Thursday, March 14, 2019

Brent Ashton: Two Autographed Cards

Three weeks ago, the NHL trade deadline saw nearly 50 trades happen with a total of 83 actual players switching teams (one of them, Derick Brassard, moving twice) with just about the same number of draft picks switching owners.

No stranger to moving, Brent Ashton was the NHL's record-holder in that category for more than a decade, having been traded eight times in his 14-season career, a feat that was tied by Mike Sillinger in 2004 and surpassed two years later.

Fun fact: both Ashton and Sillinger hail from Saskatchewan, and both returned to their respective hometowns of Saskatoon and Regina upon retiring from the NHL. Fittingly, Ashton owns a sportswear business and is a licensed... real estate agent. He does know a thing or two about purchasing and moving into and out of homes, after all.

His wife Susan, however, may have had the most experience in that matter according to a 2009 interview with the NHL's website:
"There was no help," she says.

Susan was the one who said goodbye to her friends, sold the home, found a moving company, had the mail redirected, found a new place to live, got the phone hooked up and set up shop in a new city, where she started all over again. She didn't have a dressing room to offer shelter from the storm.

"It wasn't easy," says Brent about what his wife had to juggle.  "As players, we have the dressing room. What do the wives have? They were left on their own."

Of all the moves she's been through, Susan says the one time she was close to the edge emotionally was in 1991. She recalls being at the Winnipeg airport on her way to Boston with a lot on her plate.

"I had a 6-month-old, a 2 1/2-year-old and I had a dog, which was running around the airport, and I had our luggage," she says. "It was left up to me to move. But what could I do? What was the alternative? But I didn't cry. We were fortunate because our kids were not in school."
Their son, Carter Ashton, was a Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick (29th overall, first round, 2009) who now plays in the KHL after a few years in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.

Brent's prime took place between the 1984-85 and 1989-90 seasons, where he had six consecutive 50-plus-point seasons (all of them with more than 20 goals), with a high of 40 goals and 75 points in 1986-87, which was split almost evenly between the Québec Nordiques and Detroit Red Wings.

He finished his career two games shy of the 1000 mark, with 284 goals and 345 assists for 629 points. He also had three solid postseason runs (one in Québec and two in Detroit) in which he amassed 35 of his career 49 playoff points (in 85 games).

His time in Québec occurring just before I started really paying attention to the sport, I mostly remember him with the Winnipeg Jets, which is why that's the team I had him sign cards from.

First, here he is wearing the team's initial purple (away) uniform on card #130 from Topps' 1990-91 Bowman collection:
Those long white sleeves are a look then-GM John Ferguson had previously tried to impose when with the New York Rangers (to vitriolic reviews) and brought over to the Jets when they made the switch from the WHA to the NHL.

They then modernized their look for the 1990s, as can be attested from card #78 from Score's 1991-92 Score (Canadian Edition) set:
He signed both in black sharpie. These cards allow me to induct him beside Keith Tkachuk as wearers of #7 in my Jets Numbers Project.

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