Thursday, September 28, 2017

Jim Paek Autographed Card

It could have been a great story that wrapped things up perfectly but, alas, the NHL will not be sending its players to the Olympics this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As is customary, the host country will have a team - unfortunately, it will share a division with Team Canada, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, but it's still a feat to have climbed the ranks from 33rd in the world seven years ago to 18th at the moment.

The key to that rise has been naming former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman, two-time Stanley Cup winner Jim Paek as head coach, plucking him from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins; the Seoul-born, Etobicoke-raised Paek then picked up another dual-citizen former NHLer, Korean-American Richard Park, as assistant coach, and the duo worked on developping the overall skill set of the 2500 registered hockey players in the country, enlisting the help of Canadian and American expats playing in Asia, particularly those such as Brock Radunske, a former third-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers (79th overall, 2002) who has been a tremendous player for the Asia League's Anyang Halla for ten years and is described by Paek as a "blond-haired, blue eyed Kitchener native".

Although Radunske's currently having a tough season, he's pretty much a lock to make South Korea's Olympic team:
From EliteProspects
Wouldn't it have been a great occasion, though, to showcase the world's best players in a year where the Pens are back-to-back champions, in a country whose national coach was himself a back-to-back champion with the same team?

I don't think Pittsburgh can three-peat (granted, I didn't have them as favourites in either of the last two seasons either), but I do see them winning the Metropolitan Division this year.

Here is a card I got Paek to sign (in blue sharpie) at a card show in Florida in the early 2000s:
It's #192 from Upper Deck's 1993-94 Series 1 set.

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