Monday, April 2, 2018

Mail - Programs, Cuts & Oddballs


This was a big month of hockey ink in the mail. The autographs come from trades, purchases and through the mail returns. The best pieces came from a lot of old NHL programs I bought. I bought the lot on a gamble. Pictures were poor and the autographs weren't identified but my trained 'autograph eye' was able to pick out a couple big names and I scooped up the lot. I paid a little more than I would have liked but it produced extra signatures of Juha Widing and Bill Flett that I haven't decided yet If I'll sell or hold on to yet. Those two should recoup a good bit of the original cost of the lot if I do sell them. However, I'd always prefer to trade for signatures I don't have. On top of the goodies shown below, I added a bunch of cuts to my tradelist.

45 New NHL signatures to share in this post. There are actually 64 autographs featured in the post because I have 19 'oddballs' to share as well. The 45 new NHL signatures raises the grand total of unique autographs to 5,745 for 77% of everyone to ever play in the league.

I've recently embarked on a new hockey related autograph project - Pucks & Politics. That project has been keeping me busy lately. After being a hockey fan, I'm a political junkie. I merged the two in what is also my first foray into custom hockey cards. Hopefully I'll be able to show off a few of these on the next mail post. I written to nearly 200 Canadian Members of Parliament, all of which I've sent a custom made hockey card. Its going to be interesting seeing what my success rate is with these.



                Gaetan Duchesne
From 1981 to 1995 Gaetan Duchesne played over 1000 games in the NHL. He's notable for helping the Minnesota North Stars reach the 1991 Stanley Cup finals. In 2007, Gaetan died from a heart attack at just 44. His son, Jeremy, was a goalie who briefly played in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

                 Mitch Wilson
Mitch Wilson played 9 games with the 1984/85 New Jersey Devils and 17 with the 1986/87 Pittsburgh Penguins. He was a tough customer who recorded 2 goals, 5 points and over 100 penalty minutes during his short NHL career. Unfortunately, Wilson was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago and is now fighting for his life.

                        Kurtis Gabriel
Forward Kurtis Gabriel was drafted in the 3rd round by the Minnesota Wild in 2013. He played junior with the Owen Sound Attack and turned pro for the 2014/15 season. Since then he's played 16 regular season games in the NHL with Minnesota. Gabriel also played 4 NHL playoff games for the Wild in 2016.

                                Jan Benda
Jan Benda was born in Belgium but played junior in Canada. He's most notable for playing 9 NHL games with the 1997/98 Washington Capitals, who had signed him as a free agent. He was signed by the Edmonton Oilers in 2001 but released after training camp. Internationally, he has represented Germany at the World Championships, World Cup and 3 Olympic Games. The 45 year old continues to play lower level pro hockey in Germany.

                                 Al Sims
From 1973 to 1983 Al Sims played over 500 regular season+playoff games in the NHL. He was a member of the Bruins, Whalers and Kings. Sims later became a coach, spending time in the NHL as an assistant with Anaheim and head coach of the 1996/97 San Jose Sharks.

                          Ron Stackhouse
From 1970 to 1982 defenseman Ron Stackhouse played 889 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 459 points. He represented the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 1980 NHL All-Star game.

                           Wayne Maki
From 1967 to 1973 Wayne Maki scored 57 goals and 136 points in 246 NHL games. He played for the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks. Maki scored 25 goals and 63 points for the inaugural 1970/71 Vancouver Canucks. Maki's career and life was cut short when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died in 1974 at only 29.

                             Juha Widing
From 1969 to 1977 Juha Widing scored 144 goals and 370 points in 574 career NHL games. He also played a season in the WHA, scoring 18 goals and 42 points with the 1977/78 Edmonton Oilers. Internationally, he represented Sweden at the 1976 Canada Cup. Widing died of a heart attack in 1984 at just 37.

                            Bill McCreary Sr.
From 1953 to 1971 Bill McCreary played over 300 games in the NHL. He later returned to the NHL as a head coach and General Manager. His son, Bill McCreary Jr., played in the NHL and his nephew is the referee Bill McCreary.

                            Rick Kessell
From 1969 to 1974 Rick Kessell played 134 games in the NHL. He played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and California Golden Seals.

                               Bob Jones
Bob Jones played 2 games in the NHL with the 1968/69 New York Rangers. He later played 161 games in the WHA. His brother, Jim Jones, also played in both the NHL and WHA.

                              Eddie Bush
From 1938 to 1942 Eddie Bush played 26 regular season games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings. On April 9th, 1942 Bush set a new NHL record for points by a defenseman in a Stanley Cup finals game with 5, scoring a goal and 4 assists. That postseason was actually his last appearance in the NHL. He later spent a couple decades coaching hockey and passed away n 1984. 
I bought a team signed 1960/61 Hamilton Red Wings sheet for just a couple dollars. Bush, who was the team's coach, was the signature I was after when I puchased the sheet for a steal. It also gave me an upgraded Bob Dillabough autograph, the old one now added to my tradelist.

                          Wayne Rivers
He's the answer to an interesting trivia question. Rivers scored the last regular season goal in the Original Six in 1967. I was very happy to add this Rivers autograph for so cheap because he's a hard guy to track down. This is from the same sheet that gave me the Eddie Bush autograph. Rivers played over 100 games in the NHL and over 350 games in the WHA. He scored 54 goals for the 1974/75 WHA San Diego Mariners. 

                      Jean-Francois Sauve
From 1980 to 1987 Jean-Francois Sauve played 290 games in the NHL, scoring a very respectable 65 goals and 203 points. He played for the Buffalo Sabres and Quebec Nordiques. His brother, Bob Sauve, was an NHL goalie.

                        Alain Lemieux
Alain Lemieux is best known as the older brother of NHL legend Mario. From 1981 to 1987 Alain scored 72 points in 119 regular season NHL games. Lemieux spent most of his time in the NHL between the St. Louis Blues and Quebec Nordiques. He did play 1 game with his brother on the 1986/87 Pittsburgh Penguins.

                              J.C. Tremblay
In my opinion, J.C. Tremblay might be the Hockey Hall of Fame's biggest snub. He was a top defenseman on 5 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup winning teams. He wasn't just on those teams, he was a leader. He was one of the most dominant blueliners of his time but in 1972, after being named to the Summit Series, he signed with the WHA and was therefore dropped from the '72 series. Tremblay was a star defenseman on the WHA Nordiques for 7 seasons and was named to the league's inaugural Hall of Fame class. His jump to the Rival League, combined with an early death from cancer at 55 in 1994, make Tremblay one of the most notable snubs in the history of the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

                          Hank Goldup
From 1939 to 1946 Hank Goldup scored 63 goals and 143 points in 202 regular season games in the NHL. He won the Stanley Cup in 1942 with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hank passed away in 2008. His son, Glenn, also played in the NHL.

                        Lorne Ferguson
From 1949 to 1959 Lorne Ferguson played over 400 games in the NHL. He played for the Bruins, Red Wings and Blackhawks. Ferguson passed away in 2008.

                               Claude Legris
Goalie Claude Legris played 4 games in the NHL during the early 1980s with the Detroit Red Wings.

                               Ray Maluta
From 1975 to 1977 defenseman Ray Maluta played 25 games in the NHL with the Boston Bruins.

                        Gary Geldart
Defenceman Gary Geldart played 4 NHL games with the 1970/71 Minnesota North Stars.

                          Richard David
Richard David played 14 games for the 1978/79 WHA Quebec Nordiques. He followed the franchise into the NHL and from 1979 to 1983 David played 31 games in the NHL.

                             Gary Holt
From 1973 to 1978 Gary Holt played 101 games in the NHL. He scored 13 goals and 24 points while playing for the California Seals, Cleveland Barons and St. Louis Blues. His brother, Randy, also played in the NHL.

                             Mitch Babin
Forward Mitch Babin played 8 NHL games with the 1975/76 St. Louis Blues.

                              John Schella
John Schella played 2 seasons in the NHL in the early 1970s with the Vancouver Canucks. From 1972 to 1978 he was a member of the Houston Aeros, playing nearly 400 games in the WHA. The defenseman spent 3 seasons as a teammate of Gordie Howe's on the Aeros, winning the Avco Cup twice. 

                             Frank Hughes
Skilled forward Frank Hughes was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1969. He played 5 NHL games with the 1971/72 California Golden Seals before making his mark in the WHA. Hughes was a star player with the Houston Aeros, twice scoring 40+ goals a season. He helped Gordie Howe and the Aeros win the Avco Cup in 1974 and 1975.

                             Tony Cassolato
From 1976 to 1979 Tony Cassolato scored 44 goals and 88 points in 184 WHA games, playing with the San Diego Mariners and Birmingham Bulls. When the league folded, he jumped to the NHL. From 1979 to 1982 he played 23 games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. He's notable for  winning the 1980 AHL Calder Cup with the Hershey Bears and representing Canada at the 1974 World Junior Championships.

                            Barrie Moore
From 1995 to 2000 Barrie Moore scored 2 goals and 8 points in 39 career NHL games. He played for the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals. Moore is also notable for winning the AHL's Calder Cup in 1996 with the Rochester Americans.

                              Jim Boo
Defenseman Jim Boo played 6 games in the NHL with the 1977/78 Minnesota North Stars. He accumulated 0 points and 22 penalty minutes. Boo was signed by the North Stars as an undrafted University of Minnesota alumni.

                              Rick Boh
Undrafted Colorado College alumni Rick Boh scored 2 goals and 3 points in 8 career NHL games with the 1987/88 Minnesota North Stars.

                          Helmut Balderis
Helmut Balderis spent a couple decades as a Soviet star, remember as one of the best hockey players not in the NHL. He retired in 1985 but in 1989 he came out of retirement to fulfill a dream of playing in the NHL. Way past his prime, Balderis scored 3 goals and 9 points in 26 NHL games with the 1989/90 Minnesota North Stars as a 37 year old rookie. In 1998, he was inducted in to the IIHF International Hockey Hall of Fame.

                            Eddy Godin
From 1977 to 1979 Eddy Godin played 27 games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals.

                            Rocky Dundas
A skilled junior player who helped the Medicine Hat Tigers win the 1987 Memorial Cup, Rocky Dundas played 5 NHL games with the 1989/90 Toronto Maple Leafs. He recorded 0 points and 14 penalty minutes. Not wanting to continue life as an enforcer, Dundas retired at the end of that season and went back to school, becoming a very successful guy on his own accord.

                        Brian McCutcheon
From 1974 to 1977 Brian McCutcheon played 37 games in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings. He's since had a long career as a coach, including time as Cornell's head coach and time as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres.

                           Tom Martin
From 1984 to 1990 Tom Martin scored 12 goals and 23 points in 92 career NHL games. He played for the Winnipeg Jets, Hartford Whalers and Minnesota North Stars. He's infamous for a trade in junior that saw him being traded for a bus, forever earning the nickname "Bussey."

                         Claude Larose
There have been 2 people with the name Claude Larose to play in the NHL. This is the much lesser known of the two. This Claude Larose, born in 1955, was a star junior player who was the 1st overall pick of the 1975 WHA draft, joining the Cincinnati Stingers. Larose played 4 seasons in the WHA, scoring over 200 points in 252 games. When the league folded in 1979, he became property of the New York Rangers, who had drafted Larose in the 1975 NHL draft. Larose played 25 regular season NHL games and a couple of playoff games for the Rangers.

                              Paul Miller
A Boston University alumni, Paul Miller played 3 NHL games with the 1981/82 Colorado Rockies. His older brother, Bob Miller, also played in the NHL.

                             Marc LaBelle
Marc LaBelle was first signed by the Montreal Canadiens in 1990 as an undrafted junior player. Known mostly for his tough style of play, LaBelle bounced around the minors before landing with the Dallas Stars. He played 9 NHL games with the 1996/97 Stars. The forward recorded 0 points but did rack up 46 penalty minutes.

                             Greg Kuznik
Greg Kuznik was originally drafted by the Hartford Whalers in 1996. The defenceman followed the franchise to Carolina and and played 1 NHL game for the 2000/01 Hurricanes. In 2003, he moved overseas and began a long and successful career in Europe. In 2011, the Canadian born player represented Slovenia at the 2011 World Championships.

                       Evgeny Konstantinov
Russian goalie Evgeny Konstantinov appeared in 2 NHL games as a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting in the early 2000s. He last played pro hockey in 2009 in the KHL.

                            Goran Bezina
Goran Bezina played 3 games in the NHL with the 2003/04 Phoenix Coyotes. He was originally drafted by the Coyotes in 1999. Internationally, Bezina represented Switzerland at a number of World Championships and the 2006 Olympics.

                          Greg Koehler
Undrafted UMass-Lowell alumni Greg Koehler played 1 game in the NHL with the 2000/2001 Carolina Hurricanes. Ken Dryden featured a very young Koehler in his 1989 book Home Game.

                          Kevin Colley
Forward Kevin Colley posted 52 penalty minutes and 0 points in 16 NHL games with the 2005/06 New York Islanders. It was his only season in the NHL because a neck injury forced Colley to retire that year. His father, Tom, also played in the NHL.

                        Jean-Philippe Cote
Jean-Philippe Cote was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000 but never signed with the team. The defenseman was signed by Montreal and made his NHL debut with the 2005/06 Habs. He played 8 NHL games for Montreal that season. Seven full seasons went by before Cote returned to the NHL, playing 19 games with the 2013/14 Tampa Bay Lightning. Like Colley above, I used a photo of him with the AHL Bulldogs because the #12 he signed with was from his time with Hamilton. Cote still plays pro in France.

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I'm going to expand on these posts a little with more of my hockey 'oddball' autographs. I like collecting signatures of athletes from other sports, tv personalities, political figures etc. but only if I can tie them to hockey. The baseball collection alone is now big enough to warrant a 2nd binder. 

                    Emilio Estevez
As soon as a I saw that Leaf released this card I knew I needed to have one. I was born in the early 1990s so I grew up on the Mighty Ducks movies. Emilio Estevez famously portrayed coach Gordon Bombay in the movie. 

                                                                    Nick Niedert
I scanned the front and back here so you can get the explanation of why I'd show off this signature and why I'd want it. Niedert's incredible hockey journey is still going. His hockey statistics pages are ridiculously long. Its awesome, but hard to believe, that there's a human being so dedicated to this game that he travels all around North America playing in lower level pro leagues for next to nothing. 

                             Sam Gellard
From 1972-1974 Sam Gellard played 28 games in the WHA with the Philadelphia and later Vancouver Blazers. He contributed 7 goals and 11 points. He was signed by the Blazers as an undrafted University of Pennsylvania product.

                          Danny Sullivan
Goalie Danny Sullivan played 1 WHA game with the 1972/73 Philadelphia Blazers and 1 WHA game with the 1973/74 Vancouver Blazers.

                          Gaye Cooley
Goalie Gaye Cooley played in 1 WHA game and it came during the 1976 Avco Cup playoffs with the New England Whalers. He was a former NCAA star at Michigan State.

                           Pierre Roy
Defenseman Pierre Roy played over 300 games in the WHA. He had a career year with the 1975/76 Nordiques, contributing 36 points and 258 penalty minutes.

                          Dick Paradise
From 1972 to 1974 Dick Paradise played 144 games in the WHA with the Minnesota Fighting Saints. Paradise passed away in 1992 at 47. His brother, Bob, played in the NHL.

                         Gord Gallant
From 1973 to 1977 Gordie "Machine Gun" Gallant accumulated 849 penalty minutes in 273 WHA games. The undrafted tough guy played for the Minnesota Fighting Saints, Quebec Nordiques and Birmingham Bulls. He's a legend of his own when it comes to 'old time hockey stories' and the World Hockey Association. 

                           Bill Klatt
Forward Bill Klatt played 2 seasons in the WHA for his hometown Minnesota Fighting Saints. He scored 50 goals and 78 points in 143 WHA games. He died from leukemia in 2011.

                             Don Burgess
Forward Don Burgess played in the WHA for as long as the league existed. He scored 107 goals and 229 points in 446 regular season WHA games, suiting up for the Blazers, Mariners and Racers.

                               Gil Hudon
Gil Hudon dressed in the NHL as a backup only with the 1983/84 Philadelphia Flyers.

                           Stelio Zupancich
Only a handful of modern Canadian Olympians haven't played in the NHL, Stelio Zupancich is one of those. Zupancich played on the 1980 Canadian Olympic team that visited Lake Placid. Zupancich contributed 4 points in 6 games. He played junior hockey for the Oshawa Generals but never went on to play pro in North America.

                    Mark Grant
There's no explanation on the back of this card as to why Padres pitcher Mark Grant struck up a goalie pose for this baseball card. I asked Grant in the letter I sent him and he wrote me back with wonderful little explanation of how he grew up playing hockey and just wanted to do a little something different for the photoshoot. 
                                                          Jack Lazorko
As the card notes, Lazorko was indeed a good hockey goalie. Hockey certainly influenced him as a baseball player and you can read about his ties to hockey here. His son, Nick Lazorko, actually played some professional hockey.

                                                        Mike Kilkenny
The back of this card notes that Kilkenny was a good enough hockey playing in high school that he had offers that he turned down so he could play baseball instead. I found an old article where he mentioned that it was hockey's roughness that made him choose baseball, where he would be at much less risk of an injury. 

                                                                         Doug Rader
Rader doesn't have a baseball card that mentions his incredibly interesting hockey background so I made this one. Amazingly, Rader played semi-pro hockey using a fake name so his baseball coaches and family wouldn't find out he was playing the violent sport to supplement his college income.

                                                       Derek McCallum
These Bowman baseball cards have a facsimile signature on them but as you can see, I asked Derek if he could add the real thing. McCallum grew up a strong hockey player and he even has an eliteprospects.com profile. You can read about McCallum's hockey career here

                                                          Jeff Lageman
Not only did Jeff sign this card for me, he wrote me back a wonderful little letter expanding on the story explained on the back. Its not often you see an NFL/Hockey card! 

                                                                      Blaine Schmidt
There are numerous baseball/hockey ties, but not nearly as many with football. As this card notes, the 6.4' 290 lbs offensive lineman would occasionally lace up his skates and play hockey. I'm been doing research lately to find more like this.