Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bob Kudelski Autographed Card

Things are going well for the Ottawa Senators this season, with a 4-1-4 record and 12 points in 9 games, two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and second place in the Atlantic Division. I've been a fan of the Sens for a while now, and they've had good teams in the past - including the 2005-08 Cup Finalist team that included 100-point captain Daniel Alfredsson, the best set-up man in the league in Jason Spezza and 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley at the same time - but I kind of feel this team, built by the late former GM Bryan Murray and current GM Pierre Dorion, and coached by Guy Boucher, could beat any other Sens team of all time. Even the original Senators, also known at times as the Silver Seven (1883-1934).

There has never been this balanced a team playing this effective of a system in the Ottawa region, period.

However, there have been quality players who have performed well (Alexei Yashin comes to mind), promising players who failed to develop in the Canadian capital but became regular NHLers elsewhere (Alexandre Daigle, for example), or players who had a short-term very good showing with the Sens but failed to continue to do so in the rest of their career. Like Bob Kudelski.

Kudelski was a star player for the Yale University Bulldogs in the ECAC, prompting the Los Angeles Kings to select him in the 1986 supplemental draft, which was an extra amateur draft (from 1986 until 1994, inclusively) occurring in September for U.S. College players who were not admissible to be chosen at the regular draft at the time. After spending the 1987-88 and 1988-89 seasons hovering between the NHL and the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks, he finally made it to the big time in 1989-90.

He started out with two consecutive 36-point seasons, then took it up a notch to 43 for the 1991-92 season. He was traded to the first-year Ottawa team early in the 1992-93 season, and the Sens themselves sent him to the expansion Florida Panthers midway through the 1993-94 season, where his play dropped dramatically, until he retired following the 1995-96 season, after suiting up for 4 games with the Cats' AHL affiliate Carolina Monarchs.

His passage in Florida was eventful, however, as he tied an NHL record by suiting up in 86 total games the year the Sens sent him to the Panthers, and his wife Marie-France gave birth to daughter Jessica soon after the trade, making her the First Panther Baby.

But it was Kudelski's time in Ottawa that proved to be most memorable on the ice, as he scored 47 goals to go with 29 assists and 76 points in 90 games with the team, scoring the franchise's first hat trick along to way. In terms of points per game, with 0.84, he stands tied in fifth place of all time with the great Marian Hossa, behind Alfie (0.96), Yashin (0.97), Spezza (1.02) and Heatley (1.14), and is second (at 0.52) only to Heatley (0.57) in goals per game.

The year he split between the Sens and Panthers, he scored 40 goals, which followed four consecutive 20-goal seasons.

Here he is wearing the Sens' best black (away) uniform, on card #48 from Leaf's 1993-94 Leaf Series 1 set, with a clear view of his uniform number (26), which slots him perfectly in my Sens Numbers Project:
He signed it in black sharpie at a card show in Ottawa, circa 2007-2009.

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