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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Autographs From The National - A Hockey Hall Of Famer

I know what I said.  I said no autographs.  I said I wasn't going to waste my time standing in long lines for hours on end waiting for a guy to sign something, hoping they don't quit before my turn.  But...An opportunity came my way that I couldn't pass up.  The events of the day resulted in my acquisition of two in-person autographs of important hockey figures.  The first one was a Hockey Hall of Famer.

Bill Gadsby, for those that are unaware, played in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1970.  I will spare you the rote details of spewing out his story when it can be read from the source.  Check out a very good quick read biography about Bill over at the Hockey Hall Of Fame website

I will say this though, they don't build them like Bill anymore.  He played in an era where defensive minded hockey was key.  He was such a fierce competitor that he was willing to throw caution to the wind and sacrifice himself to protect his net.  At one point in his career, he was even better known for his broken bones, body scars, stitched up face, and various other injuries caused by his "reckless" yet effective play. 

Though he spent most of his NHL career with Chicago, he also played with the Rangers and retired with the Red Wings (even coaching them for one season).  He went out on top, too, leaving the game as the highest scoring defenseman and one of the only players to log 1,000 games (along with Gordie Howe). He also led the all-time points, games, and penalty minutes for defensemen at his retirement (and all time stitches at 600).  Unfortunately, despite all the hard work and 20+ years of service to a game he loved, he was never rewarded with a Cup.  He came close, but both teams he played on lost in the finals (once to Toronto, and another time to Montreal).

So I set out on my mission to find something for him to sign.  I must have walked around the entire floor of the National twice before I finally found someone that had something other than an 8x10.  There was a booth set up not too far from the autograph pavilion selling all sorts of memorabilia and display cases, including Detroit pucks.  I had to have one.  Next stop, find the autograph line. 

When I arrived, it was 10 minutes until signing time and there was a line of about 25 people or so in front of myself and Sal, from Puck Junk.  Or so I thought until I was informed that our line was actually behind the line to the right of us, which was also behind all the Super-Uber VIP ticket holders.  Essentially we went from 25 in line to about 200 in 9.6 seconds.  But it was definitely worth it for the experience of getting the autograph of a Hockey Hall of Famer.  Here is the awesome result.

The glare between the camera and the case sucks but the puck is fantastic.  I love how the old-timers take great care and effort in signing their names.  It makes for such a better experience knowing who signed and not needing a decoder ring to decipher someone's scribble.  Plus, he added the inscription without even being asked.  Very nice guy and a class act.

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