Sunday, September 15, 2019

Jyrki Lumme Autograph Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

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

The Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes have been bottom-dwellers since their relocation in the late 1990s. They've employed superstars at various positions - Wayne Gretzky as a head coach, Brett Hull, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick and Shane Doan up-front, Oliver Ekman-Larsson on defense, Curtis Joseph and Nikolai Khabibulin in net - but never won their division, and only once made it (accidentally) to a Conference Final, with the seasons before and after proving it was a fluke.

They're also one of those teams that always changes their uniforms, proving they're unstable and don't know what they're doing. Heck, they seem to be for sale every other year. I hear Hartford, Québec, Houston, Hamilton, Kansas City and Saskatoon are looking for teams to relocate there...

For now, Arizona is the NHL's retirement home, where players extend their careers by a year or three, cashing in their final cheques while remaining in the vicinity of what looks like a team, fully aware that they'd be forced to retire and turn to player development in any other city.

Which brings me to Jyrki Lumme, a former Montréal Canadiens draft pick (third round, 57th overall, 1986) who became a star with the Vancouver Canucks for most of the 1990s. Mostly known as a good skater, good passer and good shooter, the fact that he wasn't ready to put as much effort into defending (and because the Habs already had very good powerplay point men) in the earlier part of his career is what got him traded out of Montréal; it took him a few years of good offensive play on middling Vancouver teams to realize he had to become a more complete player, but when he did, he helped the team reach high levels of success, including a Stanley Cup Final in 1994 that was ultimately won by the New York Rangers.

When he turned 31, after two straight seasons with games missed to injury and a production that fell well below the 50-point mark, the Canucks opted not to re-sign him, so he left as a free agent and signed with the Coyotes, with whom he reached the 40-point plateau for the last time in 1999-2000.

After three seasons in Phoenix, he suited up with the Dallas Stars for 15 games and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the bulk of two seasons, before going back home to finish his career with a third stint (pre-NHL, lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, and 2005-07) with the only Finnish team he's ever played for, Ilves Tampere, which he now co-owns.

Here he is wearing the Yotes' Kachina-style original jersey which the team now uses as an alternate, on card #259 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player Signature Series set:
It's the "Gold" variant and includes an on-card black-sharpied signature.

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