Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux Jersey

The Pittsburgh Penguins completed the 1988-89 season in second place in the Norris Division with a 40-33-7 record, good for 87 points. They swept the New York Rangers in four games of the opening round of the playoffs to advance to face the Philadelphia Flyers (36-36-8; 80 points), who had upset the division winning Washington Capitals (92 pts.) in six games.

Prior to the playoffs, despite missing four games, Mario Lemieux set personal records for goals (85), assists (114) and points on his way to the NHL scoring title, easily outdistancing Wayne Gretzky 199 points to 168. Additionally, his 85 goals were the third most of all-time and he became the third player ever to reach 100 assists in a season. He also scored 13 shorthanded goals that season to set a new NHL record. Despite all that, the most remarkable achievement of Lemieux's stellar 1988-89 season was joining the exclusive 50 goals in 50 games club, only the fifth player at the time to achieve the feat first accomplished by the famed Rocket Richard when he scored his 50th of the season in his 46th game.

Also during the same season, Lemieux had one of the most remarkable nights in NHL history on New Year's Eve in 1988 when he scored five goals - in five different ways! He started the night with an even strength goal and followed it with one shorthanded, on the power play, a penalty shot and capped off his amazing night with an empty net goal.

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Lemieux celebrates his remarkable five goals on New Year's Eve

Game 1 of the series went to Pittsburgh 4-3 at home, but the Flyers countered with a 4-2 win in Game 2 on the road. The Penguins returned the favor, taking Game 3 in Philadelphia after 12 minutes of overtime by a score of 4-3. The Flyers responded with a 4-1 win in Game 4 to even the series as the teams headed back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on this date in 1989.

Tom Barrasso got the start in goal for the Penguins while Ron Hextall was the starter for Philadelphia.

Lemieux opened the scoring with his 7th goal of the playoffs at 2:15 with assists from Paul Coffey and Kevin Stevens at even strength. Just 1:30 later Lemieux would strike again at 3:45 from Bob Errey and Coffey, again at even strength for a 2-0 Penguins lead. Lemieux then completed his natural hat trick in four minutes and 40 seconds at 6:55 on the power play from John Cullen to put the Penguins up 3-0.

Errey made it 4-0 Pittsburgh 7:07 before Philadelphia got on the board to give them a glimmer of hope at 11:45. Lemieux then tied an NHL record when he scored his fourth goal of the first period, again on the power play, at 17:09 from Dan Quinn on a wraparound into an unguarded net after he stole the puck from Flyers goaltender Hextall, sending the home fans into a frenzy. Just 35 seconds later Troy Loney made the score a remarkable 6-1 for the Penguins after just one period.

Despite giving up 6 goals in the first period, Hextall came out to start the second period, which was more of the same, with the teams combining for five more goals. A mere six seconds into the second period, Pelle Eklund converted a power play opportunity into the second Flyers goal, but Stevens countered for the Penguins just 1:37 later from Coffey and Lemieux at even strength. 

At 9:07, Brian Propp beat Barrasso, but yet again Pittsburgh responded quickly when Rob Brown lit the lamp to restore the Penguins five goal lead at 10:35 from Lemieux and Zarley Zalapski. Brown then made the score 9-3 at 12:55 from Lemeiux and Coffey. It was Lemeiux's third assist of the period to give him 7 points on the night - so far - and resulted in Hextall mercifully being pulled after giving up his ninth goal of the game, but not before the fiery Flyers netminder was given a 10 minute misconduct penalty. Brian Dobbin of Philadelphia then received a match penalty for attempt to injure Cullen during their fight at 17:03. 

The Flyers let the Penguins know they were not going to quit when they scored a shorthanded goal at 48 seconds and then tried to make a game of it by scoring at 10:21, 13:02 on the power play and finally another one 17:23 to close the gap to a worrisome 9-7.

Hoping to pull off the miraculous comeback, Philadelphia pulled goaltender Ken Wregget, but Lemieux sealed the 10-7 victory for Pittsburgh with his fifth goal of the night at 19:23.

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Lemieux's hat trick in the opening seven minutes was just the beginning

The Flyers then began the "message sending" of the era with the game now out of hand with a fight at 19:44 and an all-out line brawl with only nine seconds remaining which included all the players on the ice, including the Flyers goaltender Ken Wregget, who got involved to keep the numbers even, as Philadelphia was shorthanded from the previous altercation. In all, there were six fighting majors, three misconducts, two roughing, three slashing plus single elbowing and charging penalties all in the last 16 seconds in addition to Wregget being tagged for leaving his crease.

Penguins Flyers 1989 playoffs photo PensFlyersFight.png

Lemieux tied NHL records for Most Goals in a Playoff Game (5) held by Newsy Lalonde (1919), Richard (1944), Darryl Sittler (1976) and Reggie Leach (1976) and Most Points in a Playoff Game (8) as well as most goals in one period in a playoff game (4 in the first period) and most assists in a period in a playoff game (3 in the second period) that night.

In the 71 year history of the NHL, 8 points in a playoff game  had only been accomplished once prior, that by Patrik Sundstrom just the year before Lemieux. No one has since equalled Lemieux's records of 5 goals or 8 points in a playoff game a quarter century later.

The eight point night was the third of Lemieux's season, as he put up eight in the fourth game of the season and again on New Year's Eve, the aforementioned night he scored goals in five different ways. Lemieux remains the only player in NHL history to have scored eight points in a game three separate times, a feat he accomplished in a single season! It also remained the last time anyone scored eight in a game for 23 years until Sam Gagner managed the feat in 2012 and ranks second all-time for most points in an NHL game behind Sittler's 10.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux jersey worn on the memorable night during which he scored a record tying 5 goals and 8 points during a single playoff game.

This was the first season for this particular lettering style on the Penguins jerseys with the names on the back now changing to a sans-serif block font. In addition, the font for the numbers changed slightly to a thicker font for the back numbers with the sleeve numbers becoming noticeably more squarish when compared to the previous style.


Today's video section takes a look at the Penguins - Flyers playoff series in 1989, which includes Lemeiux's historic eight point night in Game 5. Ah, Michael, Michael motorcycle!

Here is Brown scoring the Penguins 9th goal of the game, which sets off the always tightly-wound Hextall. Lemieux's assist was his 7th point of the game.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The NHL Record for Most Goals in One Period of a Playoff Game - 1979-80 New York Rangers Walt Tkaczuk Jersey

During the 1978-79 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers finished second in the Patrick Division with a 40-25-15 record for 95 points. In third place was the New York Rangers, who also had 40 wins but 29 losses and 11 ties, which left them four points back of the Flyers with 91 points.

In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia was paired with the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-three series. Vancouver immediately put the Flyers on the brink of elimination with a 3-2 win in Philadelphia. The Flyers forced a third game with a 6-4 win in Vancouver and then eliminated the Canucks with a dominant 7-2 victory back at home.

 photo 1978-79 Philadelphia Flyers team.jpg
The 1978-70 Philadelphia Flyers

Meanwhile, the Rangers were also matched up with a cross-continent opponent in the Los Angeles Kings. Game 1 in Madison Square Garden was a laugher, 7-2 in favor of the blueshirts. Two days later the teams reconvened in California, where New York got a much tougher battle as the Kings fought to keep their season going, but fell to the visitors 2-1 in overtime.

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The 1978-79 New York Rangers

Round 2 then saw the Patrick Division rivals squaring off in a series which began on April 16, 1979 in Philadelphia. After Bill Barber scored with 4:59 to play, the game went to overtime tied at 2-2 and Ken Linseman won it for the Flyers just 44 seconds into overtime.

Game 2 was tied at 1-1 after 8 minutes, but from then on it was all Rangers as they reeled off six consecutive goals to win going away 7-1 with Ron Greschner leading the way with a pair of goals against Robbie Moore.

Game 3 in New York was more of the same, as the Flyers led 1-0 after the first period, but the Rangers roared to life with 2 goals in the first three minutes of the second period on their way to a 5-1 win.

An on form John Davidson was too much for the Flyers as he shut out Philadelphia in Game 4 after making 28 saves. Davidson had now allowed the Flyers just two goals over the last three games. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense continued to roll with 5 more goals, including 2 from Don Murdoch and 2 from Ed Johnstone.

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John Davidson

After being held to one goal in New York, the Flyers were relieved to be back at home in The Spectrum for Game 5 on this date in 1979. Davidson was back in goal for the Rangers, while Wayne Stephenson got the call over Moore for Philadelphia.

With Mel Bridgman in the penalty box for the Flyers, Greschner scored his 4th of the playoffs from Phil Esposito and Mike McEwen for a power play goal at 9:55 of the first period.

 photo Greschner Rangers.jpg
Ron Greschner

At 12:44, Mario Marois was sent off for the Rangers, but veteran Walt Tkaczuk scored a shorthanded goal from Dave Farrish at 13:26 for a 2-0 lead for New York after one.

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Walt Tkaczuk

Offering no hint as to what was to come, there was no scoring in the second period despite two power plays for New York, including a two man advantage for 57 seconds. Of note, Paul Holmgren and Rangers goaltender Davidson were called for matching minors for the second time in the game at 18:58!

The fans had barely settled into their seats when Tkaczuk scored an unassisted goal at 2:03 for a 3-0 Rangers lead. Steve Vickers then made it 4-0 at 4:13 from Tkaczuk to really put the Flyers season in jeopardy.

 photo Vickers Rangers.png
Steve Vickers

Ernie Hickey was then called for a penalty against New York at 7:01 only to have the flashy Ron Dugay score from Swede Anders Hedberg and Vadnais at 8:19 for a demoralizing shorthanded goal to extend the Rangers lead to 5-0.

 photo Dugay Rangers.png
Ron Dugay

Not going down without a fight, Reggie Leach beat Davidson for the first Flyers goal in 179 minutes, dating back to the second minute of Game 3. Leach's goal came on a power play from Blake Dunlop and Holmgren at 10:37.

Less than two minutes later, Bob Dailey added a second goal for Philadelphia from Dennis Ververgaert and Linseman at 12:21.

Three minutes passed before Behn Wilson scored the third consecutive goal for the Flyers from Linseman and Ververgaert at 15:27 to reduce the Rangers lead to 5-3 with four and a half minutes still to play.

Flyers head coach Fred Shero pulled Stephenson for an extra attacker, but Vadnais scored an empty net goal from Dugay and Farrish at 16:50.

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Carol Vadnais

In full desperation mode, Shero again pulled his goalie for an extra attacker but Johnstone scored his fourth goal of the playoffs (after only 5 in the regular season) in an empty net at 17:24 from Don Maloney and Esposito.

 photo Johnstone Rangers.jpg
Ed Johnstone

Finally, with 34 seconds left to play, Hedberg made the final score 8-3 when he scored the record setting ninth goal of the period from Vickers and Tkaczuk. It was the sixth goal of the third for New York, who had the first three and then the final three after the Flyers attempt at a comeback in the middle portion of the period.

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Anders Hedberg

The final shots on goal were 23 for New York and 28 for the home Flyers as the Rangers closed out the series 4 games to 1 in record setting fashion.

The fifth seeded Rangers would advance to face the #1 New York Islanders, who they would defeat in six games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. New York would win Game 1 4-1, but lose the next four in a row as Montreal would win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup and tenth of the last 15 seasons.

Today's featured jersey is a 1978-79 New York Rangers Walt Tkaczuk jersey as worn during the record setting third period of the Rangers playoff game against the Flyers when both teams combined for nine goals in one period.

1978-79 was the first season the Rangers changed back to their classic style jersey after two seasons in a modernized jersey which featured the Rangers shield logo rather than their traditional jerseys which dated back to the team's formation in 1926, only now with "New York" on the front rather than "Rangers" as they had worn for both home and road games, even after introducing a white jersey in 1951. This put the Rangers more in line with the general practice of wearing their name on their home jerseys and their location on their road jerseys. The "New York" cresting would last nine seasons until they reverted to "Rangers" on both the home and roads once again.

Tkaczuk had two goals during the game, including the first goal of the record setting third period. He also assisted on the second goal and the ninth one as well.

 photo New York Rangers 1979-80 F jersey.jpeg
 photo New York Rangers 1979-80 B jersey.jpeg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978-79 New York Rangers Anders Hedberg jersey as worn during the record setting third period of the Rangers playoff game against the Flyers when both teams combined for nine goals in one period.

Hedberg scored the final goal of the record setting third period and also had an assist on the third one as well.

 photo New York Rangers 1978-79 jersey.jpeg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1978-79 Philadelphia Flyers Reggie Leach jersey as worn during the record setting third period of the Flyers playoff game against the Rangers when both teams combined for nine goals in one period.

Leach scored the first goal of the Flyers attempt at a comeback, which was the fourth goal of the record setting third period.

 photo Philadelphia Flyers 1978-79 F jersey.jpg
 photo Philadelphia Flyers 1978-79 B jersey.jpg

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1979-80 Washington Capitals Ryan Walter Jersey

Born on this date in 1958, Ryan Walter first played junior hockey for the Langley Lords in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in the 1973-74 season, demonstrating his potential with 40 goals and 102 points in 62 games. In a bit of foreshadowing, he also played a pair of games for the Kamloops Chiefs in the Western Canada Hockey League, a step higher than the BCJHL.

For 1974-75, Walter scored 32 times on his way to 92 points in 54 games. He again played with Kamloops in the WCHL, scoring 8 goals and 12 points in 9 games.

He moved to Kamloops full time for the 1975-76 season, needing no adjustment period, as he scored 35 goals and 84 points in 72 games. He had a 40 goal season with the Chiefs in 1976-77 with 41 and totaled 99 points, second best on the club and one short of equaling his penalty minute total for the season.

For the 1977-78 season, the Chiefs relocated to Seattle, Washington and were renamed the Seattle Breakers. Walter was named as the team captain and again finished second on the team with 54 goals and 71 assists for 125 points, which earned him WCHL MVP honors. The club would be known as the Breakers through the 1984-85 season before they were subsequently renamed the Thunderbirds after a change in ownership and continue to play in Seattle today.

During the holidays that season, Walter captained the Canadian team at the 1978 World Junior Championships, where he scored 5 goals and 8 points in 6 games on his way to winning a bronze medal.

That summer, Walter, a center, was selected second overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft behind only Bobby Smith.

Walter would miss the Capitals training camp due to an injury suffered over the summer playing sports with his younger brother. As a result, he would play 2 games with the Calgary Wranglers of the Western Hockey League before joining Washington, the only two minor league games of his career. Once called up to the NHL, Walter would make the jump with ease, playing in 69 games and scoring an impressive 28 goals and 56 points as a rookie, a season which saw him finish second in Rookie of the Year voting.

His fine season earned him a place on the Canadian roster for the 1979 World Championships, where he scored 4 times in 8 games.

The Capitals then made Walter, at just 21 years old, the youngest captain in league history for the 1979-80 season. He set a club record with 12 power play goals on his way to a 24 goal, 66 point season.

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Walter wearing the "C" as the captain of Washington

His 1980-81 season was a virtual repeat, as in 80 games he had an identical 24 goals and 44 assists for 68 points, along with a career high of 150 penalty minutes. After the conclusion of the NHL season, Walter again suited up for Canada at the 1981 World Championships.

Walter had a career season in 1981-82 for the Capitals, setting career highs in goals with 38, assists with 49 and points with 87. With Washington missing the playoffs yet again, Walter was available for his third World Championships in four seasons. He played in 4 of Canada's 10 games, scoring a goal and 3 assists as the Canadians took home the bronze medal.

With the Capitals never having made the playoffs in their eight seasons of existence, Washington was looking to revamp their roster and sent their captain Walter, along with Rick Green, to the Montreal Canadiens in a blockbuster trade in exchange for Doug Jarvis, Rod Langway, Craig Laughlin and Brian Engblom.

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Walter's card showing him in a Capitals jersey
reflects his trade to Montreal

His first season with the Canadiens saw Walter's offensive game pick up where he left off in Washington, scoring 29 goals and 46 assists for 75 points, finishing just one point back of Guy Lafleur for the team lead. He also got his first taste of playoff hockey, albeit for a brief 3 games.

His style of play also changed with the move to Montreal, as after penalty minute totals of 150 and 142 his final two seasons with the Capitals, he only had over 60 penalty minutes once while with the Canadiens. Additionally, his annual playoff appearances would bring an end to his international hockey career, as he was no longer available during the World Championships as he had been with the Capitals.

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Walter was traded to Montreal in 1982

From the 1983-84 season on, Walter's role with the Canadiens changed to a less offensive role, which was reflected in his point totals. He still hit 20 goals that season, but his point total was reduced to 49 and he would never reach 50 again.

He had 19 goals and 19 assists in 1984-85 for 38 points, but he was able to add 9 points in 12 playoff games.

Walter had 15 goals and 49 points in 1985-86, but broke his ankle with three games left in the regular season which caused him to miss much of the playoffs. He was able to return in time to play in 5 postseason games, which earned him his name on the Stanley Cup, as the Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins in 3 straight, narrowly escaped the Hartford Whalers by winning in overtime of Game 7, cruised past the New York Rangers in 5 and won the championship in 5 games over the Calgary Flames.

After a 23 goal, 46 point season in 1986-87, the Canadiens went on another deep playoff run, and Walter had a fine postseason with 19 points in 17 games. Injuries limited him to 61 games and 36 points in 1987-88. For the 1988-89 season, Walter had 14 goals for his 11th consecutive season of double digit goals dating back to the start of his career. He would finish with 31 points and in the playoffs, in 21 games, he would add just 3 goals, but one was a double overtime winner in Game 3 of the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals against the Calgary Flames, the last time to date two Canadian teams would play for the Cup.

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Walter in the 1989 Stanley Cup Finals

His offensive numbers dipped in 1989-90 to just 8 goals and 24 points in 70 games, his first time under 30 points in his career. Worse, he only played in 25 games in 1990-91 after breaking his wrist early in the season and was ineffective on his return, with just one assist for the season followed by 5 scoreless playoff games, which brought an end to his time in Montreal.

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Walter played nine seasons for the Canadiens

He returned home to British Columbia for the 1991-92 season when he signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. Named as an assistant team captain, Walter played in 67 games that season, contributing 6 goals and 17 points and another 3 assists in 13 playoff games. His 1992-93 season was another abbreviated one. Although he played in just 25 total games, they included Walter playing in his 1,000th career game on March 20, 1993 against the New York Islanders. Not offered a contract for the following season, Walter chose to retire as a player.

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Walter finished his career with Vancouver

His final career totals were 1,003 games played with 264 goals and 382 assists for 646 points along with a World Championship bronze medal and a Stanley Cup championship with Montreal in 1986.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Washington Capitals Ryan Walter jersey from the season the Capitals made the 21 year old Walter the youngest captain in NHL history, keeping in mind that prior to the expansion that allowed the four surviving WHA teams into the NHL, players could not be drafted by NHL clubs until they were 20 years of age.

After starting life in the NHL with this style, the changes were few. While they began with names on the back of the home white jerseys, the road reds did not get names until they were required by NHL rules until 1977-78. After two seasons they were reduced one color white for the 1979-80 season. The sleeves changed from five stars to four in 1983 for two seasons and then the names became two colors again in 1987-88 and remained that way until the 1984-85 season, the last for the Capitals original jerseys.

After wearing their original white jerseys as a throwback for the 2011 Winter Classic, that jersey became the team's new third jersey for the following season. In 2015-16, the capitals would change their throwback alternate from the white version to the red version.

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 photo Washington Capitals 1980-81 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978-79 Washington Capitals Ryan Walter jersey worn during his rookie season prior to being named their team captain. The difference between this and his 1979-80 jersey shown above is the original use of two color names on the back, which was simplified to one color names for for eight seasons until becoming two color names again in 1987-88.

 photo Washington Capitals 1979-80 F jersey.jpg
 photo Washington Capitals 1979-80 B jersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Montreal Canadiens Ryan Walter jersey from the season Montreal won the only Stanley Cup of Walter's career.

Montreal first introduced a white jersey for the 1935-36 season, By 1941-42, the red shoulders and twin red and blue stripes arrived and this style has remained in use essentially unchanged since then, save for the 1944-45 to 1946-47 seasons when the club added the a blue band around the chest identical to their famous red jerseys.

 photo Montreal Canadiens 1985-86 A F jersey.jpg
 photo Montreal Canadiens 1985-86 A B jersey.jpg

In today's video section, Walter is now a motivational speaker, and here he talks about having to miss most of the 1986 Stanley Cup playoffs.

In this next video, Walter takes on Boston's Mike Milbury, and it's always nice to see Milbury dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

1987 United States National Team Bob Mason Jersey

Born on this date in International Falls, Minnesota, goaltender Bob Mason first played for the Green Bay Bobcats of the United States Hockey League in American junior hockey for two seasons prior to playing his college hockey for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs in the highly competitive Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

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After a tough first year when he was 9-15-3 with a 4.45 goals against average, Mason showed his potential with a turnaround 1982-83 season when he was 26-16-1 with a 3.49 goals against which earned him the WCHA Player of the Year award.

That performance caught the attention of USA Hockey, which named him to the United States National Team for the 1983-84 season. Mason was 17-10-5 in preparation for the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. He played in 3 games during the Games, with a 1-0-1 record and a 3.75 goals against.

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After the conclusion of the Olympics, Mason, an undrafted free agent, signed with the Washington Capitals. He then played in 5 games with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears. With Hershey, he was a less than impressive 1-4 with a goals against over 5.50. Still, he was called up to the NHL and played a pair of games with the Capitals, winning both while only allowing 3 total goals.

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For the 1984-85 season, Mason played the majority of this games with the Binghamton Whalers of the AHL, putting up a fine 10-6-1 record with a 3.31 GAA. When recalled by Washington, he again impressed with a 8-2-1 record in 12 appearances with a 2.81 GAA.

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Despite his success when playing in the NHL, the young Mason was third on the Capitals depth chart behind the duo of Pat Riggin and Al Jensen, who combined to win the Jennings Trophy for Washington for allowing the least number of goals in 1983-84 and then behind Jensen and Pete Peeters in 1985-86.

So, for the 1985-86 season, Mason was with Binghamton in the AHL once again, playing in 34 games with a 20-11-2 record and a slightly higher 3.90 GAA. His lone appearance with the Capitals saw him get a win in 16 minutes of playing time while facing 5 shots without allowing a goal.

Finally, for the 1986-87 season, Mason was finally cracked the Capitals lineup, where he split time with Peeters, who played in 37 games to Mason's 45 while Jensen was in the net for just 6. Mason led the team in wins with 20, while taking 18 losses to go with 5 ties. In the interests of completeness, Mason did play in a pair of games in Binghamton, going 1-1 with a goals against of 2.02.

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Mason's final game with the Capitals was a memorable one, as the Capitals and the New York Islanders playoff series stretched to a Game 7. The game began on Saturday, April 18th, and the teams alternated goals until the Islanders tied the game at 2-2 with 5:23 to play in regulation. The game went to overtime and neither team could score after each taking 11 shots on goal. The Capitals pressed hard in the second overtime, outshooting the Islanders 17-9, but Mason and Kelly Hrudey refused to crack. The third overtime saw New York hold a narrow 11-10 margin in shots as the game stretched into the night. Midnight arrived as the game now extended into Easter Sunday. Finally, at 8:47 of the fourth overtime, Pat Lafontaine wheeled and fired a shot past Mason to win the fifth longest game in Stanley Cup history, the longest playoff game in 36 years and the longest Game 7 ever, 3-2 in what has become known as the Easter Epic.

 photo LaFontaine Mason Easter Epic.jpg

Later that fall, Mason was chosen to be on the roster for the United States at the 1987 Canada Cup tournament.

Mason left Washington before the next season began and signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent for the 1987-88 season. He would play in 41 games with Chicago, splitting time with Darren Pang in goal. Mason would finish with a 13-18-8 record, but as Pang got more and more playing time in the second half of the season, and the crease in Chicago about to get very crowded (Pang (35 games), Alain Chevrier (27), new arrival Ed Belfour (23) and Jimmy Waite (11) would all compete for playing time), Mason was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for the 1988-89 season.

 photo Mason Blackhawks.jpg

Unfortunately for all involved, the Nordiques would finish last in the NHL and Mason would bear the brunt of their poor performance, as he would finish the forgettable season with a 5-14-1 record and a demotion to the Halifax Citadels of the AHL. Playing a 23 games with Halifax, Mason showed his worth with an 11-7-1 record and a goals against a full 1.30 lower than his 4.73 NHL rating.

 photo Mason Nordiques.jpg

Mason was traded back to Washington for the 1989-90 season and split time between the Capitals (16 games, 4-9-1) and the Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL (13, 9-2-2). Washington released Mason at the end of the year and he signed with the Vancouver Canucks organization to add depth to their roster.

 photo Mason Baltimore.jpg

He would play the majority of the 1990-91 season with the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League, playing in 22 games, winning 8. He would also go 2-4 during his 6 games played with Vancouver, which would prove to be his final games in the NHL.

Mason would not play in the NHL in 1991-92, which allowed him to see action in 51 games for the Admirals that season, winning 27 while losing 18 with 4 ties and a 3.39 GAA. For the 1992-93 season, Mason would be the number one goaltender for the Hamilton Canucks in the AHL, finishing with 44 games played and lead the team with a 20-19-3 record and a 3.67 goals against average.

He would return to Milwaukee and the IHL for the 193-94 season, where he had an excellent season, ending with a 21-9-8 record for the Admirals. He would play one final season, playing in 13 games for Milwaukee with a 7-4-1 record and a single game for the Fort Wayne Komets, also of the IHL.

His final NHL totals were 145 games played with 55 wins, 65 losses and 16 ties and a career goals against average of 3.75.

Following his playing career, he was a goaltending coach at the University of Minnesota for three years until being hired by the Atlanta Thrashers as a goaltending consultant for three seasons, Then in 2002-03, he took the same position with the Minnesota Wild and is now in his 15th season as their goaltending coach, which included guiding Niklas Backstrom and Manny Fernandez to the Jennings Trophy in 2007.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987 United States Bob Mason jersey from the 1987 Canada Cup tournament, the predecessor to the current World Cup of Hockey. Canada was frustrated with the state of international hockey, as the Canadian professionals were not allowed to participate in amateur-only events like the Olympics, while the World Championships were always held while the NHL playoffs were in progress, which combined to keep the best Canadian players shut out of the highest profile international tournaments.

Meanwhile, the best players from the communist European nations, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in particular, established a system where their players were considered to be members of their military whose assigned duties were to play hockey, a technicality which allowed them to maintain their amatuer status for their entire career, while countries like the United States and Canada were limited to young, non-professional players. Later agreements allowed professionals, but the timing of the Olympics taking place during the NHL season still kept the best Canadian and American players out of the Games.

1972 saw the Summit Series, an eight game exhibition series of games between the top Canadian professionals and the best the Soviets had to offer, which was an emotionally charged event that captivated the hockey world as the styles and cultures clashed for the first time. Two years later they tried to catch lightning in a bottle once again, with the Soviets now facing a team of pros from the World Hockey Association, such as Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, who was locked out of the 1972 event due to having jumped to the WHA, angering the powers that be in the NHL who kept him out of the original Summit Series despite is undisputed qualifications.

Seeking to capitalize on the two team Summit Series, the Canada Cup was born in 1976, which took place in the fall prior to the NHL season, which allowed the best players to all compete in a tournament format, as now the United States, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, Finland and West Germany were added to the competition in addition to the Soviets and Canadians.

The Canada Cup was held five times, 1976, 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, with Canada winning all but the 1981 edition, which went to the Soviets.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Washington Capitals Bob Mason jersey .

 photo Washington Capitals 1985-86 F jersey.jpg
 photo Washington Capitals 1985-86 B jersey.jpg

In today's video section, highlights of the Easter Epic, the four overtime game between the Capitals and Islanders with Mason making 54 saves in goal for Washington.

Next, Mason is flattened by Shane Corson during one of his limited appearances for Vancouver.

Finally, Mason discusses his career as a goaltending coach and his current work for the Wild with their current top goaltender Devan Dubnyk.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The 1938 Detroit Red Wings - Montreal Canadiens European Tour

On this date in 1938, the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens played their first game of a nine game exhibition tour of Europe, the first time in the history of the NHL that teams played games in Europe.

The idea of NHL teams playing games in Europe had been floated before, as far back as 1924 and again in 1932, but those plans failed to happen, mainly due to a lack of suitable hockey rinks. Other plans were hatched in 1935 and 1936, but never came to be.

Finally, in 1938, the British Ice Hockey Association and the French Ice Hockey Federation were able to come to an agreement for a series of nine games to be held in England and France. Preliminary plans for additional games in Belgium, Germany and Scotland did not materialize.

While the Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup in 1936 and 1937, they finished last in the American Division with a 12-25-11 record for 35 points, second worst in the NHL during the 1937-38 season.

Montreal, meanwhile, went 18-17-13 in the 48 game schedule, and their 49 points were good for third in the Canadian Division and a playoff spot. Montreal was paired with the Chicago Black Hawks, who squeaked into the playoffs, just two points ahead of the Red Wings. In their best-of-three series, Toe Blake had a hat trick to win Game 1 for Montreal, but Mike Karakas shut the Canadiens out in Game 2 to even the series. Despite a late Montreal goal in Game 3, Earl Seibert tied the game for Chicago who then won the series after 11:49 of overtime on March 26, 1938.

Ten days later, Detroit traveled to Montreal and then both teams made the trip to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where they played an exhibition game on April 7th, won by Montreal 3-2. On the next two nights, the teams played in Halifax in front of 5,000 fans, with the Canadiens taking the first game 6-5 in overtime on April 8 followed by the Red Wings dominating on April 9th by a score of 7-2.

The teams then boarded the RMS Ausonia for their trip to England, arriving on April 19th, where they were met with a high level of interest and news of heavy ticket sales.

Red WIngs Atlantic Crossing 1938
The Red Wings pose for a photo during their Atlantic crossing

The first game, on this date in 1938, took place in the London suburb of Earls Court in front of 8,000 interested spectators. At times during the game, Detroit head coach Jack Adams spoke to the crowd to explain the differences in the NHL rules and those of the English amateur league. Montreal goaltender Wilf Cude, a native of Wales, was singled out with a presentation of a wreath and an ovation. Regulation ended tied at 4-4 and then Blake scored the winning goal in overtime.

Two days later, on April 23rd, the teams met again in Brighton, 60 miles to the south. Montreal's Johnny Gagnon had a hat trick for the Canadiens, but Detroit came from behind twice in the third to force an overtime, which passed without a winner for an eventual 5-5 tie. During the first game in Brighton, two fights took place, the first between Marty Barry and Red Goupille and then Blake and Peter Bessone staged round two.

The teams then made the trip to France for three games in Paris, the first of which took place on April 25th. A fast and exciting game, the first professional hockey game in France, saw both Detroit's Hec Kilrea and Gagnon for Montreal each score a hat trick in a 10-8 win for Montreal.

Montreal Canadiens 1937-38
The 1937-38 Montreal Canadiens

There was excitement of a different kind of April 27th for the second game in France, when the Red Wings rallied with three goals in the third period to come from being down 3-1 to take their first win of the series 4-3.

The final game in Paris was on April 29th, a 7-5 win for the French Canadiens.

“The professional ice hockey players of the two teams in Paris are a fine lot of players. Next week the two teams are scheduled to play in London and the hockey enthusiasts of the big city will see the fastest competition game played by humans as it should be played. It is really thrilling to witness ice hockey such as we have seen played in Paris by the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings.” wrote sportswriter Sparrow Robertson of New York Herald Tribune.

Following their game on the 29th, the teams took their time for some sightseeing, as they were not scheduled for another game until May 5th, six days later for a return engagement at Earls Court in England. That contest proved to be the fourth win for Montreal in six games when they won the game by a three goal margin, 6-3, thanks to two goals by Paul Haynes with a crowd of 8,500 in attendance.

On May 8th back in Brighton, Detroit won their second game of the tour, a 10-5 victory powered by a pair of goals by Don Young, Carl Liscombe and Mud Bruneteau, again with 8,500 on hand to witness the most lopsided game of the tour.

Oddly, it was back to Earls Court two days later on May 10th, rather than travel to a different, larger city in England, such as Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool. Blake starred with a hat trick, including the game winner in a 5-4 Canadiens win, as the swept all three games in London.

The final game of the nine was held on May 14th back in Brighton for the third time. Bruneteau and Barry each had a pair of goals for Detroit, who won 5-2 to finish unbeaten in Brighton with two wins and a tie. Overall, Montreal won 5, with Detroit taking 3 and one tie game.

Detroit Red Wings 1937-38
The 1937-38 Detroit Red Wings

After the game, Montreal head coach Cecil Hart said, "We've had a successful and enjoyable trip. The boys played wonderful hockey and I'm sure they've sold the professional game in a big way to the British and the French fans."

The teams made their way to Southampton and sailed home on the RMS Aurania. The head coaches both agreed the tour was a success and some players declared it the greatest experience of their lives. For their efforts, the players each received the princely sum of $250.

Hart later observed, "It was wonderful, simply marvelous. I can't get over it. Yes, I believe pro hockey is still five years off over there. They haven't got the rinks yet. But think of the opportunities with no traveling expenses and such thickly populated areas. We packed them in everywhere. The last game we played over there, we turned away between 3,000 and 4,000 fans. And that with very little publicity."

Despite the rave reviews for the tour, it would take until 1959 for the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers to make the second tour a reality, that being a 23 game marathon of games in England, Switzerland, France, Belgium, West Germany and finally Austria.

It would take another 17 years for two NHL teams to meet outside of North America, this time in Japan, and the league would not return to Europe for 21 years.

Today's featured jersey is a 1937-38 Montreal Canadiens Toe Blake jersey as worn when Blake scored the game winning goal in overtime of the first game between NHL teams outside of North America on this date in 1959.

This jersey predated the arrival of sleeve numbers on their sweaters, which did not arrive until 1958 with the advent of television.

Montreal Canadiens 37-38 jersey

Today's video is the from the return of the NHL to England for the 2007-08 season, the first ever regular season games held in Europe.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

1984-85 Chicago Blackhawks Steve Larmer Jersey

Beginning his junior career with his hometown Peterborough Petes in 1977-78, Steve Larmer then became a member of the Niagara Falls Flyers for the 1978-79 season. He more than doubled his 41 points from the previous season with 84. That total jumped to 114 in 1979-80 after which Larmer was drafted in the 6th round by the Chicago Black Hawks. He returned for one final season with Niagara Falls during which he scored 55 goals and 133 points.

At the conclusion of the Flyers season, Larmer made his NHL debut with the Black Hawks for four games at the end of the season, scoring his first NHL point with an assist. Chicago assigned him to the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL where he averaged more than a point per game with 82 in 74 games, good for second on the club. New Brunswick would not only win their division, but defeat Adirondack, Nova Scotia and Binghamton on their way to the Calder Cup championship. Additionally, Chicago called him up for three NHL games during the season.

Larmer Blackhawks 91
Larmer broke into the NHL with Chicago in 1980-81

For the 1982-83 season, Larmer made the Black Hawks roster out of training camp and immediately established himself as an NHL regular, playing in all 80 of Chicago's games on a line with Denis Savard and Al Secord, which led to him scoring an impressive 43 goals and 90 points on his way to being named the recipient of that season's Calder Trophy.

The following season Larmer again played in all 80 games for Chicago, a feat he duplicated again and again and again over the course of five seasons as his consecutive games streak reached 400, all the while producing an amazingly consistent offensive output, as his point totals were always between 75 and 90 points each of those seasons.

His games played streak continued to march on unabated as well as his offensive production. Now named one of Chicago's assistant captains, he narrowly missed equaling his career best of 90 points with 89 in 1987-88, and after scoring 87 the next season reached 90 once more in 1989-90 thanks in part to a career best 59 assists as his consecutive games streak now reached 640. During the playoffs, his eight consecutive postseason in a row, Larmer tied for the team lead in scoring with 22 in 20 games as the Blackhawks reached the conference finals. (Of note, Chicago formally changed their name from "Black Hawks" to "Blackhawks" with the start of the 1986-87 season.)

Showing no signs of slowing down, Larmer set a career high with 101 points in 1990-91 to lead Chicago in scoring for the third consecutive season as he registered second highest goal total of his career with 44, just two back of the 46 he tallied in 1984-85, as well as 57 assists.

Following Chicago's early exit from the playoffs, Larmer skated for Team Canada at the 1991 World Championships, scoring 8 points in 19 games. Later that same year, he competed for Canada again at the 1991 Canada Cup tournament in August prior to the start of the NHL season where he led all players in goals scored with 6, including the game winner in the decisive final game, and finished second in points with 11 in eight games.

Larmer Canada
Larmer at the 1991 Canada Cup

Over the course of the next two years, Larmer extended his games played streak by playing in all 80 of Chicago's games in 1991-92 despite losing 16 pounds due to an ulcer, and then 84 in 1992-93 thanks to a newly expanded schedule which included the short-lived experiment of teams playing a pair of regular season neutral site games. It was the highest scoring regular season in NHL history at the time, but the Blackhawks were one of only two teams to allow less than three goals per game, thanks in part to Larmer's noteworthy defensive contributions.

Larmer Blackhawks 92
The Blackhawks wore throwback jerseys
for the NHL's 75th Anniversary season

After 13 seasons with Chicago, including playing in every game for 11 consecutive seasons, 884 games in a row, Larmer sat out training camp in 1993, demanding a trade from Chicago, citing a need for a "change of scenery", and threatened to retire if a trade was not worked out.

Eventually, after missing the first month of the season and ending his streak 30 games behind second place Gary Unger and 80 behind record holder Doug Jarvis, Larmer was traded to the New York Rangers in early Novemer. At the time of his departure from Chicago, Larmer ranked #3 all time in goals, #5 in assists and #4 in points.

Playing in his first game the day after the trade, Larmer scored his first goal as a Ranger. In early January, Larmer missed the first games of his career due to injury, sitting out three games with a broken hand. In all, he competed in 68 games for the Rangers and contributed 60 points. During the playoffs, his 12th of 13 consecutive years in the playoffs, he was a solid contributor to the Rangers eventual Stanley Cup championship, the first of his career and the Rangers first in 54 years.

Rangers 1993-1994
The 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers

In the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, milestones arrived in the form of his 1,000th NHL point on March 8 and his 1,000th NHL game on this date in 1995. He would finish the season with 1,006 games played, 441 goals and 571 assists for 1,012 points prior to retiring due to chronic back pain.

Larmer Rangers
Larmer finished his career with the Rangers

Today's featured jersey is a 1984-85 Chicago Black Hawks Steve Larmer jersey as worn when Larmer set a career high of 46 goals that season.

The Blackhawks wore a white jersey for their first season of 1926-27 but then reversed the jerseys colors to black with white stripes for 1927-28. They did not wear another white jersey until the 1940-41 season and their now familiar style featured today did not arrive until the 1955-56 season. Since then there have been changes, such as the original one color black numbers becoming two color numbers in 1973 and the lace-up collar changing to a v-neck in 1965.

Sleeve numbers arrived in 1957-58, and the secondary logo changed size and location a number of times until 1959-60 when it found its permanent location. Names on the back were mandated in 1977-78 and the jersey has remained unchanged ever since, including surviving the introduction of the new Reebok Edge jerseys for 2007-08.

Chicago Blackhawks 1984-85 F jersey

Chicago Blackhawks 1984-85 B jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1991 Team Canada Steve Larmer jersey as worn during the 1991 Canada Cup, one of only two appearances for Larmer for Team Canada during his career, both of which came during a four month span in 1991, which resulted in a silver followed by a gold medal.

The half maple leaf design of the jersey mimics the shape of the Canada Cup trophy, which clearly was not a "cup" in the traditional sense like the NHL's Stanley Cup.

Canada 1991 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1981-82 New Brunswick Hawks Steve Larmer jersey from the only minor league season of Larmer's entire career during which his club captured the league championship.

The jersey follows the design of the Toronto Maple Leafs jerseys of the time period, down to the Maple Leaf logos on the shoulder, as the Hawks shared their affiliation with both the Maple Leafs, who inspired their look, and the Black Hawks, who provided the inspiration for their name in a unique combined identity.

The franchise existed from 1978 to 1987, which included two name changes.

New Brunswick Hawks 81-82 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's videos begin with the conclusion of the 1991 Canada Cup. Larmer scored the game winning goal and was MVP of the game.

Another highlight of Larmer's career was Larmer's Stanley Cup championship in 1994 with the Rangers.


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