Worth the wait

One of the last trips I made to Tampa this past season was to hound the Atlanta Thrashers. It proved to be a memorable trip, too, as Marian Hossa signed the 1,000th puck of the collection.

My elation, though, was a bit tempered by the fact that Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t stop to sign. Not for me nor anyone else that spring afternoon. Not even children. In fact, he was kinda rude about it.

I did take solace in knowing that I’d have plenty more chances, though, because the Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta play within the Eastern Conference’s Southeast Division.

That patience was rewarded this morning, as both Hossa and Kovalchuk signed pucks (above, left to right) for me. Also signing pucks were goalie Johan Hedberg (Thrashers), center Bobby Holik (Hartford Whalers) and defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski, who signed a pair (Thrashers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim).

I didn’t even grumble when I learned that I missed Kari Lehtonen. Then again, getting him to sign three pucks in one day during the 2005 AHL All-Star Classic has left me needing nothing but cards. I mean, it's not like I'm selling them or anything.

All told, I got 20 autographs, including four cards from Niko Kapanen.

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