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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson Jersey

Perhaps no other player represents the new found freedoms and moralities, and subsequent excesses, of the 1970's more than Derek Sanderson.

Sanderson, born on this date in 1946, helped his hometown Niagara Falls Flyers win the 1965 Memorial Cup championship and became the league's leading scorer in 1967 with 101 points in 47 games.

He made his NHL debut with two games with the Boston Bruins in 1965-66 and two more the following season prior to becoming a full time member of the Bruins in 1967-68. After scoring 24 goals and 49 points, Sanderson was named the recipient of the 1968 Calder Trophy. He also had toughness to go with his offensive skills. In 48 games of junior hockey in 1965-66 Sanderson accumulated 238 penalty minutes, a trait he brought with him to the NHL with 98 PIM's his rookie season which preceded four straight years over 100. To complete his reputation as perhaps the best two way player in the game, he was also very solid in the defensive zone as well.

In his third full season in the league the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup and added a second in 1972, which gave rise to his celebrity. He also embraced the changing morals of the time like a rock star, indulging himself in spoils of fame to excess. The obvious outward signs were the dramatic changes in his appearance, as first his sideburns grew in the style of the day, followed by the lengthening of his hair as he embraced a playboy lifestyle by wearing a mink coat and diamond rings and driving his Rolls Royce when he didn't have a girl on each arm. All of this earned him the title of one of the sexiest men in America from Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Derek Sanderson
The evolution of Derek Sanderson

Following the 1972 Stanley Cup, with his value as a player and celebrity at an all time high, the Philadelphia Blazers of the brand new World Hockey Association were looking to get themselves noticed and offered Sanderson a contract worth $2.65 million, which the Bruins wisely declined to match in hindsight, making Sanderson the highest paid athlete in the world at the time.

Sanderson's time with the Blazers was an unqualified disaster due to pressure to perform, Sanderson's wild private life plus an injured shoulder and a slipped disk in his back. All of this prompted the Blazers to buy out his contract after a mere eight games, six points and 69 penalty minutes.

Sanderson Blazers
Sanderson during his brief time with the Blazers.
Notice the cigarette in his mouth!

He returned to the Bruins for 25 games of the 1972-73 season, for what proved to be essentially a lost season of only 38 combined games, including the playoffs.

He managed less than 30 games with Boston in 1973-74 and was traded to the New York Rangers for the 1974-75 season. He rebounded somewhat on the ice with 25 goals and 50 points, but it was in New York that his drinking started to get the better of him.

Sanderson Rangers photo Sanderson Rangers.jpg
Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers in 1974

After just eight games in 1975-76, the Rangers dealt Sanderson, once called "trendy and tactless" by Sports Illustrated, and his drinking and drug problem to the St. Louis Blues where his talent was still able to see him through to 67 points in 65 games. But the downward spiral was in full effect and the 1976-77 season saw Sanderson play 65 games for the Blues, 8 games in the minors before being sold to the Vancouver Canucks for the final 16 games of the season.

Sanderson Blues photo Sanderson Blues.jpg
Sanderson's off-ice issues limited him to
less than two full seasons in St. Louis

He began the 1977-78 season out of hockey, but made a late season signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 1978, scoring his final four NHL points in 13 games before his hobbled knees and otherwise deteriorating physical condition led to his retirement.

Sanderson Penguins photo Sanderson Penguins.jpg
Sanderson's last stop was with the Penguins

After a series of bad investments and his continued alcoholism and drug problems, Sanderson found himself broke, having blown $3 million by his own estimate, and out of a job and living in a park while his poor health had him reduced to getting around on crutches. Finally after several years, thanks in part to former teammate Bobby Orr, Sanderson began to get the help he needed in rehab. Orr stuck with him until the cure finally took hold - after 13 drug and alcohol clinics, where doctors told him he was addicted to 11 different drugs.

Once back on his feet, literally and figuratively, after no less than five hip replacement surgeries due to decaying bones caused by years of drug abuse, for which he cannot take pain medication for fear of an addiction relapse, he began a career as a sportscaster and also eventually provided financial advice to young athletes to help ensure that they did not end up losing all their money in the same way he once did. He currently also in involved in with several charitable organizations, making guest appearances to use his celebrity to raise awareness and money for their causes.

 photo Sanderson now.jpg
A healthy and happy Sanderson today

His final NHL career totals were 598 games played with 202 goals and 250 assists for 452 points and amassed 911 penalty minutes.

In 2012, Sanderson published his story in "Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original"



Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey as worn when Sanderson and the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup, the first of two in Sanderson's career.

Sanderson was first assigned #23 with the Bruins and then #16 when he became a regular member of the roster. Following his return after his brief stay in Philadelphia he wore #27 for a year, then changing to #17. He wore #4 in New York before a change to #16. He wore #19 in St. Louis and again Vancouver but was able to reclaim his preferred #16 in Pittsburgh.

1969-70 Boston Bruins
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1972-73 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. After his ill-fated singing with Vancouver of the WHA, which lasted all of eight games, Sanderson was able to return to the Bruins where he was give the #27 to wear, as #16 was now being worn by Fred O'Donnell.

Boston Bruins 1972-73 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1972-73 F jersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1972-73 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1972-73 B jersey_1.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1973-74 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. Back with the Bruins again for the 1973-74 season, Sanderson asked for a different number than the #27 he wore the previous season after his return to Boston following is buyout by the Blazers of the WHA.

Trying to get him as close to his old #16, the Bruins assigned Sanderson #17 for 1973-74. Sanderson played in 29 games before an injury ended his season. Hoping to fill the void left by Sanderson, the Bruins acquired Bobby Schmautz in February of 1974 and gave Schmautz Sanderson's #17 for the remainder of the season!

We're unsure if the Bruins knew Sanderson's time with the club was over and felt comfortable giving his number away, perhaps they knew he would be happy with a different number when he returned or perhaps it was just a matter of practicality, and #17 was one of the only remaining game jerseys ready for game use when Schmautz arrived in Boston, but it's hard to fathom an NHL team giving away a player's number in midseason while the previous wearer was still a member of the club, injured or not.

During the offseason, Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers, which ended his time with the Bruins. The fact he wore so many different numbers in Boston epitomizes Sanderson's turbulent and unsettled time with the Bruins.

Boston Bruins 1973-74 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1973-74 F jersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1973-74 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1973-74 B jersey.jpg

We start today's video section with a tribute to Sanderson, showing him at his finest as a player.


In this next video, Sanderson the broadcaster gives his thoughts on the closing of the Boston Garden.


Here Sanderson recalls Bobby Orr's game winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals that he assisted on and then gets into the topic of sobriety and his friendship with Bobby Orr, a nice way to conclude today.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins Joe Mullen Jersey

Joe Mullen, one of the best kept secrets in hockey history, attended Boston College for four years and, after finishing his college career, immediately played for the United States in the 1979 World Championships where he scored seven goals in eight games.

Mullen Boston College
Boston College Eagles captain Joe Mullen

Rather than playing for the United States at the 1980 Olympics, Mullen turned professional when he signed a contract with the St. Louis Blues due to his father's illness and subsequent financial needs of the family, causing him to miss being a part of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" United States Olympic hockey team.

St. Louis assigned Mullen to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the CHL, where he was named the league's Rookie of the Year. The following season with the Golden Eagles, he would win the league scoring title.

In 1981-82 Mullen would see 45 games in the NHL and score 59 points. After another partial season in 1982-83, Mullen would stick full time with the Blues and rewarded them with his first 40 goal season, scoring 41 goals and 85 points. The next season would see another 40 goals and hit 92 points.

Mullen Blues

Inexplicably, St. Louis would trade Mullen halfway through the 1985-86 season, along with Terry Johnson and Rik Wilson to the Calgary Flames for Ed Beers, Charles Bourgeois and Gino Cavallini.

Mullen Flames

Not breaking stride, Mullen would total a career high 44 goals that season split between the two clubs. He would top that with 47 goals the next season as he led the Flames in scoring with 87 points, along with winning the Lady Byng Trophy, and 40 more goals the year after. The Flames would put it all together in 1988-89, as Mullen would score a career high 51 goals, along with 59 assists for a career best 110 points and his second Lady Byng Trophy.

Mullen McDonald Joe N
Following a remarkable game in Flames history on March 21, 1989, Mullen celebrates his 50th goal of the season, as does Joe Nieuwendyk, while Lanny McDonald smiles after reaching both 500 goals and 1,000 points, all during the same game

During the final game of the 1988-89 season, Mullen scored a goal and picked up a pair of assists in a 4-2 Flames win over the Edmonton Oilers. The three points Mullen scored that night set a new NHL record for most points in a season by an American born player, breaking the mark of 107 set by Jimmy Carson of the Los Angeles King set the previous season.

Mullen and the Flames would finish the season by capturing the Stanley Cup after narrowly defeating the Vancouver Canucks in overtime of Game 7 in round 1 prior to sweeping the Kings in four and eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in five before defeating the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the last Stanley Cup Final played between two Canadians teams, becoming the only team to ever win the cup against the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum in it's 71 year history.

After another 36 goal season in 1989-90, Mullen would be traded again, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins prior to the 1990-91 season for a second round draft pick. The timing couldn't have been better for Mullen. Although he would only play in 47 regular season games due to injuries, his 17 points in 22 playoff games would help the Penguins capture their first Stanley Cup.

Mullen Penguins
Mullen again gets to lift Lord Stanley's cup

He would return to form with 42 goals in 1991-92 and Pittsburgh would again capture the Stanley Cup, the third of Mullen's career.

Two more 70 point seasons would follow before he was limited to 45 games in 1994-95 but did score the 1000th point of his career on February 7, in 1995 in Pittsburgh, making him the 42nd player to reach 1000 points but only the first American to ever do so.

Mullen Penguins

He would sign as a free agent with the Boston Bruins for the 1995-96 season and play in 37 games, scoring 8 goals. After the season, Mullen would be named the 1995 winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy.

Mullen would return to Pittsburgh for his final NHL season. With just ten games remaining in the season, Mullen would score the 500th goal of his career, only the 25th player and first American to ever reach that hallowed milestone.

Internationally, despite missing out on the 1980 Olympics, Mullen would suit up for the United States during the 1984, 1987 and 1992 Canada Cup tournaments. After having retired from hockey in 1997, He would return one more time at age 42 to play for the United States in a qualifying tournament for the 1999 World Championships.

Mullen was selected as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame on this date in 2000.

Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins Joe Mullen jersey worn during the season Mullen became the first American player to ever score 1,000 points in the NHL.

The Penguins were fresh off winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992, but chose to mess with success and introduced a brand new set of jerseys for the 1992-93 season, which included dropping the "skating penguin" logo, which dated back to 1968-69, in favor of the "robo penguin", a modern, highly stylized logo, which served as the main crest of their home white jerseys and the secondary logo on their new road black jerseys.


While the white jerseys came off as quite modern, thanks to their new, graphic crest and pointed shoulder yoke, the road jerseys were an attractive melding of the old and new, as the jersey template was originally used by Pittsburgh back in 1974-75 when the team wore blue jerseys, paired with the diagonal "PITTSBURGH" cresting as used during their inaugural season of 1967-68.


Those classic elements were then mated with their modern, new logo as the secondary shoulder logo, done in a rather sizable manner, which was all executed in their current black and gold colors.


After being introduced in 1992-93, the black road jersey would last through the 1996-97 season until being replaced by the Penguins far less attractive alternate jersey, while the white home jersey continued on through 2001-02.


Pittsburgh Penguins 1994-95 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins1994-95Fjersey.jpg
Pittsburgh Penguins 1994-95 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins1994-95Bjersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1988-89 Calgary Flames Joe Mullen jersey as he wore in when he became the highest scoring American-born player in NHL history at home against the Edmonton Oilers. Calgary would go on to capture the Stanley Cup at the conclusion of the 1988-89 season, Mullen's first championship.

Calgary would continue to wear this style jersey through the 1993-94 season until it was replaced after 22 seasons of use, which included a change in logo after the franchise's relocation from Atlanta to Calgary.

Calgary Flames 88-89 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here is an interview with Mullen from May of 1991 showing off his eastern accent and talking about is unusual neck collar he wore on the ice, as seen in the photo above of him holding the Stanley Cup.


Next is Mullen from 20 years later looking back at his early days of playing roller hockey in New York City.



Here are videos of Mullen winning the Stanley Cup, first with the Calgary Flames in 1989 followed by the Penguins winning Game 6 to capture the 1991 Stanley Cup, which includes Mullen scoring a pair of the many Penguins goals and assisting on the one by Ron Francis.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

1983-84 Winnipeg Jets Dale Hawerchuk Jersey

Dale Hawerchuk scored 103 points for the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL in 1979-80 and followed up his stellar rookie season with another astonishing 45 points in 18 playoff games from 20 goals and 25 assists to lead the Royals in playoff scoring on their way to the 1980 Memorial Cup championship. He was subsequently named as the league's Rookie of the Year and Playoff MVP.

Still too young to be drafted, Hawerhcuk returned for a second season with the Royals, leading not only the team but the entire QMJHL with 81 goals and 102 assists for 183 points in just 72 games, an average of over 2.5 points per game. He tied with future NHL head coach Marc Crawford to lead the Royals in playoff points with 35 as the Royals became back-to-back Memorial Cup champions.

1990-91 Cornwall Royals team, 1990-91 Cornwall Royals team

Hawerchuk was then named the Memorial Cup MVP as well as the QMJHL Player of the Year as well as the CHL Player of the Year, making him the prime pick in the upcoming draft.

That same season Hawerchuk made his international debut for Canada, playing in the 1981 World Junior Tournament, making a name for himself with 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games.

Thanks to their distant last place finish during their second season of play in the NHL following the demise of the WHA, the Winnipeg Jets were in prime position to select Hawerchuk with the first overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft.

Hawerchuk did not disappoint, leading the Jets to an NHL record 48 point single season improvement in the standings thanks to a team leading 45 goals and 103 points, making him the youngest player to ever reach 100 points. Additionally, he played in that season's NHL All-Star Game and won the Calder Trophy as the league's Rookie of the Year.

Following the Jets early exit from the playoffs, he made his World Championships debut, scoring three times on his way to earning a bronze medal.

Another 40 goal season followed in 1982-83 before he reeled off five consecutive seasons of 100 points or more, highlighted by his stellar 1984-85 season of 53 goals and 77 assists for 130 points, all career highs, which saw him finish 3rd in the NHL scoring race. His 50th goal in 1985 made him the first Jets player to ever score 50 goals in a season in a 5-5 tie against the Chicago Black Hawks. This was also the same season when Hawerchuk was named as the Jets team captain.

Hawerchuk Jets, Hawerchuk Jets

During that stretch of 100+ point seasons from 1983-84 to 1987-88, Hawerchuk also participated in the 1986 World Championships (6 points in 8 games, earning a second bronze medal), Rendez-vous '87, in which a team of NHL All-Stars took part in a two game series against the Soviet Union, and the prestigious 1987 Canada Cup, during which he scored 4 goals and 6 points in 9 games as Canada emerged victorious.

While his streak of 100 point seasons would end in 1988-89 with "just" 96 points, he would extend his streak of consecutive 40 goal seasons to five. With the Jets missing the playoffs, Hawerchuk would captain Team Canada at the 1989 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, totaling 12 points in 10 games as the Canadians brought home a silver medal.

He would play one final season in Winnipeg before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres, along with a first round draft pick (which became Brad May) , in a blockbuster trade for Phil Housely, former Royals teammate Scott ArnielJeff Parker and Buffalo's first round pick, which the Jets used to select Keith Tkachuk.

Hawerchuk's goal scoring in Buffalo not approach is totals in Winnipeg, but his playmaking skills would come to the fore, as he helped set up snipers such as Dave AndreychukPierre TurgeonAlexander Mogilny and Pat LaFontaine, which allowed him to lead the club in scoring in 1991, 1992 and 1994, with a high of 98 points in 1991-92.

Hawerchuk Sabres, Hawerchuk Sabres

Prior to his second season with Buffalo, Hawerchuk made his final international appearance, skating once again for Team Canada at the 1991 Canada Cup, contributing 5 points in 8 games as the Canadians again won the tournament for the second time in his career.

Hawerchuk Canada, Hawerchuk Canada

For the 1995-96 season, Hawerchuk signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Blues, where he played 66 games of the 1995-96 season, which included his 500th NHL goal before a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers for the final 16 games of the season. He would return to the Flyers for the final season of his career in 1996-97, although he was limited to 51 games of the regular season, Hawerchuk closed out his career with the longest playoff run of his career which concluded with his only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Hawerchuk Flyers, Hawerchuk Flyers

Hawerchuk's final NHL totals were 518 goals and 891 assists for 1,409 points, which still ranks as #18 all-time 15 years after his retirement.

Following his career, it was announced on this date in 2001 that Hawerchuk would be one of that year's inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also had his #10 retired by the relocated Jets, now known as the Phoenix Coyotes, in 2007 and named to the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 2011.

Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Winnipeg Jets Dale Hawerchuk jersey. This style Jets jersey was first worn in 1979-80 as the Jets marked a new era in franchise history as they gained entry into the NHL. This style would be worn through 1989-90 when the club changed to a new style, and would be the only style worn by Hawerchuk while a member of the Jets.

Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey
Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 83-84 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1989 Team Canada Dale Hawerchuk jersey as he captained Canada to a silver medal at the World Championships. This jersey was produced by Tackla and featured the company's diamond shape logo along the shoulders. Tackla supplied jerseys for the World Juniors, the World Championships and the Olympics from 1987 to 1993.

Canada 1989 jersey, Canada 1989 jersey
Canada 1989 jersey, Canada 1989 jersey

Today's video section begins with one of our favorite videos of all time, Les Dale Hawerchuks performing their utterly brilliant song "Dale Hawerchuk".


Next, an extended look at the playing career of Hawerchuk.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars Merger

Our story today begins back in 1967 when the NHL expanded from six teams to 12 with the addition of the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and the focus of today's story, the California Seals and the Minnesota North Stars.

While the North Stars thrived in the hockey hotbed of Minnesota, the situation in California got off to a rocky start. San Francisco was not considered a particularly lucrative market for hockey, but the terms of the new television agreement the league had signed with CBS called for two of the six new expansion clubs to be located in California.

The Seals were supposed to have been located in San Francisco, but the planned arena was never built. Instead, the team was based across the bay in Oakland. The club was originally called the "California Seals" to appeal to fans in the larger San Francisco and address complaints from the other NHL team, who thought Oakland was not a major league city, as it's only other professional sports team at the time was the Oakland Raiders of the second rate American Football League. Then, on November 6, 1967, after having played just a dozen games, owner Barry Van Gerbig announced the team's name was being changed to the "Oakland Seals"!

Bobby Baun Seals photo BobbyBaunSeals.jpg
Team captain Bobby Baun wearing their first "C" logo jersey
from the club's original name of "California Seals"

Poor attendance led to threats by Van Gerbig to move the club and the poor record in the ice led to only seven of the original 20 players returning for the second season. While the team finished with records below .500, they qualified for the playoffs in 1968-69 and 1969-70, but lost in the first round both times.

1968-69 California Seals team photo 1968-69CaliforniaSealsteam.jpg
The 1968-69 Oakland Seals now wearing "O" logo sweaters

Prior to the 1969-70 season, Van Gerbig sold the club to a group called Trans National Communications, but when the group filed for bankruptcy, ownership reverted to Van Gerbig, who put the club up for sale once again.

The Oakland Seals were then purchased by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, who had moved to the bay area in 1968. Never one to sit still, Finley renamed the team the "California Golden Seals" and changed the team's colors from green and blue to green and gold to match those worn by his baseball club, as well as having the team wear flashy white skates!

Photobucket
Owner Finley changed the Seals colors to green and gold
with flashy (and infamous) white skates

Unfortunately the the Golden Seals finished last in the NHL during their first season under Finley's ownership with just 45 points from 78 games. Even worse, the Seals first overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft had already been traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Ernie Hicke and Montreal's first round pick in 1970, used by he Golden Seals to take Chris Oddleifson, and the always needed cash. The Canadiens then used the draft choice obtained from the Golden Seals to select none other than future Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur.

The team improved by 15 points the following season, but suffered from the emergence of the World Hockey Association, as the frugal Finley refused to match the WHA's contract offers to his players resulting in five of the team's top ten scorers leaving for the rival league and the Golden Seals once again sank to the bottom of the standings with 48 points in 1972-73 and followed that up with just 36 points in 1973-74.

Matters were made worse, if that's even possible, by a divisional restructuring which somehow found the Golden Seals placed in the newly created Adams Division with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, in an apparent effort by the league to kill off the franchise, as each of the other clubs were a minimum of 2,300 miles to the east!

Having grown tired of owning the hockey team, especially in direct comparison to his three-time world champion Athletics baseball team, Finley tried unsuccessfully to sell the Golden Seals and the franchise was eventually eventually taken over by the NHL.

Meloche Seasl photo Meloche Seals.jpg
Goaltender Gilles Meloche wearing the new post-Finley
team colors of Pacific Blue and California Gold

Melvin Swig then purchased the team in 1975 with plans to have the team play in a new arena in San Francisco. Those plans never came to pass following the election of a new mayor who was opposed to the plan, so after nine money-losing seasons, low attendance and few victories, minority owners George and Gordon Gund convinced Swig to relocate the team to their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, making the club the first NHL team to relocate since 1934 and bringing to and end the Golden Seals ordeal in California, where the team had more names than playoff appearances!

Once relocated for the 1976-77 season, the franchise was renamed the Cleveland Barons and took up residence in the Richfield Coliseum, giving them the largest seating capacity in the NHL at the time of 18,544, but they would never come close to filling it in the two years they played in Cleveland. Their 1976 home opener drew only 8,900 fans and they attracted 10,000 at only seven out of their 40 home games.

 photo 1976-77 Cleveland Barons team.jpg
The 1976-77 Cleveland Barons team

After the first season in Cleveland, majority owner Swig sold his interest in the team to the Gund brothers, who tried to put a more competitive team on the ice the second year. The Barons were able to  defeat the defending champions the Montreal Canadiens in November and the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres in consecutive games in January. They also set an attendance record of 13,110 vs. Philadelphia that year, but a agonizing 15 game losing streak eliminated them from playoff contention and an eventual point total lower than the year before.

Meloche Barons photo MelocheBarons.jpg
Goaltender and Golden Seals holdover Gilles Meloche
anchored the NHL's Cleveland Barons

After the season the Gunds tried to buy the Coliseum, but failed. Meanwhile, the North Stars had fallen on hard times in Minnesota, thanks to a combination of poor play which caused them to miss the playoffs four of the previous five seasons and competition from the cross-town Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA, who played just 11 miles up the road in St. Paul and at times drew sellout crowds of over 17,000 during the North Stars down period.

With serious concerns that both clubs were on the verge of folding, on this date in 1978, the league granted approval for the Barons to merge with the Minnesota North Stars under the Gunds ownership. The team would play in Minnesota and retain the North Stars name, but take the Barons place in the Adams Division. The Barons remain the last franchise in the four major North American sports leagues to cease operations.

Things had to happen fast, as the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft was just two days away and a special dispersal draft for the excess players from the combined rosters needed to be held first. The new North Stars were allowed to protect 10 players and two goaltenders from the combined rosters of Cleveland and Minnesota prior to the dispersal draft, in which any team wanting to claim an unprotected player could do so for $30,000.

Working quickly for the freshly merged club, Minnesota's brand new General Manager Lou Nanne (who had only stopped playing at the end of the just completed season!) and Cleveland's GM Harry Howell (who became the combined team's head coach) evaluated their recently combined roster and protected Per-Olav Brasar, Brad Maxwell, Bryan MaxwellGlen Sharpley, Tim Young and goaltender Pete LoPresti from the North Stars roster and Mike Fidler, Rick Hampton, Al MacAdam, Dennis Maruk, Greg Smith and goaltender Gilles Meloche from the Barons.

Tim Young North Stars photo TimYoung North Stars.jpg
Tim Young

Only the five worst teams were allowed to make selections from the unprotected players in the Dispersal Draft, held on June 15, 1978, just two days after the merger of Cleveland and Minnesota was agreed to! The Washington Captials chose to pass, and were instead allowed to make an additional pick at the end of the first round of the 1978 Amateur Draft.

After the St. Louis Blues chose Mike Crombeen from the Barons roster, the North Stars were allowed to protect an additional player, which was Ron Zanussi. The Vancouver Canucks then chose Randy Holt, also formerly of the Barons. After the Pittsburgh Penguins passed on their chance to select a player, Bob Stewart was then added to the protected list by Minnesota. The Dispersal Draft then concluded when the Colorado Rockies declined their chance to select a player.

The newly merged roster was then immediately supplemented later the same day by the North Stars having the first overall pick in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft thanks to Minnesota having finished dead last in the league at the end of the 1977-78 season. They chose eventual NHL Rookie of the Year and future team captain Bobby Smith in the first round and his Ottawa 67's linemate Steve Payne in the second round, both of whom would go on to be 40 goal scorers for the North Stars. They then hit on future Miracle on Ice team member Steve Christoff later in the second round, who would score 26 goals twice for the North Stars and excel as a penalty killer, and another future team captain, defenseman Curt Giles in the fourth round.

In addition to those protected in the dispersal draft and chosen in the Amateur Draft, the team was also able to retain several players who were not chosen in the Dispersal Draft despite not being protected. Among those were Tom YounghansFred Barrett and Bill Butters off the North Stars roster and the return to Minnesota of J. P. Parise from Cleveland as well as goaltender Gary Edwards, who supplanted LoPresti as Meloche's backup, playing in 25 games in 1978-79.

Looking back on the previous week, Nanne probably could not believe his luck, having taken over as General Manager the worst team in the NHL, he now suddenly found himself with the additions of Fidler, MacAdam, Maruk, Greg Smith, Parise, and goaltenders Meloche and Edwards plus draft picks Bobby Smith and Payne for the upcoming season - and all without having to have traded a single asset!

 photo Bobby-Smith-Rookie.jpg
Bobby Smith arrived in Minnesota the year
they merged with the Cleveland Barons

The critics said if you combined the rosters of two terrible teams, you were going to be left with a terrible team, but the combined talents of of the two teams plus the addition of their draft class of 1978 proved them wrong. While they did miss out on the playoffs in 1979, the 1979-80 roster reached the playoff Semifinals.

Meloche North Stars photo Meloche North Stars.jpg
A common thread from the Seals to the Barons and
eventually the North Stars, Gilles Meloche

Then the 1980-81 team, who by now had Christoff and Giles plus 1979 draft picks Craig Hartsburg and homegrown Neal Broten plus electrifying undrafted free agent Dino Ciccarelli (who was passed over after having suffered a broken leg in juniors), veteran Paul Shmyr, tough guy Jack Carlson and rookie goaltender Don Beaupre, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the space of three short seasons after having finished dead last in the NHL.

 photo 1980-81 Minnesota North Stars team.jpg
The new look North Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1981

It would take 22 years before the NHL would return to Ohio, but not to Cleveland, as the new team would be in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000-01.

Today's first featured jersey is a 1974-75 California Golden Seals Gilles Meloche jersey. Meloche arrived in Oakland for the 1971-72 season after a trade from the Chicago Black Hawks, who had drafted Meloche in 1970.

After the departure of owner Finley, the Golden Seals colors were changed from his signature green and gold to the even less intimidating shades of "Pacific Blue" (teal) and "California Gold" (yellow), quite probably the worst colors ever for an NHL team, which were about as intimidating as Easter eggs. The change also gave the team more total color schemes than playoff appearances as well.

Aside from the unusual color scheme of the last incarnation of Golden Seals jerseys, another odd characteristic of this set was the decidedly "football jersey" style vertical stripes where the arms meet the body of the jersey, which are something that had never appeared on an NHL jersey before or since.

 photo California Golden Seals 1974-75 F jersey.jpg
 photo California Golden Seals 1974-75 B jersey.jpg

Today's second featured jersey is a 1976-77 Cleveland Barons Gilles Meloche jersey. Made by ProJoy at a time when replicas were less than accurate. While this jersey has it's issues, like the sleeve stripes being straight instead of angled, the crest is very well made, with each piece being a separate piece of fabric sewn together. The Gothic "B" in the state of Ohio in the center of the main logo is five separate layers of fabric and both the curved "Cleveland" and "Barons" names are each intricate single pieces of twill sewn onto the "C"!

What sets the 1976-77 jerseys apart from the 1977-78 jerseys is the wonderful State of Ohio patches on the sleeves for the numbers. The other difference between the two year was that the 1976-77 jerseys did not have the names on the back of the road jerseys.

But then, as is part of the fun of jersey collecting, a mystery presented itself in the form of this picture...

Photobucket

A name on the back of a Barons road jersey with the State of Ohio sleeve patches? That didn't add up, so we posted the photo on a collector forum and questioned wether it was perhaps from a pre-season game before the 77-78 season.

The key to the mystery was that the Barons are shown playing the St. Louis Blues, who they played twice that season - once on February 28th, a Monday, and again on April 2nd, a Saturday and a national TV hockey day.

Due to the fact their game was going to be shown on national TV, the Barons were required at the request of the network to add names to the back of the jerseys, which were then removed after the game because the team owners thought that having names on the back of the player's jerseys would hurt their program sales.

Armed with that unique story, we had our jersey customized as it was worn on April 2nd, 1977 against the Blues, complete with the State of Ohio patches and the name on the back for national TV purposes. We love being able to say that a jersey was worn on one specific date, generally through the addition of a unique patch, a trend that will no doubt apparent to regular readers of this blog.

 photo Cleveland Barons 1976-77 F.jpg
 photo Cleveland Barons 1976-77 B.jpg


Today's third featured jersey is a 1983-84 Minnesota North Stars Gilles Meloche jersey. An interesting fact about Meloche is that he played for the California Golden Seals from 1971-72 to 1975-76, the Cleveland Barons in both 1976-77 and 1977-78 and then the Minnesota North Stars from 1978-79 to the 1984-85 season, 14 seasons in all with three different teams without once ever having being traded or signing a free agent contract as the Seals relocated to Cleveland and the Barons then merged with the North Stars.

Joining Meloche on the journey from California to Cleveland to Minnesota was MacAdam and technically Greg Smith (1 game as a rookie with the Seals before their move to Cleveland) and Maruk, who was traded to Washington after just two games with the North Stars (only to return to Minnesota five years later).

We doubt if any other players ever had so much discontinuity in such a continuous career as Meloche (14 seasons with three teams but no trades or free agent signings) and MacAdam (10 seasons of the same)!

The North Stars ushered in their new era of Gund's ownership with a new style of jersey, dropping the dual waist and arm stripes of the same color by changing to dual two color stripes of the same width. While the white home jerseys got the addition of black trim back in 1981-82, the green road jerseys did not have the addition of the striking black accent color until 1988-89.

 photo Minnesota North Stars 1983-84 F jersey.jpg
 photo Minnesota North Stars 1983-84 B jersey.jpg

Today's video is a brief, and frankly depressing look at the history of pro hockey in Cleveland through the departure of the Barons.

 

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