Saturday, March 7, 2020

1967-68 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard Jersey

Henri Richard, who passed away yesterday at age 84, knew at a young age what he wanted to do in life, but it's easy to be influenced by your older brother when he plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

"I was positive that I, too, was going to play for the team, although I never imagined playing with Maurice. Our age difference was 15 years. I hardly knew him; he married when I was a boy, and then he was so busy with hockey. He was more like and uncle than a brother. It's funny, but Maurice never talked to me about hockey, even when we were teammates. We did our talking on the ice," Richard recalls.


Richard arrived on the scene with the Montreal Canadiens at the ideal time, as the club was loaded with talent and had won the Stanley Cup as recently as 1953. Richard kicked off his career with five consecutive Stanley Cup Championships from 1956 to 1960. He was an immediate producer, scoring 40 points as a rookie in 1955-56 and just two seasons later set his career high with 80 points from 28 goals and 52 assists in 1957-58.

"We had quite the team and won the Stanley Cup in my first five years. We almost got bored winning. It was better to win after a loss, much more enjoyable."

After taking a backseat to the Toronto Maple Leafs run of cups in the early 1960's, the Canadiens were back on top again in with back-to-back championships in 1965 and 1966, and again in 1968 and 1969.

Richard was a model of consistency and durability during his 20 year career. From 1957 to 1970 he scored between 50 and 80 points in 13 out of the 14 years, playing no less than 53 games every season. His highest goal total was 30 in 1960 and his career-best 52 assists in 1958 and another 50 assists in 1963 lead the NHL both times.

Richard would win the Stanley Cup again in 1971, one he considers the sweetest. "I had had a few arguments with coach Al McNeil but went on to score the tying and winning goals in the seventh game," said Richard. This after being benched in Game 6 of the finals by McNeil.

He would win the cup one final time in 1973, giving him a total of 11, more than any other player in NHL history. "I won 11 Cups in total, a record that may never be broken. The structure of the league, with the draft and free agency, prevents the creation of dynasties like the one we had in Montreal," Richard speculated.


Richard was named captain of the Canadiens in 1971 after the retirement of
Jean Beliveau. "The oldest player usually got the "C," and at the time, it seemed a normal transition to be voted captain. I never said much to the players, but I had always tried to lead by example. Now that my playing days are over, I see the tradition, the honor, more clearly."

Richard laments, "In all my years with the Canadiens, I never played a shift on the power play. With the great teams we had, I couldn't get on that line." He continues, "I might have had that chance on another team, and though I was tempted by a large contract offer from Houston of the WHA, I'm thankful to have finished as a Montreal Canadien."

Richard retired in 1975 after 1256 games, 358 goals and 688 assists for 1046 points. He participated in the playoffs an astounding 20 times in 22 seasons, totalling 180 games, 49 goals and 80 assists for 129 career playoff points along with his 11 Stanley Cups. That's championships in half of the seasons he played in! Richard was also named the winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1974.

"I saw the younger guys coming on and retired when I knew I wouldn't play regularly anymore. After my retirement, the team went on to win four more cups in a row. I had declined a contract offer from Montreal for those years. I opened a tavern, and the guys would come for a beer and tease me with, "We really missed you out there, Henri." But I've no regrets."

The Canadiens retired Richard's #16 on this date in 1975 and he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979. His record of 11 Stanley Cups as a player still stands to this day.

Today's featured jersey is a 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard jersey as worn when Richard won his eighth Stanley Cup, tying his brother Maurice for the league record.

The Canadiens were founded in 1909 but did not wear their now iconic red sweaters with the blue chest stripe until the 1912-13 season when it was introduced as an alternate jersey due to their red, white and blue striped "barberpole" jerseys drawing complaints that they were too similar to the Ottawa Senators similarly striped red, white and black jerseys.

White trim was added to the blue central stripe the following season, essentially creating the same basic jersey that remains in use today.

Montreal Canadiens 1967-68 jersey photo MontrealCanadiens1967-68jersey.jpg
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1974-75 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard jersey worn in his final game and features the captain's "C" on the left chest.

The Canadiens came into existence in 1909, but did not add a white jersey until the 1935-36 season and it would take until 1941 for it to evolve into the style still worn today.


Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video selection is the "Legends of Hockey" profile of Henri Richard with commentary by both Henri and Maurice Richard, along with Beliveau, a real treat to see.


Next up are highlights of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, where Richard scores both the tying and winning goals as the Canadiens come from behind to win the championship.

Monday, February 24, 2020

1980 United States Olympic Team Dave Christian Jersey

While everyone recalls the "Miracle on Ice" from February 22, 1980, many do not recall that the United States' victory over the Soviet Union was not the gold medal winning game.

In fact, the tournament format in 1980 did not even have a gold medal final, as the teams were not placed in a single elimination bracket, as is the case with the Olympics and World Championships of today. Back in 1980, the format had the top two teams from both the Blue and Red Divisions of First Round group play then placed into a new four team Final Round group.

Once placed in the Final Round group, each advancing team was scheduled to play the two surviving teams from the opposite group, with their earlier game against the team advancing from their First Round group carrying over into the Final Round standings.

What this meant for the United States in 1980 was their tournament opening tie against Sweden carried over to the Final Round, as did the Soviet Union's 4-2 win over Finland. This meant the standings heading into the final four matches stood at;
  1. Soviet Union 2 pts
  2. Sweden 1 pt.
  3. United States 1 pt.
  4. Finland 0 pts.
The United States first game was their historic matchup with the Soviets, which they famously won 4-3 and later was named the Top Story of the Century by the International Ice Hockey Federation, only it guaranteed the United States absolutely nothing.

Fortunately for the United States, nordic rivals Finland and Sweden tied in their game the evening of the 22nd, (yes, the United States game versus the Soviet Union was not even in prime time on US television despite the game being played in the United States!) and the standings heading into the final two games on this date in 1980 were now:
  1. United States 3 pts.
  2. Sweden 2 pts.
  3. Soviet Union 2 pts
  4. Finland 1 pt.
Heading into the final two games on Sunday, the worst case scenario for the United States was if Finland were to defeat them by two goals while Sweden and the Soviet Union tied, the gold would go to the Soviet Union and the United States would drop out of the medals altogether since all four teams would have the same 3 points with the USA having the worst goal differential!

Still, the victory over the Soviet Union left the United States with their fate in their own hands, as a victory over Finland would elevate them to an unreachable 5 points and earn them the coveted gold medal. Oddly, the USA was scheduled to play at 11AM in Lake Placid.

1980 Olympics USA vs Finland

Unfortunately for the United States, Jukka Porvari got Finland out on top with the first goal of the game at 9:20 of the first period with a one-timer slapshot over USA netminder Jim Craig's glove. The period would end with the USA leading 14-7 in shots on goal, but trailing on the scoreboard 1-0, the sixth time in seven games they had fallen behind.

Jim Craig USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland2.jpg
Jim Craig in goal for the Americans

The United States evened the score at 4:39 of the second period on Steve Christoff's unassisted goal on a backhander that went through Finnish goaltender Jorma Valtonen's pads only to have Finland regain the lead less than two minutes later when Mikko Leinonen put a second shot past Craig at 6:30 on the power play. Once again, the United States held the edge in shots on goal at 8-6, but had just twenty minutes to get out of the hole they found themselves in to a team that had never won a medal, nor beaten the United States in Olympic hockey.

USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland1.jpg
The United States still had to face Finland before claiming the gold medal

With Finland leading 2-1 after two periods, a furious US head coach Herb Brooks warned the team during the final intermission that "If you lose this game, you will take it to your f***ing grave." He then walked almost all the way out of the room before turning around and repating "To your f***king grave."

"He didn't have to say much more than that. We knew he was right," USA forward Mark Johnson recalled.

Properly motivated, just over two minutes into the third period USA defenseman Dave Christian skated from his own zone into the Finnish end, drew the defense toward him and passed to left wing Phil Verchota who fired a wrist shot just inside the right post to tie the game at 2-2 at 2:25.

Less than four minutes later the United States struck again when Johnson, behind the Finland goal, passed the puck to Rob McClanahan, who saw Valtonen start to go down put the puck in between his gaping legs for a 3-2 lead for the USA at 6:05, sending the arena into bedlam, as loud as it had been against the Soviets two days earlier, as the United States led for the first time all game.

McLannahan USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland4.jpg
Mclanahan gave the United States their first lead of the game

Before the United States could relax, Neal Broten took a hooking penalty at 6:48 followed by Christian's tripping penalty at 8:54. The USA successfully killed off both penalties only to have Verchota whistled for roughing at 15:45 with the game still in doubt.

With both Broten and Christoff keeping Finland in their own zone during the power play, the puck was shot out toward the blueline, where it was intercepted by Johnson, who skated in, beat a defender, and made a backhand attempt, which Valtonen saved. The rebound however, went right back to Johnson who quickly smacked the puck over Valtonen's right skate for a shorthanded goal to give the United States a 4-2 lead with 3:35 left to play.

Johnson and Christian USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland3.jpg
Johnson celebrates his goal with Christoff

The Americans were now on a roll with their ultimate goal in sight and kept up the pressure, nearly scoring twice more on one shot that hit the pipe and another off the crossbar. Finally time ran out and the United States had secured their gold medal in a game many do not even remember, especially given the attention history has focused on the game against the Soviet Union and the "two days later the miracle was made complete" treatment it received in the movie "Miracle" - all of five seconds of game footage.

The final buzzer set off a new round of celebrations, as the United States successfully completed not just a seven game tournament, but a journey that began months earlier, as Brooks transformed them from rival college kids into Olympic champions.

1980 Miracle on Ice photo USA1980GoldCelebration.jpg
The United States celebrates winning the gold medal following their victory over Finland

Still, somewhat unbelievably, there was another game left to play on the schedule between the Soviet Union and Sweden at 2:30PM. Following the Soviet's demolition of Sweden 9-2, the final placings were now set and the medal ceremony could take place on the ice with Sweden still wearing their jerseys from their game.

1980 Medal Ceremony

1980 Gold Medal

Following the presentation of the medals and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, team captain Mike Eruzione famously called the rest of the team up onto the top level of the victory podium, which miraculously was just large enough, barely, to hold each and every member of the team.

1980 Medal Podium

Today's featured jersey is a 1980 United States Olympic Team Dave Christian jersey as worn in the gold medal clinching game against Finland on the final day of the 1980 Olympic tournament, the sixth time the United States had come from behind during their seven games.

The blue jerseys are the lesser known jerseys from the tournament, as it was the white ones they were wearing when they defeated the Soviet Union and the style which has been much more heavily marketed since then.

United States 1980 Road jersey photo USA198023RF.jpg
United States 1980 Road jersey photo USA198023RB.jpg

Our video section begins with McClanahan's game winning goal at 6:05 of the third period.


This next clip is the final minute of the game along with the subsequent eruption of joy as the United States completed their gold medal performance. Well, except for coach Brooks, who can be seen leaving the bench with nary a smile at the final horn.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

"Miracle" Movie Jersey Collection

Released in 2004, "Miracle" chronicles the story of Herb Brooks and the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team from Brooks' hiring to his formation of his squad followed by his rigorous training methods and efforts to instill in his players an unfamiliar style of play in an effort to combat the dominant team from the Soviet Union, a team made up of battle hardened veterans who had already proven capable of defeating the best the National Hockey League had to offer just one year earlier and who through any route to a gold medal would inevitably have to pass through.

 photo Miracle poster.jpg

Brooks, played by veteran actor Kurt Russell, has to overcome resistance to his methods by his bosses and the division amongst his team, who carry their East vs. West rivalries from their college teams into their training camp. Brooks, a master psychologist, presents himself as disciplinarian and taskmaster in order to unite his players against a common foe - himself as indicated by the lines "I'll be your coach. I won't be your friend."

 photo Brooks Russell.jpg
Herb Brooks (left) and Kurt Russell (right)

Still upset with one of his new teammates over a past incident during the college hockey playoffs, Jack O'Callahan from Boston University instigates a fight during practice with Rob McClanahan from the University of Minnesota. Following the fight, Brooks tells the players his team is all about "flow and creativity, not old rivalries", and has each player introduce themselves. They all respond with their name and what school they played for.

Later, in one of the movie's defining scenes, the distracted team sleepwalks through a 3-3 tie against Norway, which incenses Brooks, who famously punishes his team with an exhausting workout following the game, as he skates his players to exhaustion, even after the arena staff has turned out the lights in the rink, commanding his team to over and over skate "Again!" to the point of vomiting.

Finally, when team captain Mike Eruzione states his name and that the team he plays for is not Boston University, but The United States of America, Brooks has driven home his point of the required hard work and team unity he demands from his team, and the practice mercifully ends.



The team suffers an embarrassing and eye opening 10-3 loss to the Soviets in an exhibition game just prior to the Olympics, followed by an opening game tie against Sweden, where the Americans are saved by a final minute goal by Bill Baker following a trademark Brooks motivational tactic to fire his players up.



The team then goes on a roll, defeating the favored Czechoslovakians 7-3 and then posting wins over Norway, Romania and West Germany to earn a spot in the medal round and their date with destiny against the Soviets.

During their showdown, the Americans fall behind no less than three times, but keep fighting back to tie the game. Finally, Eruzione scores to give the US a 4-3 lead, but with ten agonizing minutes left to play. The US holds on thanks to the goaltending of Jim Craig, setting off an emotional celebration.

Despite the win against the heavily favored Soviets, the United States still has not even assured themselves the gold medal, as they must defeat Finland in their final game. As they have many times in the tournament, the Americans must come from behind to win, and Brooks warns the team that they will take a failure "to their graves" if they lose. Properly motivated once again by their coach, the team comes out flying to win the game 4-2 and secure the gold medal, setting off another round of celebrations.

With so many hockey scenes needing to be shot, the filmmakers needed an enormous amount of wardrobe for the movie and contacted AIS to produce all the jerseys used in the making of the film. All told, they made 11 different team uniform sets, plus additional items such as practice jerseys for the tryout scenes and team jackets.

The most interesting thing to note about the jerseys used in the filming of the movie was the choice of colors for the jerseys used in the pre-Miracle on Ice scenes, as all the colors for the jerseys are three shades darker than than they were originally, such as the use of navy blue rather than royal blue or brick red instead of a vibrant primary red. This is particularly noticeable when looking at anything that was originally white, as it was all now rendered in a grey/silver tone.

It took us a decade of patience and searching, but we were finally able to complete an entire set of each team used in the filming of the movie, and we now present them in the order they appear in the film.

The first appearance of any to the team jerseys is in the first half of the film during the exhibition game held in Norway, which earns the team the full brunt of Brooks' wrath in the "Again!" scene has the team is forced to do repeated "Herbies" (an exhausting skate from the end goal line to the near blue line, back to the end line, to the center red line, back to the end line, to the far blue line, back to the end line, then to the far end line and finally back to the end line) and immediately illustrates the use of the altered colors for the jerseys that appear in the early part of the film as evidenced by the "white" Norway home jerseys.

1980 Norway National Team Jersey1980 Norway Home photo Norway 1980 H F.jpg
1980 Norway Home photo Norway 1980 H B.jpg

Next from that scene is the first appearance of the jerseys worn by the United States in the pre-Olympic scenes, which has "USA" diagonally across the front rather than arched, as it would later appear in the Olympic Games. Again, this jersey is made from a muted Navy Blue, Brick Red and Grey color palette.

1980 United States National Team Jersey
1980 USA photo USA 1980 Pre-Olympic F.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 Pre-Olympic 5 B.jpg

After the navy blue jerseys appear again in a game versus the IHL All-Stars, the next jerseys to appear in the movie are the brightly colored jerseys of the United States and the Soviet Union during their exhibition game at Madison Square Garden just three days prior to the Olympics. The Soviet blood red jerseys and the Americans snow white jerseys give the game the desired visual excitement the filmmakers were looking for.

1980 Soviet Union National Team Jersey1980 Soviet Union photo Soviet Union 1980 25 F.jpg
1980 Soviet Union photo Soviet Union 1980 25 B.jpg

1980 United States National Team Jersey
1980 USA photo USA 1980 27 H F.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 27 H B.jpg

With that thrashing of the United States over with, the scenes featuring the actual Olympics then dominate the second half of the movie with the first American game being against Sweden, where Baker saves the day with his last minute goal with goaltender Craig pulled to spare the United States an opening game defeat. Being a non-Soviet opponent, the filmmakers are back to using the muted colors for the Swedish jerseys, although the yellow still appears relatively vibrant on screen. This is also the first use of the royal blue Olympic jerseys for the United States, giving the game the desired visual excitement.

1980 Sweden National Team
1980 Sweden photo Sweden 1980 F.jpg
1980 Sweden photo Sweden 1980 B.jpg

1980 United States National Team
1980 USA photo USA 1980 5 R F.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 5 R B.jpg

The next opponent for the United States was favored Czechoslovakia, who appeared in their brick red jerseys during the movie for all of ten seconds.

1980 Czechoslovakia National Team
 1980 Czechoslovakia photo Czechoslovakia 1980 F.jpg
1980 Czechoslovakia photo Czechoslovakia 1980 B.jpg

The scene following the USA versus Czechoslovakia game sees Brooks walking on the streets of Lake Placid with Walter Bush. Team jackets are seen from East Germany (DDR) and Italy before they encounter the Soviets, led by head coach Viktor Tikhonov, who is followed by several team members wearing CCCP jackets to keep them warm against the snow flurries.

1980 Soviet Union National Team Winter Jacket
1980 Soviet Union jacket photo Soviet Union 1980 winter jacket XL F.jpg
1980 Soviet Union jacket photo Soviet Union 1980 winter jacket XL B.jpg

Norway appears as the next US opponent, only this time wearing their red road jerseys against the Americans. The Norwegians are dispatched in a mere 13 seconds of screen time.

1980 Norway National Team
1980 Norway Road photo Norway 1980 R F.jpg
1980 Norway Road photo Norway 1980 R B.jpg

The next game is against Romania, who are wearing yellow jerseys similar to Sweden. The shade of yellow used by the Romanian jerseys is slightly darker than Sweden's and again has the muted navy blue and brick red secondary colors. Of all of our "lesser" country jerseys, the #15 of Alexandru Halauca appears on screen the longest while he breaks down the ice as part of the Romanian attack.

Unusually, we also acquired another Romania jersey, this one with a lace-up collar, rather than the v-neck of the Halauca jersey, a style which does not appear on screen during the movie. It has been suggested to us that this may have been a goaltender jersey, but in reality, Sandor Gal (spelled with just one "L") was a defenseman. This jersey arrived without laces.

1980 Romania National Team
1980 Romania #1 photo Romania 1980 V F.jpg
1980 Romania #1 photo Romania 1980 V B.jpg

1980 Romania #2 photo Romania 1980 L F.jpg
1980 Romania #2 photo Romania 1980 L B.jpg

West Germany received a generous 35 seconds of screen time and was the last and most difficult jersey for us to obtain to complete our collection. Having passed on an easy opportunity to get one when they first appeared on ebay when the jerseys first began to be made available to the public prior to setting our sights on having a complete set, it would take another ten years for one to resurface after their initial availability.

While the jerseys for the United States and Soviet Union were made in multiple sets in case of physical damage due to their amount of use in the filming, jerseys from the remaining nations were only made in a single set and can be much harder to obtain due to their limited numbers.

Unlike the other jerseys, the West Germany jerseys use an elastic material for the waist stripes, which results in it's clinched appearance at the bottom. Again, note the use of the brick red and grey for the West German jersey.

1980 West Germany National Team
1980 West Germany photo Germany 1980 F.jpg
1980 West Germany photo Germany 1980 B.jpg

We finally arrive at the Miracle on Ice game between the United States and the Soviet Union for which the entire movie has been building up to. Both teams are outfitted with their brightly colored jerseys, which virtually leap off the screen compared to the muted colors of the other nations' jerseys, especially under the bright lighting of those scenes. The game takes 30 minutes of screen time to complete.

1980 Soviet Union National Team
1980 Soviet Union photo Soviet Union 1980 12 F.jpg
1980 Soviet Union photo Soviet Union 1980 12 B.jpg

1980 United States National Team Jersey
1980 USA photo USA 1980 27 H F.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 27 H B.jpg

There is still one more game left to play however, that being the United States versus Finland, which the US must win to cement the gold medal. Finland, wearing "white" is back to being depicted in the muted color palette. The game action is all of three seconds, as the producers chose not to dramatize the come from behind American victory to clinch the gold, with the majority of the scene being the post-game US celebration in their blue jerseys.

1980 Finland National Team
1980 Finland photo Finland 1980 H F.jpg
1980 Finland photo Finland 1980 H B.jpg

1980 United States National Team
1980 USA photo USA 1980 23 R F.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 23 R B.jpg

Following the Finland game, the movie concludes with the medal ceremony, during which the Soviets are seen wearing track suits, while the Swedes are still wearing their yellow game jerseys.

1980 Soviet National Team Track Jacket
1980 Soviet Union track jacket photo Soviet Union 1980 track jacket F.jpg
1980 Soviet Union track jacket photo Soviet Union 1980 track jacket B.jpg

We also have one particularly special jersey from the filming of the movie "Miracle" in our collection, that worn in the pre-Olympic scenes by actor Eddie Cahill, who played starring goaltender Craig. After obtaining the jersey we had the opportunity to have the jersey signed by Craig in person with the inscription "Jim Craig #30 - 1980 Gold Medal".

1980 United States National Team
1980 USA photo USA 1980 30 FB.jpg
1980 USA photo USA 1980 30 B.jpg

 photo Jim Craig Miracle Jersey Autograph.jpg

The movie ranks as one of the best hockey movies ever made and gave new life to many great lines, particularly those of head coach Brooks, whose players actually kept a diary of his most memorable "Brooksisms". His speech to his team prior to the Miracle on Ice game is one of the most memorable scenes of the film and is often quoted today.


 

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