#19 -- Real Cloutier, Sabres
I don't think I ever saw him play during his career, but Real "Buddy" Cloutier is one of the guys that symbolizes early 1980s hockey for me: the insane WHA scoring totals, the ill-fitting eggshell helmet, the mustache. He was also one of the very first signatures I got in this set when I started collecting it, back in the 1990s.
Looking at those early '80s Nords teams, I'm amazed by the level of scoring talent they had -- the Stastnys three, Cloutier (when healthy), Goulet, Tardif, Dale Hunter, Wilf Paiement. At least in that end of the rink, they were up there with the best, but they never got up there to the Oilers/Islanders level.
Checking up on him for this post, I was amazed: Cloutier's career was over at age 29. I knew he flamed out of the NHL relatively quickly, but I figured a) he was a bit older, given those long years in the WHA, b) he went and bounced around Europe for a while, or c) both of the above. But no. 97 points in '81-'82, 67 in '82-'83, a trade to Buffalo and 60 in '83-'84, and the year that this card came out, zero in the NHL, 43 in the IHL/AHL combined, and that was that. Sabres Legends has a good writeup on him, giving some insight into what happened.
I got this one through the mail in the summer of 2010, probably about the fifth time I've got a copy of this card signed.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I always root for players like Jan Hejda -- guys who aren't heralded, spent their early 20s plugging away in Europe, then take a shot at the NHL. Since the first wave of Eastern Europeans, the results aren't great -- Jiri Dopita was a bust, Petr Cajanek and Jaroslav Balastik had limited success. Jonas Gustavsson might have what it takes, and I think Hejda's done well.
He signed with the Oilers at a rough time -- about the same time Chris Pronger got traded to the Ducks -- and did nice work for them in a season that didn't go too well. Letting him walk after that year was one more mistake for an organization that's made a bunch in recent times. He's now a good piece on the Blue Jackets, a team that I always kinda half-assedly root for because they've been very Czech-friendly over the years, and because they chose a bug wearing a Civil War uniform as their mascot. They're not having a great time this year -- they're going through that "step back" that all promising teams do -- and they're kind of weak up the middle, but I think they're by-and-large headed in the right direction. I hope Hejda's still on the team when they get where they're going.
Another thing I like about Hejda: guy's a fantastic signer. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I've gone to him; he's got a nice signature, he responds quickly, and he often includes a lot of extras (Russian cards and Oilers team issues).
I got this one through the Blue Jackets -- it took just over two weeks all told, not bad at all in the holiday season.