Saturday, December 21, 2019

Jimmy Carson Autographed Card

You may recall his name from two nights ago: Jimmy Carson is the second-youngest player in NHL history to reach the 100 career goals mark, and the American player to do it the fastest. Carson already showed he was special in Juniors, playing for the LHJMQ's Verdun Junior Canadiens: in 1984-85, as a rookie, he was second in team scoring with 44 goals, 72 assists and 116 points in 68 games, second only to Claude Lemieux, and the following season he led the team with 70 goals, 83 assists and 153 points in 69 games, with second-place Everett Sanipass pretty far behind at 94 - although Sanipass' 320 penalty minutes would catch the eye of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Carson was selected second-overall at the 1986 draft, behind Joe Murphy, by the Los Angeles Kings and would finish seventh in his draft class in career points with 561, behind Vincent Damphousse (1205 points, 6th overall), Brian Leetch (1028 points, 9th overall), Scott Young (756 points, 11th overall), Craig Janney (751 points, 13th overall), Teppo Numminen (637 points from the blue line, 29th overall), and Adam Graves (616 points, 29th overall).

He finished third in Calder Trophy voting in 1986-87 behind Kings teammate Luc Robitaille, who was two years his senior and barely had a better offensive output, but had way worse defensive statistics (+/-):
Robitaille: 45 goals, 39 assists, 84 points, -19 in 79 games
Carson: 37 goals, 42 assists, 79 points, -5 in 80 games
Finishing second was Ron Hextall, winner of the Vezina and Conn Smythe that year.

Carson followed that up with a 55-goal, 52-assist, 107-point season in 1987-88, only to be traded to the Edmonton Oilers during he off-season with Martin Gélinas, round 1 pick in the 1989 draft (Jason Miller), round 1 pick in the 1991 draft (Martin Rucinsky), round 1 pick in the 1993 draft (Nick Stajduhar) and cash ($10M in 1988 dollars) to Edmonton Oilers for Wayne Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley.

He had 49 goals, 51 assists and 100 points in his first season in Edmonton, but 4 games into the 1989-90 season (in which he had 3 points), after making a trade request, he was sent to his hometown Detroit Red Wings with Kevin McClelland and a 1991 fifth-rounder for Graves, Murphy, Petr Klima and Jeff Sharples, the kind of one-sided trade that gives a team - in this instance, the Oilers - a Stanley Cup. It is said that he couldn't handle the pressure of having been traded for Gretzky, but he told me it was more that he resented being the face of Gretzky's departure from Canada - a much different pressure than just hockey-related.

Playing second fiddle to Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov and Gerard Gallant, Carson didn't get much ice time and his statistics dipped, often falling close to the point-per-game average, but always below it. He was eventually sent back to L.A. (for Paul Coffey, no less!), where injuries and declining speed took their toll, eventually passing through the Vancouver Canucks and Hartford Whalers organizations, playing one year in Switzerland, and playing for him hometown IHL Detroit Vipers for parts of two seasons before retiring for good and entering the "normal, 9-to-5" workplace that is the world of financial planning.

Here he is wearing the Wings' red (then-away) uniform on card #398 from Topps' 1992-93 Topps set, with the NHL's 75 Anniversary patch on the chest:
He signed it in blue sharpie at a card show in Windsor in 2010 or 2011.

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