Saturday, March 10, 2012
The Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament concludes today with the championships game in Class A at noon, followed by the Class AA championship final later at 7 PM. Class AA consists of the top 64 schools by enrollment in the state and Class A is for the remaining schools. In terms of enrollment, Class AA is roughly for schools with 1,200 students or more, with the largest of the Twin Cities suburban schools reaching enrollments of 3,000.
Often compared to the Indiana State Boys' Basketball Tournament or the Texas and Florida State Football Tournaments as the most important nationally for their sport, the Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament is a four day festival of excitement, color and sound as the parents, relatives, fans, cheerleaders (on skates!) and bands from 16 schools all travel to the state capital of St. Paul to cheer on their teams as they compete on the ice at the home of the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, in front of sell out crowds of up to 19,500 fans.
The tournament began back in 1945 in St. Paul. After a stop at the home of the Minnesota North Stars, the Met Center, for eight years in the 1970's, the tournament returned to St. Paul at the new St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards, which you can see below in one of today's videos. For nearly 50 years the tournament was played as an eight team, single class tournament, which lent itself to classic David versus Goliath matchups, as the smaller schools from the northern part of the state travelled down to the big city, taking on some of the largest schools attendance-wise in the state.
Somewhat controversially, the tournament split into two classes in 1994, based on enrollment. While schools in the smaller enrollment Class A have the option to move up and play in Class AA, the tournament lost something special in the process. Still, it is the largest state sports tournament in the United States in terms of attendance and viewership, as all the championship bracket games are broadcast on local television.
Despite the arena having hosted NHL playoff conference finals, the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and the NCAA Frozen Four twice, with the nearby University of Minnesota winning the title in 2002 and the in-state University of Minnesota Duluth taking home the national championship in 2011, on March 7, 2008 19,559 fans attended the semi-finals of the state tournament, setting a new record for the largest crowed to ever attend a hockey game in Minnesota!
Many NHL veterans have participated in the tournament, including Neal Broten, Phil Housley, Reed Larson, John Mayasich, Mike Antonovich, Henry Boucha, Mark Parrish and current NHLers T. J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues and Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets. Of the 19 Minnesota players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft between 2000 and 2009, 13 of them played in the state tournament.
Phil Housely of the South St. Paul Packers
Many rivalries, dynasties, villains and favorites have emerged over the years, with small schools from up north such as Eveleth, Greenway of Coleraine, International Falls and Warroad always being sentimental favorites. Roseau, in particular, has been one of the only small schools (with an enrollment of just 374 in 2012, compared to 18 Twin Cities schools between 2000-3100 students, and well below the 1150 cut-off point for Class AA status) to move up to AA and succeed with championships in 1999 and 2007.
Other schools have had their runs, with Eveleth in the late 40's/early 50's, International Falls in the 1960's, Bloomington Jefferson dominating in the early 1990's, but none more so than Edina, with ten championships, the first coming in 1969, four in the 1970's, three in the 1980's, one in 1997 and most recently in 2010. All those titles, as well as seemingly annual tournament appearances, put the Hornets at the top of the list of "teams you love to hate", as teams from the tony Minneapolis suburb Edina are considered to be "the rich kids", even sporting green and gold jerseys in the color of money, earning the Hornets the derisive nickname the "Cake Eaters", which they annoyingly wholly embrace!
Edina celebrating one of their 10 state titles
Other schools on the outs with the general public are the private schools, such as The Academy of Holy Angels (champions in 2002 and 2005) and Hill-Murray (1983, 1991, 2008), who are considered to have the advantage of being able to recruit the best players to attend their schools rather than take what comes their way in the case of the traditional public schools who draw students from their local geographic region. This "class war" is an age old argument between the public and private schools and is only magnified with the arrival of a smaller school from the north, such as when tiny Roseau makes an appearance in St. Paul, and is one of the driving forces behind the ongoing popularity of the tournament, as every great drama must have it's villain.
Since it's inception Class A has been a battle between the smaller private schools, with Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Thomas Academy, Totino-Grace and Breck winning nine championships and the smaller schools from the northern part of the state now given a chance to compete for a state title, with classic schools like Eveleth and International Falls able to win their first titles since the early 1970's and first time winners like Hermantown, Red Wing and four time Class A champion Warroad flying the flag for the public schools who have captured eight titles since the two class system was introduced.
This year's tournament began Wednesday with the quarterfinals in Class A with the traditional mix of #2 seeded St. Thomas Academy, a private school from the Twin Cities, taking on Little Falls from the center part of the state, #3 seed and traditional Class A power Breck, another private school from the Twin Cities, against Duluth Marshall, #1 seed Hermantown from up north outside of Duluth, facing private school Rochester Lourdes from an hour south of the Twin Cities and #4 seeded Thief River Falls, another classic small school from the Paul Bunyan country in the northwest corner of the state facing New Ulm from the south central region.
None of the games were close, with all the top seeded teams easily advancing to the semifinals which saw Hermantown advance to today's championship final following a 3-2 win over Thief River Falls, where they will face St. Thomas Academy, a 1-0 winner over Breck, setting up yet another classic small public school from up north against a private school from the Twin Cities metro area.
Class AA began on Thursday and proved to be the complete opposite of Class A. #2 seeded Maple Grove was the first to fall when they were dumped by private school and annual contenders Hill-Murray 5-2. #3 seed Eagan was shutout by Moorhead, which is located in the northwest part of the state across the river from Fargo, North Dakota. The trend continued when the #1 seeded Duluth East Greyhounds were upset by Lakeville South from the south Metro area in the day's biggest surprise, as Lakeville South's 20-8 record was the least amount of wins among the eight teams in the field. The day was then capped off by the day's best game by far, as the #4 seeded Edina Hornets, the team everyone loves to hate, took on everyone sentimental favorites, Benilde-St. Margaret's, whose players all wore large patches in support of paralyzed teammate Jack Jablonski. Tied at 2-2 with less than a minute remaining, Benilde scored the game winning goal with less than 24 second remaining and Jablonski in attendance to enjoy the victory.
Benilde-St. Margaret's players wearing #13 patches in support of Jack Jablonski
Friday saw Hill-Murray advance to tonight's championship final with a 2-1 overtime win over Moorhead, which required a video review to confirm, as the clean goal was disguised when the puck rebounded out of the net and under the goalies leg pad on the outside of the goal line.
Their opponents are the Red Knights of Benilde-St. Margaret's, who stormed to a 5-0 first period lead on their way to a 10-1 win over Lakeville South. It will be quite emotional for all involved if Benilde can bring home a championship after having dealt with the tragedy which befell Jablonski earlier this season.
Hill-Murray enters the game with a 24-6 record and a #7 state ranking, while Benilde is now an identical 24-6 with a #5 ranking in the state and looks to be a team on a mission.
It's a huge deal to make it "to state" in Minnesota. This past week thousands of fans attended the eight section finals just for right to go to the state tournament, which for the kids involved means staying in a hotel in the big city, playing in an NHL arena with your buddies that you grew up with in front of all your family and friends and having your games televised live throughout the state. Many players have gone on to win national championships in college and even in the NHL, and over and over again when asked for their greatest hockey memory, the answer frequently comes back "playing in the state tournament in high school." Not necessarily winning it, just playing in it.
Once, a hockey writer quoted former three time national champion University of Minnesota and 1980 "Miracle on Ice" USA Olympic coach Herb Brooks as saying that winning a state championship with St. Paul Johnson in 1955 was one of the best moments in his career. Brooks called the writer to inform him that he had been misquoted. He said it was the best moment.
Herb Brooks, back row far right, celebrating with his St. Paul Johnson
teammates after winning the state championship in 1955
Cadets, Flyers, Mustangs, Hilltoppers, Hawks, Prowlers, Crimson, Pioneers, Wildcats, Spuds, Greyhounds, Cougars, Hornets, Red Knights, Eagles and Eagles again.
Today's featured jersey is a 2005 Warroad Warriors Zach Larson jersey. This jersey was worn by players at Warroad High School from 2001 to half way through the 2008-09 season. Warroad won the Class A championship in 2003 and 2005 with jerseys from this set, but being a #13 jersey, there were several seasons in which no one chose the unlucky sweater number 13.
Larson defied superstition and wore this jersey during their undefeated (29-0-2) championship season of 2005, and was a teammate to current St. Louis Blues forward Oshie, who is the all-time leading scorer in Warroad history with 104 goals and 137 assists for 241 points in just 93 games. Oshie led the entire state of Minnesota in 2004-05 with 37 goals and 100 points.
Warroad Warrior T. J. Oshie
Other notable hockey players to come from Warroad include Dave Christian, a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 gold medal winning USA Olympic team, who would go on to play 15 NHL seasons with Winnipeg, Washington, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago, Dave's father Bill Christian and uncle, the late Roger Christian, who won gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, and Boucha, a 1972 silver Olympic medalist who would play for Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City and Colorado of the NHL.
This is a classic looking jersey in the style and colors of the old Boston Bruins jerseys of the mid 70's to the mid 90's and is one of the few remaining schools to use a Native American nickname and imagery, while others such as Grand Rapids, Minneapolis Southwest and Burnsville all discontinued their use. The use of the Warriors name by Warroad High School is approved by the local Ojibwe band of Chippewa Indians who designed the logo used on the Warriors jerseys.
Due to the multiple years of service the jerseys often see, names on the back are seldom, if ever, worn on high school jerseys.
Let's se if we can possibly capture the event, spirit and emotion of the tournament with today's video selections.
Here's some classic footage from 1984 with St. Paul Johnson defeating Hill-Murray showing the unique clear boards from the St. Paul Civic Center and everyone wearing Cooperalls!
Check out the explosion of joy as Hill-Murray captures the state title in 2008 over Edina.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Mike "Shakey" Walton first played junior hockey with the St. Michael's Majors in 1961-62 with a team that eventually won the Memorial Cup.
Walton with the St. Michael's Majors
The St. Michael's program was discontinued following their successful season and the players transferred to the Neil McNeil Catholic Secondary School, where Walton scored 22 goals in 38 games as the Maroons won the Metro Junior A League championship.
For the 1963-64 season Walton joined the Toronto Marlboros, where he finished second in team scoring with 41 goals and 92 points in 53 games which he followed up with 26 points in 12 playoff games as the Marlboros brought home the second Memorial Cup of Walton's young career.
He spent a year with the Tulsa Oilers for seasoning in 1964-65 and continued his impressive offensive output with 40 goals and 84 points in 68 games.
He spent the majority of the 1965-66 season with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League (35 goals and 86 points in 68 games) as well as making his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, seeing time in 6 games including scoring his first NHL goal.
He divided his time between the Americans (36 games) and Maple Leafs (31) the following season before sticking with the Maple Leafs in time to participate in the postseason, where he scored 4 goals and 7 points in 12 playoff games as Toronto would win the Stanley Cup, giving Walton the third major championship of his five year career.
Walton poses with the 1967 Stanley Cup
He would skate for the Maple Leafs full time in 1967-68 and register the only 30 goal season of this NHL career on his way to a 59 point season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Walton
Walton would play two and a half more seasons with Toronto, but butted heads with first Punch Imlach and later Johnny McLellan, which led to his eventually being traded to Philadelphia who immediately traded him the same day to the Boston Bruins halfway through the 1970-71 season.
Although he started quite slowly, he regained his confidence and scoring touch in 1971-72 with 28 goals and 56 points as well as another 12 points in 15 playoff games as the Bruins swept to the Stanley Cup championship, Walton's second in five years.
His time with the Bruins would also allow him to develop a friendship with teammate Bobby Orr. The two would eventually become roommates while on the road with and even form a business partnership in the form of the Orr-Walton Sports Camp for kids each summer.
Walton would play one more season with the Bruins, which unfortunately would be best remembered by a frightening accident at the team hotel in St. Louis, when, during some horseplay, Walton was attempting to avoid being soaked by a teammate wielding a bucket of water, he tripped and crashed through a plate glass door, suffering severe cuts which required 200 stitches and resulted in the loss of five pints of blood, which put his life in jeopardy for a time. He would recover in time to finish the season, during which he played in 56 games, scoring 25 goals and 47 points.
Lured by the money offered by the upstart WHA, as well as the role of the top gun of the second year Minnesota Fighting Saints, Walton left the Bruins and arrived in Minnesota. There, he instantly excelled as the team's offensive leader, taking like a duck to water with the wide open style of play in the WHA.
Freed of such things as defensive responsibilities, Walton began scoring at a prolific pace, highlighted by a hat trick on March 3rd in a 5-3 win against the Los Angeles Sharks, four goals in a 8-6 win against the New England Whalers three days later on March 6th for his second consecutive hat trick, which was followed by another four goals on this date in 1974 for his third consecutive hat trick in a 9-5 victory over the Quebec Nordiques, which extended Walton's scoring streak to 16 straight games.
Walton left his opponents in his wake in 1973-74.
As always with any Fighting Saints photos, be sure to note the clear
dasher boards in St. Paul, which were unique to rinks in all of North America
His "hat trick of hat tricks" all came at home and included 11 goals in 3 games as well as setting team records for most goals in a period (3 on March 9th) and most goals in a game (4 on March 6th, which he equalled the very next game on March 9th).
By the end of the 1973-74 season Walton had scored a team record 6 hat tricks on his way to a league leading 57 goals. In addition, he earned 60 assists for 117 total points, which not only led the Fighting Saints, but the entire WHA to earn Walton the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league's scoring leader.
Paul Shmyr demonstrates some of the tactics used against Walton
in the WHA, this being a textbook example of hooking
Walton would also set team records for the most shorthanded goals with 9, the most game winning goals with 7 and the most multiple goal games at 14. He would also set records for most points in a period with 4, most points in a game with 6, set on this day as he completed his third consecutive hat trick. Additionally, his 60 assists were also a team record. He then racked up 10 goals and 18 points in 11 playoff games.
During the playoffs, the Fighting Saints defeated the Edmonton Oilers in five games before engaging in an all out slugfest war with the Houston Aeros, a series which saw Houston win in six games, closing out the Fighting Saints in St. Paul, which Walton did not take very well, for after the game was over, Walton, skates and all, marched straight to his car, with his blades making sparks on the concrete as he went, hopped in and drove to a nearby watering hole to drown his sorrows in full gear!
His second season with Minnesota was nearly as successful, with Walton scoring 48 goals and 93 points plus an additional 10 goals and 17 points in 12 playoff games. His final season with the Fighting Saints had Walton at 31 goals and 71 points through 58 games (a pace of 43 goals and 98 points) when the Fighting Saints folded mid-season due to their financial difficulties.
Now a free agent, Walton returned to the NHL, finding a place with the Vancouver Canucks, putting up 8 goals and 16 points in just 10 games with his new club. He was limited to just 40 games in 1976-77, scoring 31 points while healthy.
He established a new personal best in while in the NHL with 66 points in 1977-78, thanks in part to 29 goals, one short of his best season back in 1968 with Toronto.
Walton played for the St. Louis Blues (22 games), Rochester Americans (1 games), Boston Bruins (14 games), the New Brunswick Hawks (7 games) and the Chicago Black Hawks (26 games) - all during the 1978-79 season!
Walton would play one final season as a professional, traveling to Europe for 20 games with Cologne EC in West Germany, where he scored 12 goals and 31 points to close out his career.
Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints Mike Walton jersey as worn during his prolific season during which he led the WHA in scoring, besting the likes of defending WHA scoring champion Andre Lacroix, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull.
The Fighting Saints began their inaugural season with a large oval shaped "S" logo on their home white, road blue and gold alternate jerseys before introducing a new set of sweaters with the "little saint" logo, which was applied to a white and blue set of jerseys. The new logo was never worn on their gold sweaters.
The new style of jersey would remain in use and unchanged for the rest of the Fighting Saints all to brief history and is at the top of our list for our favorite jerseys of all time, thanks in part to one of the greatest logos in hockey history.
Note the details of the logo on this jersey, as the Little Saint does not have a halo, does not have the name "Saints" in the "S" on his chest and is wearing white skates, all details done incorrectly on the vast majority of modern reproductions of Fighting Saints jerseys on the market today. However, our friends at Vintage Minnesota Hockey have taken the time to hit all the marks properly with their uniquely accurate version of the Fighting Saints jersey, thanks to their research using actual game worn jerseys. Click here for the Little Saint version, and they also offer the original "S" logo version as well.
In our video section today, coach Harry Neale interviews a few of the Fighting Saints roster prior to Walton's record setting season. Goaltender John Garrett's suit and bow tie along are worth your time as he does some early time in front of the TV cameras prior to his current broadcasting career. Walton would go on to exceed the prediction of 50 goals.
Here is a more recently produced video on the Fighting Saints, during which Walton himself verifies the story about leaving the rink in full gear and heading to the bar, as well as the arrival of the real life Carlson Brothers, who inspired the Hanson Brothers from the movie Slap Shot.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Trevor Linden was drafted second over all by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, but prior to joining the Canucks, he played for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League where he won back to back Memorial Cups, including scoring 13 goals and 25 points in 16 playoff games in 1988.
Linden with Pat Quinn after being drafted by Vancouver
Once with Vancouver, he made an immediate impact, scoring 30 goals as a rookie. In his third year with the Canucks, he hit the 70 point mark for the first of three consecutive seasons and was named team captain at the age of 21.
During the 1994 playoffs, Linden helped lead the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals with 25 points in 24 games as Vancouver took the New York Rangers all the way to a Game 7.
Linden with the Campbell Bowl for winning the
Western Conference championship in 1994
Linden would set a career high in 1995-96 with 80 points, which included equalling his career high with 33 goals, which he accomplished three times.
After ten seasons, an emotional Linden was traded by the notorious trade happy Mike Keenan to the New York Islanders, where he played for the remainder of the 1997-98 season and all of the next before being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens for two seasons, which were hampered by injuries that limited him to 50 games the first season. After 57 games during his second season in Montreal, Linden was again on the move, this time to the Washington Captials for a brief stint of 12 games at the end of 2000-01 and the first 16 games of 2001-02, during which he scored only 4 goals and 7 points, before Linden was finally heading home to Vancouver after wandering in the hockey wilderness for four years.
Linden while with the Islanders
Now back with Vancouver, Linden played six more seasons, giving him 16 seasons with the Canucks, an all-time franchise high. It was during his second time with Vancouver that Linden began to reach various milestones in his career, such as playing in his 1,000th NHL game during the 2002-03 season and becoming the Canucks all-time leading scorer on this date in 2004 when his two assists game him his 674th point to pass Stan Smyl for the franchise record after having already broken Smyl's team record for the most most games played three weeks earlier when he played in his 897th game as well as the franchise mark for most goals in 2002-03 with his 263rd goal.
After a year away due to the NHL lockout, he became the first player to skate in 1,000 games for the Canucks in 2005-06, became the first Canuck to score 300 goals during the first game of the 2006-07 season and later registered 7 points in 12 playoff games to become the Canucks all-time playoff leader in goals (34), assists (61) and points (95). His final season of 2007-08 saw him eclipse Smyl's team record for most assists with his 412th.
At the conclusion of the season he would retire as the franchise's all-time leader in games played, with 1,140, and assists, with 415, as well as second in goals with 318.
Regarded as one of the classiest players in the league, Linden finished his 19 season NHL career with 375 total goals, 492 assists and 867 points and was named the recipient of the King Clancy Trophy in 1997. In 1998, Linden's #16 was retired by the Canucks, only the second number retired by the Canucks in their 30 year history after Smyl's #12 in 1991.
Linden's #16 being raised to the rafters
Not content with just playing and going home, Linden also was a player representative for the Canucks since 1990 and was elected president of the National Hockey League Player's Assoication (NHLPA) in 1998. Additionally, he has been involved in many charitable community service projects, as well as the Trevor Linden Foundation, which has earned him great respect and admiration in the Vancouver community as well as the Order of British Columbia in 2003.
Internationally, Linden played for Team Canada five times, first winning gold medal at the 1988 World Juniors, a silver medals at the 1991 World Championships and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and playing in the 1998 Olympics and 1998 World Championships.
Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden jersey. as worn during the season in which he became the Canuck's all-time leading scorer.
This style Canucks jersey was first worn in 1997-98, making it's debut in Tokyo, Japan for the Game ONe '97 event where the Canucks and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim played the first ever NHL games outside of North America to count in the regular season standings, with the Canucks winning the first of the pair of contests.
This style of jersey was a complete departure from the previous Canucks jerseys, which were black and yellow with red trim, while the new jerseys were a navy blue with dark red, sky blue and silver trim colors, all of which had never been used by the Canucks in their 27 year history. What really wrinkled some fans was the team's new main logo, that of a killer whale, or orca, leaping through broken ice in the shape of a "C", as the corporation which now owned the club was known as Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, with many fans feeling the logo was more about the company that owned the team, rather than the team itself.
Still, the logo endured and the jerseys had a long run, remaining in use through the 2006-07 season, nine seasons in all, before the team reverted to their original blue and green colors, although retaining the leaping orca logo despite the parent company now being known as Canucks Sports & Entertainment.
Today's video section begins with a career retrospective of Linden's career and documents some of the more unfortunate jerseys he had to wear during his early days with Vancouver!
Here, Linden has the honor of carrying the Olympic torch prior to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
On this date in 1924, Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators scored six goals in a 12-5 victory over the Hamilton Tigers to become the first and only brother combo to each score six goals in an NHL game, joining his brother Corbett Denneny, who also victimized Hamilton six weeks earlier. The brothers are two of only eight players to score six or more goals in a game, which has not happened since 1976.
Denneny began his professional career with the Toronto Ontarios of the National Hockey Association (NHA) in 1914, scoring 6 goals in 8 games. The club would be sold and renamed the Toronto Shamrocks in the latter part of the season. Denneny was transferred to the Toronto Blueshirts for the 1915-16 season and would go on to finish third in league scoring with 24 goals in 24 games, behind only Newsy Lalonde and Joe Malone.
He was sold to the Ottawa Senators in 1916 where he would play the next 12 seasons. His first season in Ottawa was the last for the NHA and they would move to the brand new National Hockey League for the 1917-18 season where Denneny would finish second in league scoring with 36 goals and 46 points in just a 20 game season.
The 1919-20 season saw the Senators win the O'Brien Cup as champions of the NHL and then defeat the Seattle Metropolitans 3 games to 2 to capture the first Stanley Cup of Denneny's career.
The 1920 Stanley Cup Champion Ottawa Senators
The following season Denneny again led the Senators in scoring with 34 goals and 39 points in 24 games to place third in league scoring. His 34 goals included the six goals he scored on this date in 1921 against the same Hamilton Tigers club that his brother Corbett performed the feat against six weeks earlier, making them the first pair of brothers to score six goals each during a single NHL game.
The Senators romped in the NHL championship playoff defeating the Toronto St. Patricks 7-0 in the two-game total goal series and then defended their Stanley Cup championship by defeating the Vancouver Millionaires 3 games to 2 as Denneny led all playoff scorers with 4 goals and 6 points in 7 games.
The sharp dressed men of the 1920-21 Ottawa Senators
Denneny's 39 points in 1921-22 and 34 points in 1922-23 were good for second in league scoring the next two seasons. The Senators defeated the Edmonton Eskimos in 1922-23 in a close fought final by scores of 2-1 in overtime and then 1-0 to take the third Stanley Cup of Denneny's career.
The 1923-24 season saw Denneny finally capture the elusive NHL scoring title with 22 goals and 24 points in 21 games. Despite scoring 42 points in 1924-25, Denneny finished second in NHL scoring the following season and again in 1925-26 with 36 points.
NHL scoring champion Cy Denneny
Although Denneny's 23 points were not among the league leaders in 1926-27, he did lead the Senators in scoring for the seventh time in ten seasons and the fifth season in a row as the Senators defeated first the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins to capture the fourth Stanley Cup championship of Denneny's career.
After one more season in Ottawa, Denneny would join the Boston Bruins as a player, coach and assistant manager for the 1928-29 season and help the Bruins capture the first Stanley Cup title in their history, the fifth of his career.
The 1928-29 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins
Upon his retirement, Denneny was the NHL's all time leading goal scorer with 246 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1959.
Today's featured jersey is a 1926-27 Ottawa Senators Cy Denneny jersey. This wool jersey features the "World Champs 1926-27" patch on the chest, boastfully reminding their opponents of the Senators lofty status as defending champions.
This classic barberpole style is an icon of early NHL jerseys as the Senators won the Stanley Cup four times in the first ten years of the NHL and is one of our favorite jerseys of all time.
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Mark Howe first gained recognition as a surprising addition as member of the 1972 United States Olympic Team that won a remarkable silver medal in Sapporo, Japan. At just 16 years old, and still only a high school junior who had just recently gotten his driver's license and playing on a team with Vietnam War veterans, he remains the youngest member of a US Olympic Hockey Team ever.
1972 United States Olympic Team - Mark Howe, back row first on left
Coach Murray Willamson relates in "Striking Silver: The Untold Story of America's Forgotten Hockey Team";
"We picked Mark up, and he played some exhibition games with us. We needed a left winger. He was on our list for skill and attitude. The maturity level of this kid was overwhelming. He was a big part of the team. He was tougher than hell. Vlclav Nedomansky of Czechoslovakia nailed him in a preseason game, and he didn't know where he was, but it didn't bother him at all. I used him as a forward, and he became a Hall of Fame defenseman."
"The whole thing was just a great, great learning experience. The way I looked at it for my career, it was a huge stepping-stone. I learned more in the six weeks I was gone than I learned in the years and years of going to school. I mean, just about life in general - and just seeing the talent of the players from overseas, watching the Soviets play was a whole new level. Coach Williamson pushed me hard. I was a scorer. But when I went to that team, I wasn't. I was the guy who provided energy. I had to fit into a role, and so for me, it was a completely different experience - a tremendous learning experience."
During the medal ceremony as Howe stood with a silver medal around his neck, it finally struck him that this was a moment to savor.
"I remember looking up at the flag, and that's when I realized what an honor it was the play and represent your country. No matter what I did, I always gave the best I could. Seeing the flag of your country being raised - even though there was one a little higher than ours - was my fondest moment."
He then added to his resume by winning a Memorial Cup in 1973 as a member of the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey League and was named the tourament's Most Valuable Player in the process.
At a time when the NHL had an minimum age limit of 20 for it's players, the 18 year old Howe turned professional during the NHL/WHA rivalry in a headline-grabbing signing to play for the Houston Aeros of the WHA along side his brother Marty and his legendary father Gordie, who was lured out of retirement for the opportunity to play with his sons.
Mark scored his first goal 27 years to the day after his father scored for the first time for the Detroit Red Wings. His trophy cabinet continued to grow, as Mark was awarded the Lou Kaplan Award as WHA Rookie of the Year and the Aeros won the Avco World Trophy in 1974. In 1975 the Aeros repeated as champions of the WHA and Howe was the leading playoff scorer with 22 points in 13 games. He was also named to Team Canada for the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
Howe, who began his career as a wing, had moved back to defense by 1976-77 and the trio of Howes signed with the New England Whalers for the 1977-78 season. They continued to play together through the 1979-80 season when the Whalers became members of the NHL. While he regularly scored in the mid-70's points-wise in Houston, his offensive game came alive in New England, first with 91 points in 1977-78 which was followed by 107 points in the final WHA season of 1978-79 before scoring 80 in his first NHL season.
After Gordie retired following the 1979-80 season, Mark no longer had to play in his father's shadow and was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 1981 and was later played for the United States in the 1981 Canada Cup. After one more season in Hartford, Howe was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 1983 draft following concerns after a grisly injury in which he was impaled in the thigh by the pointed center of a goal. His recovery required a liquid diet for a period of time that resulted in him losing 24 pounds. His injury resulted in a redesign for goal frames and the way they were held in place on the ice.
He rebounded from his injury and excelled as a member of some great defensive teams of the era. Howe played in his second All-Star Game and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 1983 and played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985.
He had perhaps the best season of his career in 1985-86, setting NHL career highs with 24 goals, 58 assists and 82 points, made his third All-Star Game, was the NHL plus/minus leader at +85 and came in second in voting for the Norris Trophy.
In 1986-87 Howe helped lead the Flyers to the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals while contributing 12 points in 26 games from the blueline and was a Norris finalist for the third time.
After playing 75 games in 1987-88 and his fourth All-Star Game, back and knee injuries would limit him to no more than 60 games for the remaining seven seasons of his career. After four more seasons with the Flyers, Howe signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, the club his father gained most of his fame with.
While healthy, Howe provided veteran leadership to the Red Wings defensive corps, which included a young Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings began a transformation in 1993-94 with the arrival of Scotty Bowman as coach and made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, their first finals appearance since 1966.
After one more season, in which he was limited to just 18 games, Howe retired with 929 NHL games and 426 in the WHA for a combined 405 goals and 841 assists for 1246 points and was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
The Flyers will retire Howe's #2 tonight prior to their game against the Red Wings, making Howe only the fifth Flyer to ever have his number retired.
Today's featured jersey is a 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers Mark Howe jersey. 1984-85 was Howe's third season with Philadelphia and he scored 18 goals and 57 points and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season he wore this jersey.
The Flyers jerseys remained relatively unchanged from their introduction in 1967 with only gradual detail changes such as the addition of black outlines separating the sleeve and body colors in 1982 and tweaks to the names and numbering style.
Today's video segment is a look at Mark Howe, followed by an interview with him while he was with the Whalers in the WHA.
Next, a look at Howe's career, as presented during his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Finally, here is Howe's memorable speech during his Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Born on this date in 1962, Anatoli Anatollevich Semenov was born during a generation of Soviet players who would live to have the freedom to play in North America that players born just ten years earlier would not enjoy, such as the great goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.
Semenov began is top level career with Dynamo Moscow of the Soviet Championship League back in the 1979-80, the first of 11 seasons as Dynamo's top player, which included leading them in scoring three times and being named an All-Star in 1985. His most notable seasons came in 1982-83 with 22 goals in 44 games, 1986-87 with 44 points in 40 games and his final season with Dynamo in 1989-90 when they finally wrestled the championship away from Central Red Army in 1990 following 13 straight titles for CSKA and the club's first since 1954.
Dynamo Moscow team captain Semenov
With the political situation of the Soviet Union in flux, Semenov was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1989 Entry Draft in hopes of him eventually being allowed to leave for the NHL in the not too distant future, as the veteran center was 27 years old at the time of his being drafted.
He was soon able to join the Oilers, when after Dynamo secured the 1990 championship, he arrived in Canada in time to play two playoff games with the Oilers, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of the playoffs, although he did not meet the requirements to have his name engraved on the cup.
His first full season with Edmonton, Semenov saw action in 57 games and scored 31 points. Additionally, he would score another 10 points in a dozen playoff games. His offensive production took a sizable step forward as his comfort level with life and hockey in North America rose during the 1991-92 season, when in 59 games Semenov scored 20 goals and 42 points.
Not having established himself as a regular in the Oilers lineup, he was left unprotected in the 1992 Expansion Draft, which made him available to be selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His stay in Florida was short-lived, as, after just 13 games, he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks who were looking for another Russian to play alongside Pavel Bure. The combination worked well, particularly in the first half of the season, which led to Semenov setting a career high with 49 points for the year.
After tailing off during the second half of the season, he was once again left unprotected for another expansion draft, this time being chosen by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for their inaugural season of 1992-93. Once again he was hard pressed to play every night, and finished the season with just 49 games and 30 points.
He began the 1994-95 season with the Mighty Ducks, but after just 15 games, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, with whom he played 26 games in the regular season and 15 in the postseason.
The 1995-96 season was a mirror image of the previous one, as he began the season with the Flyers, who traded him back to the Mighty Ducks. His final NHL season saw him sign with the Buffalo Sabres, with whom he played 25 games before retiring after 362 games, 68 goals and 126 assists for 194 points.
Prior to coming to the NHL Semenov had an accomplished international career, playing for the Soviet Union National Team during the European Junior Championships in 1980, the World Junior Championships in 1981 and 1982, where he scored 5 goals and 13 points in 7 games, the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments, Rendezvous '87 against the NHL All-Stars, the 1987 World Championships, the 1988 Olympics and joined Dynamo Riga for their Super Series tour of North America in 1988-89 in addition to his participation with Dynamo Moscow in the Super Series in 1985-86 and 1989-90, all of which made him well known to NHL clubs prior to his being drafted by the Oilers.
Semenov while with Dynamo Riga during the Super Series '89
Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Edmonton Oilers Anatoli Smeneov jersey, which unusually features a captain's "K"! The story behind the Cyrillic "K" being used on Semenov's jersey in place of the standard Latin "C" to designate the team captain was that the Oilers were scheduled to play a game versus the Soviet Central Red Army team as part of the 1990-91 Super Series against one of the touring Soviet teams on January 6, 1991 and regular Oilers team captain Mark Messier opted to sit out the exhibition contest in order to rest his sore leg, leaving the Oilers without a captain.
The team then held a vote and elected Semenov their honorary captain for the day against many of his former national team teammates. It was at this point that the Oilers equipment staff, possessing a sense of history and fun, made a "K" for Semenov's jersey to be worn that night and glued it onto his jersey, creating one of the most unique jerseys in the long history of the NHL.
The jersey itself is the standard Oilers jersey of the era, first worn when they became members of the NHL in 1979 and used through the 1995-96 season with only a few minor variations, mainly in the fonts used for the numbers the first two seasons, and it's best known for being the jersey worn for five Stanley Cup championships.
Here is Semenov scoring against the NHL All-Stars during Rendez Vous '87 for the Soviet Union and paying the price with his body after being tripped.
Next, is a compilation of Spin-o-rama goals, which includes Semenov pulling one off for the Oilers.