Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ray Whitney Autograph Card

A few months ago, I purchased an autographed insert card of Ray Whitney wearing the Florida Panthers' red (away) uniform on Ebay for $1.99.

In October, I saw one of him wearing the Panthers' white (home) uniform, going for 49 cents, and I jumped on it:
It's a really cool, all-foil (silver) card from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set (card #56). Whitney signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Stars this summer, before being locked out with the rest of the NHLers. He's likely to play with Jaromir Jagr on the second line there (with some decent powerplay time), which should guarantee him a 30-point season this year (in roughly 40-some games) and 60 the next.

Maybe I'll even try writing him this season and have him sign cards showing him in other teams' uniforms...

Friday, December 28, 2012

2 Dan Hamhuis Autographed Cards

A first-round pick (12th overall) of the Nashville Predators in 2001, Dan Hamhuis is a special kind of player who can be used both as a shut-down defenseman logging tons of ice time, as well as a point man on the powerplay.

But as Shea Weber and Ryan Suter came to prominence in Nashville, the Preds let him go to free agency (well, they traded his rights to the Philadelphia Flyers, who in turn traded them to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but neither team could agree to a contract with him), he was signed by the Vancouver Canucks and helped steer them to their second Stanley Cup Game 7 defeat in team history.

He can now be counted on for 35 points per season while manning the team's top defensive duties, and should eventually be a candidate for wearing the 'A' on his jersey.

I sent him these cards care of the Canucks on April 11th, at the beginning of what I thought would be a long playoff run for Vancouver, but for the third straight season, they fell to the eventual Cup champions, this time the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, in which Hamhuis got 3 assists in 5 games. He sent them back while I was in the hospital (I got them on December 13th), both signed in (fading) blue sharpie with his jersey number (2) tagged at the end, each depicting him in the team's current uniforms.

First, from Panini's 2010-11 Donruss set (card #84), wearing the team's blue (home) jersey consisting of the dreadful 1970s colour scheme (and 70s logo on the shoulders), 1990s logo on the chest, and the mention of VANCOUVER on top (as if we needed more explanations), and all-Bauer equipment:
And second, from Panini's 2011-12 Score set (card #450), the white (away) version of the uniform, which I like a little better for some odd reason, using only Easton equipment this time around:
Another great return from an important player on a top-rated team, and one who collects international medals: bronze (2001) and silver (2002) at the World Juniors, and silver (2008, 2009) and gold (2007) at the World Championships. It'll be difficult form him to find a place on an Olympic team, however, with Weber, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith ahead of him on Team Canada's depth chart, the rise of youngsters like P.K. Subban, Kristopher Letang, and Alex Pietrangelo, and equally-talented but more experienced players such as Brent Seabrook, Dion Phaneuf and Dan Boyle also in the mix.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Martin Houle Autographed Card

My friend Denis Poulin, who happens to run the comedy website/phone app Les Zinternettes, sent me an amazing get-well present yesterday: an in-person signed card of Martin Houle in the Philadelphia Flyers' white uniform!

Houle was a top goaltending prospect who was second in the LHJMQ in 2003-04 for wins (34) and goals-against average (2.32), which earned him the award for best goalie and led to his being drafted by the Flyers, a steal at 232nd overall. The following season, he was named the league's Defensive Player Of The Year and was again among the leaders in GAA (2.51, good for 5th place).

After only 7 games with the ECHL's Trenton Titans in which he managed to hold the league's sixth-best GAA (2.10) to go with his .935 save percentage, he was called up by the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms where he finished the season as the team's starting goalie; he was also named the team's top rookie. Things were looking up, and his progress was constant.

In 2006-07, he even managed to play his lone NHL game with the Flyers, surrendering a goal in little more than 2 minutes of play, to end up with a lifetime NHL GAA of 27.27 and played the rest of the year with the Phantoms, with unusual GAA (3.32) and save % (.893) numbers, due in part to a knee injury from which he would never fully recover.

He would never again have a save percentage over .900 and would mainly spend the next few seasons in the ECHL (with 3 different teams), except for 10 games with the Phantoms in 2007-08. After two years of not playing at all, he came back in 2010-11 for 29 games in the LNAH with the Rivière-Du-Loup 3L, and his rights in that league currently belong to the Sorel-Tracy HC Carvena (formerly GCI).

My friend Denis works with Houle at an accounting firm, which is where he got him to sign this 2006-07 O-Pee-Chee card (#600, Marquess Rookies sub-set) by Upper Deck in black sharpie for me, as I slowly recover from a near-fatal pancreatitis and am confined to my home with not enough energy to take a short walk outside. I can't tell you how happy I was that they would do this for me. Almost makes it worth having been ill!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Joël Bouchard Autograph Card

It'd been a while since I last twin-posted with Sal, and his recent write-up about Joël Bouchard will give me yet another chance to do so!

Bouchard was drafted 129th overall in 1992 by the Calgary Flames and would go on to win two back-to-back World Juniors for Team Canada before moving on to the Flames' AHL affiliate Saint John Flames, and eventually reach the NHL.

By all accounts, he was a smart defensive defenseman who could retrieve the puck from almost any opponent, but the fact that he almost never played for a playoff-bound team and ''not-quite-top-powerplay-unit'' offensive skills may be one of the reasons why he was bounced from team to team, and from the NHL to the AHL more times than he could count. All told, he played for 8 NHL teams, 5 AHL teams, and an IHL team between the 1993-94 and 2007-08 seasons, before hanging up his skates to become a hockey analyst at RDS, and now the part-owner, President, and general manager of the LHJMQ's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.

During the 2004-05 lock-out, he was among the first players to rally others and tour Québec for friendly games between locked-out players to gather funds for goodwill organizations, which turned into summer caravans called L'Académie McDonald's which were touring hockey schools with NHLers for kids, which were filmed and shown on RDS. He proved to be a great teacher.

This card is a signed insert from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set (card #129), signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (6) added at the end.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

3 Mason Raymond Autographed Cards

Sorry for the long pause between posts, I just got out of the hospital after a 2-week stay, during which I received two Vancouver Canucks TTMs, the first one being of Mason Raymond.

Raymond has always been a little controversial, first opting out of the 2004 draft because he felt he was ranked too low, only to get drafted in the second round in 2005, by the Canucks, who liked his speed but felt he had to bulk up, which led to his moving from a low Junior league in Alberta to the WCHA's University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, where he amassed 74 points in 79 games over two seasons.

In his third season in Vancouver, he managed a 25-goal, 53-point season, which may have put unreasonable expectations on his frail shoulders, which have led to fan disappointment during his last two seasons, a 39-point outing in 70 games in 2010-11, and a 10-goal, 20-point season last year, in 50 games. The team doesn't seem to know what line to use him on anymore, and patience seems to be wearing thin on all sides. But he has good speed, and has found the back of the net 70 times so far in the NHL, so perhaps a boost of confidence in another town would do him good.

I sent him these 3 cards, each depicting him in the Canucks' blue and green home uniform I dislike so much, on April 2nd, 2012, and got them back during my hospitalization, which lasted from November 30th until December 13th, 2012. He signed them all in black sharpie, adding his number (21), sometimes more clearly than others.

Here are the cards, first from Panini's 2010-11 Donruss (card #196):

Also from Panini, this time the 2011-12 Score set (card #444):

And finally, card #189 in Upper Deck's 2011-12 Victory set:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kirsty Lingman Autograph Card

Since I featured her yesterday, I might as well show another Kirsty Lingman card, this time from Benchwarmer's 2012 National set, signed in black sharpie, manufactured at only 99 cases (12 boxes per case, 10 cards per box) for the 2012 National Sports Collectors' Convention held in Baltimore.

This time, she added both an ''x'' and an ''o'' at the end of her signature.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two Kirsty Lingman Daizy Dukez Autograph Cards

After first posting one of Benchwarmer's 2012 Daizy Dukez autograph cards three weeks ago, I decided to go with two more - this time of the same model, although I fail to understand why in a 75-card sub-set of signed cards, they'd feel the need to feature the same model twice, wearing the same pants and underwear but a different tiny (torn) flimsy t-shirt sporting the brand's name.

But I ended up with both, the one in red (my favourite of the two) being card #72, and the one in blue being #65. Both are signed in black sharpie with a heart on top of the ''i'' in her last name, but the card I prefer has the added bonus of an ''x'' at the end!

For those who don't know, Kirsty Lingman (also known as Kirsty Lingman Santos) is a model from New Zealand who has been living in Las Vegas Los Angeles (standing corrected from the lady herself... priceless!) since 2001. She also writes for various music publications and is a rock photographer who has worked with or featured nearly a hundred acts, usually of the ''hard rock'' variety.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Brent Bilodeau Autograph Card

There was a time when the Montréal Canadiens took their first round draft picks from the WHL, usually players of little discernible offensive talent who stood taller than 6 feet and weighed more than 200 pounds. As the only first-rounder of the class of 1991 to never play in the NHL, Brent Bilodeau sure fit the bill perfectly, although fans would probably have preferred any of the 100 players chosen after him to have played, including Glen Murray, Dean McAmmond, Ray Whitney, Zigmund Palffy, Sandis Ozolinsh, Steve Staios, Jozef Stumpel, Yanic Perreault, Chris Osgood, Igor Kravchuk, Alexei Zhitnik, Mike Knuble, Dmitri Yushkevich, Brian Holzinger, Dmitri Mironov, or Brian Savage.

But the draft can be unpredictable, and one mistake can happen. The Habs of the 1980s and 1990s, however, made it a habit that their first rounders would rarely pan out, so either their scouts were awful, or their player development was lacking. Who knows which department is most to blame?

And Bilodeau couldn't have been that bad, seeing as he dressed for Team Canada at the World Juniors and for the WHL All Stars at CHL All Star events...

Speaking of the WHL All Stars, this card from Classic's 1991-92 Draft Picks set (signed in blue sharpie, numbered 386/1000) sees him wearing that exact uniform.

I met him and got a card signed in the mid-90s, I'll have to find it and write about it sometime soon.

For now, he's an assistant coach in junior hockey, for the Tri-City Americans.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pavel Bure Autographed Card

I actually had to take this one out of the frame I'd put it in just to scan it...!
Pavel Bure was one of the flashiest players of his era - speed, skill, hard shot, and perhaps second only to Brett Hull as the 1990s ultimate goal-scoring machine. He usually got more goals than assists because his style of play was usually to grab a pass from a teammate and just skate ahead with it, beating every defender in sight to end up on a breakaway. Five 50-goal and two 60-goal seasons will attest that it worked very well.

He won the Calder trophy, the Maurice Richard trophy twice (would have gotten an extra one in 1994 had the award existed at the time), was a First and Second team All Star, and played in the All Star Game 6 times. His statistics were also impressive, as he scored 437 goals coupled with 342 assists (good for 779 points) in 702 NHL games to go with his 11 goals (and just one assist!) in 12 Olympic games.

He was named to the Hall Of Fame just a few weeks ago and for his talent alone, he was a shoe-in. However, I don't like when they induct players who don't have 1000 points or Stanley Cups, but he does have the 50-goal seasons and hardware I also think are essential. Plus, we all know that if he hadn't gotten those knee injuries which inevitably cut his career short but also took his greatest asset away - his speed - he would have gone to 1000 points while keeping a point-per-game pace. So his entry makes more sense than that of Mats Sundin, but isn't an obvious pick like Joe Sakic and Adam Oates.

Some think his mob connections should have hindered his chances... but what if they helped? Stranger things have happened.

Still, the Russian Rocket holds a place dear to my heart, in part because he signed this card in blue sharpie (with his number '10' tacked at the end) for me at the 1993 All Star Game, which was held a few blocks from where I lived, at the old Montréal Forum. He was among those who stayed the longest with us kids to sign cards and pictures, and to have his photo taken. He was a real gentleman, although he was pretty much a teenager then himself.

The card shows him in the classic, beautiful, black (away) 1980s Vancouver Canucks jersey, and is card #564 from Pro Set's 1991-92 Series 2 (high numbers) set; it's his rookie card for this brand, but Upper Deck beat every other company by having him the previous season.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wade Redden Autograph Card

It seems that whenever the NHL and NHLPA finally agree to the NHL's terms for the next 5 to 7 years (it cannot be called a negotiation since only the players are budging), there will be a clause nicknamed after Wade Redden, one that will disallow teams to bury players in the minors to avoid counting their salary against the cap.

I, for one, am totally against this. If a player isn't worth his salary and becomes untradeable, it's not fair to hinder the team and its 23 other players and make it a sinking ship because of one cog, representing 5% of the team. If you can't bury him in the minors, you are stuck with a sub-par team, and blocked from attempting to improve it.

In any case, this card from Pinnacle's 1996-97 Be A Player set (card # LTH-9A, from the Link 2 History sub-set, die-cut version, signed in black sharpie) shows Redden after having won the gold medal at the World Juniors with Team Canada, and lists him as a member of the Ottawa Senators, who acquired his rights from the New York Islanders on January 23rd, 1996 along with Damian Rhodes for Don Beaupre, Martin Straka, and Bryan Berard.

Redden, despite having been buried in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale (and been their captain for the 2011-12 season) for the past two years has had an impressive career: two World Junior gold medals, a World Cup gold medal in 2004, silver at the 2005 World Championship where he was named the top defenseman, two NHL All-Star Games, the plus/minus award in 2005-06, a participation in the Olympics (2006), and 450 points so far in 994 NHL games.

By not assigning him to the Whale this season and instead having him be part of the NHL roster, the New York Rangers don't have to pay him, as he is considered to be locked out.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Craig Martin Autographed Card

In the 1990s, the Québec junior league (LHJMQ) produced, essentially, three types of players: top-tier goalies (such as Martin Brodeur, Stéphane Fiset, Jocelyn Thibault, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, and Roberto Luongo), slick forwards (like Daniel Brière, Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagné, Éric Dazé and Brad Richards), and most of the NHL's tough guys/goons (among them Donald Brashear, Jason Doig, Georges Laraque, Peter Worrell, Mario Roberge, Enrico Ciccone, Gino Odjick, and André Roy).

Another one was Amherst, Nova Scotia's Craig Martin, who spent most of his time with the Hull Olympiques, and 35 games with the St. Hyacinthe Laser. In 221 Junior games, he managed to tally 127 points but, more impressively, he gathered 953 penalty minutes. That's pretty much a fighting major per game.

Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1990 (98th in total, six spots behind Ciccone), he ended up playing 20 games for them in 1994-95 after a few seasons of AHL and IHL play. He also played one game for the Florida Panthers... with a fighting major to show for it.

When he retired in 2006, he had played (in addition to the two aforementioned NHL teams) for 4 AHL teams, 4 IHL teams, 2 WCHL teams, the Berlin Capitals in Germany, the Adirondack IceHawks of the UHL, and two teams of the Québec semi-pro league formerly knows as the LHSPQ, now the LNAH.

It was during his time with the Laval Chiefs late in his career that I managed to get this card signed (in blue sharpie), from Classic's 1993-94 Pro Prospects set (card #78), showing him in the white (home) uniform of the Adirondack Red Wings.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Andy Delmore Autograph card

Honestly, I have trouble figuring out where defenseman Andy Delmore went wrong. He went undrafted after 4 seasons in Juniors, including a 21-goal, 59-point season in 1995-96 and a 78-point season in 1996-97, both for the Sarnia Sting.

The Philadelphia Flyers then signed him to a free agent contract, and he became the first rookie defenseman to ever score a hat trick in the playoffs. He then became a top-5 scoring threat (for defensemen), and even led the league in goals with 18 in 2002-03, tied with Sergei Gonchar and Nicklas Lidstrom.

He's still the only Flyers defenseman to score a playoff hat trick, and holds the team record for goals in a single playoff season, with 5. He's also won the Eddie Shore Award, the AHL's equivalent of the Norris trophy.

Among his other distinctions, though, lies the fact that he belonged to three straight NHL teams without ever playing for them: the San Jose Sharks got his rights from the Buffalo Sabres in 2004, but traded him the same day to the Boston Bruins, who never got to suit him up. After the 2004-05 lock-out, he then signed with the Detroit Red Wings, but the Columbus Blue Jackets claimed him off waivers before the season even started; he only played 7 games in Columbus before settling in the AHL for a few seasons and moving onto Europe, where he played in Germany in for two years, coming back to the AHL for a season split between two teams, and playing in Italy last year.

He's currently in an Austrian league.

This card is from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set (card #7, numbered 2858/4500), and was signed in blue sharpie. I'm not sure if it was a lazy signature or if he was just trying to not have it hidden by the Sting's black, Bruins-like uniform, but he didn't waste a lot of ink on the card, that's for sure!

Paul Gaustad: 3 Autographed 4X6 Pictures

Now that I have time to start unpacking my things, I came across this neat return I hadn't talked about yet...

Paul Gaustad is nicknamed ''Goose'' because, at 6'5'' and nearly 220 pounds, he towers over most NHL players, and also happens to be stronger than they are. After starting as a fourth-liner/enforcer in 2005, Gaustad climbed his way into becoming the Buffalo Sabres' best (and only decent) face-off man, winning over 60% of them in his past two seasons there.

I sent him these three pictures on December 21st, 2011, care of the Sabres. Needless to say, I was pretty shocked when they traded him to the Nashville Predators two months later (February 27th, 2012), but I did get these back, signed in ball point pen with his jersey number (28) at the end, in April, 2012.

As usual, I did my best to send him pictures featuring different uniforms - all of them with the Associate Captain's 'A' - to get away from redundancy, and to display the many jerseys the Sabres keep throwing at us year in and year out...

Firstly, a design reminiscent of their best look, the 1980s:
Back then, white was for the home uniform; now it serves for away games. The colours work very well together, I just really hate the jersey number appearing (and taking over too much space) in front, football-style; it's already on the shoulders and back (and now also on helmets), what more do you need?

Secondly, a hybrid of their 1980s jersey with the late-2000s slug design:
The team liked the piping, front-numbering and the darker blue, the fans hated the slug and wanted the old logo back. In the name of compromise, this is what came about. Gaustad makes it look good, though.

And lastly, the ''College-style'' lettering crushing the logo on the Sabres' best use of blue-and-yellow/gold:
Seriously, these colours with the original logo would have been a perfect match, for a jersey that looks so modern and yet so classic, that screams 'Sabres' (a lot more than it should 'Buffalo', anyway).

Now I won't say I never thought Gaustad would ever get traded; in today's NHL, most players will play for 5 different teams, or more. But as a Fargo, North Dakota native, I would have seen him with the Minnesota Wild more than the Preds. Heck, with the Philadelphia Flyers, considering his physical style of play.

What I really would have wanted, though, was him with my hometown Montréal Canadiens, centering the third line, with Zenon Konopka centering the fourth - two monsters who intimidate but are also among the league leaders in face-offs won. You can't go wrong with starting most plays in possession of the puck, and physical giants who can actually play the game are also always welcome. Throw in additional minutes on short powerplays posted in front of the net obstructing the goalie's view and you'd have yourself a winner, methinks.

Perhaps another time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Craig Rivet Autographed Team Postcard

Like Jeff Hackett, Craig Rivet didn't seemed too pleased to sign an autograph to someone barely 5 years younger than him when I met him at the team Jamboree in 2002. On the other hand, he did seem moody for most of his (parts of) 12 seasons here, be it in restaurants, in the media, or in comments he'd make just to piss people off, like when he re-signed with the San Jose Sharks in 2007 (''Playing here sure beats playing in Montréal, if only because I don't have to remove snow from my car every day'').

He was a dependable stay-at-home defensive defenseman who never backed out of rough play, but rarely initiated it, either. He was a close friend to captain Saku Koivu, and like all of Koivu's friends, was eventually traded after a conflict with a head coach. Rivet's trade to San Jose, however, netted the Habs (even more dependable) rear-end Josh Gorges and (a first-round pick who became) young power forward Max Pacioretty, so I'll take trades like that any day.

In any event, Rivet signed this team-issued postcard for me in blue sharpie, and even though it isn't too clear, he added his jersey number (52) - it's more obvious on the back of the card, which displays a fac-simile autograph.

After playing for the Habs and Sharks, Rivet had a short stint as captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and was claimed off waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He now plays in the ECHL, for the Elmira Jackals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cam Atkinson Swatch Card

Although he was chosen in the 6th round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008 (157th overall), Cam Atkinson has proven to be a goal-scoring machine at every level - particularly of the hat trick variety.

In 2009-10, he led all NCAA scorers with 30 goals in 42 games for the Boston College Eagles (he scored 31 in 38 the following year, but didn't lead). During a 10-game stretch in 2009-10, he scored three hat tricks.

In his first stint with the AHL's Springfield Falcons following his collegiate career, he scored 3 goals and added two assists for 5 points in 5 games. In his actual rookie season, he played in the All-Star Game and when called up to the NHL, he went 7-7-14 in 27 games including... a hat trick against the Colorado Avalanche.

I got this little gem of a card on Ebay two weeks ago for a cool $4. It's from Panini's 2011-12 Prime set (card #45 in the Prime Time Rookie sub-set, numbered 6/25), and features an amazing 3-colour swatch involving multiple stitching that came from the (game-worn) jersey's arms.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

David Belitski Autograph Card

David Belitski was a moderately successful goalie in the OHL, with two winning seasons (out of 4) with the Kitchener Rangers but an unfortunate GAA over 4.00 for his career in juniors which led to his not being drafted by NHL teams and a career that was spent mostly in second-tier leagues in Germany, but also with 4 ECHL teams, 3 games with the AHL's Toronto Roadrunners, and 11 games in 2000-01 in the WPHL with the Lake Charles Ice Pirates - a team and league I had no idea even existed. (Now I want cards of them). He seems to have retired after a 3-game stint with the ECHL's Victoria Salmon Kings in 2006-07, filling in for then-Vancouver Canucks' prospect Julien Ellis.

And you know what? That's fine, because that's more pro games than I will (likely) ever play. And perhaps more tourism than I'll ever live to see, as well.

This is card #3 in Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set of signed cards to be inserted in packs of random brands/random pack cubes, was signed in skinny blue sharpie (with his jersey number #1 added), and is numbered 3373/4500. It sees him sporting the Rangers' white (home) jersey, and Louisville equipment which I never particularly liked: the gloves seemed like pale imitations of the ones Brian's made, and the blocker and pads looked and felt like Vaughn knock-offs, particularly Vaughn's Legacy 2000 series - which may explain why very few marquee NHL goalies wore them (I was a Brian's man myself). Cool, simple mask, though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paige Peterson Autograph Card

It's been a long time since I've made a model post, even though I've been falling on quite a few signed cards of late...

In that regard, I decided to feature someone I'd already talked about, Paige Peterson. The car is from Benchwarmer's 2012 Daisy Dukez set (card #52). For a little less than $100 (a little more after Canadian/Québec taxes...), a box of these usually lands you roughly 10 autographed cards and a shot at other types of memorabilia cards, such as some with embedded pieces of clothing, including the famous Daisy Duke shorts. They even got Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke herself) in the set!

I tried to find out more about Paige Peterson that I hadn't gotten into the last time around, but it seems she hasn't been in any movies since 2008's Meet the Spartans, and Benchwarmer's the only steady job she's got (good on them for sticking with her even after her arrest). Speaking of that, I don't know what ever came out of that domestic dispute, either - whether they're still together, if she did jail time, nothing.

I wish her the best...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Henry Fonda Swatch Card

Sometimes a story and an actor are a perfect match, and for terrific actors, it can happen more than once. In Henry Fonda's case, there may have been more than a half dozen such cases, the most renowned possibly being The Grapes Of Wrath, 12 Angry Men and Once Upon A Time In The West.

The Grapes Of Wrath is probably the one that struck me the most, seeing as John Steinbeck's book is a classic in itself, with a ton of amazing quotes that still ring true today:
Seems like the government's got more interest in a dead man than a live one.
That's why when I saw this card on Ebay going for just about the same amount as the stamp that's on it (ok, fine, a dollar), I just had to take it. It's from Panini's 2010 Century Collection (card #6, Hollywood Materials sub-set, numbered 57/250) in Donruss Americana packs. It contains a swatch of what could be a jacket, pants, or maybe a couch, I'm really not sure - but it's thick, hard, and rough.

In addition to acting up a storm on the screen and on Broadway, he also upped the gene pool by fathering Peter Fonda and Jane Fonda, also film legends.

Martin Biron Autographed Card

I think he could have been a decent, consistent #1 goalie in the NHL, but unfortunately for Martin Biron, he was with the Buffalo Sabres overlapping both the Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller eras, two of the best goalies of their generations (Hasek, in my opinion, trailing only Patrick Roy in the 90s - well ahead of Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph - and Miller in a top-5 that includes Henrik Lundqvist, Miikka Kiprusoff, Roberto Luongo and one of Tomas Vokoun or José Theodore for his own decade).

As a matter of fact, the Sabres had so much faith in Biron that they made him the 16th overall pick in 1995, in the first round despite having Hasek already in nets. The only goalie chosen before him was Jean-Sébastien Giguère. Both were nominated as the CHL's Goalie Of The Year in 1995 - Biron won.

In his first few years in Buffalo, Biron wore #00 - the same he wore in juniors, as can be attested by this card, #16 in Classic's 1995-96 Hockey Draft 95 set where he's sporting the Beauport Harfangs' black (away) jersey; however, a glitch in the NHL's statistics software forced a rule that limited jersey numbers to be between 1 and 98 (Wayne Gretzky's 99 was retired league-wide), at which point Biron switched to #43, which he still holds.

Apart from the numbers thing, Biron might also be remembered for his performance against my hometown Montréal Canadiens in 2007-08, when he dominated Carey Price in winning the series 4-1, never making less than 30 saves per game. His Philadelphia Flyers may have lost in the Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his performance against the Habs was the most dominating of that year's playoffs.

After a brief stint with the New York Islanders, he moved on to be Lundqvist's backup with the New York Rangers, a position he still holds today. Or would, if there were a season.

I got him to sign this card in blue sharpie in the late 90s when he appeared at a hockey school where I was teaching. We played a scrimmage against one another that finished 15-12 for my team; as far as NHL players go, Patrick Lebeau scored 5 goals on him, while Benoit Hogue and Sylvain Turgeon each scored 3 on me.

I had a huge stash of this exact card (still do, actually, probably 35 or 40 of them), and had originally planned on getting more signed, but in the end I chickened out and was too shy to ask for more than a couple.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ian Gordon Autograph Card

Never drafted in the NHL, Ian Gordon still managed to make his way through the ''prospects'' set 1995-96 Draft Day (card #13) by Signature Rookies. It is signed in thin blue sharpie, and numbered 330/4500 and sees him wearing the Saskatoon Blades' white (home) jersey.

After his stint in juniors, first with the Swift Current Broncos, then the Blades, Gordon went on to play parts of two seasons with the AHL's Saint John Flames, then three-and-a-half years in the IHL with three different teams, before moving onto the German League. Not only has he won a league championship with the Frankfurt Lions, he's actually still playing this season, having appeared in 10 games so far with the Ingolstadt ERC, with former NHL prospect Tyler Bouck, going 6-4-0 with a 2.39 GAA, .911 save % and one shutout.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Craig Billington Autograph Card

Still sifting though my stuff after my summer move, slowly but surely finding what I need and classifying them in binders, alphabetically...

Almost a month to the day after my last Craig Billington post comes this one, this time with the Colorado Avalanche, coming off a 11-8-2 season (2.65 GAA, .909 save %).

You'll notice he's pretty much in the same position as the last card, too, next to his right post - although last time seemed more like an action shot, whereas this looks like a warm-up situation. This time, it's Pinnacle Brands manufacturing the 1997-98 Be A Player set (the previous Billington was by Upper Deck and didn't own the rights to showcase NHL jerseys, this time, for card #138, Pinnacle does but chooses not to!), showing him in the Avs' white (home) jersey.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Shane Kenny Autograph Card

It seems Sal's at his last ''NHL Bust'' post for a while, and once again, I too have the exact same Shane Kenny card! That's the sixth post of identical players we've shared recently!

A second-round choice of the Philadelphia Flyers, 48th overall in 1995, concluded his OHL career by playing 59 games with the Sarnia Sting after three-plus seasons with the Owen Sound Platers, in which the 6'3'', 230-lbs defenseman averaged more than half a point per game, and two penalty minutes per.

He never played in the NHL; instead, he bounced from minor league to minor league, playing 24 games in the AHL with the Rochester Americans, a bunch in the UHL, IHL, and ECHL, parts of two years in Holland, and two stints in the Québec Senior League (now the NAHL) with the Laval Chiefs. I strongly recommend the documentary The Chiefs to understand how bad an ordeal that was - sleeping in 'lost' rooms at the arena, sharing bunk beds while rats roam around, with a prison in the backyard. I played there myself, in 1995-96 as a third-string goalie/relief goon with the Laval Titans, but also as a student and later assistant-teacher (for goalies) at the Jacques St-Jean hockey school.

This card, showing Kenny with the Platers' white (home) jersey, is from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set (card #10, numbered #1165/4500 - Sal has #3085 or 3055, it's hard to decipher). Sal complained a tad about Kenny's signature (in thin blue sharpie), which seems just to be his initials; on the other hand, he did have 4500 of these to sign (and maybe others, as he may have been asked to sign or similar sets by the same company like Kevin Bolibruck), so one has to realize he probably didn't want to go all-out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jonas Andersson-Junkka Autograph Card

Yet another twin post with Sal's ''NHL Busts'' series! This time around, Jonas Andersson-Junkka!

Drafted 104th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993, Andersson-Junkka only played one season in North America, in 2000-01 for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch. He played until 2003-04 in Europe, collecting between 0.25 and 0.5 points per game, on average. He's seen here wearing an airbrushed version of Team Sweden's jersey, with the three crowns on the front of the jersey taken away, and a generic 'SWEDEN' taking their place; he has represented his home country in both the U-18 and U-20 (World Juniors) tournaments.

The card is from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set (card #), and is numbered 198/4500 (Sal's is #1776). It can usually be found for cheap on Ebay, although some sellers dream about making $10 out of it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Leland Irving Autograph Card

For six years, Leland Irving has been considered the Calgary Flames' top goaltending prospect, the one who will take over for Miikka Kiprusoff when he decides he's had enough. He even played 7 games last season, keeping a decent .912 save percentage (with a 1-3-3 record and 3.19 GAA, but still...) in the NHL.

This season, however, the Abbotsford Heat are leading the AHL, and with Danny Taylor and his 3-1-1 record and 1.97 GAA in 5 games, and Barry Brust's 1.00 GAA and .962 %, Irving has only seen action in one game so far.

Still, he's only 24, and he's paying his dues in the AHL. And he doesn't have to live with the burden of being The Next One and yet failing time and time again, for five years, to win a playoff series. Then again, the Flames boast one of the five best goalies in the world and haven't even made the playoffs since the 2008-09 season. But as a first-round pick (26th overall in 2006). he'll get all the chances he needs to make a lasting impression.

This card is from In The Game's 2011-12 Between The Pipes set (card #A-LI in the GoalieGraphs insert sub-set), and boasts a sticker autograph (in black sharpie) next to Irving in the Heat's white jersey.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2 Kevin Bolibruck Autograph Cards

How do you one-up legendary hockey card guru Sal when you've been following and duplicating his ''NHL Busts'' series of hockey autographs?

You see his Kevin Bolibruck, and you add another...

First, ''his'', from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set, (card #5), numbered 1793/4500, sporting his hometown junior team Peterborough Petes' white (home) jersey, with its logo hidden for copyright purposes:
And secondly, from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft Day set (card #4), a wholly different set of 4500 signed cards (this one numbered 2350) for/of relative nobodies, wearing the Petes' dark blue (away) uniform:
Bolibruck was drafted twice: first by the Ottawa Senators in the 4th round (89th overall, 1995), then by the Edmonton Oilers in the 7th round (176th overall, 1997). In the meantime, his rights had been acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks, but since he failed to sign a pro contract with either the Sens or Hawks, he was eligible for draft again after a two-year hiatus.

While he never did play in the NHL, he did spend 5 seasons in the AHL and has been playing in Europe since 2003-04. He is currently back in Italy's top league with the Pontebba Sport Ghiaccio, with whom he won the 2008 Italian Cup.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scott Gomez Jersey Card

If you read yesterday's post about Tomas Plekanec, you realized that was but one of the two swatch cards I got in that trade...

The second one is of the Montréal Canadiens' much-maligned ''fourth-line'' center Scott Gomez, from In The Game's 2002-03 Action (Ruby Jersey, #M-25), featuring a nice red piece of game-used jersey and shows him wearing the New Jersey Devils' white (then-home) uniform.

Say what you will about his cap hit and inability to score (except for empty-netters, and even then...), the guy is quick, swifty, and an adept passer. He's also a Stanley Cup champion, and has one trophy Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky never got their hands on: the Calder, as rookie of the year (in 1999-2000).

He's also a good citizen, and a great tipper, as can be attested by many of my service-industry friends who've been lucky enough to serve him.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tomas Plekanec Jersey Card

The Montréal Canadiens' top center is playing with fellow Czech superstar and good friend Jaromir Jagr for Jagr's HC Kladno during the lock-out. Jagr has knocked on the Habs' door for the past two summers, eager to play alongside Tomas Plekanec, only to be turned down both times.

Not only could the Habs have used Jagr's 19 goals and 54 points, but he could have lent a steady hand at Plek's right, where a total of 9 wingers took their chance throughout the season; the left flank was just as much of a revolving door, as the Canadiens chose to keep their top-producing line of David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole intact, leaving their best center without a designated winger for pretty much the whole season.

If only for that reason, I wish Plekanec a long lock-out, so he can enjoy playing with a quality winger for as long as possible, as head coach Michel Therrien has already said he'd leave the Habs' ''first line'' intact.

This card (#GJ-TP) is from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Series 1 set (the Game Jersey sub-set), and features a swatch from and picture of the Habs' white (away) jersey. I got it in the mail on Wednesday, part of a trade with Brad from Cards From The Crease, a one-sided trade this time as I received two jersey cards and some 20 Habs cards and stickers, while I merely sent him a Mario Lemieux 2010-11 Ice Kings card from Donruss (by Panini). I do plan on giving more when I'm done unpacking my cards from my late-summer move. And maybe get into trading more, in general.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Five 2012-13 Score Pack Breaks

I bought (and reviewed) two boxes of Panini's 2012-13 Score two months ago, and was relatively satisfied, as I usually am with this low-end product.

Today, I walked past a dollar store and was curious to see if they still sold packs of last year's product, or if they'd ''upgraded'' to the current season's... and they had, so I bought 5 packs.

Here's the breakdown:

Regular cards: 22

'Gold' parallel: 5, including two members of the Columbus Blue Jackets in almost identical positions:

Hot Rookies: 2 I already had, ''big name'' Chris Kreider, and one Hab - Gabriel Dumont.

The Franchise Retro: 1 - Ed Giacomin.

First Goal: 1, Brayden Schenn

Team Score: 1

Season Highlight: 3

Montréal Canadiens (my home team): 2, including 1 rookie (Dumont)

Not so bad, all in all, a few Edmonton Oilers, alternate uniforms, good players.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chad Allan Autograph Card

For the second straight day, here's a twin post with one of (ultimate hockey card blogger) Sal's, ''NHL bust'' Chad Allan, seen here in the 1990s Saskatoon Blades uniform (somewhat loosely based on the St. Louis Blues' mid-nineties foray into integrating the colour red to the blue-and-yellow); the Blades have kept some of the same colours throughout the years, but the yellow is now relegated to ''third jersey'' status and looks more like the mid-2000s Buffalo Sabres' jerseys than the Blues'...

Nowadays, the Blades use mostly all-blue uniforms:
Picture taken from the Blades' website
But back to Chad Allan, a third-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks (65th overall) in 1994 (ahead of Sheldon Souray, Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk, Marty Turco, Daniel Alfredsson, Bryce Salvador, enforcer/comedian André Roy, Tim Thomas, Evgeni Nabokov, Tomas Vokoun, Steve Sullivan, Richard Zednik, Sergei Berezin, Tomas Holmstrom, Dick Tarnstrom, and Kim Johnsson - most of whom are either still active or former All Stars).

A decent-sized defensive defenseman, Allan played 5 seasons with the Blades, followed by 5 seasons in the AHL (four with the Syracuse Crunch and one with the St. John's Maple Leafs), and then 8 more in Europe; he also played a half season split between Europe and the UHL (formerly the IHL), for the Kalamazoo Wings.

This card was also from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set (card #1!!!), and is numbered 1314/4500. Notice how the logo was airbrushed out and instead replaced with a generic rendering of the city's name, because SR didn't have the rights to reproduce CHL/WHL logos... I like how it was signed in (very) thin blue sharpie.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lou Body Autograph Card

 Once more, a post similar to Sal's!

From Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft 96 set is card #4, Harvard Crimson's ''consistent defensive-minded rearguard'', Lou Body, numbered 1234/4500 - yes, that's one-two-three-four. It was signed in (very) thin blue sharpie.

What's funny is that the year before this card's issue (i.e. the one he's supposed to be pictured in), Body was actually playing for the ECHL's Richmond Renegades; he stopped playing for Harvard University in 1993-94.

Undrafted, Body stopped playing organized hockey after the 1995-96 season after a second consecutive 24-point season with the Renegades.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rod Brind'Amour Autographed Card

In yet another post inspired by The Iron Lung's quest to showcase autographed cards from all of the NHL'S 1000-point guys comes this sweet Rod Brind'Amour in-person autographed card I'd forgotten about but found while unpacking cards while moving this summer.

It's card #84 from Upper Deck's 2006-07 SP Authentic set and sees him wearing the Carolina Hurricanes' pre-lockout (notice the absence of shoulder piping or NHL logo in the neck) red (away) jersey, with the captain's ''C''. Oddly enough, I got it signed in blue sharpie at a game between the 'Canes and the... Ottawa Senators, in Brind'Amour's birthplace of Ottawa, between 2007 and 2010. Ottawa is a two-hour drive or so from Montréal, so sometimes when I want to catch a game, I'm willing to travel and save almost 50% off ticket prices (the Bell Centre's prices are among the league's most-expensive).

My previous post about him was relatively complete in telling his tale, except I failed to mention he currently stood at #46 on the all-time NHL scoring list with 1,184 points (452 goals, 732 assists) in 1,484 games despite never scoring 40 goals or gathering 100 points, but with two Frank J. Selke trophies as the league's best defensive forward. Some wonder if that makes him Hall Of Fame worthy, I say the two Selkes and 2006 Stanley Cup speak in his favour and put him ahead of the likes of Mats Sundin (in this year) and Eric Lindros (hopefully never in), but he's far from a shoe-in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Craig Billington Autograph Card

Craig Billington had a decent career as a backup goalie in the NHL, mostly with the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche, but also with the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators. Well, it wasn't so great in Ottawa as he went 11-41-4 (not a typo...) with a 4.59 GAA and .859 save % in 1993-94 and 0-6-2 with a 4.07 GAA and .867 save % to start off the 1994-95 season, but he had his best seasons with the Avs after that, backing Patrick Roy, with GAAs in the 2s and save percentages above .900.

Unfortunately for Billington, he missed out on many Stanley Cups, joining the Avs between their two, and having left the Devils before theirs.

As a junior, however, he was quite successful, winning two World Junior medals (gold in 1985, silver in 1986) and being named top goalie in 1985, as well as OHL All Star Game MVP in 1984-85.

After his playing career, he joined the Avs' front office staff; he is currently their VP of Player Development.

This card (#S151), signed in thin black sharpie, was found as an insert in a pack of Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player set, where they would airbrush team logos from jerseys because they didn't have the rights to display them. If you look closely, he's wearing a Bruins black (away) jersey, but not only is the logo absent from his chest, they identify him as playing for ''Boston'', without naming the team.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pat Peake Autograph Card

Pat Peake is one of the unluckiest hockey players of all time, and possibly the highest-rated, most-injured prospect of the 1990s - yes, ahead of Brett Lindros. Because of an OHL career that saw him post 317 points in 162 games with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors / Detroit Junior Red Wings franchise, he was drafted in the first round by the Washington Capitals, 14th overall, in 1991.

The Compuware Ambassadors is a minor-league program spanning all levels (from novice to junior A) owned and supervised by Peter Karmanos, the current Carolina Hurricanes' owner who likes to promote people from inside his own organization (current-day GM has been with him since the Ambassadors' days). After failing to purchase and move two teams to Detroit, Karmanos was awarded an OHL expansion team which he named after his program., who in turn is named after his company Compuware. After a couple of years, at a moment when both teams shared the Joe Louis Arena, Karmanos renamed the team the Junior Red Wings, after their NHL counterpart; the Ambassadors program remains the same to this day. But when Karmanos purchased the NHL's Hartford Whalers, he changed his junior team's name again to become the Detroit Whalers, and then moved them to Plymouth, Michigan (better economic conditions) where they are now known as the Plymouth Whalers. To this day, the (junior) Whalers have only retired one jersey number, that of their all-time leading scorer... Pat Peake's #14.

In 1993-94, the Caps dressed Peake for 49 games, during which he scored 11 goals and added 18 assists for a respectable 29 points; in the lock-out-shortened 1994-95 season, he went 0-4-4 in 18 NHL games, but caught up in 1995-96 with 36 points in 62 games. However, more impressive was his never-ending string of injuries (quoted from this CNN/SI article):
Playing in the Ontario Hockey League in 1992-93, Peake missed three weeks of the regular season with a separated left shoulder and most of the playoffs with a fractured right ankle. As a rookie with Washington the next season, he was sidelined for 14 games with torn rib cartilage, six games with a bruised right shoulder, two games with a sore right ankle and two games with the flu. In '94-95 Peake contracted mononucleosis and played in only 18 games.
The following season Peake took a high stick to the throat and missed 10 games with what was termed "fractured thyroid cartilage." He was also scratched from five games with a sprained right knee, three games with a sprained left shoulder and one game with kidney stones. In the playoffs Peake shattered his right heel and needed extensive surgery. The mangled heel kept Peake out of the Caps' first 67 games of 1996-97. His comeback was complicated when a television fell on his right hand, breaking a bone. Peake returned to action last March 29. He played four games, then suffered a concussion in a car accident and had to sit out the rest of the year.
Peake missed the first 16 games of this season with a combination of lingering pain in the heel, flu symptoms and what he calls "anxiety about getting healthy." He dressed for a Nov. 8 game against the Oilers and got enough ice time to tear several tendons in his right ankle. He hasn't played since, but the Capitals expect him back within a month.
He actually never played pro hockey again, officially retiring in 1998.

This card is from Classic's 1991-92 Draft Picks set (of which the regular-issue card is #12), was signed in blue sharpie and is numbered 239/1100. I got it in a trade for a Petr Nedved Pro Set draft card, of which I had literally hundreds, in the early 1990s.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Andrew Peters Autograph Card

After he signed with the New Jersey Devils in 2009, I lost track of Andrew Peters who, for 5 seasons, had been the Buffalo Sabres' resident tough guy. It turns out he only played 29 games for the Devils (no points, 93 penalty minutes) before being bought out, then passing through the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks organizations without playing an NHL game with them, and barely playing two AHL games with the Rochester Americans before being let go for skipping a curfew. He was then persona non grata everywhere and opted to retire at age 30.

It's hard being an NHL enforcer; many resort to taking drugs or alcohol to escape from the physical pain and depression brought on by doing a job no one else wants to, usually as the lowest-paid player on the team, and often seen by teammates as the one guy who cannot help the team come back from a large deficit by scoring an opportune goal. Peters has admitted to taking (possible, so far unproven) performance-enhancing drug Androstenedione (a steroid that acts like a growth hormone) for a few seasons before Congress made it illegal, but substance abuse of other kinds are not a rare occurrence in these guys' lifestyles. (Not implying anything, just saying.)

As is often the case with these tough guys, Peters was also known for his big heart, always willing to play a charity game, and spending time with childrens' foundations in Buffalo and Rochester.

This card was culled from a pack of Upper Deck's 2006-07 Be A Player cards (it's card #AP in the BAP Signatures insert set) and shows Peters wearing the ''new'' version of the ''old'' Sabres uniform; I like the yellow/gold stripes on the modern one better, but could definitely do without the jersey number in front, which to me is un-hockey-esque.