Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Jarrod Skalde Autograph Card

Because I am a gullible person who believes what he reads on hockey cards, I was convinced Jarrod Skalde would have a great, long, flourishing career in the NHL, perhaps the New Jersey Devils' first, real star offensive leader. Basically, I thought he might go on to become Patrik Elias.

In the early 1990s, every set from every manufacturer had a rookie/''future superstar'' card with his name on it - sometimes both in the ''regular'' (Series 1) and ''update'' (Series 2) versions, then one in every set the following year showing his impressive point ratio (1 assist in one NHL game, 3 goals and 5 points in 3 AHL games) to prove that he was a sure-fire, blue-chip prospect.

It seemed he was a steal having been drafted in the second round, 26th overall, ahead of Patrice Brisebois (30th), steady defensive defenseman Bob Boughner (32nd), Canadian Olympian Rob Zamuner (45th), best defenseman of his era Nicklas Lidstrom (53rd), four-time Stanley Cup winner, Selke winner and Olympian Kris Draper (62nd), multiple 100-point man and Selke winner Sergei Fedorov (74th), Aaron Miller (88th), Dan Bylsma (109th), Hall of Famer Pavel Bure (113th), 25-to-30-goal man Donald Audette (183rd), Olympians Vladimir Malakhov (191st) and Arturs Irbe (196th), and two-time Cup champion Vladimir Konstantinov (221st).

I have asked for his autograph three or four times in my teens, and will feature those cards some day, but I'd like to concentrate on another one for now, one that shows him with the old-school San Jose Sharks teal jersey:
It's a signed insert from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set (card #198), signed on-card in black sharpie. How would a future Devils superstar end up playing in San Jose, you might ask? It's actually more complicated than that. Brace yourselves...

After bouncing around from New Jersey and the AHL's Utica Devils for three seasons, he was demoted to the IHL's Cincinnati Cyclones to finish the 1992-93 season, then was picked by the start-up Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the expansion draft, but he split the season between the NHL and the San Diego Gulls.

The 1994-95 lock-out was of no help to him, so he spent the season with the Las Vegas Thunder with such players as Radek Bonk and Alexei Yashin, managing to put up 75 points in 74 games, bringing his then IHL statistics to 60 goals, 81 assists and 141 points in 135 games.

So back to the AHL it was for the 1995-96 season, first with the Baltimore Bandits, then the Saint John Flames when the Calgary Flames traded for his rights. He even played a game with the big team, going scoreless. He also spent the following season in St. John, combining for 59-76-135 in 133 games.

He signed with the Sharks as a free agent prior to the 1997-98 season, and that's when it got crazy. Not only did he spend time in both the IHL (Indianapolis Ice) and AHL (Kentucky Thoroughblades), he may have broken the NHL waiver wire:
  • 1998-Jan-08 Claimed off waivers by Chicago Blackhawks from San Jose Sharks
  • 1998-Jan-23 Claimed off waivers by San Jose Sharks from Chicago Blackhawks
  • 1998-Jan-27 Claimed off waivers by Dallas Stars from San Jose Sharks
  • 1998-Feb-10 Claimed off waivers by Chicago Blackhawks from Dallas Stars
  • 1998-Mar-06 Claimed off waivers by San Jose Sharks from Chicago Blackhawks
Apparently, the Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks had a little thing going...

And that was just the beginning...

In the next 10 years, he would play in 6 different leagues despite taking a whole year off. He played in the NHL (Sharks, Atlanta Thrashers, Philadelphia Flyers), AHL (Thoroughblades, Chicago Wolves, Philadelphia Phantoms, Utah Grizzlies, Springfield Falcons, San Antonio Rampage), IHL (the Grizzlies 5 years before their move to the AHL, the Orlando Solar Bears - yes! - and the Bloomington PrairieThunder), the Swiss-A league (Lausanne),  the Swedish league (Leksands IF) and Austria (Jesenice). All in all, he has played for 8 NHL teams, 9 AHL teams, 7 IHL teams in two different incarnations of it, as well as Austria, Switzerland and Sweden.

As The Beatles said in Norwegian Wood, ''This bird has flown''. He is the epitome of the journeyman player. He now coaches the Cyclones, and has led them to the third round last season.

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