Monday, August 28, 2017

Yvon Labre Autographed Card

Some of the worst NHL teams of all time were expansion teams, and none were worse than the 1974-75 Washington Capitals. They won just a single game on the road that year, en route to a 8-67-5 record.

On that team, some players even struggled to make the team those first few years, leaving the impression that they weren't much themselves. Among those was a slow defensive defenseman by the name of Yvon Labre, who scored a grand total of 14 career goals. That, of course, is forgetting he won a Best Defenseman award in Metro Junior B and not knowing his combativeness.

By 1976, he was the team's captain, a title he held for two seasons until star player and future NHL head coach Guy Charron took over. Playing in the same division as the Philadelphia Flyers and stacked teams such as the Montréal Canadiens, New York Rangers and New York Islanders (depending on the season), the Caps needed someone who wouldn't be afraid to take to the ice and view it as trenches in a war - especially at the Spectrum. Labre was there, always ready for a fight. He didn't win many of them, but he kept going at it.

To everyone's surprise - including Labre himself - the Capitals retired his #7 in 1981 after he retired due to a knee injury. That was a classy move. Weird, but classy. Perhaps the fact that he scored the team's first home goal (against Hall of Famer Rogatien Vachon) played into it as well.

Post-retirement, Labre remained in the organization, serving many roles ranging from assistant coach, colour commentator, scout to director of community relations for the Capitals, a role he was prepared for from his playing days, as he was very involved in the community.

Here he is sporting the Caps' classic white (home) uniform, on card #61 from O-Pee-Chee's 1975-76 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in black ball-point pen - my autograph weapon of choice when I was a kid - at a game where he followed the Capitals at the Montréal Forum. I'm thinking it was the game that ended in a 0-0 tie where Pete Peeters and Patrick Roy both got the shutout although the Habs clearly scored but were denied the goal by the referee.

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