Thursday, May 19, 2016

1939-40 New York Rangers Alex Shibicky Jersey

Born on this date in 1915, Alex Shibicky was a member of his hometown Winnipeg Columbus Club for the 1932-33 season before joining the Selkirk Jr. Fishermen for 1933-34, where he scored 11 goals and 15 points in 12 games. He also played one game for the Selkirk senior Fishermen.

He was then signed by the New York Rangers, who assigned their new winger to the New York Crescents of the Eastern Amateur Hockey League for the 1934-35 season, where he teamed up with future teammates and brothers Mac Colville and Neil Colville. Shibicky racked up 16 goals and 25 points in 21 games as well as another 8 goals in 8 playoff games.

The following season Shibicky played in the Canadian-American Hockey League for the Philadelphia Ramblers, putting up similar numbers with 16 goals and 22 points in 28 games, which earned him his first call up by the Rangers, where he saw action in 18 games, scoring his first 4 NHL goals.

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Alex Shibicky

He became a full-time NHLer the following season of 1936-37 and finished sixth in scoring for the Rangers with 14 goals and 22 points in 47 games while playing with the Colville brothers in what would become known as "The Bread Line" after New York sportswriters said the young trio was the Rangers "bread and butter".

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Mac and Neil Colville and Alex Shibicky - The Bread Line

That season Shibicky would also introduce a new innovation, as he became the first player to be credited with using a slapshot in the NHL, which he attributed teammate Fred "Bun" Cook, who had been using it in practices.

He then scored another goal and 5 points as the Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in two games before sweeping the Montreal Canadiens in two to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they took the Detroit Red Wings to the full five games before coming up short.

The following season of 1937-38, Shibicky set a career high with 35 points from 17 goals and 18 points in 48 games, but the Rangers were defeated in the opening round of the playoffs by the rival New York Americans in a best-of-three, with every game decided by a goal and both wins by the Americans coming in overtime of the tight series.

Shibicky followed his career high in points the previous season by setting a career high in goals in 1938-39 with 24, which was second in the NHL that season, in what would be the final season behind the bench for long time head coach Lester Patrick, the only coach the team had known since it's inception in 1925-27. The Rangers finished second in the regular season that year and were immediately paired with the first place Boston Bruins in a best-of-seven for a direct entry into the Finals, which was won by Boston in overtime of Game 7. Similar to the previous year's playoffs, five of the seven games were decided by a goal, with four of those being in overtime.

Frank Boucher took over as head coach for the 1939-40 season for the first of his ten seasons behind the Rangers bench. While Shibicky's goal total dropped to less than half of his previous season with 11, his assists more than doubled to 21, and in the end his 32 points were one shy of his previous season's total.

The Rangers again finished second overall and again drew the Bruins in Round 1. This time, however, they defeated the Bruins 4 games to 2 to earn their place in the Finals. Their opponent was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had finished third, 8 points behind New York.

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Shibicky tries to score against the Bruins

The Rangers won the first two games at home, 2-1 in overtime and then 6-2. Toronto held serve at Maple Leaf Gardens, 2-1 and 3-0. While the series normally would have returned to Madison Square Garden, the circus was in town and the series subsequently remained in Toronto. The Rangers won Game 5 after over a half hour of overtime 2-1 to put the Maple Leafs on the brink. Game 6 also went to overtime after the Rangers fought back from a 2-0 deficit at the start of the third.

Shibicky first assisted on Neil Colville's goal at 8:08 before Alf Pike faked out the Maple Leafs Turk Broda after a pass from Clint Smith to tie the game at 10:02. Making Shibicky's third period assist all the more remarkable was the fact he was playing on a broken ankle, which was fractured in three places earlier in the series. Rangers doctors then froze his leg up to the knee and he contunued to play!

Regulation finished without a winner and the game moved to overtime. It wouldn't take 30 minutes this time though, as Phil Watson fed the puck to Bryan Hextall, who buried the cup winning goal at 2:07 to give the Rangers their first championship since 1933 and their last for the next 54 years. Shibicky ended up with 2 goals and 7 assists in the 12 Rangers playoff games that season.

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The Rangers celebrate with Lester Patrick and the "Stovepipe" era Stanley Cup

After a down year in 1940-41 when he scored 10 goals and 24 assists, Shibicky rebounded with the second 20 goal season of his career in 1941-42 on his way to 34 points, one shy of his career best set in 1937-38.

Due to the outbreak of World War II, Shibicky then entered the Canadian military and was out of the NHL for the next three years. While in the military, Shibicky, along with the Colvilles, was still able to remain active in hockey, playing for the Ottawa Engineers of the OCHL for 9 games before joining the Ottawa Senators (who were known as the Ottawa Commandos during the years of the war) of the Quebec Senior Hockey League. Shibicky scored 15 goals and 22 points in 18 games and continued his run with 11 goals and 24 points in 11 playoff games as the Commandos won the Allan Cup as the senior champions of Canada in 1943.

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The 1943 Allan Cup champion Ottawa Commandos

During the following season of 1943-44, Shibicky found time for 10 games with the Commandoes while in 1944-45 he was back with the Ottawa Engineers for a limited schedule of just four games.

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The Bread Line of Mac and Neil Colville and Alex Shibicky
while with the Ottawa Commandos during World War II

He returned to the Rangers for the 1945-46 season, but after 33 games with 10 goals and 15 points, Shibicky was sent down to the Providence Reds of the AHL. He averaged just over a point per game with 19 in 18 games. The Following season he was back in the AHL, only this time with the New Haven Ramblers. He scored exactly 20 goals and 32 points in 53 games in 1946-47.

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After serving in the military, Shibicky returned to the Rangers

His final NHL totals were 324 games played with 110 goals and 91 assists for 201 points and a Stanley Cup championship as well as credit for introducing the slapshot into the arsenal of the NHL.

Today's featured jersey is a 1939-40 New York Rangers Alex Shibicky jersey. The Rangers came into being for the 1926-27 season with medium blue jerseys with their trademark diagonally lettered jerseys done in white. The next year the lettering changed to red and for their third season red outlined in white. For the 1929-30 season the jerseys became their familiar darker shade of blue. This style would remain in use through the 1940-41 season until the font would change to that still in use today with the shorter, italicized and serifed lettering.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
 
Today's video section is an educational film showing what goes into a game between the Rangers and Maple Leafs from back in 1939.


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