Sunday, August 23, 2009

2004 Team Canada Alternate Mario Lemieux Jersey

Today's Curious, Weird and Ugly™ Collection moves outside of the NHL and into the international hockey realm.

In 1920, the Winnipeg Falcons won the the Allan Cup as the top senior amateur team in Canada and, as a result, were chosen to represent Canada at the inaugural Winter Olympics in Antwerp Belguim, where they became the first ever winners of the gold medal in ice hockey.

The Toronto Star reported on March 26, 1920;

"The team which represents Canada at the Olympic games in Belgium will wear jerseys instead of sweaters, as the weather will be too warm for the latter. The jerseys are now being manufactured. The colors will be old gold and black. Across the breast the name "Canada" will be woven and on the back there will be a large maple leaf."
Why old gold and black were chosen remains a mystery, since apparently the Falcons normally wore blue and green, and when the 2004 World Cup of Hockey was planned, Hockey Canada chose to recreate the Winnipeg Falcons old gold jerseys for use in the tournament.

As we have seen before with the Nashville Predators, "mustard" is never a good color for a jersey you are attempting to market to the buying public, regardless of it's historical significance.

For the 2004 World Cup, the jerseys were "old gold" with a black stripe across the chest with a black waist stripe and black cuffs on the sleeves. In addition, one color numbers were used on the back and sleeves, while all jerseys had "CANADA" in place of individual player names on the back, perhaps as a sign of unity and a team first attitude as first seen on the 1972 Summit Series jerseys.

The jerseys were worn on August 31st, 2004 in a 2-1 win over the United States.

I classify this jersey as "Curious" in an effort to be nice. I can understand that Hockey Canada and Nike chose, in an effort to fill their coffers through sales of replicas to the hockey mad fanbase in The Great White North, to select a historically significant team to pay tribute to. The problem is that the jerseys they wore just happened to be a putrid color with a boring lettering choice that did not go over well with the current tastes of the fans in the early part of the 21st century.

While the red 1924 based jerseys worn in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics were a treat to look at, Team Canada proceeded to lay an egg in their opening game vs. Sweden and the jerseys were immediately abandoned as "bad luck", never to be worn again, which was a real shame.

I'm uncertain if the plan was for the 1920 Falcons jerseys to be worn just the one and only time, but they were never worn again by Team Canada in the World Cup or subsequent World Championships, despite their "lucky" 1-0 record. It's possible that they were only intended for use once or perhaps abandoned due to their being not very well received due to their appearance, despite their historical significance.

The only other appearance for the Winnipeg Falcons jerseys was in a exhibition game on December 20th, 2004 in Winnipeg as Team Canada's World Junior Team, which included Sidney Crosby, defeated Finland 6-0 in preparation for the 2005 World Junior Tournament.

Canada 2004 WCOH Alt jersey photo Canada2004WCOHAltF.jpg
Canada 2004 WCOH Alt jersey photo Canada2004WCOHAltB.jpg
Canada 2004 WCOH Alt jersey photo Canada2004WCOHAltP.jpg

Here is some footage of these jerseys in action.

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