Friday, June 20, 2014

Guy Lapointe Autographed Card

I'd been waiting for this news for years, and it was announced yesterday: Guy Lapointe will once again be reunited with Larry Robinson and Serge Savard to form the historical ''Big Three''... atop the rafters of the Bell Centre. Indeed, the Montréal Canadiens will retire his #5 (which won't be too much of a problem since it's already retired in honor of Bernard ''Boom Boom'' Geoffrion) some time next season, possibly when the Minnesota Wild - who he currently works for, as the head scout - come visit.

Like Geoffrion, Lapointe had a tremendous slap shot, and like Savard and Robinson, his hip checks were almost deadly, but he also had dazzling speed  - and where Savard had dedication and Robinson had an angry focus, Lapointe had fun and energy.

Hall of Fame goalie Ken Dryden famously wrote, in his classic book The Game:
In the early and mid-1970s, except for Bobby Orr, Guy Lapointe was the best defenceman in the NHL. He was strong and powerful, an explosive skater with a hard, low shot, but what made him unique was the emotion he could bring to a game. During flat, lifeless stretches, uncalculated, he would suddenly erupt with enormous impatient fury, racing around the ice, daring and inspired on offence and defence, giving the game a new mood; turning it our way. It is a rare ability, and even as Denis Potvin and Robinson matured in mid-decade to push him onto second all-star teams and beyond, it was a skill that even they couldn’t match.
And the praise also came from Savard and Robinson, both of whom have always pushed for Lapointe's number to be retired by the team, and in both cases, they argued in his favour even before their own jerseys were hanging from the rafters.

Then again, a Norris trophy nominee, six-time Stanley Cup winner, member of Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series (with Savard and despite his wife due to give birth to his first-born), the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1979 Challenge Cup and Hall of Famer in his own right couldn't have made it on sheer luck alone.

I've had this card since I was a kid, possibly from his days as an associate coach with the Québec Nordiques; I remember I got to meet him through a man I considered to be my grandfather, who had been a sports journalist in the 1950s, 1960s 1970s and 1980s:
It's from the 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee set (card #60, noting that he made the end-of-season Second All-Star Team) by Topps, and was signed in thick black sharpie.

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