Thursday, July 22, 2010

1995-96 San Francisco Spiders Normand Rochefort Jersey

July by the Numbers visits the city by the bay for jersey #22.

The San Francisco Spiders were granted an expansion franchise in the International Hockey League for the 1995-96 season in November of 1994 and announced their team name and logo in December.

Their home rink was the famed Cow Palace and their first game was a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Ice Dogs in front of 11,415 fans on September 29, 1995 with the first goal in team history being scored by Sandis Ozolinsh, who played a pair of games for the Spiders while holding out from the NHL's San Jose Sharks prior to being traded to the Colorado Avalanche.

Also of note to play for the Spiders was future Hall of Famer Rod Langway. Following his retirement from the NHL in 1993, Langway hit the ice once again as a player/coach for the Spiders, seeing action in 46 games in 1995-96.

Langway Spiders
Rod Langway

Eight former members of the Sharks, who began life also calling the Cow Palace home in 1991-92, skated for the Spiders that season.

The club finished with a respectable winning record of 40-32-10, good for third place in the South division and a spot in the IHL's Turner Cup playoffs. Goaltender Stephane Beauregard was named the winner of the James Gatschene Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP following his 36-24-8 record with a 3.09 goals against average. John Purves was by far and away the team's leading scorer, with 56 goals and 49 assists for 105 points, 45 more than the next highest Spider. Purves placed second in the league goal scoring race and seventh in points. Despite than success, Purves would finish his career with a total of seven NHL games, all of which came prior to his season with San Francisco.

Beauregard Spiders
Stephane Beauregard

Game 1 against the Chicago Wolves went to the Spiders at home 4-2, but Chicago defeated San Francisco 4-1 and then swept them back at home in Chicago 3-1 and 2-1 in overtime to eliminate the Spiders from the playoffs in what would turn out to be the final Spiders game ever.

Difficulties with the aging arena and poor attendance plagued the club. Weekend attendance was around the 7,500 mark, but weekday games ruined the average attendance as the club struggled to draw over 2,500. Citing losses of over $6 million, the team filed for bankruptcy protection and ceased operations on June 24, 1996 after but one season on the ice, becoming a footnote in the history of minor league hockey.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 San Francisco Spiders Normand Rochefort jersey. For the Spiders one and only season, every day was Halloween with these unusual jerseys donned by the Spiders, especially when compared to the current state of the art in the NHL at the time when these were designed.

The spider web pattern contained in the red striping was a very simple but highly effective addition which created a jersey that looked much busier than it really was.

Their logo added to the overall feeling of this being a complex jersey as the spider itself was rather detailed and the radical font chosen for the team and city name created a near vortex of lines due to the length of both names.

The radical nature of the jersey continued on the back and sleeves with the addition of the numbers done in the same font as the "Spiders" wordmark from the main crest. While the sleeve numbers are somewhat difficult to read based on their shape and location at one the busiest spot on the jersey, the back numbers are surprisingly bold and legible. The simple block font for the names are unexpectedly simple and one can only imagine what suggestions for fonts the designer may have proposed that were passed over! A vertically arched block font like that used by the Detroit Red Wings, which would have followed the curvature of the top of the back numbers surely must have been considered at some point.

These jerseys unusual look, which was quite radical for the time, and their limited availability due to the incredibly brief short period of use have made these a favorite among the collecting hobby and very sought after.

San Francisco Spiders jersey
San Francisco Spiders jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 San Francisco Spiders tie dye jersey. If the standard Spiders jersey wasn't busy enough as it was, this special tie dyed jersey takes the vortex effect of the main logo to a whole new level!

And why the different font for the numbers? Surely it wasn't an effort to make the jersey "less busy" was it? The numbers certainly are an odd choice, as the treatment they received give them an almost metallic appearance, totally not keeping with the look and feel of the jersey or the team's identity. Perhaps they had something to do with radio station KFOG's visual identity, the sponsor of the game in which they jerseys were worn, and not that of the team.

San Francisco Spiders jersey
San Francisco Spiders jersey

1 comment:

  1. When these first came out, I loved them (the originals, not the tie-dye). I'm not as ga-ga over them now, but they have held up pretty well.

    ReplyDelete

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