Friday, May 5, 2017

The 2017 IIHF World Championships - 2005 Germany National Team Robert Müller Jersey

The 2017 IIHF World Championships begin today in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany and run through the bronze and gold medal games on Sunday, May 21st.

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The tournament has been co-hosted by multiple countries on three previous occasions, the first being in 1930 when the event was held as its own stand alone event for the first time. (The three previous "World Championships" were  Olympics hockey tournaments which counted as that year's world championships.) The 1930 event was held in Chamonix, France, Berlin, Germany and Vienna, Austria.

It would take until 2012 for the second shared event when Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden with Helsinki's Hartwall Arena hosting the Semifinals and Finals. Then, in 2013, Finland and Sweden again shared the hosting duties, only this time with the Globe Arena in Stockholm hosting the Semifinals and Fnals.

Now, four years later, Germany and France are sharing the event, with the quarterfinals shared between the AccorHotels Arena in France and the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, with the Semifinals and Finals being held in Cologne.

Of note, the other bid to host the 2017 tournament was a proposed as a shared event between Copenhagen, Denmark and Riga, Latvia.

France has hosted the event 5 times previously, first in 1924 in Chamonix as host of the Olympics and again in 1930 as previously mentioned. Paris was the site of the 1951 stand alone event and Grenoble, France in 1968 as hosts of the Olympics.

Germany was one of the co-hosts in 1930 and again as hosts of the 1936 Olympics. They hosted in 1955, 1975 and 1983 as West Germany, and in the reunified Germany in 1993, 2001 and 2010 for eight previous tournaments.

This year's event sees the 16 teams divided into two different groups, playing from May 5th to the 16th, with the last place team in each group relegated to Division I Group A for 2018 and the top four teams in each group advancing to the Playoff Round from May 18th to 21st.

Group A in Cologne sees Russia (ranked 2nd in the IIHF World Rankings), the United States (4), Sweden (6), Slovakia (7), host Germany (9), Latvia (13), Denmark (12) and Italy (18) with all games at the 18,500 capacity Lanxess Arena, home of the Cologne Sharks of the DEL.

Group B in Paris consists of Canada (1), Finland (3), the Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (8), Belarus (10), Norway (11), host France (14) and Slovenia (15) with all games at the 15,000 seat AccorHotels Arena.

Despite being the capital of France, Paris does not have a team in the French Ligue Magnus, the top level of club hockey in France. The AccorHotels Arena was the host of the final of the Coupe de France hockey tournament from 2007 to 2014 and again in 2016 and 2017.

The broadcast schedule for United States games on the NBC Sport Network in the US is a disappointment to be frank. Their opening game today against Germany is not being shown live. In fact, only two of the American Preliminary Round games will be live, on Wednesday, May 10th against Italy at 10:15 AM EST and their game in Tuesday, May 16 versus Russia, also at 10:15 AM eastern.

All other US games will be streamed live on and their app. Games against Germany (3/5), Denmark (5/7), Sweden (5/8), Latvia (5/13) and Slovakia (5/14) will be shown on a late evening tape delay basis after the day's NHL playoff coverage has concluded. The Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Bronze and Gold Medal games sadly all appear to be live streaming only affairs with no mention of airtime on NBCSN.

On the other hand, TSN in Canada looks to have every game of the tournament (not just games involving Canada) on its family of networks with less than a handful only being streamed.

Today begins with Group A action with first Sweden taking on Russia and then the United States facing Germany, while in Group B, Finland meets Belarus followed by the Czech Republic versus Canada.

The France National Hockey Team made its first international appearance back on January 23, 1909. They have played in ten Olympic Games with a high of fifth place in 1920 and 1924. Most recently, the had an unbroken run of participation from 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998 and finally at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City where they were coached by none other than Miracle on Ice architect Herb Brooks. After that run of five straight Olympics, the French have failed to qualify for the last three Games.

The French co-hosted the first stand alone World Championships in 1930, which was also responsible for their best ever finish of sixth. They have been regular participants since then. As the number of member of the IIHF grew, and more levels of play were added, the French were placed in the B Pool for three years.

After eight years away from the World Championships, France returned in 1961 and were placed in the C Pool and earned a promotion the first time out. They played three seasons in the B Pool before a two year drop back down to the C Pool in 1966 and 1967. They played in the B Pool again in 1968, but were immediately relegated to the C Pool once again, where they remained for the next 13 years.

Finally, in 1985, they won a promotion to the B Pool for the next five years. For the 1992 World Championships, the field expanded from 8 to 12, and as a result, the 1991 B Pool promoted four teams up to the expanded Top Division for 1992, with France among them.

Their stay in the Top Division lasted nine years until going down to Division I Group A for 2001. They won Division I Group B in 2003 and were promoted for one year before returning to Division I for three more seasons. Finally, in 2007 they won the Division I Group A and have remained at the top level ever since, despite three 14th place final rankings, one out of a relegation spot. During their most recent stay at the top level, France did achieve a 9th place in 2012 and a best of 8th in 2014, which included wins over Canada in a shootout, Slovakia, Denmark, Norway in a shootout and a point from an overtime defeat by the Czech Republic.

Bordeleau France 2008 photo BordeleauFranceTBTC.jpg
Sebastian Bordeleau celebrates a goal at the 2008 World
Championships while wearing the French throwback jersey

To date, 12 French players have played in the NHL, with the first being Philippe Bozon of the St. Louis Blues.

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Philippe Bozon as a rookie with St. Louis

The Dallas Stars Antoine Roussel is the leading scorer among French players, currently with 59 goals and 124 points, while former Montreal Canadien Sebastien Bordeleau is second with 98. Additionally, Cristobal Huet is the only French goaltender in NHL history, who acquitted himself well with 129 victories.

Today's first featured jersey is a Nike 2002 France National Team Philippe Bozon jersey as worn in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

The jersey features a subtle black cross pattern running down the length of the arms. It's somewhat easier to see on the white jerseys, as the blue stripe is not lost in the sea of blue as on the road jerseys. One wonders why the blue stripe on the blue jerseys was not changed to either red or white for increased contrast and greater visibility for the black cross design.

France 2002 jersey photo France2002F.jpg
France 2002 jersey photo France2002B.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2004 France National Team Sebastien Bordeleau jersey. France adopted his style jersey with it's distinctive rooster logo for the 1998 and wore it again in the 2002 Olympics, as well as a number of World Championships during that time period through 2004.

France 2004 jersey photo France2004F.jpg
France 2004 jersey photo France2004B.jpg

The Germany National Ice Hockey Team have participated in the Olympics in ice hockey 20 times since 1928, with nine of those being as Germany. Three of the teams were called the United Team of Germany during the split between East and West Germany in 1956, 1960 and 1964, but it was actually just the West German Team, which defeated the East German team for the right to represent all of Germany as one "United" team.

Following that ill-fated "united" concept, Germans have also participated seven times as West Germany and once as East Germany in 1968, the only time West Germany and East Germany each sent separate teams to the same Olympic Games, with the West prevailing by a score of 4-2.

East Germany West Germany 1968, East Germany West Germany 1968
East Germany in their only Olympic meeting against West Germany in 1968

Germany's best results have been bronze medals in 1932 as Germany and in 1976 as West Germany.

The Germans are regular participants in the World Championships, having been in the Top Division of the World Championships every year since the reunification of Germany in 1991 except three, with two of those years successfully earning promotion back to the Top Division. Their best finish during that time period was a 5th place in 1993.

While not considered one of the elite countries in hockey, they are just outside of the top group and were been invited to participate in the six team 1984 Canada Cup tournament and the eight team World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and 2004. In 2016, the competition formed a "Team Europe" to allow NHL stars from smaller nations like Slovenia to participate, with Germany having six players on the European roster, second only to Slovakia's seven.

To date 35 Germans have played in the NHL, led by Marco Sturm's 938 games played and 487 points. Jochen Hecht (833 games played), Dennis Seidenberg (831), Christian Ehrhoff (789), Uwe Krupp (729), goaltender Olaf Kolzig (719) and Marcel Goc (636) have all played more than 500 NHL games. Following Sturm in points are Hecht (463), Ehrhoff (339), Krupp (281) and Seidenberg (246).
The logo for the 2017 IIHF World Championships incorporates the image of the late German goaltender Robert Müller.

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Müller began his career with the Star Bulls Rosenheim in the German Junior hockey league in the 1996-97 season. That same season, Müller also made his international debut with Germany at the 1997 European Junior Championships, the first of many such appearances in international competitions for the young goaltender.

His second season saw him compete with EHC Klostersee in the German second division as well as making a return to the European Junior Championships B Pool, where he was named the Best Goalkeeper at the tournament.

In 1998-99 Müller returned to his hometown Star Bulls Rosenheim, only now in the senior level German DEL. In addition to moving up to the DEL, he also made his senior level international debut at the World Championships B Pool in 1999.

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Müller made his DEL debut with Star Bulls Rosenheim

Müller was back with Star Bulls for a final season in 1999-00 and then competed in both the World Juniors B Pool and the World Championships B Pool where he played two games as Germany successfully won promotion to the A Pool with a 6-1 record.

For the 2000-01 season, Müller joined Adler Mannheim (Mannheim Eagles), who dominated the league with a 40-16-4 record for first place overall and then defeated the Berlin Capitals, Hannover Scorpions and the Munich Barons to win the DEL championship. He also competed in qualifying for the following year's Olympics as well as the 2001 World Championships at home in Germany. Following the season, Müller was selected in the 9th round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, who also employed Müller's Germany National Team teammate and fellow goaltender Olaf Közig.

It was back to the Mannheim Eagles for 2001-02, a season which also saw Müller appear in the DEL All-Star Game as well as making his Olympic debut in Salt Lake City followed by another World Championships later that spring.

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Müller during one of his many international appearances for Germany

Müller was again on the move for the 2002-03 season, as he joined the Krefeld Penguins (Krefeld Penguine) as their undisputed number one goaltender, appearing in 47 of the team's 50 regular season games. While Krefeld finished mid-pack during the regular season, 7th out of 14, it was enough to become one of the eight playoff qualifiers. Once the playoffs began, Krefeld easily handled the 3rd ranked DEG Metro Stars 4-1 before knocking off the top ranked Berlin Polar Bears 3-1. Proving that was no fluke, Müller won his second DEL title after the Penguins defeated the second seeded Cologne Sharks in the finals 3 games to 2 with Müller in goal for all 14 of Krefeld's games. He concluded his season with the Germany National Team at the 2003 World Championships.

Krefeld Pengins 2003 champions photo KrefeldPengins2003champions.jpg
The Penguins celebrating Müller's second
DEL championship trophy in 2003

His second season with Krefeld again saw him handle the vast majority of the games, appearing in 49 of their 52 games. Also that season, during the Christmas break, Müller and the Penguins travelled to Switzerland to participate in the annual Spengler Cup tournament. With Krefeld failing to qualify for the postseason, Müller joined EHC Basel in the Swiss National League A in their effort to avoid relegation for the following season. Müller then made his now customary appearance at the World Championships, his sixth consecutive time making the German squad.

Muller Spengler Cup photo MullerSpenglerCup.jpg
Müller competing at the 2003 Spengler Cup tournament for Krefeld

Prior to the start of the 2004-05 season, Müller played for Germany at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Once the DEL season would get underway, Müller would play 47 of the Penguins 52 games. He would again fulfill his international duties at the World Championships, which would not go Germany's way, as they were relegated for the 2006 season.

Muller Germany photo MullerGermany2005.jpg
Müller during the 2005 World Championships

His fourth season with Krefeld would see the workhorse Müller now set a personal high with 51 appearances out of  a possible 52 as Krefeld returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2001. He would also participate in his second Olympic Games during 2006 before Germany sought to return to the Top Division of the World Championships, which required them to participate in the Division I Group A Worlds in France.

Muller Germany photo Muller2006Olympics.jpg
Getting ready for battle during the 2006 Olympics, his second Games

Germany announced their intentions of a quick return with an opening 11-2 win over Israel. Müller then made his first start in fine fashion, shutting out Japan 4-0. Great Britain then fell 8-0 for Müller's second consecutive blanking. He stayed unbeaten with a 6-2 win over Hungary and then recorded his third shutout in five starts over the host French 5-0 to finish the tournament with a 0.50 goals against average to earn the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament award as well as accomplishing Germany's goal of returning Germany to the Top Division on their first attempt.

He returned to Adler Mannheim for the 2006-07 season, but was limited to 23 gamesafter being diagnosed with a brain tumor in November of 2006 when he began suffering from migraine headaches. Müller underwent surgery to remove the majority of the tumor and made his return to the Eagles on February 3, 2007 at the DEL All-Star Game despite the fact he was still undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Muller Scar photo MullerScar.jpg
Müller bearing the dramatic scar of his brain surgery

Müller would start the 2007-08 season with Mannheim (5 games), but had lost his starting job and was loaned to EV Duisburg. He would play 12 games with the Foxes before he found a new home as the number one goaltender with Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks). Müller appeared in 24 games for the Sharks before leading them to the DEL finals, playing in 14 additional playoff games, including winning an epic 6 overtime game, the second longest in professional hockey history during which he faced 100 shots on goal!

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Müller moved to the Cologne Sharks in 2007-08

Having seemingly returned to full health, Müller would then make his ninth World Championship appearance for Germany at the conclusion of the season, raising his season total to 44 games played and his career total of international games to 127, which included two Olympics and a World Cup of Hockey.

Unfortunately, the brain tumor returned over the summer, which required a second operation and Müller now allowed his doctor to go public with his condition, who revealed that Müller was now terminally ill and had already exceeded the average anticipated life span of someone with brain cancer, as only 3% of people with his same diagnosis live beyond five years.

Courageously, and despite his dire prognosis, Müller returned to the ice to a thunderous ovation from the 13,000 fans in attendance on this date in 2008 to play the final eight minutes of a 5-1 Sharks win just 44 days after his second operation. Later that month Müller would see action a second time.

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The fans show their support and urge Müller to fight on

“I want to return to normality — I love the lifestyle of hockey and want to be part of the team,” he said. “For me, to be able to play ice hockey is the greatest.”

Müller said he recognized that it would be hard for him to play an entire game. But, he said, “I am delighted with every second on the ice,” and added he did not want special treatment. “If I play well, you can praise me, and if I play badly, you should criticize me,” he said.
“I have the disease, and I have to live with it.”

Muller photo Muller-1.jpg

Sadly, those two games would prove to be his last, as his doctor would no longer clear him to play as his condition worsened in December of 2008.

Müller passed away five months later on May 21, 2009 at the age of 28, two and a half years after the initial discovery of his tumor, but not before being inducted into the German Hall of Fame in March of 2009.

“We are shocked and very sad. Robert was a great personality,” Thomas Eichin, general manager of his last club Kölner Haie, said in an announcement on Friday. “He impressed us all and was an idol for many people not only as a sportsman. He will leave a big hole. Our thoughts are with his family. We wish them strength in this difficult time.”

“With his strong will, Müller inspired many people in their battle against the terrible disease,” Franz Reindl, the general secretary of the German Ice Hockey Association, said. “He showed us all what it means to never give up.”

At first, four clubs, the Cologne Sharks, Mannheim Eagles and his first senior club EHC Klostersee, as well as EHC Munich, whom he had never played for, would all retire his jersey #80. The DEL then announced that starting with the 2009-10 season that the #80 would be permanently retired league wide.

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Always popular with the fans, Müller taking the time to
sign an instantly recognizable #80 jersey

Today's second featured jersey is a 2005 Germany National Team Robert Müller jersey as worn during the 2005 IIHF World Championships which were held in Austria where Müller played in 4 games with a 2.01 goals against average and 0.92 save percentage.

This jersey carries Müller's trademark #80 he would adopted in honor of the year he was born.

For the 2005 World Championships, Nike updated or redesigned the jerseys for all the teams in the IIHF, with this striking Germany jersey being the best of the lot. This design made use of the template used by the NHL All-Star jerseys from 1998 and 1999 to a striking effect when rendered in the colors of the German flag, particularly the road black version.

Sadly, this jersey would have an all too short lifespan, as all the jerseys were completely redone for the 2006 Olympics when Nike introduced their new Nike Swift fabric and form fitting cut for the jerseys.

Of note, the 2005 World Championships was the first use of the new version of the IIHF logo patch on the back of the jerseys.

Germany 2005 80 jersey photo Germany 2005 80 F.jpg
Germany 2005 80 jersey photo Germany 2005 80 B.jpg
Germany 2005 80 jersey photo Germany 2005 80 P1.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2002 Germany National Team Robert Müller jersey. This style was first introduced in 2001 as an evolution of their much moodier 1998 Olympic jersey, now made much brighter with a change to gold now running down the arms of the jersey which was trimmed in both red and grey, as opposed to 1998's black on black body and arms separated by a single red trim stripe.

This style was worn from the 2001 World Championships through the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, but only once with the heraldic eagle crest on the upper left chest, that being the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Germany 2002 80 jersey photo Germany 2002 80 F.jpg
Germany 2002 80 jersey photo Germany 2002 80 B.jpg

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 2002-03 Krefeld Penquine Robert Müller jerseyThis jersey is a prime example of the type of graphic treatment German DEL jerseys, with an overly large team logo, corporate sponsorships, unconventional striping elements and the playful use of the team logo on the back of the jersey, which give many DEL jerseys their offbeat personalities.

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Krefeld Penguine 02-03 jersey photo KrefeldPenguine02-03Bjersey.jpg

The photos of the above jersey was generously supplied by Andy Friedmann, and if you would like to view more of his extensive and incredibly wide-ranging collection, please visit his website here.

In today's video section, Müller makes his first appearance for Cologne following his second surgery when he played in the final eight minutes of the Sharks victory.

Next, the finest of the many slideshow tributes to Müller which can be found on YouTube.

Finally, in a moving tribute, Müller's career is recapped through a highlight video and he then conducts his final TV interview upon receiving an award in March of 2009 (likely his Hall of Fame induction) as he shows the affects of his worsening condition.

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