Monday, September 18, 2017

Vaclav Prospal Autographed Card

It's been a few seasons since the Philadelphia Flyers were considered serious contenders, but I feel they're on the verge of breaking out - not this year, but the way GM Ron Hextall has built his roster and taken his time bringing his players up in a way that he'll be able to keep most of them if not all under the salary cap for a long time, as soon as goalie Anthony Stolarz is ready to take over the #1 job between the pipes.

Since breaking into the NHL 50 years ago, the Flyers have been able to build a Stanley Cup finalist every decade, which is rather impressive. The team from the mid-1990s, starring Hextall for much of it, the Legion of Doom (Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg) up front, Team Canada defenseman Éric Desjardins, Rod Brind'Amour, Paul Coffey and so many more was pretty memorable despite never winning a championship.

One long-time NHLer was drafted to fit right in with that group, in the third round (71st overall) of the 1993 draft: Vaclav Prospal. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as Prospal was traded along with Pat Falloon and a second-round pick for the Ottawa Senators' Alexandre Daigle, in January 1998.

Prospal would spend parts of four seasons with the Sens, with whom he had his first 20-goal and 55-point season (1999-2000), then half a season with the Florida Panthers before getting traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he had his finest seasons in the NHL in three separate stints with the team:
From HockeyDB
As you can see, he narrowly missed being part of the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Bolts team...

Although he was eventually bought out from the last three years of his final deal with the Lightning, he did play well for the New York Rangers (where he was also an alternate captain) and Columbus Blue Jackets - for two years apiece - after his time in Tampa.

Here, though, in keeping with my theme of featuring the same team on each of my blogs for all of September as I make my 2017-18 predictions public, I will show him wearing the Flyers' white (then-home) 1980s-1990s uniform, making a play along the boards in front of the New Jersey Devils' John MacLean, on card #McD-39 from Upper Deck's 1997-98 McDonald's / Ice set and Ice Breakers sub-set, which he signed in blue sharpie in 2012 or 2013:
I am particularly fond of how the signature does not bleed through his body on the reverse of the plastic see-through card:
He missed the 1998 Olympics because of an injury but did earn a bronze medal with the rest of the Czech Team at the 2006 Torino Games to go with his 2000 and 2005 World Championship gold medals.

He retired in January 2014.

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