Monday, July 9, 2012

1996-97 Krefeld Penguins Jason Meyer jersey

July by the Numbers continues and it's back across the Atlantic for jersey #9.

Founded in 1936 as Krefelder Eislauf-Verein 1936 e.V. (KEV for short), the club, after returning after a suspension of play during World War II, won their first championship on March 12, 1952.

After struggling near the bottom of the Bundesliga for a decade and a half, thanks in part to competing with a local rival club, things really began to look up for KEV with some key acquisitions and the demise of the other Krefeld based club, KTSV Prussia in 1971.

KEV 76-77, KEV 76-77

Just as the club was knocking on the door of a title, in a shocking turn of events, ownership had overextended itself in previous seasons and the club's actual financial condition had not been accurately reported, all of which resulted in bankruptcy for KEV, which caused the German sporting authorities to revoke the team's franchise.

A new club, EHC Krefeld was formed in 1978-79, which started at the bottom of the German hockey ladder, playing in a regional league with junior players and older players, some of whom were lured back out of retirement. This club proved far stronger than their opposition, even posting a memorable 48-0 win!

EHC 78-79, EHC 78-79
The inaugural ECH Krefeld club

With the club now promoted up a level, many of the older players once again retired, their mission accomplished. New, younger players were brought in for the 1979-80 season, which resulted in a fine second place finish. Fate intervened however, as first place finisher Hamburg SV declined the opportunity to move up for financial reasons, moving EHC up the ladder once again.

When the 1980-81 season began, the club was now renamed Krefelder Eislauf-Verein 1981 e.V., reviving the name of the original club founded back in 1936. Their rise to the top division was slowed however, as the quality of competition was much stronger in the second division than it was in the third and fourth levels of the past two seasons.

The club endured for 11 seasons in the second division, and again flirted with financial problems and relegation on occasion, but persevered until the 1990-91 season, which began poorly with KEV at the bottom of the table. Bold moves were made to bring in Czech national team goaltender Karel Lang, as well as the high scoring Francois Sills and Peter Jedrus. With the revamping of the lineup complete, the wins soon followed and by the time the playoffs began, KEV had climbed to second place and their victory in the playoffs propelled the club, and once more the city of Krefeld, into the top level of the Bundesliga.

While their play on the ice was enough to keep KEV in the 1. Bundesliga, they once more faced bankruptcy in 1995, only this time a last minute reorganization allowed the club to retain it's license for the 1995-96 season, now reorganized as KEV Pinguine Eishockey GmbH, or Krefeld Pinguine (Krefeld Penguins). This was also the period of time when the Bundesliga gave way to the new DEL hockey league, ushering in a new era for German professional hockey, particularly with the ruling that made players all across Europe free agents when their current contracts expired, allowing a much greater freedom of movement for players previously unable to play in Germany.

After becoming the Krefeld Penguins and a member of the DEL, they regularly made the playoffs, reaching the postseason in five consecutive seasons. They missed the playoffs in 2001, but returned again in 2002.

While the club only managed a sixth place finish in 2002-03, the upset the DEG Metro Stars in five games before knocking out the #1 seeded Berlin Polar Bears 3-1 to reach their first ever finals despite the Polar Bears finishing 31 points higher in the regular season standings. There, they met the Cologne Sharks, the #1 overall seed. Krefeld won Games 1 & 2, but lost the next two, including Game 4 in overtime, which forced a deciding Game 5, which the Penguins won by a score of 3-1 to take the series and the championship 3 games to 2 to capture the first title in club history, second if you count the Penguins as a continuation of the first KEV club, founded back in 1936.

Krefeld Pengins 2003 champions, Krefeld Pengins 2003 champions
The Krefeld Penguins - 2003 DEL champions

During the regular season, Penguins Christoph Brandner (formerly of the Minnesota Wild) led the league with 28 goals, while teammate Brad Purdie was tops in assists with 41. Other notable names on the championship squad were future NHLer Christian Ehrhoff, Canadians and former NHLers Gary Shuchuk and Sandy Moger and the late Robert Müller in goal.

Today's featured jersey is a 1996-97 Krefeld Penguins Jason Meyer jersey. Worn shortly after the club changed their name to include the Penguins nickname, this attempt at a whimsical jersey crosses into the absurd, with with it's tumbling, celebrating penguins surrounding the main sponsor logo on the chest, which itself is an overly large, color-clashing obnoxious billboard.

Adding to the visual confusion is the main team logo of a penguin in a triangle, which is not only on the upper right chest, which would have been fine if they would have stopped there, but it is repeated in a smaller size around the cuffs, as if the five tumbling ones on the front of the jersey weren't enough already! Worse, the triangle shape is then repeated around the waist as well as another one on the cuffs for good measure. Here's an idea. If you want to repeat the team logo around the arms, how about not putting triple arm stripes of varying widths just above them to distract from them?

While we're at it, we also dislike the lousy way the team name is applied to the bottom of both the front and back, particularly the handwritten, juvenile "Pinguine" diagonally across the name of the city.

If the main sponsorship slapped on the front of the jersey like a bumper sticker wasn't bad enough, the back has a pair of bold red logos and the shoulders are adorned with winking green frogs, only adding to the mess that this jersey is!

Don't even ask us why the penguin on the right front, which is repeated larger on the back, has the name "Kevin" on it. We don't even want to know because it's certain to be stupid if we ever found out.

Later Penguins jerseys would have a certain style and flair, but this particular one is a collection of bad ideas lumped together all on one awful jersey - one with frogs and tumbling penguins, one of which is named Kevin.

Krefeld Penguins 96-97 jersey, Krefeld Penguins 96-97 jersey
Krefeld Penguins 96-97 jersey, Krefeld Penguins 96-97 jersey

Today's video section is a look at the history of the franchise in pictures and video, which captures the widely varying jerseys worn by the club in it's history, some good, some simply horrid.

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