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Friday, April 22, 2022

1977-78 Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur Jersey

After beginning he career with the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Junior Hockey League in the 1966-67 season with eight games, Guy Lafleur played two more seasons for the Aces, scoring 30 goals and 49 points in 43 games in 1967-68, but really turned heads in 1968-69 with 50 goals and 110 points in 49 games of the 1968-69 season, averaging more than a goal and more than an assist per game.

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A young Lafleur with the Quebec Aces

He then progressed up the ladder to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he blossomed with a league leading 103 goals and 170 points in 56 games in 1969-70. Then, in just 15 playoff games, Lafleur scored 43 points from 25 goals and 18 assists.

With Lafleur looking to be a can't miss NHL prospect available in the 1971 NHL Draft, the Montreal Canadiens General Manager Sam Pollock, looking to replace the aging Jean Beliveau, who would play just one more NHL season, fleeced the California Golden Seals by sending them Montreal's first choice in the 1970 draft and Ernie Hicke for not only the Golden Seals first pick in the 1971 draft, but a player, Francois Lacombe, as well.

Lafleur announced his readiness for the NHL with a stellar second season with the Remparts, when he again led the league with an astonishing 130 goals on his way to a 209 points to earn the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the QMJHL scoring champion. Lefleur then duplicated his playoff performance from 1970 when he scored an identical 43 points, only now in one game less than the previous year, 14. The Remparts then advance to the Memorial Cup playoffs, where the prolific Lafleur averaged 2 points per game with 9 goals and 5 assists in 7 games as Quebec won the Memorial Cup.

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Lafleur celebrates winning the 1971 Memorial Cup

Hoping the Golden Seals would come through by finishing last, Pollock was alarmed when the Los Angeles Kings began playing quite poorly in 1970-71. In an effort to shore up the Kings, Pollock sent veteran Ralph Backstrom to Los Angeles. The addition of Backstrom ensured that the Kings would avoid the cellar and secured the first pick of Lafleur for Montreal.

With Lafleur safely now a part of the bleu, blanc et rouge, he produced 29 goals and 64 points as an NHL rookie in 73 games in 1971-72. His next two seasons were similar, with 28 goals and 55 points in 1972-73 and a drop in goals to 21 in 1973-74, but an increase in assists saw his point total increase to 56. During the 1973 playoffs, Lafleur contributed 3 goals and 8 points in 17 games as the Canadiens won the first Stanley Cup of his career.

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A Guy Lafleur rookie card

As if someone flipped a switch, Lafleur took his game to another level for the 1974-75 season when he scored the first of his six consecutive 50 or more goal seasons when he scored 53 goals and 66 assists for 119 points to lead the Canadiens in scoring for the first time.

The 1975-76 season saw Lafleur lead not only the Canadiens, but all of the NHL with 56 goals and 69 assists for 125 points for his first Art Ross Trophy. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, Lafleur would score the cup winning goal for Montreal as they defeated the two-time champion Philadelphia Flyers, whose slug it until you win it style could not overcome the speed and skill of the Canadiens. Following the season, Lafleur was voted as the winner of the Pearson Award as the Most Valuable Player by his fellow players.

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Lafleur with the Canadiens in 1975-76

Before the 1976-77 season began, Lafleur made his international hockey debut as a part of Team Canada that would win the inaugural Canada Cup tournament over Czechoslovakia.

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Lafleur won the Canada Cup in 1976 against the Czechs

Lafleur would dominate the 1976-77 NHL season when he won his second consecutive Art Ross Trophy with a career high 136 points from 56 goals and 80 assists. He would finish the season a +89 and win not only the Pearson Award, but also his first Hart Trophy as NHL MVP as voted on my the NHL Hockey Writers Association. His 9 goals and 17 assists would lead all players in playoff scoring as the Canadiens would win the 1977 Stanley Cup over the rival Boston Bruins. His efforts would earn Lafleur the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. In recognition of his outstanding NHL season, he was the recipient of both the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada's Top Male Athlete and the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's Top Athlete.

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Lafleur being presented the Art Ross Trophy by Ted Lindsay

Still fully on top of his game, the fluid skating right winger continued to dominate the NHL in 1977-78. He set a career high by hitting the 60 goal plateau and added 72 assists for 132 points to claim his third consecutive Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. He would also win his second consecutive Hart Trophy and third straight Pearson Award as league MVP. The Canadiens, led by Lafleur's 21 points in 15 games, would defeat the Bruins again for their third straight Stanley Cup, the fourth of Lafleur's career.

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Yvon Lambert, Yvan Cournoyer and Guy Lafleur
hoisting the Stanley Cup in 1978

Despite a 52 goal, 129 point season, Lafleur would finally have to relinquish his standing at the NHL's top scorer, finishing third behind Bryan Trottier (134) and Marcel Dionne (130). Al l was not lost, however, as the Canadiens would capture their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup and 5th for Lafleur, when they defeated the New York Rangers as Lafleur led the team in scoring with 23 playoff points.

During the 1978-79 season, Lafleur was also named as a member of the NHL All-Star team that took part in the 1979 Challenge Cup, a three game series against the Soviet Union that took the place of the traditional NHL All-Star Game that season.

Lafleur's sixth and final 50 goal season came in 1979-80 when he led the Canadiens for the sixth consecutive season with 125 points, which was again good for third in the league behind NHL newcomer Wayne Gretzky and Marcel Dionne, who tied with 137 points. His feat made him the first player to ever have six consecutive 50 goal, 100 point seasons in league history.

Age and injuries would begin to take their toll on Lafleur beginning with the 1980-81 season, as he was limited to 51 games, never having played less than 70 during his previous nine NHL seasons. He did score his 1,000th point on March 4, 1981, setting a then NHL record for the fastest player to 1,000 points, having done so in just 720 games.

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Lafleur acknowledging the fans after scoring his 1000th point

In 1981-82 he saw action in 66 games followed by 68 in 1982-83. During each of those shortened campaigns, Lafleur scored an identical 27 goals, with 84 points in 1981-82 being his best. In 1982-83, Montreal was a shadow of it's former self, and Lafleur's 76 points were enough to lead the team in scoring for the seventh time.

During that time period, Lafleur competed in his only World Championships for Canada in 1981, scoring a goal in 7 games as well as taking part in his second Canada Cup later that fall as the Canadians finished as runner up to the Soviets despite Lafleur scoring 11 points in 7 games.

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Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur chatting during the 1981 Canada Cup

He played in all 80 of Montreal's games in 1983-84, scoring 30 goals and 70 points as the Canadiens team leader once more. Mind you, Gretzky led the league with 205 that season... After three consecutive first round postseason exits, the Canadiens did go on a nice run, making it to the third round of the playoffs, but Lafleur only contributed 3 assists in 12 of Montreal's 15 games.

His final season with Montreal saw him play just 19 games, scoring just 2 goals and 5 points, before he decided to retire. In front of 18,000 fans, he took one last skate around the ice and received a five minute standing ovation. "After 13 years, I couldn't accept to be number two. I'm proud of what I did in the past and I'm proud I played for the Canadiens, especially on five Stanley Cup winners. I was in a slump and I wasn't scoring much a the time. I was frustrated," Lafleur recalled about his decision to retire.

Lafleur became the sixth Canadien to have his number retired and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on 1988.

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Lafleur on the occasion of his introduction into
the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988

However... he still believed he could play after three seasons away from the game and signed to play with the New York Rangers for the 1988-89 season. He played in 67 games for New York before being sidelined by a knee injury, becoming only the second player after Gordie Howe to play after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He totaled 18 goals and 45 points, including scoring twice during his first game back in the Montreal Forum against Patrick Roy as the fans chanted his name every time he touched the puck just as they had during the peak of his career as a Canadien.

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Lafleur waves to his fans in Montreal after being named
the game's #1 Star on his return to the forum with the Rangers

Rangers head coach, and Lafleur's close friend Michel Bergeron was dismissed and joined the Quebec Nordiques, who also signed Lafleur for the 1989-90 season, who stood out on the ice, as he was allowed to play without a helmet, while all new players into the league were now required to wear one since the 1979-80 season. Lafleur reportedly turned down a more lucrative offer from the Los Angeles Kings, preferring to play in his native Quebec.

During his two seasons with the Nordiques, Lafleur played in 39 games his first season, scoring 12 goals and 34 points, followed by 59 games in 1990-91, again scoring 12 goals on his way to 28 points before he retired again, this time for good.

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Lafleur finished his career with two seasons with the Nordiques

His final NHL totals were 560 goals and 793 assists for 1,353 points in 1,126 games with an additional 58 goals and 134 points in 128 playoff games. He won five Stanley Cups, 3 scoring titles, 2 Hart Trophies and 3 Pearson Awards as MVP, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Canada Cup. Lafleur also played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1991 as well as being on the Challenge Cup team in 1979. He is the Canadiens all-time scoring leader and holds the club single season scoring record with 136.

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The Guy Lafleur exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur jersey as worn during his career year when he set a personal best and Canadiens team record of 136 points on his way to winning the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Trophy and the Pearson Award as well as the Stanley Cup.

This style jersey dates back to 1941 and, aside from a version with a blue stripe around the chest for three years in the late 40's, has remained essentially unchanged ever since.

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Montreal Canadiens 1977-78 jersey photo Montreal Canadiens 1977-78 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1971-72 Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur jersey as worn during Lafleur's rookie season in the NHL.

The Canadiens red sweaters with the blue band around the chest date back to before the formation of the NHL in 1917 and this exact variation with the lace up collar and numbers inside the arms stripes dates back to 1966-67 and remained in use through 1974-75 when it was replaced by a new v-neck collar.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1990-91 Quebec Nordiques Guy Lafleur jersey as worn during his final season in the NHL, his second in Quebec.

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Quebec Nordiques 1990-91 jersey photo Quebec Nordiques 1990-91 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section is the always excellent Legends of Hockey series profile of Lafleur.

Friday, April 15, 2022

1985-86 New York Islanders Mike Bossy Jersey

Mike Bossy had a prolific junior hockey career for the Laval National, with whom he played for five seasons, beginning with 4 appearances in 1972-73. Playing a full season in 1973-74, he reeled off a 70 goal, 118 point season in 68 games.

He kept his foot on the gas the following year, topping that with an impressive 84 goals and 149 points in 67 games, 2.22 points per games. In the post season, his torrid pace continued with 38 more points in 16 games. Over the next two seasons he would add 79 goals and 136 points followed by another 75 goals and 126 points to set the all-time QMJHL record with 309 career goals, a mark which still stands today and ranks 28 goals higher that the next closest pursuer.

Bossy Laval, Bossy Laval
Bossy with Laval

Thought of as being too timid by NHL scouts, Bossy was not chosen until 15th overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, which included being passed over by the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs not once, but twice.

Playing on a line with Bryan Trottier and Clark Gilles, Bossy would set the hockey world on fire when he scored 53 goals in his rookie season of 1977-78, the first rookie to ever reach 50, while winning the Calder Trophy in the process.

Gilles, Trottier and Bossy Islanders, Gilles, Trottier and Bossy Islanders
Gilles, Trottier and Bossy

The following season he would better that by becoming only the second player after Maurice Richard, and first in 36 years, to score 50 goals in 50 games. Bossy did it in dramatic style with two goals in the last five minutes of game number 50. He would finish the season with 69 goals to lead the league and 57 assists for 126 points, good for fourth overall.

Bossy Riachard 50 goals, Bossy Riachard 50 goals
Bossy poses with Maurice Richard to
commemorate their 50 goals in 50 games

1979-80 would see Bossy once more top the 50 mark with 51 goals in 75 games and the Islanders would capture their first of four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships as Bossy contributed 23 points in just 16 games.

While topping 50 goals the previous season, he did fail to reach 100 points during the regular season. Over the course of the next six seasons, he would blow past the 100 point level, never scoring less than 117, with a high of 147 in 1981-82.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

During the 1980-81 season he would set a career high in goals with 68 to once again lead the NHL and pour in a remarkable 17 goals and 35 points in 18 playoff games as the Islanders would capture their second straight Stanley Cup.

Their third Stanley Cup Championship would see Bossy be recognized with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP following 17 goals and 27 points in 19 games. This came on the heels of his 147 point regular season and his second consecutive 60 goal season when he tallied 64.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

The Islanders dynasty was now in full force and Bossy once more reached 60 goals, this time on the nose with an even 60. His 118 point regular season continued his 100 point season streak and the playoffs would again see him get his now customary 17 goals (for the third year in a row and the only player to ever do so) and 26 points in 19 games. He would also be recognized for his style of play with the first of three Lady Byng Trophies following the season.

Boddy Lady Byng, Boddy Lady Byng
Bossy with the Lady Byng Trophy

1983-84 was another 118 point season with 51 goals scored. The Islanders would make it once more to the finals, but the dynasty would end as they were defeated by the up and coming Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 1. The Islanders 21 playoff games would see Bossy contribute 18 points. He was the recipient of his second Lady Byng Trophy after being whistled for just 8 penalty minutes for the entire season, the second lowest total of his career following just 6 during his rookie campaign.

His remarkable goal scoring consistency continued unabated, as 58 more would be added to his career total during a 117 point campaign in 1984-85. 10 more playoff games allowed Bossy to add another 11 points for the Islanders.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

Showing no signs of slowing down, he would reach 61 goals, paired with 62 assists, giving him his highest point total in four seasons with 123, which included becoming just the 20th player in league history to score 1,000th career points, accomplished on January 24, 1986 in grand style, registering a goal and four assists in a 7-5 win over the Washington Capitals. He would also capture this third Lady Byng Trophy in the space of four seasons as well.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

Now slowed by back injuries, his final season of 1986-87, Bossy appeared in 63 games and scored 38 goals and 75 points, still over a point per game, before retiring at the age of just 30.

His final career totals of 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points in 752 games would give him a final career average of 1.50 points per game over his ten NHL seasons and his 160 career playoff points in 129 games were a 1.24 points per game clip. At the time of his retirement, he held the record for most goals by a rookie and most assists and points by a right wing in a single season. He still ranks third all time in hat tricks with 39. He also reached 100 goals faster than any player in history, doing so in just 129 games. He was also the quickest at one point to 300 and 500 career goals scored.

His goals per game average of .762 in the regular season is the highest in NHL history and his playoff goals per game average of .659 is second only to Mario Lemieux.

He also still holds the NHL record for the most consecutive 50 goal seasons with nine, and shares the record with Wayne Gretzky for the most 60 goal seasons with five, despite playing 10 years less than Gretzky.

Internationally, he was a member of Team Canada in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments, earning a gold medal in in 1984. Due to the Islanders consistent playoff history, he was never available for World Championships duty.

Bossy Canada, Bossy Canada
Bossy celebrates with Islanders teammate
John Tonelli during the Canada Cup in 1984

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and his jersey #22 was retired by the Islanders in 1992.

Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 New York Islanders Mike Bossy jersey as worn during the season he scored his 1,000th point.

When Bossy joined the Islanders in 1977, they had just changed from a lace-up collar to a v-neck while wearing two color names and a bolder font for the numbers. In 1978 the stripes on the blue jerseys would be unified, now with a white stripe directly above a thicker orange stripe. This would be the jersey worn for their four stanley Cup championships, lasting through 1983-84.

In 1984-85, the names would change to one color and the font for the numbers would become narrower. This style would remain unchanged through 1995 when a change in ownership would result in the debacle that was the Islanders Fishsticks jerseys being born.

New York Islanders 85-86 jersey, New York Islanders 85-86 jersey
New York Islanders 85-86 jersey, New York Islanders 85-86 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1981 Team Canada Mike Bossy jersey. The minimalist style used by Canada for the Canada Cup tournaments is remarkable in it's stark simplicity, with it's single color crest and customization.

It features a bold half maple leaf on the front, which was based on the Canada Cup trophy awarded to the tournament champions. Canada would not use this style for any other international tournament, such as the World Championships, as those jerseys were subject to supplier contracts with jersey manufacturers like as Adidas, Tackla, Reebok and Nike, who supplied all the teams participating in IIHF tournaments beginning in the mid-1980's.

Canada 1981 jersey, Canada 1981 jersey
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here is a career retrospective of Mike Bossy, which includes his dramatic 50th goal in his 50th game in 1980.

Up next is a nice interview with Bossy as he looks back on his career and a variety of topics.

A recap of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals is next up, showing the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics patch on the Islanders jerseys. The passion and excitement of the Islander and their fans is infectious and recommended viewing. A reminder of what it's all about.

We don't know about you, but all this writing has left us hungry. Ça, c'est du bon poulet!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

2000-01 FDNY Hockey Team Ray Downey Jersey

Ray Downey was the Fire Department of New York's Chief of Special Operations and a passionate New York Rangers fan and founding member of the FDNY Hockey Team.

Chief Ray Downey

He served with the United States Marine Corps and then became a member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on April 7, 1962, beginning a 39-year career. In August of 2001, Chief Downey was put in charge of Special Operations Command, a team of specialists who aid regular firefighters with unique or highly critical situations, which include Hazardous Materials, Marine Units, Rescue Companies (experienced units with specialized tools and equipment) and Squads, often regarded as mini Rescue Companies who also have specialized tools and equipment. Downey was also promoted to Deputy Chief at the time.

His career was built on numerous successful rescues which made him the most decorated man in the history of the FDNY. He received five medals for valor and 16 unit citations as well as the 1995 Administration Medal.

Additionally, Chief Downey was a task force leader for the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Team as well as the National Disasters Team, who responded to both the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings. He was also a team leader in response to Hurricanes Hugo, Andres, Fran, Marilyn and Opal, Chief of Rescue Operations at the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, all of which contributed to his being called "a charismatic national legend in rescue circles" and he was credited with creating the modern search-and-rescue system adopted by FEMA and fire departments worldwide while pioneering a national network of eight search and rescue teams under FEMA.

He also made frequent trips to Washington D.C. while serving on a congressional panel on domestic terrorism and it's prevention.

All of this led to Downey commanding rescue operations at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks earlier that morning when hijacked jetliners were crashed into each of the twin towers.

His unit was called in immediately after the first impact at #2 World Trade Center and he was leading the rescue operations which helped save thousands of lives when the second of the towers collapsed, costing him his life.

He left behind his wife Rosalie and five children, two of whom, Joe and Chuck, are now firemen.

It would take eight months after 9/11 for his remains to be identified through DNA testing before Chief Downey was then laid to rest on May 20, 2002.

When once asked asked why he searched so long for remains of those presumed dead, he cited the families of those left behind. "The only way you can relieve some of their sorrow," he said, "is to successfully recover the bodies of the people they loved."

Of the 343 firefighters lost on 9/11, Special Operations Command lost a total of 95 men with 1,600 years of experience that day.

Ray Downey's life and career are commemorated with The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award, which is presented each year to an extraordinarily courageous American firefighter.

Following the terrorist attacks in September, 2001 the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres faced off in the Rangers first home game of the season on October 7th. Both the Rangers and Sabres wore special jerseys with "New York" diagonally across the front. Following the game won by the Rangers 5-4 in overtime, both sets of jerseys were auctioned off to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund.

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Prior to the game the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams lined up on the ice and the Rangers skated between them during their introductions. FDNY team member Larry McGee had brought his firefighters helmet with Ray Downey's picture tucked into the brim of the helmet. He noticed that of all the players, only Rangers captain Mark Messier had not worn his hockey helmet during the pre-game ceremonies.

As the Rangers were lined up at the blueline, McGee sensed the moment was right and skated over to Messier with the helmet and told him it would be an honor if he would wear it. Messier responded, "Sure, whatever you need" and donned the helmet with the photo of the still missing Downey in it as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared its approval.

Messier Firehelmet 10/7/01
Mark Messier wearing Larry McGee's helmet prior to the Rangers first home game following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Note the special "New York" crested jersey worn only for that game.

"For me, personally, it was very emotional for a lot of reasons," said Messier, "Obviously, with all the people being honored - the firefighters, the police, the rescue workers, the volunteers, the entire city - and all our fans. All on a day when we started fighting back as a country."

At the end of that same season, Messier presented his #11 jersey to the family of Ray Downey during the Rangers annual Blueshirts off our Backs night on April 10, 2002.

Messier Blueshirts off our Backs 2002

The FDNY Hockey Team was first formed back in 1968 and played its first game against the New York Police Department in 1974 and the FDNY Hockey Team now competes in charity events and tournaments from Alaska to Sweden as well as hosting the FDNY "King of the Ice" Firehouse Tournament, where for over 15 years nearly 100 different firehouses compete for the championship in the largest tournament of its kind.

The main event on the FDNY Hockey Team calendar is always their annual faceoff against the New York Police Department (NYPD) game as the FDNY Bravest take on the NYPD Finest in "The Battle of the Badges". To date, 47 games have been played with the FDNY holding a 26-18-3 lead in the series.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Fire Department of New York Hockey Team Ray Downey jersey. This jersey takes the classic simplicity of a jersey very similar to the New Jersey Devils and combines it with the timeless look of the drop shadowed New York Rangers cresting and numbers to create as perfect a hockey jersey as you will ever see.

Of note, none of the players wore their individual names on the back of their jerseys, and instead they all had their team nickname "Bravest" on the back in place of their names, similar to Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series when they all had "Canada" on the back.

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photo FDNY2000-01B.jpg
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Chief Downey's jersey #9 was retired by the FDNY Hockey Team during a pre-game tribute at the March 2, 2002 FDNY vs. NYPD hockey game.

Downey jersey retirement
Rosalie Downey receives Chief Downey's retired
jersey before the FDNY vs. NYPD game in 2002

While this style jersey has been retired, you can get the special 20th Anniversary FDNY Hockey Team jersey through the above link.

Please take a moment to visit the Deputy Chief Raymond Downey Scholarship Charity Fund, at ChiefRaymondDowney.com, which holds the annual Forever Running Memorial 5K Run/Walk each Father's Day to benefit the organizations he supported, and consider making a donation to the fund. Information on how to contribute can be found by clicking the banner below.

Downey banner,Downey banner

The Rescue Company, written by Chief Ray Downey, a how-to manual on rescue operations for firefighters in both paperback and hardcover, as well as his instructional video on collapse rescues are available below.

The Last Men Out, written by Ray Downey's nephew Tom Downey, is about Rescue 2, the firehouse Ray Downey commanded for fourteen years. Rescue 2 doesn't leave a fire until everybody's safe - they're the last men out.

WTC lights

Saturday, March 6, 2021

1982-83 New York Rangers Mark Pavelich Jersey

Hailing from the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, Mark Pavelich, born on this date in 1958, attended the University of Minnesota Duluth beginning in 1977-78. His progress was pronounced, as he scored 12 goals and 19 points his first season, 14 goals and 44 points his second (third on the club) and leapt up to 31 goals and 79 points to lead the team in 1978-79.

Pavelich UMD, Pavelich UMD
Pavelich while with Minnesota Duluth

His creative "rink rat" style of play caught the eye of head coach Herb Brooks who who named Pavelich to the 1980 United States Olympic Team, where he teamed with UMD Bulldogs teammate John Harrington and fellow northern Minnesota native Buzz Schneider in a line that became known as the "Coneheads".

"It was kind of unique, obviously, growing up playing hockey in Eveleth," Pavelich recalled. "I was fortunate enough to have the rink just a couple of blocks say, It was just nonstop hockey. I was always down at the rink."

During the 53 games leading up to the Olympics, Pavelich scored 45 points and during the seven games of the Olympic tournament, he averaged a point per game, with one goal and six assists, including his assist on the opening United States goal scored by Schneider and the critical first assist, earned by sending the puck into the slot despite facing and moving the opposite direction while falling backwards, where it was gathered by Mike Eruzione, who then scored the game winning goal in the "Miracle on Ice" upset over the Soviet Union, later named the top story in the IIHF's first 100 years.

Pavelich USA, Pavelich USA

Undrafted by any NHL club, certainly in part due to his 5' 8" size, Pavelich took his game to HC Lugano in Switzerland, where he racked up 73 points in 60 games before once again putting on the red, white and blue of the United States at the 1981 World Championships.

Meanwhile, back in the United States the pairing of his Olympic coach Brooks and his assistant Craig Patrick, was reunited when Patrick hired Brooks to be the head coach of the New York Rangers. They brought Pavelich back to the United States and reunited him with not only Brooks, but also former US teammate Dave Silk and later Rob McClanahan.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

Pavelich took to the NHL right off the bat, finishing third in team scoring with 33 goals and tying for second in points with Ron Dugay at 76. The following season Pavelich rose to second in team scoring with a nearly identical 75 points while raising his goal total to a team leading 37, which included a record setting game against the Hartford Whalers in 1983.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

In that game, Pavelich opened the scoring with a power play goal just 1:17 into the contest. Vaclav Nedomansky banked another power play goal for the Rangers less than a minute later at 2:15. After the teams traded goals two minutes apart later in the period, the Rangers began to pull away with goals by Swede Kent-Erik Andersson at 18:36 and Pavelich's second goal, again on the power play with just ten seconds remaining in the period to give New York a commanding 5-1 lead after the first period.

Barry Beck stunned the Whalers just nine seconds into the second period before Pavelich completed his second career hat trick at the 9:06 mark. Mike Rogers made it 8-1 Rangers two minutes later. Pavelich's former 1980 teammate Mark Johnson stemmed the tide with a goal for the Whalers at 12:52 before Ed Johnstone's goal for the Rangers and Michel Galarneau's for Hartford made it 9-3 for home team after two.

But there was still more yet to come, and in surprising, record setting fashion, for at 8:40 of the third period Pavelich scored his fourth goal of the night, from Tom Laidlaw and McClanahan, followed by his fifth goal of the game from Laidlaw just 11 seconds later, making Pavelich the first American-born player in the 66 year history of the NHL to score five goals in a game. His feat also equaled the Rangers team record set by Don Murdoch in 1976-77.

"As a pro, this is my most memorable game," he said afterwards.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers
Pavelich shows his five goal pucks to the media
following his record setting performance

In 9 playoff games that season, "Pav" set a career best with 4 goals and 9 points in 9 games.

While his goal total dropped from 37 to 29 the following season, he set a career high with 82 points thanks to his 53 assists in 1983-84.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

1984-85 was a season of change, as Brooks was fired as the Rangers coach after 45 games and Pavelich himself was limited to just 48 games himself, although he still maintained a nearly a point per game average with 45.

With Brooks gone, Pavelich's days in New York were numbered, as he was uncomfortable and unaccustomed to playing the traditional NHL "dump and chase" style of new Rangers coach Ted Sator and retired at the end of the season after playing 59 games, scoring 20 goals and 40 points.

He was happy to return home to the simple life of hunting and fishing, only to be called on by Brooks once more, who had now taken over as the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars. It was a short-lived reunion however, as Pavelich would only play a dozen games for the North Stars in 1986-87, although they were productive ones, with 4 goals and 10 points. The record shows that later that season he suited up for the Dundee Rockets in the British Hockey League for a single game, being credited with a pair of assists.

While now done with the NHL, he was not quite finished with hockey just yet, finding a home with HC Bolzano in Italy beginning with the 1987-88 season, where he teamed with former North Stars teammate, Swede Kent Nilsson. There, Pavelich scored nearly a goal per game, with 31 goals in 36 games on his way to 73 points, more than two points per game. That was not all, as Bolzano went on to win the league championship that season, which included Pavelich's 9 goals and 20 points in just 8 playoff games.

He returned to Bolzano for another season in 1988-89, adding 23 goals and 57 points in 44 games before he retired once again.

But not for good.

With the league expanding in 1991, Pavelich was lured out of Minnesota one final time by the expansion San Jose Sharks, where he recorded an assist on the Sharks first ever goal on October 4, 1991. His return was very brief however, as he would only play two games before retiring, this time for good.

His final NHL totals were 355 games played, 137 goals and 192 assists for 329 points , with another 7 goals and 24 points in 23 playoff games.

Pavelich remains to this day a unique individual, who shuns the spot light of fame accorded to the 1980 Olympic Team, rarely leaving the comfort of home in the woods of Minnesota for reunions, interviews or personal appearances, unlike the always available Eruzione, who is often kidded that he has made a career out of one goal and has never met a microphone he didn't like. "The past is the past," Pavelich has been quoted as saying.

It would take 22 years before Pavelich joined his 19 teammates for a reunion, this coming at the the 2002 NHL All-Star Weekend. "It was just that time," Pavelich said when asked why he had chosen that weekend to rejoin his teammates.

His wife Kara said of his reputation, "I know Mark is often said to be reclusive, but that's overdone. He has a very large circle of friends." when Mark was inducted into the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Athletic Hall of Fame (the former home of the UMD Bulldogs) in 2006.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 New York Rangers Mark Pavelich jersey from the season during which he became the first American-born player in NHL history to score five goals in one game.

The Rangers had worn a variation of their traditional blue sweaters with "Rangers" diagonally since their inception in 1926 almost without exception until a change to a new modern style in 1976-77, which lasted only one more season until they went back to their traditional look in 1978-79, only with one major difference, as "New York" had now replaced "Rangers" across the front of their classic blue jerseys for the first time ever.

This style would last for Pavelich's entire stay in New York, lasting through the 1986-87 season until a return to "Rangers", which remains through today.

New York Rangers 82-83 jersey, New York Rangers 82-83 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1986-87 Minnesota North Stars Mark Pavelich jersey as worn during his brief stay with his home state North Stars, where he was reunited with coach Brooks for the third time in his career.

Minnesota North Stars 86-87 jersey, Minnesota North Stars 86-87 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Mark Pavelich jersey. This style, with "USA" diagonally across the front was worn during the 1980 Olympic Team's pre-Olympic schedule of games played against an assortment of minor league, college and other national teams in preparation for their participation in the Olympics. During the Games, they wore a new set of jerseys with the "USA" cresting now arched across the front.

This jersey was auctioned off by Lelands.com in December of 2004 and sold for $4,969.87.

 photo 1325798b-6646-4038-ace4-ca7a577709c1.jpg

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Olympic Team Mark Pavelich jersey. After 32 years with only Mark Wells' blue and white Miracle on Ice jerseys becoming available to collectors of game worn jerseys, 2012 saw Ken Morrow auction off his Miracle jersey for $104,328 and 2013 had Eruzione parting with both is blue ($286,800) and white jersey, which sold for $657,250, considerably less than it's $1,000,000 pre-sale estimate.

Pavelich's white jersey, worn when he assisted on Eruzione's game winning goal against the Soviet Union, was also put up for auction at the same time as Eruzione's jerseys. The final highest bid for the Pavelich jersey was $116,203, and with the 19.5% buyer's premium added on, the final selling price rose to $138,863. That exceeds the final price of Ken Morrow's Miracle on Ice jersey, which sold for $104,328, by $34,534.

 photo USA1980Pavelichjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video is Pavelich setting up Eruzione's game winning goal in the Miracle on Ice.


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