Sunday, June 11, 2017

Craig Billington Autograph Card

After featuring Craig Billington with the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche, perhaps it's time I revisited his first NHL trade, one that sent him from the New Jersey Devils to the Ottawa Senators, with card #A-CB from In The Game's 2012-13 Decades - The 1990s set:
Notice the Devil's horns helmet but black jersey, which is the original Sens away uniform.

At first, Billington was highly regarded as a potential #1 goalie, which is why the Devils drafted him in the second round (23rd overall) in 1984, but by the time he finished his career in Juniors (two more seasons in the OHL) and finished developing with the AHL's Utica Devils, making it to the NHL in 1991-92 after spending all of the previous season with the Canadian National Team, the Devils were  had already drafted Martin Brodeur, so they no longer had a need for Billington or Chris Terreri - although it should be noted that the latter eventually turned into Brodeur's backup and retired to become his goaltending coach.

Yet, because every team needs to be represented at All-Star Games and the 1992-93 Devils were so awful, Billington was the representative that was sent to Montréal for the mid-season classic, where he joined the Senators' own rubber magnet, Peter Sidorkiewicz.

That first-year Sens teams were god-awful, finishing with a 10-70-4 record, and its leading scorer was a defenseman, and not a household name either: Norm Maciver, a guy who had been toiling between the AHL and NHL in the Edmonton Oilers organization the previous three years, the Hartford Whalers before that, and the New York Rangers the three seasons before that, so of course their only representative would be their goalie, although considering Sidorkiewicz finished with a 8-46-3 record, 4.43 GAA (which was extremely high even in the high-scoring 90s), and a .856 save percentage.

And so, on Draft Day 1993, just four months removed from both appearing in their lone, semi-controversial All-Star Game, both goalies were traded for one another, with former Rangers prospect Troy Mallette and the fourth-round pick that became Cosmo Dupaul also making their way to the Sens.

With all the shuffling on the Colorado Avalanche staff these past few years, Billington has graduated from player development coach to Director of Player Personnel to VP of Player Personnel to his current position as assistant-GM to Joe Sakic, as well as the general manager of their AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage, although I hear rumblings they may move their players closer to home in Colorado in the near future.

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