Friday, October 9, 2009
Following the success of Game ONe Japan '97, when the Vancouver Canucks and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim opened the 1997-98 NHL season with a pair of sold out games in Japan, the NHL returned to kick off the following season with Game ONe Japan '98, this time featuring the Calgary Flames facing off against the San Jose Sharks.
Once again the games were held in the Yoyogi Arena and were part of nearly a week's worth of events which led up to the games, designed to raise the Japanese public's awareness of hockey.
Attendance for the first game of the pair is listed as 8,400 and saw the Sharks strike first on the power play at 16:16 on a goal by Joe Murphy. Jason Wiemer evened the score less than 30 seconds later at 16:42.
Valeri Bure scored the only goal of the second unassisted at 7:03.
A back and forth third period saw Mike Rathje, also unassisted, tie the game a 2-2 with a goal at 6:14. Andrew Cassels put Calgary in front, with assists from Theo Fleury and Phil Housley at 9:44. Calgary would hold the lead for nearly eight minutes, but Mike Ricci would tie the game once more at 17:42 with a wrist shot over the shoulder of the Flames Ken Wregget. The Sharks Mike Vernon would preserve the tie for the Sharks with a sprawling save with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Regulation play would end at 3-3 followed by a scoreless overtime with Calgary outshooting the Sharks 4-1 in the extra session. Vernon for the Sharks would register 27 saves and of the Flames Wregget would be credited with 22.
Calgary, being considered the home team for the first game wore today's featured jersey, their home whites, while the Sharks wore their new teal road jerseys, which were the previous seasons alternates.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1998-99 Calgary Flames Theo Fleury jersey as worn on October 9, 1998. This jersey features the NHL Game ONe '98 patch, worn by both the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks for their two-game series in Tokyo, Japan to open the 1998-99 NHL season.
In addition to the NHL Game ONe '98 patch, this jersey has the unique twist of the captain's "C" being the club's primary "flaming C" logo. The Flames also cleverly used the club's original "flaming A" logo from their days in Atlanta, Georgia as the assistant captain's "A". The use of the "flaming C" was discontinued after a few seasons, as they changed the "C" to the same font as the names on the back of the jerseys, while the use of the assistant's Atlanta Flames version has continued.
The 1998-99 season would be Fleury's last in Calgary, as he would be traded late in the season to the Colorado Avalanche for the final 15 games of the schedule less than ten days after setting the Flames franchise record for most points in a career with 823.
He would then move onto the New York Rangers for three seasons before finishing his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002-03. He attempted a comeback with the Flames during training camp of the 2009-10 season, but would not make the club's opening day roster after six seasons away from the NHL. His final NHL totals stand at 455 goals and 633 assists for 1088 points, the 61st player to reach the 1000 point mark, something many thought a player of his size (5 ft. 6 in.) would never accomplish.
He would win a Stanley Cup with Calgary in 1989 and his best season in the NHL was 1990-91 when he scored 51 goals (one of three with 40 goals or more) and 53 assists for 104 points.
In addition to his Stanley Cup, he would also earn gold medals with Team Canada at the 1988 World Juniors, the 1991 Canada Cup and the 2002 Olympics as well as silver medals in the 1991 World Championships and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey during his international career.
Here is a tribute video by the New York Rangers on the occasion of Fleury's 1000 career point.
Next is Fleury's famous goal celebration after beating the Edmonton Oilers in overtime in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Next is a candid interview with Theo on the day of his final retirement in 2009.