Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2009-10 Montreal Canadiens 1909-10 Centennial Mike Cammalleri Jersey

It was on this date in 1909 that John Ambrose O'Brien founded "le Club de Hockey Canadien", the oldest team in the NHL.

O'Brien, in Montreal for business was asked by the owners of the Renfrew Creamery Kings to apply to join the Canadian Hockey Association (CHA). After being turned down by the CHA, he met Jimmy Gardner, the manager of the Montreal Wanderers hockey club.

The pair hatched the idea of starting their own league, christened the National Hockey Association (NHA), using O'Brien's teams in Cobalt and Haileybury, the Wanderers plus founding O'Brien's new club, the Canadiens, intended to appeal to he French-speaking fans in Montreal as a rival to the Wanderers.

1909-10 Montreal Canadiens future Hall of Famers Cattarinich, Laviolette &
Pitre shown wearing the Canadiens original sweaters

O'Brien only owned the team for one season because he was sued by George W. Kendall, the owner of the Club athéltique Canadien, who claimed he had the legal rights to the Canadiens name. As part of the settlement, Kendall bought the team from O'Brien for $7,500.

The Canadiens remain the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team and the only NHL club older than the league itself. During their history, they have held the Stanley Cup 24 times, including their first in 1916, a year before the founding of the National Hockey League.

1915-16 Montreal Canadiens team, 1915-16 Montreal Canadiens team
The 1915-16 Canadiens, the first Stanley Cup winners in franchise history

While the rivalry with the Wanderers fell by the wayside in 1918 when the Westmount Arena burned down and the Wanderers folded, the Canadiens new cross-town rivals arrived in 1924 with the founding of the Montreal Maroons. Two seasons later the Canadiens would move into their home of 70 years, the Montreal Forum, which they would share with the Maroons until their demise in 1938.

By 1949 the Canadiens had won but six Stanley Cups in their first forty years, hardly the dominant franchise the hockey world would soon come to know, as the Canadiens would make it to the finals in 1951, the first of ten consecutive appearances in the final series.

The arrival of Boom Boom Geoffrion in 1951 to compliment Maurice "Rocket" RichardDoug Harvey and Dickie Moore set the ball in motion, and soon the Canadiens embarrassment of riches would grow into a full-fledged dynasty with the additions of Jean Beliveau and Jacques Plante in 1953, Henri Richard in 1954 and Claude Pronovost in 1955. Ten seasons later, the Canadiens would double the number of Stanley Cups won, with six in ten years.

Richard Beliveau 1958 Stanley Cup, Richard Beliveau 1958 Stanley Cup
Richard and Beliveau with the Stanley Cup in 1958

The success would continue through out the 1960's despite the retirement of Rocket Richard after the 1960 championship. The club would capture an astounding ten titles in fifteen seasons from 1965 to 1979, including four straight to finish the run with star players such as Jacques LaperriereJ. C. TremblayGuy LafleurYvan CournoyerKen DrydenPeter MahovolichSteve ShuttBob GaineySerge SavardGuy LapointeJacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson.

The club continued it's streak of at least one championship in every decade from the 1910's by winning the title in 1986 behind the goaltending of rookie Patrick Roy and again in 1993.

Montreal 1993 Stanley Cup, Montreal 1993 Stanley Cup
The Canadiens most recent championship team from 1993

The team became the first in NHL history to reach 3,000 victories on December 29, 2008 with a win over the Florida Panthers, a team no one could have imagined in 1909.

To celebrate the club's centennial several uniform numbers were retired, including those of Moore & Cournoyer (both #12), Geoffrion (5), Savard (18), Dryden (29), Robinson (19), Gainey (23), Roy (33) and Elmer Lach (#16) and Emile Bouchard (#3) leaving them with 15 retired numbers, 12 of those under the #20, forcing current Montreal players to wear some of the highest numbers in the league, a visual oddity for one of the most traditional franchises in sports.

Lach and Bouchard were the last to have their
numbers retired by the Canadiens

In addition to other events, such as the issuing of commemorative coins and stamps, the construction of a "Centennial Plaza" outside the Bell Centre and a concert, the Canadiens hosted the 2009 NHL All-Star game as well as the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, but our favorite tribute to the club's historic past was the wearing of a series of Centennial Jerseys, six in all.

Today's featured jersey is a 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens 1909-10 Centennial Mike Cammalleri jersey, as worn on November 21, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 shootout loss, with Cammalleri scoring both of Montreal's goals.



The jerseys had a lace-up collar and sported the Canadiens Centennial patch on the right shoulder, as did all the Centennial jerseys worn by the club.

They were scheduled to wear the jerseys a second time on February 13, 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but a change in plans saw them stick with their regular jerseys, leaving the 1909-10 blue jerseys worn just the one time.

Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey, Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey
Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey, Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey
Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey, Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey

Here is the shootout from the November 21st game when the Canadiens debuted their 1909-10 Centennial jerseys.


Finally, here is 100 years of hockey supremacy condensed into five and a half minutes. If this doesn't get your juices flowing and make you want to put on your skates on and pretend you're Richard, Beliveau or Lafleur, you have no pulse.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1987-88 Boston Bruins Ray Bourque Jersey

In one of the most surprising, classy and memorable moments in Boston Bruins history, Ray Bourque shocked Phil Esposito and the Boston Garden on this date in 1987 during the ceremony to retire Phil Esposito's jersey #7 when he skated up to Phil to present him with a jersey customized with Phil's name and traditional #7, and after a brief pause, peeled off his own "Bourque #7" jersey, revealing his new Bourque #77 jersey and surrendered his #7 jersey to Esposito on the spot.

Esposito said in his book "Thunder and Lightning", "As for my scoring trophies, I have five or six of them, and I'm very proud of that, but you don't see them on my mantle. The one momento up on my wall that means a lot to me is my retired jersey from he Boston Bruins. That may have been the greatest thing ever to happen to me."

"When they held the ceremony Ray skated over to me wearing number 7, and he too his jersey off and handed it to me, and much to my surprise, underneath he was wearing 77. I had no clue he was going to do that. If you look at the tape of the ceremony, you can see Bourque come over and start to take off he sweater, and you can see me saying to him, "what are you doing?" When he took it off and I saw he was wearing 77 so that 7 would never be worn again in Boston, I was flabbergasted. I was close to tears. It was very emotional for me to see Wayne Cashman and Kenny Hodge pulling my number 7 uniform up to the top of the rafters of the Boston Garden along with those of Bobby Orr and the other guys there."

"I'll never forget what Bourque did for me. I don't know if I would have been as generous if I had been in his shoes. Maybe I would have. I don't know."


After viewing the video, notice a couple of points. Bourque is introduced as "the captain of the Bruins", but skates up to Esposito with an assistant captain's "A" prominently sewn on his sweater. The reason for this is because Bourque was sharing the Bruin's captaincy with Rick Middleton that season, and it was Middleton who as captain for the home games, while Bourque wore the "C" on the road.

Notice 36 seconds into the video, Esposito attempts to hand Bourque's original #7 jersey back to him, and Bourque declines. Esposito is later seen handing the jersey to someone at the 1:07 mark, never to be seen again. We wonder what the eventual fate of the surrendered Bourque #7 was, and must say that if Phil doesn't want it, we'd be happy to give it a good home!

Clearly, Esposito was caught off guard by the gesture and genuinely moved by the act of sacrifice, as he expected that Bourque would continue to be "grandfathered in" and wear #7 for the remainder of his career.

Bourque was originally assigned #29 during his first training camp with the Bruins, but when he made the team and arrived in the dressing room for his first regular season game, the club had changed his number to 7, the first time since the departure of Esposito that anyone had worn #7 for the Bruins.

"I just put it on," Boruque said. "Bobby Schmautz came up to right before the start of the game started and told me not to worry if I heard any hecklers. At that moment, I realized number 7 might be a tough number to wear. But the fans were great, and I never heard anything about it from anyone other than the press. I always said that it wasn't a number I asked for, and if the Bruins ever wanted to retire Phil's sweater, I'd have no objections."

The original plan was that Bourque would be allowed to wear the number for the remainder of his career, but at 1:30 in the afternoon on the day of the ceremony Bruins coach Terry O' Reilly suggested he change to #77 and Bourque liked the idea. Prior to the ceremony, only O'Reill, Bourque and the Bruin's trainer who had stitched up Bourque's new #77 jersey knew the surprise in store for Esposito.

"I was pleased to help make Phil Esposito Night even sweeter for him. What Phil accomplished for the Bruins deserved to be fully acknowledged by having number seven elevated, not still worn on the ice. It was the right thing to do."

"I knew I was going to surprise him and surprise a lot of people," Ray stated. "his reaction was very emotional. He said he'd never forget what I did. I'm sure he was shocked and surprised. It was probably the first time Phil was lost for words." Bourque would go on to score during the game that followed, his first goal in 24 games. "I wore number 7 for eight years," Ray said. "I like that number. I've had a lot of success with it. Now I've doubled it. Maybe I'll be able to have even more success with the double 7."


Bourque would have little trouble making #77 famous on it's own, and eventually win a Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche to conclude his Hall of Fame career, and his #77 is now retired in not only Colorado, but now hangs alongside Esposito's #7 in Boston as well.


Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Boston Bruins Ray Bourque jersey that carries the #7 and assistant captain's "A" that Bourque would wear for home games that season. This is the jersey that Bourque famously peeled off and surrendered to Phil Esposito during Esposito's jersey number 7 retirement ceremony on this date in 1987.

The Bruins wore this jersey style for the first time in 1974-75, adding shoulder patches in 1976 and names on the back a year later. The jerseys then remained unchanged all the way through the 1994-95 season, and frankly never should have been replaced, as they would now be on the same plane as the unchanging sweaters of the Red Wings, Blackhawks, Rangers and Canadiens.

Boston Bruins 87-88 7 jersey photo BostonBruins87-887HF.jpg
Boston Bruins 87-88 7 jersey photo BostonBruins87-887HB.jpg

Monday, December 2, 2013

2002 Latvia National Team Sergei Zholtok Jersey

Born on this date in 1972, Sergei Zholtok was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins 55th overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft after playing two seasons with his hometown club Dynamo Riga in Latvia. Prior to being drafted, Zholtok won a silver medal at the 1991 World Junior Championships while skating for the Soviet Union, of which Latvia was still a member. 

Zholtok CCCP photo ZholtokCCCP.jpg
Zholtok caught the eye of NHL scouts at the World Juniors

He then won a gold at the 1992 World Juniors during a remarkable period in history, as the team arrived in Finland as the Soviet Union, winning their first three games, including one on December 31st, 1991, before their country ceased to exist and they played their game on January 1st, 1992 as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)! 

Zholtok spent the majority of his first season in North America of 1992-93 playing with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, appearing in one game with Boston, registering an assist for his first NHL point.

Zholtok Providence photo ZholtokProvidence.jpg
Zholtok made his North American debut with the P-Bruins

1993-94 was split between Providence (54 games) and Boston(24 games), and saw him score his first NHL goal against fellow Latvian Arturs Irbe.

The Providence Bruins would be his home for the entire 1994-95 season and he would score 23 goals and 35 assists for 58 points in 78 games.

 photo ProvidenceBruins1994-95jersey.jpg
Zholtok's 1994-95 Providence Bruins jersey
with the AHL All-Star Game patch
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Zholtok would have his breakout season the following year with the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL scoring 51 goals and 50 assists for 101 points in 82 games, all career highs.

 photo ZholtokThunder.jpg
Zholtok found success with Las Vegas

He would split the next season between Las Vegas (19 games) and the Ottawa Senators in his return to the NHL, where he would see action in 57 games and collect 28 points. He would again play in Ottawa in 1997-98 for a full campaign, scoring 23 points for the season.

 photo ZholtokSenators.jpg
Zholtok returned to the NHL with the Senators

1998-99 saw Zholtok move to the Montreal Canadiens as a free agent, where he would collect 22 points in 70 games. 38 points would follow in 1999-00 and 2000-01 saw him play 32 games in Montreal, scoring 11 points before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers for the second half of the season. It was not a good year for Zholtok, as between the two clubs combined, he would score only five goals in 69 games.

With his value at a low point, he was acquired by the Minnesota Wild for just a 7th round draft choice. The move to the fledgling second year Wild offered Zholtok the chance for a new start and increased playing time, including playing the point on the Wild's first power play unit even though he was a forward.

He seized the opportunity and set a new personal NHL best with 39 points on 19 goals and 20 assists. 2002-03 would see him improve upon that mark with 42 points on 16 goals and 26 assists, as well as being the first Latvian to captain an NHL team when Wild coach Jacques Lemaire named Zholtok captain for January as part of his rotating monthly captaincy.

Zholtok Wild photo ZholtokWild2.jpg
Zholtok became the first Latvian to captain an NHL club

Zholtok was also a key part of the Wild's unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals, which included dramatic comebacks from being down 3 games to 1 to both the Colorado Avalanche in round 1, including his assisting on the series clinching goal in overtime of Game 7 by Andrew Brunette, and again to the Vancouver Canucks in round 2. Zholtok would total 13 points in 18 games during the Wild's playoff run.

Zholtok Wild photo ZholtokWild1.jpg

2003-04 saw Zholtok play in 59 games for the Wild, one of only four Latvian players in the NHL that season, scoring 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points in 59 games before being dealt to the Nashville Predators along with Brad Bombardir for a pair of third and fourth round draft picks at the trade dealine. He would play in 11 games for the Predators, followed by 6 playoff games in his final NHL action.

With the players locked out by the NHL owners for the 2004-05 season, Zholtok, a national hero in Latvia and a regular member of the Lativan National Team, would do what many NHL players did and return to his home country to play, bringing former Wild teammate Darby Hendrickson with him.

Darby Hendrickson and Sergei Zholtok
Hendrickson joined Zholtok in Riga during the 2004 lockout

Zholtok would compete in just six games for HK Riga 2000.

What followed was hinted at in January of 2003, when Zholtok was forced to leave a game due to an occurrence of dizziness and fatigue and was taken to the hospital. Two nights later he skated in the pre-game warmups, but did not feel well enough to play.

The problems returned early in the 2003-04 season when he suffered a fainting spell during the second period of a game. He spent the night in the hospital and was diagnosed with hyperventilation. Additional testing ten days later at the Mayo Clinic revealed an irregular heartbeat. He missed seven games before being cleared by his cardiologist to resume play - exactly one year to the day prior to what happened next.

On the night of November 3rd, 2004, Riga 2000 travelled to Belarus for their game against Dynamo Minsk that night. Zholtok told Hendrickson before the game. "You better have the energy on our line tonight because I don't have it." Late in the game, Zholtok left the bench area to return to the locker room and collapsed. Hendrickson, still in his hockey gear ran to the team bus to retrieve his cell phone and called Minnesota Wild team medical director Sheldon Burns, telling him that Zholtok was having the "same episode as last year." For 20 agonizing minutes Burns communicated instructions through Hendrickson to the paramedics, one of whom spoke English and Russian. At one point Zholtok told Hendrickson "Don't leave." according to Hendrickson's agent Neil Sheehy. They attempted to shock his heart but all their attempts to save him failed and Zholtok died in Hendrickson's arms.

Renowned for being a dedicated family man, Zholtok left behind his wife Anna and his sons Edgar, 14 at the time, and Nikita, then just 4 years old.

Tributes to Zholtok came from all corners of the hockey world and mourners held a candlelight vigil outside the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation in Riga. There is now an annual Sergei Zholtok Memorial U20 tournament held in Riga every year and a permanent display honoring Zholtok at the Minnesota WIld's Xcel Energy Center.

Zholtok, along with fellow Latvian NHLer Irbe, was a board member of the Kids First Fund for abused and abandoned children in Latvia and Moldova. After reading the linked article, if you would like to donate to this cause that Zholtok so strongly believed in, you can do so by clicking here.

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On a personal note, while Zholtok was with the Minnesota Wild, we had the opportunity to meet him in person several times, at both Wild practices and various personal appearances. One of our favorite memories is wearing our Dynamo Riga jersey to practice one day, his first professional club. Shocked to see a jersey from home, 4500 miles away, he excitedly grabbed a teammate and pulled him over to the glass exclaiming "That's from my home town!"

We would make a point of attending his personal appearances of the "question and answer" format, often asking him questions about playing for his country, which he would always answer thoughtfully and with pride. Those were one of the few questions that he did not answer with "spending time with my family" or "going fishing".

Our other favorite shared moment with Zholtok was during the time of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. The lower ranked nations of Slovakia, Austria, Latvia and Germany were placed in one group, while France, Switzerland, Ukraine and Belarus were placed in another group called the Preliminary Round. Only the two group winners would advance to the main competition, which began with the Qualifying Round, against the likes of Canada, Russia and the United States, etc.

Unfortunately for the lower ranked nations, the NHL did not stop their season for the Preliminary Round, forcing countries like Latvia and Slovakia to compete minus their best players, who were still obligated to their NHL clubs at the time. On February 10, 2002, Latvia faced a crucial game versus Slovakia, needing a win to keep pace with Germany for the group lead. We attended the Wild game that evening, wearing our Latvia National Team jersey in support of Zholtok, knowing that he would have his national team on his mind that evening. Standing behind the goal during warmups, Zholtok spotted us as he skated toward the goal, nodded to us and tapped his heart with his fist twice in acknowledgment of our show of understanding and support.

Without Zholtok, Sandis Ozolinsh and Irbe, who asked to be released by the Carolina Hurricanes for the Latvians crucial final game against Germany and was turned down even though Tom Barrasso was their number one goaltender at the time, Latvia had to stage a comeback to salvage a tie against Slovakia 6-6, leaving them a point behind first place and forcing a must win game against Germany, which Latvia lost 4-1 to end their Olympic participation even before their NHL reinforcements could arrive, the same fate that befell the shorthanded Slovaks, who were without such players a Ziggy Palffy, Miroslav Satan, Pavol Demitra, Marian Hossa and Peter Bondra. The Olympic hockey tournament format was amended in time for the 2006 Winter Olympics to prevent such circumstances from happening again.

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Internationally, Zholtok would compete at both the 1990 European Junior Championships and 1991 World Juniors for the Soviet Union and the 1992 World Juniors memorably as both the Soviet Union and then the CIS. With Latvia now free to conduct their own national team program, Zholtok skated for Latvia at the 1994 World Championships in the B Pool and in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2004 in the Top Division of the World Championships, scoring 21 goals and 32 points in 34 games at the senior level for Latvia as his NHL commitments would allow.

 photo ZholtokLatvia.jpg
Zholtok skating for Latvia at the 2005 World Championships

Todays jersey is a 2002 Latvia National Team Sergei Zholtok jersey. After initially competing in blue jerseys with red trim in 1993 after regaining their independence from the Soviet Union, Latvia changed to their now customary maroon and white jerseys in 1996, an obvious choice with those being the colors of the Latvian flag.

Their jerseys would only undergo minor detail changes while remaining in use through 2004, such as collar style and sleeve number placement, and see Latvia through some of their finest moments, such as their emotionally charged 3-2 defeat of Russia at the 2000 World Championships in Russia, and defeating the Russians again 2-1 in 2003.

2002 Latvia F jersey photo Latvia2002WCF.jpg
2002 Latvia B jersey photo Latvia2002WCB.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is 2002-03 Minnesota Wild Sergei Zholtok jersey. This jersey has the captain's "C", proudly worn by Zholtok in January of 2003. It also features one of our custom made Hockey Fights Cancer patches, worn by each team's captain for one game only, in this case Minnesota's game on January 10th vs. the Phoenix Coyotes, and then auctioned off for charity during the subsequent NHL All-Star Game weekend later that season.

Minnesota Wild 2002-03 jersey photo MinnesotaWild02-03F.jpg
Minnesota Wild 2002-03 jersey photo MinnesotaWild02-03B.jpg
 photo MinnesotaWild02-03P.jpg

Today's first video was produced by the Minnesota Wild and is from Sergei Zholtok Night at the Xcel Energy Center.


This next video features more highlights from his games with the Latvian National Team.


Here is Zholtok scoring his three goals in the 2004 World Championships against Germany, Kazakhstan and finally Austria, his final World Championships of the six he would compete in for Latvia.




Next is an extensive biography of Zholtok done by the LNT, Latvian Independant Television. It's in Latvian, but still well worth watching.



Finally, the final interview he conducted upon his return to Latvia in late 2004. Again, it's in Latvian, but it has a lot of game footage in all four parts that make it worth watching to see Zholtok in action.





To donate to the Kids First Fund, please click on the image below.

 

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