Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Philipp Grubauer Autographed Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer has just passed important milestones, hitting the 100-win mark (career, including his first 43 with the Washington Capitals) in the same game where he broke the Avs franchise record for most wins in a single month, his 11 surpassing the previous mark held by Semyon Varlamov, Craig Anderson, Peter Budaj and Daniel Bouchard (with the Québec Nordiques). That's right - goaltending legend Patrick Roy didn't hold that record, though his childhood idol Bouchard achieved it in probably just the right period for Roy to take notice.

Which is not to put Grubauer in the same league as Roy yet - he's still 450 wins and, more importantly, three Vezinas and three Conn Smythes away from entering the conversation - but it does cement his position as the Avalanche's current undisputed #1 goalie in a league where that position (on the same team) has a shelf life of three to five years at the moment.

The team is one of two clear powerhouses in the Western Conference these days - with the Vegas Golden Knights - and it's reasonable to think Grubauer might win a Stanley Cup or two in the next few seasons.

Here he is wearing the Caps' red (home) piping-heavy Reebok Edge (2007-2017) uniform on card #273 from Upper Deck's 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee collection:
He signed it in thin blue sharpie, I believe in March 2018.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Christian Wolanin Autographed Custom Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Three days after clearing waivers, Christian Wolanin was traded to the Los Angeles Kings while Michael Amadio will make his way to the Ottawa Senators.

Waivers nowadays are a bit of a crapshoot, with the majoriy of players staying put, but more and more moves occur not when someone is grabbed on the wire - which seems to be more of a goaltending thing recently - but instead a player getting traded with another contract going back the other way, which serves two purposes: the first takes into consideration the 50-contract limit, whereby NHL teams cannot have more than 50 players signed to an NHL-accessible deal at once; the second makes acquiring the player a lower-risk proposition, because having already cleared waivers once, said player can be assigned directly to the taxi squad or AHL/ECHL affiliate without needing to pass through waivers again, and the current Collective Bargaining Agreement no longer includes the provision in which players called up from the minors had to clear waivers again. In Wolanin's case, he will report to the AHL's Ontario Reign until the Kings see fit to give him a shot at a roster spot. My guess is the team wants their own staff to evaluate where he's at in his development and if he looks solid after two to five games where he accumulates a point per game or something near that, he'll be called up for regular NHL duties.

He had fallen out of favour with Sens head coach D.J. Smith, and the team's depth on the left side currently starts with Thomas Chabot logging the most minutes and Mike Reilly eating another chunk; in terms of prospects, Erik Brannstrom has also been singled out by Smith as not having a complete enough game at the moment to warrant second-pairing minutes but was still ranked ahead of Womanin, and College prospect Jake Sanderson was probably also slotted ahead of him as early as next season.

At 26, Wolanin should be entering his prime, but injuries have derailed his development a bit, having only suited up in 12 professional games during the 2019-20 season. Here he is wearing the Sens' red (home, 2007-2020) uniform on a signed custom card by BG:
Ironically (considering his defensive short-comings), he is, of course, former Québec Nordiques shutdown defenseman Craig Wolanin's son. Like Paul Stastny, Christian was born in Québec and holds dual citizenship, but considers himself American.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Samuel Morin Jersey Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Seven and a half years after getting drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers (2013), Samuel Morin finally scored his first NHL goal, although to be fair it was in just his 14th NHL game, as his career had been derailed by serious injuries. He had never suited up for more than 17 games in a single season - all levels combined - since appearing in 75 (74 of them with the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms) in 2016-17.

Two consecutive ACL tears in the same knee in a 19-month span and a number of other injuries caused him to be limited to 20 games in 2017-18, 7 in 2018-19 and 4 in 2019-20, and in order to have him dress at the NHL level, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault even tried Morin at left wing earlier this season, before the team's record and depth injury status had the organization review its plan.

Morin's goal was the game-winner, ending a four-game losing streak.

Here is the 6'6", 200-pound gentle giant wearing the Flyers' current/classic orange uniform, on card #RM-SM from Upper Deck's 2017-18 Series 2 collection and Rookie Materials sub-set:
It features a rather large jersey swatch that probably comes from a photo shoot, with a small black thread at the bottom.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

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!
39: Cristobal Huet: 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!
95: Olivier Michaud: 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.
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
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
96, 97, 98, 99: have never been worn

Olivier Michaud Autographed Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

I was window-licking on Ebay earlier today and saw this card, signed in blue sharpie like mine, go for anywhere from $7 to $30 to $70:
That's Olivier Michaud of the Montréal Canadiens on card #271 from In The Game's 2002-03 Be A Player First Edition set, which is not his rookie card, as he'd previously appeared in ITG's 2001-02 Be A Player Memorabilia, 2001-02 Parkhurst and 2001-02 Between The Pipes sets, as well as Topps' 2001-02 Bowman collection and no fewer than eight Upper Deck sets from the same year.

Michaud holds a special place in my heart, which is why I'm delighted to have him as #95 in my Habs Numbers Project, and not just because of his spectacular 14-save shutout performance in 18 minutes of play in his lone NHL game in 2001-02 that places him as the goalie with the best GAA in Habs history (0.00) - a pro-rated 47-save showing in a full game - but also because he led the LHJMQ Shawinigan Cataractes to first place in their division and the best defensive record in the league that season too, and I'm attached to the region because part of my family comes from there (both grandparents on my father's side). We were also both born on September 14th, albeit five years apart.

An undrafted free agent signing, he was out of the professional ranks after a sub-par showing with both the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs (6-5-1, 3.29 GAA and .893 save percentage, compared to Jaroslav Halak's 7-6-0, 2.29 and .927) and ECHL's Long Beach Ice Dogs (6-7-1, 3.40 and .888, compared to Halak's 11-4-2, 2.05 and .932 and Greg Hewitt's 17-14-6, 2.95 and .900) in 2005-06, despite having been decent in 2003-04 (4-7-3, 2.53 and .905 with the AHL Bulldogs) and 2004-05 (18-14-6, 2.54 and .918 with the ECHL Ice Dogs), and would keep in shape in the Québec semi-pro LNAH league for the next four seasons, all while acting as goaltending coach in Midget AAA (2007-10, 2018-present) and with the LHJMQ's Drummondville Voltigeurs (2010-present). He stopped getting paid to play before the age of 26 and is now one of the longest-tenured coaches in the province.

Let's be honest - he was not going to supplant José Theodore on that Canadiens roster, particularly not smack-dab in that Hart and Vezina season, and the team wanted to groom Yann Danis on its main farm team, but a number of teams could have used him in their system, including teams whose collective GAAs were at or below the .900 line such as the Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins (off the top of my head).

Which is to say that I like the guy, but I wouldn't pay the exorbitant prices I saw on Ebay for this card, even if he is the second-youngest goalie to ever play in the NHL.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Tanner Pearson Autograph Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages, The Athletic requires a subscription, my 30-day trial invite may still be valid by the time you read this)

Maybe there's a lesson to be learned from Tyler Toffoli's climb atop the goal-scoring charts after signing as a free agent with the Montréal Canadiens, and perhaps the Vancouver Canucks should think twice about the option of trading the former member of the Stanley Cup-winning That 70s Line (Los Angeles Kings, 2014) right away and instead sign him to a reasonable, mid-term deal.

Further complicating things is the fact that he's set to miss four weeks of play due to a lower-body injury and that he's at nearly half the best of last season's career best goals-per-game (0.30) and points-per-game (0.63) averages as the Canucks have struggled mightily against the Habs putting them in danger of missing the playoffs.

I believe he has three more years of second-line hockey in him and at least the same number of quality third-line time before he has to think about exiting the game, which would lead him to age 35.

Here he is wearing the King's black (home) uniform on the signed insert version of card #TR-TP from Panini's 2013-14 Totally Certified set:
It features a blue-sharpied, on-sticker autograph and serves as his rookie card (from the Rookie Class sub-set) in the set's.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Steve Smith Autograph Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

I've featured Steve Smith before, both with the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks, essentially glossing over the three seasons he played with the Calgary Flames after coming back from retirement in the late 1990s; I will not right that wrong today, instead featuring him shirtless during his time with Chicago, on card #S123 from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player collection:
It somehow seems fitting, what with his losing his job as assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres, seemingly the short print in head coach Ralph Krueger's firing.

Most articles detailing the firing seem to celebrate it, deriding Krueger's previous job as president of a soccer team - the Southampton Saints of the Premier League - and minimizing his achievements as head coach in Austria as well as with the Swiss Team - oftentimes the only team to beat powerhouse editions of Team Canada - and Team Europe, which finished second to Canada at the 2016 World Cup (when most pundits didn't see them finishig in the top-four). I've even seem some mock his having written a book on motivation when he was fired in the midst of a 12-game losing streak.

I have no idea if Smith - a "classically-trained" NHL veteran and assistant-coach - fully endorsed Krueger's innovative methods (that seemingly work better with hard-working underdogs than overpaid, overhyped and over-rated underachievers), but at the very least he has probably learned a few new tricks to add to his arsenal, after working under Brian Sutter (Calgary, 1997-98), Tom Renney (Edmonton, 2009-12), Krueger (Edmonton, 2012-13), Dallas Eakins (Edmonton, 2013-14), Bill Peters (Carolina Hurricanes, 2014-18), and Phil Housley (Buffalo, 2018-19), though as I venture a guess that he may have learned the bulk of his knowledge playing a leadership role under Glen Sather and John Muckler while winning three Stanley Cups as a player with the Oilers, and Mike Keenan (Cup Final), Darryl Sutter (Conference Final) and Craig Hartsburg with the Hawks.

He's the type of guy whose pedigree will land him a new job next season, possibly perhaps under Darryl Sutter again, this time in Calgary.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Robyn Regehr Autograph Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

My first reflex upon seeing that the Calgary Flames' "Reverse Retro" uniform was, in fact, the return of the "Flaming Horse" black jersey, was "Cool! A return to the Darryl Sutter and Jarome Iginla era!" I always appreciated that uniform as an alternate; it's really beautiful, even though I have a soft spot for the classic/current red-and-yellow as the "main" team identity.

Of course, at this point, Sutter is actually back behind the team's bench, riding a three-game win streak after defeating Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the rest of the rival Edmonton Oilers last night.

Another staple of Sutter's success is Robyn Regehr, who not only was a member of the 2004 Flames team that made it to Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, but he was also on the 2013-14 Los Angeles Kings team that won its second Cup in three years with a Conference Final sandwiched in the middle. A mostly defensive defenseman, Regehr hit the 20-point mark three times (with a high of 26 in 2005-06) and, while he was rugged, generally remained below the 75-penalty minute threshold and never reached the century mark.

He is remembered fondly, with many seeing him as one of the best Flames players of all time (14th via Flames Nation, and 'best #28" for Matchsticks And Gasoline), which says a lot considering he was traded for the much-beloved Theoren Fleury; my own quick estimate has him ranked around the 20th spot, probably behind Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, Al MacInnis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Vernon, Mark Giordano, Gary Suter, Fleury, Johnny Gaudreau, Joel Otto, Joe Mullen, Hakan Loob, Kent Nilsson, Lanny McDonald (who in terms of career achievements would likely land top-three or top-five but as a Flame is within reach of the top-10) and perhaps Sean Monahan and Guy Chouinard. In his prime, there was no one in Canada you wanted to avoid meeting in a corner than him.

Of course, he fits perfectly as #28 in my Flames Numbers Project with the signed insert version (gold variant) of card #154 from In The Game's 2000-01 Signature Series collection:
It features a thin black-sharpied, on-card autograph with his jersey number tagged at the end. What a beautiful card!

My Flames Numbers Project: An Introduction

I have hinted at it before, but after my Montréal Expos Numbers Project and all my hockey ones (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, and my Nordiques Numbers Project), now's the time to do the same for the Calgary Flames.
The Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989, the only visiting team to ever win it on Montréal Canadiens home ice. They have been in Calgary since 1980, but the franchise started out as the Atlanta Flames in 1972. For my project, I think I'll focus on the Calgary era only. It may evolve over time but for now, that'll be my goal.

Speaking of goals, the point of this project is to feature memorabilia from players who represent each uniform number ever worn in team history; ideally, for the purposes of displaying it upon completion, it'd be nice to have those all be signed cards; however, because I'm far from rich, sometimes these may be other types of signed items, or even jersey cards.

So far, I have featured the following 46* players for 39 numbers:

1: Tyler Moss: check!
3: Ladislav Smid: check!
5: Mark Giordano: check!
6: Bob Boughner: check!
7:  T.J. Brodie (also wore #66) and Steve Bégin (also wore 26): check!
8: Joël Bouchard: check!
9: Lanny McDonald: check!
10: Roman Cervenka: check!
11: Gary Leeman and Mikael Backlund: check!
12: Jarome Iginla (twice): check!
13: Michael Cammalleri: jersey card check!
16: Cory Stillman, Shean Donovan and Dustin Boyd (also wore #41): check!
18: Matt Stajan: check!
20: Gary Suter: check!
22: Ron Stern and Craig Conroy: check!
23: Sean Monahan: check!
25: Willie Plett and Joe Nieuwendyk: check!
26: Steve Bégin: check!
27: Ed Beers: check!
28: Robyn Regehr and Émile Poirier: check!
29: Joel Otto and Akim Aliu: check!
31: Réjean Lemelin, Rick Wamsley, Ken Wregget and Curtis McElhinney: check!
34: Miikka Kiprusoff: check!
35: Henrik Karlsson: check!
37: Trevor Kidd and Leland Irving: check!
38: Ben Street: check!
40: Fred Brathwaite and Alex Tanguay: check!
41: Dustin Boyd (also wore #16): check!
42: Mark Cundari: check!
44: Chris Butler: check!
47: Sven Baertschi: check!
48: Greg Nemisz: check!
53: Derek Morris: check!
57: Émile Poirier: check!
59: Maxwell Reinhart: check!
60: Markus Granlund: check!
61: Oleg Saprykin (also wore #19): check!
66: T.J. Brodie (also wore #7): check!
67: Michael Frolik: check!
93: Sam Bennett: check!

captains: McDonald, Nieuwendyk, Conroy, Iginla and Giordano.
*some players appear twice, and therefore count as two.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Alexander Wennberg Dual Jersey Card

(team and set links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Alexander Wennberg reminds me a lot of Lars Eller, in that both were middle-of-the-first-round draft picks - Wennberg was selected 14th overall in 2013 by the Columbus Blue Jackets while Eller was chosen 13th in 2007 by the St. Louis Blues - who had all the tools to become top-six centers (size, passing abilities, decent speed, the ability to protect the puck, power along the boards) and even if they failed to reach their upside, their ability to play sound hockey away from the puck could justify their getting drafted relatively early regardless; there were going to be surprises and/or better-developped forwards picked later on, but they could at worst hold their own on a third line.

Eller was traded once to the Montréal Canadiens for a #1A goalie in Jaroslav Halak and subsequently fetched two second-rounders when acquired by the Washington Capitals, with whom he won a Stanley Cup as the #3 guy down the middle. He's proven to be a 15-goal, 30-point man, with a high of 38 in 2017-18, but he's a clutch playoff performer, with two decent runs (13 points in 17 games in 2013-14 and 18 in 24 games in the 2017-18 Cup run) under his belt.

Wennberg played his cards right in that he posted a career year in a contract year, parlaying a 13-goal, 46-assist and 59-point season in 2016-17 into a six-year deal paying him $29.4M, for a cap hit of $4.9M, while his production dwindled to 35, 25 and 22 points, even prompting the team to try to re-launch him by putting him on Pierre-Luc Dubois's wing with Emil Bemstrom. The Jackets ended up buying him out in the 2020 offseason, and he signed a one-year "show me" deal with the Florida Panthers, whose GM Bill Zito was a long-time assistant in Columbus.

Despite some playing time alongside Jonathan Huberdeau (34 points in 28 games), Wennberg's 13 points in 28 games rank him tied with Frank Vatrano, far behind the points totals of fellow centermen Aleksander Barkov (34) and Carter Verhaeghe (22). Still, head coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees in terms of possession numbers and quality puck control.

Here he is one year removed from his career year, sporting the Blue Jackets' white (away) uniform, on the dual jersey insert version of card #98 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Artifacts collection:
It features a couple of dark blue game-worn jersey swatches and is numbered #94/165.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Tom Wilson Jersey Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Fucking Tom Wilson.

A former first round draft pick (16th overall in 2012, by the Washington Capitals), Wilson is a hard-working, very talented and physically strong power forward, who at 6'4" and 220 pounds ranks among the most difficult to move from the front of the net or along the boards. He has a decent shot that could have him hit the 30-goal mark a couple of times before he retires and some 20-24 goals for four more seasons at least. He's pretty much the halfway mark between 1986-94 era Cam Neely (a Hall Of Famer who reached the 50-goal mark three times in the high-scoring late 1980s) and 2011-13 Milan Lucic. Perhaps he is even a fine human being off the ice.

He also has a habit of delivering questionable, dangerous and illegal hits such as this one on unsuspecting Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo: One thing's for certain, many hockey observers are getting fed up with one aspect of his game: his habit of continuously crossing the line that separates "tough" and "predatory". While I agree with the Sports Illustrated/The Hockey News article on the fact that the NHL was lenient towards him before his first suspension in 2017 and that instead of now standing at five (plus a couple of fines), he should probably have seven to ten on his record at this point, I, however, would like to commend him on the fact that he hadn't been suspended in a little over two years. He hasn't done as admirable a job of keeping his nose clean as Brad Marchand, but he has trended in a better direction, which is why I'm satisfied with this being a seven-game suspension instead of ten.

I also disagree with SI/THN's assessment that this hit should have been reviewed under the "hit to the head" rule instead of "boarding", because the initial contact is above the heart, between the shoulder and neck - not the cleanest of hits, but not a direct, unequivocal hit to the head either; it's the follow-through that has Carlo's head crashing in the glass. I do think the league has missed the boat on many occasions this season, particularly early on, to set the tone and demand clean play, with a handful of players deserving of at least a game or two getting a pass instead.

There's something about Wilson's attitude that has me thinking I may like him on my team - a sentiment I absolutely do not share about Marchand, for instance, despite his rehabilitation into a true star player - but he really needs to stop crossing that line and let up when he sees he's nearing a face, just like all players should let up when they see an opponent's numbers on their backs.

I have a card of his that I traded for last year, #SS-TW from Upper Deck's 2019-20 SP Game-Used collection and Showcase Standouts sub-set:
It shows him wearing an NHLPA uniform based on the New York Rangers' classic white garbs and features two swatches that are believed to be from that jersey. Both the front and back claim it's from the 2017 NHLPA Rookie Showcase event/photoshoot, but Wilson played for the Capitals in the 2012-13 playoffs, and his true rookie season was in 2013-14... three full years before the showcase they claim he was in. Also, this is what he looked like in 2017 (courtesy of Wikipedia):
That face - and the facial hair - looks much older than what's shown on the card. My guess is he was actually in the 2012 or 2013 showcase.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Owen Tippett: Two Autographed Cards

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)
I read things online about Florida Panthers fans worrying that Owen Tippett is not yet ready to be a top-six forward when others who were selected after him in the 2017 draft are already impact players, such as Nick Suzuki (13th), Robert Thomas (20th), Filip Chytil (21st), Kailer Yamamoto (22nd), Henri Jokiharju (29th), Alexandre Texier (45th), Maxime Comtois (50th) and Drake Batherson (121st) - and those voices aren't going to quiet down now that he's been relegated to the taxi squad once more with a production of just 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points and 4 penalty minutes in 15 games.

However, keep in mind he's still just 22, barely has 51 AHL games under his belt, that the Panthers have six players with 16 or more points (a 0.75 point-per-game clip) who all deserve their ice time and the team is tied for sixth-most wins (15) in the NHL, sitting relatively comfortably in a playoff position in the division that houses both of last season's Stanley Cup finalists.

He was a point-per-game player in the OHL, he was almost a point-per-game player as a rookie last season in the AHL (19 goals and 40 points in 46 games) and was slated to play in its All-Star Game until he got injured the game prior.

The "good" news for Florida fans is he's expansion draft protected because his Entry-Level Contract slid for two seasons and will now expire in 2021-22 (and rookie contracts are exempt from being selected by the Seattle Kraken)... unless the team comes to an agreement with Kraken GM Ron Francis to accept Tippett as payment for not selecting someone else, but I doubt it; his skating and shooting ability make him a candidate for at least a middle-six role à la Mike Hoffman.

He's suited up for Team Canada a number of times, only medaling in 2015 at the U-17s, and this is what he looks like wearing the nation's red (away) uniform, on card #64 from Upper Deck's 2017-18 Team Canada Juniors set:
And here he is wearing the white (away) #74 jersey with the Panthers, on card #642 from the 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee set (and Marquee Rookie sub-set) by Upper Deck:
He signed both cards in blue sharpie with #74 tagged at the end. I received them in the mail during the 2018-19 season.

My Team Canada Numbers Project

Well, I have Numbers Projects for so many teams now (my Habs Numbers Project, my Oilers Numbers Project my Sens Numbers Project, my Canucks Numbers Project, my Nordiques Numbers Project, my Flames Numbers Project and my Expos Numbers Project), I figured why not make one for Team Canada as well?

It'll be easier in some regards with all the national teams at all the levels (including but not limited to the World Juniors, the World Championships, the Spengler Cup, the Canada/World Cup, the Summit Series, and the Men's and Women's Olympic teams), but I'm again at a loss for #99 (Wayne Gretzky) and likely will be for my entire life.

The plan is to stick to hockey, but who knows, maybe I'll get to add some from other sports as well; it might be my only shot at a #99.
So far, I have featured 35 players representing a total of 26 jersey numbers.

Here they are:

1: Braden Holtby: check!
2: Meghan Agosta: check!
3: Eric Brewer: check!
4: Thomas Hickey and Chris Phillips: check!
5: Bryan Allen, Drew Bannister and Samuel Morin: check!
8: Laura Fortino and Pierre-Luc Dubois: check!
9: Anthony Beauvillier (also wore #21): check!
10: Dale Hawerchuk, Brayden Schenn and Charles Hudon (also wore #16): check!
11: Zachary Boychuk: check!
12: Julien Gauthier: check!
13: Caroline Ouellette: check (and check again)!
14: Thomas Hickey (also wore #4): check!
16: Kerby Rychel, Jayne Hefford and Charles Hudon (also wore #10): check!
17: Marcus Foligno: jersey card check!
18: Jean-Pierre Dumont and Pierre-Luc Dubois: check!
19: Alexandre Daigle: check!
20: Guillaume Latendresse, Jason Ward and Louis Leblanc: check!
21: Anthony Beauvillier: check!
22: Frédérik Gauthier and Owen Tippett: check!
23: Jason Botterill, Rob Niedermayer and Daniel Audette: check!
24: Patrice Brisebois and Logan Couture: check!
25: Tessa Bonhomme and Raphaël Lavoie: check!
28: Nathan Beaulieu: and Victor Mete: check!
29: Marie-Philip Poulin: check!
30: Dustin Tokarski: jersey card check!
31: Geneviève Lacasse and Olivier Roy: check!
32: Charline Labonté: check!
33: Ann-Renée Desbiens: check!
37: Patrice Bergeron: jersey card check!
51: Ryan Getzlaf: jersey card check!
97: Joe Thornton: jersey card check!

Captains: Poulin, Hickey

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Drake Batherson Autographed Card

(team and set links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Just hours ago, Ottawa Senators right winger Drake Batherson tied a team record with a six-game goal streak, joining the likes of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Bob Kudelski as one of the franchise's premier snipers.

The 22-year-old is solidifying a solid start to his professional career, having played in the 2019 and 2020 AHL All-Star Games and now posting solid numbers (17 points in 24 games on a team at the bottom of its division) in the NHL. He had previously been a point-per-game player in the LHJMQ and scored a team-leading 7 goals in 7 games in helping Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2018 World Juniors on a stacked roster that included Carter Hart, Cale Makar, Sam Steel, Jordan Kyrou, Brett Howden, Maxime Comtois and Dillon Dubé.

He's certainly silenced the voices that were calling for him to get relegated to the taxi squad after a 16-game goalless drought. I'm not certain he'll remain on the top unit when the team becomes a Stanley Cup contender, but he is definitely making a case to remain in the top-six up front for the foreseeable future.

Here is a close-up of his face on card #P-54 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 Series 2 collection and UD Rookie Portraits sub-set:
He signed it in blue sharpie and returned it by mail last year, with his jersey number (79) tagged at the end, matching that of his helmet on the card; he has switched to #19 since 2019, though, following in Spezza's footsteps with the likes of Derick Brassard and Alexei Yashin. I certainly don't mind having him represent #79 in my Sens Numbers Project!

Monday, March 1, 2021

My Sens Numbers Project: An Introduction

Has it really come to this, a gimmick worth repeating many times over, after my initial Habs Numbers Project and my Oilers Numbers Project?

Actually, it's more that I realized I had a lot of this one down already: so far, I have featured 48/73 numbers used in previous posts:

1: Damian Rhodes: check!
2: Lance Pitlick, Jared Cowen and Dylan DeMelo: check!
3: Zdeno Chara: jersey card check!
4: Chris Phillips: check (and once more)!
5: Christoph Schubert and Cody Ceci: check!
6: Wade Redden: check!
7: Randy Cunneyworth: check!
9: Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan: check!
10: Brandon Bochenski: check!
11: Daniel Alfredsson: check!
12: Mike Fisher: check (and once more)!
14: Andrej Meszaros and Colin Greening: check!
15: Shawn McEachern: check!
16: Laurie Boschman, Brian McGrattan, Bobby Butler, Clarke MacArthur, and Mark Stone: check!
17: Jody Hull: check!
18: Ryan Dzingel: check!
19: Jason Spezza: check! (also wore #44 and #39)
21: Dennis Vial: check!
22: Shaun Van Allen: check!
24: Stéphane Da Costa: check!
25: Bruce Gardiner: check!
26: Bob Kudelski: check!
27: Janne Laukkanen: check!
30: Brian Elliott: check!
31: Peter Sidorkiewicz: check! (also Alex Auld)
33: Jakob Silfverberg and Pascal Leclaire: check!
38: Erik Condra: check! (also wore #22)
39: Matt Carkner: check!
40: Robin Lehner: check! (also Jeff Glass and Patrick Lalime)
41: Craig Anderson: check!
43: Roman Wick and Peter Regin: check!
44: Jason Spezza: check! (also wore #19) (also, Jean-Gabriel Pageau)
46: Patrick Wiercioch: check!
47: André Benoit: check!
53: Ilya Zubov: check!
57: Derek Grant: check!
58: Maxime Lajoie: check!
59: David Dziurzynski: check!
61: Mark Stone (twice): check!
62: Eric Gryba: check!
65: Erik Karlsson: jersey card check!
68: Mike Hoffman: check!
71: Nick Foligno: check!
74: Mark Borowiecki and Steve Larouche: check!
78: Filip Chlapik: check!
79: Drake Batherson: check!
83: Christian Jaros: check!
89: Cory Conacher: check!
93: Mika Zibanejad: check!

Captains: Boschman, Cunneyworth, Alfredsson.

I'll reiterate that I'm looking for collectibles - ideally signed cards, but also signed pictures or, at the very least, jersey cards of players from every possible Sens jersey number that has been worn.

Here are examples of things I'll be featuring soon - or am looking to add to the list:

13: Peter Regin, Vinny Prospal or Ted Drury I remember
20: Antoine Vermette and Marek Svatos are players I followed
23: Kaspars Daugavins' number
28: neither Zenon Konopka nor Matt Kassian replied to my TTMs
29: I could totally go for Martin Gerber and his black mask here
32: only Rob Ray and Daniel Berthiaume have ever worn this number
34: only Darren Rumble and Shane Hnidy have worn this one
35: only 5 goalies have worn this one, including Auld, Tom Barrasso and Mike Bales
36: only Josh Hennessy wore it for more than a few games
37: only Dean McAmmond wore it for more than one calendar year
42: Julien Vauclair would be cool for a goalie nerd like myself
45: only worn by Denis Hamel or Alexandre Picard
48: Jared Cowen wore it briefly
49: Michel Picard or Francis Lessard
51: Derek Smith
52: Colin Greening had it for a short spell
55: Sergei Gonchar never replied to my TTM, but Brian Lee also works
56: Lance Pitlick
60: Mark Stone (who also wore 61)
73: Guillaume Latendresse or Jarkko Ruutu
76: Radek Bonk
77: Joe Corvo
82: Martin Straka
90: Alex Chiasson
91: Alexandre Daigle
94: Stan Neckar
97: Matt Gilroy