Monday, February 29, 2016

1975-76 Boston Bruins Gilles Gilbert Jersey

After playing for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey Association, goaltender Gilles Gilbert was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft. He was assigned to the Iowa Stars of the Central Hockey League but did manage to play one game with the North Stars in 1969-70. The crease in Minnesota was a crowded placed in those days, as Gilbert fought for playing time against future Hall of Famer Gump Worsely and fan favorite Cesare Maniago.

Gilbert did manage to play 17 games in 1970-71, was limited to just 4 in 1971-72 and 22 in 1972-73 when he went 10-10-2.

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Gilbert with the North Stars going up against his future team Boston

Despite Worsely being 43 years old and Maniago being 33, the North Stars elected to trade the 23 year old Gilbert to the Boston Bruins for Fred Stanfield as a replacement for Gerry Cheevers, who had bolted for the Cleveland Crusaders of the rival WHA.

After missing the start of the 1973-74 season due to a knee injury in training camp, Gilbert began to pay immediate dividends for the Bruins, as he won 34 games and tying 8 while losing just 12 in 54 appearances as the Bruins clear cut number one goaltender. He also backstopped Boston to the Stanley Cup Finals where they lost in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers. That same season, Gilbert made his only NHL All-Star Game in recognition of his fine season.

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Gilbert during his first season with the Bruins

Gilbert next made 53 appearances in 1974-75, winning 23 times.

Early in the 1975-76 season, Gilbert put together a a solid run, going unbeaten from November 9th to December 7th when he won 9 and tied 5 without a loss, which included a fight with the Atlanta Flames goaltender Dan Bouchard on December 3rd!

19 days later, Gilbert began another streak when he won 6-3 at the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins road trip continued with Gilbert getting a 4-2 in Philadelphia and a 6-1 victory against his original club, the North Stars.

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He started the Bruins next game in Vancouver, but with the score tied at 4-4, Gilbert was injured during the second period and was forced to leave the game. Backup Dave Reece finished the game which did not see anymore scoring and was credited with the tie as the goaltender of record.

After missing two games with the injury that forced him out of the game against the Canucks, Gilbert returned on January 10th in Boston against the California Golden Seals, who lost a 3-2 decision to extend Gilbert's winning streak to four thanks to his no-decision in the tie game versus Vancouver.

After Reece beat Washington the next night, Gilbert posted back-to-back wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-2) and the Los Angeles Kings (4-0) on January 13th and 15th to run his winning streak to six.

Gilbert had a rough outing against the St. Louis Blues on January 17th, giving up 3 goals on 5 shots during the first 12 minutes of the game. Bruins head coach Don Cherry pulled Gilbert with Boston trailing 3-1. The Bruins rallied in the second period to tie the game at 3-3 only to have Reece allow an eventual 4 goals to take the loss at 7-5, which ended Boston's nine game undefeated run, but spared Gilbert from taking the loss despite his poor start.

After the All-Star break, Gilbert returned to the Bruins crease for a 5-3 win over Buffalo at home on the 22nd for his seventh straight win. With the Bruins winning again in Detroit 6-1 on the 24th and back home the next night against the Flyers 5-3, Cherry let his hot goaltender ride and he responded with wins at home against the Chicago Black Hawks 5-3 on the 29th and closed out January with a win on the road against the Atlanta Flames 4-2 on the 30th. Two nights later the home-and-home series resumed in Georgia, with Gilbert and the Bruins again winning 5-3 for his 12th consecutive win.

Reece got the next start on February 5th, a 5-1 Boston win, but he was then shelled 11-4 at Toronto on the 7th. Meanwhile, as Gilbert was beating Philadelphia back on January 25th, former Bruins goaltender Cheevers was being suspended by Cleveland for refusing to play for the WHA club in a contract dispute. He was released by the Crusaders on January 27th and immediately was welcomed back by the Bruins, who signed him to a contract the same day.

Now having practiced with Boston, Cheevers was given the start on the 8th and the Bruins responded for their Stanley Cup winning goalie with 7 goals while Cheevers did his part, shutting out Detroit in his triumphant return.

As the Bruins started a twice-across-the-country six game road trip, Gilbert returned to the net on the 11th for the first time in ten days and defeated Minnesota 5-2. After Cheevers won in California against the Golden Seals in Oakland on the 13th, Gilbert then tied Tiny Thompson's record of 14 consecutive wins with a 4-1 win in Chicago.

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The Bruins then tied the Kansas City Scouts with Cheevers back in goal on the 18th.

Gilbert then made the record for Most Consecutive Wins his own at 15 games when he was in goal for a narrow 2-1 Bruins win against the New York Islanders on the 21st with Andre Savard scoring the game winner with just 1:31 left in the game, giving Gilbert a win and avoiding a tie.

By now it was apparent that Cherry was using a goaltending rotation, so it was Cheevers turn to get the start on the 22nd in Manhattan against the New York Rangers, a 5-2 Boston win.

Finally back in Boston for the first time in 18 days, Gilbert pushed his record to now 16 games with a 4-2 defeat of the Blues, which was not sealed until an empty net goal with just 4 seconds remaining.

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Sure enough, Cheevers got the next start on the 27th which resulted in a 3-3 tie at the Washington Capitals.

Finally, on this date in 1976, Leap Day February 29th, Gilbert got his 17th consecutive win as Boston defeated the Canucks at home by a score of 5-3.

After Cheevers took his turn and delivered a 5-3 win over the Kings, Gilbert suffered a 4-3 loss to the Golden Seals in Oakland when Boston could not respond to Fred Ahearn's goal with 3:28 remaining to halt his streak at 17 wins.

Gilbert would finish the season with a 33-8-10 record and a career high 55 games played despite the return of Cheevers, who would eventually play in 15 games after rejoining the club.

He split time again with Cheevers in 1976-77 and then missed half of the 1977-78 schedule with a sprained right ankle. His games played and win totals continued to shrink for the third straight season when he was limited to 23 games and 12 wins in 1978-79 but he rebounded with 20 wins from 33 appearances in 1979-80, his last with the Bruins.

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Later in his career, Gilbert's mask was decorated with stars

He was traded to the Red Wings for Rogie Vachon in the summer of 1980, where he finished his career with three difficult seasons for Detroit, with his best being 1980-81 with 48 games but just 11 wins for the lowly Red Wings, who were limited to 19, 21 and 21 wins in each of his three seasons in Detroit.

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Gilbert finished his career with Detroit

Gilbert would finish his career with 416 games played and a 192-143-60 record, 18 shutouts and a career 3.27 goals against average. 40 years later, his 17 game consecutive win streak still stands as the NHL record, with no other goalie with more than 14. That remarkable streak also added to another record Gilbert holds, as his .843 winning percentage ranks as the best ever for goalies with at least 59 games played.

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Boston Bruins Gilles Gilbert jersey worn during his record winning streak. The Bruins simplified their jerseys in 1974-75 when they dropped the yellow shoulder yoke and lace-up collars to this more modern style than it's predecessor.

The 1975-76 jersey from Gilbert's record setting season can be identified by the Massachusetts Bicentennial patch worn on both shoulders before the arrival of the Bruins secondary bear head logos in 1976-77. Names on the back arrived the very next season in 1977-78 followed by a long run with only tweaks to the fonts for the names and numbers all the way through 1994-95.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1970-71 Minnesota North Stars Gilles Gilbert jersey as worn during his rookie season in the NHL. This style first arrived for the North Stars second season when the white shoulders were added to their inaugural season jerseys. This style would remain in use through the 1974-75 season, by which time Gilbert had moved to Boston.

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Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1974 NHL All-Star Game Gilles Gilbert jersey as worn during the only NHL All-Star Game of his career. This style had a long run before merchandising would dictate more frequent changes in All-Star jerseys. First introduced in 1973, this would be used until 1981, save for 1979 when the traditional All-Star Game was replaced by a team of NHL All-Stars taking on the Soviet Union. In all, this style was worn eight times.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with Gilbert and the Bruins up against the Atlanta Flames on January 12, 1980 while Gilbert is suffering from the flu.

Next, Gilbert teaches you how to do a poke check.

Finally, Gilbert recalls the Bruins 1979 playoff series in his native French.

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