Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reader Submission - 1994-95 Denver Grizzlies Chris Luongo Jersey

Our latest reader submitted jersey comes from Conor McCue, and it's from the late, great International Hockey League and the short-lived Denver Grizzlies. While it's a really cool jersey, the story of where he found it really makes his submission unlike any other we've had so far.

Here is Conor's story about how he came to find the jersey and the story of the player who wore it;
I was recently over at my friend's house hanging out and watching the Kings-Coyotes game when we stumbled upon a goldmine of sports memorabilia.  His family’s friend had recently fallen into financial trouble and was storing all of his sports memorabilia at their house so that the government couldn’t seize it when they visited him later that week.   
We sifted through garbage bag after garbage bag of memorabilia and found many incredible things like Cal Ripken, Michael Jordan, Ozzie Smith, and Patrick Roy signed jerseys along with signed football helmets, baseballs, bats, and hockey pucks.  I was truly jealous of this man’s collection.  While we were drooling over the numerous pieces of sports history I noticed a hockey jersey that didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the group.  
The jersey was beat to hell and neither of us knew who’s it was.  We both knew it was from the Denver Grizzlies since we live in Colorado, but we had no idea who this Luongo player was.  After I came home and did some research, I found out that this guy who I thought was just some scrub from the IHL, was actually a pretty good hockey player with a respectable career, and is still relevant in the hockey world. 
I won’t give the history lesson behind the Denver Grizzlies because it has already been done on TSG, but all you have to know is that while they were in Denver they were very successful and jumpstarted hockey’s popularity in Colorado, which helped bring in the Avalanche and eventually led to their own demise.  Chris Luongo only played for the Denver Grizzlies in the 1994-1995 season, where they won their first Turner Cup.   
Both Luongo and Ziggy Palffy were the only notable NHLers on the team, but they weren’t missed much the following year when the Grizzlies won their second Turner Cup without them.  Luongo spilt the year between the New York Islanders and the Grizzlies, and ended up playing a total of 41 games for Denver with 15 points and 26 penalty minutes.  After his only season with the Grizzlies, Luongo went on to play close to a full season for the Islanders in 1995-1996 and then spent the remainder of his career playing for the US at the World Championships and jumping around Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga.  
After his playing career was over, Luongo became an assistant coach at Wayne State for two years and then moved to become an assistant coach at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  After two seasons as the Chargers’ assistant coach, Luongo was named the head coach of UAH, a job he still holds today.   

Thanks to Conor for taking the time to photograph the jersey and share the unusual story of his jersey find. We really appreciate the efforts involved when our readers share their jerseys.

The Grizzlies had a really a unique jersey for the time period with the bear claw and slash marks around the waist and we really loved the way they carried the theme over to the numbers on the back, something that must have driven the customizers of their fan's jerseys in Denver, and later Salt Lake City, crazy.

If you have a jersey in your collection that you'd like to share with us and your fellow readers, please submit your pictures and a story to go with it, no matter how brief or detailed, to and we look forward to seeing your favorites.

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