Saturday, June 17, 2017

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett Jersey

Perhaps no other players personifies life in the World Hockey Association better than John Garrett. Born on this date and drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Garrett, faced with the prospect of life in the minor leagues riding buses and playing in a dingy old rink for little pay while trying to crack an NHL lineup instead cast his lot with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA for a higher salary, playing time in a top professional league in a brand new, state-of-the-art arena, featuring cutting edge clear dasherboards! It was a no-brainer for many minor league players in the early 1970's to make the jump to the WHA.

In Minnesota, Garrett split time with former US Olympian Mike Curran, before becoming the number one goalie in 1974-75 with 58 appearances and a 30-23-2 record. The following season Garrett had already played in 52 of the Fighting Saints 59 games, going 26-22-4, when the franchise folded mid-season.

Garrett Fighting Saints
Minnesota Fighting Saint John Garrett - note the clear boards behind him

Garrett's services were then snapped up by the Toronto Toros where their unsettled goaltending situation saw six different men play at least seven games, with none more than 26. While Garrett remained with the franchise for the next two seasons, nothing in the WHA was that simple, as the franchise relocated for the 1976-77 season to the deep south of the United States, finding a new home in Birmingham, Alabama of all places!

Garrett Bulls
Garrett joined the Toros after the Fighting Saints folded

Garrett's veteran experience and strong play immediately earned him the starting job and he patrolled the crease for 65 games that season and he was named a First Team WHA All-Star. He also played in 58 games in the 1977-78 season when the "Baby Bulls" were stocked with several players under the age of 20, something never before tried in major professional hockey.

Garrett Bulls
Garrett with his excellent snorting bull mask in Birmingham

A trade in September saw him dealt to the New England Whalers where he split the goaltending duties with Al Smith for the final season of the WHA. For 1979-80, the Whalers, now renamed the Hartford Whalers, joined the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

During his time in the WHA, Garrett saw and lived through it all. A franchise folding mid-season, a franchise relocation, a trade and eventually a change in leagues!

Garrett led the Whalers in appearances in 1979-80 and 1980-81 with 52 and 54, respectively. With the Whalers failing to qualify for the playoffs in 1981, Garrett was chosen to be a member of Team Canada at the World Championships.

Garrett Whalers
Garrett with the Whalers in their new NHL era jerseys

He began the 1981-82 season with Hartford prior to being traded to another WHA refugee club, the Quebec Nordiques in January of 1982 to back up Dan Bouchard.

Garrett Nordiques
Garrett was traded to Quebec in 1982

With Bouchard again getting the majority of the playing time in 1982-83, and the Nordiques wanting to make room for future starter Clint Malarchuk, Garrett was again dealt in February 1983 to the Vancouver Canucks. While he was unable to displace established starter Richard Brodeur, Garrett did play three seasons in Vancouver to close out his NHL career.

Garrett Canucks
Garrett's final stop in his NHL career was with the Canucks

Garrett's career concluded with 530 games played, 216 wins, 242 losses and 52 ties between the two leagues combined.

John Garrett masks
John Garrett's goalie mask history

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett jersey. The Fighting Saints original jerseys featured the "S" logo and were worn for the first half of their first season before being replaced by the "little saint" logo. None of the original Fighting Saints jerseys survived, as they had their crests removed and were given to the local Hastings High School to reuse.

Fighting Saints jerseys are some of the most sought after of the WHA game worn jerseys, thanks in part to their classic look, fantastic logo, die-hard fan base and limited availability.

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints
1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints

Bonus Jersey: Our bonus jersey is a 1977 WHA All-Star John Garrett jersey as worn in the game in Hartford, Connecticut, won by the East All-Stars 4-2.

1977 WHA All-Star jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus Jersey: Our extra bonus jersey is a 1982-83 Vancouver Canucks John Garrett jersey. Moving forward in Garrett's career, he joined the NHL with the Whalers inclusion in the expansion in 1979-80 and made his way to Vancouver after a stint with the Nordiques in between.

Vancouver had debuted their controversial "flying V" jerseys in 1978-79 with one color black number and single color orange names. In Garrett's first season with the Canucks, the numbers became a sharp looking two color, as the black was now outlined in the orange, while the names were changed to a higher contrast black from the original orange. This was also the first season when the sleeve numbers moved to the more traditional location at the top of the arms, having originally been down at the wrists!

Today's extra bonus jersey has had Garrett's original nameplate removed unfortunately.

 photo Garrett Canucks gold.jpg
Note the excessive length of the jersey, which is
bordering on the proportions of a ladies dress

Sharp eyed readers will notice the proportions of this jersey being "off", as the team has lengthened the jersey considerably, making look not unlike a dress when worn by Garrett, in an effort to surreptitiously reduce the size of Garrett's five hole between his legs!

 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 B jersey.jpg

Extra extra bonus Jersey: Our extra extra bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Vancouver Canucks John Garrett jersey.

This jersey displays an interesting history, having originally been worn by teammate Brodeur as a #35 jersey, which was then converted to #31 for Garrett, as evidenced by traces of the original #5 digit, signs of a nameplate change as well as some of Brodeur's trademark modifications, such as the sleeves having been shortened as well as having side panels added to the body.

1984-85 was the final season for this style and the only season it was produced by CCM.

 photo Vancouver Canucks 1984-85 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1984-85 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section is a look back at the beloved Fighting Saints.

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