Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joel Otto Autograph Card

The Calgary Flames did the right thing last week by extending head coach Bob Hartley's contract, though it's weirdly timed that they're in the midst of an eight-game winless streak that is showing some of the lapses (mostly inexperience, but also a bit of a lack of depth now that the mid-season fatigue is close to upon us) many experts saw in them at the beginning of the season when they predicted the team would fall just short of a playoff spot.

Now that Hartley's safe in his seat, perhaps changes will come among his assistants. Hartley's long-time associate coach Jacques Cloutier (the pair won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche) seems safe in his position, so either Martin Gélinas will go, or they will add someone else, perhaps a special teams specialist.

As I wrote back in April, I think Joel Otto will be that person. He's already on the WHL's Calgary Hitmen coaching staff (owned by the Flames), is a former Flames letterman, Stanley Cup champion, World Cup champion, Team USA captain, face-off specialist, second-unit powerplay and first-unit penalty-kill center, and totally ''Flames tough''. Like Hartley, he's a terrific teacher and respects players who work hard; where Hartley's more of a motivator, Otto seems more of a congratulatory type. The only thing I see that would make him not take the job would be its implications of long road trips and being away from his family more, i.e. the same reasons why Larry Robinson will step down from a similar role with the San Jose Sharks after this season.

And so I present you this card showing him with the Flames' mid-1990s uniform, alternate captain's ''A'' clearly visible, signed on-card clearly in thin black sharpie, from In The Game's 2012-13 Decades - The 1990s (#A-JOT in the set of Autograph inserts):
ITG thinks these through very well; I'm particularly fond of the picture of the Olympic Saddledome - where the Flames and Hitmen currently play their home games - in the background; there are plans for the teams to move into a new arena within five to ten years, so this may become an archival piece as well as a great card to have.

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