Sunday, February 9, 2014

Brad Church Autograph Card

The back of Brad Church's card reads:
A pro-style forward, (he) is a good forechecker who has a nice scoring touch.
Now, I don't know what ''pro-style'' means, but if they mean NHL, they're kind of right, seeing as he played two games for the Washington Capitals in 1997-98, a decent feat considering that team ended up losing in the Stanley Cup Finals.

If they mean ''any pro league'', then they're right on the money, seeing as he played for 12 minor-league teams in 3 leagues from 1996-97 until 2005-06, including two separate stints with the AHL's Portland Pirates.

The Caps had chosen him 17th overall i the first round of the 1995 draft, ahead of Petr Sykora (18th), Georges Laraque (31st), Jochen Hecht (49th), Miikka Kiprusoff (116th), and Stéphane Robidas (164th). Their picks that year played a combined 54 NHL games, and that's including 24 each for goalie Sébastien Charpentier (fourth round, 93rd overall) and center Benoît Gratton (fifth round, 105th overall)...

Church was nearly a point-per-game player in the ECHL and even towards the end of his pro career in the UHL, but the only time he went over the half-point per game pace in the AHL was during an 11-game stint with the Manchester Monarchs in 2003-04, a team that had Pavel Rosa, Mike Cammalleri and Steve Kelly in its ranks.

All told, it makes for a decent if unstable professional career, but as far as first-round picks go, I think he qualifies as a ''bust''. Upon retiring, he became an assistant coach with the ECHL's Phoenix Roadrunners, but the head coach quit with 8 games remaining and Church got the nod. He stayed in place for two extra seasons going 24-39-9 and 30-37-0 and missing the playoffs both times.

Which brings me to his card:
It's from Signature Rookies' 1995-96 Draft Day set (card #8, numbered 2331/4500, signed in blue sharpie), and I got it through a repack box. He's seen wearing the Minnesota North Stars-inspired Prince Albert Raiders white (home) uniform with the front logo airbrushed out for copyright reasons and instead replaced with generic text. Here's what the logo should look like:

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