Thursday, February 28, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #3 Gordie Howe

"Mr. Hockey"

There's not much to write about Gordie Howe which hasn't already been written. The 23-time NHL All-Star won 4 Stanley Cups, 6 Art Ross Trophies, and 6 Hart Trophies.

A recipient of the Order of Canada, he stands as the 3rd highest scorer in NHL history with 1,850 points (801 goals, 1,049 assists) in 1,767 games. He played professional hockey from 1946 to 1980 and scored another 508 points while in the WHA in the mid-1970's.

Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, Gordie Howe became good friends with Wayne Gretzky, who had idolized Howe as a young player, and who would later break many of Howe's scoring records.

From 2005-06 Upper Deck SP Authentic comes this dual hard-signed Prestigious Pairings /50 featuring Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. One of the best card I've ever pulled from a pack, it happened at the Sports Card Expo in Toronto about 4 years ago. I've also been lucky enough to meet and talk to Gordie Howe on one occasion. I even pulled on a Red Wings jersey and had a photo taken with him... borderline sacrilegious for a Montreal Canadiens fan but I made an exception for Mr. Howe.

Monday, February 18, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #4 Ron Francis

Skill, leadership, and longevity.

Three words which describe Ron Francis. Any player who stands second all-time in career assists behind Wayne Gretzky with 1,249, third in games played (1,731), with 2 Stanley Cup championships is worthy of many compliments.

With 1,798 points (549 goals, 1,249 assists), Ron Francis ranks 4th all-time in NHL scoring. Although he never scored more than 32 goals in a season and only had three 100+ points seasons, Francis was consistently good on every team he played for.

A three-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy, Ron Francis was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.

From 2011-12 Panini Certified comes this hard-signed autograph of Ron Francis from the Eternals /25 subset. It shows him in his Penguins jersey from his championship seasons with Pittsburgh. I pulled this card from a pack at the Sports Card Expo in Toronto in 2012.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #5 Marcel Dionne

The 1971 NHL Entry Draft was top heavy.

1st overall - Guy Lafleur
2nd overall - Marcel Dionne

Both were ridiculously skilled players from Quebec who made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame (Lafleur in 1988 and Dionne in 1992). But it was Marcel Dionne who became the 5th highest scorer in NHL history with 1,771 points (731 goals, 1,040 assists) in 1,348 games.

Dionne is third in the NHL for most 100+ point seasons. He had eight 100+ point seasons in his NHL career, only behind Wayne Gretzky's fourteen 100+ point seasons and Mario Lemieux's ten 100+ point seasons. He was also part of the famous Triple Crown line with Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor in Los Angeles.

A two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner, Dionne also won the Art Ross Trophy in 1979-80 by beating Wayne Gretzky (a tie broken by goals scored). He never tasted playoff success despite his scoring prowess and was unable to win a Stanley Cup.

Marcel Dionne does not get a lot of respect in the collecting world despite his scoring career totals. It isn't difficult to pick up a hard-signed autograph of his for under $10. However, the hard-signed auto in my collection is a little more desirable. From 2005-06 Upper Deck Trilogy comes this great Personal Scripts card featuring his signature along with the "2 Time Lady Byng Winner" inscription. The Personal Scripts subset (when done right) is one of my favourite autograph subsets.

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #6 Steve Yzerman

The Detroit Red Wings knew early in his career how good he would be.

Prior to the 1986–87 season, at the age of 21, Steve Yzerman was named captain of the Detroit Red Wings and continuously served for the next two decades, retiring as the longest-serving captain of any team in North American major league sports history.

His career-high 155 points in 1988–89 has been bettered only by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. In total, he finished his career as the 6th highest scorer in NHL history with 1,755 points (692 goals, 1,063 assists) in 1,514 games.

A winner of three Stanley Cup's during his playing career, Yzerman was also known for his outstanding defensive play and won the Selke Trophy in 2000. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Steve Yzerman currently serves as the Tampa Bay Lightning's vice-president and general manager.

From 1996-97 Pinnacle Be A Player comes this Link 2 History Die-Cut hard-signed autograph of Stevie Y. A long-held piece of my collection, this card was pulled from a pack about 15 years ago. In addition, from 2006-07 In The Game Ultimate 7th Edition, I have a double auto/memorabilia silver /50 card featuring Doug Gilmour with Steve Yzerman.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #7 Mario Lemieux

Mario the Magnificent!

It only took Mario Lemieux 513 games to reach 1,000 career points. If it hadn't been for lymphoma, back injuries, and his brief retirement, who knows what heights he could have reached. Although he probably never would have reached Wayne Gretzky's totals, it's likely he'd rank as the 2nd highest scorer in history if he hadn't missed so many games.

Mario Lemieux scored 1,723 points (690 goals, 1,033 assists) in 915 games. The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Lemieux immediately after his first retirement in 1997, waiving the normal three-year waiting period. When he returned to the game in 2000, he became the third Hall of Famer (Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) to play after being inducted.

Lemieux's place in hockey history was carved out early when he scored one of Canada's most important goals in the 1987 Canada Cup Final versus Russia. As his career progressed, he won every major award, including two Stanley Cups and the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP three times.

Currently, Mario Lemieux is the co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

I've always been a fan of Mario Lemieux's signature, so I'm glad that I have three in my collection. From 2007-08 ITG Ultimate Memorabilia is a Double Auto/Memorabilia Silver /24 card featuring Mario Lemieux with Jaromir Jagr. From 2007-08 Upper Deck The Cup is a beautiful Limited Logos /50 auto/patch and from 2011-12 Panini Prime comes a Prime Signatures /99 featuring Lemieux's hard-signed flowing autograph.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #8 Jaromir Jagr

The man, the mullet, the legend.

One of the best to ever play the game, Jaromir Jagr will always be remembered as a Pittsburgh Penguin, first and foremost. Although in later years, he played for various teams as a hired gun, and even spent 3 years in the KHL, Jagr will be best remembered as part of the great Penguins team of the early 1990's.

As the 8th highest scorer in NHL history, Jagr is still scoring. As the active leader in NHL scoring, Jagr has accumulated 8 points in the 2012-13 as of early February 2013. His current totals include 1,661 points (668 goals, 993 assists) in 1,357 games, now as a member of the Dallas Stars.

He is one of a small group of hockey players to have won the Stanley Cup (1991, 1992), the World Championships (2005, 2010), and the Olympic gold medal in hockey (1998).

In The Game and Jaromir Jagr have been good to me through the years. I've pulled a 2007-08 ITG Ultimate Dual Auto/Dual Memorabilia Silver /24 of Jagr with Mario Lemieux, a 2008-09 ITG Ultimate Dual Autograph Silver /9 of Jagr with Marian Gaborik, and a 2008-09 ITG Ultimate Patch and Auto Silver /9 of Jaromir Jagr. In addition, from 2011-12 Panini Dominion, I have a hard-signed Jaromir Jagr auto/jersey /60 from his short time with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #9 Joe Sakic

Joe Sakic won virtually all of the NHL's most important trophies. He also set scoring records and was one of the most influential leaders in the sport of hockey. It was no surprise when he was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fall in 2012, his first year of eligibility.

Selected 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Joe Sakic spent his entire 21-year NHL career with the Quebec/Colorado franchise. He's the 9th highest scorer in NHL history with 1,641 points (625 goals and 1,016 assists) in 1,378 games.

A frequent member of Team Canada internationally, Sakic won an Olympic gold medal in 2002. He is currently an executive advisor and alternate governor of the Colorado Avalanche.

From 2011-12 Panini Contenders comes this hard-signed Joe Sakic Contenders Legacies /100 featuring  a three-coloured patch and stitching. The card was pack-pulled a few months ago and the timing couldn't have been better as I was working on this project and was searching for a hard-signed Sakic for my collection.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

1,000 Point NHL Player Autographs - #10 Phil Esposito

One of the best to ever play the game... just like his brother.

Phil Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 (his brother Tony was inducted in 1988).  A two-time Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP, Phil Esposito is the 10th highest scorer in NHL history with 1,590 points (717 goals, 873 assists) in 1,282 games although when he retired, he ranked 2nd on the list.

A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Esposito scored over 60 goals in a season four times and topped out at 76 goals in 1970-71. The record stood until Wayne Gretzky appeared on the scene in the 1980's.

After retiring as a player, Esposito served as a head coach and general manager for the New York Rangers before co-founding the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Both pack-pulled, one of my Phil Esposito autographs stands out against the other. From In The Game Captain-C comes a sticker autograph of Esposito in his New York Ranger colours. But... from 2009-10 Upper Deck SP Authentic comes a Sign of the Times hard-signed dual autograph of Phil Esposito with the legendary Bobby Orr!