Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Jean-Pierre Dumont Autographed Team Canada Card

Jean-Pierre Dumont was drafted third-overall by the New York Islanders in 1996 following a 105-point season (48 goals and 57 assists in 66 games) with the LHJMQ's Val d'Or Foreurs. He was part of a stable of high-end talent that was traded away by "Mad" Mike Milbury, then team's GM. Imagine this roster from 1996 to 2001 (assuming All-Star Zigmund Palffy would still get traded because of his contract demands):

Todd Bertuzzi - Jason Spezza (2nd-overall draft pick) - J.P. Dumont
Derek King - Olli Jokinen - Tim Connolly / Robert Reichel
Jan Hlavac - Mike Rupp - Bryan Smolinski
Taylor Pyatt - Claude Lapointe - Raffi Torres

Zdeno Chara - Bryan McCabe
Wade Redden - Darius Kasparaitis
Bryan Berard - Eric Brewer / Kenny Jonsson
Radek Martinek - Scott Lachance

Olympians Roberto Luongo and Tommy Salo in nets

With eventual turnover (2001-2006, when he was fired) from the likes of: Sean Bergenheim (grinder), Frans Nielsen (middle-six forward), Robert Nilsson (middle-six forward), Bruno Gervais (third-pair D), Petteri Nokelainen (middle-six forward), Blake Comeau (sandpaper second-liner), Chris Campoli (third-paid D), Kyle Okposo (first-line forward), Andrew MacDonald (third-pair D), Mariusz Czerkawski (top-sic forward), Rick DiPietro (goalie) and three dozen prospects who could have panned out in a better environment.

That has the makings of a consistent playoff team, and one can argue that different draft choices (Zach Parise, Brent Burns, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Corey Crawford, Shea Weber, and Joe Pavelski were still available when Nilsson was chosen 15th overall in 2003, for instance) would also have made a huge difference as well.

Instead, the Isles were perpetually in the bottom of the NHL standings while Dumont carved himself a nice NHL career, ending with over 500 points on the strength of 214 goals, 309 assists and 364 penalty minutes in 822 regular-season games and another 34 points (17 goals and 17 assists) in 51 playoff games, including a deep run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2005-06 with the Buffalo Sabres (14 points in 18 games).

He was bought out by the Nashville Predators following the 2010-11 season and played the 2011-12 season overseas with SC Bern in Switzerland, finishing his playing career with solid numbers: 8 goals, 23 assists and 31 points (with 26 penalty minutes and a +6 rating) in 31 regular-season games - good for fourth on the team despite playing 16 to 19 games fewer than those ahead of him, none of whom had more than 10 points more tahn he did - and another (team-leading) 5 goals, 8 assists and 13 points in 12 playoff games as the team made its way to the league final, losing to Bob Hartley's Zurich Lions.

In honour of Canada Day, I wanted to include Dumont as #18 in my Team Canada Numbers Project, with card #271 from Upper Deck's 1998-99 Collector's Choice set and World Junior Showcase sub-set, where he is shown battling for the puck with a Finnish player:
He actually went pointless in 7 games with Team Canada at the World Juniors in 1998, as the team finished eighth in the standings - Finland won gold, ahead of Russia and Switzerland - under disgraced head coach Réal Paiement (now a Toronto Maple Leafs scout). The team's leading scorers were Josh Holden (4 points), Alex Tanguay, Daniel Tkaczuk and Daniel Corso (3 apiece), and the top defensemen were Brewer, Sean Blanchard, Brad Ference and Corey Sarich. Other notable forwards were Vincent Lecavalier, Matt Cooke, Jason Ward, Manny Malhotra and Steve Bégin, while goaltending duties were handled by the Québec duo of Mathieu Garon (1.91 GAA in 5 games) and Luongo (2.89 in 3 games).

Dumont signed this card for me roughly five years ago, at a Foreurs event; the team had retired his #96 nearly a decade earlier.

My Team Canada Numbers Project

Well, I have Numbers Projects for so many teams now (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, my Nordiques Numbers Project, my Flames Numbers Project and my Expos Numbers Project), I figured why not make one for Team Canada as well?

It'll be easier in some regards with all the national teams at all the levels (including but not limited to the World Juniors, the World Championships, the Spengler Cup, the Canada/World Cup, the Summit Series, and the Men's and Women's Olympic teams), but I'm again at a loss for #99 (Wayne Gretzky) and likely will be for my entire life.

The plan is to stick to hockey, but who knows, maybe I'll get to add some from other sports as well; it might be my only shot at a #99.
So far, I have featured 33 players representing a total of 25 jersey numbers.

Here they are:

1: Braden Holtby: check!
2: Meghan Agosta: check!
3: Eric Brewer: check!
4: Thomas Hickey and Chris Phillips: check!
5: Bryan Allen, Drew Bannister and Samuel Morin: check!
8: Laura Fortino: check!
10: Dale Hawerchuk, Brayden Schenn and Charles Hudon (also wore #16): check!
11: Zachary Boychuk: check!
12: Julien Gauthier: check!
13: Caroline Ouellette: check (and check again)!
14: Thomas Hickey (also wore #4): check!
16: Kerby Rychel, Jayne Hefford and Charles Hudon (also wore #10): check!
17: Marcus Foligno: jersey card check!
18: Jean-Pierre Dumont: check!
19: Alexandre Daigle: check!
20: Guillaume Latendresse, Jason Ward and Louis Leblanc: check!
21: Anthony Beauvillier: check!
22: Frédérik Gauthier: check!
23: Jason Botterill, Rob Niedermayer and Daniel Audette: check!
24: Patrice Brisebois and Logan Couture: check!
25: Tessa Bonhomme: check!
28: Nathan Beaulieu: and Victor Mete: check!
29: Marie-Philip Poulin: check!
30: Dustin Tokarski: jersey card check!
31: Geneviève Lacasse and Olivier Roy: check!
32: Charline Labonté: check!
33: Ann-Renée Desbiens: check!
37: Patrice Bergeron: jersey card check!
51: Ryan Getzlaf: jersey card check!
97: Joe Thornton: jersey card check!

Captains: Poulin, Hickey

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mike Condon Autographed Card

It's been a hard couple of years for Mike Condon, what with sub-.890 save percentages and over-4.00 GAA for five teams from three organizations in three separate leagues since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.

One could forget he had strong showings both as a rookie with the Montréal Canadiens - highlighted by a Winter Classic win over his hometown Boston Bruins in Boston - as well as his first season with the Ottawa Senators in 2016-17 when he had a .914 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average in 40 games.

The common thread between the two is that both times, he came in as the unexpected saviour, filling in for the injured Carey Price and Craig Anderson staying with his wife through her fight with cancer, respectively, with no fear of getting glued to the bench after a poor performance and no real pressure.

The same can be said for his one-game stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he made 7 saves and didn't allow a single goal in an full period after being claimed off waivers from the Habs in early 2016-17, with starter Marc-André Fleury pulled, having surrendered five goals to the Nashville Predators.

It's when he's come into a season as the official backup for the Sens that things didn't end so well. Then again, Ottawa's problems are much larger than just the backup goalie, with owner Eugene Melnyk taking up more media space than his players - usually for the wrong reasons - and with bad influences in the room like Matt Duchene leading a putsch to remove demanding head coach Guy Boucher and his staff.

At 30 years of age, there is still time for Condon to pull off a Dominik Hasek/Tim Thomas and shine for a few years, but I see his future more like that of Mike Leighton: an experienced veteran who would be better served playing a 1B role and 30 games per year at the NHL level but will instead be relegated to a "silent leader" role as a #3-4 in the AHL. He even spent some time in the ECHL this year, with unconvincing results, after being sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Ryan Callahan's dead cap space:
from HockeyDB
I do not foresee him moving to Europe and having to adapt to different ice dimensions; he'll just need to regroup this summer and come back stronger next year, as most goalies will be affected by the Covid-19-related pause and will be rusty.

Here's a look at his Canadiens mask on card #P-85 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Series 2 collection and UD Portraits sub-set, with the team,s logo on the side - a staple since the days of Patrick Roy in the late 1980s - and a red shamrock near the neck:
The scan shows the foil well except for the word "Rookies" on the left of the card. He signed it in blue sharpie as a member of the Sens, in 2017-18.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Steve Bégin Autographed Card

With most governments having put a kibosh on education for the remainder of the school year, I decided to revisit a story I had touched upon in 2017, Steve Bégin aiming to finally obtain his high school diploma. He did so at the end of 2018.

I caught up with him in late November 2019 at the launch of his biography, Steve Bégin: Ténacité, Courage, Leadership (written by Luc Gélinas) where he signed this card for me:
That's #7 in Parkhurst's 2003-04 Original 6 (Montréal Canadiens) set, manufactured by In The Game. It shows him wearing the Montréal Canadiens' perfect white "third/1940s" vintage jersey - a work of art.

In a makeshift press conference before the meet-and-greet, he mentioned how he didn't feel worthy of a biography, rightfully mentioning he was never a generational talent like Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, and wasn't electrifying like an Alexei Kovalev, but that people may have identified with his working-class roots.

I made sure to remind him he was more than that; he always made sure he was the hardest-working person in the building, even on a team that had Saku Koivu, a tireless workhorse if there ever was one, one whose defeat of adversity is almost on par with that if Maurice "The Rocket" Richard's in the Centennial team's history book. And yet, at that turn of the millennium, there is a rightful asterisk there for Bégin's courage, for finishing a shift against the Big Bad Boston Bruins despite what appeared like most of his teeth still remaining stuck in the end boards after an awkward collision and fall.

He killed penalties, won defensive-zone face-offs, was sent to counter opponents' tactics of intimidation despite his generously-listed 5'11" frame and 190 pounds (more like 5'8" and 180 if you ask me, someone who is 6'2" and 300 at the moment). He was a less legendary Guy Carbonneau, which might explain why Carbo had him traded to the Dallas Stars: he recognized himself in him, but where Carbonneau would have sought out the most efficient play, Bégin just dove head-first into any situation, with total disregard to his health at all times - and sometimes that led to injuries, while other times opponents took advantage of his gnarl to score.

Some teams reward those types of players with the captaincy.

It seems odd to say about a guy who "just" played 524 NHL games after being a second-round draft pick and scored "just" 56 goals to go with 52 assists and 108 regular-season points with the Calgary Flames, Habs, Stars, Bruins and Nashville Predators, never suited up for a full 82 games and only once reached the 20-point mark (23, in 2005.06, to go with 113 penalty minutes, on a Claude Julien-coached Habs team), but I stand by it.

"Heart-and-soul guy" gets passed around a lot, but in today's game, the only other non-captain that has what Bégin had is Brendan Gallagher, so, yeah.

His biggest regret in life was dropping out of high school to pursue his NHL dream. How, thanks to ChallengeU, an app developed with UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, he has remedied the situation. I didn't know that he could get more of my admiration, but there it is. So much so, that I can even forgive him for playing with Boston.

But I'm saving that one for another day.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Nick Bjugstad Jersey Card

Forgive me, readers, for I have sinned; it's been over a month since I last completed a post.

Much has happened since, including the Covid-19 pandemic and pausing of the NHL season. For my part, as a translator for essential services providers such as pharmacies, grocery stores and sanitizing products, I've been working overtime to help people from both official languages have access to information about store policies, administrative changes, and manufacturing an distributing supplies and masks.

I did begin writing a few posts on Women's hockey, all-time greats who have seen their numbers being retired and reasons why the Toronto Maple Leafs are wasting valuable talents - and hopefully I'll finish them sooner rather than later - but always ran out of juice to put the finishing touches on them.

To get back into gear, I thought I'd write about American forward Nick Bjugstad, currently the Pittsburgh Penguins' third-line centre and formerly thought of as highly as former Florida Panthers teammate Aleksander Barkov.

Indeed, the former University of Minnesota Golden Gophers star was a point-per-game player when he was drafted 19th overall by the Cats in 2010, ahead of the likes of star forward Evgeny Kuznetsov (26th), first-liner Brock Nelson (30th), Justin Faulk (37th), Ryan Spooner (45th),  two-time Stanley Cup winner Tyler Toffoli (47th), Jason Zucker (59th), Sidney Crosby linemate Bryan Rust (80th), Joonas Donskoi (99th), #1 goalie Philipp Grubauer (112th), top-pair defenseman John Klingberg (131st), super-pest Micheal Ferland (133rd), Petr Mrazek (141st), multiple 30-goal scorer and heart and soul of the Montréal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher (147th), Dalton Prout (154th), Jesper Fast (157th), the best two-wayplayer in the game today Mark Stone (178th), and #1 goalie Frederik Andersen (187th).

Look at what Hockey's Future had to say in 2012:
Talent Analysis
Bjugstad is a physically dominating presence. His combination of strength and positional awareness with a hard, accurate shot makes him a force at both ends of the ice. Bjugstad plays with poise and he protects the puck exceptionally well in the offense zone by either skating out of trouble or simply shielding opponents with his arms and legs while he buys time to find an open teammate. He can be very difficult to knock off the puck and rarely loses battles along the boards.
Future
Bjugstad made his professional debut late last season, and looks to continue to play at the NHL level in the fall. He has the skill-level to become a scoring line center who will be defensively responsible and who can play in any game situation. His puck skills will allow him to be a mainstay on the powerplay while his high level of hockey intelligence and work rate can also make him a key member of a penalty kill unit.
If that isn't a spot-on description for Barkov, I don't know what is.

So... what happened?

Injuries, for starters, have slowed him down directly in his most developmental years. And while he was out, Barkov was healthy, quickly climbing the ranks not only to the team's first line but also to the captaincy, developing a tangible chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau that borders on symbiotic.

There's luck, circumstance, and the weight of constantly playing for underachieving teams that he will no longer be subjected to as a member of the Pens, except for the fact that Pittsburgh is now seeing its window close with most of its core having hit the age of 30 and no true superstar set to take over at any position except perhaps defense. But they won't be at risk of missing the playoffs as early as January in the next five seasons, either.

"Bugs" is probably a throwback to when the Penguins had the luxury of counting Jordan Stall followed by Brandon Sutter, in that a player who owuld have been good enough the center a weak team's second line can now provide offense while defending on their third. To complete the hat trick of comparisons, Bjugstad is also a "Heritage name", as his father and uncle played in the WCHA, and uncle Scott also played in the NHL, for the Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings and Penguins.

Here is Nick after his first 40-point season, on the dual jersey version of card #28 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts set:
It features a black jersey swatch and a red one, too, both more vivid than what appears in this scan. It is numbered 45/125.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

David Savard Autographed Card

The Columbus Blue Jackets had lost 10 of their past 11 games while dealing with an incredible amount of injuries, but they kept hold of the Wild Card position tonight by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-3, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the process. The Canucks' loss helps the Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames out West.

A key player on the Jackets since the 2014-15 season has been David Savard, an underrated defenseman who plays behind Seth Jones and Zach Werenski but would be a fist-pair defender on most NHL teams.

We're talking about a guy who is built like a cliché'd Canadian Lumberjack - 6'2" with a perfect stature, 230 pounds of muscle and a face that reads "no bullshit" and "no drama" at the same time - who doesn't make mistakes yet plays upwards of 20 rough minutes per night, like a mixture of Nicklas Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall.

As the Jackets as a whole have taken a step back in terms of offensive production - last year's points leader on the team, Artemi Panarin, produced 87 points in 79 games while this year's leader, Pierre-Luc Dubois, may not hit the 60 mark - so has Savard, yet his PDO (shooting % + save percentage) is a solid 99.7%, which is fine on a bubble team that scores so little.

Internationally, he's only suited up for Team Canada once - at the 2015 World Championships - and the team went to have a perfect 10-0 record to win gold for the first time since 2007. He can't make it all that often because the Blue Jackets are always in the playoffs.

Here he is wearing Columbus' white (away) uniform, on card #297 from Upper Deck's 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in thick silver sharpie, which didn't leave him enough room to spell out his entire name. He did attempt to tag his jersey number (58) at the end, though.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Luc Robitaille: Two Autographed Cards

There was a reason why Luc Robitaille was selected in the ninth round, 171st overall, in 1984: scouts from all NHL teams considered him too slow to keep up with the 1980s pro game, despite having posted more than a point-per-game average in his rookie year in Juniors with the LHJMQ's Hull Olympiques; he followed that with a 55-goal, 148-point season in 64 games in 1984-85 and with 68 goals and 191 points in 63 games the following season, convincing the Los Angeles Kings to provide him with a real shot at making the team, which he did.

His 84-point rookie season earned him the Calder Trophy in 1986-87 - the first year I followed hockey full-time - and his 63-goal season in 1992-93 was the NHL record for a very long time, until Alex Ovechkin obliterated it in 2007.

Robitaille retired after the 2005-06 season, in his third stint with the Kings, as the highest-scoring left winger of all time (beaten earlier this season by Ovechkin), Los Angeles' franchise record holder for goals (577), fourth behind Marcel Dionne, Wayne Gretzky and Dave Taylor on the team's all0time assists leaders list( 726), and second to Taylor in career points with the franchise (1154).

He's the quintessential King, which is why he's currently the team's President.

He was interviewed by NBC Sports recently and had an interesting take on Ovechkin's path to beating Gretzky's all-time goals record:
It’s hard to figure out someone that would do it. I’m going to enjoy this ride because it’s special. It’s very special and this is something that’s really good for our game. I’m rooting for him that he does it because it’s going to be absolutely incredible.
Whether he truly wants him to break Gretzky's record "for the good of the game" or because he doesn't want to be alone among former 1990s Kings captains to get surpassed by Alexander The Great remains to be seen; one thing's for certain: it truly is entertaining to keep track of.

Here he is wearing the Kings' 1990s white (home) uniform on card #90 from Topps' 1992-93 Premier set and First Team All-Star sub-set:
And here he is wearing the counterpart black (away) uniform, on card #98 from Upper Deck's 1998-99 UD Choice set:
Those were, in my opinion, the very best Kings uniforms ever. I miss them dearly.

In-between stints in L.A., Robitaille also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings - with whom he won the 2001-02 Stanley Cup - as well as Team Canada at the 1986 World Juniors (silver), 1991 Canada Cup (won), and 1994 World Championships (gold medal).

Friday, February 28, 2020

Mike Green Jersey Card

Mike Green is an offensive defenseman who can quarterback a powerplay very well. He has a fine pass, a pretty good shot and can still find speed on the rush although his actual footspeed isn't what it was in his heyday when he was putting up 780-point seasons and scoring 30 goals from the point.

Defensively, it's still a mixed bag, but not as bad as his critics would say; there will not be a quality shot on his team's net every time he hits the ice, but perhaps a quality chance or two per game.

Essentially, it was a net gain when the Edmonton Oilers acquired him from the Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Brodziak's LTIR cap hit and conditional draft pick that is at best a third-rounder and at worst a fourth. As an immediate replacement for the injured Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell, he was an immediate fit on the NHL's top powerplay unit and would provide defensive depth for the playoff run.

Except he got injured in his second game with the Oilers, and will be out three-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL. Ouch.

Edmonton is currently second in the Pacific Division, four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights who sit in first, but also just four ahead of the Arizona Coyotes, who are outside the playoff picture in fifth place, with the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks sandwiched in between and a mix-and-match quality and quantity of games in hand (the Coyotes have the fewest games remaining, however).

It's going to be a tight race, but hopefully Green comes back with stored energy and helps boost the Oilers upon his return.

Here he is sporting the Washington Capitals' white RBK Edge (away) uniform with the alternate captain's "A" on his chest, on card #AF-GR from Upper Deck's 2013-14 SP Game-Used Edition set and Authentic Fabrics sub-set:
It features a matching game-worn jersey swatch.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Bobby Ryan Autographed Card

Sometimes a Cinderella story just seems to write itself... over 100 days after self-entering the NHL/NHLPA's substance abuse program for alcohol dependency, Bobby Ryan made his home return for the Ottawa Senators and in his second game back started with a Gordie Howe hat trick and turned it into a regular one.

I don't know if I buy in as much of the BFR love as Silver Sevens has, but I do agree he, as a human being and a person, has lived up to what it means to be an honest professional hockey player. As far as his contract, cap hit and production goes, I understand that being selected second-overall after Sidney Crosby and ahead of Anze Kopitar (11th), Paul Stastny (44th), Kristopher Letang (62nd), Marc-Édouard Vlasic (35th) - and even to some extent Carey Price (5th), Tuukka Rask (21st), Jonathan Quick (72nd) and Ben Bishop (85th) - comes with pressure and expectations, but the fact of the matter is that he's missed some 60 games to injury and another 50 to dealing with his off-ice problems, he's still sixth of his draft year in points, slightly ahead of a very good goal-scorer in James Neal, and he's fourth in goals (behind Crosby, Kopitar and Neal) in goals, just ahead of Stastny, and a season's worth of putters ahead of the likes of T.J. Oshie and Patric Hornqvist.

Again: Bobby Ryan was raised in a violent household that was so messed up that he went through a name change so his father could escape jail for a while, was heavily criticized by Team USA GM Brian Burke and left off the 2014 Olympic team despite helping his country win silver in 2010, lost his mother just as he was finding his game in the Canadian capital, battled through criticism from the press because of his cap hit and still had three 30-goal seasons and was a key part in taking the Sens to overtime of Game 7 of the 2016-17 Eastern Conference Final (with the psychological help/acumen of then-head coach Guy Boucher).

There are no two ways about it: his story has been one of trials and success. He is not a "bust".

Unfortunately, he's about to exit his prime having spent a fair chunk of it hurting his body off the ice as much as on it, and when the Senators become competitive again, he may have to ride the young stars' coattails instead of helping lead the way through his play, but with the way his story has gone, at least he may be there to see it through, unlike Ottawa-born Jean-Gabriel Pageau, unfortunately.

Here's Ryan wearing the same uniform he got his comeback hat trick in, Ottawa's red (home) one, on card #171 from the 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee set by Upper Deck:
He signed it in blue sharpie after a Senators practice last season.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cameron Gaunce Autograph Card

Cameron Gaunce knew he was a depth piece on defense when the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed him to a one-year, two-way deal at league minimum ($700K), and they knew what they were getting: a 29-year-old veteran who had very little to prove as a role/defensive player but was starting to find his offensive game in the professional ranks as well, having come off a 46-point, 65-penalty minute season in 59 games with their AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch; he'd also chipped in with a +3 rating and 7 penalty minutes at the NHL level.

This season, he's been called upon to provide more than hits and has delivered, posting 4 points in 3 games wit the Bolts so far (+2, 4 penalty minutes) to go with a 30-point output (36 PIMs, +10) in 49 games wit the Crunch.

We are starting to see the two-time OHL All-Star emerge, after he'd been drafted 50th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2008. He'd also spent time with the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets organizations, for a total of 37 NHL games so far with the Avs (11), Stars (9), Pens (12) and Bolts (5).

He seems to have a knack for signing with one team and one of their main rivals (Dallas/Colorado; Pittsburgh/Columbus; Florida/Tampa); he's going to have to find two more teams next or try the Minnesota Wild (Colorado and Dallas rivals), Philadelphia Flyers (Pittsburgh) or Montréal Canadiens (the Florida teams) to keep with the theme.

One thing's for sure, though: he's playing on a legitimate Stanley Cup contender and earning his playing time, so his next deal might be of the $1M cap hit variety.

Here he is wearing the Avalanche's RBK Edge piping-heavy burgundy (home) jersey on a card that mentions he's now with the Stars, #SI-CG from Panini's 2013-14 Select set and Select Signatures sub-set:
It's a silver foil card and the sides are green - even if the scan shows it all black. Over his head reads "DALLAS STARS" in yellow and top-right, over his left shoulder, a note says he was traded to the Stars on "4/2/13". The card features a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph that just has his initials, a typical pet peeve among autograph collectors.

His brother Brendan also plays professionally, in the Boston Bruins organization.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Malcolm Subban Jersey Card

He turned 26 years old in December and yet Malcolm Subban - a 2012 first-round pick by the Boston Bruins, 24th overall - is already with his third NHL team after the Vegas Golden Knights traded him, a draft pick and a prospect to the Chicago Blackhawks for Robin Lehner.

Neither Gerard Gallant nor Peter DeBoer have been able to trust him enough to give him games unless Marc-André Fleury fell to injury, and I guess that's what you get when your career save percentage is at .899 and this season's stands at .890, but he was at .910 and still only saw 22 games in 2017-18, when the G-Knights went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

The Hawks' situation in net is somewhat puzzling with Corey Crawford's concussion issues these past three seasons and Subban not yet rising up to the challenge, but I'm certain GM Stan Bowman has a plan that's more fleshed out than just hoping P.K.'s younger brother reaches the same level as his draft classmates Connor Hellebuyck (130th overall, Vezina finalist), Andrei Vasilevskiy (19th, Vezina winner), Frederik Andersen (87th, fan favourite in Toronto), Matt Murray (83rd, two-time Cup winner), Joonas Korpisalo (62nd, having a breakout season with the Columbus Blue Jackets) and Linus Ullmark (163rd, doing the same in Buffalo).

Here he is wearing the Bruins' third jersey - with matching swatch from a photo shoot - on card #RM-SU from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Series 2 collection and Rookie Materials sub-set:
Internationally, Malcolm has suited up for Team Canada at the 2014 World Juniors, finishing in fourth place.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Two Autographed Cards

I wasn't sure if it would, but it's a done deal: the Ottawa Senators have traded Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a 2020 first-rounder (top-3 protected, but the Isles will likely make the playoffs, so that pick's safe), a 2020 second-rounder and potentially a 2022 third-rounder (if the isles win the Stanley Cup this year, which they probably won't).

If the Sens re-sign Pageau this summer, it's a landslide victory. I honestly have some difficulty picturing him in another uniform, let alone other colours than red, white and black. I may have preferred to see him go to the Calgary Flames.

He's one of my favourite players, one of the best two-way players in the league who has found his offensive upside again this year after a sub-par season last year - funny what outlier shooting percentages can do, eh? I hope he earns more post-season experience. He sure made an impact in 2017-18, with 10 points in 19 games, part of a balanced three-headed monster at centre with Derick Brassard (11 points) and Kyle Turris (10), helping the Sens to an Eastern Conference Final Game 7 overtime loss to eventual Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins.

Here he is wearing the Sens' white (away) uniform, checking an Arizona Coyotes player into the boards with a high elbow, on card #128 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Series 1 collection:
And here he is wearing Ottawa's red (home) uniform with the alternate captain's "A" on his chest, on card #340 from the 2019-20 O-Pee-Chee set from UD:
I really think the Ottawa native and French-Canadian is an essential veteran to help lead the Senators' young guns, including the French-speaking Thomas Chabot and Maxime Lajoie. I hope they bring him back in July.

(edit, the Isles re-signed him for six years at a reasonable $5M per, for $30M total).

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Marcus Foligno Autograph Card

Marcus Foligno is quietly having his most productive season in the NHL so far, one point behind the career-high 23 points he put up in three straight seasons from 2015 until 2018, with over 20 games left in the regular season calendar.

He's only made the playoffs once - in 2017-18 in his first season with the Minnesota Wild, with one goal in five games played and no less than 16 penalty minutes. The 6'3", 225-pound former fourth-round pick (104th overall in 2009) is usually good for three to five fights per year, standing up for his teammates at every opportunity.

He's cemented his position as a shut-down checking forward, finishing in the pluses (+5 as we speak) every year despite playing on poor teams. Relative to his teammates, he's actually a more positive force out there than more expensive options and his $2.85M cap hit is good for another year after this one.

Glad to see he's building his own path without being in the shadow of his father Mike (a former Buffalo Sabres star)  and brother Nick, captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here he is wearing the Sabres' 2010-12 "Wordmark" blue (third) jersey on card #CS-MF from Panini's 2012-13 Certified set and Certified Signatures sub-set:
It features a blue-sharpied, on-stick autograph. It's actually a very nice silver foil card, but my scanner refused to acknowledge it as such.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Shawn Horcoff Autograph Card

Upon retiring after the 2015-16 season that had him sign with the Anaheim Ducks and suspended by the NHL for 20 games for a performance-enhancing drug violation - essentially for using human-growth hormones to heal from an injury quicker - he was named the Detroit Red Wings' Director of Player Development, and was promoted to Director of Player Personnel last summer.

You may find it bizarre that a 13-year member of the Edmonton Oilers didn't join the team in some capacity, but they're trying to steer clear of their perceived Old Boys Club mentality and are looking outside the organization for help nowadays.

And Team Canada is hoping NHLers will be going to the next Olympics, so they're saving their key positions for NHL GMs and coaches instead of alumni who have won two gold medals (2003 and 2004) and one silver (2009) at World Championships.

So why Detroit? Well, for starters, his wife is from Michigan, and after following her husband around for 15 years, it was time for him to help her settle down where her roots lay. He met her while playing for the Michigan State University Spartans, where he was named CCHA Defensive Player Of The Year and a Hobey Baker finalist.

This is how I remember him best, wearing the Oilers' white turn-of-the-millennium uniform:
That's card #TS-HO from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Trilogy collection and Trilogy Scripts sub-set, featuring a blue-sharpied on-sticker autograph.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Karl Alzner Autographed Card

With injuries to Victor Mete and Xavier Ouellet and the Marco Scandella trade, Karl Alzner - who's pretty much played for the AHL Laval Rocket for the past two years - becomes the Montréal Canadiens' second left-side blue-liner when Claude Julien had seemingly relegated him to 15th d-man role by consistently publicly asking GM Marc Bergevin for help at that position, dissatisfied as he was with his options.

Alzner had a great attitude in the AHL, always had a smile on his face when meeting fans and journalists, and other players all said he was a terrific teacher who made good points and was always willing to help. Of course, he's even happier to be back in the NHL right now. Even if it means he's earning less money - his $4.25M contract is guaranteed, but every day spent in the NHL comes with escrow - which theoretically could make its way back to him but never actually ever does - while there is none in the AHL because it's not based on the NHL's overall revenue pyramid.

It's still odd to think that a two-time World Juniors gold medalist (2007 and 2008, the latter as Team Canada's captain), WHL Defenseman and Player Of The Year (2008), two-time Calder Cup-winner and two-time Presidents Trophy winner, one-time active NHL iron man and always among the top-10 in blocked shots has been reduced to wearing an "A" on his chest playing in a suburb while the most storied franchise in hockey history pays his salary without using his services despite being in the thick of a historically-awful period.

In case you're wondering, this is what he looks like in bleu-blanc-rouge, namely the Habs' classic red (home) uniform:
That's card #96 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Series 1 set, which he signed in blue sharpie just a little over a year ago, tagging his jersey number (22) at the end. Even though he has mostly spent two of the three seasons of his current five-year deal in the minors, it's not his signing per se that left a bitter taste in Habs fans' minds; it's GM Bergevin's training camp quote, after rejecting star defenseman Andrei Markov's plea to remain a member of the Canadiens for two more seasons and claiming (and doubling down on) to have a "better defense than last season" when he clearly didn't, which put undue pressure on the entire defense corps, which they still have not recovered from, three years in.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Mark Scheifele Jersey Card

Mark Scheifele has been the Winnipeg Jets' first-line centre for five years at this point and, at 26 years old, barring a major injury, he'll be a point-per-game player for at least five more, so it's no surprise he scored his third career hat trick earlier tonight. The Ottawa Senators' Nick Paul had scored the opening goal, but Scheifele tied the game and gave the Jets the lead before the end of the first period and added the sealer with under two minutes left in the third, which was a very "Schiefele thing" to do.

It's no coincidence the Jets' alternate captain was selected in his second-straight All-Star Game earlier in the month: not only is he relatively consistent - tonight's game may have marked the end of a 12-game goal-less drought, but he had battled the flu for over a week and had gathered assists here and there - he also has a flair for the dramatic, displaying a level of clutch play that matches that of Stanley Cup-winning (former?) teammate Dustin Byfuglien and captain Blake Wheeler.

Winnipeg was always high on Schiefele, having selected him 7th overall in 2011, and if there was a do-over, he's one of the few who were selected in the top-10 who still would be, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st), Sean Couturier (8th), Jonathan Huberdeau, Dougie Hamilton (9th) and possibly Gabriel Landeskog (2nd) and Mika Zibanejad (6th), but those guys would be joined by Nikita Kucherov (58th), Johnny Gaudreau (104th), Vincent Trocheck (64th) and maybe Phillip Danault (26th) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (96th) instead of Ryan Strome (5th), Adam Larsson (4th) and Jonas Brodin (10th). He was the top centre in a left wing-heavy (Huberdeau, Gaudreau, Landeskog) draft class.

I was extremely happy to land card #TS-MS from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts collection and Treasured Swatches sub-set, showing him wearing the Jets' white (away) uniform and featuring a dark blue swatch:
Internationally, he's suited up for Team Canada at the U-18s in 2011 (gold medal), 2012 (bronze) and 2013 (4th place) World Juniors, the 2012 Russia-Canada Series (victory), and the 2014 (5th place), 2016 (gold) and 2017 (silver) World Championships, and Team North America (5th place) at the 2016 World Cup, playing alongside Gaudreau, Couturier, Trocheck, RNH, Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin Jack Eichel, Seth Jones and then-Jets teammates Jacob Trouba and Connor Hellebuyck, among others.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Chris Phillips Autographed Card

The Ottawa Senators retired Chris Phillips' number last night and even ended up winning the game against the Buffalo Sabres.

I wanted to write a heartfelt article detailing all the important moments of his career, why he chose that specific number, who he wanted to share the moment with, but not only did Sportsnet's Wayne Scanlan beat me to it, he did it so perfectly that there is nothing more I could add to that part of the story, so go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

It certainly brought a tear to my eye.

Some casual hockey fans might ask themselves why he deserved that honour, some even dispute his selection as the first-overall draft pick in 1996 head of heart-and-soul star captains like Zdeno Chara (56th) and Daniel Brière (24th), but in true "hockey terms", he was worth his salary in the team sport just as much as anyone on that level even if he didn't take part in any All-Star Game and didn't win a Norris Trophy.

The fact that he ended up getting votes in two years while playing alongside players like Chara, Wade Redden and Erik Karlsson shows you that his value did resonate even though he never passed the 30-point mark himself. Some sports writers actually saw the value that came with being an elite shut-down defender for a few moments.

And he was clutch, as that article mentioned, considering 13 of his 71 regular-season goals are game-winners, and one of his 6 playoff goals not only did the same but was an overtime series clincher.

He had nerves of steel that made him step up when it mattered most.

He was a very good hockey player of his ilk, but he was a great teammate.

And once in a while, once per 25 or 50 years, an organization has to recognize the best such player of its past generation or two and honour them, to show the following generations that playing in the shadows doesn't necessarily mean never getting recognition.

It was one thing for him to beat Daniel Alfredsson's franchise games played mark by one, but it's another to have his jersey hang alongside the most inspiring player to wear the uniform in the team's current iteration. And it's fully deserved.

I figured I could take this prolonged look back by featuring him on card #325 from Upper Deck's 1997-98 Series 2 collection, showing him wearing the Sens' white (then-home) uniform at the 1996 draft:
The two-time Team Canada World Juniors gold medal winner (1996 and 1997) signed it in blue sharpie during one of his two final seasons, so either in 2013-14 (most likely) or 2014-15.

During his playing days, he went by the nickname "Big Rig" because he was 6'3" and weighed 220 pounds (and defended his zone like he was 6'5" and 250); he now co-owns and operates a microbrewery of the same name in Ontario.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dylan DeMelo Autographed Card

The pundits are pretty much unanimous: the Winnipeg Jets got the best of the Ottawa Senators in the trade that sent Dylan DeMelo to Manitoba for a third-round pick; the Winnipeg Free Press raves, the Sens-boosting Silver Sevens are angry, and The Hockey News had this to say:
Just consider his underlying numbers on a Senators outfit that ranks below league average at five-a-side – and in some cases well below league average – when compared to the rest of the NHL. His Corsi percentage is 52.4 percent, shots percentage is 52.9 percent and he possesses a 55.8 expected goals percentage, which is in part the result of 54.9 and 57.7 percent scoring chance and high-danger chance percentages, respectively. What makes the numbers stand out most, though, is that DeMelo posted those numbers despite starting more than 55 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone. This is to say nothing, either, of the fact DeMelo had the highest relative rates of shot, shot attempt, scoring chance and expected goal suppression among all Senators with at least 500 minutes played.
Personally, I like DeMelo. He's a #2 defenseman on the Sens at 26 years old, so he can improve a bit, but the Sens are objectively one of the worst teams in the NHL, so on a contender, he's probably a #4-5 guy who plays 17 to 19 minutes per game. That's probably worth $3M to $3.5M per year, and as a free agent in the middle of his prime come July 1st, he's probably going to be looking at one or two teams offering him a salary around $5M, which he will have trouble living up to.

Other teams will look at him as the San Jose Sharks' sixth-round pick in 2011, as one of seven pieces the Sens got back from the Sharks for Erik Karlsson, and someone who earned under $1M this season.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I hope he helps the Jets make the playoffs; on paper, he's exactly what they need to solidify their second pairing after the departures of Jacob Trouba, Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side last summer.

Here he is wearing the Sens' red (home) uniform, on card #474 from Upper Deck's 2019-20 O-Pee-Chee collection:
He signed it in blue sharpie during training camp, tagging his jersey number (2) at the end.

My Sens Numbers Project: An Introduction

Has it really come to this, a gimmick worth repeating many times over, after my initial Habs Numbers Project and my Oilers Numbers Project?

Actually, it's more that I realized I had a lot of this one down already: so far, I have featured 45/70 numbers used in previous posts:

1: Damian Rhodes: check!
2: Lance Pitlick, Jared Cowen and Dylan DeMelo: check!
3: Zdeno Chara: jersey card check!
4: Chris Phillips: check (and once more)!
5: Christoph Schubert and Cody Ceci: check!
6: Wade Redden: check!
7: Randy Cunneyworth: check!
9: Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan: check!
10: Brandon Bochenski: check!
11: Daniel Alfredsson: check!
12: Mike Fisher: check (and once more)!
14: Andrej Meszaros and Colin Greening: check!
15: Shawn McEachern: check!
16: Laurie Boschman, Brian McGrattan, Bobby Butler, Clarke MacArthur, and Mark Stone: check!
17: Jody Hull: check!
18: Ryan Dzingel: check!
19: Jason Spezza: check! (also wore #44 and #39)
21: Dennis Vial: check!
22: Shaun Van Allen: check!
24: Stéphane Da Costa: check!
25: Bruce Gardiner: check!
26: Bob Kudelski: check!
27: Janne Laukkanen: check!
30: Brian Elliott: check!
31: Peter Sidorkiewicz: check! (also Alex Auld)
33: Jakob Silfverberg and Pascal Leclaire: check!
38: Erik Condra: check! (also wore #22)
39: Matt Carkner: check!
40: Robin Lehner: check! (also Jeff Glass and Patrick Lalime)
41: Craig Anderson: check!
43: Roman Wick and Peter Regin: check!
44: Jason Spezza: check! (also wore #19) (also, Jean-Gabriel Pageau)
46: Patrick Wiercioch: check!
47: André Benoit: check!
53: Ilya Zubov: check!
57: Derek Grant: check!
59: David Dziurzynski: check!
61: Mark Stone (twice): check!
62: Eric Gryba: check!
65: Erik Karlsson: jersey card check!
68: Mike Hoffman: check!
71: Nick Foligno: check!
74: Mark Borowiecki and Steve Larouche: check!
78: Filip Chlapik: check!
89: Cory Conacher: check!

Captains: Boschman, Cunneyworth, Alfredsson.

I'll reiterate that I'm looking for collectibles - ideally signed cards, but also signed pictures or, at the very least, jersey cards of players from every possible Sens jersey number that has been worn.

Here are examples of things I'll be featuring soon - or am looking to add to the list:

13: Peter Regin, Vinny Prospal or Ted Drury I remember
20: Antoine Vermette and Marek Svatos are players I followed
23: Kaspars Daugavins' number
28: neither Zenon Konopka nor Matt Kassian replied to my TTMs
29: I could totally go for Martin Gerber and his black mask here
32: only Rob Ray and Daniel Berthiaume have ever worn this number
34: only Darren Rumble and Shane Hnidy have worn this one
35: only 5 goalies have worn this one, including Auld, Tom Barrasso and Mike Bales
36: only Josh Hennessy wore it for more than a few games
37: only Dean McAmmond wore it for more than one calendar year
42: Julien Vauclair would be cool for a goalie nerd like myself
45: only worn by Denis Hamel or Alexandre Picard
48: Jared Cowen wore it briefly
49: Michel Picard or Francis Lessard
51: Derek Smith
52: Colin Greening had it for a short spell
55: Sergei Gonchar never replied to my TTM, but Brian Lee also works
56: Lance Pitlick
58: Cody Bass, briefly
60: Mark Stone (who also wore 61)
73: Guillaume Latendresse or Jarkko Ruutu
76: Radek Bonk
77: Joe Corvo
82: Martin Straka
83: Ales Hemsky, very briefly
90: Alex Chiasson
91: Alexandre Daigle
93: Mike Zibanejad
94: Stan Neckar
97: Matt Gilroy

Monday, February 17, 2020

Zach Bogosian Jersey Card

Honestly, a week away from the trade deadline, you'd think Zach Bogosian would give the Buffalo Sabres a chance to make their sales pitch to other teams instead of seeming like an entitled, grizzled and angry veteran who refuses to be a team player.

Of course, I'm referring to his decision to not report to the AHL Rochester Americans after going unclaimed via waivers, and the Sabres' easy subsequent decision to suspend him while the two sides try to work something out.

Between hip injuries and healthy scratches, the 29-year-old has suited up in only 19 games this season, down from 65 last year but one more than the 18 from 2017-18.  He's missed more than 15 games in 11 of his 13 NHL seasons, and failed to play in more than half the games four times.

Here is the Team USA alumnus in better days, wearing the Winnipeg Jets' dark blue (home) uniform on card #AF-ZB from Upper Deck's 2013-14 SP Game-Used Edition collection and Authentic Fabrics sub-set:
It features an even darker (possibly black) game-worn jersey swatch that could be from his days with the Atlanta Thrashers before they moved to Winnipeg.