Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1979-80 New York Rangers Phil Esposito Jersey

On this date in 1979, Phil Esposito, then with the New York Rangers, scored a power play goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins for his 1500th NHL point, only the second player in NHL history after Gordie Howe to do so.

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Esposito scored his 1,600th point as a Ranger

After eight and a half seasons in Boston, which included winning the Stanley Cup twice, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer five times and the Hart Trophy as league MVP twice, Esposito was traded to the Rangers along with Carol Vadnais for Brad Park, Joe Zanussi and Jean Ratelle.

Excerpted from Phil Esposito's book "Thunder and Lightning" (available used on Amazon.com in hardcover for less than a dollar!)

I was traded to the New York Rangers on November 7, 1975, in my mind a day that lives in infamy.
[Phil has just been offered a million dollar signing bonus and six-year contract at four hundred thousand dollars per season to join the Vancouver Blazers of the WHA]
[Bruins General Manager] Harry [Sinden] and I had been talking contract and he hadn't offered me very much. I went back to see him. I didn't have an agent. I never brought up he Vancouver offer. I didn't want to use that. I just told him "I don't want to leave Boston. Come on, let's have something here." He offered me a six-year deal at four hundred thousand dollars a year. I felt it was fair, considering what I had done.
"You want a no-trade clause, Phil?" he asked me.
"Harry," I said, "you and I have been through so much together, I don't need a no-trade clause. If you tell me you're not going to trade me, that's good enough for me.
As we shook hands he said, "Phil, you will be here as long as I'm here."
That was in October, just before the 1975-76 season began on the fourth, and I was happier than a pig in [slop].
We were on the road, and I was playing well even though I didn't particularly like Don Cherry's coaching style.
[At this point Esposito runs into Jim Pattinson who tells him he should have taken his offer to join the Blazers because Boston is going to trade him]
The next morning the phone rang, and [my roomate] Hank picked it up. Hank said, "Phil, it's Grapes." "Grapes" was out nickname for Don Cherry. I wondered, it's seven-thirty in the morning. We don't play until tomorrow. Why is he waking me up?
Hank handed me the phone.
Cherry said, "I've got to talk to you." I thought to myself, Oh, Jesus. I said, "If you want to talk to me, you're going to have to come up and see me." I hung up on him.
Hank said, "What's up?"
I said, "I think I've been traded."
There was a knock on the door, and in came Don Cherry and Bobby Orr. Don was wearing the ugliest pajamas I ever saw in my life. Don made a lot of money in Canada by wearing really ugly clothes. Bobby Orr was in a T-shirt and a pair of slacks.
I was sitting at the end of my bed in my underwear, hungover, and I had my head in my hands.
"What the [frick] is going on, Grapes?"
He said, "Phil, I ... well, I ..."
"Come on. Tell me. I've been traded, haven't I?"
He said, "Yeah."
[Frick] me," I said. "For who? And where?" He looked at me, and looked at Bobby, who was standing by the window. I said, "If you tell me New York, I'm going to jump out that window."
The New York Rangers were our arch-rivals. I hated New York. Whenever we went to play at Madison Square Garden, all we got to see was the dingy block between 7th and 8th Avenues and 33rd and 34th Streets. We never saw the hot spots. We would fly in on Eastern Airlines the day of the game, play, stay in the Statler Hilton, a rundown hotel right across the street, and fly out the next day. New York was filthy. It was the last place I wanted to go.
"Bobby, open the window," Grapes said.
That's how I learned I was going to New York.

On arrival in New York, Esposito found his familiar #7 taken by 16 year Rangers veteran Rod Gilbert and chose to simply double his customary #7 to the unusually high sweater number for the time of #77.

His first season of adjustment in New York would see Esposito play in 62 games and score 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points to go along with his 16 points in the first 12 games of the season he played in Boston. While not able to reach the lofty league-leading point totals of 125-150 points as he had done with Boston, while being the first player to ever score 100 points in a season, Esposito still averaged 35 goals a season while in New York and 80 points over the final five full seasons of his career and led the Rangers in scoring three times.

On November 4, 1977 Esposito would score his 600th NHL goal versus the Vancouver Canucks, becoming the first Ranger to reach that milestone and would then go onto to notch his 1500th point early in the 1979 season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When he retired in 1981, he was second to Howe in all-time league scoring with 1,282 games played, 717 goals and 873 assists for 1,590 points for an average of 1.24 points per game over 18 NHL seasons.

Esposito was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 and had his original #7 famously retired by the Boston Bruins in 1987 when Ray Bourque, the then current wearer of #7 for Boston, pulled of his jersey to reveal a permanent change to #77 in Phil's honor.

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Ray Bourque surrenders his #7 to Phil Esposito

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 New York Rangers Phil Esposito jersey. This style Rangers jersey was first introduced in 1978 after the Rangers brief switch to a much more modern look worn for two seasons in 1976-77 and 1977-78.

It was the first Rangers jersey to ever have "New York" diagonally across the front in the history of the franchise. This style lasted nine seasons before the club reverted back to having "Rangers" diagonally across the front of their road jerseys again in time for the 1987-88 season.

hockey jersey
hockey jersey

First up todays is the "Legends of Hockey" biography on Phil Esposito.

Next up is the jersey retirement ceremony when the Bruins retired Esposito's #7 and Ray Bourque famously shocks Phil and the stadium by giving up his number #7 to Esposito.

Here is Esposito, along with Ron Dugay, Dave Maloney and Anders Hedberg in a moment we suspect they'd all like to forget ever happened.

Unfortunately, it gets worse, as Esposito, Maloney, Hedberg and Ron Greschner take part in a sequel of even more embarrassing proportions.

We're not really sure what's happening here since this post was originally intended to be a tribute to the greatness of Phil Esposito's scoring abilities, but here's another skeleton from Phil's closet we just cannot keep to ourselves. His cohorts are Gil Gerard, Alan Thicke and The Unknown Comic. Why Phil is wearing a #14 jersey, we have no idea...

Monday, October 20, 2014

1978-79 Indianapolis Racers Wayne Gretzky Jersey

Back in 1978 the NHL was embroiled in a feud with the World Hockey Association, which included fierce competition for signing players. The WHA had already lured away many established NHL stars, such as Bobby Hull and Gerry Cheevers, with offers of big money deals. Even Gordie Howe was lured out of retirement for a chance to play with his sons Mark and Marty.

The next tactic that the WHA employed was to look to Europe for players, which led to Swedes Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson joining the Winnipeg Jets and Vaclav Nedomansky defecting from Czechoslovakia and playing for the Toronto Toros.

The third area the WHA would exploit to the fullest was flaunting the NHL rule which did not allow the signing of players under the age of 20. The Birmingham Bulls owner John Bassett signed as many young and talented players as he could, such as Rick Vaive, Michel Goulet, Rob Ramage, Craig Hartsburg, Gaston Gingras, Pat Riggin and Keith Crowder. It was a very good year to have been born in 1959, as all of the "Baby Bulls" were, except Goulet, who was the youngest of the lot, born in 1960, making him just 18 at the time.

Despite all the signings by the Bulls, the star prize in the race to sign underage players went to Nelson Skalbania, who snared a seventeen-year-old Wayne Gretzky for his Indianapolis Racers franchise. Gretzky wanted to play in the NHL, but was stymied by the 20 year old minimum age limit and did not think that another three years in junior hockey were necessary.

Gretzky THN Racers, Gretzky THN Racers

Other youngsters snapped up by the WHA included future stars Ken Linseman, Mike Gartner and Mark Messier, who also had a cup of coffee with the Racers (5 games and no points) before joining the Cincinnati Stingers and again showing little signs of the success that would follow when he scored but one goal and ten assists in 47 games.

It was on this date that Gretzky would score his first two goals as a professional, and two out of the three he would score in just the eight games he would play as a Racer. The first goal came against Dave Dryden of the Edmonton Oilers and would be followed by the second of his career - just moments later.

Today's featured jersey is a 1978-79 Indianapolis Racers Wayne Gretzky jersey. The Racers joined the WHA for the 1974-75 season. Their basic jerseys remained unchanged throughout their five seasons of existence with only a change from two color names used through 1976-77 to one color names for 1977-78 and for 25 games of the 1978-79 season before folding on December 15, 1978.

K1 makes many unusual jerseys that are nice to be able to obtain, such as their many WHA jerseys, however, they do have the annoying habit of making their jerseys "to be worn with pads", meaning they consistently run a size larger than just about every other manufacturer under the sun. A family of four could comfortably live in the large, billowy arms of their jerseys. We generally make a habit of taking any K1 jersey our local tailor shop and have the width of the arms reduced to a more human proportion.

We at Third String Goalie prefer a size large in CCM, Starter or ProPlayer and can live with an extra large quite well, but when it comes to K1 jerseys, a medium is our first choice. A large is passable if the extra yard of material is removed from the arms, but an extra large is more suited for use as a circus tent.

hockey jersey

hockey jersey

In a frankly shocking and unexpected discover today, we found video of Wayne Gretzky scoring his first two goals as a professional for the Indianapolis Racers. It was a rare occurrence for any WHA games to be shown on TV in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area during our youth, and no one had a VCR in their home at the time, so to find video of a Racers game that has been posted on youtube was certainly a welcome and surprising treat.

I'm not sure how much hype there would have been for Gretzky to have joined the Racers in Indianapolis in 1978, but we were also frankly shocked at the size of the crowd at the game and their thunderous enthusiasm.

Here is another video, profiling Gretzky's career during his transition from junior hockey to the WHA with the Racers and his quick move to the Edmonton Oilers.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

1987-88 Chicago Blackhawks Darren Pang Jersey

We're going to keep this one short today.

Goaltender Darren Pang was the first netminder ever drafted by the expansion Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League where the rookie immediately made 47 starts during the 1981-82 season. The following season the diminutive "Panger" played 12 games for the Bulls, with a poor 3-8 record and a goals against average of 4.63 prior to a trade to the Ottawa 67's, which allowed him to shine. In 47 regular season games for the 67's, the 5' 5" Pang posted a 28-14-3 record and a goals against average a full goal per game lower at 3.65.

His second season with Ottawa say Pang finish with a 29-10-1 record and a 3.03 goals against during the regular season. In the playoffs, Ottawa defeated the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL Finals to advance to the Memorial Cup, which was hosted by none other than Kitchener. After defeating the Mario Lemieux led Laval Voisins 6-5, they beat the Kamloops Junior Oilers 5-1 before losing to Kitchener 7-2 to close out the Round Robin portion. Their two wins placed them in the Semifinals, where they again soundly defeated Kamloops 7-2 to set up a final meeting with Kamloops for the championship. There, Pang and Ottawa turned the tables and captured the 67's first Memorial Cup with a 7-2 victory of their own. Pang was named the Best Goaltender of the tournament and named to the tournament All-Star Team.

Undrafted, Pang signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, who assigned him to the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL for the 1984-85 season, where he saw action in 53 games. He also made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks, giving up four goals and taking the loss in his only start. By taking the ice in an NHL game, Pang became the second shortest goaltender in league history, after the 5' 3" Roy Worters, who played from 1925 to 1937 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Americans.

Pang would spend another season in the IHL, this time with the Saginaw Generals, going 21-21 in 44 games. He again played 44 games for Saginaw in 1986-87 with an improved record of 25-16-0 as well as 7 games, winning 4, with the Nova Scotia Oilers of the AHL.

Pang Sagninaw, Pang Sagninaw
Pang while with Saginaw

He made the Blackhawks roster out of training camp for the 1987-88 season and split time with Bob Mason. In all, Pang played in 45 games for Chicago, leading them in wins (17) and goals against (3.84) which included winning his first ever NHL game on this date in 1987 with a 6-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets at home in Chicago after making 39 saves on 43 shots.

Pang Blackhawks, Pang Blackhawks

Pang once again was a member of the Blackhawks for the 1988-89 season, but was unable to fully seize the reigns as a true #1 in an extremely muddled goaltending situation. While Pang led the club in appearances with 35 games, Alain Chevrier, who arrived in a trade from Winnipeg played 27 games, rookie Ed Belfour (23 games) and Jimmy Waite (11), both of whom spent time in the IHL with Saginaw and Chris Clifford (1) all saw time in goal for Chicago. The competition for playing time was intense and as a result Pang also did see two games in Saginaw, but returned in late February to finish the season with the Blackhawks which included two playoff games in relief of Waite.

Pang Blackhawks, Pang Blackhawks

The following season of 1989-90 was one of very limited action for Pang, as he would only see 7 late season games on goal for the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL, but with a strong 2,54 goals against and a 4-1-2 record. Additionally, he would go 3-1 in four playoff games, sharing time with Waite, who went 9-1 as the Ice would capture the Turner Cup as IHL champions.

Those playoff appearances would prove to be Pang's final games, as he would suffer a career ending knee injury during training camp the following season which sent him on a new path as a successful and popular broadcaster, which he is now better known for than being a goaltender.

Pang announcer, Pang announcer

Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Chicago Blackhawks Darren Pang jersey as worn during Pang's first full season with the Blackhawks when he led the team in appearances, wins and goals against average, which included his first NHL win on this day in 1987. This jersey is distinguished from the following season's jersey by the Gunzo's branding on the back, who were the customizers of the Blackhawks jerseys at the time.

During this time period there were a few other clubs who displayed logos from their customizers on their jerseys, such as the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.

Chicago Blackhawks 87-88 jersey, Chicago Blackhawks 87-88 jersey
Chicago Blackhawks 87-88 jersey, Chicago Blackhawks 87-88 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Saginaw Generals Darren Pang jersey. The one feature of this jersey we noticed right away was how the numbers on the back are placed so high that it forces the nameplate up into the blue shoulder yoke.

The Generals relocated from their previous home in Flint in 1985 and changed their name to the Saginaw Hawks to strengthen their tie to their parent club, the Chicago Blackhawks, meaning the Saginaw Generals name only was used for Pang's two seasons with the Generals.

Saginaw Generals 85-86 jersey, Saginaw Generals 85-86 jersey
Saginaw Generals 85-86 jersey, Saginaw Generals 85-86 jersey

Extra Bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1988-89 Sagniaw Hawks Darren Pang jersey. Looking nearly identical to the parent club in Chicago, this jersey is set apart from the NHL's Blackhawks by the "S" logo with crossed tomahawks shoulder patches.

In addition, this jersey has been widened with fabric panels sewn into the sides of the body, which cause the waist striping to come to a halt on both sides rather than wrapping all the way around the jersey as it normally would. Unusually, the side panels to increase the body width also extend all the way down the length of the arms! This is especially evident with the wide black cuffs at the wrists coming to a halt.

We wonder just how small this jersey was to begin with that not only the body had to be modified for someone as small as Pang, even while wearing goalie gear, but that the arms needed the same treatment. It's certainly one of the most unusual modifications we've seen to a jersey.

Saginaw Hawks 1988-89 jersey photo SaginawHawks1988-89Fjersey.jpg
Saginaw Hawks 1988-89 jersey photo SaginawHawks1988-89Bjersey.jpg

In today's video segment, Pang shows he's still got the quick reflexes he displayed as a goaltender when he snares and errant puck while reporting from between the benches during a broadcast.

Here "Panger" demonstrates his fun personality that has made him so popular as a broadcaster as he embraces his small stature.

Friday, October 17, 2014

1989-90 Calgary Flames Doug Gilmour Jersey

On this date in 1989, the Calgary Flames travelled to Le Colisée to take on the Quebec Nordiques.

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The 1989-90 Calgary Flames

Rick Wamsely got the start in goal for the Flames while Stephane Fiset was the starter for the home team.

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Stephane Fiset got the start in goal for Quebec

The Nordiques opened the scoring at 4:26 with a goal from Darin Kimble, his first of the still early season from Claude Loiselle and Greg Adams. Just over three minutes later, Curtis Leschyshyn made it 2-0 for the Nordiques  from Marc Fortier and Daniel Dore at 7:31 on a power play. Less than one minute later Wamsley's night was over when he was pulled after Michel Goulet converted another power play opportunity from Joe Sakic and Mario Marios at 8:29. Mike Vernon then came on in relief of Wamsley, who had given up 3 goals and 6 shots.

Vernon Flames photo VernonFlames.jpg
Mike Vernon entered the game in relief

Gary Suter stopped the bleeding for Calgary at 9:44 from Joe Mullen and Doug Gilmour at even strength. Peter Stastny restored the Nordiques three goal lead when he beat Vernon at 15:03 from Michel Petit and Finland's Iiro Jarvi, also at even strength to close out a great first period for the host Nordiques, who led 4-1 at the break.

Calgary wasted little time in the second period letting the Nordiques they would not be going away quietly when Joel Otto scored after just 37 seconds from Suter and  Mullen. Joe Nieuwendyk then pulled the Flames within a goal when he beat Fiset at 6:13 from Al MacInnis and Soviet Sergei Makarov at even strength.

The Nordiques then capitalized on a five minute major and game misconduct to the Flames Theo Fleury for drawing blood while highsticking. First, Guy Lafleur scored at 14:31 from Jeff Brown and Joe Cirella followed by Stastny restoring the three goal lead for Quebec from Brown and Dore just 28 seconds later. The final five minutes passed with no additional goals, leaving the Nordiques ahead 6-3 after two.

At 7:35 of the third, Cirella put the Nordiques up by 4 before Brown made it a 5 goal lead at 11:27, with both goals being assisted by Stastny and Jarvi.

Now leading 8-3 with seven minutes remaining, things were looking good for Quebec, so there was likely little concern when Gary Roberts scored an even strength goal for the Fames from Makarov and Rick Nattress at 13:27 to cut the lead to 8-4. Eyebrows might have been raised when Roberts scored again 16 seconds later from Makarov and Nieuwendyk but when Jim Peplinski beat Fiset for the Flames third goal in just 27 seconds (from Paul Ranheim and MacInnis) to close the gap to 2, the Nordiques knew they once again had a game on their hands.

Roberts Flames photo RobertsFlames.jpg
Roberts scored twice in 16 seconds

When Cirella was whistled for a penalty for Quebec at 15:07, tensions must have risen among the home 15,391 fans, but throats must have really tightened when Marois was sent off while helping kill Cirella's penalty at 16:55, creating a brief two-man advantage for Calgary. Tables then turned when MacInnis found himself in the box for the Flames just as Cirella's penalty was set to expire, negating the Calgary advantage from Marios' penalty.

As time was winding down, the Flames hopes were dealt a severe blow when Roberts was given a double minor and a game misconduct at 19:41 while the Nordiques' Cirella received a single minor for his part in the fracas - leaving Calgary shorthanded for the final 19 seconds of the game and still trailing by 2.

Right off the ensuing faceoff and with Vernon having been pulled for an extra attacker, Gilmour lit the lamp from Otto and MacInnis at 19:45 - shorthanded - to reduce the once 5 goal advantage to 1 with 15 seconds to play.

Gilmour Flames photo GilmourFlames.jpg
Gilmour scored shorthanded for Calgary

Then, from a center ice faceoff, somehow, Gilmour won the draw and got the puck to Ranheim who beat Fiset with a wrist shot from the top of the slot - with the Flames still shorthanded -  for the fifth time in 2:22 just four seconds after Gilmour's goal to complete the amazing Flames comeback. The two goals four seconds apart not surprisingly set an NHL record for the Fastest Two Shorthanded Goals in league history.

Ranheim Flames photo RanheimFlames.jpg
Ranheim's goal tied the game and set an NHL record

The overtime passed without any additional scoring, leaving each team with a point from the unfathomable 8-8 draw, which no one saw coming with the road team down by 5 with under seven minutes to play.

None of the goalies acquitted themselves very well, with Vernon finishing with 17 saves on 22 shots in 56:24 and Fiset, who somehow managed to stay in the game after giving up three in 27 seconds, made 27 saves on 35 shots.

The Flames would go on to win the Smythe division with a 42-23-15 record but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs, while the Nordiques had a dismal season at 12-61-7 for 31 points, making them the doormat of the league, finishing a full 33 points back of the second worst team.

Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Calgary Flames Doug Gilmour jersey. That season was the Flames 10th season in Calgary and they marked the occasion by wearing a patch on their upper left arm.

The Flames moved to Calgary from Atlanta back in 1980. They simply retained the same jerseys worn in Atlanta, only with the logo changed from a flaming A to a flaming C. This style would remain unchanged through the 1993-94 season before being replaced with a new style after a long 14 year run.

This style was then revived by the club as a throwback jersey in 2009-10 for their 30th anniversary season a pleasing and well received return tat prompted the team to make it their alternate through the 2012-13 season.

Calgary Flames 1989-90 jersey photo CalgaryFlames1989-90jersey.jpg
Flames 10th Anniversary patch photo Flames10thpatch.jpg

Today's video selection is a compilation of goals by Glimour when he was a member of the Flames.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

1972-73 Toronto Maple Leafs Norm Ullman Jersey

After a single appearances in both the regular season and the playoffs as a 17 year old, Norm Ullman roared onto the scene in 1952-53 by scoring 76 points in just 36 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He raised his game to another level in 1953-54 with 56 goals and 101 points, again in just 36 games, an average of 1.5 goals and 2.8 points per game. Not content with those gaudy numbers, Ullman added another 11 goals and 37 points in 10 playoff games as the Oil Kings reached the Memorial Cup Finals.

Ullman Oil Kings photo UllmanOilKings.jpg
Ullman from his junior hockey days with the Oil Kings

After playing one season for the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League, scoring 59 points in 60 games, Ullman showed he was ready for the NHL and made his debut with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1955-56 season. He would play in 66 of the Red Wings 70 games, scoring a modest 18 points. He also appeared in an additional 10 playoff contests as Detroit made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Ullman Red Wings photo UllmanDetroit2.jpg

Ullman found his stride the following year with 52 points in 64 games and never looked back. The following season of 1957-58 saw Ullman's first 20 goal season with 23, beginning a streak of at least 21 goals which would eventually reach 11 consecutive seasons. In addition he led the Red Wings in goals in 1961, 1965 and 1966. He was known as an excellent stickhandler and a tenacious forechecker, which no doubt helped him in the scoring column.

Ullman Red Wings photo UllmanDetroit3.jpg

After seven seasons of scoring goals in the 20's, Ullman put together a career season in 1964-65 when he doubled his previous season's output with 42 goals to lead the NHL with three more than Bobby Hull and 13 more than third place and teammate Gordie Howe. In the overall race, Ullman came in second with 83 points to Stan Mikita's 87.

Ullman Red Wings photo UllmanDetroit1.jpg
Ullman faces off against fellow center Makita

While the Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup Finals five times during Ullman's 13 seasons in Detroit, they were never able to win the cup, which was won by Montreal or Toronto all but one time.

Despite having 30 goals for Detroit after just 58 games in 1967-68, Ullman was traded to the defending Stanley Cup champions Toronto in a blockbuster deal that sent Paul Henderson and Floyd Smith to the Maple Leafs in exchange for star Frank Mahovlich, Pete Stemkowski, Garry Unger and Carl Brewer.

Ullman would score an additional 5 goals for the Maple Leafs in their remaining 13 games for a total of 35, the second highest of his career despite the shock of being traded. Another 35 goals followed in 1968-69 (when he led the club with 77 points) and he scored 34 more in 1970-71 when he set an NHL career best 85 points to lead the Maple Leafs in scoring for the second time, a season which included two assists on this date in 1971 to make him only the fifth player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points, joining Howe, Jean Beliveau, former Detroit linemate Alex Delvecchio, and Hull in the exclusive club.

Ullman Maple Leafs photo UllmanToronto.jpg

After eight seasons in Toronto, which concluded with a decidedly down season of just 35 points and 9 goals, which ended his streak of 20 goal seasons, Ullman's career came full circle as he returned to Edmonton in his native Alberta for 1975-76 when he signed to play for the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA who were more than happy to have the services of his veteran leadership.

Ullman Oilers photo UllmanOilers.jpg
Ullman back in Edmonton with the Oilers

The freewheeling style of the WHA rejuvenated Ullman's game and he immediately led the Oilers with 87 points from 31 goals and 56 assists. He would play one final season in Edmonton before retiring after 22 seasons as a pro. His final NHL totals were 490 goals and 739 assists for 1,229 points in 1,410 games. He added another 47 goals and 130 points in two WHA seasons and certainly would have been a 500 goal scorer in the NHL had he not switched over to the WHA.

Ullman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Toronto Maple Leafs Norm Ullman jersey. The Maple Leafs adopted this style in 1970, only with a laceup collar. They changed to today's v-neck style for the 1972-73 season before returning to the laceup collar for the next two seasons as Ullman's career with the Maple Leafs concluded.

After Toronto returned to using the v-neck collar in 1975-76, the jersey continued a long run through the 1991-92 season with the only change being the contentious addition of names on the back of th e road jerseys in 1977 and the whites in 1978. Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard feared names on the back would harm program sales and famously protested the NHL rule by putting navy blue names on their navy blue jerseys!

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Here is Ullman with Maple Leafs teammate Darryl Sittler in a commercial for some sort of breakfast sponge.

In this video, Tiger Williams, Lanny MacDonald and Ullman are honored in Toronto and conduct the ceremonial puck drop.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

1970-71 Buffalo Sabres Roger Crozier Jersey

The Buffalo Sabres were granted an NHL franchise in December of 1969 to begin play in the 1970-71 season. Punch Imlach was hired to build the team and immediately set out to assemble a scouting staff for the upcoming draft six months later.

Northrup and  Seymour Knox with Punch Imlauch photo NorthrupandSeymourKnoxwithPunchImlauch.jpg
Northrup and Seymour Knox with Punch Imlauch

On June 10, 1970, the Sabres and fellow expansion club the Vancouver Canucks participated in the expansion draft, which Imlach said "wasn't a very enticing prospect", as the existing 12 clubs could protect fifteen players plus two goalies, meaning the best the Sabres could hope for was the 16th best player from any club. To make matters worse, once a team lost a player, they could protect another, which meant the Sabres and Canucks would then be choosing the 18th best player at best. In addition, first-year players were exempt as well. Montreal, for an extreme example, was able to protect fifteen players and two goalies, plus an additional 12 players and Boston was in a position to protect eight additional beyond the prescribed 15, leaving nothing but scraps for the Sabres and Canucks in the first phase of attempting to put a respectable team on the ice.

Thus, their hopes of getting some noteworthy talent focused on the Amateur Draft held the next day. There was still the matter of deciding if Buffalo or Vancouver would have the first pick, which was usually decided by a coin toss, but Imlach explains in his book "Heaven and Hell in the NHL",
"For some reason, perhaps because it made better television, the NHL substituted a big jeezly wheel, the kind you see on the midway. It was numbered one to twelve.
 photo ClarenceCampbellspinsthewheel.png
Clarence Campbell and his big jeezly wheel 
I won a toss to see who picked what numbers for the main spin. I chose the top ones. There was a hell of a crowd in the ballroom at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, everyone in hockey there. When the first spin of the wheel stopped at eight, I had won first choice in the expansion draft. Everybody at our table cheered. But now came the big one."

Clarence Campbell spun the wheel. When it stopped, he looked at the winning number and announced "Number one! Vancouver wins first choice in the amateur draft!"

But I was on my feet and so was everybody at our table, pointing and yelling, "Eleven! Eleven!"

Clarence took another look. The digits in the double figures were one above the other.

It's always amused me that Clarence didn't say, "I've made a mistake." He said, "There has been a mistake. The winning number is eleven..." the rest was drowned out in the wild uproar, not only at our table, but through the room, with only Vancouver and it's supporters remaining quiet. Even glum."
Prior to the expansion and amateur drafts, the Sabres had acquired a few players, but no one anyone was interested in trading for. But now in position to pick first in the expansion draft, Sid Abel of the Detroit Red Wings approached Inlach with a proposal. Abel was coveting Tom Webster, a 21 year old right winger who the Bruins had left unprotected. Imlach continues,
"But this night when [Abel] saw me, it was only a few hours after I'd won first choice in the expansion draft. He hooked his arm though mine and said so the guys with me could hear, "Come with me, Punch. I want to give you something."

"I'll bet you do!" I said.

We walked to a quite corner.

"Look, you know Tom Webster?"

"Yeah." The protected lists were out and Webster was not protected. Detroit wanted him, badly. Obviously.

"If you'll pick Webster first, we'll trade you Roger Crozier for him," Abel said.

Music! Whatever else we got in the draft, we just had to come up with an NHL goalkeeper. But Crozier was beyond my wildest dreams. He had won the rookie award in his first full year, the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs a year later and had a low 2.65 goals against average in the season just ended. But he wasn't happy in Detroit and they though he was sick too much. That's when you can get a guy.

"You got a deal!" I told Abel.
With the goaltending position now addressed and his plan to select Gilbert Perreault in the amateur draft lined up, Imlach took defensemen with four of his next five picks before going after the best skaters and scorers he could get in an effort to provide the public in Buffalo an exciting as possible product.

The opportunity to provide the public in Buffalo that product finally arrived on this date in 1970, when the Sabres played their first ever home game in the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium The Aud

"We hadn't been able to get the balcony built for that season. We didn't even have our own dressing room," Imlach recalled.

The Sabres had already won their debut game on the road in Pittsburgh 2-1 and lost in New York to the Rangers 3-0 before returning home to face the Montreal Canadiens.
"They played that funny game where they don't let you have the puck. I remember before the game, at the reception the Knoxes threw for opening night, somebody said that everybody there would do anything they could to help the Knoxes, except play goal. The game that night show how true that was. Roger Crozier was just magnificent in our goal, but they outshot us 44-14 and beat us 3-0."
While it may have been the Sabres first game in "The Aud", it was far from the first event ever held there, as Memorial Auditorium opened thirty years and a day earlier on October 14, 1940 and it's first tenant was the AHL's Buffalo Bisons hockey team until the arrival of the Sabres in 1970. Also calling The Aud home beginning in 1970 were the Buffalo Braves of the NBA as well as indoor lacrosse, soccer and roller hockey teams and the usual concerts, rodeos and circuses.

To accomodate the arrival of the Sabres and Braves, the roof of the arena was raised 24 feet to make room for a new upper level of seating which raised the capacity for hockey from 12,280 to 15,858. Later renovations pushed that total to 16,433 seats and air conditioning was added in 1990 to try to modernize the building until a new arena could be funded and constructed.

The air conditioning would also prevent another occurrence of an incident in 1975 when a playoff game in the spring was plagued by a thick fog forming on the ice as a result of a sold out building and the warm weather outside heating up the building too much.

1975 Buffalo Fog Game
"The Fog Game" during the 1975 playoffs

The Aud remained in use until 1996 and was not demolished until 2009.

Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 Buffalo Sabres Roger Crozier jersey. The original Sabres jerseys featured a lace-up collar and no names on the back until mandated by the league in 1977. This style lasted as long as the Sabres played in The Aud, and were replaced by a new buffalo head logo as well as a radical change in color scheme from blue and gold to black and red with the move to their new arena.

Crozier had actually played for the Buffalo Bisons in the AHL prior to his making the jump to the NHL with the Red Wings in 1963. Following his trade to the expansion Sabres, he would return to Buffalo and The Aud for six seasons before closing out his career with a brief stint of three games with the Washington Capitals in 1976. He was the first member inducted in the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 1980.

Buffalo Sabres 70-71 jersey

Our first video today is the spin of the wheel that (eventually) landed Buffalo the rights to draft Gilbert Perrault - once Campbell corrected his mistaken announcement that the winning number was 1 and not 11, not coincidentally Perrault's eventual jersey number.

This video tribute to the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium includes footage of the game winning goal for the Sabres from "The Fog Game" and Wayne Gretzky breaking the single season goal scoring record of 76.

Our final video today is the final minute of the last game ever played at The Aud.


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