Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Albany Devils Autograph Signing 1/26/14

For the past month, I have been relaxing and enjoying my winter vacation at home. Now, I'm back in Albany for the spring semester of college.

The Albany Devils held their first post game autograph signing of the season after their game this past Sunday against the Binghamton Senators. After the Senators thumped the Devils 6-3, it was time for the signing to begin.

On the program that was being given to all fans, a list of all of the players and where they would be was provided. About a half hour after the game ended, the players emerged onto the Times Union Center concourse to begin the signing.

The first table I went to featured team captain Rod Pelley, notorious fighter Cam Janssen, and Dan Kelly, who scored a goal in the game. All three signed my team photo. Pelley signed two 4x6 photos as well. Pelley had never seen a gold sharpie before, and he was pretty surprised that it actually worked over the black background.

Remember in October when I got Arron Asham and Micheal Haley to sign photos of them fighting with Janssen? Three months later, Janssen signed both photos and also signed a card I found of him. When he saw the picture of the Haley fight, he said, "That's a horrible picture." I didn't have a good response to that, so I thanked him and went to the next table.
Later in the day, I went back to the table and took a picture with Janssen for the second time. Like the first time, it didn't come out like I hoped it would. Too blurry and I'm not smiling. I guess the third time is the charm for photos with Cam Janssen. The people standing behind me in the line were saying how they were going to ask Janssen if he could make out with them. I have no idea what actually happened, but I'll assume he said no.
After Janssen, the trio of Keith Kinkaid, Chris McKelvie, and Mike Sislo were waiting for me at the next table. I've had Kinkaid sign a whole bunch of stuff already this season, so I didn't need anything from him besides my team photo. McKelvie also signed my team photo. Mike Sislo got called up to the NHL and played in seven games for New Jersey during the winter break. I had a 4x6 of him, and he was happy to sign it. He also said that he liked New Jersey when I asked him about his time in the NHL.  I later came back and took a group picture with the three of them. 
The fun continued a short walk around the concourse later when I arrived to see Artem Demkov, Tim Sestito, Scott Timmins, and David Wohlberg at a table signing away. Here is a short video that I took.

The four players signed my team photo, and Timmins signed a 4x6 photo from his Florida Panthers days.

The next table I approached had the foursome of Raman Hrabarenka, Brandon Burlon, Reece Scarlett and recently sent down Reid Boucher. Scarlett, Burlon and Hrabarenka all haven't seen NHL action yet, but Reid Boucher had. He scored his first NHL goal on December 18, 2013 and I had a two 4x6 photos of him from his NHL action. One of my photos was of Boucher holding the puck from his first NHL goal. After some confusion over what number to put with his signature, he signed both of my pictures and wrote the First Goal inscription like I wanted. All four players signed my team photo.

Just a few feet away sat the trio of goalie Scott Wedgewood, Corbin McPherson, and Stefan Matteau. (The son of this Matteau.) Matteau was a healthy scratch for the game, but he was there for the signing. After Wedgewood signed my team photo in black, I went up to Matteau. Before I could say anything he signed the team photo in silver, which he was using for almost everything. He also signed the two 4x6 photos I had in silver, and they don't look that bad. McPherson also signed the team photo and said that he liked the photo. Someone asked Matteau to film a video for his son in French, and Matteau was happy to do it.

The next table had Joe Whitney, Alexander Urbom, Mattias Tedenby, and Seth Helgeson. Whitney had just played in his NHL debut two days earlier, but was already sent back down to Albany before the Devils' outdoor game at Yankee Stadium. Urbom signed my team photo and a picture of him from when he played with the Capitals earlier this season. Tedenby signed a 4x6 photo. I would put his signature in the 'worst autograph ever' category, but that is another story. Helgeson signed my team photo, asked me where I got it. When I told him I found it on google, that satisfied him and I walked away.

The last table I went to had Harri Pesonen, Kelly Zajac, Mike Hoeffel, and Adam Larsson. Larsson scored earlier in the game on a blast from the faceoff circle. The photo on the right is one that I took of Larsson blasting the puck into the net. All four guys signed my team photo then Larsson signed a 4x6 photo.

I took one last picture with Tim Sestito on the way out, then I was on my way into the cold Albany night.

Here is my team signed photo. All the Devils doing the signing signed it.  That's all I have for this entry! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bridgeport Sound Tigers @ Albany Devils 12/13/13

Just about a month after I first saw the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Albany, they were back again to play the Devils, and I was there once again on a chilly Friday the 13th. After the game, a 6-1 Devils rout of the Sound Tigers, I was back outside the Times Union Center. However this time, it was cold. A ski mask, winter hat, coat, and gloves couldn't keep me warm on this night.

Although the teams were the same, there were plenty of different faces. The Islanders just sent down Pierre-Marc Bouchard to make room for Ryan Strome. Matt Donovan had been sent down as well to make room for another player. The Islanders were in the midst of a long losing streak, and things were changing.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, I bought an Islanders yearbook and planned to get that signed by as many people as possible. Some of the players had full pages, others had portions of pages in the prospects section, and others didn't have any mention in the yearbook.

The first player to come out was someone I have met a bunch of times and easily recognized. Jon Sim was in the midst of a professional tryout contract that he has since been released from. He signed a page in the yearbook that had the Bridgeport Sound Tigers' schedule on it. I used that page to get a bunch of people.

After Sim, the next person out was fighter Justin Johnson, who was thrown out of the game. He also signed the page that Sim had just signed. I asked him what the referee told him as he left, and he responded by going on a rant, saying f**k at least three times, and complaining that the referees were, "their (the Albany Devils) daddies." That was interesting to say the least.

As players were coming out, I got more to sign that page in the yearbook. I asked pretty much everybody, "What's your last name?" as I couldn't recognize almost everyone. When one of the guys said, "Bruton," I realized it was the captain of the Sound Tigers and a person who had a section in the yearbook, Chris Bruton. If his name sounds familiar, THIS may be why. He signed his part, said he hadn't seen it before, and boarded the bus.

Shortly after Bruton came out, I thought I recognized someone. I said, "Matt?" And it turns out I was right. Recently sent down Matt Donovan was standing in front of me. I flipped to his page in the yearbook, and he signed it along with two 4x6 photos I had of him. I asked if he could write 'First NHL Goal' one one of them from his first NHL goal, and he was happy to oblige. I told him how I was watching that goal live in my dorm room, and he seemed amused by it. I thanked him, and he went on the bus.
I didn't recognize too many other players right off the bat. But one player who I recognized pretty easily was Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Islanders surprised the hockey world by placing him on waivers, he went unclaimed, and he was playing in his first game for the Sound Tigers. Whenever he was on the ice, he didn't look too happy to be playing in the AHL, but who can blame him? After the game, I recognized him because he is completely bald. Like many other stars on the Islanders, (Tavares, Okposo, Nabokov) Bouchard had a two page spread in the yearbook. It was mostly black, and I couldn't dig out my silver sharpies in the cold, so Bouchard signed his page on the top part of the page as well as two 4x6 photos. He signed a few cards for someone else, then went onto the bus. 

One other player who has had a good stint of NHL time is Anders Lee. After I figured out who he was, he signed his page in the yearbook for me along with a 4x6 photo. He also took a minute to take a picture with me, unfortunately it was dark and there was something wrong with my iPhone camera, but it is still a picture with Anders Lee, and it shows you how cold I was. If you want to see the picture I took with Anders, click HERE or scroll down to the bottom of the entry.

The last Bridgeport player I got was Alan Quine, a 6th round pick from this past year's draft. He had a part in the yearbook and he signed it after he said that his hometown was listed wrong.

Here is the page that I got a bunch of the Sound Tigers to sign, listed in no particular order.

24-Sean Wiles
21-Dallas Jackson
49-Justin Johnson
11-Jon Sim
44-Brett Gallant
17-Matt Lowry
19-Riley Wetmore
35-Kenny Reiter
I think I got everyone but there is a chance I might have missed someone.

I also got a couple of Albany Devils autographs. After the Sound Tigers bus left, a few Devils season ticket holders showed up and started handing out holiday cupcakes to the players. That helped me recognize some of them. Goalie Keith Kinkaid signed a 4x6 photo for me, and here is a picture of him talking with some of the other fans.

I also got Harri Pesonen to sign a 4x6 photo from his brief stint with the New Jersey Devils.

That is all I have for this entry. Here is the picture I took with Anders Lee. Good luck graphing and remember, you never know who you are going to run into. Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Top 10 Autographs of 2013

Happy New Year to all. May 2014 be filled with happy memories and joy just like 2013 was. Here are my top 10 autographs I've gotten in 2013.

I'm basing these on the following criteria.
  • How good the person is. (All Star, Hall of Famer, etc.)
  • How much the person means to me. 
  • How I got the autograph. (Through the mail, in person, etc.) 
  • Any story behind getting the autograph. 
Now with that, lets begin the countdown. 

10. Micheal Haley NHL Forward with Islanders and Rangers 
Ever since he started the famous brawl between the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011, Haley was one of my favorite players. Now, he is on the Rangers playing for their minor league team in Hartford. He was great when I met him in Albany in October. He signed a bunch of items for me and took a picture with me then. He's a great guy and I hope he gets another shot in the NHL soon. Although his NHL stats aren't too outstanding, he is somebody I've wanted to meet for a while. That's why he is on this list at #13. 

9. Jason Taylor NFL Defensive Lineman
When Jason Taylor stared working at ESPN following his retirement from the NFL, I figured I would have a chance at getting his autograph. Over the summer, I wrote about getting his autograph in the mail. Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame whenever he is eligible, without a question. He is one of the top defensive linemen in football history, and his autograph is on I am proud to have in my collection.

8. Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds All Star 2nd Baseman
Back in May, I went to a Mets game against the Reds at Citi Field. As you can see in the video, Phillips signed autograps for a while. He signed a ball for me that day. He is a great personality, and one of the top fan pleasers in the MLB. 

7. Josh Hamilton MLB All Star for Rangers and Angels
 Just a week ago, I was happy to look through the mail and find that Josh Hamilton signed a car I sent to him in September. Hamilton usually gets all of his fan mail and tries to get it back in time for Christmas season. He tweets about his fan mail often during the late December period, as you can see HERE. If you want to try and get his autograph write to Josh Hamilton at the Angels' stadium and he probably will write back in December. He is a very humble man, and his book is a must read if you haven't read it yet.

6. David Tyree New York Giants Super Bowl Hero
Without a question, David Tyree's CATCH in Super Bowl 42 was the greatest moment of his career. In June, I went to an autograph signing he had at a local sporting goods store. He arrived an hour late, but once he showed up he was generous and signed for everybody. HERE is a video I took of him signing, and HERE is my blog entry from that day.

5. Dick Vitale Basketball Hall of Famer
Who doesn't love Dick Vitale? He has been at ESPN for over 35 years, was a former NBA coach, and is one of the most loved people in the game of basketball. In 2008, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a contributor to the sport. Back in May, I mailed him a couple photos to try and get them signed. Not even two weeks later, I opened up my envelope to find my photos signed as well as a contact card signed by Dickie V himself.
4. Adam Greenberg MLB Player, Inspirational Story
If you haven't hear of Adam Greenberg, click HERE to hear his story. Shortly after that, a campaign was launched to get Greenberg an at bat in the big leagues. In October 2012, Greenberg got another at bat, striking out against eventual Cy Young award winner RA Dickey. He went to spring training in 2013 with the Orioles, and I mailed him some stuff to sign then. I tweeted to him multiple times, and he responded. I found his rookie card from 2005 with the Cubs. I sent that to him as well as a few photos, and he signed everything to me. If you wonder why he is on this list, it's because he is an inspiration to people to never give up on your dream, even when obstacles happen. If you want his autograph, tweet to him, he will probably give you a response. 

3. Ryan Strome New York Islanders Forward
Ever since the Islanders drafted Ryan Strome in 2011, there has been hype surrounding him. He made an amazing move in a shootout in prospects camp just months after that. I met him in Albany in November while he was playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He signed a bunch of stuff for me then, and you can read about that HERE. Just a few weeks after I met him, Strome was finally called up to the Islanders and is still playing there now. He has a bright career ahead of him, and I'm happy I met him. 

2. Curtis Granderson MLB All Star 
At the end of November, I wrote about getting Curtis Granderson's autograph in the mail. In that entry, I said that I hope he goes somewhere where he doesn't kill the Mets. Since then, it looks like he took my advice. If he turns into the next Jason Bay, he could kill the Mets. But I'm happy Granderson signed with my team, and can't wait to see him in the blue and orange. I'm even happier that I have his autograph to add to my collection. If you want to follow him on twitter or like him on Facebook, his information is on the bottom of the picture. I hope he continues to send these pictures out, but hopefully he'll wear a Mets jersey in the next ones. 

1. Matt Harvey Mets All Star Pitcher
Toward the end of August, I got 2013 All Star Game starter Matt Harvey's autograph at Citi Field. Feel free to check out my blog entry from that day HERE. Harvey recently had Tommy John surgery which should keep him out of the lineup during the 2014 season. Hopefully he'll be back and better than ever when he comes back. I wish him best of luck in his recovery. He was kind when I met him, signing for everybody. HERE is a video I took of Harvey signing. He is number one on this list because he is a good player, good guy, and I'm happy I've met him in person.

I will have another Albany Devils autograph recap when they played the Bridgeport Sound Tigers soon. Until then, good luck graphing and have a happy 2014!!