Monday, August 17, 2015

Bryan Little: 5 Autographed Cards

For some reason, I'd written off this package, after it reached the one-year mark without a return, as I'd sent it on April 1st, 2014, but lo and behold, 503 days later, on August 17th, 2015, I received all five cards I'd initially sent Bryan Little, care of the Winnipeg Jets, all signed in black sharpie:
Little was the Atlanta Thrashers' first-round pick in 2006, going 12th overall, ahead of Claude Giroux (22nd), Semyon Varlamov (23rd), Nick Foligno (28th), Jeff Petry (45th), Steve Mason (69th) - and right behind Jonathan Bernier (11th), Michael Frolik (10th) and James Sheppard (9th). His size (5'10'' at the time, 5'11'' and 185 pounds nowadays) may have had a role in his not making the top-10, but his production surely didn't, as he'd just the registered the first of two consecutive 100-point seasons in the OHL with the Barrie Colts at the time.

Against kids his own age, he was a fast, powerful skater with a booming shot, terrific determination and two-way abilities, which led to his being a part of Team Canada's gold-winning 2007 World Juniors team.

When it came time to play in the AHL a bit, he didn't look out of place, and now, at the NHL level, as the Jets' de facto first-line center, he's earning Selke consideration while posting decent statistics, with three 50-point seasons (with a high of 64 in 2013-14) as well as one of 48 and one of 46 in the last six full NHL seasons (plus 32 points in 48 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season).

He's also had four 20-goal seasons, with a high of 31 in 2008-09. He's as reliable as they come, and an asset to his team. I don't think his production would suffer if the Jets would add another center of his caliber to become a true contender, though they may already have that player in Mark Scheifele.

I sent him cards of him wearing five different uniforms, so let's start with those of the Thrashers:
On the left, wearing the team's first alternate which went on to become their home uniform for their final five seasons, is card #6 from Upper Deck's 2009-10 Victory set; the card in middle shows him wearing the team's white (away) uniform, from UD's 2010-11 Victory set (card #9), while the card on the right, from Upper Deck's 2010-11 Black Diamond set (card #55 in the collection) shows him in their awful alternate football-style red uniforms, devoid of the team's primary logo on the front, instead opting for the jersey number and stylistic font. Notice how he added his uniform number (10) at the end of each signature (though the middle one has a tentative 18).

As the team moved to Winnipeg to become the Jets, he changed numbers, and is now sporting the #18 jersey:
On the left, wearing their white (away) digs is card #474 from Panini's 2011-12 Score set, while the card on the right, #485 from the 2012-13 Score set by Panini, shows him wearing their dark blue (home) uniform.

As a jersey nerd and hockey fan, I am extremely pleased with this return, long though it may have been. And I'm happy that Little now plays in Winnipeg, a town that can appreciate his talent and effort level on a nightly basis.

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