regular contenders as well.

Then came the 00s, and a new philosophy where the team actually iced just about half of Team USA, except in nets; that didn't work out all that well either, as Paul Stastny, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Erik Johnson, David Backes, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jordan Leopold, Brett Hedican, Craig Conroy, Bill Guerin, Scott Gomez, Keith Tkachuk and Doug Weight all failed to stand up to the pressure and win when it mattered.

And now it's supposed to be different?

The Blues themselves remind me of a player who dressed for them in the 1990s, Doug Crossman, formerly an OHL rcord-holder for most assists in a single season by a defenseman (98).

Crossman was so good with his passes that he had an enviable roster spot on the 1985 and 1987 Flyers teams that lost in the Final to the Edmonton Oilers. He also made the tournament-winning 1987 Canada Cup Team Canada roster.

However, although he was a pretty skater to watch, he was slow, and he wasn't particularly fond of playing defensively, so the nice plays he created offensively were negated by the times he was a pylon in his own zone or left opposing forwards have breakaways against his goalies.

The good just couldn't outweigh the bad - it just evened it out. Like having a Gretzky-Hull duo on your first line but "Iron" Mike Keenan to coach it; or like collecting medal-less Olympians; or hiring former Habs legends to go up against the loaded end-of-the-sixties Habs.

It is what it is. It's also why Crossman played for eight different NHL teams over 14 seasons, and even briefly belonged to the Québec Nordiques, whom he never played for, as the Tampa Bay Lightning selected him in the expansion draft. He even set a Bolts team record by putting up 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists) in a single game!

And so is this: card #25 from Score's 1993-94 Score set, showing Crossman wearing the Blues' 1980s blue (away) uniform:
He signed it in blue sharpie.

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