Sunday, February 8, 2015

Robert Esche Jersey Card

With news that Steve Mason left another game with a lower-body injury, the Philadelphia Flyers - they of the 5-1-1 streak in their last 7 games - might want to get original with who they tap next to back up Ray Emery, seeing as frequent call-up Rob Zepp was injured in an AHL game recently.

Maybe they could give Robert Esche a call. In four seasons with the Flyers, Esche - known to the media as ''Silent Bob'' for not giving interviews during the playoffs - had a 60-40-16 record to go with a 2.65 GAA and .901 save percentage, but those numbers were brought way down by an awful 2007-08 season (4.33 GA and .872 save % in 18 games); the guy did share a Jennings Trophy in 2002-03 after all, but 2007-08 spelled his last taste at NHL action, forcing him to go to Europe (three years in the KHL, one year in Switzerland). He was one of the better goalies in the Russian league, posting 1.87 and 2.07 GAA seasons with the St. Petersburg SKA (where he was a teammate of Alexei Yashin's). He played in a KHL All-Star Game.

Internationally, Esche has suited up for Team USA seven times (one World Juniors, a World Cup, the 2004 Olympics, and four World Championships). He was named the Worlds' top goalie in 2008, which marked the second time he left the event with a .931 save percentage. He did even better at the 2000 event with a 0.50 GAA and a .984 %, albeit with a smaller sample size (2 games).

He also had a decent playoff run in 2003-04 as the Flyers reached the Conference Finals, falling in a seven-game series against the eventual champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Despite all of this, however, he might be remembered more for what he did once his career was over, as his Aqua Vino Restaurant and Esche Family Farms are staples of Utica, NY's economy, and he has helped bring an AHL team to his town, the Utica Comets, affiliates of the Vancouver Canucks, of which he is officially listed as Team President, but is also the acting GM in terms of dealing with the coaching staff and with the ECHL affiliate, though the Canucks are officially in charge of hockey operations and management.

Here he is in the Flyers' black uniform, following the puck through traffic in an old-school lateral movement (skating rather than pushing sideways), on card #AF-RE of Upper Deck's 2005-06 SP Game-Used Edition collection (part of the Authentic Fabrics sub-set), featuring an orange piece of game-worn jersey:
This card was an add-on to a trade I made early last year; I had stored it when moving and fell onto it recently.

No comments:

Post a Comment