Finally got home to pick up my recent TTM returns, over a months worth of mail. I'm moving from Halifax to Ottawa this month but my mail still goes to my home base in Prince Edward Island because these returns can take anywhere from 5 days to 5 years. 40 New through the mail autograph returns to show in this post. Of those, 30 are new NHL signatures and another 10 are new hockey graphs. The grand total of unique NHL signatures now stands at 4,507 for just under 62% of everyone who has played in the league since its creation in 1917.
I also got TTM returns from Pete Stemkowski, Danton Cole, Lou Franceschetti, Troy Crowder, John McIntyre, Wayne Merrick and Stephan Lebeau. I had, however, already acquired autographs of those players since writing to them. I didn't show them here because they aren't new player signatures but in most cases I replaced the traded for autograph with one I got through the mail on my standard index card design. The old autographs are added to my growing tradelist. Check out my hundreds of extras.
Jack Martin played one game in the NHL with the 1960/61 Toronto Maple Leafs.
Although Ulf Sterner only played four games in the NHL, he holds an important note in the league's history. In 1965 he became the first European born and trained player to play in the NHL. The Swedish forward had great success on the International stage as well. As luck would have it, I actually complete a trade for another Sterner autograph just days before I got this one in the mail. I had tried writing to him a couple times but this is the first one that made its way back from Sweden.
Goalie Gerry Gray appeared in seven NHL games with the 1970/71 Red Wings and one game with the 1972/73 Islanders. I have a soft spot for goalies and since I have an autograph of nearly every living net minder, I rarely get to add new ones.
From 1970 to 1980 Dennis O'Brien played well over 600 regular season+playoff games in the NHL. The defenceman spent most of his career with the North Stars but also saw time with the Rockies, Barons and Bruins.
From 1973 to 1980 Nelson Pyatt was four shy of playing 300 regular season games in the NHL. He played for the Red Wings, Capitals and Rockies. Two of his sons, Taylor and Tom, have played in the NHL.
Between 1970 and 1977 Larry Romanchych played over 300 regular season+playoff games in the NHL. He started his career in Chicago but spent most of his time in the NHL with the Atlanta Flames. His best season was in 1973/74 when he scored 22 goals and 51 points for the Flames.
Blake Dunlop scored 130 goals and 404 points in 550 regular season NHL games. His best years were in St. Louis. For his years of serving in the minors before breaking out as an NHL star, Dunlop was awarded the 1981 Bill Masterton Trophy.
Swedish forward Jorgen Pettersson had a short but impressive NHL career. From 1980 to 1986 he scored 174 goals and 366 points in 435 regular season games. On a line with Blake Dunlop, Pettersson scored 35+ goals in three consecutive seasons with the Blues.
Forward Bob Stephenson took a very unconventional route to the NHL. He was undrafted and played three seasons of Canadian University hockey before signing his first pro contract with the WHA's Birmingham Bulls. Stephenson spent two season in the WHA with the Bulls. In 1979/80 he played 18 games in the NHL, seeing time with both the Hartford Whalers and Toronto Maple Leafs. His son, Shay, later played a couple games in the NHL with the 06/07 LA Kings.
One of the first Europeans to find success in the NHL, Inge Hammarstrom played for the Maple Leafs and Blues. Between 1973 and 1979 the Swedish forward played 427 regular season games in the NHL. After retiring as a player he spent many years with the Philly Flyers as a scout and now works for the Vancouver Canucks in the same capacity.
Between 1978 and 1983 Merlin Malinowski scored 54 goals and 165 points in 282 career NHL games. He later represented Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
A University of Denver star, Doug Berry spent time in the WHA and NHL. He played 29 WHA games with the 1978/79 Edmonton Oilers and was an early teamate of Wayne Gretzky. From 1979 to 1981 Berry played 121 NHL games with the Colorado Rockies.
Jim Warner was drafted by the New York Rangers in 1974 before spending 4 years at Colorado College. After graduating he decided to sign with the WHA instead of the NHL. He spent a season with the New England Whalers and then followed the team to the NHL. Warner played 32 NHL games with the 1979/80 Hartford Whalers and retired at season's end.
Between 1972 and 1978 Larry Bolonchuk played 74 games in the NHL. The defenceman was a member of the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals.
From 1976 to 1979 Doug Patey 45 games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. His brother, Larry, was a long time NHLer.
Between 1976 and 1982 Norm Barnes played 150+ games in the NHL. He was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers and Hartford Whalers.
From 1989 to 1992 Czech defenceman Jiri Latal played 92 games in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.
One of Finland's first impact NHLers, Ilkka Sinisalo scored 39 goals and 76 points for the 1985/86 Philadelphia Flyers. He scored 20+ goals in a season 6 times with the Flyers. He's been a long time scout for the Flyers since retiring as a player.
Pat Hughes spent a decade in the NHL and played well over 600 regular season+playoff games in the league. He won the Stanley Cup with the 1979 Montreal Canadiens, 1984 Edmonton Oilers and 1985 Oilers.
From 1995 to 2000 Trent McCleary played just under 200 games in the NHL. He was a member of the Senators, Bruins and Canadiens. His career ended abruptly when he took a slapshot to the throat and required emergency surgery while playing for Montreal.
Mike Rucinski appeared in 2 NHL playoff games with the 1987/88 Blackhawks and 1 NHL regular season game with the 1988/89 Hawks. The forward was a undrafted University of Illinois-Chicago alumni.
From 1986 to 1996 Brad Lauer played over 300 games in the NHL. He played for the Islanders, Hawks, Senators and Penguins. Lauer has recently spent time as an NHL assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks.
Defenceman Remi Royer played 18 games in the NHL with the 1998/1999 Chicago Blackhawks. He was a tough customer who recorded no points but 67 penalty minutes with the Hawks.
Between 1986 and 1990 Gordie Walker played 31 games in the NHL. He split his time in the league between the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings.
Between 1976 and 1983 Derek Smith played well over 300 games in the NHL. He spent most of his career with the Buffalo Sabres but last played for the Detroit Red Wings. He scored 20+ goals in a season twice with Buffalo.
Between 1989 and 1993 University of Minnesota alumni Dave Snuggerud played 265 regular season games in the NHL. He saw time with the Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks and Philadelphia Flyers. He represented America at the 1988 Olympics.
A Notre Dame alumni, Mike McNeill played 63 NHL games from 1990 to 1992. He dressed with the Chicago Blackhawks and Quebec Nordiques.
Scott McLellan played 2 NHL games with the 1982/83 Boston Bruins. He found great success as a businessman after retiring from hockey. He's a big time real estate developer in Toronto.
Between 2003 and 2008 defenceman Joe DiPenta played over 200 regular season+playoff games in the NHL. He's most notable for winning the Stanley Cup in 2007 as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. I find it odd when retired players sign with a different number than they're wearing in the picture, he wore #33 with Anaheim but not Atlanta.
Victor Oreskovich was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2004 but took two seasons off from hockey after the 2006/07 OHL season. He signed an NHL contract with the Florida Panthers in 2009. From then until 2012 he played 67 regular season games in the NHL between the Panthers and Canucks. He's best remembered for appearing in 19 playoff games with the Canucks and helping the team reach the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. The Notre Dame alumni who studied finance retired in 2012 to pursue a business career.
The last 10 autographs in this post are all hockey related but don't go into my all-time NHL player collection.
From 1972 to 1976 Steve Carlyle was a member of the WHA's Alberta and then Edmonton Oilers. He played in over 200 games for the club. The former Montreal Canadiens draft pick took the road less travelled to professional hockey, spending time at the University of Alberta before joining the Oilers.
Wendell Bennett played one season, 67 WHA games, with the 1974/75 Phoenix Roadrunners. He scored 4 goals and 19 points.
Brian Bradley spent two seasons in the WHA playing for New York and San Diego. He dressed in 196 regular season+playoff games in the rebel league, scoring a very respectable 41 goals and 103 points.
Bill Gratton recorded 1 assist in 6 career WHA games with the 1975/76 Calgary Cowboys.
John Ferguson jr.
John Ferguson jr. was General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2003 to 2008. Ferguson is currently assistant GM of the Boston Bruins. He's the son of legendary NHL tough guy John Ferguson.
From 2006 to 2009 Francois Giguere was General Manager of the Colorado Avalanche. He started his career as an assistant GM with the Dallas Stars in 1994. He moved to Colorado a season later and has his name on the Stanley Cup twice, in 1996 and 2001 with the Avs.
Tod Button was assistant coach of the Washington Capitals from 1994 to 1997. Since then he's worked as a scout and director of scouting with the Calgary Flames. His father, Jack, was once GM of the Penguins and his brother, Craig, was once GM of the Flames.
I don't really know where to put this autograph at the moment since I don't have a binder for assistant GMs. I wanted to add Kyle Dubas because he makes headlines with Leafs and has the potential to be their future GM.
Todd Brost never played in the NHL but he's notable for winning an Olympic Silver medal with Team Canada in 1992. I like to think of my NHL autograph collection as a representation of hockey history. I've been thinking about chasing Ice Hockey Olympians who never played in the NHL to give the collection more of an International flavour. If I find some international stamps and some time I plan to grow this aspect of my collection.
Dan Schachte worked as an NHL Linesman for 30 years, working over 2,000 games. Another aspect of my autograph collection i'd like to grown is of NHL referees and linesmen. I only have a handful at the moment. I wish I knew where to send current NHL officials as finding contact information for these guys can be tricky.