Wednesday, July 30, 2014

1974-75 Houston Aeros Wayne Rutledge Jersey

July by the Numbers makes it's way down to the Lone Star State for jersey #30.

The Houston Aeros of the WHA were originally slated to play in Dayton, Ohio, but never got off the ground, so owner Paul Deneau moved the club to Houston, Texas in time for the inaugural World Hockey Association season of 1972-73.

The Aeros, led in scoring by Gord Labossiere's 96 points in 78 games, had a cast of inexperienced journeymen players with an absolute minimum NHL experience, unlike other teams like the Quebec Nordiques, who could boast of long-time Montreal Canadien J. C. Tremblay or the Winnipeg Jets star Bobby Hull. Still, the Aeros finished second in the West Division and qualified for the playoffs and won a round before their season ended.

1972-73 Houston Aeros
The 1972-73 Houston Aeros

Things changed, and in the biggest way possible, for the 1973-74 season. The Aeros had signed brothers Mark and Marty Howe to a pair of four-year, $400,000 contracts in early June of 1973 and two weeks later, they lured the boys' father and NHL legend, the 45-year-old Gordie Howe, who had already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame following his retirement from the Detroit Red Wings after 25 seasons. It's safe to say that Howe's 1687 games of NHL experience was greater than the rest of the Aeros roster combined.

"My only regret is I'm sorry I'm not the Gordie Howe I was ten years ago to fulfill the goals the Aeros have in store for me. It's not too often an individual gets a second chance and that's what the Aeros have given me," Howe said. "A chance to play with my sons."

Mark,Gordie and Marty Howe

Gordie had surgery to improve his bad wrist and relished the opportunity to play with his sons. The elder Howe's well-earned reputation for toughness ensured that his son's would have plenty of time and space to learn their craft professionally, as any player who laid a big hit on Mark or Marty was sure to be paid back with interest by Gordie at the first available opportunity!

Gordie immediately led the team in scoring with an even 100 points, good for third place in the league, as the Aeros had the best record in the league by 11 points. Additionally, Gordie was also named the league's Most Valuable Player in 1974, a trophy that would be renamed in his honor in 1976, while he was still an active player! In the playoffs that season Houston swept the Jets in four and survived an all out war with the Minnesota Fighting Saints in six games to advance to the Avco Cup Finals.

Aeros Saints brawl
Ted Taylor and Gord Gallant battle it out during the
memorable Aeros/Fighting Saints 1974 playoff series

Once in the finals, the Aeros swept the Chicago Cougars in four straight, giving the Aeros their first WHA title and Howe his first championship since 1955 with Detroit.

The original expectation in 1973 was that Gordie Howe, who also signed a four-year contract, would play one year and then move into the team's front office. That was not to be however, as Gordie returned for a second WHA season. While Larry Lund led the club with 108 points, Gordie duplicated his output from the season prior with 99 points while Mark Howe contributed 76 points from the blueline after 79 the year before.

The Aeros again won the West Division with the league's best record by 14 points and dispatched the Cleveland Crusaders in five and the San Diego Mariners in four prior to sweeping the Nordiques in the finals to defend their title and become the first repeat winner in WHA history.

Howe would once again lead the Aeros in scoring in 1975-76 with 102 points, 26 clear of his son Mark and Frank Hughes, but would only place 10th in the scoring race in the now wide-open WHA. Still, the Aeros were a solid all around team and once more led the league in regular season points with 106 points. The gap was narrowed to the rest of the league however, as Winnipeg tied them with 106, coming on one less win, and the Nordiques just two back at 104.

The battle tested Aeros knocked out the Mariners in six and the New England Whalers in seven, the first time anyone went the distance with Houston, to return to the finals for the third consecutive season in a row. The high powered Jets won a pair of one goal games in Houston and pulled away to win a pair of games back at home in Winnipeg to end the Aeros reign as league champions.

The following season saw Gordie Howe limited to 62 games and 68 points, yet once again the Aeros had the best regular season total for the fourth year in a row. After defeating the Oilers in round one, the Jets once again ended the Aeros championship aspirations in six games in the semifinals.

Prior to the 1977-78 season, with their four year contracts having now expired, all three Howes moved en masse to the Whalers and the high scoring Andre Lacroix now led the Aeros offensively. The Aeros finished third in the regular season standings and fell to the Nordiques in the first round four games to two.

Their loss in Game 6 at Quebec would be the final game in Aeros history, as the Aeros, who were included in merger talks with the NHL in 1977, were left out of the 1978 proposal and elected to fold on July 6, 1978.

While the Jets, Nordiques, Oilers and Whalers all survived to join the NHL for the 1979-80 season, the Aeros certainly can be viewed as one of the most successful clubs in the WHA, having finished with a winning record in each of their six seasons, four of which saw them with the best record in the league, and a pair of championships. The addition of the Howes gave the league a huge boost in credibility and exposure while allowing the legend of "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe to continue to grow.

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Houston Aeros Wayne Rutledge jersey. This classic jersey combines a vintage font running diagonally across the front in the time-honored manner paired with a simple striping pattern topped off with a star on each shoulder proving less is more when it comes to an effective and timeless hockey jersey.

Houston Aeros 74-75 jersey
Houston Aeros 74-75 jersey

Today's video section has plenty of great footage and begins with Gordie discussing his coming out of retirement to join Houston with baseball great Tom Seaver.

Were very excited to share this rare footage of the Aeros winning the 1974 Avco Cup over the Chicago Cougars.

Here is some classic WHA game action between Houston and Winnipeg with Gordie scoring a goal and later getting ejected from the game!

Don't miss the exciting, miraculous conclusion of the same game between the Aeros and Jets on December 5, 1975.

Here is footage from the 1979 WHA All-Star Game, when Gordie famously played on a line with Wayne Gretzky.

Here is Gordie, along with Mark and Marty making an appearance on the game show "What's My Line?"

Finally, Gordie shows the kids how it's done.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

1995-96 Cincinnati Cyclones Jeff Greenlaw Jersey

July by the Numbers returns once again to Cincinnati for jersey #29.

When the owner of the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones was awarded a new International Hockey League franchise for the 1992-93 season, he retained the Cyclones identity for his new IHL franchise while moving his ECHL club to Birmingham, Alabama and renaming that club the Bulls.

The new IHL club missed the playoffs in year one, something that would never happen to them again.

Center Len Barrie arrived for the 1993-94 season and led the club with 116 points (second in the IHL) while Patrick Lebeau's 47 goals led the Cyclones in that category. The team made a great stride forward, leaping from 27 wins and 61 points to 49 wins and 107 points while Pokey Reddick went 31-12-6 in goal. Cincinnati then won their first ever playoff series by defeating the Kalamzoo Wings 4-1 before losing in the next round.

Reddick Cyclones
Pokey Reddick

They equalled their 49 wins in 1994-95, but raised their point total to 113, led by Dave Tomlinson's 110 points, which was also good for second in the IHL. The again won a playoff round by defeating cross-state Cleveland.

Ron Smith took over as head coach of the Cyclones for the 1995-96season and would be the only coach to ever command the club from that point forward. Tomlinson again led the club in scoring as they recorded their third consecutive 100 point season, this time reaching a franchise record 51 wins. The Cyclones then went on a nice playoff run, sweeping Atlanta in three games, eliminating Kalamazoo (now renamed Michigan) in a hard fought seven game series before falling in the semifinals to Orlando in seven games, concluding with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss at home.

While the Cyclones would not top 100 points again, they would remain consistently competitive, totaling between 92 and 97 points for the remainder of their five seasons in the IHL.

The 1997-98 season saw Todd Simon lead the club with 105 points as, he too, finished second in league scoring. It would not be until the 1999-00 season that they Cyclones would escape the second round of the playoffs when they were one of six teams to receive a bye in round one and then downed Orlando 4-2 in the second round before dropping a series to Grand Rapids.

Their final season of 2000-01 saw the Cyclones raise their point total to 97, their highest since 1996, but their season came to a quick end with a 4-1 defeat by Orlando.

Following the 2000-01 season, the IHL ceased operations and six of the 11 remaining clubs joined the American Hockey League, but the Cyclones were not one of them due to the presence of the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks, members of the AHL since 1997, just seven miles up the road.

Don Biggs ended up as the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 412 points, leading Gilbert Dionne's 336 and Paul Lawless' 304. The best known Cyclones to go on to NHL careers include Erik Cole, Bob Boughner, David Tanabe and Jan Bulis.

Biggs Cyclones
Don Biggs

The decline of the league brought an end to the nine year run of the Cyclones in the IHL, but not the Cyclones identity, which was sold to the owners of the ECHL's Miami Matadors, who moved their then dormant franchise to Cincinnati for the 2001-02 season, where they continue to play today.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Cincinnati Cyclones Jeff Greenlaw jersey. This shocking yellow jersey was the Cyclones alternate jersey, as their main dark jersey was black in color. For their first season of 1992-93, the Cyclones home jerseys were actually silver dazzle cloth before reverting to the traditional white in 1993-94. Their road jerseys also alternated between black and also red from season to season, with red also being used for alternate jerseys as well during their seemingly ever-changing looks.

Cincinnati Cyclones 95-96 jersey
Cincinnati Cyclones 95-96 jersey

In a moment straight out of the movie "Slap Shot", Cyclones coach Don Jackson scales the glass to get into a fight with the Atlanta Knights mascot!

Monday, July 28, 2014

1981 United States National Team Reed Larson Jersey

July by the Numbers jersey #28 sees a return to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Even non-hockey fans know of the Miracle on Ice, the massive upset when the United States won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics under the brilliant training and tactics of the late Herb Brooks, who took a team of college amateurs into battle against the dominant veterans of the Soviet Union.

Miracle on Ice, Miracle on Ice

What followed was not so memorable...

The 1981 World Championships resulted in a 5th place finish, followed by a Semifinal loss to Canada at the 1981 Canada Cup> That preceded the disaster that was the 1982 World Championships, where a 0-6-1 record saw them relegated to the B Pool for 1983. The Americans then won the B Pool in their first try, earning an immediate promotion back to the A Pool.

There were no World Championships in 1984, as that was an Olympic year, with the games contested in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Expectations for the Americans were certainly high going into the tournament coming off the previous Olympics in 1980, but reality set in quickly as the US lost it's opening game to Canada by a score of 4-2 followed by a lackluster 4-1 loss to Czechoslovakia two days later. Desperately needing a win, the best the Americans could muster was a 3-3 tie against tiny Norway after being outshot 37-27, leaving them with a single point from three games. The US rebounded with a 7-3 win over Austria, but, already eliminated from medal contention, they closed out their tournament with another tie, this one against Finland. The United States finished with a 1-2-2 record, scoring 16 goals while giving up 17 and wound up classified a disappointing 7th. Members of the team included future stars Chris Chelios, Al Iafrate, Pat Lafontaine and Ed Olczyk.

USA 1984, USA 1984
Chris Chelios joining Pat Lafontaine and their US teammates to celebrate a goal in 1984

Later that fall, the 1984 Canada Cup saw the United States get off to a strong beginning with a 3-1-1 record in the Round Robin portion, but Sweden ended their tournament with a resounding 9-2 decision during their first game of the elimination playoffs.

1984 US Canada Cup Team, 1984 US Canada Cup Team
The 1984 US Canada Cup Team

The 1985 World Championships were a bright spot for the US, as they finished second in Group A with a 4-2-1 record to advance to the Final Round, but dropped all three games to Canada, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union to miss out on the medals with a final classification of 4th.

5 losses in 7 games sank the American hopes at the 1986 World Championships with consecutive defeats at the hands of Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Canada and the Soviet Union after starting the tournament an encouraging 2-1. An identical result followed in 1987, which included losses to Canada, Sweden, the Soviet Union and Finland in their first four games.

The 1987 Canada Cup was another disappointment, as the US lost 3 of 5 games, missing out on the Playoff Round entirely.

They hoped for better at the Olympics in 1988, as the games were in more familiar territory in North America in Calgary, Alberta. A more favorable schedule saw them begin with a confidence building 10-6 pounding of Austria to open their tournament, but once more the Czechoslovakians exposed the American defenses with a 7-5 win. There would not be another miracle in 1988, as the Soviet Union, in their first Olympic meeting since 1980, duplicated the Czechs with a 7-5 win. Norway fell 6-3 as expected, but any hope of advancing to the Final Round was dashed when the US fell flat against West Germany 4-1, to finish 2-3 and find themselves classified 7th once more. Members of this team included familiar names like Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Kevin Stevens.

1988 US Olympic Team, 1988 US Olympic Team
The 1988 US Olympic Team

The 1989 World Championships saw the US finish 6 out of 8 with a 2-4-1 record before they improved to a 5th place in 1990, winning 3 but losing 4.

In 1991, the United States gutted out a 4-1 win over Czechoslovakia following an opening 4-3 loss to Canada. They took a point away from their game with Sweden after a 4-4 tie, but the hammer of reality came down upon them with great vengeance and furious anger when the Soviet Union won 12-2. Still, more points arrived with a 4-2 defeat of Switzerland, a 4-4 tie against Germany and a 2-1 win over Finland to put the US into the Final Round. But once again could not compete with elite nations, losing to the Soviets 6-4, Sweden 8-4 and Canada 9-4 to again place out of the medals.

The Canada Cup returned in the fall, and the US started out with a 6-3 win over Sweden, followed by a 6-3 loss to Canada. Then a 4-2 win over Czechoslovakia and 2-1 defeat of the Soviet Union and a 4-3 win over Finland propelled them to a second place finish in the Round Robin portion. In the playoffs, Finland fell easily 7-3, but hosts Canada won the Canada Cup with 4-1 and 4-2 wins in the best-of-three final. Like the Stanley Cup playoffs, only the winner received a trophy and no medals were awarded.

Albertville, France was the location of the 1992 Olympics and the US found themselves in the weaker of the two groups, avoiding Canada, Czechoslovakia and the Unified Team, made up of former members of the Soviet Union. They took full advantage of their schedule, reeling off wins against Italy 6-3, the now reunited Germany 2-0, Finland 4-1 and Poland 3-0 before a final tie against Sweden 3-3. This gave the US first place in Group A and a favorable draw against France in the Quarterfinals. The US took care of business 4-1 but fell to the Unified Team 5-2, which sent them to the bronze medal game. There, the deflated Americans were soundly handled by Czechoslovakia 6-1 for a final classification of 4th following their initial run of success. Their roster boasted Bret Hedican, Shawn McEachern and Keith Tkachuk.

1992 US National Team, 1992 US National Team
The 1992 US National Team

Later in the spring, the 1992 World Championships saw the US advance to the Quarterfinals, only to be slammed by the Czechs 8-1. 1993 was a repeat, advancing to the Quarterfinals before losing 5-2 to Sweden.

In order to get the Winter Olympics off of the same schedule as the Summer Olympics, the next Games were held just two years later in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. The first game for the United States set the tone for what was to follow, as the US came away disappointed following a 4-4 tie with France. Again, their game against Slovakia resulted in another deadlock, this one 3-3. While they would certainly have preferred a win, taking away a point from their 3-3 tie against Canada was somewhat less disappointing. A 6-3 defeat at the hands of Sweden put them in peril, but they US took full advantage of Italy to move on to the Final Round after a 7-1 win. Their medal hopes came to an abrupt end with a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Finland. Two additional losses to Czechoslovakia (5-3) and Germany (4-3) in the Classification Round saw the US classified as 8th. Well known names from the 1994 team were University of Maine teammates Mike Dunham and Garth Snow in goal, Peter Laviolette and Brian Rolston.

1994 US Olympic Team, 1994 US Olympic Team
The 1994 US Olympic Team

1994's World Championships had the US advance to the Quarterfinals with a winning 3-2 record, followed by a stunning 3-1 win over Russia, but again, a 8-0 pounding by Finland ruined the joy created by their win over the Russians. With a bronze medal on the line, once again the US did not answer the bell, taking the shine off their tournament with a 7-2 loss to Sweden.

United States hockey was now on the upswing as a new generation of players were now on the scene, and Group 2 of the 1995 World Championships went to the Americans with a 3-0-2 record. Their reward? A matchup with Canada, who had stumbled in Group 1 (finishing behind Italy and France), but came alive in a 4-1 win over the US to end their tournament.

The 1996 World Championships began as expected, as the US defeated Austria, Germany and Slovakia, but lost to Russia and Canada. Still, it was enough to advance again to the Quarterfinals, where they surprised many with a 3-2 victory over Sweden.

While Czechoslovakia dominated them with a 5-0 win in the Semifinals, this time the United States regrouped and earned their first medal in international competition since the 1980 Olympics with a 4-3 win over Russia when 1994 Olympian Rolston scored at 4:48 of overtime.

In addition to being the first medal of any kind for the US in 26 years, it was their first medal at the World Championships in 34 years, all of which puts the medal won in 1980 into a greater perspective, as the Americans were not regular medalists either prior to, or after, the 1980 Olympics. In fact, the US was in Pool B of the World Championships as recently as 1974 before rising to their unexpected and truly memorable gold in 1980.

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 United States National Team Reed Larson jersey. This style was worn by the United States in the 1981 Canada Cup tournament and was very similar to the template worn by the Winnipeg Jets, and to some degree the Toronto Maple Leafs, with it's full length arm stripes in red trimmed with white, which is repeated to great effect along the waist.

Simple stars on the shoulders give it a touch of patriotism and the diagonal USA cresting is in the classic style of the New York Rangers, making for a simple, effective and attractive design has has stood the test of time with ease.

1984 USA Canada Cup jersey photo 1984USACanadaCupjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section is rare footage of Rolston scoring his overtime goal in 1996 to earn the United States their first medal in international competition in 16 years.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

1982-83 Binghamton Whalers Dave McDonald Jersey

July by the Numbers makes it's way to New York state for jersey #27.

The origins of the Binghamton Whalers can be traced back to 1926 when the franchise was founded as the Providence Reds, later renamed the Rhode Island Reds. They remained in Providence for 51 years until being relocated to Binghamton, New York in 1977.

They were renamed the Binghamton Dusters for three seasons until another name change, this time to the Binghamton Whalers in recognition of their parent club, the Hartford Whalers of the NHL, and even used the Hartford club's Brass Bonanza as their goal celebration song.

During their second season as the Whalers, the club won the South Division and made a successful playoff run, defeating Hersey 3-2 in five games and Rochester 4-1 to reach the Calder Cup Finals, the first for the franchise since 1974 while still in Providence.

Another division title followed in 1984-85, when the team put together a stellar 52-20-8 record for a Whalers best 112 points, led by Paul Gardner's 51 goals and 79 assists for a whopping 130 points in 64 games to lead the AHL in all three categories. His 130 points were 37 more than the next closest challenger, who played 12 more games than Gardner, and proved to be the all-time Whalers record.

The Hartford Whalers were never one of the better teams in the NHL, and as a result did not supply Binghamton with the greatest talent, and often called up their better players in an effort to improve their dismal placings in the NHL. As a result, the Binghamton Whalers fortunes began to sink, dropping in wins from 47 to 38, then 28 to miss the playoffs and finally the worst record in the history of the AHL when they went 11-60-9 in their final season as the Whalers in 1989-90.

The following season their affiliation changed from Hartford to the New York Rangers which resulted in yet another name change for the franchise to the Binghamton Rangers, ending their 10 seasons as the Whalers. After seven seasons as the Rangers, the club was relocated yet again to Hartford, Connecticut to fill the void left by the departure of the Hartford Whalers to North Carolina, where they would become the Hurricanes. Now in Hartford, taking the place of their once parent club, they became yesterday's featured club and jersey #26 in our July by the Numbers travels, the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Better known Binghamton Whalers players include goaltender Richard Brodeur, Sylvain Cote, Ray Ferraro, Lou Franceschetti, Marty Howe, Doug Jarvis, Pete Peeters, Ulf Samuelsson, Peter Sidorkiewicz and Steve Weeks.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Binghamton Whalers Dave McDonald jersey. Another example of a minor league club which adopted the basic jersey of their parent club, the Whalers pulled of one of the most simple, effective and clever tricks when they simply rotated the Whalers "whale tail" logo, which formed the letters "H" and "W", ninety degrees counterclockwise to create a "B" logo for Binghamton. They did modify the inside negative space that originally formed the bottom of the "H" to a rounded shape to enhance the "B" shape but otherwise left the Whalers clever logo intact.

They were also clever enough to maintain the use of the classic Pucky the Whale shouder patches.

Binghamton Whalers jersey
Binghamton Whalers jersey

Today's video is a little minor league mayhem, as Dale Kushner of the Springfield Indians leaves his penalty box early to fight with Al Teur, who still resides in the penalty box! Notice the Whalers "B" logo jerseys in the clip.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

1989-90 Kalamazoo Wings Kevin Schamehorn Jersey

July by the Numbers travels to the Great Lakes area for jersey #26.

Founded for the International Hockey League's 1974-75 season, the Kalamazoo Wings rose from 10th out of 11 teams in their first win to second out of nine by year three thanks in no small part to having the top two and three of the top five leaders in penalty minutes.

After two semifinal losses in 1976-77 and 1977-78, the Wings had a solid season with a 40-28-12 record for the fourth best record in the IHL. The Wings then went on a roll, sweeping their first two playoff series to advance to the finals, where they alternated wins at home with the Grand Rapids Owls until taking Game 7 on the road 5-2 to claim their first Turner Cup championship. Tom Ross led the team in scoring with 116 points which was second overall in IHL scoring.

Wings 79-80 schedule

Carrying the confidence of their championship into the 1979-80 season, Kalamazoo finished first overall in the IHL that season with a 45-26-9 record, led in scoring this time by Tom Milani at 49 goals and 111 points with Ross second at 103. The Wings repeated as Turner Cup champions after defeating the Fort Wayne Komets in six games in the finals.

Wings 80-81 schedule

The Wings simply blitzed the league in 1980-81 with a 52-20-10 record for a franchise best 114 points, but their bid for a hat trick of titles fell short with a loss in the finals.

Brent Jarrett became the first Wing to win the scoring title when he totaled 124 points in 1981-82 and Dave Michayluk led "the I" in goals with 66 in 1984-85.

After having been affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings since the beginning, and wearing red, white and blue, a new affiliation with the Minnesota North Stars saw the club change to the North Stars colors of green, gold and black. Their arrangement with the North Stars brought little in the way of notoriety however, although they did manage to make the playoffs in all but one season, including two seasons with over 100 points.

They retained their affiliation with the Stars organization when Minnesota relocated to Dallas for the 1993-94 season and immediately Rob Brown simply ran away and hid in the scoring race, amassing 155 points, 39 points clear of his next closest pursuer - and exactly one game with the Stars that season.

After one more season as the Kalamazoo Wings, the club changed it's name to the Michigan K-Wings for the 1995-96 season hoping to draw a wider audience to the club. That season saw Jamie Langenbrunner spend the season with the K-Wings and finish second in team scoring before beginning his long NHL career.

The 1998-99 season saw the arrival of goaltender Marty Turco from the University of Michigan, who immediately became the team's starter and seeing action in 54 games his first season and 60 his second, which would prove to be the final season for the franchise, as Dallas ended their affiliation agreement and the franchise requested inactive status from the IHL, a league that would only last one additional season itself.

Turco K Wings
Marty Turco

There is a franchise which currently uses the name Kalamazoo Wings as members of the ECHL, which began life in Madison, Wisconsin in the United Hockey League before relocating to Kalamazoo and obtaining the rights to use the name and logo of the original Wings.

Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Kalamazoo Wings Kevin Schamehorn jersey from their days as a Minnesota North Stars affiliate when the club wore the green and gold of the North Stars.

Schamehorn had a long history with the Kalamazoo Wings, playing for the club during eight different seasons spread out over 14 years. After being drafted by the Red Wings in 1976, he played three seasons in Kalamazoo before moving on to other clubs and organizations. He returned to Kalamazoo in 1981 for four seasons prior to the change in affiliation to Minnesota. Again, Schamehorn moved on to other teams for four seasons, which included a year in France, before returning to Kalamazoo for his final season as a pro. During his absence, the Wings changed their affiliation from Detroit to Minnesota, which resulted in the change in team colors, allowing us to accurately date this green and gold Wings jersey to 1989-90.

This example illustrates the detective work involved in dating jerseys we enjoy so much when researching various jerseys, particularly minor league jerseys which lack comprehensive online visual databases that document each and every jersey style and years worn, unlike the NHL.

Kalamazoo Wings 89-90 jersey
Kalamazoo Wings 89-90 jersey

Friday, July 25, 2014

1994-95 Minnesota Moose Stephane Morin Jersey

July by the Numbers reaches #25 as we head north to Minnesota.

While the Minnesota Moose only played two seasons in St. Paul, Minnesota after the departure of the NHL's North Stars for Dallas, they provided some exciting hockey, generally of the rougher kind typical of the International Hockey League in those days.

One of the highlights for the Moose during their first season in the old St. Paul Civic Center was undoubtedly the play of Stephane Morin.

Morin played junior hockey for the Shawinigan Cataractes and then the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. After splitting the 1987-88 season between the two clubs, Morin would get himself noticed with 77 goals and 109 assists for 186 points in just 77 games in 1988-89, which led to him being drafted 43rd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques.

He would spend the majority of the 1989-90 season with the Halifax Citadels of the American Hockey League, but would make his NHL debut with six games with the Nordiques, in which he would register his first NHL points with a pair of assists.

Morin Citadels photo MorinCitadels.jpg
Morin with the Citadels

While he would split the next two seasons between Quebec and Halifax, he would see action in 48 NHL games, which included scoring his first NHL goal, in 1990-91, a season in which he would place fourth in scoring for the Nordiques with 13 goals and 40 points despite only competing in a total of just 48 games.

The 1991-92 season with Quebec as a disappointment, with just two goals and eight assists for ten points in 30 games.

Morin Nordiques photo MorinNordiques.jpg
Morin made his NHL debut with the Nordiques

Released by the Nordiques organization, Morin signed with the Vancouver Canucks in 1992. Assigned to the Hamilton Canucks of the AHL, Morin led the team in scoring with 31 goals and 85 points in 70 games. He did play a game in Vancouver, registering an assist, in his only NHL appearance that season.

The following season was very productive offensively for Morin, as he again led Hamilton in scoring with 109 points in 69 games, good for fourth overall in the AHL that season. He would also contribute a goal and an assist in five games with Vancouver.

With his time in Vancouver at an end, Morin signed on with the brand new Minnesota Moose of the International Hockey League, who came into being to fill some of the void left by the departure of the Minnesota North Stars. Morin led the Moose in scoring with 33 goals and 81 assists for 114 points, nearly double the next closest on the roster, to win the league scoring title to capture the Leo Lamoureux Memorial Trophy

Morin Moose photo MorinMoose.jpg
Morin on his way to win the 1994-95 IHL scoring title
while with the Moose

His point total would decline the following season to 78, but he would still lead the Moose in scoring.

1996-97 saw Morin and the team move to Manitoba, but after only 12 games in Winnipeg he would find himself moving to the Long Beach Ice Dogs, still in the IHL. Long Beach was a strong team that season, winning the South Division and making it all the way to the Turner Cup Finals. Morin, making the first real playoff run of his professional career, responded with 19 points in 18 games.

 photo 1996-97LongBeachIceDogsteam.jpg
The 1996-97 Long Beach Ice Dogs

Morin's next season with Long Beach was limited to just 27 games in which he scored 27 points. Another playoff run for Long Beach would see them win a pair of rounds before falling in the semifinals, but not before Morin would contribute 11 points in 13 games.

For the 1998-99 season, Morin relocated to Europe, signing with the Berlin Capitals of the DEL.

Stephane Morin Berlin Capitals
Morin during his brief time in Germany

Off to a good start in Germany, Morin scored a pair of goals plus six assists for eight points in his first handful of games, but then shockingly and tragically, after complaining of not feeling well during the first period of the seventh game of the season, Morin died of a heart attack at the age of 29 on October 6, 1998 after he collapsed at the bench early in the second period leaving behind a wife and newborn son.

Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 Minnesota Moose Stéphane Morin jersey from the season Morin led the Moose and the IHL in scoring.

The Moose would only play two seasons in Minnesota and Morin would hold the team records for most assists and points in a season, as well as career goals, assists and points, as well as games played.

While the three color combination of the forest green trim and purple outline against the black was a questionable choice at best, as the separation of the green from the purple and black is nearly impossible to make out for even the larger numbers and really becomes a dark mass when reduced in size for the name on the back.

While the back of the jersey has it's flaws, the front of the jersey is a winner, with the IHL 50th Anniversary patch providing a shot of color and the very popular Moose logo, which was ranked #1 in a poll by The Hockey News and led all minor league teams in terms of merchandise sales, making for a very attractive jersey.

Minnesota Moose 1994-95 H 25 jersey photo MinnesotaMoose1994-95H25F.jpg
Minnesota Moose 1994-95 H 25 jersey photo MinnesotaMoose1994-95H25B.jpg
Minnesota Moose 1994-95 H 25 jersey photo MinnesotaMoose1994-95H25P.jpg

Here's some rare non-fighting clips of the Moose in action.

It's back to business as usual with the fisticuffs, but another rarity, the Moose in action at the St. Paul Civic center after the famous clear boards had finally been replaced due to age and the advent of dasherboard advertising rendering them ineffective.

For comparison, here's a WHA Fighting Saints highlight package with some road games with the usual boards and some home game action with the unmistakable clear boards.


hit counter for blogger