Saturday, May 30, 2015

2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins Jiří Šlégr Jersey

Defenseman Jiří Šlégr, born on this date in 1971 began his career with CHZ Litvinov in 1987-88 and eventually played five seasons with the club before coming to North America to play in 1991-92 in the wake of the fall of Communism across Europe, which gave players the freedom to leave for the first time.

Prior to coming to the NHL, Šlégr had played for Czechoslovakia on five occasions, including the European Junior Championships in 1989, winning bronze medals at the World Junior Championships in both 1990 and 1991, which would prove to be a busy year for the young Šlégr, as he would also play in the 1991 World Championships as well as the 1991 Canada Cup. During his final Czechoslovak domestic season, Šlégr would also make his Olympic debut in his final appearance for Czechoslovakia in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France where he earned a bronze medal.

Slegr Czechoslovakia, Slegr Czechoslovakia

Šlégr joined the Vancouver Canucks organization, who had selected him with the second pick of the second round of the 1990 NHL Draft. His first season saw him divide his time between the Hamilton Canucks of the AHL (21 games) and make his NHL debut with Vancouver, playing in 41 games, scoring an impressive 26 points in exactly half a season of play while posting a +16 rating. He would also get his first taste of the NHL playoffs, seeing action in 5 games.

Given more important minutes based on his successful rookie season, Šlégr set a career high with 38 points from 5 goals and 33 assists in 78 games.

Slegr Canucks, Slegr Canucks

He would spend the early part of the 1994-95 season back with Litvinov, in what was by now the Czech Republic, due to the labor stoppage delaying the start of the NHL season until January. Once the NHL resumed, play, Šlégr would play 19 games with the Canucks before being traded in early April to the Edmonton Oilers.

He was limited to 57 games with the Oilers in 1995-96 and went on to make his debut for the Czech Republic at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey prior to the start of the 1996-97 season, which Šlégr spent back in Europe, appearing in one game with Litvinov, but primarily with Sodertalje SK in Sweden. He also played for the Czech Republic at the 1997 World Championships in the spring, earning another bronze medal.

In August of that year, Šlégr was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom he spent the next four seasons, including setting an NHL career best 11 goals in 1999-00.

Slegr Penguins, Slegr Penguins

During his first season with the Penguins, the NHL would take a break from it's schedule to allow players to compete in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, which Šlégr and his Czech teammates would take full advantage of, winning the gold medal in unexpected fashion. He was back on the international scene once again, earning another bronze at the 1998 World Championships.

Half way through the 2000-01 season, Šlégr was sent by the Penguins to the Atlanta Thrashers, where he would play 33 games to end the season.

Slegr Thrashers, Slegr Thrashers

He was with the Thrasher for 38 more games in the first half of the 2001-02 season before another trade, which sent him to the Detroit Red Wings. While he would only play 8 regular season games and 1 playoff game with Detroit, the Red Wings would go on to capture the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of the playoffs.

Slegr Stanley Cup, Slegr Stanley Cup

2002-03 was a lost season for Šlégr, as he would only play 10 games for Litvinov in the Czech Republic and 6 regular season and 9 playoff games for Avangard Omsk in the Russian Super League.

He returned to the NHL by signing a free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks for 2003-04, but would end up spending the majority of his season with the Boston Bruins following a trade in January.

Following the season, Šlégr would return to the World Championships for the first time in six years. His second World Cup of Hockey came in September of that year. With the NHL season cancelled due to a lockout, Šlégr once again returned to where it began, suiting up for a full season with HC Litvinov, with whom he had his best offensive season in five years with 29 points.

With the Czech domestic season now over, Šlégr joined the national team for his fourth World Championshps for the Czech Republic, which they won with an 8-1 overall record, which included shutting out Canada 3-0 in the final, earning Šlégr a World Championship gold to go with his Olympic gold in 1998 and his Stanley Cup in 2002, making him a member of the prestigious Triple Gold Club, one of only 16 men at the time to have done so, and to date one of only two Czechs to have earned the honor, along with Jaromir Jagr.

Slegr World Champion, Slegr World Champion
Šlégr with the World Championship trophy,
which completed his membership in the Triple Gold Club

When the NHL resumed play in 2005-06, Šlégr was back with the Bruins, for whom he played 32 games.

Slegr Bruins, Slegr Bruins

Following that season, he returned to Litvinov for the sixth time! He would play four seasons there, retiring from hockey in 2010 before beginning his second career in politics, having been elected to Chamber of Deputies.

Slegr Litvinov, Slegr Litvinov
Šlégr with HC Litvinov

Šlégr's final NHL career totals are 622 games, 56 goals and 193 assists for 249 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins Jiří Šlégr jersey as worn during one of the Penguins opening pair of games in Japan against the Nashville Predators to open the NHL season. This was the third and final time the NHL season would get under way in Tokyo.

This style Penguins jersey was introduced in 1992-93 following their second Stanley Cup championship. The modernized Penguins logo was dubbed the "robo-Penguin" and remained in use through the 2001-02 season before a full-time return of the original skating penguin logo.

Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins 00-01 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996 Czech Republic Jiří Šlégr jersey as worn the first time Šlégr played for the Czech Republic following the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

This jersey was made by Bauer, and as such, the Czechs wore the larger 4" World Cup patch on the shoulder. Sweden and Canada also wore Bauer jerseys paired with the larger version of the patch, unlike the Nike teams, which wore the smaller 3" version of the tournament patch.

Czech Republic 1996 jersey, Czech Republic 1996 jersey
Czech Republic 1996 jersey, Czech Republic 1996 jersey
Czech Republic 1996 jersey, Czech Republic 1996 jersey

In today's video segment, Šlégr scores against Canada in the 1998 Olympics, much to the delight of the announcer.

Friday, May 29, 2015

1935-36 New York Americans Art Chapman Jersey

Canadian Art Chapman, born on this date in 1906, played senior hockey in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba for both the Winnipeg Tigers and Winnipeg Falcons in the mid 1920's before joining the Port Arthur Ports for the 1925-26 season. Chapman, a forward, scored 13 goals in 19 games during the regular season and added 3 more in 9 playoff games as the Ports won the Allan Cup as senior champions of Canada.

Chapman had an second productive season with Port Arthur (later Thunder Bay, Ontario) scoring 19 goals in 20 games before joining the Springfield Indians of the Canadian-American Hockey League in 1927-28. After one season with Springfield, he joined the Providence Reds of the same league, equalling his 14 goals from the previous year in 1928-29 before uncorking a career high 26 goals and 45 points in 1929-30, which allowed him to lead the Reds for a second consecutive season.

That performance led to Chapman getting his chance to play in the NHL, as he was selected by the Boston Bruins for the 1930-31 season in the 1929 Inter-League Draft. He would play four seasons for the Bruins, totaling 23 goals over that time span, with a high of 11 goals and 25 points in 1931-32.

Chapman Bruins, Chapman Bruins

In January of 1934 Chapman was traded to the New York Americans, where he would play for seven seasons.

Chapman Americans, Chapman Americans

In 1934-35, his first full season with New York, he would set an NHL career best with 43 points to lead the club in scoring. In 1935-36, he would score 10 goals, his only NHL season with double-digit goals, as he was better known for being responsible defensively.

1935-36 New York Americans, 1935-36 New York Americans

He would then play in the NHL All-Star Game in the 1937 edition. His final season with the Americans came in 1939-40 before his career was interrupted by World War II.

Chapman Americans, Chapman Americans

He returned to playing hockey in 1942-43 with the Buffalo Bisons, where in 45 games he showed he still had plenty of skills, picking up where he left off with 9 goals and 28 points. He would retire after playing one final game with the Bisons in 1943-44.

He would later go into coaching hockey, winning a Calder Cup as head coach of Buffalo in 1944 and a Lester Patrick Cup with the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL in 1958.

Today's featured jersey is a 1935-36 New York Americans Art Chapman jersey. This sweater was worn during Chapman's highest scoring season in the NHL, his first full season with the Americans.

The Americans joined the NHL in 1925, one year before the New York Rangers, and wore their distinctive star spangled, multi-striped solely from 1925 through 1932-33 before finally introducing a white sweater for the 1933-34 season. After two seasons of use the sweater was modified when the single, blue waist stripe was changed to a pair of red stripes, a new wordmark crest was added and a series of arched stars was added to both the front and the back of the jerseys.

For the fourth season of use in 1938-39, the star-spangled jerseys were retired and the white sweater was now used full time, although with much thinner waist stripes, beginning a series of one year design tweaks as the club played out the string, ending in 1941-42 when they folded for good.

New York Americans 1935-36  jersey, New York Americans 1935-36  jersey
Photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

In today's video section, the New York Americans defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1936 playoffs.



Next, the Americans defeat the rival New York Rangers while wearing today's featured jersey style. Take note of how full the arena is and the "ticker tape" celebration as someone from the upper level lets loose with an entire newspaper!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

1980-81 New England Whalers Mark Howe Jersey

Born on this date in 1955, Mark Howe first gained recognition as a surprising addition as member of the 1972 United States Olympic Team that won a remarkable silver medal in Sapporo, Japan. At just 16 years old, and still only a high school junior who had just recently gotten his driver's license and playing on a team with Vietnam War veterans, he remains the youngest member of a US Olympic Hockey Team ever.

1972 USA Olympic team
1972 United States Olympic Team - Mark Howe, back row first on left

"We picked Mark up, and he played some exhibition games with us. We needed a left winger. He was on our list for skill and attitude. The maturity level of this kid was overwhelming. He was a big part of the team. He was tougher than hell. Vlclav Nedomansky of Czechoslovakia nailed him in a preseason game, and he didn't know where he was, but it didn't bother him at all. I used him as a forward, and he became a Hall of Fame defenseman."
Howe recalls,
"The whole thing was just a great, great learning experience. The way I looked at it for my career, it was a huge stepping-stone. I learned more in the six weeks I was gone than I learned in the years and years of going to school. I mean, just about life in general - and just seeing the talent of the players from overseas, watching the Soviets play was a whole new level. Coach Williamson pushed me hard. I was a scorer. But when I went to that team, I wasn't. I was the guy who provided energy. I had to fit into a role, and so for me, it was a completely different experience - a tremendous learning experience."
During the medal ceremony as Howe stood with a silver medal around his neck, it finally struck him that this was a moment to savor.
"I remember looking up at the flag, and that's when I realized what an honor it was the play and represent your country. No matter what I did, I always gave the best I could. Seeing the flag of your country being raised - even though there was one a little higher than ours - was my fondest moment."
He then added to his resume by winning a Memorial Cup in 1973 as a member of the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey League and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player in the process.

At a time when the NHL had an minimum age limit of 20 for it's players, the 18 year old Howe turned professional during the NHL/WHA rivalry in a headline-grabbing signing to play for the Houston Aeros of the WHA along side his brother Marty Howe and his legendary father Gordie, who was lured out of retirement for the opportunity to play with his sons.

Mark,Gordie and Marty Howe

Mark scored his first goal 27 years to the day after his father scored for the first time for the Detroit Red Wings. His trophy cabinet continued to grow, as Mark was awarded the Lou Kaplan Award as WHA Rookie of the Year and the Aeros won the Avco World Trophy in 1974. In 1975 the Aeros repeated as champions of the WHA and Howe was the leading playoff scorer with 22 points in 13 games. He was also named to Team Canada for the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

Howe, who began his career as a wing, had moved back to defense by 1976-77 and the trio of Howes signed with the New England Whalers for the 1977-78 season. They continued to play together through the 1979-80 season when the Whalers became members of the NHL. While he regularly scored in the mid-70's points-wise in Houston, his offensive game came alive in New England, first with 91 points in 1977-78 which was followed by 107 points in the final WHA season of 1978-79 before scoring 80 in his first NHL season.

Howe Family Whalers

After Gordie retired following the 1979-80 season, Mark no longer had to play in his father's shadow and was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 1981 and was later played for the United States in the 1981 Canada Cup. After one more season in Hartford, Howe was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the 1983 draft following concerns after a grisly injury in which he was impaled in the thigh by the pointed center of a goal. His recovery required a liquid diet for a period of time that resulted in him losing 24 pounds. His injury resulted in a redesign for goal frames and the way they were held in place on the ice.

He rebounded from his injury and excelled as a member of some great defensive teams of the era. Howe played in his second All-Star Game and was a finalist for the Norris Trophy in 1983 and played in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1985.

He had perhaps the best season of his career in 1985-86, setting NHL career highs with 24 goals, 58 assists and 82 points, made his third All-Star Game, was the NHL plus/minus leader at +85 and came in second in voting for the Norris Trophy.

Mark Howe Flyers

In 1986-87 Howe helped lead the Flyers to the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals while contributing 12 points in 26 games from the blueline and was a Norris finalist for the third time.

After playing 75 games in 1987-88 and his fourth All-Star Game, back and knee injuries would limit him to no more than 60 games for the remaining seven seasons of his career. After four more seasons with the Flyers, Howe signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings, the club his father gained most of his fame with.

While healthy, Howe provided veteran leadership to the Red Wings defensive corps, which included a young Nicklas Lidstrom. The Red Wings began a transformation in 1993-94 with the arrival of Scotty Bowman as coach and made the Stanley Cup Finals in 1995, their first finals appearance since 1966.

After one more season, in which he was limited to just 18 games, Howe retired with 929 NHL games and 426 in the WHA for a combined 405 goals and 841 assists for 1246 points.

Howe was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 and had his jersey number retired by the Flyers in 2012.

Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 New England Whalers Mark Howe jersey. From the beginning part of Mark's career when he played with both his father Gordie and his brother Marty, Howe wore his first name on his jerseys from his pro debut with the Houston Aeros in 1973 through his final season with the Whalers of 1981-82.

The Whalers wore this style of jersey beginning with their entry into the NHL in 1979-80. One of the terms of their acceptance into the NHL was to change their name from the New England Whalers, used  for seven years while members of the WHA, to the Hartford Whalers at the insistence of the Boston Bruins, who apparently thought of themselves as New England's team. The name change necessitated a new logo, the ever-popular whale tail logo with the hidden H in the negative space.

This jersey remained in use through the 1984-85 season, including one year being paired with the "Cooperalls" long pants, one of only two teams to use the short lived trousers. The jersey saw the unfortunate removal of the Pucky the Whale shoulder logos in 1985-86 but continued to be worn through the 1991-92 season, although with the angled sleeve stripes straightened in 1989-90, until a new set of jerseys debuted in 1992-93 with blue replacing green as the primary team color.

Hartford Whalers 1980-81 jersey photo Hartford Whalers 1980-81 F jersey.jpg
Hartford Whalers 1980-81 jersey photo Hartford Whalers 1980-81 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers Mark Howe jersey. Howe was finally able to venture out on his own and ditch the first name on his back in 1982-83 when he joined Philadelphia. 1984-85 was Howe's third season with Philadelphia and he scored 18 goals and 57 points and made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season he wore this jersey.

The Flyers jerseys remained relatively unchanged from their introduction in 1967 with only gradual detail changes such as the addition of black outlines separating the sleeve and body colors in 1982 and tweaks to the names and numbering style.

Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 jersey photo Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 F jersey.jpg
Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 jersey photo Philadelphia Flyers 1984-85 B jersey.jpg

Today's video segment begins with a little fatherly advice from Gordie to Mark about making the move to the WHA.


Next, a look at Howe's career, as presented during his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.


Finally, here is Howe's memorable speech during his Hockey Hall of Fame induction.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Saint Petersburg, Russia - 2012-13 SKA Saint Petersburg Ilya Kovalchuk Jersey

Founded 312 years ago on this date in 1703 by Peter the Great, Saint Petersburg (Sankt Peterburg) is the second largest city in Russia with a population of 5 million. From 1713 to 1728 and again from 1732 to 1918 it was the capital of Russia until the communist Russian Revolution of 1917. It is also the northernmost city in the world with a population of over a million.

Saint Petersburg photo St Petersburg.jpg
Saint Petersburg

The city was founded when Peter the Great desired a better seaport and won the territory from the Swedish Empire, who controlled the area at the time.

Peter the Great photo Peter the Great.jpg
Peter the Great

After the Russian victory, the Peter and Paul Fortress was built, the first brick and stone building of the new city from which the city got its name.

Peter and Paul Fortress photo peter-paul-fortress-arial-shot.jpg
The Peter and Paul Fortress, birthplace of Saint Petersburg

In the 1860's, following the emancipation of peasants in Russia, the city saw large growth, which saw Saint Petersburg surpass Moscow in population as well as becoming one of Europe's largest industrial cities. Additionally, it developed a major naval base, river and sea port.

Following the outbreak of World War I, the government renamed the city Petrograd, meaning "Peter's City" in order to remove the German words "Sankt" and "Burg"

In October of 1917, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, stormed the grand Winter Palace, the official residence of the Russian monarchy dating back to 1732, which led to the transfer of all power to the Soviets and gave rise to the Communist Party. When the city was threatened with bombardment and invasion by advancing German troops, the Soviets transferred the capital to Moscow to keep it away from the border, as was the case in Petrograd.

 photo St_Petersburg_winter_palace.jpg
The Winter Palace, home of the Czars

On January 26, 1924, five days after the death of Lenin, the city was again renamed, this time to Leningrad.

During World War II, German forces laid siege to the city from September of 1941 until January of 1944, one of the longest, most destructive and lethal sieges of a major city in modern history, with over a million civilian casualties, mainly from starvation.

Siege of Leningrad photo Siege of Leningrad.jpg
Citizens fleeing German bombardment during the
devastating siege of Leningrad during World War II

In 1991, after the fall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union, the city reverted back to its original name of Saint Petersburg.

It is considered the cultural center of Russia and is home to The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world and one some 200 museums in the city. Additionally, there are about 8,000 architectural monuments, 50 theaters and many parks in Saint Petersburg.

It's main hockey club is SKA Saint Petersburgh, with SKA standing for Sports Club of the Army, written as CKA in Cyrillic. The team was founded in 1946 with the name Kirov LDO (Leningrad Officers Club). It underwent several name changes until changing to SKA in 1959. Like CSKA Moscow (Central Red Army), SKA belonged to the Soviet Ministry of Defense sports club system with its roster stocked with Leningrad Military District officers.

SKA logo photo SKA logo.png

SKA Leningrad were relegated for the 1947-48 season, but earned an immediate promotion back to the top level in their first try. Their return to the top level did not go well, and the club was once again demoted to the second division, and again won the right to return to the top division for 1950-51. This time they were successful in staying up, and remained in highest level for the next 40 years. The team remained in the top division until 1991, never having won a Soviet Championship League title thanks in large part to the dominance of CSKA Moscow.

Their first taste of success would wait until 1968 when they were a finalist for the USSR Cup, a season long knockout competition which ran concurrently with the league regular season. The club earned their first hardware in 1970, when they won their first Spengler Cup, defeating the Czechoslovakian team Dukla Jihlava.

The team repeated their Spengler Cup success with another victory over Dukla Jihlava in 1971 and then completed arguably the best season in club history with a bronze medal in the Soviet Championship League and a runner up finish in the USSR Cup.

Their next success would arrive with their third Spengler Cup victory in 1977 at the expense of Dukla Jihlava once again.

SKA Leningrad's next good result in the Soviet Championship League came with another bronze medal after the 1987 campaign.

That success would have to suffice for some time, as the political upheaval which arrived with the dissolution of the Soviet Union would affect the club's finances and resources as the changes in Russian society and it's sporting landscape sorted themselves out over the early part of the 1990's. This instability saw the team relegated for only the third time in it's history, as they were relegated following the 1990-91 season.

SKA Leningrad logo photo SKALeningradbadge.jpg
A badge from their days as SKA Leningrad

Another affect the breakup of the Soviet Union had on the team was the name of their home city Leningrad changing back to it's historic, original pre-1914 name of Saint Petersburg in 1991. From then on, the club would now be known as Hockey Club SKA Saint Petersburg.

SKA Saint Petersburg logo, SKA Saint Petersburg logo

The team spent the 1991-92 season in the second division and joined the new International Hockey League for its debut 1992-93 season. In the aftermath of the Soviet Union, the landscape of Russian hockey was rather unstable, and in the IHL ceased after just four seasons, being replaced by the Russian Superleague in 1999.

While several teams were able to rise to the top and win championships with the loss of dominance by CSKA after its systemic advantages were lost following the fall of communism, SKA was not one of those. In the 12 years of the RSL, six different clubs won championships but Saint Petersburg was unable to win even a single playoff round.

The Kontinental Hockey League arrived in 2008-09. The club's fortunes began to look upwards, beginning in 2010, when they won their fourth Spengler Cup.

SKA Spengler Cup 2010 photo SKASaintPetersburgwonin2010.png
SKA Saint Petersburg celebrate their 2010 Spengler Cup

Playoff success arrived in 2011-12 with the team making it to the conference finals before winning the Continental Cup as the team with the best regular season record at the conclusion of the 2012-13 regular season as they posted a 36-2-11-3 record for 115 points, 11 clear of second place. While they did advance to the conference finals again, the club lost in six games to the eventual champions Dynamo Moscow.

Finally in the 2014-15 season, the team finished second overall in the KHL and then defeated Torpedo Novgorod 4-1, Dynamo Moscow 4-1, Continental Cup winners CSKA Moscow in seven games before claiming their first championship in 69 years when they beat Ak Bars Kazan 4 games to 1.

SKA Gagarin Cup photo SKA Gagarin Cup.jpg
After never winning a domestic championship,
SKA Saint Petersburg won the 2015 Gagarin Cup

SKA were captained by former NHL goal scoring leader Ilya Kovalchuk, who was named the MVP of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs.

Kovalchuk Gagarin Cup photo Kovalchuk Gagarin Cup.jpg
SKA captain Kovalchuk hoisting the Gagarin Cup
for the team's first championship in 69 years

Other notable players to have skated for SKA include Maxim Afinogenov, Alexi Kasatonov, Darius Kasparaitis, Evgeni Nabokov, Alexi Ponikarovsky, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexi Yashin, Valeri Zelepukin and Sergei Zubov.

SKA Vs Hurricanes photo SKAvsHurricanes2.jpg
Evgeni Nabokov in goal for SKA during their 5-3 exhibition game
victory against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010

Their home games are held in The Ice Palace, which holds 12,300 fans and has hosted the IIHF European Champions Cup from 2005 to 2008. In 2011-12, SKA averaged 10,126 fans, becoming the first Russian club to average over 10,000 fans per game in a season. SKA also placed 6th overall in attendance in all of Europe and first in Russia.

Today's featured jersey is a 2012-13 SKA Saint Petersburg Ilya Kovalchuk jersey as worn by the NHLer early in the season while the NHL lockout was still in effect, foreshadowing his return to Saint Petersburg following his "retirement" from the NHL for the following season.

While in most leagues 68 seasons and no titles to show for it would be a cause for ridicule, not unlike baseball's Chicago Cubs, but the tilted system of Soviet hockey in favor of perennial champions CSKA (Central Red Army), 32 titles in 46 years and 13 in a row from 1978 to 1990, takes some of the heat of SKA as few clubs, other than perhaps Moscow Dynamo, were winning any championships either.

Of note, with the expansion of the KHL beyond the borders of Russia, the league no longer customizes player jerseys with the names on the back in Cyrillic, changing to English in 2011-12.

Russia SKA Saint Petersburgh 2012-13 jersey photo Russia-SKASaintPetersburgh2012-13F.jpg
Russia SKA Saint Petersburgh 2012-13 jersey photo Russia-SKASaintPetersburgh2012-13B.jpg

Today's video section is highlights of SKA Saint Petersburg winning Game 5 of the Gagarin Cup Finals to win their first championship in 69 years.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques J. C. Tremblay Jersey

The Quebec Nordiques were one of the original 12 WHA franchises when the league was founded in 1972.

1972-73 Quebec Nordiques team photo 1972-73 Quebec Nordiques team.jpg
The inaugural 1972-73 Quebec Nordiques

They were led by long-time Montreal Canadien J. C. Tremblay, already a 300 goal scorer in the NHL. His 89 points led the heavily French-Canadien Nordiques who finished out of the playoffs following the 1972-73 season with a 33-40-5 record.

 photo Tremblay Nordiques.jpg
JC Tremblay in the Nordiques first jersey

New arrival
Serge Bernier led the team in scoring in 1973-74 with 86 points and Rejean Houle joined the club, also from Montreal as the team once again missed out on the playoffs.

 photo Serge Bernier Nordiques.jpg
Serge Bernier led the club in scoring in 1974

Bernier became the first Nordique to crack the top ten in WHA scoring when he exploded for 54 goals and 122 points in 1974-75. Houle added 92 points and hit the 40 goal mark after being limited to 64 games. The team continued to add talent, with Marc Tardif joining the club that season. His 38 goals and 72 points came in just 53 games after joining the team from the Michigan Stags. Real Cloutier would also make his Nordiques debut that season.

Real Cloutier Nordiques photo Real Cloutier Nordiques.jpg
Real Cloutier

The team would not only qualify for the playoffs for the first time ever, but romp past the Phoenix Roadrunners 4-1 and outlast the Minnesota Fighting Saints 4-2 to make it to the Avco World Trophy Finals before falling to Gordie Howe and the Houston Aeros. Tardif led the club in playoff scoring with 21 points in 15 games.

Tardif led the way in 1975-76, setting a new team record with 148 points from an outstanding 71 goals and 77 assists in 81 games. Cloutier finished the season with 60 goals of his own to give the Nordiques the top two places in the goal scoring race, while Houle's 51 placed him fifth.

Tardif's 148 points won the league scoring title, with Cloutier tied for third with 114,
Chris Bordeleau sixth at 109 and Houle and Bernier eighth and ninth with 103 and 102, giving the high scoring Nordiques five of the top nine scorers. Tremblay and Tardif tied for the most assists with 77 each.

Tardif Nordiques photo TardifWHANordiques.jpg
Marc Tardif would win the WHA MVP award in 1975-76

The Nordiques high powered offense, which scored 371 goals (4.6 per game and 26 more than second place), failed to deliver in the playoffs however, as the Calgary Cowboys eliminated the Nordiques in five games while outscoring them 23-15.

With Tardif limited to 62 games, it was Cloutier's turn to lead the club offensively. His 66 goals and 141 points led won him the scoring title and his 66 goals were good for second. Tardif (109 points, sixth), Bordeleau (107, seventh) and Bernier (96, tenth) also finished in the top ten.

The Nordiques reduced their goals against over the course of the season by 21 and headed into the playoffs as the second overall seed. They first knocked out the New England Whalers and then the Indianapolis Racers, both 4 games to 1 to advance to the finals against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets took Game 1 in Quebec 2-1, but the Nordiques came back strong in Game 2, winning 6-1. The Jets returned the favor, winning by an identical 6-1 score back in Winnipeg, but the Nordiques gained a split in Winnipeg to even the series at 2-2 by winning Game 4 by a 4-2 margin.

Quebec rolled at home 8-3 but once more Winnipeg fired right back, destroying the Nordiques 12-3 in Winnipeg to force a seventh and deciding game back in Quebec. The Nordiques take their turn to dominate play, and win the game 8-2 to capture the franchises one and only title on this date in 1977.


1976-77 Nordiques team photo 1976-77QuebecNordiquesteam.jpg
The WHA champion 1976-77 Quebec Nordiques

The Nordiques would play two more seasons in the WHA, with Tardif and Cloutier again going 1-2 in points in 1978, with Tardif's 154 setting the all-time WHA record and earning him his second league MVP award, with Cloutier winning the scoring title again in 1979, the fourth consecutive by a member of the Nordiques. However, they would fail to reach the AVCO World Trophy finals of the ever shrinking WHA again.

The club would survive to be one of the four WHA teams granted entry into the NHL, where they would play for 16 more seasons before financial difficulties and their inability to get a new, modern arena constructed would result in their sale and relocation to Denver, Colorado in 1995, only to win the Stanley Cup in their first season after leaving Quebec.

Today's featured jersey is a
1976-77 Quebec Nordiques J. C. Tremblay jersey as worn during the season in which the Nordiques would win their only championship in franchise history.

After 13 seasons and five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens, Tremblay made the jump to the rival WHA Nordiques. He was the only player to play for the Nordiques all seven seasons of the WHA and had his #3 retired by the club.

The original 1972 Nordiques jerseys used light blue had a considerable amount of red on both the shoulders and waist stripe. The following season the blue was changed to a considerably darker shade and the amount of red was limited to the shoulders on the home jerseys and narrower striping.

The familiar Nordiques style seen here was adopted in 1975 and remained in use through the Nordiques final season in Quebec twenty years later, although a new jersey with a modernized logo was scheduled to be introduced the season the club relocated to Denver, Colorado.

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our first video selection today features rare footage of Game 7 of the 1977 Finals. The white-clad players are often hard to see against the white ice since the video has brightness issues, but the thrill of the crowd is unmistakable as the home team dominates the game to win the title. Notice the number of fans who are able to run out onto the ice to join in the celebration!


If you have some time on your hands today, here is a highly recommended film entitled "Just Another Job", which runs 28 minutes and takes you behind the scenes of the Quebec Nordiques and coach Maurice Richard and their first ever game. Richard would only last two games as the Nordiques head coach!

Even if you don't have a half hour to spare, we implore you to at least check out the opening theme song, which runs a minute and a half and is not to be missed.

Monday, May 25, 2015

1988-89 Calgary Flames Al MacInnis Jersey

On this date in 1989 the Calgary Flames completed a journey that required 16 years and 1900 miles across two countries to complete.

The Flames began play in 1972 in Atlanta, Georgia as the NHL reacted quickly to occupy new arenas on Long Island, New York and Atlanta, Georgia to prevent the upstart World Hockey Association from moving into those markets.

The name "Flames" originated from the famous burning of Atlanta during the American Civil War and the club would play eight seasons in Atlanta before falling ticket sales were met with a rapid rise in player costs due to the competition for players between the NHL and WHA. When an offer for the club came from Nelson Skalbania, former owner of both the Edmonton Oilers and Indianapolis Racers of the WHA, the Atlanta ownership group accepted the offer and Skalbania immediately moved the club to Calgary, Alberta and keep not only the Flames name, but their jerseys as well, with only the flaming "A" changing to a flaming "C".


Flames jerseys

While the WHA's Calgary Cowboys never captured the fans hearts during their two seasons in Calgary, the Flames were an instant hit both on and off the ice. The Flames never won a playoff round in six tries while in Atlanta, but their first season in Calgary saw them defeat the Chicago Black Hawks 3-0 and the Philadelphia Flyers in seven to advance to the semifinals where they would lose in six games to the Minnesota North Stars.

After four consecutive playoff appearances the Flames would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1986 by defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, their inter-provence rivals the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and the St. Louis Blues 4-3 before losing to the Montreal Canadiens 4 games to 1.

They kept their consecutive season playoff streak alive at 14 over the next three years, setting new franchise records for points in a season each time, first with 95, then leading the league with 105 and a second consecutive President's Trophy with 117 points in 1988-89.

The 1988-89 Flames were led by Joe Mullen's 107 points, which placed him 7th overall in the league scoring race. Joe Nieuwendyk tied Mullen for the team lead on goals with 51, which were career highs for both players. Doug Gilmour tied Mullen for the most assists with 59, with defenseman Al MacInnis and Hakan Loob right behind with 58 apiece.

MacInnis and Gary Suter led the Flames blueliners with 74 and 62 points as Mike Vernon's 52 games and 37 wins led the Flames goaltending department.

Captain Lanny MacDonald provided veteran leadership, as did Rob Ramage.

The Flames finished in first place in the Smythe Division and drew the fourth place Vancouver Canucks, who finished 43 points behind them in the standings, but the Canucks took the Flames all the way to overtime of Game 7 before Joel Otto scored the series winning goal on a deflection off his skate with just 39 seconds left in the first overtime period.

The Flames made quick work of the Los Angeles Kings, eliminating them in four straight to advance to the Conference Finals against Chicago. The teams split the first two games in Calgary before the Flames went on a run, winning the next three in a row to gain a rematch with the Canadiens, who had finished right behind the Flames with 115 regular season points, in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The 1989 Stanley Cup Finals remain the last time the top two seeds have met in the finals, as well as the most recent time two Canadian teams squared off for Lord Stanley's Cup.

Game 1 went to Calgary in overtime by a 3-2 score before losing 4-2 in Game 2. Montreal sustained their home ice advantage in Game 3 with a nail-biting 4-3 win in two overtimes only to have Calgary respond with a 4-2 win in Montreal in Game 4.

Game 5 in Calgary was a narrow 3-2 Flames win as McDonald scored the game winner to put Calgary up 3 games to 2 as the series moved back to Montreal.

McDonald scored the second Calgary goal and Gilmour took control with the game winning goal in the third period plus a late empty-netter to give the Flames their first, and to date only, Stanley Cup championship following a 4-2 win on this date in 1989. It would be the final goal of McDonald's 16 season NHL career, as he would retire during the off season.


1988-89 Calgary Flames

The win made Calgary the only team to ever win the Stanley Cup on the Canadiens home ice in 33 opportunities dating back to 1914. Flames coach Terry Crisp became only the 12th man to win the Stanley Cup as a player and a coach, although it should be noted that none of the Flames player's had ever won the cup before. Flames goaltender Vernon won his 16th playoff game in one season, tying the record.

MacInnis was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as he became the first defenseman to lead the NHL in playoff scoring with 31 points in 22 games.

Al MacInnis Conn Smythe 1989

Mullen was second for the Flames with 24 points and led the team with 16 goals. Gilmour was third with 22 to round out the players who averaged a point a game in playoff scoring.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Calgary Flames Al MacInnis jersey. This was the first time that the two participating teams would wear a special commemorative patch for the final series of the playoffs, a tradition which continues to this day, although the customary location for the patch changed from the left shoulder to the upper right chest the following season.

The Flames would continue to wear this style jersey through the 1993-94 season until it was replaced after 22 seasons of use and a change in logo after the franchise's relocation from Atlanta to Calgary.


Calgary Flames 88-89 jersey photo CalgaryFlames88-89F.jpg
Calgary Flames 88-89 jersey photo CalgaryFlames88-89B.jpg
Calgary Flames 88-89 jersey photo CalgaryFlames88-89P.jpg

Today's video section begins with a brief highlight of the Flames overtime series winning goal in Game 7 against Vancouver.



Next up is Lanny McDonald's Game 6 goal in the cup finals.


This video is of the final seconds of the Game 6 and the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup presentations.

 

hit counter for blogger