Friday, January 3, 2014

1942-43 Chicago Black Hawks Reg Bentley Jersey

Chicago Black Hawks left winger Reg Bentley scored on this date in 1943 in a 3-3 tie against the New York Rangers with assists by his brothers Max and Doug Bentley.


It was the first goal in NHL history where all three points were awarded to the same family and it turned out to be the only goal of Reg Bentley's NHL career.

The brothers would repeat the feat 18 days later on the 21st of January, this time with Doug scoring with assists from Max and Reg in another tie, this time a 4-4 contest against the Montreal Canadiens.

While Max Bentley would play 12 NHL seasons, score over 500 points, be named the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy in 1943, win the Art Ross Trophy as the winner of the league' scoring title twice, in 1946 and 1947, be named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP in 1947, win the Stanley Cup three times with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1948, 1949 and 1951 and be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and Doug Bentley would play 13 NHL seasons, score over 500 points and also win the Art Ross trophy in 1943 and be named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1964, Reg Bentley's NHL career was limited to just 11 games in the 1942-43 season with the Black Hawks.

Reg, the oldest of the three brothers, would play ten years of senior hockey in Canada before turing pro with Kansas City of the American Hockey Association (AHA) in 1941-42. His time with the Black Hawks would come the following season at age 27 and he would total his one record setting goal, plus two assists, in his 11 NHL games.

After playing minimal hockey for two seasons due to World War II, he would resume his career and play seven more seasons beginning in 1945-46 with the New Westminster Royals of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL). He would score 30 goals and 57 points in 57 games in his first season with the Royals and 41 goals and 71 points in 60 games the following season.

The next four seasons of Reg's playing days were mainly spent with the Saskatoon Quakers of the Western Canada Senior Hockey League (WCSHL), winning the championship in 1951.

Today's featured jersey is a 1942-43 Chicago Black Hawks jersey, as worn by the Bentley brothers on the date they made league history by becoming the first family to garner all three points for a goal.

The Black Hawks barbepole style was originally adopted in 1937 and went through a few minor revisions in striping and logo before arriving at this design in 1941 which remained unchanged until 1947 before there were some additional tweaks to the logo. The Black Hawks would continue to wear this basic barberpole style jersey until 1955 before changing to the original version of their jerseys which remain in use today.

This jersey was revived as the Blackhawks Turn Back the Clock jersey for the NHL's 75th Anniversary season when the Original 6 teams all wore throwback jerseys in 1991-92 on occasion.


As you might guess, searching for 1940's Black Hawks highights on YouTube is a long shot. Here's one we found, but I don't think it's the right Bentley Brothers...


Now, this on the other hand, is at least the right Blackhawks, and an interesting look at how the current Blackhawks official logos are made for their jerseys. That chain stitching machine looks like it's on the verge of attacking the operator at any time! That thing is out of control. We really, really need to learn French after seeing this one.


Dasherboard: Results from yesterday's Quarterfinals in the 2014 IIHF World Juniors in Sweden saw the United States bow out early with a bad second period that saw the US give up two quick power play goals to Russia, losing their 3-2 first period lead in the process. Following the first period the Russian defense held strong and the US never scored again, eventually falling 5-3.

In the second game, Finland continued their strong play by eliminating the Czech Republic 5-3. Canada took care of business with a 4-1 win over Switzerland, who have historically been a thorn in Canada's side internationally over the last decade.

In the final game of the day, host Sweden delighted the home fans with a dominating 6-0 cruise over Slovakia, who had been playing very well this year, which is a testament to how strong Sweden is this year.

Saturday sees Sweden facing Russia for the second time, with Sweden having taken their first meeting 3-2 on New Year's Eve. The second game has Canada facing Finland for the right to go to the gold medal game.

In the Relegation Round, Norway surprised with a 3-0 blanking of Germany to open their best-of-three Relegation Round series, which sees the second game being played today, the only one on today's schedule.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers Robbie Ftorek Jersey

Born on this date in 1952, Robbie Ftorek got his career off to a memorable start after playing high school hockey in is native Massachusetts and one year of junior hockey, he was recruited for the United States National team which went on to represent the US at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan just past his 20th birthday and without having played a single game of college or minor league hockey.

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Needham High's Robbie Ftorek

Once in Japan, the United States defeated Switzerland in an all-or-nothing playoff game to advance to Group A to compete for a medal. After a loss to Sweden, the US shocked Czechoslovakia 5-1. They then lost to the dominant Soviet Union but followed that with another upset win, this time over Finland 4-1. They completed their schedule with a 6-1 win over Poland, and when Czechoslovakia lost to the Soviet Union and Finland dropped Sweden by a goal, suddenly the United States found themselves elevated from fourth place to second, giving them the silver medal!

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American Olympian Robbie Ftorek

He remained with the national team long enough play in the World Championships where the US went 5-1 in Group B where he was selected to the tournament all-star team.

With the good fortune to have been born in the early 1950's, he came of age in the early 1970's, which gave him the option of joining the NHL or theWHA, and despite being drafted by the New England Whalers of the WHA, he chose instead to sign as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL. He played the majority of the 1972-73 season with the Virginia Wings of the AHL , but did make his NHL debut with 3 games with Detroit.

The following season of 1973-74, Ftorek scored his first NHL points with 2 goals and 5 assists in a dozen games in Detroit, but once again played most of the year with Virginia, where he impressed with 24 goals and 66 points in 65 games.

His 1974-75 season was again split between the minor and the pros, only this time out he was with the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL for 11 games and played 53 games with his new club, the Phoenix Roadrunners of the WHA, where he had his first 30 goal season with 31, as well as another 37 assists for 68 points in just 53 games.

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Ftorek now in the WHA with Phoenix

He returned to Phoenix for the 1975-76 season where he led the Roadrunners in points with 113, which was good for fifth in the league, thanks in part to his 41 goals. He then posted similar numbers in year three in Phoenix, upping his totals to 46 goals and 117 points to finish fourth in the WHA. Before the 1976-77 season began, Ftorek laced up his skates for the United States for the inaugural Canada Cup tournament. In five games for the US, he scored 3 goals and 2 assists to lead the Americans in scoring.

Ftorek's heroics in Phoenix were not enough to save the struggling franchise however, and the club folded after the season. This allowed him to sign with the Cincinnati Stingers for 1977-78, leading to one of the more unusual jersey stories in hockey history. Stingers veteran Claude Larose had worn #8 for the past two seasons and Ftorek had also been wearing #8 as a tribute to former Boston Bruin Fleming Mackell. Neither wanted to relinquish their favorite number, so they had the team petition the league and permission was granted for both players to wear #8 during the season!

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The 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers

Ftorek went on to lead the club in scoring by a wide margin with 109 points, well clear of Rick Dudley's 71. Ftorek's 59 goals were third overall in the WHA. In the standings, the Stingers finished seventh in the one-division now shrinking WHA, two points out of the playoffs.

Ftorek again led the team in points in 1978-79 with 116, now second overall in the WHA. The Stingers were eliminated from the playoffs in Round 1, two games to one by the New England Whalers, but not before winning their one and only playoff game in team history 6-3 at home in Game 2.


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Following the season, the WHA agreed to a one-sided merger plan with the NHL, which allowed Winnipeg, New England, Quebec and Edmonton to join the NHL as expansion franchises, while the owners of both Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls were given a cash payment of $3.15 million as a buy-out, putting an end to the Stingers franchise after just four years on the ice.

Once again a free agent, Ftorek signed with the Quebec Nordiques for their inaugural NHL season. With established scorers Real Cloutier, Marc Tardif and Michel Goulet already on the roster, Ftorek's numbers suffered as he was no longer the "go to" guy. His point totals dropped to 18 goals and 51 points, as the Nordiques sank to 61 points in the standings, 19th out of 21, as they were heavily affected by the terms of their entry into the NHL.

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Nordiques Captain Ftorek

In 1980-81 he raised his totals back up to 24 goals and 73 points, thanks in part to the arrival of Peter and Anton Stastny, which bolstered the Nordiques offensive attack. Ftorek would play for the United States one final time during the 1981 Canada Cup prior to playing just 19 games with Quebec in 1981-82, which included being named the team captain, before being traded for the first time in his career. His destination was the New York Rangers, where he would play 30 games during the remainder of the season, 61 in 1982-83 and 31 the following season before coming full circle as he found himself back in the CHL with the Tulsa Oilers for a second time.

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Ftorek finished his time in the NHL with the Rangers

He was back with the Rangers in 1984-85 for 48 games, as well as 17 in the AHL with the New Haven Nighthawks. He would play just a single game for New Haven in 1985-86 before retiring as a player, ending his career with 707 combined WHA and NHL games, 293 goals and 750 points. He would eventually make his way back to the NHL as a head coach with the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers Robbie Ftorek jersey. Or is it a Claude Larose jersey?

In a story that could only come from the wacky WHA, LaRose was the Stingers leading scorer at the time they acquired the league MVP Ftorek, formerly of Phoenix - and both wore the #8. The Stingers appealed to the league and were granted permission to have both players wear #8 - at the same time!

Since the nameplate was removed from this jersey, there's no way to be certain short of photomatching, which one of Ftorek or Larose wore this particular #8 jersey. Larose was traded to the Indianapolis Racers after 51 games of that season, leaving Ftorek's to wear #8 all by himself for the remainder of his time in Cincinnati.

With the Stingers name lending itself to a multi-stripe theme, it's a wonder the Stingers jerseys were as reserved as they were. The Stingers logo is a wonderful piece of graphic design and looks as modern today as it did when it was first conceived, and has always been a favorite of ours.

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Cincinnati Stingers1977-78 Jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1977-78BJersey.png

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game History

As time has past and the NHL Winter Classic has evolved into a bigger and longer event over the last six years, with the addition of multiple games for local high schools, colleges, minor league teams, the second most popular event on the schedule is the alumni games featuring legendary players from the franchises involved.

During the first Winter Classic in 2008, the Sabres hosted a "house party" at their home, the HSBC Arena. Fans who did not get tickets to the actual outdoor Winter Classic could come and watch the game on the arena's scoreboard video screens. Prior to the Winter Classic, the Sabres Alumni Team played a game as part of the House Party.

In 2010 at Fenway Park, Bruins Alumni, wearing the Bruins gold Winter Classic jerseys, took part in "The First Skate at Fenway" on the rink, a pleasure skate for Bruins veterans, local youth teams, family members and other Boston area celebrities, such as members of the Boston Red Sox.

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Bobby Orr, Milt Schmidt and Terry O'Reilly
at the First Skate at Fenway

The first Winter Classic NHL Legends Game took place in 2011 in Pittsburgh between alumni from the Penguins and Capitals, with the Pittsburgh alumni wearing the same light blue jerseys the Penguins would wear while the Capitals alumni wore Washington's current home red jerseys.

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Mario Lemieux skates for the Penguins in 2011

For the game hosted by Philadelphia in 2012, the Flyers alumni, wearing orange Flyers home jerseys, took on the Rangers alumni, who wore blue Rangers home jerseys.

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Mark Messier and Bernie Parent in 2012

For 2014, the Red Wings and Maple Leafs both had so many players from the past willing to participate that a double header of Alumni Showdown games were scheduled in Detroit at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.

Unlike past alumni games, both teams wore unique jerseys that were neither one of their team's current jerseys, nor that season's Winter Classic jerseys either.

For both games, the Maple Leafs wore their 1978-92 blue road jerseys. Detroit took yet a different approach, as their squad for the first game wore the same 1926-27 Detroit Cougars jerseys from the franchise's debut season. These were the jerseys the Red Wings wore for their first Winter Classic in Chicago back in 2009.

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Red Berenson for Detroit and Brad Marsh take part
in the first of two alumni games in 2014

Today's featured jersey is a 2014 Winter Classic Detroit Red Wings Alumni Showdown Game 2 jersey. In order to be on the Detroit roster for the second game of the Alumni Showdown, a player needed to have won a Stanley Cup, an individual NHL award or have been enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

For this special lineup of legendary Red Wings, a special jersey was created for the first time in the history of the Winter Classic legends games. This unique jersey was the reverse of the 2009 Winter Classic jersey, now red with a white band around the chest, and is today's featured jersey. 

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Slava Fetisov and Chris Chelios wearing the red jersey
worn by the Detroit alumni in Game 2 of the Alumni Showdown

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Here is a preview of the Alumni Showdown, showing just how much the players were looking forward to the event.


Here are extended highlights of Game 1 of the Alumni Showdown.


Finally, the standout moments from Game 2 of the Alumni Showdown, featuring Chris Chelios' amazing goal celebration!


The History of the NHL Winter Classic

The NHL's 6th Winter Classic takes place today, Wednesday, January 1st, at Michigan Stadium, home of the Michigan Wolverines.

The original inspiration for the Winter Classic must be given to The Cold War, an outdoor game held at Spartan Stadium in nearby East Lansing, Michigan when Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, then of the CCHA, battled to a 3-3 tie in front of 74,544 fans, an attendance figure which no doubt raised eyebrows with the powers that be across the NHL.

Cold War 2001
The Cold War

The first to to embrace the concept in the NHL was the Edmonton Oilers, who hosted the Montreal Canadiens on November 22, 2003 in what was dubbed The Heritage Classic at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.

Theodore toque Canadiens
Jose Theodore famously wearing a toque during the Heritage Classic

In addition to the game itself, which counted in the NHL's regular season standings, the event drew a great deal of publicity for the MegaStars Game, an exhibition game between Oilers legends from their 1980's dynasty versus a team of Canadiens legends from their dynasty of the 1970's. To date, that event is the one and only time Wayne Gretzky has taken part in an NHL old-timers game of any kind, and something he has publicly stated will be the only time. Such was the importance of the event in Canada, that Mark Messier received special permission from the New York Rangers to take part in the game despite being the only player still active in the NHL.

Heritige Classic MegaStars game
Mark Messier congratulates Guy Lafleur following the MegaStars game

The Winter Classic began in 2008 when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the host Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, primary home of the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. The game was a tremendous success on many levels, as 71,217 fans set an NHL attendance record, the weather cooperated with a picturesque snowfall during the game and the most visible player in the league, Sidney Crosby, scored the game winning goal in the shootout for Pittsburgh.

One other element of the game was an outstanding success, the use of throwback jerseys by both the Penguins and Sabres. The Penguins revived their powder blue road jerseys from the 1970-71 season while the Sabres opted for their original home white jerseys from the same 1970-71 season.

2008 NHL Winter Classic
Crosby scores the game winning goal in his light blue throwback jersey

The Sabres jerseys were very well received as the club was presently wearing their controversial "Buffaslug" jerseys at the time as fans longed for a full-time return to the team's original look. An updated version of their classic blue jersey was the first result, being introduced the following season and became the team's primary jersey two seasons later.

The Penguins, fueled by the popularity of stars Evgeni Malkin, and especially that of Crosby, adopted the 2008 Winter Classic jersey as their alternate jersey the following season and sold them by the thousands.

The use of throwback and retro styled jerseys at the Winter Classic has remained, with the Chicago Blackhawks hybrid style of a 1935-36 jersey mated with a 1948 logo taking on the Detroit Red Wings, who employed the jerseys originally worn by the Detroit Cougars in the franchise's first season of 1926-27. The Blackhawks jerseys continued to live on, with the addition of a secondary logo on the shoulders as the club's third jersey for the next couple of seasons.

The 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field

In 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers, whose jerseys haven't changed all that much since their inception, stripped away many of the modern additions to their jerseys and reverted to a simpler style based on their 1970's jerseys with the revival of the contrasting color nameplate, which is based on the Flyers only having one set of white nameplates made up in the days when teams had to add names to their jerseys for national TV games. This jersey was a white version of their current orange third jersey, and when it was promoted to the primary jersey for 2010, the white Winter Classic jersey was revived as the Flyers new road jersey and remains in use four seasons later.

The Boston Bruins also went the hybrid route in 2010 and created a striking jersey that used the 1958-59 jersey template done in the brown and gold colors the Bruins wore during their first decade mated with the crest from their first use of the famed spoked "B" logo in 1948. Additionally, the crest and numbers were done in a retro felt material, which only enhanced the retro effect that much more.

2010 Winter Classic jerseys Pictures, Images and Photos
The 2010 Winter Classic held at Fenway Park

For 2011 at the Pittsburgh Steelers Heinz Field, both the host Penguins and the Washington Capitals produced special jerseys. The Penguins have gone back to their inaugural season for inspiration by using their first jersey's original template and unique number font, but with the navy and light blue colors reversed. They then decorated it with a an original and unused version of their skating penguin logo, a thinner penguin wearing a winter scarf. Again, this jersey lived on beyond the Winter Classic, being used as an alternate through the 2012-13 season.

The Capitals also returned to their roots, reviving their original star spangled red, white and blue jerseys used from 1974 until 1995. This jersey still remains in use as an alternate for Washington.

Aside from the jerseys, this game is best remembered for being postponed until the evening for more favorable weather conditions, only to have it plagued by rain which affected play more than any other game, and for the collision which left star Crosby concussed, an injury which was compounded by another hit shortly thereafter which caused him to miss months of action.

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The 2012 Winter Classic was the second appearance for the Flyers, who hosted the New York Rangers at Citizens Bank Ballpark, home of the Philadelphia Phillies MLB team. With so few styles to choose from in their past, and still wearing their first Winter Classic jerseys, the Flyers created a brand new jersey with a retro feel. This jersey had simple, classic hockey styling, the use of a contrasting nameplate and was topped off with keystone shaped patches which housed the captain's "C" and assistant captain's "A's".

The Rangers went the same route, creating a cream colored jersey with visual striping cues from their past topped off with an old version of their shield logo, which complimented the Flyers similar effort quite nicely.

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One interesting story to arise out of the 2012 classic was the early guess work done by fans as to what the teams' jerseys would look like. Once such concept was a very professional effort in which the Flyers jerseys were based on the first NHL team to call Philadelphia home, the Quakers.

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Done far enough in advance and with such a high degree of creativity and skill, counterfeit manufacturers overseas put the concept into production well in advance of the announcement of the actual jerseys, ruining any chance this design had of being put into production had the Flyers actually been considering such an idea.

Originally scheduled for January 1, 2013, but not played due to the ongoing NHL lockout at the time, today's game is expected to set a world record for attendance at a hockey game, with an expected 110,000+ crammed into "The Big House". For today's game the host Red Wings opted for the faux-back route, creating a new jersey with retro styling. Unique features of this style are the captain's "C" and "A's" being on the sleeves and the retro styled number font, which the Minnesota Wild should have adopted for it's retro themed jerseys back in 2003.

The main criticism of the Red Wings jerseys in the unnecessary use of "DETROIT" over the iconic winged wheel logo.

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One new aspect of this year's matchup is the Red Wings opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic. While Toronto's jersey is an attractive one, it does disappoint us somewhat, as the Maple Leafs have already worn this style dating from 1931 previously, that being the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1996-97 when it was worn twice.

Those jerseys were produced in a special edition, limited to just 1,931 jerseys and was one of the most desirable and collectable jerseys in the hobby, which we feel has had the luster taken off of it's limited nature now that it has been remade in large quantities, even if the new variation has differences such as white shoulders and collar with laces on the front.

One other aspect of this jersey is it's color - blue! This leaves us with a color on color matchup, which should look great on TV against the white ice, although reversing the color of the Maple Leafs jerseys to white with blue striping could have been done to protect the exclusivity of the 1996-97 limited edition.

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Here is a preview of today's game and a look at the rivalry between the two Original 6 franchises.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

World Juniors and Spengler Cup Updates

In yesterday's World Juniors, upsets were the story of the day as play opened with Germany shocking the Czech Republic by not just winning, but blanking the Czechs despite Germany entering the game having scored 4 goals and having given up 24 in their previous three games. The 3 points for Germany lifted them out of last place and the relegation spot for the time being.

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That unexpected win was followed by Finland having an easy time of it in their 4-1 upset over favored Russia. When the afternoon session began, the trend continued as feisty Slovakia pulled away to a 3-1 lead over Canada, while in Group B, Norway led after one period 1-0 over Switzerland, making one wonder if this day would finish with four upsets out of four.

Canada dug deep and staged a comeback against Slovakia, closing to within one before the end of the second period and then dominating the third with three goals to pull away for a 5-3 win, giving them a chance to win Group A with a regulation win over the United States today.

Switzerland settled down and scored one in the second period and took a one goal lead early in the third, but plucky Norway tied it at the 9:00 mark, but less than 3 minutes later the Swiss got the game winner on a power play to send Norway to the Relegation Round and ensure their own spot in the playoffs on Thursday.

In today's early games, the Czech Republic rebounded from their loss to Germany with a 4-1 win over Slovakia. That result sent Germany into the Relegation Round against Norway and lifted the Czechs over Slovakia into third place in the final standings with 5 points to Slovakia's 3. Slovakia's win over Germany gave them the tie breaker and puts them into the playoffs against Sweden, who won the early game in Group B with an exciting 3-2 win over Russia, which was not decided until late in the game when Jacob de la Rose (Canadiens) tipped in a shot from the point by Gustav Olofsson (Wild).

In the just completed final games of the Preliminary Round, Canada raised their game against their rivals from the United States with first place in the group on the line and came away with a hard fought 3-2 win to take Group A.

Meanwhile, in Group B, the last game went to overtime as the Swiss got out to a 3-1 lead just before the halfway point of the game, but Finland fought back to tie the game just 35 seconds into the third period. Switzerland held tough to get the game to overtime before it was decided 4-3 in favor of Switzerland in a 6 round shootout, but the point scored by Finland for getting to overtime was enough to clinch second place in the group behind perfect Sweden. Russia placed third and Switzerland advanced from fourth place.

The Quarterfinal matchups are now set. In the first game, the United States loss today sees them now drawing Russia, losers of their last two, and who will no doubt be fired up with elimination now on the line at 6 AM eastern time with each subsequent game starting at 2 1/2 hour intervals. Finland is matched up against the Czech Republic in the second game of the cross-over pairings. By winning Group A, Canada draws Switzerland while Group B winner Sweden faces Slovakia in the late game in Thursday's hockey marathon.

In the United States, all four games will be aired on the NHL Network, while in Canada TSN has all but the Finland vs. Czech Republic game, which will be on TSN2.

In Switzerland, the Spengler Cup has concluded following yesterday's semifinal games where CSKA Moscow disappointed the home fans by defeating HC Davos 5-4 in a shootout. Geneve-Servette kept Swiss hopes alive with a 6-5 win over Team Canada after the Canadians rally from 6-3 fell short.

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That set up today's championship final where Servette led 2-0 after one period and had a 4-0 lead before CSKA got on the board with a goal just before the game's halfway point. The Russians got an early goal in the third period and pulled within one with a third consecutive goal at 16:31 but that was all they could muster as Geneva sealed the win with an empty net goal from former Ottawa Senator Kaspars Daugavins with a minute remaining for the final 5-3 margin and the championship.

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The win for Geneve-Servette was their first in the 91 year history of the tournament. They became only the third Swiss team to win the cup.

1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina Jersey

In 1909, goaltender Georges Vezina joined his local team, the Chicoutimi Hockey Club.

Vezina Saguenéens
Vezina in 1909 as a member of the Saguenéens

The club, known as the Saguenéens, played an exhibition game against a brand new club playing in their first ever season, the Montreal Canadiens in February of 1910. Vezina shutout the Canadiens by a score of 2-0 that evening. So impressive was Vezina's performance that his opponent that evening, Joseph Cattarinich, recommended Vezina to his team owner George Kennedy, who reached an agreement with Vezina to play for the Canadiens beginning with the 1910-11 season.

Vezina made his Montreal debut on this date, New Year's Eve. in 1910 and went on to play all 16 of the Canadiens games in the National Hockey Association (NHA), finishing with a record of 8-8 while allowing the fewest goals in the league and his cool demeanor earned him the nickname the "Chicoutimi Cucumber". The following year he again led the league with the fewest goals allowed, but Montreal gave him little offensive support and their 8-10 record left them in last place.

Vezina Montreal 12-13
Vezina in the Canadiens barberpole jerseys of 1912-13

He recorded his first professional shutout, as well as the first in Canadiens history, with a 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on January 18, 1913. After finishing with a 9-11 mark that season, the Canadiens improved in 1913-14 when Vezina posted his first winning season with a 13-7 mark, good for a tie for first place with the Toronto Blueshirts, who defeated Montreal in a two game playoff series for the championship.

After a last place finish in 1914-15, Montreal rebounded strongly in 1915-16 to earn their first O'Brien Cup as NHA champions with a 16-7-1 record. As champions of the NHA, Montreal earned the right to host the Portland Rosebuds of the PCHA in a best-of-five playoff for the rights to the Stanley Cup.

Portland shut out Montreal 2-0 in Game 1, but the Canadiens came back to win the second game 2-1. Game three also went to Montreal 6-3 prior to Portland evening the series with a 6-4 win in Game 4 to set up a winner take all Game 5. Vezina and the Canadiens then captured the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 2-1 win over the Rosebuds in front of their fans at the Montreal Arena.

Vezina Montreal 1915-16
Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning season of 1915-16. Note the "CA" logo on the chest, worn prior to the now familiar "CH" logo, which would arrive the following season.

Montreal defeated Ottawa in a two-game, total-goals playoff 7-6 to remain NHA champions in 1916-17 to earn their second O'Brien Cup but fell in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Seattle Metropolitans.

For the 1917-18 season, Montreal began play in the new National Hockey League (NHL), Vezina recorded the first shutout in NHL history on February 18, 1918 and early in the next season, on December 28, 1918, he became the first goaltender to ever earn a point in the NHL when he was credited with an assist in a 6-3 win over the Toronto Arenas. While Montreal finished second during the regular season, they defeated Ottawa in the playoffs for their first NHL championship. They then travelled to Seattle to face the Metropolitans in the Stanley Cup Final, but play was suspended with the series tied at 2-2-1 when players began to become sick due to the Spanish Influenza epidemic, which would claim the life of Canadian Joe Hall.

1919 Stanely Cup engraving
The engraving noting "series not completed" for the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals

After four more seasons with Montreal, each with a winning record, Vezina established an NHL record with the first goals against average under 2.00 when he finished the season at 1.97. Montreal then defeated the favored Senators to become champions of the NHL and went on to capture their second Stanley Cup in 1924 when they first defeated the Vancouver Maroons 2 games to none and then the Calgary Tigers two games to none. In their four Stanley Cup contests, Vezina allowed just four goals, with a shutout in the final game to clinch the cup.

Vezina Montreal 1923-24
Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning 1923-24 season

The following season Vezina set career best marks with 17 wins as well as lowering his goals against average to 1.81.

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Vezina in the Canadiens 1924-25 jerseys which
commemorates their status as world champions

When Vezina arrived for training camp in 1925-26, he appeared sick, and by the time the regular season began on November 28, he had lost 35 pounds in six weeks and was running a fever of 102º. Still, he started the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and held them scoreless through one period. During the intermission he began vomiting blood prior to insisting he begin the second period, but he collapsed on the ice and was taken out of the game. "In the arena, all was silent as the limp form of the greatest of goalies was carried slowly from the ice," reported one journalist.

The following day he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and never played again. He returned home to Chicoutimi and died on March 27, 1926 just 39 years old.

During his 15 year career, which began on this date in 1910, Vezina played every one of Montreal's 328 regular season and 39 playoff games and had the lowest goals against average seven times and the second lowest on another five occasions.

With Vezina in goal, Montreal would win two NHA championships, three NHL championships and two Stanley Cups from those five appearances. His final combined NHA and NHL totals show 175 wins, 15 by shutout, a goals against average of 3.49 and another 15 playoff victories.

In 1926 the owners of the Canadiens donated a trophy in his name, the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most valuable goaltender each season in the NHL.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a charter member of it's inaugural 12 man class in 1945.

Today's featured jersey is a 1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina jersey. While the Canadiens are known for their iconic Bleu, Blanc et Rouge jerseys with the blue band across their red jerseys, the earliest version of of today's well known look did not arrive until the Canadiens fourth season of 1912-13 when their white, blue and red barberpole jerseys caused the Ottawa Senators to complain that Montreal's barberpole sweaters were too similar to their white, black and red version. The Canadiens response was a red sweater with a blue stripe across the chest, worn only against Ottawa.

Prior to that, the Canadiens wore a blue sweater with white striping for their inaugural season of 1909-10. For their second season of 1910-11, a gorgeous red jersey with white and green trim arrived, adorned with a green maple leaf and an Old English "C". Despite it's attractiveness, this sweater would be worn for just one season.

Vezina Montreal 1910-11

Today's video selection is a brief look at the career of Georges Vezina.


Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 World Juniors and Spengler Cup Updates

The 2014 World Junior Championships got underway on Boxing Day in Malmö, Sweden, with the ten nations divided into two groups, A and B.

 photo 2014WJClogo-1.png

Play opened in Group A with Canada defeating Germany 7-2 and the United States matching that with a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic. On Friday, Slovakia announced their intention to advance to the playoff round when they beat likely relegation bound Germany with an impressive 9-2 win.

Saturday saw the United States move to the top of the group when they beat the Slovaks 6-3 while the Czech Republic beat Canada in a shootout 5-4 in easily the best game of the tournament to date. Sunday's lone game saw the Americans take their turn dominating the overmatched Germans 8-0.


Going into today's action, the US leads Group A with a 3-0 record and 9 points. Canada is next at 1-0-0-1 with a win and a shootout loss for 4 points. Slovakia is 1-1 with 3 points, ahead of their neighbors and rivals the Czech Republic, who have 2 points from their shootout win combined with a loss. Germany is 0-3 with no points.


Games today have the Germans in a must win situation against the Czechs. A regulation win for the Germans would give them a fighting chance to avoid the Relegation Round, while the Czechs need to at least make it to overtime to advance to the Playoff Round. Canada draws Slovakia in the second game and certainly have plans to rebound from their loss to the Czechs to set up a New Year's Eve showdown with the United States.


Tuesday's games see Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Group A's early game followed by the anticipated US vs. Canada showdown, which will likely determine the winner of the group.


Meanwhile, over in Group B, Russia demoralized Norway 11-0 to open play at the Malmö Arena followed by host Sweden pleasing the home fans with an opening 5-3 win over Switzerland.

Finland began their tournament with a 5-1 defeat of Norway on Friday, while Saturday's action saw Sweden take a key win over rivals Finland 4-2 followed by Russia having an easy time of it in a 7-1 victory against the Swiss. Sunday's game saw Sweden pummel Noway by a score of 10-0.


Group B is thus led by Sweden at 3-0 for 9 points with Russia 2-0 for 6 points. Finland is 1-1, good for 3 points while Switzerland is winless to date at 0-2, as is Norway at 0-3.


Games today have Russia looking to keep pace with Sweden when they play Finland in the first game, while Switzerland must defeat Norway to ensure their own safety while dooming the Norwegians to the Relegation Round.


Tuesday's games have Sweden squaring off against Russia, presumably with the winner taking top honors in Group B, while Finland faces Switzerland in the final game of the Preliminary Round.


Play will resume with the start of the Playoff Round on Thursday, as well as Game 1 of the best-of-three Relegation Round, which is expected to see Germany looking to send Norway down to Division I Group A for 2015.


Meanwhile in Davos, Switzerland, the annual Spengler Cup has entered the playoff phase.

Spengler Cup logo photo 2012_Spengler_Cup_logo.jpg

Play in Group Torriani saw Swiss club Genève-Servette HC blitz the Rochester Americans of the AHL 5-0 in the opening game before Russian side HC CSKA Moscow held on to defeat the Americans 4-3 the following day. Geneva then outlasted CSKA 4-3 in overtime to win the group and gain a bye into the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with Team Canada earning a 5-4 win over HC Vitkovice Steel of the Czech Republic, who where then easily defeated by Swiss host HC Davos 5-1 the day after. Davos then sent the home fans home happy when they won 3-2 over Canada on Saturday.


The quarterfinals saw CSKA Moscow outlasting Vitkovice Steel in overtime and will now face host Davos in today's first game. Team Canada beat the Rochester Americans 6-3 and will now face Genève-Servette in today's second game.


The winners of the semifinals will face off for the Spengler Cup on New Year's Eve at noon Swiss time, 5 AM Eastern Time in North America.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Spengler Cup

In addition to the ongoing World Junior Championship, this is also the time of year for the annual Spengler Cup tournament. Founded in 1923 by Dr. Carl Spengler to promote teams from German-speaking portions of Europe who may have been ostracized in the aftermath of World War I, the Spengler Cup is hosted by HC Davos of Switzerland.

The Spengler Cup, The Spengler Cup

The tournament is an invitational tournament and the oldest such tournament in the world.

The games are held between Boxing Day and New Year's Day with all games being held at the 7,080 seat Vaillant Arena in Davos.

Vaillant Arena, Vaillant Arena
The Vaillant Arena in Davos, home of the Spengler Cup

The invitees over the history of the tournament are a who's who of of powerful European clubs as well as an eclectic mix of unusual and unexpected teams.

The original winners of the Spengler Cup in 1923 was the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club of England, which was made up of Canadian students. Berlin SC of Germany won the second edition in 1924 before Oxford University reclaimed the cup in 1925 and Berlin SC again in 1926.

1923 Spengler Cup Canadians, 1923 Spengler Cup Canadians
The Oxford University Club, comprised of Canadian students

Hosts HC Davos took their first championship in 1927 and LTC Prague were the first Czechoslovakian winner in 1929 and again in 1930. Diavoli Rossoneri of Milan added Italy to the list of winners in 1934 and repeated in 1935.

HC Davos 1920's, HC Davos 1920's
HC Davos in the 1920's

An era of Swiss dominance arrived in 1938 when HC Davos took their 4th title. World War II kept the tournament from being played in 1939 and 1940, but Davos picked up where they left off by winning in 1941, 1942 and 1943. Zürcher SC continued the winning Swiss ways in 1944 and 1945, giving Switzerland six titles in a row and seven out of the previous eight.

HC Davos 1940, HC Davos 1940
HC Davos in 1940 during the Swiss run of dominance

LTC Prague reeled off three titles in a row from 1946 to 1948 and the tournament was not played in 1949. HC Milano Inter took back to back wins in 1953 and 1954, the last of five titles for Italian clubs. Rudá Hvēzda Brno of Czechoslovakia won in 1955 before the tournament was not held in 1956, the last time the Spengler Cup was not held and one of only four times since 1923 the cup has not been awarded in it's history.

After HC Davos added two more titles in 1957 and 1958, ACBB (Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt) Paris won three consecutive cups to add France to the list of winners.

Sparta Prague won in 1962 and 1963 followed by EV Füssen of Germany became the last western team to take home the cup for the next 20 years, as the Czechoslovakian and Soviet teams would dominate the competition going forward.

Dukla Jihlava would win in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1978 (when the tournament moved indoors for the first time) and 1982 and HC Slovan Bratislava would win a trio of titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974 for Czechoslovakia along with the Czechoslovak Olympic Team in 1975.

1975 Spengler Cup, 1975 Spengler Cup
1975 Spengler Cup action

Lokomotiv Moscow would become the first Soviet winner in 1967 and again in 1969 followed by SKA Leningrad in 1970, 1971 and 1977. The USSR B team won in 1976, Krylya Soveov Moscow (Soviet Wings) in 1979 followed by Spartak Moscow in both 1980 and 1981, with Dynamo Moscow's first title coming in 1983.

1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team, 1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team
Dukla Jihlava, winners of the Spengler Cup in 1966

1984 saw the debut of Team Canada at the Spengler Cup, which resulted in their first of 11 titles to date. The team representing Canada at the Spengler Cup was originally comprised of the Canadian National Team, a club which remained together for an entire season under the "Programme of Excellence", which began in 1983 to represent Canada at such tournaments as the World Championships, the Spengler Cup and prepare for the Olympics, rather than the current format of All-Star teams who only come together days before such competitions.

The Canadian "Programme of Excellence" lasted until 1998, when the NHL began shutting down to allow it's players into the Olympics every four years, at which point Team Canada at the Spengler Cup began to be comprised of Canadians playing professionally for club teams in Europe and occasionally North American minor leaugers, who were brought together as a squad to stand for Canada.

Spartak Moscow downed Canada in 1985 and the Canadians defeated Soviet clubs in 1986 and 1987 to claim three titles in four years. The United States broke through for their only victory with a "USA Selects" squad in 1988.

Spartak Moscow won the final two times for the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990 before the political upheaval led to the breakup of the Soviet Union, which saw CSKA Moscow win under the flag of Russia in 1991.

Although Swedish clubs had long participated in Davos, Färjestad BK's wins in 1993 and 1994 were Sweden's first titles following seven runner up finishes dating back to 1950.

The Canadians reeled off four wins in a row from 1995 to 1998, which included the participation of the Rochester Americans of the AHL in 1996, the first North American professional club to take part in th competition. Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) then became the first German team to win since 1964 when they took home the title in 1999.

Klner Haie 1999, Klner Haie 1999
The Cologne Sharks show off their 1999 Spengler Cup

Hosts HC Davos delighted the home fans by winning the tournament for the first time since 1958, a span of 42 years, when they won in 2000 and repeated the feat in 2001.

The Canadians returned to the top in 2002 and 2003 before Davos won again in 2004 before Metallurg Magnitogorsk became the first Russian club to win the tournament in 14 years with their championship in 2005.

Canada Spengler Cup 2007, Canada Spengler Cup 2007
Curtis Joseph celebrates Canada's 2007 championship

Since then, Davos in 2006, Team Canada in 2007, Dynamo Moscow in 2008 preceded Dinamo Minsk becoming the first team from Belarus to capture the Spengler Cup in 2009, the 12th country represented  with a championship.

Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009, Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009
Dinamo Minsk becomes the first club from Belarus to win the Spengler Cup

SKA Saint Petersburg won in 2010, the fourth for the team, as they won three times in the 1970's while known as SKA Leningrad.

SKA Spengler Cup 2010, SKA Spengler Cup 2010
SKA Saint Petersburg celebrate in 2010,
the first year for the new version of the championship trophy

HC Davos defeated Dinamo Riga in 2011 to win their fifth title since 2000 after their long drought dating back to 1958.

Davos Spengler Cup 2011, Davos Spengler Cup 2011
HC Davos gathers after winning their 15th Spengler Cup in 2011

Canada regained the Spengler Cup in 2012 with a particularly loaded squad thanks to the availability of many players who would normally be occupied in the NHL if it were not for the ongoing lockout. Among the notable names on the Team Canada roster were goaltender Jonathan Bernier, forwards Matt Duchene, Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Jason Williams, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and veteran Ryan Smyth.

Tavares vs Kane, Tavares vs Kane
John Tavares battles with Patrick Kane during the 2012 Spengler Cup

Still, the other clubs will benefitted from locked out NHL players, as Davos had Joe ThorntonPatrick Kane and Loui Eriksson while Fribourg had goaltender Corey Schneider, Patric HornqvistMax Talbot and Bruno Gervais on their roster.

Joe Thornton Davos, Joe Thornton Davos
Joe Thornton, wearing the flaming helmet to identify him as the leading scorer

This year the participating clubs are, as always, hosts HC Davos, Team Canada, another Swiss team Genève-Servette HC, Czech club HC Vitkovice Steel, Russian club HC CSKA Moscow and the return of the Rochester Americans of the AHL for the first time in 17 years.

Play in Group Torriani saw Genève-Servette blitz Rochester 5-0 in the opening game before CSKA held on to defeat the Americans 4-3 the following day. Geneva then outlasted CSKA 4-3 in overtime to win the group and gain a bye into the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with Team Canada earning a 5-4 win over Vitkovice, who where then easily defeated by Davos 5-1 the day after. Davos then sent the home fans home happy when they became the second Swiss team to win their group with a 3-2 win over Canada yesterday.

The quarterfinals will be played today, with crossover matchups, as the early game has CSKA Moscow facing Vitkovice Steel in the early game followed by Team Canada drawing the Rochester Americans. The winner of the early game will be matched up against Davos on Monday followed by Genève-Servette taking on the winner of the North American matchup.

The winners will face off for the cup on New Year's Eve at noon Swiss time.

While virtually unknown in the United States, the Spengler Cup does have games broadcast on TSN in Canada, particularly those that involve Team Canada, with their quarterfinal pairing against Rochester being on today and a semifinal on Monday, both at 2:00 PM Eastern on TSN with Tuesday's final live at 5:55 AM on TSN2. Those in the Rochester, New York area will be able to see the Americans in action today on the Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

Spengler Cup logo, Spengler Cup logo

Today's featured jersey is a 2012 Team Canada Jason Demers jersey as worn when Team Canada won the Spengler Cup when they defeated HC Davos 7-2. Canada's championship in 2012 was the 12th for the Canadians since they began their participation in 1984

Club teams often wear special jerseys just for the Spengler Cup tournament, resplendent with numerous advertisements of tournament sponsors not normally found on their domestic league jerseys.

Team Canada Spengler Cup 2012 jersey photo TeamCanadaSpenglerCup2012Fjersey.png
 photo TeamCanadaSpenglerCup2012Bjersey.png

Bovine jersey: Today's bovine jersey is a 2013 Spengler Cup Officials Jersey as worn by the referees and linesmen during the 2013 edition of the Spengler Cup.

Taking the concept of sponsorship a step too far, the Swiss Milk sponsorship goes beyond anything previously seen in the world of ice hockey as the officials customary black and white stripes are replaced by a black and white Holstein cow pattern, compete with a picture of a cow on the front at the cost of the officials dignity, which one would think would be paramount for them to retain the respect they deserve while officiating high level games of this magnitude.

Udderly bizarre.

Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRef2013.jpg
Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRefs2013.jpg
Note the red armbands on the referee's jerseys,
as the four officials seem to be taking in all in stride

Today's video segment begins with highlights of HC Davos winning the Spengler Cup in 2000, ending their 38 year drought. Notice the previous version of the championship trophy with the glass globe on top which was used from 1956 to 2009, which is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.



Next, a linesman wearing one of the unfortunate cow uniforms while escorting a disqualified player off the ice.


 

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