Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sergio Momesso: Five Autographed Cards

This is the return I've been looking forward to the most this season: Sergio Momesso, former Montréal Canadiens powerforward on the 1986 Stanley Cup team, here in the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks uniforms. I sent a first package of 6 cards to his restaurant on October 20th, and it was returned to sender on November 1st. I repackaged it and this time sent it, on November 3rd, to CJLO, the radio station where he works as the Habs' colour commentary and analyst for local games - and received 5 of 6 back on November 18th, all signed in blue ball-point pen, with his #27 added.

Now, you may be tempted to ask why I'd go through all that trouble for a fourth-liner whose hometown team basically gave him away, and that would be well within your rights. My first reflex would be to point out that on the Blues, he wasn't just any player; as a matter of fact, he played on a line with Brett Hull, who pointed out just how valuable he really is when he went on David Letterman's show:

He did have a 24-goal, 56-point, 199-penalty minutes season with the team in 1989-90. But, statistically, his best ratio came during the 1991-92 season with the Canucks, when he scored 20 goals, added 23 assists for 43 points and 198 PIMs... in a mere 58 games.

During the 1994-95 lock-out, he had a 2-game stint with the Milan Devils of the Italian league, registering 5 points in his motherland.

More importantly, though, he hails from NDG, a Montréal neighbourhood that gave the NHL countless Hall Of Famers, including Bill Durnan (before Roberto Luongo, the last goaltender to have been captain) and perhaps the best defenseman of all time, Doug Harvey. It's where I grew up, and back then, the two main NHLers from the 'hood were Momesso and Québec Nordiques enforcer Gord Donnelly; most coaches and many scouts from the junior teams were constantly (say from 1991 to 1997, when we were teens) saying my friend Eugene and I - both, goalies - could very well be the next two to make it. Neither of us did, proving it's incredibly difficult to even get close to there.

Additionally, the Momesso family is still an important part of NDG to this day for what they've been bringing to the 'hood's culture for the past 30-some years: Momesso's, the best-reviewed subway restaurant on the planet. Considering they had only one flavour of sub for the first 25 years or so (sausage, read about it here, couldn't have said it better myself), it's quite a feat indeed. I make it a point to still go once a month even if I live at the complete opposite part of town, despite the 45-minute commute each way. It's that fucking good - pardon my French.

Sergio, like many local boys, didn't have it easy on the Habs. They wanted to break him as they have tried with every flashy local player since even before the Maurice Richard days (and, more recently, with Mike Ribeiro, Guillaume Latendresse and now P.K. Subban). At least his name is engraved on the Cup. And, like many others before him, he doesn't seem to hold a grudge, since he accepted a 3-month stint as assistant coach with the team's AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs a couple of years ago and is now the team's radio colour commentary guy.

And now for the cards: top-left is a 1990-91 Bowman (card #17) from Topps, while the other two Blues cards are from the 1990-91 Score set (both are card #224), the one with 'Score' written in blue being from the English-only American edition, while the red one is from the bilingual Canadian edition.

As for the cards of him in the Canucks uniform, the one on the left where he seems like he's puffing away at the puck is from the 1992-93 Score set (card #79) while the one on the right, the gravity-defying pose, is from the 1991-92 O-Pee-Chee Premier collection (card #55). I had sent two of this one, and he kept one. I thought he'd also keep one of the 90-91 Score cards, but I guess he saw them as being different and returned both. What a good man!

You might wonder why I didn't send him one in a Habs uniform, and the answer is simple: I didn't have one. His first cards are from 1990-91, his second season with the Blues. The only Habs card he had was the team-published postcards, and I know I used to have one of him, wearing jersey #36. Like my childhood, though, it is lost forever.

Until I enter Momesso's, where everything becomes normal again, the food is excellent and affordable, and the Habs are a Championship team again.

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