Friday, September 30, 2016

Another 2016-17 Upper Deck MVP Hockey Box Break

Remember when I got myself a 24-pack blaster box of Upper Deck's 2016-17 MVP hockey cards three days ago? Well, oops, I did it again:
I wanted to know how lucky I could get by comparing what I considered to be a below-average level of "pulls" to what came next, which may have been even worse. Starting with 42 repeats (on 120 total cards, that's over one in three) from the first box, not including cards that are in sub-sets as well as the regular one (i.e. "Silver Scripts" or "Puzzle Cards"), which probably brings the count up to 50%.

Considering I didn't even buy them at the same store... I was hugely disappointed with the card selection, which went like this:

Eight "High Numbers" cards, including the same two retired Hall Of Famers - Bobby Hull and Al MacInnis - but also doubles of Filip Forsberg, Alex Ovechkin, and Henrik Zetterberg, as well as Patrice Bergeron, Jordan Eberle and Roberto Luongo:
Once again, there were three Rookie Cards, including duplicates of Hudson Fasching and Steven Santini, but also one of Michael Matheson:
Plus the Silver Script Rookie card of Oskar Sundqvist:
And a Gold Script Rookie card of Tom Kuhnhackl, numbered 131/135:
There were six "Puzzle Cards", and 19 of players on Canadian teams, including three from my hometown Montréal Canadiens, David Desharnais, Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk:
My Leading Lights insert was of Kyle Turris:
And I landed two NHL Territory cards, featuring Bo Horvat and Adam Henrique:
Once again, the scans don't render these foil cards justice. They really are beautiful to the naked eye, particularly the Turris one.

I would probably have been satisfied pulling these cards one pack at a time, over the course of a few weeks; however, in two separate boxes purchased just days apart in opposite ends of the city, it feels like a bit of a letdown in terms of "hits".

My grade on the look remains, however, with a 8/10.
Selection gets a 6/10.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Patrice Bergeron Jersey Card

Patrice Bergeron is making quite a nice little reputation for himself on the international stage with Team Canada, what with six world titles now that he has helped secure the 2016 World Cup thanks to scoring the game-tying goal with three minutes left in the decisive game. On the powerplay, no less.

He has also won gold at the Olympics (2010 and 2014), the World Championships (2004), the Spengler Cup (2012), and the World Juniors (2005). He won the MVP title in the latter, playing on a team that included regular national team teammates Sidney Crosby and Carey Price.

The two-time All-Star and Stanley Cup champion (2010-11, becoming the 25th member of the Triple Gold Club) also has three Selke Trophies as the league's best defensive forward, in an era where Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk, Marian Hossa and Tomas Plekanec are also active (and dominating the two-way aspect of the game).

Here he is sporting his country's colours and the alternate captain's "A", on card #GJ-PB from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 2 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set:
It features a red game-worn Team Canada jersey swatch that matches the one he's pictured in.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

D.J. Shockley Sweet Spot Signatures Card

As I mentioned before, my favourite insert sub-sets of all time belong to Upper Deck's Sweet Spot Football sets; here's one from the 2006 Sweet Spot Signatures series, card #SSS-DS in the collection, which contains a miniature helmet he signed in silver sharpie:
It features quarterback D.J. Shockley, a star for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and winner of the SEC Championship Game MVP Award in 2005.

Drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, he spent four years with the team, usually in a third-string role. He may have had a chance to be a starter when Michael Vick was convicted of staging dog fights in 2007, but he tore his ACL, which sidelined him for the year; he was on the practice squad for the rest of his tenure in the NFL.

He finished off his career with a year and a half with the UFL's Omaha Nighthawks, behind another former NFLer, Jeff Garcia.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Box Break: 2016-17 Upper Deck MVP Hockey

It's that time of year again, where I can go to the pharmacy to get my diabetes meds and leave with an additional box of cards; this time, it was a 24-pack blaster of Upper Deck's 2016-17 MVP set:
The box was on sale, $26.99 instead of $29.99, which comes up to $31.25 after taxes, for 120 cards.

Here's how I fared:

Three Rookie Cards, of Mark McNeil, Hudson Fasching and Steven Santini:
Three Silver Script fac-simile autograph cards, of Sean Monahan, Thomas Vanek, and John Carlson:
One Silver Script Rookie Card, of William Nylander:
One Gold Script of Nicklas Backstrom, numbered 12/165:
One NHL Territory card of Gabriel Landeskog:
One Leading Lights card of Mark Scheifele (the scan doesn't do these foil cards justice):
And six "Puzzle Back" cards that have the regular-issue picture of a card in the front with the card number and information there as well, with the back being a 1/9 piece of a picture of another player; case in point, this two-card comparison of the regular-issue (left) and Puzzle Back (right) cards of Nathan MacKinnon, with the back showing Erik Karlsson's right arm:
The regular backs show up to five years' worth of statistics.

There were 19 regular-issue cards of players currently on Canadian teams (easier for me to get signed), including these two of my hometown Montréal Canadiens, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher:
I also got nine "High Numbers" cards, including two of retired Hall Of Famers, Bobby Hull and Al MacInnis (but also of Zach Parise, Alex Ovechkin, Filip Forsberg, Henrik Zetterberg, Morgan Rielly, Kris Letang and Father Time himself, Jaromir Jagr):
As usual with these types of boxes, I failed to get an actual autograph or jersey card.

All told, however, these are a slight improvement on last year's set. They keep that faux-classic style, only the "Script" inserts have the fac-simile autographs, the pictures are action shots with the action behind faded out so it doesn't look like an awful crop, and the colours are crisp.

I give it an 8/10.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Andre Dawson Swatch Card

Officially, seven former members of the Montréal Expos are in Cooperstown, in the baseball Hall of Fame. Two of them, Gary Carter and Andre Dawson, are there as representatives of the defunct franchise. The others are manager Dick Williams, first baseman Tony Pérez, pitchers Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, and manager Frank Robinson (inducted as a player). Outfielder Pete Rose used to be in the Hall wearing the Cincinnati Reds' cap, but he was banned for gambling.

As an Expo, Dawson was the star center fielder, a three-time All-Star who won six straight Gold Gloves, three Silver Slugger awards in four seasons, was named Rookie Of The Year in 1977, a one-time hits leader (189, in 1983) and two-time MVP runner-up.

He signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs during the 1987 training camp, aiming to play for a team that had natural grass in their home stadium to spare his aging knees in what then-general manager Dallas Green was forced to call a dog-and-pony show, as collusion in MLB prevented the Cubs from making him a decent offer.

The Hawk ended up the second-lowest paid member of the team, on the way to earning NL MVL honours on the strength of a league-leading 49 home runs and 137 RBIs. He also won the Golden Glove that year and the next and was just the second hitter ever to hit 400 career home runs with 300 career steals, a feat equalled by three more players since. He remains one of just eight in the 300/300 club. He was an eight-time All-Star in total.

In his own inductment speech in 2005, former Cubs teammate Ryne Sandberg lobbied to get Dawson in the Hall:
No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday.
 This card is a tribute to him, #11 from Donruss' 2010 Americana set and Century Collection sub-set, manufactured by Panini:
It features a white game-worn swatch from a Major League baseball team - seemingly the Cubs.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jack Johnson Autograph Card

Much has been said about Team USA's dead-last finish at the World Cup, particularly about John Tortorella's coaching style and the make-up of the team assembled by Dean Lombardi and Brian Burke, notably the absence of proven (and speedy) goal-scorers such as Phil Kessel, Kyle Okposo and Bobby Ryan, as well as the absence of a Justin Faulk or a Kevin Shattenkirk on defense instead of Erik Johnson or Jack Johnson.

You might recall that last name as either the best defenseman on the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets for a while (say, prior to their trade for Seth Jones) or as the punchline to a surprising headline in 2014, when he filed for bankruptcy (his parents took high-interest loans in his name).

All of which doesn't take away from the fact that, at his best, he is a 30-to-40-point producing defenseman in the NHL. It's not quite what is usually expected from a third-overall draft pick (Carolina Hurricanes, 2005), but that's a #2 or #3 defenseman on most teams, and a #1 on a weak one. His seven points in six playoff games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 213-14 led all Jackets players, after all.

He's also won every type of medal with the American team: gold (2005 U-18s), silver (2004 U-18s and 2010 Olympics), and bronze (2007 World Juniors).

Here he is wearing the Los Angeles Kings' former black-and-gold uniform, on card #GG-JJ from Upper Deck's beautiful 2007-08 Ice set and Glacial Graphs sub-set:
It's a see-through plastic card (the text from the back can be seen at the top-right portion of the scan) that he signed in blue sharpie.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ilya Bryzgalov Jersey Card

Another Canada-Russia game, another blowout...

One guy who is missed in today's NHL is goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, hockey's "Spaceman", who was always good for a great quote. This time around, he had a few choice odd bits for ESPN's Craig Custance regarding the 2010 Olympics, where Team Canada came out to a 7-3 win against Team Russia, in a performance he said:
They came out like gorillas out of a cage. (...) Big picture. Small picture, total domination by Canada. (...)
Not gorillas, more like Orcs from The Hobbit. You watch that movie, right? Big. Mean. Scary.
Sure, he probably meant Lord Of The Rings, but the point remains that the evil Canadians always seem to have that mix of grit and talent to wreck everything on their way to gold.

That, and exceptional coaching:
Canadian coaching much, much better than coaching in Team Russia. They're not in the same league.
 Here he is sporting the Philadelphia Flyers' current/retro orange (now-home) uniform on card #PHI-IB from Upper Deck's 2012-13 Black Diamond set and Double Diamond Jerseys sub-set:
It features two burgundy game-used jersey swatches from his days with the Phoenix Coyotes, prior to his career taking a down turn when away from the teachings of Sean Burke.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mikael Backlund Cloth Card

The World Cup might have an impact on the NHL's standings this coming season; the Dallas Stars are hardest-hit, what with Tyler Seguin, Radek Farsa and Ales Hemsky suffering injuries and Valeri Nichushkin signing in the KHL, and the Florida Panthers have lost Aaron Ekblad just weeks after granting him a new $60M contract.

The Calgary Flames have also lost a big piece of their offense when Mikael Backlund suffered a concussion after a crushing Sami Lepisto hit. He'd just had his best season in the NHL thus far, breaking the 20-goal and 40-point marks for the first time. He had been called upon by Team Sweden to replace none other than captain Henrik Zetterberg...

Here he is on card #CL-MBA from Panini's 2013-14 Totally Certified set and Clear Cloth sub-set:
It features a decent-sized game-worn jersey swatch, guaranteed by Panini.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Neal Broten Autographed Card

Minnesota North Stars founder Walter Bush, who was also a one-time Hockey USA President, died earlier today, at 86 years old. Per AP:
The Minneapolis native was enshrined into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980, the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000, and the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2009. Awarded the Olympic Order in 2002, he managed the 1959 U.S. national team and 1964 U.S. Olympic team, serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1963.
Bush was selected the NHL's Executive of the Year in 1972 by The Hockey News, and won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1973 for his contributions to the sport in the United States. As USA Hockey president, Bush played a large role in the addition of women's hockey to the Olympics in 1998.
As a tribute, I thought I could feature the player who, to me, best represents the North Stars, perhaps the player who had his best seasons wearing the green and yellow uniform (save perhaps for Bobby Smith): Neal Broten.

Both his brothers Paul and Aaron also played in the NHL, but Neal was the All-Star in the family.

A star with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers (with whom he won the NCAA championship in 1979), he followed his head coach Herb Brooks to the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and was a part of the famed "Miracle On Ice" edition of Team USA - a pretty sweet deal for a 20-year-old who would return to College Hockey and go on to win the Hobey Baker Award as its best player.

He then joined his home state North Stars - who had drafted him 42nd overall at the 1979 draft - at the end of the 1980-81 season, scoring twice in their final three games, and posting 8 points in their first of two Cinderella Stanley Cup Final runs. His actual rookie season was spectacular, scoring 38 goals (a career-high), with 60 assists and 98 points.

His career-high for points - 105, the first American-born player to surpass the 100-point mark - came in 1985-86, but he was a point-per-game player until the 1989-90 season (85 points in 80 games).

His best playoff performance was the 22 points (including 9 goals) in 23 games in the team's second Cinderella run, in 1990-91.

He followed the team to Dallas in 1993 but was traded to the New Jersey Devils early in the 1994-95 campaign, culminating in his lone Stanley Cup win, after posting an impressive 19 points (including 7 goals) in 20 games, second-best to Stéphane Richer's 21 on the defensive-minded team coached by Jacques Lemaire. He and Ken Morrow (of the powerhouse 1980s New York Islanders) are the only two members of the Miracle On Ice team t have their names on the Stanley Cup.

His final season, 1996-97, was more difficult, suiting up for the Devils just thrice and spending time with their IHL affiliate Phoenix Roadrunners before getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings for future considerations, then put on waivers and claimed by the Dallas Stars to finish his career with the franchise he'd started it with.

Here he is taking the puck to center ice in the North Stars' white (home) uniform, on card #28 from Score's 1991-92 (American Edition) flagship collection, which he signed in blue sharpie:
He retired having played 1099 regular-season games, scoring 289 goals with 634 assists for 923 points, with 35 goals and 63 assists for 98 points in 135 playoff games.

To me, he's the quintessential North Star (apologies to Smith and Mike Modano), and the best Minnesota-born player, ahead of Zach Parise.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ryan Smyth: 4 Autographed Cards

I wrote to Ryan Smyth when he announced his retirement during the 2013-14 season, adding four cards I'd hoped he'd sign for me to the package; I received all of them back today, signed in black sharpie, with his usual unique handwriting on them.

Smyth may be nicknamed Captain Canada for having, well, captained Team Canada a record six times at World Championships and for being the only player ever to lead the team to gold at all major events - Olympics (2002), World Championships (2003 and 2004), World Cup (2004), World Juniors (1995) and Spengler Cup (2012) - but he is also recognized as one of the three penultimate Edmonton Oilers, with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

He finished his storied NHL career with 386 goals, 456 assists and 842 total points in 1270 regular-season NHL games, and another 28 goals, 31 assists and 59 points in 93 playoff games, but his contributions were always about more than mere numbers anyway. He was often the hardest-working man on the ice - nay, in the league.

His leading by example and leaving everything on the ice at every game led to his wearing an "A" on his jersey for most of his career, as can be attested on the following three cards of him with the Oilers, all from Upper Deck and all showing him wearing he team's white (home) uniform from the turn of the millennium:
On top is card #82 from Fleer's 2005-06 Fleer Ultra set, where he is fighting for position with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks' Niclas Havelid; the card in the middle sees him forechecking, with Ales Hemsky holding the middle behind him, on card #319 from UD's 2005-06 Series 2 collection; and the card at the bottom is from the beautiful 2006-07 SPX set.

I also included a card of his with the Colorado Avalanche, #70 in the 2007-08 SP Authentic set, showing him wearing the team's pretty awful burgundy Reebok Edge jersey:
I did so to commemorate that magical week he had upon signing with the Avs as a free agent where he put together a string of three consecutive three-point games between December 1st and 9th, 2007.

He had just come off of two straight 36-goal seasons, and the Avs were hoping he could delay the mid-thirties decline most power forwards go through, and he almost did, flirting with the point-per-game average in Denver but with injuries starting to take their toll.

The Avs traded him to the Los Angeles Kings after he posted 26 goals and 59 points in 2008-09, numbers that declined to 22 and 53 (in 67 games, mind you) to 23 and 47 (in 82 games), prompting L.A. to send him back to Edmonton, where he finished fifth in team scoring with 46 points in 2011-12, then 13 in 47 games, then 10 goals and 23 points in 72 games in his final season, in 2013-14.

Better numbers than many other players but, then again, Ryan Smyth was a better player than most. He certainly had a lot of heart. And he can't get hockey out of his mind, as can be attested by the fact that he half-ended his retirement to play in the Chinook senior league last year...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Butch Henry Autographed Card

Today I thought I could check off a second player for #27 from my Expos Numbers Project. No, I never got an autograph from Vladimir Guerrero, possibly the most talented Expo of all time, but I did get one from Butch Henry:
That's card #518 from Pinnacle Brands' 1995 Score set, which he signed in black sharpie.

Henry's best season came in 1994, as was the case with many players who donned the grey version of the away uniform. That year, he went 8-3 with a 2.43 ERA with one save in 24 games (15 starts).

He finished his seven-year season with a 33-33 record and 3.89 ERA after also suiting up for the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies, Expos, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. He had to retire early (in 2003) because of arm injuries.

He then turned into managing in the minor leagues, winning manager of the year for the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball in 2006.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Scott Young Autograph Card

The World Cup in underway, and with it endless debates about how Adidas is ruining hockey uniforms worse than Reebok did post-lockout, which is saying something. Do I agree? Mostly, yes, for their designs are a simplistic-yet-sub-par take on classics, their stripes on the side are annoying to the eye, and they lack imagination and creativity as a whole. Oh, and the whole ads on the uniforms thing.

Team Russia, the Czech Republic, Team Sweden and Team Finland are relatively true to their usual garbs, so that's fine, although the blue Finnish uniform feels like it's out of the 1990s ECHL a bit:
Team North America looks pretty decent in person, but it's nothing more than a compilation of the best bits of the New York Islanders' last two alternate uniforms:
Team USA and Team Canada are a mixed bag, and Team Europe, well, I'll give 'em points for originality, but that's pretty much it.

Which brings me to a uniform that the Mighty Ducks Of Anaheim once wore that Adidas would be fond of, what with their broad shoulder designs that go too low and useless stripes in odd places, on the signed insert version of card #143 from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set:
That's Scott Young, who signed the card in black sharpie. Young's an international competition veteran who dressed for Team USA roughly a dozen times, including three Olympics (with silver in 2002), three World Junior Championships (with bronze in 1986), a handful of World Championships and was with the American team when they won the inaugural 1996 World Cup, posting 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 7 games.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Anze Kopitar Swatch Card

It took me a while to get my hands on another Prime Numbers card from Donruss' 2011-12 Elite set from Panini, but trading a ton of last year's Upper Deck 2015-16 Tim Hortons cards landed me this one of Anze Kopitar, the Los Angeles Kings' new captain:
It shows him wearing L.A.'s black (home) uniform, with a matching game-worn watch.

Though he didn't register a point as Team Europe beat Team USA 3-0 earlier today (on a terrific performance from Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 35 shots - many of them "the difficult kind"), Kopitar led by example as the team's captain, holding off much of the American offense. Patrick Kane, Max Pacioretty and Zach Parise were pretty much invisible throughout the game.

That puts the Americans in the difficult position of pretty much having to beat Team Canada, whereas it gives the Eight Nation Army some breathing room.

Zac Dalpe Autograph Card

In just 119 NHL games spread over six seasons with four different NHL teams, former second-rounder (45th overall in 2008) Zac Dalpe might never develop into the point-per-game player the Carolina Hurricanes thought he would be, but he has produced at a decent clip in the AHL at times and may eventually become the type of grinder one wants on their team to remind their prospects that not everything gets handed to them if they don't put the necessary effort into it.

He scored the Minnesota Wild's lone goal in Niklas Backstrom's final NHL game, as the Wild's former starting goalie finished his career with a 2-1 win over his old teammates and fans, suiting up for the Calgary Flames for the fourth time.

Dalpe's currently a free agent, as has been the case for three straight summers now; my guess is he'll sign another two-way deal with Minnesota.

Here he is wearing the Canes' former red (home) uniform on card #SS-ZD from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Series 1 collection and Signature Sensations sub-set:
It features an on-sticker blue-sharpied autograph that incorporates his jersey number (22).

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sean Burke Autograph Card

One bit of news that flew under the radar this summer concerns one of my favourite goalies growing up, Sean Burke, who was added to the Montréal Canadiens' scouting staff, most specifically for the West. He will therefore be able to remain based in Arizona, where his wife and kids are.

The Habs now have the two best goalie coaches in the business of the last decade working for them; all that's left for them is to hire Patrick Roy as coach and GM and they'd have the complete trifecta...

I've written about Burke a lot on this blog before, so I don't want to repeat myself too much, but the three-time Vezina top-10 finisher has played for Team Canada on numerous occasions, compiling an incredible 2.28 GAA for the men's team, winning the Canada Cup in 1991, gold at the 1997 and 2003 World Championships, and silver at the 1986 World Juniors and 1992 Olympics. The Olympics and 2003 Worlds (1.28 GAA, .955 save percentage) were among the best goaltending performances I've seen; they both probably fit in my all-time top-25.

Here he is during his stint with the Florida Panthers, on card #209 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set:
It's the gold variant of the autographed insert sub-set, which he signed in thin black sharpie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy Birthday Tim Wallach: Two Autographed Cards

Well, it's my birthday, and as is customary on my birthday, I will be featuring a pair of cards from Tim Wallach, who was also born on September 14th, albeit over 20 years before me:
Since the last time I featured him, he's been named a bench coach for the Miami Marlins, a team I'm surprised still exists, considering it's owned by Jeffrey Loria. This Loria, and this one as well.

His son Chad was a Marlins draftee - which perhaps helped convince him to continue his coaching career there - while his two other sons, Matt and Brett, were drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt and Chad are both products of California State University Fullerton, as was their father, the first from that school to hit a home run in his first Major League at-bat.

At 260 career home runs, Wallach is tied with Derek Jeter, Eric Chavez, and Javier Lopez for 195th all-time. He is right outside the top-100 for career doubles and was a force defensively (click on the picture for higher resolution:
Most cards, however, picture him at bat, usually post-swing, wearing the Expos' powdered blue (away) 1980s uniform, as is the case with these two, which he signed in blue sharpie; first, here is card #263 from Fleer's 1983 Fleer set, one that carries a similar design to those of Donruss at the time:
And there's card #198 from Fleer's 1988 Fleer set, with what I felt was a wildly original yet hard on the eyes design at the time, that I now am blasé about in terms of a "wow" factor and just feel looks ridiculous:
I'll never feel blasé about Wallach, however, who definitely makes the starting third baseman position on my All-Expos All-Time team.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Marshall Faulk Jersey Card

Did you know the Los Angeles Rams haven't scored a point since 1994? Indeed, after spending 21 seasons in St. Louis, they were shut out 28-0 last week against the lowly San Francisco 49ers.

The Los Angeles Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the Rams' absence; heck, the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999, despite Offensive Player Of The Year Marshall Faulk being contained in the final.

Still, upon retiring, the Hall Of Famer was the only player to ever rush for 12,000 yards and catch for 6,000 more; as a matter of fact, only two can claim the combo of 10,000 and 5,000... Add that to 7 Pro Bowls (one Pro Bowl MVP title), 6 All-Pro nominations, 15 different trophies won, having his jersey number retired by the St. Louis Rams and ending his career as the tenth-leading rusher of all time and you have some idea of how exceptional he was.

Here he is on the beautiful card #JA-MF RIPPED card from Skybox's 2002 Fleer set and AuthenTix sub-set, featuring a game-worn jersey swatch:
I really like the concept of incorporating a fake ticket into the card to go with the swatch, and to have RIPPED (I may have cropped too much of that "rip" at the right of the scan) and REGULAR versions is just another hint that they put a lot of thought into it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mario Marois Autographed Card

It's been over two months since the last entry in my Nordiques Numbers Project, so I thought I could check off #44 with this card of journeyman defenseman Mario Marois, who hails from the Québec suburb of L'Ancienne-Lorette and had two stints with the team:
That's card #229 from Score's 1990-91 French Canadian Edition set, which shows him wearing the Québec Nordiques ' blue (away) jersey during a game at Madison Square Garden; he signed it in black sharpie in the early 1990s, either during his second stint with the Winnipeg Jets or during his final professional season in 1992-93, when he suited up for the AHL's Hamilton Canucks.

Like many others, Marois played his Junior hockey in his hometown, for the Québec Remparts ofthe LHJMQ, already displaying a taste for playing a physical brand of hockey. He accumulated 522 penalty minutes (and 139 points) in 153 games in the Q, though he was blanked in a losing bid at the 1975-76 Memorial Cup.

He was drafted 62nd overall by the New York Rangers at the 1977 draft and finished in the top-10 for Norris Trophy votes twice. He topped the 40-point mark six times (with a high of 51 in 1987-88) and the 100-PIM mark eleven times (with a high of 181 in 1980-81). He scored 11 goals in 1981-82 and 13 in 1983-84, the year he also finished at an incredible +51.

He had a good, hard shot from the point, and his all-around game could be compared, in modern terms, to a slightly less-talented Shea Weber, or perhaps a Scott Stevens. He was captain of the Nordiques from 1983 until 1985, when Peter Stastny took over the team's leadership.

He also helped Team Canada capture a silver medal at the 1989 World Championships.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Matt Murray Autographed Card

I had plans, a New Season's Resolution of sorts; it was easy: boycott the Montréal Canadiens and the Bell Centre for at least a year and follow the other teams I like: Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Florida Panthers. And attend games at the Ottawa Senators' Canadian Tire Center.

Why? Because of the P.K. Subban-for-Shea Weber trade.

Well, I'll revise that to "no Habs games", because I went to the World Cup pre-tournament game tonight:
My takeaway from the game between Team Europe and the North American U-23 Team?

Jaroslav Halak still has it, and he may be the difference between a projected seventh-place finish (only Team Czech Republic is worse on paper) and, say, a fourth place if one of Russia, Canada, Team USA, Finland or Sweden slips up.

Zdeno Chara, however, cannot keep up. Marian Gaborik has a bit of a temper but can still score.

Johnny Gaudreau is no one-hit wonder; he was dominant (as much as Jonathan Drouin and Aaron Ekblad) on a team that also features Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews - you know, the last four "next Sidney Crosbys".

John Gibson was in net for the kids, and he hasn't reached peak form yet, which just reinforces the impression that Matt Murray - who along with Phil Kessel may have been robbed for the Conn Smythe Trophy in June - will be the team's goalie of choice for the tournament.

And Murray happened to sign this card in blue sharpie:
It's #67 from In The Game's 2012-13 Between The Pipes set and CHL Prospects set, showing him in the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' red (away) uniform.

Ironically, sitting right in front of me was the Concordia Stingers' head coach, meaning I got to talk about their new goalie, Philippe Cadorette, in person tonight.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Philippe Cadorette Autograph Card

It's been a roller-coaster 15 months for goaltender Philippe Cadorette, who went from leading the Baie-Comeau Drakkar to the LHJMQ Final to signing a contract with the Norfolk Admirals - the Edmonton Oilers' ECHL team - to going back to Juniors as a 20-year-old after four sub-par games to setting the Q's career regular-season (17) and total shutouts (22) records to getting traded for the first time (to the Shawinigan Cataractes).

He got his chance at Norfolk on a Quebecer-heavy roster because the head coach there was Éric Veilleux, who was the held the same position with Baie-Comeau during much of Cadorette's tenure.

Not feeling ready to try his hand in the lower-tiered pro leagues as of yet and wanting to pursue his education, he has enrolled in university in Montréal for the next year and will be suiting up for the Concordia Stingers in 2016-17.

The Stingers usually pale in comparison to their natural rival McGill Redmen (the oldest organized hockey team in the world, having been founded in 1877 - a whole 31 years prior to the Montréal Canadiens, the oldest/longest-standing professional team); however, having an established goalie with a pedigree like Cadorette's should give them a fighting chance, at least.

Here he is wearing the Drakkar's white (home) uniform, which would be fine if it was devoid of the Reebok Rbk Edge stripes and piping on the chest:
That's card #A-PC from In The Game's 2012-13 Between The Pipes collection and CHL Prospects and Authentic GoalieGraph sub-sets, and features an on-sticker signature, in black sharpie.