Thursday, March 23, 2017

2017 KHL Gagarin Cup Playoff Update

While the NHL season still has over two weeks left to play, the Kontinental Hockey League is already reached the Semifinals of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

 photo Gagarin_Cup_zps79a8b569.jpg
The Gagarin Cup

In the Western Conference, CSKA Moscow, winners of the Tarasov Division as well as the Kontinental Cup as regular season champions (for the third consecutive time) with 137 points, was the #1 seed and drew the Finnish club Jokert Helsinki, the #8 seed with 93 points. CSKA advanced to the conference semifinals winning in 4 straight.

CSKA Moscow Logo

#2 seed SKA Saint Petersburg (Bobrov Division champions with an equal 137 points but two less wins than CSKA), led by a scoring brigade of Ilya Kovalchuk (78 points in 60 games), Vadim Shipachyov (76), Nikita Gusev (71) and Evgeny Dadonov (66), who finished 2-3-4-5 in KHL scoring, swept HC Vityaz (93 points) from the Moscow region in four straight games. Dynamo Moscow (112 points) and #3 seed, needed 5 games to eliminate Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. All the favorites advanced in the opening round when #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (110) defeated the Belarus club Dinamo Minsk (105) in five games as well.

Kovalchuk SKA
Ilya Kovalchuk

Over in the Eastern Conference, #1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Kharlamov Division winners with 124 points) and led by the KHL's leading scorer Sergei Mozyakin (85 points in 60 games) faced #8 Kulun Red Star from China (83 points), who did well to reach the playoffs in their first season, and Metallurg advanced easily with a 4-1 margin. #2 Avangard Omsk (Chernyshev Division winners with 109 points) was the first team to require even as much as six games to advance over #7 Admiral Vladivostok, one of two teams from the far east of Russia seven time zones difference from Moscow.

Artyom Zagidulin and Sergei Mozyakin
Goaltender Artyom Zagidulin and Sergei Mozyakin
of Metallurg Magnitogorsk

#3 Ak Bars Kazan (109) eliminated #6 Salavat Yulaev Ufa (88) in another five game series while #5 Barys Astana (90) of Kazakhstan became the sole lower seeded team ,and the only non-Russian side, to advance out of the first round when they defeated #4 Traktor Chelyabinsk (97) in the only other 6 game series in the first round.

The teams were reseeded after the first round, which saw #1 CSKA paired with #4 Lokomotiv. The teams split the first two games before Lokomotiv reeled off three straight wins to upset the three-time KHL regular season winners and deny them their first championship since 1989.

In the other Western Conference matchup, #3 Dynamo Moscow's league leading goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko was not enough to hold off #2 SKA, who survived an opening game overtime loss to win the next four by allowing Dynamo only 4 goals in the last four games.

Alexander Yeryomenko
Dynamo Moscow goaltender Alexander Yeryomenko
stopping Ilya Kovalchuk of SKA

In the East, #1 Magnitogorsk opened with a opening game shutout over #5 Barys on their way to a four game sweep, which was harder than it sounds, with two of the games requiring overtime for Metallurg to prevail.

The last semifinalist was decided between #2 Avangard and #3 Ak Bars, with Ak Bars upsetting the higher seed in a six game series to advance.

KHL west

The Western Conference Finals get underway today with #2 SKA Saint Petersburg hosting #4 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for a spot in the Gagarin Cup Finals. Mikko Koskinen of Finland is the goaltender for SKA and currently has a measly 1.41 GAA and a gaudy 94.2% save percentage to go with his 8-1 playoff record to date.

Mikko Koskinen
SKA goaltender Mikko Koskinen wearing the unusual #19

The game begins at 7:30 PM Moscow time, which translates to 12:30 PM in the Eastern time zone in North America for those looking to watch the games online.

KHL east

The Eastern Conference Finals start tomorrow, as the defending champion and #1 seed Metallurg Magnitogorsk host #3 Ak Bars Kazan in a game that starts at 5:00 PM Moscow time, which is 10:00 AM in North America. Magnitogorsk will be hard to stop, as they have four of the top five playoff scorers in Danis Zaripov (17 points in 9 games), Jan Kovar (17), regular season leading scorer Mozyakin (14) and Canadian defenseman Chris Lee (14). The job of stopping them falls to Emil Garipov for Kazan, who is second in the postseason with a 1.59 GAA and a 93.8% save percentage.

For those wishing to keep closer tabs on the KHL playoffs, here is a link to the current game schedule.

Today's featured jersey is a 2016-17 Metallurg Magnitogorsk Sergei Mozyakin jersey as worn by this season's KHL scoring champion.

Metallurg was founded in 1955 and in the 1980s played in the third level of Soviet hockey, winning championships in 1989 and 1990. They moved up to the top level of Russian hockey in 1992 when the joined the new International Hockey League, the first post-Soviet major league. As the leagues came and went during that era, the joined the Russian Superleague in 1996 and played in the finals six times, winning three championships in 1999, 2001 and 2007. During this era, the club iced its most well known alumni, Evgeni Malkin, won the Spengler Cup in 2005 and made headlines when they hired the first North American head coach for a Russian club when they hired Canadian Dave King for the 2005-06 season.

They were a founding member of the KHL in 2008-09 and have won championships in 2014 and 2016.

Mozyakin, a veteran, began his pro career with CSKA Moscow in the Russian Superleague in the 2000-01 season. He played for Red Army for five seasons, scoring 20 goals twice. He then played two seasons for Khimik Moscow Oblast, with whom he set a career high with 37 goals in 2007-08. When Khimik relocated for the 2008-09 season, Mozyakin joined Atlant, who took the place of Khimik in the Moscow Oblast region. He immediately set a career high with 76 points in 56 games during the inaugural KHL season.

After three seasons with Atlant, Mozyakin joined Metallurg for the 2011-12 season and is now in his fifth season with the club. Since 2005-06, Mozyakin has now scored 20 goals or more in 11 consecutive seasons, with five of those being over 30 in the shorter KHL season.

Mozyakin led the RSL in scoring in 2006 and again in 2008. While in the KHL, he has gone on to win the scoring race in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and again in 2017. It should come as little surprize that Mozyakin is the KHL's all time leading scorer. He has won the Gagarin Cup in 2014 and 2016 while captain of Metallurg.

At the World Championships, he has played for Russia on seven occasions, winning gold medals in 2008 and 2009, along with silver in 2010 and 2015 and a bronze in 2016.

Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2016-17 F jersey
Metallurg Magnitogorsk 2016-17 B jersey

If you would like to purchase your own 2016-17 KHL jersey from Metallurg or many other teams, please visit our friends at Lutch USA.

In today's video section, first Ak Bars moves on to the Conference Finals by eliminating Omsk followed by Lokomotiv eliminating regular season champions CSKA. Then, after Lokomotiv?CSKA highlights, Dynamo Moscow is eliminated by SKA and Barys season comes to an end in overtime at the hands of Magnitogorsk.

Finally, Mozyakin scores his 1,000th career point, all the more impressive when you factor in that a KHL season is 25% shorter than an NHL schedule.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

1958-59 New York Rangers Andy Hebenton Jersey

Andy "Spuds" Hebenton made his professional hockey debut with the Cincinnati Mohawks of the American Hockey League in 1949 and moved to his native Canada the following season to play for the Victoria Cougars in the Pacific Coast Hockey League, which was renamed the Western Hockey League for the third of Hebenton's five seasons with the Cougars.

While with the Cougars he won a President's Cup as league champion in 1951 and established himself as a reliable player known for not missing any games.

1950-51 Victoria Cougars
The 1950-51 WHL champion Victoria Cougars

He would play in every game of his final three seasons in Victoria. His personal best season with the Cougars was his last in 1954-55, when he was named to the league's First All-Star Team following his 46 goal, 80 point season.

Based on that success, his rights were purchased by the New York Rangers of the NHL for the 1955-56 season.

Andy Hebenton Rangers

He continued his streak of consecutive games with the Rangers, playing in all 70 games for eight straight seasons while in Manhattan. His best season as a Ranger was 1958-59, when he scored 33 goals and 62 points. At the conclusion of the season Hebenton was named the recipient of the 1959 Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play. While with the Rangers, he averaged less than 10 minutes in penalties per season. He was rewarded for his fine season with a spot in the 1960 NHL All-Star Game.

Andy Hebenton Rangers

Hebenton was claimed by the Boston Bruins in the waiver draft for the 1963-64 season and once more played in every one of Boston's 70 games, with his final NHL game coming on this date in 1964, giving him a streak of 630 straight NHL games which broke all records for NHL games played up until that time.

Andy Hebenton Bruins

Following his one season with Boston, his rights were sold to the Portland Buckaroos of the WHL for the 1964-65 campaign. His offensive game returned while in the WHL, reflected by his 34 goals and 74 points in a season where he yet again played in every game possible. He also competed in 10 playoff games and scored 13 points as the Buckaroos captured the Lester Patrick Cup as 1965 WHL champions. Following the season Hebenton was awarded the Fred Hume Cup for being the Most Gentlemanly Player in the WHL.

64-65 Portland Buckaroos
The 1964-65 WHL champion Portland Buckaroos

He returned to Victoria for the next two seasons, this time with the Victoria Maple Leafs, where he would capture his second consecutive championship in 1966 while extending his consecutive games streak to 1,062 consecutive professional games which began back in 1951.

Andy Hebenton Victoria

Hebenton's streak, which remains the record for the longest streak in professional hockey history, would come to an end on October 18, 1967 owing to the passing of his father when he went home to Winnipeg for the funeral. After missing two games, Hebenton was back in the lineup to begin a new streak, as he played in all 70 of the Buckaroos remaining games.

His point totals would begin to climb following that season, as he went from 45 to 77 then 78 and finally 81 in 1970-71 for his personal best of his career. Additionally, he began a run of five consecutive Fred Hume Cup awards from 1970 to 1974, giving him six in all. During this run of success, the Buckaroos would capture another league championship, this time in 1971.

70-71 Portland Buckaroos
The 1970-71 WHL champion Portland Buckaroos

Eventually he would play ten seasons in the WHL after the conclusion of his NHL career and his second games played streak would reach 510 games giving him a combined total of having played in 1,572 out of a possible 1,574 games! Unfortunately, the WHL would cease operations after the 1973-74 season due to increased competition from the battle between the NHL and the World Hockey Association, which depleted the WHL's talent pool and placed teams in many of the WHL's traditional markets, like San Francisco, Oakland, Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and Vancouver.

Hebenton's career would wind down with four games with the Seattle Totems of the Central Hockey League in 1974 after 26 seasons of professional hockey, a mark of longevity exceeded by only the legendary Gordie Howe. He would continue to play in semi-pro hockey with the Portland Buckaroos, who had moved to the Western International Hockey League for one season and then the Pacific Northwest Hockey League, which folded before the end of it's season, which brought Hebenton's playing days to a close at the age of 46

His final NHL totals were 630 (consecutive) games, 189 goals and 202 assists for 391 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1958-59 New York Rangers Andy Hebenton jersey. The Rangers jerseys began play in their first season in 1926, wearing essentially the same jersey style, which underwent some evolutionary changes until 1951 when this particular style with the lace up collar was adopted for use through the 1962-63 season.

Andy Hebenton Rangers

Today's first video features five minutes of Rangers footage from 1961 (if you even survive the first 40 second intro) that includes Hebenton with the most unique commentary of any video we've posted. It's up to you to decide if it's sheer genius or five minutes of your life you will never get back...

Actually, the longer it went on, the more we enjoyed it. It's rather like if Howard Cosell and Rick Jeanneret had an illegitimate offspring who drank to excess.

Here is a feature on the Portland Buckaroos, with some classic footage that is really a joy to see.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

1981-82 Washington Capitals Bobby Carpenter Jersey

After playing three seasons at St. John's Preparatory School in Massachusetts from 1978 to 1981, Bobby Carpenter was drafted right out of high school by the Washington Capitals third overall in the first round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft after becoming the first American hockey player to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier that year when he was labeled the "Can't Miss Kid". With his selection third overall, Carpenter became the highest US-born player ever taken and the first American chosen in the first round and the top five of an NHL Draft.

Carpenter SI
Carpenter appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated while still in high school

Before being drafted, Carpenter had also played for the United States at the 1981 World Junior Championships, scoring an impressive 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games.

Carpenter defied the odds and never played a single game of college or minor league hockey, making the Capitals straight out of his first training camp, becoming the first player to go directly from a US High School directly to the NHL when he made his debut on October 7, 1981, which included a goal and an assist that night, with his assist coming just 12 seconds into the start of his career! His acclimation time to the hard hitting world of the NHL was virtually non-existent, as the 18-year-old rookie scored 32 goals and added 35 assists for 67 points in 80 games straight out of the box in 1981-82. His 32 goals included scoring 4 in a game vs. the St. Louis Blues on February 25, 1982.

Carpenter Capitals 3
Carpenter had a remarkable rookie season with 32 goals while still a teenager

He essentially repeated those numbers during his second season of 1982-83, avoiding any anticipated sophomore slump with another 32 goals and 37 assists for 69 points. Carpenter showed remarkable consistency in his third season with 68 points from 28 goals and 40 assists in 1983-84.

Before the 1984-85  season began, Carpenter again suited up for the United States, this time at the 1984 Canada Cup tournament, scoring a goal and 5 points in 6 games.

His 1984-85 season was one for the record books, as Carpenter, playing on a line with Mike Gartner, first broke Joey Mullen's record of 41 goals by an American on February 13th before setting his sights on another milestone, which he achieved on this date in 1985 when he became the first American to ever score 50 goals in an NHL season in a 3-2 loss against the Montreal Canadiens. He would finish the season with a career highs with 53 goals, 42 assists and 95 points.

Carpenter Capitals
Carpenter was the first American to score 50 goals

After singing a four year contract with the Capitals prior to the 1985-86 season, Carpenter saw his statistics regress to 27 goals and 56 points, while his penalty minutes rose to 105 from a previous high of 87. His 1986-87 season got off to a quite poor start with just 5 goals and 12 points in 22 games as he clashed with his head coach Bryan Murray, which led to a trade to the New York Rangers. While in Manhattan, Carpenter fought to find his way, with just 2 goals and 8 assists in 28 games with the Rangers before yet another trade before the season was over, this time to the Los Angeles Kings in the deal that brought Marcel Dionne to the Rangers.

Carpenter Rangers
Carpenter's time in New York was brief

With the Kings, his struggles continued, with only 2 goals and 5 points in 10 games. His 27 total points that season were equal to his lowest previous goal total in what was surely a lost season for Carpenter.

Following the NHL season, Carpenter pulled double duty for the United States, first playing in the only World Championships of his career, scoring a pair of goals and 4 points in 10 games. Later that fall, he again joined the American squad for the 1987 Canada Cup tournament, contributing a goal and 3 points in 5 games.

Looking for a fresh start, Carpenter scored 19 goals for the Kings in 71 games on his way to 52 points in 1987-88 after missing time due to a torn rotator cuff.

Carpenter Kings 2
Carpenter in the Kings gold and purple

He was on pace for a similar season with Los Angeles in 1988-89, having scored 11 goals and 26 points after 39 games, having been limited by a broken right thumb and wrist in a New Year's Even exhibition game against the Soviet club Dynamo Riga, but Carpenter was again traded back across the country once more, this time to the Boston Bruins in his home state of Massachusetts. With Boston, Carpenter played in just 18 games due to breaking his other thumb, scoring 5 goals and 14 points.

Carpenter Kings
The Kings changed their look during Carpenters time with the team

Carpenter had a nice rebound in 1989-90, scoring 25 goals and 56 points in 80 games, his highest point total in four years. He missed the start of the 1990-91 season due to a knee injury in training camp. Once back on the ice, he played in 29 games, scoring 8 goals and 16 points before a shattered kneecap in early December ended his season.

His 1991-92 season was also limited, this time to 60 games, derailing a fine season during which he had scored 25 goals and 48 points while on a pace to score 65 points that season.

Carpenter Bruins
Carpenter in the Bruins 1991-92 Turn Back the Clock jersey

Due to concerns about his knee, the Bruins did not offer Carpenter a new contract, and he then signed as a free agent with his original club, the Capitals. He played 68 games with Washington in 1992-93, scoring 11 goals and 28 points.

 Carpenter Capitals 2
Carpenter's return to Washington lasted only one season

When the Capitals did not pick up their option on his contract, Carpenter signed with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent for the 1993-94 season after earning a roster spot during a training camp tryout.

After playing 76 games for the Devils with 33 points that first season, Carpenter would play in 41 of the Devils 48 games in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season. By now his role as a featured offensive player had changed, and in his new role as a defensive checking forward under the guidance of Devil's head coach Jacques Lemaire, he managed 5 goals and 16 points and was a +19. In the playoffs, Carpenter played in 17 of the Devils 20 playoff games as they defeated the Detroit Red Wings to capture the only Stanley Cup of his career.

New Jersey Devils 1995 Stanley Cup
The Devils celebrate winning the Stanley Cup in 1995

He would go on to play four more seasons with New Jersey, although he was often battling injuries which limited him to between 52 and 66 games, which included playing in his 1,000th NHL game on October 19, 1996. He would retire in 1999, never again scoring more than 27 goals after his record setting 53 goal season.

Carpenter Devils
Carpenter would play six seasons in New Jersey

He would finish his career with 1,178 games played with 320 goals and 408 assists for 728 points and a Stanley Cup championship. In 2007 Carpenter was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 Washington Capitals Bobby Carpenter jersey as worn during his rookie season following his being drafted third overall, making him not only the highest American ever drafted at the time, but also the first American taken in the first round of the NHL Draft.

The Capitals wore their star-spangled jerseys from their inception in 1974-75 through the 1994-95 season. They brought back their original white jersey for the 2011 Winter Classic, the annual NHL outdoor game held on New Year's Day. They would wear the throwback white version as their third jersey for four seasons until changing to the red version as their alternate for the 2015-16 season.

Washington Capitals 1981-82 F jersey
Washington Capitals 1981-82 B jersey

Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 New Jersey Devils Bobby Carpenter jersey as worn during the season the Devils won the only Stanley Cup of Carpenter's career.

The Devils originally wore red and green jerseys for a decade after their move to New Jersey from Colorado, where they were known as the Rockies in 1982-83. In 1992-93 the club changed to new red and black jerseys and they have remained unchanged ever since while steadfastly refusing to add a third jersey as well.

New Jersey Devils 1994-95 F jersey
New Jersey Devils 1994-95 B jersey

Today's video section looks back at Carpenter's time with the Capitals, recounting his best offensive seasons.

Monday, March 20, 2017

1982-83 Chicago Blackhawks Al Secord Jersey

Al Secord started his career in fine style, winning the Memorial Cup with the Hamilton Fincups of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League in 1976 after a regular season during which he scored 9 goals and 22 points. For the curious, Fincup was a combination of the last names of their owners, Joe Finochio and brothers Ron and Mario Cupido!

1975-76 Hamilton Fincups team
The 1976 Memorial Cup champion Hamilton Fincups

Oddly, the championship winning team found themselves homeless for the 1976-77 season, as the ice making plant at their dilapidated Barton Street Arena failed, which necessitated a move to St. Catharines 30 miles down the road after a lease could not be worked out for a second arena located in Hamilton, Mountain Arena, despite their championship form. Life in St. Catharines suited Secord well, as he scored more than a point per game with 66 in 57 games from 32 goals and 34 assists, each being more than his combined total from the previous season. On the flip side, Secord also finished second in the league in penalty minutes with 343, nearly 3 times more than he had in his previous season despite playing in six less games.

During the 1976-77 season, Secord was also a member of the Canadian team at the 1977 World Junior Championships where he earned a silver medal.

After one final season with the Fincups in 1977-78, after a move back to Hamilton's Mountain Arena, Secord was drafted by the Boston Bruins 16th overall in the first round of the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.

In 1978-79, Secord played 4 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, scoring 4 goals and 6 points, but played the vast majority of his season with the Bruins, scoring 16 goals and 23 points in 71 games, which included 125 penalty minutes.

Secord Bruins 1
Secord was a first round pick by the Bruins

His second season with the Bruins in 1979-80 saw him play in 77 games, increasing his offensive output to 23 goals and 39 points with a jump in penalty minutes to 170, a season which saw him among the Bruins who invaded the stands to brawl with some rowdy New York Rangers fans at Madison Square Garden during a memorable incident.

Secord Bruins stands
The Bruins enter the stands in Madison Square Garden

His 1980-81 season got off to a rocky start, with no goals and just 3 assists in 18 games. He also played in 8 games for the Springfield Indians of the AHL before a trade to the Chicago Black Hawks for defenseman Mike O'Connell. after seeing increasingly diminished ice time on the 4th line with the Bruins when he was not a healthy scratch.

While with Chicago, Secord regained his form from his second season with the Bruins, scoring 13 goals and 22 points in half a season of 41 games. He also visited the penalty box on a regular basis, being sent off for 145 minutes.

Secord Blackhawks 3
New arrival Secord wore #14 with Chicago in 1980-81

During the 1981-82 season, Secord made the Bruins question their decision to trade him when he erupted for 44 goals and 31 assists for 75 points while amassing over 300 penalty minutes, making him the first and only player to ever reach 40 goals and 300 penalty minutes in a single season. Of note, only one other player, Dave "Tiger" Williams, ever managed even 30 goals and 300 penalty minutes with 35 goals and 343 PIM in 1980-81.

Secord Blackhawks 2
Secord celebrates yet another goal

Secord continued his upward trajectory in 1982-83 as his offensive game continued to impress, as on this date in 1983 Secord became only the second Black Hawks player to ever score 50 goals in a season, joining the legendary Bobby Hull when he scored twice, plus two assists, in a 7-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Secord Blackhawks 4
Secord became the second Black Hawk to reach 50 goals

He would eventually total 54 goals and 86 points playing with "Party Line" linemates Denis Savard and Steve Larmer, who combined for 132 goals and 297 points. Secord also had 180 penalty minutes for good measure as he made life tough for anyone who thought they were going to rough up the diminutive playmaker Savard. Secord's 54 goals put him in lofty company, as they were good for sixth in the NHL that season.

Larmer, Secord, Savard Blackhawks
The line of Larmer, Secord and Savard

Despite his offensive success, the season felt odd for Secord "Steve Larmer came to our line. Me and Denis Savard were very fortunate to have Steve Larmer. We were a solid line. I didn't have that much penalty minutes, because our coach asked me not to fight so often. Actually, even though I scored well, I felt like I didn't play the way I was supposed to play. I was also told not to hit guys so often. I needed to play physical, and I didn't. It's big part of my game, to be on the other guys skin. When I hit a guy and the crowd starts chanting, it brings energy to me and to my teammates. And I was missing that element. It felt strange."

During this time period, Secord had many memorable fights, particularly with Willi Plett and Basil McRae of the rival North Stars, many of which were instigated by his nemesis Dino Ciccarelli, who in turn was often wound up by Savard!

Secord Blackhawks 5
Secord had many fights with the NHL's toughest

Injuries derailed his next two seasons, as he played just 14 in 1983-84 due to torn abdominal muscles and 51 in 1984-85 because of issues with his thigh muscles which was related to the fact that one of his legs was actually longer than the other. He returned to full health in time for the playoffs, scoring 7 goals and 16 points in 15 postseason games.

1985-86 saw Secord play a full 80 games, hitting exactly 40 goals on his way to 76 points as well as 201 penalty minutes, the third 40 goal season of his career.

Secord Blackhawks
Secord had three 40 goal seasons with Chicago

He would play one more season with Chicago, having now changed their name from the Black Hawks to Blackhawks. Secord would score 29 goals and 29 assists for 58 points and 196 penalty minutes in 1986-87, which included tying the NHL record for the fastest 4 goals in a game, when he had four consecutive goals in an 8:24 span early in the second period on January 7, 1987 in a 6-4 win over Toronto before making his second international appearance for Canada, playing in the 1987 World Championships later that spring.

Before the start of the 1987-88 season, Secord was traded to the Maple Leafs along with Ed Olczyk for Rick Vaive, Steve Thomas and Bob McGill. His role with Toronto was clearly less focused on offense, as his penalty minutes rose to 221, the second highest of his career, while his goal total sank to 15 in 77 games, the same he had in his injury limited season of 51 games back in 1984-85.

Secord Maple Leafs
Seecord was traded to Toronto in 1987

In 1988-89 he played 40 games with the Maple Leafs, scoring just 5 goals and 15 points plus 71 penalty minutes, before a trade in February of 1989 to the Philadelphia Flyers for their final 20 games of the year, during which he only scored a lone goal with no assists while adding another 38 penalty minutes. In 14 playoff games with the Flyers, Secord had 4 assists and 31 penalty minutes.

Secord Flyers
Secord had a brief stint with the Flyers

For the 1989-90 season, Secord had a homecoming when he signed as a free agent with the Blackhawks. He would play in 43 games that season, scoring a fine 14 goals and 7 assists with 131 penalty minutes, which would put him over the 2,000 mark for his career.

He retired after the season with 766 games, 273 goals and 222 assists for 495 points and 2,093 penalty minutes with an additional 21 goals and 55 points in 102 playoff games.

But that was not the end of Secord's hockey career, as, after four seasons away from the rink, he played two seasons with the brand new Chicago Wolves of the International Hockey League in their first season of 1994-95, scoring 13 goals and 33 points in 59 games followed by 8 goals and 16 points in 47 games of the 1995-96 season before hanging up his skates for good.

Secord Wolves
Secord came out of retirement for two seasons with the Wolves

After developing an affinity for flying as a teenager, Secord took flying lessons during the off-seasons and became a commercial airline pilot following his hockey career.

Secord pilot
Secord is now a commercial pilot

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Chicago Black Hawks Al Secord jersey as worn during the season Secord became only the second player in Black Hawks history to score 50 goals in a season.

The Black Hawks adopted this style in 1955-56 and, with a few modernizations along the way, such as two color numbers and names on the back, this style remains virtually unchanged through today and is often listed as the best jersey in the NHL.

This particular example is from the early day's of rear hem tagging, with the jerseys customizer Gunzo's on the back left and Sandow SK on the rear right.

Chicago Blackhawks 1982-83 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1979-80 Boston Bruins Al Secord jersey. Secord broke into the NHL with Boston and played there for three seasons.

The Bruins removed the colored shoulders from their jerseys in 1974-75 and added the secondary logos to the shoulders halfway through the 1976-77 season. Names arrived on the back in 1977-78 and this style would remain in use all the way through 1994-95 until they moved into the new Fleet Center and debuted new jerseys at the time.

Boston Bruins 1979-80 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Chicago Wolves Al Secord jersey as worn during Secord's final season play as a professional.

The Wolves were formed in 1994 and won he IHL's Turner Cup twice, in 1998 and 2000, and then joined the American Hockey League when the IHL folded in 2001. After joining the AHL, the Wolves then won the Calder Cup in 2002 and 2008.

Chicago Wolves 1995-96 jersey

Today's video section is a look at Secord's post hockey career as a pilot.

Did we mention that Secord and Ciccarelli were not the best of friends?

Here is a collection of Secord fights against some of the toughest names in the business and then strikes a nice balance with highlights of his goal scoring as well before ending with some Wolves footage as a bonus.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs St. Patricks Throwback Auston Matthews Jersey

As a part of their Centennial celebrations, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be wearing throwback jerseys tonight as worn from 1922-23 to 1924-25 when the club was known as the Toronto St. Patricks.

The team began during the first season of the National Hockey League in 1917-18 as the Toronto Hockey Club, also known as the Toronto Blueshirts. The club won the NHL playoffs their first season and then defeated the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA 3 games to 2 to take the Stanley Cup in their very first try.

1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts team
The Stanley Cup champion 1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts

The following season, still wearing blue sweaters, the club became known as the Toronto Arena Hockey Club, named after the Arena Gardens rink which owned the club as a part of business maneuvers to protect themselves from legal action from the owner of the previous Toronto franchise that played in the previous National Hockey Association. The team was more commonly referred to as the Toronto Arenas for the 1918-19 season. The Arenas quickly ran into financial difficulties and were sold to new owners for $5,000 in time for the 1919-20 NHL season.

The Arena Gardens, later changed to the Mutual Street Arena

The new owners were Charile Querrie, the General Manager of the Toronto Arenas, and the owners of an amateur hockey club called the St. Patricks. The new ownership group then changed the NHL club's name to the Toronto St. Patricks and their sweaters from blue to now green.

Rebounding from a chaotic 5-13 season resulting from the sale or defection of their best players due to the financial problems of the previous ownership, the St. Patricks were essentially starting over from scratch for the 1919-20 season.

1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team
1919-20 Toronto St Patricks

While they did not qualify for the playoffs, the St. Patricks did improve their season record to 12-12 and were led in points by Corb Denneny, a holdover from the Toronto Arenas, who had 24 goals and 36 points in 24 games, good for fourth in the league.

Future Hall of Famer Babe Dye led the club with 33 goals and 38 points in 23 games in 1920-21, and the team would finish first in the second half standings, but lost in the NHL finals to the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto St Pats Babe Dye 1920-21
Babe Dye during the 1920-21 season

1921-22 again saw the St. Patricks led by Dye's 31 goals and 38 points in 24 games, as Toronto would defeat the Senators 5-4 in a two-game, total goals series to capture the O'Brien Trophy and earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

The series was a best-of-five and all games were played in Toronto. The Millionaires won Game 1 and Dye scored in overtime to even the series at 1 game apiece. Vancouver shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 3, only to have the St. Patricks return the favor 6-0 in Game 4. Dye took control of the deciding Game 5, scoring four goals to lead the St. Patricks to a 5-1 victory and the Stanley Cup.

1921-22 St Patricks
1921-22 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto St. Patricks

The next two seasons Toronto would finish in third place, and miss out on the playoffs both times.

Babe Dye St Pats 1923-24
Dye in 1922-23 wearing the Stanley Cup champions patch on his sweater

Dye again led the team in scoring both seasons, with 37 points in 1922-23 and just 19 in 1923-24, but still enough to lead the club.

1923-24 Toronto St Patricks team
The 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks

Dye rebounded with 38 goals and 46 points in 1924-25 to lead the team for the fifth season in a row and Toronto again returned to the playoffs, only to lose out to the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 2.

Another Hall of Famer, Jack Adams, would finally unseat Dye as the club's leading scorer, as he managed 21 goals and 26 points to Dye's 23 points in 1925-26, but Toronto would fail to reach the playoffs.

Jack Adams St Pats
Jack Adams led the St. Pats in scoring in 1925-26

St. Pats Owner Querrie then lost a lawsuit to the notorious Eddie Livingstone, the one time owner of the previous Toronto franchise known as the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA, and, as a result, decided to put the team up for sale. The club was purchased by Conn Smythe for $160,000 and, when he took control of the team on February 14, 1927, immediately changed the club's name to the Toronto Maple Leafs, bringing an end to the St. Pats name during the 1926-27 season.

On March 2, 2002, the Toronto Maple Leafs wore the green jerseys of the 1926-27 St. Patricks, along with brown pants and helmets, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the franchise changing their name to the Maple Leafs in a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres, led by captain Mats Sundin's two goals.

Sundin St Pats
Mat Sundin in the green of the 1926-27 St. Patricks in 2002

Today's featured jersey is a 2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs St. Patricks Throwback Auston Matthews jersey that will be worn tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks as a part of the Maple Leafs centennial celebration.

The original 1919-20 St. Pats jerseys were alternating green a white hoops on the body, while the sleeves were green with a single white band and white cuffs. For 1920-21, the sweaters were solid green with white cuffs, collar and waist stripe. They reverted to their original horizontally striped sweaters for 1921-22.

For 1922-23, the location of the sweater's colors were reversed, with the result being a predominately white look now that the arms were white with a green band and cuffs. This style was worn for three seasons through 1924-25 and this is the style which will be worn this evening.

It was back to an all-green look for 1925-26, including the collar and cuffs, with the only white being three narrow stripes along the waist.

Finally, for the team's final season as the St. Patricks, they added a white chest band trimmed with narrow white stripes and reduced the three narrow waist stripes to two. With the sale of the club to Smythe, this jersey would not finish out the season, as it was immediately replaced by a solid white sweater with a green maple leaf crest, with the team colors permanently changing to blue and white for the 1927-28 season.

It would be the St. Patricks final green jersey with the white chest band of 1926-27 which would become the basis for Toronto's throwback jersey worn in March of 2002 on the 75th Anniversary of Smythe's ownership and resulting name change to the Maple Leafs.

One unique feature of today's throwback jersey is the use of separate white boxes for each digit on the back of the jersey done in the style teams used to employ in the days of multi-striped barberpole jerseys.

Toronto Maple Leafs St Pats 2016-17 F jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs St Pats 2016-17 B jersey

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