Friday, February 27, 2015

Teddy Purcell: 4 Autographed Cards

Yes, I was one of those who thought the Edmonton Oilers would turn things around this season, in part because of their adding Teddy Purcell from the Tampa Bay Lightning. I actually thought they'd lose the Wild Card race to the Colorado Avalanche by a point or two. You win a few, you lose a few - and as a life-long Oilers follower, trust me, I know what that's like.

They have been a .500 team since Todd Nelson took over the head coaching position, though, so that part may have been true had he started out earlier. Purcell, for his part, made his way to Edmonton in the three-team trade that sent Sam Gagner to the Arizona Coyotes last summer.

Undrafted, the 6'2'', now-200-pound power forward from Newfoundland played in the USHL and at the University of Maine before signing on with the Los Angeles Kings organization and starring for their AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs, earning an All-Star Game nod in his first year and becoming the first rookie to ever score a hat trick in the AHL All-Star Game. He also won top rookie honors that year (the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award).

The Kings needed veterans for a playoff run, though, so he was sent to Tampa with a third-round pick for dependable third-line center Jeff Halpern at the 2010 trade deadline. He really took off with the Lightning under head coach Guy Boucher, who appreciated ''the relentless attitude in his game'', which led to 18 points over an 11-game scoring streak in the 2011-12 regular season, but also a 17-point postseason in 2010-11 (in 18 games) helping the Lightning keep the pace with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals; he tallied 5 goals in that series: the game-winner in Game 1, and two two-goal efforts in the other two games his team won (Games 4 and 6).

He followed that terrific postseason (which itself followed a 17-goal and 51-point regular season) by scoring 24, along with 41 assists for 65 points in 2011-12, and an 11-goal and 36-point effort in the 48-game lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. It's safe to say that on a decent team, surrounded by decent teammates, he's a 20-goal, 60-point man in the NHL, which means he could have a peak season where he scores 30 and combines for 70-plus points. And the Oilers have the kind of players that should enable that to happen; he's currently on a line with Derek Roy and Nail Yakupov, and if they find the right chemistry (and it looks like they might have), maybe they could remain a unit next season as well, which could enable him to reach those numbers.

I sent Purcell a fan letter and the following four cards showing him with Tampa's different uniforms on January 27th, 2015, care of the Oilers, and got them all back, signed in blue sharpie with his jersey number (16) tagged at the end, on February 26th, 2015 - a mere 30 days later.

First, here are the first Reebok Edge uniforms, which I didn't like because of the jersey number on the chest and the weird colour patterns under the arms:
They are both from Panini's 2011-12 Score set; the card on the left shows the white (away) uniform, and is card #414 in the collection, while the one on the right shows the black (home) uniform, and is #8 of the Playoff Heroes sub-set.

And here are the current - and much better - uniforms, though the pants are a bit cheesy and I could do without the TAMPA BAY lettering on top of the logo on the white one:
The card on the left, where he's wearing the white (away) uniform, is from Panini's 2012-13 Score set (card #421 in the collection), while the one on the right, with the blue (home) uniform, is from Panini's 2013-14 Score set (card #464).

I tell you, he's one of the pieces I'd see on all the teams I watch and root for (in order: Oilers, Montréal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators). Here's how I would build a team as an NHL GM: two stud defensemen, two top centers who can pass, a sniper winger, a top-10 or top-15 goalie, then Purcell - before another first-line winger, which is a spot he can fill at times if need be, but I'd prefer having him on my second line, just because if you can stop the one-two punch from my first line, the second one (starring Purcell) will wear you out, particularly in a 7-game series.

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