Thursday, August 6, 2015

John LeClair Swatch Card

Much has been said about inducting Eric Lindros in the Hockey Hall OF Fame - I'm against it. His numbers fall just short, and some of his teammates (Éric Desjardins, Ron Hextall, John LeClair) were just as important to his Philadelphia Flyers' success when he was in his prime, and his prime didn't last long enough. And he couldn't be an impact player on another team, either.

Desjardins and LeClair, for example, won the Stanley Cup with the Montréal Canadiens in 1993, Desjardins scoring a hat trick in the Final against the Los Angeles Kings, and LeClair netting two consecutive overtime game-winners in that same series. As a matter of fact, when it comes to having an impact, LeClair's 61 game-winning goals as a Flyer remain, to this day, the franchise record.

He was clutch, and had a knack of stepping up when it counted the most. It's no wonder he was a First Team All-Star five times and a Second Team All-Star for three more. He did, in fact, dominate the league at the left wing position for a long stretch, even after Lindros was traded.

What struck me the most about his play was that he played a very rugged, power forward-type of game, playing in high-traffic areas, hitting, getting hit, but he merely amassed 501 penalty minutes over 967 games, and received Lady Byng consideration three times, to go with the three times he got Hart votes and that one year he finished 12th in the Selke race.

Injuries started taking their toll as the millennium turned, limiting him to 16 games (with 12 points) in 2000-01 and 35 games (28 points) in 2002-03, but his production was still consistent. As a matter of fact, even in the twilight of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005-06, he still managed to surpass the 20-goal and 50-point marks.

Sure, it's a far cry from the three consecutive 50-goal seasons (and five consecutive of 40-or-more) and stretch of four straight seasons of 87 or more points (including consecutive 97-point seasons) in the dead puck era, but it's still notable production.

As a member of Team USA, LeClair won the silver medal at the 2002 Olympics, finishing third overall in tournament scoring. There again, he trumps Lindros, like he did when he led the Americans to the inaugural 1996 World Cup.

And to think he, Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne were part of the same trade package that sent Mark Recchi the other way to Montréal...

And so it's fitting that my first LeClair post has him wearing the Flyers' white (then-home) uniform, with a black game-worn swatch, from Panini's 2013-14 Totally Certified set (card #TC-JLC of the ''regular'' Red jersey sub-set):
I do have signed cards I'll get to eventually, though...

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