Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson Jersey

Perhaps no other player represents the new found freedoms and moralities, and subsequent excesses, of the 1970's more than Derek Sanderson.

Sanderson, born on this date in 1946, helped his hometown Niagara Falls Flyers win the 1965 Memorial Cup championship and became the league's leading scorer in 1967 with 101 points in 47 games.

He made his NHL debut with two games with the Boston Bruins in 1965-66 and two more the following season prior to becoming a full time member of the Bruins in 1967-68. After scoring 24 goals and 49 points, Sanderson was named the recipient of the 1968 Calder Trophy. He also had toughness to go with his offensive skills. In 48 games of junior hockey in 1965-66 Sanderson accumulated 238 penalty minutes, a trait he brought with him to the NHL with 98 PIM's his rookie season which preceded four straight years over 100. To complete his reputation as perhaps the best two way player in the game, he was also very solid in the defensive zone as well.

In his third full season in the league the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup and added a second in 1972, which gave rise to his celebrity. He also embraced the changing morals of the time like a rock star, indulging himself in spoils of fame to excess. The obvious outward signs were the dramatic changes in his appearance, as first his sideburns grew in the style of the day, followed by the lengthening of his hair as he embraced a playboy lifestyle by wearing a mink coat and diamond rings and driving his Rolls Royce when he didn't have a girl on each arm. All of this earned him the title of one of the sexiest men in America from Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Derek Sanderson
The evolution of Derek Sanderson

Following the 1972 Stanley Cup, with his value as a player and celebrity at an all time high, the Philadelphia Blazers of the brand new World Hockey Association were looking to get themselves noticed and offered Sanderson a contract worth $2.65 million, which the Bruins wisely declined to match in hindsight, making Sanderson the highest paid athlete in the world at the time.

Sanderson's time with the Blazers was an unqualified disaster due to pressure to perform, Sanderson's wild private life plus an injured shoulder and a slipped disk in his back. All of this prompted the Blazers to buy out his contract after a mere eight games, six points and 69 penalty minutes.

Sanderson Blazers
Sanderson during his brief time with the Blazers.
Notice the cigarette in his mouth!

He returned to the Bruins for 25 games of the 1972-73 season, for what proved to be essentially a lost season of only 38 combined games, including the playoffs.

He managed less than 30 games with Boston in 1973-74 and was traded to the New York Rangers for the 1974-75 season. He rebounded somewhat on the ice with 25 goals and 50 points, but it was in New York that his drinking started to get the better of him.

Sanderson Rangers photo Sanderson Rangers.jpg
Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers in 1974

After just eight games in 1975-76, the Rangers dealt Sanderson, once called "trendy and tactless" by Sports Illustrated, and his drinking and drug problem to the St. Louis Blues where his talent was still able to see him through to 67 points in 65 games. But the downward spiral was in full effect and the 1976-77 season saw Sanderson play 65 games for the Blues, 8 games in the minors before being sold to the Vancouver Canucks for the final 16 games of the season.

Sanderson Blues photo Sanderson Blues.jpg
Sanderson's off-ice issues limited him to
less than two full seasons in St. Louis

He began the 1977-78 season out of hockey, but made a late season signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 1978, scoring his final four NHL points in 13 games before his hobbled knees and otherwise deteriorating physical condition led to his retirement.

Sanderson Penguins photo Sanderson Penguins.jpg
Sanderson's last stop was with the Penguins

After a series of bad investments and his continued alcoholism and drug problems, Sanderson found himself broke, having blown $3 million by his own estimate, and out of a job and living in a park while his poor health had him reduced to getting around on crutches. Finally after several years, thanks in part to former teammate Bobby Orr, Sanderson began to get the help he needed in rehab. Orr stuck with him until the cure finally took hold - after 13 drug and alcohol clinics, where doctors told him he was addicted to 11 different drugs.

Once back on his feet, literally and figuratively, after no less than five hip replacement surgeries due to decaying bones caused by years of drug abuse, for which he cannot take pain medication for fear of an addiction relapse, he began a career as a sportscaster and also eventually provided financial advice to young athletes to help ensure that they did not end up losing all their money in the same way he once did. He currently also in involved in with several charitable organizations, making guest appearances to use his celebrity to raise awareness and money for their causes.

 photo Sanderson now.jpg
A healthy and happy Sanderson today

His final NHL career totals were 598 games played with 202 goals and 250 assists for 452 points and amassed 911 penalty minutes.

In 2012, Sanderson published his story in "Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original"



Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey as worn when Sanderson and the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup, the first of two in Sanderson's career.

Sanderson was first assigned #23 with the Bruins and then #16 when he became a regular member of the roster. Following his return after his brief stay in Philadelphia he wore #27 for a year, then changing to #17. He wore #4 in New York before a change to #16. He wore #19 in St. Louis and again Vancouver but was able to reclaim his preferred #16 in Pittsburgh.

1969-70 Boston Bruins
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1972-73 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. After his ill-fated singing with Vancouver of the WHA, which lasted all of eight games, Sanderson was able to return to the Bruins where he was give the #27 to wear, as #16 was now being worn by Fred O'Donnell.

Boston Bruins 1972-73 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1972-73 F jersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1972-73 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1972-73 B jersey_1.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1973-74 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. Back with the Bruins again for the 1973-74 season, Sanderson asked for a different number than the #27 he wore the previous season after his return to Boston following is buyout by the Blazers of the WHA.

Trying to get him as close to his old #16, the Bruins assigned Sanderson #17 for 1973-74. Sanderson played in 29 games before an injury ended his season. Hoping to fill the void left by Sanderson, the Bruins acquired Bobby Schmautz in February of 1974 and gave Schmautz Sanderson's #17 for the remainder of the season!

We're unsure if the Bruins knew Sanderson's time with the club was over and felt comfortable giving his number away, perhaps they knew he would be happy with a different number when he returned or perhaps it was just a matter of practicality, and #17 was one of the only remaining game jerseys ready for game use when Schmautz arrived in Boston, but it's hard to fathom an NHL team giving away a player's number in midseason while the previous wearer was still a member of the club, injured or not.

During the offseason, Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers, which ended his time with the Bruins. The fact he wore so many different numbers in Boston epitomizes Sanderson's turbulent and unsettled time with the Bruins.

Boston Bruins 1973-74 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1973-74 F jersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1973-74 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1973-74 B jersey.jpg

We start today's video section with a tribute to Sanderson, showing him at his finest as a player.


In this next video, Sanderson the broadcaster gives his thoughts on the closing of the Boston Garden.


Here Sanderson recalls Bobby Orr's game winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals that he assisted on and then gets into the topic of sobriety and his friendship with Bobby Orr, a nice way to conclude today.

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