Friday, September 20, 2019

Steve Bozek: Three Autographed Cards

(As per years past, this is a twin-post with my "regular" blog, where I predicted the Vancouver Canucks would finish fifth in the Pacific Division in 2019-20).
Those were my favourite Vancouver Canucks jerseys by far. The predominant black, the golden-orange that stands out, and just a bit of red to accent both. I miss them dearly.

Steve Bozek had 89 points in 41 games in his draft year playing for the NCAA's Northern Michigan University Wildcats, so it was a bit of a surprise to see him fall to 53rd overall, which is when the Los Angeles Kings called his name out. To prove he was no fluke, he led all College players the following year with 90 points in 44 games, a team record that still stands.

He had an immediate impact with the Kings, as an injury to Charlie Simmer gave him the opportunity to line up with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor on the first line; his 33 goals were a team record for a rookie at the time, but have since been surpassed by Luc Robitaille (45 in 1986-87).

It would be short-sighted to not at least put a caveat to the fact that his rookie season was his best, statistically, what with his 33 goals, 23 assists and 56 points all being career highs; the fact of the matter is he's missed 10 to 25 games to injury in most following seasons, sometimes over 40, and he still put up point-per-game averages close to 0.5 seven times, including in his penultimate season, in 1990-91, which was his last one with the Canucks.

Between his time in L.A. and all the way up the coast to Vancouver, he spent the bulk of five seasons with the Calgary Flames earning praise for his two-way play and helping them reach the 1986 Stanley Cup Final, and 7 games with the St. Louis Blues. His final NHL season was in 1991-92, as he signed a one-year deal as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks before playing one year in Italy (11 points in 15 games in 1992-93) and one game in Slovenia in 1993-94.

But I remember him best from his days with the Canucks, where he proved to be a strong penalty killer. Here he is on a slightly blurry picture with card #293 from Pro Set's 1990-91 Series 1 set:
And here he is on two cards from Topps:
On the left is card #325 from the 1991-92 Bowman collection, while the one on the right is #28 from the 1991-92 Stadium Club set, with the mention that he's now with the Sharks.

He signed all three cards for me in black sharpie at a card show in Toronto a couple of years back; I think he lives there now and works as a financial advisor.

He won a silver medal with Team Canada at the 1991 World Championships.

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