Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jean Pronovost Autographed Card

Every once in a while, a company reminds us why it's bad to have a monopoly; O-Pee-Chee was that company for most of the 70s and 80s - the only player in the game for hockey cards, and they took it overboard on more than one occasion: from showing the wrong player on a card to airbrushing a player's new colours on his uniform if he'd been traded in the summer (or even just rumoured to be traded in the case of Jacques Lemaire), or cutting cards off-center.

This card (#184 of the 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee series, by Topps) of Jean Pronovost is a nice proof of that: cut way off center, it bears the mention ''now with Flames'' and sports the Atlanta Flames' logo on the top left, but sees his wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey, one that, upon close inspection, appears painted on him, as is the helmet and gloves.

O-Pee-Chee tried to make its series special by featuring fac-simile autographs of the players on the backs of the cards; the signatures appearing there are reprinted from the players' licensing contracts, which allowed the league to sell their likenesses for use on cards and other products.

What's funny is that Pronovost, signing in a thick black sharpie at a sports convention in the mid-90s, added to O-Pee-Chee's lack of graphic design skills by putting his autograph in an area that was certain to be too small for him to sign his whole name, yet we can still see that it matches the signature on the other side of the card; my guess is he didn't want to sign over his uniform nor his face and, thus, was left with very little space. He did sign over most of his captain's 'C', though.

Pronovost is famous for being the first member of the Penguins to get more than 100 points in a season (104, in 1975-76), and for having had 4 seasons in which he scored 40 goals or more, with a peak of 52, again in '75-76, playing with Pierre Larouche and Syl Apps. Larouche also ended up surpassing the 100-point mark with 111, while Apps was stopped short at 99. Also, even though he is from Shawinigan, Québec, he only played one season of junior hockey in la Belle Province before heading to the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario league.

He has a winning coaching record, both in the LHJMQ (with the Shawinigan Cataractes from 1994 to 1996 and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2000-01) and the IHL (Québec Rafales, in 1996-97).

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