Sunday, October 11, 2015

Damian Rhodes Autograph Card

As the Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators were facing each other tonight with each of their starting goalies playing in their first NHL game (a first since the Los Angeles Kings' Wayne Rutledge faced the Philadelphia Flyers' Doug Favell in 1967), my thoughts were with Sens goalies, past and present.

I could have gone back to Craig Anderson, but I figured I'd have plenty of time and opportunities for that throughout the season and instead opted to check #1 off my Sens Numbers Project by featuring Damian Rhodes, with card #202 from Pinnacle's 1996-97 Be A Player set (a signed insert he signed in black sharpie):
Hailing from the fertile hockey grounds of Minnesota but coming up at a time when there was no NHL hockey in the state (between the North Stars and Wild), Rhodes played his College hockey with the Michigan Tech Huskies, and was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the sixth round (112th overall) in 1987.

He was part of a three-way trade that sent him and Wade Redden to the Sens, Kirk Muller to the Leafs and Bryan Berard and Martin Straka to the New York Islanders. It was with the Sens that Rhodes would have his finest moments, with a 2.56 goals-against average over parts of four seasons with the team, posting 11 of his 12 career shutouts in the black, red and white. The black uniform he's sporting on the above card is my favourite one of Senators, with the sideways-facing legionnaire, black as the main colour, and red and white arm bands.

Following his time in Ottawa splitting time nearly 50/50 with Ron Tugnutt, he was with the Atlanta Thrashers, where he mostly played second fiddle, first to Norm Maracle (granted, Maracle played more because Rhodes suffered a serious knee injury), then to Milan Hnilicka. It got so bad that he ended his career in the ECHL, going 2-8-2 with the Greenville Grrrowl.

He now operates a goaltending school in Cleveland, Ohio and mostly lives in the shadow of his wife, TV host and former newscaster Amanda Jahn; she is also a former model, having represented Missouri at the 1997 Miss America pageant.

It's odd to think that a goalie who scored goals both in the NCAA and in the NHL got so little recognition and got tossed aside so quickly once his career was over.

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