Saturday, January 3, 2015

1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Rick MacLeish Jersey

After leading the Peterborough Petes in scoring for three consecutive seasons, left winter Rick MacLeish, born on this date in 1950, was destined for the NHL. After MacLeish led the Petes in scoring with 49 points in 1967-68, his goals scored the following season surpassed his point total from the year before with 50 goals. In addition, he was credited with 42 assists for a total of 92 points in 1968-69, which he topped in 1970 with 101 points from 45 goals and 56 assists.

He was drafted #4 overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1970 Amateur Draft and was assigned to Oklahoma City of the Central Hockey League for the 970-71 season. After 46 games with the Blazers, MacLeish was involved in a complex three team trade which sent himself, two other players and a first round draft pick to the Philadelphia Flyers, Bernie Parent and a second round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mike Walton to the Bruins.

Philadelphia immediately inserted MacLeish into it's lineup, but the transition to the NHL was not a smooth one to begin with, as he managed just 2 goals and 6 points in 26 games.

For the 1971-72 season he again failed to impress with just 3 points and a single goal in 17 games and ended up spending the majority of the season with the Richmond Robins of the American Hockey League, where he regained his scoring touch with 24 goals in 24 games.

MacLeish Flyers Rookie photo MacLeishFlyersRookie.jpg
A clean-cut MacLeish on his rookie card

Going into the 1972-73 season with 3 goals in 43 NHL games, no one saw what came next, as MacLeish shocked the league by becoming the first Flyer to ever score 50 goals in a season, and combined with his 50 assists, his 100 points saw him finish fourth in the league scoring race that season. The Flyers were also improving as a team at the time, and qualified for the postseason, with MacLeish adding another 7 points in 10 playoff games, earning valuable experience for what was to come next.

While he came back down to Earth with 32 goals and 77 points, the Flyers battled their way through the playoffs, with MacLeish leading all Flyers scorers with 13 goals and 22 points in 17 games as Philadelphia became the first of the 1967 expansion clubs to win the Stanley Cup.

MacLeish Flyers Stanley Cup photo MacLeishFlyersStanleyCup.jpg
MacLeish posing with the Stanley Cup

After he scored a similar 38 goals and 79 points in 1974-75, the Flyers repeated as Stanley Cup champions as MacLeish again led the team in scoring during their run to the title with 11 goals and 20 points in 17 games. Of note, the 1975 Flyers were the last team to ever win the Stanley Cup with a roster made entirely of Canadian-born players.

MacLeish Flyers Stanley Cup patch photo MacLeishFlyersStanleyCuppatch.jpg
The Flyers management planned on celebrating their championship with
a commemorative Stanley Cup patch, only the players did not want
the other teams to use it as motivation against them,
so it was never worn during a regular season game

His 1975-76 season was cut short my injury, which limited him to 51 games with 45 points scored, but he rebounded with a 79 game campaign in 1976-77 to lead the team with 97 points (the second highest of his NHL career), narrowly missing a second 50 goal season with 49.

MacLeish would play four more solid seasons with the Flyers, but with a change in focus to a two-way player with less emphasis on scoring. This era of his career was highlighted by the Flyers 35 game unbeaten streak in 1979-80, a trip to the Stanley Cup Final later that same season and a 38 goal, 74 point season in 1980-81, his last in Philadelphia.

MacLeish Flyers photo MacLeishFlyers.jpg

It was during this period that he would also suffer a frightening incident when he slid into the skate of the Los Angeles Kings Marcel Dionne, which resulted in a cut to his neck which required 80 stitches. He returned to the ice several days later with his sense of humor intact, claiming that he smoked a cigarette in the locker room afterwards and that smoke came out of his neck!

During the summer of 1981, MacLeish was traded by the Flyers to the Hartford Whalers, where he would play 34 games in just three months before another trade in late December/

MacLeish Whalers photo MacLeishWhalers.jpg
MacLeish during his brief time in Hartford

That trade sent him back to Pennsylvania, only this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the remainder of the 1981-82 season, where he would total 13 goals in 40 games.

His 1982-83 season was limited to just 6 games with the Penguins and, unusually, a single game with EHC Kloten of the Swiss National League!

MacLeish Penguins photo MacLeishPenguins.jpg
MacLeish while with the Penguins

He would return to the NHL in 1983-84, singing with Philadelphia as a free agent, but after scoring 22 points in 29 games, MacLeish was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the final 25 games of his career.

His final NHL totals were 846 games played, 349 goals and 410 assists for 759 points. He also played in the 1976, 1977 and 1980 NHL All-Star Games and won two Stanley Cups.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Rick MacLeish jersey as worn the season the Flyers went on their 35 game unbeaten rampage through the NHL. The Flyers inaugural 1967-68 jerseys only had one color numbers and very small sleeve numbers. The back numbers were given black outlines in 1970. Names arrived on the home jerseys in 1972 and on the roads in 1977.

For 1978-79, the profile of the coloring that ran down the length of the arms was widened so the sleeve numbers now fit entirely within the arm striping, where previously it overlapped into the main body color areas.

 photo PhiladelphiaFlyers1979-80jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1982-83 Pittsburgh Penguins Rick MacLeish jersey. This gold jersey was worn by Pittsburgh for 1981-82 and 1982-83. The team then shelved their white home jerseys for a season, wearing the gold jerseys exclusively for home games in 1983-84. The final appearances for the gold jerseys were the preseason of 1984-85, but they were never worn again once the regular season started.

 photo PittsburghPenguins1983-84Fjersey.jpg
Pittsburgh Penguins 1983-84 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins1983-84Bjersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1980 NHL All-Star Game Rick MacLeish jersey as worn during the final of his three All-Star Game appearances. This style was first worn in 1973, lasting through 1981, except for 1979 when the Challenge Cup vs. the Soviet Union took the place of the traditional All-Star Game.

 photo NHLAll-StarGame1980jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

While MacLeish was not known as one of the Flyers tough guys, he could take care of business when called upon.


In the Flyers notorious game against the Soviet Red Army in 1976, MacLeish scores a pretty goal against Vladislav Tretiak.


Finally, MacLeish scores the cup winning goal in the 1974 Stanley Cup Final to give the Flyers their first championship.

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 World Juniors Update

Preliminary Round play at the 2015 World Junior Championships concluded on Wednesday, and with some dramatic results.

2015 WJC logo photo 2015WJCcenterice.jpg

Group A, played at the Bell Centre in Montreal saw Canada win the group with a perfect 4-0 record as they cruised through their schedule undefeated. They shellacked Slovakia 8-0 on opening day before shutting out Germany 4-0. They finally gave up a goal at 18:26 of the second period of their 4-1 win over Finland prior to their toughest challenge, a New Year's Eve matchup with the United States, where they prevailed 5-3 thanks to two late, empty net goals.

Canada vs USA photo CanadavsUSA.jpg
Canada took first place in Group A over the US

Second in Group A were the Americans, who needed a shootout to overcome the defending champions from Finland. They set up their winner-take-all meeting with the Canadians by taking their turn to shut out both Germany (6-0) and Slovakia (3-0) before dropping their game against Canada, their sixth consecutive New Year's Eve loss to the Canadians.

While many expected the Finns to challenge the two North American squads, it was Slovakia who came through in third place in the group despite their opening night thrashing by Canada 8-0. The key to their Preliminary Round was a 2-1 regulation win for the full three points over Finland. Following their 3-0 loss to the US, they took care of business and secured their spot in the Quarterfinals with a 5-2  win over Germany on December 30, taking the pressure off while the final day's games played out, knowing their spot was secure with only their opponent to be determined.

Slovakia vs USA photo SlovakiavsUSA.jpg
Perhaps the best dressed game of the tournament, Slovakia faced
the USA, who wore their 1960 throwbacks

Germany simply didn't have the offense to compete this year, scoring only two goals while giving up 17. Due to Finland's struggles against the US, Canada and Slovakia, Germany had a chance on paper to advance on the final day, but Finland did what they needed with a 2-0 win to send the Germans to the Relegation Round.

Over in Group B at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Sweden powered their way to first place in the group with a strong 5-2 win over the Czech Republic, maintained focus with a 5-1 win over Denmark, came from behind in the third period to take the full three points with a regulation win over Russia and put a lock on first place with a 5-1 defeat of Switzerland.

Sweden vs Russia photo SwedenvsRussia.jpg
Sweden was the class of Group B

While Sweden took the shortest route through the group, the Czech Republic made their trip an arduous ordeal. After getting no points in the standings thanks to their 5-2 loss to Sweden, they then suffered another 5-2 loss, this time at the hands of Switzerland. While everyone expected them to get healthy against Denmark, the Danes gave them all they could handle and then more, as regulation ended tied at 3-3. The Czechs did prevail in overtime, but at the loss of yet another point in the standings, leaving them with just 2 from a possible 9 after three games and sitting dead last going into the final day, where they faced a must-win situation against no less than Russia.

Playing the game they desperately needed to have, the Czechs dominated the Russians, and not only crafted a sublime 4-1 win, they amazingly vaulted over three teams to take second place in the group when the Relegation Round looked like a very real possibility!


Czech Republic vs Russia photo CzechRepublicvsRussia.jpg
The Big Red Machine turned out to be the Czechs on New Year's Eve

Russia needed overtime to defeat Denmark 3-2 on opening day, but looked to regain their form with a 7-0 pasting of Switzerland in a game many thought would be closer. They dropped a 3-2 decision to Sweden, but sill had sights on second in the group until failing to answer the bell in their 4-1 loss to the desperate Czechs. Their two outright losses, plus dropping a point to Denmark, left the Russians with a mere 5 points, which dropped them to third in the final Group B standings.

The final two places - a spot in the Quarterfinals and another in the Relegation Round came down to Switzerland and Denmark. The Danes opened with a surprising, if not shocking effort, taking the Russians to overtime before losing in a shootout. Still, it was an unexpected and welcome point in the standings. Their next game saw them crash back to reality with a 5-1 loss to Sweden, but the feisty Danes took another point off the Czech Republic in a 4-3 overtime defeat. Their final game saw then matched with the Swiss, and may have been the most entertaining game of the Preliminary Round, saw the Swiss take a 2-0 lead only to have Denmark come back to tie the game at 2-2. The Swiss scored again to regain the lead, but the Danes answered before the second period ended. The third period and overtime passed scoreless before Denmark won the game in a shootout to win their first ever game at the top level of the World Juniors and add two more vital points to their total, which now stood at 4.

Denmark photo Denmark.jpg
Denmark was thrilled to hear their anthem following
their historic first win at the World Juniors

Switzerland got a fantastic result in the form of their 5-2 win over the Czech Republic to open their tournament, but were then throttled by the Russians 7-0. The painful loss to Denmark followed, but the point in the standings helped ease the pain, as they were tied with Denmark at 4, ahead of the decidedly off-form Czechs with 2. Any point from their game against Sweden to close out their Preliminary Round schedule would have ensured their safety, but an on-form Sweden was having none of that, taking an easy 5-1 win. Still, there was hope as the Czechs were facing Russia in a must-win game and they held the head-to-head tie breaker even if the Czechs should win in overtime. That was not to be however, as the Czechs won easily, leaping over not only Switzerland and Denmark, but also the Russians.

Switzerland photo Switzerland.jpg
Switzerland's first outing in their new red jerseys
did not go as well as they hoped

This left Switzerland and Denmark tied at 4 points each, but Denmark took the final playoff spot in Group B thanks to their shootout win over the Swiss, who must now hope to defeat Germany in the best-of-three Relegation Round games, which begin today in Toronto. Game 2 is Saturday and, if necessary, the deciding Game 3 will be on Monday, with the winner remaining in the Top Division for 2016 and the loser dropping down to Division 1 Group A next year.

The four Quarterfinal matches will all be played today beginning at 1 PM Eastern time when second place in Group A, the United States draws a difficult challenge in Russia, third place in Group B, in the opening game in Montreal. Two hours later, action in Toronto kicks off with nordic rivals Sweden drawing Finland, who will be looking to hit the reset button after their disappointing Preliminary Round, and nothing would give them greater satisfaction by knocking out Group B winners Sweden.

The second game in Montreal is another rivalry matchup, this one neighbors the Czech Republic squaring off with Slovakia at 5 PM. Host Canada makes their first appearance in Toronto as they draw the decided underdogs Denmark. Can the Danes possibly hope to repeat their effort against Russia on Canadian ice vs. the home team? It could be a long game for the Danes, but no one expected them to get this far in the first place.

The winners of today's game will meet in the Semifinals on Sunday, with the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal Games following on Monday, with all four of those taking place in Toronto.

While all eyes were on Connor McDavid heading into the tournament, Canada's  Sam Reinhart leads all scorers with 8 points in 4 games, with the United States Dylan Larkin next at 7 while leading all goal scorers with 5. Max Domi (Canada), Oskar Lindblom and William Nylander (both Sweden), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic) and Canadian Nic Petan are all also equal with Larkin at 7 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 2015 Canada National Team Sam Reinhart jersey. Canada introduced new jerseys with a throwback feel for 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their governing body, Hockey Canada. The jerseys are loosely based on those worn by Team Canada at the lesser known 1974 Summit Series of 40 years ago, where the stars of the WHA took on the Soviet Union following the success of the 1972 Summit Series.

1974 Summit Series Howe Hull photo 1974SummitSeriesHoweHull.png
Legends Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull during the 1974 Summit Series

Perhaps the nicest part of the package is the attractive 100th Anniversary logo patch, which features a large maple leaf similar to the one worn back in 1924 as well as the enduring red and black Hockey Canada logo surrounded by the dates 1914 and 2014.

The Canadian appetite for hockey sees the Canadians introducing new jerseys more frequently than most countries and special one off jerseys on occasion, many of which are auctioned off, as is the case with this jersey.

Canada 2015 WJC  jersey photo Canada2015WJC23Fjersey.jpg
Canada 2015 WJC  jersey photo Canada2015WJC23Bjersey.jpg

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The History of the NHL Winter Classic

The NHL's 7th Winter Classic takes place today, Thursday, January 1st, at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball.

The original inspiration for the Winter Classic must be given to The Cold War, an outdoor game held at Spartan Stadium in 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, including the revival of the contrasting color nameplate.

The contrasting nameplates had their origin in the 1970's when the Flyers only had one set of white nameplates made up in the days when teams had to add names to their jerseys for national TV games. The Flyers Winter Classic 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 five 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.

 photo CapitalsPenguinsWinterClassic.jpg

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". A season and a half after the Winter Classic, the Flyers resurrected this style as their alternate jersey beginning with the 2014-15 season.

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.

Flyers Rangers Winter Classic 2012 photo FlyersRangersWinterClassic2012.jpg

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.

 photo Flyersconcept.jpg

Created 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 Flyers actual jerseys, which ruined any chance the Quakers inspired design had of being put into production had Philadelphia actually been considering such an idea.

Originally scheduled for January 1, 2013, but not played due to the ongoing NHL lockout at the time, the 2014 Winter Classic set a world record for attendance at a hockey game with an official total of 105,491 at "The Big House" on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. The host Red Wings opted for the faux-back route, creating a new jersey with retro styling. Unique features of this style were the captain's "C" and "A's" being on the sleeves inside diamond shapes, as the franchise had used in the past, and the retro styled number font.

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

One new aspect of the 2014 game was the Red Wings opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic, also wearing a colored jersey. This resulted in a color on color matchup, which looked great on TV against the white ice and through the falling snow.

 photo WinterClassic2014.jpg

While Toronto's jersey is an attractive one, it did disappoint somewhat, as the Maple Leafs had already worn a virtually identical style previously, that being the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1996-97 when a throwback dating from the arena's first season in 1931 was worn twice. The only difference between the two was the white shoulders.

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.

Of note, there is often a legends game in conjunction with the Winter Classic, and in 2014 the Red Wings hosted two such games, and for the first time the teams used a different style for the legends game than for the regular season or the Winter Classic. For the first game the Alumni Showdown, players wore a revival of the white jerseys worn by Detroit for the 2009 Winter Classic, based on the 1927 Detroit Cougars sweaters, while Toronto's legends wore copies of their 1975-1992 jerseys.

 photo BerensonskatesagainstTorontosBradMarsh.jpeg

For the second game, Toronto wore their same style, but Detroit's legends wore a red jersey, the reverse colors of the 2009 Winter Classic jerseys worn in the first legends game, a jersey which never existed in the 1920's since teams did not have separate "home" and "road" styles until the NHL expanded and team;s jersey colors began to be duplicated.

For a player to be on the roster for the second game for the Red Wings, a player needed to have won a Stanley Cup, and individual NHL award or have been enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making the red jersey truly a badge of honor for those fortunate enough to have worn one.

 photo FetisovandChelios2014AlumniGame2.jpg

Today's host team, the Washington Capitals, are making their second Winter Classic appearance. Having not only worn their 1974-1995 jerseys during their previous appearance on New Year's Day, they are still wearing their 2011 Winter Classic throwback jerseys as an alternate, necessitating a new design for today's game.

Rather than reviving their 1995-2007 blue and black "screaming eagle" jerseys, the Capitals created a new faux-back look, using design elements from their own history, such as the use of stars and the word "Capitals" across the front. They also looked to the history of jerseys worn by previous teams based in Washington prior to the arrival of the NHL, such as the large "W" on the front and the stripes on the sleeves as seen in the 1930's, with the "W" having some modernization, such as making the peak in the center resemble the Washington Monument.

 photo Capitals2015WinterClassicjersey.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks had the opportunity to go with either the white or black version of their virtually unknown, gorgeous art deco jerseys from their early days, revive the 1930's to 1950's barberpole jerseys worn during the 1991-92 season or create a faux-bac of their own, but took a rather disappointing route by using the jerseys based on their 1957 jerseys, which is all too similar to their current white jerseys, with the main differences being the use of one color numbers, a lace-up collar and their crossed tomahawks secondary logos below the sleeve numbers over the arm stripes. In all, not enough of a difference from their current jerseys to feel like it was worth the trouble.

 photo Blackhawks2015WinterClassic.jpg

Even worse, a Chicago sports bar created a mockup of a Blackhawks Winter Classic jersey to promote a jersey giveaway before the official release, which was a much more exciting faux-back jersey than what Chicago actually went with.

 photo Blackhawks2015WinterClassicleak.jpg

Today's video section is a look at the history of the Winter Classic in advance of today's game in Washington D. C.



Shop for 2015 NHL Winter Classic fan gear at Shop.NHL.com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The History of the Spengler Cup

In addition to the ongoing World Junior Championship, this is also the time of year for the annual Spengler Cup tournament.

Spengler Cup logo, Spengler Cup logo

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 Eve 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 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

The 2013 edition saw Genève-Servette HC defeat Russian club HC CSKA Moscow by a score of 5-3 in the final for their first ever title.

 photo Genegraveve-ServetteHCSpenglerCup2013.png
Genève-Servette celebrates after winning their first Spengler Cup in 2013

This year the participating clubs were, as always, hosts HC Davos, Team Canada, the defending champions and another Swiss team Genève-Servette HC, and three clubs from the KHL, Russian club Salavat Yulaev Ufa, Jokerit Helsinki from Finland and Medveščak Zagreb out of Croatia.

Play in Group Torriani saw Genève-Servette hold on to beat Ufa 3-2 in the opening game after leading 3-0 after one period. Ufa rebounded with a 4-3 win over Jokerit before Genève-Servette won the group and gained a bye into the semifinals with a 3-1 win over Jokerit.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with HC Davos winning a narrow one over Team Canada 2-1. The next day Canada defeated Zagreb 3-1 before Davos sent the home fans home happy when they became the second Swiss team to win their group when they outlasted Medveščak by making a goal just 1:27 into the game hold up for a 1-0 win.

The Quarterfinals saw crossover matchups between the second and third place teams in both groups, with Salavat Yulaev advancing with a 3-0 over Zagreb, while Team Canada cruised to a 5-2 win over Jokerit.

In the Semifinals, Ufa and Davos were tied at 3-3 after regulation before the Russians advanced to the final with a win in a shootout. The other game was a wild, high scoring affair, with Genève-Servette leading 5-0 at the halfway point of the game, with the fifth one being a demoralizing shorthanded goal for Canada, before the Canadians regrouped and roared back to 5-4 just 1:39 into the third period with plenty of time left to play. The Swiss extended their lead out to 6-4 but Canada was not done yet, making it 6-5 with 9:18 left to play, but that was the end of the scoring as Genève-Servette won to return to the final to defend their championship.

Today's final between Genève-Servette and Salavat Yulaev Ufa ended scoreless after one period before Genève scored two in the second and added an insurance goal in the third to capture their second consecutive Spengler Cup with a 3-0 shutout.

Genève-Servette Spengler Cup 2014 photo Genegraveve-ServetteSpenglerCup2014.jpg
Genève-Servette celebrating after repeating as Spengler Cup winners in 2014

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. These same jerseys were worn again for this year's edition of the tournament as well.

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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