Saturday, June 6, 2009
Born on this date in 1963, Vladimír Růžička was twice named top player on the Czechoslovak Elite Legaue, winning the league scoring title five times. He played for Czechoslovakia in the World Championships five times, winning Gold in 1985, the Canada Cup twice and the Olympics three times - twice for Czechoslovakia and once for the Czech Republic - winning a Gold Medal in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
In addition, he played five seasons in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, with his best season being 75 points with Boston in 1991-92.
Currently, he is the head coach of both HC Slavia Prague in the Czech Extraliga and the Czech National Team, coaching the National Team to the Gold Medal in the World Championships in 2005.
Today's featured jersey is a Tackla 1989 Czechoslovakia National Team Vladimír Růžička jersey and is another jersey that 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 was 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 Czechoslovakian flag waving across the body and sleeves, as well as the distinctive Tackla diamond logos on the shoulders and drop shadow block font for the numbers. Note the unusual placement of the captain's "C".
It never ceases to amaze us the things you can find on YouTube. Here we were hoping to find perhaps some sort of Bruins highlight where Ruzicka makes a brief appearance, and instead we find this absolute gem, a career video highlight package, complete with actually listenable music, and not one of the many "slideshows set to music" found on YouTube.
Be sure to note all the cool jerseys Ruzicka wore throughout his international career. One can only hope that he got to keep a few of them!
If you happen to be the owner of the Hawerchuk Canada jersey from this set of captain's jerseys, distinguished by the notation on the back "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: Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals are tonight in what is now a best of 3 series. Detroit looks to regain the upper hand at home with the all-important last change to get the matchups against Crosby and Malkin of the Penguins.
The good news for hockey fans is that all remaining games will be on NBC. We like and defend Versus, but it's good for hockey to be able to have the widest possible audience tune into the series, especially when competing head to head with the NBA finals, and it's also better for those traveling, as we have yet to stay in a hotel that has Versus.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Today is Grundlovsdag, or "Constitution Day" in Denmark, which celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Danish Constitution in 1849, which severely limited the King's power and secured basic civil rights. This day also honors the Constitution of 1953, which among other things allowed women the right to inherit the throne, which is currently being put to good use by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, who became the first woman to hold the Danish throne in 1972.
Constitution Day in Denmark is rather low key compared to other countries, but is a national holiday and June 5th also happens to be Father's Day in Denmark.
Denmark currently ranks 13th in the IIHF Mens' World Rankings and has played at the top level of the World Championships since 2003 after an absence of 54 years. While finding themselves in the Relegation round three out of the last seven years, the Danes have successfully avoided the drop each time. Their highlights at the recent World Championships are considered to be a 5-2 win versus the United States followed by a 2-2 tie against eventual champions Canada six days later in 2003.
Current Danes in the NHL include the Canucks Jannik Hansen, Mikkel Bødker of the Coyotes, Franz Nielsen of the Islanders and the Senators Peter Regin. Other successful Danes currently play in the Swedish Elitserien.
Today's jersey is a 2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard jersey. Damgaard, a defenseman, is the long-time captain of the Danish National Team and has played for Denmark at the World Championships 14 times, leading the team in games played with 240. This jersey features a pair of my custom printed Oddset sponsor patches.
2005 was the high point in my book for international hockey jerseys, as nearly all teams had complete redesigns or very well executed tweaks to their existing jerseys in time for the World Championships in Austria. It was also the last World Championship with the traditional jersey styling and construction before the introduction of the strange feeling, cookie-cutter templated and rather ugly Nike Swift jerseys in 2006. They even sound strange when you are handling one, as the fabric has an audio quality similar to a nylon windbreaker!
Due to either a serious lack of Danish hockey highlights on YouTube or my ability to search for them in Danish, or quite likely a combination of both, my video of choice today is a classic featuring Denmark vs. Japan, with the most emphatic "own goal" in perhaps the history of ice hockey by Japan. Surely one to add to your favorites.
Next up are highlights from the recent 2009 World Championships from an exciting and close fought game when Denmark takes on rivals Norway, featuring several of Denmark's NHLers in a spirited battle to avoid the relegation round, the annual goal at the World Championships for teams at the level of Denmark and Norway. Do not miss the pass the Norwegian makes two minutes into the video to victimize our Mr. Damgaard.
Also from the same game, one of those hits that gives meaning to the phrase "knocked him into next week."
Dasherboard: Well, who thinks we've got a series now? Heck yea! Evgeni Malkin has one hand on the Conn Smythe Trophy with another goal and an assist as the Penguins even the series at two games apiece after the Penguins come from behind - again - with three goals in 5:37 during the second period to send the hometown fans into a white-clad delirium.
After Detroit took the lead in the second, things looked to be headed Detroit's way once more, but the resilient Penguins came roaring back, inspired by a Jordan Staal shorthanded goal, which started the three goal outburst. Sidney Crosby then got his first goal in nearly two weeks on a feed from, of course, Malkin.
Have you noticed how many of Crosby's goals come from a distance of less than six feet? He's got a nose for the net combined with the ability to get wide open at the same time. In a way, he reminds me of Brett Hull, who was always able to find open space to work with, only Hull's open space was much farther out and his cannon of a shot took care of the distance. Regardless of where they score from, you always find yourself asking "How did they let him get so open? Don't they know who he is? You just can't let that happen."
The best was yet to come, as Tyler Kennedy scored the prettiest goal of the night on a great feed from Crosby. Marc-Andre Fleury was strong in net, stopping 37 of 39 shots. I wonder when the last time was that a team gave up 40 shots in the Stanley Cup finals and won a game?
With a goal and an assist in Game 4, Malkin now has been involved with seven of the nine Pittsburgh goals in this series.
Tomorrow is a day off and the series resumes back in Detroit for Game 5, where the Red Wings hope hold serve back and put their home ice advantage back to good use by getting the matchups on the ice that proved so effective in the first two games of the series.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
It was on this date in 2002 that the Carolina Hurricanes opened the Stanley Cup finals with a 3-2 overtime victory versus the Detroit Red Wings on a goal by Ron Francis. The series would feature the first matchup between two European born goaltenders, the Red Wings veteran Czech Dominik Hasek and Carolina's Latvian Arturs Irbe.
Carolina was not expected to be much of a threat to even be in the finals. Despite winning the "South-least" Division with 91 points, they had the second lowest point total of any team in the playoffs that season!
Being that they were a division winner, such as it was, they were seeded third in the Eastern Conference, which allowed them to avoid a first round matchup with the #2 seed, the Philadelphia Flyers. Instead, they faced the #6 seeded New Jersey Devils, who they eliminated 4 games to 2. They would advance to the finals by beating the #8 seed, the Montreal Canadiens and the #4 seed, the Toronto Maple Leafs, also by 4-2 margins.
Carolina would fall behind in Game 1 in Detroit on a goal by Sergei Fedorov in the 1st period, but would equalize in the 2nd on a goal by Sean Hill. The teams would trade goals later on in the second half of the period and follow that with a scoreless 3rd.
Francis' winning goal came just 58 seconds into overtime, giving Irbe, who had made 23 saves on 25 shots, his one and only Stanley Cup finals victory, as Detroit would go onto win the next four games to capture the cup.
Today's jersey is a CCM 2001-02 Carolina Hurricanes Arturs Irbe jersey, featuring the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals patch. We are really a fans of the italicized font that the Hurricanes use for their jersey numbers. It really adds a touch of excitement and speed to the overall visual package and we're surprised more teams do not go that route. Currently only Carolina, Calgary and Nashville used italicized numbers.
Irbe is one of our all-time favorite players. He's got a great personal story and we are looking forward to sharing it with you over time, as we have a number of Irbe jerseys in the Third String Goalie collection. "Archie" was a very popular player in San Jose and Carolina and we were very excited for him to have a chance to play in the finals and only wish that he could have won the cup at some point in his career.
Dasherboard: Tonight is the critical Game 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, with Detroit at Pittsburgh. Detroit can take a commanding 3-1 with the next game on home ice, or Pittsburgh can even the series at 2-2, reducing the series to a best of 3.
Even if Pavel Datsyuk can return to the lineup after missing six games, you have to wonder a little about how effective he will be. Still, 80% of one of the best players in the league would be a welcome addition to any lineup.
Pittsburgh must hope that Evgeni Malkin's excellent play continues and that Sidney Crosby can find the net, not having scored a goal yet in the finals and with just one assist to date. He's been playing well overall, but the Penguins cannot hope to win the cup without an increase in scoring from him.
The Pittsburgh fans will once more be having a "Whiteout" as they all wear white shirts and jerseys of some kind, a tradition started by fans in Winnipeg back in 1987.
But this being a jersey blog, how would you feel if you just plunked down $380 for a brand new, BLACK Penguins Sidney Crosby jersey?
We understand all about supporting the team and unity, but for that price, we're wearing the black jersey that we spent a fortune on and not some free t-shirt! We carefully choose our jerseys to wear to games in order to stand out from the crowd, not disappear into it.
In other news, it appears that the public has finally found the Versus Network, as Game 3 drew record viewership, with 2.96 million fans tuning in, the most watched show of any kind on Versus, and a 37% increase over last year's finals - with the same two teams, so it's not like were are comparing apples to oranges with last year being a Tampa Bay/Calgary matchup that critics can point out as being responsible for the difference.
The game also made Versus the most-viewed cable channel in the country. Yes, Versus is now capable of outdrawing ESPN, so perhaps the "stick-and-ball" reporters and talk radio hosts who only follow the NFL, the NBA and Tiger Woods, can now finally shut up about "not being able to find Versus" after four full years. Heck, on my cable system Versus is channel 68. Two whole digits. No more complicated that ESPN2's #26, where you know they would have parked the NHL once again if the games were being shown on the ESPN Family of Networks. We have even heard radio hosts say that they "can't find Versus" and then go on and on about the Barrett-Jackson automobile auction on Speed Channel - located conveniently on channel #732 on our cable system - and requiring you to subscribe to a sports package with an additional monthly charge. But that they can find no problem. Sheesh.
Congratulations to Versus for a putting together a quality product and finally being rewarded with record ratings.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
So just what happens to a Third String Goalie when his playing days are over?
Dasherboard: The Penguins came through at home in what proved to be a tighter game than the first period suggested it was going to be. The four goals in the first were followed by a single goal for the remainder of the contest.
Pittsburgh got off to a good start with a goal less than five minutes in, and Detroit quickly answered once again with an easy goal a minute and a half later when Henrik Zetterberg found himself left alone. When the Red Wings pulled ahead at 11:33, it was nice to see the Penguins even the score once again well before the period ended.
Where we come from, it very often seems like the home team decides in the first five minutes of the game if they "have it" or not, sometimes even quicker if they give up a goal. Once they decide it's not their night, they quickly settle into a pattern of going through the motions and resign themselves to the fate they have chosen. Watching that for 82 games a year clouds your thinking, so when we see a team actually keep trying, even after falling behind, and then being rewarded for it, it comes a bit of a shock to the system.
It was also nice to get out of Joe Louis Arena and it's wacky bounces. None of the goals last night had that quirky, fluky feel to them.
The great thing for the NHL is that they are now guaranteed a Game 5 on Saturday night in prime time back on NBC.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Born on this day in 1941, Lou Nanne is synonymous with Minnesota hockey. While born in Sault St. Marie, Canada, Nanne played college hockey for the University of Minnesota in the early 1960's, captaining the team in the 1962-63 season.
"Sweet Lou from the Soo" became an American citizen in 1967, which allowed him to play for the United States Olympic Hockey Team at the 1968 Grenoble games, where he was also team captain. Following the Olympics, Nanne became a member of the Minnesota North Stars, playing 635 games over 11 seasons and was best known for his defensive abilities and penalty killing.
Nanne also was a member of the 1976 and 1977 United States National Teams in the World Championships and the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976, serving as team captain or assistant captain on all three occasions.
After his playing career was over, Nanne moved into management, becoming general manager and also head coach of the North Stars and general manager of the Team USA Canada Cup teams in 1981 and 1984.
He has been awarded the Lester Patrick Award in 1989 for his contribution to ice hockey in the United States and is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.
He is currently a popular weekly guest on a Twin Cities sports radio station, discussing what is happening in the NHL and college hockey, with an obvious emphasis during the regular season on the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Gophers. These appearances are recommended and can be listened to via podcast here.
He has also authored the popular book "Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne", which can be purchased here.
Today's featured jersey is a 1976 Team USA Lou Nanne jersey as worn in the 1976 Canada Cup. We have not seen very many of these come up for sale or worn at various Team USA games that we have attended.
The original set of Team USA jerseys in 1976 had elaborate embroidered crests and sewn on stars, numbers and names, which had a serif font. In addition, the pre-tournament set of jerseys also had sleeve numbers. The players complained that this heavyweight set of jerseys were too hot to play in, so the team was given a new, lightweight set of jerseys which had screened on cresting, back numbers and names, which used a non-serif font for use in the actual tournament. They did not have sleeve numbers. This is the style we have replicated with this jersey, although the name and numbers are sewn on.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to show this jersey to Mr. Nanne in person at one of his many public apperances. He was very pleased to see it and told us that it was one of the few styles of jerseys that he wore that is not in his collection.
Dasherboard: Back on May 25th, we went on a rant about how the Mike Modano North Stars jersey was "The Most Often Screwed Up Jersey of All Time™," primarily due to the drop shadow on the "9" going the wrong direction on the back of the jersey when it was customized by CCM.
As further proof of our claim, we present to you the McFarlane's Sports Picks NHL Series 10 Mike Modano Minnesota North Stars figurine.
Even on the front of the packaging you can once more see that the "drop shadow" on the "N" logo goes down and to the right, while on the "9" it once more goes up and to the left. Of course, the "9" on the back of the figurine follows the mistaken CCM placement of the white number within the yellow trim as well.
In a real bit of synergy, here's today's birthday celebrant, Lou Nanne drafting Mike Modano in 1988 - and presenting him with a properly customized North Stars jersey. Good on ya Louie.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Today's historically significant event is the Edmonton Oilers winning their third of four Stanley Cups on this date in 1987, meaning today's featured jersey is...
the same as yesterday's!
If you'd like to see it again, scroll on down , or if you are tech-savvy, click here.
Meanwhile, enjoy this one you friggin' hosers.
Dasherboard: As we mentioned Thursday, the boards at Joe Louis Arena are the most unpredictable at any arena in the NHL, and they involved themselves in Game 1 of the finals after participating in the overtime goal in Game 5 that eliminated the Blackhawks.
Marc-Andre Fleury was victimized on the first goal by a big bounce off the back boards, and did himself no favors by having the puck deflect in off his own skate (after yet another lively bounce off the end boards) while laying prone in the crease, something that never, ever would have happened to Dominik Hasek in the same situation since he always had a horseshoe up his butt as he flopped and floundered in and around his crease.
Malkin failing to convert on a breakaway with the score tied at 1 was a big moment in the game, as it was the kind of play that could have given either team a boost of confidence and momentum, something the younger Penguins playing on the road would have greatly benefitted from.
Even Justin Abdelkader's goal off the big hop off the net when Jordan Staal lost track of the airborne puck and got turned around wasn't a "typical" goal. While it was a big bounce off the net, it was a teriffic shot afterwards though. Fleury can only hope that the Gods have gotten all their quirky bounces out of their system and the puck will play truer from now on.
Tune in tonight at 7 PM CST for Game 2 and see to find out. We won't go so far as to say it's a "must win" for Pittsburgh, but without home ice advantage, they must win at least one game on the road during the series to take the cup, and it's going to be easier to do it with Pavel Datsyuk expected to remain out of the lineup and coming home with a split in the first two games would go a long way to bolstering their confidence, something the Red Wings look to have in abundance.