Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Martin Havlat: 3 Autographed Cards

As it happens relatively often, I've fallen behind on the hockey news when it comes to my blog; part of that is my professional life, part of it is having lost my desktop computer and all the scans I'd prepared on it, but mostly it's because so much is happening around the NHL and the sport at the moment.

So, I'll take it one step at a time, and start with the most recent news, which is that Martin Havlat scored a goal last night (assisted by Scott Gomez), in his first game of the season, after having been signed to a PTO by the St. Louis Blues (like Gomez).
Havlat was originally the 26th player chosen at the 1999 draft; the Ottawa Senators saw in him the same thing they saw in Marian Hossa two years prior, and it's true that perhaps he would have had that career path had he been luckier on the injury front. Alas, he was not, and he has lost a step or two since garnering Selke and Lady Byng votes with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2008-09. At that point, the 2000-01 Calder runner-up had already had 3 of his 7 NHL seasons significantly cut by injury, and had only played 73, 72, 67 and 68 games in the other four.

He was, however, nearly a point-per-game player who could play well at both ends and control a game's momentum. He then spent two seasons with the Minnesota Wild in which his point production remained steady (54 points in 73 games in 2009-10 and 62 points off 22 goals in 78 games the following season), but his -19 and -10 differentials were not becoming of what he had shown in the past.

A trade to the San Jose Sharks led to more bad luck (including a broken hamstring from getting his skate caught on the bench) and he wound up on the New Jersey Devils last year, merely registering 14 points in 40 games on one of the worst teams in the league.

I met him a few times between 2002 and 2005, when he was with the Sens. These three cards are probably from the same session, judging by the black sharpie used to sign them.

First, from Upper Deck's always-beautiful see-through plastic 2001-02 Ice set (card #31), wearing the team's superb black uniform:
Wearing the Sens' red uniform comes card #OTG13 from the Own The Game (and Rookie Points) sub-sets of the 2001-02 Topps collection:
And, finally, here's card #142 from the YoungStars sub-set of Topps' 2001-02 Bowman collection:
I wish him continued success. The Blues could use it, and he deserves it. I want him to end his career on a high note, and on his own terms. I honestly do not feel like the Blues are Cup-worthy (nor true contenders), but if he can finish his season playing with the Czech Team at the World Championships and add to his medal count (which already includes gold in 2000 and bronze in 2011, plus gold at the 2000 World Juniors), it would still be better than if he'd called it a day after not having had a contract after training camp.

And, hey, maybe he plays well enough this year that he scores himself a contract for next season. That would be great as well.

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