Saturday, February 18, 2017

1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Alexander Mogilny Jersey

Born on this date in 1969, Alexander Mogliny, just 20 years old, made a choice that would affect the rest of his life.

While in Stockholm, Sweden, having just completed winning a gold medal at the 1989 World Championships, Mogilny made the life changing decision to become the first Soviet player to defect, leaving behind his family but escaping the totalitarian rule of the communist system, and iron-fisted Soviet old school coach Viktor Tikhonov in particular, whom Mogilny felt would make his life not only at the rink, but outside of hockey, miserable for years to come due to his independent nature.

Mogilny Soviet Union, Mogilny Soviet Union
Mogilny while playing for the Soviet Union National Team

The story begins at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft when the Sabres, with one of their two picks in the fifth round, selected one of the most exciting young players in the world, Alexander Mogilny with the 89th overall pick. While many Soviet players had been chosen in the NHL draft before, it was generally in much later rounds when taking a flyer on a player unlikely to ever appear in an NHL game was worth the roll of the dice with an essentially meaningless pick.

Gerry Meehan, the Sabres general manager explains, "I would never have used the draft pick if I didn’t think he would be coming,” Meehan said. “The attitude then was, ‘There’s no way this guy is going to come out. He’s too big a young star.’ It was my view that it was inevitable that, sooner or later, the Russians were going to have to let their players come and play on a world stage other than the Olympics and the World Championship.”

Gerry Meehan
Gerry Meehan

At the beginning of 1989, former Sabre Don Luce, the club's Director of Amateur Evaluation, traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to to 1989 World Junior Tournament. There, Pavel Bure and linemates Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, were finishing third (Bure) and tied for fourth (Mogliny and Fedorov) in tournament scoring while leading the Soviets to a 6-1 record and the gold medal. Luce met briefly with Mogilny in Anchorage and gave him a business card, cementing Mogilny's decision to defect at the first opportunity.
 

Mogilny Fedorov CCCP
Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov

That opportunity arrived four months later when the Soviets were given two days in Stockholm after winning the 1989 World Championship. Luce, at home in North America, received a phone call on this date in 1989 from a man who claimed to be Mogilny's agent, Sergei Fomitchev. Unsure if he was really in contact with Mogilny, he asked Fomitchev to have Mogilny repeat what he had said to him in Anchorage. Told then that he had not played very well, Mogilny had stated "I show you next game", prior to scoring a hat trick against Canada to clinch the gold medal.

After Mogilny repeated the phrase, Luce and Meehan were on a plane to Sweden three hours later, arriving midday on May 3rd. While waiting for Fomitchev to return from shopping, the got an urgent call saying Mogilny's defection had to happen right away because it would be his best opportunity to get away.

They met at a mall and drove off. The next two days were spent moving from hotel to hotel to avoid being found while Meehan worked with the U. S. Embassy to arrange the necessary paperwork.

At one point Mogilny, from the far eastern part of Russia where few players have originated from, attempted to call home and midway through the conversation the call was disconnected, giving rise to Mogilny's fears that the call had been traced and the authorities knew where they were.

The day they left they abandoned their rental car and took a taxi to the airport, and once inside the security gates, their fears of the Soviet officials was over. With that, Mogliny had become the first Soviet athlete to defect in 45 years.


 Meehan remembers, “He asked me in his broken English, ‘Am I free now?’ " And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re free.’ And he went over and had a beer. He couldn’t believe it. He said ‘free’, he didn’t say ‘safe’. He said ‘free’. I found that to be kind of poignant.”

Fedorov defected less than a year later at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle and shortly afterwards, the Iron Curtain fell allowing Bure to join the NHL without having to defect.

During his rookie season in the NHL, wearing he number 89 presented to him by the Sabres owner Seymour H. Knox III in recognition of his place in the draft where Buffalo selected him and the year of his defection, Mogilny would play 65 games, scoring 15 goals and 43 points as he became acclimated to living in North America and learning a new language and culture. "It was a huge adjustment to come to the NHL. The language barrier was the toughest part. Lack of communication affected me both on and off the ice. It also took some time to get used to the airline travel. I had to deal with a fear of flying," Mogilny recalled.


Mogilny broke into the NHL with Buffalo

He would double his goal total the following season to reach 30 for the first time.


The arrival of Pat Lafontaine in Buffalo would give Mogilny a world class teammate to work with and his point totals took another jump upwards, finishing 1991-92 with 39 goals and 84 points and became the first Russian on an NHL All-Star Team. Given a year to work together and now fully integrated into life in the United States and the NHL, Mogilny had one of the greatest seasons in league history in 1992-93. He would score 127 points from 51 assists and a remarkable 76 goals in 77 games. His 76 goals remain tied for fifth all-time in a single season with Teemu Selanne and Phil Esposito.

With Lafontaine limited to just 38 games over the next two seasons, Mogilny was named team captain in his absence, the first European to ever captain an NHL club, but his production suffered as a result of the missing Lafontaine.

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Mogilny as captain of the Sabres

He was then traded to the Vancouver Canucks and reunited with Bure for the 1995-96 season, in which he would score 55 goals and 107 points, the second highest of his career in both categories.

Mogilny Bure Canucks, Mogilny Bure Canucks 
The Russian duo of Mogilny and Bure reunited in Vancouver

After five seasons of diminishing point totals in Vancouver, from 107 to 73, then 45 twice, he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils late in the 1999-00 season, having previously enjoyed the most minimal playoff success to that point in his career, having only escaped the first round once in ten seasons.

Prior to leaving the Soviet Union, Mogilny had already, just ten days after his 19th birthday, won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics and then added he World Championship gold just days before his defection. Now with the Devils, Mogilny would see his first extended playoff run, which would eventually lead to a Stanley Cup championship. When he won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, he became just the ninth player in history to join the Triple Gold Club.

Mogilny Stanley Cup
Mogliny joined the Triple Gold Club in 2000

The move to New Jersey was a positive one for Mogilny, as he would regain his scoring touch and exceed 40 goals for only the third time in his career, with 43 goals during an 83 point season and another run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000-01.

He would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2001-02 season, where he would play for three seasons, including winning the
Lady Byng Trophy in 2003 and scoring his 1,000th point in 2003-04, before returning to the Devils for the final season of his career in 2005-06 before retiring with 473 goals and 1032 points in 990 games.

Mogilny Devils, Mogilny Devils
Mogilny had a 40 goal season while finishing his career with the Devils

Following his defection, Mogilny would never play for the Soviet Union again and he would eventually suit up for Russia just once in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, cutting short what was destined to be a fine, if not outstanding, international career.

Mogliny Russia
Mogilny's lone international appearance for Russia
came during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey

When asked following his career about the reasons for his defection, Mogilny responded, “Why did I do it? I did it for freedom. If the bird can fly and the fish can swim, you have to be able to move around the world and be free and not watched constantly. If a human being doesn’t have freedom, that’s not life. It’s like living in a cage. To me, you might as well be dead.”

Today's jersey is a 1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Alexander Mogilny jersey. This jersey sports Mogilny's distinctive #89, which is based on the year of his defection from the Soviet Union and also features the Sabres 20th Anniversary patch worn in Mogilny's rookie season following his defection earlier that year.

The Sabres wore this style from their inaugural season of 1970-71 through the 1995-96 season when a complete makeover of their identity package saw them adopt new colors and a new logo for a decade until a return to their traditional blue and gold colors, which eventually included a return to a modernized version of this classic jersey in 2010-11 after having used this style as an alternate jersey in 2006-07 and again in 2008-09 to 2009-10.

Buffalo Sabres 89-90 jersey photo BuffaloSabres89-90F.jpg
Buffalo Sabres 89-90 jersey photo BuffaloSabres89-90B.jpg
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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Vancouver Canucks Alexander Mogilny jersey during his first season in Vancouver when he scored 55 goals and 107 points, the second highest of his career.

Vancouver introduced this white home jersey in 1989-90 after a decade of wearing gold jerseys at home. This style was worn through the 1996-97 season when the club got a complete makeover, with new colors and a new logo.


Vancouver Canucks 1995-96 F jersey
Vancouver Canucks 1995-96 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2003-04 Toronto Maple Leafs Alexander Mogilny jersey from the season during which he scored his 1,000th NHL point.


The evolution of this Maple Leafs jersey began back in the 1992-93 season when Toronto adopted a brand new style jersey with a more traditional look based on a sweater first worn back in 1934-35, only now paired with their modern Maple Leafs crest. The jersey first evolved with the adoption of a modern name and number font in 1997-98. While the name remained unchanged, the curvy numbers were replaced in 2000-01 with a return to a more classic block font for the numbers, although now trimmed in blue and outlined in silver, the first time a third color had been used on a Maple Leafs jersey since World War II, when the lettering on the crest was red for a few seasons.


The retro style maple leaf secondary logo was replaced by a new "TML" monogram at the same time the number font was changed in 2000-01.


Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1988-89 CSKA Moscow Alexander Mogilny jersey from Red Army's 13th consecutive Soviet Championship League title under Tikhonov just weeks prior to Mogilny defecting to the west.

Mogilny's departure in early May after that year's World Championships in Sweden, effectively marked the end of an era for Tikhnov and the supremacy of CSKA, as prior to the following season Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov left the Soviet Union with permission of the authorities to play in the NHL, bringing to a close Red Army's unparalleled streak of championship dominance.


CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey
CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey

In today's video section, an interview with Mogliny from the 1989 World Junior Championships in January, a few months prior to his defection in April after the World Championships. He sticks to the party line quite well, giving little hint as to what was to follow, or at least that's what the interpreter tells us...



Here is a look at the some of the career highlights of Mogilny.



Here, Mogilny scores his 70th goal of the 1992-93 season, only the seventh player to reach 70 in NHL history.



Speaking of the remarkable 1992-93 season, here is a brief feature story on the partnership between Mogilny and Lafontaine.


Finally, an excellent documentary about Mogliny's defection narrated by Meehan that runs 23 minutes and is well worth your time.


Friday, February 17, 2017

2007-08 Tampa Bay Lightning Vaclav Prospal Jersey

Born on this date in 1975 in Ceske Budejovice, Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Prospal came of age during the right era, as in December of 1989 when Prospal was 14 years old, the Velvet Revolution took place in Czechoslovakia, which saw the end of communist rule, which, among other changes, allowed hockey players the freedom to come to North America to seek their fame and fortune. Three years later, the country divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

After playing two seasons for Motor Ceske Budejovice in the Czech junior leagues, highlighted by his 1992-93 season of 26 goals and 57 points in 32 games, and representing the Czech Republic at the 1993 European Junior Championships with 4 goals and 11 points in 6 games, Pospal was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.

Prospal wasted no time in coming to North America and was assigned by the Flyers to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to continue his development. He played three seasons for Hershey from 1993-94 to 1995-96. While his goal numbers were consistent (14, 13, 15), his point totals increased each season as his playmaking improved, going from 35 points to 45 and then 51.

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Prospal played three seasons with Hershey

During his time in Hershey, Prospal was allowed to leave the club to participate in both the 1994 and 1995 World Junior Championships

He would play the majority of the 1996-97 season with the Flyers new AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms where his offensive game took a major step forward, as he cut loose for 32 goals and 95 points in 63 games. This led to a call up by the Flyers to make his NHL debut and he saw action in 18 games that season, scoring his first 5 goals on his way to 15 points.

"Vinny" would make the Philadelphia roster out of training camp in 1997-98 and struggled with just 5 goals and 18 points in 41 games after suffering a fractured arm during the playoffs the previous season when he collided with a teammate during practice.

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Prospal broke into the NHL with the Flyers
while wearing jersey #45

He was then traded to the Ottawa Senators in January of 1998 with Pat Falloon and a 2nd round draft pick for the Senators Alexandre Daigle. Prospal played the final 15 games of the season with a goal and 7 points. In 1998-99, he improved to 10 goals and then more than doubled that to 22 in 1999-00, which combined with 22 assists, gave him 55 points on the year.

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The only Canadian team Prospal played for was Ottawa

Having raised his game that year, Prospal was named to the Czech Republic squad for his first ever World Championships at the senior level. The Czechs beat Norway, Japan and then Canada to win Group 3 and then hammered Italy, lost to Finland and rebounded to beat Slovakia in the Second Round. In the playoffs, the Czechs beat Latvia 3-1 and defeated Canada for a second time 2-1 to advance to the final, where they prevailed over rivals Slovakia for the second time 5-3 to earn Prospal a gold medal. During the tournament, he contributed 3 goals and 7 points in 9 games.

He returned to Ottawa for the 2000-01 season, but again had trouble finding the net, with a lone goal and 13 points in 40 games. The Senators then dealt him to the Florida Panthers for the second half of the season, where he fared little better, with just 4 goals and 16 points in 34 games.

Prospal Panthers
Prospal had a brief stint with Florida

The Panthers then sent Prospal across Florida in a trade to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2001-02 season. His offense benefited from the move, scoring 18 goals and 55 points in 2001-02 before a leap up to 79 points in 2002-03 from 22 goals and 57 assists.

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Prospal's game benefited from his trade to Tampa Bay

For the 2003-04 season, Prospal signed as a free agent with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, playing in all 82 games and scoring 19 goals and 54 points. With the Mighty Ducks out of the playoffs, he was free to participate in the 2004 World Championships for the Czechs scoring 7 points in 7 games.

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Prospal spent one season with Anaheim

That summer, Prospal was traded back to the Lightning in August, but before he could play for Tampa Bay again, he first played for the Czechs again at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Following that tournament, the NHL owners locked out the players and the season was eventually cancelled. Like many European players, Prospal returned home and played for HC Ceske Budejovice in the Czech second division, racking up 28 goals and 88 points in just 39 games as they blitzed the league with a 44-6-0-1-1 record before winning the league playoffs.

Prospal 2004 World Cup
Prospal during the 2004 World Cup of Hockey

He finished the unusual 2004-05 hockey season with a second consecutive appearance at the World Championships with 8 points in 9 games as the team won Group D with wins over Switzerland, Germany and Kazakhstan (allowing just one goal in the process) and then added a win over Slovakia before dropping a 2-1 decision to Russia and rebounding a with a 5-1 win over Belarus in the Qualifying Round. In the playoffs, the Czechs defeated the United States 3-2 and then Sweden by the same score before shutting out Canada 3-0 in the final with Prospal scoring the game winning goal for the second World Championship gold medal of his career.

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An exuberant Prospal lifts the World Championship trophy

With the NHL back in action for the 2005-06 season, Prospal responded by setting a career high with 80 points from 25 goals and 55 assists. During that season he also made the only Olympic appearance of his career, earning a bronze medal at the 2006 Games in Italy while contributing 4 goals and 6 points in 8 games.

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Prospal had a career high with 80 points in 2005-06

After a 55 point season for Tampa Bay in 2006-07, Prospal played in 62 games of the 2007-08 season (surpassing his 2006-07 point total by two in 20 less games) before he was traded back to his original club, the Flyers for the remainder of the season, scoring 14 points in 18 games.

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Prospal wore #40 during his second time in Philadelphia

Hard to believe, but the Flyers then traded Prospal to... the Lightning for his third stint with Tampa Bay! He played in all 82 games, scoring 18 goals and 45 points.

Prospal Tampa Bay 2008-
Prospal played six seasons in Tampa Bay
divided over three tours of duty with the club

For the 2009-10 season, Prospal was on the move once again, only this time to a team new to him, the New York Rangers. He recorded his fifth and final 20 goal season with exactly 20 on his way to 58 points. He returned to New York to begin the 2010-11 season, but was limited to just 29 games and 23 points due to having knee surgery.

Prospal Rangers
Prospal celebrates with Ryan Callahan

He was signed by the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2011-12 season, where he had a 55 point season which included Prospal playing in his 1,000th NHL game.

Prospal 1000 games
Vincent Lecavalier presents Prospal with a framed jersey
on the occasion of his 1,000th NHL game

For 2012-13, the NHL season was again interrupted by labor issues, and Prospal returned to HC Ceske Budejovice. In 19 games, he scored 23 points until the NHL season began in January and Prospal returned to the Blue Jackets for 48 games. He scored 12 goals and 30 points in what would be the final games of his career.

Prospal HC České Budějovice
Prospal returned to HC Ceske Budejovice in 2012

Prospal would retire with 1,108 games played with 255 goals and 510 assists with 765 points over 16 seasons. Additionally, he would win an Olympic bronze medal and two World Championship gold medals.

Today's featured jersey is a 2007-08 Tampa Bay Lightning Vaclav Prospal jersey as worn during his second of three stints he spent with the Lightning.

This jersey was first worn in 2007-08 when Reebok introduced their new Edge jersey system to much fanfare. Tampa Bay wore this style for four seasons until the look of the franchise underwent a complete makeover with a new version of their logo and new jerseys as well.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2007-08 F jersey
Tampa Bay Lightning 2007-08 B jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996-97 Philadelphia Phantoms Vaclav Prospal jersey as worn during his final season in the minors before becoming a full time NHLer later that season.

The Phantoms were formed in 1996 and were the fourth AHL team based in Philadelphia and the first since 1979. When the Flyers moved to the new CoreStates Center the decision was made to keep their original home, The Spectrum, open, but that would require a new tenant to fill the dates vacated by not only the loss of the Flyers, but also the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA.

Thus, the Flyers purchased an AHL franchise to play in the The Spectrum and become their primary AHL affiliate, ending the Flyers 12 season long agreement with the Hershey Bears.

The Phantoms were an immediate success, finishing first in the Mid-Atlantic Division their first three seasons, which included winning the Calder Cup as AHL champions during their second season of play in 1997-98. They won a second Calder Cup in 2004. Eventually, The Spectrum was slated for demolition and the Phantoms played their final season in 2008-09 before the franchise was sold and relocated.

Philadelphia Phantoms 1996-97 F jersey
Philadelphia Phantoms 1996-97 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1998-99 Ottawa Senators Vaclav Prospal jersey as worn during his first full season with the Senators.

The Senators first jerseys from their formation in 1992-93 did not have any white stripes for their first three seasons. In 1995-96, the white was added in between the red sleeve stripes, while the red waist stripe was moved to the bottom of the jersey and a white stripe added in its place. Two seasons later in 1997-98, the white sleeve numbers were changed to black for greater visibility.

The original Senators black jersey, through its evolutions, was used for seven seasons through the 1998-99 season until it was replaced by the team's red third jersey.

Ottawa Senators 1998-99 F jersey
Ottawa Senators 1998-99 B jersey

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 2011-12 Columbus Blue Jackets Vaclav Prospal jersey. The Blue Jackets introduced this radical alternate jersey for the 2010-11 season, which bore no resemblance to the teams home and road jerseys save for the use of the color blue for the body. It introduced a new primary logo and did not incorporate any of the logos from any of the team's other jerseys. It also used a new shade of blue and cream, as well as a new font for the numbers while doing away with the use of any red. This jersey remains in use today.

Prospal started his career with Philadelphia wearing #45 and then wore #13 with both Ottawa and Florida, the same number he wore in the minors with Hershey and the Phantoms, before taking #20 with Tampa Bay. He then wore #40 with Anaheim before returning to #20 when he went back to the Lightning for the second time. His return to the Flyers saw him wear #40, which he kept for his third time with Tampa Bay. It was back to #20 while with the Rangers and he wore #22 to finish his career in Columbus, the fifth jersey number of his career!

Columbus Blue Jackets 2011-12 F jersey
Columbus Blue Jackets 2011-12 B jersey
In today's video section, first, some highlights of goals scored by Prospal while with Tampa Bay.


Next, Prospal, annoyed b a deomtion down to the fourth line so Brad Richards was promoted to the first line in an effort to increase his scoring, tells it like it is after a game in a most candid interview.


Finally, in this highlight, Prospal scores a nifty backhand goal against the Detroit Red Wings.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

1936 Great Britain National Team Jon Coward Jersey

The 1936 Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in far southern Germany.

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15 teams took part in a three round format. The First Round saw the teams divided into three groups of four and one group of three teams, with the first two teams advancing to the Second Round.

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The picturesque outdoor venue for the 1936 Olympic hockey tournament

Group A saw Canada and Austria advance over Poland and Latvia. Group B was led by host Germany followed by the United States, with Italy and Switzerland eliminated. In Group C, both Czechoslovakia and Hungary moved on with France and Belgium eliminated, while in Group D, Great Britain and Sweden moved on with Japan falling by the wayside.

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Great Britain vs Sweden in Group D action

In the Second Round Group A had Great Britain winning with a 2-0-1 record followed by Canada at 2-1, keyed by a 2-1 British win over Canada as Edgar Brenchley scored with 1:30 remaining in the third period, which would have an enormous impact on the final standings. Both Germany and Hungary were eliminated from Group A, while Group B saw the United States advance to the Final Round with a 3-0 record, as did Czechoslovakia at 2-1 with both Sweden and Austria knocked out of the competition.

 photo 1936GreatBritainNationalTeam.jpg
The 1936 Great Britain National Team

Thus, in the Final Round, four teams met to determine the three medal placings in yet another round robin format, with the medals determined by their final placings in the group standings, rather than a knockout playoff format as is done today.

Rather than have Great Britain and Canada, as well as the United States and Czechoslovakia, play again, the rules called for their Second Round results to carry over to the Final Round. Thus Great Britain's surprising 2-1 win over Canada and the United States shut out the Czechs 2-0 gave the winners a leg up entering the Final Round and denied the losers the opportunity for a rematch.

Play began on February 14 as Great Britain assured itself a medal with a 5-0 blanking of the Czechs, who were then thrashed by Canada 7-0 the next day, February 15. Later that same day, Great Britain and the United States waged a scoreless battle that stretched to three overtimes before being scored as a 0-0 tie. This left Great Britain with 5 points in the standings, with the United States at 3 and their game against Canada remaining on this date in 1936, needing a win to tie for the top spot and a shot at gold through tiebreakers.

But it was not to be, as Canada defended a first period goal to defeat a tired United States 1-0 following the Americans six period marathon the day before to relegate the US to third place and the bronze medal. Their win gave Canada the silver at 2-1 and four points, leaving the British alone at the top with 5 points and as gold medal champions for the only time in their history, with the difference being Brenchley's goal during their meeting in the Second Round.

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The concluding game of the tournament, Canada vs. the United States

While the British had iced teams in both 1924 and 1928 that were largely comprised of Canadians living in the United Kingdom, in 1936 it was determined that the players must be British-born this time out. Still, nine of the 13 players had grown up in Canada and 11 had played hockey in Canada at some point in their lives. The gold medal for Great Britain marked the first time in the five Olympic hockey tournaments that Canada had not won gold, and to date, some 78 years later, the last medal won by Great Britain in Olympic hockey competition.

 photo 1936GreatBritaincelebrates.jpg
A happy Great Britain National Team celebrates

Today's featured jersey is a 1936 Great Britain Jon Coward jersey worn in the Olympics in Germany as the British upset the world of hockey to take their memorable, and only, gold medal in their history. His jersey is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

In the early days of international hockey, Great Britain won the European Championship in 1910, won a bronze at the winter Olympics in 1924, took 4th in 1928 and won gold in 1936. Following the resumption of the Olympics following World War II, Great Britain returned for the 1948 games with a 5th place but have since failed to qualify for the Olympics again. This year they won Group J in the Olympic Pre-Qualification Round over South Korea, Japan and Romania, but were eliminated during the Final Qualification Round.

Despite their absence from the Olympics since 1948, the British still compete at the World Championships, currently at the second level of the IIHF ladder system, Division I, Group A. They are ranked 22nd in the world, with their highest placing being 21st in 2011. 1993 was a high point, as they finished first in the B pool, earning their only promotion to the Top Division for 1994, especially impressive when you consider they were in the D pool as recently as 1990, a miraculous rise through the ranks, having won Group D in 1990, Group C1 in 1992 and Group B in 1993! Since that time they competed in the B Pool in 1995 through 2000 and the renamed Division I since then, avoiding relegation for 19 years now.

Coward, like many of his teammates in 1936, was born in Great Britain but learned to play hockey while living in Canada. He returned to England in 1935 and joined the Richmond Hawks of the English National League for two seasons. In addition to being a member of the 1936 Olympic team, he was on the 1937 Great Britain National Team that won a silver medal at the 1937 World Championships. In 1993, he was inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Today's video selection is some remarkable footage from the United States vs. Canada game, the outcome of which gave Great Britain their surprising gold medal.


Here is a great video, which deserves to be seen by more people, Philip Erhardt, the son of gold medal winner and Great Britain team captain Carl Erhardt showing his father's medal and other memorabilia, as well as telling stories of his father's experience in Germany, which was under control of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party by then. The hockey sticks alone are worth your time, as well as seeing his father's jersey. Simply awesome stuff.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso Jersey

Arriving on the scene in unprecedented fashion, Tom Barrasso became the only goaltender in history to make the jump directly from high school to the NHL without playing a single game of major junior, college or minor pro hockey first.

He made his debut at the age of 18, having just come off a 22-0-1 season for the Acton-Boxborough Colonials in his native Massachusetts, when he suited up for the Buffalo Sabres, who had drafted him 5th overall in 1983. He made the transition to the NHL in fine style, playing in 42 games and posting a 26-12-3 record with a 2.84 goals against average, which earned him not only the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, but also the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender that season as well, a truly remarkable achievement for someone not only so young, but so inexperienced. It was only the third time a player had won both the Calder and Vezina in the same season after Frank Brimsek and Tony Esposito.

Barrasso Sabres photo BarrassoSabres.jpg
Barrasso won both the Calder and Vezina Trophies in 1984

He would follow up his stunning debut season by first participating in the 1984 Canada Cup for the United States before sharing the Jennings Trophy with teammate Bob Sauve for the fewest goals allowed by a team for the 1984-85 season as well as making his first NHL All-Star Game in 1985. His workload increased to 54 games  that season while his goals against average dropped to 2.66 thanks in part to 5 shutouts.

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Barrasso in his USA jersey during the 1984 Canada Cup

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Sauve and Barrasso display their Jennings Trophy

Barrasso would play three additional seasons in Buffalo, including playing in the 1987 Canada Cup for the United States, before beginning the 1988-89 season by playing 10 games for the Sabres before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team on the rise with the arrival of Mario Lemieux in 1984. Barrasso would nearly equal his previous playoff experience of 12 games with Buffalo over the course of five seasons with 11 playoff games with the Penguins in 1989 alone.

Barrasso Penguins photo BarassoPenguins.jpg
Barrasso was dealt to the Penguins in 1989

After being limited to 24 games in 1989-90, Jaromir Jagr would arrive the following season and the Penguins where on their way, winning the Stanley Cup in 1991 as Barrasso led them to the playoffs with a 27-16-3 regular season record followed by a 12-7 playoff mark.

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Barrasso defending against the Minnesota North Stars during the 1991 finals

The Penguins would repeat as champions again the following season, with Barrasso winning all 16 of Pittsburgh's playoff games, which included an NHL record of 14 consecutive playoff wins, en route to a second consecutive Stanley Cup.

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Barrasso lifts the Stanley Cup for the second time

His workload reached a peak in 1992-93 with 67 games played while setting a league and career best record of 43 wins while losing just 14 and tying 5. His goals against average of 3.01 was his finest since his 2.66 back in 1985 with the Sabres.

The 1993-94 season would see Barrasso win his 253rd game on this date in 1994 with a 5-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets to become the winningest goaltender born in the United States, passing Brimsek's record which stood for 44 years.

Barrasso would miss essentially the entire 1994-95 season due to injury, playing in just two games, but rebounded with 49 games and 29 wins in 1995-96 only to suffer the same fate in 1996-97 when he was restricted to only 5 appearances. He rebounded even more strongly this time around, setting a career best goals against average of 2.07. He also reached the second highest totals of his career with 63 games played and 31 wins, which made him the first American goaltender to ever reach 300 wins.

During the 1999-00 season, after 12 seasons with the Penguins, Barrasso was dealt to the Ottawa Senators, with whom he would only play a total of seven games.

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Barrasso only played seven games for the Senators

He did not play in 2000-01 to be with his daughter while she was battling cancer, but returned for the 2001-02 season with the Carolina Hurricanes. Refreshed, he played in 34 games that season while splitting time with incumbent Arturs Irbe before a late season move to the Toronto Maple Leafs for just 4 games. Also during that season, Barrasso would return to international hockey for the first time since 1987 when he was on the roster of the 2002 US Olympic Team, with whom he won a silver medal in Salt Lake City.

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Barrasso won a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics

His career concluded with six games with the St. Louis Blues in 2002-03 before he retired as a Penguin after signing a symbolic one day contract.

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Barrasso's final team in the NHL was with St. Louis

His career totals were 777 games played, 369 wins, two Stanley Cups, a Calder, Vezina and Jennings trophy, an Olympic silver medal and NHL records for most points and assists by a goaltender with 48 and the record for Most Consecutive Playoff Wins and Most Playoff Wins in a Season. 2009 would see Barrasso inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Toady's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso jersey as worn on this date when he set a new record for most wins by an American goaltender when he passed Brimsek's record, which had stood since his retirement in 1950.

The Penguins debuted their new, modern jerseys in 1992-93 after having worn their original skating penguins logo since their second season of 1968-69. This jersey broke new ground with it's pointed shoulder yoke and remained in use through the 2001-02 season.

Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94Fjersey.png
Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94Bjersey.png

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1993-94 Pittsburgh Penguins Tom Barrasso jersey . This is the road half of the Penguins 1993-94 set. One of our favorite jerseys ever, this jersey was a fantastic mix of new and old, with the classic diagonal "Pittsburgh" cresting taken from the Penguins original sweaters from their 1967-68 debut season paired with their sleek, new modern penguin logo on the shoulders. These jerseys served the Penguins well through the 1996-97 season until being replaced by their odd, depressing and asymmetrical alternate jersey in 1997-98.

Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94RFjersey.png
Pittsburgh Penguins 93-94 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins93-94RBjersey.png

Today's video segment begins with an interview with Barrasso on the occasion of his induction into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, where he discusses his entry into the NHL at such a young age as well as the rest of his career.


Never one to back down, Barrasso engages in a fight while with the Sabres.


 

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