Saturday, January 23, 2010
On this date in 2000, Sylvain Cote, then with the Chicago Blackhawks, played in his 1,000th NHL game in a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.
Cote, a defenseman, was originally drafted 11th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and broke into the NHL in 1984-85 with the Whalers, playing in 67 games that first season but a -30 rating did not do much to establish the young defenseman.
He played the majority of the next season back in junior hockey with the Hull Olympiques, getting more seasoning and gaining confidence, as he was named a First Team All-Star and scored 6 goals and 28 assists for 34 points in just 13 playoff games! He also won a silver medal with Team Canada at that year's World Junior Championships as well as being named a tournament all-star.
With that successful season on his resume, Cote returned to the NHL and played five more seasons in Hartford, qualifying for the playoffs each time, with his best year offensively coming in 1987-88 with 28 points in 67 games, his only season of his five in Hartford with over 20 points.
Prior to the 1991-92 season, Cote was dealt to the Washington Capitals for a second round draft choice and thrived under the Capitals system. Cote's point totals immediately putting up seasons of 40, 50 and then a career high of 51 points in 1993-94 as well as plus/minus numbers of +28 in 1992-93, a season in which he had a career high in goals of 21, and a +30 in 1993-94.
Four more seasons in Washington would follow, as well as a spot on Team Canada during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
During the 1997-98 season, Cote was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trading deadline and played one full season in Toronto in 1998-99 with 29 points and a +22 rating.
1999-00 was one of unrest for Cote, as the Maple Leafs traded him in October to the Chicago Blackhawks after only three games. He then played 45 games in Chicago, including the 1,000th game of his career on this date in 2000 before being sent to the Dallas Stars in February and being rewarded with a trip to the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.
Cote would return to Washington as a free agent for the final two seasons of his career in 2000-01 before being released after playing just one game in the 2002-03 season.
Cote completed his career with 1171 games played, scoring 122 goals and 313 assists for 435 points. In 102 playoff games he would add an additional 33 points.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Washington Capitals Sylvain Cote jersey with features the Washington Capitals 20th Anniversary patch. This jersey was worn during Cote's best offensive season in the NHL when he had career highs in points with 51, penalty minutes with 66 and plus/minus rating with a +30.
The Capitals wore these jerseys from their inception in 1974 all the way through the 1994-95 season. What really sets the authentic version of the Capitals jersey apart from the replica jerseys is that each letter of the Capitals logo on the front is a separate piece of material, rather than the entire crest being embroidered in a smaller size onto a patch, which would then be sewn onto the jersey. Each of the 16 stars on the chest and sleeves are also separate pieces of material which are sewn on. If you can get an old game worn or authentic Capitals jersey, do so, as it is one of the largest differences in quality between the authentic and the replica of any jersey.
Here is Cote in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals being stopped by Martin Brodeur at point-blank range on a rebound.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Drafted by third overall by the New York Islanders, Pat LaFontaine delayed his entry into the NHL by first playing for the United States National Team in preparation for the 1984 Olympics.
At the conclusion of the Olympics, LaFontaine then joined the Islanders for the remainder of the 1983-84 season, scoring 13 goals in 15 games. He would play seven seasons on Long Island, unfortunately arriving at the conclusion of the Islanders dynasty which occurred with the loss in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers. It would be the last time LaFontaine would play in the finals, as his teams would never advance past the second round of the playoffs for the remainder of his career.
He proved to be a prolific goal scorer with the Islanders, scoring 38 goals in this third full season and then posting four consecutive seasons of 40 goals or more, highlighted by his career high of 54 in 1989-90 and his 105 points that year was his best as an Islander.
The highlight of LaFontaine's time with the Islanders was scoring the series winning goal in the fourth overtime of Game 7 between the Islanders and the Washington Capitals during the 1987 playoffs. "It was the most memorable moment in my hockey life. Even today, wherever I go, people come up to me and start telling me where they were during the Easter Epic," LaFontaine said.
LaFontaine would suffer a concussion during the playoffs in 1990, the first of several that would affect his career.
With the situation in New York looking dismal for the foreseeable future, LaFontaine turned down a contract offer from the Islanders and sat out the first three weeks of the season before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres were a good fit for LaFontaine and he immediately scored 93 points in 57 games that season, although he was limited by a broken jaw which led to some interesting headgear upon his return.
He followed up his first season in Buffalo with the best offensive season of his career in 1992-93, after being named team captain, with 53 goals and 95 assists, helping set up many of Alexander Mogilny's 76 goals in the process, for a career best 148 points and second place in the NHL scoring race.
The next two seasons were a struggle for LaFontaine, as he only managed to play in 38 total games due to knee surgery for a torn ligament. Still, he was awarded the Masterton Trophy in 1995.
Proving he still could compete, he had his seventh 40 goal season in 1995-96, finishing with 91 points. Early in the next season, he would suffer another concussion, costing him several months of playing time which would limit him to just 13 games. Sabres management and team doctors refused to clear him to play, but LaFontaine demanded a trade, believing he could still play.
The Sabres subsequently traded him to the New York Rangers for the final season of his career. He managed to play in 67 games, which included reaching the 1,000 point milestone on this date in 1998, as well as representing the United States a month later at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
After suffering another serious concussion in a collision with a teammate in mid March, LaFontaine would miss the remainder of the year and retire at the end of the season, having totaled 468 goals, 545 assists and 1013 points in his abbreviated 15 year career.
In addition to the 1984 and 1998 Olympics which bookended his international career, LaFontaine would also compete for the United States in the 1987 Canada Cup, the 1989 World Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup and the gold medal winning 1996 World Cup of Hockey team, where LaFontaine had four points in five games.
In 2003 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as well as the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2006, the Buffalo Sabres would retire LaFontaine's #16 on March 3rd.
An interesting note of trivia, LaFontaine is one of only three players to play for all three teams from the state of New York, and the only one to have played his entire career in New York state. LaFontaine once joked, "I got to play for three great organizations in my career and never once had to buy new license plates."
Today's featured jersey is a Starter 1997-98 New York Rangers Pat LaFontaine alternate jersey. This highly attractive jersey was worn during the season LaFontaine scored his 1,000th career point.
The beautiful "Liberty" jersey was first introduced in 1996 and featured a bold new crest featuring the Statue of Liberty and a very classy darker shade of blue than the traditional road jerseys. This style would remain in use through the 2006-07 season until being discontinued when all clubs were limited to just two jerseys with the arrival of the new Reebok Edge jerseys.
During LaFontaine's career, there was inconsistency in the way his name was displayed on the back of his jerseys. The Islanders had it as both "LAFONTAINE" in all captial letters of the same size and also "LAFONTAINE" with the "A" capitalized, but in a smaller size. The Sabres seem to have used all capitals the same size while the Rangers used the small "A" style. His 1987 USA Canada Cup and 1996 USA World Cup jerseys used the smaller "A". If you are going to add a LaFontaine jersey to your collection, we strongly recommend searching for photos and videos of the style of jersey you wish to replicate and supply your findings to your customizers in order to get the most accurate jersey possible.
We begin today's video selections with the Top 10 goals by Pat LaFontaine.
Next, a tribute to LaFontaine on the occasion of his jersey retirement by the Sabres.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
When the Stanley Cup was first offered in 1892 as the prize for the best team in among Canada's amateur ranks, it was called the "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup".
The cup was donated, at the urging of his two sons Arthur and Algernon, by Lord Stanley of Preston, then the Governor General of Canada, with the intent of creating a way to recognize which club was the current champion.
There was no single league across the whole of Canada at the time, so the format of awarding the cup was based on a challenge format, where the champion of one of the various amateur senior hockey associations could issue a challenge to the holders of the cup. This meant that challenge games could happen at any time during the season as challenges were approved or ordered by the cup's trustees. For example, the Ottawa Hockey Club faced four separate challenges for the cup, defended successfully each time, between January and March of 1904 from the Winnipeg Rowing Club, the Toronto Marlboros, the Montreal Wanderers and Brandon Wheat Cities, the latter two taking place just one week apart.
The challenge system was in effect until 1912 when the trustees of the cup agreed that it would now be awarded to the winner of a playoff series each season between the champions of the professional National Hockey Association (NHA) and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA) leagues.
It was on this date in 1907 that the Kenora Thistles captured the Stanley Cup as they successfully completed a two-game total-goal series against the current cup holders, the Montreal Wanderers, by a score of 12-8.
The Wanderers had held the cup since March of 1906 and had defended the cup once in December of 1906 before the Thistles issued their challenge based on being the champions of the Manitoba Professional Hockey League (MPHL).
The Thistles won the first game at the Montreal Arena on January 17, 1907 4-2 and captured the cup four days later by outlasting the Wanderers 8-6. Members of the Thistles included future Hockey Hall of Famers Joe Hall, Tom Hooper, Tommy Phillips and Art Ross.
Kenora would retain the cup two months later on March 16 and 18, 1907 by winning the MPHL playoffs against the Brandon Wheat Cities club in a best-of-three series 2 games to none by scores of 8-6 and 4-1.
Just five days after defending the cup, Kenora faced another challenge, this time from the same Montreal Wanderers whom they had taken the cup from previously. The Wanderers took game one in the two-game total-goals series by a commanding 7-2 margin. The Thistles preserved some pride by winning Game 2 by a score of 6-5, but it was not enough to overcome the five goal advantage the Wanderers took into the contest, as they won the rights to the cup by a final margin of 12 goals to 8, ending the Thistles reign as cup holders at a mere 62 days, the shortest reign in Stanley Cup history.
Of note, while each previous cup champion had the right to engrave the name of their club onto the cup, it was the Wanderers who were the first to include the names of each individual player on the championship team, a practice which became an annual tradition in 1924 and set the cup on it's journey from 7 inch bowl to the three foot tall trophy it is today.
Kenora, originally called "Rat Portage", then with a population of just 4,000 holds the record as the smallest city to ever hold the Stanley Cup. It is located 2oo kilometers east of Winnipeg, directly above Minnesota, in far western Ontario.
The Rat Portage Thistles were founded in 1896 and unsuccessfully challenged for the cup twice before in 1903 and 1905 when they were turned back by the Ottawa Silver Seven. It was later in the summer of 1905 that Rat Portage changed it's name to Kenora. The Thistles hockey club would fold during the 1907-08 MPHL season.
Today's featured jersey is a 1907 Kenora Thistles Art Ross jersey. The Thistles name was chosen in a contest and the winner was a local Scottish carpenter named Bill Dunsmore who not only submitted the name in reference to the region's Scottish heritage, but a drawing of a thistle for the team's logo.
This jersey is the style worn by the Stanley Cup champion Thistles club, which included Art Ross, who would go on to be not only a player, but a general manager and coach in the NHL and have the trophy for the NHL's annual trophy for the league's leading scorer, the Art Ross Trophy, named after him.
These jerseys were reproduced by the CBC in connection with their "Hockey: A People's History" documentary, and are sadly no longer available.
In another one of those amazing youtube moments, here is a video on the Kenora Thistles. While the original Thistle club disbanded in 1908, subsequent clubs in Kenora have adopted the Thistle name, which was the case for the club that Louis McKay played on in 1934.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
On this date in 2003, Patrick Roy of the Colorado Avalanche became the first goaltender in NHL history to play in 1,000 regular season games as the Avalanche tied 1-1 with the visiting Dallas Stars.
Prior to Roy, the record for the most games played by an NHL goaltender was Terry Sawchuk, who played 971 games in his 20 year career. Roy finished his career with 1,029 games played but has since been surpassed by Martin Brodeur. The remainder of the Top 10 in games played are Ed Belfour (963), Curtis Joseph (943), Glenn Hall (906), Tony Esposito (886), John Vanbiesbrouck (882), Grant Fuhr (868) and Gump Worsley (861). They are the only ones with more than 850 games played. Following Broduer, the leading active goaltender is Chris Osgood, who entered the 2009-10 season with 710.
Sawchuk, Hall and Worsley's accomplishments are particularly noteworthy, as they played the majority of their careers in a different era, when goalies played without protective masks, seldom took a night off, as teams carried only one goalie, had less protective gear and played a shorter 70 game schedule.
Hall in particular played every single game for seven consecutive seasons and it wasn't until the mid 1960's did splitting the goaltending duties become an accepted way of running a team. Having been awarded since 1927, it wasn't until 1965 that two men shared the Vezina Trophy, then awarded to the goalie who allowed the fewest goals against each season. Once it had been shared by two men, in 12 of the next 18 seasons the trophy was shared by two goalies, and even three on one occasion.
The greater number of games played since the NHL expansion of the late 1960's was offset somewhat by the concept of goaltending tandems, but modern day goalies now have longer careers due to better protection from modern pads, better training methods, not to mention the acceptance of masks! Still, some goaltenders are famous for playing as many games as possible. Fuhr holds he record for most games played in a single season with 79, and Brodeur has had 10 consecutive seasons of 70 games or more, including one of 78, an average of 3.5 more games per season during that stretch than Hall did when he played every possible game over seven seasons of 70 games.
Roy, on the other hand, shared time in goal more readily, averaging 57 games per year, and never playing 70 in any one season.
Roy retired in 2003 after 19 seasons, four Stanley Cups and three Conn Smythe Trophies.
In addition, he was named winner of the Vezina Trophy three times, in 1989, 1990 and 1992, and played in eleven NHL All-Star Games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006 and his #33 has been retired by both the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche.
He retired as the all-time leader in wins with 551, games played by a goaltender with 1029, most playoff games by a goaltender (247), most playoff wins (151) and playoff shutouts (23). Before joining the Canadiens, he also led his team to the Calder Cup as champions of the American Hockey League in 1985. He was ranked as #35 on The Hockey News list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
After winning two Stanley Cups in Montreal, he had a falling out with rookie coach Mario Tremblay and was traded to the Colorado Avalanche, leading them to the Stanley Cup in the Avalanche's first season in Colorado, a trade that never would have happened if the club had remained in Quebec as the Nordiques, as they were the Canadiens greatest rival at the time.
Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 CCM Colorado Avalanche Patrick Roy jersey. This jersey features the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals patch, as worn during the Avalanche's victory over the New Jersey Devils, after which Roy was awarded his third Conn Smythe Trophy, the only man to have ever won more than two.
The Avalanche jerseys were rather unique when they were first introduced, as no team in the league was using burgundy as their primary color at the time, the closest being the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim's eggplant jerseys. In addition, their "mountainous" striping on the waist and arms was unusual as well. Only five other teams had anything other than straight stripes, and four of those were simply oriented diagonally.
Other details of the Avalanche jerseys that made them stand out were the unique, custom font for the numbers. Again, only five other teams had anything other than a basic block font at the time. The glittering silver of the trim and textured glacier twill for the names and numbers gave the jerseys an elevated attention to detail that rewards close inspection.
Today's video selections are highlights of Game 6 and Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, the fourth championship of Roy's career.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Born on this date in 1984, Thomas Vanek grew up in Austria before coming to the United States at age 14, where he played three seasons of junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL. During this the 2001-02 season he would also skate for Austria at the Division 1 World Junior Championships, hosted by his native Austria. Vanek would finish second in tournament scoring with 11 points in five games and lead Austria to the Championship Final, coming away with a silver medal after a loss to Germany.
He next played for the University of Minnesota, starting in the 2002-03 season when he led the Golden Gophers in goals, as well as the nation, with 31, assists (31) and points (62) during the regular season, becoming the first freshman to lead Minnesota in scoring in 33 years. He followed up his successful regular season by being named the MVP of the Frozen Four as he scored the game winning goals in both the semi-finals and finals as Minnesota captured the 2003 national championship in Buffalo, New York.
He must have made an impression on the Sabres staff, as Buffalo took Vanek fifth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft later that year, the highest ever draft position by an Austrian.
After another year at Minnesota where he led the team in goals (26) and points (51), Vanek would compete for Austria first at the 2004 World Junior Championships in January and then the World Championships, where he led the team with seven points in six games.
The NHL lockout of 2004-05 ensured that Vanek would spend the entire season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, where he amassed 42 goals (leading all rookies and placing second in the league) and 68 points in 74 games to finish second in team scoring, as the Americans finished with the best record in the league.
Vanek moved up to the NHL for the 2005-06 season and scored 25 goals and 48 points in his rookie season. 2006-07 proved to be his finest season to date, with 43 goals and 84 points as well as having the best plus/minus rating that year with a +47. In the postseason, Vanek would contribute ten points in 16 games as the Sabres make a deep playoff run, making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in their final season in the black and red jerseys.
In 2008-09, he would score the 10,000th goal in Sabres history on December 13 and be named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 2009. He finished the season with 40 goals despite missing nine games after suffering a broken jaw after being hit by a slapshot.
Today's featured jersey is a Nike 2004 Austria National Team Thomas Vanek jersey as worn in the World Junior Championships in Finland. While Austria's performance at the 2004 World Juniors was not very memorable, we chose to replicate Vanek's jersey from this tournament due to his wearing the captian's "C" and his familiar college and NHL #26, rather than the #15 he wore with the senior team at the World Championships.
It required a lot of patience to acquire this jersey, especially in a wearable size. Quite often when more obscure national team jerseys do become available, it's in sizes such as 56 or 60.
Two unique features of this jersey are the fine details of the trim running down the arms and the unique font for the numbers on the back, which are much more at home on a soccer jersey.
Our first video is an interesting interview with Vanek discussing his journey from Austria to the NHL followed by a compilation of Vanek goals from his time with the University of Minnesota and the Buffalo Sabres, which gives a nice retrospective of the jerseys Vanek has worn throughout his career, as Buffalo has had quite a number of jerseys during Vanek's first few NHL seasons.
Here is Vanek being taken by the Sabres in the 2003 draft with commentary by Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie, who seems more excited than usual.
Now on a roll, we present a pair of goals by Vanek from the 2008 World Championships, a Vanek seems to have located a weakness in the Dutch goalies game on his glove side that you could drive a truck through.
We are going to post this one as an example of how NOT to do a youtube video. First, never, ever interrupt a Rick Jeaneret call of a goal. Never.
Next, where's the replay up close so we can see exactly what happened? C'mon, youtube gives you ten minutes to work with and you give us 20 seconds? People, work with us here...
Monday, January 18, 2010
On this date in 1964, goaltender Terry Sawchuk of the Detroit Red Wings became the NHL's all-time shutout leader with 95 after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 2-0.
Sawchuk idolized his older brother Mitch, who wanted to be a goaltender. Sadly, at just seventeen years of age, Mitch died of a heart attack. After inheriting his older brother's goalie equipment Terry began playing hockey in a local league and began to excel to the point that at age 14 a local scout for the Detroit Red Wings had Sawchuk work out for him and later signed Terry to an amateur contract to play for their junior team.
Sawchuk turned pro with Detroit in 1950, filling in for the injured Harry Lumley, who would return in time to lead the Red Wings to the 1950 Stanley Cup championship. Despite winning the championship, Lumley was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, promoting Sawchuk to the Red Wings goaltending job in time for the 1950-51 season despite having only seven games of NHL experience.
The Red Wings faith in Sawchuk would immediately pay off, as he would record a record of 44 wins, 13 losses and 13 ties with 11 shutouts and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.99 in his first full season, earning the Calder Trophy.
The 1951-52 season saw even more success, as he would again win 44 games, post 12 more shutouts and lower his goals against to 1.90, which would earn him his first Vezina Trophy. The Red Wings would advance through the playoffs and capture the Stanley Cup as NHL champions that season.
Terry Sawchuk and Red Wings captain Sid Abel celebrate winning the 1952 Stanley Cup
Sawchuk would earn another Vezina Trophy in 1953, a second Stanley Cup championship in 1954, both the Vezina and another Stanley Cup in 1955, giving him three of each in just his first five seasons in the league.
Feeling they had a new goaltender on the rise in Glenn Hall, the Red Wings would trade Sawchuk to the Boston Bruins prior to the 1955-56 season. He would record just 22 wins for Boston that season after having had a minimum of 32 during his time in Detroit. In his second season in Boston, Sawchuk was diagnosed with mononucleosis, but returned to the team just two weeks later. His play was poor, as he was weak from the illness and he announced his retirement from hockey early in 1957.
With Hall having fallen out of favor with the Red Wings, they traded Johnny Bucyk to Boston to reacquire Sawchuk for the start of the following season. He would play seven seasons for the Red Wings during his second stint in Detroit. While in Detroit, he would begin wearing a mask for the first time during the 1962-63 season after accumulating over 350 stitches up to that point in his career.
He would post between 22 and 29 wins in five of those seven seasons and add 23 more shutouts to his career total, with one of them coming on this date in 1964 to pass legendary Montreal Canadiens goaltender George Hainsworth's career total of 94 set in 1936, a record that had stood for 28 years.
The Red Wings, feeling Sawchuk was expendable due to the promising Roger Crozier, left Sawchuk exposed in the waiver draft and was claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, where the 35-year-old would share goaltending duties with forty-year-old Johnny Bower.
The pair responded by winning the Vezina Trophy in 1965, Sawchuk's fourth, perhaps in part to their decreased workload keeping them fresher on the days they did play, as they both went from 50+ games played down to the mid-30's that year. They were the first pair to share the Vezina, then awarded statistically to the goaltender for the team that gave up the least number of goals and not a vote for who is considered the best goaltender, as it is today.
Two seasons later, in 1966-67, the Maple Leafs would capture the most recent Stanley Cup in their history, and the fourth and final one of Sawchuk's career.
Once more a championship season for Sawchuk was rewarded by being let go by his club, as he was left unprotected in the 1967 expansion draft, and was claimed by the Los Angeles Kings. He would play 36 games for the Kings in 1967-68, adding two more shutouts to his total. The Kings would trade Sawchuk to the Red Wings for 1968-69 and he would play the final season of his career with the New York Rangers, where he played in eight games and recorded the final shutout of his career, giving him a final total of 103.
His final NHL totals were 971 games over 21 seasons, an NHL record 447 wins, 330 losses and 172 ties (also an NHL record), with 23% of his wins coming via shutouts. In addition to his 103 regular season shutouts, he would also record 12 more in the playoffs.
Sawchuk would die at age 40 in 1970 just after the conclusion of the hockey season due to a pulmonary embolism as the result of an accidental injury suffered in a conflict with his Rangers teammate and housemate Ron Stewart. In 1971 he was named the winner of the Lester Patrick Award and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His #1 retired by the Red Wings in 1994.
Sawchuk's record for most wins lasted for 30 years until being broken by Patrick Roy on October 18, 2000 and his 103 shutouts stood as the record for 39 years until being surpassed by Martin Brodeur in December of 2009.
For further reading, several books have been written on the tumultuous life of Terry Sawchuk.
Today's featured jersey is a 1963-64 Detroit Red Wings Terry Sawchuk Jersey as worn during the season in which Sawchuck set the all-time NHL record for the most shutouts.
The Red Wings jersey is a true classic in the NHL and has remained essentially unchanged since it was introduced back in 1932 when the club changed their name from the Falcons, as they had been known since 1930.
From 1932 to 1937, the jerseys had red numbers on the back trimmed in white before changing to the one color white numbers for 1937-38. The next real change of note was the addition of sleeve numbers in 1961.
This Legends of Hockey profile covers Sawchuk's career from the time of his trade to the Maple Leafs to the end of his career and premature death at age 40.
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 that season's NHL 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.
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 their native country on their NHL club 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 obvious and expected Canada and the United States, and 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 over time, but there are still some wonderful choices still remaining for future projects.
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 CCM 1997-98 New York Rangers Wayne Gretzky jersey with the Canadian Flag patch on the upper right chest.
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 different locations 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.