Friday, November 22, 2013

Stanislav Neckar Autograph Card

What can you expect from a second-round, 29th-overall draft pick? What should you expect?

Honestly, I don't know.

I'll tell you one thing, if he's playing for the Ottawa Senators from 1994 to 1999, the Phoenix Coyotes at the turn of the millenium (1998-2001), the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2001 until 2003 and then the Nashville Predators, you cannot expect point-per-game production, whether it's the player's fault or that of those around him. They were all terrible, expansion-caliber teams.

In that regard, Stanislav Neckar's 510 NHL games stand more as a testament to his skill as a player than his 12 goals and 53 points, I think, and his career total of -71 (that is indeed minus-71) in the plus/minus stats can also be attributed to the teams he was on; it bears noting that three of the four seasons where he posted a worse than -10 rating were with the Sens, including seasons in which the team went 9-34-5 (23 points in 48 games - yes, the team) and 18-59-5 (41 points in 82 games, ouch! - under three different head coaches no less).

The Lightning thought enough of him to trade for his services again and suit him up for two playoff games in their 2004 Stanley Cup run.

I fell on a card of him in a re-packaged cello pack of cards that guaranteed an autograph, and it's from Classic's 1994-95 Draft Picks set (card #3 in the Autographs checklist, numbered #535/4645):

It's signed in blue sharpie and features him representing the Czech Republic at the World Juniors. He also played for his national team at the 1996 World Championships (winning the gold medal while posting 4 points in 8 games) and 1996 World Cup (0 for 3).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cory Keenan Autograph Card

You might not know who Cory Keenan is, and for the longest time, neither did I. And for the longest time, all I had going were the stats on the back of this card:
But that was when I got this card in a re-pack, which is of course Signature Rookies' signature move: open backs of ''brand-name'' cards (usually low-level brands like Pro Set, Score, O-Pee-Chee, maybe some by Pacific), keep and sell the valuable ones on the secondary market and re-package the commons and semi-stars with ''guaranteed autographed cards'' of every single non-professional player they can get their hands on, in this case, Keenan, wearing the Austrian League's EC Villacher white (home) uniform with the front logo airbrushed out. It's from the 1995-96 Draft Day 96 set (card #18), and the autograph is numbered 797/4500 and signed in thin blue sharpie.

You probably noticed on the card that he was a 6th round pick of the Hartford Whalers. That, and his birthdate is possibly the only thing this card has that matches what Hockey DB has on him, as the parts of two seasons on the back of the card don't appear in their statistics.

 The card does mention his stint with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, though I'm not sure 118 points over 3 seasons (198 games) makes him a ''star player''.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shane Doan Autographed Card

Currently on a hot streak is Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, on pace to have one of his most successful NHL seasons at age 37.

Then again, he never once scored a point per game in any season, though he did come close a few times with 78- and 73-point seasons, and he did score 30+ goals twice. With his reputation and numerous Team Canada nods, however, you'd have thunk he'd have been a better producer, but you have to remember he's played in the Arizona desert pretty much his whole career, save for his rookie year when they were still the Winnipeg Jets. Not exactly statistic-friendly...

He was the 7th player drafted in 1995, a fairly decent crop of players that included Wade Redden (2nd), Chad Kilger (4th), Daymond Langkow (5th), Steve Kelly (6th), Radek Dvorak (10th), Jarome Iginla (11th), the rejuvenated Jean-Sébastien Giguère (13th), recent retiree Martin Biron (16th), Petr Sykora (18th), Jochen Hecht (49th), Miikka Kiprusoff (116th), and Stéphane Robidas (164th).

Of the lot, there is one sure-fire Hall Of Famer (Iginla), and two who are on the bubble but, in my opinion, should make it: Giggy (Conn Smythe in 2003, Stanley Cup in 2007) and Kipper (the best goalie in the world for 5 straight years despite a few Vezinas lost to Martin Brodeur).

Doan just doesn't have the numbers, nor the hardware. But he does have heart, in droves and enough for a whole team to rely on for a decade. I got him to sign this card of him wearing the Coyotes' ''peyote'' uniform (though the logo isn't clear on the jersey itself):
It's from Topps' 2002-03 O-Pee-Chee set (card #131) and was signed in black sharpie outside the Bell Centre in the beginning of the 2008-09 season; I also got Steven Reinprecht at that time, though I can't seem to find that card at the moment.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Dennis Martinez Autographed Card

Dennis Martinez' nickname was 'El Presidente' for a while, until July 28th, 1991, when he pitched a perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a special game for many reasons: two days earlier, Mark Gardner was throwing a no-hitter until he surrendered one in the tenth inning, meaning the Montréal Expos could have been the first team to throw a no-hitter and a perfect game in the same series; also, 'El Perfecto' was the first non-American to register a perfect game, and his adversary, Mike Morgan, was also perfect through the first five innings, the longest the opponent of a perfect pitcher matched his counterpart; finally, it was the second time catcher Ron Hassey was on the receiving end of a perfect game, having previously been behind the plate for Len Barker's.

It was the 13th perfect game of all time, and the 11th of the modern era.

But Martinez was more than a one-trick pony: he finished in the top-5 in Cy Young voting twice, in the top-25 twice in MVP voting, and participated in 4 All-Star Games. He led his league in complete games twice (9 in 1991, and a whopping 18 in 1979 with the Baltimore Orioles); he finished his career with 30 shutouts, including a league-leading 5 in 1991, when he also led with a 2.39 ERA. He finished in the top-10 in wins 5 times.

Until a skinny kid with the same last name a few years later (Pedro Martinez), I had never seen that dominant a pitcher up-close (I'd seen Dennis Eckersley and Greg Maddux on TV, though) - and because I haven't watched a baseball game in over 15 years, I haven't seen as dominant a display as his perfect game, ever - and that includes all the Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens highlights.

So when he signed this card for me in 1993, you can bet I was the happiest kid in the Olympic Stadium:
It's from Topps' 1993 Topps set (card #610) and was signed in fading blue sharpie. It shows him in the Expos' grey (away) uniform they instilled in 1992 - he'd previously starred and been perfect in their powder-blue uniform.