Friday, November 30, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #27 Mats Sundin

He was the first European-born and trained player to be drafted 1st overall in the NHL Entry Draft. And although it was done in 1989 by the Quebec Nordiques, Mats Sundin will always be considered a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Despite playing four seasons in Quebec (and one in Vancouver), Sundin will be remembered for his 13 seasons in the blue and white. Scoring 1,349 points (564 goals, 785 assists) in 1,346 games, Sundin is the 27th highest scorer in NHL history.

He never succeeded in bringing glory to the Maple Leafs but he had greater success on the international stage winning an Olympic gold medal and three World Championships with Sweden. He is also the first Swede to score 500 goals and 1,000 points.

From 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player comes this hard-signed Mats Sundin autograph from the Global Training subset. Appropriately signed in blue ink, this card was pack-pulled and is the only Mats Sundin autograph in my collection. As a Habs fan, one is definitely enough!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #28 Denis Savard

And with the first pick of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens select... Denis Savard!

Oh how things could have been different if that was the case.

However, history tells us that the Habs selected Doug Wickenheiser. Although Wickenheiser was a serviceable NHL'er (who passed away at age 37 due to cancer), he would always be remembered as the guy who was drafted instead of Denis Savard.

Savard was dazzling through the 1980's as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. With his great vision, spin-o-rama move, and speed, Denis Savard scored 1,338 points (473 goals, 865 assists) in 1,196 games. He added another 175 playoff points and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

Often remembered as a Chicago Blackhawk (1980-90, 1994-97), Savard also played with Tampa Bay and the Montreal Canadiens. Savard was famously traded to the Habs for Chris Chelios in 1990 and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1992-93. From In The Game's Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge comes this Denis Savard hard-signed autograph/patch (bleu version). Although the Habs missed Chelios and his defensive domination, it was nice to see Savard in the red, white, and blue of the Canadiens, especially since he should have been there from the beginning of his career.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #29 Dave Andreychuk

He scored a lot of goals for a lot of teams over the span of many years.

Dave Andreychuk played into his early 40's and scored 1,338 points (640 goals, 698 assists) in 1,639 games. Although rarely the key offensive player on his teams, he did captain the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship in 2003-04.

The NHL's all-time leader in power-play goals with 274, Andreychuk was no stranger to the scoring sheet. Currently not a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, his individual accomplishments may not be enough to some of the voting committee.

Never a player I cheered for, Andreychuk often played on the rival teams of my Montreal Canadiens (Toronto, Buffalo, Boston). Both Dave Andreychuk autographs in my collection were packed-pulled and are hard-signed. From 1996-97 Pinnacle Be A Player comes Andreychuk in his rarely seen New Jersey Devils uniform and from 2012 In The Game's Forever Rivals comes this hard-signed autograph from his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs (although his Leaf's logo is missing due to licensing issues between In The Game and the NHL).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #30 Mike Gartner

Blinding speed and a wicked shot, there were few better at scoring goals than Mike Gartner.

One of only six players to score over 700 goals, Gartner is also notable for what he didn't accomplish. He never won a Stanley Cup or an individual award. He was never named to a post-season All-Star team either. But with 1,335 points (708 goals, 627 assists) in 1,432 games, he was an easy induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

It's interesting to note that Mike Gartner also played on a line with Mark Messier in the WHA in 1978-79. He had a successful season and finished second to Wayne Gretzky for WHA Rookie-of-the-Year honours, the year before they all entered the NHL.

The lone hard-signed Mike Gartner card in my collection comes from 2011-12 Upper Deck Parkhurst Champions. Wearing the familiar red, white, and blue of the Washington Capitals, Gartner player there from 1979 to 1989 before being traded to Minnesota in a deal that included future 1,000 point scorers Larry Murphy and Dino Ciccarelli.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #31 Pierre Turgeon

The trajectories of the careers of Pierre Turgeon and Gilbert Perreault are very similar.

Both were selected 1st overall by the Buffalo Sabres. Both were brilliant playmakers. They're career NHL point totals only differ by one point!

With 1,327 points (515 goals, 812 assists) in 1,294 games, Pierre Turgeon squeaked by Gilbert Perreault to become the 31st highest scorer in NHL history. Often an All-Star and the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for the 1992-93 season, Turgeon has yet to get the call for the Hockey Hall of Fame but has a good chance at some time in the future.

Although he only spent one full season with the Montreal Canadiens, I still remember that time with pleasure. Honouring that short span of his career comes this regular and die-cut version of Pierre Turgeon's autograph from Upper Deck's 1995-96 Be A Player. In addition, I have Turgeon's hard-signed autograph from 2002-03 In The Game Be A Player in his Dallas Stars uniform.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #32 Gilbert Perreault

At the time of his retirement, Gilbert Perreault was the 6th highest scorer in NHL history. It just goes to show how many of today's players benefited from the fire-wagon hockey of the 1980's and early 1990's.

Currently the 32nd highest scorer in NHL history with 1,326 points (512 goals, 814 assists) in 1,191 games, Perreault played his last game in November 1986 and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

The most famous member of the French Connection line (with Rene Robert and Rick Martin), Perreault was known for his dazzling stick-handling. He also won the Calder Trophy and the Lady Byng Trophy and was a perennial All-Star.

A great stick-handler... and amazing penmanship! Both Gilbert Perreault autographs in my collection were pack-pulled in the same collecting season. From 2005-06 Upper Deck Ultimate comes this Ultimate Signatures card along with a 2005-06 Ice Scripts autograph for Upper Deck Trilogy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #33 Alex Delvecchio

Although he played every one of his NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings and scored the 33rd most points in NHL history, Alex Delvecchio never led his team in scoring.

With 1,281 points (456 goals, 825 assists) in 1,549 games, Delvecchio was good for a long time. Twenty-four seasons to be exact. But when you play with Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich, and Ted Lindsay, it's not always easy to be the best each season.

Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977, Delvecchio won three Stanley Cups and captained the Red Wings for 12 seasons.

From 2011 In The Game Enshrined comes this stunning portrait of Delvecchio featuring his signature at the bottom. A stylish card from a beautiful set, it's the only Delvecchio card in my collection. In recent years, more cards of Delvecchio have appeared on the market making it easier for collectors to get their hands on a Delvecchio autograph.

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #34 Al MacInnis

It's hard to think of another defenseman who struck fear into opposing goaltenders like Al MacInnis did.

Famous for having the hardest shot in the NHL for a long time, MacInnis scored 1,274 points (340 goals, 934 assists) in 1,416 games over 23 seasons with Calgary and St. Louis. Only the fourth defenseman in NHL history to score 100 points in a season, MacInnis won the Conn Smythe Trophy, the James Norris Trophy, and the Stanley Cup.

An Olympic gold medal winner for Canada in 2002, MacInnis was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

One of the greatest athletes ever from Nova Scotia, Canada, Al MacInnis famously split goaltender Mike Liut's mask with a slapshot. Liut later stated, "There's hard and then there's Al MacInnis hard. I tried to get out of the way. If it happens too often, you have to sit down and re-evaluate what you're doing with your life."

From 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player comes one of the first hard-signed autographs that I ever pulled from a pack... a great shot of Al MacInnis with his infamous stick and his signature. In addition, from 2006-07 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection comes this hard-signed autograph of MacInnis from the year he was inducted to the HHOF.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #35 Jean Ratelle

At the time of his retirement, Jean Ratelle was the NHL's sixth all-time leading scorer. But the hobby has seem to forgotten him for the most part.

After a slow beginning to his career and undergoing major spinal cord surgery when he suffered a serious back injury at age 23, Ratelle's longevity in the league was in doubts. However, once healed and healthy, he became one of the most consistently great players the NHL has ever seen.

With 1,267 points (491 goals, 776 assists) in 1,281 games, Ratelle now ranks 35th on the all-time NHL scoring list. Although he never won a Stanley Cup, he was a key contributor to the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

My Jean Ratelle collection consists of a 2004-05 In The Game Heroes and Prospects sticker autograph as well as a 2004-05 In The Game NHL Franchises hard-signed autograph. Considering his stature as one of the NHL's greats, there aren't a lot of options for Ratelle autographs on the market. Due to this, prices for his autographed cards are higher than some other players on the list. However, it would be appreciated if the companies could show him more respect on cardboard in the future.