Monday, April 29, 2013

Brendon Nash Autograph Card

Just like yesterday's Steve Shutt card, this one came in the mail last Friday as part of a trade with fellow blogger and collector Brad. From Panini's 2011-12 Certified set (card #181, Freshman Signatures subset) comes this on-card autograph (in thin blue sharpie) of former Montréal Canadiens prospect Brendon Nash:

Nash went undrafted, but as many as a dozen teams were vying for his services when he came out of College. The Habs managed to convince him to sign with them, and he even re-signed with the team last summer, but they traded his rights to the Florida Panthers' AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage near the end of the lock-out.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Steve Shutt Swatch Card

One of the best left wingers of all time, Steve Shutt was inducted in the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1993 - ironically, the last time his Montréal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup. I wrote about his playing career back in 2010, when I received these two autographed cards by mail and would like to add that he is often credited as being the one who introduced Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee in high school, who went on to form the band Rush, inducted in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame just a few weeks ago.

This time, I'm featuring this swatch card:
It's card #FAR-SS from Upper Deck's 2009-10 Artifacts set (the Frozen Artifacts insert sub-set), received in a trade from fellow collector Brad, along with two other ''special cards'' and a few common stickers, in exchange for, mainly, a Robert Mayer autographed card. I threw in a few Crosbys, a Jordan Staal, a few Pacific double-rookies, and a CHL 4-rookie card featuring Todd Bertuzzi that used to go for upwards of $50. The (nice, blue, game-used) swatch looks like it's got a crease, but it's from the penny sleeve, I just didn't take it off to scan.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reversing Falls Autographed CD

I went to my friend's band's album launch on Friday - Reversing Falls, at Casa del Popolo in Montréal. You can read my review here. You can download most of their stuff here.

My friend - and former survey call center employee! - Tyler Crawford, signed my CD insert for me:
It reads:
To Seb, my old boss (colleague), stop telling me what to do!
I met a lot of my friends in call centers, which at least in Montréal seems like the type of go-to place for creative types - musicians, artists, designers, actors, directors, writers. The job itself isn't the best - who wants to get insulted over the phone for 8 straight hours at barely more than minimum wage? - but the people in it were mostly incredible.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Andrew Cassels: Jersey Card

Andrew Cassels spent three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, and I think this jersey card from Pacific's 2001-02 Private Stock (Game-Used Gear card #98) is all I have to remind me of those days:

What's cool is they specify which season the (white) jersey swatch is from - and it's of note that it was 2 seasons prior to that edition. Lucky for them he was still with the Canucks for that year...

I successfully received 6 autographed cards from him last June, mostly of his days with the Hartford Whalers.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Brad Stuart Autograph Card

The San Jose Sharks keep finding ways to do well in the regular season and seed high in time for the playoffs... hopefully they also keep up with the early exit strategy...

After 41 games, the Sharks had 49 points, and Brad Stuart had 5 - all assists - which is normal, considering the bulk of prime powerplay minutes go to Dan Boyle and Brent Burns. As I mentioned back in September, he is back with the Sharks now after six-and-a-half seasons spent with the Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, with whom he won the 2008 Stanley Cup.

Below is a card from In The Game's 1999-2000 Be A Player Millennium Signature Series (card #214, labeled 'First Signature Card' on the back), where he is sporting the late-1990s Sharks' away jersey, one I liked the colours to but hated the design, with what seems now like the ancestors of the Reebok RBK Edge 'piping' patterns:
Teal, grey and black work well together, just, you know, not that way.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brandie Moses Autograph Card

More and more, it seems Benchwarmer is into limited-edition sets rather than, you know, actual sets. Case in point, this 2012 Happy New Year set (also known as Holiday Upddate). It consisted of 13 cards of models with Benchwarmer's 2011 Holiday design in the background, and 10 with a Happy New Year design - all found in every box, available for $99.

Where they got folks to ''collect them all'', however, was by inserting a ''parallel'' card in every box, plus two ''wild card'' cards - models featured with one design in the regular set sporting the other design for their wild card... seems a tad desperate, no?

That's why I didn't purchase it when it came in my inbox, deciding instead to eventually buy a card or two on Ebay if it sticks out. And this one sure did:

Brandie Moses was ''discovered'' by Playboy in 2005; she has since appeared as the cover model for many of their special editions, calendars and billboards, and items of hers have become among the brand's most popular. She is also a WMMA ring girl and TV/radio personality (albeit mostly Playboy-related).

This is her ''wild card''. I really like the New Year design, and her outfit here may be the Benchwarmer ''uniform'' that has impressed me the most so far. It is signed in black sharpie and cost less than $5.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Samuel Dalembert Swatch Card

I bought a few multi-sport, guaranteed-hit repacks a few months ago, and unfortunately (for me), it was filled with more baseball and basketball than hockey and football. And I'm pretty sure this ''hit'' would have been a ''miss'' for a bunch of other people, but as a Quebecer, getting a fellow Montrealer is a heck of a consolation prize.

And that's where Samuel Dalembert comes in. A native Haitian, he moved (with his family) to Montréal at age 14, and promptly entered and starred in local basketball programs, eventually landing at Seton Hall University on route to the NBA.

Known for his defensive skills (particularly his shot-blocking abilities), he spent the biggest part of his pro career with the Philadelphia 76ers (8 seasons) before first getting traded, which led to his playing for 3 different teams in the next 3 years, first the Sacramento Kings, then the Houston Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks this year.

This card is from his days with the Kings: from Panini's 2010-11 Panini Threads (card #8 of the Century Collection Materials sub-set):

It is numbered 359/399 and contains a white jersey swatch.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sylvain Lefebvre: 9 Autographed Items (Part 1: The Habs)

There haven't been many returns so far this half-season (partly because I haven't sent out all that much stuff), and a few of them have been incompletes (where I sent more than I got back), but this 9/7 return probably makes up for all of them!

I'd sent Sylvain Lefebvre these 6 cards and one sticker on my mom's birthday - January 24th - and got them back just over two months later, on April 5th, 2013, all signed in black sharpie and bearing the correct jersey numbers, with two extra signed index cards.

Lefebvre started his career with the powerhouse Montréal Canadiens of the late 1980s, arriving the season following a Stanley Cup Finals berth (and loss to the Calgary Flames). All of these cards show him wearing the Habs classic red (then-away) uniform, first these two:

On the left, card #159 in Topps' 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee set, showing him duringa  pre-game warm-up; the card on the right is from Topps' 1990-91 Bowman set (card #48 in the set that stood out because the stats on the back were broken down by opposing teams), showing Lefebvre getting ready for a face-off. Both of these sets were considered lower-end cards at the time, but are now considered 'classics'.

Next are two are from then-middle-end sets, now not even worth the paper they were printed on:

The card on the left is from Pro Set's 1992-93 Parkhurst set (card #307 in the series, with the NHL's 75th anniversary patch on the jersey), a set that was so over-glossed the cards have become sticky with age; opening a pack today requires separating groups of 2 or 3 cards that may or may not lose ink in the process. The card on the right is from Score's inaugural 1990-91 Score Canadian (Bilingual) set (card #307).

And now another piece of history, a 1.5x2 inch sticker from Panini's 1990-91 Panini Hockey sticker set (#59 in the series):

For 4 or 5 straight seasons, I managed to complete the whole sticker book. My dream was to have the books signed by all the players - an impossible task now, not just because some of the players are deceased, but also because it's nearly impossible to get a Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier autograph without resorting to murder, kidnapping, running a charity, or all of the above.

Sylvain Lefebvre: 9 Autographed Items (Part 2: The Avs)

Unfortunately for him, Lefebvre was traded prior the the Montréal Canadiens'  Stanley Cup-winning 1992-93 season, to the Toronto Maple Leafs, of all teams. I purposely avoided sending him any cards of the Habs arch-rivals. He would only spend two seasons in Hockey Purgatory, though, before being traded to my favourite team, the Québec Nordiques, who went on to become the Colorado Avalanche. I do have a record of his passage there:

The card on the left is from Donruss' 1995-96 Leaf set (card #292), while the card on the right is from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Upper Deck set (card #342, the Electric Ice sub-set). Both were issued the year he won the Cup with the Avs - his daughter was even baptized in it.

The back of the UD card is pretty cool - it shows him wearing the assistant captain's 'A', and has him defending against none other than Mario Lemieux:

Sylvain Lefebvre would again miss out on a Stanley Cup, signing with Hockey's Country Club (the New York Rangers) prior to the 1999-00 season as a high-priced free agent, becoming the era's poster-boy for over-spending, even spending time in the AHL. He would retire after winning a championship in Switzerland, for SC Bern, in 2003-04.

Sylvain Lefebvre: 9 Autographed Items (Part 3)

(continued from the previous post)

After his career ended, he went back into the Colorado Avalanche organization, starting as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate Lake Erie Monsters, then following head coach Joe Sacco to the main club.

The Montréal Canadiens brought him back into the fold themselves prior to the 2012-13 season, to be the head coach of their AHL team, the Hamilton Bulldogs. I had my doubts at first, seeing a rookie coach entrusted with a full half roster of rookie AHLers, and while the team's closer to the bottom than the top of the standings, every single player called up by the Habs has had a significant opportunity to contribute - and the NHL team is in the top-3, proving their farm team is concentrating more on teaching (be it the team's system, perfecting player development, or developing the players into mature adults) than merely winning games.

I sent Sylvain Lefebvre the items care of the Bulldogs. Here are the (bonus) index cards:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Garth Snow Autograph Card

It had been a while since I twin-posted with Sal's Hockey Autographs page, but since he posted (yet another) card I also own, I figured now was as good a time as any...

And for the occasion, none other than the New York Islanders' current General Manager, Garth Snow:
Sal has card #1811/3050, I have #2030, signed in thin blue sharpie. It's from Classic's 1993-94 4 Sport set.

Snow was drafted 114th overall (6th round) in 1987 by the Québec Nordiques, and he opted to go through the U.S. College route after that, spending 4 seasons with the University Of Maine Black Bears before reporting to the Nordiques' AHL affiliate Cornwall Aces, of which he is seen here sporting the blue (away) uniform. He only played 7 games with the Nordiques before they sent him packing to the Philadelphia Flyers, starting him on a journey that would lead him to playing 368 games with 5 NHL teams (plus 3 AHL teams and a 16-game stint in Russia during the 2004-05 lockout) over 13 seasons.

Snow will be remembered for two things: the first will be his playing days, where his over-sized equipment inspired rule change after rule change - first with his shoulder pads, which took nearly twice the room they should have:
then with his leg pads, which he would add a piece of plastic to at the skate end to cover more space there, then for adding four inches in length at the top, helping cover his 5-hole when he went down butterfly style (see how they cover half the Isles' logo in the picture below):
He'll also be remembered for what happened off the ice: In 2006, the Isles hired Neil Smith as GM and were in the process of rebuilding their image, making room for past legends in the front office and getting involved in the community again... which lasted all of 41 days. As team owner Charles Wang was talking to Snow - then the team's backup goalie, slated to play 20-some games - about his plans for the team, he was impressed by Snow's knowledge of even the most obscure NHL players, as well as the CBA, and promptly offered him the GM job, which he took, announcing his retirement the next day.

And he's been the best GM they've had in 25 years, bringing such players as Marc-André Bergeron, Ryan Smyth, Evgeni Nabokov, Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight and Mark Streit into the fold.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Two Blake Geoffrion Autographed Index Cards

I had to do some amount of research before identifying this bittersweet return, because the only thing that was included in the regular-sized envelope was these two signed index cards:
Usually, when sending out regular trading cards, I use small envelopes, and the fact that these didn't come in one but in a self-addressed stamped regular-sized envelope clued me in that it might be from someone I'd sent 4x6 pictures to, which narrowed the list down a bit.

From there, I used Google Images until I fell on this card, which was pretty much a match:
And then my heart broke.

Blake Geoffrion is a fourth-generation Montréal Canadiens player: his great-grandfather is the legendary Howie Morenz (one of the first inducteed when the Hall Of Fame opened in 1945), his grand-father was Bernard ''Boom Boom'' Geoffrion (a 1972 Hall Of Fame inductee and one of the first players with an amazing slap shot), and his father was Dan Geoffrion, a hard-working journeyman who played 32 games with the Habs.

I was extremely happy when the Habs traded for Blake last season - he's part of the Habs family, part of its century-old history, and he deserved to have a chance to show what he's got to the unique Montréal crowd - part Apollo theater-like in its ''tough love'' and hard-critique approach, but also part blind, unfailing love and religious devotion.

Whether superstars or grinders, fighters or snipers the Montréal crowd knows the game well enough to respect all the players who get them out of their seats and/or give it their all, which explains why they still adore the likes of Saku Koivu and Steve Bégin even years after they've departed. And though Geoffrion The Fourth was looking to be more Bégin than Morenz (although he did win the Hobey Baker Award in 2009-10), there was room for him on this team, wearing the three-coloured jersey. There's always room for heart and pride on an NHL team.

He did play 13 games to close out the 2011-12 season, but with the lockout, he started the current season in the NHL, with the Hamilton Bulldogs, centering the first line and mentoring a bunch of kids who wound up playing on the big club in the end; unfortunately, Geoffrion himself couldn't, as the result of a November 9th freak accident where, when checked by former Habs prospect Jean-Philippe Côté, he fell to the ice (possibly suffering a concussion), then a skull fracture after hitting Coté's skate. He notified the team's GM Marc Bergevin two weeks ago that he may retire at season's end.

I'd sent Blake Geoffrion one card (a rookie card from his Nashville Predators days) and four self-made 4x6 pictures on April 3rd, 2012, and he kept them all but returned these two index cards I'd enclosed for protection, signed in blue pen. So, all in all, it's a 0/5, 2/0 return from a guy who may never play again, and it took exactly a year to make it back to me.

I wish him the best for the future. He's studied in marketing and public relations, so perhaps he'll come back to the Habs more of a behind-the-scenes role in the future...