Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Michael Leighton: 4 Autographed Cards

Sure, you could see this post as part of my ''thing for journeymen goaltenders'', but when a guy reaches postseason bliss like Michael Leighton did two years ago, not only getting his team in the Stanley Cup Finals but getting better as the pressure mounted, recording 3 shutouts in a 5-game Conference Finals against the Cinderella team (Montréal Canadiens) and then-favourite for the Conn Smythe (Jaroslav Halak), you're definitely doing something right.

And such was the case with Michael Leighton, who was granted a one-way, two-year extension by the Philadelphia Flyers after his magical run, which included overcoming a 0-3 deficit against the Boston Bruins in the second round, so all the stars seemed aligned.

What he suffers from is the ''too good for the AHL'' (record of 142-117-28, 2.30 GAA and .917%) syndrome, yet no one can honestly say he's got the additional symptom of ''not good enough for the NHL'' with his 2.95 career GAA in the big league to go with his .902%, but at age 30, if someone were to give him a chance, they'd better stick with him.

He was claimed by the Habs off waivers in 2007 but didn't play a single minute, as he ranked behind starter Cristobal Huet (injured for most of Leighton's time in town) and back-ups Halak and David Aebischer. He was then traded for a 7th-round pick right before the draft.

All of these cards being from the same year, they show the Flyers' shift in uniforms, as they moved from their Rbk Edge post-lockout garbs into the 70s-inspired jerseys they wear now. Below, from Panini's 2010-11 Score set (card #498, Stanley Cup Playoff Highlights sub-set), we have their then-away jersey (white). Sure, the Flyers' style is pretty consistent through the years, with the same 3 colours (white, black and orange) alternating on the chest, with the others alternating on the sleeves, but they change them often regardless.
Below, from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Black Diamond set (card #57), the Flyers' then-third, now home (orange) jersey, a throwback to the Bobby Clarke/Broad Street Bullies era.
Here it is again, this time in a ''less black filter on the card'' way, with a view from the front and back:
Again both are from the 2010-11 Score set, the card on top is #10 from the Playoff Heroes insert set, while the one on the bottom is #13 in the Net Cam series. The main difference with ''modern era'' jerseys is the different colour on the sleeve is just for the top half of the arm, not the whole thing. And the name plate on the back is ''70s-style'', a different colour from the jersey.

I sent the Petrolia, Ontario native - considered the first town in North America to ''harvest'' oil - these 4 cards and a fan letter, care of his AHL team the Adirondack Phantoms, on March 9th, 2012, and got them all back, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (49) tagged at the end, on April 3rd, three weeks later. A very quick return from a trustworthy veteran who deserves to be in the NHL full-time.