Saturday, September 8, 2012

1972 Team Canada Phil Esposito Jersey

Prior to the 1972 Summit Series, the best players that Canada had to offer were not able to face their Soviet counterparts due to the amateur rules of the Olympic Games, which disqualified the Canadian professionals from taking part.

Unhappy with the amateur status of the Soviet players, despite the Soviets competing full time as hockey players, while technically being considered army soldiers to maintain their amateur status, and thus their Olympic eligibility, Canada refused to compete in the World Championships and Winter Olympics after 1969.

The Summit Series would be the first time that Canada would be able to field a team of it's best professional NHL talent to face the Soviets on equal terms, and the hockey experts and public in Canada expected that the Canadians would easily win the eight game series, with many believing it would be eight games to none.

1972 Summit Series

The series started just as expected too, with Phil Esposito scoring just 30 seconds into Game 1. By six minutes, Canada was ahead by two and the expected rout was on.

Or so they thought...

By the end of the first period, the Soviet Union had tied the game and Valeri Kharlamov scored twice in the second before Bobby Clarke cut the lead to one by the end of the period. The third period proved decisive, as the Soviets pulled away with three more goals to win 7-3, shocking all of Canada.

1972 Summit Series

Game 2 had Canada back on track with a 4-1 win and Game 3 ended in a 4-4 tie. With the knowledge that Games 5 through 8 would be in the Soviet Union, it was imperative that the Canadians win Game 4 on home soil on this date in 1972.

The Canadians fell behind 2-0 after one period and trailed 4-1 after two. They traded goals with the Soviets in the third, making the score 5-2 before scoring a late goal with just 22 seconds left in the game to make the final 5-3, but were booed off the ice by the home fans at the end of the game.

Responding to the negative public and media reaction, Phil Esposito made an emotional outburst on Canadian national television:
"To the people across Canada, we tried, we gave it our best, and to the people that boo us, geez, I'm really, all of us guys are really disheartened and we're disillusioned, and we're disappointed at some of the people. We cannot believe the bad press we've got, the booing we've gotten in our own buildings. If the Russians boo their players, the fans... Russians boo their players... Some of the Canadian fans - I'm not saying all of them, some of them booed us, then I'll come back and I'll apologize to each of of the Canadians, but I don't think they will. I'm really, really... I'm really disappointed. I am completely disappointed. I cannot believe it' Some of our guys are really, really down in the dumps, we know, we're trying like hell. I mean we're doing the best we can, and they got a good team, and let's face facts. But it doesn't mean that we're not giving it our 150%, because we certainly are.

I mean, the more - everyone of us guys, 35 guys that came out and played for Team Canada. We did it because we love our country, and not for any other reason, no other reason. They can throw the money, uh, for the pension fund out the window. We came because we love Canada. And even though we play in the United States, and we earn money in the United States, Canada is still our home, and that's the only reason we come. And I don't think it's fair that we should be booed."
From Phil Esposito's book "Thunder and Lightning";
We flew to Vancouver, and Harry changed line combinations again. The Soviets out played us, and they won the game 5-3, and what I'll never forget is how that crowed booed us. They were yelling obscenities at us. It was brutal. And we didn't deserve that.

I was picked as the star of the game for Canada. When I got out there afterwards, the television commentator Johnny Esaw asked me a question, and I don't even remember what it was because I was angry. My anger just came pouring out. I never really knew what I said until ten years later when I saw a tape of it. And now, every time I see it, I get embarrassed by it.

I said, "If the Russian fans boo their players in Moscow like you people are booing us, I'll come back and apologize personally to each and every one of you, but I don't think that's going to happen. I really don't."

"We're doing our best. They're a good hockey team, and we don't know what we can do better, but we're going to have to figure it out. But to be booed like this is ridiculous." I gave the whole country a toung-lashing on national television.
Today's featured jersey is a 1972 Team Canada Phil Esposito jersey worn during the first four games of the 1972 Summit Series in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Uniquely, there were no players names on the back, but simply "CANADA" on each jersey.

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Here are several clips documenting Esposito's impassioned response to the fans booing as he vents his frustration after Game 4 in Vancouver with Canada down in games 1-2-1 and heading to the Soviet Union for four games on Soviet ice.




Friday, September 7, 2012

2010-11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pavol Demitra Jersey

Today marks the anniversary of the crash on takeoff of the jet carrying the Russian club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to what was supposed to be their season opening game. The crash killed 43 of the 45 people on board, taking the lives of all but one of the players, Alexander Galimov, who succumbed to his injuries five days later, and all of the other team personnel on the flight. The only other survivor of the crash was a member of the plane's crew.

"At first we didn't want to believe it. But right now there is no hope. The team is gone," a Lokomotiv team official told the Russian news outlet Sovietsky Sport.

The catastrophe claimed the lives of players and coaches from Belarus, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Ukraine, shaking the hockey community worldwide.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team picture

Among those familiar to fans of the NHL were assistant coach and 12 year NHL veteran and multiple Soviet and Russian league champion Russian Igor Korolev, eight year NHL veteran and World Championship gold medal winner Czech Karel Rachunek, Stanley Cup and World Championship gold medal winner Czech Josef Vasicek, 11 year NHL veteran, owner of the NHL's longest playing streak for a defenseman and Latvian National Team mainstay Karlis Skrastins, 12 year NHL veteran, World Championship gold medal winner and one of the first four Russians to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, 14 year NHL veteran, with 917 games played, and Belarus National Team leader Ruslan Salei, 18 year NHL veteran of 1,222 games and Stanley Cup winner and team head coach Canadian Brad McCrimmon.

Russian Alexander Vasyunov had played two seasons with the Lowell Devils of the AHL and 18 games with the New Jersey Devils last season and German Robert Dietrich spent two seasons in North America in the Nashville Predators system with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals,

Czech Jan Marek led the KHL in goal scoring in 2008-09 and was a World Championship gold medal winner in 2010. Sweden was hit hard by the loss of goaltender Stefan Liv, a three time Swedish Elitserien champion with HV71, and World Championship gold medal and Olympic gold medal champion, both coming in Sweden's historic double of 2006. The Polish born Liv also played in North America with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL in 2006-07.

One of the highest profile names to perish in the crash was Slovak star Pavol Demitra. Demitra began his professional career with two seasons in the Czechoslovak league before moving to North America following his being drafted 227th overall by the Ottawa Senators. He would split three seasons between the NHL's senators and their top minor league affiliate, the Prince Edward Island Senators from 1993-94 to 1995-96.

Demitra played for the Las Vegas Thunder and Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL as well as eight games with the St. Louis Blues following a trade. he found his greatest success with St. Louis, with three seasons of 35 goals or more, including a high of 37 in 1998-99, the year of his first NHL All-Star Game appearance. Two more All-Star appearances would follow in 2000 and 2002 before Demitra would set a career high in points with 93 in 2002-03, placing 6th overall in the league scoring race. In all, Demitra would lead St. Louis in scoring four times, in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Demitra Blues

He would also be recognized with with the Lady Byng Trophy in 2000 after recording 28 goals and 75 points with just eight penalty minutes.

He returned to Slovakia during the NHL lockout of 2004-05 to once again play for Dukla Trencin. Once the NHL resumed play, the free agent Demitra signed to play for the Los Angeles Kings for one season prior to being traded to the Minnesota Wild to be teamed with fellow Slovak and close friend Marian Gaborik. for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

Demitra and Gaborik

Demitra tied for the team lead in scoring during his first season in Minnesota despite Gaborik missing nearly half the season due to injury. While with the Wild, Demitra served as team captain during October of 2007.

Demitra captain

His final two NHL seasons were spent with the Vancouver Canucks, although the second was limited to 28 games following a lengthy recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.

His NHL career concluded with 847 games played, 304 goals and 464 points for 768 points. Additionally, in 94 career playoff games, Demitra scored 23 goals and 59 points.

For the 2010-11 season, Demitra signed with Lokomotiv of the KHL in Russia, where hisrenowned playmaking abilities made the veteran the club's leading scorer and placed him in a tied for third in league scoring.

Internationally, Demitra played in the 1992 European Junior Championships and the 1993 World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal, for Czechoslovakia. Following the division of Czechoslovakia, Demitra skated for Slovakia in both the 1996 World Championships and 1996 World Cup, the 2002 Olympics and 2003 World Championships where he earned a bronze medal.

He then went on to participate in both the 2004 World Championships and 2004 World Cup, the 2005 World Championships, 2006 Winter Olympics and 2007 World Championships.

Demitra then led all players at the 2010 Olympics in scoring with ten points in seven games on his way to being named a tournament all-star. He also scored a sublime shootout goal to give Slovakia a win over Russia in the preliminary round.

His final international appearance was as the 2011 World Championships, where he had the honor of captaining the Slovak team on home ice.

Demitra captain

Demitra and Rachunek
Here, Demitra and future Lokomotiv teammate Rachunek embrace following their preliminary round game at the 2011 World Championships.

Demitra leaves behind his wife Maria and his two children, Lucas and Zara.

Today's featured jersey is a 2010-11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pavol Demitra jersey as worn during Demitra's final season of play during which he scored 18 goals and 60 points in 54 games, which placed him fifth in league scoring. During the postseason, Demitra scored another 6 goals and 21 points for second in KHL playoff scoring.

The name Lokomotiv comes from the fact the club is owned by the Russian national railroad, Russian Railways. The club was founded back in 1959 and has won the Russian Open Championship three times (1997, 2002 and 2003), and were KHL runner's up twice (2008 and 2009) and were also runner's up in the 2003 IIHF Continental Cup.

Following the crash, the club fielded a team of young players in the VHL, the second level of Russian hockey, but will return to the KHL for the 2012-13 season, having signed NHL veterans Viktor Kozlov, Niklas Hagman, Staffan Kronwall, Curtis Sanford and Vitaly Vishnevsky to rebuild their roster in an attempt to return to their place among the top clubs in the KHL.

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Russia Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2010-11 jersey photo RussiaLokomotivYaroslavl2010-11B.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006-07 Minnesota Wild Pavol Demitra jersey as worn on January 6, 2007 with the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation patch. Each player on every team would wear the Teammates for Kids patch on their jerseys for a game that January, after which the jerseys were then auctioned off for charity to raise money for the foundation.

To date, the foundation has distributed over $75 million through it's various programs in conjunction with professional athletes.

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Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey photo MinnesotaWildG06-07B.jpg
Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey patch photo MinnesotaWildG06-07P.jpg

Today's first video is an enlightening look into the thoughtful Demitra's journey from a youngster in Czechoslovakia, where the ultimate goal was the World Championships to the Olympics, to seeing the world change and participating in the NHL becoming a new possibility and the adjustments needed after coming to North America.


Demitra had the perfect timing to score a hat trick on Hat Night in Los Angeles. The results were swift and predictable!


Here is Demitra's game winning goal in the shootout against Russia in the 2010 Olympics, where he displayed his puck control by deftly lofting the puck over the Russian goaltender counter to the direction of his body following his patented "swing wide" approach to the net.


In Minsk, Lokomotiv's scheduled opponents for their first game, Dynamo Minsk, held a hockey funeral for those killed in the crash, a moving and emotional ceremony.


To see the full 35 minute version of the service, click here.

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On a personal note, we had the pleasure of seeing Demitra play in person for the two seasons he was with the Wild and the opportunity to meet him in person following a few practices. Our favorite memory of him began when we were at a pre-game warmup one night. A kid came down the steps of the arena toward the glass wearing a goaltenders catching glove while the players were warming up. As soon as the kind stopped and held up his glove, Demitra looked up after finishing a stick handling warmup drill and lofted the puck over the glass to the kid, who caught the puck in the glove and ran off.

We commented, "It was like he knew it was coming," to which the regulars replied, "He did, Pavol always looks for a kid to give a puck to."

Armed with that knowledge, the next time we attended a game with our youngster, we did all we could to put ourselves in position to get Demitra's attention. Wearing our vibrant yellow Dukla Trencin jersey, Demitra's previous Slovak club of which he was then a part-owner, to stand out against the dark green seats of the Xcel Energy Center, and with our youngster not only dressed in a Wild jersey, but holding a Dukla Trencin sign with Demitra and Gaborik's numbers 38 and 10 to further stand out, we positioned ourselves alone six rows up to make any attempt to loft a puck to us easier than if we were right behind the glass in the first couple of rows, not to mention away from the larger number of fans at the glass.

Demitra Sign

As Demitra finished his stickhandling drill, he looked up to scan the crowd for a kid, we gave him a quick "over here!" wave, as if we needed to wearing the bright yellow of Dukla, and he softly floated the puck over the glass right to us, which landed more gently in our hands than one could ever imagine.

We repeated this later in the season, and those two seemingly ordinary warmup pucks now hold an even more special place in our modest collection of memorabilia now that Demitra and his many Lokomotiv teammates have now left us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2004-05 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Ryan Potulny Jersey

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota on this date in 1984, Ryan Potulny played two seasons for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2001-02 and 2002-03 before being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

He would spend the next three seasons with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). He would play 15 games his first season, recording 6 goals and 8 assists in 15 games. His next season would see him play in 44 games, raising his point totals to 24 goals and 17 assists for 41 points. In his third and final season with Minnesota, he would lead not only the Gophers in scoring, but the nation as well, with 38 goals and 63 points in 41 games.

Potulny was named the Gophers MVP, First Team All WCHA, a Hobey Baker Award Finalist and an All-American, earning himself a prestigious place on one of the murals at the Gophers home rink, Mariucci Arena.

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Potulny is depicted in the lower right corner

Potulny made his NHL debut on April 7th, 2006 and scored a point during his first game. The following season of 2006-07 would see him skate in 35 games for the Flyers, totaling 12 points from 7 goals and 5 assists. 2007-08 would see him play seven NHL games with one assist.

He was traded by the Flyers to the Edmonton Oliers and spent the majority of the 2008-09 season with Springfield of the American Hockey League (AHL), where he would score 62 points in 70 games and participate in the AHL All-Star Game in Worcester, MA. He would also make eight appearances for the Oliers, raising his career NHL totals to 52 games, 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points.

The 2009-10 season would be the reverse, with the center spending 64 games with Edmonton, scoring 15 goals and 32 points, and 14 games with Springfield in the AHL.

He would sign with the Chicago Blackhawks organization as a free agent for the 2010-11 season and spend the majority of the year with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL, scoring 41 points while scoring 18 goals. He would see action with the Blackhawks in 3 games, but would be traded on the last day of February to the Ottawa Senators. Potulny played 7 games for Ottawa and 13 with their primary AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, with whom he would have a fine postseason, scoring 14 goals and 26 points in 23 games to lead Binghamton in playoff scoring as they would capture the 2011 Calder Cup.

While this was not enough to earn him a return to the NHL, he did sign with the Washington Capitals organization, which assigned him to the Hershey Bears where he came third in team scoring with 33 goals and 65 points in 61 games played in 2011-12.

Today's featured jersey is a 2004-05 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Ryan Potulny jersey. This jersey has a definite throwback feeling to it, with the lace up collar, vintage Goldy Gopher logo on the front and diagonal "GOPHERS" lettering, reminiscent of the styles worn by the Gophers from 1954 to 1969.

We can't help but think that the University must have been influenced by the die-hard Gopher fans who produced their own throwback jerseys of the 1950's and 60's for a few years prior to the introduction of this alternate style.

Minnesota Gophers 04-05 F
Minnesota Gophers 04-05 B
Minnesota Gophers 04-05 P1

Poltulny has become known for scoring the winning goal at 2:58 of the fifth overtime in Game 5 of the East Division Semi-Finals after 142:58 of game time, an American Hockey League record for the longest game.



 

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