Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gaston Gingras: 8 Autographed Items

And score another TWO for my Habs Numbers Project!

That's right, Gaston Gingras can account for both #2 and #29 in the project, so I don't have to look for expensive Doug Harvey (2) or Ken Dryden (29) cards or memorabilia.
Gingras was drafted in the second round (27th overall) by the Montréal Canadiens in 1979, after a successful Juniors career with the Kitchener Rangers and a fine WHA season with the Birmingham Bulls in 1978-79 (13 goals and 34 points in 60 games).

A smooth skater with a hard slap shot, but not quite a Hall Of Famer, he had a hard time establishing himself on a stacked Habs team at first, and was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after parts of four seasons in which he still managed to score a point in every two games; after 109 games in two and a half seasons with the Leafs in which he was on the score sheet 57 times, he was dealt back to the Canadiens, who sent him to their AHL farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadiens. The team comprised of youngsters Patrick Roy, Claude Lemieux, Brian Skrudland and Stéphane Richer won the Calder Cup in 1984-85, and they all graduated to the main club the following season, helping the Habs to their 23rd Stanley Cup in 1986.

He would play another year in Montréal before getting traded to the St. Louis Blues two games into the 1987-88 season, and would also play with them the following year, before setting his sights on Europe as a player-coach, first in Switzerland, then Italy, before coming back and doing the same in North America, with the AHL's Fredericton Canadiens first, then the ECHL's Chesapeake Icebreakers.

He remains a teacher at heart to this day, hosting weekly hockey clinics in the Western part of Montréal (Louis Leblanc is an alum), in addition to his regular participation in NHL and Canadiens alumni games.

And so I wanted to pay tribute to all aspects of his career with the Canadiens when I made these custom Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 2 cards, first with the B (checking the Chicago Blackhawks' Grant Mulvey hard into the boards in a fight while wearing the #2 sweater) variant of card #35 in the series on the left, then the A ''regular'' version, wearing #29 in an alumni pre-game skate, both with the Habs' classic red (then-away) uniform:
I also made a C variant, a frame-style card with an action photo of him in the Habs' white (then-home) uniform, with the same jersey juxtaposed in front of it, both of him wearing #2, so from his first stint with the team:
Those were sent to him (care of the Canadiens Alumni) with a fan letter on April 9th, 2014, with the following ''official'' card, from O-Pee-Chee's 1980-81 O-Pee-Chee set (card #322 in the set), from a lot of old cards I bought at a flea market as a kid:
I received those four back 175 days later - on October 1st, 2014 - signed in black sharpie, with the following two team-issued cards of him wearing the white uniform, but deliberately associating him with the not-yet-retired #29:
On the left, with the blue border, is a card from the 1999 Molson Export Habs set of past players, while the one on the right, with the red border, is from the Centennial-related 2008 Molson Export Montréal Canadiens Alumni collection.

He also signed the two index cards I'd included to protect the cards:

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