Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011 Top 20 Under $25 - #11 - Normand Leveille Auto

Back to the countdown of the top 20 (under $25) items from this past year that did not get a post initially. Today we have #11 in the countdown, yet another auto...

What is it? A 2010-11 Panini Limited Select Signatures Normand Leveille auto.
When and where did I get it? Early March on eBay.
How much did it cost me? $12.00 (plus $2.95 shipping).

Of all the autographs I added to the collection this year, I'd say this is the most unique. I first saw the card on Casey's Drop the Gloves blog and tracked down my own copy just a couple of days later.

I think most hockey fans know the story, but for those who don't Normand was an up-and-coming young winger for the Boston Bruins in the early 80s. He was a good enough scorer to be drafted by the B's in the first round (14th overall) of the 1981 entry draft. After a decent rookie campaign in 1981-82 (33 points in 66 games), he was off to an even better start in 1982-83 when tragedy struck.

On October 23rd, 1982 the Bruins were squaring off against the Canucks in Vancouver. Normand had just enjoyed a great first period where he scored his second and third goals of the young season. In the locker room during the first intermission though, he began to feel dizzy and complained of shoulder pain. While being evaluated by the training staff, he lost consciousness and was rushed to an area hospital. Doctors confirmed that he had suffered a brain aneurysm due to a congenital condition. After hours of surgery and three weeks in a coma, he regained consciousness. He did well with his recovery, regaining most of his motor skills and was even able to walk again, however his hockey career was over. He would never again take to the ice in an NHL game after that first period in Vancouver.

It's certainly interesting to consider how different the Bruins franchise may have looked later on in the decade had Leveille been on the roster. He had topped the 100-point season in Juniors and was scoring at a point-per-game pace at the NHL level when the injury brought his career to a dramatic halt.

Normand did make one final appearance in front of the Boston faithful during the closing ceremonies for the old Boston Garden. With Ray Bourque's assistance, he made one final lap around the ice, bringing many in attendance to tears. Definitely a memorable moment in Bruins history.

While he may be an obscure name to many hockey fans, I was thrilled to add this one to the collection. Considering the card is hard-signed by Normand rather than being a sticker auto, and is numbered to 99 copies, I thought this was a steal for around $15 shipped...


Captain Canuck said...

great card.

I had lost track of him and was thrilled to see him at the closing cerimonies... being able to walk again is amazing.

Anonymous said...

That's fascinating. I remember when that happened to him. It was such a shock.

Really cool and interesting card!

Drop The Gloves! said...

In my opinion, a must have!

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