Sunday, December 1, 2019

Eric Hartzell Autograph Card

Most Hobey Baker Award winners don't have a huge NHL career, and the finalists are oftentimes career minor-leaguers. Such is the case with Eric Hartzell, who starred and had tremendous numbers for the Quinnipiac University Bobcats, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign him to a one-year entry-level contract.

He only appeared as a backup once with the main team but had an excellent season with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2013-14, sharing the "Hap" Holmes Award as the league's best goalie, but it was mostly an ECHL and European thing after that magical season.

His final stint in the ECHL, with the Quad City Mallards, ended when the team folded at the end of the 2017-18 season. He never found work between the pipes after that, retiring at age 28, but I hear he may be a teacher at a hockey school in the summer.

And that's the difference between an undrafted player and one where the team feels forced to keep giving some guys chances despite pedestrian numbers on the long term - think Scott Darling, James Reimer and Carey Price - often rewarded with untradeable contracts to boot.

Here he is stopping pucks during warm-ups on the signed version of card #260 from Panini's 2013-14 Select set and Dual Rookie Class sub-set:
It features a blue-sharpied, on-sticker autograph and shows him wearing the Pens' then-white (away) uniform. I'd like to get some ECHL and European cards of him signed one day.

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