History of Jersey 83-93 Banner sm photo History of Jersey 83-93 Banner sm.jpg

Saturday, September 11, 2021

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.

photo NewYorkRangers2001-029-11smjersey.jpgaphoto BuffaloSabres01-029-11smjersey.jpg

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 his firefighters helmet with Ray Downey's picture 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 with the photo of the still missing Downey in it as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared its approval.

Messier Firehelmet 10/7/01
Mark Messier wearing Larry McGee's helmet prior to the Rangers first home game following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Note the special "New York" crested 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 its 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 its 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, 47 games have been played with the FDNY holding a 26-18-3 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.

FDNY 2000-01 jersey photo FDNY2000-01F.jpg
photo FDNY2000-01B.jpg
FDNY 2000-01 P1 small photo FDNY2000-01P1sm.jpgaphoto FDNY2000-01P2small.jpg

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 special 20th Anniversary FDNY Hockey Team jersey through the above link.

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

Saturday, March 6, 2021

1982-83 New York Rangers Mark Pavelich Jersey

Hailing from the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, Mark Pavelich, born on this date in 1958, attended the University of Minnesota Duluth beginning in 1977-78. His progress was pronounced, as he scored 12 goals and 19 points his first season, 14 goals and 44 points his second (third on the club) and leapt up to 31 goals and 79 points to lead the team in 1978-79.

Pavelich UMD, Pavelich UMD
Pavelich while with Minnesota Duluth

His creative "rink rat" style of play caught the eye of head coach Herb Brooks who who named Pavelich to the 1980 United States Olympic Team, where he teamed with UMD Bulldogs teammate John Harrington and fellow northern Minnesota native Buzz Schneider in a line that became known as the "Coneheads".

"It was kind of unique, obviously, growing up playing hockey in Eveleth," Pavelich recalled. "I was fortunate enough to have the rink just a couple of blocks say, It was just nonstop hockey. I was always down at the rink."

During the 53 games leading up to the Olympics, Pavelich scored 45 points and during the seven games of the Olympic tournament, he averaged a point per game, with one goal and six assists, including his assist on the opening United States goal scored by Schneider and the critical first assist, earned by sending the puck into the slot despite facing and moving the opposite direction while falling backwards, where it was gathered by Mike Eruzione, who then scored the game winning goal in the "Miracle on Ice" upset over the Soviet Union, later named the top story in the IIHF's first 100 years.

Pavelich USA, Pavelich USA

Undrafted by any NHL club, certainly in part due to his 5' 8" size, Pavelich took his game to HC Lugano in Switzerland, where he racked up 73 points in 60 games before once again putting on the red, white and blue of the United States at the 1981 World Championships.

Meanwhile, back in the United States the pairing of his Olympic coach Brooks and his assistant Craig Patrick, was reunited when Patrick hired Brooks to be the head coach of the New York Rangers. They brought Pavelich back to the United States and reunited him with not only Brooks, but also former US teammate Dave Silk and later Rob McClanahan.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

Pavelich took to the NHL right off the bat, finishing third in team scoring with 33 goals and tying for second in points with Ron Dugay at 76. The following season Pavelich rose to second in team scoring with a nearly identical 75 points while raising his goal total to a team leading 37, which included a record setting game against the Hartford Whalers in 1983.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

In that game, Pavelich opened the scoring with a power play goal just 1:17 into the contest. Vaclav Nedomansky banked another power play goal for the Rangers less than a minute later at 2:15. After the teams traded goals two minutes apart later in the period, the Rangers began to pull away with goals by Swede Kent-Erik Andersson at 18:36 and Pavelich's second goal, again on the power play with just ten seconds remaining in the period to give New York a commanding 5-1 lead after the first period.

Barry Beck stunned the Whalers just nine seconds into the second period before Pavelich completed his second career hat trick at the 9:06 mark. Mike Rogers made it 8-1 Rangers two minutes later. Pavelich's former 1980 teammate Mark Johnson stemmed the tide with a goal for the Whalers at 12:52 before Ed Johnstone's goal for the Rangers and Michel Galarneau's for Hartford made it 9-3 for home team after two.

But there was still more yet to come, and in surprising, record setting fashion, for at 8:40 of the third period Pavelich scored his fourth goal of the night, from Tom Laidlaw and McClanahan, followed by his fifth goal of the game from Laidlaw just 11 seconds later, making Pavelich the first American-born player in the 66 year history of the NHL to score five goals in a game. His feat also equaled the Rangers team record set by Don Murdoch in 1976-77.

"As a pro, this is my most memorable game," he said afterwards.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers
Pavelich shows his five goal pucks to the media
following his record setting performance

In 9 playoff games that season, "Pav" set a career best with 4 goals and 9 points in 9 games.

While his goal total dropped from 37 to 29 the following season, he set a career high with 82 points thanks to his 53 assists in 1983-84.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

1984-85 was a season of change, as Brooks was fired as the Rangers coach after 45 games and Pavelich himself was limited to just 48 games himself, although he still maintained a nearly a point per game average with 45.

With Brooks gone, Pavelich's days in New York were numbered, as he was uncomfortable and unaccustomed to playing the traditional NHL "dump and chase" style of new Rangers coach Ted Sator and retired at the end of the season after playing 59 games, scoring 20 goals and 40 points.

He was happy to return home to the simple life of hunting and fishing, only to be called on by Brooks once more, who had now taken over as the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars. It was a short-lived reunion however, as Pavelich would only play a dozen games for the North Stars in 1986-87, although they were productive ones, with 4 goals and 10 points. The record shows that later that season he suited up for the Dundee Rockets in the British Hockey League for a single game, being credited with a pair of assists.

While now done with the NHL, he was not quite finished with hockey just yet, finding a home with HC Bolzano in Italy beginning with the 1987-88 season, where he teamed with former North Stars teammate, Swede Kent Nilsson. There, Pavelich scored nearly a goal per game, with 31 goals in 36 games on his way to 73 points, more than two points per game. That was not all, as Bolzano went on to win the league championship that season, which included Pavelich's 9 goals and 20 points in just 8 playoff games.

He returned to Bolzano for another season in 1988-89, adding 23 goals and 57 points in 44 games before he retired once again.

But not for good.

With the league expanding in 1991, Pavelich was lured out of Minnesota one final time by the expansion San Jose Sharks, where he recorded an assist on the Sharks first ever goal on October 4, 1991. His return was very brief however, as he would only play two games before retiring, this time for good.

His final NHL totals were 355 games played, 137 goals and 192 assists for 329 points , with another 7 goals and 24 points in 23 playoff games.

Pavelich remains to this day a unique individual, who shuns the spot light of fame accorded to the 1980 Olympic Team, rarely leaving the comfort of home in the woods of Minnesota for reunions, interviews or personal appearances, unlike the always available Eruzione, who is often kidded that he has made a career out of one goal and has never met a microphone he didn't like. "The past is the past," Pavelich has been quoted as saying.

It would take 22 years before Pavelich joined his 19 teammates for a reunion, this coming at the the 2002 NHL All-Star Weekend. "It was just that time," Pavelich said when asked why he had chosen that weekend to rejoin his teammates.

His wife Kara said of his reputation, "I know Mark is often said to be reclusive, but that's overdone. He has a very large circle of friends." when Mark was inducted into the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Athletic Hall of Fame (the former home of the UMD Bulldogs) in 2006.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 New York Rangers Mark Pavelich jersey from the season during which he became the first American-born player in NHL history to score five goals in one game.

The Rangers had worn a variation of their traditional blue sweaters with "Rangers" diagonally since their inception in 1926 almost without exception until a change to a new modern style in 1976-77, which lasted only one more season until they went back to their traditional look in 1978-79, only with one major difference, as "New York" had now replaced "Rangers" across the front of their classic blue jerseys for the first time ever.

This style would last for Pavelich's entire stay in New York, lasting through the 1986-87 season until a return to "Rangers", which remains through today.

New York Rangers 82-83 jersey, New York Rangers 82-83 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1986-87 Minnesota North Stars Mark Pavelich jersey as worn during his brief stay with his home state North Stars, where he was reunited with coach Brooks for the third time in his career.

Minnesota North Stars 86-87 jersey, Minnesota North Stars 86-87 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Mark Pavelich jersey. This style, with "USA" diagonally across the front was worn during the 1980 Olympic Team's pre-Olympic schedule of games played against an assortment of minor league, college and other national teams in preparation for their participation in the Olympics. During the Games, they wore a new set of jerseys with the "USA" cresting now arched across the front.

This jersey was auctioned off by Lelands.com in December of 2004 and sold for $4,969.87.

 photo 1325798b-6646-4038-ace4-ca7a577709c1.jpg

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Olympic Team Mark Pavelich jersey. After 32 years with only Mark Wells' blue and white Miracle on Ice jerseys becoming available to collectors of game worn jerseys, 2012 saw Ken Morrow auction off his Miracle jersey for $104,328 and 2013 had Eruzione parting with both is blue ($286,800) and white jersey, which sold for $657,250, considerably less than it's $1,000,000 pre-sale estimate.

Pavelich's white jersey, worn when he assisted on Eruzione's game winning goal against the Soviet Union, was also put up for auction at the same time as Eruzione's jerseys. The final highest bid for the Pavelich jersey was $116,203, and with the 19.5% buyer's premium added on, the final selling price rose to $138,863. That exceeds the final price of Ken Morrow's Miracle on Ice jersey, which sold for $104,328, by $34,534.

 photo USA1980Pavelichjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video is Pavelich setting up Eruzione's game winning goal in the Miracle on Ice.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Doug Favell's Halloween Pumpkin Mask - The First Painted Mask in NHL History

Jacques Plante ushered in a new era of goaltending back on November 1, 1959 when, after being struck in the face with a shot by the New York Rangers hard shooting Andy Bathgate, he was assisted off the ice, leaving behind a trail of blood.

"He had been struck in the face and it opened up a cut from the corner of his mouth all the way up through his nostril," related Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette.

With no backup goaltenders on the roster in those days, there was a 21 minute delay while Plante was stitched up. When he finally returned to the bench, he told head coach Toe Blake, "I'm ready to go back in but I have to wear my mask." He was allowed to wear the mask, which he had been wearing in practice, and Montreal went on to win the game 3-1.

Jacques Plante mask photo Jacques Plante first mask.jpg
A bloodied Jacques Plante wearing his mask after being badly cut in 1959

Before the next game Blake did not want Plante to wear the mask, to which Plante replied, "If I don't wear the mask, I'm not playing." Having been a four time All-Star, four time Vezina Trophy winner and five time Stanley Cup champion at that point in his career - the mask stayed.

Others quickly followed Plante's lead and goalies who did not wear a mask soon became the exception to the rule, with the last in the NHL being Andy Brown in 1974.

Andy Brown photo Andy Brown.jpg
Andy Brown of the Penguins with his unprotected face down among the sticks

While Gerry Cheevers was the first to wear a decorated mask on November 8, 1967 in a game vs. the Rangers when he wore a mask with the first of his trademark stitches drawn on it with a marker, it is Doug Favell who is credited with having the first painted mask in the NHL, which debuted on this date, Halloween, in 1971.

Favell tells the story of how the first painted mask came to be, taken from the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast from October 31, 2014:
"It just came from bantering in the morning because it was Halloween. We were all kidding around in the room and somebody said "If you're going to the party tonight, you have to dress up" and somebody was kidding me, and someone said. "Favey, why don't you show up tonight as a goaltender?" I said, "Maybe I'll do that," so the kidding started. 
As I was getting ready to leave, I said to Frank Lewis, who was our trainer. "Frank, with tonight being Halloween, why don't we put orange on the mask? Can you paint orange on the mask? We'll paint it orange like The Great Pumpkin," because back then Charlie Brown and The Great Pumpkin were a big thing. "Why don't we paint it like a pumpkin tonight for Halloween?" 
"Yea, I can do that," Lewis replied. So he took it home that afternoon and painted it orange and I came back that night and wore it. And the funny thing is, we're all so superstitious that if we hadn't won that night, we beat L. A. 4-1, I'd have probably just painted it white again. If we'd have lost, I'd have said "That's it. It's not good," but we won and got going, got on a little streak, and I said, "This is a pretty good thing." It was that simple. 
photo Favell Pumpkin mask 2.jpg 
Some players said it was a distraction because it was fairly bright. An ophthalmologist said, "Your eye will attract." I thought it was an advantage because your eye would naturally go to the brightest thing, so in that flash, they would look at my mask instead of looking at the net, so I thought it was an a distraction and I felt I needed whatever I could get to distract the shooters, so I went with it and next year we painted the starburst on it, which was a design and was even more of a distraction to the shooters.
While doing our research for this story we did uncover some contradictions and discrepancies in various versions of Favell's stories recounting the origins of his first painted mask. At times Favell has stated his mask debuted in 1970, and other times 1971. Favell's pumpkin mask would not have debuted against the Kings, as he recalled above, as Philadelphia played host the Montreal Canadiens in a game won 5-3 by Philadelphia on Halloween night in 1971. The Flyers did defeat the Kings 3-1 just before Halloween on October 29, 1970, so perhaps this is where some of the confusion comes from…

Additionally, the "little streak" story does not hold up well, as the Flyers lost their next three games and went  2-7-3 over November 1971. The club actually did not have a winning month until five months later in March. If the mask had debuted in 1970, the story is much the same, with Philadelphia going 4-6-1 in November of that year.

Favell's story on the end of the solid orange pumpkin mask, thanks to a late Buffalo Sabres goal on the final game of the season, took place on April 2, 1972 when Gerry Meehan won the game for the Sabres with just four seconds remaining, has been consistently told by Favell, and dates the orange mask to the 1971-72 season. reaffirming its debut as being on Halloween in 1971.

Favell debuted with the Flyers during the first year of league expansion of 1967-68. During his early days with Philadelphia, he wore a Terry Sawchuk style mask before changing to his Ernie Higgins produced mask for the 1971-72 season, the style which he would have famously painted orange on Halloween in 1971 after having the new, white mask for less than two months, which leaves photos of Favell in his plain white mask as a rarity.

Favell white mask photo Favell white mask.jpg
Favell's mask in its original plain white color

Following its humorous orange paint job on October 31, 1971, the Favell's mask would remain solid orange for the remainder of the season through the fateful last second goal against Buffalo to close out the 1971-72 season.

photo DougFavell.jpg

Taking the concept of painting his mask as a distraction to shooters farther for the next season, Favell would wear his new "starburst" design beginning in 1971-72 through the 1972-73 season, his last with the Flyers.

photo Favell starburst mask.jpg
Favell in his striking new design, which ushered in the era of bold graphics

A trade in the summer of 1973 sent Favell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but before leaving for Toronto, Philadelphia trainer Lewis painted Favell's mask with a blue maple leaf on the forehead and surprised him with it when he came to collect his equipment from the Flyers according to Favell.

Favell Maple Leafs photo FavellMapleLeafs.jpg
Favell's mask with its fourth and final paint scheme, or so we thought...

Favell continued to wear the same mask, now sporting its fourth different paint scheme, counting its original plain white, until 1974 when he got a new, more protective mask by renowned mask maker Greg Harrison which featured a larger, more centered maple leaf design which covered his eyes, nose and mouth.

photo Favell Harrison mask.jpg
Favell's new Harrison mask, with its larger maple leaf paint scheme

Favell's original Higgins mask, the one first painted solid orange and now sporting a blue maple leaf, was then lent to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto due to its place in hockey history as the first painted mask. This is where the story takes a turn for the bizarre

In 2011, game worn hockey equipment dealer Frank Servello noticed  the mask the hall had on display was not Favell's original mask, but a replica painted in the same manner. Favell was easily able to confirm the Maple Leaf mask on display was not his original due to details about the mask on display which did not match the one he had used, repaired and modified. 

It turns out, at some point, and no one knows when, Favell's original mask, painted with the maple leaf, was stolen from the hall, repainted twice, and then later anonymously returned to The Hall, looking very different from when it left.

Favell's original, but now repainted Higgins mask was then put on display by the hall with its red droplet shape on the forehead, red nose and red under the chin, which is generally referred to as the "clown mask", as a vintage mask, but in no way identified as being Favell's, as no one at the hall apparently knew.

It was then that a member of the Vintage Goalie Mask Discussion Page recognized the similarities between the clown mask and Favell's missing original in August of 2011 and posted his impression of the clown mask likely being Favell's missing mask.

Notified by Servello that his original mask, now repainted, was likely in the possession of The Hall of Fame, Favell met with the hall to first identify his original mask based on his modifications and repairs, and reclaim its possession 37 years after first loaning it to the hall for display.

The mask then underwent a restoration process, which revealed first flames over the right eye of the mask as well as a predominantly black paint scheme, which unfortunately adhered to the blue paint of the maple leaf design, rendering that design unsalvageable.

But once the black paint was removed, and the maple leaf design with it, the third version of the mask, the starburst pattern from 1972-73 was revealed, proving it was indeed Favell's original Higgins mask and the first painted mask in NHL history, complete with some of its previous orange paint from Halloween night in 1971 exposed to further document its place in NHL history.

Here are photos from GameUsedMasks.com showing the restoration of Favell's mask, the first painted mask in NHL history, taking it from its twice vandalized state down to its sunburst paint scheme of 1972-74.

favell_restoration_steps photo favell_restoration_steps.jpg

And here is the final restoration down to the sunburst mask (with some of the earlier brighter orange paint revealed on the forehead, showing the mask's history), the first mask with a painted design. This is where they chose to stop the painstaking process of removing the layers of paint which were added to the mask while it was out of the possession of the Hall of Fame.

favell_restoration_final photo favell_restoration_final.jpg

Here is an interview with Favell from 2011 discussing his original, now repainted mask now that it was back in his possession after being on loan to the Hall of Fame.


Here is another feature on Favell and his mask from Hockey Night in Canada.

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.

 

hit counter for blogger