Saturday, May 23, 2009
It was on this date in 1979 that the New England Whalers changed their name to the Hartford Whalers. A charter member of the World Hockey Association in the 1972-73 season, the New England Whalers actually started out life in Boston, Massachusetts in the backyard of the mighty Boston Bruins, who were fresh off a Stanley Cup winning season.
The Whalers gave it their best shot and not only finished with the best record in the new WHA with a 46-30-2 record that year, but also captured the inagural Avco World Trophy by winning three rounds of the playoffs by identical 4 games to 1 totals.
The Whalers lasted 2 1/2 seasons in Boston, but sagging attendance led the owners to relocate the team to Hartford - in mid season! The Whalers were successful in Hartford, still playing as the "New England" Whalers, never missing the playoffs in it's seven years in the WHA.
Easily the most recognizable names to play for the New England Whalers in their WHA days were hockey legend Gordie Howe and his sons Mark Howe and Marty Howe.
With the "merger" of the WHA and NHL, the Whalers were one of the four teams to survive the end of the WHA, but because of lobbying by the Boston Bruins, one of the conditions of the Whalers being allowed into the NHL was the dropping of "New England" from the team's name.
Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Hartford Whalers Kevin Dineen jersey. Since the Whalers jerseys were never reproduced as part of the CCM Vintage Line, with a more generous cut and current fabrics, this is an original CCM replica from the late 80's/early 90's (as indicated by the small white rectangular neck tag) featuring many standard "perks" of the old replicas - ultra lightweight, relatively see-through materials, crooked cresting and incorrect customization, with the font for the numbers on the back being the one used by the Chicago Blackhawks! Life in those days for the average collector buying replicas was one of settling and compromises...
This is another jersey featuring the beautiful NHL 75th Anniversary patch from our favorite year of NHL jerseys ever.
Kevin Dineen's number 11 was retired by the Hartford Whalers, but has subsequently been put back into circulation by the Carolina Hurricanes after the team's relocation in 1997, which we personally feel is just plain wrong, but seems to be a common practice when franchises move, as was the case with Peter Stastny's #26 which was retired by the Quebec Nordiques but worn by Stephane Yelle in Colorado. Seriously, if Peter Stastny's number isn't going to stay retired, then no one is safe when your club relocates.
Brass Bonanza, also known as the "Whalers Victory March" was adopted by the Whalers as their theme song during their days in the WHA, and remained so through their years in the NHL. Gordie Howe was once quoted as saying that he loved to hear it as a visiting player for the Houston Aeros, but hearing it every night with the Whalers "began to drive me nuts."
Dasherboard: Just when you thought the Blackhawks just might be having everything going their way last night,with a 3-0 lead over Detroit, the Red Wings put their foot on the gas and tie the game in a 4 1/2 minute span of the second period. The Blackhawks however, did not fold up their tent in a critical game for their survival and held off the Wings for the remainder of regulation, allowing them just 6 shots on goal in the third after allowing them 18 in the second peroid.
Chicago's efforts were rewarded by an early goal in overtime by Patrick Sharp off a great pass by Sammy Pahlsson, giving them, and their fans, a much needed boost going into Game 4 on Sunday.
In other NHL news, Mike Keenan was fired yesterday by the Calgary Flames. Now as much as we're not fans of Keenan's, it seems like Flames failure in the playoffs this year, and down the stretch of the season, was due to injuries and very poor salary cap management by Darryl Sutter more than anything Keenan did or did not do. We suppose losing a playoff series to the San Jose Sharks last year was a pretty horrid blotch on any coach's record though.
Still, Keenan had been the Flames coach for two years now, which historically appears to be his "sell by date", as Calgary was his eighth team he has coached in the NHL, with his longest tenure being just four years. He hasn't even lasted that long since 1992 though, with two years and 15 games being his longest stay at one place in the last seventeen years with his deepest "playoff run" being but a single first round win back in 1996 with St. Louis - a team had Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger and Wayne Gretzky!
What really gets us is the quote from Sutter that said "expectations were not met". The thing with Keenan is, more than perhaps any other coach in the league, you know exactly what you are going to get with Keenan. Just what expectation wasn't met? Not enough internal strife, power struggles and general turmoil? Perhaps a public feud with Jarome Iginla? Surely you didn't expect a coach with but a single playoff round victory in seventeen years to pull a Stanley Cup out of his hat, did you?
Friday, May 22, 2009
It was on this date in 1970 that the Buffalo Sabres were granted their NHL franchise, for a fee of $6 million. The owners, wishing to avoid another "bison" related name held a "Name the Team" contest. "Sabres" was chosen by the owner because he felt a sabre was a weapon carried by a leader, also noting that a sabre is swift and strong on offense, as well as defense.
Through a spin of a wheel, the Sabres won the right to pick first in the draft, taking Gilbert Perreault, who would go onto win the Calder Trophy. The next season, 1972-73 would see the arrival of first round draft pick Rick Martin and Rene Robert, who was obtained in a late season trade. The three would form The French Connection Line. The trio would lead the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975, a series that included the infamous "Fog Game", and would stay together until 1979. All three of them would be honored by having their numbers retired by the Sabres, the first three players so honored by the club.
Many star players would be on the Buffalo roster in the years after making the Stanley Cup Finals, like Mike Ramsey, Phil Housley, Dave Andreychuk, Tom Barasso, Pierre Turgeon, Alexander Mogilny, Dale Hawerchuk and Pat Lafontaine, but a return to the finals would have to wait until the 1998-99 season following the emergence of Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Hasek would win six Vezina Trophies in Buffalo during his nine seasons there. In addition, he would win both the Hart Trophy and the Pearson Trophy in 1997 and again in 1998. He also would help the Czech Republic capture the Olympic Gold Medal in February of 1998, catapulting him to world wide recognition.
Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 Buffalo Sabres Dominik Hasek jersey in the Sabres original blue and gold colors. Legend has it that the blue and gold colors were chosen by the original owners because those were the colors of their polo club.
The jersey also features the attractive Sabres 25th Anniversary patch on the right chest, as worn by Hasek during his second Vezina Trophy winning season. The Sabres would continue to wear the blue and gold for another season before changing to the black and red colors they would wear throughout the next 9 seasons before changing back to a blue and gold scheme with the arrival of the unfortunate "Buffaslug" logo.
While the Sabres colors may have changed, one constant throughout nearly the entire history of the Sabres history has been announcer Rick Jeanneret, who joined the club for their second season. His distinctive voice, excited calls and player nicknames have made him one of the best known announcers league wide.
Dasherboard: Wow. Another exciting playoff game last night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes. 11 goals scored in a 7-4 Pittsburgh victory, giving them a 2-0 series lead. This is clearly not your father's playoffs, as it has literally been 10 years since that many goals were scored in a conference final game.
Carolina showed great tenacity, coming back to quickly tie the game three separate times after falling behind, the longest of which took only 2:43, before Evgeni Malkin took control of the game in the third, scoring twice to complete his hat trick. Malkin's hat trick was the result of hard work, skill and tenacity, as all the goals came from in close, two of which were when he was closely guarded.
While we think Chicago is in a world of hurt being down 2-0 to Detroit, we think the Hurricanes, with many more playoff experienced veterans can still claw their way back into this series with their rabid fans behind them when they return home for the next game on Saturday. Having the last change at home will allow them to put the players on the ice they want and should allow them better defensive matchups against the Penguins top players.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Born on this day in 1955, one of the best players in German hockey history, Udo Kiessling set a new record in 1992 with his 5th consecutive Olympic tournament appearance. Kiessling's record shows he played a single game in the NHL, in 1982 on a tryout after his German club team was an early exit from the playoffs, but returned home to play in the World Championships, never to return to the NHL again. But just because a player is not in the NHL, doesn't mean he doesn't exist, as Kiessling would go onto have a 24 year career, ending in 1996 at the age of 40.
He made his first appearance in the Olympics at Innsbruck in 1976, winning a Bronze Medal. In addition to his five Olympics, Kiessling also participated in 15 World Championships and the 1984 Canada Cup, as well as winning six national titles in Germany, where he was named the top player three times.
Today's featured jersey is a 1989 West German National Team Udo Kiessling jersey which a was part of a set a collector had made of various team captains from the 1989 World Championships. The jerseys were sold individually in an online auction, and while we were able to win the Germany, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, Sweden and USA jerseys, we were unfortunately outbid on the Dale Hawerchuk Canada jersey, sadly breaking up the set. We were unable to determine if there were jerseys made for Finland and Poland, the other participants in the 1989 World Championships.
This beautiful jersey features the vibrant colors of the dye-sublimation process and the arresting graphics of the era with the colors of the tri-color German flag streaking across the chest, as well as the distinctive Tackla diamond logos on the shoulders and drop shadow block font for the numbers. Easily one of our favorite jerseys in the Third String Goalie collection.
If you happen to be the owner of the Dale Hawerchuk Canada jersey from this set, distinguished by the notation on the lower left hem "Team replica Stockholm - 89", we would always be interested in reuniting this wonderful set of jerseys. If you happen to be the collector who had them produced, we'd also be interested in knowing if there were ever Finland and Poland jerseys made and what their availability might be. We can always be contacted by leaving a comment at the bottom of the day's post or through the email address in our "wantlist" section on the right side of the page.
Dasherboard: Did someone say "Dale Hawerchuk"?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Dasherboard: The Red Wings defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 last night in a close game that went into overtime. Unfortunately for Nikolai Khabibulin, the 'Hawks game up a 3 on 1 in overtime, leaving him little chance to fend off the Red Wings and allow the game to continue. That game was a real missed opportunity for Chicago that they dearly needed to take advantage of.
The Blackhawks now face this very uphill situation: they must now beat the Red Wings in four of the next five games, with a maximum of just three games at home at the United Center. This against a team that already has a 6-2 record vs. Chicago this season.
Clearly, the Blackhawks have to win the next game at home to keep themselves in the series. A loss in game 3 would put them in a hole they would just not be able to climb out of.
Posted by spyboy1 at 9:55 AM
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
On this date in 1984 the Edmonton Oilers would win their first of five Stanley Cups, four of which were with Wayne Gretzky as Captain.
The Oilers started life in the late, great World Hockey Association in 1972 where they would compete until becoming part of the NHL in time for the 1979-80 season. When the WHA teams were allowed to enter the NHL, the old WHA teams were permitted to protect only two goaltenders and two skaters, as the NHL teams raided their rosters in the 1979 Expansion Draft, seeking a return of players whose rights they once held. The WHA teams were also each required to pay a $6 million expansion fee for the privilege of having their team decimated. This was a far different scenario than a "merger" between the leagues, in which case the incoming WHA teams would have been able to keep their rosters intact and not pay an expansion fee.
The Oilers thus stared life in the NHL with a roster consisting of goaltenders Dave Dryden and Eddie Mio, plus skaters Bengt Gustafsson and Wayne Gretzky. Although no NHL team held Gretzky's rights, and under existing rules he would have been removed from the Oilers and placed into the Entry Draft, the Oilers were allowed to keep him but were forced to pick dead last in each round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft of incoming new players, behind even current Stanley Cup champions the Montreal Canadiens.
The WHA teams then selected unprotected players from the current NHL teams to fill out their rosters, but only after the NHL teams were allowed to protect two veteran goalies and seventeen skaters. Think about that for a second. In the best case scenario, a WHA team would get the 20th best player from any NHL team. The results were predictable, as the WHA teams all finished in the bottom eight of the standings. However, a ridiculous 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs back then, so Edmonton and Hartford did manage to qualify for the postseason, with the Oilers being swept in three games by Philadelphia.
Amazingly, within just three years, coach and GM Glen Sather had a team that included Gretzky, but also Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe and goaltenders Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog, that made it to the finals for the first time in 1983, losing to the Islanders, before winning the Stanley Cup in 1984, ending the Islanders dynasty and beginning one of their own.
Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky jersey. Interestingly, each of the four times the Oilers would win the cup with Gretzky as captain, it would be at home in their white jerseys. This run of success was prior to teams wearing a special patch during the Stanley Cup Finals, which was not introduced until 1989, so this jersey carries no additional patches - a rarity for our collection.
The Oilers would go onto win three more cups with Gretzky as Captain, in 1985, 1987 and 1988 before Gretzky's famous departure for Los Angeles. Before leaving, the Oilers would change the game of hockey, putting up astounding offensive numbers never seen before. For example, Gretzky led the league in scoring for seven consecutive years, with his lowest point total being 164, followed by 183, 196, 205, 208 and 215. Prior to that, only one player had ever topped 150 - once, as Phil Esposito tallied 152 in 1970-71.
Dasherboard: The Penguins/Hurricanes played an exciting game last night and this series looks like it could easily go six or seven games. Both goalies played very well, but Miroslav Satan could have not only put the puck behind Cam Ward on his breakaway goal, but perhaps a Chevrolet. His move froze Ward so effectively he had one of the widest open nets I've seen for some time.
Tonight it's back to the Red Wings hosting the Blackhawks. We just have the feeling that Chicago needs to take the game tonight to give themselves a chance in the series, otherwise Detroit could easily end the series in as few as five games. The Red Wings really had the look the other night of being able to answer any Chicago goal practically at will.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Born on May 18th, 1960, Jari Kurri played 3 seasons for Jokerit Helsinki before joining the Edmonton Oilers and being paired up with linemate Wayne Gretzky. Kurri would go onto win five Stanley Cups in a 17 year career, play in 8 All-Star Games, win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and score a career high 71 goals in 1984-85. He finished his career as the highest scoring European player in NHL history with a total of 601 goals, 797 assists and 1,398 points, having now only been surpassed by Jaromir Jagr. He was ranked #50 in The Hockey News list of the 100 Greatest Players in 1998.
Today's jersey is a 1988-89 Edmonton Oilers Jari Kurri jersey and features the Edmonton Oilers 10th Anniversary patch. We were very happy when CCM released the Vintage Collection Throwback Series. Seeing how much money collectors were spending for old Minnesota North Stars and Quebec Nordiques jerseys, CCM smelled blood and knew there was an opportunity to make some cash from the throwback craze, first introduced when the Original Six teams wore Turn Back the Clock jerseys during the NHL's 75th Anniversary season of 1991-92.
Much better quality than the original, undersized and lightweight (to the point of being see-through) replica jerseys of the 80's, many retired styles were remade with the current-for-the-time 550 Series replica model, which provided the consumer a very high quality replica for the price.
This jersey also features the Edmonton Oliers 10th Anniversary patch, which is odd since the Oilers were founded in 1972 as one of the original members of the WHA, making 1988-89 the Oilers 16th Anniversary season. This patch was clearly meant to commemorate the anniversary of the Oilers 10 seasons in the NHL following the demise of the WHA in 1979, a league the NHL chooses to pretend never actually existed.
There is also an image of a single Stanley Cup in the patch, but the Oilers had actually won four cups at that point, something most teams would have probably driven home by putting a 4 on the cup or picturing multiple images of the cup, as the Islanders would do 3 seasons later.
Kurri's #17 has been retired by not only the Edmonton Oilers, but also by Jokerit Helsinki and the Finnish National Team. He is currently the General Manager of the the Finnish National Team.
Dasherboard: The Eastern Conference Finals start tonight at 7:30 PM EST on Vs. with the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. The defending Eastern Conference Champion Penguins now have last year's playoff experience to draw upon, and will look to return to the finals for a second year in a row.
The Hurricanes are not lacking in playoff experience either, having won the Stanley Cup as recently as 2006 with players Brind'Amour, Cullen, Staal, Whitney, Cole, LaRose, Kaberle, Wallin, Babchuk and most importantly, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward all still on the roster.
It's really going to come down to a matchup between goaltenders in my mind. Can Ward hold off Crosby and Malkin long enough for Staal and Whitney to get the needed goals past Marc-Andre Fleury? The real key to that is the health of Sergei Gonchar, injured during the last round of the playoffs. He did return in time for Game 7, and Pittsburgh's surprising large lead allowed coach Dan Bylsma the opportunity to cut his ice time significantly. The four days off will give him additional time to heal, tipping the scales in our minds to favor the Penguins.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Norwegian Constitution Day, commonly known as Syttende Mai ("17th of May") is a celebration of the 1814 signing of Norway's constitution in the town of Eidsvoil, declaring Norway as an independent nation. In Oslo, children parade past the Royal Palace as the Royal Family looks on as part of the celebrations.
Norway has been a member of the IIHF since 1935 and currently participates at the top level of the World Championships, and have done so since being promoted by winning Division 1 in 1995 with their best finish being a 4th place in 1951.
Today's jersey is a 1992-93 Norway National Team jersey. This is one of the most striking designs of any jersey we have ever seen and we were thrilled to add it to our collection years after first seeing it in action at the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics.
We really love the Tackla jerseys made in Finland from this time period, as will become apparent over time as you get used to seeing the diamond shapes on the shoulders again and again, along with the distinctive drop shadow font Tackla favored for their numbers.
One thing that makes high quality European-made jerseys different from what we are used to in North America is that the jerseys are dye-sublimated. This is a process where the full design of the jersey, including the main body color, is made by injecting dye into the fabric of the jersey, a process very different from silk screening. If you turn a dye-sublimated jersey inside out, you will see that they all start life as a blank white "canvas". This allows for some wild designs not possible by weaving or sewing color together. Another benefit is long-lasting vibrant colors, as you see in this jersey that is now over 15 years old.
Perhaps the most familiar name to North American fans is Espen Knutsen, a veteran of 5 NHL seasons and the only Norwegian to have played in the NHL All-Star Game.
Currently there are two Norwegians in the NHL, left winger Patrick Thoresen of the Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
As for the following video featuring the 1989 Norway National Team, you just can't make this stuff up.
Dasherboard: The Western Conference Finals kick off today at 3:00 PM EST on NBC as the Detroit Red Wings host division rivals the Chicago Blackhawks. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings won the season series between the two teams 4-2. This is Chicago's first time this deep into the playoffs since 1995 where they lost to the same Detroit Red Wings.
This will be the 15th time the two Original Six teams have met in the playoffs dating back to 1934, with Chicago holding an 8-6 edge. One interesting fact to consider is long-time Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman is now Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks.
Will this series be seen as a passing of the torch to the young Blackhawks or the Red Wings asserting their position as defending champions? Our personal feeling is that "old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill" and the Red Wings will advance. However, this could very well be one of those series where people look back as the one where the Blackhawks learns the lessons and gains the hunger needed to achieve greater things in the future.