Sunday, July 10, 2016

Martin Lapointe Autograph Card

The Montréal Canadiens' prospects are currently practicing in a pre-rookie camp held by the team's Director of Player Personnel, Martin Lapointe.

You might remember Lapointe from his famous 2001 free agency summer, when he spurned the Habs' $25M offer to instead sign with their rival Boston Bruins, becoming the league's most overpaid player in the process.

You might not remember he got that offer because although he was not "the scoring type" (with 181 goals, 200 assists and 381 points in 991 regular-season NHL games), his leadership and consistent, physical play was considered a huge part of the Detroit Red Wings' Stanley Cup-winning teams of 1997 and 1998; his post-season play was also quite productive in those playoffs, with 12 points in 20 games in 1996-97 and 15 points (9 of them goals) in 21 games in 1997-98 on what is still the last team to date to win back-to-back championships.

He had averaged 15-17 minutes per game with the Wings and in his first season with the Bruins, but by the time 2005-06 came along and he started playing with the Chicago Blackhawks in his third Original Six team in a row, his ice time dipped below the 15-minute mark and, eventually, below the 10-minute mark, before he was sent to the Ottawa Senators (technically an actual original NHL team, as the league originally consisted of the Habs, the Montréal Wanderers, the Sens, the Québec Bulldogs - on paper only at first - and the Toronto Arenas) for his final 18 games in 2007-08.

It would have been nice for the man with 1,143 career penalty minutes to reach the 1000-game plateau, but he really was a bit out of place in the faster post-lockout NHL, and no team was willing to give up a roster spot for him to reach that milestone for the nine games that he would have required them to, especially since the "mutual breakup waivers" didn't exist back then.

Here he is in the Wings' white (then-home) jersey, on the signed insert (in thin black sharpie) of card #133 from Upper Deck's 1994-95 Be A Player set:
The 1994-95 set, because of the lockout mostly, but also because it was approved by the NHLPA but didn't have the licensing rights to NHL teams, featured either bust shots like this one, NHLPA "All-Star" union tours uniforms, or the players in casual, early-90s fluorescent "every day" clothes or playing other sports. It was ridiculous at the time, it's hilarious now!

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