Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tony Hrkac: Two Autographed Cards

Tony Hrkac was a superstar in College, the 1986-87 Hobey Baker Award recipient after collecting a record 116 points (on the strength of 46 goals and 70 assists) in 48 games, leading the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks to a national championship. At the time, the team was even known as the Hrkac Circus (both words rhyme).

Before enrolling in college, he had actually been drafted in the second round (32nd overall) by the St. Louis Blues in 1984 after a 106-point season (52 goals and 54 assists in 42 games) in the OJHL (Junior A) with the Orillia Travelways.

His success didn't exactly continue in the NHL, but he did score a team-record 4 goals in a single playoff game in St. Louis before being traded to the Québec Nordiques with shutout leader Greg Millen in exchange for blue liner and powerplay quarterback Jeff Brown.

He didn't stay long in Québec, a season and a half, before they sent him to the San Jose Sharks for Greg Paslawski, and the Sharks themselves sent him to the Chicago Blackhawks just six months later.

All told, he suited up for nine NHL teams, including the Blues and Dallas Stars twice apiece; he also belonged to the Nashville Predators twice, although the first time was for just over a week in the summer, as they had selected him in the expansion draft and sent him to the Stars before he even played a single game with them.

After retiring, he was called upon to start and develop the hockey program at the Concordia University Wisconsin, and his record with the Falcons isn't so great: 10-109-10 over five seasons, leading to his dismissal in 2012.

As a player, I'll always remember him as a member of the Blues and my beloved Nordiques first and foremost, but it is while in his second stint in Dallas that he finally laid his hands on the Stanley Cup - a feat neither of the teams I remember him most by have achieved.

Today, I have decided to feature him with two cards from pretty much the same set, the 1991-92 Score (Canadian Edition) set by Score, first wearing the Nordiques' white (home) uniform which will slot him nicely as #40 in my Nordiques Numbers Project, on card #122 from Series 1, which had cards #1-330:
The same year, as part of Series 2 (home of cards #331-660 in the set, also known as Rookies And Traded or Update), he was featured wearing the Sharks' teal (away) uniform on card #555:
He signed both in (fading) black sharpie, I would say either in February 1994 when the Blues came to Québec to face the Nordiques, or in 1996-97 when he was with the IHL's Milwaukee Admirals facing the Québec Rafales. The latter seems like the best bet.

Fun fact: Series 1 was a bilingual set, while Series 2 was an all-English extension:
Oh, Canada, eh? Where we only care about French (the country's "other official language") and First Nations when tourists are around but are otherwise content to impose the Anglo-Saxon colonists' views and lifestyles the rest of the time.

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