Monday, May 22, 2017

The 2017 IIHF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Yesterday was the 2017 IIHF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which saw six outstanding players inducted.

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The IIHF Hall of Fame Class of 2017

First, was Saku Koivu, who began his international career for Finland at the 1992 European U18 Junior Championships. In 1993 he played in both the World Junior Championships as well as making his senior level World Championships debut. 1994 saw Koivu again play in the World Juniors before earning his first international medal with a bronze medal at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway at the age of 19. Later that spring, he won another medal, this time a silver at the World Championships.

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Saku Koivu won an Olympic bronze medal in 2010

He was named as one of Finland's assistant captains for the 1995 World Championships, where he finished second in scoring with 5 goals and 10 points in 8 games as Finland won their first ever gold medal at the World Championship.

In 1996, Koivu played in the first World Cup of Hockey before he captained Finland to a bronze medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan where tied for the team lead in points with 10 in six games. He earned another silver medal at the 1999 World Championships, again as Finland's team captain.

His next international competition would come at the 2003 World Championships after missing the 2002 Olympics while overcoming cancer. This was followed by a second place finish at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, both again as team captain.

Koivu played in his third Olympics in 2006 in Torino, Italy, where he again tied for the team scoring lead with 11 points in 8 games while once again captain of Finland.

His final World Championships in 2008 saw him add another bronze to his collection before his final international appearance for Finland, this coming at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, where he captained Finland to a bronze medal.

In all, Koivu played in 20 games at the junior level in international competition, scoring 7 goals and 26 points. At the senior level, he played in 89 games, scoring 30 goals and 94 points. He played in one European U18 Championship, two World Juniors, seven World Championships, earning a bronze, two silver and a gold medal, one World Cup, with a second place finish, and four Olympics, winning three bronze and a silver. He was named Best Forward at the World Championships in 1995 and 1999, and led the 1998 and 2006 Olympics in scoring.

Today's featured Koivu jersey is a 1995 Finland National Team Saku Koivu jersey. This is the same style jersey used in the 1994 Olympic games and, while branded as a Reebok jersey, they were produced by Tackla using their mesh fabric and dye sublimation process. Visually, the only difference  between the Olympic jerseys and the World Championship version is the addition of the Warsteiner sponsorship patches to each arm.

Finland 1995 road jersey photo Finland 1995 R F.jpg
Finland 1995 road jersey photo Finland 1995 R B.jpg

The next player to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame was German Uwe Krupp, whose international career began during the days of separate teams for East and West Germany, with Krupp first suiting up for the West Germans at the 1983 U18 European Junior Championships and the U20 World Junior Championships. He played in a second U20 World Juniors in 1985.

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Uwe Krupp

Krupp, a defenseman, made his World Championship debut in 1986 with his second World Championships coming in 1990, his last for the West Germans.

By the time of the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Germany had reunified and Krupp was able to make his Olympic debut thanks to the pros of the NHL now being allowed to compete.

Krupp, a defensive defenseman, scored 2 goals and 4 assists in his 21 international games. He also had a 15 year NHL career which included becoming the first German to win the Stanley Cup in 1996 followed by winning a second in 2002.

Following his playing career, Krupp returned to Germany and eventually became head coach of the German National Team from 2005 to 2011 at many levels, including the World Juniors, World Championships and Olympics, which included guiding the Germans to a semifinal appearance at the 2010 World Championships, their best result since 1976.

Today's featured Krupp jersey is a 1998 Germany National Team Uwe Krupp jersey. This style jersey was only worn at the 1998 Olympics with the heraldic eagle crest. Later in 1998 at the World Championships, the crest was changed to that of the German Ice Hockey Federation and worn through the 2000 World Championships.

Germany 1998 Olympic jersey photo Germany1998OLYF.jpg
Germany 1998 Olympic jersey photo Germany1998OLYB.jpg

 The third member of the Class of 2017 is Canadian Joe Sakic, whose international resume begins with the 1988 World Junior Championships, where Canada went 6-0-1 to win the gold medal.

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Sakic making his Olympic debut in 1998

Sakic appeared at his first World Championships in 1991, leading Canada with 6 goals and 11 points in 10 games on the way to a silver medal.

His next World Championships came in 1994 where Sakic was third in team scoring with 4 goals and 7 points in 8 games as Canada would go 8-0 to win their first gold medal in 33 years following a shootout in the final.

The next time Sakic would wear the maple leaf for Canada was at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where the Canadians would finish second.

Sakic's first Olympic Games came in 1998 followed by winning gold in his second Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. After going 1-1-1 in group play, the Canadians would find their game with Final Round wins over Finland, Belarus and the host United States as Sakic was named the tournament's MVP.

Sakic's gold medal at the 2002 Olympics gained him entry into the exclusive Triple Gold Club for players who have won World Championship gold, Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup, which he accomplished with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.

He would add to his already impressive resume by winning the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, where he tied for second place in scoring with 4 goals and 6 points in 6 games.

After being an assistant captain for the 1998 and 2002 Canadian Olympic teams, Sakic was chosen to captain Canada for his final international tournament, the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.

In all, Sakic played in 48 international games at the senior level, scoring 22 goals and 41 points.

While his World Championship opportunities were limited by the successful teams he was a part of during his 20 year NHL career, 17 of which were as captain of the Quebec Nordiques and Avalanche, he is record is a stellar one, with gold medals at the World Juniors, World Championships and Olympics along with a World Cup and two Stanley Cups.

Today's featured Sakic jersey is a 1994 Canada National Team Joe Sakic jersey as worn during the 1994 World Championships during which Canada ended their 33 year World Championship drought.

The jersey is a Finnish made by Tackla, but branded as a Reebok jersey The jersey was produced using the dye sublimation process, in which all the graphics are created by injecting ink into the fabric, which is then cured with heat. This jersey also sports a pair of Warsteiner Beer sponsorship logos, giving the jersey it's unique World Championships look, as jerseys worn during the Olympics are free from advertising.

This multi-striped style was a short-lived one and used only for the 1994 and 1995 World Championships, as Nike arrived on the scene with all new designs for the 1996 World Championships.

1994 Canadian National Team Joe Sakic Jersey
1994 Canadian National Team Joe Sakic Jersey

The fourth member of this year's IIHF Hall of Fame Class Koivu's fellow Finn, Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash made his international debut at the 1988 European U18 Junior Championships, where he led all players in scoring with a dominating 7 goals and 16 points in just six games as Finland won the silver medal.

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Selanne went out in style, winning a medal and being
named the tournament MVP at the 2014 Olympics

Selanne played in one U20 World Junior Championship in 1989, tying for the team lead with 10 points in 7 games.

He made his debut at the senior level at the 1991 World Championships, finishing one assist back of Jari Kurri for the team lead in points. Later that fall, Selanne was a member of the Finnish team at the 1991 Canada Cup.

Selanne made his Olympic debut at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France, coming in fourth in tournament scoring while leading the Finns with 7 goals and 11 points in 8 games.

In 1996, he returned to the World Championships, where he led Finland in scoring with 5 goals and 8 points in 8 games. Later that year, he played in the inaugural 1996 World Cup of Hockey as Finland's assistant captain.

He earned the second medal of his career at the 1998 Olympics, bringing back a bronze after leading all scorers with 4 goals and 10 points while playing in just 5 games compared to as many as 7 for other players.

Selanne came in second in scoring to Koivu at the 1999 World Championships with 3 goals and 11 points back of Koivu's 16, but it was Selanne who took home the tournament MVP honors while winning a silver medal.

In 2002, he played in the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, scoring 3 goals in 4 games. He led Finland in scoring at the 2003 World Championships with 8 goals and 11 points in seven games as team captain for the Finns.

Selanne then took part in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey before returning to the Olympics in 2006, leading all players in goals, with 6, and points, with 11, as Finland finished with the silver medal and Selanne was named as the Top Forward.

He came home with a bronze medal at the 2008 World Championships after coming in second in scoring with 7 points in 9 games.

After playing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia and winning a bronze medal, Selanne participated internationally one final time, this coming at 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, where he won a bronze medal as Finland's team captain. His 4 goals and 6 points were one point back of the team leader as the Finns would win their third consecutive Olympic medal, this time a bronze, the fourth Olympic medal of Selanne's illustrious national career as he set a record as the oldest player to ever win a medal in Olympic hockey at the age of 43. Selanne was then named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Selanne concluded his international career with 96 games played, scoring 54 goals and 102 points and holds the record for the most points in Olympic hockey competition with 24 goals and 43 points in 37 games.

Today's featured Selanne jersey is a 2014 Finland National Team Teemu Selanne jersey as worn during his final international tournament, the 2014 Olympics, his sixth Olympic Games.

This highly unusual full bleed flag style was worn only at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. It was paired with a more conventional road blue jersey. For the subsequent World Championships later that spring, the Finns wore a white version of their blue road jersey, ending the use of this style after just one outing.

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Finland 2014 Olympic jersey photo Finland 2014 B.jpg

The final player inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame this year was American Angela Ruggiero, who played in ten IIHF Women's World Championships, winning four gold medals and six silver medals, including scoring the winning goal in a shootout in 2005 to give the United States its first gold medal.

Ruggiero also participated in four Olympic Games, winning gold in 1998 as the youngest member of the team at 17 years of age, and winning silver in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze in 2006.

In 2004, she won the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in US Women's College Hockey. She became the fourth woman to ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015 and the only inductee ever from California. She is also the all-time leader in games played for the United States, regardless of gender, with 256.

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Angela Ruggiero

Dieter Kalt, Sr. of Austria was inducted into the Builders category. A star player in the Austrian league in the 1960's, he won five championships in six seasons with Klagenfurt with a career that spanned from 1957 to 1980. He played for Austria in eight World Championships and two Olympics, in 1964 and 1968, the second time as the team captain.

From 1996 to 2016, Kalt was the President of the Austrian Ice Hockey Federation and has been a long time member of the Austrian Olympic Committee.

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Dieter Kalt, Sr.

Finally, the winner of the Bibi Torriani Award for players who have had great international careers from nations outside of the top hockey nations was Tony Hand of Great Britain. Four times during his domestic career in the British Hockey League, Hand had seasons of over 200 points, with a high of 222 points from 72 goals and 150 assists in a 44 game season!

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British scoring legend Tony Hand

In addition to his scoring exploits of 15 seasons of over 100 points, longevity was also a hallmark of Hand's career, as he played 32 seasons of British domestic hockey in a career that spanned from 1981-82 as a 14 year old to the 2014-15 season, when he retired at the age of 47. So impressive was Hand's abilities, that he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986, the first British-trained player ever selected in the NHL Draft.

He played for Great Britain at the World Championships 10 times, the World Juniors 3 times and the European U18 Junior Championships 4 times. At the senior level, he played in 52 games, scoring 34 goals and 105 points.

In 2004, Hand became the first ice hockey player ever honored with the Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Fog Game - 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert Jersey

In 1973-74, the Buffalo Sabres had finished mid-pack and missed out on the Stanley Cup playoffs. They rebounded strongly in 1974-75, winning the newly created Adams Division and finishing tied with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers and also the Montreal Canadiens with 113 points.

The Sabres, led by The French Connection line, which consisted of Rene Robert (with a team leading 100 points), Gilbert Perreault (96 points) and Rick Martin (95 points), defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4 games to 1 in the quarterfinals before ousting the Canadiens 4-2 to reach their first Stanley Cup Finals in only their fifth season of play.

Game 1 of the finals, the first without an Original Six team since 1926, was played in Philadelphia's Spectrum and went to the Flyers 4-1. Philadelphia also took Game 2 by a close 2-1 margin.

The series then moved to the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium for Game 3 on this date in 1975, which would prove to be one of the strangest games in NHL history.

"The Aud" was originally constructed in 1940, the building was renovated with the arrival of the Sabres and Buffalo Braves of the NBA in 1970.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium The Aud photo memorialauditoriumpostcard.png
The Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

Early in Game 3, a bat was spotted flying near ice level during the game. Finally at one point, with the teams line up for a face off in the Flyers zone, with the bat buzzing the players heads, Jim Lorentz raised his stick and swatted the bat out of midair and Rick MacLeish of the Flyers picked up the dead creature and deposited it over the boards at the Flyers bench.

Lorentz swats the bat photo Lorentzswatsbat.png
Jim Lorentz deftly swats the bat

As time passed, the sell out crowd of over 16,000 fans began to have an effect, as the non-air conditioned arena began to get warmer and steamier. Temperatures at ice level eventually got so warm that a layer of fog began to appear on the ice.

1975 Buffalo Fog Game
The fog became more dense as the game progressed

Eventually, the fog became thicker and thicker, causing the officials to halt play several times because the players could not see halfway down the ice. Several attempts were made to deal with the fog, including having the players skate in circles to try to stir up the air and clear the fog, as well as having the arena staff quickly raise and lower bed sheets to move larger amounts of air with some effect.

Play was resumed, but then stopped again and again and the visibility remained poor. Eventually both coaches, Fred Shero of the Flyers and Floyd Smith of the Sabres instructed their players to shoot as often as possible since the opposing goaltender was going to have problems seeing the puck.

Down by two goals, the Sabres fought back with a pair of goals by Danny Gare and Martin just 17 seconds apart to even the score at 2-2 before the struggling Sabres goaltender Gerry Desjardins let in a shot by MacLeish from 40 feet to put the Flyers back in the lead at the end of the first period.

During the intermission, Desjardins asked to be relieved in the Sabres goal. "After the second goal against me, I thought it was a grand time to get the hell out of there. I knew if I had stayed in, everything would have gone down the drain," Desjardins said following the game. "After all, we were only down by one goal. It was close at the end of the first period, Why waste it?"

During the second period, Reggie Leach scored on his own rebound after a wild scramble in front of new Sabres goalie Roger Crozier to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead, but Don Luce was able to put one past Bernie Parent to send the game into the third with Philadelphia up 4-3.

During the third period, defenseman Bill Hajt of Buffalo put in a rebound of a shot by Martin to even the score and eventually send the game into overtime.

The fog continued to disrupt play in overtime, causing seven stoppages. Finally, with about a minute to play, Perreault skated into the Flyers zone and passed the puck to Robert in the far corner. Robert, along the goal line, shot the puck from the sharp angle, which eluded Parent and went between his legs for the winning goal for the Sabres after nearly 80 minutes of play, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

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The Sabres celebrate the game winning goal

"I didn't see Perreault's pass," said Parent. "I saw Robert's shot too late for me to come out and stop it. I'm surprised he overtime took so long. It was hard to see the puck from the red line. If three men came down and made a good pass from the red line, you couldn't see the puck. A good shot from the red line could have won it. But it was the same thing for Crozier."

"There had been a lot of pressure on our line," Robert said. "People saw we scored so many goals during the season, what has happened to us now, that we're letting down, the we don't check. Philadelphia double shifts our line, you know, and they are a real good team, too. Getting a big goal like that makes you feel good. It has been tough for us."

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert jersey as worn when Robert scored the winning goal in overtime of the "Fog Game" in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals.

The original Sabres jerseys, worn from 1970-71 to 1976-77 featured a lace-up collar and no names on the back, unless it was for a national TV game, in which case names were added and then removed afterwards, as the club owners felt that not having names on the backs of the jerseys would lead to increased program sales.

1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our video section today begins with a quick look at the bat attack and the fog bank which later descended over the ice.

Here is a longer look at the game, including the winning goal, with quotes from broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, Lorentz and winning goal scorer Robert.

This look at the history of "The Aud" includes footage of Robert's overtime goal in the fog.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Andre the Giant and Giant Hockey Jerseys

Born on this date in Grenoble, France in 1946, Andre Rene Roussimoff is better known to the world as former professional wrestler Andre the Giant. The third of five children, Andre did not show any signs early on that he would grow to such oversized proportions brought on by acromegaly, a disease which results in excessive growth hormones. While the rest of his siblings ceased growing at the usual age, Andre's body continued to grow, and at the age of 12, he stood 6 feet, 3 inches tall.

He started to make a name for himself wrestling in France where he came to the attention of French-Canadian wrestler Edouard Carpentier, who convinced Andre to make the move to North America, where he moved from the undercard to headliner, performing in front of 20,000 fans in Montreal.

This level of success brought Andre to the attention of Vince McMahon, Sr., head of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, who not only signed him to a contract in 1972, but dubbed him "Andre the Giant". He was now selling out venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and making appearances in the Boston Bruins dressing room!

Vadnais and Orr with Andre the Giant
Andre, reportedly 7 feet, 4 inches and 500 pounds, easily hoists Carol Vadnais (6' 1", 190 lbs.) and Bobby Orr (5' 11", 200 lbs.)

Phil Espostio explains how the photo came to be in his book "Thunder and Lightning", some of which we can repeat here.

"Carol Vadnais was acquired in a trade with the California Golden Seasls late in the 1971-72 season. We were skating around the Boston Garden during the warm-up before a game, and in the stands behind the net was this huge man with a gigantic head and an afro haircut. I had never seen anyone like him in my life.

I said, "Who the hell is that? Look at that guy!"

Vad said, "That's my buddy, Andre the Giant."

"The wrestler?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

After the game Andre came into the dressing room. I used to have a picture of Andre holding me up in one arm and Bobby Orr in the other.

We knew this girl who was gorgeous, but who love the Bruins so much she would do absolutely anything for us, and we fixed her up with Andre. We all went out after the game to have drinks. We were in a place on Commonwealth Avenue that had a bar and a swimming pool inside. I'll tell you how big Andre was. He ordered a beer, and when he held it, he only needed two fingers to cover that can of beer.

At one o'clock the manager came and asked us all to leave. We were all together, and Bobby Orr said something to Andre, and Andre picked the guy up and threw him into the swimming pool! The cops came and we left."

His fame, as well as his frame, continued to grow, as Andre was paired with boxer Chuck Wepner in a 1976 "boxer vs. wrestler" match at Shea Stadium in New York in front of over 35,000 fans, which ended with Andre tossing the 6' 5" Wepner out of the ring. Andre was also the subject of a Sports Illustrated article in 1981, the kind of appeal and mass recognition that few, if any, professional wrestlers had ever achieved at that point.

Eventually Vince McMahon, Jr. would take control of the WWWF wrestling empire, shorten the name to the WWF and create the first nation-wide wrestling promotion, of which the crown jewel was "WrestleMainia". For WrestleMania III in 1987, in the headline match saw Andre the Giant squared off against Hulk Hogan at the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan in front of a sold out crowd of 93,173 and generated $10 million in pay-per-view sales. He eventually became the WWF Heavyweight Champion.

Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan
Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan

Despite the increasing issues with his health, he continued to wrestle and later make appearances ringside until 1992. In 1993, when the WWF created it's Hall of Fame, Andre the Giant was the very first, and only, inductee that year.

He also crossed over into television and movie roles, well known for his portrayal as Sasquatch in the TV series "The Six Million Dollar Man" and most notably for his role as "Fezzik" in the movie "The Princess Bride".

Andre passed away at the age of 46 in his sleep from a heart attack on January 27, 1993 in Paris, France.

In honor of Andre the Giant, today we take a look at some giant hockey jerseys.

The United States Women's Olympic team toured with an oversized promotional jersey in their Qwest Tour exhibition season leading up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. There were actually two of them made by Nike at a cost of $1,000 each. Aside from the fact the jerseys are 26 feet wide from cuff to cuff and 17 feet tall, they are the same as a regular jersey, only on a much bigger scale.

2010 USA giant jersey

Another notable jersey, 10 feet tall and 20 feet wide, is an Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky jersey made for the Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp VII in 2009, which consists of 23 yards of fabric, compared to three for a normal jersey, which took seamstress Patsy Elmer approximately 35 hours to complete. After the conclusion of the fantasy camp, the jersey now resides in an arena in the Frank Lacroix Arena in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Giant Gretzky jersey

Another enormous jersey decorated the statue of William Penn on top of City Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1997 when the Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The statue measures 37 feet tall, making the jersey 16 feet tall in our estimation.

William Penn Flyers jersey

The Field Museum in Chicago has gotten on the Blackhawks bandwagon, dressing their three story high cast iron Brachiosaurus statue in a Jonathan Toews jersey for the playoffs recently.

Field Museum Dinosaur jersey

Perhaps the most famous oversized jersey is the Detroit Red Wings jersey, traditionally used to dress the 26 foot tall Spirit of Detroit statue in downtown Detroit since they made the finals in 1997. The jersey has actually undergone several variations, including sporting the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals and Believe patches, a very nice touch and great attention to detail.

Spirit of Detroit 1998

In 2009 the statue was dressed in a new, undersized and absurdly tight Reebok jersey, more fitting for Johnny Weir than Johan Franzen, which will apparently make the Spirit of Detroit 9% faster than before...

Spirit of Detroit 2009

Other Detroit landmarks have seen Red Wings jerseys make appearances during the Stanley Cup Finals, with both the statues on the Wayne County Building and the Tiger statues outside of Comerica Park getting into the spirit.

Other Red Wings jerseys

If you are aware of any additional oversized hockey jerseys, we'd love to hear about them. Either post them in the comments below, or email us with the details.

Today's video section kicks off with the Spirit of Detroit getting dressed for the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. Or is it the 2009 US Figure Skating Championships?

Next up is the famous match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan from WrestleMania III.

Here are recollections by those involved in the movie of Andre playing "Fezzik" in the Princess Bride.

Does Andre the Giant have a connection to a current NHL team captain? Here is evidence that suggests there very well may be one...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

1970-71 Montreal Canadiens Ken Dryden Jersey

For the first time in 23 years, the 1969-70 Montreal Canadiens missed out on the playoffs, despite a 38-22-16 record for 92 points. They finished with an identical record to the New York Rangers, but lost out on the final day of the season when the second tiebreaker, after number of wins, total goals scored, went to the Rangers 246-244 when the Rangers outscored Montreal 9-2 on the final day of the season.

So dominant was the East Division, which was comprised of the Original 6 teams, over the West Division's 1967 expansion clubs, that fifth place Montreal's 92 points were 6 more than the West Division winning St. Louis Blues 86 and 28 more than the second place Pittsburgh Penguins!

Changes were made for the 1970-71 season when the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks were added to the league and placed in the East Division, while the Chicago Black Hawks were moved to the West.

Montreal started their campaign with 4 wins and 8 of their first 12. By the end of December they were 16-11-8, having lost just once in their last 10. After an indifferent January, where the Canadiens were 6-5-3, Montreal found their game in February, finishing the month 10-1-1.

The Canadiens cooled off a bit the rest of the way, which saw the quiet debut of a rookie goaltender named Ken Dryden on March 14th.

Dryden Montreal, Dryden Montreal
Dryden joined the Canadiens late in the 1970-71 season

Dryden, an unusual case, having been drafted back in 1964, had elected to attend Cornell University in the United States rather than immediately devote himself fulltime to hockey. After having won 76 of 81 starts, including an NCAA national championship in 1967 at Cornell, Dryden had been playing for the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL that season while working toward his law degree from McGill University by day.

Dryden Cornell, Dryden Cornell
Dryden took the unconventional route of United States college hockey to
the NHL, which included winning an NCAA championship while at Cornell

He won his first game over the Pittsburgh Penguins, allowing just one goal and making 35 saves. Phil Myre would start the next game, allowing 6 goals in a loss to St. Louis. Dryden got the next stars, defeating the rival Toronto Maple Leafs after holding them to just one goal on March 18th.

March 20th saw history made, as Rogie Vachon started the game for Montreal, but was injured during the second period and replaced by Dryden. Once he entered the game, Punch Imlauch of the Buffalo Sabres, with a sense of history, inserted Ken's brother Dave Dryden into the Sabres lineup, the first time two brothers had faced each other in goal during an NHL game. Ken was the eventual winner among the four goalies who saw the ice that night, despite the two brothers having an identical 12 saves on 15 shots.

Ken and Dave Dryden, Ken and Dave Dryden
Ken and Dave Dryden meet at center ice following
a game where they faced each other, as was their custom

Dryden then defeated the Rangers the following day 6-2. Vachon got the win on March 24th followed by Myre winning on the 27th. Dryden's turn came next on the 28th and he outdueled the Chicago Black Hawks Tony Esposito 2-1. March 31st saw the Bruins shell Vachon for 6 goals in a loss prior to Dryden winning 7-2 against the Rangers on April 3rd before it was Myre's turn to get hammered by the Bruins, 7-2 on the final day of the season.

After going 10-6-1 to finish the season, the Canadiens final record of 42-23-13 gave them 97 points in the standings (fourth overall) and returned the Canadiens to their familiar place in the playoffs, but it left Montreal coach Al MacNeil with a decision to make, as the rookie Dryden clearly had the hot hand, going 6-0-0 with a 1.65 goals against average entering the playoffs after just having watched their first round opponent Boston tear apart his two veterans.

Dryden lost Game 1 by a score of 3-1, and gave up 5 in Game 2, only Montreal scored 7 of their own to even the series. Back in Montreal for Game 3, Dryden held the Bruins to just 1 for the win. Boston again came back strong to win Game 4 by a score of 5-2. The Bruins were even strong back in Boston for Game 5, a dominant 7-3 win. Still, MacNeil stuck with Dryden for Game 6 back at home, where 8 goals by the Canadiens were more than enough to stay alive for a Game 7 back in Boston. Dryden responded to the pressure like an established veteran, not a rookie playing in only his 13th game, as he made 46 saves to out duel Gerry Cheevers 4-2 and eliminate the first overall Bruins in a seventh game on the road.

Dryden Montreal, Dryden Montreal
Dryden, still wearing his "pretzel style" mask early in his career

After eliminating the Minnesota North Stars in six games, including two wins on the road, Montreal advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals to take on the West Division winning Chicago Black Hawks, who finished 10 points ahead of the Canadiens in the regular season standings.

Dryden vs Minnesota, Dryden vs Minnesota
Montreal versus Minnesota in the second round of the playoffs

Game 1 of the finals in Chicago went to overtime tied at 1-1 before Chicago won a minute into the second overtime. The Black Hawks won Game 2 at home 5-3 but Dryden held Chicago to 2 goals in Games 3 and 4 as Montreal evened the series 2-2.

Esposito shut out the Canadiens back in Chicago to put Montreal on the brink. A dramatic Game 6 saw the Canadiens trailing 3-2 when Frank Mahovlich tied the game at 5:10 from captain Jean Béliveau and Peter Mahovlich saved the day with a shorthanded game winner from brother Frank at 8:55. Dryden made 27 saves on 30 shots while Esposito only faced 16 shots from Montreal.

Once again, the rookie Dryden was facing a Game 7 on the road against a higher seeded team, only now in a winner-take-all 60 minutes with the Stanley Cup going to the survivor on this date in 1971. Dennis Hull scored a power play with 48 seconds remaining in the first period from his brother Bobby Hull and Cliff Koroll. Chicago's lead was extended to two with Danny O'Shea's goal from Pit Martin at 7:33 of the second.

Jacques Lemaire got Montreal on the board at 14:18 from Jacques Laperrière followed by Henri Richard tying the game at 18:20 from Lemaire, sending the game into it's final 20 minutes even.

At 2:34 of the third period, Richard put Montreal ahead for the first time in the game with an even strength goal from Réjean Houle and Guy Lapointe. Dryden would hold Chicago off the board for the entire second half of the game, making 31 saves in all to lead Montreal to the Stanley Cup championship despite only having six regular season games of experience.

Dryden vs Chicago, Dryden vs Chicago
Rookie Dryden shut down Chicago in the Stanley Cup Finals

The win for Montreal on the road was the only game in the series not won by the home team.

It was quite a turnaround for Montreal, who had failed to even qualify for the playoffs the previous season and even more of a surprise considering their unsettled goaltending situation heading into the playoffs.

Also of note, winning the championship was a fine way for the Canadiens captain Béliveau to go out in style, as he had just played in the final game of his career, leaving the ice as a champion with the Stanley Cup in his arms, the 10th of his career.

Jean Beliveau Stanley Cup 1971, Jean Beliveau Stanley Cup 1971
Béliveau accepts the 1971 Stanley Cup following the final game of his career

The 23-year-old rookie Dryden would be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. He played all 20 of Montreal's postseason games, finishing with a 12-8 record and a 3.00 goals against average, with five of those wins coming on the road and two of those being in Game 7's.

Remarkably, Dryden would go on to win the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year the following season, despite already having won the Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup! Winning a Stanley Cup as the playoff MVP was a feat no other player had ever done before or since.

Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 Montreal Canadiens Ken Dryden jersey from the season in which the Canadiens would capture their 17th Stanley Cup championship during Dryden's first season with the club and Béliveau's 20th and last.

This style jersey dates back to 1941 and, aside from a version with a blue stripe around the chest for three years in the late 40's, has remained essentially unchanged ever since.

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1970-71 Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau jersey as worn during his final game as he skated off the ice as a Stanley Cup champion. The Canadiens first wore a red jersey with a blue band across the chest adorned with a white "C" back in the 1912-13 National Hockey Association season due to complaints by the Ottawa Senators that Montreal's blue, white and red barberpole jersey was too similar their black, red and white barberpole jersey.

The red jersey with the blue band became their primary jersey for the 1913-14 NHA season, now with a C that contained the letter A, which stood for the team's official name of "Club athletique Canadien".

Four seasons later, a change in ownership saw the team now wearing the now iconic "CH" logo as the team name was changed to "Club de hockey Canadien".

 photo Montreal Canadiens 1970-71 jersey.jpeg
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section starts with highlights of Game 7 of the Canadiens first round series against Boston. Two pad stack!

Next, the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals, scored with the always funky 1970's background music. Be sure to note the old Chicago Stadium scoreboard with it's clock dials!

Here is fellow goaltender John Davidson narrating a look at the career of Dryden, highlighting the incredible beginning of Dryden's career before summarizing the remainder of his career.

Here is Dryden, telling about his career from his point of view, as part of the Legend of Hockey series.


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