Sunday, January 31, 2016

Larry Robinson Jersey Card

It's the All-Star Weekend, so I figured why not feature a card that brings back memories of the mid-season classic. I had two options, both of offensive defensemen, but I went with the more "complete" of the two, Larry Robinson:
It's card #GJ-LR from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 2 set (and UD Game Jersey sub-set), showing him in his final NHL season with the 1992 Western Conference All-Star Game uniform, which is actually a throwback to the those used between 1947 and 1959. This time around he was representing the Los Angeles Kings, but he'd been there as a member of the Montréal Canadiens nine times.

The red swatch, "worn in an official NHL game" as per the back of the card, could either be from that very game (it is "official"...), but also could have been a Habs jersey, because they were also red. Ah, bless those nice folks at Upper Deck for remaining ever so vague in their vocabulary so as to avoid any threat of a lawsuit yet seeming like they have everything to hide.

At this point, we all know who Robinson is, right? A Hall Of Famer, one of the best defensemen of all time (fans even voted him the best Canadiens defenseman, because most of them have never seen Doug Harvey play), a six-time Stanley Cup winner as a player, a Conn Smythe winner who also has two Norris Trophies and six other top-5 finishes playing alongside another Norris winner in Serge Savard in the Denis Potvin era, and also a coach who has three Cups on his resume, including one as the New Jersey Devils' head coach after he'd made it clear he didn't want those kind of responsibilities anymore...

He stepped down after last season as the San Jose Sharks' defensemen's coach, preferring to retire in Florida with his family after a cancer scare.

To me, he'll always be the gentle giant I'd meet once in a while in the family home, because my grandfather had had him as a boarding guest when he was a rookie, and he kept coming by, and even attended his funeral in the mid-1990s. At the time, there was no internet, so all I'd seen was the graceful player from the mid-1980s onward; there were few documentaries and no YouTube to show how he could reciprocate anything the Philadelphia Flyers could throw at him in the 1970s when they made their reputation as the Broad Street Bullies - when I finally realized how he could do it all (including breaking the boards with a hip check), he became as much a larger-than-life figure to me as he was to everyone else.

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