Monday, June 22, 2015

Brandon Convery Autographed Card

Brandon Convery was the Toronto Maple Leafs' first-round pick (8th overall) in 1992, ahead of such players as Sergei Gonchar (14th), Martin Straka (19th), Peter Ferraro (24th), Jim Carey (32nd), Valeri Bure (33rd), Mike Peca (40th), Brent Gretzky (49th), Patrick Traverse (50th), Manny Fernandez (52nd), Sergei Zholtok (55th), Craig Rivet (68th), Matthew Barnaby (83rd), Adrian Aucoin (117th), Joël Bouchard (129th), Ian Laperrière (158th), Christian Proulx (64th), Anson Carter (220th), and Dan McGillis (238th).

Toronto fans and media types are usually quick to label him a ''bust'', but honestly, the two times he did get a fair shake, he produced at the NHL level: in 1995-96, with the Leafs, he had 5 goals and 7 total points when he was recalled in the last 11 games of the season, and in 1998-99 with the Vancouver Canucks, he got 9 points in 12 games.

But injuries took their toll, including a broken leg that took a year off his development, a shoulder injury that got him off the Leafs' opening roster, and a history of concussions that forced him to retire at a young age. Nowadays, the well-spoken redhead uses his past experience as a consultant and motivational speaker.

I played against him in the mid-1990s (my guess is 1995 or 1996) at a summer hockey school - I was a teacher's assistant/student at the Jacques St-Jean school but it may have been when we'd take off and ''tour'' on weekends and play other programs in the Ottawa or Toronto areas. It was customary to have players from the Midget and Juniors levels such as myself get demolished by young pros, and he was one of them. I think his team won by more than 10 goals, and he must have scored two hat tricks on us, likely one on each of myself and Jean-François Labbé.

That would have been when he signed this card for me in black sharpie:
It's card #59 from Classic's 1993-94 Pro Hockey Prospects set, showing him in AHL's St. John's Maple Leafs' white (home) uniform. Notice behind Convery, Kevin Kaminski of the Halifax Citadelles getting roughed up by Ted Crowley.

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