Friday, September 22, 2017

Bob Sweeney Autograph Card

The 1990s weren't kind to the New York Islanders, as GM Mike Milbury traded away an entire roster of first-round draft picks and quality role players like defensemen Vladimir Malakhov, Zdeno Chara, Wade Redden, Bryan Berard, Eric Brewer, Darius Kasparaitis, Scott Lachance and Bryan McCabe; Olympic goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Tommy Salo; and forwards Olli Jokinen, Todd Bertuzzi, Tim Connolly, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Raffi Torres, and the second overall draft pick from 2001 which became 100-point center Jason Spezza.

That's a pretty impressive cast to just send away at the four corners of the NHL. It was as if Milbury, a Boston native, was still trying to work for the Boston Bruins despite their having fired him four years prior; he single-handedly ran a once-dynastic franchise to the ground for a full decade.

Another Bostonian who played for his hometown Bruins for a long time and ended up with the Isles in the mid-1990s was Bob Sweeney, seen here wearing the infamous "Fisherman" jersey (albeit with the logo airbrushed out because of copyright issues), on the signed insert version of card #26 (therefore known as S26) from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player set:
He's fighting for rink real estate with a Pittsburgh Penguins player - I want to say Chris Wells, but I might be wrong.

The 1995-96 season was Sweeney's last in the NHL, split between the Isles and the Calgary Flames. He then spent one year in the IHL with the Québec Rafales before spending five seasons in the German League (DEL).

Despite what some folks will have you believe, the present-day Islanders have a good, balanced team (as long as John Tavares remains with them), a work of art and patience built by a savvy, smart and bold GM in Garth Snow, who may have been handed the job in a bizarre manner (slotted in as Rick DiPietro's backup, owner Charles Wang had a talk with him and realized he had detailed knowledge of every team's players, systems and coaches, and ideas on how to make all of them better, Isles included), but the reason he did replace Neil Smith was because he basically delivered a better interview and had better knowledge of current-day players than Smith, who'd been away from the day-to-day operations of running a team for six years.

I believe in Snow, and I believe Snow has built a good enough team to enter the playoffs as the East's First Wild Card team, ahead of the New York Rangers and last year's Atlantic Division-leading Montréal Canadiens.

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