Monday, July 14, 2014

Ryan O'Reilly Swatch Card

Ah, the curious case of Ryan O'Reilly. The 33rd pick of the 2009 draft, ahead of Robin Lehner (46th), Brandon Pirri (59th), Tomas Tatar (60th), Tyson Barrie (64th), David Savard (94th), Stanley Cup winner Linden Vey (96th), Gabriel Bourque (132nd), and Gabriel Dumont (139th) already has NHL hardware - he won the Lady Byng trophy this summer after notching just two penalty minutes all season, for playing with a broken stick no less - but is also entering his second contract dispute with the Colorado Avalanche in less than two years.

He signed an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames a year and a half ago, a trap if there ever was one, considering he made $1M (with a 2.5M signing bonus) the first year, and a whopping $6.5M the second, meaning as a Restricted Free Agent, the team who would own his rights (be they the Flames, the Avs or any team he would have been traded to) had at least match the final year's worth just as a qualifying offer, or lose him to Unrestricted Free Agency. Of course, since then, teams were awarded the right to bring a player to arbitration and lower their salary - which they have applied for, and both sides enter the next couple of weeks a little on edge.

And there was that thing with O'Reilly's dad, angry at the organization for not having named his son captain, his Twitter rants, and his attack on how the team views character.

Except character isn't about crying the minute you don't get what you want, it's about getting up when you're down, manning up to your shortcomings, and doing what's best for the group, not yourself. O'Reilly led the team with a lowly 55 points in 2011-12 as the Avs failed to make the playoffs, and he thought it was a good idea to get paid more than 10% of the team's cap - higher than its actual first-liners - hindering their chances at adding outside help; they finished last in their conference the following year, obviously.

To me, those are signs of a mercenary, and those guys don't deserve a letter on their jersey, least of which a "C". They are those you use while your prospects develop, then send to places where folks would rather watch NASCAR than hockey, or in a desert on an always-bankrupt team, or a teal-coloured ''perennial contender'', or in frigid Manitoba. You forget they ever existed, save for the three draft picks they got you when you set them free.

But maybe I'm just a romantic when it comes to Colorado. Maybe I've been spoiled by Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy and Milan Hejduk, and maybe I believe Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are made of the same cloth.

And yet, after saying all this, I didn't hate it when I unpacked this 2012-13 Certified card by Panini (#FOG-RO of the Fabric Of The Game sub-set, numbered /49/299), showing him in the Avs' dark (home) uniform with a white jersey swatch:
The silver foil actually looks better scanned than in real life, which is pretty rare. I wouldn't mind white swatches so much if the picture on the card at least depicted the player having some on him... not doing so just tells me they buy those because they're cheaper, which is likely because it looks bland, or else it'd be on the card. Unless three wrongs make a right...

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