Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bruce Gardiner Autograph Card

The Ottawa Senators were The Law tonight against the Montréal Canadiens, totally dominating the game at the Canadian Tire Center, both in terms of goals, shots, and physical play; had it not been for Dustin Tokarski stealing the show in net for the Habs, the Sens would probably have doubled the 4-1 score (last one an empty-netter).

Ironically, checking-line center Bruce Gardiner played for the Sens in the 1990s and, upon retiring from hockey in 2005, became a police officer; he was charged with harassment and voyeurism in 2009, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to never have contact with the victim again (saving his job in the process).

Though initially drafted by the St. Louis Blues (131st overall in the sixth round of the 1991 draft), the team opted not to re-sign him after a tryout with their AHL farm team the Peoria Rivermen in 1993-94, following a successful 4-year stint with the Colgate University Raiders, so he signed with Ottawa. After two years with the AHL's Prince Edward Island Senators, he finally made the big team, serving as a capable shut-down center who could contribute at times with an opportune goal. He was never in the minuses with the Sens, but once they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999-2000, he was never in the plusses again, including in his short stints with the Columbus Blue Jackets (scoring the franchise's very first goal) and New Jersey Devils.

He had his best point-per-game ratio with the Devils, with 3 points in 7 games, but spent most of the year he was in their organization (2001-02) with the Albany River Rats in the AHL, posting 5 goals and 23 points in 45 games in the capital of New York State, before spending a couple of seasons abroad, first in Russia then in Finland.

He finished his NHL career with 34 goals, 54 assists, 88 points and 263 penalty minutes in 312 regular-season games, and 1-4-5 (and 8 PIMS) in 45 playoff games - more than enough to have him represent #25 in my Sens Numbers Project:

It's the signed insert version (in black sharpie) of card #51 from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set, showing him in the beautiful Senators' mid-1990s uniform, with their ''original'' expansion-era logo (the sideways legionnaire as opposed to the contemporary straight-facing one), with a white stripe on the arms (the original 1992 jersey had just red and black on the sleeves).

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