Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brian Hayward Autographed Card

A friend of mine recently suggested that Brian Hayward was to Patrick Roy what Jaroslav Halak is currently to Carey Price... I had to respectfully disagree.

First off, Hayward did, indeed, play half the team's games, but that was mainly so that Roy could save his energy for the playoffs. It helped a lot that Hayward was a pretty good goalie, too, enough to share the Jennings Trophy with Roy for 3 straight seasons while the Habs were challenging for first place overall, but come April, there was no question who'd be in nets, and he would go on to win an unprecedented three Conn Smythe trophies...

Also, Carey Price has not won anything yet at the NHL level and has yet to prove to be able to eventually keep the #1 goalie job to himself; his poor play is also the main reason behind two early playoff exits in two seasons, something you can't pin on Roy.

And, considering the Stanley Cup is the only championship that matters in the NHL and not the regular-season President's Cup, it's when you separate the boys from the men that it really counts; in that regard, even Hayward is ahead of Price, seeing as he was never the reason behind an early exit and has twice been on a Stanley Cup runner-up team: the 1988-89 Montréal Canadiens, and the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars. Sure, he was the back-up both times, but behind a great man is a great replacement waiting to take his place (see: Halak, who played behind Cristobal Huet).

Unfortunately for Hayward, after his decent season in Minnesota, he was claimed by the San Jose Sharks in the weirdest dispersal draft in NHL history, where he had to share duties with future Habs #1 goalie Jeff Hackett on the worst team in the league. His GAA was terrible both years (4.92 and 5.55), as were his win-loss records (1-4-0 for 1991-92, 2-14-1 for 1992-93 - while Roy was winning a second Cup and second Conn Smythe in 3 Finals over 8 seasons).

A terrible way to end a career for an honest player who knew the game better than most - so much so that as soon as he retired, he became a TV colour commentator and game analyst.

This 1987-88 O-Pee-Chee card (the Canadian version of Topps that usually included more cards than its American counterpart, for some reason) was sent and received by mail when Hayward was a correspondent for CBC's Hockey Night In Canada, signed very clearly in black sharpie.

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