Sunday, January 17, 2010
Now if there's one thing we here at Third String Goalie love more than anything, it's a jersey with an additional patch on it. Or two. Or three.
So, you can imagine our joy when we discovered that on this date in 1998, the NHL held it's Super Skills Competition in conjunction with the annual All-Star Game, with each player wearing the flag of his home country on his NHL club team's jersey.
1998 was the first year of the World vs. North America format for the NHL All-Star Game, instituted to promote the NHL's participation in the upcoming Olympics in Nagano, Japan, which was the first Olympics that would be supported by a suspension of the NHL season, allowing the best of the best to represent their country at the Olympics.
Dominik Hasek (World) and Wayne Gretzky (North America) in their 1998 NHL All-Star Game jerseys, complete with a flag patch for each player's home country
The World vs. North America format would last for five years. While each player in those games would wear their home country's flag on their All-Star jersey, for the one and only time, each player would wear the flag of his native country on their NHL club team's jersey during the 1998 All-Star Weekend's Super Skills Competition. For some players, this would be the only patch they would ever wear on a particular style of jersey.
For the 1998 Super Skills Competition, the North American players would wear their dark road jerseys and the World Team players dressed in their home whites.
The array of flags in use was quite impressive, with North America being represented by the both Canada and the United States, while the World Team sported the flags of Russia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany.
We have replicated a number of the jerseys from that event for our collection, and here are the rosters for you to choose from if you would like to add a flag to a jersey you already own or create a new project for your collection.
Our favorite jerseys from that event were from the host Vancouver Canucks. While most of the flags were located in the traditional patch location of the upper right chest, the Canucks were already wearing the 1998 NHL All-Star Game patch in that location as hosts of the event, and chose to locate the flag patches for Canadian Mark Messier (dark jersey) and Russian Pavel Bure (light jersey) to the top of the right shoulder.
A similar situation occurred with the Detroit Red Wings, as they were already wearing the "Believe" patch for Valdimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakanov. They took a different route than Vancouver and put their flag patches in the standard location for Brendan Shanahan (dark jersey) and Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Nicklas Lidstrom (light jerseys) with the Believe patch just below.
Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 New York Rangers Wayne Gretzky jersey with the Canadian Flag patch on the upper right chest as worn only during the 1998 Super Skills Competition during the NHL All-Star Game weekend.
This is special since it is the one and only additional patch Gretzky would ever wear on any Rangers jersey during his three seasons in New York.
It's actually a little surprising that the flag patch was located on the right chest, as the Rangers have had a history of relocating various other patches to both the right and left shoulders due to the diagonal cresting on the front of their jerseys interfering with the standard patch placement commonly used by other clubs.
Here is Pavel Bure from the 1998 NHL Super Skills Competition wearing his Canucks jersey with both the 1998 NHL All-Star Game patch and the Russian Flag patch on his right shoulder. You may also catch a glimpse of some other flag patches, Al MacInnis' Canadian flag on his Blues jersey in particular.