Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dwight Foster Autographed Card

The Detroit Red Wings will most probably miss the playoffs this year, after 25 consecutive postseason appearances. It's been so long since then that we tend to forget just how awful they were in the 1980s, despite being saddled in the weak Norris Division with the likes of the Toronto Maple Leafs and dismal St. Louis Blues teams, the cheap Chicago Blackhawks and the up-and-down Minnesota North Stars. Failing to make the playoffs back then in the weakest division in the league was like losing a one-number lottery; 16 out of 21 NHL teams made the playoffs back then. Only five were eliminated after 80 games.

Imagine what it meant when, in 1983-84, Dwight Foster's defensive play and four players hitting the point-per-game mark (Steve Yzerman with 87 in 80, Ivan Boldirev at 83 in 75, Ron Duguay with 80 in 80 and John Ogrodnick at 78 in 64) helped the Wings make the playoffs for the first time in six years, earning third-place in the division... with a 31-42-7 record. Yes, eleven games under .500.
Foster was a Boston Bruins fist-round pick (16th overall in 1977) who had led the OHL in scoring with 143 points in 64 games but whose scouting report claimed he was a "a strong defensive forward with marginal offensive ability"... for the record, the first round was pretty hit-and-miss, with the most impactful players being selected 6th and 15th:
In later rounds went enforcer Dave Semenko (25th), prolific point-producer John Tonelli (33rd), Hall of Fame defenseman Rod Langway (36th), long-time goalie Glen Hanlon (40th), not-that Alain Côté (43rd), 1000-game defenseman Gordie Roberts (54th), masked marvel Murray Bannerman (58th), Mario Marois (62nd), Mark Johnson (66th), Greg Millen (102nd), Bob Gould (118th), former Québec Nordiques and Montréal Canadiens wearer of #33 Richard Sévigny (124th), All-Star goalie Pete Peeters (135th), and Craig Laughlin (162nd).

All told, Foster put up 274 points (111 goals and 163 assists) in 541 NHL games split between two stints with the Bruins, a few years with the Wings and some time with the Colorado Rockies/New Jersey Devils franchise. Only the Bs had decent teams during his career.

Here he is sporting Detroit's classic red (the-away) uniform, on card #14 from Topps' 1985-86 Topps set:
He signed it in black sharpie at a Red Wings alumni event in Windsor, Ontario, roughly five or six years ago. He charged less for his signature than others did ($10 instead of $50-75), but I did have to purchase the card for a dollar because I didn't have one handy.

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