Thursday, July 28, 2016

Golden Brett and 23 New Signatures

A total of 24 new NHL autographs to show this post, raising the grand total of unique NHL player signatures to 5,041 for 67.7% of everyone to play in the league since its creation in 1917/18. 

Since reaching the 5,000 autograph goal I've taken a little 'rest' from the hobby and haven't been sending out as many requests as I usually do. I think I may wait until Canada Post finishes their ridiculous negotiations before sending out another batch of requests. I have little sympathy for the workers only because my experiences with the organization have been largely negative. Just last year they lost a package of about 30 autographs that I had paid to get registered! It just 'disappeared' and the customer service was atrocious. That's just one of my bad experiences I've had over the years. I am continuously finding myself spending more on postage for what seems like less and less service, that's not a viable business plan and its no wonder they're getting little sympathy from the Canadian public. 

Most of these signatures come from COMC and I had bought them over the past two months or so. Its too bad that they're ending the flat 3$ shipping, but it was great while it lasted. With a certified autograph card of Brett Hull finally added, It leaves me with only Patrick Roy, Mark Messier, Brendan Shanahan, Peter Stastny and Steve Yzerman to get. When I add those glaring missing pieces, I'll pretty much have a signature of EVERY notable hockey star since the expansion. The only reason I've held off so long is that they're common, expensive signatures but with my wantlist now so small, I'm going to bite the bullet very soon. 

Brett Hull
At long last I have a certified Brett Hull autograph in the collection. It was a long time coming for one of hockey's most colourful stars of recent memory. He's a very deserving member of the Hockey Hall of Fame with two Stanley Cups (99 and 02), a Hart Trophy (91), Lester Pearson Trophy (91), Lady Byng (90), Olympic Silver Medal (02) and 11 NHL All-Star nods. He retired with 741 career goals in NHL and in 1990/91 he scored an incredible regular season total of 86 goals in 78 games. 

Jiri Hudler
Czech forward Jiri Hudler was drafted 58th overall by the Red Wings in 2002. In 2008 he helped Detroit win a Stanley Cup. Hudler had his best season with the 2014/15 Calgary Flames, scoring 31 goals and 76 points, winning the 2015 Lady Byng Trophy.

Alex Galchenyuk
The Habs drafted Alex Galchenyuk 3rd overall in 2012. He quickly made the jump to the NHL and has already played nearly 300 games with Montreal. In 2013 he helped USA win a Bronze at the men's hockey World Championship. His father was a USSR trained pro hockey player who was playing in the IHL in Milwaukee when Alex was born. 

Nikita Kucherov
Representing Russia at the World Junior Championships, Kucherov won a Silver Medal in 2012 and Bronze in 2013. A 2011 second round draft pick, Kucherov has been a pleasant surprise for the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 28 and 30 goals over the last two seasons. In 2014/15 he lead the NHL in +/- with a +38.

Mike Halmo
An undrafted forward, Mike Halmo played 20 NHL games with the 2013/14 New York Islanders and recorded 1 goal. He recently signed with the Tampa Bay Lighting organization as a free agent. 

Shane Prince
Shane Prince was a full time NHLer in 2015/16, playing 62 regular season and 11 playoff games in the NHL. He was traded from Ottawa to the New York Islanders half way through the season and was recently signed to a two-year contract by the Islanders.

Emile Poirier
Drafted in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft, 22nd overall, Emile Poirier has played 8 NHL games with the Flames. The forward was a 2014/15 AHL All-Star.

Derek Forbort
Defenceman Derek Forbort was drafted 15th overall by the LA Kings in 2010. In 2011 Forbort won a Bronze medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships with USA. He attended the University of North Dakota and in 2015 made his NHL debut with the Kings. Forbort played 14 NHL games with the 2015/16 LA Kings. 

Kevin Fiala
Swiss forward Kevin Fiala was drafted 11th overall by the Predators in 2014. He's scored 1 goal in 6 NHL games with Nashville. This is actually a pretty nice card. I simply buy the cheapest autograph I can get my hands on so I was just lucky that someone was willing to part with it for a couple bucks. Looks really good in hand and I like the 'silver on black' concept. 

Bogdan Yakimov
Russian forward Bogdan Yakimov played 1 NHL game with the 2014/15 Edmonton Oilers. He was recently loaned to the KHL so it may end up being his only game in the NHL. In 2013 Yakimov was drafted in the 3rd round by Edmonton and in 2014 he won a Bronze medal at the World Junior Championships.

Curtis McKenzie
In his first season of pro hockey Curtis McKenzie was named the AHL's Rookie of the Year and helped the Texas Stars win the 2014 Calder Cup as league champions. Since 2014 McKenzie has played 40 NHL games with the Stars, scoring 4 goals.

Sergey Tolchinsky
Russian forward Sergey Tolchinsky put up solid numbers in the OHL but was never drafted. He was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes as a free agent. In 2015 Tolchinsky helped Russian bring home a Silver medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships. He recorded 1 assist in 2 NHL games with the 2015/16 Hurricanes.

Joni Ortio
Over the last three seasons Finn Joni Ortio has played in 37 NHL games with the Calgary Flames. He represented Finland at the 2013 World Hockey Championships.

Anton Slepyshev
Russian forward Anton Slepyshev brought home a Bronze medal from the 2013 and 2014 World Junior Championships. He made his NHL debut and played 11 games with the 2015/16 Oilers.

Brendan Ranford
Originally drafted by the Philly Flyers in 2010, Brendan Ranford was never signed by the team and acquired by the Stars as a free agent. He played 1 NHL game with the 2014/15 Dallas Stars. His uncle is well known goalie Bill Ranford. Brendan put up great numbers in the AHL and in 2014 won the Calder Cup as a member of the Texas Stars, scoring 8 goals and 16 points in 21 playoff games.

Rocco Grimaldi
A University of North Dakota product, Rocco Grimaldi was drafted 33rd overall by the Florida Panthers in 2011. He made his NHL debut with the 2014/15 Panthers and has since played 27 regular season NHL games with the club. He also played a couple playoff games with the Panthers in 2016. A native of Anaheim, Grimaldi is living proof that hockey has name headway in California. He helped USA win a Gold at the 2013 World Junior Championships.

Frederik Gauthier
The Leafs drafted Frederik Gauthier in the first round, 21st overall, in 2013. He played 7 NHL games in his first season of pro hockey, recording 1 assist for the 2015/16 Toronto Maple Leafs. He won a Gold with Canada at the 2015 World Junior Hockey Championships. That season he also helped Rimouski win the QMJHL league championship. 

Jason Dickinson
A 2013 first round pick, Jason Dickinson played 1 NHL game with the 2015/16 Dallas Stars and scored a goal in his big league debut.

Ryan Pulock
Ryan Pulock was drafted 15th overall by the New York Islanders in 2013. The defenceman played 15 regular season NHL games for the 2015/16 Islanders along with 6 playoff games. 

The next four autographs were obtained from a short visit to PEI's only hockey card stop, Backmandy. Its a great little shop with incredible service. They have a few binders of old TTM autographs from someone who hounded in the 1990s. Altough I've gone through them many times, I still managed to find some signatures I didn't have. 
Chris Dahlquist
From 1985 to 1996 defenceman Chris Dahlquist played over 500 games in the NHL. In 1991 Dahlquist started the season as a Pittsburgh Penguins but was traded mid-season in a huge deal that saw Larry Murphy going the other way. Both teams ended up making it to the Stanley Cup finals that season, with Dahlquist and North Stars coming up short. Dahlquist also played for the Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators. He also represented USA at the 1990 World Hockey Championships.

Jamie Linden
Jamie Linden played 4 NHL games with the 1994/95 Florida Panthers, recording no points and 17 penalty minutes which included two fights. He's best remembered as the brother of retired NHL star Trevor Linden. I had tried to get him TTM multiple times but never got a response.

Pierre Lacroix
From 1978 to 1983 Pierre Lacroix scored 131 points in 274 career regular season NHL games. He spent most of that time with the Nordiques but had his last stop with the Hartford Whalers. His NHL career came to an end early due to Lacroix being seriously injured in a car accident. He sat out two seasons recovering. It can actually be hard to locate french guys like Pierre because in his likely place of residence, Quebec, there are literally hundreds of guys with the same name. I'll also point out that in hockey there's a different Pierre Lacroix who was Presdient and GM of the Avalanche.

Peter Lee
From 1977 to 1983 Peter Lee scored 114 goals and 245 points in 431 career NHL games, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He then moved overseas and continued playing pro in Germany until 1997. He still lives in Germany were he serves as CEO of the DEL's Eisbaren Berlin.  

Gene Sobchuk
Gene Sobchuk played 1 career NHL game and it came with the 1973/74 Vancouver Canucks. In the WHA he played 3 games with the 1974/75 Phoenix Roadrunners and a full season, 78 games, with the 1975/76 Cincinnati Stingers. With the Stingers Sobchuk, playing with his brother Dennis, scored 23 goals and 41 points.

To say I'm experience a dry spell when it comes to TTM returns would be an understatement. This is my only TTM NHL autograph of recent weeks. I haven't sent out anything lately but I still have literally hundreds of outgoing requests, the large majority of which I'll never get back. It is a little disheartning sometimes to see how few guys respond to mail. 


Andre Gaudette
This autograph goes into the "WHA Only" collection. From 1972 to 1975 Andre Gaudette played 222 games with the Quebec Nordiques, scoring 61 goals and 166 points. His son, Maxim, is a relatively successful Canadian actor who has won awards for his work.

Jay Onrait
This one is for the growing binder of completely random hockey autographs that don't fit elsewhere. Jay Onrait never played pro hockey or worked for any pro hockey team. For many years Jay and Dan were the best part of waking up a sports fan in Canada. I haven't regularly watched a sports highlight show since they left. I own and have read Jay's book (a good laugh) and have always been a fan. When the opportunity to grab this at a low price came by, I jumped right away. I also like having a "Jay" autograph in my collection as there aren't many of us around. I really do miss Panini being in the hockey market because they occasionally went off the board got some really intersting signers. Upper Deck NEVER does. Their autograph checklists are always boring and repetitive.

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