Friday, September 1, 2017

Patrik Elias Autographed Card


What I'll be trying to do this September is feature one player per NHL team on this blog while conducting a preview for that team on my "General/Opinion/Personal" blog, culminating in my predictions for final ranking, Stanley Cup winner and finalist, and all major individual trophy winners.

I thought I'd start out with the New Jersey Devils today (preview here), with a nod to Patrik Elias, who was forced to retire due to knee problems at age 41 earlier this spring; the team has announced they will retire his #26 in February.

He finishes his career with 408 goals, 617 assists and 1025 points in 1240 regular-season games on a tremendously defensive-minded Devils team who played the trap better than anyone else before or since. He captained the team for one year and won two Stanley Cups in 19 seasons with the organization. His playoff numbers aren't too shabby either, with 45 goals, 80 assists and 125 points in 162 games - including 20 points in 23 games and 23 in 25 in consecutive postseasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

He was at close to a point-per-game pace (or better) for 12 of 14 seasons between 1998-99 and 2013-14, with a peak of 40 goals, 56 assists and 96 points in 2000-01.

He also won bronze medals with the Czech Team at the 1994 European World Juniors, the 1998 and 2011 World Championships, and the 2006 Olympics.

I personally think he falls short of a Hall Of Fame nod, but I do agree the Devils need to retire his number, because he was the best long-tenured forward in team history. Some teams are meant to have lower standards than others for such ceremonies... and New Jersey certainly doesn't have as rich a history as, say, the Montréal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings or Boston Bruins.

I've been sitting on this card for precisely this day:
It's #144 from Upper Deck's 2008-09 Collector's Choice set. He signed it in blue sharpie, and it shows his wearing the Devils' red (now-home) uniform.

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