Wednesday, July 1, 2009
With the lack of significant historical events in hockey history in July, especially those that relate directly to jerseys in the Third String Goalie collection, we have decided to take a little different approach to the heart of summer.
Every day in July we am going to feature a jersey whose number on the back matches the current date.
It's a chance for us to showcase some jerseys that frankly aren't related to a Stanley Cup victory, milestone goal or even a national holiday. We're going to call it "July by the Numbers".
So, for July 1st, we begin at the beginning and kick things off with a jersey that carries the #1, and you just knew it was going to be a goaltender, didn't you?
Arturs Irbe, a Latvian, was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the 10th round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, perhaps based on his performance against the North Stars during a North American tour by his Latvian club team, Dynamo Riga.
Remember these 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Dynamo Riga cards?
Check out those tell-tale green, gold and white seats in the background from the North Stars former home, Met Center. Irbe's performance in that exhibition game in Bloomington, MN might very well have led to his being drafted by the North Stars.
As part of a complicated deal, the North Stars owners, the Gund brothers, were awarded an expansion franchise that would become the San Jose Sharks and begin play in the 1991-92 season. As part of the agreement, the Sharks were awarded some North Stars players and draft picks, one of which was Irbe.
Having come over to the United States for the 1991-92 season, Irbe found himself playing in the International Hockey League for the Sharks minor league team, the Kansas City Blades. In 32 games for the Blades, he had 24 wins, 7 losses and a tie and a goals against average of 2.46.
After spending some time at the NHL level playing for the Sharks (13 games with a 2-6-2 record), Irbe would return to Kansas City in time for the IHL playoffs where he would post a 12-3 record and lead Kansas City to the Turner Cup championship, including a sweep of Muskegon in the finals. He would also earn a share the James Norris Memorial Trophy with Wade Flaherty as the team whose goaltenders allowed the fewest goals in the regular season.
Today's featured jersey is a Bauer 1991-92 Kansas City Blades Arturs Irbe home jersey. It features the correct font used by the Blades for their player names in their championship season, photographic evidence which proved very difficult to find.