With the Winter Olympics in full swing, it's back to hockey for this week's Signature Sundays post. Believe it or not I still have more to show from my favorite hockey set of last year, 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures. Today we'll look at half a dozen more on-card autos...
I thought Ken Morrow was an appropriate player to lead off this week's post with, given that he was a member of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice' US Men's Olympic hockey team! He was a rugged, stay-at-home defenseman who played his entire NHL career for the Islanders. He first joined the team immediately after those famed 1980 Olympics and won a Stanley Cup just a few months later. What a year for a young kid!
Morrow would go on to be a contributing member of all four of the team's Stanley Cup wins in the early '80s. Ken was plagued by constant knee issues during his playing days, which ultimately forced his early retirement during the 1988-89 season. He's currently serving as Director of Pro Scouting for the Islanders.
Here's a guy who probably enjoyed watching Ken Morrow and his Olympic teammates pull off the 'Miracle on Ice' win, given that he was 13 years old at the time (and would attend boarding school in Lake Placid). Mike Richter would wear the red, white and blue and represent team USA just a few years later at the '88 Winter Games in Calgary.
Mike is most famous for leading the Rangers to Stanley Cup victory in '94, one of the most exciting Finals series I've ever witnessed as a fan. During that time period he was easily one of the top goaltenders in the game, period. Later in his career, Mike would go on to represent team USA in two more winter Olympics, 1998 and 2002, and won a silver medal in the latter! Richter is the Rangers all-time leader in wins, has his number retired by the team, and was elected to the US Hockey Hall of Fame. If you have some time to read up about what he's done in his business life after hockey, it's equally impressive. An interesting man for sure and an autograph I'm really excited to add to my hockey card collection!
Next up is Keith Primeau. I was always a fan of Keith's just because he was a very high draft pick (3rd overall) right as I started to get heavily into the game. He ended up playing for my beloved Hartford Whalers at one point, and stuck with the franchise when they moved to Carolina before winding down his career with the Flyers.
Primeau was a very solid player for sure, named an All-Star more than once and serving as Captain for two different franchises. He came close on a couple of occasions but was never able to capture that elusive Stanley Cup.
Ken Linseman actually began his playing career with the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA. When he transitioned to the NHL he saw action with the Flyers, Oilers, Bruins and Maple Leafs (just two games) before his playing days came to an end. Little known fact, he was actually briefly a Hartford Whaler, having been traded there by the Flyers in August of 1982, but then was turned right around to Edmonton same day.
He was a crucial part of the 1984 Stanley Cup Champion Oilers, especially in the playoffs, but despite that was traded away after the season to the Bruins, missing out on the next three Edmonton championships. Linseman was known as a scrappy player, but sometimes went overboard. Check out this article
from the Ottawa Citizen, August 1977, about an incident where he bit another player then stomped on his forehead with his skate blade. No, I'm not kidding.
This card of Ron Hextall's uncle, Dennis, is one of the nicer looking photos in the set, and what a great signature to boot. Dennis really got around the NHL, playing for the Rangers, Kings, Golden Seals, North Stars, Red Wings and Capitals. It makes sense that he's depicted as a North Star in this set, as the best three-season stretch of his career came with the team in the mid-'70s. Hextall was serving as the team captain at the time and averaged over a point per game during that stretch.
Finally, one of the autographs from this set that I wanted more than most when I first saw it, Mr. Terry O'Reilly. Terry is thought of by most Bruins fans as one of the all-time greats. He played his entire NHL career with Boston, and could certainly mix it up and throw down the gloves (200+ PIM from '77-78 through '81-82 for example!).
Happy Gilmore's favorite hockey player had some skill too, scoring 20+ goals quite a few times and regularly recording 50+ point seasons (even had a 90-point campaign in the late '70s). O'Reilly even coached the team briefly after his retirement, and led them to the Stanley Cup Finals. His number was retired by the team back in 2002.
Six more great autographs from Panini, these take me to 90 in total from this set. I've still got more to come in future Signature Sundays posts...