Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Friendsday, Vol. 5: Mike Smith

Wednesday Friendsday returns again!  This time we get a pair of firsts: our first 'grapher from outside the USA, and the first one I've never met in person.

Mike Smith and I have traded autographs by mail a few times through the TTM Autographs board.  He's an Ottawa Senators fan, but we won't hold that against him.  Let's venture north of the border (and I don't mean Oklahoma), and find out more about Mike Smith on this Wednesday Friendsday.

Patrick Roy on the left, Mike on the right

Name:  Michael Smith

From: Ottawa, ON

Age: 33

Years collecting:  Cards 20, Autographs 12

Main items you collect: Nothing really specific

TGC: Although you're a Sens fan, you've told me you end up doing most of your hounding in Montreal.  Is Ottawa significantly harder?

MS: Yes.  Most of the teams stay at the Brookstreet Hotel.  It's "private" so you can't get on the property.  Getting the Sens isn't too tough though.

TGC: How did you first get into autograph collecting?

MS: Me and my buddy Eric tried to get Patrick Roy after a game, but we couldn't find him.  Then we stumbled on the back lot where the Sens players parked, and noticed them stopping and signing.  One kid had Janne Laukannen sign a piece of toilet paper.

TGC: Do you remember the first item you ever got signed?

MS: A signed card by Tie Domi (which I still have) that I got at a charity Baseball game years ago.

TGC: Do you prefer getting yours in-person, or through the mail?

MS: In-person, but they both have their perks.  I like meeting the players, but you tend to get nicer signatures in the mail.

TGC: What are your top five favorite items in your collection?

MS: Wayne Gretzky 98-99 Sign of the Times Auto
Bobby Orr 03-04 Sign of the Times Auto
Signed Steve Yzerman Red Wings Jersey
Signed 97-98 Maurice Richard Beehive
Signed Damian Rhodes Black Sens Jersey

TGC: How did we end up meeting?

MS: We never met face-to-face (yet) but we met through the ttmautograph site.

TGC: Any fun stories from hounding over the years?

MS: When I was getting the Sens at the arena, Karl Rachunek (RIP) pulled over to sign for me and others.  Trouble was when he pulled over, he was blocking the exit so the visiting team bus couldn't get out.  They honked at him, and he honked back and took his time signing everything.

I was talking to Damian Rhodes when the Thrashers were in town one year.  We got into a conversation about fighting and I asked him if he ever fought.  He said he did once, when he was with the Leafs.  They were playing the Blues and there was a huge scrum in front of his crease.  He grabbed a Blues sweater to fight someone, and it turned out to be Brendan Shanahan!  Needless to say the fight didn't turn out well for Damian, and he didn't fight again.

The Shanahan-Rhodes Fight

TGC: Have you had the chance to hound in the US anywhere?  If so, how do the crowds compare to those in Canada?

MS: I had some success hounding the Islanders a couple of years back, when me and my buddy drove to New York.  The crowds are usually the same.  You have your hard core full timers and casuals, like me.

TGC: What's your opinion on autograph dealers?

MS: It used to piss me off, but they don't make that much money off of it anymore as they once did.  There are sellers that I trust that help me out.

TGC: What is your favorite place to hound?

MS: I guess Montreal, by default.  Everything is within walking distance, and it's a nice city to hang out in. 

TGC: Of all the players you've encountered, pick five you would say are the friendliest in terms of interacting with fans.

MS: Craig Anderson.  He seems pretty cool and signs whenever I see him.
Nick Foligno.  Awesome signer, like his Dad, and very chatty.  I used to give him cards of himself that he didn't have.
Bob Probert.  He noticed I had his rookie card and I gave it to him, and then signed everything I had for him.
Chris Phillips.  Pretty cool guy who stops to sign every time.
Joe Sakic.  I've never seen Burnaby Joe turn down a graph.

Mike in a headlock from the late, great Bob Probert

TGC: On the opposite end of that, who are the, shall we say, roughest around the edges?

MS: Chris Pronger.  Routinely shoots down requests.
Tuomo Ruutu.  Was a complete dick to me the last time I tried to get him in Montreal.  Have fun toiling on the third line.
Glenn Anderson.  Signed for me, but was a prick to a little kid at a Hockey Legends game.
Dominik Hasek.  Very moody and pushed me out of the way once.
Mark Messier.  Self Explanatory.

TGC: Has anything ever made you want to get out of the hobby?

MS: The constant pushing and shoving and dealing with the Rent-A-Cop security.  Gotta love people with double digit IQs and triple digit income try to push you around.  Also the hits and misses when it comes to team practices (it's usually my fault though!)

TGC: Any other thoughts, words of advice, anything like that for other collectors out there?

MS: Try not to get too frustrated when things don't go too well.  Always do your research so you're not like me, and look like a complete idiot.

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