Friday, January 31, 2014

Luke Richardson Autographed Card

Luke Richardson was chosen in the first round (7th overall) of the 1987 NHL draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, ahead of Joe Sakic (15th), Andrew Cassels (17th), John LeClair (33rd), Jeff Hackett (34th), Éric Desjardins (38th), Mathieu Schneider (44th), Guy Hebert (159th), and Theoren Fleury (166th).

Sarcastic people might say that explains why the Leafs were so bad for so long, foregoing such quality offensive leaders and steady #1 goaltenders in favour of a defensive defenseman, but not only was Richardson one of their better picks of the late 1980s, he was also a true leader, having even captained the Columbus Blue Jackets later in his career.

He played for an astonishing 21 NHL Seasons (surprising not just because it proves his value on the blue line and in the dressing room, but also because of his tough and bruising style of play), during which he played 1417 regular-season games (201 points, 2055 penalty minutes) and 69 playoff games (8 assists, 130 PIMs), during which he came close to a Stanley Cup championship, losing in the Finals, in 1999-2000 with the Philadelphia Flyers.

I got him to sign this card (and another one I can't seem to find at the moment) during the 2007-08 season when he was with the Ottawa Senators, from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Parkhurst set (card #463), signed in blue sharpie, representing him with the Leafs' white uniform:
Famously physically tough, he overcame a terrible Dino Ciccarelli clubbing to the head in his rookie season - one which earned Ciccarelli some prison time - but it's his mental toughness and resilience that has shown of late, particularly when his daughter committed suicide in late 2010, which I'm only mentioning to show this video, at a time when mental illness is at the forefront of many social discussions in Québec, Canada, and the U.S.:

Now the head coach of the Binghamton Senators, he is the one mostly responsible for Ottawa's quality NHL youngsters, which he not only helps become better hockey players, but better people, and good human beings. (I really like the string of kids making their way to the Sens' line-up these past couple of years).

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