Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Christopher Gibson: 3 Autographed Cards

Another cool return today, from a prized prospect I've been watching since 2010:
Christopher Gibson is a Finnish goaltender (with Jamaican heritage via his father) who plays a sound positional game, has a by-the-book modern-day technique but with the glove held lower (à la 1990s, the way I prefer it), quick to move from one post to the other and good at covering his angles. I like how he handles rebounds - kept to himself or sent to the corner, very rarely sent to a dangerous position.

He has found a way to adapt to every level he's played at. He moved to Canada at age 15 to play Midget AAA and won the national championship; he dressed for Team Finland and won a (surprising) bronze medal at the U18 World Championships in 2010; he registered an insane .920 save percentage in his second of four seasons in the LHJMQ - all with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, which prompted the Los Angeles Kings to make him their first draft pick in 2011, 49th overall in the second round (they didn't have a first-round pick as it was part of the Dustin Penner trade with the Edmonton Oilers).

The ''big knock'' on Gibson is a perceived lack of consistency, notably because his next two seasons in the ''Q'' had him post .893 and .902 save percentages, respectively - a huge drop that had harsh repercussions, as the Kings didn't even bother to sign him to an entry-level contract (the Toronto Maple Leafs quickly snatched him up, though, saving him from Finland's mandatory military service). That last year, though, his .902 was still good for 6th-best in the league. In. The. League. Put in perspective, that's not so bad, is it?

He played with Charles Hudon on the Sags, and his goalie coach was Jimmy Waite.

He started the 2013-14 season with the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears and was particularly impressive in two playoff games, stopping 77 of 81 shots (.951) with a 1.94 GAA, earning himself a call-up with the Toronto Marlies in time for their own playoffs, after suiting up for them 20 times this year with a 2.44 GAA and a .916 save percentage.

I had sent him a fan letter and four cards - care of the Marlies - on April 9th, 2014, and got three of them back, signed in blue sharpie, with his jersey number tagged at the end - 37 for the Sags, 31 for Finland - on May 6th (2014), a 27-day return. Here's what happened for the fourth card, which he returned unsigned:
So, yeah, even custom cards can contain errors... (my apologies to the people who made the old O-Pee-Chee sets and the inaugural Pro Set for all my past snarky comments). You'll recognize my own Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 2 design, and Gibson's is card #5 in the collection (with three variants, A, B, and let's call this one C).

Here's a look at the cards he did sign, first with the Team Finland variation of my custom cards:
And here are two with the Saguenéens' superb blue uniform:
On the left, another of my Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 2 cards, and on the right, a 2010-11 Between The Pipes card (#7 in the set, part of the Future Stars sub-set) from In The Game.

I make it a point to travel at least once a year to the Saguenay (Chicoutimi) area to visit a dear cousin of mine who has moved there, and when I do, I usually catch a Sags game or two. Hudon and Gibson have made these road trips worthwhile for the past few years, and so I'm very happy with this return.

So far, I'm 20/71 (plus one RTS) in my 2014 mailings, which I feel is promising.

No comments:

Post a Comment