Thursday, January 5, 2017

Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre Autographed Card

Well, it's done: the Columbus Blue Jackets' all-time consecutive wins streak - and one short of the NHL's mark, held by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins - ended at 16, with a loss to the Washington Capitals, who needed it more badly anyway in their effort to catch up to the Pens, Jackets and New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division.

I went to high school and played on its hockey team with two guys who ended up playing in Columbus, so I thought I could feature them in the next few days, starting with Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, who still lives in the region.

Our school team was the Collège Notre-Dame Sabres and, being from Montréal, we got to see Eastern teams a lot more often than their Western counterparts in person, and when I would look at Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche or Los Angeles Kings games on TV, I would usually avoid watching them play third-wave expansion teams, except for the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, for some reason.

All of this meant I saw Jean-Luc play for the Buffalo Sabres a lot more often than with the Jackets, and since we played on a Sabres team, that's the team I identify him with the most; however, he sees himself as a Jacket, what with being on the team for their inaugural season, living through its first win... and becoming a realtor in the area during as well as following his playing career.

Even when he played overseas in Sweden, Finland or Germany, he kept his home in Columbus. And because he was a publicly-affable, genuinely nice person, and a stable defender who was pretty good at dropping the gloves on the ice, the fans took a liking to him immediately, and never wavered. And he's humble enough to not overuse it.

On the ice, he tried to mimic his childhood idol, Chris Chelios, in every way except offensively, as that was not his strongest suit - though he did finish with 20 points (7 goals and 13 assists) that will forever be part of the NHL's record books. Even in Juniors, JLGP was never a point-per-game player, nor was he in Europe, but he had a 17-year professional career (1997-2013) he can be proud of.

Here is a card he signed in blue sharpie, showing him wearing the Jackets' first white (then-home) uniform:
It's #281 from Upper Deck's 2000-01 Series 1 set.

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