Monday, November 27, 2017

Josh Hennessy Autographed Card

Josh Hennessy finished his Juniors career with three straight 80-point seasons (84, 82 and 85, actually) with the LHJMQ's Québec Remparts, then went on to produce 63 points (24 goals and 39 assists) in 80 games with the AHL's Cleveland Barons, leading the team in every offensive category.

He then was part of a three-team trade that saw him transit by the Chicago Blackhawks (with Tom Preissing, for Mark Bell) before landing with the Ottawa Senators (with Preissing, Michal Barinka, and a second-round pick, for Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski).

While he failed to secure a spot in the Sens' NHL lineup, he continued to do well for their AHL affiliate Binghamton Senators, putting points on the board nearly every game. What probably interested the Sens as much as his dazzling speed and ability to set up teammates was the fact that while playing in the "Q", the American had learned French, and as his grasp of the language increased, he took on a bigger leadership role on the team, first as alternate captain, then as captain. He was fluent by his last season in Québec.

After four seasons during which he wasn't truly given a shot at the NHL level, having been surpassed on the Sens' depth chart by the likes of Ilya Zubov, Martin Saint-Pierre, Zack Smith and Peter Regin, he opted to sign with Switzerland's famed HC Lugano for the 2010-11 season, then returning to North America in the Boston Bruins organization the following year.

Having played in only three games for the Bs, Hennessy opted for Europe as his long-term plan, with the NHL lockout looming, first in the KHL for three years with a stint in Switzerland thrown in for good measure, then four seasons with Sweden's Vaxjö Lakers, including a championship win in 2014-15.

This year, he's back playing for the Providence Bruins, and he has 5 points (two goals and 3 assists) so far in 12 games.

Here he is wearing the Barons' beautiful white (home) uniform, on card #388 from In The Game's 2005-06 Heroes And Prospects set, which he signed in blue sharpie when the Sens played against the Montréal Canadiens in 2008:
What a great design. Who would have thought the Sharks' theme and colours could work so well on a jersey? I'm a huge fan of the history of the Barons, by the way.

The original Barons played in the AHL from 1937 until 1973, winning ten divisional titles and nine Calder Cups, which was a league record until the Hershey Bears won their tenth in 2009. The team moved to become the Jacksonville Barons in 1973-74, only to fold unceremoniously after season's end. I am related to Roger Bessette who played on that team (goalie, 1946-1949).

Meanwhile, in the NHL, the California Seals were founded in 1967, bearing the same name as a team from the Western Hockey League, quickly becoming the Oakland Seals (1967-70), then the California Golden Seals (1970-76). The NHL wasn't ready, however, for a team with painted skates and white gloves, and California wasn't ready for NHL hockey either, so to give it a final chance of succeeding, the franchise was moved to Cleveland in 1976, taking on the Barons mantle. Despite some level of success, the team folded in 1978 - the year I was born - and some of its players were assigned to the Minnesota North Stars when that team was purchased by George and Gordon Gund, former minority owners of the Seals and future founding owners of the Sharks.

The final professional iteration of the Barons was the one Hennessy played for, which was in Cleveland from 2001-06. That franchise started out as the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1996-2001), then went on to become the Worcester Sharks (2006-15) and are now known as the San Jose Barracuda (2015-present).

No comments:

Post a Comment