Friday, April 1, 2016

The 1962 April Fools' Day Theft of the Stanley Cup

Going into the 1960-61 season, the Montreal Canadiens had won five consecutive Stanley Cups and were looking for a record sixth, only to have their streak ended at the hands of the Chicago Black Hawks in a 4 games to 2 Semifinal loss. Chicago would go on to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 to claim their first championship since 1938.

The 1961-62 NHL season saw Montreal finish atop the regular season standings with a 42-14-14 record for 98 points, well clear of the Toronto Maple Leafs in second with 85 points from a 37-22-11 mark. Third in the final standings were the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks another ten points back at 75 after winning 31 and losing 26 along with 13 ties. The fourth and final playoff team was the New York Rangers at 26-32-12 with 64 points. The Detroit Red Wings at 60 points missed out on the postseason while the Boston Bruins with 38 points brought up the rear.

Unlike today's expected pairings with the top team taking on the lowest ranked team, in 1962 the #1 Canadiens were paired with the #3 Chicago Black Hawks, while the #2 Maple Leafs took in the #4 New York Rangers.

Chicago and Montreal began their series on March 27, 1962 in Montreal at The Forum. The Canadiens won Game 1 by a score of 2-1. On March 29th they again prevailed in a close contest by a score of 4-3 to take a 2-0 lead as the series moved to Chicago for Games 3 and 4.

Game 3, played on this date in 1962, saw the Stanley Cup on display at the Chicago Stadium in recognition of the Black Hawks championship from the previous season, their first in 23 years.

1960-61 Chicago Blackhawks team photo 1960-61ChicagoBlackhawksteam.jpg
The 1960-61 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks

In attendance for the game was 25-year-old Ken Kilander from Montreal who had made the trip to Chicago. He often followed the Canadiens to road games, even traveling on the same train as the club, which made him a familiar face with the team and the journalists who covered the team. Kilander financed his travels by playing the piano at the team hotel or a nearby bar while usually wearing his Canadiens jacket.

Ken Kilander Steals Stanley Cup photo Ken Kilander solo UPI Photo.jpg
Notorious Montreal Canadiens fan Ken Kilander

Before the game that night, Kilander was in the lobby of the LaSalle Hotel chatting with some of the reporters who were covering the finals when one of them speculated that Chicago would come back to win the series despite Montreal's two game series lead. Kilander responded by telling him, "The Cup belongs in Montreal, nowhere else."

Knowing that the Cup would be on display that night at the arena, Kilander asked, "What would you fellows do if I went and got the Cup and brought it here to give to the Canadiens?"

Fully aware that it was April Fools' Day, the reporters laughed and one promised, "I'll take your picture and put your name in the paper." Another chimed in with, "What an uproar tht would cause here in Chicago."

Kilander later arrived at the stadium and stopped by to admire the cup on display in a glass case, where he took a moment to notice the tiny lock which was charged with securing the cup...

Once the game was underway, Kilander first got to see Bronco Horvath open the scoring for the Black Hawks at 9:05 of the first period from Eric Nesterenko and Reg Fleming at even strength. Later in the first period Stan Mikita scored another goal for Chicago from Dollard St. Laurent at 18:06.

Stan Mikita rookie card photo MikitaRookiecard.jpg
A Stan Mikita rookie card from 1960

The second period was just about to end when Chicago's Bill Hay converted a power play opportunity with assists from Ab McDonald and Bobby Hull to extend the Black Hawks lead to 3-0 with twenty minutes remaining.

Any hopes of a Montreal comeback were dealt a serious blow when Ken Warram put Chicago up by 4 with assists from Mikita and McDonald just 2:15 into the third period.

Canadiens vs Blackhawks 1962 photo Beliveau Hall Pilote Gilles Tremblay.jpg
Chicago's Glenn Hall turns back an attack from Jean Beliveau
during their 1962 Semifinal playoff series

Having seen quite enough at this point, Kilander left his seat and made his way down to the lobby where the Cup was on display. Accounts differ as to whether he smashed the glass of the case, simply opened the case. The caption of a United Press International photo states that Kilander was able to pick the lock of the display case. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, as, finding himself nearly alone with the trophy, he pushed on the glass door, putting pressure on the insufficient lock, which easily popped open.

"I couldn't resist reaching in and taking the Cup in my arms," he said. "Who knew when I'd ever see it again. The Cup meant everything to me."

There is no confusion about what happened next, as Kilander liberated the Stanley Cup from it's display case and he made a dash to the nearest exit out of Chicago Stadium.

An alert 16-year-old usher Roy Perrell stopped him and asked him what he was doing. "I'm taking the cup back to Montreal where it belongs," a determined Kilander responded! Perrell yelled as Kilander continued toward the doors. Police officer Sgt. Jerry Kortapassi had little trouble identifying the culprit in possession of the four foot tall, 25 pound silver trophy. When Kilander repeated his intent to take the Cup back to Montreal, Kortapassi responded with "Only if you're Rocket Richard and I'm the Tooth Fairy," which put an end to Kilander's getaway attempt.

The official police report further detailed that Kilander explained to Perrell and Kortapassi that he was taking the Cup in an attempt to win a $400 bet and he would give them $250 to allow him to leave with it.

Needless to say, Kilander found himself no longer in possession of his beloved Stanley Cup, but also standing in a Chicago Municipal Courtroom the next day face to face with Judge Hyam Feldman. The Black Hawks chose not to press charges of the cup, which at the time was valued at $8,000.

Ken Kilander Steals Stanley Cup photo Ken Kilander Cup UPI Photo.jpg
The Stanley Cup back safely in it's display case at Chicago Stadium
from a 1962 United Press International wire photo

Also fortunate for Kilander was the decision to not charge him with bribery as well. He told the court his intentions were not to steal the cup, but take it to  his Chicago hotel room, where he would be photographed and interviewed by the journalists from Montreal.

In the end, Judge Feldman fined him $10 and court costs for disorderly conduct as well as making him promise he would not try to steal the Cup again.

"He said to me, "You can go back to the Stadium tomorrow night and cheer all you want for your Canadiens, but the Cup stays here unless the Black Hawks lose, which I doubt very much they will," related Kilander about his conversation with Judge Feldman.

Hockey Fan Takes Cup clipping photo Hockey Fan Takes Cup clipping.png
A newspaper account if Kilander's day in court

Despite Kilander's failure to deliver the Cup to the LaSalle Hotel, the Montreal journalists came through on their end of the deal, as the story of his attempted theft of hockey's greatest prize was splashed across North American sports pages the following day.

Chicago did hold on to win Game 3 on April Fools' Day, evened the series at two games apiece with a 5-3 victory in Game 4 on April 3rd. They then took Game 5 back in Montreal 4-3 before eliminating the favored Canadiens by shutting them out 2-0 in Game 6 to win four straight after having lost the first two, perhaps inspired by Kilander's attempt to liberate the Stanley Cup from their possession!

Looking back on the episode later in life, Kilander recalled, "I know what I did wasn't right, but I wanted the Canadiens to win so badly. I collected enough clipping from that incident to fill a scrapbook."

In the end, neither Kilander, Montreal or Chicago ended up with the coveted trophy, as the other Semifinal playoff series saw Toronto defeat the Rangers 4-2 and then the Maple Leafs went on to defeat Chicago 4 games to 2 to win the nearly stolen Stanley Cup.

Today's featured jersey is a 1961-62 Chicago Black Hawks Stan Mikita jersey. This style of Black Hawks jersey, so revered today and often topping "Best Jersey" lists, came into being for the 1955-56 season, replacing Chicago's previous barberpole style.

The 1955-56 version had no sleeve numbers and a slightly different main crest design before the logo changed to today's more familiar version and sleeve numbers were added in 1957-58. Note today's jersey has two sleeve stripes and long black cuffs, which were changed to three stripes to match the waist striping for the 1963-64 season.

Chicago Black Hawks 1959-60 jersey photo ChicagoBlackHawks1959-60Fjersey.jpg.png
Chicago Black Hawks 1959-60 jersey photo ChicagoBlackHawks1959-60Bjersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1961-62 Montreal Canadiens Doug Harvey jersey. The Canadiens would first adopt a red sweater with a blue band as far back as 1912-13 in order to differentiate their barberpole style jersey from that of the Ottawa Senators, five years before the formation of the NHL.

The club would adopt the "CH" logo in 1916 and the jersey would remain essentially unchanged ever since.

Montreal Canadiens 55-56 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with the Secret Life of the Stanley Cup, featuring keeper if the cup Mike Bolt.


Apparently the Stanley Cup has gone missing once again...



And now it has been "found" again...


Thursday, March 31, 2016

1988-89 Calgary Flames Sergei Priakin Jersey

Sergei Pryakhin, or as often spelled in North America "Priakin", was the first member of the Soviet National Team to ever allowed by the Soviet government to play in the NHL.

Pryakhin, a right wing, first played for Krylja Sovetov (Soviet Wings) in the Soviet League in 1981-82 and then seven full seasons afterwards, eventually being named team captain. Additionally, he played twice for the Soviet Union in the World Junior Championship, winning a gold medal in 1983. He later played for the Soviet National Team in 1987 in both the World Championship and later the Canada Cup, winning silver each time. He would earn gold as a member of the national team in the 1990 World Championships.

Following the 1988-89 Soviet League season, the 25-year-old was given permission to join the Calgary Flames, who had drafted him 252nd overall in 1988, and made history when he competed in his first game on this date in 1989.

Photobucket

One reason Pryakhin was the one chosen to be the first allowed to leave was that he was not a star player and considered replaceable on the national team. That fact factored into the Flames decision to select him in the first place, figuring that the chances of him actually being allowed to leave were better if he were not a star. Another factor in the change in philosophy by the Soviets was of course, money. While the Flames spent reportedly upwards of $500,000 on Pryakhin, the largest portion of that money went to the Soviet ice hockey federation.

Another factor in the choice of the above average Pryakhin being allowed to leave was because his professionalism would make him a good ambassador for Soviet hockey. Plus, if he did play well, it would set a precedent in establishing a market for the future release of Soviet superstar players and motivate other Soviet players back home.

Pryakhin was under pressure from all directions right from the start, dealing with the extreme change in culture and language with no one who had experienced the move previously to consult with, going from playing in front of 2,000 fans to 20,000 fans, plus the animosity he faced from the Canadian and American players, who viewed his presence as taking a job away from a North American. Pryakhin tried to smartly avoid such discussions with responses such as, "I don't want to talk politics. I am here to play hockey. I think it is hockey that will benefit from having Soviets in the NHL."

Priakin Flames photo Priakin card.jpg

His timing could not have been better, as the Flames would go on to capture their only Stanley Cup that season. Since Pryakhin had only played in two regular season games and one playoff game, he was not eligible to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. However, he did receive a championship ring, the first Soviet trained player to do so.

Pryakhin played in 20 Flames games the following season, scoring a pair of goals and a pair of assists for four points. He was held scoreless in two playoff games.

Priakin Flames photo Priakin auto.jpg

1990-91 saw Pryakhin split time between the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, scoring 17 points in 18 games, and the Flames, where he got into 24 games and totaled seven points.

That would prove to be the end of his time in the NHL and he would return to Europe to continue his career, starting with a return to the Soviet Wings in 1992-93 before moving to Zurich of the Swiss National League A. The following season of 1993-94 was also spent with Zurich as well. The next four seasons Pryakhin played for Espoo in Finland before a final season playing in Japan for the Oji Eagles.

So significant was Pryakhin's permission from the Soviets to play in the NHL, it was ranked as #76 in the Top 100 Stories of the Century by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Calgary Flames Sergei Pryakhin jersey. Note the North Americianization of his last name on the back of the jersey.

The Flames kept their same jersey that they wore in the team's first home of Atlanta when they moved to Calgary in 1980, save for the change from the flaming A logo to the flaming C. This style was worn through the 1993-94 season until being replaced by a new, modernized style the following season.

Calgary Flames 1988-89 jersey photo Calgary Flames 1988-89 F jersey.jpg
Calgary Flames 1988-89 jersey photo Calgary Flames 1988-89 B jersey.jpg
 
Bonus Jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 1987 Soviet National Team Sergei Priakin jersey as worn during Rendez-vous '87. These jerseys were some of the less successful of the Soviet Union's, as the dark red stripes on the red body of the jersey were too close in color to create any worthwhile contrast.

Gone were the striking diamond pattern on the waist of the 1979 Challenge Cup jerseys, as well as the more pleasing font for the numbers. Things would improve in the years following, as the jerseys worn in international hockey would soon be made by the Finnish brand Tackla, giving the final jerseys of the Soviet era some much needed graphic design.

Pryakhin would become the answer to a trivia question in 1988 when he became the first Soviet player to be allowed to compete in the NHL, which he did with the Calgary Flames. He would also suffer the common plight of the Soviet players during this early era of playing in North America, as the spelling of their names on the backs of their jerseys often varied from appearance to appearance. As seen here, "PRYAKHIN" would latter play for the Flames wearing "PRIAKIN".

1987 Soviet Union Rendez-vous '87 F
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
 
While Pryakhin's time in the NHL was brief, it opened the door for the first wave of Soviets and eventually led to amazing plays like these occurring in North America, rather than Russia.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

1924-25 Victoria Cougars Frank Fredrickson Jersey

The Victoria Cougars were formed in 1911 as the "Senators" as a member of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA). Their first season in the three team PCHA saw them finish last with a 7-9 record behind the New Westminster Royals and the Vancouver Millionaires. They were led in scoring by Tommy Dunderdale's 24 goals in 16 games, good for third in the league.

1912-13 Victoria Senators photo 
1912-13VictoriaSenatorsteam.jpg
The 1911-12 Victoria Senators in their original barberpole sweaters

The second season saw Victoria win the PCHA title with a 10-5 record. Dunderdale led both the club in scoring again but also the league this time with 24 goals and 29 points in 15 games. No other player had more than 14 goals, ten behind the prolific Dunderdale. Following the season the Senators defeated the National Hockey Association champion Quebec Bulldogs in an exhibition series

 photo 1912-13 Victoria Senators-Aristocrats team.jpg
The 1912-13 Victoria Senators Hockey Club

The club changed their name to the Aristocrats for the 1913-14 season and again won the PCHA title with an identical 10-5 record. They were led in scoring by Dubbie Kerr and his 20 goals and 31 points in 16 games followed by Dunderdale at 24 goals and 28 points. Now having established itself as a worthy league, the Aristocrats were able to travel to Toronto and challenge the Toronto Hockey Club (or Toronto Blueshirts) for the Stanley Cup, but came home without the cup.

 1914–15 Victoria Aristocrats team photo 1914ndash15 Victoria Aristocrats team.jpg
The Victoria Aristocrats during the 1914-15 season

After two more seasons as the Aristocrats, led in scoring by first Dunderdale and then Kerr, the club moved to Spokane, Washington where they were known as the Canaries for the 1916-17 season, but attendance was so poor that the team played their scheduled home games after mid February at the home rinks of their previously scheduled visitors! 

The 1918-19 season saw the franchise back in Victoria as the Aristocrats once more and led in scoring by Eddie Oatman, who had come from the now defunct Portland Rosebuds, as had many of the Aristocrats that season.

1919-20 saw the 10-12 Aristocrats in third place with Dunderdale now returned to the fold and doing the bulk of the scoring with 26 goals  and 33 points in the 22 game season to win the PCHA scoring title. Dunderdale had left Victoria following the 1914-15 season to play in Portland for three seasons, but was back with Victoria in 1918-19 when the Rosebuds player's contracts were transferred to the Aristocrats following the Rosebuds folding.

Another third place came in 1920-21 from a 10-13-1 mark. The Aristocrats' Frank Fredrickson led the PCHA in scoring with 20 goals and 12 assists for 32 points in 21 games.

The 1921-22 season saw the league standings decided by the narrowest of margins, with Seattle finishing first with a record of 12-11-1, the Millionares followed at 12-12-0 and the Aristocrats once more brought up the rear at 11-12-1. Fredrickson one more led the club with 25 points from 15 goals and 10 assists.

For the 1922-23 season, the franchise adopted the new moniker of the "Cougars" and it paid immediate dividends, as the club finally climbed out of last place for the first time. A 16-14-0 record was enough to beat the Metropolitans and qualify for the playoffs. Vancouver, newly renamed the Maroons, defeated the Cougars in a two-game total-goal series 3-0 and 2-3. Fredrickson again led the league in scoring with 39 goals and 55 points, 15 more than his next closest pursuer, in the 30 game schedule.

The final season for the PCHA saw the Cougars once more finish third with a record of 11-18-1. Fredrickson again led the club with 19 goals and 28 points in 30 games.

Changes were in store for the 1924-25 season, as the Cougars moved to the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), now in it's fourth season, along with the Vancouver Maroons. The Metropolitans had folded and the Cougars were awarded four players off their roster prior to the season and they selected goaltender Hap Holmes, Gordon Frasher, Jack Walker and  Frank Foyston. While the Cougars finished third yet again, the WCHL was now a six team league, and the Cougars 32 points in the standings left them just behind the Calgary Tigers 34 and Saskatoon Sheiks 33. The prolific Fredrickson was the team leader in points for the fifth consecutive season with 22 goals and 30 points in 28 games.

Victoria Cougars team

The Cougars defeated the Shieks in their opening round two game series by a 6-4 total before upsetting the Tigers in the WCHL Finals in another two-game total-goal series by a combined score of 3-1 to earn the right to challenge the defending Stanley Cup winners and NHL champion Montreal Canadiens.

1925 Stanley Cup program

The finals were a best of five series and all games were played in British Columbia in keeping with the annual rotation of games between the east and the west. The Cougars took Game 1 with a score of 5-2 and put themselves in a position to capture the cup with a 3-1 win in Game 2 with Walker scoring a pair of goals in each game.

Montreal fought back with a 4-2 win on March 27th and the Cougars became the last team from outside the NHL to win the Stanley Cup with a dominant 6-1 win in Game 4 on this date in 1925, led by a pair of goals by Fredrickson to take the series 3 games to 1. The game winning goal was scored by Gizzy Hart and Walker led the Cougars with 4 goals in the series as the Cougars outscored Montreal 16-8.

Their roster included Hall of Famers Fredrickson (inducted 1958), Foyston (1958), Walker (1960) and goaltender Holmes (1972) and they were coached by the legendary Lester Patrick (1947), who also owned the club. Additionally, Fredrickson and defenseman Harold Halderson were previously members of the Winnipeg Falcons who won the first Olympic gold medal in ice hockey.

1925 Victoria Cougarsm

The following season the WCHL was renamed the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the defending champion Cougars finished in their traditional third place yet again with a 15-11-4 mark. Fredrickson dominated the scoring with 24 points in 30 games to lead the team fir the sixth consecutive season. The Cougars again won the league playoffs to earn the right to face the NHL champion Montreal Maroons for the right to defend the cup, which the Maroons won 3 games to 1.

That would be the end of the Cougars in Victoria though, as the WHL disbanded after the season, leaving the Cougars without a league. The rights to most of their players were purchased by the new Detroit NHL franchise, which used the Cougars name as a tribute to the former club of the majority of their roster. Eventually that team would rename itself the Falcons and later the Red Wings.

Today's featured jersey is a 1924-25 Victoria Cougars Frank Frederickson jersey. This original Cougars jersey can be seen in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and has it's own page in The Hockey News Greatest Jerseys of All-Time Collector's Edition.

1925 Victoria Cougars jersey

Today's video section is behind the scenes footage of the Hockey News Greatest Jerseys of All-Time photo shoot, which includes today's featured Victoria Cougars jersey. The Greatest Jerseys of All Time collector's edition is a must-have for any jersey collector or hockey fan alike.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

1983-84 Winnipeg Jets Dale Hawerchuk Jersey

Dale Hawerchuk scored 103 points for the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL in 1979-80 and followed up his stellar rookie season with another astonishing 45 points in 18 playoff games from 20 goals and 25 assists to lead the Royals in playoff scoring on their way to the 1980 Memorial Cup championship. He was subsequently named as the league's Rookie of the Year and Playoff MVP.

Still too young to be drafted, Hawerhcuk returned for a second season with the Royals, leading not only the team but the entire QMJHL with 81 goals and 102 assists for 183 points in just 72 games, an average of over 2.5 points per game. He tied with future NHL head coach Marc Crawford to lead the Royals in playoff points with 35 as the Royals became back-to-back Memorial Cup champions.

1990-91 Cornwall Royals team, 1990-91 Cornwall Royals team

Hawerchuk was then named the Memorial Cup MVP as well as the QMJHL Player of the Year as well as the CHL Player of the Year, making him the prime pick in the upcoming draft.

That same season Hawerchuk made his international debut for Canada, playing in the 1981 World Junior Tournament, making a name for himself with 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games.

Thanks to their distant last place finish during their second season of play in the NHL following the demise of the WHA, the Winnipeg Jets were in prime position to select Hawerchuk with the first overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

Hawerchuk did not disappoint, leading the Jets to an NHL record 48 point single season improvement in the standings thanks to a team leading 45 goals and 103 points, making him the youngest player to ever reach 100 points. Additionally, he played in that season's NHL All-Star Game and won the Calder Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year.

Following the Jets early exit from the playoffs, he made his World Championships debut, scoring three times on his way to earning a bronze medal.

Another 40 goal season followed in 1982-83 before he reeled off five consecutive seasons of 100 points or more, highlighted by his stellar 1984-85 season of 53 goals and 77 assists for 130 points, all career highs, which saw him finish 3rd in the NHL scoring race. His 50th goal on this date in 1985 made him the first Jets player to ever score 50 goals in a season in a 5-5 tie against the Chicago Black Hawks. This was also the same season when Hawerchuk was named as the Jets team captain.

Hawerchuk Jets, Hawerchuk Jets

During that stretch of 100+ point seasons from 1983-84 to 1987-88, Hawerchuk also participated in the 1986 World Championships (6 points in 8 games, earning a second bronze medal), Rendez-vous '87, in which a team of NHL All-Stars took part in a two game series against the Soviet Union, and the prestigious 1987 Canada Cup, during which he scored 4 goals and 6 points in 9 games as Canada emerged victorious.

While his streak of 100 point seasons would end in 1988-89 with "just" 96 points, he would extend his streak of consecutive 40 goal seasons to five. With the Jets missing the playoffs, Hawerchuk would captain Team Canada at the 1989 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, totaling 12 points in 10 games as the Canadians brought home a silver medal.

He would play one final season in Winnipeg before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, along with a first round draft pick (which became Brad May) , in a blockbuster trade for Phil Housely, former Royals teammate Scott ArnielJeff Parker and Buffalo's first round pick, which the Jets used to select Keith Tkachuk.

Hawerchuk's goal scoring in Buffalo not approach is totals in Winnipeg, but his playmaking skills would come to the fore, as he helped set up snipers such as Dave AndreychukPierre TurgeonAlexander Mogilny and Pat LaFontaine, which allowed him to lead the club in scoring in 1991, 1992 and 1994, with a high of 98 points in 1991-92.

Hawerchuk Sabres, Hawerchuk Sabres

Prior to his second season with Buffalo, Hawerchuk made his final international appearance, skating once again for Team Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup, contributing 5 points in 8 games as the Canadians again won the tournament for the second time in his career.

Hawerchuk Canada, Hawerchuk Canada

For the 1995-96 season, Hawerchuk signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues, where he played 66 games of the 1995-96 season, which included his 500th NHL goal before a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers for the final 16 games of the season. He would return to the Flyers for the final season of his career in 1996-97, although he was limited to 51 games of the regular season, Hawerchuk closed out his career with the longest playoff run of his career which concluded with his only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Hawerchuk Flyers, Hawerchuk Flyers

Hawerchuk's final NHL totals were 518 goals and 891 assists for 1,409 points, which still ranks as #18 all-time 15 years after his retirement.

Following his career, Hawerchuk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001, had his #10 retired by the relocated Jets, now known as the Phoenix Coyotes, in 2007 and named to the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 2011.

Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Winnipeg Jets Dale Hawerchuk jersey. This style Jets jersey was first worn in 1979-80 as the Jets marked a new era in franchise history as they gained entry into the NHL. This style would be worn through 1989-90 when the club changed to a new style, and would be the only style worn by Hawerchuk while a member of the Jets.

Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey
Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1989 Team Canada Dale Hawerchuk jersey as he captained Canada to a silver medal at the World Championships. This jersey was produced by Tackla and featured the company's diamond shape logo along the shoulders. Tackla supplied jerseys for the World Juniors, the World Championships and the Olympics from 1987 to 1993.

Canada 1989 jersey, Canada 1989 jersey
Canada 1989 jersey, Canada 1989 jersey

Today's video section begins with an extended look at the playing career of Hawerchuk.



Next up, the brilliant music video Dale Hawerchuk by Les Dale Hawerchuks. Even if you don't speak French, the message comes across loud and clear.


Monday, March 28, 2016

2003-04 St. Louis Blues Keith Tkachuk Jersey

After a year at Boston University, where the Terriers lost a thrilling 8-7 national championship final in three overtimes, as well as beginning his international career by playing for the United States in the 1991 World Junior Tournament, Keith Tkachuk, who was born on this date in 1972, spent the majority of the 1991-92 season playing for the US National Team.

Tkachuk Boston U, Tkachuk Boston U

He played a number of games with the national team through December before playing in his second World Junior tournament. Following the World Juniors, Tkachuk then resumed his duties with the US National Team in preparation for the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France.

After the conclusion of the Olympics, Tkachuk began his NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets, who had drafted him with the 19th pick of the first round of the 1990 NHL Amateur Draft. He got his feet wet with 17 regular season games and seven playoff games prior to embarking on a full NHL season in 1992-93 and joined a Winnipeg team on the rise, which featured an international flavor with Tkachuk joining players from Finland, Russia, Sweden, the United States and Canada. While Tkachuk's 51 points were overshadowed by Teemu Selanne's record shattering 76 goal season, the rugged forward made his presence known in other ways however, as he totaled over 200 penalty minutes, second most on the club.

Tkachuk led the Jets in points the following season with his first 40 goal season (41) and 81 points in 84 games and was named the team captain, a post he would hold for two seasons. Two years later he would raise his game to the next level when he reached the 50 goal mark and again led the Jets in points, this time with 98 in what would be the Jets final season in Winnipeg.

Tkachuk Jets

When the Jets relocated to Phoenix, and renamed the Coyotes, Tkachuk made the move with the club and was once again named team captain, the first in Coyotes history. He led the club in scoring once more with 86 points as well as playing in his first NHL All-Star Game. He raised his personal best goal total to 52, which led the NHL and made him the first ever American-born player to do so. He was also only the fourth player in league history to record 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes, making him the definition of the modern power forward.

Tkachuk Coyotes

He repeated as team scoring leader again in 1997-98 and had his fourth season with 40 or more goals with an even 40.

At the trade deadline three seasons later, Tkachuk was dealt to the St. Louis Blues for three players and a first round draft pick following a couple of injury plagued seasons. His impact was immediate as the Blues made it to the conference finals where Tkachuk was second in playoff scoring by a single point with seven goals and ten points in ten games.

Three 30 plus goal seasons followed with Tkachuk leading the Blues in scoring in 2003-04 with 71 points. The Blues traded Tkachuk to the Atlanta Thrashers at the 2007 trade deadline for a player and first, second and third round draft picks only to see Atlanta eliminated in four straight in the first round of the playoffs.

Tkachuk immediately returned to St. Louis as a free agent in time for the 2007-08 season, which included him scoring his 500th career goal on the final day of the season into an empty net. Back for another season with the Blues, Tkachuk scored his 1,000th career point in 2007-08 as part of a 4-2 Blues win over Atlanta, just the sixth American to reach the 1,000 point plateau.

Tkachuk would play one final season with the Blues in 2009-10, finishing his career with 1,021 games played, 538 goals and 527 assists for 1,065 points and 2,219 penalty minutes.

After his initial international experience prior to joining the Jets in 1992, Tkachuk was once more was a member of Team USA at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where he earned a gold medal. He returned to the Olympics in 1998 and again in 2002, where he earned a silver medal on home soil. He concluded his international career with one final appearance in the Olympics in 2006 in Torino, Italy. He also made a noteworthy return to the World Cup in 2004, which included a memorable four goal performance against Russia in the quarterfinals.

Tkachuk USA

Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 St. Louis Blues Keith Tkachuk jersey from the season Tkachuk led the Blues in scoring. The white version of this jersey was introduced as an alternate for the 1997-98 season, and was essentially a modern take on the Blues jerseys worn from 1973 to 1984. Blues fans raved about the new sweaters and they were quickly promoted to replace the controversial multi-diagonally striped previous set which featured a large amount of red, especially on the road jerseys.

With the white alternate now promoted to the new home jersey, a blue version was created as the road jersey, which remained in use for nine years until being retired due to the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys. We predict if not forced to retire this jersey to make way for the Edge jerseys, the Blues would have continued to use this very clean and striking jersey to this day.

St Louis Blues 2003-04 jersey
St Louis Blues 2003-04 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1999-00 Phoenix Coyotes Keith Tkachuk jersey, one of the most unusual primary jerseys in NHL history. It's southwest inspired geometric striping, unusual color palette, it was a very polarizing jersey, as fans either embraced it's unique look or hated how busy the sweater was and called the logo creepy.

A subtle detail of the Coyotes jerseys was the "Goals for Kids" charity patch worn on the left shoulder of the jersey, which from any sort of distance looked identical to the "Phoenix Coyotes" secondary logo on the right shoulder, unlike the separate Goals for Kids patch worn lower on the sleeve of the Winnipeg Jets jerseys prior to the franchise relocating to Phoenix.

Phoenix Coyotes 1999-00 jersey photo Phoenix Coyotes 99-00 F.jpg
Phoenix Coyotes 1999-00 jersey photo Phoenix Coyotes 99-00 B.jpg
Phoenix Coyotes 1999-00 jersey photo Phoenix Coyotes 99-00 P1.jpg

Extra Bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1992 United States National Team Keith Tkachuk jersey as worn in the 1992 World Junior Tournament held in Germany where Tkachuk scored seven points in seven games as the United States came home with the bronze medal.

USA 1990-92 jersey photo USA 1990-92 F.jpg
USA 1990-92 jersey photo USA 1990-92 B.jpg

Our first video today is Tkachuk scoring his 50th goal of the season into an empty net during the final Winnipeg Jets regular season game in 1996.


Next up is Tkachuk's 500th NHL goal on the last day of the 2007-08 season, also into an empty net.


Here are highlights from Tkachuk's four goal game in the quarterfinals of the 2004 World Cup of Hockey against Russia with his fourth one into an...

empty net.


Finally, a look back at the career of Keith Tkachuk, perhaps the greatest empty net scorer in hockey history!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! - The Kokudo Bunnies and Seibu Prince Rabbits

In honor of the arrival today of the Easter Bunny, today we look at the history of the Seibu Prince Rabbits of the Asia Ice Hockey League. The team was founded as the Kokudo Keikaku Ice Hockey Club in Karuizawa, Japan in 1972 and was known as the Kokudo Bunnies. It would take just two years for the club to win their first Japan Ice Hockey League championship in 1974-75.

Kokudo Bunnies logo photo Kokudo Bunnies logo.jpg
The Kokudo Bunnies logo

Also during that season Kokudo would also win the 1975 All Japan Ice Hockey Championship, an open tournament similar to England's FA Cup, a playoff for amateur and professional teams from all levels of competition. In the All Japan Ice Hockey Championship, which dates back to 1930, teams eligible include professional, amateur and university teams and is contested over a single week in February as a single elimination tournament.

Their second JIHL title would arrive in 1978 followed by their second All Japan Championship in 1982. In 1984, the club moved 2 hours southeast from central Japan to Shinagawa, Tokyo. While located in the capital, they won the Japan League in 1985-86, the All Japan Championship in 1988, the league title again in 1988-89 and the All Japan crown for the fourth time in 1990.

In 1991, the were again on the move in search of greener pastures, the club relocated 30 minutes south to Yokohama. There, they enjoyed their greatest success, taking the Japan League championship in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 as well as the All Japan championship three consecutive years in 1997, 1998 and 1999 as well as 2003.

Kokudo Bunnies 2002-03 Team photo Kokudo Bunnies 2002-03 Team.jpg
The Bunnies celebrate their final championship in 2003

In 2003, the Kukudo Bunnies merged with the Seibu Railways Ice Hockey Club and relocated once again 30 miles to the northeast Tokyo area where Seibu was based and became known as the Seibu Lions. There, the team continued its tradition of success, winning the final Japan League championship in 2003-04, their 13th league title. That season they once again won "the double" for the fifth time when they captured that season's All Japan championship.

Seibu Lions photo seibu_lions.jpg
The Bunnies became known as the Seibu Lions following their
2003 merger with the Seibu Railways Ice Hockey Club

For the 2004-05 season, difficult economic times led to the demise of the JIHL and the formation of a new league, Asia League Ice Hockey, which included teams from not just Japan, but also one from South Korea, two from China and one from eastern Russia. The Seibu Lions took home the Asia League crown twice, in both 2005 and 2006. In 2006, the team acquired sponsorship from Prince Hotels and changed their name to the Seibu Prince Rabbits.

Seibu Prince Rabbits photo rabbits.jpg
The final chapter of the franchise was as the Seibu Prince Rabbits

As the Prince Rabbits, they added two more pieces of hardware to their extensive trophy case, the All Japan tournament title in 2008 and 2009, their 10th and 11th such victories.

 Rabbits goalie and captain photo Rabbits goalie and captain.jpg
 The uniforms of the Seibu Prince Rabbits

In December of 2008, Prince Hotels announced their intention to fold the team after one final season, citing funding difficulties in a difficult economic climate and the decline of the popularity of hockey in Japan. After negotiating with over twenty companies to sell the club, all efforts proved fruitless and the club ceased operations after 37 seasons on March 31, 2009 with 13 Japan League, 2 Asia League and 15 combined league titles and 11 All Japan Championships, 26 in all. The end of the Rabbits left the Tokyo region without a hockey team, a situation which remains to this day.

Rabbits Goal, Victory, Glory photo Rabbits Goal Victory
 Glory.jpg
Goal, Victory, Glory!

Notable players for the Rabbits were Hiroyuki Miura, the first (actual) Japanese player ever drafted by the NHL when he was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Miura represented Japan at the 1993 World Junior Championships, five World Championships and the 1998 Olympics and was a seven time JIHL champion.

Hiroyuki Miura Lions photo Hiroyuki Miura.jpg
Hiroyuki Miura when the club was known as the Lions

Another notable Rabbit was goaltender Yataka Fukufuji, who became the first Japanese player in the NHL when he suited up for the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season. He played three seasons with the Rabbits, six seasons in North America, primarily in the ECHL, as well as pro leagues in the Netherlands and Denmark and five seasons in the Asia League. Additionally, Fukufuji has represented Japan at both the 2000 World Championships, three U20 World Championships and seven World Championships to date.

Well known import players who laced up the skates for the Rabbits are former NHLers John Tucker and Joel Prpic and Canadian Chris Yule, who holds the record for Most Career Goals in the Asia League. Perhaps best known is five time Stanley Cup champion Randy Gregg, who took the unusual route of playing for Kokudo before he joined the Edmonton Oilers in 1981-82, not afterwards as a way to extend his career.

kokudo_joe Prpic 2003 photo kokudo_joe Prpic 2003.jpg
Taro Nihei, goalie Jiro Nihei, Joel Prpic and Chris Yule
with their championship trophy in 2003

Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Kokudo Bunnies Ryan Kuwabara jersey. This jersey is from the days before the merger with Seibu and the era when the club was known as the Lions and later the Prince Rabbits.

Kokudo Bunnies 2001-02 jersey photo Kokudo Bunnies 2001-02 F jersey.jpg
Kokudo Bunnies 2001-02 jersey photo Kokudo Bunnies 2001-02 B jersey.jpg
 

hit counter for blogger