Saturday, January 28, 2012

1992-93 Washington Capitals Michal Pivoňka Jersey

Having come up through the Dukla Jihlava junior program, Michal Pivoňka, born on this date in 1966, first caught the attention of NHL scouts at the 1983 European Junior Championships, when he scored 4 goals and 9 points in 5 games for Czechoslovakia at the age of 16. The following season he took part in both the European Juniors (7 points in 5 games) and the World Juniors (3 points in 7 games), winning a bronze medal, which led to his being drafted by the Washington Capitals 59th overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft later that spring despite being located behind the Iron Curtain.

The season following his being drafted, he moved up to the Dukla Jihlava senior team, where the playmaking center scored 19 points in 33 games as an 18 year old rookie. Still eligible, he again competed in the World Juniors, with a standout 9 goals and 13 points in 7 games on his way to a silver medal, as well as making his World Championship debut later that spring as the Czechs captured the gold medal.

He returned to Jihlava for one more season in 1985-86 as well as making his final World Junior appearance, scoring 10 points in 7 games, plus competing in his second World Championships.

Now eager to play in the NHL, enticed by a five-year, $1 million contract, during the summer of 1986, Pivoňka made the life-changing decision to defect to the United States at just 20 years of age. After supposedly leaving for Yugoslavia to take a vacation, he and fiancee snuck into Italy, eventually making their way to Rome where they walked into the United States Embassy, where the staff had been told to expect their arrival. There, the pair declared their intention to come to the United States, and after being granted refugee status, two days later they hurriedly arrived in New York.

"There I was," he recalled. "I showed up here, an illegal defector. For me, the biggest worry was leaving my family behind and all the questions about the future. What if I'm not good enough to make it here? What then? Am I stuck in a strange place knowing no one and knowing nothing else to do? What else can I do?"

The planning for his defection took two years of secret meetings with the Capitals Director of Player Personnel Jack Button, with clandestine meetings in Canada, Austria, the Soviet Union, West Germany, Finland and Sweden as well as two other European countries.

"Pivoňka has always indicated from our very first discussion that he would like to play in the best league in the world, and he felt that was the National Hockey League," said Button. Asked how Czechoslovakia reacted to the defection, Button said: "We haven't talked to them, and they haven't talked to us - and I don't expect them to, either."

ow a member of the Capitals, Pivoňka joined a roster completely devoid of any other Europeans whatsoever. While getting used to an entirely new culture, language, style of play, freedom and cash in pocket, he had a fine rookie season, scoring 18 goals and 43 points playing a longer season than he had ever been subjected to before. The Capitals then qualified for the playoffs, adding another 7 games to Pivoňka's tally for the season.

Pivonka Capitals, Pivonka Capitals

He regressed during his second season, with just 11 goals and 34 points, but improved on his overall game with a +1 rating, 20 points better than his -19 as a rookie. During the playoffs, Pivoňka found his game with 13 points in 14 games.

His offensive struggles returned in 1988-89, which earned him a trip down to the AHL for 31 games with the Baltimore Skipjacks, where he regained his confidence with 36 points in 31 games. Back with Washington, he finished the season with just 8 goals and 27 points in 52 games.

One aspect of the NHL style he had to become accustomed to was the fighting. "When the fight starts, you have to be there," Pivoňka said. "You don't have time to think whether this is the kind of hockey you're used to. You have to show up. But you don't have to fight. Just be there to hold your guy." Told that his wife Renata worries he'll get hurt, Pivoňka smiled. "She's my wife," he says. "I'm not a fighter, but I'm learning to play the hockey that's here. You say it's not my style? Why not? I'm here now. It should be my style. It's the hockey you play here."

Not wanting a repeat of his previous season, he established a career high with 25 goals and added 39 assists for 64 points.

It had now been four years since his defection, but the political landscape changed enough to allow Pivoňka an opportunity to return home. "Sure I'm excited," he said. "I want to see my family. I want to go and visit some friends from school, places I haven't seen in four years."

A second 20 goal season followed in 1990-91 while his assist total rose to 50 for a new career best 70 points. The change in the politics of Eastern Europe saw new teammates arrive in the form of Peter Bondra of Czechoslovakia, Dimitri Khristich and Mikhail Tatarinov of the Soviet Union, who benefitted from Pivoňka's experience in adapting to life in the United States.

For the first time since his secret departure from Czechoslovakia, he once again had the chance to don the sweater of his national team for the first time in over five years when he was chosen to play in the final Canada Cup tournament in 1991.

Pivoňka then recorded the finest season of his career to date in 1991-92 when he scored 23 goals and set up 57 more for an 80 point season to lead the Capitals in scoring for the first time.

His fourth consecutive 20 goal season followed with 21 goals and 74 points in only 69 games. While he played all 82 games in 1993-94, he was limited to 50 points, but responded with his best postseason, scoring career bests with 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games.

Pivonka Capitals, Pivonka Capitals

After playing in Austria at the beginning of the strike shortened 1994-95 season, both Pivoňka and Bondra, who shared the same agent, held out at the start of the 1995-96 season in hopes of a raise in pay. When negotiations look longer than hoped, both players signed with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL for seven games until coming to terms with the Capitals. Pivoňka justified his pay raise with a career best 81 points to lead the team in scoring for the second time while playing on a line with Bondra.

Pivonka Vipers, Pivonka Vipers
Pivonka with the Vipers during his holdout

Injuries began to take their toll on Pivoňka, as he was limited to 54 games in 1996-97 and 33 the following season due to a broken wrist, which delayed the start of his season until mid-December and then missed nearly three months will a pulled groin. Then, shortly after returning, he suffered a shoulder injury which ended his playoffs and required off-season shoulder surgery which delayed the start of his 1998-99 season again until December.

Pivonka Capitals, Pivonka Capitals


His contract had now expired and, after averaging 41 games and 14 points in his previous three seasons, he was not resigned and, in an effort to continue his career signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Blades of the IHL, where in 52 games, he scored 50 points before retiring as a player.

At the time of his leaving the Capitals, Pivoňka was second on the Capitals all-time scoring list with 599 points, which he amassed through 181 goals and 418 assists, which is still first all-time in franchise history over a decade later.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992-93 Washington Capitals Michal Pivoňka jersey. While many may assume the Capitals jerseys remained the same during he era of their first jerseys, there were subtle detail changes, which included adding names to the back of the red road jerseys in 1977, changing to single color names beginning in 1979-80, dropping the number of stars on the arms to just four for 1983-84 and 1984-85, adding the fifth star on the arms back in 1985-86 and making the names two colors again in 1987-88 through the end of the lifespan of this classic jersey style until it was replaced with an entirely new identity package consisting of a new logo and all new team colors in 1995-96.

Patches worn on the original Capitals jerseys were the Capital Centre 10th Anniversary patch (home jerseys only) in 1983-84, the NHL 75th Anniversary patch in 1991-92, the Stanley Cup Centennial patch, as worn on today's featured jersey in 1992-93 and the Capitals 20th Anniversary patch worn in 1993-94.

Washington Capitals 92-93 jersey, Washington Capitals 92-93 jersey
Washington Capitals 92-93 jersey, Washington Capitals 92-93 jersey

In today's video section, Pivoňka discusses hockey sticks and how players personalize them. Dale Hunter and Keith Jones also share their thoughts.


Sometimes as a professional athlete you are forced to participate in things you would never, ever do willingly on your own in a million years. This is one of those times.


Friday, January 27, 2012

1996-97 Toronto Maple Leafs Larry Murphy Jersey

After a successful junior hockey career, which included winning a Memorial Cup with the Peterborough Petes and being drafted fourth overall in 1980, Larry Murphy began his career with the Los Angeles Kings in 1980-81 scoring 16 goals and set NHL records with 60 assists and 76 points for a rookie defenseman.

Murphy Kings

After posting 66 and 62 point seasons in Los Angeles, Murphy would be traded early in the 1983-84 season to the Washington Capitals where he would continue to put up strong numbers, the best of which was in 1986-87 when he set a career high with 23 goals plus 58 assists for 81 points.

Murphy Capitals

Murphy was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars along with Mike Gartner in a blockbuster deal for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse in March of 1989 after six seasons with the Capitals. After finishing up the 1988-89 season with Minnesota, he would play one full season with the North Stars, scoring 68 points, and then a half a season in 1990-91 before once more being traded, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Murphy North Stars

The move to Pittsburgh would allow Murphy to experience a deep run into the playoffs for the first time in his career, never having made it past the second round during his ten previous seasons. As the Penguins progressed through the 1991 playoffs, they first defeated the New Jersey Devils in seven games, the Capitals in five and Boston Bruins in six, giving Murphy the chance to skate for the Stanley Cup against his former club, the North Stars. The Penguins dispatched Minnesota in six games, earning him the first Stanley Cup of his career as he contributed a point per game over the Penguins 23 playoff games.

Murphy Penguins

In his first full season in Pittsburgh, Murphy scored 77 points in 77 games, thanks in part to the fourth 20 goal season of his career. He would add another 16 points in 21 playoff games as the Penguins would capture their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

The following season Murphy had his career best offensive season with 85 points and another 20 goal season with 22. After two more seasons with the Penguins, Murphy was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 1995-96 season. His stay was not a long one however, as he was shipped to the Detroit Red Wings at the trading deadline during his second season with Toronto, but not before scoring his 250th career goal on this date in 1997, becoming only the 6th defenseman in league history to score 250 goals.

Murphy Maple Leafs, Murphy Maple Leafs

Murphy ended up playing more playoff games with Detroit than regular season games as the Red Wings charged through the playoffs that season and defeated the Philadelphia Flyers for the 1997 Stanley Cup, the third of Murphy's career.

Motivated by the injuries suffered by Vladimir Konstantinov while still celebrating their Stanley Cup victory in 1997, the Red Wings followed up that success with another championship in 1998, giving Murphy four Stanley Cup championships, and making Murphy the only player to win four Stanley Cups in the decade of the 1990's.

Murphy Red Wings

He would close out his career with three additional seasons with the Red Wings which included playing 57 games in his final season of 2000-01, one of which was the 1,600th game of his 21-year career, only the second player to reach that mark after Gordie Howe. His final total of 1,615 games was an NHL record for defensemen at the time and still currently ranks 8th in career games played despite having retired over 10 years ago.

Murphy would complete his career with 287 goals and 929 assists for 1,216 points, third all time for defensemen at the time of his retirement, behind only Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey and still in the top five after being passed by only Al MacInnis and Phil Housley. His 287 career goals rank sixth all-time for defensemen after Bourque, Coffeym MacInnis, Housley and Denis Potvin.

Internationally, Murphy played for Canada in the 1980 World Junior Tournament and the 1985, 1987 and 2000 World Championships, earning a silver medal in 1985.

Murphy scored a goal and two assists in the final game of the 1987 Canada Cup as Canada won the championship. He later won a second Canada Cup, this time in 1991.

Today's featured jersey is a 1996-97 Toronto Maple Leafs Larry Murphy jersey. The basis for this jersey dates back to 1934, when the Maple Leafs introduced a new sweater featuring twin stripes around the arms and waist, a much simpler style than it replaced. That style evolved, but remained in use through 1967, but was revived in 1991-92 when the Maple Leafs chose their 1940 sweaters as their Turn Back the Clock style for the NHL's 75th anniversary season.

It proved so popular that a modified version of it became the home and away jerseys the very next season, only using their modern maple leaf logo as the main crest, but using the retro style leaf as a secondary shoulder patch.

This style would remain unchanged through the 1996-97 season, but would be adorned with the Stanley Cup Centennial patch in 1992-93 and the Maple Leaf Gardens 65th Anniversary patch in 1996-97.

The jersey would remain the same for 1997-98, but it would be paired with a dreadful modern name and number font for three regrettable seasons.

Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 96-97 jersey

Today's video is Murphy teaching you how to properly kill a penalty in a session of "Lessons with Larry".


Thursday, January 26, 2012

1977-78 CHZ Litvinov Ivan Hlinka Jersey

One of the most important figures in Czech hockey history, Ivan Hlinka was born in this date n 1950. He began to play in the CHZ Litvinov youth program and eventually graduated to the senior team in the Czechoslovak league at the age of just 16 in the 1966-67 season, where he became a mainstay for the club for the next 15 seasons. A center, he was an offensive force in front of the opponent's net, using his 6' 2", 220 lbs frame to his advantage. By his second full season he was now averaging more than a point per game, with 17 goals and 34 points in 33 games in the shorter Czech regular season.

Hlinka Litvinov, Hlinka Litvinov
Hlinka as a member of CHZ Litvinov

At the age of 20, he was named captain of Litvinov and also made the first of many appearances for the Czechoslovakia National Team when he participated in the 1970 World Championships.

Hlinka Czechoslovakia, Hlinka Czechoslovakia

His standout seasons for CHZ Litvinov included 1974-75, with 36 goals and 78 points in 44 games, and 1977-78, with 32 goals and 71 points in 43 games when he won the Golden Hockey Stick as the best player in Czechoslovakia. In all, Hlinka had two 70 point seasons, six seasons of 50 or more points and 11 seasons out of 15 with more than a point per game and 10 with 20 goals or more with a high of 39, all while never even playing as many as 45 games in a single season.

In all, he would play 544 games in the Czechoslovak league, scoring 347 goals.

Hlinka Litvinov, Hlinka Litvinov
Wearing the black and yellow of Litvinov

On the international stage, Hlinka participated in the World Championships 11 times from 1970 to 1979 and again in 1981, including winning gold as world champion in 1972, 1976 and 1977, silver in 1971, 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1979 and bronze in 1973.

Hlinka Czechoslovakia, Hlinka Czechoslovakia

He also participated in two Olympic Games, coming away with a bronze in 1972 in Japan and silver in 1976 in Austria. Additionally, he played for Czechoslovakia in the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup tournament where Czechoslovakia advanced to the tournament finals against Canada. From 1977 to 1980, he also served as captain of the national team, which included winning the world championship in 1977 and two silver medals in 1978 and 1979.

Hlinka Czechoslovakia, Hlinka Czechoslovakia

Change came in 1981, when Hlinka and Jiri Bubla were the first two players given permission to leave for North America, where they joined the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL. There, Hlinka, admittedly a veteran player at the age of 31, set a Vancouver record for most points by a rookie when he notched 23 goals and 60 points in 72 games. During the playoffs, he would add another 8 points in 12 games as the Canucks would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Islanders, who were in the second year of their four year dynasty, making he and Bubla the first Czechs to compete for the Stanley Cup. His second season with the Canucks was equally as successful, scoring 19 goals and 44 assists for 63 points in 65 games played, good for fourth in team scoring. While in the NHL, he would play in 137 games, scoring 42 goals and 81 assists for 123 points.

Hlinka Canucks, Hlinka Canucks

He would return to Europe for the 1983-84 season, joining EV Zug of the second division in Switzerland, where he set career highs with 46 goals and 89 points in 41 games. One more season with Zug saw him score 30 goals and 73 points before retiring as a player to enter the world of coaching.

He began with a return to Litvinov in 1985-86 and briefly came out of retirement to help Litvinov escape the cellar in 1986-87 when he skated in 19 games, scoring 23 points as Litvinov responded with an eight game undefeated streak.

Aside from coaching Litvinov, he also worked for Freiburg in Germany before becoming the head coach of first the Czechoslovakia National Team and then the Czech Republic National Team. His teams would win bronze at the 1992 Olympics and 1992 and 1993 World Championships. After the 1994 World Championships, he would leave the position, only to return again in 1997, winning bronze yet again. Finally in 1998, a gold medal arrived at the 1998 Olympics in Japan, the first Olympic hockey tournament open to the best NHL professionals. After a bronze at that spring's World Championships, the Czechs returned home from the 1999 World Championships with gold in hand.

Hlinka Rucinsky Czechoslovakia, Hlinka Rucinsky Czechoslovakia
Hlinka celebrates the Olympic gold medal with Martin Rucinsky

Hlinka then became only the second European to coach an NHL team when he took over as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2000-01 season, guiding the club to the conference finals following a 42-28-9-3 record, knocking off two higher seeds in the process. Unfortunately, all was not well in Pittsburgh, and the club traded superstar Jaromir Jagr before the start of the following season, which began with the club losing it's first four games. That combined with not seeing eye to eye with team owner and star player Mario Lemieux, led to his being relieved of his duties.

Hlinka Penguins, Hlinka Penguins
Hlinka coaching the Penguins

He once more returned to the Czech Republic National Team, first as General Manager for the 2002 Olympics and World Championships before becoming head coach of Avangard Omsk of the KHL for the 2002-03 season.

He then became the head coach of the Czech Republic National team once again in 2004, but sadly, just six weeks prior to the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, Hlinka was killed in a car accident on August 16, 2004 at the age of 54.

As a tribute to Hlinka, the Czech Republic National Team wore a #21 Memorial patch during the tournament, and team captain Robert Reichel changed from his customary #21 to #22 in Hlinka's honor.

Czech 2004WC F
Czech 2004WC P1
The #21 Memorial patch worn on the Czech Republic jerseys during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey

Hlinka was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2002. Beginning in 2007, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament is held in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for under-18 national teams every August in his memory. Also, Litvinov's home arena was renamed in his honor and is now known as Ivan Hlinka Stadion where his retired sweater #14 hangs from the rafters.

Photobucket

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 CHZ Litvinov Ivan Hlinka jersey. Done in the classic Czech style of the 1970's this jersey features a lace-up collar and drop shadowed names and numbers with a typically "European" font for the numbers.

HC Litvinov 77-78 jersey, HC Litvinov 77-78 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's first bonus jersey is a 1976 Czechosovakia Ivan Hlinka jersey as worn in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament. The Czechs alternated between read and blue road jerseys throughout their history of international hockey, dating back to 1921. They wore blue from 1964 to 1972 before reintroducing red in 1973. They also had a history of switching between their heraldic lion crest and the initials CSSR, changing to the combination of the lion crest and red sweaters in 1975 in time for the 1976 Canada Cup tournament. They maintained that combination until 1990, when they changed to a vertical Czechoslovakia flag for their crest.

This jersey also demonstrates the Czech style of the era, with it's lace-up collar flanked by vertical striping and drop shadowed numbers, now in three colors with the name given a radially arched treatment.

Czechoslovakia 1976 jersey, Czechoslovakia 1976 jersey

Extra Bonus Jersey: Today's additional bonus jersey is a 1981-92 Vancouver Canucks Ivan Hlinka jersey. What must have the foreign Hlinka and Bubla thought when they first laid eyes on the Canucks controversial "flying V" jerseys after years of wearing the prototypical Czech signature style? First introduced in 1978-79, this jersey was a radical departure from anything previously seen and still one of the strangest and unforgettable jerseys to ever see the ice in an NHL contest.

Designed by a professional psychologist, the "V" striping, suggesting "victory" according to the designer, was executed in bright orange to "evoke passion and aggression" while the use of black would instill fear in the opposition.

The sleeves also featured smaller "V" shapes midway down the arm with a new "Flying Skate" logo for the shoulders and the very unusual placement of the sleeve numbers at the very bottom of the arms on the wrists!

The basic jersey produced in 1978 remained in use until the 1984-85 season, but with a few adjustments along the way, such as a change in color for the names on the back and outlining the original one color numbers, both of which occurred for the 1981-82 season as seen here.

Vancouver Canucks 81-82 jersey, Vancouver Canucks 81-82 jersey

In our video section today, we begin with the Czech Republic defeating Russia for the gold medal at the 1998 Olympics, coached by Hlinka. Note Reichel wearing #21, which he would later relinquish after Hlinka's passing in 2004. While rather low on energy rather long, it shows some great game footage and the post-championship celebrations.


Now this next video is shorter and packed with energy, showing key moments from every Czech Repbulic game of the Olympics.


Finally, the raucous press conference the Czech team held upon their return from Japan after winning the gold medal. While it's in Czech, you can tell that Hlinka had the press eating out of his hand at the event.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2003-04 Chicago Wolves Steve Maltais Jersey

Proving once again that not every successful career in hockey revolves around time spent in the NHL, Steve Maltais, born in this date in 1969, began his career in hockey with the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League in 1986-87. Showing his offensive talent right off the bat, the 17-year-old scored 32 goals as a rookie in junior hockey. Following the season he was drafted by the Washington Capitals 57th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Still with the Royals, he raised his goal total to 39 the following season, and combined with his 46 assists, registered 85 points in 59 games.

Maltais Cornwall, Maltais Cornwall
Cornwall Royal Maltais

His final season with Cornwall saw another quantum leap forward for Maltais, as he led the Royals in scoring with 53 goals and 70 assists for a 123 point campaign, good for fourth overall in OHL scoring. He then led the club in playoff scoring with a dominant 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points in 18 games. Following the conclusion of the Royals season, Maltais began is professional career with 4 playoff games with the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League.

For the 1989-90 season, he was assigned to the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League, where the AHL rookie was third in team scoring with 66 points in 67 games as well as 16 more in 12 playoff games. During the season he also made his NHL debut with the Capitals, appearing in 8 regular season games and 1 playoff game, yet failing to register a point.

Maltais Skipjacks, Maltais Skipjacks

Back with Baltimore for the 1990-91 season, he proved he had not forgotten how to score, 36 goals and 79 points came in 73 games, yet when called up by the Capitals for 7 games, he once again was snake-bit, failing to score even a point once again.

Maltais Capitals, Maltais Capitals

During the offseason, his rights were dealt to the Minnesota North Stars and as a result he spent 48 games with the North Stars IHL affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings, where in 48 games he scored 25 goals and 56 assists. He was also called up to play with Minnesota in the NHL, where the thankfully scored not only his first NHL point, but goals as well with a pair of goals and an assist in 12 games. However, he was traded in early March of 1992 to the Quebec Nordiques organization, who assigned him to the Halifax Citadels in the AHL for 10 games to finish out the season.

During the offseason his rights were claimed by the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning, with whom he played 63 games, more than half his eventual NHL total, scoring 20 points. He exceeded that mark with 24 points in 16 games with the Atlanta Knights of the IHL that same season.

Maltais Lightning, Maltais Lightning

On the move once again, Maltais was then traded by Tampa Bay to the Detroit Red Wings for the 1993-94 season. Detroit called him up for 4 games that season, but the vast majority of his time was spent playing for the Adirondack Red Wings in the AHL, netting 35 goals and 84 points in 73 games. He also led the club in playoff scoring with 16 points in 12 games.

Now without a contract, his life and career changed in September of 1994 when he signed a free agent contract with the brand-new Chicago Wolves to be their team captain for their first season of play in the IHL. He immediately led the team (and all of Chicago for that matter) in scoring with 57 goals and 41 assists for 98 points as well as a 145 penalty minutes, his first career season over 100 penalty minutes. His 57 goals also led the IHL in that category for the season.

Maltais Wolves, Maltais Wolves

Back with the Wolves for the 1995-96 season, he nearly equalled his goal total with 56, but raised his assist total to 66, giving him a career high 122 points, which only placed him second on the club! He also found the time to spend 161 minutes in the penalty box.

Maltais next set a career high with 60 goals in 1996-97 during a 114 point season, reclaiming the IHL goal scoring title in the process. The following season he reached 46 goals and 103 points, to lead the Wolves in scoring for the second time in their four years to date. His 46 goals also tied him for the league lead in that category. The Wolves then went onto the postseason, defeating the Manitoba Moose in 3 straight, ousting the Milwaukee Admirals and then the Long Beach Ice Dogs in 6 games each to advance to the finals against the Detroit Vipers in what would turn out to be a hard fought 7 game series, where the Wolves came back from a 3-2 to win Games 6 and 7 to earn their first Turner Cup championship.

Maltais' fourth consecutive 100 point season came in 1998-99 as part of a 56 goal performance, his fourth season of 55 goals or more in his five seasons with the Wolves. His 56 goals were 10 more than his next closest pursuer, and his fourth time leading the league.

He once again repeated as the leading goal scorer in the IHL, with 44 in 1999-00 on his way to a 90 point season, ending his 100 point streak at four, but oddly, despite seeing his streak of 100 point seasons ending and putting up his lowest point total in six seasons, Maltais actually led the entire IHL in scoring for the only time, earning the Lamoureux Trophy in the process!

During the playoffs, Maltais was second in team scoring with 13 points in 16 games as Chicago swept Long Beach in 4, outlasted Houston in 5 and defeated Grand Rapids 4 games to 2 to won their second Turner Cup.

Maltais Wolves, Maltais Wolves

2000-01 was a season of change, and with the NHL expanding yet again, the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets came calling, signing Maltais as a free agent for their inaugural 2000-01 season, but in 26 games, his NHL scoring jinx was still in effect and he was released after registering just 3 assists and no goals.

Change was also the order of the day in the minors, as the IHL had ceased operations at the end of the previous season, but the Chicago Wolves were one of six teams admitted to the AHL, and Maltais returned home to the Wolves, scoring 31 goals and 63 points in 67 games. Chicago again went on a postseason run, defeating the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks 2 games to 1 in a close fought three game series, with each game ending with the same 3-2 score, one in overtime. They then won Game 5 of a five game series on the road against Grand Rapids before winning Game 7 of a seven game series on the road against Syracuse. Fellow IHL refugees the Houston Aeros fell in five games after Houston had won Game 1 followed by four straight by the Wolves. Chicago then split the opening two games on the road before returning home to win three straight to defeat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 4 games to 1 to capture the Calder Cup in their first season as members of the AHL despite entering the playoffs with the 16th best record in the league!

The 2002-03 season saw another 30 goals and 86 points, which earned him the Sollenberger Trophy as the AHL's leading scorer. That was followed by 31 goals and 64 points in 2003-04 to lead the Wolves in scoring for the sixth time in the Wolves ten seasons.

In his final season, Maltais scored 60 points in 80 games, plust 12 more in 18 games as the Wolves made it all the way to the Calder Cup finals to close out his career. In his 11 seasons as a member of the Wolves, captaining the team for nine of them, the club never had a losing record.

While is NHL career totals are an unremarkable 9 goals and 27 points in 120 games, his combined IHL and AHL totals are an impressive 596 goals and 669 assists for 1,265 points in 1,126 games, two scoring championships (one in each league) as well as two Turner Cups and a Calder Cup championship. He still holds the record as the franchise's all-time leading scorer and his 596 goals ranks 8th in minor league history. His #11 was retired by the Wolves on April 15, 2006, one of only two numbers ever retired by the club.

Maltais Wolves banner, Maltais Wolves banner

Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Chicago Wolves Steve Maltais jersey. The Wolves wore this style for every one of their seasons in the IHL with only minor patching variations to report, including the IHL 50th Anniversary patch during their inaugural 1994-95 season, Turner Cup Finals patches in 1998, 2000 and 2001, as well as several sponsor patches throughout their history. Today's featured jersey is decorated with the Wolves 10th Anniversary patch.

While the top minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Thrashers, the Wolves did adopt a striking alternate jersey heavily influenced by the Thrashers original template, only with enough unique additions, especially on the torso of the jersey to make it their own.

Even with the change to the new Reebok template and it's curved lower hem, the Wolves have remained true to their original home and away jerseys, worn now for 18 seasons.

Chicago Wolves 03-04 jersey, Chicago Wolves 03-04 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 IHL All-Star Game Steve Maltais jersey. Eerily similar to the "waving flag" style Nike jerseys used in the 1996 World Cup of hockey, this IHL All-Star jersey frankly isn't the most attractive jersey we've ever seen, but it does speak to the unquestioned success Maltais had in the IHL and later the AHL, with his multiple championships, scoring titles and all-star game appearances.

IHL All Star Steve Maltais 95-96 jersey, IHL All Star Steve Maltais 95-96 jersey
IHL All Star Steve Maltais 95-96 jersey, IHL All Star Steve Maltais 95-96 jersey

In today's video section, take a look at the goal scoring prowess of Maltais.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1985-86 New York Islanders Mike Bossy Jersey

Mike Bossy had a prolific junior hockey career for the Laval National, with whom he played for five seasons, beginning with 4 appearances in 1972-73. Playing a full season in 1973-74, he reeled off a 70 goal, 118 point season in 68 games.

He kept his foot on the gas the following year, topping that with an impressive 84 goals and 149 points in 67 games, 2.22 points per games. In the post season, his torrid pace continued with 38 more points in 16 games. Over the next two seasons he would add 79 goals and 136 points followed by another 75 goals and 126 points to set the all-time QMJHL record with 309 career goals, a mark which still stands today and ranks 28 goals higher that the next closest pursuer.

Bossy Laval, Bossy Laval
Bossy with Laval

Thought of as being too timid by NHL scouts, Bossy was not chosen until 15th overall in the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft, which included being passed over by the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs not once, but twice.

Playing on a line with Bryan Trottier and Clark Gilles, Bossy would set the hockey world on fire when he scored 53 goals in his rookie season of 1977-78, the first rookie to ever reach 50, while winning the Calder Trophy in the process.

Gilles, Trottier and Bossy Islanders, Gilles, Trottier and Bossy Islanders
Gilles, Trottier and Bossy

The following season he would better that by becoming only the second player after Maurice Richard, and first in 36 years, to score 50 goals in 50 games. Bossy did it in dramatic style with two goals in the last five minutes of game number 50. He would finish the season with 69 goals to lead the league and 57 assists for 126 points, good for fourth overall.

Bossy Riachard 50 goals, Bossy Riachard 50 goals
Bossy poses with Maurice Richard to commemorate their 50 goals in 50 games

1979-80 would see Bossy once more top the 50 mark with 51 goals in 75 games and the Islanders would capture their first of four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships as Bossy contributed 23 points in just 16 games.

While topping 50 goals the previous season, he did fail to reach 100 points during the regular season. Over the course of the next six seasons, he would blow past the 100 point level, never scoring less than 117, with a high of 147 in 1981-82.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

During the 1980-81 season he would set a career high in goals with 68 to once again lead the NHL and pour in a remarkable 17 goals and 35 points in 18 playoff games as the Islanders would capture their second straight Stanley Cup.

Their third Stanley Cup Championship would see Bossy be recognized with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP following 17 goals and 27 points in 19 games. This came on the heels of his 147 point regular season and his second consecutive 60 goal season when he tallied 64.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

The Islanders dynasty was now in full force and Bossy once more reached 60 goals, this time on the nose with an even 60. His 118 point regular season continued his 100 point season streak and the playoffs would again see him get his now customary 17 goals (for the third year in a row and the only player to ever do so) and 26 points in 19 games. He would also be recognized for his style of play with the first of three Lady Byng Trophies following the season.

Boddy Lady Byng, Boddy Lady Byng
Bossy with the Lady Byng Trophy

1983-84 was another 118 point season with 51 goals scored. The Islanders would make it once more to the finals, but the dynasty would end as they were defeated by the up and coming Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 1. The Islanders 21 playoff games would see Bossy contribute 18 points. He was the recipient of his second Lady Byng Trophy after being whistled for just 8 penalty minutes for the entire season, the second lowest total of his career following just 6 during his rookie campaign.

His remarkable goal scoring consistency continued unabated, as 58 more would be added to his career total during a 117 point campaign in 1984-85. 10 more playoff games allowed Bossy to add another 11 points for the Islanders.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

Showing no signs of slowing down, he would reach 61 goals, paired with 62 assists, giving him his highest point total in four seasons with 123, which included becoming just the 20th player in league history to score 1,000th career points, accomplished on this date in 1986 in grand style, registering a goal and four assists in a 7-5 win over the Washington Capitals. He would also capture this third Lady Byng Trophy in the space of four seasons as well.

Bossy Islanders, Bossy Islanders

Now slowed by back injuries, his final season of 1986-87, Bossy appeared in 63 games and scored 38 goals and 75 points, still over a point per game, before retiring at the age of just 30.

His final career totals of 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points in 752 games would give him a final career average of 1.50 points per game over his ten NHL seasons and his 160 career playoff points in 129 games were a 1.24 points per game clip. At the time of his retirement, he held the record for most goals by a rookie and most assists and points by a right wing in a single season. He still ranks third all time in hat tricks with 39. He also reached 100 goals faster than any player in history, doing so in just 129 games. He was also the quickest at one point to 300 and 500 career goals scored.

His goals per game average of .762 in the regular season is the highest in NHL history and his playoff goals per game average of .659 is second only to Mario Lemieux.

He also still holds the NHL record for the most consecutive 50 goal seasons with nine, and shares the record with Wayne Gretzky for the most 60 goal seasons with five, despite playing 10 years less than Gretzky.

Internationally, he was a member of Team Canada in the 1981 and 1984 Canada Cup tournaments, earning a gold medal in in 1984. Due to the Islanders consistent playoff history, he was never available for World Championships duty.

Bossy Canada, Bossy Canada
Bossy celebrates with Islanders teammate John Tonelli during the Canada Cup in 1984

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and his jersey #22 was retired by the Islanders in 1992.

Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 New York Islanders Mike Bossy jersey as worn during the season he scored his 1,000th point.

When Bossy joined the Islanders in 1977, they had just changed from a lace-up collar to a v-neck while wearing two color names and a bolder font for the numbers. In 1978 the stripes on the blue jerseys would be unified, now with a white stripe directly above a thicker orange stripe. This would be the jersey worn for their four stanley Cup championships, lasting through 1983-84.

In 1984-85, the names would change to one color and the font for the numbers would become narrower. This style would remain unchanged through 1995 when a change in ownership would result in the debacle that was the Islanders Fishsticks jerseys being born.

New York Islanders 85-86 jersey, New York Islanders 85-86 jersey
New York Islanders 85-86 jersey, New York Islanders 85-86 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1981 Team Canada Mike Bossy jersey. The minimalist style used by Canada for the Canada Cup tournaments is remarkable in it's stark simplicity, with it's single color crest and customization.

It features a bold half maple leaf on the front, which was based on the Canada Cup trophy awarded to the tournament champions. Canada would not use this style for any other international tournament, such as the World Championships, as those jerseys were subject to supplier contracts with jersey manufacturers like as Adidas, Tackla, Reebok and Nike, who supplied all the teams participating in IIHF tournaments beginning in the mid-1980's.

Canada 1981 jersey, Canada 1981 jersey

Here is a career retrospective of Mike Bossy, which includes his dramatic 50th goal in his 50th game in 1980.


Up next is a nice interview with Bossy as he looks back on his career and a variety of topics.


A recap of the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals is next up, showing the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics patch on the Islanders jerseys. The passion and excitement of the Islander and their fans is infectious and recommended viewing. A reminder of what it's all about.


We don't know about you, but all this writing has left us hungry. Ça, c'est du bon poulet!


 

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