Wednesday, September 28, 2016

1972 Team Canada Paul Henderson Jersey

"Here's a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and falls. Here's another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson scores for Canada!"

The most famous goal in Canadian hockey history occurred on this date in 1972, as
Paul Henderson scored with 34 seconds remaining in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

The Summit Series was a groundbreaking event in not only hockey history, but international politics as well. The series would be the first time that the Canadians were able to take on the Soviets with a full squad of professional players head to head against the best that the Soviets had to offer. Most in Canada fully expected an easy time of it for Team Canada, with some even predicting an eight-game sweep.

That was not to be, however, as all of Canada was stunned when the Soviets came back from an early 2-0 deficit in Game 1 to win 7-3 in Montreal.

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The stunned reaction in Canada to their Game 1 defeat

Canada would win Game 2 in Toronto by a score of 2-1 with the Soviets coming from behind by two goals in Winnipeg to earn a tie in Game 3.

Game 4 would see the Soviets up 4-1 after two periods, with the final score being 5-3, earning Team Canada a shower of boos from the Canadian crowd, earning them a tounge-lashing from a frustrated Phil Esposito as the series was about to head off to Moscow for the final four games.

Things did not start off any better for the Canadians in Moscow either, as Team Canada led 4-1 only to have the Soviets come back to win the game 5-4, putting them ahead three games to one, along with a tie and three home games remaining.

Game 6 went better for Team Canada, despite having 31 penalty minutes called against them versus only 4 assessed to the Soviets, Canada would win 3-2 in a game that would feature a pivotal moment in the series, as Bobby Clarke would fracture the Soviet's best forward Valeri Kharlamov's ankle with a deliberate slash.

Canada would even the series at three games each by winning Game 7 by a score of 4-3, with  Henderson scoring the winning goal with a shade over two minutes remaining, setting up a decisive Game 8.

While the series was supposed to be a "friendly" series of exhibition games with no overall winner, the Game 3 tie in Winnipeg left an odd amount of games to divide between the two sides, and when hen the Soviets proclaimed that even if Game 8 ended in a tie, they would be the winners on the basis of scoring one more goal than the Canadians during the series.

In an effort to ensure the best possible chance for a Soviet victory, they orchestrated a change in officials the night before the decisive game, choosing to replace the previously selected Swede and Czech referees with the same East German pair Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader
that were responsible for the great discrepancy of 27 penalty minutes in Game 6, so much so that the Canadians nicknamed the pair "Baader and Worse".

Canada threatened to leave Moscow without even playing Game 8 if that were the case and a compromise was reached where the the Soviets hand picked their favorite East German, while the Canadians got to choose the Czech ref Rudi Bata, who Canadian organizer Alan Eagleson figured didn't like the Soviets any more than he did!

Sure enough, just three minutes into the game Canada was two men short and gave up a power play goal. At 4:10, J. P. Parise was given yet another minor and his threatening reaction earned him a ten-minute misconduct. Now enraged, Parise's threatening outburst got him thrown out of the game as a game misconduct was added on.

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Phil Esposito would score once the hockey resumed to tie the game at 6:45 and then the teams would trade goals by Vladimir Lutchenko and Brad Park to finish out the first period tied at 2-2.

The Soviets would use a little home ice advantage to score in the first minute of the second, as the puck was fired over the goal, only to take a large rebound off the mesh netting that topped the boards rather than the plexiglass of North American arenas. Vladimir Shadrin would put the puck behind Ken Dryden after it landed back into the area in front of the Canadian goal.

Bill White would score for Canada halfway through the period, only to have the Soviets score just over a minute later to regain the lead again and then once more on the power play at 16:44 to take a 5-3 lead into the third period.

Phil Esposito would ignite the Canadians with a goal at 2:27 of the third to pull Canada back within one. Esposito again charged the net and Yvan Cournoyer was able to put the rebound past Vladislav Tretiak at 12:56, only to have the Soviet goal judge fail to turn on the goal light, but the goal did count to tie the game. Again, a tie would allow the Soviets to claim a series victory, so the Canadians were still desperate to score another.

With the game now winding down in the last minute of play, Cournoyer intercepted a Soviet clearing attempt and passed to Henderson. The pass was behind him and he was tripped on the play as well, which sent him crashing into the end boards to the side of the Soviet goal.

At that point, Esposito, who was following the play, put the puck softly in front of the goal where Henderson, now back on his skates and, returning to play from behind the net, was able to jump on the loose puck and swat it towards Tretiak, who blocked with his leg. The puck bounced off his pads, allowing Henderson a second shot at glory, which he put over the sprawled Soviet goaltender to give Canada the series victory with only 34 seconds remaining in the contest.

Cournoyer hugs a jubilant Henderson seconds after he
cemented his place in hockey immortality

The success of the 1972 Summit Series led to an attempt at a repeat in 1974, only this time with a team made up of players from the World Hockey Association, which was one sided in favor of the Soviets and failed to capture the public's imagination despite the inclusion of both Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, who were both absent in 1972.

The concept of the Summit Series eventually evolved into the Canada Cup tournament, which featured an expanded field of six teams, which in turn led to the current World Cup of Hockey.

The 1972 Summit Series also influenced many aspects of how the game was approached and played in North America, with off-season training now becoming important, as well as various strategy differences in puck possession and player positioning.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972 Team Canada Paul Henderson jersey as worn during the four games played in Moscow.

This jersey came up for public sale for the first time ever at auction in June of 2010 on, a leading online auction website based in Quebec, Canada. Fears immediately were voiced from many corners of the hockey world that this historic jersey would fall into the wrong hands - such as those of a trading card company like Be A Player or Upper Deck, who have made a business out of cutting up historical sports artifacts into hundreds of small pieces in order to create collectible trading cards.

Notable previous losses of significant items include the only set of goalie pads worn by Georges Vezina and a 1925 New York Yankees Babe Ruth jersey among the dozens of items that have been desecrated for the sake of short term profits by card companies.

The concern and publicity over the possible threat to "the most significant artifact in the history of the game of hockey" eventually saw the jersey sell for a record shattering $1,275,707, far outstripping the reported $250,000 paid for a Wayne Gretzky game worn jersey and the $191,000 for a Bobby Orr rookie jersey.

The winning bidder, Canadian real estate developer Mitchell Goldhar, not only preserved the jersey from possible destruction, but returned it to Canada from where it had been located in the United States, but took the iconic Canadian sweater on a tour of the country in an effort to share it with the citizens of the nation where everyone remembers where they were when Henderson score his dramatic goal. One of the highlights of the return of the jersey to Canada was having Henderson don the jersey once again.

Canada 1972 Henderson jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

There is much more than can be written and examined about this series, it's significance and it's impact, and in fact many have done just so, as there are a number of books available on the subject as well as DVD sets of the games.

Finally, here is Henderson himself, telling the story from his unique point of view of the series and his famous goal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci Jersey

Minnesota native Gary Gambucci, born on this date in 1946, joined the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 1965-66 season with a flourish, leading the team in scoring with 23 goals and 40 points in 28 games. After a point reduction to 27 in his junior season, he rebounded with a 41 points season during his senior season of 1967-68 when he was named an All-American.

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Gambucci led the Gophers in scoring as a sophomore

Gambucci spent the 1968-69 season with the United States National Team which saw him make his international debut at the 1969 World Championships, scoring a goal and an assist in 10 games. He also spent a season with the Rochester Mustangs of the United States hockey league, averaging two points per game with 28 goals and 62 points in 31 games.

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The 1969 United States National Team

The 1969-70 season saw Gambucci with the US National Team again, playing in his second World Championships B Pool in 1970, scoring an impressive 11 goals and 18 points in just 7 games as the Americans won the tournament and promotion back to the Top Division for 1971.

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The 1970 United States National Team

Gambucci had a stellar 1970-71 season with the US National team, scoring 51 goals and 98 points in 50 games before his third consecutive World Championships in 1971 with 7 goals and 10 points in 10 games.

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The 1971 United States National Team

His efforts saw him signed by the Montreal Canadiens in May of 1971, who then traded him to the Minnesota North Stars. He spent the majority of the 1971-72 season with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 56 games as well as making his NHL debut with the North Stars, seeing action in 9 games which included scoring his first NHL goal.

His entire 1972-73 season was spent with the Barons, who unusually relocated midway through the season to Jacksonville, Florida as their owner decided the Barons could not share the Cleveland market with the Cleveland Crusaders of the new World Hockey Association. Despite the unrest over the team's home situation, Gambucci led the team in scoring with 26 goals and 76 points to average a point per game in his 75 games.

His 1973-74 season saw him play a pair of games with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, 21 games with the Portland Buckaroos, scoring 11 goals and 26 points in 21 games, but the majority of his season was with the North Stars back in the NHL, seeing action in 42 games, where he scored one goal and 8 points.

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Gambucci reached the NHL with the North Stars

Gambucci had been selected by the Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA back in 1972. The franchise relocated to Vancouver, who traded his WHA rights to the Minnesota Fighting Saints in June of 1974.

His first season in the WHA with the Fighting Saints was a chance to regain his offensive game, as he scored 19 goals and 37 points in 68 games in the wide open WHA. He also saw action in 7 games with the Fighting Saints minor league affiliate, the Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League.

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Gambucci switched from the NHL to the WHA in 1974

Gambucci was back with the Fighting Saints in 1975-76, playing in 45 of their 59 games, scoring 10 goals and 16 points before the franchise ceased operations on February 28, 1976.

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Gambucci at the St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards

He had one final chapter in his career, returning to the World Championship with the United States for the fourth time in the spring of 1976, contributing a goal in 5 points in ten games, which brought an end to his playing career.

His NHL totals were a modest 51 games played with 2 goals and 9 points and his two WHA seasons saw him play in 113 games with 289 goals and 53 assists. His World Championship totals were 37 games played with 20 goals and 35 points, aided by his dominating performance in the B Pool in 1970. Gambucci was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Gambucci was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006

Today's feature jersey is a 1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci jersey. The Fighting Saints came into being in 1972-73, wearing jerseys with the same striping pattern, but with the team's "S" logo in home white, road blue and alternate gold. Before the season was over, a new set of white and blue jerseys debuted with their "Little Saint" logo as the new primary crest and remained in use through their demise in 1975-76.

When shopping for a Fighting Saints jersey, notice that the logo lacks a halo, does not say "Saints" inside the "S" logo and is wearing white skates, all common mistakes seen on many retail versions of the jersey, which use the version of the logo used in many of the team's print ads.

For the most accurate version we have seen, we recommend the one available from our friends at Vintage Minnesota Hockey.

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Today's video is a look back at the Minnesota Fighting Saints and some of their legendary antics.

Monday, September 26, 2016

1980-81 New York Islanders Garry Howatt Jersey

Left winger Garry Howatt split the 1971-72 season in Canadian junior hockey between the WCHL's Victoria Cougars, playing in 24 games, scoring 5 goals and 20 points, and the Flin Flon Bombers, also of the WCHL, where he played in an additional 36 games. The Bombers suited his offensive game much better, as Howatt caught the eye of the scouts with 24 goals and 59 points with 109 penalty minutes.

His combination of offensive ability with a dose of toughness led to him being drafted by the New York Islanders in the 1972 Amateur Draft as a part of their first draft class.

The Islanders were newly created in an effort to stop the fledgling World Hockey Association from locating a team on Long Island. Even with a roster destined for a distant last place, Howatt spent the majority of the 1972-73 season with the New Haven Knighthawks of the American Hockey League. In 65 games, he scored 22 goals and 49 points as well as 157 penalty minutes. He did make his NHL debut with the Islanders that season, seeing action in 8 games with 1 assist and 18 penalty minutes.

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Howatt would make the parent club out of training camp and never play another game in the minors for the remainder of his tenure with the Islanders. His first full season in the NHL saw him play in 78 games with a modest 6 goals and 17 points and 204 penalty minutes to lead the club helped in no small part by a league leading 29 fighting majors. The Islanders still finished in the basement of the NHL, ahead of only the moribund California Golden Seals.

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Darryl Sittler and Howatt in a classic battle
that continued even as both went to their knees

For the 1974-75 season, his offensive game began to emerge, as he scored 18 goals and 48 points to finish fifth on the team. His 121 penalty minutes were third on the team, just one behind Bob Nystrom, a right winger who had great chemistry with Howatt to the point the two of them were dubbed "The Dynamic Duo" and even had their own fan club for just the two of them!

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Meanwhile, the Islanders continued to improve, finishing with a winning record and 88 points to qualify for the playoffs for the first time, going on a run that included eliminating the New York Rangers in 3 and famously defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7 after falling behind 3 games to none before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers in seven after again falling behind 3 games to none before rallying to win the next three and force a deciding Game 7.

Howatt would then set a career high in goals in 1975-76 with 21, the only 20 goal season of his career. His 197 penalty minutes again led the Islanders for the season. The club topped the 100 point mark for first time with 101 and again made the third round of the playoffs, defeating the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres before falling to the eventual champions again, this time the Montreal Canadiens as Howatt had his finest postseason with 5 goals and 10 points in 13 games.

With the Islanders roster taking shape, with such players as Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Billy Harris and Nystrom, Howatt's role was not that of scorer for the remainder of his time with New York and his point totals began to reflect the change in his role. In 1976-77, he contributed 13 goals and 28 points with 182 penalty minutes, while no other Islander had more than Denis Potvin's 103.

The Islanders again set a new team high in points with 106 and once again made a deep playoff run, ousting the Blackhawks in 2 and the Sabres in 4 before falling to the Canadiens dynasty in progress in six.

While Howatt was limited to 61 games in 1977-78, his 146 penalty minutes far exceeded Gerry Hart's 94, which came in 17 more games played than Howatt. The Islanders won the Patrick Divison title with 111 points to earn a bye in Round 1. They were upset by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a hard fought seven game series, three of which required overtime including the final Game 7.

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The 1978-79 season saw a bit of a resurgence in Howatt's offensive numbers, as he scored 16 goals, his highest in three seasons, and 28 points as well as 205 penalty minutes, far ahead of Nystrom's 113, the only other player with more than 80. The Islanders again won the Patrick Division with 116 points, their sixth consecutive season of setting a new team record for points in a season. They came up short in the postseason once again though, sweeping Chicago in 4 before being eliminated by the Rangers in six.

Howatt scored 8 goals and 19 points in 77 games of the 1979-80 season but set a new personal high with 219 penalty minutes. The team took a step back in the standings with 91 points, their lowest since 1974-75. In the postseason, the Los Angeles Kings fell first, 3 games to 1. The Boston Bruins were the next go, as the Islanders won in five before advancing to their first Stanley Cup Final when they beat Buffalo in six.

In the final against the Flyers, the Islanders took Game 1 in overtime before losing badly in Game 2, 8-3. They took Games 3 and 4 at home 6-2 and 5-2. Philadelphia stayed alive with a 6-3 win at home in Game 5 but the Islanders won their first Stanley Cup when Nystrom won it at 7:11 of overtime, completing a long journey for Howatt and the other four Islanders who were a part of their last place, 30 point expansion team of 1972-73 - Lorne Hennig, Jean Potvin, Nystrom and goaltender Billy Smith.

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The Stanley Cup champion 1979-80 New York Islanders

For the 1980-81 season, Howatt registered a new low of just 4 goals as he scored 19 points. His penalty minutes sank to 174, which was still enough to lead the team yet again. The Islanders rebounded to reach 110 points and win the President's Trophy for the most points in the NHL and marched through the playoffs, beating Toronto in three straight, the Edmonton Oilers in six, eliminated the rival Rangers in four straight and overpowered the Minnesota North Stars in five to win their second consecutive title. Howatt saw action in just 8 of New York's 18 playoff games, registering a pair of assists.

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Just prior to the start of the 1981-82 season, Howatt was traded to the Hartford Whalers after nine seasons on Long Island after he requested a trade to a team that would give him more responsibility on the ice. The move elevated him from a third or fourth liner on the loaded Islanders roster to a more important role with the Whalers. His offensive numbers took a leap up to 18 goals and a career high 50 points as well as setting another career best with 242 penalty minutes, 95 more than his next closest teammate.

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Despite being offered a long term contract and the team's captaincy by Hartford, Howatt instead requested a trade to the New Jersey Devils, which was granted in October of 1982.

Once in New Jersey, Howatt did not get along with the Devils management and only played 38 games with the Devils in 1982-83 plus another 11 with the Wichita Wind of the Central Hockey League. 1983-84 was even worse, as Howatt played just six scoreless games with the Devils and spent the majority of his season with the Maine Mariners of the AHL, scoring 12 goals and 32 points in 63 games to bring his career to an end in style, as he captained the Mariners to the Calder Cup as AHL champions.

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Of note, on January 15, 1983, a snowstorm prevented the officials from reaching the arena in Hartford, and Howatt (of the Devils) and Mickey Volcan (of the Whalers) were pressed into service, becoming the only active players to ever officiate an NHL game!

Howatt's final NHL totals were 720 games played with 112 goals and 156 assists for 268 points and 1,836 penalty minutes and two Stanley Cup championships at the start of the Islanders dynasty. At the time he left the Islanders, he was the franchise leader in career regular season (1,466) and playoff (279) penalty minutes.

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Years after their careers ended, Howatt and Nystrom,
the Dynamic Duo, were honored by the Islanders

Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 New York Islanders Garry Howatt jersey as worn during his final season with the Islanders, which concluded with Howatt and the Islanders second Stanley Cup victory.

The Islanders debuted with a very similar jersey to today's featured jersey, but with some differences, such as a lace-up collar, orange numbers and a different striping order. The numbers made the change to white with orange trim for 1973-74. Names on the back arrived in 1977-78 along with a change in the arm striping plus a change to a v-nick collar. Finally, the waist stripes changed to white on top over orange on the bottom with no blue showing in between, which was then repeated on the arms for the look that would carry the team through their Stanley Cup dynasty. This look would remain through 1994-95, when they were replaced by the controversial Fishsticks jerseys of the latter half of the 1990's.

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New York Islanders 1980-81 jersey photo New York Islanders 1980-81 B jersey_1.jpg

Today's video section begins with Howatt getting the better of legendary tough guy Dave Schultz, something not many can claim to have done.

Next, Howatt and Mel Bridgman really throw some bombs at each other in a short, but very intense battle.

In this next fight, Howatt appears to take exception to the bigger Fred Arthur's Cooperalls, or perhaps it was getting slashed before getting slammed into the end boards.

Finally, a profile of Howatt during his season with the Whalers, which includes some actual goal scoring.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The 1926-27 NHL American Expansion - Chicago, Detroit and New York

In the 1923-24 NHL season, the league consisted of a mere four teams, all of them located in Canada. Those clubs were the Hamilton Tigers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto St. Patricks. The league grew by two for the 1924-25, adding the Montreal Maroons, and expanding into the United States for the first time with the formation of the Boston Bruins.

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The 1925-26 Boston Bruins

More changes came the following season of 1925-26 when the Hamilton franchise was dropped and it's players signed by the expansion New York Americans. Additionally, fearing the formation of a competing new league, the NHL awarded a franchise to Pittsburgh, which was christened the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Meanwhile, out west the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, formed back in in 1912-13, had ended its 13 year run after the 1923-24 season, which included both the Vancouver Millionaires in 1915 and the Seattle Metropolitans in 1917 winning the Stanley Cup. For the 1924-25 season, following the demise of the PCHA, the Vancouver Maroons, formerly the Millionaires, and the Victoria Cougars joined the three year old Western Canada Hockey League, raising their league membership to six. League champion Victoria would go on to defeat the NHL's Canadiens for the Stanley Cup that season, making them the final team from outside the NHL to win the cup.

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The 1925 Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars

The league shortened it's name to the Western Hockey League for the 1925-26 season, dropping "Canada" in recognition of the Regina Capitals relocating across the border to Portland, Oregon, where they revived the PCHA's Portland Rosebuds name. The Cougars again won the league playoffs for the right to challenge their NHL counterpart, the Montreal Maroons, but fell three games to one.

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The 1924-25 Portland Rosebuds

Salaries were now on the rise and the WHL was finding it difficult to keep their best players. With their mounting financial issues too great to overcome, the WHL folded, leaving the NHL as the only top-level professional league in North America.

Pleased with their results in Boston, the NHL purchased the contracts of every WHL player for $258,000 and, on this date in 1926, the NHL granted franchises to the New York Rangers, Detroit Cougars (later the Red Wings) and the Chicago Black Hawks, increasing the number of teams in the league to ten, and, for the first time in league history, the American clubs outnumbered the Canadian franchises. In just three years the four team, all-Canadian NHL had become a ten team league with six of those being in the United States.

The majority of the initial Black Hawks roster came from the Portland Rosebuds while Detroit's roster came mainly from the Victoria Cougars, hence the original name of the eventual Red Wings franchise being "Cougars" in recognition of the source of their roster.

The Black Hawks original owner was Frederic McLaughlin who had been a commander in the 86th Infantry during World War I, a division known as the "Black Hawk Division", which in turn was named after Chief Black Hawk of the Illinois region.

The Black Hawks first ever game was on November 17, 1926 at the Chicago Coliseum where they defeated the Toronto St. Patricks 4-1.

The Black Hawks would lead the league in goals with 115 in 44 games (with no other club reaching 100), but also allow a league high 116 on their way to third place in the American Division with a 19-22-3 record.

The team was led by Babe Dye's 25 goals and in points by Dick Irvin with 36, which was second in the league by a single point. Hugie Lehman was the lone goaltender for Chicago, playing in every game of the season.

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The inaugural 1926-27 Chicago Black Hawks

Detroit began play on November 18, 1926 with a 2-0 loss to Boston at "home". The Detroit Olympia was not completed in time for the Cougars first season, so the team actually began play at the Border Cities Arena across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario! Their first victory came in their third game against the Black Hawks, 1-0 in Chicago.

The Cougars found the going tough in the NHL, winning just 12 games while losing 28 with 4 ties as they finished last in the league with 28 points.

Detroit scored the second fewest goals in the league that season with 76 in 44 games. While the Maroons only scored 71, their stingy defense left them at +3 for the season, while Detroit was a -29, worst in the league.

Johnny Sheppard led the team in both goals, with 13, and points with 21 while no other player had more than 15. Hap Holmes was their main goaltender, playing in 41 of their 44 games.

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1926-27 Detroit Cougars team

The New York Rangers were owned by Tex Rickard, the owner of Madison Square Garden. After seeing he success of his tenant, the New York Americans, he desired a team of his own and founded the Rangers.

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Madison Square Garden in 1925

Their roster was not imported wholesale from a WHL club, but pieced together from various sources. Brothers Bill Cook and Bun Cook came from the Saskatoon Sheiks of the WHL and Frank Boucher from Vancouver. Other players were plucked from the amateur and junior ranks by none other than Conn Smythe.

The Rangers first game came at home against the Montreal Maroons, who they defeated 1-0. They won the American Division with a 25-13-6 record, good for 56 points. Their offense was mid-pack while their defense allowed just 72 goals, one back of the league leading Maroons' 71, giving the Rangers a +23 goal differential.

Bill Cook led not only the Rangers, but the entire NHL in points with 37, one ahead of Chicago's Irvin thanks to his league best 33 goals while Lorne Chabot was second in goals against with a 1.46 average in 36 of their 44 games.

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The 1926-27 New York Rangers first training camp

The Black Hawks drew the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs that season, but lost 6-1 followed by a 4-4 tie to lose their two-game, total goals series 10-5. Boston then advanced to face the Rangers. After a scoreless tie in the opening game, the Bruins won on the road 3-1 to eliminate New York.

It wouldn't take the Rangers long to become the first of the Class of 1926 to win the Stanley Cup, as they would defeat the Maroons 3 games to 2 the very next season of 1927-28 in only their second try.

The Rangers would win again in 1933 followed by the Black Hawks first championship in 1934 with Detroit, by then known as the Red Wings, following suit in 1936 for their first title. Good things come to those that wait however, as Detroit would go on to win 11 Stanley Cups, more than Chicago's 6 and New York's 4 combined.

Today's featured jersey is a 1926-27 Detroit Cougars Eric Brolin jersey worn by the expansion Cougars during their first season in the NHL. The Cougars name lasted just four seasons, but the team wore a new style sweater for every one of those four years, offering no clues as to what was to come, as the Red Wings name was introduced in 1932 and their red jerseys have now remained unchanged for over 80 years!

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1926-27 Chicago Black Hawks Dick Irvin jersey worn for the Black Hawks first season of play. The following season they reversed the colors of their sweaters, now black with white stripes for the next seven seasons of play.

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Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1926-27 New York Rangers Hal Winkler jersey. While researching this entry we believed that the original Rangers sweaters had white lettering, changing to red for the 1927-28 season before adopting red letters with white outlines from 1928-29 on. However... we found several team photos and player photos attributed to the 1926-27 season, including the below photo of goaltender Hal Winkler, which had to be from 1926-27, as he only played eight total games for the Rangers, clearly with red letters with white outlines two seasons before we believed they were first used.

Perhaps the white only jerseys were used in training camp and were replaced with the jersey shown below for the regular season. Either way, we're confident that the below photo of Winkler is from the Rangers inaugural season leaving us with a mystery to solve.

New York Rangers 26-27 jersey

Saturday, September 24, 2016

1983-84 Buffalo Sabres Gilbert Perreault Jersey

The first ever draft pick for the fledgling Sabre organization, Gilbert Perreault was drafted first overall in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft after the Sabres won a spin of a wheel to determine if they or the Vancouver Canucks would pick first. Sabres general manager Punch Imlach chose his favorite number 11, which proved lucky for the Sabres, and is why Perreault was assigned sweater #11.

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Clarence Campbell and his lucky number draft wheel,
which awarded Buffalo the first overall draft pick

Perreault scored a goal in the Sabres first ever game on October 10, 1970 and went on to lead the Sabres in scoring with 72 points in 78 games and win the Calder Trophy. He was also the first Sabre to record a power play goal and a hat trick.

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Joined by wingers and fellow French-Canadians Rene Robert and Rick Martin during the Sabres second season, they formed "The French Connection" line which would excel for the seven seasons the trio played together, including all three being named to the same NHL All-Star Team on two occasions.

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The French Connection Line of Martin, Robert and Perreault

Perreault would lead the Sabres in scoring during 11 of his 17 seasons, including five in a row from 1975-76 to 1979-80. The Sabres would also qualify for the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons, including making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975.

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Perreault as a rookie with the Sabres

He would be named team captain in 1982, a position he would hold until his retirement in November 1986 and amass 512 goals and 814 assists for 1,326 points in his career in 1191 games - all Sabres franchise records which still stand to this day. He also holds Sabres career records for game winning goals, shots on goal and points in a game with seven.

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Perreault was named team captain in 1982

He would also have the distinction of scoring the game winning goal in overtime of the 1978 NHL All-Star Game played in Buffalo at the Memorial Auditorium, one of nine NHL All-Star games he would appear in during his career.

In addition to his success with the Sabres, Perreault would also play for Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series and the 1976 Canada Cup.

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Perreault while with Team Canada

When he retired, he was the sixth leading scorer in NHL history and was subsequently inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame on this date in 1990.

Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Buffalo Sabres Gilbert Perreault jersey. The Sabres played with essentially the same jerseys from 1970 to 1996 with only slight variations such as eliminating the original tie-neck collars in 1978, the same year they added shoulder logos, and minor changes to the arm and waist stripes in 1983.

This jersey proved so popular with the Sabres fans that it was brought back as a third jersey in 2006-07 and was modernized for a new third jersey again in 2008.

hockey jersey
hockey jersey

First, a real treat, footage from the first ever Buffalo Sabres game and Perreault's first ever NHL goal against Pittsburgh.

Here is the Legends of Hockey biography of Gilbert Perreault.

Next up is a great compilation of Perreault action highlights.

Finally a musical tribute to "The French Connection" line, featuring Gilbert Perreault.

Friday, September 23, 2016

1992-93 Tampa Bay Lightning Manon Rheaume Jersey

On this date in 1992, Manon Rheaume became the first, and to this date only, woman to play in an NHL game.

Tampa Bay General Manager Phil Esposito explains how he first became aware of Rheaume: "I was up in Montreal looking at players and we went to this Junior A game and somebody said they wanted me to see this player. I saw the guy and I didn't think he was very good. I said "I like the little goalie." I didn't know it was a woman, and neither did my scout. I said, "I want to go talk to that goalie. He's got something." So I go down to talk to him and she walked out. I nearly flipped. I said, "Oh my God, she's gorgeous. Who is that girl?" They said, "That's the goalie."

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Rheaume was signed by the Tampa Bay Lightning, as an admitted publicity ploy, and played in the first period of the franchise's first home game, an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues. She allowed two goals on nine shots, scored by Jeff Brown and Brendan Shanahan.


From Esposito's book "Thunder and Lightning", his take on her tryout with the Lightning;

During that training camp, I signed Manon Rheaume to come and play for us. Manon was a goaltender, and she was a beautiful young woman.

I found Manon through Jacques Campeau. Jacques was the one who convinced me to sign Manon Rheaume. We went up to a women's tournament and watched her play. "Play her," he said. "The publicity will be great." I agreed with him. And so when we opened up camp in Lakeland, Manon was on the squad. As a result, CBS, NBC and ABC all were there talking about the first woman goaltender ever to play in an NHL game.

Head coach Terry Crisp hated that Manon was on the team. So did my brother Assistant GM Tony Esposito, which may have been the only time they agreed on anything. Even Assistant Coach Wayne Cashman  hated it. Cash would give me the evil eye. I'd say to him, "We're doing it. That's it." A lot of the scouts hated it too. They players didn't like it much either.

I told Manon, "You have to go out with the guys. You have to be part of the team." They took her to dinner and for a few beers.

I wanted to play her because there was nothing to lose and everything to gain. This wasn't Ottawa or Toronto or Boston or New York. This was Tampa, Florida. No other person would have even tried to start hockey here. I was the right guy at the right time to do this. Was in innovative? Some people thought so. Others thought it was crazy. I knew we weren't going to win, so my idea was to promote the team in any way I could to put people in the seats. If I had staked everything on the team's record, we would have had three thousand people in the building, and most of those would have been relatives.

Manon wasn't a bad goalie, but she was gorgeous and too much of a model to stay in the game. There was no harm in letting her come to camp and play. When I told Crispy I wanted her to play half a game, he just about died.

"Oh no, we're a laughingstock as it is," he said.

"Terry, you are going to play her," I said. "And we're going to publicize it."

Even though the players didn't want her to play, the all fought to room with her. We gave her her own dressing room.

She played half a game against St. Louis during training camp at the Fairgrounds. The place was jammed. They were sitting up in the rafters. An unbelievable number of women came to that game. Brett Hull, who had one of the hardest shots in the game, was shooting bullets at her, and she stood right in there.

Bobby Plager, the coach of the Blues, said to me, "I've instructed my boys to shoot at the five hole," meaning just below the crotch.

"Bobby, you pig," I said.

During the game, Rob Ramage, one of our defensemen, an older guy, a class guy, wouldn't let any of the Blues players get near her. He was right there to protect her.

During practice Manon pulled a muscle in her lower back. The trainer, Larry Ness, said to me, "What do I do?" I said, "You do the same as you'd do with a guy. But you better not get a hard-on."

He was rubbing her back and her ass, and the guys were peeking through the curtain trying to see her naked.

At the end of training camp, I sent her to Atlanta as the backup goalie for our International Hockey League team. She played once in a while and was okay. They ended up winning the championship. She went on to play on the 1998 Canadian Olympic team, which Canada lost to the United States. Manon made a good living speaking and signing autographs. They made a movie about her. Sure I exploited her, but it was good for her too.

While she did not make the Tampa Bay roster, she did play a pair of games for the Atlanta Knights of the IHL that season.

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Rheaume with the Atlanta Knights

Rheaume also played in nine ECHL games spread between three clubs over the 1993-94 (Knoxville Cherokees - 4 games and the Nashville Knights - 4 games) and 1994-95 season (Tallahassee Tiger Sharks) , posting a 5-1-1 record.

She was also back in the IHL in 1994-95, playing in two games for the Las Vegas Thunder. Two seasons later, Rheaume was once again the pro ranks, appearing in 11 games for the Reno Renegades of the West Coast Hockey League with a 2-3-1 record.

By the time she reached the professional ranks, she was no stranger to competing with the boys, having become the first girl to play in the prestigious Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament at age 11, as well as the first female to appear in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, seeing limited time in three games with the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs, totaling 17 minutes.

Aside from her forays into the world of men's hockey, she was also a very accomplished goaltender in the world of women's hockey, highlighted by winning gold medals at both the 1992 and 1994 World Championships for Canada, being named Tournament MVP both times. She then won a sliver medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan at the first women's Olympic hockey tournament.

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Rheaume at the 1998 Olympics with Canada

Rheaume has written a well reviewed book about her experiences in hockey, titled Manon: Alone in Front of the Net.

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Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Tampa Bay Lightning Manon Rheaume jersey. The jersey features the Stanley Cup Centennial patch worn on all NHL players' jerseys during the inaugural season for the Lightning.

While the jersey worn by the Lightning remained the same for 13 seasons through the 2006-07 season, the customization went through four distinct specifications. Their inaugural season of 1992-93 saw the team use a custom font for the names in three colors paired with a fairly standard block font for the numbers but with a drop shadow. The following season, saw both the names and numbers italicized.

In 1995-96, the team changed to a three color paintbrush font for the numbers and a vertically arched, bold block font for the names. Finally, in 2001-02, the team reverted back to their original font for the numbers, only now in three colors without a drop shadow paired with a simple one color block font for the names in what was a rather pedestrian look compared to the unique looks that preceded it.

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Tampa Bay Lightning 1992-93 jersey photo Tampa Bay Lightning 1992-93 B jersey.jpg

In the video section today, plenty to view today. First, a report on Rheaume and her appearance for the Lightning.

Next, a feature "The Woman Behind the Mask" about her experience with the Lightning.

Here is a feature segment on Rheaume from her time on the Atlanta Knights, followed by her first appearance for the Knights, the first for a female in an IHL regular season game.

Next up is Rheaume's appearance on the David Letterman show, which must have been a bit nerve-wracking for a primarily French-speaking 20-year-old on national TV in the US.

Next is Rheaume's appearance on a Canadian Quiz show "Front Page Challenge", similar to "To Tell the Truth" or "What's My Line?" in the US, where a panel tries to guess the unusual occupation of a guest.


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