Monday, January 29, 2018

First Mail Post of 2018

There are 19 new NHL player autographs to share since my last mail post. The grand total now stands at 5,639 unique NHL player signatures for 75% of everyone to ever play in the league. Most of these ones come via TTM requests but there is also a couple trades and a very small purchase mixed in.

I'm still very much feeling the crushing weight of my student debt, and I'm not even owing that much compared to many of my peers. Currently trying to save for real life necessities like a house and retirement plan so hockey autograph buying has become and more difficult to justify. Its unfortunate because I've had some killer offers lately for rare autographs that I haven't been able to accept. Every time I miss out on a super obscure signature I try and tell myself, "well at least you know there's one out there, so there's bound to be another..." Patience and persistence are keys to this hobby.

                              Michael Mersch
Michael Mersch was drafted by the LA Kings in the 4th round of the 2011 NHL draft. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2014 and jumped straight to the AHL. Mersch scored 1 goal and 3 points in 17 NHL games with the 2015/16 LA Kings.

                               Ben Harpur
Defenseman Ben Harper made his NHL debut with the 2015/16 Senators and has since played over 30 games in the NHL with Ottawa. As a junior, he helped the 2013/14 Guelph Storm with the OHL championship and compete for the 2014 Memorial Cup.

                               Dean Kukan
Dean Kukan is an undrafted Swiss defenseman who was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015. He played 8 games in the NHL with the 2015/16 Blue Jackets and remains in their system. Internationally, he's represented Switzerland at the World Championship on three occasions. 

                               Ross Johnston
I was especially eager to add this signature because Ross Johnston is from the same small province, Prince Edward Island, as I am. He's played a few games for the New York Islanders since making his NHL debut in 2015/16 and is mostly known as an enforcer and grinder. I recall watching him play locally for the Summerside Capitals and Charlottetown Islanders. 

                            Casey Nelson
Casey Nelson was signed by the Buffalo Sabres in 2016 as an undrafted Minnesota State University player. He made his NHL debut at the end of the 2015/16 NHL season after the college year had finished. Since then, he's played over 20 NHL games with the Sabres.

                                 Rob Skrlac
Enforcer Rob Skrlac was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 9th round of the 1995 NHL draft but wasn't signed by the club. He spent the majority of his 8 year pro hockey career playing for the AHL's Albany River Rats. Skrlac played 8 games in the NHL with the 2003/04 New Jersey Devils, scoring 1 goal and getting 22 penalty minutes. 
I had to laugh when I opened this envelope. This mail post would have featured a Skrlac autograph anyway because I had just traded for one. Same week I get this return so I now have one on the tradelist! 

                           Michel Larocque
Not to be confused with another goalie by the same name, Michel "Bunny" Larocque, this Michel Larocque appeared in 3 NHL games with the 2000/01 Chicago Blackhawks. A Boston University alumni, he was originally drafted by the San Jose Sharks in 1996.

                              Mike Lenarduzzi
From 1992 to 1994 Mike Lenarduzzi played 4 games in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, who had drafted him in the third round of the 1990 NHL draft.
This envelope came back pretty mangled, looks like it got stuck in one of their sorting machines. Luckily the index card came out ok, save for a little piece torn from the bottom. 

                              Mark Osiecki
From 1991 to 1993 defenseman Mark Osiecki played 93 games in the NHL. He played for the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota North Stars. Internationally, Osiecki represented USA at the 1992 World Championships. He's had a long coaching career since retiring as a player and is currently an associate coach at the University of Wisconsin.

                              Matt Hervey
Defenseman Matt Hervey played 2 games with the 1988/89 Winnipeg Jets, 16 games with the 1990/91 Boston Bruins and 17 games with the 1991/92 Tampa Bay Lightning. He was signed by the Jets as an undrafted WHL junior player. 

                               Paul Brydges
Forward Paul Brydges scored 2 goals and 4 points in 15 career NHL games with the 1986/87 Buffalo Sabres. He's also notable for helping the Guelph Platters win the 1986 Memorial Cup and the Rochester Americans win the 1987 Calder Cup.

                               Ron Smith
Ron Smith played 11 games in the NHL with the 1972/73 New York Islanders. He helped the Cornwall Royals win the Memorial Cup in 1972 and that summer was drafted in the fourth round by the Islanders. Smith later became mayor of Port Hope, Ontario from 1994 to 2000.

                              Steve Alley
You might notice that this autograph looks different than Alley's signatures from his playing days. Had he not written me back using the same handwriting, answering the questions I asked about his playing days, I might have been suspicious it wasn't Alley that inked it. Evidently, he's changed his signature since his playing days. In the early 1980s, Alley played 15 games in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers. Prior to that he had spent a couple seasons in the WHA with the Birmingham Bulls. Internationally, Alley represented the United States at the 1976 Olympics as well as the World Championships in 1974, 1975 and 1978.  

                              Grant Sasser
Forward Grant Sasser played 3 games in the NHL with the 1983/84 Pittsburgh Penguins. A native of Portland, he became the first person from Oregon to play in the NHL. He wrote me back a wonderful little note about how his first face-off in the NHL was against none other than Wayne Gretzky.

                   Mark Fayne
This is certainly the MVP of this mail post. It comes from a fellow collector who saw I needed Fayne's signature and gratuitously sent me this. Its such a notable addition because it completes the 2010/2011 season of autographs. Of the 149 player to make their NHL debuts that season, Fayne was the last I needed. I've tried writing to Fayne half a dozen times via a number of teams but never got a reply so I'm gracious for the help from another collector. I have to say, sometimes it can be difficult to deal with fellow autograph hunters who only care about $ but thank God there are enough good guys in the hobby to overshadow the bad. 
From 2010 to 2017, Fayne played nearly 400 regular season games in the NHL. The defenseman is most notable for helping the New Jersey Devils reach the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. Internationally, he represented USA at the 2011 World Championships. 

                 Randy Velischek
From 1982 to 1992, defenseman Randy Velischek played over 500 games in the NHL. He was a member of the Minnesota North Stars, New Jersey Devils and Quebec Nordiques. His son, Alex, was drafted by the Penguins in 2009 and also had a brief pro hockey career. 

                     Jeff Larmer
From 1981 to 1986, Jeff Larmer scored 37 goals and 88 points in 158 career NHL games. He played for the Colorado Rockies, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks. He's the younger brother of retired NHL star Steve Larmer.

                  Chris Oddleifson
Chris Oddleifson was drafted 10th overall by the California Seals in 1970 but was traded to the Boston Bruins before he ever played for the Seals. Oddleifson made his NHL debut with the 1972/73 Bruins but it was his career as a Vancouver Canuck that he'll be remembered for. From 1974 to 1980 he was one of best known Canucks and served as team captain during the 1976/77 season.

                  Dwight Bialowas
Dwight Bialowas was drafted 18th overall by the Atlanta Flames in 1972. From 1973 to 1977 he played in 164 NHL games, scoring 11 goals and 57 points. 


Hockey autographs #20 and #21 of this post fall outside of my NHL player collection.

                              Jon Gustafson
April 15, 1993 Jon Gustafson dressed as the Toronto Maple Leafs backup goaltender. He was backup to Felix Potvin but wasn't needed. It was his only game at the NHL level. This one goes in the NHL Backups only collection. 

             Emerance Maschmeyer
As a junior Emerance Maschmeyer dressed in a couple preseason games with the AJHL's Lloydminster Bobcats, playing against young men. She later represented Canada at the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Women's World Championships, taking home a silver medal each time. She spent four years playing NCAA hockey at Harvard and is currently a member of the Montreal Canadiennes of the CWHL.
I try and collect a signature of every female hockey player who has had a certified autograph card released (see collection here). For an unknown reason, Maschmeyer's signatures appear to be short print compared to others. 

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