Monday, September 29, 2014

Turner Stevenson Autograph Card

With the news of Bob Gainey joining the St. Louis Blues as a consultant to Ken Hitchcock and Doug Armstrong, I decided to knock off #23 from my Habs Numbers Project with... Turner Stevenson.

It's not that I'm boycotting Gainey for having been a so-so general manager with the Habs or for firing coaches uselessly, but I wrote him in February 2012 sending three cards and he never answered, so I decided to go another route.

Stevenson was the Montréal Canadiens' first-round draft pick (12th overall) in 1990 - one of the deepest drafts in modern hockey history - ahead of All-Stars Keith Tkachuk (19th), Martin Brodeur (20th), Bryan Smolinski (21st), Félix Potvin (31st), Doug Weight (34th), Geoff Sanderson (36th), Mikael Renberg (40th), Vyacheslav (Slava) Kozlov (45th), Alexei Zhamnov (77th), Gilbert Dionne (81st), Sergei Zubov (85th), Roman Turek (113th), Robert Lang (133rd), Peter Bondra (156th), Jaroslav Modry (179th), Espen Knutsen (204th), and enforcers Gino Odjick (86th), Enrico Ciccone (92nd), and Craig Martin (98th).

After accumulating 29 goals and 61 points in 62 games (but more importantly 276 penalty minutes) with the Seattle Thunderbirds, the Habs continued their 1980s and 1990s streak of drafting heavy Western Canadian players who would end up not being impact players at the NHL level (or not even playing at all), hoping they'd found that huge power forward who could score a ton of goals for a long time and defend their teammates. Like Tkachuk or Renberg.

Instead, they got a slow, heavy winger who could play 10 to 13 minutes per game and whose highest goals total in Montréal was 10, in 1998-99. He would score 14 in 2003-04 with the New Jersey Devils, with whom he made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, losing to the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 and winning the prized trophy in 2003.

But you can't fault a guy for being who and what he is, and Turner Stevenson was a player who would suit up in 644 NHL games, scoring 75 goals and tallying 190 points in the process. He didn't ask to be a first-round pick, and he finished with his name engraved on the sport's ultimate trophy.

Here he is waiting for a pass, wearing the Canadiens' white (then-home) uniform, from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set (card #181), an insert card signed in thin black sharpie with his uniform number added (23):

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