Saturday, November 21, 2009
Held to commemorate the Edmonton Oilers 25th season in the NHL and the 20th Anniversary of their first Stanley Cup Championship, the Oilers staged the first regular season outdoor game in NHL history, dubbed The Heritage Classic. The game was staged at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League in front of a capacity crowd of 57,167 fans despite temperatures of 0ºF and a windchill of -22ºF.
Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur and Mark Messier pose at the MegaStars Game
The weekend of events also featured the Heritage Classic MegaStars Alumni Game, which featured past Edmonton Oilers stars from their 1980's dynasty, such as Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Bill Ranford and Glenn Anderson versus Montreal Canadiens greats representing their 1970's dynasty, along with a few players from their 1986 and 1993 Stanley Cup teams, led by Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Guy Lapointe and Larry Robinson. Mark Messier even received permission from the New York Rangers to play in the MegaStars game for the Oilers, the only currently active player to compete in the contest.
Aside from the Oilers first NHL captain Ron Chipperfield and Russ Courtnall for the Canadiens all the players in the contest had won a Stanley Cup for either the Oilers or the Canadiens. Mark Napier held the distinction of being the only player in the game who had won a cup with both the Oilers and Canadiens.
The game was played in two fifteen-minute halves and was won by the Oliers by a score of 2-0 on goals by Ken Linseman and Marty McSorley. Goaltenders Fuhr and Ranford combined for 25 saves in the Oilers goal for the shutout. With his number 31 having been recently retired by the Oilers Fuhr stated "You can't ask for more to happen in one year. I should almost buy a lottery ticket."
The Oilers wore throwback jerseys from their Stanley Cup dynasty, an obvious choice, while the Canadiens wore their vintage jerseys based on their sweaters from their 1946 Stanley Cup championship team, which would later become their third jerseys.
Lafleur stated "It felt like we were 10 again, but with the legs of 50-year-olds."
One of the highlights of the event was the sight of the players shoveling snow off the ice between halves like they did in their youth.
"Everybody is so happy to be involved in this," Messier said. "It's unbelievable o see so many fans come out to see this game."
"The concept was just fantastic," added Lafleur.
The day prior to the MegaStars Game, the teams held a practice to get their legs moving and get used to the outdoor rink.
"The ice was hard, it was great, and I think it will be better (Saturday) after a little bit of use (Friday)," said Messier after the practice.
"It's just amazing to come back and for it to be that easy for everybody - to fit in, to say hello, to get out there and practice. It was just like we left off," added Messier."All the pieces fit comfortably together."
Glenn Sather, who coached the Oilers alumni, said that Friday's practice "was kind of a romantic moment."
Today's featured jersey is a 2002-04 Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky practice jersey as worn during the Friday practice the day prior to the MegaStars Game.
It features Gretzky's name and number on the back as well as the NHL Center Ice logo on the right chest. Other added details is the CCM logo and stenciled "58" size tag on the font hem and the CCM logo just below the collar on the back.
Creating this simple practice jersey was not as easy as one would think, as all the separate elements were added individually to the jersey. A blank, white jersey was first purchased, along with a "donor" black Pittsburgh Penguins jersey for the Center Ice and CCM logos since a white Oilers jersey of this vintage was not available. Once the three logos was transferred over from the Penguins jersey, an Oilers crest, purchased separately on ebay was added to the jersey.
The size "58" tag was then made with our custom printing technique for added detail and finally the jersey was customized with Gretkzy's name an number in one color blue as worn during the practice to complete the project.
Here is an interesting interview with Gretzky about his participation in the MegaStars Game and his reluctance to participate in Old Timers Games, as well as his enlightened prediction that the Winter Classic would follow in the Heritage Classic's footsteps.
Next is a great video find, footage from the Friday practice session where today's featured jersey was worn as well as interviews with the players involved.
Here Wayne reflects on his favorite moment of the Heritage Classic, the Friday practice that today's featured jersey is from.
Friday, November 20, 2009
On this date in 1974, Dave Keon of the Toronto Maple Leafs played in his 1,000th career game, and celebrated the occasion in style by scoring a hat trick, the fifth of his career.
Keon joined the Maple Leafs for the 1960-61 season and won the Calder Trophy following a 20 goal, 45 point campaign. He would go to have five more consecutive 20-goals seasons.
During Keon's second season in the NHL, in which the Maple Leafs would capture the Stanley Cup, Keon would add the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy to his already growing trophy case after a season in which he drew but a single minor penalty in 64 games played.
He was one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and one of the best defensive forwards as well, often being matched up against the opposition's top centers.
More Stanley Cups would follow in 1963, as well as a second Lady Byng Trophy, and again in 1964, a season in which Keon would lead the Maple Leafs in scoring for the first time.
After leading the Maple Leafs in scoring again in 1966-67, the Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup as Keon was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, the only Maple Leaf to ever win the trophy named for the former owner of the club.
Keon was named captain of the Maple Leafs in 1969-70 and led the team in scoring yet again before setting a then NHL record in 1970-71 with eight shorthanded goals.
After coming to an agreement to join the Ottawa Nationals of the fledgling WHA in 1972, the deal fell apart and Keon signed a three year contract to remain in Toronto and led the team in goal scoring in 1972-73, which included his 297th goal as a Maple Leaf, passing George Armstrong and Frank Mahavolich as the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer.
Having fallen out of favor with Maple Leaf's owner Harold Ballard by the end of his contract, Keon jumped to the rival WHA and signed with the Minnesota Fighting Saints. When the Fighting Saints folded, Keon was unable to return to the NHL because the Maple Leafs still held his NHL rights and owner Ballard wanted too steep a level of compensation from any NHL club signing him, effectively locking Keon out of the NHL.
With only the WHA as an option, Keon signed with the Indianapolis Racers for the remainder of the season. He was traded to the new incarnation of the Minnesota Fighting Saints for the following season, only to see that version of the franchise again fold during before the completion of the season. He once more found some stability when he joined the WHA's New England Whalers, where he would play for the remainder of his career, three seasons in the WHA and three more finally back in the NHL following the merger in 1979.
It was during the 1979-80 season that Keon, then 40 years old, was occasionally on a line with both Gordie Howe (age 50) and Bobby Hull (age 41). When both Howe and Hull retired, Keon was the oldest player in the NHL for his final two seasons before retiring after the 1981-82 season at age 42.
Keon's final totals were 396 goals and 590 assists for 986 NHL points and another 102 goals and 189 assists for 291 points in the WHA, the Calder Trophy, two Lady Byng Trophies, a Conn Smythe Trophy, eight NHL All-Star Game appearances and four Stanley Cups as well as being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
Today's featured jersey is a 1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs Dave Keon jersey as worn during the fourth Stanley Cup season of Keon's career. The jersey features the tie-neck collar and assistant captain's A Keon would wear before being named the 12th Captain in Maple Leafs history. No names were worn on the back of Maple Leafs jerseys during that era.
There is a great story about Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard that recalls when the league made it mandatory in 1978 to put players names on the backs of their home and away jerseys, the notoriously cantankerous Ballard refused to do so, claiming sales of programs would be reduced and probably in part because he never liked being told by the league, and then NHL President John Ziegler in particular, what to do. When finally forced to comply by the league after being fined, Ballard fought back on February 26, 1978 by putting the names on the back of their blue road jerseys for a game in Chicago in the same blue color as the jersey, making them impossible to read!
Today's first video is Dave Keon's "Legends of Hockey" biography.
This video is from the 1970-71 season, the Maple Leafs first with their new jerseys and new, modern logo, which is still in use today. Keon scores early in the video on a really nice deke against the Detroit Red Wings. After Keon's goal, the Maple Leafs start picking off fans in the stands with flying pucks, as they nail two in a row!
Here are the final minutes of the Maple Leafs last Stanley Cup championship, won while wearing today's featured jersey.
This piece of sheer brilliance was too good to pass up, the Maple Leafs Top Ten Highest Scorers Named Dave!
Finally, a tour of the Dave Keon Arena in Rouyn Noranda, Quebec.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
It was on this date in 1983 at home in Edmonton versus the New Jersey Devils and goaltenders Ron Low and later Glenn Resch that Jari Kurri scored five goals in a single game, still the only Finnish player to ever do so in an NHL game, an Oilers record he shares with Wayne Gretzky and Pat Hughes.
Kurri also holds the Oiler record for Most Points in One Period with five, on two goals and three assists versus the Los Angeles Kings on October 26, 1984 against Darren Eliot, and shares the Oiler record for Most Assists in One Period with four in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets and goaltender Bryan Hayward on October 7, 1983, which is also the NHL record as well.
Other Oiler records to Kurri's credit are;
- Most Points in One Season by a Right Wing - 135
- Most Goals in One Season by a Right Wing - 71
- Most Points in One Season by a Rookie - 75
- Most Assists in One Season by a Rookie - 41
- Most 20 Goal Seasons - 10
- Most Consecutive 20 Goal Seasons - 10
- Most 30 Goal Seasons - 10
- Most Consecutive 30 Goal Seasons - 10
- Most Career Playoff Goals - 92
- Most Playoff Goals by a Rookie - 5
- Most Playoff Goals in One Game - 4
- Most Game-Winning Goals in One Playoff Year - 5
- Most Playoff Points by a Rookie - 12
- Most Career Playoff Power Play Goals - 22
- Most Shorthanded Goals in One Playoff Series - 2
- Most Shorthanded Goals in One Playoff Game - 2
Kurri is second in Oiler history in career goals with 474, third in career assists with 569, second in career points at 1,043.
He is fourth in single season goals with 71, third in career playoff assists with 110, third in career playoff points with 202. His 19 goals in one playoff year is also he NHL record.
Other NHL records Kurri holds are;
- Most Hat Tricks in One Playoff Year - 4
- Most Hat Tricks in One Playoff Series - 3
- Most Goals in One Playoff Series - 12
- Most Power Play Goals in One Playoff Game - 3
- Most Shorthanded Goals in One Playoff Period - 2
- Most Points by a European-born and Trained Player - 1,398
Kurri finished his NHL career with five Stanley Cup Championships the 1985 Lady Byng Trophy, 601 goals, 797 assists and 1398 points in 1251 games.
Internationally, Kurri played in the World Junior Championships twice, in 1979 and again in 1980, earning a silver medal while scoring the most points, the European Junior Championships in 1978 winning gold and being named Best Forward of the tournament. He also competed for Finland in the Canada Cup in 1981, 1987 and 1991, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey where he was team captain, the World Championships in 1982, 1989, 1991 and 1994 earning a sliver medal as well as the Winter Olympics in 1998, earning a bronze medal.
His #17 was retired by Jokerit Helsinki, the Edmonton Oilers and the Finnish National Team. He was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998, the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1988-89 Edmonton Oilers Jari Kurri jersey and features the Edmonton Oilers 10th Anniversary patch. This is a bit of an odd patch since the Oilers were founded in 1972 as one of the original members of the WHA. This would make 1988-89 the Oilers 16th Anniversary season. This patch was clearly meant to commemorate the Oilers 10th Anniversary of joining 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 multiple images of the cup on the patch, as the Islanders would do three seasons later.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
It was on this date in 1926 that the Detroit Cougars would play in their first NHL game, losing 2-0 to the Boston Bruins at the Border Cities Arena in Windsor, Ontario where they would play their home games during their first season since they had no arena in Detroit at the time.
When the Western Canada Hockey League folded after the 1925-26 season, a deal was made so that the new Detroit expansion club bought the rights to the players of one of the most successful of the WCHL teams, the 1925 Stanley Cup finalist Victoria Cougars.
The club was named the Cougars in the Victoria club's honor. The Cougars played a 44 game schedule, finishing last in the American Division of the 10 team league with a 12-28-4 record. John Sheppard would lead the team in scoring with 21 points in 43 games.
The following year the Detroit Olympia would become their new home, where they would play for 52 years, until December of 1979. That same season Jack Adams would take over as coach and spend the next 36 years as either the coach or general manager of the club. The Cougars would finish the season with a 19-19-6 record for fourth place in the American Division. George Hay would lead the team with 35 points in 42 games, tied for third in the league.
he 1928-29 Cougars would finish with a similar 19-16-9 record, but make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time, losing out to the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-2 in a two game series. Carson Cooper would lead the Cougars in scoring with 27 points in 43 games to finish third in the league.
The final season for the name Cougars would see Detroit finish with a 14-24-5 record and miss out on the playoffs. Carson Cooper would again lead the team in scoring, this time with 36 points in 44 games played. For the next season the Detroit club would rename itself the Falcons.
Today's featured jersey is a 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidström jersey worn for the Winter Classic on January 1, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago when the Red Wings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4. Lidström had one assist in the game. This jersey features the Winter Classic patch, as worn on all players jerseys during the game.
This jersey is based on the style that Detroit wore in during the franchise's first season of 1926-27 when they were known by their original name of the Detroit Cougars.
We know you saw this eleventy-billion times leading up to the game, but now that some time has passed, it's probably safe to view it once again because it is really well done.
Here is the NBC introduction to the game and the Canadian and US national anthems.
Finally, the start of the second period, which features the goal that Nicklas Lidström assisted on.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
On this date in 1997, Mario Lemieux, along with Bryan Trottier, Glen Sather and Flyers' announcer Gene Hart, were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A native on Montreal, Lemieux played three seasons with the Laval Voisin in the Quebec Major Junior League and set the record for most goals in a single season with 133 by scoring six goals in his final game of the season, along with six assists. He also set the single season points record with 282 and had a 62 game point scoring streak on his way to becoming the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
He was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984 and scored a goal on his first shot during his first shift of his first NHL game. He would go on to become only the third rookie to score 100 or more points and be named the MVP of the NHL All-Star Game on his way to winning the Calder Trophy. He would close out his season by helping Canada beat the Soviet Union at the World Championships on the way to a silver medal.
Lemieux would score over 100 points in his first six seasons.
1987 would see Lemieux play for the NHL in the Rendez-vous series against the Soviet Union and then score the winning goal against the Soviets in the final game of the 1987 Canada Cup.
The following year he would win the scoring title for the first time, capturing the Art Ross Trophy for the first of six times, along with the Hart Memorial Trophy, which he would win three times, and Lester B. Pearson Award for the second of four times.
1990-91 would see Lemieux limited to just 26 regular season games, but he would return in time to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as he would score 44 points in 23 games to lead the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup as champions of the NHL.
The Penguins would go back-to-back by winning the Stanley Cup again the following season and Lemieux would score 34 points in only 15 games to add a second Conn Smythe Trophy to his trophy case.
He would miss a month of the 1992-93 season undergoing radiation treatments for Hodgkin's Disease, but would still lead the league in scoring by 12 points over a Pat Lafontaine, who had played in all 84 games that season, which included a dramatic return to the ice for Lemieux on the day of his last radiation treatment when he scored both a goal and an assist after flying to Philadelphia. The Penguins would win 17 games in a row after his return and Lemieux would average over 2.5 points per game that season
He would miss 62 games in 1993-94, as a result of surgery and other back problems, and the entire 1994-95 season due to fatigue from the radiation treatments.
The 1995-96 season would see him score his 500th goal in his 605th game, the second quickest to reach that milestone after Wayne Gretzky, who needed 575 games. Lemieux would win the scoring title for the fifth time that season and again the next year for the sixth and final time before retiring at the conclusion of the season.
Lemieux would have the customary three year waiting period waived, just the ninth player given that honor, and be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on this day, November 17th, in 1997.
In 1999, Lemieux, owed millions of dollars in deferred salary by the Pittsburgh Penguins, became head of an ownership group who purchased the financially struggling Penguins. After being away from the game for three seasons, Lemieux announced his intention to return to the ice in late 2000, only the third member of the Hockey Hall of Fame to return to the ice, (after Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) and immediately picked up where he left off, scoring a goal and two assists in his first game back.
Injuries limited him to 24, 67, 10 and 26 games over the next four seasons, but he would capture an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
His final NHL career totals would show 690 goals and 1,033 assists for 1,723 points in 915 games, two Stanley Cups and 17 major trophies, including the Calder, Pearson, Ross, Hart, Smythe and Bill Masterton Trophies.
The Penguins Stanley Cup victory in 2009 would make Lemieux the only person to win the Stanley Cup as both player and as an owner.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux jersey. This jersey features the Stanley Cup Centennial patch worn on all player's jerseys that season. This was also the first season for the newly redesigned Penguins jerseys, featuring what many would call "The Robo Penguin" logo.
Lemieux would win the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, the Bill Masterton Trophy, have the best plus/minus rating in the NHL, be named a NHL First Team All-Star and win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's Top Athlete that year.
I could post 100 videos about Lemieux and his career, but I prefer the excellent "Legends of Hockey" series for our first video.
Here is Mario's first NHL goal on his first shot on his first shift.
And here is Mario's first game back in his return from his retirement in 2000.
Finally, the video played on the occasion of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
On this date in 2002, Mike Modano became only the 5th US born player to reach 1,000 points for his career in the NHL.
Point #1,000 came in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche, as Modano passed the puck to Ulf Dahlen behind the Avalanche goal. Dahlen then skated out from behind the net and flipped a blind backhander past Patrick Roy, making Modano the 64th player to reach 1,000 points in a career with his assist on the goal.
The Stars commemorated the milestone with a video tribute to Modano, which drew a standing ovation, which drew a wave of acknowledgment from Modano.
"It really hit home," Modano said. "It was very emotional. You think about all the players that I have played with and the players that have made and impact. When I went to the bench, those guys were on my mind."
The assist was the 576th of his career and allowed Modano to follow Joe Mullen, Pat LaFontaine, Jeremy Roenick and Phil Housely as the only Americans to reach the 1,000 point mark.
During the same game, Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy set the all time record for Most Career Minutes Played, passing Terry Sawchuk, who held the mark with 57,194.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1997-98 Dallas Stars Mike Modano jersey which features the American Flag patch as worn during the 1998 NHL All-Star Game Super Skills Competition on January 17.
This was the first year of the "World vs. North America" format for the All-Star Game to promote the appearance of NHL players at the upcoming Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
This would be the one and only time that the players would wear the flag of their home country on their NHL club's jerseys. While the World vs. North America format would remain in effect through 2002, the flag patches would not be used on the individual team jerseys during the Skills Competition again.
This style of jersey was first introduced in 1991 while the team was still located in Minnesota as the North Stars. At first it had green numbers with black trim and a white outline and, after a false start, basic white one color names.
After the team relocated to Dallas for the start of the 1993-94 season secondary logos in the shape of Texas were added to the shoulders.
1995-96 would see an updating of the entire jersey package as the word "Dallas" was added along the top of the main crest, the waist and arm stripes grew noticeably in width as well as the specifications of the names and numbers changing to what you see below. The numbers became a much more visible white, but they were outlined only in green, as were the names on the back. Unfortunately, the dark green outlines disappear into the black background at any distance greater than four inches!
While the original green numbers might not have provided as much contrast as the new white ones, the overall look of the three color treatment of the green numbers was more pleasing and professional looking when compared to the "two color" white numbers outlined with the virtually invisible dark green which left the jerseys looking very generic in their black with, for all intents and purposes, "one color" white numbers.
The later arrival of the three color numbers used by the Stars on their new alternate jerseys in 1997, white numbers trimmed in black and outlined in gold (matching the main crest) would have been the ideal combination to have been used on the black jerseys for a more professional look that would have tied the whole package together better, as the gold from the main crest is all but absent on the back, seen only in the small logos on the hem of the game worn jerseys.
First up is a very well done highlight package tribute to Modano and features many different varieties of the Stars jerseys he has worn during his career.
Here is another look at his career which includes commentary from Modano as well as others.
Mike is a good sport in this video and "takes one for the team" to raise money for his foundation.
Modano becomes the leading American scorer in the history of the NHL in this next clip.
Ok, we've made it this far while not veering off the path, but one more before we are done today. The obligatory inclusion of Mrs. Modano, Willa Ford, who is quite proud of her husband's accomplishments.
We lied. One more with Willa. We are so predictable some days, but if you just read our Evolution and Critique of the Numbering Styles of the Dallas Stars Road Jerseys 1991-1998 you deserve something extra today.