Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lyle Odelein Autograph Card

My friends and I still refer to a goal scored by a defenseman after an end-to-end rush as a... Lyle Odelein goal.

Sure, these days, it's more likely it'll happen from P.K. Subban's stick, and our parents fill us up with tales of how Bobby Orr invented those types of rushes (then our grandparents correct them and say Doug Harvey did so a decade before him), but that's also how Odelein scored his first - and what seems now like his lone - NHL goal for the Montréal Canadiens.

He wasn't awful by any stretch of the imagination, but his talents were more of the stay-at-home type, blocking shots, and he had a knack for sacrificing himself and taking on fights when he really shouldn't have had to, except the Habs then, just like now, lacked an actual enforcer (pretty much since the day the Anaheim Mighty Ducks chose Todd Ewen in the expansion draft). He finished his NHL career with 2316 penalty minutes, good for the 29th spot of all time.

Odelein was part of the Habs' record 24th Stanley Cup-winning team (1993), also the last time a Canadian team won the Cup. GM Réjean Houle traded him to the New Jersey Devils in 1996, though (for Stéphane Richer), which is why this 1997-98 Be A Player signed insert card (card #17, signed in black sharpie) by Pinnacle Brands features him wearing their red (away) uniform; he's also sporting the assistant captain's 'A', which he also wore in Montréal. He was the Columbus Blue Jackets' first captain.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gord Murphy Signed Index Card

A few weeks ago, I posted about Gord Murphy, a very under-rated, top pair offensive defenseman of the late 80s/mid-90s, mentioning that in the same mailing he'd signed four cards for me, but also an index card, which I'd misplaced.

I have found it and put it in my 4x6 album:
Unfortunately for him, his Florida Panthers are now dead-last in the Eastern Conference, due mostly to injuries - their best forward, Stephen Weiss, leading scorer Kris Versteeg, and #1 goalie, José Theodore, are both gone for the remainder of the season - but also sub-par play from a few key veterans.

On the bright side, rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore have already staked a claim as leaders of the organization, so the future looks bright, especially considering Dmitry Kulikov, T.J. Brennan and Colby Robak on defense, Jacob Markstrom in nets, and the fact that neither Jack Skille, Peter Mueller nor Shawn Matthias are over 25 on offense. You can definitely build around those players.

Still, you have to hope the Panthers don't remain in the newly-realigned Northeast division for too long, sharing it with the likes of the Boston Bruins, Montréal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning (as well as bottom-feeders Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jason Spezza Jersey Card

Should a team losing its #1, league-leading goalie (Craig Anderson), its top Norris trophy-winning defender (Erik Karlsson) and its top center, the second-best passer in the league (Jason Spezza) trade away its short-term assets (Milan Michalek) and hope for the best the following season - or should it keep at it, build on the success and cement team chemistry and keep the ship steady?

The Ottawa Senators have chosen to see what's behind Door #2 and it's paying off dearly: not only are they still in a good playoff position, they're also still leading the Jennings trophy race thanks to the stellar play of future star goalies Robin Lehner (who isn't winning as much as his 2.07 GAA and .944 save % should allow, going 1-0-4 so far but getting the team points in each start) and giant Ben Bishop (the ''worse'' of the Sens' goalies at 4-4-0, 2.54 and .925, which still makes him a top-10 goalie, stats-wise).

It's unclear whether Spezza will return this season, but one thing is for sure: the longer the Sens play and the deeper they get in the playoffs, the better the chances of a comeback this season. I've been seeing the Senators as contenders for a couple of seasons now, and although I'm liking how they're playing minus any of their stars (save for venerable captain Daniel Alfredsson), a team is still better with its best elements present, particularly when they're just added to an already-working mix.

This awesome swatch card is from Upper Deck's 2000-01 CHL Prospects set (card #JS, the Game Jersey sub-set) and features a white swatch of a game-used Mississauga IceDogs jersey in its center.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Robert Mayer: 4 Autographed Cards (Part 1)

Robert Mayer saw that there wasn't a future for him in the Montréal Canadiens' organization a few weeks ago and took a gutsy mid-season decision: signing in Switzerland for next season, making for a hectic half-week, between a win for his Hamilton Bulldogs, a call-up to the Habs, a demotion back to the AHL, and a Bulldogs game at the Bell Center to close the story.

Mayer is no fool: he knows it'll be nearly impossible to displace Carey Price as the Habs' top goalie, and instead of remaining buried in the organization, will play for the #1 spot with the HC Biel and maybe eventually get a real shot at the NHL.

So coming home to this 4-card return last night was great, as I might never get another chance to get his autograph. I'd sent these cards to him care of the Bulldogs on January 30th, so they came back in about a month, signed in black sharpie, each with the jersey number he's sporting on the card.

A (Swiss who happens to be a) native of the Czech Republic (although his first two cards say he's from Zurich, Switzerland), he came to North America to play Juniors, playing for the St. John Sea Dogs of the LHJMQ:

The card on the left is from In The Game's 2008-09 Between the Pipes set (card #42, the Future Stars sub-set) and sees him wearing the Sea Dogs' away jersey; the card on the right is from In The Game's 2007-08 Between the Pipes set (card #45, the Future Stars sub-set) and sees him in the team's white (home) uniform.

He was never drafted in the NHL, but the Canadiens signed him to a (minor league) free agent contract in 2008 and quickly threw him in the ECHL with their then-affiliate Cincinnati Cyclones, where he went 19-10-1 with a 2.81 GAA in 2009-10, earning him a promotion with the Bulldogs for the following season, which is where this card comes in:

From In The Game's 2010-11 Between the Pipes set (card #82, the Future Stars sub-set, sporting the Bulldogs' white jersey, taking control of the puck (possibly after play).

(continued in the next post)

Robert Mayer: 4 Autographed Cards (Part 2)

(continued from the previous post)

Since then, he has been called up three times by the Habs, but has yet to play a single minute, which hasn't stopped Panini from including him in their 2012-13 Score set (card #533, Hot Rookies sub-set):

 I wish him the best in Europe.