Friday, September 14, 2012

1996 United States National Team Brian Leetch Jersey

The 1996 World Cup of Hockey can trace it's roots to the 1972 Summit Series, which featured the Soviet National Team, whose vastly experienced players were considered amateurs and thus eligible for the Olympics, facing off against Team Canada, whose roster was made up of Canadian NHL professionals who were not allowed to participate in the Olympic Games at the time, clearing the path for Soviet domination of Olympic hockey.

1976 Soviet Union team, 1976 Soviet Union team
The Soviet Union won 8 of 10 gold medals from 1956 to 1992

The 1972 Summit Series concept of the best players each nation had to offer, regardless of amateur or professional stats, was expanded in 1976 with the creation of the first Canada Cup tournament, which saw teams from not only Canada and the Soviet Union, but the addition of teams representing Finland, Sweden, Czechoslovakia and the United States.

The United States saw mixed results in the Canada Cup tournaments, finishing 5th out of 6 in 1976. A 4th place in the round-robin portion in 1981 saw them qualify for the semi-finals, where they were easily defeated by the host Canadians by a 4-1 score.

A strong round-robin result had the USA finishing 2nd in 1984, including a 7-1 opening game defeat of Sweden, a 4-4 tie with Canada, a narrow 2-1 loss to the Soviet Union and a 6-4 win over West Germany for a 3-1-1 record. The United States would face off against Sweden in the semifinals and suffer a stunning 9-2 drubbing at the hands of the Swedes, who scored on their first four shots on goal, a team the USA had so easily defeated just 11 days earlier.

In the 1987 edition, the United States completed the round-robin portion of the tournament with a 2-3 record to finish 5th and fail to advance to the playoff round.

Things improved in 1991, with the Americans taking second in the round-robin portion with an impressive 4-1 record. They opened the tournament by defeating Sweden 6-3, then lost to Canada 6-3 before running off a series of victories against Czechoslovakia (4-2), the Soviet Union (2-1) and Finland (4-3). The semi-finals saw a confident US take care of Finland again by a 7-3 score and advance to the finals versus Canada, who would defeat the US by scores of 4-1 and 4-2 to win the best-of-three finals.

Tony Esposito USA 1991 CC, Tony Esposito USA 1991 CC
Tony Esposito playing goal for the United States in 1991

For 1996, the tournament was renamed the World Cup of Hockey as a result of various behind the scenes business developements involving Canada Cup founder Alan Eagleson's legal troubles as a result of his fraud and embezzlement scandal. Instead of being run for the financial benefit of Hockey Canada as the Canada Cup was, the newly organized World Cup was a joint venture between the NHL and it's players union, the NHL Players Association (NHLPA).

1996 World Cup logo, 1996 World Cup logo

Taking a more global perspective, the competition now included eight teams, partially as a result of the political upheaval during the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. There were now also games held in Europe for the first time ever.

The teams involved in the North American Pool included Canada Cup hold-overs Canada, Russia (no longer the Soviet Union) and the United States plus newcomer Slovakia, which was formerly part of Czechoslovakia. The games were held in Vancouver, Montreal, Philadelphia, Ottawa and New York.

The European Pool saw Sweden and Finland joined by the Czech Republic (also formerly part of Czechoslovakia) and Germany, which had participated in the Canada Cup once as West Germany in 1984. Stockholm, Sweden, Helsinki, Finland, Prague in the Czech Republic and Garmisch, located in Germany, would all host games in Europe, with the top three teams advancing to the playoffs held in North America.

The North American Pool saw the United States come out on top with a 3-0 record and earn a bye directly into the semifinals, while Sweden won the European Pool for its trip to North America and a place in the semifinals.

In the quarterfinals Germany would fall to Canada 4-1 in Montreal and Russia would overpower Finland 5-0 in their game played in Ottawa.

The semifinals would see Canada take down Sweden 3-2 in two overtimes in a game held not in Canada, but Philadelphia! Canada held a 2-0 lead after two periods, only to see Sweden come back to tie the game in the third. Theo Fleury would score the game winner with just 13 seconds remaining in the second overtime to send Canada into the best-of-three finals.

Meanwhile, the United States would oddly have to travel to Ottawa to defeat Russia 5-2. Just 26 seconds into the game, Pat Lafontaine would put the Americans ahead and Brett Hull then scored on the powerplay to give the US a 2-0 lead just before the end of the opening period. The United States would extend its lead by scoring a pair of goals in the second, after giving up one to the Russians, to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the third. Sergei Zubov would pull one back for Russia less than two minutes into the third, but the United States would counter that with a goal at 14 minutes to re-establish their three goal margin and advance to the finals versus Canada.

Game One of the finals was held in Philadelphia and was a close fought battle. Eric Lindros would put the Canadians up 1-0 after one period. Defenseman Derian Hatcher would score a pair of goals in the second to give the USA the lead, only to have Claude Lemieux tie the game during the final minutes of the second.

Fleury gave the Canadians the lead half way through the third. The lead held up through the remainder of the period until the USA pulled their goaltender Mike Richter. The resulting man advantage caused the Canadians to ice the puck repeatedly, and with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game, Joel Otto won the faceoff back to US captain Brian Leetch, who fired the puck at Canadian goaltender Curtis Joseph, who made the save only to have Eric Desjardins try to put the puck under his goalie Joseph and see it sneak through his legs and trickle over the goal line with 6.3 seconds showing on the clock.

Canada would dominate the resulting overtime, outshooting the US 6-1 before Steve Yzerman shot one past a screened Mike Richter to give Canada the first game in the best-of-three finals.

Game Two in Montreal would see the United States come out on top with a 5-2 win. The teams would trade goals in the first period, but the United States would add a pair in the second from John LeClair, his second of the game, followed by Brett Hull. Joe Sakic would cut the margin to one at 14:48 of the third, but the United States would put the game away with a pair of empty net goals in the last 1:08 of the contest, forcing a deciding Game Three, also to be held in Montreal.

With Richter, playing at the top of his game, holding off the Canadian attack, the United States scored the first goal at 11:18 of the first on the power play as Hull would give the US a 1-0 lead after one. The lead would hold up almost the entire second period as Richter would continue his stellar play in goal for the US, making 21 saves in the second period before Eric Lindros would even the score with just six seconds before the intermission. At this point, the Canadians had decisively outshot the Americans by a margin of 32-14.

Adam Foote would solve Richter at 12:50 of the third to give Canada their first lead in over 5 1/2 periods of hockey.

Hull would even the score when he deflected a high shot from the point by Brian Leetch that would stand after a video review, tying the contest at 16:42.

Energized by the goal, the Americans continued to press and Tony Amonte gave them the lead with 2:35 remaining.

Amonte World Cup goal, Amonte World Cup goal
Amonte celebrates after scoring to give the Americans the lead

Derian Hatcher put the game out of reach with an empty net goal at 19:19 and Adam Deadmarsh drilled a long slapshot past Joseph with just 14 seconds left to give the USA a final 5-2 margin in a game that was tied with just 3:18 remaining. Richter would be named the First Star of the game after making 35 saves on 37 shots.

USA Captains 1996 World Cup, USA Captains 1996 World Cup

Hull would finish the tournament with 7 goals and 4 assists for 11 points in 7 games to lead the tournament in scoring followed closely by teammate John LeClair with 10 points from 6 goals and 4 assists. Doug Weight (7), Leetch (7) and Keith Tkachuk (6) would all finish in the top 10 in scoring for the Americans.

1996 Team USA World Cup, 1996 Team USA World Cup

The tournament All-Star team would be made of of Forwards Mats Sundin (Sweden), Hull and LeClair of the USA, defensemen Calle Johansson of Sweden and Chris Chelios (USA) as well as goaltender Richter of the USA, who would also be named the tourament's Most Valuable Player thanks to finishing with a 5-1 record, with his only loss coming in overtime.

Richter MVP 1996 World Cup, Richter MVP 1996 World Cup

Today's featured jersey is a 1996 United States National Team Brian Leetch jersey as worn when the United States captured the inaugural World Cup of Hockey championship.

The jersey features the smaller 3" size World Cup of Hockey logo patch worn on the left shoulder by the Nike-clad teams in the tournament, which included not only the USA, but Russia, Slovakia, Finland and Germany.

The larger 4" size patch was worn by the teams that wore Bauer jerseys, which were the Czech Republic and Sweden, who also wore the patch on the left shoulder, and Canada, who wore the patch on their right chest.

This style of USA jersey features dye-sublimated "waving flag" stripes on the waist that contain subtle stars in the red areas, as well as in the red sleeve stripes. These jerseys are very sought after and command a lot of attention when they come up for sale.

As was Nike's practice at the time, jerseys sold customized with player names and numbers featured sewn twill crests and were tagged with numbered sizes, such as 48 & 52 (but no fight straps), while blank jerseys were sold as Large and Extra Large using sublimated crests.

The jerseys sold with player names from Nike were #35 Richter, #2 Leetch and #27 Jeremy Roenick, who never actually played in the World Cup due to being a free agent and not having health insurance at the time. None of the jerseys were sold with the World Cup patch and the Leetch jerseys did not come with the captain's "C". Those would need to be added separately by their owners for proper authenticity as we have done with today's featured jersey.

The blue road jerseys were not available for retail sale and can only be found as game worn or team issued jerseys, which are complete with fight straps.

USA 1996 WCOH 2 F
USA 1996 WCOH 2 B
USA 1996 WCOH 2 P

First up is LeClair tying Game 1 with less than seven seconds to play.


Here are highlights of the thrilling finale of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

1981 Soviet Union National Team Viacheslav Fetisov Jersey

Following on the astounding success and drama of the 1972 Summit Series, there was a second Summit Series in 1974, followed by the formation of the Canada Cup Tournament, first held in 1976, which featured not only Canada and the Soviet Union, but also Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United States.

The second edition of the 1981 Canada Cup was held with the same six teams as in 1976. The tournament was conducted in a round-robin format, meaning each team would play all the other teams once each, with the top four advancing to the semifinals with the winners meeting in what was now a winner-take-all single game final, which replaced the 1976 edition's best-of-three finals.

1981 Canada Cup logo, 1981 Canada Cup logo

The Finns were outclassed, finishing 0-4-1, scoring just six goals in five games and being shut out twice. Sweden fared a little better at 1-4-0, thanks to their 5-0 victory over Finland. The USA completed the round-robin portion at 2-2-1, while the Czechs came in at 2-1-2, and made the semi-final playoffs versus the Soviet Union (3-1-1). Canada finished atop the standings with a 4-0-1 record after defeating the Soviet Union 7-3, drawing the fourth place United States in the semi-finals.

The Soviet Union then advanced with a 4-1 defeat of the Czechs and Canada took care of business against the USA, also by a score of 4-1, setting up the final pairing that everyone wanted to see.

The Soviets had famously lost to the United States at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, so they were hungry to re-establish their position at the top of the hockey world in 1981. With Vladislav Tretiak now in goal, rather than Vladimir Myshkin who was in net against Canada in the final round robin game, the Soviets were looking to turn the tables when it counted the most.

Canada dominated the first period, outshooting the Soviets 12-4, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard, as Tretiak held firm and the period ended with no score. The teams traded goals in just over three minutes apart in the first half of the second period and then the Soviets started to pull away, with a pair of goals from Sergei Shepelev at 11:15 and 16:28, giving them a 3-1 lead after two.

Shepelev completed a natural hat trick early in the third followed by Vladimir Krutov scoring shorthanded four minutes in and the rout was on. Igor Larionov would score his second at 16:00 and Canada would allow two more goals in the final minute and a half and Tretiak and the Soviets had now done what few teams were ever able to do, keeping Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur scoreless, and cruised to an 8-1 victory to reassert their position on top of the hockey world.

Soviets celebrate 1981 CC, Soviets celebrate 1981 CC
Viktor Zhluktov celebrates the Soviet Union’s win
in the 1981 Canada Cup final

Perhaps Canada was overconfident heading into the final based on their dominant win against the Soviets in their round robin game, or perhaps the Soviets, knowing they would advance to the semi-finals regardless of the outcome, took the opportunity to conserve some energy and gain a matchup against rivals Czechoslovakia, but regardless, the dominance of the Soviets left little doubt as to who was the better team on the day.

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet Union Viacheslav Fetisov jersey. The jersey is dye-sublimated, with only the addition of the "K" for "Kaptain" being sewn on. This style jersey, with the diamonds inside the waist stripe, was also worn in the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1980 Olympics.

This jersey features the name on the back in Cyrillic, while the the Soviets actually used English names in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cups held in North America.

 photo RussiaCCCP1976-81F-1.jpg
Russia CCCP 1976-81 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1976-81B-1.jpg

Here are all the goals scored during the championship final game between the Soviet Union and Team Canada. Notice the names on the back vary in size and font between several of the players, with the smaller font being the one used in the 1980 Olympics, so perhaps those jerseys were being worn again.


Our final video is an interesting story concerning the Canada Cup trophy which is not widely known.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2000-01 FDNY Hockey Team Ray Downey Jersey

Ray Downey was the Fire Department of New York's Chief of Special Operations and a passionate New York Rangers fan and founding member of the FDNY Hockey Team.

Chief Ray Downey

He served with the United States Marine Corps and then became a member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) on April 7, 1962, beginning a 39-year career. In August of 2001, Chief Downey was put in charge of Special Operations Command, a team of specialists who aid regular firefighters with unique or highly critical situations, which include Hazardous Materials, Marine Units, Rescue Companies (experienced units with specialized tools and equipment) and Squads, often regarded as mini Rescue Companies who also have specialized tools and equipment. Downey was also promoted to Deputy Chief at the time.

His career was built on numerous successful rescues which made him the most decorated man in the history of the FDNY. He received five medals for valor and 16 unit citations as well as the 1995 Administration Medal.

Additionally, Chief Downey was a task force leader for the New York City Urban Search and Rescue Team as well as the National Disasters Team, who responded to both the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings. He was also a team leader in response to Hurricanes Hugo, Andres, Fran, Marilyn and Opal, Chief of Rescue Operations at the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, all of which contributed to his being called "a charismatic national legend in rescue circles" and he was credited with creating the modern search-and-rescue system adopted by FEMA and fire departments worldwide while pioneering a national network of eight search and rescue teams under FEMA.

He also made frequent trips to Washington D.C. while serving on a congressional panel on domestic terrorism and it's prevention.

All of this led to Downey commanding rescue operations at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 following the terrorist attacks earlier that morning when hijacked jetliners were crashed into each of the twin towers.

His unit was called in immediately after the first impact at #2 World Trade Center and he was leading the rescue operations which helped save thousands of lives when the second of the towers collapsed, costing him his life.

He left behind his wife Rosalie and five children, two of whom, Joe and Chuck, are now firemen.

It would take eight months after 9/11 for his remains to be identified through DNA testing before Chief Downey was then laid to rest on May 20, 2002.

When once asked asked why he searched so long for remains of those presumed dead, he cited the families of those left behind. "The only way you can relieve some of their sorrow," he said, "is to successfully recover the bodies of the people they loved."

Of the 343 firefighters lost on 9/11, Special Operations Command lost a total of 95 men with 1,600 years of experience that day.

Ray Downey's life and career are commemorated with The Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award, which is presented each year to an extraordinarily courageous American firefighter.

Following the terrorist attacks in September, 2001 the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres faced off in the Rangers first home game of the season on October 7th. Both the Rangers and Sabres wore special jerseys with "New York" diagonally across the front. Following the game won by the Rangers 5-4 in overtime, both sets of jerseys were auctioned off to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund.

 photo NewYorkRangers2001-029-11smjersey.jpga photo BuffaloSabres01-029-11smjersey.jpg

Prior to the game the NYPD and FDNY hockey teams lined up on the ice and the Rangers skated between them during their introductions. FDNY team member Larry McGee had brought Ray Downey's firefighters helmet with him with a picture of Downey tucked into the brim of the helmet. He noticed that of all the players, only Rangers captain Mark Messier had not worn his hockey helmet during the pre-game ceremonies.

As the Rangers were lined up at the blueline, McGee sensed the moment was right and skated over to Messier with the helmet and told him it would be an honor if he would wear it. Messier responded, "Sure, whatever you need" and donned the helmet of the still missing Downey as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared it's approval.

Messier Firehelmet 10/7/01
Mark Messier wearing Chief Downey's helmet prior to the Rangers first home game following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Note the special "New York" jersey worn only for that game.

"For me, personally, it was very emotional for a lot of reasons," said Messier, "Obviously, with all the people being honored - the firefighters, the police, the rescue workers, the volunteers, the entire city - and all our fans. All on a day when we started fighting back as a country."

At the end of that same season, Mark Messier presented his #11 jersey to the family of Ray Downey during the Rangers annual Blueshirts off our Backs night on April 10, 2002.

Messier Blueshirts off our Backs 2002

The FDNY Hockey Team was first formed back in 1968 and played it's first game against the New York Police Department in 1974 and the FDNY Hockey Team now competes in charity events and tournaments from Alaska to Sweden as well as hosting the FDNY "King of the Ice" Firehouse Tournament, where for over 15 years nearly 100 different firehouses compete for the championship in the largest tournament of it's kind.

Since February, 2001 the FDNY Hockey Team, through the Teddy Bears That Care Program, has distributed over 26,000 Teddy Bears to children across the United States and Canada.

The main event on the FDNY Hockey Team calendar is always their annual faceoff against the New York Police Department (NYPD) game as the FDNY Bravest take on the NYPD Finest in "The Battle of the Badges". To date, 39 games have been played with the FDNY holding a 22-15-2 lead in the series.

2012-13 FDNY team tryouts begin on Saturday October 4th, 2011 and continue on October 11th, and 18th. Tryouts are from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Aviator Sports Center in Brooklyn N. Y. Any questions should be directed to Bill Kammerer at 516-897-0449.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Fire Department of New York Hockey Team Ray Downey jersey. This jersey takes the classic simplicity of a jersey very similar to the New Jersey Devils and combines it with the timeless look of the drop shadowed New York Rangers cresting and numbers to create as perfect a hockey jersey as you will ever see.

Of note, none of the players wore their individual names on the back of their jerseys, and instead they all had their team nickname "Bravest" on the back in place of their names, similar to Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series when they all had "Canada" on the back.

FDNY 2000-01 jersey photo FDNY2000-01F.jpg
 photo FDNY2000-01B.jpg
FDNY 2000-01 P1 small photo FDNY2000-01P1sm.jpga photo FDNY2000-01P2small.jpg

Chief Downey's jersey #9 was retired by the FDNY Hockey Team during a pre-game tribute at the March 2, 2002 FDNY vs. NYPD hockey game.

Downey jersey retirement
Rosalie Downey receives Chief Downey's retired
jersey before the FDNY vs. NYPD game in 2002

While this style jersey has been retired, you can get the current FDNY Hockey Team jersey, based on the 2000-2007 Calgary Flames jerseys, at the official store for FDNY gear - The Fire Zone at Rockefeller Center at 34 W 51st St. in New York, New York.

Please take a moment to visit the Deputy Chief Raymond Downey Scholarship Charity Fund, at ChiefRayDowney.com, which holds the annual Deputy Chief Raymond M. Downey Memorial Golf Outing and the Forever Running Memorial 5K Run/Walk each Father's Day to benefit the organizations he supported, and consider making a donation to the fund. Information on how to contribute can be found by clicking the banner below.

Downey banner,Downey banner

The Rescue Company, written by Chief Ray Downey, a how-to manual on rescue operations for firefighters in both paperback and hardcover, as well as his instructional video on collapse rescues are available below.



The Last Men Out, written by Ray Downey's nephew Tom Downey, is about Rescue 2, the firehouse Ray Downey commanded for fourteen years. Rescue 2 doesn't leave a fire until everybody's safe - they're the last men out.



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