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.

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