Saturday, February 12, 2011

1975-76 Vancouver Canucks Dennis Ververgaert Jersey

Since the demise of the Brooklyn Americans in 1942, the NHL consisted of just six member teams, commonly referred to as "The Original Six". Finally, following the success of the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in Major League Baseball on the west coast, the idea of expanding the NHL was first brought up in 1963, partly due to fears that the Western Hockey League was intending to operate as a major league in the near future and also in hopes of making the league more attractive to American television networks with coast-to-coast appeal.

The original discussions promoted San Francisco and Vancouver as acceptable locations with Los Angeles and St. Louis also as potential candidates in March of 1965.

In February of 1966, applications were received from groups from Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore, Buffalo and Vancouver.

In the end, franchises were awarded to Oakland (across the bay from San Francisco), Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and... St. Louis.

The decision to exclude Vancouver caught many by surprise, especially those involved in the construction of the brand new Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, and angered not only the locals, but all of Canada, since the six chosen cities were all in the United States. Various reasons emerged to explain the surprise inclusion of St. Louis, despite the fact there was no formal proposal from a group representing St. Louis!

Reportedly, Toronto and Montreal did not want to share Canadian TV revenues with a third club and support for expansion from Chicago was contingent on the creation of a team in St. Louis, which would result in the sale of the run-down St. Louis Arena, which just conveniently happened to be owned by the Chicago Black Hawks ownership group at the time.

Less than a year later the Oakland Seals franchise was having financial difficulties and an apparent deal was struck to move the club to Vancouver. The NHL however, did not want to see one of their brand new franchises moved so quickly and killed the deal. In exchange for avoiding a lawsuit, the NHL promised Vancouver a team in the next expansion, which occurred in 1970, when Buffalo and Vancouver were granted entry into the NHL, at a cost of $6 million, three times the cost in 1967.

Life for the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL the first few seasons was predictably rough, as the other six expansion franchises who began play in 1967-68 had a three year head start on the Canucks, not to mention the established powerhouses of the Original 6. Even tougher for the Canucks, they were placed in the "East" Division with the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and their expansion cousins the Buffalo Sabres, while the West Division was comprised of the "Second 6" and the Chicago Black Hawks.

The Top 10 scoring leaders that season were all from Original 6 teams and nine of those resided in the East Division with the Canucks. That first season the Canucks were 0-4 against the Montreal Canadiens before managing a pair of late season ties on their way to a 24-26-8 record and a 6th place finish in the East, ahead of only the Red Wings by a single point.

1971-72 was a bit less successful than their debut season, as they dropped to last place in the East with a 20-50-8 record. Although they had four more wins than the Sabres, they fell behind them in the standings due to just 8 ties versus Buffalo's league leading 19. Montreal again dominated the series between the two clubs, including three overpowering shutouts by scores of 6-0, 7-0 and 5-0 on their way to sweeping the Canucks 5 games to none.

Vancouver showed little improvement with a 22-47-9 record, but were spared the basement due to the arrival of the expansion New York Islanders in 1972-73. Montreal again swept the board against Vancouver, taking all six meetings including wins of 9-1, 3-0 and 7-3.

For 1974-75, the Canucks were paroled from the mighty East Division and placed in the brand new Smythe Division with the Chicago Black Hawks, Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues and expansion Kansas City Scouts. The resulting change in the Canucks schedule, as well as the team gaining experience and confidence from playing together for several seasons now, saw them leap up to a 38-32-10 record on their way to not only a Division championship, but their first playoff appearance. Still the specter of the Canadiens loomed, as they defeated the Canucks in all four regular season appearances and eliminated them from the playoffs.

The losing streak continued in 1975-76 with a 6-4 loss on November 29th, a 2-2 tie on December 20th. Another 2-2 tie on January 27th extended the Canucks streak of futility against Montreal to 30 games (0-25-5) prior to their meeting on this date in 1976 in Montreal.

Defenseman Mike Robitaille opened the scoring for the Canucks with an unassisted goal at 6:34 against the Canadiens Ken Dryden. Ron Sedlbauer added to the Canucks lead a minute later with his 12th goal of the season at 7:32. The Canucks leading scorer that season, Dennis Ververgaert, scored on the power play at 15:15 with both Mario Tremblay and Bob Gainey in the penalty box for Montreal. Sedlbauer shocked the fans at the forum with his second goal of the period at 18:09 to put the visitors up by a score of 4-0 after just 20 minutes while dominating play with a 16-8 lead in shots on goal.

Ron Sedlbauer
Ron Sedlbauer

Ververgaert extended the Canucks lead at 2:46 of the second before the Canadiens began their comeback. Jim Roberts scored to get Montreal on the board at 8:55 and Peter Mahovlich cut the lead to 5-2 at 17:07 of the second period.

Ververgaert Canucks
Dennis Ververgaert

Bobby Lalonde counted Mahovlich's goal just 1:36 into the third period to restore the Canucks four goal lead. Vancouver held Montreal off the board for the first half of the period, but the Canadiens showed signs of life with a pair of goals less than 30 seconds apart at the midway point of the period with scores from Mahovlich and Doug Risebrough at 10:26 and 10:55 to make the score 6-4 with plenty of time remaining for the defending Stanley Cup champions to come back.

Goaltender Ken Lockett held off the Canadiens for the remainder of the game as the Canucks played a disciplined game and stayed out of the penalty box the rest of the way to secure their first regular season win over the Canadiens in franchise history, and accomplish it on the road in the always tough Montreal Forum.

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Vancouver Canucks Dennis Ververgaert jersey as worn during the Canucks first ever win against the Montreal Canadiens after five winless seasons and 30 tries. Ververgaert contributed to the Canucks win with a pair of goals that night.

The Canucks original jerseys had a pair of wide green stripes on the waist and arms, as well as a white "V" over the green stripes on the sleeves. This style lasted for only two seasons before a change to a single green stripe which was trimmed in white. No names were worn on the back until 1977.

Ververgaert was drafted third overall in 1973 by the Canucks and made the jump from junior hockey straight to the NHL. As a rookie he scored 26 goals. Two seasons later he had a career season, netting 37 goals and totaling 71 points. He had two more 20-goal seasons in his six seasons as a Canuck. He as traded to the Philadelphia Flyers halfway through the 1978-79 season. After a year and a half with the Flyers, Ververgaert's final NHL season was spent with the Washington Capitals. In all, he scored 176 goals and 392 points in eight NHL seasons and was the Canucks second leading goal scorer during their first decade.

Vancouver Canucks 75-76 F
Vancouver Canucks 75-76 B

Our video section today has home movies of the Canucks taken in 1976, featuring some overly dramatic music which tries to make the footage of warmups seems rather important, but still a nice look at the Canuck jerseys of the day.


Here, the rookie Ververgart slugs it out with Wayne Cashman of the Bruins, showing no intimidation as he establishes himself in the NHL.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Japan National Foundation Day

Each year on this date, the nation of Japan celebrates National Foundation Day to mark the day the first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, believed to be a direct decedent of the sun goddess, founded the nation of Japan in 660 BC.

Emperor Jimmu
Emperor Jimmu

The date was chosen based on New Year's Day of the traditional lunisolar calendar, used in Japan until 1873, as that was the day the Nihon Shoki (The Chronicles of Japan), the oldest book of Japanese history compiled on imperial orders, recorded that Emperor Jimmu ascended to the throne on the first day of the first month.

When the Japanese government designated the day as a national holiday in 1873, the year Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar, they decreed February 11th as the day that corresponded to Emperor Jimmu's day of ascension to the throne.

The day was originally known as Empire Day (Kigen-setsu) and was supported by those who believed that focusing national attention on the emperor would serve as a unifying event with the people.

Japan National Foundation Day

Large parades and festivals held during it's early days made it one of the four major holidays of Japan.

Japan National Foundation Day

With the holiday relying heavily on Shinto mythology, the spirituality of Japan, and it's reinforcement of the Japanese nobility, the holiday was abolished following World War II, but was re-established as National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinenbi) in 1966, in a slightly more muted form and without the references to the emperor.

Customs now include raising of the Japanese flag, known as the Hinomaru (the Sun Disk) which represents the divine selection of the Emperor.

Japan National Foundation Day

There are also parades, the largest of which is the float parade in the Meiji Shrine, which is dedicated to the spirits of the Emperor Meiji and his wife, where people carry a miniature temple decorated with Japanese flags that is carried on their shoulders.

Japan National Foundation Day
A miniature temple carried on the shoulders

The Japan Ice Hockey Federation was the first Asian nation to join the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1930 and the men's team is currently ranked 21st in the world, while the women's team is ranked 9th.

The Japan Ice Hockey League was founded in 1966 and existed until 2004 with six teams when it was replaced by the Asia League Ice Hockey, which has not only teams from Japan, but China and South Korea, with four of the teams being from Japan.

Japan first participated in the World Championships in 1930 with a 6th place finish. It was 27 years before they made a second appearance when they finished 8th in 1957. They returned once again in 1962 with a first place finish in Pool B, but once more took a hiatus until 1967 when they returned to win Pool C.

They earned a promotion to Pool B with another Pool C first place finish in 1969 and remained in Pool B for the next 11 years with a high of 2nd place in 1976. After being relegated to Pool C in 1981, they immediately returned to Pool B with a 1st place finish in 1982. After three seasons in Pool B, they were again relegated in 1986 only to return directly to Pool B once more when they won Pool C in 1987.

After eight consecutive seasons in Pool B, with a high of 3rd place, they were demoted to Pool C once again in 1996. After one season in Pool C, where they finished 4th, Japan benefitted from a change in IIHF policy, where the Far East Qualifier was guaranteed a place in the Top level of the newly designated Group A, which now contained 16 teams rather than the previous 12.

Regardless of whether Japan was in over it's head in Group A at the time, they were still strong enough to repeat as the Far East Qualifier for the next seven seasons which allowed them to avoid the standard relegation penalty for finishing in 16th and last place five consecutive times from 1999 to 2003 after barely avoiding relegation with a 14th place finish in 1998.

A new format for the World Championships was introduced for 2005, which did away with the reserved place in Group A for the Far East Qualifier. As a result, Japan's 15th place finish now meant they were relegated to the newly named Division I and would need to earn their way back to the Top Division on pure merit.

Since 2005, Japan has paced 5th, followed by five consecutive 3rd place finishes as they look to breakthrough with a Division I championship to earn a promotion back to the Top Division.

In the Winter Olympics, Japan finished 9th in 1936. They were regular participants at the Olympics from 1960, when they had their best ever showing with an 8th place, through 1980, with the last five being regular finishes between 9th and 12th.

They did not field a team at the Olympics again until acting as hosts in 1998, a tough tournament in which to make their return, as this was the first Olympics where the stars of the NHL were first allowed to compete. Japan finished in 13th place with a 1-2-1 record following a shootout win over Austria in the 13th place match, which was their most recent appearance at the Olympics.

Japan Canada 1998
Japan's women take on Canada in the 1998 Olympics hosted by Japan

Goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji became the first Japanese-born player to play in the NHL on January 16, 2007 for the Los Angeles Kings. In total, he played in four NHL games.

Fukufuji

Hiroyuki Miura is officially the first Japanese player to be drafted by an NHL team, as long as you do not count the legendary, but mythical, Taro Tsujimoto, after being chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the 11th round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. He was a member of the Japan National Team at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, but never played in the NHL.

Also of note, Japan played host to the opening games of the NHL season in 1997 (Canucks and Mighty Ducks), 1998 (Sharks and Flames) and 2000 (Predators and Penguins) when two teams traveled to Tokyo to play a pair of games to kick off the season, which were called "Game ONe".

Game ONe Japan 98 logo

Today's featured jersey is a 2000 Japan National Team Yohei Yamashita jersey as worn in the IIHF U18 World Junior Pool B Championships held in Riga, Latvia on April 3-9, 2000. Yamashita had no points in five games as Japan went 2-1 in Group A and 0-2 in the Final Round to finish fourth out of eight.

This striking jersey mimics the minimalist nature of the Japanese flag, with only red trim on the wrists and collar as adornment. The red rising sun logo on the front is done in the textured glacier twill, as are the red numbers and the name on the back.

Japan 2000 F
Japan 2000 B

This is the song of National Foundation Day.


In this video, the Japan National Team takes on Slovenia in a shootout in 2009 in an Olympic qualifying match in Hanover, Germany.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

1992-93 Calgary Flames Joe Nieuwendyk Jersey

When the San Jose Sharks hosted the Calgary Flames on this date in 1993 in front of 18,656 fans, few of the fans in attendance expected the 6-46-2 Sharks to defeat the 30-19-6 Flames when the Sharks scored on Calgary goaltender Jeff Reese when Johan Garpenlov converted on the power play at 2:51 of the first period to put the Sharks ahead 1-0.

It would take nearly ten minutes for the Flames to equalize the score when Gary Suter scored from Robert Reichel at 12:26. Calgary went ahead just 17 seconds later when Reichel scored on assists from Suter and goaltender Reese at 12:43. Gary Roberts extended the Flames lead at 16:17 from Theo Fleury and Suter and Ronnie Stern closed out the first period scoring with an assist from Joel Otto at 18:41, with all four of the Flames first period goals coming at even strength.

Theo Fleury 92-93.jpg
Theo Fleury

The Sharks held off the Flames onslaught for the first half of the second period before Roberts 33rd goal of the season from Paul Ranheim and goaltender Reese once again at 13:41. Reichel's second goal of the game came from Craig Berube and Fleury 32 second later. Fleury reached the 20 goal mark for the season when he scored at 19:32 from Flames captain Joe Nieuwendyk and Roberts at 19:32 to make the score after two periods 7-1 in favor of the Flames. As in the first period, all of the Calgary goals in the second were at even strength since Fleury's goal came just one second after the Sharks Neil Wilkinson's penalty had expired. For the period, the Flames out shot the Sharks 29-6.

The Flames then set a league record for the fastest three goals to start a period when they came out flying to open the third. Suter's second of the game, from Fleury and Reichel, came at the 17 second mark. Fleury and Reichel again received the assists on Chris Lindberg's goal at 40 seconds and Stern set the record at 53 seconds from Frantisek Musil and Al MacInnis to give the Flames a 10-1 lead.

Reichel completed a hat trick at 9:41 from MacInnis and Reese, who became the first goaltender in NHL history to score three points in a game with his third assist of the night, with one in each period. Stern then finished off his hat trick from Roberts and Musil at 15:oo. Two minutes later Brian Skrudland joined the scoresheet with an assist from Fleury at the 17 minute mark to close out the scoring with the Flames 13th goal of the game, all of which were scored at even strength!

Goalies Jeff Hackett and Arturs Irbe faced 42 shots in goal for the Sharks, with Hackett making 9 saves on 15 shots in 23:23 of playing time while Irbe made 14 saves on the 21 shots he faced in 35:37 of action. Reese, in addition to his NHL record scoring exploits, stopped 26 of the 27 Sharks shots to get the win.

Of the 19 Flames players, 14 scored at least a point and everyone finished with a positive plus/minus rating led by Fleury's +9, followed by Reichel at +7 for the evening. For the Sharks, veteran Doug Wilson had the roughest evening with a -7 rating.

Reichel led the scoring parade with 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points, equalled by Fleury's 6 points from 1 goal and 5 assists. Defenseman Suter's 2 goals and 2 assists led the blueliners, which was equalled by Roberts 2 goals and 2 assists.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Calgary Flames Joe Nieuwendyk jersey as worn in the Flames record setting 13-1 win over the Sharks. Nieuwendyk became captain of the Flames in 1991 and remained so until his trade to Dallas in 1995. This jersey features the Stanley Cup Centennial patch worn on all players jerseys throughout the 1992-93 season.

Calgary would continue to wear this style jersey through the 1993-94 season until it was replaced after 22 seasons of use, which included a change in logo after the franchise's relocation from Atlanta to Calgary.

Calgary Flames 92-93 jersey


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1915-16 St. Paul Athletic Club Moose Goheen Jersey

One of the United States greatest players in hockey's early days, Frank "Moose" Goheen was born on this date in 1894.

Moose Goheen

In 1915-16 and 1916-17, Goheen, an early offensive minded defenseman, was a member of the St. Paul Athletic Club which won the MacNaughton Cup as champions of amateur hockey in the United States.

MacNaughton Cup
The MacNaughton Cup

After missing two seasons while serving in the army during World War I in Belgium and Germany, Goheen returned to the St. Paul Athletic Club in time to win a league championship in 1920. He then became a member of the very first United States Olympic Hockey Team later in 1920.

1920 US Olympic Team
Goheen was a member of the first United States Olympic Hockey Team in 1920

The United States began their tournament with a 7-0 win over Sweden. They followed that with a 16-0 defeat of Czechoslovakia before destroying Switzerland by a score of 29-0, setting up a showdown with Canada. The Canadians narrowly defeated the United States 2-1 which resulted in the Americans being awarded the silver medal. Goheen scored 7 goals in the four games played during his return to Belgium.

He was later named to the 1924 Olympic Team, but passed on the opportunity because of work commitments. He also reportedly passed on offers from the Boston Bruins, Montreal Maroons, New York Americans and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL in order to remain in Minnesota.

1922-23 St. Paul Athletic Club
The 1922-23 St. Paul Athletic Club

In 1922-23 and 1923-24, Goheen was again a member of the St. Paul Athletic Club in the United States Amateur Hockey Association before turning professional with the newly renamed St. Paul Saints when they became members of the CHL in 1925-26 where he led the club in scoring with 13 goals and 23 points in 36 games, an impressive feat for a defenseman.

Goheen SPAC 25-26
Goheen in 1925-26

St. Paul moved to the new American Hockey Association in 1926-27 and Goheen played with the Saints for the next four seasons, with a high of 19 goals and 24 points in 1927-28.

He played in just two games in 1930-31 with the Buffalo Majors before returning to the Saints in 1931-32 for the final season of his career. As a professional, Goheen scored 52 goals and 39 assists for 91 points in 187 games in seven seasons. His rushing style of play from his defense position would not be seen again until the arrival of Eddie Shore in the 1930's and later Bobby Orr in the 1960's.

Goheen was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952, only the second American ever inducted into the hall and a rare inductee to have never played in the NHL. He was later honored as a charter member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.

Moose Goheen

Today's featured jersey is a 1915-16 St. Paul Athletic Club Moose Goheen jersey, as worn when St. Paul won the MacNaughton Cup that season as the United States Amateur Hockey Association's national champions.

St. Paul Athletic Club 1915-16 jersey

Jersey photo courtesy of VintageMinnesotaHockey.com, which still has a limited selection of St. Paul Athletic Club jersey styles available in some styles, which can be found here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1957-58 Boston Bruins Harry Lumley Jersey

After playing junior hockey with the Barrie Colts in 1942-43, Harry Lumley turned professional with the Indianapolis Capitals of the AHL in 1943-44. He made his NHL debut the same season with a pair of losses playing for the Detroit Red Wings at the age of just 17. In a move unheard of in today's hockey, Lumley was loaned to the New York Rangers for a game on December 23 against Detroit, as an injury replacement!

Lumley Red Wings young
A young Harry Lumley with the Detroit Red wings. Note the patriotic "V" for "victory" patch on the sleeve worn during World War II which dates this photo from either 1943-44 or 1944-45.

He split time the next season between Detroit and Indianapolis. He not only registered his first NHL win that season, but played rather well, going 24-10-3 in 37 games for the Red Wings and started every game for Detroit in the playoffs, first edging out the Boston Bruins in seven games prior to falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals by a score of 2-1.

Starting in 1945-46 Lumley became a full-time NHLer and played five more seasons with the Red Wings, which saw his win totals increase the first four seasons from 20 to 22, then 30 and finally a career high 34 in 1948-49.

He recorded another 33 wins in 1949-50 and led Detroit to the Stanley Cup by defeating the Maple Leafs in the opening round in seven games, including shutting out Toronto in Game 6 4-0 in Toronto and followed that with a dramatic 1-0 shutout in Game 7 after Detroit was shutout three times in the first five games and lost star player Gordie Howe to a serious injury as well.

In the finals, Detroit came back from being down 3 games to 2 against the New York Rangers with a pair of one goal wins at home to capture the only Stanley Cup of Lumley's career. This series was notable for the fact that games 2 and 3 were played in Toronto because of a circus occupying Madison Square Garden in New York at the time, with the other five games, including 4 through 7 being in Detroit.

Lumley Red Wings celebrate
Lumley, center, celebrates winning the Stanley Cup with his Red Wings teammates

Lumley's reward for winning the Stanley Cup was losing his job with Detroit in favor of youngster Terry Sawchuk, who had played seven games late in the season when Lumley was sidelined with an injury. In a blockbuster deal, Lumley, along with four other Red Wings, were sent to the Chicago Black Hawks for four players.

The transition was certainly a tough one, going from the Stanley Cup champions to the doormats of the NHL, as Lumley posted a record of just 12-47-10 in 1950-51 and "improved" to 17-44-9 the following season.

Lumley Blackhawks
A 1951-52 Parkhurst Harry Lumley trading card

After two seasons with Chicago, Lumley was once again on the move following a trade to the Maple Leafs. Life in Toronto was an improvement, and although they missed the playoffs in his first season in Toronto, Lumley's win total took a leap up to 27 in 1952-53.

Lumley had an outstanding 1953-54 season. Even though Toronto finished fifth out of the then six NHL clubs in goal scoring, Lumley's outstanding play helped them to a third place finish in the standings and a berth in the playoffs as the Maple Leafs allowed the fewest goals in the league, which earned Lumley the 1954 Vezina Trophy. His final goals against average for the season in 69 games played was 1.86 and his 32 victories were the third best of his career. In addition, his 13 shutouts set an NHL record which would stand for 16 seasons.

Lumley Maple Leafs Vezina
Harry Lumley with the 1954 Vezina Trophy

Two more seasons in Toronto, including a goals against average under 2.00 in 1954-55 at 1.94 were followed by a trade back to the Chicago Black Hawks organization. This did not sit well with Lumley, who obviously had not forgotten his previous experience with the woeful Black Hawks and he refused to sign. Instead he played for the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL for all of 1956-57 and for the first three months of the 1957-58 season.

Lumley Maple Leafs
Lumley with the Maple Leafs. Note the red letters on the blue jersey's crest used from 1954 to 1958.

In need of help in goal due to injuries, he was acquired by the Boston Bruins in January and played in 24 games that season, which included his 300th career victory with a 7-3 win over the Maple Leafs on this date in 1958, making him only the second goaltender in NHL history to reach 300 career wins.

His career began to wind down in 1958-59 when he played in just 11 games with the Bruins and 58 with the Providence Reds on the AHL. He did complete in 42 games for Boston in 1959-60, his final season in the NHL, winning 16 to push his final NHL total to 330.

His final season before retirement was spent with the Winnipeg Warriors of the Western Hockey League before calling it a career.

Lumley's final NHL totals are 803 games played with a 330-329-142 record, which includes 71 shutouts. In addition he won a Stanley Cup in 1950 and a Vezina Trophy in 1954. His final won-loss recored was certainly not helped by playing on dismal teams in Chicago for two seasons when his record was at 29-85-19.

As of today, Lumley still ranks in the top 20 in career wins for goaltenders despite playing in an era when teams played a dozen less games per season.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.

Today's featured jersey is a 1957-58 Boston Bruins Harry Lumley jersey. This style of jersey was first worn in 1951 when the black was added to the ends of the sleeves and remained in use through 1958, the season Lumley became only the second goaltender to reach 300 victories.

Lumley Bruins

Today's video segment focuses on Lumley's time spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs.



Monday, February 7, 2011

2001-02 Green Bay Gamblers Troy Lother Jersey

While the first organized team in Green Bay, Wisconsin can be traced back to 1916, professional hockey in Green Bay, Wisconsin can be traced back to 1958 when the Green Bay Bobcats joined the Mid-America Hockey League and played in the brand new Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena. It was a successful debut for the Bobcats, as they placed second in the regular season standing and went on to capture the Gibson Cup as league playoff champions when they defeated the Marquette Sentinels.

Green Bay Bobcats 1958-59
1959 Gibson Cup Champion Green Bay Bobcats

Their first season would prove to be their only one in the MAHL, as they played an independent schedule of games for the next two seasons. In 1958-59 they went 27-14-1 and under the guidance of Minnesota hockey legend John Mayasich, posted a 30-6-3 record in 1960-61 with a roster that included U. S. Olympian and United States Hall of Famers player/coach Mayasich, a gold medalist at the 1960 Olympics, and Dick Dougherty, a silver medalist at the 1956 Olympics.

The Bobcats then found a home, joining the United States Hockey League for the 1961-62 season. Mayasich would continue to guide the team until 1966, which included winning the league title in 1963 after going 25-7 during the regular season. While they may not have lit up the scoreboard in 1963-64, the Bobcats had the top five players in league penalty minutes that season! They followed that up by winning the national championship in 1965 after only managing a fourth place finish in the five team USHL!

The Bobcats were chosen as the United States representatives at the World Championships in 1969 following a 30-7-1 season the year before. They won another USHL title in 1972 and continued to play in the USHL as a senior semi-professional team through 1979 when the league changed to become a junior hockey league. Bob Purpur was the club's all-time leading scorer with 364 points in seven seasons, followed by Tom O'Brien with 338 and Ed Chestolowski's 304.

Green Bay Bobcats 1971-72
1971-72 USHL champion Green Bay Bobcats

The team continued to play in the now amateur USHL for two seasons prior to folding at the end of the 1980-81 season. Their most notable player while a junior club was goaltender Bob Mason, who went on to play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the 1984 U. S. Olympic Team and the Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Quebec Nordiques of the NHL.

Green Bay returned to the USHL in 1994 with a new franchise called the Green Bay Gamblers. It was rough going at first, with the inaugural club struggling through the season with a 9-34-1-4 record, but the turnaround was quick and dramatic, as the Gamblers won the league regular season title and the Anderson Cup the very next year with a 32-11-3 record, the Clark Cup as the USHL playoff Champions and the Gold Cup as national champions.

They repeated as Anderson Cup and Gold Cup champions the following season as the Gamblers romped to a 41-11-0-2 record led by Kevin Granato's league leading 41 goals.

The Gamblers would again win the league's regular season title in 2008-09 and 2009-10 and go on to claim the Clark Cup as playoff champions both times as well.

Green Bay Gamblers 2009 Anderson Cup
Captain C. J. Lee of the Green Bay Gamblers with the massive Anderson Cup in 2009

As a member of the USHL, the goal of the Gamblers is to aid their players in advancing to play United States college hockey, and to date more than 150 players have advanced to the NCAA Division I level, with 50 going as far as playing professional hockey and 24 being drafted by NHL teams.

NHLers who have played for Green Bay include Stanley Cup winners Adam Burish and Ryan Carter, goaltender Ty Conklin, Jeff Finger, Matt Greene, Tom Preissing and Blake Wheeler.

Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Green Bay Gamblers Troy Lother jersey. The Gamblers original logo was a cowboy holding a hand of cards contained in a triangle with the club's wordmark overlaid. They then changed to the initials "GB" over the word "Gamblers" seen both with and without a spur, before changing in 2008 to a new logo which features a hockey playing bobcat with an ace of spades tucked into his glove, with the bobcat being a tribute to the Green Bay Bobcats franchise of the 60's and 70's.

Gamblers logo history

Green Bay Gamblers 01-02 jersey
Green Bay Gamblers 01-02 jersey

Oh yea, it's crazy naked goalie fight time in the USHL!


On a more positive note, here is the spectacle that is the Teddy Bear Toss for charity as 7,000 bears rain down on the ice following the first Green Bay goal of the game.

Shouldn't this perhaps take place at the end of the game or at least between periods?


Finally, the Gamblers win the Clark Cup as national champions in 2009 adding to Green Bay's moniker of "TitleTown, USA".




Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Hockey Jersey Displays of St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center

If any of you have ever been to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, home of the Minnesota Wild, you have no doubt noticed the many jersey displays throughout the arena.

There are displays which highlight the jerseys used by the colleges in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) on the 200 level,

MIAC
The jerseys of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) display by gate 2,

WCHA
The WCHA display, updated for 2010-11 with new additions Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha

jerseys from the recent winners of the Hobey Baker and Patty Kazmaier Awards for the top men's and women's players in college hockey near gate 4,

Hobey Baker
Jerseys from various men's Hobey Baker winners

Patty Kazmaier
The most recent women's Patty Kazmaier winner

the various St. Paul Saints minor league championship teams from 1919 to 1965 located around the club level and the St. Paul Athletic Club team jerseys are also featured on the club level.

St Paul Saints
1934-35 St. Paul Saints jersey

Also on the 200 level are jerseys which highlight junior and women's college hockey in Minnesota.

junior hockey
The Minnesota Junior Hockey League is represented by a Rochester Ice Hawks jersey

womens hockey
This St. Scholastica from Duluth jersey represents both the MIAC women's conference as well as the women's WCHA

Another display near Gate 3 rotates each year, and has featured the United States Coast Guard team of the World War II era, Minnesota's Olympic hockey players and Wild team captains, among other themes. This year the display celebrates top moments in the ten year history of the Minnesota Wild, including a jersey from the franchise's leading scorer to date, Marian Gaborik.

Gaborik jersey
Marian Gaborik's Minnesota Wild jersey and a photo of him on the night he scored five goals

Also in the same display in the University of St. Thomas jersey of Minnesota native Steve Aronson, the first player the Wild ever signed to a professional contract. While he never actually played for the Wild, he holds a place of honor in the development of the franchise's early history.

St Thomas jersey
Steve Aronson's college jersey, the Wild's first pro signing

One area which gets a lot of attention is the incredible Minnesota State High School Hockey program. One display case near gate 3 is dedicated to displaying the jerseys of the two most recent recipients of the Mr. Hockey and Ms. Hockey Award, which is the title bestowed on the outstanding male and female high school hockey players each year while the case next to it recalls the history of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.

Mr Ms Hockey
The 2010 Mr. & Ms. Hockey winner's jerseys

High school tournament
This display recalls the rich history of the legendary Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament

Despite all the previously mentioned outstanding exhibits, the signature display of the Xcel Energy Center, and the one which always gets the most attention, are the nearly 200 jerseys from all of the state of Minnesota's high school hockey programs, which ring the arena on the suite level in a multi-colored tribute to grassroots hockey in the state.

Xcel High School jerseys

While the fact they are on the suite level might make them sound exclusive, that couldn't be farther from the truth, as the majority of them are visible from the many open vantage points throughout the arena.

The man responsible for these jerseys is Minnesota Wild historian (the only such position in the NHL), author, former director of the U. S. Hockey Hall of Fame and vice-president of the Society for International Hockey Research, Roger Godin. You can read an extensive interview with Mr. Godin at VintageMinnesotaHockey.com.

Today we present a lighthearted interview, in two parts, with Godin as he takes Minnesota Wild radio host Kevin Falness on a tour of the high school jerseys which ring the Xcel Energy Center.



To purchase either of Godin's hockey history books, follow the links below.


To purchase some of the historic jerseys on display at the Xcel Energy Center, please visit VintageMinnesotaHockey.com's online store.

 

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