For the last couple of weeks I've been kicking around the idea of jumpstarting my through the mail efforts. You may have noticed that along the sidebar I've added a request tracker...it's over there on the left, nope further down, keep going, there ya go!
However, I wasn't sure how I was going to attack it. Who should I send them to? What should I say? How much is this going to end up costing me? Well I think I've stumbled across a half-baked plan. Why not get an autograph of everyone who has donned a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform? Several folks are doing the same thing with various teams, but as of right now no one has targeted the Lightning.
I also have a bit of a headstart thanks to college. My friend and roommate was a big hockey fan and we thought nothing of skipping a morning class to head down to the Ice Palace and catch the players before the morning skate. We didn't have much competition in those days, maybe 5 other people standing around with the same idea.
Almost every player and coach was more than willing to sign, except for a certain "Great One", but that's a whole different story for another day. So I amassed a nice collection of signatures from the then current Lightning and a surprising number of future Lightning players.
With this in mind I sent out my first Lightning targeted request last week. I sent it to former Tampa netminder Mike McKenna. McKenna is a U.S. born goalie who had a brief run (15 games, 4 wins) with the Lightning last season when the team was decimated by injuries in the net.
I was surprised to see him return the card, signed within a week. It was sitting in my mailbox Monday afternoon. I guess he doesn't get many requests.
McKenna, 27, has bounced around the minor leagues since he turned pro in 2005-06. He is currently playing for Lowell in New Jersey's farm system, but has seen time in the net at Norfolk, Portland, Omaha, Milwaukee and Las Vegas.
He was drafted by Nashville in the 6th round of the 2002 draft (11 picks ahead of Paul Ranger) and has spent the time since trying to crack an NHL roster. His stint with the Bolts remains his only NHL time.
A St. Louis native, McKenna is a man of many interests. He graduated from St Lawerence University with a degree in economics and is a fan of Scandanavian Thrash Metal. He is also an occaisonal "Tweeter" who can be found tweeting about life in the minors at www.twitter.com/MikeMcKenna56.
He signed his name and added his Tampa Bay jersey number (30) in black Sharpie across the 2009-10 UD Victory Rookie card I sent. It was my fault that I didn't prep the glossy card before sending it to him so the signature is a little spotty.
Thank you for signing and returning the card Mike. Here's hoping next season finds you between the pipes in an NHL areana!