Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bernie Nicholls Autographed Card

Fellow blogger The Iron Lung featured Bernie Nicholls a year and a half ago as part of his 1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs project, and I must have gotten jealous, because when I attended an NHL alumni charity game near Ottawa during last year's lock-out, I brought along pretty much the same card he has, except mine is the regular-issue card and his is the signed insert variant.

First, here's mine:

And here's his, so you know the difference:

They're both from Upper Deck's 2006-07 Parkhurst set (card #82), but the one that came signed in the pack has a part of the front airbrushed out in white to give the player room to sign, whereas I had to erase the coating off of mine myself then track him down for him so sign it.

And did Nicholls ever look good in the Los Angeles Kings' purple and gold (away uniform)!

He was also a point-producing machine, one of eight players to score 70 goals in a season, one of thirteen players to amass 8 points in a single game, a 475-goal, 1209-point man in merely 1127 games from the end of the high-scoring eighties to most of the Dead Puck era, a man who was a point-per-game player with four different teams (almost was with a fifth).

In an odd turn of events, though, despite his 42 goals and 114 points in 118 playoff games, he kind of became the player you trade away to stack up before making a Stanley Cup run, as the Los Angeles Kings sent him to the New York Rangers while mounting the team to first rival the Edmonton Oilers then reach the 1993 Finals (losing to the Montréal Canadiens).

Irony of ironies, the Rangers then traded him to the Oilers for Mark Messier (esssentially) in 1992, gearing up for their own 1994 win. From Edmonton he moved to the New Jersey Devils, with whom he remained until the end of the 1993-94 season, meaning he was with the Chicago Black Hawks the next year when Jersey won theirs.

After Chicago came the San Jose Sharks, then retirement. And because God does not want the Sharks to win, ever, even Nicholls' leaving them didn't bring them any closer to Lord Stanley's Grail.

I chose to feature him today because earlier this week, he joined the former players' lawsuit against the league in regards to concussions. I find it important, regardless of the money settlement (it won't be anywhere close to what the NFL offered its alumni), that we get to the truth about just how much danger the league is hiding from its players, medically, so that all future generations know going in what they face, and assess the risks inherent to their line of work with a clear head - while they can.

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