Monday, February 1, 2010

2008-09 Montreal Canadiens 1912-13 Centennial Saku Koivu Jersey

Today marks the one year anniversary of the debut of one of the most controversial jerseys in recent NHL history.

As part of their centennial celebrations, the Montreal Canadiens brought back six vintage jerseys from their illustrious past, scheduled to we worn at various times throughout the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

They began, somewhat slowly, with their "1970-71" jerseys, which were actually no different than their current home jerseys. They even wore their "100 Seasons" patch on them, rather than the "Centennial" patch used on all the other jerseys in the centennial jersey program.

Things improved on November 15, 2008 when they brought back their gorgeous 1945-46 jerseys, which had also been used as their third jerseys as recently as 2006-07, this time properly adorned with their Centennial patch as part of the throwback program.

The next ones to hit the ice were their 1915-16 jerseys, as worn when the Canadiens captured their first Stanley Cup. These jerseys featured a much darker shade of red than their current red jerseys and the "CA" logo on both the chest and sleeve with the familiar blue stripe across the chest first seen in the 1912-13 season.

What really got people talking was the debut of today's featured jersey, the 2008-09 Montreal Canadiens 1912-13 Centennial Saku Koivu jersey.

Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey, Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey
Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey, Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey
Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey, Montreal Canadiens 08-09 12-13 jersey

The "Barberpole" jerseys were worn in a 3-1 loss to the Canadiens rivals the Boston Bruins, and were ridiculed by Bruins TV announcer Jack Edwards as "prison uniforms" during the contest, perhaps due to being paired with equally busy striped socks. Aside from losing the game, the Canadiens also lost Guillaume Latendresse to a shoulder injury and Robert Lang for the season due to a cut achilles tendon, casting more dispersions on the multi-striped sweaters as being not only difficult to look at, but bad luck as well.

The Bruins Shawn Thornton was quoted as saying about the jerseys "I was really concerned about it in warmup. When there were 23 guys skating around, I was dizzy and I didn't know if I got enough sleep or what. It wasn't as bad once there were five guys out there."

Full credit goes to Canadiens netminder Carey Price, who wore a set of throwback pads and gloves for the occasion.

The jerseys featured a white maple leaf with the letters "CAC" in the center, which stands for "Club Athlétique Canadien", and were due to be worn again later that season on March 31, 2009, but then Canadiens head coach Bob Gainey passed on the jerseys for their second and final scheduled wearing, calling them "a distraction", and opting for the more traditional looking 1915-16 jerseys instead.

For reasons unknown, perhaps pressure from the marketing department or the retailers who invested in inventories of the barberpole jerseys, the sweaters made an unexpected return, appropriately some would say, on Halloween Night during the 2009-10 season in a game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, making for the unusual sight of every player on the ice being decked out with a maple leaf on their chest!

The original jerseys were not worn in the National Hockey League (NHL) but in the NHL's predecessor the National Hockey Association (NHA). The Canadiens who would have worn the barberpole jersey in 1912-13 included future Hall of Famers Georges Vezina, Jack Laviolette and Didier Pitre.

Sadly, it has been announced that the Canadiens have decided to end the wearing of the throwback jerseys as of the date of their actual centennial anniversary back on December 4, 2009, curiously a game in which they did not wear a throwback jersey. This affects the scheduled wearing of their beautiful red and green 1910-11 jerseys on January 23, 2010 against the New York Rangers and the the blue 1909-10 jerseys from their inaugural season, which were to have been worn on February 13, 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, meaning both of those jerseys will end up being the only ones of the six in the program to be worn only once.

Today's video highlight is the original Canadiens game versus the Bruins where the barberpole jerseys made their eye-opening debut.

Here, with less than four minutes remaining in the game, the Canadiens fans begin to sing goodbye to the Maple Leafs while up 4-2 just a bit too soon during the 1912-13 Centennial jersey game on October 31, 2009...

For die-hards, full extended highlights can be found here.

No mention of the Montreal Canadiens would be complete at Third String Goalie without a visit from our personal favorite Marie-Pier, who gives the Canadiens a run for their money in the stripe department as she reviews the Canadiens game versus the Maple Leafs from October 31, 2009.

The Habs shootout victory seems to have left her even more perky than usual and we actually were able to understand "Travis Moen" this time.

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