Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mail - Some WHA Signatures

Unlike my usual mail posts, this one features more "other" hockey autographs and only 4 NHL player signatures. TTM replies have been slow all across the board lately but I did get a few nice ones trickle in. 
I love getting returns from "WHA Only" guys. A couple of these ones came back with some great letters. I almost enjoy reading those more than adding the signature to the collection. A couple years ago I shared some of the responses here. I keep every letter I've gotten from my TTM returns and there are literally hundreds of them. Someday I plan on organizing them together in a book.
The post ends with a couple Team Canada women autographs. I try and pickup an autograph of every hockey woman to get a certified autographed card. There have been some new women in the last couple of Upper Deck's team Canada releases and I've slowly been picking away at the new signers. 

With 4 new NHL signatures the grand total of unique NHL player autographs stands at 5,281 for 71% of everyone who's ever played in the National Hockey League. 

Jon Disalvatore
Drafted in 2000 by the San Jose Sharks, Jon Disalvatore played 6 career NHL games. He played 5 games with the 2005/06 St. Louis Blues and 1 with the 2011/12 Minnesota Wild. Internationally, Disalvatore scored 6 goals and 9 points with Team USA at the 2001 World Junior Championships. I had sent Disalvatore a my usual custom index but for whatever reason he kept it and returned 2 signed cards instead (the other is available for trade).

Mario Larocque
Defenceman Mario Larocque was drafted 16th overall in 1996 by the Lightning. In 1997 he helped the Hull Olmpique win the QMJHL championship and Memorial Cup. Larocque played 5 NHL games for Tampa in 1998/99, his first year of pro. Although his NHL career was brief, Larocque bounced around the pro hockey world until retiring in 2015.

Bob Warner
Bob Warner made his NHL debut in the 1976 playoffs with Toronto Maple Leafs. He would later score a goal and an assist in 10 career regular season games with the 1976/77 Maple Leafs. Warner took an exceptionally unusual route to the NHL. The undrafted Warner played 4 seasons of Canadian University hockey at St. Mary's in Nova Scotia before being discovered by the Leafs and turning pro. 

Benoit Gosselin
Benoit Gosselin played 7 games in the NHL with the 1977/78 New York Rangers. He recorded 0 points but racked up 33 penalty minutes. Gosselin later signed with the Winnipeg Jets but wasn't able to crack their NHL roster.

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Eric Heffler
Eric Heffler dressed in 3 NHL games as a backup goalie with the Edmonton Oilers from 1999 to 2000. Unfortunately, Heffler didn't answer any of my questions about his career as I would have loved to update his profile on my other blog, nhlbackups.com. 

Ken Desjardine
From 1972 to 1975 Ken Desjardine played over 150 games in the WHA. The defenceman was a member of the Quebec Nordiques, Indianapolis Racers and very briefly the Calgary Cowboys.

Gary Gresdal
Gary Gresdal played 2 regular season and 1 playoff game in the WHA with the 1975/76 Quebec Nordiques. Gresdal was a feared fighter who racked up 400 penalty in a single season while playing in the EHL with the Jersey Devils. In his only WHA playoff game he racked up 14 penalty minutes, allegedly starting a bench brawl against the Calgary Cowboys. 

Jerry Trooien
Jerry Trooien played 2 games in the WHA with the 1972/73 Chicago Cougars. His hockey career was so short that I couldn't find a period picture of him. I'm almost always able to find something somewhere on the internet, so this was certainly unsual. I settle for a modern pic, not something I'd normally do but better than nothing. I had asked if he had a period picture but didn't get a reply. Trooien made a name for himself post-hockey, becoming a successful realtor in the Minnesota area until he was brought down in a multi million dollar scheme just a few years ago. 

Duane Bray
Defenceman Duane Bray played 1 season in the WHA, scoring 2 goals and 8 points in 46 games with the 1976/77 Phoenix Roadrunners. 

Jim Turkiewicz
From 1974 to 1979 Jim Turkiewicz played nearly 400 games in the WHA, playing with the Toronto Toros and Birmingham Bulls. The defenceman scored 25 goals and 144 points over his WHA career.

Ann-Renee Desbiens
Quebec's Ann-Renee Desbiens won a Silver medal with Canada at the 2015 World Women's Championships. Since 2013 she's played in the NCAA with the Wisconsin Badgers.

Jillian Saulnier
Halifax native Jillian Saulnier won Silver with Canada at the 2015 and 2016 World Championships. From 2011 to 2015 Saulnier played with Cornell in the NCAA.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mail - Al Millar & 44 More

A little variety in this mail post. A package of KHL autographs from Russia, some amazing Canucks customs from a trade with a Vancouver collector, an old program and a bunch of TTM returns. The Canucks customs are some of the best custom work I've ever seen and the collector has an absolutely amazing collection of them. He was very generous to trade me some extras. The Bruce Bullock also came from this collector but I made my own custom because Bullock had signed the back of the card and I like to see an accompanying picture when I look through my binders of signatures. The Benysek also comes from another collector, who had it as an extra and very graciously sent it to me when he saw it on my wantlist. I was very pleased with the stack of recent TTM returns, although I must note the lack of success this year with NHL and AHL teams. Even though the current players I write to are the lesser known guys, those without certified autographs, c/o team returns are still few and far between this season. Kunyk being the only one of this post. 

With 45 new NHL autographs added the grand total of unique player signatures now stands at 5,277 for 71% of everyone who's every played in the league since its creation in 1917. 

I'll start with the program...
1959/60 Quebec Aces program, signed by a few players in the inside. There were two players I needed who had inked the inner pages.

Al Millar
A long time pro who bounced around hockey's minor leagues, Al Millar's NHL career was a 6 game stint with the 1957/58 Boston Bruins. When the 37 year old was acquired by the newly created Philadelphia Flyers in 1967, he made history by being the first player traded to the team, although he never did appear in net for the Flyers. Millar passed away in 1987 at 58.

Jack Leclair
From 1954 to 1957 Jack Leclair played 160 regular season and 20 playoff games with the Montreal Canadiens. He scored 20 goals and 60 points over 3 seasons with the Habs, winning the Stanley Cup in 1956 and 1957. Leclair passed away in 2011.

Rasmus Rissanen
Finnish defenceman Rasmus Rissanen played 6 NHL games with the 2014/15 Carolina Hurricanes. He currently plays in the KHL with Helsinki. Internationally, in 2011 he represented Finland at the World Junior Championships.

Brian O'Neill
Brian O'Neill played 22 games in the NHL with the 2015/16 New Jersey Devils, recording 2 assists. The undrafted Yale University alumni spent three seasons in the LA Kings organization but could never break their NHL roster, eventually being traded to Jersey in 2015. O'Neill currently plays in the KHL for Jokerit.

Josh Gratton
From 2005 to 2009 undrafted tough guy Josh Gratton played 86 games in the NHL, scoring 3 goals, 6 points and accumulating 294 penalty minutes. Gratton split his time in the NHL between the Philadelphia Flyers and Phoenix Coyotes. In the AHL he won the Calder Cup in 2005 with the Philly Phantoms and again in 2015 with the Manchester Monarchs.

Josef Boumedienne
Between 2001 and 2004 Josef Boumedienne played 47 games in the NHL, scoring 4 goals and 16 points. He was a member of the New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. Internationally, he represented Sweden at the 1997 and 1998 World Junior Championships.

Alexander Andrijevski
Alexander Andrijevski played 1 game in the NHL with the 1992/93 Chicago Blackhawks. The Belarus native spent most of his career in Europe and currently coaches in the KHL. He was captain of the 1998 Belarus Olympic hockey team and again represented his country at the 2002 Olympics.

Victor Ignatjev
Latvian defenceman Victor Ignatjev played 11 games in the NHL with the 1998/99 Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent most of his career in Europe and was most recently an assistant coach in the KHL. Internationally, he went to the 2002 Olympics as a member of the Latvian team.

Petri Skriko
Petri Skriko scored 30+ goals in 4 consecutive seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and in the 1985/86 season scored a career high 38 goals and 78 points. From 1984 to 1993 he played 541 regular season games in the NHL, suiting up with the Canucks, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets and San Jose Sharks. Internationally, he represented Finland at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics as well as the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups.

Leif Rohlin
The Vancouver Canucks drafted Swedish defenceman Leif Rohlin 33rd overall in 1988. He played pro in Sweden for many years and in 1994 represented his country at the Olympics. Rohlin only spent a couple years in North America, playing with the Canucks from 1995 to 1997. He recorded 8 goals and 32 points in 96 career regular season NHL games, all with Vancouver. 

Lors Molin
From 1981 to 1984 Lars Molin scored 33 goal and 98 points in 172 regular season NHL games. He helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1982, scoring 11 points in 17 playoff games. Internationally, he helped Sweden win Bronze at the 1980 and 1988 Olympics. He also helped Sweden capture Gold at the 1987 World Championships and Silver in 1981. 

Andy Spruce
From 1976 to 1979 Andy Spruce scored 31 goals and 73 points in 172 career NHL games. He played a season with the Vancouver Canucks and later two with the Colorado Rockies.

Brad Moran
Between 2001 and 2007 Brad Moran played 8 games in the NHL, scoring 1 goal and 3 assists. Originally drafted in 1998, Moran played 3 games with the 2001/02 Columbus Blue Jackets, 2 games with the 2003/04 Blue Jackets and a final 3 games with the 2006/07 Vancouver Canucks.

Don Tannahill
From 1972 to 1974 Don Tannahill scored 30 goals and 63 points in 111 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks. He was originally drafted 3rd overall by the Bruins in 1969 but wasn't able to crack their NHL squad. Tannahill later spent 3 seasons in the WHA, scoring 20+ goals with both the Minnesota Fighting Saints and Calgary Cowboys.

Ray McKay
From 1968 to 1974 defenceman Ray McKay played 140 games in the NHL. He played for the Blackhawks, Sabres and Golden Seals. McKay then switched leagues and from 1974 to 1978 he played over 200 games in the WHA, dressing with the Oilers, Crusaders, Bulls and Fighting Saints.

Al LeBrun
Defenceman Al LeBrun played 4 games with the 1960/61 New York Rangers and another 2 games with the 1965/66 Rangers.

Dave McLelland
Dave McLelland backstopped the Canucks for 2 NHL games during the 1972/73 season.

Gary Kurt
Gary Kurt played 16 games in the NHL with the 1971/72 California Golden Seals. The next season he signed with the WHA's New York Raiders and would spend 5 years in the Rebel League, playing 176 games between New York and the Phoenix Roadrunners. 

Scott Gordon
Best known as an NHL head coach, Scott Gordon was a former NHL goalie with the Quebec Nordiques. From 1989 to 1991 Gordon backstopped 23 NHL games with the Nords. Gordon has recently been head coach of the New York Islanders and assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Internationally, between the pipes he represented USA at the 1991 World Championships and 1992 Olympics.

Paxton Schafer
A 1995 second round pick, goalie Paxton Schafer played 3 games in the NHL with the 1996/97 Boston Bruins.

Al Simmons
Defenceman Al Simmons played 11 games in the NHL between 1971 and 1976. He played 1 game for the 1971/72 California Golden Seals and the other 10 later with the Bruins. He became a very successful oral surgeon after retiring from hockey.

Jocelyn Gauvreau
Defenceman Jocelyn Gauvreau played 2 NHL games with the 1983/84 Montreal Canadiens. He was originally drafted by the Habs 31st overall in 1982. 

Dave Gorman
From 1974 to 1979 Dave Gorman scored 56 goals and 139 points in 260 career games in the WHA, dressing with the Phoenix Roadrunners and Birmingham Bulls. Gorman later played just 3 games in the NHL, all with the 1979/80 Atlanta Flames.

Lyle Bradley
Lyle Bradley scored 1 goal in 4 NHL games with the 1973/74 California Golden Seals. He later played another 2 NHL games with the 1976/77 Cleveland Barons. Bradley was an undrafted forwarded who had bounced around the minors, starting his pro career after leaving the University of Denver in 1966.

Bruce Crowder
From 1981 to 1985 Bruce Crowder played 243 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 47 goals and 98 points. He spent 3 seasons with the Bruins and his last year in the league with the Penguins. A University of New Hampshire alumni, Crowder later spent two decades coaching in the NCAA. His brother, Keith, also played in the NHL.

Larry Hopkins
Larry Hopkins was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1974 but opted to attend the University of Toronto instead. Hopkins played 2 games with the Maple Leafs at the end of the 1977/78 season when his University career finished. From 1979 to 1983 he played another 58 games in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets, scoring 13 goals and 29 points. Oddly enough, Hopkins is perhaps best known as they guy mistakenly pictured on Paul MacLean's 1982/83 Rookie card. 

Dan Brennan
Dan Brennan played 2 games for the 1983/84 LA Kings and 6 games with the 1985/86 Kings for a total of 8 NHL games. The forward and University of Dakota alumni recorded 1 assist over his short NHL career.

Mike Keating
A "one game wonder," Mike Keating's only game in the NHL came with the 1977/78 New York Rangers.

Rod Zaine
From 1970 to 1972 Rod Zaine played 61 games in the NHL, dressing with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. From 1972 to 1975 Zaine played over 200 games in the WHA with the Chicago Cougars. 

Frank Bathe
From 1974 to 1984 Frank Bathe well over 200 games in the NHL. The defenceman started his career with the Red Wings but spent most of his time in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ron Hoover
From 1989 to 1992 Ron Hoover, a Western Michigan University alumni, played 18 games in the NHL, scoring 4 goals.  He dressed for the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.

Denis Cyr
From 1980 to 1986 Denis Cyr scored 41 goals and 84 points in 193 career NHL games. A junior sensation who twice scored 70 goals in a season with the Montreal Juniors, Cyr was drafted 13th overall by the Flames in 1980. That made him the first player ever drafted by the Calgary Flames. Internationally, he played on Canada's 1981 World Junior team. 

Petr Prajsler
Petr Prajsler joined the LA Kings in 1987 at great risk, defecting from communist Czechoslovakia. From then until 1992 the defenceman played 46 games in the NHL, dressing for the Kings and Boston Bruins.

Todd McLellan
Best known as a head coach with the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks, Todd McLellan played 5 games in the NHL with the 1987/88 New York Islanders, scoring 1 goal and 1 assist.

Mark Beaufait
Mark Beaufait scored 1 goal in 5 career NHL games with the 1992/93 San Jose Sharks. He was signed by the Sharks after 4 years at Northern Michigan University. He played pro hockey until 2009, spending most of that time, ironically, with the Orlando Solar Bears and Berlin Polar Bears.

Greg Smyth
From 1986 to 1997 defenceman Greg Smyth played 228 games in the NHL, dressing with the Flyers, Nordiques, Flames, Panthers, Maple Leafs and Blackhawks. He was a tough customer who accumulated nearly 800 penalty minutes over his NHL career and another 2000 in the AHL.

Jeff Shevalier
From 1994 to 1997 Jeff Shevalier played 27 games in the NHL with the LA Kings and later played 5 NHL games with the 1999/00 Tampa Bay Lightning.

Paul Manning
Defenceman Paul Manning played 8 games in the NHL with the 2002/03 Columbus Blue Jackets. He was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1998 and spent 4 seasons at Colorado College before being traded to Columbus. He spent most of his pro career in Germany. He was also a good baseball player and was actually drafted by the New York Yankees in the 20th round of the 1997 MLB draft.

Kevin Doell
An undrafted University of Denver alumni, Kevin Doell played 8 games in the NHL with the 2007/08 Atlanta Thrashers. In 2008 he also helped Atlanta's AHL team, the Chicago Wolves, capture the Calder Cup.

Jack Hillen
An undrafted Colorado College alumni, defenceman Jack Hillen played over 300 games in the NHL between 2007 and 2015. He played for the Islanders, Predators, Capitals and Hurricanes. Internationally, he represented the United States at the 2010 World Championships. 

Tyler Sloan
From 2008 to 2011 defenceman Tyler Sloan played 99 regular season games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. Sloan later signed contracts with the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars but couldn't break either team's NHL roster.

Cody Kunyk
Cody Kunyk played 1 NHL game with the Tampa Bay Lighting at the very end of the 2013/14 season. Kunyk had just been signed by the Lightning after completing 4 years at University Alaska-Fairbanks. 

Bruce Bullock
A Clarkson University alumni and former All-American, from 1972 to 1977 Bruce Bullock appeared in 16 NHL games with the Vancouver Canucks.

Steve Tambellini
Best known as General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers from 2008 to 2013, Steve Tambellini was a solid NHLer who won the Stanley Cup in 1980 as a member of the New York Islanders. From 1978 to 1988 Steve Tambellini scored 160 goals and 310 points in 553 career NHL games. He was a member of the Islanders, Rockies, Devils, Flames and Canucks. Internationally, he represented Canada at the 1988 Olympics, 1981 World Championships and 1978 World Juniors. His son Jeff Tambellini played in the NHL and another son, Adam, is currently in the AHL.

Ladislav Benysek
Czech defenceman Ladislav Benysek played 2 NHL games with the 1997/98 Edmonton Oilers then returned to Europe. He was lured back to North American by the expansion Minnesota Wild. From 2000 to 2003 Benysek played another 159 NHL games with the Wild. He finished the 2002/03 season in the AHL and ended up winning a Calder Cup with the Houston Aeros. Internationally, he won a Gold Medal at the World Championships in 1999 and 2000.
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As usual, I'll finish off the post with hockey autographs that fall outside of my NHL autograph collection. 3 WHA players, 3 NHL backups, an NHL owner and a female hockey Olympian.

Mario Viens
Mario Viens was drafted by both the NHL and WHA in 1975. He opted for the Rebel League and played 26 games with the 1975/76 Toronto Toros. I asked him why he choose the Toros over his NHL draft team, the LA Kings. His answer was simple and to the point, "money." This goes into my "WHA Only" collection. 

Bob Russell
From 1975 to 1977 Bob Russell played 115 games in the WHA with the Edmonton Oilers, scoring 20 goals and 44 points.

Al MacKenzie
Defenceman Al MacKenzie played 2 games in the WHA with the 1973/74 Chicago Cougars. He had a decade long pro hockey career, spending most of his time in the old North American Hockey League.

Kirk Daubenspeck
Kirk Daubenspeck appeared in 18 games as an NHL backup with the 1997/98 Chicago Blackhawks. He served as backup to Chris Terreri. Daubenspeck also answered my questions for my other blog, NHLbackups.com. Thanks Kirk! 

Mike Craig
Mike Craig appeared in at least 3 NHL games as a backup goalie with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1984/85 season. Like Daubenspeck, Craig also answered my questions in regards to his favourite NHL memories. This one goes into the NHL Backups Only collection. 

Mike Buzak
During the 1998/99 NHL season Mike Buzak dressed as New Jersey's backup goalie twice, serving as Martin Brodeur's backup. He nearly dressed for the Blues in 1996 and was carried as the team's third goalie during their playoff run that season. His short stint in St. Louis gave Buzak the chance to play with Wayne Gretzky, which he noted as a personal highlight. Another for the NHL Backups Only binder.

Bruce McNall
From 1986 to 1994 Bruce McNall owned the Los Angeles Kings and in 1988 he made hockey headlines everywhere when he arranged for the Kings to acquire Wayne Gretzky from the Oilers. He had a turbulent and controversial life, summed up well in his autobiograph, Fun While It Lasted: My Rise and Fall in the Land of Fame and Fortune. He went from owner of the LA Kings and Toronto Argonauts to bankrupt and in jail. 

Lauriane Rougeau
Defence Lauriane Rougeau is most notable for her role on Canada's Gold Medal winning 2014 women's Olympic team. She's also won Gold at the Womens World Championships in 2012 and Rougeau won the CWHL's Clarkson Cup in 2009 with the Montreal Stars, putting her in the female equivalent of the Triple Gold club.