Monday, July 25, 2011
July by the Numbers travels to the northeastern United States for jersey #25.
The Erie Golden Blades were created in 1978 as members of the short-lived Eastern Hockey League and won all three championships before the league folded and the team was admitted to the American Hockey League for the 1981-82 season. After one AHL season, the franchise merged with the Baltimore Skipjacks of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League and the new organization played as the Skipjacks in the AHL for 11 seasons before relocating to Portland, Maine for the 1993-94 season.
The relocated franchise was named the Portland Pirates and were affiliated with the Washington Capitals for 12 seasons. The club introduced themselves to the fans in Maine in fine style by winning the Calder Cup as league champions following a 43-27-10 regular season record. Jeff Nelson led the club with 107 points which was fourth overall in the league while the goaltending duo of Olaf Kolzig and Byron Dafoe led the team in goal.
The Pirates second season saw then finish with 104 points as Nelson again led the team in scoring with three more points than future NHLer Andrew Brunette. Jim Carey took over the bulk of the goaltending duties in year two and posted a 30-14-11 record.
The club took a step back in the standings with a losing record (32-34-10-4), but weaved it's way through the playoffs, defeating Worcester, Springfield and Saint John to reach the finals for the second time in three seasons only to lose 2-1 in the decisive Game 7. Brunette led the club in scoring with 94 points in 69 games played.
For the remainder of their affiliation with the Capitals the team qualified for the playoffs six out of nine seasons, but won only one playoff series in 1998. They did post a 103 point season in 1999-00, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. Players to skate for the Pirates during this time period included Anson Carter, Richard Zednik, J. P. Dumont, Glen Metropolit, Rob Zettler, Brooks Laich and Tomas Fleischmann.
For the next three seasons the Pirates became the top affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks and the infusion of new players sent the Pirates rocketing up the standings with a 53-19-0-5 record for 114 points and the second best record in the AHL by a single point. After defeating Providence and Hartford, the Pirates lost to eventual champions Hershey in overtime of Game 7 in their semifinal matchup. Ryan Shannon led the club in points with 86 as part of a roster which included at times Dustin Penner, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
The Buffalo Sabres changed their affiliation to Portland for the 2008-09 season, an arrangement that brought Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis to Portland as well as a pair of 100 point seasons.
For the upcoming 2011-12 season the Pirates will be aligned with the Phoenix Coyotes in the first year of a five year contract.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Portland Pirates Enrico Ciccone jersey from the Pirates successful first season in Maine during which they won their only AHL championship to date.
This jersey is in the classic hockey style of a colored shoulder yoke with matching arm and waist stripes. The thin, serifed font for the names on the back is out of the ordinary, but fits well with the pirate theme.
We must admit we are not fans of the numbers encroaching into the waist and sleeve stripes and would prefer the stripes to be a bit narrower and lower as to leave more room for the digits so they would remain only in the white areas of the jersey in the traditional manner.
The last thing to mention is the odd "Portland" bumper sticker on the left lower front of the jersey. We're not sure where it came from, why they felt it was necessary or how come it was offset to the left, but we're glad it was an idea that didn't catch on.
For today's video section, all we can say is: just what in the hell is this?
Wasn't it nice to see a 20 year old Suzy Kolber dressed for an apparent audition to join the cast of "Friends"? Plus, we always love seeing the original ESPN2 graphics with the black paintbrush look. Those don't look dated at all, do they?
Up next, some of the finest acting in a commercial featuring hockey players ever, ever, ever. Dude, Brian is a natural.
Finally, some actual game footage in this TV commercial for the club. Just how many mascots can one team have anyway? We saw a pirate, a parrot and we are pretty certain the bearded guy on the ATV was William Shakespeare.