Friday, April 22, 2016

Ed Jovanovski Autograph Card

Somewhere, I have a signed card of Ed Jovanovski's with the Vancouver Canucks, which to me is as representative of his time in the NHL as the Florida Panthers, whom he captained in his last NHL season (and is the team that drafted him first overall in 1994).

I also have this card that lists him with the Panthers but shows him wearing his Junior team Windsor Spitfires (OHL) uniform, strongly inspired by that of the late-1970s New York Rangers and 1980s Winnipeg Jets:
It's an autographed insert card from Classic's 1994-95 5 Sport set, which he signed on-card in blue sharpie.

While he was very good with the Spitfires, he was never actually ranked first of his draft class, an honor that #3 pick Radek Bonk actually got, but Panthers president Bill Torrey was adamant the team pick a defenseman, and Jovo and Oleg Tverdovsky were ranked top of their class. Little did Florida know the towering Jovanovski would get into legal troubles later that year, as he and two teammates were charged with sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman, who withdrew her charges after the Panthers' lawyers threatened to sue her.

By all accounts, though, he seemed to get over that mess, and the 6'3", 220-pounder went on to have a successful NHL career, playing seven seasons apiece with the Canucks and Panthers, and five with the Phoenix Coyotes. He cracked the Norris top-10 twice and finished fifteenth two other times when things went his way (read: 40-some points and over 100 PIMs), but he was mostly known as a high-risk defenseman at both ends of the ice: he was eager to join the rush on offense and in his own zone was more focused on delivering huge highlight-reel checks than intercepting the puck of perfect positioning.

As age caught up to him and he got slower, the risks became that much higher, injuries took their toll, and his point production was no longer high enough to excuse his shortcomings. He was bought out of his final season by the Panthers, sitting out the 2014-15 season altogether before announcing his retirement in December 2015.

Still, although he never won a Stanley Cup, he did suit up for Team Canada on a number of occasions, winning the 2004 World Cup, gold at the 2002 Olympics and 1995 World Juniors, and silver at the 2005 and 2008 World Championships.

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