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: