Next up is a @psacard certified autograph for the great Paul Kariya (🇯🇵🇨🇦), who was the role model for most Asian hockey players growing up in the mid-90s and early 2000s. Autographed cards of his are rare, as he is infamous for refusing to sign them when it is apparent the autograph seeker’s motive is for profit. This card would never replace the Team Canada card that Paul sent me signed in gold pen when I was in high school and shortly after he was drafted by the @anaheimducks (see my prior post), but I loved the colors and beauty of this card. Also, this card reminds me of my personal story meeting Paul.
When I was in high school and college, I attended the @lakings Frozen Fury with my parents every year against the @coloradoavalanche at the @mgmgrand. In 2003, as I was walking through the hotel lobby, I saw Paul walking beside @peterforsbergofficial and @j_sakic19. I ran to get my brother (who was lagging from the parking lot), and by the time we returned to the lobby, we saw Paul hurriedly walking towards the elevator. We yelled, “Mr. Kariya” a few times but he ignored us and kept walking. As he turned towards the elevator, he caught a glimpse of us, stopped, and smiled. We asked if my brother could take a picture. Paul obliged, we snapped a quick photo, and he was gone after a few seconds. I don’t even think he said a word to us; he was clearly trying to avoid a crowd. This was during the flip phone days, so I no longer have that photo, but this incident is etched in my mind forever and comports with the stories of his desire to avoid the limelight. There are times I still wonder if he stopped for us because he saw we were kids, we were Asian, or both. And sometimes I wished I had told him that I still had the personally signed Team Canada card he sent me when I was 14.