Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rogatien Vachon: 5 Autographed Cards (Part 1)

I got a heck of a surprise when I opened my mailbox to find these cards, I'll tell you that much! In these parts, Rogatien Vachon is a legend and deserves to be in the Hockey Hall Of Fame, especially if Bernard Parent, Gerry Cheevers and Billy Smith are there.

After all, Vachon had three Stanley Cups - all with the Montréal Canadiens - before truly getting his career under way, which happened when the Habs chose to go with rookie Ken Dryden and sent the mustached wonder to the Los Angeles Kings, where he'd hold 8 team records by the time signed with Detroit (2 of which were beaten by Jonathan Quick this last season). He was also a 4-time team MVP.

Here's what he looked like as a King, first with the 'away' uniform:
As a kid, I didn't think much of these jerseys, and was happy when they went silver-and-black in the Wayne Grerzky era; I do feel nostalgic for these now, though. The card on the left is from Upper Deck's 2008-09 Masterpieces (card #70), featuring a beautiful (and UD exclusive) painting by Gillies; the card on the right, showcasing his classic all-white mask, is from In The Game's 2010-11 Between The Pipes set (card #180, part of the Greats Of The Game sub-set).

In what made more sense then, the Kings' home (i.e. ''light'') jersey was yellow (unlike the current-day Nashville Predators, who use yellow as their ''dark'' colour and wear it against teams in white, which looks awful):
That one's from the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee set (card #160) and specifies he was on the NHL'S year-end Second All Star team, a feat he achieved twice. His #30 jersey was the first to be retired by the team.

(continued in the following post)

Rogatien Vachon: 5 Autographed Cards (Part 2)

(continued from the previous post)

As I mentioned before, he went from the Kings to the Detroit Red Wings, as can be attested by this card:
By then, he'd already won the 1976 Canada Cup and was voted Team Canada's MVP, as he played in every single game on a team that also included Gerry Cheevers and Glenn 'Chico' Resch, and a Vezina trophy (from his Habs days).

The card is from Topps' 1978-79 O-Pee-Chee set (card #20).

And he finished his storied career with two average seasons manning the nets for the Boston Bruins, as can be attested by this 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee card (card #23):
By then he's wearing a regular goalie helmet, has shorter hair, and looks a bit disgruntled.

After retiring, he went back to the Kings' organization in various functions, including serving as what is, to this day, the longest General Manager tenure in team history; he was even the one holding the position during the famous Wayne Gretzky trade with the Edmonton Oilers...

I sent Vachon these 5 cards on April 15th, 2012 in the midst of the Kings' Stanley Cup run, care of the team since he's one of their Royal Ambassadors. I got them all back, signed in blue sharpie, on July 24th, 2012.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Autographed Diaper From A Comedy Show

Talk about unique memorabilia...
Almost every night of this year's ZooFest, I went to see a show or two, and it started with Les Papas (Martin Félip, Jonathan Roberge and Jérémie Larouche) on July 5th at Théâtre Ste-Catherine, where hopefully I will never have to go again, but for reasons unrelated to this show at all.

The show was ok, I'd seen Félip live maybe a dozen times because he's a friend of my ex's and, as the years pass - maybe because he's getting older or perhaps because he's more desperate to enter the mainstream comedians' club - I've found him less and less funny each time. Not by that much, but over time, it goes from a 4/5 performance to barely 3/5, maybe 2.75/5.

He used to host and headline shows, now he's opening them.

Roberge was a notch better. I also saw him in the XXX show this year, and he brings good jokes and that something extra to the table. For Les Papas (''The Dads''), he recycled a skit from his web series where he's on video talking to his son, and took it into the future. He did two bits with this and was pretty good.

But the biggest surprise was Larouche. A tall, skinny guy who doesn't look a day over 19, he was hyperactive, expressive and really funny.

All in all, I'd give the show 3.5/5, or 70%. Some parts were amateurish, others half-funny, but all in all it was an hour spent in good humour, a good time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ray Bourque Swatch Card

When I got this card and looked at the front, I was thrilled - a swatch card of a hockey legend in the person of Raymond Bourque, the legendary Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche defenseman, and a painting of him too, just like my framed autographed lithograph.

The back of the card, however, absolutely leaves to be desired:
Uncoated, grey cardboard, no design, and the vaguest memorabilia description I've seen in a while:
The memorabilia has been certified to us as having been used by Ray Bourque.
In a game (official or otherwise)? Is it a jersey, a sock? Could it be a t-shirt he wore on the way to practice or at the beach? Nowhere does it say where he wore it...

I'm already not a fan of sets that feature living and deceased folks of varied backgrounds (sports figures, politicians), but also animals... and that's exactly what this 2011 Goodwin Champions set by Upper Deck (card #M-RB) is all about. But I took a chance at a buck a pack and got a hit, so I can't really complain...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shawn Horcoff Swatch Card

A year and a half later, here's another post about Shawn Horcoff, the fearless Edmonton Oilers' captain, featuring the new/retro white jersey - a fifth different ''special'' card of him, after the 4 autographed cards in the previous post.

While some may find his 2011-12 statistics disappointing, including the back of this 2011-12 Titanium card (#14 in the set from Panini):
But it bears to remember he posted 20 points in his first 27 games before all the Oilers' future stars started falling to injuries and the team fell in the standings.

This ''young man'' (I can call him that because he was born 3 days after me) still has it in him to lead this team to success, by leading by example first and foremost, but also for his shut-down ability. Now that Ryan Smyth is back in the fold for two more seasons, the team has two of these team-grown give-it-all leaders, and that's awesome - provided they don't steal too much powerplay time from the kids.

But here's what bothers me with this set: they made it a point to release it ''during'' the 2011-12 season, but they talk about that very season on the back of the card. I don't know - mid-season fake stats don't do it for me, at all. Also, ''the enclosed game-worn material is guaranteed by Panini America, Inc.''... is it so hard to specify which piece of cloth it's from? (it feels like a sock)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Willi Plett Autograph Card

On June 20th, fellow blogger Sal pulled this one as the first ''hit'' in his purchase of 3 (!!!) boxes of In The Game's 2011-12 Enforcers set. At $75-100 per pack of 12 cards, even if 5 are commons (of the 90-card set), 5 are autographs and 2 are memorabilia (jersey) cards, there was no way I was shelling out that kind of money to finish with cards of Wade Belak.

Plus, at 5 ''regular cards'' per pack, how much will it cost to mount a full set? This was just ridiculous.

Until I got an offer I couldn't really pass up: for $5, I could get in on a group that would offer me the second ''hit'', or the first one if it was of a defunct team (Atlanta Flames, Hartford Whalers, Québec Nordiques, California (Golden) Seals, Minnesota North Stars, Atlanta Thrashers, etc), or the Habs - or the right to ''trade down'' for the 7th ''hit''. So, for $5, I was getting an autograph or a jersey, and didn't have to bother with the leftovers.

The first hit ended up being the card I would have wanted: Georges Laraque (who went on record saying he wanted out of the set...), wearing my favourite third jersey of all, the Edmonton Oilers' Todd McFarlane-designed one. But the Oilers still exist, so...

The second hit ended up being of a defunct team, the above-mentioned Willie Plett card, fror the Atlanta Flames. It was destined to be my card...

Plett was born in Paraguay but grew up in Canada. He started playing hockey at age 12 and was a soft player at first, until one coach relegated him to tier-2 and he overcompensated the other way for the rest of his career.

While many view his most impressive statistic as being the 3 penalty minutes per game average he accumulated through 2572 PIMs in 834 games, I like to remember he had 33 goals and 23 assists for 56 points in 64 games, good for Rookie Of The Year (Calder trophy) status in 1976-77. He also made the move to Calgary with the rest of the team, playing two seasons there, netting 38 and 21 goals respectively.

It wasn't until he was sent to the North Stars that they made him into a full-time goon, and after a 25-goal season in 1982-83, he garnered 316 PIMs the next year, and over 750 more in the following four seasons, the last one with the Boston Bruins.

All in all I'm happy with this card, #A-WP in the set. The autograph is on a sticker, but it's made to look like a Band-Aid, and it could be the smartest integration of the sticker in the design I've seen so far.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Andrew Cassels: 6 Autographed Cards (Part 1)

Andrew Cassels was one of many Montréal Canadiens first-round draft picks they lost their faith in and traded away in my lifetime. The complete opposite of Carey Price, if you will.

Cassels was chosen 17th overall in the 1987 draft, two spots behind my favourite skater of all time, Joe Sakic, and other notable players like Pierre Turgeon, Brendan Shanahan, Glen Wesley and Stéphane Quintal, but ahead of the likes of almost-teammate John LeClair, star defenseman Éric Desjardins, playoff hero Stéphane Matteau, goalies Rick Tabaracci and Jeff Hackett, as well as late picks Mathieu Schneider (great draft by the Habs with Cassels, LeClair, Desjardins, Ed Ronan, Steve McCool and Schneider!), Guy Hebert, and Theo Fleury.

He won all there awards possible in the OHL (rookie of the year, MVP, leading scorer, most gentlemanly player) and even tore up the AHL (67 points in 55 games) before the Habs decided to send him packing for a second-round pick (Valeri Bure, at least) following a 1990-91 season in which he gathered 25 points in 54 NHL games.

This is the only card of him I have in a Habs uniform (back when it was rare to get a card featuring the white - home- jersey), from Score's 1990-91 Score (American) set, card #422:
Then again, in the Habs' depth chart, Cassels fell behind offensive dynamo Stéphan Lebeau and Guy Carbonneau, the best two-way forward of the 90s... (and they were about to acquire Denis Savard and Vincent Damphousse as well).

(continued in the next post)

Andrew Cassels: 6 Autographed Cards (Part 2)

(continued from the previous post)

The Hartford Whalers, on the other hand, despite the presence of Murray Craven and John Cullen, gave Cassels a chance to blossom, pairing him with  soon-to-be All Star Game fastest man Geoff Sanderson, for a 5-year partnership during which Cassels would always lead the team in assists.

The following cards represent this part of his career:
The card on the left, seeing him sport the Whalers' white (home) jersey, is from Pro Set's flagship 1991-92 Pro Set set (card #395), while the card on the right shows him in the green (away) uniform, from Topps' 1991-92 O-Pee-Chee Premier set (card #72), a set that for a while had a Jaromir Lagr rookie card worth upwards of $30 - and I had 15 of them. It seemed every other pack I opened contained a Jagr...

I also have two of the same uniform with the NHL's 75th anniversary patch on them:
The card on the left is from Pro Set's 1992-93 Parkhurst (French-language version) collection (card #285) of which I purchased 5 wax boxes a decade ago for $10 TOTAL at a Walmart - and the one on the right is from Score's 1992-93 Score (Canadian) set (card #323).

I also sent this one in, with the mid-90s Whalers uniform, featuring shades of grey, perhaps not 50 of them, but a few:
I like how the back of the card shows the home version (white) and a mullet, while the front shows the away (blue). It's from Fleer's 1993-94 Fleer Ultra set (card #33).

I sent these cards to Cassels' home on April 3rd, 2012 and got them all back, signed in black sharpie, on June 29th. They might be the last ones he signed with that pen, because it looks like it's fading on a few of these, and I think it gives them a certain charm.

After playing with the Whalers during their final season, Cassels played for two unsuccessful seasons with the Calgary Flames, before playing three years with the Vancouver Canucks during which he led the team in assists every year. After that, he was reunited with Sanderson with the Columbus Blue Jackets, again posting terrific stats (20-48-68 in his first 79-game season), before the lockout forced him to try out for the Washington Capitals in 2005-06, where he only played 31 games (4-8-12).

He may not have had a Hall of Fame career, but 732 points and 528 assists in 1015 NHL games is mighty fine. Like Ray Whitney though, he had to be a journeyman to amass those statistics and always be on the move. He played for a WHA remnant team (also now a defunct team!), two Canadian teams, a 70s expansion team and a Bettman-expansion team; all that was missing was an Original Six...