Thursday, January 1, 2015

Two Dennis Vial Autograph Cards

I wanted to start 2015 on the right foot, with some toughness and advancing some projects forward. I couldn't think of a better battler to feature to start the year off than former Ottawa Senators enforcer Dennis Vial.
I mentioned Vial from an old Sports Illustrated quote in this Brent Severyn post. He was strong and a fierce fighter, but also a defenseman who could hit hard legally - or not.

After a Juniors career that saw him get drafted 110th overall by the New York Rangers in 1988, he accrued 351 penalty minutes in his first season in the IHL, with the Flint Spirits, and followed that with 250 more in just 40 games with the Binghamton Rangers the following year - in addition to 61 (from 8 fights) in 21 games with the parent Rangers team, and two more fights and 16 total penalty minutes in 9 games with a Detroit Red Wings team that also included Bob Probert (315 PIMs that year), Randy McKay (183 PIMs) and three other players with over 100 minutes in the sin bin (Shawn Burr, Gerard Gallant, and a rookie Keith Primeau).

He would spend two more seasons in the Wings' system before the bizarre summer that saw him get traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, drafted by the expansion Anaheim Mighty Ducks, then claimed by the Senators before a single game was played. It was with the Sens that he'd spend his final 5 years in the NHL, with whom he had seasons of 26, 12, 34 (!), 3 and 10 fights, including memorable ones against the Buffalo Sabres' Rob Ray. He was also a frequent sparring partner with Tie Domi, Chris Murray, Donald Brashear, Enrico Ciccone and Severyn.

After his time in Ottawa, Vial spent a year and a half in the IHL with the Chicago Wolves, two seasons in England as captain of the Sheffield Steelers, where he was the instigator of a bench-clearing brawl that was deemed the ''one of the worst scenes of violence ever seen at a British ice hockey rink'' and for which he was fined and suspended not just for instigating and taking part in the altercation, but also for squirting water in the stands.

He played in tough-man leagues such as the ECHL and the Québec Semi-Pro League before concluding his career in the UHL. He had a heart attack while playing in a pick-up game a couple of years ago, and was saved by a nurse who was also playing.

He now resides in Halifax, NS, and will take part in their Long Pond Classic on February 7th, alongside other former NHLers Mike Krushelnyski, Glenn Anderson and Bob Sweeney. I'm tempted to make the 13-hour drive to go see it...

Featuring Vial also checks #21 off my Sens Numbers Project, with these cards, first showing him in the team's white (home) uniform, from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player set (#S131 in the collection where they airbrushed the teams' logos off the cards as they had licenses to use the players but not the teams), signed on-card in thin black sharpie:
And in the Sens' original black (away) uniform, from In The Game's 2013-14 Enforcers II set (card #A-DV of the Autograph sub-set), signed in black sharpie on a sticker made to look like a Band-Aid:
Nearly a decade apart, and his signature remains nearly identical. Not bad, considering the number of hits to the head he's collected over the years...

No comments:

Post a Comment