Sunday, April 4, 2010

Donald Audette Autographed Card

Montréal, mid-to-late 90s, early 00s: where veteran careers go to die. Randy McKay, Stéphane Richer, Shayne Corson, Andy Moog... Donald Audette.

A small player in the NHL's clutch-and-grab era at 5'8'', Audette was drafted in the 9th round (183rd overall) in the 1989 draft by the Buffalo Sabres after winning the Guy Lafleur trophy as the LHJMQ's playoff MVP. In 1989-90, he won the Red Garret trophy as the AHL's Rookie Of The Year with the Rochester Americans after scoring 42 goals and 88 points in 70 games, in addition to the 17 points (9 goals) in 15 playoff games in the AHL, which earned him a two-game NHL playoff tryout with the Sabres. The following season was also mostly spent in the AHL, although it was filled with injuries, but he did come back in time for the AHL playoffs, during which he took a costly penalty in Game 6 of the Finals.

In 1991-92, as a full-time NHLer, he scored 31 goals (48 points) in 63 games and things were looking up, but knee injuries kept him from playing more than 44 games the next year. In 1993-94, he was back in game shape, scoring 29 goals (59 points) in 77 games, before falling to injury yet again the following season, although limited to 46 games in 1994-95, he still managed to score 24 goals.

The roller-coaster ride continued, as the highlights from his next few seasons depend at which statistic you look at:
1995-96: 23 games played (12 goals)
1996-97: 28 goals (73 games)
1997-98: 24 goals (75 games)

Probably fearing he was due for another injury-plagued year, the Sabres then dealt him to the Los Angeles Kings, where the tendency continued:
1998-99: 49 games (18 goals)
1999-00: 63 games (19 goals)

He split the 2000-01 season between the Atlanta Thrashers and Sabres, and scored 34 goals in 76 games, and his 79 points marks the only time in his career he would be a point-per-game player.

That summer, he became a free agent, and Bob Gainey, then general manager of the Dallas Stars, offered him a blindingly huge multi-million dollar contract. With the pressure of being one of the team's highest-paid players, Audette was faced with the biggest scoring drought of his career and the Stars sent him packing to the Montréal Canadiens, where he didn't fare much better until - you guessed it - an unbelievable injury occured, as an opponent's skate cut the tendons on his forearm and life-saving surgery was required. It was a bloody mess. He would never have a high-scoring season again, eventually retiring after struggling with the Florida Panthers.

This card (#273) from Fleer's 1993-94 Fleer Ultra series, features Audette wearing the Sabres' classic blue uniform, before they started changing their jerseys every eighteen months. He signed it in blue sharpie at the 2002 Canadiens Jamboree, probably right after Jeff Hackett signed this card. He was pleasant and humble, but what I remember most were these kids who totally showed him a lack of respect by calling him by his last name (and no title), just ''Audette! Sign here!'', as if he had to.


  1. Montréal, mid-to-late 90s, early 00s: where veteran careers go to die. Randy McKay, Stéphane Richer, Shayne Corson, Andy Moog... Donald Audette.

    Ouais, c'est bien d'avoir redonné ce titre aux Rangers...

  2. Rangers et Blues, oui, comme dans le temps!