Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1987 NHL All-Star Wayne Gretzky Jersey

In 1987, the NHL deviated from it's usual All-Star Game format in the form of Rendez-vous '87, a series of two games during which a team of NHL All-Stars faced off against the Soviet National Team in Quebec City, Quebec at Le Colisee, home of the Quebec Nordiques.

rendez-vous-87 program
Rendez-vous '87 program cover

The event was just a part of the annual Quebec Winter Carnival, a multi-cultural event featuring entertainers and food from Canada, Russia and the United States.

The Soviet lineup was a strong one, and featured over a dozen players who would eventually compete in the NHL within the next six years. The changing face of the NHL was reflected by the increasing international presence on it's roster, now sporting players from not only Canada and Sweden as in the 1979 Challenge Cup, but with the addition of players from the United States and Finland as well.

Game 1 took place on February 11, 1987 and Jari Kurri got the NHL All-Stars off to a 1-0 lead 5:23 in to the game. The Soviets fell behind 2-0 when Glenn Anderson scored with three minutes remaining in the second period but managed to get on the board before the period ended when Alexei Kasatonov got one by Grant Fuhr with 1:18 remaining.

rendez-vous-87action 1

The third period was an exciting affair, as the Soviets tied the game 2:03 into the period. Canada retook the lead five minutes later with Kevin Dineen's goal only to have the Soviets tie the game once more one minute later thanks to Anatoli Semenov.

The game continued scoreless as time began to wind down before Dave Poulin got the game winning goal for the All-Stars with just a minute and fifteen seconds left when he beat goaltender Evgeny Belosheikin, who had the audacity to wear Tretiak's legendary #20!

After a day of rest, the teams returned to the ice on February 13, 1987 following much the same script, as the NHL again scored 3:32 into the game to lead 1-0 after the first period.

rendez-vous-87action 2

The Soviet Union got two goals early in period two when Valeri Kamensky and Vladimir Krutov scored a minute and a half apart for their first lead of the competition. Doug Wilson evened the scoring at 2-2 with his goal on the power play at 7:33 only to have Kamensky and Krutov each score their second goals of the game to put the Soviets ahead by two. Kamensky's second goal came with 19 seconds left in the second period, while Krutov's game winner came 9:19 into the third period.

Krutov Rendez-vous '87 Pictures, Images and Photos
Krutov's two goals were key to the Soviet in in Game 2

Andrei Khomutov increased the Soviet lead to 5-2 at 12:59, which proved to be an important goal in not only the game, but in the larger picture of the series as a whole, for when Ray Bourque scored at 19:23 of the third period, it was too little too late as the Soviets not only won the game 5-3, but earned bragging rights for the series by outscoring the NHL All-Stars by a combined 8-7 over the two games thank's to Khomutov's goal.

Following the game, team captains Wayne Gretzky and Viacheslav Fetisov traded jerseys in keeping with the tradition of European soccer players, leading to the most unusual sight of Wayne Gretzky wearing a Soviet National Team jersey emblazoned with CCCP across the front as well as a Cyrillic captain's "K".

Gretzky & Fetisov jersey swap
"Comrade" Gretzky in his Soviet National Team jersey

Despite the loss in the series, the two games together allowed the Canadian members of the NHL All-Star Team a chance to compete together in advance of that fall's thrilling 1987 Canada Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987 NHL All-Star Team Wayne Gretzky jersey as worn in the two game Rendez-vouz '87. This jersey's unusual customization had sleeve numbers only on the left arm, as the Rendez-Vouz '87 patch was placed on the right sleeve in the location usually occupied by the numbers due to the stars on the chest occupying the usual location for such a patch on the upper right chest.

This style of jersey was worn only for the two games of the series in Quebec City and there was no dark "road" version ever produced, as was the norm with NHL All-Star jerseys since the introduction of the East vs. West format in 1969.

Examples of this style jersey for collectors are rather scarce, as retail jersey sales were still in their infancy in 1987.

1987 NHL All-Star Rendez-vous '87 jersey photo 1987NHLAll-StarRendez-vous87F.jpg
1987 NHL All-Star Rendez-vous '87 jersey photo 1987NHLAll-StarRendez-vous87B.jpg

Bonus Jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 1987 Soviet National Team Sergei Priakin jersey as worn during Rendez-vous '87. These jerseys were some of the less successful of the Soviet Union's, as the dark red stripes on the red body of the jersey were too close in color to create any worthwhile contrast.

Gone were the striking diamond pattern on the waist of the 1979 Challenge Cup jerseys, as well as the more pleasing font for the numbers. Things would improve in the years following, as the jerseys worn in international hockey would soon be made by the Finnish brand Tackla, giving the final jerseys of the Soviet era some much needed graphic design.

Priakin would become the answer to a trivia question in 1988 when he became the first Soviet player to be allowed to compete in the NHL, which he did with the Calgary Flames. He would also suffer the common plight of the Soviet players during this early era of playing in North America, as the spelling of their names on the backs of their jerseys often varied from appearance to appearance. As seen here, "PRYAKHIN" would latter play for the Flames wearing "PRIAKIN".

1987 Soviet Union Rendez-vous '87 F

Today's video highlights begin with Poulin tipping in the game winning goal in Game 1 of Rendez-vous '87.


In Game 2 of Rendez-vous '87, Kamensky is a one man highlight reel, scoring two and assisting on Khomutov's goal for good measure.



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