Running on empty

The three easiest ways to know that you need to take an extended break from hounding a team are easily recognizable.

First, you're down to your last three or four pucks for that team. That's why you see the Houston Aeros (Johan Holmqvist), Tampa Bay Lightning (Filip Kuba) and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey-Canada (Brad Richards, personalized to Colin) pucks shown above. Other than a Montreal Canadiens puck for the ever-elusive and somewhat reclusive Scotty Bowman, I'm saving my last three Lightning pucks for any mid-season acquisitions.

Secondly, you begin to question just how many more autographed cards you need from such players as Vinny Prospal, Paul Ranger and Tim Taylor. Good players? Sure. But does a collection need more than five to six from most players? I don't think so.

I can understand wanting to score as many autographs from Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Dan Boyle and Richards as they'll sign, but other than a few odd items (mainly game programs, the aforementioned pucks and a St. Louis stick for Colin), there are very few cards awaiting a blue Sharpie -- a couple each for Cory Sarich and Kuba.

Finally, one the Lightning's Big Three (in this case, it was Lecavalier) won't sign a card because "I signed for you last month." Good memory, eh?

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