Saturday, November 27, 2010
Pull up a chair, sit back and let us tell you about a journey which follows a long and winding path across a vast continent from west to east, from the north to the south and finally to distant lands across a mighty ocean and back. And then back again...
The professional hockey career of Michel Petit began in 1982-83 when he made his NHL debut with a pair of games for the Vancouver Canucks after having been the Canucks 1st pick in the 1982 Entry Draft. He spent the majority of the season with the St. Jean Castors of the QMJHL in Canadian Juniors, 2,302 miles to the east but made the Canucks squad after 19 games with the Canadian National Team in 1983-84 and saw action in 44 games, which included the defenseman's first goal.
Petit played 69 games with the Canucks in 1984-85 and split time between the Canucks and the Fredericton Express of the AHL (in eastern Canada 2,670 miles away in New Brunswick) in 1985-86. After one more season with the Canucks, ten games into the 1988-89 season he was dealt to the New York Rangers for two players, across the border 2,425 miles away. Once in New York, he wasted little time establishing a career high in penalty minutes, racking up 223 in 64 games with the Rangers in addition to the 35 he had already accumulated in Vancouver.
After a second season on Broadway, the Rangers dealt Petit back across the border to the Quebec Nordiques 442 miles to the north. Following the season Petit had the honor of skating for Canada at the 1990 World Championships in Switzerland.
After 19 games of the 1990-91 season, Petit began his journey back west when he was included in a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 451 miles to the southwest. He played in 54 games with the Maple Leafs and set a career high in goals and points that season, lighting the lamp 4 times in Quebec and 9 times in Toronto for a total of 13. His final point total reached 37, eclipsing his previous season's mark of 36.
Petit once more was on the move 1,682 miles down the Trans Canada Highway when he was a part of the blockbuster ten player deal with the Calgary Flames which sent Doug Gilmour to Toronto. He played two and a half seasons with the Flames before completing his second trip across the continent, and third trip across the border, when he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings for the 1995-95 season, 1,194 miles south.
Racking up the frequent flyer miles, the Kings sent Petit was sent 2,148 miles across the United States 9 games into the following season when they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a season which included the most playoff action of his career with six postseason games.
It was back north across the Canadian border 2,363 miles up to Edmonton where he signed as a free agent to start the 1996-97 campaign. By January he had only seen action in 18 games and was claimed off of waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers across the border once more 2,009 miles to the east.
He began the 1997-98 season with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL (441 miles from Philadelphia) and was then signed by the Phoenix Coyotes in November, adding another 1,686 miles to his journey and making him the first player in NHL history to play for ten different teams when he made his Coyotes debut on this date in 1987.
He began the 1998-99 season 256 miles north with the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL but missed the majority of the season when he suffered a head injury which limited him to just six games.
Petit's journey through the world of hockey now expanded beyond North America when he signed to play with the Frankfurt Lions of the German DEL for 1999-00, adding 5,577 miles to his itinerary. Still with the Lions at the start of the 2000-01 season, he returned to North America when he joined the Chicago Wolves in the IHL, 4,341 miles on the return leg to the United States.
With no North American opportunities available for the 2001-02 season, Petit packed his gear bag for the final time when he closed out his playing career with 14 games with HC Bolzano of the Italian Serie A in the far northeast of Italy where the Italian Serie A hockey league is concentrated, 4,571 miles from the midwest.
By our calculations, Petit played professionally for 16 different clubs in four different countries which included crossing an international border to change clubs ten different times, traveling 34,558 miles from club to club, and he wore a total of 21 different NHL jerseys.
While a remarkable number, it falls far short of the estimated 40 worn by Third String Goalie legend Mike Sillinger.
Today's featured jersey is a 1986-87 Vancouver Canucks Michel Petit jersey. This jersey was worn during Petit's sixth season with the Canucks prior the beginning of his hockey odyssey that would send him back and forth across North America seven times.
This style of Canucks jersey was adopted in 1985 after seven seasons with the controversial "flying V" style worn in Petit's NHL debut season. In 1985-86 when this jersey debuted it was worn with both the Expo 86 patch as well as the City of Vancouver 100th Anniversary patch.
During the season our featured jersey was worn, the Canucks wore one of the most unique patches in NHL history, a patch supporting Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour, where Hansen pushed his wheelchair nearly 25,000 miles to raise money for spinal cord injury research over two years through 34 countries and 4 continents, which raised $26 million. It is the only patch in league history to be placed on the lower left hem.
Two seasons later the Canucks wore a memorial patch to former NHL player and Canucks goodwill ambassador "Babe" Pratt, making for four different patches worn during the four year lifespan of this style Canucks jersey before it evolved to an even simpler style in 1989-90.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2000-01 Frankfurt Lions Michel Petit jersey from his second season with Frankfurt in the German DEL. Petit was not alone that season, as the nine leading scorers for Frankfurt were fellow Canadians!
The Lions were founded in 1959 and won the DEL championship in 2004, but sadly ceased operations at the end of the 2009-10 season after 50 seasons of competition.
In today's video section, Dale Henry of the Islanders shreds Petit's jersey in the early part of a brawl and Petit responds by knocking Henry into the middle of next week.
Here, Petit stands in against Bob Probert, and while he may not have won the fight, he certainly earns our respect for getting back up off the ice twice and continuing to battle the feared Probert, even landing a few solid blows in the process.
Friday, November 26, 2010
This being Black Friday, today we feature the first black jersey in NHL history.
When the NHL was founded in 1917, it consisted of just four member clubs. At the time, the custom was that each club wore only one sweater for both home a road contests. With the limited number of teams in the league, this was possible since each team could adopt a unique color and look which was unlike any of the other three. By 1917 the Montreal Canadiens had already adopted their signature red sweaters with the blue band across the chest, while the Montreal Wanderers wore white sweaters with a red band. The Ottawa Senators had long been wearing their distinctive black, red and white striped "barberpole" jerseys and the Toronto Arenas wore solid blue with white trim.
The green clad Toronto St. Pats joined in 1919 and in 1920 the Hamilton Tigers arrived on the scene. Now an argument could be made for the Tigers to be given credit for the first black jersey, as they wore vertically striped gold and black sweaters, but with the colors being divided 50/50, we can't honestly call it a "black" sweater since it's really a "striped" sweater with black as one of the colors.
Now the first team that likely comes to mind when thinking of black sweaters would be the Boston Bruins, who arrived on the scene in 1924, but for their first ten years of their existence, the Bruins wore various styles of brown and gold sweaters, taken from their owner Charles Adams grocery store chain, First National Stores. The other to join the league in 1924 was the Montreal Maroons, who wore, obviously, maroon sweaters.
The league continued to expand in 1925 with the arrival of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who favored gold sweaters, but did use black as a trim color. Meanwhile, the Tigers relocated to become the New York Americans who dressed in the expected red, white and blue.
1926-27 was one of change for the NHL. The Americans welcomed the New York Rangers into their Madison Square Garden home and we all know of the Rangers nickname of "The Broadway Blueshirts", a color they have worn from day one. When the Western Hockey League folded, two of it's teams rosters were purchased by the expansion Detroit Cougars, who took the same route of the defunct Wanderers and went with white sweaters with the red chest stripe, and the Chicago Black Hawks, who wore white sweaters with multiple black stripes for their inaugural season.
Dick Irvin in the Black Hawks original white sweaters
worn in their inaugural season of 1926-27
Finally for the league's 11th season, the first black sweater saw action on NHL ice when the Black Hawks reversed the colors of their white sweaters to more accurately reflect their club's name "Black Hawks" and donned their new imposing black sweaters with multiple white stripes in what was certainly the most art deco jersey in league history.
Adopted in the Black Hawks second season, this style would remain in use for seven seasons, concluding with a Stanley Cup championship in 1934.
The Stanley Cup champion 1933-34 Chicago Black Hawks
The cup winning jersey was immediately replaced by a new style the following season which would later be revived for the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
Patrick Kane wearing the revival of the 1935 Black Hawks sweaters
from the 2009 Winter Classic
While the Bruins would change from brown and gold to black and gold in 1934, the black was a trim color on a white jersey and there would not be another black jersey until the 1948 season when the concept of separate home and road jerseys was now becoming the norm and the Bruins debuted their first ever black jersey for games on the road.
Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 Chicago Black Hawks Teddy Graham jersey. This was the first black sweater in NHL history, created when the Black Hawks reversed the colors of their original white sweaters worn during their inaugural season in 1926-27. This style was worn for seven seasons, which concluded with the Black Hawks first Stanley Cup championship in 1934.
Graham was a member of the Black Hawks for five seasons and would later play for the Maroons, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Eagles, Bruins and Americans in his ten year NHL career.
A defenseman, Graham played 359 games and scored 14 goals and 39 points in his career.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
With today being the American Thanksgiving, we decided to forego the usual format and list The Top Ten Things We Are Thankful For - Third String Goalie style.
#10 - College and juniors jerseys - Simple, no frills jerseys with classic styling. You've got your team colors and your logo. What more do you need?
#9 - Where have you gone Marie-Pier? She talks 1,000 miles an hour, we can't understand a word of French anyway and she has't posted a new video since last spring, but Marie-Pier wears a referee's uniform better than anyone. Ever.
#8 - Minor league jerseys. Freed of the constraints of tradition and the fear of failure that limits NHL clubs who can't afford to guess wrong due to the huge amounts of retail sales their jerseys generate, at times minor league jerseys are allowed to experiment and stretch the limits of creativity, which can pay off with some terrific sweaters and even better number fonts.
#7 - Awesome alternate jerseys. As wrong as the bad ones are, the best ones are just so right. This is a prime example of the best of the best NHL alternates, a classy, unique new logo and great use of colors. Perfection on ice.
#6 - Throwback jerseys. Nothing gets us going like a throwback. It's one of the main reasons our collection centers around the 1991-92 season, that was the year that the Original 6 teams wore the first throwback jerseys in NHL history.
The recent addition of the Winter Classic, and the re-emergence of the Heritage Classic, has assured us of at least a couple of beauties every season, be they straight throwbacks or faux-backs, such as last year's Boston Bruins jerseys which borrowed elements from various Bruins jerseys of the past.
#5 - Awful alternate jerseys. The jerseys we love to hate, courtesy of The Class of '96. What would this blog be without The Burger King and the Wild Wing? Is it any coincidence the two worst jerseys in league history are both from California? We think not.
#4 - National team jerseys. Herb Brooks said it best, "You're looking for players whose name on the front of the sweater is more important than the one on the back." Nothing like suiting up for your home country in a short tournament where every game counts.
#3 - Patches. Nothings sets a jersey apart like a tournament, anniversary, memorial, event, Stanley Cup Finals or even sponsorship patch. That kind of attention to detail always scores points with us.
#2 - YouTube. Where to begin with this one? Incredible goals, comic moments, of course all the brawls plus the obscure, hilarious and unexpected. You just never know what YouTube has in store from one day to the next. The only thing that we dislike about it is when we embed a video from YouTube and it's taken down for whatever reason later on.
#1 - The Buffalo Sabres. Time and again, most of our favorite stories always seem to involve the Buffalo Sabres. Their first draft pick in history was awarded to them by a spin of a wheel, they once drafted an imaginary Japanese player, the city was paralyzed by a snowstorm for a week, causing 300 people to seek refuge in their arena and limiting the club to just 15 players for a road game in Montreal where the plucky warriors tied the defending Stanley Cup champions 3-3. They hosted the first Winter Classic, signed the first Russian to defect to the NHL and once played a playoff game in a thick fog in an arena haunted by bats. They haven't won the Stanley Cup, but they've won our hearts with their quirky and unique tales. God bless Punch Imlach.
Then there is the club's jersey history, which stretches from the sublime to the ridiculous having featured logos which depict a buffalo, a goat and a banana slug...
...with a few unexpected twists along the way.
We'd love to hear your favorites in the comments section below after you are done taking your post-turkey dinner nap today, and with tomorrow being "Black Friday", please consider visiting our advertisers in the column to the right when shopping for yourself or the hockey fan on your gift list.
Have a happy Thanksgiving a drive safely!