Thursday, July 23, 2009
July by the Numbers stops at #23 today with a classic jersey from the days of the Met Center and a look at Mariucci Arena, both old and new.
The Minnesota North Stars came to be in the great NHL expansion of 1967. Their familiar green and gold jerseys kept adding more and more gold as time went on, in the form of wider trim and drop shadowed numbers, followed by even wider stripes that would equal the width of the once dominant green stripes. Once the gold reached it's peak, black began to be added to the mix, first on the home jerseys in 1981 and then later on the road jerseys in 1988, until the unfortunate black coup in 1991, as the entire look was revamped, giving birth to some of the most generic jerseys lacking in personality of the otherwise classic early 90's NHL.
Brian Bellows was drafted second overall by Minnesota in 1982 after the North Stars made a trade to move up with selecting Bellows in mind. He would play ten seasons in Minnesota, making it to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 1991 and appear in three All-Star Games, 1984, 1988 and 1992. His best offensive season was in 1989-90, when he scored a career high 55 goals and 44 assists for 99 points.
In 1992 he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where he would play three seasons and capture his only Stanley Cup in 1993. The later years of his career would see him move from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, and both the Berlin Capitals in the German DEL, and the Washington Capitals of the NHL, with whom he would return to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998.
During his second season in Washington, he would score his 1000th point, becoming the 54th player to reach that milestone.
The jersey I am featuring today is a 1987-88 Minnesota North Star Brian Bellows jersey. This jersey is from the last season before black was finally added to the road jerseys, seven years after being added to the home jerseys.
This jersey features the "JM" patch worn in honor of John Mariucci, "The Godfather of American Hockey". He played for the University of Minnesota, played five seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks when American players in the NHL was a rarity, and then spent four more seasons playing in the various minor leagues of the day before retiring and entering the world of coaching.
Mariucci coached the University of Minnesota for 12 seasons with another spent as the coach of the US Olympic team, earning a silver medal in 1956. He would also coach Team USA at the 1976 and 1977 World Championships. The home of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mariucci Arena, is named for John and he is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Here's a very well spoken rookie Brian Bellows taking between periods of a game, apparently just after getting into a scrap with none other than ESPN's Barry Melrose.
And this may very well be that scrap.
I usually go out of my way to avoid posting "slide shows" from YouTube to provide you with the best quality material possible, but sometimes exceptions have to be made, as in this case to honor John Mariucci and the two arenas the Gophers have played in named for him.
Don't miss the shots of the interior of the original Mariucci arena, especially the overhanging sloped ceiling over the south end of the arena, where high shots and deflected pucks would rebound violently downward rather than sailing over the glass as they would at any normal rink. Old Mariucci was truly in the Fenway Park/Wrigley Field category of beloved/quirky hockey arenas.
This second video from old Mariucci features Minnesota hosting Michigan State in a 1988 NCAA Quarter Final matchup, a "two games - total goals" format no one was sad to see discontinued. See how many future NHL players you can pick out, one of which is new Minnesota Wild head coach Todd Richards. It still gives me goose bumps hearing a fired up crowd in "The Barn". By the way, the #7 Broten you see is not Neal, but his younger brother Paul.
This final video is a tour of the new Mariucci by former Gopher football players Darrell Reid of the Indianapolis Colts.