Monday, September 11, 2017

2000-01 FDNY Hockey Team Ray Downey Jersey

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

Chief Ray Downey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Messier Blueshirts off our Backs 2002

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

The main event on the FDNY Hockey Team calendar is always their annual faceoff against the New York Police Department (NYPD) game as the FDNY Bravest take on the NYPD Finest in "The Battle of the Badges". To date, 42 games have been played with the FDNY holding a 23-17-2 lead in the series.

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

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

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

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

While this style jersey has been retired, you can get the current FDNY Hockey Team jersey, based on the 2000-2007 Calgary Flames jerseys, through the above link or at the official store for FDNY gear - The Fire Zone at Rockefeller Center at 34 W 51st St. in New York, New York.

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

Downey banner,Downey banner

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




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




WTC lights

Thursday, September 7, 2017

2010-11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pavol Demitra Jersey

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the crash on takeoff of the jet carrying the Russian club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to what was supposed to be their season opening game. The crash killed 43 of the 45 people on board, taking the lives of all but one of the players, Alexander Galimov, who succumbed to his injuries five days later, and all of the other team personnel on the flight. The only other survivor of the crash was a member of the plane's crew.

"At first we didn't want to believe it. But right now there is no hope. The team is gone," a Lokomotiv team official told the Russian news outlet Sovietsky Sport.

The catastrophe claimed the lives of players and coaches from Belarus, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Ukraine, shaking the hockey community worldwide.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team picture photo LokomotivYaroslavlteampicture.jpg

Among those familiar to fans of the NHL were assistant coach and 12 year NHL veteran and multiple Soviet and Russian league champion Russian Igor Korolev, eight year NHL veteran and World Championship gold medal winner Czech Karel Rachunek, Stanley Cup and World Championship gold medal winner Czech Josef Vasicek, 11 year NHL veteran, owner of the NHL's longest playing streak for a defenseman and Latvian National Team mainstay Karlis Skrastins, 12 year NHL veteran, World Championship gold medal winner and one of the first four Russians to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, 14 year NHL veteran, with 917 games played, and Belarus National Team leader Ruslan Salei, 18 year NHL veteran of 1,222 games and Stanley Cup winner and team head coach Canadian Brad McCrimmon.

Russian Alexander Vasyunov had played two seasons with the Lowell Devils of the AHL and 18 games with the New Jersey Devils last season and German Robert Dietrich spent two seasons in North America in the Nashville Predators system with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals,

Czech Jan Marek led the KHL in goal scoring in 2008-09 and was a World Championship gold medal winner in 2010. Sweden was hit hard by the loss of goaltender Stefan Liv, a three time Swedish Elitserien champion with HV71, and World Championship gold medal and Olympic gold medal champion, both coming in Sweden's historic double of 2006. The Polish born Liv also played in North America with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL in 2006-07.

One of the highest profile names to perish in the crash was Slovak star Pavol Demitra. Demitra began his professional career with two seasons in the Czechoslovak league before moving to North America following his being drafted 227th overall by the Ottawa Senators. He would split three seasons between the NHL's senators and their top minor league affiliate, the Prince Edward Island Senators from 1993-94 to 1995-96.

Demitra played for the Las Vegas Thunder and Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL as well as eight games with the St. Louis Blues following a trade. he found his greatest success with St. Louis, with three seasons of 35 goals or more, including a high of 37 in 1998-99, the year of his first NHL All-Star Game appearance. Two more All-Star appearances would follow in 2000 and 2002 before Demitra would set a career high in points with 93 in 2002-03, placing 6th overall in the league scoring race. In all, Demitra would lead St. Louis in scoring four times, in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

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He would also be recognized with with the Lady Byng Trophy in 2000 after recording 28 goals and 75 points with just eight penalty minutes.

He returned to Slovakia during the NHL lockout of 2004-05 to once again play for Dukla Trencin. Once the NHL resumed play, the free agent Demitra signed to play for the Los Angeles Kings for one season prior to being traded to the Minnesota Wild to be teamed with fellow Slovak and close friend Marian Gaborik. for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

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Demitra tied for the team lead in scoring during his first season in Minnesota despite Gaborik missing nearly half the season due to injury. While with the Wild, Demitra served as team captain during October of 2007.

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His final two NHL seasons were spent with the Vancouver Canucks, although the second was limited to 28 games following a lengthy recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.

His NHL career concluded with 847 games played, 304 goals and 464 points for 768 points. Additionally, in 94 career playoff games, Demitra scored 23 goals and 59 points.

For the 2010-11 season, Demitra signed with Lokomotiv of the KHL in Russia, where hisrenowned playmaking abilities made the veteran the club's leading scorer and placed him in a tied for third in league scoring.

Internationally, Demitra played in the 1992 European Junior Championships and the 1993 World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal, for Czechoslovakia. Following the division of Czechoslovakia, Demitra skated for Slovakia in both the 1996 World Championships and 1996 World Cup, the 2002 Olympics and 2003 World Championships where he earned a bronze medal.

He then went on to participate in both the 2004 World Championships and 2004 World Cup, the 2005 World Championships, 2006 Winter Olympics and 2007 World Championships.

Demitra then led all players at the 2010 Olympics in scoring with ten points in seven games on his way to being named a tournament all-star. He also scored a sublime shootout goal to give Slovakia a win over Russia in the preliminary round.

His final international appearance was as the 2011 World Championships, where he had the honor of captaining the Slovak team on home ice.

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Here, Demitra and future Lokomotiv teammate Rachunek embrace following their preliminary round game at the 2011 World Championships.

Demitra leaves behind his wife Maria and his two children, Lucas and Zara.

Today's featured jersey is a 2010-11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pavol Demitra jersey as worn during Demitra's final season of play during which he scored 18 goals and 60 points in 54 games, which placed him fifth in league scoring. During the postseason, Demitra scored another 6 goals and 21 points for second in KHL playoff scoring.

The name Lokomotiv comes from the fact the club is owned by the Russian national railroad, Russian Railways. The club was founded back in 1959 and has won the Russian Open Championship three times (1997, 2002 and 2003), and were KHL runner's up twice (2008 and 2009) and were also runner's up in the 2003 IIHF Continental Cup.

Following the crash, the club fielded a team of young players in the VHL, the second level of Russian hockey, but will return to the KHL for the 2012-13 season, having signed NHL veterans Viktor Kozlov, Niklas Hagman, Staffan Kronwall, Curtis Sanford and Vitaly Vishnevsky to rebuild their roster in an attempt to return to their place among the top clubs in the KHL.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006-07 Minnesota Wild Pavol Demitra jersey as worn on January 6, 2007 with the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation patch. Each player on every team would wear the Teammates for Kids patch on their jerseys for a game that January, after which the jerseys were then auctioned off for charity to raise money for the foundation.

To date, the foundation has distributed over $75 million through its various programs in conjunction with professional athletes.

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Today's first video is Demitra having the perfect timing to score a hat trick on Hat Night in Los Angeles. The results were swift and predictable!


Here is Demitra's game winning goal in the shootout against Russia in the 2010 Olympics, where he displayed his puck control by deftly lofting the puck over the Russian goaltender counter to the direction of his body following his patented "swing wide" approach to the net.


In Minsk, Lokomotiv's scheduled opponents for their first game, Dynamo Minsk, held a hockey funeral for those killed in the crash, a moving and emotional ceremony.


To see the full 35 minute version of the service, click here.

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On a personal note, we had the pleasure of seeing Demitra play in person for the two seasons he was with the Wild and the opportunity to meet him in person following a few practices. Our favorite memory of him began when we were at a pre-game warmup one night. A kid came down the steps of the arena toward the glass wearing a goaltenders catching glove while the players were warming up. As soon as the kind stopped and held up his glove, Demitra looked up after finishing a stick handling warmup drill and lofted the puck over the glass to the kid, who caught the puck in the glove and ran off.

We commented, "It was like he knew it was coming," to which the regulars replied, "He did, Pavol always looks for a kid to give a puck to."

Armed with that knowledge, the next time we attended a game with our youngster, we did all we could to put ourselves in position to get Demitra's attention. Wearing a vibrant yellow Dukla Trencin jersey, Demitra's previous Slovak club of which he was then a part-owner, to stand out against the dark green seats of the Xcel Energy Center, and with our youngster not only dressed in a Wild jersey, but holding a Dukla Trencin sign with Demitra and Gaborik's numbers 38 and 10 to further stand out, we positioned ourselves alone six rows up to make any attempt to loft a puck to us easier than if we were right behind the glass in the first couple of rows, not to mention away from the larger number of fans at the glass.

Demitra Sign photo Demitrasign.jpg

As Demitra finished his stickhandling drill, he looked up to scan the crowd for a kid, we gave him a quick "over here!" wave, as if we needed to wearing the bright yellow of Dukla, and he softly floated the puck over the glass right to us, which landed more gently in our hands than one could ever imagine.

We repeated this later in the season, and those two seemingly ordinary warmup pucks now hold an even more special place in our modest collection of memorabilia now that Demitra and his many Lokomotiv teammates have now left us.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz Jersey

Wes Walz returned from the hockey wilderness on this day in 2000 when he signed a contract with the expansion Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

Expected to be a force offensively after scoring 104 points in 63 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in junior hockey, Walz was selected in the third round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, ahead of players such as Kris Draper, Robert Reichel, Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure, although it must be noted that selecting Soviet players was still a gamble at the time.

Walz lived up to the Bruins expectations with 54 goals and 140 points in 56 games and 37 points in 19 playoff games in his final season of junior hockey, won a gold medal with Canada at the 1990 World Junior Tournament, including five points in seven games, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins in two games, which included scoring his first NHL goal. In 1990-91 he split time between the Maine Mariners and the Bruins and played for no less than four teams in 1991-92, the Mariners (21 games) and the Bruins (15) and, following a trade, the Hershey Bears of the AHL (41) and the Philadelphia Flyers (2).

After a full season with Hershey in 1992-93, he signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames and again divided his time between the AHL and the NHL. 1994-95 Walz was limited to 39 games with Calgary in 1994-95. He then signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent, but only appeared in two games with the Detroit and spent 38 games with Adirondack of the AHL.

And with that, his once promising NHL career wound down after just 169 games and 78 total points.

Fast forward four seasons and Walz, a six year veteran of the NHL, was playing for Lugano of the Swiss Nationalliga A after three successful seasons with EV Zug, which included leading the team in points and to a championship in 1997-98.

A father with growing children ready to start school, Walz, now age 30, had a desire to return to North America, and the expansion taking place with the addition of Nashville in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and now Columbus and Minnesota in 2000 had created roughly 100 new jobs for players in the NHL. With both Columbus and Minnesota looking to stock up their rosters for their debut seasons in 2000-01, Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough contacted Walz, his GM when he was with Calgary, to see if he would be interested in a job, which Walz jumped at.

"I was excited about the prospect of playing in the league again, and the timing was right for me to give it another shot. The experience of playing in Switzerland had been a good one, but the challenge of living in Europe was growing a little tougher. My son needed to get started in school, and the language barrier was becoming a factor in some of our decision-making. We were ready for a move." Walz recounted.

During the Wild's first training camp, the hard working, tireless Walz caught the attention of head coach Jacques Lemaire, who tabbed Walz as a "checker". With his role now defined and plenty of ice time to be had on the outgunned expansion Wild, Walz transformed himself from a marginal NHL forward into one of the most tenacious defensive forwards in the NHL. He chose the #37, the first one ever assigned to him in training camp as rookie, to remind himself of where he came from and to keep himself humble, and seized the opportunity to return to the NHL. He played in all 82 games of the Wild's debut season, scoring 18 goals, seven of which were shorthanded which was second best in the league.

As a reward for his hard work and to use him as a role model to the team's younger players, Walz was named team captain for the first time in December of 2000. Not having captained a team since he was 14, he recalled, "I wasn't very big when I was a kid, and being captain then didn't have anything to do with leadership. It was just a matter of who was scoring the most goals. This is a huge honor, and certainly nothing I was expecting. I'm surprised and very humbled."

Wes Walz photo C2000.jpg
Walz as Wild team captain

When Walz was not wearing the "C", which Lemaire rotated on a monthly basis, he was often one of the Wild's assistant captains throughout his time in Minnesota. He was also selected by the local Professional Hockey Writer's Association as the Wild's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 2001.

His hard work was also recognized with the second invitation of his career to play for Team Canada, this time at the 2001 World Championships, something that certainly would not have happened had he stayed in Europe off the radar.

Wes Walz
Walz playing for Canada at the 2001 World Championships

In 2002-03, Walz helped the Wild advance past the favored Colorado Avalanche thanks to is defensive work against Colorado's top players, Peter Forsberg in particular, as the Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit in games to win in seven. The Wild repeated the comeback feat in round two against the Vancouver Canucks as Walz contributed a vital five of his seven playoff goals during the series. His hard work that season was recognized when he was named one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy, which recognizes the top defensive forward in the league.

Wes Walz
Walz makes Daniel Cloutier look foolish
as he scores in Game 7 against Vancouver

After his 2003-04 season was cut short by a sports hernia, which required surgery and months of rehabilitation, Walz resumed playing after the lockout ended and set a personal high with 19 goals and came within a point of tying his NHL career best with 37 points in 2005-06, earning another Masterton Trophy nomination in 2006.

In 2006-07, Walz was credited with one of the most unusual goals in the league, an overtime game winner on December 29th against Columbus. Walz drove to the net as teammate Martin Skoula was shooting the puck. Simultaneously, Jason Chimera checked Walz just as the puck arrived - and disappeared into the airborne Walz's breezers! When Walz then landed in the net, the puck when in with him, and after a video review, he was credited with the winning goal!

Wes Walz
Walz scoring the game winning goal - with
the puck stuck in the leg of his pants!

In 2007-08, Walz played the first 11 games of the season prior to taking an indefinite leave on November 11th following a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins before formally announcing his retirement on December 1, 2007 as the all-time franchise leader in games played and one of only two remaining original members of the team.

Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz jersey from his time in Switzerland. Perhaps the worst hockey jersey ever on planet Earth, EV Zug apparently purchased their jerseys on clearance from the circus clown supply store. It looks like a minor league New Year's Eve special occasion jersey or perhaps some sort of European Mardi Gras in a very 1990's style when torn paper edges and paintbrush strokes were all the rage in graphic design.

We're not certain how the jersey's four sponsors must have felt about having their logos lost in the clutter of the busiest jerseys we've ever seen. It would be interesting to hear a player's perspective on what it was like to play in these jerseys, as they could either make their teammates highly visible on the ice, or have the opposite effect of making them blend into the multicolored background of the spectators.

Don't miss the video of the jerseys in action below, as Walz's jersey carries an ad on the back so large, it obscures both his name and number!

Wes Walz EV Zug jersey
Wes Walz EV Zug jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2005-06 Minnesota Wild Wes Walz jersey which features the NHL Cares/Katrina Relief Fund patch worn for the first period only for each team's first home game.

Wes Walz
Walz wearing the NHL Cares patch during the first period of the Wild's first
game of 2005-06, the NHL's return to action following the NHL lockout

The patched jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, Louisiana in August of 2005. Sidney Crosby's game worn jersey generated the highest final price league-wide with a final bid of $21,010 followed by Alexander Ovechkin at $7,929. Overall the auction of 600 jerseys raised over a half a million dollars, which was then matched by the Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation for a total of $1,060,944.

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Our video section today begins with a beautifully produced look back at the career of Walz and his retirement announcement.


Next, the always tenacious Walz scores a shorthanded goal while playing for EV Zug in Switzerland. Notice that Walz has a full size "Key Player" ad covering his name and number on the back of his jersey! Apparently he is so "key", that everyone knows who he is without aid of any identifying information, like being able to actually see his name and number.


Finally, highlights of the Minnesota Wild Skills Competition, where the fastest skater competition was won annually by Walz, over recognized NHL speedster Marian Gaborik.

Friday, June 23, 2017

1905-06 Portage Lake Hockey Club Cyclone Taylor Jersey

Born on this date in 1884, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor was one of the first stars of the fledgling sport of hockey and one of the leading scorers of his day.

As was common in the early days of organized hockey, Taylor played for several teams in several leagues - depending on where the money was. He joined his is first professional club, thanks to a $3,000 salary offer, the Portage Lakes Hockey Club in Houghton, Michigan in the International Professional Hockey League. Taylor arrived in the latter part of the 1905-06 season in time to score 11 goals in 6 games and help the club win the league championship with a 19-5 record.

He returned for the 1906-07 season and scored 14 times in 23 games as Portage Lakes again won the championship, this time with a record of 16-8. With professional teams now starting up in Canada, many of the players preferred to play closer to home and the IPHL disbanded after before the start of the next season.

Taylor moved back east, joining the Ottawa Senators of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association for the 1907-08 season. In 1908, Taylor played the start of the season with Pittsburgh of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League but returned to Ottawa in time for the start of the Senators next season. Once back, he scored 9 goals in 11 games as Ottawa won the league title with a 10-2 record. As champions of the league, Ottawa became the holders of the Stanley Cup, previously held by league members the Montreal Wanderers.

Taylor Ottawa 1909
Taylor of the Ottawa Senators

It was during this period that Canada's Governor General was so impressed with his incredible speed that he gave Taylor the nickname "Cyclone".

Fred Cyclone Taylor signature

After a falling out with management of Ottawa, Taylor accepted an offer to join the Renfrew Creamery Kings for the inaugural season of the National Hockey Association.

1911 C55 Taylor

There he was joined by future hall of famers Lester Patrick, his brother Frank Patrick as well as mid-season addition Newsy Lalonde. The paychecks handed out to the Renfew players earned the club the unofficial nickname of the Renfrew "Millionaires". Taylor's salary in particular was the highest ever for a Canadian athlete up to that time and remained so for many years.

Lalonde,F Patrick & Taylor 1912
Newsy Lalonde, Frank Patrick and Cyclone Taylor of Renfrew

Despite their high priced talent, Renfrew finished third in the league and reportedly lost $17,000 that season. Taylor returned for the 1910-11 season, only without the Patricks or Lalonde.

The club once again finished third in the standings and disbanded following the season, putting Taylor back on the open market. Sort of.

His rights were transferred to the Montreal Wanderers, but Taylor was quoted as saying he'd rather retire than join the Wanderers and ended up playing in a game for the Ottawa Senators. The Wanderers protested Taylor's appearance for Ottawa and won. The game was ordered replayed, Taylor and Ottawa were fined $100 each and Taylor was given an indefinite suspension, ending his 1911-12 season at one game.

In November of 1912, Taylor was lured to the Vancouver Millionaires by his former teammates the Patrick brothers, who had formed the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

Taylor Vancouver 1912-13
Taylor with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1912-13

There, he would find a permanent home, playing the next nine seasons of his career, which included five scoring titles, thanks in part to moving up to forward from defense, a career high of 32 goals in 18 games in 1917-18 and a Stanley Cup championship in 1915 thanks to a 3 games to none win over Taylor's former club, the Ottawa Senators which included Taylor scoring six times in the three games including twice in the cup clinching Game 3. The victory by the Millionaires remains the only Stanley Cup ever won by a team from Vancouver 95 years later.

1915 Vancouver Millionaires
1915 Stanley Cup champion Vancouver Millionaires

The Millionaires returned to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1918, and while they fell in seven games to the Toronto Arenas, Taylor led all playoff scorers with 9 goals in 7 games.

He stopped playing hockey after the 1920-21 season, but did return for a single game in the 1922-23 season with the club now renamed the Vancouver Maroons. He finished his career averaging more than a goal per game with 194 goals in 186 regular season games.

Following his playing career, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. His son Fred Jr. opened a chain of hockey equipment stores called Cyclone Taylor Sports in 1957 which remain in operation today. Since 1967 the playoff champions of the three British Columbia Junior B hockey leagues is awarded the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

In 1979, the Canucks renamed the club's annual MVP award the Cyclone Taylor Award. There are also arenas in Vancouver and his birthplace of Tara, Ontario named in his honor as well as Cyclone Taylor Boulevard, which is one of the four roads around the current Ottawa Senators arena, Scotia Bank Place in Ottawa.

Today's featured jersey is a 1905-06 Portage Lake Hockey Club Fred "Cyclone" Taylor jersey. Or in this case we should we say "sweater". This classic turn of the century hockey sweater features a wonderful "PL" monogram adorned with wings on either side. This heavy sweater certainly would have kept the players warm, as the IPHL played it's games in the winter on natural ice.

While the Portage Lake team only existed for a limited number years, playing exhibition games as early as 1900 and joining the IPHL in 1904 when they began to attract players of note from Canada with the salaries they were paying in the days of amateur hockey, the lineup of future hall of famers was quite impressive, including IPHL founder Jack Gibson in the Builders category, "Bad" Joe Hall, goaltender Riley Hern, team captain Bruce Stuart, his brother Hod Stuart and of course the legendary Cyclone Taylor.

Taylor Portage Lake 1905-06

Today's video is a treat, a look at Taylor's career which includes an interview with the man himself!


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic Prototype Jersey

On this date in 1995, the NHL gave their approval for the sale of the Quebec Nordiques which resulted in their relocation to Denver, Colorado.

Originally founded in 1972 as one of the original 12 WHA franchises, the Nordiques played seven seasons in the WHA, winning the championship once in 1977.

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques
The 1976-77 WHA champion Quebec Nordiques

While the league folded following the 1978-79 season, four of the league's strongest and most stable franchises would enter the NHL as "expansion" franchises, which included the Nordiques.

Life in the NHL proved both exciting and difficult. The Nordiques rivalry with Quebec neighbors the Montreal Canadiens provided some of the most intense battles of the 1980's. After missing the playoffs in 1980, the Nordiques made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, including a division title in 1986 and a pair of trips to the conference finals in 1982 and 1985.

1985-86 Quebec Nordiques
The 1985-86 Quebec Nordiques

Sadly for fans of the Nordiques, the club fell on some very hard times after 1987, missing the playoffs six out of the next seven seasons, including a horrid run from 1988-89 to 1991-92 when the club won a total of 75 games, an average of less than 19 per season, including last place finishes in 1988-89, 1989-90 (33 points behind the second worst team, more than the 31 they actually scored!) and 1990-91.

The Nordiques used the resulting draft picks to select players such as Mats Sundin and Adam Foote (1989), Owen Nolan (1990), Eric Lindros (1991) (who they converted into Peter ForsbergRon HextallChris SimonMike RicciSteve DuchesneJocelyn Thibault and $15 million) and Adam Deadmarsh (1993).

All this, in addition to the selection of Joe Sakic (15th overall in 1987), gave the Nordiques a very bright future on the ice, as evidenced by their record-setting turnaround from a 52 point season in 1991-92 to a 104 point season in 1992-93, an improvement of 52 points in one year!

Unfortunately, the future did not look the same off the ice. The weak Canadian dollar hampered the bottom line, as the team's revenues came in Canadian dollars but player salaries were paid in US dollars. No doubt the small size of Quebec City worked against the team and the exclusive use of French in the city both hurt it's ability to attract certain players, Lindros in particular, sponsorships and contracts with radio and TV outlets. It's home arena, the Colisee de Quebec, built in 1949 and it's smaller 15,750 capacity also limited the team's finances.

Nordiques president Marcel Aubut sought financial help from the Quebec provincial government as well as a new publicly funded arena, all of which was turned down.

Eventually the club was sold to Comsat Entertainment Group, already owners of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, who relocated the team to Denver, Colorado for the 1995-96 season - a year in which they proceeded to immediately win the Stanley Cup with a roster full of players selected to be Nordiques.

Nordiques art

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic prototype jersey. The original 1972 Nordiques jerseys used light blue had a considerable amount of red on both the shoulders and waist stripe. The following season the blue was changed to a considerably darker shade and the amount of red was limited to the shoulders on the home jerseys and narrower striping.

The familiar Nordiques style was adopted in 1975 and remained in use through the Nordiques final season in Quebec twenty years later, although a new jersey with a modernized logo was unveiled on March 30, 1995 which was originally intended to be worn by the Nordiques in 1995-96. 

It has been reported that the club missed the deadline for approval of the jerseys in time for the start of the 1995-96 season and the jersey was now scheduled to become the Nordiques new jerseys for the 1996-97 season, only to see the club relocate to Denver, Colorado, where they would be renamed the Avalanche, leaving the now orphaned jerseys to go forever unworn.

The only known photo of the original jerseys shows (not very thrilled) journalist Claude Cadorette on the left in the blue road jersey and Nordiques public relations employee Pierre Kirouac on the right in the home white jersey modeling the sweaters, failing to show even the full length of the jerseys to reveal the intended waist striping.

Nordiques unused 1995-96 jerseys
Claude Cadorette and Pierre Kirouac in the best known
photo of the Nordiques proposed new jersey style

None of these jerseys were ever mass produced for retail sale, although some attempts to create them have been made, but none in any great quantities and some with less accurate colors than others thanks to a widely circulated illustration which had it's origins based on a guess while viewing a black and white photo. We were fortunate to obtain one of the accurately colored ones which do show up on ebay from time to time, which is today's featured jersey.

Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 F photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97F.jpg
Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 B photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97B.jpg

Our video section today begins with the 1984 playoffs "Good Friday Brawl" between the Nordiques and Canadiens.


Here is a report on Lindros refusal to play for the Nordiques, a stance which would eventually lead to the long-term success of the franchise - after it moved to Denver.


Finally, a video showing how the team was playing well, but financially the club was a state of financial decline.

 

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