Friday, July 30, 2010

Paul Kariya Practice Jersey Card

Remember the 1990s, when most experts were looking for ''The Next One'', the guy to be the face of the league when Wayne Gretzky retires? That title was bestowed on many a player, most of whom were found to not be able to handle the burden - Eric Lindros being a notable one. Paul Kariya was definitely another.

Perhaps an even smoother skater than Scott Niedermayer, Kariya also had a slap shot that compared favourably to almost anyone else in the NHL, one that led him to 3 seasons of 40 goals or more, including a 50-goal output iun his sophomore season. The duo he formed with Teemu Selanne was among the most productive of the past generation.

My defining Kariya moment came in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, when he was hit by New Jersey Devils behemoth Scott Stevens and lay on the ice for several minutes - to this day, he claims he wasn't unconscious, but the CBC cameras clearly showed him not moving, not even breathing, until out of the blue his visor filled with steam - his breath was back. Team doctors took him back to the dressing room where he stayed for 11 minutes of play - most expected he was out of the game, perhaps even gone for the remainder of the series, but he came back and scored the tying goal in a game his team would eventually win. The Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim still lost the series, as Kariya's play was clearly affected by the hit.

That summer, he swore he wanted to bring the Cup to Anaheim, but instead only played one more season there before joining Selanne on the Colorado Avalanche, on a stacked team that already included Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Rob Blake, Milan Hejduk, and so many others. The team was not only a perennial Cup contender, they also had 7 players who had also served as captain on other teams. Unfortunately, both Selanne and Kariya suffered long-term injuries and left the team.

Kariya's career path took him to the Nashville Predators, where he registered his 800th career point, and to the St. Louis Blues, with whom he scored his 400th goal. He is currently an unrestricted free agent. Although he is no longer slated to finish in the top-5 for NHL scoring, he could probably still help a team on its second or third line, and with some powerplay time could probably still reach the 20-goal mark (he registered 18 in his final season with the lowly Blues).

In international play, he was part of Canada's 2002 Gold Medal-winning Olympic team (with Sakic, Mario Lemieux and Jarome Iginla, among others).  He has also won gold at the World Championships (1994) and World Juniors (1993). And he was also kept out of the 1998 Olympic squad due to a concussion after a cheap, vicious cross-check by Gary Suter, just like Gretzky in the 1991 Canada Cup.

This beautiful card, part of Upper Deck's 2002-03 MVP set (the Skate Around sub-set) dons a bigger-than-usual patch, and a special one at that, and I quote:
On the front of this card is an authentic piece of a practice jersey worn by Paul Kariya in an offical NHL practice. We hope you enjoy this piece of hockey history as we at The Upper Deck Company continue to keep you as close as you can get!
 That's right - it's a practice jersey! I think it's the only set in which I've seen one, which makes it special, in my opinion.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jarome Iginla Jersey Card

Here's a special Jarome Iginla jersey card - you'll notice the patch is blue; it's because it's from his 2003 All Star Game jersey (despite the picture on the card depicting him in his white Calgary Flames uniform).

Iginla might be the player I have the most jersey cards of - I mentioned one here and yet another one here, and I'm far from done. There have been so many trade rumours involving him this summer that I'm keeping my options open when it comes to making posts about him.

This card (#FF-JI) is from Upper Deck's 2003-04 Upper Deck series (there wasn't a Series 2 that year, hence this being a generic set, not a Series 1), the Franchise Fabrics sub-set. Ironic that the jersey isn't from said franchise, eh? I've seen this card sell over $50 because of the (rare) nature of the jersey used.

Yann Danis Autograph Card

This one was sent to me a few months ago via snail mail by KC, of Hockey Freaks, in exchange for a Miikka Kiprusoff jersey card. Sure, it's a pretty uneven trade on all accounts (quality of player, monetary value), but he's a Calgary Flames fan and I'm a Montréal Canadiens fan - and I'm sure karma's pendulum will swing back my way eventually.

I didn't mention this card sooner because I already had a post about Yann Danis in February, but with news that he's going to the KHL next season, I thought it was timely to bring him back up. Oh, and he finished the 2009-10 season with a 2.05 GAA and a save % of .923 with the New Jersey Devils, further proof that it's the Devils' system more than Martin Brodeur that helps miracles happen in the swamp.

In any event, this 2005-06 Heroes And Prospects card (#A-YD) by In The Game complements my Tomas Plekanec card from the same set, and joins Jaroslav Halak and Maxim Lapierre in my collection of autographed Hamilton Bulldogs cards.

I wish him the best of luck in the KHL - and a contract in the NHL for 2011-12.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tiffany Selby Autograph Card

Florida's a breeding ground for... well, hot chicks. Tiffany Selby, originally from Jacksonville, is no exception to that. In fact, she may be proof that it's in the pudding - she started modeling at age 1, when she won the coveted - I imagine - title of Miss Baby Jacksonville. But that's just weird.

I'd rather concentrate on what she did after she turned 18, including when she moved to Orlando at the ripe age of 22, where her career really took off, with plenty of magazine and advertising work. Oh, and a little something called Playboy made her a Playmate.

When that happens, it takes very little time for everyone else to take notice, hence this 2006 Series 1 Authentic Autograph (#11 of 20 models) by Benchwarmer. Signed in thin black sharpie, the signature seems to take a life of its own, liek it's full of bubbles and joy.

2 Autographed Rick Trembles Books

Talk about symbiotic - a post I can put in 3 different blogs - my regular one, my collectibles one, and my film criticism blog!

Last night, I went to a show at the Fantasia Film Festival called Lost Myths, a dual slideshow/storytelling performance, with the first half consisting of texts and narration by Claude Lalumière over art by Rupert Bottenberg, and the second half consisting of an oral history of Rick Trembles' autobiographical film criticism comic strip Motion Picture Purgatory, that runs in the Montreal Mirror and often has Trembles himself in them, and at times also mentions his ''weird punk'' band American Devices (whom I have featured in my Video Of The Week segments here); the MPP is kind of a cross between film criticism, the honesty and autobiographical themes of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor series (especially those with the art of Robert Crumb) and the sex scenes of Caligula - with more shit - literally - and a sensibility for humour reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson's.

Since the show was part of Fantasia, I'd classify the 'performance shorts'' as short ''films'', as it was, indeed, an audiovisual feast for both the eyes and ears. I did enjoy the Lalumière/Bottenberg piece, as it was a fun and innovative look at how myths may have been written in the first place, but the (perhaps Bible-like) repetitiveness of them became an issue after the first half-dozen or so, seeing as (too) many of them had a baby-God born from an unworthy mother who would die during childbirth; unless that is a real-life issue Lalumière is trying to deal with through his art, it had run its course and become redundant way before the last story. But the storytelling itself, tongue-in-cheek and with a certain beat, was fun - and the art was beautiful. Most of the images would make awesome gig posters.

But the true headliner of the night, the one who got the loudest applause, was without a doubt Trembles. His work for the Mirror is read by some 300,000 people weekly, and since he incorporates his own life into the strips, we all know he is in his second stint with them (since 1998), as they had also published him in the 80s but fired him when they deemed one of his pieces to be too controversial and obscene. He - again - told us all about it, with a few strips shown to emphasize his points, but he also delved into his past, such as the fact that his father had also been a cartoonist, and who his influences were.

Of course he also talked about his band, and about a few short films he made. Once it was all over, he even took the time to show us the three animated shorts he made: God's Cocksuckers - based on a drawing he made and keeps recycling into his other works; a video for his band's De-censor-tized song; and the Canadian government-funded coup-de-grâce Goopy Spasms, which, despite being an animated short drawn in the style of '60s counterculture icons with an endless array of things stuck up the animated Trembles plug-hole, is as real a piece of cinematic truth as anything I've seen since Gaspar Noé's Irréversible - ironically enough, reviewed in one of the MPP books. It was realer than a political documentary.

But the best part of the night came after the show, as I approached the table where Lalumière, Bottenberg and Trembles were sitting, selling their books and offering to sign them. I made my way to Trembles' side and he just looked at me and said: ''You're Mr. Hell?''

To have someone whose music I've been listening to for over 20 years, whose writings and drawings I've been reading for over a decade - and to whom I had never spoken to before - know who I was... it made my week. It was way more intense than when Jeffrey Ross asked me which bar he should go drinking in.

So I purchased both Motion Picture Purgatory books, and he signed them in blue ink, with a different blurb for each, both a play on my name.

Good times!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Alex Tanguay Jersey Card

Alex Tanguay: smooth skater, adept playmaker, capable scorer. Stanley Cup winner. A definite first-line winger when he's on his game, but seems to have fallen off it since his attempt at coming back too soon from an injury while playing with the Habs two years ago. His experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season was one to forget.

This card, from Upper Deck's 2008-09 Series 1 set (UD Game Jersey sub-set) has him in his Calgary Flames uniform - as is the patch on the card - but the team logo is of the Montréal Canadiens, where he ended for that season after agreeing to a trade for two high draft picks. Unfortunately, just as he had locked the left wing position on the team's first line with Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev - actually being among the most productive top lines in the league for a couple of weeks there - until he suffered a shoulder injury on a cheap-shot hit by Evgeny Artyukhin, one that should have ended his season and he should have taken time to recover from properly, instead of coming back at the insistence of GM Bob Gainey.

And now, he's back in Calgary, at the bargain price of $1.7M, one of two comeback kids, with Olli Jokinen. I don't know if those moves will make the Flames contenders again, but they're sure safer bets on a first line than Matt Stajan, that's for sure (with the added bonus of never having played for Toronto).