Sunday, February 28, 2021

Patrick Kane Jersey Card

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Earlier tonight, Patrick Kane became the 100th NHLer to score 400 career goals, at age 32, putting him at 1056 points in 996 regular-season games. He's definitely got another hundred in him, maybe 150. He will likely be known as the greatest American-born player in NHL history for at least 15 more years, until Auston Matthews perhaps comes making a run at the title, or someone else who hasn't been drafted yet. But Kane doesn't just score and assist on other people's goals; he's also electrifying, was an integral part of three Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championships with one Conn Smythe to show for it (although I agree with his assessment that goalie Corey Crawford deserved it just as much as he did) to go with an Art Ross (league's leading scorer in points), Hart (most valuable player as voted by journalists), and a Ted Linsday Award (best player as voted by his peers).

I would not have expected all of that when he began his career, when his behaviour was problematic at best and criminal at worst, and the stories kept adding up while he was in a drunken haze for a couple of offseasons, from the assault of a cab driver (proven true) to his choking a woman at a sorority party (rumoured) to alleged anti-semetic comments (impossible to prove since the witness didn't actually witness any of it, as the altercation took place across the street from him and he couldn't hear) to a rape accusation that grew weirder and weirder with each passing day, for which he was not charged because DNA, physical evidence and forensic evidence did not back the victim's testimony (and there were lies about rape kits being delivered to the victim's mother that had the accusation's lawyer step down from the lawsuit).

Even though he was not charged with the most serious offense with evidence leaning towards the "it didn't happen" category more than the "we couldn't find the type of evidence that gets a conviction", you don't get into this type of smoke without any fire, and he did put himself into bad situations as a young adult. The fact that he was allowed to be given room to change is a positive, although I do wonder if he'd have had the same chance had he been Black in the United States. But that's yet another debate for another day.

What today brings, however, is the Kane dichotomy: I haven't been able to recognize his accomplishments on the ice as the second-highest points-per-game average of any American player ever with the fact that he also had a rough patch from 2012 to 2015 that, yes, cost him endorsement deals, but had they all been proven true would have made him one of the most despised individuals in professional sports. I don't want to "cancel him" altogether for many reasons (including "innocent until proven guilty" and "if you've paid for your crime, you can have another shot at Life", but also because I don't believe "cancelling" is always the best option), but I don't want to whitewash history either. I would like it if we could find "pure" people to look up to who've never done anything wrong, but I can definitely settle for recognizing someone's greatness at one thing while acknowledging their failures at other things - or at the same thing, in the case of the American Founding Fathers, many of whom owned other human beings at a time when it was legal if not necessarily moral. Mother Teresa refused to give her patients the medication that would save their lives, preferring they suffer to "earn their way into Heaven"; Gandhi was a racist: he actually fought so that the Indian people wouldn't be treated as lowly as Black people, without giving the slightest effort in raising their statute at the same time; Patrick Kane mugged and beat a cab driver, may have choked a woman at a frat party he had no business attending, and was (perhaps wrongly) accused of rape - and he's pretty good on skates and at handling a small piece of vulcanized rubber with a stick.

My thoughts will probably evolve on the matter as more light is shed on either side of his permanent record, but for now, he has to be content to contend with Mike Modano as the best American-born hockey player of all time, and this is what he wore the most often while reaching that point:
That's the Hawks' red (home) uniform, with matching game-worn jersey swatch, on card #AF-KA from Upper Deck's 2010-11 SP Game-Used Edition set and Authentic Fabrics sub-set. I traded for it three or four years ago.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Jeff Hackett: Two Autographed Cards

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Montréal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were fired earlier today, and most of the chatter online has been about focusing blame on goalie Carey Price, with reason. However, a loud minority of the voices were sarcastically asking for the return of another wearer of jersey #31, Jeff Hackett, to replace him. My impression is that these are kids who didn't live through the so-called "Hackett era", because he was by far the best and most important player on that team, a team which, at the time, was seen as one of the worst in Habs history, although the current iteration has to contend for that title as well, or at least qualify as most underachieving.

First things first, the firing: had Julien lost the room? Probably. The players were still giving their effort, but in a roundabout way, kind of like when some players with low production still have a high Corsi score by putting up low-probability shots on the opposing net instead of making quality plays: there were hard-fought battles but too many penalties; there were defensive lapses in the exact areas that make Julien cringe; and the $10.5M goalie's play had his teammates go from "we know we can cheat to try to create scoring chances because we know we have the best goalie in the world out there" in the first ten games of the season to "we really have to help our goalie out more, we can't be caught cheating and giving away two-on-ones and three-on-twos like that"; and said goalie has reverted back to his old self of blaming teammates instead of himself for the goals that go in - better yet, he thinks he's playing well. Julien's Habs have ranked 24th on the powerplay and 26th on the penalty kill since 2016. The Canadiens never actually made the playoffs in any full season of Julien coaching in his second stint in Montréal, and only qualified as the last club in the 24-team tournament last year.

Muller likely wasn't kept around for one or all of the following reasons: he went 2-3 in last year's postseason when Julien suffered a heart attack; he doesn't speak French fluently and many fans would have clamoured to have him be named head coach while GM Marc Bergevin probably has other candidates in mind; he was very close to Julien and may follow him in his/their next job, perhaps on the West Coast.

If interim head coach Dominique Ducharme wins a playoff round, expect him to sign a five-year deal; if the team fails to even qualify for the post-season, expect the usual suspects (Patrick Roy, Guy Boucher, Marc Crawford, Pascal Vincent, Benoit Groulx and Bob Hartley) to get interviews. It's anyone's guess what happens should the team lose in the first round.

Regarding Price himself, he's been way below average since the beginning of Julien's reign and has let in upwards of 25 more goals than expected in those three and a half years, which isn't ideal for the highest-paid netminder in the NHL. The window to trade him ends next Fall.

As for Hackett, he was acquired by the Canadiens from the Chicago Blackhawks with Eric Weinrich and Alain Nasreddine for Jocelyn Thibault, Dave Manson and Brad Brown. The trade gave the Hawks an All-Star goalie who may not have developped into one in Montréal, and the Habs finally got to cleanse their palate of the Roy debacle, whose shoes Thibault had never been able to fill. Hackett was so good that he won the Molson Cup as team MVP in both seasons where he was the starter, until injuries started to derail his career, allowing for José Theodore to take over slide into the starter's job. With a .914 save percentage both years (in a league where Dominik Hasek's .919 was tops) and goals-against averages of 2.25 and 2.40, it was no surprise that Hackett got Vezina Trophy votes; it was also not surprising that he didn't make it as a finalist due to the team being so far out of playoff contention.

Here are two cards that depict his playing style very well, as a former stand-up goalie who leaned into the butterfly technique but kept his "pouncing" reflexes:
On the left is card #88 from Upper Deck's 1999-2000 Wayne Gretzky collection and Leader sub-set, showing him ready to stop a puck headed for his stomach; on the right is card #28 from Topps' 2000-01 Premier Plus set, with a flat butterfly pad and the ability to push the rebound to the corner in a far less dangerous zone for his team, giving his defensemen a chance to battle for and regain control of the puck - a move I put high value in as a goaltending coach.

Both show him wearing the Habs' iconic red jersey and were signed in blue sharpie after his departue from Montréal.

I just felt that the recent discourse had taken a lot of credit away from him and the fact that he was very good, gave his honest best effort, and even acknowledged via his helmet that he knew he was getting into a hockey hotbed that Quebecers are thrown in as youth and get more rabid about with each passing year - particularly those years without Stanely Cups, even more so in years without a playoff berth. Heck, among the sixteen who have worn the number for the Canadiens, he's "my" #31, ahead of Price (2008-21), John Kordic (1986-89), Mark Napier (1979-84), Tom Chorske (1990-91) and Michel "Bunny" Larocque (1974).

Friday, February 19, 2021

10-Pack Break: 2020-21 Upper Deck Tim Hortons

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For reasons linked to confinement, lockdowns, an 8 PM province-wide curfew, 15-hour workdays and having a toddler at home, I was unable to head to a Tim Hortons store in the Fall for the annual tradiition that is buying a $2 tea or $3 small bottle of Coke Zero to buy a pack of Upper Deck's 2021-21 Tim Hortons cards at $1 instead of the "regular" price of $2, so I had decided to skip this year altogether, until I found a seller on Ebay who sold a 10-pack for $27, shipping included, essentially saving me the trouble of buying the drinks and cutting down my total costs by 30-40%. I'm not sure I'd buy another ten-pack, but I'm happy I got these 30 cards for the season.

First, here's a look at the base cards, front and back (spoiler alert, they're pretty similar to those of years past):
The foil looks good, the three-dimensional etchings are nice, and the back still has stats from the past five season as well as a call-back to the picture on the front.

There are also the usual Tim Hortons sub-sets, such as Gold Etchings, of which I landed Connor McDavid and Carey Price:
There's also a staple of the last few years, Red, featuring Price and Drew Doughty:
The All-Star Standouts cards are back, I pulled David Pastrnak, Jordan Binnington and Quinn Hughes:
I continued my luck of picking players from blue teams in the Clear-Cut Phenoms class with the Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews (instead of the usual Patrik Laine of years past):
Cup Winners are represented by Duncan Keith (it's actually a silver foil card to the naked eye):
UD also recycled the Canvas series from its signature series, with Pastrnak:
The Kucherov card is the only double I got, here's how the packs collated:

11: Jonathan Huberdeau
23: David Perron
26: Blake Wheeler
31: Carey Price
33: Dougie Hamilton
34: Auston Matthews
55: Mark Scheifele
58: Kris Letang
74: John Carlson
83: Max Pacioretty
85: Connor Brown
86: Nikita Kucherov (x2)
89: Reilly Smith
92: Evgeny Kuznetsov
95: Matt Duchene
101: Tyler Seguin
115: Frederick Andersen
121: Adam Henrique
123: Jeff Carter

C-8: David Pastrnak

Cup Winners:
CW-7: Duncan Keith

AS-5: David Pastrnak
AS-11: Jordan Binnington
AS-14: Quinn Hughes

CC-7: Auston Matthews

DC-18: Carey Price
DC-30: Drew Doughty

Gold Etchings:
G-1: Connor McDavid
G-9: Carey Price

It's still a solid set, worth an 8/10.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Michael Frolik Autographed Card

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After signing him to an affordable one-year deal right before Christmas Day, the Montréal Canadiens assigned Michael Frolik to their AHL affiliate Laval Rocket on a conditioning stint earlier today. He and fellow veteran Corey Perry had cleared waivers ahead of opening night; I believe most skaters will clear this year, what with the flat cap, quarantine rules and taxi squads, but GMs may be willing to try to upgrade their third-string goalies on the rebate wire as the playoff races get tighter.

Frolik has had an up-and-down last few years. He was usually good for a half-point per game on average (he was around that mark for nine of his 12 NHL seasons), and he did manage that in two of the past four seasons with the Calgary Flames, but his 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 19 games with the Buffalo Sabres to finish off the 2019-20 season is probably the biggest reason why he only signed a one-year deal near the league minimum, coupled with the warining sign in the form of a 25-point season (10 goals, 15 assists) with a -19 rating in 70 games with Calgary in 2017-18, although he had been +13 the year prior and was +24 the next.

He even earned some Selke Trophy votes with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13, the year the Hawks won their second of three recent Stanley Cups. He also has an impressive collection of bronze medals as a member of the Czech Republic Team from the 2004 and 2006 U-18s, the 2005 World Juniors, and the 2011 and 2012 World Championships.

He was originally a first-round pick in 2006, having been selected 10th overall by the Florida Panthers and he currently stands 12th of his draft class in career points with 384, so pretty much in the right spot though a ways away from the top-five of Nicklas Backstrom (4th overall, 954 points), Phil Kessel (5th, 877), Claude Giroux (22nd, 837), Jonathan Toews (3rd, 815) and Brad Marchand (71st, 673), and a case has to be made for defensemen Erik Johnson (1st, 304 points) and Jeff Petry (45th, 275 points), as well as goalie Semyon Varlamov (23rd, one Vezina nomination). Here is what he looked like wearing the Cats' black (home) Reebok-era uniform:
That's card #333 from Upper Deck's 2008-09 Power Play box set, which he signed in blue sharpie during the 2016-17 season.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Ron Hextall Autographed Card

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I have to admit I was pretty shocked when the Philadelphia Flyers fired GM and former star goalie Ron Hextall in November 2018, even more so when they replaced him with former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. I was sad that neither Hextall nor Sean Burke had been considered as GM of the Seattle Kraken, as both, to me, seem to have the credentials needed to build a team and make trades with fellow GMs that could be mutually beneficial.

I was intrigued but not as surprised when Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford resigned early this season, not so much because of his age (he did admit he was willing to listen to offers to get back in the game elsewhere) but mostly because people in his position are rarely willing to let go and relinquish a position so closely removed from back-to-back championships despite the clear signs of a regression. In Rutherford's case, he churned out talent such as not one but two #1 goalies in Marc-André Fleury and Matt Murray, as well as championship veterans Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Olli Maatta, Ron Hainsey, and Ian Cole, and acquired veteras Tanner Pearson, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad, Jamie Oleksiak, Joseph Blandisi, and Ryan Reaves. Two of them - Kessel and Murray - had delivered Conn Smythe-worthy performances under his reign. I guess he had a knack for not gettting too attached, although he did keep core veterans Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang on board despite increasing rumours to the contrary.

It was a complete shocker, however, when Hextall was annointed to replace Rutherford in Pittsburgh - Philadelphia's main rival - until I remembered his father, Bryan Hextall Jr., had played for the team in the early 1970s, with the likes of Syl Apps and Jean Pronovost, during a relatively bleak period of the team's history.

It will fall on Hextall's shoulders to decide whether a full (three-to-five-year) rebuild is in the cards, or if a simple two-year retool might do the trick. One thing's for sure, he built the current-day Flyers and the Stanley Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings mostly from the ground up with a couple of savvy trades (including trading away Brayden Schenn twice) thrown in for good measure. This is perhaps this core's last chance at bringing a fourth Cup home before it gets separated.

Despite his also suiting up for my favourite team - the Québec Nordiques - and the New York Islanders, when I think "Hextall", I think "Vezina", "Conn Smythe", and "Flyers", with the arrow mask, as seen on card #41 from O-Pee-Chee's 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier set:
Although I had a few dozen copies of that card in my youth, I actually bought this signed copy on Ebay under $10; I doubt any future versions for sale online will be below $25. I'm particularly fond of the "All the best" mention prior to his signature, such warmth and class to take the time to add a polite and encouraging message, light years away from the fierce temperament he displayed on the ice and that inspired my own play and demeanor, which was modeled on him, Patrick Roy and Burke.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Ralph Backstrom: Two Autographed Cards

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Ralph Backstrom passed away in his Colorado home yesterday, at age 83, following an illness.

I previously mentioned how he was a six-time All-Star in his first 12 NHL seaons with the Montréal Canadiens, winning the Stanley Cup in 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969 in the process as part of two Habs dynasties, living through the transition from the Maurice "Rocket" Richard/Dickie Moore/Jacques Plante era to the Henri Richard/Yvan Cournoyer/Lorne "Gump" Worsley/Rogatien Vachon one.

He was also an All-Star in the WHA following stints with the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks and a member of Team Canada at the 1974 Summit Series against the USSR with Gerry Cheevers, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Mark Howe and André Lacroix. His 8 points in 8 games were one shy of tournament leader Hull.

With a Calder Trophy, seven 20-goal seasons in the NHL and two 30-goal campaigns in the WHA, Backstrom is the type of player of belongs in the Hall Of Very Good - just shy of a Hall Of Fame career, yet too good to be allowed to be forgotten. Furthermore, he and Canadiens GM Sam Pollock are responsible for building the Habs' last dynasty - the one from the 1970s, which included the 1977 and 1978 editions, arguably considered the best lineups of all time, ahead of or a close second to the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. That is because Backstrom eventually grew tired of being "the best third-liner in hockey" and wanted a shot at more ice time to pad his own statistics, and face the oppositions' checkers instead of their best offensive elements, and Pollock eventually acquiesced, but in a wry, sly way.

The GM had traded Montréal's first-round pick and forward Ernie Hicke to the California Golden Seals for the Seals' first-rounder (believed to be the first-overall, since the team that finished last in the league got the first pick at the time) and local minor-league defenceman François Lacombe, who never played in the NHL. The best player in Juniors that year was a young man who was believed to be a "generational talent", Guy Lafleur, and the second-best player was no slouch himself, Marcel Dionne. But mid-way through the season, the Kings had a worse record than the Seals, so Pollock made them an offer they couldn't refuse: Backstrom - who was good enough to move directly onto L.A.'s first line - for Gord Labossière, Ray Fortin and hockey's most-traded commodity: future considerations. Fortin, a Quebecer, played 92 NHL games - none for the Canadiens; Labossière, despite belonging to the Habs twice, never suited up for the team in his 215 career NHL games. Backstrom's 27 points in just 33 games was the team's 10th-best mark, as he was far and away ahead of the rest of the team in points-per-game, leading the Kings ahead of not just the Golden Seals but also the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins. Lafleur would win two Hart Trophies, three Lester B. Pearson Awards as best player as voted by his peers, three Art Ross Trophies and a Conn Smythe, leading the Habs to five Stanley Cups.

But Backstrom was a natural in the bleu-blanc-rouge, as seen on card #7 from the 1992-93 Ultimate set by the Ultimate Trading Card Company:
And he looked just as good wearing the white (home) uniform:
That's card #64 from Parkhurst's 1995-96 Parkhurst Reprints set, the third such set by the revived card brand, this time hypothesizing how a 1966-67 set would have looked like. I have another one of these, signed in much thicker black sharpie.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

S.J. Green: Two Autographed Cards

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It's Super Bowl weekend, so I thought I could feature some football players, which I haven't done in a while. Solomon Junior Green always wanted to play football, having been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys' Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Troy Aikman during their heyday, and he slowly made the ranks in Florida youth leagues to earning a full scholarship with the South Florida Bulls, but limited minutes meant he was passed over by the NFL. He eventually acepted a tryout offer from the CFL's Montréal Alouettes and quickly became a star, accepting Anthony Calvillo's passes and converting them into touchdowns, often with just one hand: During Green's time in Montréal, he played alongside and in the shadows of legends like Calvillo and slotback Ben Cahoon (one of the best Canadian-born players of all time), but fans know his worth as an eight-time CFL East All-Star, two-time CFL ALl-Star and three-time Grey Cup champion. He may make it to the CFL Hall Of Fame some day on the strength of 716 career receptions, 10,222 yards, 60 touchdowns and back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 in 12 seasons. He topped the 1000-yeard mark seven times.

He'll forever be linked to Marc Trestman, who coached hi to the back-to-back Grey Cup wins with Montréal, then brought him over to the Toronto Argonauts where he won a third campionship in 2017, and also brought him back home to Florida in 2020 to play with the XFL's Tampa Bay Vipers, although that experience only lasted a couple of months, since the league started in February but folded in April. H briefly belonged to the New York Jets in 2010 but was released from the practice squad in time to join the Alouettes on successful their title defense.

He's said to want to come back to the CFL to play one final season with the Alouettes, although Covid-19 - which cancelled the 2020 season altogether and may well do the smae to 2021 - may stand in his way.

Here he is in the colours I most associate him with, the Als' white uniform, on card #50 from Upper Deck's 2014 CFL set:
One unifrom I didn't like so much was the recent alternate, but he still rocked it like it was the coolest thing on earth:
He signed both in blue sharpie in 2016. As a former season ticket holder, he was one of the players I enjoyed watching most and who made the trip to Percival Molson Stadium worth taking cramped public transit, then walking uphill for 15 minutes to get funnelled into a single entrance with 20,000 other faithful partisans to spend $15 on a tasteless beer for. If he does come back and fans are allowed in, I'll certainly go.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Brad Shaw Autographed Card

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The Gatineau/French Ottawa region's main newspaper Le Droit made an interesting parallel today betweeen the current edition of the Ottawa Senators and the first-year expansion team their uniforms reverted back to this season, noting that original captain Laurie Boschman makes it a point to watch every Sens game this season, and comparing the teams' respective records after 11 games (1-9-1 in 1992-93, 2-8-1 in 2020-21, both teams winning their first game by a 5-3 score).

One of my favourite players from that first edition of the Sens was Brad Shaw, one of seven (!!!) former Hartford Whalers on the inaugural team (with Peter Sidorkiewicz, Norm Maciver, Sylvain Turgeon, Jim Thomson, Jody Hull, and Steve Weeks), to go along with a handful of former Buffalo Sabres and nearly the same amount of former New Jersey Devils. Add that up, and it's no wonder the team finished with 70 losses in 84 games, including a span of 20 in 21 games, with a tie against the Sabres thrown in for good measure.

Shaw looked like a hockey player, quick on his skates, a wonderful passer, decent if not flawless defensively (seasons of -47 and -41 in Ottawa were more a testament to the team's lack of depth and how often he had to be thrown on the ice than any additional danger when he set foot out there). He was a top point producer in the OHL, AHL and IHL, and his point-per-game average was better in the playoffs than in the regular season in each of those leagues, which is a testament to how he could elevate his game in important moments. Unfortunately, despite making the All-Rookie Team with the Whalers in 1989-90, his time in Ottawa burned his NHL bridges in the mid-1990s, which is why he suited up with the Atlanta Knights (1994-95) and Detroit Vipers (1995-99, where he was officially a player and assistant-coach) until he had a late-season surge with the Washington Capitals (4 games) and St. Louis Blues (12 regular-season games, 4 in the playoffs) to close out the millennium.

Still, for me, with the All-Rookie credentials in Hartford and a co-captaincy with the Sens in 1994-95 after the team bought out Boschman, he'll always remain a member of those two teams first and foremost in my mind.

He retired as a player following his short stint with the Blues and immediately (re)turned to coaching, as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), as head coach of the Vipers (IHL),then assistant with the Springfield Falcons (AHL), Cincinnati Mighty Ducks (AHL), assistant (first half) and head coach (second) with the New York Islanders (NHL, 06), nine seasons as either assistant- or associate-coach with the Blues under four different head coaches (NHL), and his most impactful tenure, assistant to John Tortorella with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It is in Columbus that he helped forge the team spirit that has produced results year in and year out despite improbable odds, a high roster turnover (mostly of star players) and strong divisional rivalries. After all, the Metro Division is home to the Caps and Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of three of the last five Stanley Cups.

Today's Sens are closer to the 2007 Pens than the 1994 Senators, however, full of promising young guys who just need to adjust to the speed of the NHL game and learn to win as a team. And those uniforms are just amazing, as seen on card #151 from Fleer's 1994-95 Fleer Ultra set:
It's one of my favourite NHL uniforms. Shaw signed the card during his short time with the Isles. Of those hard times in Ottawa, he says:
They say you learn more in defeat than victory; I can say we learned more than anybody in the league that year. It was hard, but each day you have to remind yourself that you're priviledged to play in the NHL. (...) And some veterans tried to lighten the mood up; Doug Smail once got up and said: "guys, it's not that we're a terrible team, it's just that we're playing in a very good league" - the entire room had a good chuckle.
Nearly half the players on that team never suited up for another NHL club afterwards, but the vast majority kept playing, either in minor leagues or in Europe. I admire their dedication and resilience.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Jason Spezza Autographed Card

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Two weeks after being put on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs - with his agent using the "don't claim him or he'll retire" shtick - Jason Spezza scored a hat trick against the Vancouver Canucks.

Things seem to be going Toronto's way this season, as the team leads the NHL a month into an abridged 56-game season, and their decisions in handling Spezza's situation and cap hit is just one example of how fortunate they've been; any team could have claimed him off waivers, even the Ottawa Senators, whom he has captained in the past with the "C" currently vacant; at 37 years of age, ending his career with the team that drafted him would almost be as romantic as his current situation of suiting up for his hometown club. Except the Leafs truly believe they are Stanley Cup contenders - and as a fan, so does he. It's a mass delusion that's been ongoing since 1967.

The Sens went back to their original uniforms this season, and this is what he lookied like wearing the white (then-home) uniform, on card #577 from Pacific's 2002-03 Complete set:
He signed it in black sharpie via mail five years ago. The card itself is of the "Red" variant and is numbered 25/100; Complete cards were spread out randomly among packs of other Pacific sets (Crown Royale, Vanguard, Pacific, Quest For The Cup, Atomic), they were not available as a standalone product.

In 10 games this season, Spezza now has 8 points, spread evenly in goals (4) and assists (4).