Thursday, October 31, 2019

Mark Letestu Autographed Card

The bad news just keeps piling on for the Winnipeg Jets, following an off-season where they lost half their defense: Patrik Laine will be out for at least a couple of games with a lower-body injury, Dustin Byfuglien was operated on an ankle with or without the team's consent and will miss up to four months, and Mark Letestu has now been shut down for six months with myocarditis, which I know from watching House, M.D. is a viral infection to the heart.

Undrafted out of Alberta Junior "A" and then Western Michigan University, Letestu first signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent, made his way to the Columbus Blue Jackets, then the Edmonton Oilers, an hours-long trip to the Nashville Predators only to be traded back to the Blue Jackets, a tryout deal with the Florida Panthers, a new deal with the Jackets, and this summer signed on with the Jets.

He has mostly played in blue in the NHL - even in Pittsburgh. Here he is wearing the Oilers' classic uniform of the same colour on card #192 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed it in blue sharpie after a game in Montréal in 2018. He's wearing #55 on it, which is perfect for inclusion in my Oilers Numbers Project.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gabriel Landeskog Jersey Card

When healthy, the best line in the NHL is arguably the Colorado Avalanche's top line, featuring Hart finalist Nathan MacKinnon, young star Mikko Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog. MacKinnon might start feeling like he's on his own for a while, because Rantanen was already out week-to-week with a lower-body injury, and now Landeskog joins him on LTIR with an ailment that head coach Jared Bednar describes as "longer than week to week". Ouch.

At least he'll be around to take care of his newborn baby for the next little while:
Landeskog was a leader and heart-and-soul talented middle-six player for most of his career, his point totals usually in the 50s but oscillating between 35 and 60, but playing on a line wit hRantanen and MacKinnon turned him into a point-per-game player and 30-goal scorer.

Having been drafted second overall in a 2011 class that included the likes of Nikita Kucherov, Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Scheifele, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Couturier, Mika Zibanejad, Dougie Hamilton and Vincent Trochek, Landeskog and first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins were increasingly looking at arguments beyond points totals to justify being picked ahead of those guys - although both are making a strong case this season that they may have just bloomed a tad later and not been surrounded as well in the beginnings of their careers.

Despite those two very important losses, I feel the Avs are strong and deep enough this year to keep playing acceptable hockey and remain in the playoff race until both star players are back and rested - which might just help them come playoff time.

Here is Landeskog wearing the Avalanche's white (away) Reebok Edge-era uniform with the ugly striping cutting the captain's "C" in half, on card #GJ-GL from Upper Deck's 2017-18 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set:
It features a bright/dark blue game-worn jersey swatch that is likely from the home or third jersey.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Devante Smith-Pelly Autographed Card

Devante Smith-Pelly has been through it all: prized prospect, traded for prized prospects twice, World Juniors bronze medalist for Team Canada, grinder, healthy scratch, Stanley Cup Final hero, demoted to the AHL, training camp tryout that he gets released from, and now signing in the KHL with the Kunlun Red Star, alongside Gilbert Brulé, Spencer Foo, Adam Cracknell, Jake Chelios (son of Chris), David Bondra (son of Peter), Griffin Reinhart, Trevor Murphy, Ryan Sproul, Andrej Sustr, Mikaël Tam, Wojtek Wolski and captain Brandon Yip.

Despite a wealth of North American players and being coached by Curt Fraser, the Chinese team currently sits fifth in the Chernyshev Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference.

A former second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks (42nd overall in 2010), he has also suited up for the Montréal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals for two seasons apiece.

In Montréal, he is mostly remembered as Alex Galchenyuk's partner-in-crime in extracurricular activities, notably one incident on January 10, 2016 where police were (allegedly) called to the scene of an orgy at a luxury half-apartment building/half-hotel involving alcohol and a lot of cocaine that Galchenyuk's soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend crashed which resulted in an arrest for domestic violence... eventually to Galchenyuk's ex. As the organization is known to do, they got rid of Smith-Pelly quickly and Galchenyuk eventually, as soon as the team finished sullying his name to part of the fan base by constantly publicly questioning his work ethic and moving him around so much he looked lost on the ice.

Fast-forward a couple of years and a Cup and teammate and Caps star Evgeny Kuznetsov tests positive for cocaine. I'm not ready to say the drug is rampant in the NHL as much as it was in the 1980s, but its usage has probably increased in percentage as much as it seems to have in society, which is a lot more than in 1995 or 2001.

I hope Smith-Pelly finds his game again in the KHL and comes back next year on a team that could use his skill-set, like the Philadelphia Flyers or his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. He's the type of unsung here that is easy to root for because he works hard and seems to leave his all on the ice.

Here he is wearing the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors' (now the Mississauga Steelheads) white (home) uniform, on card #176 from In The Game's 2010-11 Heroes And Prospects set:
He signed it in blue sharpie in November 2018, after one of two games against the Habs. He was shorter than I thought (he plays bigger than 6') but was affable and nice.

Monday, October 28, 2019

5-Pack Break: 2019-20 Upper Deck Tim Hortons

Once again, for a full review, click here. As more and more Tim Hortons stores run out of their Upper Deck 2019-20 Tim Hortons hockey cards, I'm tricked into believing I need to buy more of these overpriced cards.

I went for another five packs and landed these inserts, starting with a Gold Etchings card of Alex Ovechkin:
Of course, the scan is a little light on the gold foil, but the card looks great to the naked eye.

There were also two Game Day Action cards, of Mark Scheifele and Auston Matthews:
I landed one "Red" parallel of Sebastian Aho:
And one "Special Event" card, of Sidney Crosby from the All-Star Game:
I've now spent $54 and am still far from a complete set set (55 singles, 5 doubles), which means I'm now up to these so far:

Base Set:
5: Mark Giordano
7: Brady Tkachuk
9: Jack Eichel
10: Jordan Binnington 
13: Johnny Gaudreau x2
15: Ryan Getzlaf
17: Victor Hedman
19: Jonathan Toews
20: Sebastian Aho
21: Brayden Point 
24: Jonathan Huberdeau
25: Nico Hischier
26: Blake Wheeler
28: Claude Giroux
29: Nathan MacKinnon
30: Henrik Lundqvist
33: Sam Reinhart
34: Auston Matthews x2
37: Patrice Bergeron 
39: Aleksander Barkov
41: Jake Guentzel
43: Anthony Mantha
48: Connor Hellebuyck
52: Chris Kreider
53: Bo Horvat
54: Jonathan Quick
55: Mark Scheifele
56: Devan Dubnyk
58: Kris Letang 
60: Drew Doughty
62: David Krejci
63: Brad Marchand
64: Eric Staal
69: Cam Atkinson
73: Mark Stone 
75: Frederik Andersen x2
77: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 
78: William Karlsson
79: Elias Petersson
83: Quinn Hughes
84: Evgeny Kuznetsov 
85: Leon Draisaitl
88: Patrick Kane 
89: Alex DeBrincat
93: Mika Zibanejad
97: Connor McDavid
99: Brendan Gallagher
101: Tyler Seguin
102: Jeff Skinner
104 Kyle Palmieri
112: Marc-André Fleury x2
115: Mathew Barzal x2
118: Jonathan Drouin
119: Anze Kopitar

Game Day Action:
HGD-4: Mark Sheifele
HGD-6: Johnny Gaudreau
HGD-8: Jonathan Toews 
HGD-10: Auston Matthews
HGD-12: Alex Ovechkin
HGD-13: Steven Stamkos
HGD-14: Nathan MacKinnon 
HGD-15: Sidney Crosby

"Red" Parallel:
DC-10: Sebastian Aho
DC-16: Patrice Bergeron
DC-17: Brent Burns
DC-30: Clayton Keller
DC-33: Steven Stamkos

Gold Etchings:
GE-4: Patrick Kane
GE-5: Johnny Gaudreau
GE-7: Patrik Laine x2
GE-8: Alex Ovechkin
GE-10: Sidney Crosby

Franchise Duos:
D-6: Johnny Gaudreau/Sean Monahan
D-7: Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl

Clear Cut Phenoms:
CC-5: David Pastrnak
CC-8: Patrik Laine 

Highly Decorated:
HD-7: Jonathan Toews
HD-12: Joe Thronton

Special Events:
SE-2: Tuuka Rask: China Games
SE-3: Nico Hischier: Global Series
SE-5: Patrice Bergeron:  Winter Classic
SE-6: Sidney Crosby - All-Star Game

I do not expect to ever have a complete set, so these will start being included in trades and mail shipments to get signed soon.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Nicolas Petan Jersey Card

There is a tendency in sports reporting that I don't like and is being normalized these days, which is to attack someone (or a group of people) at the bottom of the food chain to send a message to the entity or entities up top, and the worst of the worst - as always - comes from the Toronto media.

Not only do they concentrate on their own team too much, they also over-emphasize the importance of the Toronto Maple Leafs (far from the most storied franchise in the league, in fact more like the team with the most and longest sequences of irrelevance), but they live in a bubble where they keep repeating the same message over and over where it actually becomes a narrative and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Too cryptic?

Think of last summer's narrative: The overpaid John Tavares and Auston Matthews inspired Mitch Marner to force the Leafs to hand him the same type of overpaid contract, but with the overpaid William Nylander in the mix, they won't have enough money to match the high-powered offense with a top-notch defense, and they will lack depth.


On the other hand, teams with great defence (the Nashville Predators come to mind) rarely can afford 50-goal scorers and 100-point forwards (except maybe the Calgary Flames). Case in point: the Vegas Golden Knights and Pittsburgh Penguins.

But I digress. I was talking about the bubble: TSN (half-owners of the team) talks about the lack of depth, Sportsnet (half owners of the team and sole owners of the national TV rights) talks about a lack of depth; the Globe And Mail and sports radio talks about a lack of depth and hints at a general lack of talent; the National Post says it's the most disappointing Leafs team of the past 20 years; TSN gets more critical, Sportsnet gets more critical, Hockey Night In Canada points to why they're in a critical situation, sports radio wants GM Kyle Dubas' head while Sportsnet asks for head coach Mike Babcock's - the same Babcock they were so adamant was the exact person the team needed when they signed him - now that his patience and rebuild process and plan has come to fruition, and TSN Radio goes and says the team has "no talent".

They're not wrong on the initial, original premise: Tavares was overpaid to be convinced to leave the New York Islanders in the midst of his prime at age 28 because he was eventually going to represent a reasonable portion of the salary cap when the young guns also reach their prime; Matthews and Marner - at least a couple of years away from their prime - are already getting paid for what they'll be expected to provide when they're 25 and 26 years old; Nylander should never have been given that money, he'll likely never be worth it; there is less money left to hire 19 other players at a value that most pother teams will be spending on 19 players.

All true.

But some players accepted to play for their hometown team at a rebate - Jason Spezza, for instance, taking a 90% pay cut to join a contending club and provide leadership. Sure, he's far removed from his prime, but for what he can provide (he's coming off two straight 8-goal, 26-and 27-point seasons, so it'd be reasonable to expect 5-7 goals and 22-25 points on his part with favourable matchups), but you'd have to think the Montréal Canadiens or Ottawa Senators would have paid double for what he brings, to provide their young players with a lifetime's worth of experience from top-rated prospect to second-liner to first-liner to centre of the best line in the NHL to captain to depth piece to checking centre. Contracts like his enable so0me extravagance in other areas.

What I don't like is how it spirals into "no talent" territory.

1: Fuck You. 2: What?

Spezza is a 1000-game veteran with over 900 points; Jake Muzzin is an Olympic gold medal winner with Team Canada; Alex Kerfoot will make more mistakes than your usual third-line centre, but he'll chip in for 40-50 points, 20% more than is expected from his position; Dmytro Timashov is 23, in his first NHL season, and was a two-point-per-game player in the LHJMQ; that "no good" Cody Ceci is a +6; Frédérik Gauthier is a former first-rounder who was always groomed to be a fourth-liner for this team, so I don't know what else people were expecting; Michael Hutchinson is in his fourth organization and third NHL team (he never played for the Boston Bruins but had a short stint with the Florida Panthers and played with the Winnipeg Jets in parts of five seasons), meaning three teams so far have seen him as a better option than their own current #3 goalies; Rasmus Sandin, just 19 years old, former first-rounder; Nick Shore, veteran of nearly 250 NHL games.

These aren't your beer league retirees or ECHL-caliber youngsters, these are ten of 700 players who will play in the best league in the world this year, possibly among the 1000 best at what they do on the planet. I know for a fact that no one in the National Post is among the top 1000 at what they do.

Which brings me to Nicolas Petan, former second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets (43rd overall in 2013), acquired by the Leafs at last year's trade deadline and extended for two seasons near the league minimum who was quickly recalled early in the month. He has an assist in 4 games so far, which projects to 20 points over a full season while playing under 10 minutes per, but he was a point-per-game player in the AHL (52 points in 52 games) with the Manitoba Moose in 2017-18.

He has talent, he has guts, but Babcock won't play him because he's 5'9" despite his 180 pounds. But he's there waiting for his chance, like Martin St-Louis, Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, David Desharnais and Paul Byron before him.

Journalists and pundits need to chill out and realize we're just 13 games in - time to reflect, time to prepare for the 20-game/quarter-season look back, but no time to panic or ask for heads to roll, especially those who have no stake in it.

Here is Petan wearingt the Jets' white (away) uniform, on the bronze insert version of card #150 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 SP Game-Used Edition collection and Authentic Rookies sub-set:
It features a dark blue event-worn jersey swatch and is numbered 241/399.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

My Habs Numbers Project: An Introduction

So many hockey collectors have ''special projects'' they pursue to make their hobby even more fun, from trying to gather specific cards from every single Vancouver Canucks goalie to having an autographed card of every player who has reached the 1000-point mark.

I decided to start a project myself: to gather a special piece (jersey cards could work, but ideally an autographed card) from a player from every number worn by a member of the Montréal Canadiens.
Here's a look at the task that's ahead of me, starting with those I have:

Head Coach: Scotty Bowman: check!
1: Brian Hayward, Roland Melanson and Rick Wamsley: check!
2: Gaston Gingras (also wore #29): check!
3: Sylvain Lefebvre once (then twice), and Brian Engblom: check!
4: the one and only Jean Béliveau: check!
5: Stéphane Quintal and Guy Lapointe: check!
6: Ralph Backstrom: check!
8: Brandon Prust: check!
10: Guy Lafleur: check!
11: Claude Larose and Ryan Walter: check!
12: Yvan Cournoyer and Mike Keane: check! (also: Darcy Tucker)
13: Alex Tanguay: check!
14: Mario Tremblay: check! (also, Tomas Plekanec, who also wore #35)
15: Réjean Houle once, (then twice), and Bobby Smith: check! (also: George Parros)
16: Henri Richard: check!
17: Georges Laraque and Benoît Brunet: check!
18: Valeri Bure: check!, and Serge Savard: signed lithograph check!
20: Phil Goyette and Nicolas Deslauriers: check!
21: Brian Gionta: once, then twice, and Christopher Higgins: check!
22: Steve Shutt, Steve Bégin and Gilbert Dionne: check!
23: Turner Stevenson: check! (twice)
24: Andreas Dackell: postcard check!
25: Vincent Damphousse: check!
26: Josh Gorges: check!
27: Alex Kovalev: jersey card check!
28: Kyle Chipchura and Éric Desjardins: check!
29: Gaston Gingras (also wore #2) and Brett Clark: check! 
30: Mathieu Garon: postcard check, Peter Budaj, and David Aebischer: check!
31: Carey Price: check! (also Jeff Hackett)
32: Travis Moen: check!
34: Peter Popovic: check!
35: Alex Auld: check! (also, Tomas Plekanec, who wore #14 as well)
36: Marcel Hossa (also wore 81) and Matt D'Agostini: check!
37: Steve Penney and André Racicot: check!
38: Nikita Scherbak: check!
40: Maxim Lapierre: check! (also, this Éric Chouinard postcard)
41: Jaroslav Halak: check!
42: Alexander Perezhogin: check!
43: Patrice Brisebois and Andrew Cassels: check!
44: Stéphane Richer: check!
45: Gilbert Dionne: check!
46: Andrei Kostitsyn: 8x10 check!
47: Brendon Nash and Stéphan Lebeau (also wore #50): check!
48: Jean-Jacques Daigneault, and James Wyman: check!
49: Brian Savage: check!
50: Stéphan Lebeau (also wore #47): check!
51: David Desharnais: check! (also wore #58)
52: Craig Rivet: postcard check!
54: Patrick Traverse: postcard check!
55: Francis Bouillon (also wore #51): check!
57: Blake Geoffrion: check!
58: David Desharnais: check! (also wore #51)
59: Brock Trotter: check!
60: José Theodore: check and check again!
61: Raphael Diaz: check!
62: Artturi Lehkonen: check!
63: Craig Darby: check!
64: Greg Pateryn: check!
65: Robert Mayer and Andrew Shaw: check!
67: Max Pacioretty: check!
68: Yannick Weber: check!
70: Zachary Fucale: 4x6 picture check!
71: Louis Leblanc and Mike Ribeiro: check!
72: Mathieu Carle: check!
73: Michael Ryder: check!
74: Alexei Emelin: check!
75: Yann Danis: check!
76: P.K. Subban: jersey card check!
77: Pierre Turgeon: check!
79: Andrei Markov: check!
80: Ben Maxwell: check!
81: Lars Eller: check!
84: Guillaume Latendresse: check!
91: Scott Gomez: check!
94: Yanic Perreault and Tom Pyatt: check!

Captains: Béliveau, Gionta, Turgeon

Which means I'm looking to fill these:

7: This will be the hardest, seeing as Howie Morenz died in 1937 and the number was soon retired...
9: There are signature cards of Maurice 'The Rocket' Richard, but I don't think I'll ever be able to afford one!
19: This one will likely be between Terry Harper and Larry Robinson
33: Of course, my boyhood idol is Patrick Roy. Richard Sévigny would also be fine.
39: I think I also have a Reid Simpson one, but I'd love to upgrade to a Cristobal Huet or Enrico Ciccone
53: Rory Fitzpatrick and Ryan White have worn this number the longest
56: David Wilkie, Alain Nasreddine, Scott Fraser and Stéphane Robidas are the only ones to have worn this number in Montréal
62: It's a toss-up between Duncan Milroy and Frédéric St-Denis, but I did send St-Denis cards this season
66: Has only been worn in pre-season games
69: another pre-season number
78: I probably have some Éric Landry stuff somewhere...
82: It'd be nice to have Donald Audette's signature on a Canadiens' product
83: I don't even remember Éric Bertrand, but I'll gladly take the refresher course
85: never been worn, huh
86: Jonathan Ferland
87: never been worn
88: Chris Higgins wore it for a short while, as did Xavier Delisle
89: never been worn
90: I have lots of Joé Juneau cards, none of them signed
92: never been worn
93: the one and only Doug Gilmour
95: goalie Olivier Michaud would make my day, but Sergei Berezin would be fine as well
96, 97, 98, 99: have never been worn

Nicolas Deslauriers Autographed Card

It was Nicolas Deslauriers' dream to one day play in the NHL for the Montréal Canadiens, and he got to live it through parts of two seasons for 106 games. Unfortunately, he came to the organization at a time where being a local kid is frowned upon by management, and where a single mistake means getting scratched by head coach Claude Julien for anywhere from three to 22 games.

He's now suiting up for the surprising Anaheim Ducks, providing energy, hard checks, a veteran example to follow and rest for other fourth-line grinders by eating up a few minutes here and there every other game. The Habs got a fourth-round pick in 2020 in exchange for his services, and both teams are currently fighting for a playoff spot, Anaheim one game above .500 (7-6) while Montréal is one below (5-4-1-1, for five wins and six losses).

He knew his time was up with the Canadiens and is happy he got to remain in the NHL instead of being demoted to the AHL's Laval Rocket, where hometown players seem to end up under this regime.

He signed this card for me in blue sharpie at a charity golf tournament this summer:
It's #208 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 O-Pee-Chee set, showing him wearing the Habs' classic red (home) uniform.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nick Leddy Jersey Card

Nick Leddy made history earlier tonight as the first New York Islanders defenseman to score on a penalty shot as his three points helped his team win against the Ottawa Senators. Furthermore, it was thought for a while that he had joined Hall Of Famer Denis Potvin as the only d-men to score hat tricks for the franchise, but the (third) goal was given to Cal Clutterbuck a few minutes later when the NHL head office realized he'd actually deflected Leddy's shot ever so slightly.

Ever since coming from the Chicago Blackhawks in October of 2014, Leddy has been a steady offensive presence for the Isles, generally oscillating between 40 and 45 points per season except last year where he only collected 26, although his defensive play has sometimes angered the team's fans; one need only look at his stats from 2017-18 to understand their frustration: in 80 games, he scored 10 goals and had 42 points with just 20 minutes (not too bad for a defenseman who weighs 210 pounds), but his -42 ratio was unforgivable.

It's a far cry from the 10-goal, 37-point and +18 rating rating from 2014-15 that got him some Norris Trophy votes.

This year, he's again on track points-wise, with 5 points in 9 games, 2 penalty minutes and a +5 rating in part thanks to tonight's game. Head coach Barry Trotz seems to know how to best utilize him, too, because he was an even +0 last year on the team with the best goals-against average, so he's getting matchups where he can contribute and not put his team in a bad situation.

Here he is wearing the Isles' white (now-away) uniform on card #FA-NL from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Artifacts collection and Frozen Artifacts sub-set:
It features a bright orange (much brighter than the scan lets on) game-worn jersey swatch. Artifacts remains the best-looking set on the market year in and year out, in my opinion.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

2019-20 Upper Deck Tim Hortons: 5-Pack Break

As usual, Tim Hortons stores are running out of their Upper Deck 2019-20 Tim Hortons hockey cards two weeks ahead of time; they were initially supposed to be in stores until November 9th, but most are already sold out, which is why when I crossed a shop that still had some, I took bought packs. (For a full review of the set, click here.)

It's not the best decision I've ever made, but it's very far from the worst.

For instance, I landed two Gold Etchings cards, one of them Johnny Gaudreau:
Unfortunately, I already had a Patrik Laine, but maybe I can get one signed now.

I also landed two Game Day Action cards, of Gaudreau and Sidney Crosby:
And my final insert was of the Special Events type, namely the Global Series, of Nico Hischer:
In terms of collation, I only got one base double (Gaudreau), but I did find it odd that I got a double of an insert.

All told, I've spent $45 I'm still at one-third of the set (two doubles), which means I'm now up to these so far:

Base Set:

5: Mark Giordano
7: Brady Tkachuk
9: Jack Eichel
10: Jordan Binnington 
13: Johnny Gaudreau x2
15: Ryan Getzlaf
17: Victor Hedman
19: Jonathan Toews
20: Sebastian Aho 
21: Brayden Point
25: Nico Hischier
26: Blake Wheeler
28: Claude Giroux
29: Nathan MacKinnon
33: Sam Reinhart
34: Auston Matthews 
37: Patrice Bergeron 
39: Aleksander Barkov
41: Jake Guentzel
43: Anthony Mantha
48: Connor Hellebuyck
52: Chris Kreider
53: Bo Horvat
54: Jonathan Quick
55: Mark Scheifele
56: Devan Dubnyk
58: Kris Letang 
60: Drew Doughty
63: Brad Marchand
64: Eric Staal
69: Cam Atkinson
73: Mark Stone 
75: Frederik Andersen
77: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
84: Evgeny Kuznetsov 
85: Leon Draisaitl
88: Patrick Kane 
89: Alex DeBrincat
93: Mika Zibanejad
97: Connor McDavid
101: Tyler Seguin
102: Jeff Skinner
104 Kyle Palmieri
112: Marc-André Fleury x2
115: Mathew Barzal
119: Anze Kopitar

Game Day Action:

HGD-6: Johnny Gaudreau
HGD-8: Jonathan Toews
HGD-12: Alex Ovechkin
HGD-13: Steven Stamkos
HGD-14: Nathan MacKinnon 
HGD-15: Sidney Crosby

"Red" Parallel:

DC-16: Patrice Bergeron
DC-17: Brent Burns
DC-30: Clayton Keller
DC-33: Steven Stamkos

Gold Etchings:

GE-4: Patrick Kane
GE-5: Johnny Gaudreau
GE-7: Patrik Laine x2
GE-10: Sidney Crosby

Franchise Duos:

D-6: Johnny Gaudreau/Sean Monahan
D-7: Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl

Clear Cut Phenoms:
CC-5: David Pastrnak
CC-8: Patrik Laine 

Highly Decorated:
HD-7: Jonathan Toews
HD-12: Joe Thronton

Special Events:
SE-2: Tuuka Rask: China Games
SE-3: Nico Hischier: Global Series
SE-5: Patrice Bergeron:  Winter Classic

Some stars are included too often, no offense to Toews and Gaudreau, but it's ridiculous. One player shouldn't feel like he's 10% of the series.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Jacob Markstrom Autographed Card

Since taking over as the Vancouver Canucks' #1 goalie in 2017-18, Jacob Markstrom has done an admirable job, often standing as one of the lone bright spots on a team that looked desolate in present times and whose future was bleak.

Fast forward two years and the future is brighter with the likes of Elias Pettesson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes, and whether Thatcher Demko pans out or not in net, Markstrom is holding the fort admirably so far, having only surrendered more than two goals in a single game, a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers to open the season.

At 29 years of age, he's got three more years of prime hockey and possibly two more of pretty good play after that, if he can mostly stay at or below the 60-game threshold per regular season (in addition to playoffs and international play).

Of course, he dons Team Sweden's Tre Kronor uniform on the world stage, so he already has gold (2013 World Championships), silver (2009 World Juniors) and bronze (2010 World Juniors, 2010 World Championships) medals and will be looking to add to that resume whenever he can; his team will be among the favourites every time.

Here he is from his silver medal days wearing Sweden's yellow (home) uniform, on card #200 from In The Game's 2010-11 Heroes And Prospects set and International Prospect sub-set:
He signed it in fading blue sharpie after playing great and stopping 31 of 33 shots in a 2-0 loss against the Montréal Canadiens last January.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Dale Hawerchuk Autographed Card

When Dale Hawerchuk took a leave of absence from coaching the OHL's Barrie Colts, they only said it was for "health reasons". But by leaving the door upon for a return, I thought it was something that impedes your day-to-day, but not this: it has now come out that he is undergoing treatment for stomach cancer.

Although his prime extended to 1994, I would say he's one of the ten best forwards of the 1980s; I'll go even as far as saying he ranks #4 in my book:

1. Wayne Gretzky
2. Mario Lemieux
3. Peter Stastny
4. Dale Hawerchuk
5. Mike Bossy
6. Denis Savard
7. Jari Kurri
8. Steve Yzerman
9. Mark Messier
10. Marcel Dionne

You have the best player of all time at #1, and the most talented of all time at #2. That they played in the same generation boggles the mind. Then you have Stastny, the decade's second-highest scoring NHLer despite playing on a team that was never a powerhouse - and the most complete player of his era, offensively and defensively, the Patrice Bergeron of his time, essentially, but better.

Bossy's one of the three best and purest shooters of all time - with Brett Hull and Alex Ovechkin. Savard was the most electrifying and spectacular player of the era. Jari Kurri was on the level of a Marian Hossa or Mark Stone if those guys had Steven Stamkos' shot.

Yzerman was elite, just below the level of a Joe Sakic - a top-10 of his era whether I like it or not. I was also looking for ways to leave Messier out of this list, but I couldn't. And Dionne - possibly the best player to never win a Stanley Cup - was elite in the 1970s and into the first half of the 80s as well, so he makes the cut too.

That means the likes of Michel Goulet, Bryan Trottier, Mike Gartner, Dino Ciccarelli, Bobby Smith, Ron Francis, Rick Vaive, Mats Naslund, Neal Broten, Joe Mullen, Brian Bellows, Charlie Simmer, Bernie Federko, and Pat Lafontaine didn't make the cut, and the same can be said of players who came into the decade late, like Luc Robitaille, Theo Fleury, Sakic, Hull (his impact came into the 1990s), and Joe Nieuwendyk.

As for slotting him ahead of Bossy and Yzerman? Well, he was that good and a more complete player earlier than Stevie Y., as can be attested by Hawerchuk's presence as a "third-line grinder" on Team Canada at the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups; not only that, but in the '87 edition, when the score was tied 5-5 in the third and final game against the Soviet Union with just over a minute left and a face-off in the defensive zone, it was he that coach Mike Keenan trusted to face the powerful Russian top line, flanked by Gretzky and Lemieux. He won it, Lemieux chipped it, and they scored one of the most famous goals of all-time on a three-on-one with defenseman Larry Murphy crashing the Soviet net. None of that happens without #10.

Speaking of which, this is what he looked like at the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups wearing Canada's home (white) uniform, on card #88 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Team Canada Juniors set and Alumni sub-set:
To this day, I still haven't actually purchased a pack or box from that set, but I do buy unsigned cards and send them by mail, which is how I got this one back after sending Hawerchuk a letter care of the Colts last season.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Peter Regin Autograph Card

There are five "known" Danish centres currently playing hockey. One put his professional career on hold and plays at the University of Guelph while furthering his education, Mikkel Aagaard; Lars Eller and Frans Nielsen are in the NHL; the other two are captains of their teams: Julian Jakobsen with the Aalborg Pirates in Denmark, and Peter Regin with the KHL's Helsingin Jokerit.

And Regin's started the season off on the right foot, with 10 points in 17 games so far in the ultra-defensive league.

He left North America after failing to earn a full-time roster spot with the Chicago Blackhawks prior to the 2015-16 season and proceeded to post consecutive 48-point seasons, but the last two had been sub-par, with only 8 goals and 31 points in 56 games in 2017-18 and 2 goals and 10 points in 29 games in 2018-19.

The Ottawa Senators' third-round pick at the 2004 draft (87th overall) is a fine skater, first-tier passer and smart player, but he never seemed to utilize his 6'2" frame and 190 pounds to create any space for himself in the NHL, although he was a decent point producer in the AHL, surpassing the 40-point mark both times he was sent there. In Europe, he can find a similar accent on strategy that best complements his abilities, I think.

Here he is sporting the Sens' red (home) uniform, on card #S-RE from Upper Deck's 2009-10 Be A Player set and Be A Player Signatures sub-set:
It features a black-sharpied on-sticker autograph that incorporates his jersey number (43).

Fun fact: the two goalies on Jokerit aren't playing at the same level so far this year, which may warrant a post or two on my part sooner rather than later:
courtesy of HockeyDB
Regin is six games away with Team Denmark from the century mark (100).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard Autographed Card

I've gotten so used to young NHLers entering the league taller than me at half my age that I was shocked to see how small Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was in person, perhaps smaller than his listed 5'9" and 161 pounds.

He had made the trek to the draft in Dallas for his first year of eligibility after a 76-point season (in 67 games) with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2017-18 only to be left undrafted; he earned an invitation to the Vegas Golden Knights' rookie camp, but ultimately couldn't stick with the team.

Instead, he went back to Juniors, was named the Huskies' captain, led them to the best record in Canada (59-8-1), collected 27 points in 20 playoff games to lead the team to the Presidents Cup (LHJMQ playoff championship) and had six points in five games as the Huskies went on to win the Memorial Cup as Canadian Juniors champions. The icing on the cake came when the Montréal Canadiens selected him in the seventh round (201st overall), joining Memorial Cup MVP and teammate Joël Teasdale in the Habs' prospects pool.

While he didn't stick in Montréal past the rookie camp, he enters his final year in the "Q" as captain of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens - his rights having changed hands over the summer - where he hopes to replicate last season's successes in his hometown, where he gets to sleep in his own bed in his parents' house. He has 10 points in 12 games so far, facing much more scrutiny from the opposition than in years past.

Here he is wearing the Huskies' old white (home) uniform, on card #235 from Upper Deck's 2017-18 CHL collection:
He signed it in (fading) blue sharpie at the Canadiens' practice facility this summer.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Elias Lindholm Jersey Card

Elias Lindholm had a breakout season with the Calgary Flames last year, posting 27 goals, 51 assists and 78 points in 81 games playing alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau on the team's top line.

He is off to a similar start this year with 5 goals and 6 points in 9 games for the 4-4-1 Flames, but he may miss a step or even a few games following a mean slash from the Detroit Red Wings' Darren Helm last night. Both players were at it, and both went beyond the line, but only Lindholm got injured, resulting in Helm getting the maximum allowable fine of $5000.

Prior to coming out of his shell in Calgary, Lindholm had been the Carolina Hurricanes' first-round pick (5th overall) in the 2013 draft, and the ultra-defensive team lost patience with his 40-point production and shipped the 23-year-old out of town for more defensive depth (with Noah Hanifin, for Adam Fox, Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland) in one of many questionable moves they've made since building their top-tier defense and lucking out with offensive production from Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho.

If only they had had a plan... and goaltending. Which usually comes with a plan.

Here is Lindholm wearing Carolina's black (third) jersey from a couple of years ago on card #GJ-EL from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Series 1 collection and UD Game Jersey sub-set:
It features a red game-worn jersey swatch that could be from any of their uniforms.

Internationally, Lindholm has won two silver medals with Team Sweden at the 2013 and 2014 World Juniors, as well as gold at the 2017 World Championships.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Ty Conklin Autographed Card

The Edmonton Oilers are unstoppable. I had them finishing fourth in the Pacific Division and fighting for a playoff spot - unrealistically hoping they could pass the San Jose Sharks in third place but ultimately falling just short, possibly by a single point. But you can never count out a team led by Connor McDavid, apparently.

I'm also extremely glad for James Neal finding the back of the net again; he is one of my favourite forwards, so having him on the team I followed the most as a kid, teenager and young adult meant a lot in itself, and his rejuvenated self is just (delicious) icing on the cake.

Mikko Koskinen is also getting accustomed to the NHL ice surface and speed; he and Mike Smith are playing well in the crease, giving their defense a well-deserved confidence boost that they don't have to be perfect to win games.

Which brings me to another Oiler that tended goal some 15 years ago, Ty Conklin, seen here looking much happier when he still had a career .914 save percentage, 2.36 GAA and a winning record (19-14-4):
That's card #37 from Upper Deck's 2005-06 Ice set, which he signed in blue sharpie at a card show in 2017 or 2018.

He was chosen as the 2004 World Championships' Best Goaltender, helping Team USA to a bronze medal.

My Oilers Numbers Project: An Introduction

Long-time readers are probably familiar with my Habs Numbers Project, where I'm attempting to get a collectible item - ideally an autograph, but a jersey card will do - of a representative of every jersey number ever worn by a member of the Montréal Canadiens.

Since it's well underway and moving along nicely, I thought I could do the same for the Edmonton Oilers, seeing as I've already published 53, so I'm more than halfway there just by what I've already written, without counting my existing and extensive backlog.
Spoiler alert: I don't have anything from Wayne Gretzky. I don't think I'll ever be able to afford to, either, and he doesn't sign TTM, understandably - though many collectors confuse his autopen for an autograph. Which, when I get there, I might also count, myself (though I don't have one of those either).

Here's what I have:

1: Ty Conklin (also wore #29): check!
2: Eric Brewer and Lee Fogolin: check!
4: Kevin Lowe: check!
5: Steve Smith and Ladislav Smid (again here): check!
6: Jeff Beukeboom: check!
8: Joe Murphy: check!
9: Bill Guerin: check!
10: Shawn Horcoff, Pat Falloon, and Nail Yakupov: check!
12: Adam Graves: check!
13: Ken Linseman and Andrew Cogliano: check!
14: Raffi Torres: check!
16: Kelly Buchberger and Jarret Stoll: check!
17: Jari Kurri: jersey card check!
18: Craig Simpson: check!
19: Boyd Devereaux and Patrick O'Sullivan: check!
21: Vincent Damphousse and Andrew Ference: check!
22: Charlie Huddy: check!
23: Sean Brown: check!
24:  Theo Peckham and Kevin McClelland: check!
25: Mike Grier: check!
26: Mike Krushelnyski and Brad Winchester: check!
27: Scott Mellanby, Georges Laraque and Boyd Gordon: check!
28: Craig Muni: check!
29: Ty Conklin (also wore #1): check!
30: Bill Ranford: check!
31: Grant Fuhr: jersey card check!
33: Dan McGillis: check!
35: Mikhail Shtalenkov: check!
37: Lennart Petrell: check!
38: Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: check!
39: Doug Weight: check!
40: Devan Dubnyk: check!
42: David Oliver: check!
44: Chris Pronger: jersey card check!
48: Ryan Hamilton: check!
49: Theo Peckham: check!
51: Philippe Cornet and Andrei Kovalenko: check!
54: Chris VandeVelde: check!
55: Mark Letestu: check!
56: Teemu Hartikainen: check!
57: David Perron: jersey card check!
58: Jeff Petry: check!
62: Mark Arcobello (also wore #26): check!
64: Nail Yakupov: check!
67: Benoit Pouliot: check!
68: Tyler Pitlick: check!
77: Garry Unger and Tom Gilbert: check!
78: Jordan Eberle (also wore #14): check!
81: Taylor Fedun: check!
83: Ales Hemsky: check!
84: Oscar Klefbom: check!
85: Petr Klima: check!
89: Sam Gagner (twice) and Mike Comrie: check!
91: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson: check (twice)!
94: Ryan Smyth: check and check again!

Captains: Fogolin, Lowe, Buchberger, Ference, Smyth

Numbers 50, 53, 61, 63, 66, 69, 70, 72, 73, 74, 75, 79, 82, 86, 87, 90, 92, 95, 96, have not yet been worn by Oilers players, which means I'm looking to fill these:

3: Al Hamilton is the only one who's worn this number in team history
7: Paul Coffey, Martin Gélinas, Jason Arnott and Dan Cleary are good calls
11: Well, that's Mark Messier
15: This number changes owners almost yearly
20: Five players wore it in 1994 alone, 27 in total
31: Eddie Mio, Grant Fuhr and Curtis Joseph have all worn this with success
32: Miroslav Satan, Ron Tugnutt and Mathieu Garon come to mind
34: I'll be writing Donald Dufresne next year, but Fernando Pisani would also be nice
36: Tough guy Dennis Bonvie may have worn it the longest - 2 years
41: Brent Gilchrist or Jean-François Jacques might be the easiest to get
43: Dennis Bonvie and Jason Strudwick have worn this one
45:  I liked Shawn Belle
46: Tough guy Zack Stortini would rule
47: Paul Comrie or Marc-André Bergeron work here
52: Allen Rouke and Jerred Smithson have worn this one
55: Igor Ulanov and Alex Henry were tough defenders
59: Brad Hunt is the lone bearer, and it happened this year
60: Sébastien Bisaillon wore this in 2010
65: Mark Napier wore this in 1987
67: Gilbert Brulé never replied to any of my TTMs
71: It's a toss-up between Petr Sykora and Lubomir Visnovsky
76: Bryan Young had it for one season
80: Ilya Bryzgalov, may have missed my chance with this one
88: Rob Schremp wore it half a decade ago
93: It's between Petr Nedved and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
99: The Great One, Wayne Gretzky

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Victor Mete Autographed Card

Let's get a few things out of the way: Victor Mete is a good, young defenseman. The fourth-round pick from 2016 is in his third NHL season at just 21 years of age, playing a position where skaters hit their prime the latest - usually around the ages of 25-26 years old - and has been good enough to suit up for 127 games thus far, usually on the first pairing with Montréal Canadiens captain Shea Weber, facing the opposition's top six forwards.

He is a very good and pretty quick skater who makes a great first pass, and his shot is hard enough to make it to the net but usually better for deflections than an actual scoring threat, at least for now; he's been working at improving it all summer and will likely continue to do so for the next few years at least.

Defensively, although still learning the ropes at the second-hardest position a skater can have (centre being the first), he is good enough to make up for Weber's more-obvious-by-the-game lack of speed, and his skill and agility complement his partner's grit and toughness superbly in their own zone on most nights - they just have a hard time against teams that are all-skill-and-speed like the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It was a statistical anomaly that Mete hadn't scored a single goal in his first 126 NHL games, beating Mike Komisarek's old mark by four games. Komisarek may have been an All-Star, but he was a stay-at-home defenseman's stay-at-home defenseman; Mete is not of that ilk; in time, he will be a fixture on the Habs' powerplay.

So, yeah, Mete scored tonight, a nice goal from the slot that opened the scoring:

Since the Habs won 4-0, it was also the game-winning goal. It was the first time this season that Carey Price surrendered fewer than three goals, so he'll be glad the Western Conference's worst team, the Minnesota Wild, were in town to help him beat a shameful streak of his own, shooting a measly 17 times on the net-minder.

Mete's so good that he has suited up for Team Canada twice internationally, winning gold at both the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2018 World Juniors, where he was named alternate captain; card #53 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 Team Canada Juniors/Women set shows him wearing #28 at the former:
He signed it in black sharpie - tagging his jersey number (28) at the end - this summer at the Habs' practice facility in Brossard, on Montréal's South Shore. I told him that not only was he due to score early in the season, but Murphy's Law would probably make it that he'd get a hat trick while he was at it. Maybe he'll just net game-winners, the same way the Buffalo Sabres' Victor Olofsson is only getting powerplay markers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tessa Bonhomme Autographed Card

Tessa Bonhomme and the rest of Team Canada's gold medal-winning team from the 2010 Olympics will be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame at the end of the month. She was a star defender on the national team and the captain of the CHWL's Toronto Furies for the better part of four seasons, which she juggled with Olympic and World Championship schedules as well as full-time jobs on TV since 2011.

Indeed, she first started off as an analyst on Leafs TV, then played in two reality series - appearing in Wipeout Canada in 2010 and winning the 2012 Battle Of The Blades competition with Olympian figure skater David Pelletier. She's been an anchor and reporter for TSN's flagship show, SportsCentre, since September 2014.

Here she is on card #40 from In The Game's 2007-08 O Canada collection and National Women's Team sub-set:
She's shown wearing the team's red (away) uniform, sporting her familiar #25 jersey, which slots her perfectly in my Team Canada Numbers Project. She signed it for me by mail, after I sent her a fan letter care of TSN.

Her medal cupboard is filled to the brink with gold (2005 and 2006 Air Canada Cups, 2007 and 2012 World Championships, 2010 Olympics, and 2010 Four Nations Cup) and silver (2009 Canada Cup, and 2009, 2011 and 2013 World Championships) medals. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets a broadcasting award eventually as well.