Saturday, September 29, 2012

Two Marshall Faulk Jersey Cards

One jersey card of one of the best running backs in NFL history is pretty cool; two identical ones rocks hard. That's what I got when I purchased an unusually large cello pack of Upper Deck's 2001 Pros & Prospects football cards, only to find the same Marshall Faulk Game Jersey card, complete with dark blue swatch, the only difference being one has tears in the seams (see the card on the right) and the other one is mint. The 2011 Hall of Famer must have gotten in a few tussles in that game...

Faulk has had a distinguished career as the only player to ever rush for 12,000 yards and catch for 6,000 more; as a matter of fact, only two can claim the combo of 10,000 and 5,000... Add that to 7 Pro Bowls (one Pro Bowl MVP title), 6 All-Pro nominations, 15 different trophies won, a Super Bowl victory, having his jersey number retired by the St. Louis Rams and ending his career as the tenth leading rusher of all time and you have got yourself a unique athlete.

I, for one, look forward to his commentating on NFL games that will be officiated by the best referees in the world for the next 8 years, refs who don't decide to call or not depending on the score, amount of time left, of time of year but instead make the right calls because it's what they saw - not like the NHL.

This card (#MF-J) is valued at roughly $25 (each).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Olli Jokinen Jersey Card

One funny story so far in the non-season is the one where a few Winnipeg Jets players rented the team's practice facility for a scrimmage but ended up, uh, locked out because they forgot the key in the locker room.

One of those players was free agency pick-up Olli Jokinen, seen here sporting the Florida Panthers' white (home) uniform on a card (#J-OJ) from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Black Diamond set which features a black swatch, probably from the away uniform, from the Black Diamond Jersey sub-set.

Once the Panthers' captain, Jokinen was poised to succeed Saku Koivu as the perennial captain for Team Finland, but erratic performances and dramatically diminishing points performances have rendered him more of a second-to-third-liner who can add points on the powerplay.

In the Finnish league, however, prior to coming over to the NHL, he was a superstar, taking with him 9 international tournament medals, the Jari Kurri Trophy as playoff MVP (an award also won by the likes of Koivu, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, and Niklas Backstrom), the Matti Keinonen Trophy for best plus/minus rating, and the Jarmo Wasama Trophy as rookie of the year (also won over the years by Petri Skriko, Jani Hurme, Antero Niittymaki, and Mikael Granlund).

I guess you can say he's kind of a big deal.

In parts of 14 NHL seasons, he's played in over 1000 regular-season games, scored nearly 300 goals and assisted on almost 400 more, but has only played in 6 playoff games, though. Playing for the Jets probably won't help improve that statistic.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tomas Sandstrom Autographed Card

A slick, skilled and tough Swedish winger, Tomas Sandstrom may have been able to crack the 1000-point mark had he not run into injuries for 4 of his last 5 NHL seasons, only one of which he played more than 60 games in; all told, he scored 394 regular-season goals, got 463 assists, good for 857 points in 983 games (and 32-49-81 in 139 playoff games).

He was almost a point-per-game player with the New York Rangers, but it's his performance with the Los Angeles Kings that struck me the most, especially in their 1993 Stanley Cup run that was cut short by my hometown Montréal Canadiens in which he finished third in scoring, behind only Wayne Gretzky and Doug Gilmour. During the Finals, Sandstrom even helped make NHL history by being the shooter who inspired Patrick Roy's most famous wink:

But that's ok, because Sandstrom wasn't shy about making faces himself, as evidenced by this 1993-94 Series 1 card (#188 in the set) by Upper Deck:
I never actually got to meet Sandstrom, but as a teen, my family had season tickets to the Habs, and in grade 10 (1993-94), my parents let me try to gather autographs after games, provided we got home by 10PM. After a 4-0 Saturday night game against the Kings, I made my way to the visitors' end and waited for players to come out. Sandstrom never did (perhaps because he'd gone minus-2 on that night), but Darryl Sydor was kind enough to get me this card signed, in black sharpie. I got Sydor to sign an index card for me, but it was destroyed in a flood as a result of the 1998 ice storm.

This (and its black 'away' variant) remains my favourite Kings uniform ever.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Larry Walker Jersey Card

The work stoppage in the NHL is upon us, and neither side plans on resuming CBA talks any time soon, which makes Montrealers like myself sick. It's the third such conflict (and third lock-out) in the NHL under Gary Bettman's reign of 18 years, and this time around he faces NHLPA boss Donald Fehr, who was behind baseball's players' strike of 1994, which cost the Montréal Expos a probable World Series participation against the New York Yankees (both teams led their respective leagues by a fair margin, the Expos led the majors at the time of stoppage).

And while strikes and lock-outs are the opposite of one another, and I won't debate which is best when or whatnot, for the fan of the sport, they result in the same: no games. And in the case of MLB '94 and NHL 2004-05, no championships.

The 1994 Expos were a weird beast for me, because their field players were young and coming into their own (think of the Québec Nordiques of 1992-95 who would end up winning the Stanley Cup as the Colorado Avalanche), but also because these kids were taking over for players I'd grown up adoring, from LF Tim Raines to CF André Dawson, catchers Gary Carter and Mike Fitzgerald, 3B Tim Wallach, error-free SS Spike Owen - all replaced by Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Darrin Fletcher, Sean Berry, and Wilfredo Cordero, respectively. Most of these guys grew up in the team's system together and could be more than one type of player, with above-average power coupled with extraordinary speed, not the one-dimensional players of the past - but without their charisma, too.

The Expos' pitching, in 1994, however, was the best cast I'd ever seen assembled, with Ken Hill, Jeff Fassero and Pedro Martinez starring in the rotation, Denis Boucher, Butch Henry and Kirk Rueter filling in both as 4th- starters or long-term relief, Jeff Shaw and Mel Rojas to set the table in the 8th inning and John Wetteland to shut down the opposition in the 9th.

And, of course, a new star player in the right field, Larry Walker, who showed promise as the guy who would perhaps become MLB's second ever 40/40 man (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases), in addition to being a regular 100-RBI guy. As a matter of fact, in 1994, he was at 86 RBIs when the players called their strike, well on his way.

He never got to 40/40, but he is still the only player ever to have stolen 25 bases and gotten a slugging percentage of .700 in a season, in his magical 1997 season with the Colorado Rockies. Yes, the Rockies, because when the 1994 season was called to an end, the Expos couldn't retain their blossoming young players anymore and had to watch other teams give them salaries they couldn't afford to match, and proceed to their first real fire sale, trading off their good players for prospects, in essence becoming the Major Leagues' best farm club.

But Walker made a name for himself outside of Montréal. In 1995, he brought the Rockies to their first-ever playoff participation. In 1997, he became the first Canadian to be named National League MVP. All in all, he played in 5 All Star games (1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001), won a staggering 7 Golden Gloves as best defensive player at his position with his rocket-for-an-arm (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002), and got 3 batting titles. He has led the league in different offensive categories 12 times.

This jersey card (#TR-LW) is from Topps' 2003 Topps 205 set, and features a piece of authentic game-worn jersey that shows a white swatch with a purple Rockies' line going through it. It's a pretty cool card because it features a miniature card fitted into a larger, regular-card-sized frame, with a see-though plastic encasing in which the smaller card is enclosed.

I got this card in a trade a few years ago, for a bunch of baseball, football and basketball cards.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Michael Peca Jersey Card

When he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres, I didn't think too highly of Michael Peca, despite his captaincy and two Selke trophies. I disliked most of the Dominik Hasek-era Sabres, actually.

And when the captain walked out on his team, Alexei Yashin-style, when he couldn't come to a contract agreement with the team and sat out an entire season, my feelings for him went even more south...

I found it fitting he would be traded (Yashin-style...) to the New York Islanders, who would make him wear orange-coloured atrocities such as the one depicted on the card above, #S-MP of Upper Deck's 2005-06 Series One set (the Shooting Stars sub-set, featuring a swatch of dark blue from the yellow shirt pictured). I like how UD specifies it's from an Islanders jersey, which is helpful considering Peca was about to become a journeyman.

You'll notice the card lists him as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. That's because in the span between the 2003-04 season, the 2004-05 lock-out and the beginning of the 2005-06 season, the Isles traded him to Edmonton for Mike York. Peca's Oilers reached the Stanley Cup finals (the second time he'd reach the coveted final, but no Cup to show for it) while the Islanders... well, unless you were born before 1980, they're where they've pretty much always been to you: at the bottom of the standings, near the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, the last two teams Peca played for.

Still, I like this card. He's listed with the Cinderella 2005-06 Oilers team, he's wearing a rare jersey no longer in use, and he's become a commentator I like. And it serves as a reminder that an extended lock-out can ruin the end of careers, turning 40-points-per-season veterans into 20-point underachievers who slowly fade away on dwindling teams. Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick and Claude Lemieux are also fine examples of that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vinny Testaverde Jersey Card

Vinny Testaverde is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He currently stands 7th on the all-time passing yards list with 46,223, and 8th with 275 passing touchdowns. Additionally, he holds 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers records, 4 Baltimore Ravens records, and 3 New York Jets records, as well as two NFL records: oldest player to win a game (age 44 - take that Brett Favre!) and most consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass (with 21).

All told, he's played for 8 teams, usually as the go-to guy from the start or the replacement free agent when the starting QB got injured. He played at least 13 games in 13 of his first 14 seasons, a testament to his tenacity and longevity. He played in the Pro Bowl twice, and was an All-Pro in 1998.

He's a shoe-in to make it to the Hall Of Fame someday.

So when I found this card in a grab-bag of mixed sports cards, I was very happy. It's card #POG-56 from Playoff's 2002 Piece Of The Game, a white swatch of the 1st Down variety, numbered 226/250. More importantly, Playoff doesn't mess around, and as you can see, the back of the card not only shows you the actual jersey the piece was cut from, but the specific date and game during which it was worn.

That's some serious stuff!

Brad Stuart Jersey Card

Much has been said about the weakening of the Detroit Red Wings' defense corps after Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement, but few have factored in Brad Stuart's departure, as he re-joined the San Jose Sharks this off-season. Not necessarily known as an offensive powerhouse (he is usually in the 20-point range at season's end), he holds the Sharks' team record for the two fastest back-to-back goals by the same player - 17 seconds apart.

This card, from Upper Deck's 2007-08 Black Diamond set (card #BDJ-BS, the Black Diamond Jersey sub-set) has him pictured in the Calgary Flames' white uniform but lists him as a member of the Los Angeles Kings - he'd signed a one-year deal with the Kings as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, which leads me to suspect the piece of jersey is from a Flames game.

All told, he only played 27 games with the Flames and 63 with the Kings, so regardless what team the swatch is from, it's relatively rare in itself. He's played 6 seasons with the Sharks, 5 with the Wings, and two half-seasons with the Boston Bruins.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reggie Theus Autograph Card

I'll admit I'm not the biggest basketball fan in the world, and that since Reggie Theus retired before I was even slightly interested in the game, I know next to nothing about him.

He is pictured here in his NCAA days of glory with the UNLV Runnin' Rebels, where he made the Hall of Fame in 1997. He also had pretty good seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Kansas City Kings, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks, and Orlando Magic before retiring from the NBA with the New Jersey Nets. He was a two-time All Star who also made the All-Rookie team.

He then had a very successful coaching career with College teams, and a less successful stint coaching the Kings. He's in broadcasting now, after being part of the first season of The Best Damn Sports Show, Period!

What I know more about is this 2006-07 Legends card by Press Pass (then manufactured by RC2 South, now a stand-alone brand). It was one of Press Pass' first forays into basketball, after being the most successful NASCAR card brand and releasing some decent football sets (and NFL-affiliated toys). As a matter of fact, PP was the first card company to include event-worn items made onto the cards - and they even put race-used tires on some of them (I have one, I'll feature it some day).

I purchased this one on Ebay because I wanted a Press Pass autograph card, and because I liked the blue sharpie on-card signature. And because it was dirt cheap.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Semyon Varlamov Autographed Card

It hasn't been an easy road to NHL stardom for Semyon Varlamov, but he's on his merry way.

His Juniors career went well, winning two silver medals at the World Juniors, and getting drafted in the first round (23rd overall) by the Washington Capitals in 2006. For the second of his two medals, he shared the net with fellow NHL netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. In Russia, his team was Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, for whom a week ago today marked the first anniversary of last year's airline crash tragedy.

His first few years in the Capitals' system were spent fighting other goalies for ice time, notably José Theodore, but when he was not re-signed, Michal Neuvirth became the de facto #1, making Varlamov expendable. In a genius move, Caps' GM George McPhee traded his rights to the Colorado Avalanche last summer for more than what he would have received as compensation had the Avs signed Varlamov to the same contract as an RFA (a first and a second pick).

In Colorado, Varlamov started the season as the team's starting goalie, but when the team's playoff hopes were dwindling, they turned to Jean-Sébastien Giguère to steer the ship, until an injury forced coach Joe Sacco to revert back to Varlamov, who ended the season on a high note, going 26-24-3 in 53 games, but more importantly, keeping a 2.59 GAA and .913 save percentage, both close to his career totals (2.48 and .915 respectively). I expect an All-Star performance on his part this year, and a place on Russia's 2014 Olympic team. He has a World Championship gold (2012) and silver (2010) to go with his Junior hardware, so he's pretty much a shoe-in already anyway.

Accordingly, this card from In The Game's 2007-08 Between the Pipes set (card #48, Future Stars sub-set) sees him wearing the beautiful Team Russia colours. He signed it for me in person, in black sharpie, during the 2009-10 playoffs, when my hometown Montréal Canadiens beat his Caps in the fifth-biggest upset in NHL history (comparing regular-season points between teams), and which marked the first time ever the eighth seed beat the first seed when down 3-1 in a series.

You'll notice the card spells his name ''Semen'' , but I titled the post ''Semyon''; it's because he registered an official spelling change with the NHL in August 2009, requesting all further appearances of his name be ''Semyon''. According to Wikipedia:
In the Russian alphabet, Varlamov's first name is spelled "Семён." The Russian letter (ё), equates to the sound (yo) in English.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dean Melanson Autographed Card

I don't know if it's because I see AHL uniforms less often, but some of them strike me as amazingly beautiful. This one by the Rochester Americans is one of them. I prefer the blue uniform to the red one, worn here by Craig Anderson.

This is card #102 from Classic's 1993-94 Pro Prospects set, which Dean Melanson signed for me in blue sharpie (adding his jersey number, 7, at the end) after a LNAH (senior hockey, minor pro) game for which he suited up with the St. Hyacinthe Cristal in 2005-06. He is not adverse to playing in the province of Québec, and particularly the town of St. Hyacinthe where he suited up in three different leagues, the aforementioned LNAH, the LHJMQ (St. Hyacinthe Laser, with a goalie named Martin Brodeur) and the precursor to the LNAH, the QSMHL (with the St. Hyacinthe Cousin).

Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in 1992, Melanson only played 5 games with them in 1994-95, and played his 4 other NHL games with the Washington Capitals in 2001-02. The rest of the time was spent in an astonishing 7 leagues (8 total), for which he suited for 16 teams (including the short-lived IHL team Québec Rafales).

In every league he's played in (except the NHL, of course, where he is pointless), he's managed to rack up close to half a point per game (he's a defenseman...) and rack up tons of penalty minutes (sometimes over 200 in a season). Most impressive is him 150 PIMs in merely 27 games in the DEL (German League) with the Iserlohn Roosters. His 8 NHL penalty minutes (in 9 games) seem pretty tame in comparison.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Joe Thornton Autograph Card

After Jarome Iginla last week, here's another card inspired from a post inspired by The Iron Lung's attempt at getting a hard-signed autograph card from every player in the NHL's 1000-point club. This time around, former captain of the Boston Bruins (and current one of the San Jose Sharks), Joe Thornton.

I'm not a huge fan of Big Joe, but I do enjoy watching him fail at another Stanley Cup run each year, although he's making the suspense last longer of late, which isn't good for my heart pressure. I started having these feelings for Thornton when his Bruins would play my hometown Montréal Canadiens and find embarrassing ways to finish first in the division yet fall to the Habs come playoff time.

I'll give him one thing, though: he's the only player ever to have won the Art Ross trophy as points leader in the year when he was traded. At the time I was hoping this wouldn't become a trend, and I'm glad to see it didn't; I'm a purist that way, the type who didn't like when players got free agency after at most 7 seasons (then again, there are more destinations now that I wouldn't last a month in than there was when I played myself).

This card's a little weird, I'll give you that much; his last name in capitals letters, the lack of a design, and the bizarre absence of a logo make the whole thing an oddity, but that's because its manufacturer, The Score Board, didn't have a license to produce official cards, even in this uniform, Big Joe's junior team, the Sault-Ste-Marie Greyhounds. Here's the logo that was on his chest before it was airbrushed out:
Take a good, long look at that logo, which the team's fans called ''The Ugly Dog'', as it was used only for four seasons before the team reverted back to its original jersey and logo

The card is an insert, signed in blue sharpie, from the 1997-98 The Score Board collection. The way TSB worked, essentially, was they would purchase packs of cards like you and I, from all the other manufacturers, sell the valuable cards to hobby shops and repackage the rest in new packs combining those of all brands (but inevitably more of those they got for cheaper, like Pro Set or Parkhurst), and adding signed inserts of prospects from Canadian junior leagues and American colleges to 'up' the value of their packs.

They also did end up getting licenses, mostly for NFL games and cards for movies, notably Star Trek, Star Wars, The Wizard Of Oz, and estate sets for the likes of Elvis Presley.

For more information, a pretty long article about them seemingly written by someone from the company posing as an objective onlooker can be found here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Trevor Linden Autograph Card

I was looking at past posts today, some two years old, and fell upon my TTM success from Trevor Linden from just about two years ago and came to wondering how the former President of the NHLPA saw the current negotiations - or lack thereof. And the greed on the owners' side.

Let's be honest: the only thing the players took from the last lock-out was earlier free agency, now coming as early as 24 years old for many who make the NHL upon their first tryout. The rest was a bulldozing effort won by the owners, including a salary cap that would even the odds and create parity, a 24% roll-back of players' salaries, and a form of revenue-sharing amongst owners to help teams who are struggling financially.

This time around, when the league is making $3.3 billion dollars a year in shared revenue (triple that of 2004), the Cup not having been won by the same team twice in a row 15 years, and the cap at over $70M this summer, it's the owners' fault for consenting to mind-boggling contracts - and I'm not thinking of Shea Weber per se (although matching the offer was silly), and while Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be a bit over-paid for the next decade, I was thinking more of #4 defenseman Matt Carle netting $8M per season with the Tampa Bay Lightning as a particularly ludicrous deal. Imagine that - under the cap, the team cannot afford to have 9 players of his caliber but have a minimum of 20 jerseys to fill, although 23 would be ideal. That's a lot of wasted cap space on a second liner...

In any event, the former Vancouver Canucks' captain Trevor Linden has stayed out of the debate. And wisely so. I got this signed insert in a pack of Pinnacle Brands' 1997-98 Be A Player cards, and it's #9 in the set (the regular card, anyway, they don't differentiate between the regular and signed version in the numbering); it's autographed in thin black sharpie near the bottom of the card.

I'd forgotten about this card, actually, and just came across it recently now that I'm re-classifying my ''special'' cards in binders, by player - rather than in boxes, by year.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Milan Hejduk Autographed Card

One sub-story that was a bit looked over this week when Gabriel Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history this week was that it meant Milan Hejduk was relinquishing his title, after having been the third in Colorado Avalanche history, after Joe Sakic and Adam Foote.

Hejduk's reasoning behind his decision was that after failing to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career (after 12 consecutive seasons of doing so), he felt his role had diminished on the team, and he felt someone playing on the ''top two lines'' should deserve to lead the team.

My thoughts on this?
1. It proves he is a good leader
2. When Foote was the Avs' captain after a run with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was no longer an elite player either...
Nonetheless, he remains an assistant captain (with Paul Stastny) and will be there to pick up the mantle should Landeskog get injured.

This is card #25 in Fleer's 2005-06 Hot Prospects, set manufactured by Upper Deck. He signed it in thin black sharpie a few years ago at a pre-season game between the Avs and the Montréal Canadiens held at the Avs' former home, the Québec Colisée Pepsi. With Tim Thomas on hiatus, Hejduk is officially the only Québec Nordiques draft pick (1994, 87th overall) still playing in the NHL.

I'll try to write him this year to get him to sign cards with other Avs uniforms, including their current third jersey.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alexander Perezhogin Autograph Card

Yep, two days in a row of autographed inserts from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Ultimate Collection (Ultimate Signatures sub-set), this time card #US-AP, Alexander Perezhogin, then of the Montréal Canadiens.

It's the second time I feature the now-member of the KHL's Avanguard Omsk. It turns out even in the KHL, he was only close to being a point-per-game player once, in 2008-09, with 52 points in 55 games. All in all, he's good for 34 points in 128 NHL games and 148 points in 215 KHL games.

He's just one of many Habs' first-round picks that didn't pan out...

Monday, September 3, 2012

Jarome Iginla Autograph Card

A few days ago, fellow blogger The Irong Lung posted about Jarome Iginla in his series on the NHL's 1000-point men, where he's attempting to gather a hard-signed (i.e. no ''stickers'') autographed insert card for every player who has scored 1000 points and more.

That's one tough task I'd never attempt without first securing a Wayne Gretzky and a Mario Lemieux - two of the most sought-after players in league history and thus, two players who don't sign too many autographs. I have neither, but I do have this Iginla:
It's from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Ultimate Collection (card #US-JI, Ultimate Signatures sub-set) and features a really cool signature in thin blue sharpie. It's a cool, thick card that shows him wearing the captain's ''C'', which he's been wearing since the beginning of the 2003-04.

It's the first card I show of his in which he's wearing the Calgary Flames' red 2000s jersey (I have posted this one and this one in black, and this one and this one in white).

I'm pretty lucky in pulling some of his cards, especially he's one of my favourite all-time players (pretty much the top one since Joe Sakic retired).

He's entering the final year of his contract, and trade rumours will likely abound this year again, but I don't see the face of the franchise going anywhere, what with the Flames being the only team he's ever suited for (despite having been drafted by the Dallas Stars), and his having completed his 11th consecutive 30-goal season (talk about consistency!) Also, I'm sure his next contract will see him earning slightly less than his current $7M, which will enable the team to be more comfortable around the cap as he starts reaching into his twilight years.

I see him playing 5 more seasons, 3 more of which would be 30-goal years.

Coincidentally, he co-owns his junior team, the Kamloops Blazers, with yesterday's poster boy Shane Doan (along with Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shane Doan Autograph Card

One of the many never-ending sagas this off-season has been ''the Shane Doan situation''. I touched briefly on the status of the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday, and the fact that their captain is taking his merry time before signing a new contract wouldn't be so annoying if every hockey blogger didn't write about it every day.

I understand sticking with the team through thick and thin - that's what makes Doan captain material. But the fact that he's contemplating signing 4-year deals elsewhere is puzzling, although not as much as teams offering him $7.5M per season when, at age 35, he has never made that much money - and is on a clear down slope, points-wise, going from 78 points in 2007-08 (28 goals) to 73 in 2008-09 (31 goals) to 55 in 2009-10 (18 goals) to a slight increase to 60 points in 2010-11 (20 goals) to another drop in 2011-12 with 50 points (22 goals).

Sure, with better players, he could produce a little bit more; on the other hand, on a stronger team, he probably wouldn't be on the first line anymore, meaning a drop in ice time may lead to a slip in production as well... and giving more than 10% of your payroll on a has-been isn't exactly the best use of cap space I've heard of.

Doan is a distant cousin to Carey Price, which may or may not matter, in the end. He shares another highlight with the Montréal Canadiens, as he was involved in a discussion with a teammate that degenerated quickly when the Habs took a 4-0 lead, and Doan looked at referee Michel Cormier and said to a teammate ''What do you expect? Four French refs in Montréal...'' implying that Quebecers, as a sub-race, couldn't remain impartial despite their jobs depending on it, while four English-Canadians in Toronto or Ottawa could. His teammate replied ''Fucking Frenchmen'', igniting a controversy that would span both of Doan's next Team Canada appearances (2006 Olympics and 2007 Worlds, where he captained the team).

In any event, Doan's a decent hockey player, and this is the ''signed insert version'' of his rookie card, from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player set (card #S172, the Rookie Quotebook sub-set). It's one of those sets that BAP had an NHLPA license for, but not one from the NHL, so the Jets aren't mentioned anywhere. Other cards had the team logos airbrushed out or hidden by a player's pose...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Murray Keogan Autographed Card

Another day, another story about CBA uncertainty. And another story about Greg Jamison being unable to afford purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes, let alone run the team on a $60M budget for next year.

I think the Phoenix Roadrunners of the WHA were a more solid franchise - and we're talking about a team that folded before being awarded a shot at joining the NHL...

The franchise began as the (minor pro) WHL's Victoria Maple Leafs in 1964-67, but after three seasons in British Columbia, moved to Phoenix to become the Roadrunners. They remained there and won the Lester Patrick Cup twice before the league folded in 1974, and from there made the move to the newly-formed WHA. It was customary back then for minor pro teams to jump from league to league...

When they changed leagues, their roster remained intact, and rookie Murray Keogan, who had gone 31-56-87 (in 78 games) in the WHL produced a respectable 35-29-64 (also in 78 games) in the NHL-expat-heavy WHA.
That jersey  and the team logo especially - was an aberration. For those familiar with Topps' 1974-75 WHA O-Pee-Chee set (of which this was card #44) will notice the lack of facsimile autograph on the card, which Keogan signed and personalized (''Best wishes'') for me in person at a Québec City event in the mid-to-late-1990s (he's from the area, despite his card claiming he was born in Saskatchewan); that's because this is his rookie card and the manufacturer hadn't yet gotten their hands on his signature.

Then again, because he hadn't yet played in the league, the back of his card doesn't even display actual statistics:
Keogan would only end up playing 124 WHA games (with 42 goals and 84 points to show for it, 18 of which coming with the Calgary Cowboys), and never played in the NHL. He also played with the AHL's Springfield Indians and the WIHL's Spokane Flyers.