Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Born in this date in 1972, Zigmund, "Ziggy" Palffy played 12 seasons in the NHL with first the New York Islanders for six seasons, the Los Angeles Kings for five and then one with the Pittsburgh Penguins before retiring from the NHL in early 2006 due to lingering injuries with 684 games played, 329 goals and 384 assists for 713 points. He announced his comeback from retirement just prior to the 2007-08 season and returned to the ice with HK 36 Skalica in the Slovak Extraliga and recently represented Slovakia in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Prior to establishing himself as an NHL regular, Palffy played for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the International Hockey League in 1993-94 and split time between the Islanders and the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL in 1994-95.
The Denver Grizzlies were an International Hockey League expansion team founded in time for the 1994-95 season and proved to be a smashing success in Denver. The NHL was in the middle of a lockout, the World Series was cancelled due to a player strike, the Denver Broncos of the NFL started the season 0-4 and the NBA's Denver Nuggets were would finish with a 41-41 record and be swept out of the first round of the playoffs.
The time was right for hockey in Denver.
To begin with, 16,215 fans gave the team an opening night sellout victory against the Minnesota Moose. Led by leading scorer and 1990 Hobey Baker Winner, Kip Miller (46 goals and 106 points), Chris Taylor (38 g, 86 pts.), 1990 Hobey Baker Winner Chris Marinucci (29 g, 69 pts.) and 33 games (prior to the NHL lockout ending) from none other than future NHL star Palffy, plus the goaltending of Swedish Olympian and future Islander and Olier Tommy Salo, who would win the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy as league MVP, the James Norris Memorial Trophy for giving up the fewest goals against, and the Garry F. Longman Memorial Trophy for IHL rookie of the year, the Grizzlies took the IHL by storm, finishing with a 57-18 record with 6 overtime losses for 120 points, the Grizzlies finished with the best regular season record by seven points over the Peoria Rivermen and Cincinnati Cyclones.
The playoffs would see them sweep the Minnesota Moose 3-0, oust the Phoenix Roadrunners 4-1, earn the right to play for the title by defeating the Milwaukee Admirals 4-1 and sweep the Kansas City Blades in four straight to capture the the Turner Cup, awarded annually to the IHL champions. Kip Miller was the Bud Poile Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
In the end, the Grizzlies would be victims of their own success, averaging over 12,ooo a game, and drawing attention to Denver as a fitting location for an NHL club, which quickly became a reality, as the Quebec Nordiques would relocate to Denver in time for the following season, forcing the Grizzlies to relocate to Salt Lake City after only one, but very memorable, season in the Mile High City.
Denver hockey fans would witness an unprecedented double, as the relocated Nordiques, now called the Colorado Avalanche, would proceed to capture the Stanley Cup in their first season in Denver, giving the city back to back championship seasons - only in two different leagues.
Today's featured jersey is a Starter 1994-95 Denver Grizzlies Ziggy Palffy jersey. This jersey features the IHL 50th Anniversary patch worn by the Grizzlies in their only season in Denver. By far and away the most unique part of this jersey is the bear claw slash marks not only across the front and back of the body, but embroidered into the back numbers as well. The copper trim around the numbers is also executed with a metallic twill that adds a nice detail to the numbers and a needed dash of color to the back of the jersey.
Many times when searching for videos of more obscure teams we often come across only fight videos, which we try not to use given other options, but in this case we felt this one was too good to pass up despite the minimal footage of the Denver Grizzlies jersey.
Here is yet another fight video, this time from the Turner Cup Finals. God forbid there should actually be enough interest for someone to actually post the Grizzlies hoisting the Turner Cup in celebration of them winning the championship, so all we are left with is more brawling.
Here are some highlights of Palffy while with the Los Angeles Kings.
Finally, Palffy scores his 50th goal of the season to set a new Slovak Extraliga record in 2008-09.