Saturday, June 20, 2009
June 20th, 1992 was the date that the Quebec Nordiques stunned the hockey world by trading Eric Lindros - twice.
The Quebec Nordiques owned the first overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and Eric Lindros was the consensus first pick, however, Lindros warned the Nordiques that he would not play for them if they selected him, citing the high taxes in Quebec, the lack of marketing potential in such a comparatively small city and the difficulties associated with the French language spoken exclusively in Quebec City. Lindros held his ground, yet the stubborn Nordiques selected him with the first pick anyway. The even more stubborn Lindros wasted no time in subbing the Nordiques by refusing to wear the club's jersey for photos.
Undaunted, the Nordiques president Marcel Aubut announced that they would build the team around Lindros and refused to trade him, claiming he would not have a career in the NHL as long as he held out. Meanwhile, Lindros continued to play for Oshawa in Canadian junior hockey and Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1992 World Junior Tournament and the 1992 Winter Olympics so there was no shortage of places for him to play during his unprecedented standoff with the Nordiques despite their 10-year, $50 million contract offer.
Eventually, after his year long holdout, the Nordiques relented and traded Lindros at the draft in 1992. The problem was, they agreed to trade him to both the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in separate deals!
Jay Snider, the Flyers president had been presented with Aubut's terms, but meanwhile Pierre Page, the Nordiques General Manager was also negotiating with the Rangers GM Neil Smith. Their deal had reached the point of agreeing on which players and draft picks that Quebec would receive and all that needed to be settled between Aubut and Stanley Jaffe, the corporate operating officer of Paramount Communications, who owned the Rangers, was the amount of cash New York would part with. Before Aubut and Jaffe had settled on the Rangers cash contribution to the deal, the Flyers Snider called Aubut to agree to the terms and ask for a way to contact Lindros to then ensure that Lindros was willing to negotiate a long term deal with him. In Aubut's mind, the deal was not yet completed and he wanted to use the Flyers offer to squeeze more out of the Rangers.
Snider was given the Lindroses phone number and contacted them, as Eric's father was his agent, and both sides agreed to negotiate a long term contract. In Snider's view, his deal was done and accepted. Aubut had even checked with Snider to see how the call had gone and Snider gave him a thumbs-up.
But Aubut now presented the Rangers with the Flyers offer and got them to agree to a deal for Tony Amonte, Alexi Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov, James Patrick, John Vanbiesbrouck, two first round draft picks and $20 million! Aubut told the Rangers the deal was theirs an hour and twenty minutes after the thumbs-up from Snider.
Aubut then went to the Snider, where he claimed that the Quebec board of directors had told him to take New York's offer. An enraged Snider told Aubut "We had a deal!"
The Rangers meanwhile, had already made up a sweater with Lindros's name and number and began plans for a press conference to announce the deal. Furious, the Flyers contacted NHL president John Ziegler, who arranged for the three clubs to agree to arbitration in the matter.
Eventually the NHL arbitrator would rule in favor of the Flyers on June 30th that the deal had become a deal when Aubut gave Snider Lindros's phone number. More than one club had stated that Aubut would only permit any club to speak with Lindros once it had agreed to a deal with the Nordiques.
And with that ruling, it was the Flyers who sent a King's Ransom to the Nordiques in the form of Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, two first-round draft choices (one of which was used to select Jocelyn Thibault while the other was traded away) plus $15 million.
Many view this as the turning point for the often moribund Nordiques, who, with the later addition of Patrick Roy, would go onto win a pair of Stanley Cups. Unfortunately for the fans in Quebec City, the championships would come only after the team had relocated to Denver, Colorado and been renamed the Avalanche.
It is also noteworthy that the Rangers would go onto win the Stanley Cup two seasons later - without Lindros.
Lindros would go onto spend eight tumultuous seasons in Philadelphia, where he, and his father/agent, would butt heads with the notoriously headstrong and opinionated Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke, who would eventually question Lindros' toughness. He would tally four 40 goal seasons, win a Hart Memorial Trophy and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 1997, getting swept in four straight by the Detroit Red Wings.
Surprisingly, Lindros would be named captain of Team Canada for the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, a team that also happened to have no less than Wayne Gretzky on it's roster.
Lindros, suffering from the effects of several concussions by this time, the most recent being the devastating hit by the New Jersey Devils' Scott Stevens in the spring of 2000, refused the Flyers qualifying offer. Once he was cleared to resume playing in December of 2000, the Flyers refused to trade him to his choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs and he sat out the remainder of the 2000-01 season.
Clarke would eventually deal Lindros to the very same New York Rangers, who once thought they had a acquired him, for Jan Hlavac, Kim Johnsson, Pavel Brendl and a third round draft pick, a far cry from the original price the Flyers once paid.
Since Lindros refused to wear a Quebec Nordiques jersey, we are refusing to feature a jersey today or learn to speak French either.
Friday, June 19, 2009
It was late into the night during the third overtime of Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals when Brett Hull controversially scored the cup winning goal giving the Dallas Stars a 2-1 victory and their first championship, 4 games to 2 over the Buffalo Sabres.
Dallas cruised to the Pacific Division title by 24 points and the President's Trophy, led by Mike Modano, who had the most goals (34), not an easy thing to do when one of your teammates is Brett Hull, most assists (47) and obviously points with 81. The team was backstopped by Ed Belfour who had 35 wins and a 1.99 goals against average. Other key members of the team were Joe Nieuwendyk, Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Pat Verbeek and defensemen Sergei Zubov, Darryl Sydor and Darian Hatcher.
They defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the playoffs in four straight before taking six games to eliminate the St. Louis Blues.
Next up was the Colorado Avalanche, a series that went the full seven games. The teams spilt the first two games in Dallas and then again in Colorado. The Avalanche took game 5 in Dallas, putting the Stars on the brink, but Dallas was able to win Games 5 & 6 by identical 4-1 scores to advance to the finals versus the Sabres, who were led by goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Again, the teams spilt the first two games in Dallas and again in Buffalo, with Dallas taking Games 5 & 6 to clinch the cup. Despite Mike Modano leading the team in playoff scoring, it was Joe Nieuwendyk who was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, aided by his record tying six game winning goals.
Nieuwendyk holds an interesting position of winning the Stanley Cup three times, in three different decades on three different teams. He won in Calgary in 1989, Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003. In addition he also won an Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada in 2002. He won the Calder Trophy when he scored a career high 51 goals in the 1987-88 season, a goal total he would again match the following season. He finished his 20 year career with 564 goals and 562 assists for 1126 points and appeared in four All-Star Games.
Today's featured jersey is a Starter 1998-99 Dallas Stars Joe Nieuwendyk jersey as worn when he was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. As such, it features the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals patch worn by both teams during the finals.
One must remember that this jersey was originally introduced as the Stars third jersey in the 1997-98 season and they chose to wear it instead of their usual road black jersey during the playoffs in 1999. The following year it was made the permanent road jersey and a white version was introduced as the new home jersey, one of several instances in the NHL when a popular alternate jersey graduated to become a primary jersey.
One nice thing about the Starter Dallas Stars jerseys is that the team logo is embroidered directly into the jersey and is not a patch which is then glued onto the front of the jersey like the CCM's were. We think it's a much cleaner look for this style.
The design was based on the NHL All-Star Game jerseys used from 1994 to 1997, only with the continuation of the star shape on the back as well as the front.
Personally, we can't remember ever having such a positive reaction to seeing a new jersey for the first time. While not being a fan of the color green in general, we really think this striking design in it's dark green, white, gold and black is one of our all time favorites, and trust us, it was not easy for a die-hard Minnesota North Stars fan to embrace anything to do with the Dallas Stars at the time.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It was on this date in 1989 that Mats Sundin of Sweden became the first European player drafted first overall in the NHL entry draft when he was selected by the Quebec Nordiques. While players like Borje Salming had been participating in the NHL since the early seventies, and the numbers only increased with the success of Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson in the WHA, it was not until Sundin was picked first overall that a European player was taken with the top selection, proving that Europeans were now being seen as equals to the North American players.
Today's featured jersey is a 1996-97 Toronto Maple Leafs Mats Sundin jersey. This jersey sports the assistant captain's "A", a sign of Sundin's increasing leadership on the club that would eventually lead to his long term captaincy. The jersey is completed with the 65th Anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens patch. We do find it a bit odd that a club would commemorate a 65th Anniversary, especially since the Maple Leafs had no plans to move into the Air Canada Centre, being built for the NBA Toronto Raptors at the time. Perhaps we could understand the need of the Maple Leafs to celebrate the 65th anniversary if they knew they were not going to be there long enough to reach the 70th or 75th anniversary.
This is another jersey in the same vein as the Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, detailed earlier here at Third String Goalie, where the basic jersey remained unchanged from it's inception in 1992-93 through 2006-07 which evolved over time with the use of three different fonts for the numbers as well as a change in shoulder logos for the 2000-01 season.
In addition to those changes, a variety of patches were worn on this style jersey as the Stanley Cup had it's centennial, Maple Leaf Gardens had not only it's 65th Anniversary, but also it's Final Season, the Leafs hosted the All-Star Game the same season the NHL ushered in the millennium as well as various special one-off patches such as the one worn for the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game hosted by the Maple Leafs, the Hockey Fights Cancer patch, the NHL Cares/Katrina patch and the Teammates for Kids patch.
The choice of Sundin proved to be a good one, as he has gone on to score 500 goals and 1000 points in his career.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
On Friday, June 13th, 1997 the Detroit Red Wings held a golf tournament and dinner for many of their players and staff six days after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup. Afterwards, Vladimir Konstantinov, team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov and Slava Fetisov were riding in a limousine when the driver, whose license has already been revoked, fell asleep while driving. With the car now out of control, it crossed three lanes of traffic and struck a tree. The accident left Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov each with serious head injuries. Fetisov was also hurt, but his life was not in danger.
It would take five weeks for Konstantinov to emerge from his coma, barely aware of what was going on around him. He faced a long road ahead of him, over the next year relearning basic skills such as recognizing friends and family, eating and operating a wheelchair.
The following season the Red Wings wore a "VK & SM" patch with the word "Believe" in both English and Russian to honor Konstantinov and Mnastsakanov.
The Red Wings started the 1997-98 season 10-1-2 and ended up with a record of 44-23-15, good for second place in the Central Division. They were led by captain Steve Yzerman (69 points), Brendan Shanahan (team leading 28 goals and 57 points), defenseman Nicklas Listrom (59 points) and Larry Murphy (52 points) and the goaltending of Chris Osgood, who had 33 wins.
Detroit started the playoffs by defeating Phoenix, then St. Louis and finally Dallas, all by a 4-2 margin in games. In the finals they were matched up against the Washington Capitals, who they defeated in four straight to claim their second consecutive Stanley Cup, setting off an emotional scene with Konstantinov being brought out onto the ice in his wheelchair to receive the cup from Conn Smythe Trophy winner Yzerman.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings Steve Yzerman jersey as worn by Yzerman as he presented the cup to Konstantinov. The jersey features the "Believe" patch, which was worn on the upper right chest all season long, but moved to the left shoulder during the finals to make way for the 1998 Stanley Cup finals patch.
Of note, the Red Wings are one of the few teams to sew the player names directly to the jerseys without the use of a nameplate.
To this day Konstantinov still needs a walker to assist him in getting around, but he has made remarkable progress from where he once was. His jersey number 16, while not officially retired by the Red Wings, has not been worn since.
Dasherboard: The ratings are in and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals was the most watched NHL game in 36 years. Friday night's game averaged 8 million viewers, which was the most since Game 6 in 1973 between the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.
The European Champions Hockey League for next year has been sadly canceled due to Russian engery firm Gazprom pulling out of it's three year sponsorship agreement. The league offered $14 million in prize money, less money as Gazprom makes in a day based on their net profits for the fourth quarter in 2008 of $1.4 billion.
There is a possibility that the league could return for 2010 backed by the NHL. The league had a successful debut this past season with 12 teams from seven countries and was won by the ZSC Lions, who will face the Chicago Blackhawks in the second Victoria Cup next September 29th.
Perhaps most importantly, Judge Redfield T. Baum, and what a name that is, rejected the proposed sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to pesky Canadian billionaire Jim "I'll play by my rules" Balsillie, who wants to relocate the team to Hamilton, Ontario, regardless of the damage it may do to the Buffalo Sabres.
Judge Baum rejected the sale based on the tight deadline imposed by Balsillie didn't allow enough time to resolve the case. He also went on to reject several points of Balsillie's argument for moving the team concerning antitrust law, giving the NHL a clear victory in the ruling.
Monday, June 15, 2009
It was on this date in 1993 that the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim officially received their NHL franchise membership. Originally owned by the Walt Disney Company, the Mighty Ducks name was chosen from the Disney move "The Mighty Ducks". Hockey purists hated the name and disliked the colors, logo and jerseys of the controversial franchise.
University of Maine star Paul Kariya would be their first ever draft pick and would lead the team for nine years. The addition of Teemu Selanne in 1996 gave them a potent duo for their five seasons together in Anaheim.
The Mighty Ducks would take four seasons to reach the playoffs, losing in round 2 in 1996-97 and would only make the playoffs once more in the next five seasons. It was not until the 2002-03 season that the Mighty Ducks would put together a serious playoff run, reaching the Stanley Cup finals and taking the New Jersey Devils to a seventh game behind the goaltending of Jean-Sebastian Giguere, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy despite being on the losing side.
The following season the Mighty Ducks would miss the playoffs, but would return in 2005-06 after the lockout year, losing to the Edmonton Oilers in five games in the Conference Finals.
For the 2006-07 season, the club would be rebranded as a result in a change of ownership, having been sold by Disney to Henry Samueli. With that, one of the most controversial team names in league history would be dropped, as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim name would be simplified to the Anaheim Ducks. The other casualties of the rebranding were the cartoonish "duck mask" logo and trendy early 90's colors of "jade" and "eggplant", or teal and dark purple to the rest of us.
Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Paul Kariya jersey. This jersey features both Kariya's captain's "C" and the 2003 Stanley Cup finals patch from the team's first visit to the finals. The diagonal orientation of the waist stripe on the jersey was a clear break from the staus quo of the time and became an instantly recognizable design element associated with the Mighty Ducks and has been copied many times over since it's introduction in 1993-94 season.
The rebranding would bring an end to one of the most varied an controversial, but certainly unique, jersey histories of any team ever in the NHL. While the home and road jerseys remained unchanged, a variety of alternate jerseys saw action, giving them a total of six different jerseys over their 12 year run as the Mighty Ducks, sometimes with as many as four worn in a single season.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
With a 3-2 victory on this date in 1994 the New York Rangers won one of the most memorable championships in NHL history. Ending a 54-year drought, something the New York Islanders fans were fond of pointing out with chants of "Nineteen-Forty! Nineteen-Forty!", the Rangers captured their fourth title in franchise history by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the finals.
In a very momentous season, the Rangers hosted the NHL All-Star Game in January, won the President's Trophy for their regular season and went onto capture the Stanley Cup as well.
The Rangers were captained by Mark Messier and led in scoring by defenseman Sergei Zubov, with 89 points, while Adam Graves had the most goals with 52. The Rangers had many other contributors that season as well, including Brian Leetch, Steve Larmer, Alexi Kovalev, Esa Tikkanen, Sergei Nemchinov, Kevin Lowe and Jeff Beukeboom. Mike Richter and Glenn Healy shared the goaltending during the regular season, with Richter handling the vast majority of the playoff duties. Acquired during trades during the season, Stephane Matteau, Brian Noonan, Glenn Anderson and Craig MacTavish all played roles in the playoffs, with Matteau's goal in the second overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals being the most memorable.
The Canucks won Game 1 on the road in overtime to start the series and the Rangers came back to win Game 2 at home, as well as Games 3 & 4 in Vancouver to seemingly take control of the series with the next game back on home ice in New York. The Canucks had other plans however, taking the next two games to set up the dramatic seventh and deciding game at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead before Trevor Linden scored short-handed early in the second. Messier scored for the Rangers only to have Linden pull one back for the Canucks early in the third. Vancouver hit the post with five minutes left in the game and the Rangers held on to win the Stanley Cup. Leetch was not only named the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the first non-Canadian as well.
Today's jersey is a 1994 New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey featuring the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals patch. This was the smallest size finals patch ever made, in deference to the Rangers needing to wear the patch on their shoulders due to the diagonal "Rangers" cresting across the front of the jersey taking up the space on the upper right chest where the patch is customarily worn.
Aside from the first time a Stanley Cup Finals patch was worn in 1989, when it was located on the upper left sleeves, this is the only instance of the finals patch not being worn on the upper right chest.
In a milestone side note, Zubov, Kovalev, Nemchinov and Alexander Karpovtsev became the first four Russian-trained players to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.