Monday, October 30, 2017

André Racicot Autographed Card

The struggling Montréal Canadiens were facing the mighty Ottawa Senators tonight, in a game I thought would end 3-0 for Ottawa but instead turned into an 8-3 drubbing of the Sens. The Habs were so desperate to change the tide that they'd started backup Al Montoya in lieu of $84M-man Carey Price. Then again, with a 3-6-1 record so far this season, a .883 save percentage and a 3.64 goals-against average, the main man isn't getting it done for the bleu-blanc-rouge between the pipes.

The Silver Seven blog had a pretty hilarious recap of the game, including this gem:
We got Erik Karlsson not being fully healed from his injury and kind of sucking at defense, Craig Anderson leaving his net too many times, #TheSystem totally collapsing, Jean-Gabriel Pageau not scoring a hat trick to save the day and, of course, the Sens being embarrassed on home ice by a team so utterly devoid of hope and shame that it has resorted to starting Al Montoya in net. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m pretty glad I’m no longer living in an environment which requires that I interact with Habs fans on a daily basis.
A score worthy of the early 1990s, which brings me back to this card of André Racicot wearing the Canadiens' white (then-home) uniform and signed in blue sharpie:
That's card #11 from O-Pee-Chee's 1992-93 O-Pee-Chee Premier set, a collection that became less and less "premium" as he years passed due to increasing over-production and lesser-quality rookies as time went on.

Racicot gets a bad rap. I remember telling my street hockey friends one night I wanted to call him "Red Light", because compared to Patrick Roy, the goal-scoring light would tun red far more often with the 5'11", 165-pound guy from Rouyn-Noranda than with the future Hall of Famer; it was a (mean) joke. I was a bit shocked to learn, a decade later, that the nickname had stuck. Then again, The Gazette's Red Fisher (and many others) lived in my neighbourhood, so perhaps they heard us use it on Marcil Avenue or at NDG Park...

He wasn't great, but he wasn't close to being the worst of his era either. During the Habs’ (last) Cup year in 1992-93, Racicot's statistics were actually pretty even with Roy's during the regular season: Roy went 31-25-5 with an .894 save percentage and 3.20 GAA, while Racicot went 17-5-1 with an .881 save percentage and 3.39 GAA. And, remember, Roy finished sixth in Vezina voting that year.

As a matter of fact, according to Grantline:
(Among) every goalie who played 40-plus games during Racicot’s five-year career, Racicot ranks 43rd out of 68 guys in save percentage; that isn’t great, but it certainly isn’t close to “worst ever” territory. He’s right in that dependable backup range with guys like Reggie Lemelin and Rick Wamsley, and not even all that far off from guys like Sean Burke and Mike Vernon, who were considered stars.
So it's not like he would have been in Antti Niemi/Kari Lehtonen/Ondrej Pavelec territory in current-day talk...

But there were times when scouts (Winnipeg Jets, Québec Nordiques) would come to my games and tell me that just from the fact that I wouldn't make these kinds of mistakes, I had a real shot at making the NHL one day:

Then I got to Juniors, and the Laval Titan wanted to turn me into a fighter...

But I digress.

What probably killed Racicot's chance at being a long-time NHL backup was his 1993-94 season, where he went 2-6-2 in 11 games with a 4.44 GAA and .850 save percentage with the Habs and 1-4-0 in 6 games with their AHL affiliate Fredericton Canadiens, with a 3.28 GAA and .863 save percentage.

This led to years toiling in the minors, appearing in the AHL, IHL, ECHL, WPHL, the BISL (British League), the Russian League, the WCHL and five seasons in the LHSPQ/QSCHL (now the LNAH) before he hung the pads up after the 2004-05 season.

He still plays in beer leagues, but as a skater. Mostly, though, he works for a mining company called Agnico-Eagle, operating out of the Laurentians.

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