Monday, December 19, 2016

2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins Robert Lang Jersey

Born in Czechoslovakia on this date in 1970, Center Robert Lang began his professional career with CHZ Litvinov in the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League with 3 goals and 5 points in 7 games. He played three more seasons for Litvinov with his best season being 1990-91 when he scored 26 goals and 52 points in 56 games. After the 1989-90 season, Lang was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

During his final season with Litvinov, Lang made his international debut at the very top, competing in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. Czechoslovakia earned a bronze medal as Lang contributed 5 goals and 8 assists in 8 games.

Later that spring, Lang made his World Championship debut with 2 goals and 4 points in 8 games as the Czechs earned another bronze medal.

After four seasons with Litvinov, Lang made the leap to North America, first getting used to the style of play with 38 games in the International Hockey League with the Phoenix Roadrunners. He scored 9 goals and 30 points in 38 games, which earned him a call up to the NHL. With the Kings that season, Lang would play in 11 games, registering 5 assists.

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Lang made his NHL debut with the Kings

The following season saw him split time between the Roadrunners (35 points in 44 games) and the Kings, playing in 39 games and scoring his first 9 goals in the NHL. With the start of the 1994-95 NHL season delayed by labor issues, Lang returned to HC Litvinov for 16 games until the NHL season began in January. Once back in the NHL, Lang scored 12 points in 36 games.

He would finally play a full season with Los Angeles in 1995-96, seeing action in 68 games, scoring 6 goals and a new career best of 22 points.

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Lang wearing the infamous "Burger King" jersey

Following the season, Lang would play in his second World Championships, only this time for the Czech Republic, as Czechoslovakia had separated at the end of 1992 into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Lang had 5 goals and 9 points in 8 games as the Czechs won Group 2 with 4 wins and a tie before defeating Germany 6-1 and the United States 5-0 before winning their first World Championship as the Czech Republic when they beat Canada 4-2 in the gold medal final, with Lang scoring the first two Czech goals.

 photo Czech Republic 1998.jpg
The gold medal winning 1998 Czech Olympic Team

Later that fall, Lang again suited up for the Czech Republic, this time in the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. The results were quite different, as the current world champions were eliminated after losing all three of their games in pool play.

For the 1996-97 season, Lang returned to the Czech Republic and spent a season playing for Sparta Prague, scoring 14 goals and 41 points in 41 games. With the shorter European season, Lang was again free to play for the Czech Republic at the 1997 World Championships. The Czechs went 4-1 to win Group 1, but found the going tougher in the Second Round, losing to the United States and Sweden. The did defeat Canada and finished in fourth place. That set up a game against third place Russia for the bronze medal, which the Czechs won 4-3 to claim Lang's second World Championship bronze.

He returned to the NHL for the 1997-98 when he was signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Penguins on September 2nd. He was claimed by the Boston Bruins 26 days later during the Waiver Draft. After three scoreless games, Lang was waived by the Bruins and reclaimed by the Penguins on October 25th. He played in 9 games with the Houston Aeros in the IHL, but spent the majority of the season with Pittsburgh, scoring 9 goals and 22 points.

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Lang returned to the NHL with Pittsburgh

During the 1997-98 NHL season, the league took a break from their schedule to allow their pros to compete in the Olympics for the first time. Lang played in 8 games, contributing 3 assists as the Czechs took second behind Russia in Group D before eliminating the United States 4-1 in the Quarterfinals. They then beat Canada 2-1 in a shootout to advance to the final, where they turned the tables on Russia 1-0 to claim the gold medal.

His career changed with the 1998-99 season, as he Penguins style of play suited his game and in 72 games, Lang scored 21 goals, far surpassing his previous high of 9, on his way to 44 points, double his previous best.

In 1999-00, Lang increased his career bests to 23 goals and 65 points before his career season of 2000-01 when he had his first 30 goal season with 32 on his way to an 80 point season, good for fourth on the Penguins behind Jaromir Jagr, Alexei Kovalev and Martin Straka.

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Lang while with Pittsburgh

Lang would play one more season with Pittsburgh, but was limited to 62 games and 50 points, but was able to compete in his third Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Lang scored a goal and 2 assists in the four games played by the Czechs before they were eliminated in the Quarterfinals by Russia 1-0.

He was signed by the Washington Capitals as a free agent for the 2002-03 season and scored 22 goals and 69 points in 82 games. He had scored 29 goals and 74 points in 63 games of the 2003-04 season before a trade to the Detroit Red Wings in February for Thomas Fleischmann, a 2004 1st Round draft choice and a 2006 4th Round draft choice. In six games with the Red Wings, he scored 1 goa and 5 points, which game him his second 30 goal season and fell just one point shy of his career best of 80 points, although in just 69 combined games. His effort was recognized when he was named the recipient of the Golden Hockey Stick as the Top Czech Hockey Player of the Year.

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Lang won the Golden Stick for his 2003-04 season with the Capitals

With the 2004-05 NHL season cancelled due to labor problems, Lang did not return to Europe like many others chose to do. When the NHL resumed play in 2005-06, he scored 20 goals and 62 points for the Red Wings. He returned for another season with Detroit, scoring 19 goals and 52 points in 81 games. He also participated in his fourth Olympic games that season in Torino, Italy, scoring 4 assists in 8 games. The Czechs had a poor Preliminary Round, finishing fourth in Group A with a 2-3 record, but upset Group B winners Slovakia 3-1 in the Quarterfinals. The lost in the Semifinals 7-3 to eventual gold medalists Sweden, but shut out Russia 3-0 to claim the bronze medal.

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Lang won a bronze medal while captain
of the 2006 Czech Olympic Team

For the 2007-08 season, Lang singed a two year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He contributed 21 goals and 54 points in 76 games, but was then traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the 2008-09 season.

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Lang during his only season with Chicago

With the Canadiens, Lang only saw action in 50 games, but scored 18 goals and 39 points. His season came to a premature end that season when he suffered a season ending cut Achilles tendon while wearing Montreal's controversial 1912-13 throwback barber pole jersey in a 3-1 loss to the rival Boston Bruins, a game which also saw Montreal lose Guillaume Latendresse to a shoulder injury.

Lang, #20, would not finish the game while wearing Montreal's controversial
throwback barber pole jersey during the 2008-09 season

He was signed by the Phoenix Coyotes for the final season of his career. In 64 games, he scored 9 goals and 29 points. His final NHL career totals were 989 games played, 261 goals and 442 assists for 703 points. He played in an additional 91 playoff games, primarily with Pittsburgh and Detroit, scoring 18 goals and 46 points.

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Lang celebrates a goal while with Phoenix

Internationally, Lang played in 16 games for Czechoslovakia and 45 games for the Czech Republic, scoring a combined 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points. He won a gold and two bronze medals at the World Championships and a gold and two bronze at the Olympic Games.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Pittsburgh Penguins Robert Lang jersey from the season Lang set career highs in goals (32), assists (48) and points (80). This jersey featured the Game ONe 2000 patch from the Penguins opening two game series played in Tokyo, Japan against the Nashville Predators.

The Penguins adopted this style jersey for the 1992-93 season after winning two consecutive Stanley Cups. This style was dubbed the "Robo Penguin" and was used for ten seasons through 2001-02.

 photo Pittsburgh Penguins 2000-01 F Japan jersey.jpg
 photo Pittsburgh Penguins 2000-01 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006-07 Detroit Red Wings Robert Lang jersey as worn on January 2, 2007, the night the Red Wings retired Steve Yzerman's #19, as commemorated with the #19 patch on the upper right chest.

This simple, yet iconic style was first worn by Detroit in 1932-33, the season they changed their name from Falcons to Red Wings. Aside from changing the original red numbers outlined in white to one color white in 1937 and adding sleeve numbers and names on the back, this jersey remains unchanged for over 80 years and looks to remain the same for another 80 years.

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Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1996 Czech Republic National Team Robert Lang jersey as worn in the inaugural 1996 World Cup of Hockey. This jersey saw limited use, as the Czechs wore a different style earlier that season when they won the World Championship and adopted a new style for the 1998 Olympics, leaving the 1997 World Championships as the only other time this style would have been worn.

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Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with highlights of two goals by Lang during the 2004 playoffs while with Detroit.

Next, some more amazing stickhandling from the magic hands of Lang.

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