Sunday, September 29, 2019

Éric Dazé Autograph Card

(As per years past, this is a twin-post with my "regular" blog, where I predicted the Chicago Blackhawks would finish sixth in the Central Division in 2019-20).

You may recall I featured a similar card of Éric Dazé back in 2015, #179 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player collection, showing him in the team's classic red (then-away) uniform, signed on-card in black sharpie:
The scan is actually a poor reflection of the various shades of silver and gold alternating throughout the foil, with silver being the dominant colour, but you can tell it's different from the one from four years ago because the "accent aigü" on the final "é" of "Dazé" is farther away from his left leg.

Dazé was one of the lone bright spots of a decimated roster on the Hawks from the mid-1990s to the early 00s, before back pain cut his career short and limited him to 20 games in 2003-04 and 2005-06; he actually retired at age 30 after playing 11:56 in the opening period of the opening game in October 2005, when it was clear that he couldn't sustain the pace of NHL-level action despite five surgeries for a herniated disc.

That being said, the Montrealer was one of the best shooters of his era, ending his career with 226 goals in just 601 games and a shooting percentage of 14.1% in the Dead Puck Era, when the Rocket Richard Trophy was often awarded to players who didn't even hit the 50 mark. He tallied four 30-goal seasons (with a high of 38 at the age of 26 in 2001-02), and never had fewer than 22 even when playing in just 54 (2002-03) and 59 (1999-2000) games.

It was the era of the power forward, and the 6'6", 220-pound behemoth was right in his element. If only he didn't have to carry the offensive load by himself...

He suited up for Team Canada three times, winning gold at the 1995 World Juniors, where he was named to the tournament's All-Star Team.

It's a shame that a bad back and a season-long lockout (2004-05) robbed hockey fans of Dazé's prime. He was destined for great things and had already been a runner-up for the Calder and was starting to collect Lady Byng votes as well.

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