Sunday, May 21, 2017

Roman Hamrlik Autographed Card

One player who came to the Montréal Canadiens late in his career and surpassed expectations was Roman Hamrlik, the former first-overall draft pick (Tampa Bay Lightning, 1992).

Bolts fans remember him as the best defenseman on an awful team, one that accumulated minuses at pretty much the same rate as Wayne Gretzky accumulated assists, but the truth is he was a dependable defender when slotted correctly on teams with some talent. In terms of career points, he ranked fifth of his draft year with 638 (155 goals and 483 assists in 1395 games, again, playing defense), behind Sergei Gonchar (14th overall, 220-591-811 in 1301 games), Alexei Yashin (second overall, 337-444-781 in 850 games which included a year-long holdout and a buyout), Cory Stillman (6th overall, 278-449-727 in 1025 games) and Martin Straka (19th overall, 257-460-717 in 954 games).

What's more, even apart from his career-high 65 points with the Lightning in 1995-96, he has posted 40-point seasons with the Edmonton Oilers (45, in 1999-2000) and New York Islanders (46 in 2000-01 and 41 in 2002-03), then could be counted on for 30-some points in the twilight of his career, 2005-11, with the Calgary Flames and Habs, when he became a very good second-pairing defenseman who brought sound positioning, physical play and very good hockey IQ to the line-up.

He retired following the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season, spent mostly as a scratch with the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, after which he moved back to the South Shore of Montréal where he holds the Hammer Hockey Camp in the summer, with fellow former NHLer Petr Klima, as well as Martin Hamrlik (his older brother, a coach in the Czech Republic) and Karel Svoboda, former Hab (and Jaromir Jagr's agent) Petr Svoboda's brother, who coaches a Midget AAA team on the island during the season.

Of note, he's a huge P.K. Subban fan, and was so even when they were both on the Canadiens; he says rumours of dissent within the locker room at the time were greatly exaggerated, and that those who did have an issue with him are mostly gone (reading between the lines, Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, who were loud and vocal but did not represent the majority of players, come to mind).

Here he is whilst wearing the Isles' blue turn-of-the-millennium away uniform, on card #119 from Upper Deck's 2001-02 Series 1 set:
He signed it with a beautiful silver sharpie, adding his Habs number (44) at the end, rather than the one he wore with the Isles (4).

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