Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cam Talbot Autograph Card

Cam Talbot has spent the past 3 seasons changing leagues and jerseys more often than underwear. Undrafted, he went from the University of Alabama-Huntsville to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack when the New York Rangers signed him as a free agent. He then split the 20110-11 season between the Wolf Pack - which became the Connecticut Whale midway through the season - and the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors, earning a call-up with the Rangers but seeing no ice time.

He is currently #3 on the Rangers' depth chart in nets, after superstar Henrik Lundqvist and top backup Martin Biron. Some New York writers are having fun at his expense for always getting called up but never playing.

This beautiful foil card came in a pack of Panini's 2011-12 Certified (card #160) and is from the Freshman Signatures sub-set. It is signed on card in blue sharpie.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mike Modano Jersey Card

Definitely one of the best American players of all time, Mike Modano retired at the beginning of the season when no team would offer him a contract. He spent all except one season as a member of the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars franchise, with his lone season with another organization coming last year, his hometown Detroit Red Wings.

A staple of international competition, Modano played for Team USA 11 different times (which makes guessing which edition this jersey emanates from a useless endeavour), winning the silver medal at the 2002 Olympics as well as the 1991 Canada Cup, and gold at the inaugural 1996 World Cup (the Canada Cup's replacement). All this in addition to 2 Stanley Cup finals (one Cup, with Dallas, in 1999), an All-Rookie Team nod in 1990, and 8 All Star games.

This card is from In The Game's 2011-12 Canada Vs. The World set, the World Junior Grads insert sub-set (card #WJG-25). It is the Silver Version, but as with the Ryan Miller card, I have no idea how many were made.

Ryan Miller Jersey Card

Ryan Miller has probably been the best goalie in the world for the past 2 years, with a Vezina trophy and a silver medal at the Olympics to show for it. And he's from the famous Michigan Miller family, which has already produced 5 NHLers.

Sure, this season hasn't exactly started off on the right track - he was even yanked last night after surrendering 5 goals on 15 shots in just less than 30 minutes - but you can count on him to bounce back in a major way. And, as long as the Buffalo Sabres make the playoffs, with the team they have, they can beat any team there.

This card is from In The Game's 2011-12 Canada Vs The World set, the Global Greats jersey sub-set (card #GG-19), featuring a dark blue swatch of Miller's former AHL team, the Rochester Americans. And, yes, I find it weird that they took an AHL jersey rather than a Team USA one, but it's a nice big swatch, so that's that. Also, I'm aware that it being a 'Silver Version' means something about the number of cards produced, but I have no idea what it is and the product's webpage doesn't say.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Matt Carkner: 2 Autographed Cards

I've been following Matt Carkner's career since he was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens (my hometown team) 58th overall in the 1999 draft. It was a second-rounder, but he was the Habs' first pick because the New York Islanders' held the Habs' first-round pick (10th overall, they chose Branislav Mezei with it, not a big loss) from the Trevor Linden trade.

The Habs never signed Carkner, though, so after his time in juniors - all with the Peterborough Petes - was done, the San Jose Sharks signed him and sent him to their AHL affiliate Cleveland Barons, where he spent the better part of 5 seasons, dressing for just 1 Sharks game, in which he collected an assist and a penalty.

After a season in the Pittsburgh Penguins' system, he was signed by the Ottawa Senators, who assigned hid to their AHL affiliate in Binghampton for two years. Since 2009-10, however, he has been a full-time Senator, serving as the Sens' official enforcer and also a reliable presence defensively. In many respects, he reminds me a bit of Lyle Odelein, a former Habs crowd favourite.

This season, he has just played 4 games so far, as he was injured; he came back on December 10th.

I sent him the two cards, care of the Sens, on November 19th - the same day I sent these ones to former Senator Peter Sidorkiewicz - and got them both back, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (39) added on the end, on December 14th - less than a month later!

The card on the left is from Panini's beautiful 2010-11 Score set (card #348), while the one on the right is from Panini's equally stunning 2010-11 Crown Royale collection, card #8 from the Achievements sub-set (numbered 399/499), celebrating his first NHL goal, which came 10 years after he was drafted, against the Islanders' Martin Biron. He also scored a triple-overtime goal in the playoffs against the Penguins' Marc-André Fleury that year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Peter Sidorkiewicz: 5 Autographed Cards

An Adams division rival who played the Québec Nordiques and Montréal Canadiens often made it so that I could see Peter Sidorkiewicz in at least a third of the games he played when I was growing up, even though back then not all games were televised.

Born in Poland, Sidorkiewicz' family moved to Canada in time for him to play through the Canadian minor hockey system, culminating in his playing for the OHL's Oshawa Generals, leading to his being drafted by the Washington Capitals, who eventually traded his rights away to the Hartford Whalers, who let him perfect his game for 4 seasons with their AHL farm team, the Binghamton Whalers.

After splitting duties with superstar goalie Mike Liut for a season - earning an All-Rookie Team nod in the process - he was given the net full-time in the following season when the Whalers sent Liut to... the Capitals.

After 4 successful seasons with the Whalers, however, he was left unprotected for the expansion draft and he was the very first player chosen by the Ottawa Senators. The inaugural season may not have been the easiest, but Sidorkiewicz provided the team and its fans most of its brightest moments, as can be attested by his presence at the 1992-93 All Star Game. He was so good, in fact, that the New Jersey Devils traded for him at season's end - for 3 players, a goalie (Craig Billington), a forward (Troy Mallette), and a draft pick. Unfortunately for him, Martin Brodeur took the #1 goaltending job, and Sidorkiewicz only played 4 games over 5 seasons in Jersey, spending the bulk of his time in the minors.

Still, All-Rookie and NHL All Star - that's a heck of a career.

I sent these 5 cards and a fan letter to Sidorkiewicz's home on November 19th (2011). I got them back on December 7th, all signed in black sharpie. In my letter, I mentioned that I, too, as a goalie, used to wear more than one brand of gear, with Brian's also being my choice of glove, as can be attested here, when I played for the Bantam AAA Sens in a summer league prior to moving on to the Midget AAA level:
I did use Vaughn blockers, though, not Brown like him.

Onto the cards:
These three are of Sidorkiewicz in the Whalers' early-90s home (white) and away (green) jerseys; these would change a bit before their move to Carolina. Notice how the team's logo is white on their away jerseys - just like in their WHA and early NHL days - but that the home one has it coloured in green and blue.

The card of the left is from Upper Deck's 1991-92 Series 1 set (card #325), classy and simple with the white borders. I also like the picture on the back, making a glove save on a shot that's clearly too high, with Randy Ladouceur checking a New York Islanders player behind the net:
The card on the right is from Score's 1992-93 Score (Canadian) set (card #41), while the one in the middle is from Fleer's 1992-93 Fleer Ultra set (card #150) and despite showing him in the Whalers' uniform, has his listed as a member of the Senators. That's because 'premium' sets such as Ultra were produced later in the year, so they had enough time to update their data at least to Opening Day.

But the following two cards are the ones I prefer, not just because the signature fits with the uniforms, but because I actually really liked the Sens' original jerseys: black, red and white, how could you go wrong?
The card on the left, where he is sporting the home (white) uniform, is from Score's 1992-93 Pinnacle set (card #371). Pinnacle was Score's premium brand, and as the card market started to switch (93-96), they tried to re-brand themselves by changing the company's name to Pinnacle Brands, trying to market itself as premium-first, with Score becoming their lone low-level product.

The card on the right, with the dark (away) jersey, is from Pro Set's 1992-93 Series 1 collection (card #125).

Ironically, the face-only team picture on the back of each card has him wearing the other jersey:
I must say I really like how he went out of his way to sign all the cards at the bottom, keeping the integrity of the pictures and of his poses. And he took the liberty of putting the cards in penny sleeves - which I hadn't even included (here's why, thanks again Sal!). All of that in less than three weeks!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Adam Henrique Autograph Card

I went to a dollar store last week and they had packs of Panini's 2011-12 Score, which I had originally purchased two boxes of, and I figured at a buck apiece, they weren't all that expensive, so I purchased 5 packs.

35 cards in total, 4 Highlights cards, 5 glossy, 1 Net Cam and 3 Hot Rookies, plus the one pictured above of Adam Henrique, autographed (blue sharpie on a sticker). I like Panini's thought process here, to tack a sticker on the card for the autographs: it allows for a faster turnaround, enabling the cards to be in the packs rather than be sent redemption-style, plus it helps to differentiate between the cards you pulled up already autographed and those you'll collect yourself, which will likely be direct on the card.

As for Henrique, he is a stud. He plays for the defensively-minded New Jersey Devils and still managed to rack up 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 22 games so far, including 6 in his last 5 games, 10 in his last 10. The former third-round pick (87th overall in 2008) has won the Memorial Cup twice in juniors, and a silver medal (with Team Canada) at the World Juniors. A winner just like the Devils like 'em.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Michelle Baena Autograph Card

It's been a year and a half since I last posted about Michelle Baena. She remains a highlight of the Benchwarmer sets, as is evidenced by this 2011 Benchwarmer Vault autograph card (card #RG8), signed in black sharpie.

What I particularly like about this sub-set is they all seem to be dressed in the Racer Girls uniform, a usual insert set for Benchwarmer, but one Baena usually isn't included in as far as I know. But it goes back to the series' initial plot line - sports-inspired model cards.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Drew Doughty Swatch Card

Drew Doughty is a force to be reckoned with, and probably will be for quite some time. He is the second-youngest ever Norris Trophy nominee (behind only Bobby Orr), and youngest Team Canada men's team medal winner (2010 Olympics) since Eric Lindros (1991 Canada Cup).

Having grown up a Los Angeles Kings fan, getting drafted by them (second overall, 2008) and playing for them is a dream come true. Kind of makes you wonder, though, why he held out on the team for 13 days during training camp to sign a contract ($56M for 8 years) that pretty much ensures the team won't be able to afford a high-priced free agent at the trade deadline to pack the team up for a Cup run in this salary-cap era.

With all due respect for Doughty, at that price, I strongly prefer my Montréal Canadiens' one-two punch of Andrei Markov ($5.75M) and P.K. Subban ($1M, probably 4 next season)...

In any event, while I await a response from Doughty (I sent him 4 cards on March 29th), I did manage to scoop this nice card up, from Panini's 2010-11 Crown Royale set (yet another collection from the mid-90s Panini has revived), the Lords Of The NHL sub-set (card # 9, numbered 55/99) featuring a swatch of the no-longer-in-use Kings' vintage purple jersey.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Upper Deck Victory 2011-12 Box Break

As every year, Upper Deck's 2011-12 Victory set is a beautiful, cheap (around a buck a pack) set that happens to be the first release of the season. And like just about every year, Sidney Crosby is the brand's poster child.

And after years of featuring perfect-to-get-autographed white backgrounds, this season's set features a colourful background fitting each team, one that looks pretty good:
Also, there are a ton of nice-looking inserts, just about in every pack. Here was my box's breakdown:

36 packs per box, 6 cards per box, total cards: 216

Regular cards:

Victory Rookies: 17 (including one checklist card of Cody Hodgson)

Game Breakers: 9, including Taylor Hall

Star Of The Game: 9

MVP (which used to be a set of its own): 16

MVP Rookies: 2, including Hodgson

Montréal Canadiens (my home team): 7 (including P.K. Subban, plus one Rookie of future star Brendon Nash)

All in all, the first set to leave me fully satisfied this season...

2 Donruss 2010-11 Blaster Box Breaks

Toys R Us had a ''special'' on Panini's 2010-11 Donruss blaster boxes - basically, mini-boxes of 8 packs - so I purchased 2 to see what was up with that. 16 packs, 10 cards per - 160 cards total.

Now, I appreciate that Panini is trying to revive the early-90s brands Upper Deck doesn't own such as Donruss and Score, but I find it rather odd that they'd try to make Donruss seem like a middle-to-upper class set, because I must say that at $2 a pack these seemed like a total waste of money - and at regular price, and the suggested retailer price, of $3 per - getting 10 of these so-so designs and sub-par pictures reminiscent of Panini stickers sure feels like getting ripped off:

And I can't get my head around the fact that they want me to believe these cards are worth 30 cents each on average...

Here's the breakdown:

16 packs, 10 cards per, total cards: 160

Regular cards: 146

Rated Rookies: 5

Ice Kings: 1, Mario Lemieux

The Ultimate Draft: 1, Thomas Vanek

Boys Of Winter: 1, Niklas Backstrom

Montréal Canadiens (my home team): 7 (including 1 Rated Rookie, Brock Trotter).

There is no way in hell, I'm getting any kind of money's worth for this crap...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Craig Simpson: 4 Autographed Cards

Score another one for the Edmonton Oilers!

I sent Craig Simpson these four cards and a fan letter on November 25th, 2010, care of the CBC's Audience Relations department, and got them all back, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (18) added, on September 13th, 2011. For a broadcaster who travels following Western Canadian teams, that's a pretty good turnaround.

Simpson is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Oilers (1987-88 and 1989-90) and holds career NHL records for best shooting percentage both in the regular season (23.66%) and the playoffs (33.65%). He has 68 points in 67 career playoff games, proving he was good under pressure. He scored a career-high 43 goals in a mere 59 games in 1987-88 (he had 13 more in 19 playoff games) and had a career-high 76 points he following season with 35 goals in 66 games.

He also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres, but I mostly remember him as an Oiler, skating on a line with Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson.

Sports must have played a major part of his childhood, as his mother was Canadian Olympian Marion Simpson, his brother is hockey player Dave Simpson and his sister Christine covers hockey for Sportsnet. His son Dillon Simpson was drafted by the Oilers in the 2011 draft.

Craig got into a bit of controversy when participating in Battle Of The Blades, a Dancing With The Stars-like skating competition on CBC. Paired with iconic gold-medal Olympian Jamie Salé, he won the competition, however when it was revealed the two had had an affair, it broke both their couples apart.

Now, onto the cards.

This card shows Simpson wearing the Oilers' legendary away jersey and is from Score's 1992-93 Score (American) set (card #260). The card below (also #260) is from the 1992-93 Score (Canadian) set and shows him in the Oilers' home uniform. I like that Score went through the trouble of making two distinct sets that year rather than just have one be bilingual and not the other.

The next two cards also show Simpson in the Oilers' blue jersey:

The card on the left is from Pro Set's 1990-91 Pro Set collection (card #95) while the one on the right is from Score's inaugural 1990-91 Score set (card #58). While I always liked the initial Score set, I'm getting re-acquainted with the first Pro Set one and am liking it again as well. Its design was original and appealing - it's too bad it was over-abundant and is now worth nothing.

Claude Giroux Dual Jersey Card

I love finding great deals on Ebay!

This beautiful dual-patch jersey card - from a rookie photo shoot, but still nice! - of the Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux was being auctioned with a starting price of $1.99 - and no one else bid, so I got it for that price!

It's from Upper Deck's beautiful 2008-09 Ice set (Fresh Threads sub-set, card #FT-GI) and has both a black and a white swatch.

After leading his team in scoring with 76 points last season, the Flyers saw it fit to hand Giroux the team's reigns by trading captain Mike Richards and alternate captain Jeff Carter in the off-season, and Giroux has responded great so far: he currently sits 8th in the NHL for goals (with 9) and 9th for points (with 19).

2 Score 2011-12 Box Breaks

Just like last year, I decided to purchase two boxes of this year's lower-end product, the 2011-12 Score set by Panini. I've liked Score since its late-80s baseball sets and became more of a fan when they made the move to hockey in 1990-91 with all the other manufacturers.

After their initial season, however, their designs weren't as fun, their featured rookies were awful, and my interest waned. History seems to be repeating itself.

This year's set contains 550 cards: 35 ''highlights'' cards, 465 regular cards and 50 rookies. Additionally, there are 20 ''short-print'' rookie cards, which happen to be the best ones - from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Gabriel Landeskog, with Alexei Yemelin and Sean Couturier thrown in for good measure - and a flurry of sub-sets. View the complete checklist here.

At a buck per pack, 36 packs per box and 7 cards per pack, these are the most affordable hockey cards on the market, even though very few cards will ever be worth the 15 cents average you're purchasing them at; what you want are the inserts, preferably the autographs. I managed to get a redemption card for one, which will be a rookie to boot (just like last year's Jordan Eberle, only this time, a player I have no clue about, Carson McMillan). Most of the rest will be used to gather autographs, although I'll probably try to sell the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby cards along with a few rookies on Ebay for a buck apiece, trying to get at least a third of my money back.

Score's strengths, like Upper Deck's O-Pee-Chee line, resides in the number of cards in its set, where it's not just the NHL's top-100 scorers, but also a few role players who nowadays don't appear as frequently in card sets. Collectors and autograph-seekers such as myself appreciate that a lot.

But lower-end sets sell at less and probably make the company a whole let less cash, so cost-cutting measures such as having the autograph cards be the same as the regular ones albeit with a sticker on which the player's signature is affixed are now widely accepted. Others, however, such as these two cards of Jason Pominville from box #2 with the exact same picture are downright insulting, especially when you get them in the same pack:
And while we're at it, can we talk about the cheap design? The lines on the side are reminiscent of last year's Donruss set by the same company, but with an added white border comes off like its trashy cousin.

Add that to the fact that some pictures are too light as if the camera's flash was too intense (or, more likely, Panini went overboard on Photoshop):
(actually, the scan makes these look much better than they do in real life)

others are too dark, like they were taken in a minor-league arena in the 1980s:
and others yet just have the colours looking all kinds of wrong:
If I didn't intend on just getting most of these signed, as a collector being given this sub-par product, I'd be pissed off. In this day and age of people not having jobs let alone any money, Score is showing tremendous disrespect to its clientele.

And that's saying nothing of this Nik Antropov card, with a picture snagged at the awful press conference that passed for the Winnipeg Jets' jersey unveiling:
Anyhow, here is how the first box broke down:

36 packs, 7 cards per: 252 cards

Regular cards: 134

'Glossy' parallel: 35, including two 'Highlights' cards, and a few stars including Tim Thomas, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrice Bergeron.

'Gold' parallel: 1

Hot Rookies: 19, the biggest name being Blake Geoffrion, and one of the cards being a short-print, Ryan Johansen.

Playoff Heroes: 2

Sudden Death: 2: Ilya Kovalchuk and John Tavares.

The Franchise: 1, Jeff Skinner.

Net Cam: 3

First Goal: 1, Derek Stepan.

Score B: 1, Corey Perry.

Making An Entrance: 3, Carey PriceNicklas Lidstrom and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Highlight Cards: 19 regular, two glossy.

Montréal Canadiens (my home team): 10, including 1 rookie (Aaron Palushaj), 1 Making An Entrance (Price), 1 Highlight (P.K. Subban) and 1 Glossy (Andrei Markov).

Plus the redemption card.


Here is a breakdown of the second box:

36 packs, 7 cards per: 252 cards

Regular cards: 169

'Glossy' parallel: 35, including five 'Highlights' cards - chief of which a Mario Lemieux Winter Classic card - and a few young stars including Shea WeberJohn TavaresBrayden Schenn, and Tyler Seguin.

'Gold' parallel: 1, Ryan Getzlaf.

'Black' parallel: 1

Hot Rookies: 18, the biggest name again being Blake Geoffrion, and two of Chris Vande Velde - with a short-print, Matt Read.

Playoff Heroes: 1, ironically of Roberto Luongo...

Sudden Death: 2: Alexandre Burrows and Jason Chimera.

The Franchise: 1, Luongo again.

Net Cam: 3, Luongo, Carey Price and Cam Ward.

First Goal: 1, Erik Condra.

Making An Entrance: 3, Patrick KaneMartin St-Louis and Jamie Benn.

Highlight Cards: 17 regular, five glossy.

Montréal Canadiens (my home team): 10, including 1 rookie (Aaron Palushaj again), 1 Net Cam (Price), and 1 Glossy (P.K. Subban).

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tony Gwynn Jersey And Stamp Card

I'm typically not a fan of the Americana-series cards, because I can do without getting a bunch of dinosaur cards. And the ''celebrities'' you can possibly get are either deceased, are shown in an awful picture, or are just plain nobodies.

And when you get an athlete, he is never shown wearing his major league team's colours, because the card company didn't purchase the rights to show it. Such is the case with this still-fine Tony Gwynn card from Panini's 2010 Donruss Americana Century Collection (card #45, numbered 69/250, part of the Souvenir Stamps sub-set).It contains a piece of jersey ''worn by Gwynn in an official game'', so probably as a member of the San Diego Padres - the only team he played for in his Hall Of Fame 20-year career; it also contains an official U.S. stamp commemorating the sport of baseball. But the picture shows him wearing his hometown Long Beach Polytechnic High School uniform...

As a Montréal Expos fan, I can say Gwynn was one of the few players from opposing teams I truly respected: he never hit below .309 (!!), won 8 batting titles (almost every other year!), struck out only 434 times in his career (!!!) and had an inside-the-park grand slam (!!!!).

His mother was born on August 6th, a day on which he hit his 2000th hit (1993) and - one I saw on TV - his 3000th, in 1999, against the Expos' Dan Smith. He also hit his 1500th against Montréal, off pitcher Steve Frey.

Matt Moulson Jersey Card

This beautiful, extra-thick jersey card from Panini's 2010-11 Dominion set (card #61, numbered 31/99) features a nice picture of Matt Moulson and a decent-sized dark blue swatch from the New York Islanders' home jersey. I used to be indifferent about the Isles' jerseys, but this return to their original design is a breath of fresh air after over a decade of sub-par uniforms.

As for Moulson, he's one of those feel-good hockey stories, a forgotten prospect passed over by two teams (the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted him 263rd overall in 2003 without ever signing him, and the Los Angeles Kings, who signed him to an entry-level contract but only gave him 29 games of NHL time) who became a two-time 30-goal scorer for the Isles, playing with prodigy John Tavares, a fellow Mississauga native.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ralph Intranuovo Autographed Card

After having seen the Edmonton Oilers give the Montréal Canadiens a lesson in opportunistic defensive hockey on Tuesday, it seemed fitting to feature this card next, as it depicts both those teams' farm clubs in the early 1990s.

Ralph Intranuovo was one of those 50-goal, 100-point juniors that card companies viewed as a blue chip prospect, but having been chosen in the 4th round (96th overall) at the 1992 draft shows there was a bit of doubt in his case.

But the Oilers really liked him, not only drafting him, but the season after losing him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, they traded for his rights again. All in all, he played 22 games in the NHL - 3 with the Leafs, 19 with the Oilers - and has two goals and four assists to show for it. At age 37, he is still playing professionally, in Italy, with HC Asiago.

This card (#186), from Classic's 1993-94 Pro Prospects set, sees him in the away uniform for the Cape Breton Oilers, a team for which he once scored 46 goals and 93 points in a single season (1994-95). He signed it in blue sharpie for a friend of mine, who ended up selling me his collection.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Guillaume Latendresse: 4 Autographed Cards

Guillaume Latendresse is an under-rated sniper and power forward often criticized either for lack of speed - which isn't entirely true, it's more that he's far from graceful in his stride, however his hits totals always show he's often near the puck - or lack of commitment to being in shape. These criticisms are odd, considering he has always been a good point producer at every level.

From the day he was chosen second only to Sidney Crosby at the LHJMQ draft, he had 49, 78 and 83-point seasons in juniors, which led to his being picked in the second round by the Montréal Canadiens, where he started his career. While with the Habs, he had the NHL's highest point-per-minute played ratio in the league, but hometown critics were too strong, and he was traded to the Minnesota Wild, where he scored 25 goals in a mere 55 games to cap off the 2009-10 season, before scoring the very first goal of the 2010-11 season on his way to an injury-crippled 11-game, 6-point year.

This year, as of writing this entry, he has 1 goal, 4 assists, good for 5 points in seven games, and he stands second on the Wild.

I'm confident he'll silence his critics at some point, and they'll just let him play; perhaps at that moment he'll shatter the 30-goal plateau consistently, like a modern-day Keith Tkachuk.

I sent all 4 of these cards (care of the Wild) at the end of last season, on March 29, 2011, and received them back, signed in black sharpie, on October 4, 2011. He added his number below his signature - 84 with the Habs (the first NHL player to wear that number, by the way), and 48 with the Wild.
The card on the left, the Habs' classic red jersey, is from Upper Deck's beautiful 2007-08 SP Authentic collection (card #18), while the one on the right, in the Canadiens' white uniform, is from the equally eye-catching and unique 2007-08 McDonald's set (card #27), also from UD; it's all-foil, relief printing.
Unfortunately, I didn't have Guillaume wearing the Wild's home uniform, only the (white) away jersey, but he was kind enough to still sign both: on the left, a 2010-11 Score card (#254) from Panini, and a UD 2010-11 Black Diamond (card #69), which, ironically, looks darker and almost better on the scan than in person.

For having played in summer pick-up games with him and other NHLers such as Jan Bulis, Martin Havlat, and a slew of others, I can tell you this: he'll always match whatever talent's on the ice to be the most effective player - not the flashiest, but among the most productive.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Patrick Poulin Autograph Card

Just like the Pat Falloon card I wrote about last week, this ''extremely limited edition card'' of retired NHL player Patrick Poulin features him in his junior team's uniform, the LHJMQ's St-Hyacinthe Laser, whose other notable alumni include Martin Brodeur, Martin Gendron, Georges Laraque, Pierre Sévigny, Éric Charron and Éric Landry. Because the team had previously been the Verdun Junior Canadiens, they kept the Habs' uniform design and just apposed the new team appellation's logo.

Poulin was chosen 9th overall in the first round of the 1991 draft by the Hartford Whalers, ahead of notable players such as Martin Lapointe (10th), Brian Rolston (11th), Alexei Kovalev (15th), Markus Naslund (16th), Ray Whitney (23rd), Zigmund Palffy (26th), and Sandis Ozolinsh (30th), on the strength of a 70-point season (32 points, 38 assists in 56 games) with the Laser.

The following season, he exploded with 52 goals, 86 assists, 138 points in 56 games in juniors, earning him the Q's Jean Béliveau Trophy as leading scorer - and prompting the Whalers to give him a chance on their team in 1992-93, where he fared respectably with 20 goals and 51 points in 81 games.

The following season, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks with Eric Weinrich for the Hawks' sniper Steve Larmer and mean defender Bryan Marchment - a sign he was valued at the time. Unfortunately, the Hawks weren't content with his half-point-per-game average in the Windy City and sent him packing to the Tampa Bay Lightning with bruising defenseman Igor Ulanov for enforcer Enrico Ciccone. Both teams also swapped second-round picks in the deal in which Poulin was pretty much rendered an afterthought.

After a 12-goal, 26-point season (73 games) in 1996-97, Poulin was once again traded (again with Ulanov!, also with enforcer Mick Vukota), this time to the Montréal Canadiens - a uniform he knew well - for Stéphane Richer, Darcy Tucker and David Wilkie, in one of many trades then-GM Réjean Houle made that completely decimated the team.

Poulin kind of retired as a Hab, splitting his final season in 2001-02 between the NHL club (5 assists in 28 games) and its AHL affiliate Québec Citadelles (12-7-19 in 31 games). The team included him in its Centennial celebrations nonetheless.

Other similarities with the Falloon card from last week include it being from The Score Board's 1991-92 Classic Draft Picks set, being ''extremely limited'' numbered 75 (or 95, it's unclear)/1100, a signed insert in blue sharpie. He is shown wearing the Laser's then-home jersey, modeled on the Montreal Canadiens' uniform, awaiting a pass with a Canadien-brand stick. Small world.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Derek Roy Autograph Card

One team I'm sure will surprise many this season is the Buffalo Sabres, who have improved their defense, offense, and have one of the 5 best goalies on the planet in Ryan Miller.

But their key marquee player remains the underestimated Derek Roy, who is a Jonathan Toews-type of player: a point-per-game or close who is also very capable of playing in his own end and taking the puck away from opponents.

Plus, he's a capable leader, as he serves as his team's current alternate captain and has been a captain in juniors - for his OHL team the Kitchener Rangers, which he led to the Memorial Cup, where he even won the MVP trophy, the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy.

He has also twice won silver for Team Canada - once at the World Juniors (2003), and once at the World Championships (2008). And how do you make a winning team? By incorporating winners into it. And Derek sure is one.

This card (#DR) is from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Be A Player set and features Roy wearing the Sabres' infamous ''slug'' jersey in its white version.  His signature - from a black sharpie - is on a sticker which was apposed onto the card.