Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Worcester Sharks @ Albany Devils 1/24/15

I'm back in Albany, and within a week of moving back, I had a prime opportunity to get some good autographs after an Albany Devils game. They had just played the Worcester Sharks, AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks won the game 2-1 in overtime, and after the final goal was scored, the ink started flowing.

Way back in 2013, I met former Islander Micheal Haley after a game in what was one of my first experiences getting autographs after a Devils game. He was famous for being in the middle of the infamous Islanders/Penguins brawl in 2011.

Shortly after that game in 2011, I bought a Haley t-shirt from the Islanders team store. Shortly after, Haley wasn't an Islander and I had no use for the shirt. However, this past week, I found out Haley was on the Worcester Sharks, so I brought the shirt back to Albany with me. After watching a few other Sharks walk out the door, Haley walked out by himself. I immediately recognized him and called him over. First, I asked him to sign a photo of him fighting current Albany Devil Rod Pelley that Pelley already signed at an autograph signing last year. Then, after trading sharpies, I took the shirt out of my pocket and held it out. He signed it beautifully on the number nine. He didn't talk much, and I thanked him before going onto the bus.

Since the weather forecast was ominous, I didn't print out many things to get signed on this day. However, once I heard Tomas Hertl got sent down to Worcester, I knew I had to print stuff and try to get his autograph. Does the name not sound familiar to you? Click HERE and you will remember who he is. After nearly the whole team walked out the door, Hertl finally emerged into the sunlight. He immediately started signing before even he could realize what was happening. Here is a brief video that I took of him signing for some people.

Shortly after I turned off the camera, Hertl signed a photo for me. He also signed a Worcester Sharks team logo sheet that I had printed out. However, it wasn't a full size logo sheet, it was just a 4x6 logo sheet because I didn't plan on getting too many Sharks. After taking a selfie with Hertl that you can see on the right, Hertl kept signing for the mob of people that formed. After another minute or two, I grabbed a puck and silver sharpie out of my pocket and got Hertl to sign that as well. He was a humble, nice guy. He took every photo and signed every autograph. Class act. Hopefully he will stay that way.

 Below is the Worcester Sharks logo sheet with everyone that signed it in the space they signed it.
2-Dylan DeMelo  20-Matt Taormina 26-Willie Coetzee 
38-Mirco Mueller 12-Freddie Hamilton 48-Tomas Hertl

Soon after Hertl got on the bus, others got on and the bus tried to depart, but it couldn't because of a few obstacles. Union College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) were scheduled to play a college hockey game at the Time Union Center just a few hours after the Devils game ended. So, as the Sharks were leaving, the RPI bus showed up and their players were entering. Eventually, the RPI players left and their bus got out of the way so the Sharks could go home. As players from both colleges showed up to the arena, Devils were still walking out. 

I didn't get many autographs from the Devils, but I did get a few. The first one I got was of Pelley, who signed a pocket schedule from last season for me. I figure those could be good to get signed if I don't have anything else for a Devils player. The only other I autograph I got from a Devils player was from Seth Helgeson. Helgeson played 21 games for New Jersey so far this season, and I found a cool picture of him from Jaromir Jagr's hat trick earlier this season. As the sun started to set, Helgeson came out and signed the photo for me. He said he liked the photo. 

While Devils players were coming out, a couple other people getting autographs noticed Union head coach Rick Bennett walking towards the arena. Bennett coached Union to a stunning National Championship last season, and he also played 15 games for the New York Rangers during a brief NHL career. I stopped Bennett on his way in and he signed a blank autograph card for me before signing similar blank cards for others. One other person getting autographs told him, "No fights this year," in reference to the infamous Union/RPI Brawl in 2014 where Bennett got into a physical fight with RPI's coach. Bennett chuckled before telling us there would be no fight. In case you're wondering, there was no fight.

Then, it was just time to wait for the Devils coaches. Former New Jersey great and Stanley Cup Champion Sergei Brylin came out and signed a card that I had found while home for a month. It's always nice to get cards signed as I don't get many signed in person. 
Later, Johan Hedberg came out. After signing about 30 cards for someone else, he signed a card and photo for me. I then took a picture with him and thanked him for stopping. I may end up printing out the picture of me and Hedberg and try and get him to sign it. 

That does it for this entry. Thanks for reading. Good luck graphing. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Islanders Hall of Famers 1/16/15

The weeks at home flew by so quickly, but now I'm back in Albany getting ready for another semester. However, I had one last chance to get autographs while I was home, and I capitalized on it.

The Islanders played the Penguins last week in one of he last games before the NHL All-Star break. On this day, the Islanders were honoring Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier. I had met fellow Hall of Famer Denis Potvin when he was honored earlier in the season. Now, I tried to meet Trottier before he was honored.

After getting to the MSG TV studio in Nassau Coliseum's lower lobby, I tried to squeeze my way into a decent position. This was my view as I waited for Trottier to show up for his interview with Shannon Hogan.

While waiting, one of the producers informed everyone that another Hall of Famer, Mike Bossy, would be on the broadcast also. That made the excitement build even more. Eventually, a murmur grew in the crowd which only meant one thing, the Hall of Famers were coming. 
Trottier and Bossy showed up at the same time, and Trottier immediately started signing while Bossy got some directions from a MSG producer. Eventually, Trottier hit a rut while signing. By a rut, I mean he ran into a bunch of people who didn't have pens. (Tip: If you are trying to get autographs, bring sharpies. That is very simple, but it's amazing how many times people don't have sharpies. Bring more than one in case you lose one or one dries up.) Since I saw he was stopped, I held up my sharpie and called Bryan over. He came right to me and signed a card and a photo I took with him many years ago. 

I told Trottier that he could keep my sharpie for a few minutes, and he did. When he came back toward me, he signed a puck for me as well. The puck was a special puck commemorating the Islanders Stanley Cup Championship in 1980. Eventually, Bossy started signing as well, and I got him to sign the puck as well. Thankfully someone else had a blue sharpie to make my life easier. After signing for 5-10 minutes, Bossy and Trottier got on set and did the interview with Shannon Hogan. 

After the Islanders won the game, I went home to see if I had made it on TV during the MSG+ pre game show. Thankfully I had put the pre game show on DVR, and when I turned on the DVR, I was delighted to see this. (That's me in the blue beanie in the middle.) 

Here are the autographs I got from Trottier and Bossy. That should do it for this entry. Thanks and good luck graphing! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top 10 Autographs of 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great one like I did. I did a Top 10 Autographs of 2013 post last year, and it's time to do it again for 2014.

I'm making this list with the following rough guidelines. 
  • How good the person is. (All Star, Award Winner, Hall of Famer, etc.)
  • How much the person means to me. 
  • How I got the autograph. (Through the mail, in person, etc.) 
  • Any fun story behind getting the autograph. 
With that, let the countdown begin. 

10. Harrison Barnes-Golden State Warriors Forward
One of the finest young players in the NBA today, Barnes did something few athletes do in today's world. Early in the summer, Barnes posted THIS message on his Facebook page. He invited fans to send him items for him to sign with specific guidelines. The day I saw that message, I sent out a 4x6 photo. A couple weeks later, I got the photo back signed in silver. He is now having a pretty good season playing for one of the top teams in the NBA. This was a great success from a class act to say the least. 

9. Trevor Gillies-NHL/AHL Hockey Player 
Up until this point, the NHL career of Trevor Gillies has been brief and full of controversy. He only has two NHL goals, but he is more known for his fighting skills. He was one of the main players in the famous brawl against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011. Now, he is playing for the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Flames. I went to see their morning skate a few weeks ago, and Gillies was as nice as could be. Click HERE for the full story. He might not be a great player, but I saw him with the Islanders and he will always be a fan favorite for me. Also, how can a guy who draws a mustache on his autograph not be on this list? 

8. Matt Kemp-MLB All Star
The first in-person autograph I got at Citi Field last season was that of MLB All-Star Matt Kemp. He was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time. He was recently traded to the San Diego Padres. He signed for a few minutes before the game, and I was lucky to get his autograph on the sweet spot of an official MLB ball. There was a huge mosh pit of people, and I was very happy to get this autograph. 

7. Al Arbour-Hockey Hall of Famer, Former Islanders Coach
The Islanders have had many legends over their 43 year existence. Few are greater than coach Al Arbour. He was the Islanders coach for all four Stanley Cup Championships, and was the coach for exactly 1,500 games over his career. I attended game number 1,500 in 2007. It was an amazing experience, and the Isles got Arbour his 740th career win that night. I have autographs of pretty much everyone whose banner hangs in the Nassau Coliseum rafters, but Arbour's has been hard to find for a long time. I sent him a couple photos and an autograph card in hope of getting a response. To my delight, I got everything back signed in the mail. It was great to finally add his autograph to my collection. 

6. Dwight 'Doc' Gooden-Former Mets and Yankees Pitcher
One of the most celebrated pitchers in recent baseball history, Dwight Gooden is also one of New York's beloved baseball stars. He won a World Series for both the Mets and Yankees during his time in the MLB. However, he also had problems with drugs and alcohol during his career. Over the summer, he appeared at the Nassau County Health and Fitness Expo to give a speech on how his addiction made his life difficult. He also did an autograph signing that day, and he signed three cards for me and took a photo with me. One of the cards was previously signed by Wade Boggs. It was great to meet him and hear him admit his mistakes. 

5. Darryl Strawberry-Former Mets and Yankees Outfielder
Similarly to Gooden, Strawberry is also one of New York's beloved baseball stars. He was Gooden's teammate for many years on both the Mets and Yankees. Over the summer, he was a part of the Meet Mr. Met Tour, a Mets sponsored tour of Citibank locations that featured various Mets alumni. I met Strawberry twice over the summer, and I took a photo with him and got three autographs from him over the course over the summer. He was a nice guy, and I was happy to get his autograph.

 4. Curtis Granderson-Mets Outfielder
A man who made this list last year returns again. I got his autograph in the mail last year and said I hoped he would be in a Mets jersey next time I saw him. It turns out I was correct. Granderson didn't have the year I hoped he would, but he's a Met and he's here to stay. He has a reputation for being one of the nicest current players in baseball, and he lived up to that reputation over the summer. I met him two separate times over the summer, and got five autographs from him. He is truly a class act, and I hope to meet him again next season. He also gave my aunt a shoutout, as you can see in the video below.

3. Jadeveon Clowney-Houston Texans Linebacker
Although Jadeveon Clowney didn't have the rookie season anybody planned on, I had a good experience with him before the season started. I had won a free ticket to meet Clowney at the Steiner Sports Store on Long Island. I got him to sign a photo I printed out. He was a funny guy, and if you want to read the full story from that day, click HERE. Hopefully Clowney will be ready to star for the Texans next year, or he could end up being another top draft pick bust.

2. Dave Coulier-Actor/Comedian
I very rarely get autographs from people that aren't related to sports. However, the perfect opportunity arose when I found out Dave Coulier would be doing a free comedy show on my college campus. Since I grew up watching Full House, I knew I had to get his autograph. After his hilarious comedy show, I went to try and find him. Long story short, I did get his autograph and a picture with him. HERE is the full story from that night. He is one of my favorite actors now, and one that I will always remember. 

1. Denis Potvin-Hockey Hall of Famer, Former Islanders Captain
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I have autographs of nearly every Islander who has a banner hanging in the Nassau Coliseum rafters. The one player that eluded me for most of my life was Denis Potvin. He was one of the league's top defensemen and the captain of all four Islanders Stanley Cup Championship teams. I finally met him in November when I was home for Thanksgiving. HERE is the full story from that night. The fact that I was finally able to meet him after many, many years puts him in the number one slot as my top autograph of 2014. 

Thanks for reading and good luck graphing! Happy New Year!