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Saturday, January 9, 2010

1969-70 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr Jersey

On this date in 1979, the Boston Bruins retired Bobby Orr's #4 jersey before a game against the Soviet Wings at Boston Garden.

Orr, a defneseman and considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the NHL, was signed by the Bruins at the age of 14. League rules at the time dictated that Orr could not play in the NHL until turning 18. Orr bided his time playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League, and in his final season scored 94 points in 47 games, an average of two points per game, an unheard of average for a defenseman.

He would win the
Calder Trophy during his first season with the Bruins after scoring 41 points in 61 games. He would miss nine games late in the season with a knee injury, foreshadowing the injury problems that would plague his career. Prior to Orr's arrival, the Bruins had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons and while they would not make the post-season during Orr's rookie season, they would make the playoffs in every subsequent season of Orr's career in Boston.

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Bobby Orr during the 1966-67 season

Despite only playing in 46 games of the 1967-68 season, Orr would win the first of eight consecutive Norris Trophies. Back on track in 1968-69, he would play in 67 games and top 20 goals for the first time with 21 and total 64 points.

Orr would explode the following season, scoring 33 goals and adding a whopping 87 assists to total 120 points, six short of the league record and become the first and only defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring, which would net him the
Art Ross Trophy and be named the winner of the Hart Trophy. The Bruins would advance through the playoffs, eventually winning the Stanley Cup in overtime of Game 4, a goal captured in an iconic photograph of Orr flying through the air in celebration. Following the playoffs, he would be named the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, making him the first player to win four major NHL awards in the same season.

Orr would top his league leading point total from the previous season with 139 points in 1970-71, including a league leading 102 assists, 26 more than the next closest player, and place second in the scoring race behind Bruin's teammate Phil Esposito while winning the Hart Trophy for the second time. Orr would record a plus-minus rating of +124 that season, an NHL record that still stands today.

1971-72 would see Orr play in 76 games and equal his 37 goals from the previous season while totaling 117 points. Orr and the Bruins would capture their second Stanley Cup and Orr would win his fifth consecutive Norris Trophy, his third consecutive Hart Trophy and his second Conn Smythe Trophy.

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Orr celebrating the Bruins championship
while drinking from the Stanley Cup

1972-73 saw another 100 point season after returning from knee surgery following the Stanley Cup, which forced Orr to miss the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union after being named to Team Canada.

The Bruins would return to the finals in 1973-74 following a regular season in which Orr would score 32 goals and 90 assists for 122 points followed by another 18 points in 16 playoff games.

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Orr in 1973-74 

Orr would once again win the NHL scoring race in 1974-75, capturing the Art Ross Trophy for the second time after a career high 46 goals, becoming the first defenseman to ever score 40 goals, combined with 89 assists for 135 points. He would be named to the NHL First All-Star Team for the eighth consecutive season, win his eighth consecutive Norris Trophy, play in his seventh NHL All-Star Game and win his first Lester B. Pearson Award.

His multiple knee surgeries would catch up to him, limiting him to only 10 games of the 1975-76 season. While essentially playing on one knee, Orr would compete for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, earning rave reviews and being named tournament MVP in the last hurrah of his storied career.

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Orr playing the last great hockey of his career during the 1976 Canada Cup

A move to the Chicago Black Hawks followed for the next two seasons but he totaled just 26 games and 27 points in 1976-77 and 1978-79.

His final career totals are 657 games played, 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points after ten seasons in Boston and the two in Chicago. At the time of his retirement, Orr was the leading defenseman in NHL history in goals, assists and points. The only players who have averaged more points per game than Orr are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy - all forwards.

Orr's speed, acceleration and creative offensive ability, combined with his toughness and defensive skills revolutionized the position of defense and changed the game forever. He also moved beyond the world of hockey, becoming a mainstream celebrity in the United States.

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While we have given you a brief overview of the game-changing career of Bobby Orr, entire books are devoted to his career and the impact he had on the NHL, and we here at Third String Goalie recommend Searching for Bobby Orr.

Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr jersey as worn while flying through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1970.

When purchasing a Bobby Orr Bruins jersey, please be aware that Orr seldom wore his name on the back of any Boston Bruins jersey during his entire career. Perhaps only for national TV games, as was the practice back then. Quite often Orr jerseys are sold on ebay or other online stores with Orr's name incorrectly on the back of the jersey, as if his iconic #4 wasn't enough.

Even during Orr's first season in Chicago no names were used on the back, making just the final six games of his career with the Black Hawks in 1978-79, a sad and unfortunate end to a great career and not exactly worthy of recreating for your collection, and the 1976 Canada Cup the few times Orr regularly wore his name on the back of a jersey outside of the NHL All-Star Game.

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Boston Bruins 69-70 jersey photo BostonBruins69-70B-1.jpg

Today's video selections is the surprising find of the 1979 Bobby Orr Jersey Retirement Ceremony, somewhat oddly scheduled for the night of an exhibition game against the Soviet Wings. I can't recall any other jersey retirement scheduled for an exhibition game before. One would think that in 1979 any Soviet team on it's own would be enough of a draw to fill the building.

Dasherboard: Speaking of Boston, the Boston College Eagles and Boston University Terriers played in the men's portion of the "Frozen Fenway" event last night, putting the NHL's Winter Classic rink at Fenway Park to some much needed additional use, and both teams wore special jerseys for the occasion.

The Boston College's special gold jerseys had the addition of a green stripe, as a tribute to Fenway's "Green Monster", and a diagram of a baseball field where the players names normally go on the back.

While there was nothing wrong with BC's jerseys, they were really nothing to get excited about to be honest. Meanwhile, Boston University really "knocked one out of the park" with their sweaters. Rather than their normal block font on the front, the Terriers adopted the instantly recognizable Boston Red Sox font on the front

and then added the simply wonderful sleeve patch, a take on the Red Sox logo, only with the socks turned into hockey skates! Just brilliant.

Now, where do we get one?

The Sartorial Gods took notice and ensured that justice was rewarded as the game was won by the better dressed Boston University Terriers by a score of 3-2. BU pulled out to a 3-0 lead, their first goal coming from David Warsofsky, who is having a good week by any accounts, having just been part of Team USA's gold medal victory in the recently concluded World Junior Tournament. Warsofsky celebrated his goal with an inspired baseball swing celebration.

Boston College pulled one back just before the end of the second period and then got to within one with a short-handed goal at 7"47 of the third to really make a game of it, however Boston University held on for the win, in part thanks to a late penalty against Boston College which denied us a more frantic finish.

One other highlight of the game for viewers at home was getting to see NESN's Kathryn Tappen, a favorite here at Third String Goalie.

Friday, January 8, 2010

1993-94 Detroit Red Wings Dino Ciccarelli Jersey

On this date in 1994, Dino Ciccarelli of the Detroit Red Wings scored his 500th goal in a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Ciccarelli was an undrafted free agent due to suffering a severely broken leg in junior hockey. The North Stars had noticed him the year before when he was too young to be eligible for the draft, so when he went through the 1979 draft with out being selected, the North Stars had him checked out by a doctor and signed him to a contract.

"I broke my femur badly enough in my second year of junior hockey that the doctors didn't give me much chance of ever being able to play professionally. I had scored 72 goals the previous season, but my injury wiped me off everyone's draft list in 1979. I wasn't going to let that stop me. I had to go through a year and a half of rehabilitation, but I was determined to do everything I could to live out my dream and play in the National Hockey League. I was totally frustrated when I recovered from the injury, scored 50 goals in my last season of junior and was passed on for the second time at the 1980 draft." recalled Ciccarelli.

"Lou Nanne of the Minnesota North Stars finally gave me an opportunity when he signed me as a free agent. He sent me to Oklahoma City to see how I'd fare in the minors. Things went well, and three-quarters of the way through the season, I was called up to Minnesota for a few games." said Ciccarelli.

After proving himself in the minors, Ciccarelli would play in 32 regular season games with the North Stars, doing quite well for a rookie scoring 18 goals and 30 points, but would really catch fire during the playoffs. Teamed with fellow rookies Neal Broten and Brad Palmer, Ciccarelli would set the rookie playoff scoring records for goals, with 14, and points, with 21, in 19 games as the North Stars would reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. Ciccarelli quickly became a fan favorite with the North Stars fans for his willingness to stand in the crease and absorb all manner of abuse from defenders and goalies alike and they responded by waving inflatable dinosaurs during home games at Met Center.

He would follow up his outstanding playoff performance of the previous year by leading the 1981-82 North Stars in goals with 55 and penalty minutes with 138. He would also surpass the 100 point mark, finishing with 106, the highest single season total of his career. He would also put any doubts about his leg to rest by playing 76 games or more his first three seasons.

He would play nine seasons for Minnesota, leading the team in goals five times while totaling 332 regular season goals for the North Stars, including another season of over 50 goals with 52 and 103 points in 1986-87, before being traded to the Washington Capitals late in the 1988-89 season.

In Washington, Ciccarelli would continue to park himself in front of the net, absorbing all manner of abuse in the days when the defense was allowed to cross-check him at will. Still, he would score 112 goals for the Capitals in the three plus seasons in Washington, leading the team in scoring in 1989-90 with 79 points.

In the summer of 1992, Ciccarelli was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, where he would proceed to score 41 goals during his first season in Detroit, his sixth and final season scoring 40 goals or more. After four seasons in Detroit, which included scoring his 500th goal on this date in 1994, just the 19th player in NHL history to do so, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in time for the 1996-97 season as part of a youth movement in Detroit.

Ciccarelli played one full season in Tampa, scoring 35 goals and was dealt to the Florida Panthers half way through the 1997-98 season. It was with Florida that Ciccarelli would score his 600th NHL goal on February 3rd, 1998, only the ninth player ever to reach the 600 mark, in a 1-1 tie with the Red Wings.

He would be limited to just 14 games of the 1998-99 season, due to chronic back problems from a career absorbing punishment while camped out in front of the opposing goal, scoring 6 goals and 1 assist to finish his career with exactly 1200 points from 608 goals and 592 assists. In addition, he scored 73 goals and 118 points in 141 playoff games.

He retired ranked ninth in league history in goals scored, not bad for a player who was never drafted.

Internationally, Ciccarelli appeared for Canada in the 1980 World Junior Tournament, and the 1982 and 1987 World Championships, with his opportunities for more participation limited by his team's frequent qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs each spring. In the first 16 of his 19 NHL seasons, his team's qualified for the playoffs 14 times.

To this day, Ciccarelli remains the highest scoring player in league history not in the Hockey Hall of Fame and the only one with 600 goals to not be included.

Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Detroit Red Wings Dino Ciccarelli jersey as worn during the season in which Ciccarelli scored his 500th career goal on this date in 1994.

The Red Wings jersey is a true classic in the NHL and has remained essentially unchanged since it was introduced back in 1932 when the club changed their name from the Falcons, as they had been known since 1930.

Here is a prime example of the kind of treatment Ciccarelli received throughout his career standing in front of the opposition's goal.

Here arch-rivals the North Stars and Chicago Black Hawks, both of the "Chuck" Norris Division engage in a bench clearing brawl in 1983 at the 2 second mark you see Denis Savard up close as he challenges the Minnesota bench and Ciccarelli responds at the 6 second mark, emptying both benches.

Finally, a look at Club 22, owned by Dino Ciccarelli in the Detroit area.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Wayne Gretzky Fact of the Day Blog

For those of you who have not checked out our favorite blog links in the right hand column and are not aware of Uni Watch, it's well worth checking out. It's nice to know we are not alone in our obsession with jerseys. They recently ran an interview with us which covers how we got started collecting, favorite and least favorite jerseys and the origin of this blog.

To read the interview with us, please click here.


In other news, our little empire has recently expanded with the addition of our newest blog, The Wayne Gretzky Fact of the Day Blog. In doing our research for topics for Third String Goalie, we come across what seems like a new Gretzky milestone or fact quite nearly every day and decided to collect them all in one location. There may not be one for every day, and it's a work in progess and may even undergo a tweak of the name at some point, but there will be plenty of entries to keep you coming back.

Just don't bother using the Gretzky Name Generator. It's incredibly lame and a complete waste of your time, but we were highly amused with ourselves when we created it.

1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Mel Bridgman Jersey

On this date in 1980, the Philadelphia Flyers NHL record 35 game unbeaten streak came to an end when they were defeated by the Minnesota North Stars 7-1 in front of 15,962 fans, the largest crowd in North Stars history.

The Flyers began the season by naming Bobby Clarke a playing assistant coach and making Mel Bridgman team captain.

The Flyers would win their first game of the season against the New York Islanders but then lose their second game against the Atlanta Flames on October 13th 9-2.

They would bounce back the next night by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 and commence the longest undefeated streak in NHL history. Two more wins would follow and then a 6-6 tie with the Montreal Canadiens had the streak at four games.

The Flyers would then go on a tear and win nine consecutive games before a tie with St. Louis would halt the winning streak, but keep the undefeated streak intact, which was now at 14 games.

The streak would continue to grow with two wins and then a tie, which was followed by another pair of wins, pushing the streak to 19 games and meant the Flyers finished the month of November undefeated.

Six ties and three wins to start December would increase the total to 28 games, tying the existing record held by the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers would next win two more games followed by a tie and then another pair of victories to close out December undefeated and keep the streak alive at 33 games without a loss, putting them into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA for the North American professional team record.

Victories on January 4 and 6 pushed the Flyers record to 26-1-10 and a record 35 games since their last loss back on October 13 prior to the defeat in Minnesota the next day after travelling from Buffalo the night before. The record still stands to this day.

During their streak they played every team in the league except the Washington Capitals and only twice during the 10 ties did the Flyers score the last goal to create the tie and preserve the streak. The Flyers were only outshot eight times during the streak, with the largest margin being in a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 1, 1979 when the Leafs outshot the Flyers 40-25.

After defeating the Winnipeg Jets on January 10th and losing to the Canadiens on the 12th, the Flyers would have another 11 game unbeaten to run their season record to 35-3-13. They would go 13-9-7 the rest of the way, clinching the division with 14 games left in the season and total 116 points for the year.

Despite their regular season success, the Flyers failed to capture the Stanley Cup that season. They did defeat the Edmonton Oilers during the Oilers first NHL season in round one of the playoffs before knocking off the New York Rangers in round two. They got their revenge on the North Stars for ending their winning streak by beating them in five games to advance to the finals, but came up short against the New York Islanders in six games.

Ken Linseman led the Flyers that season with 79 points from 22 goals and 57 assists, while Reggie Leach hit the magic 50 mark to lead the team in goals. Linseman also led the club in playoff scoring with 22 points in 17 games, although their evenly balanced scoring saw three other players with 20 or more points. Phil Myre and Pete Peeters split the goaltending duties with Myre playing in 41 games and Peeters 40, with Peeters superior record of 29-5-5 easily out pacing Myre's 18-7-15 mark. The Flyers 20 ties that season was within 4 of the league record and prevented them from making a run at the all time single season team points record of 132 despite their long unbeaten streak.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Mel Bridgman jersey as worn during the Flyers record setting unbeaten streak.

Bridgman played 17 seasons in the NHL, totalling 977 games, 252 goals and 449 assists for 701 points. He was the first overall pick in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft by the Flyers.

He would play for Philadelphia, the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings and finish his career with the Vancouver Canucks. He would later be named the the first general manager of the Ottawa Senators.

Here is Mel Bridgman doing what the Flyers did best.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2006-07 Minnesota Wild Pavol Demitra Jersey

On this date in 2007, the Minnesota Wild participated in the Teammates for Kids patch program, in which every player in the NHL wore a Teammates for Kids patch on their jersey for one home game between January 4th and January 13th.

All of the approximately 650 jerseys were then auctioned off for charity, with the patched Pittsburgh Penguins jersey worn by Sidney Crosby on January 7, 2007 selling for $12,131.

The Teammates for Kids Foundation was founded by country music star Garth Brooks in 1999 to contribute to nonprofit organizations that serve and benefit children. The concept has pro athletes contribute based on performances in games, such as $500 for each goal scored, which the foundation then triples. To date over $75 million has been distributed.

Pavol Demitra broke into the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, who drafted him 227th overall in 1993. After three partial seasons with the Senators, Demitra was traded to the St. Louis Blues and finally became an NHL regular in 1997-98. He would play for St. Louis for eight seasons before signing with the Los Angeles Kings following the NHL Lockout in 2005. After one season in Los Angeles, Demitra was traded to the Minnesota Wild at the 2006 draft in order to team him up with fellow Slovakian Marian Gaborik.

After two seasons in Minnesota, which included being named team captain for October of 2007, Demitra would leave to sign with the Vancouver Canucks.

He has participated in three NHL All-Star Games, in 1999, 2000 and 2002, all while with St. Louis and was also named the winner of the Lady Byng Award in 2000. His highest scoring season was in 2002-03, when he scored 36 goals and 57 assists for 93 points. His highest single season goal total was 37 in 1998-99.

Demitra has an extensive international career, beginning with playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1992 European Junior Championships, followed by playing for the Czech Republic in the 1993 World Juniors, where he won a bronze medal.

Since 1996, Demitra has skated for Slovakia. He has been in the World Championships in 1996, 2003 (earning bronze), 2004, 2005 and 2007. Additionally, he has played in both the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey and the Olympics in 2002 and 2006.

Today's featured jersey is a Minnesota Wild Pavol Demitra jersey with the addition of the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation patch as worn on January 6, 2007 in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

The Wild wore their green jerseys on the road for their first three seasons before it became their home jersey in 2003-04 and remain in use through the 2006-07 season before the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys dictated teams could have only a home and road jersey during the Edge jersey's introductory season. With the Wild's red alternate throwback style jersey far outselling the other styles, the green jersey was the one chosen to be retired.

During it's six seasons of use, the green jersey was frequently patched, having been seen with the 2003 (Nick Schultz) & 2004 (Pierre-Marc Bouchard) Young Stars Game patch as part of the NHL All-Star weekend festivities, the season long 2004 NHL All-Star Game patch, which was also worn once with the 2004 Hockey Fights Cancer patch (captain Brad Bombardir), the season long 2005-06 Minnesota Wild Year Five patch, the NHL Cares/Katrina patch during the first period of their game on October 5, 2005 as well as today's featured Teammates for Kids patch on January 6, 2007.

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Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey photo MinnesotaWildG06-07B.jpg
Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey patch photo MinnesotaWildG06-07P.jpg

Today's video is an enlightening look into Demitra's journey from a youngster in Czechoslovakia, where the ultimate goal was the World Championships to the Olympics, to seeing the world change and participating in the NHL becoming a new possibility and the adjustments needed after coming to North America.

Demitra had the perfect timing to score a hat trick on Hat Night in Los Angeles. The results were swift and predictable.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1990-91 Soviet Red Army Pavel Kostichkin Jersey

In anticipation of tonight's 2010 World Junior Tournament Championship Final between host Canada and the United States, we take a look back at perhaps the most famous, and notorious, moment in World Juniors history, for on this date in 1987, "The Punch-up in Piestany" took place.

The scene was the final game of the 1987 World Junior Tournament in Piestany, Czechoslovakia. At the time the format of the tournament was a round-robin phase, with the final standings determining the medalists.

Canada brought a 4-1-1 record into the final game, while their arch-rivals the Soviet Union were out of medal contention at 2-3-1 and could only hope to spoil Canada's chance at the Gold Medal.

To capture the gold over Finland, the Canadians needed to beat the Soviets by five goals to equal Finland's record of 5-1-1 but surpass them on the tie-breaker of goal differential. Had Canada won by less than 5, silver would have been theirs and even a loss still would have seen them take home the bronze.

Going into the game, the Canadians were worried about the choice of the inexperienced Hans Ronning as the referee, and sought to have the assignment changed due to an earlier incident in the tournament which involved a pre-game fight between the Canadians and Americans in which Canadian Captain Steve Chaisson was ejected by Ronning, who was not even present on the ice at the time, thus barring Chaisson from the game versus the United States plus their following game against Sweden.

The opening faceoff of the game was met with elbows and a retaliatory cross-check, neither of which were penalized and set the tone for the escalation of hostilities that were to follow.

Five minutes into the game, Theo Fleury scored for Canada and celebrated by sliding across center ice on his knees, using his stick as a machine gun, "firing" at the Soviet bench. The first period would concluded with Canada ahead 3-1, slashes going uncalled and tempers getting short.

By the halfway point of the second period each team had another goal, making the score 4-2 in favor of Canada. With two players in the penalty box for each team following a scuffle, two players collided after a faceoff, Everett Sanipass and Sergei Shesterikov, and a fight broke out between the two of them. Things got worse when Pavel Kostichkin hit Fleury with a two-handed slash, which lead to a second fight breaking out. Things then escalated to the point that all the players on the ice were brawling, but what really sent the situation spiraling completely out of control was when Evgeny Davydov left the Soviet bench to come to the aid of a teammate.

This opened the floodgates, as nearly all the players from both benches spilled onto the ice, and a dozen separate fights broke out, Greg Hagwood's nose was broken by a head-butt and Stephane Roy was beaten by two Soviet players. This was in part due to two Canadians, Jimmy Waite and Pierre Turgeon remaining on the bench.

Unable to control the situation, Ronning and his linesmen left the ice and tournament officials famously turned off the arena lights in a desperate attempt to end the brawl.

Eventually the combatants tired themselves out and the fighting ceased, but by that time the IIHF ordered the game suspended and then held an emergency meeting, with the nine delegates voting 8-1 to expel both teams from the tournament, costing Canada a medal of any sort.

With the expulsion of Canada and the Soviet Union, Finland took home the gold, with Czechoslovakia and Sweden being awarded the silver and bronze.

The Canadians were extended an invitation to join the tournament banquet and medal ceremony, but stated they were not interested. Officials responded by ordering Canada out of the arena within a half-hour and they were subsequently escorted out of Czechoslovakia by armed soldiers!

Charges flew in the aftermath, as Alan Eagleson claimed the voting would have been different if the Soviets were in line for a medal as well, while Don Cherry suggested the brawl was a deliberate Soviet conspiracy to get Canada disqualified.

The event spawned our all-time favorite hockey quote ever:

"You don't like to see 20 kids punching 20 other kids.
It's not a disgrace. It's hockey." - Michael Farber

The events of that day have been chronicled in the book, When the Lights Went Out.

Speaking of books, Theo Fleury has a biography out, Playing With Fire.

Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1990-91 Soviet Red Army Pavel Kostichkin jersey from his days in the Soviet Hockey League. Kostichkin was eventually drafted in the tenth round by the Winnipeg Jets in 1988, but spent his career in Europe, outside of a season with the Moncton Hawks of the AHL. He would eventually play in leagues in Russia, Denmark, Finland and Belarus, before retiring in 2005.

This jersey is the cornerstone of the Third String Goalie Collection and always the first one mentioned when we are asked to name our favorite. With it's bright colors, hammer and sickle logos and name on the back in Cyrillic, it's a prime example of what a hockey jersey should look like and represents the most powerful club in hockey outside of North America.

Russia Red Army 89-90 F
Russia Red Army 89-90 B

Bonus Jersey: We are also featuring a 1997-98 Calgary Flames Theo Fleury jersey, Kostichkin's counterpart in the Piestany brawl.

This jersey features the Game ONe Japan patch worn during the season opening games in Tokyo, Japan in 1997.

Calgary Flames 98-99 F
Calgary Flames 98-99 B
Calgary Flames 98-99 P Calgary Flames 98-99 C

Our video selections today feature the brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union, followed by Don Cherry's postgame comments and then the debate between Don Cherry and Michael Farber which spawned out favorite quote.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1991-92 Minnesota North Stars Bobby Smith Jersey

On this date in 1992, Bobby Smith of the Minnesota North Stars played in his 1,000th career game in a 4-3 win over Vancouver.

Smith had an outstanding junior career with the Ottawa 67's, including scoring 135 points in 64 games in 1976-77 and following that with 192 points in 61 games the next season - over a three point per game average! His 123 assists and 192 points still stand as OHL league records.

Smith was subsequently drafted first overall by the last place Minnesota North Stars in the 1978 Amateur Draft and went on to capture the Calder Trophy following a rookie campaign in which he scored 30 goals and 74 points in 80 games.

Interestingly, the North Stars used their second round pick in 1978 to draft Smith's Ottawa 67's linemate Steve Payne. Further picks that year would net 1980 USA Olympic team member Steve Christoff and eventual team captain Curt Giles.

Prior to Smith's rookie season, the NHL allowed a deal where the Cleveland Barons owners George and Gordon Gund were allowed to merge their franchise with the North Stars franchise under the Gund's ownership and would play as the North Stars in the Baron's place in the Adams division. This allowed the North Stars to add players such as Mike Fidler, Al MacAdam, Greg Smith and reacquire fan favorite J. P. Parise and goaltender Gilles Meloche.

The North Stars were able to show a 25 point improvement in the standings, but failed to qualify for the playoffs in the rugged Wales Conference despite having 5 more points than the Vancouver Canucks of the Campbell Conference.

Further additions in the 1979 Entry Draft would net the North Stars Craig Hartsburg, Tom McCarthy, Minnesota native and 1980 USA Olympic team member Neal Broten, who would join the team the following season.

This influx of talent over the course of two seasons paid off in 1979-80, as MacAdam, Payne and Smith all topped 80 points during the regular season and the North Stars qualified for the playoffs after a 23 point improvement in the standings. The North Stars would eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in three straight, gain invaluable confidence and experience by defeating the Montreal Canadiens in seven games before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in round 3.

Smith would increase his regular season point total to 83 games that season and add another 14 points in 15 playoff games.

Growing in confidence and experience, Smith would once more improve his point total with 93 points in 1980-81 and, coming off the playoff run of the previous season, the North Stars would make a run through the playoffs, aided by the additions of Gordie Roberts, Dino Ciccarelli and the late season arrival of Broten just in time for the playoffs.

The North Stars would sweep their previous nemesis the Boston Bruins, easily dispatch the Buffalo Sabres in five games, eliminate the Calgary Flames in six before running into the midst of the New York Islanders dynasty in the finals to complete their unusual journey from last place to the Stanley Cup Finals in just three seasons.

Smith's finest season as a professional would come in 1981-82 with 43 goals and 71 assists for 114 points, the fourth consecutive increase in points during his four seasons in the league. The following season would see his point total drop to 77 and the North Stars would be bounced out of the playoffs despite a club record 96 points in the second round by arch-rivals the Chicago Black Hawks.

A falling out with new North Stars coach Bill Mahoney led to Smith being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens, where he would play for the next seven seasons, scoring as many as 93 points in 1987-88 and winning the only Stanley Cup of his career in 1986 when he finished second in Canadiens regular season scoring and contributed 15 points in 20 playoff games. The Canadiens would make the finals again in 1989 and Smith would contribute 19 points in 21 games that year.

Smith was dealt back to Minnesota in time for the 1990-91 season and help the North Stars on an improbable run through the playoffs, as they defeated the President's Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks (who finished 38 points ahead of them in the standings) in the first round, the St. Louis Blues (37 points ahead) and Edmonton Oilers (12 points better) before falling to the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals.

Smith would play two more seasons in the NHL, which included his 1,000th NHL point in November of 1991, only the 32nd player in league history to reach that mark, and his 1,000th game on this date in 1992. He would retire with 1,077 games played, 357 goals and 679 assists for 1036 points and 160 points in 184 career playoff games and one Stanley Cup.

Internationally, Smith would play in the 1978 World Junior Championship as a teammate to Wayne Gretzky, the year Canada wore blue jerseys, and win a bronze medal and then again in the World Championships in 1979 and in 1982 when he would earn a bronze medal.

Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1991-92 Minnesota North Stars Bobby Smith jersey from the season Smith played in his 1,000th game. This jersey is from the Norm Green ownership era after the club changed their traditional green jerseys to black, along with a more generic team logo, which de-emphasized the "North" part of the club's name, perhaps foreshadowing the club's move to Dallas in time for the 1993-94 season. The entire transition from the green uniforms to the black, including the North Stars first choice for the font for the names on the back, has been documented in great detail by Cole Jones here.

This jersey features both the NHL 75th Anniversary patch and the Minnesota North Stars 25th Anniversary patch. The club actually started out the season with just the NHL 75th patch before later adding the North Stars 25th Anniversary patch.

1991-92 Game Worn Minnesota North Stars jerseyaaaa1991-92 Game Worn Minnesota North Stars jersey

When on his game, Smith could dominate a game and was famous for his wraparound goals made possible by his long reach.

Here is footage from the night the North Stars finally stood their ground against the Boston Bruins in 1981 at the Boston Garden, an arena they had never won a game in - ever - dating back 14 seasons to the North Stars inception in 1967. While they lost this game, they made a statement that they were not going to be intimidated any longer, having recently had John Wensink challenge the Minnesota bench during a game. This stand was a turning point for the franchise and they proceeded to knock the Bruins out of the playoffs later that season, which included two victories in Boston, and were on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time ever.

Bobby Smith helped kick off the mayhem seven seconds into the game with a fight against the Bruins Steve Kasper while linemate Steve Payne fought Keith Crowder.

There were further fights at 3:35, 8:06 and a bench clearing brawl at 8:58 of the first period which involved fights in the runway back to the dressing rooms and the police trying to intervene. There were three more fights in the second period and two more in the third as the teams set a then NHL record with 406 penalty minutes.

Dasherboard: In the World Junior Tournament, Canada took care of business against underdogs Switzerland on Sunday to reach the finals once more, while the USA surprised Sweden 5-2 to gain a rematch with Canada, who they lost to in a shootout on New Year's Eve during group play.

Going into the game, Sweden was having a very strong tournament, having won their group with ease, having defeated the Czech Republic 10-1, Austria 7-3, Russia 4-1 and rivals Finland 7-1.

The United States led 1-0 after one period, only to see Sweden take the lead in the second period with two goals, but in less than three minutes the Americans responded with a goal by Jerry D'Amigo who made a nice play by passing the puck to himself off the boards to get around the Swedish defender and tie the game at 2-2 after two.

John Carlson put the USA ahead to stay with 7:26 remaining with a shot from the point that skipped under Sweden's Jacob Markstrom, who had not given up more than one goal in any of this three previous games in the tournament.

While shorthanded, Team USA captain Derek Stepan pressured the point man on the Sweden power play into a turnover and broke up the ice before making a centering pass to D'Amigo, who expertly moved the puck out of his skates and up to a shooting position before picking his spot and firing the puck past Markstrom for a 4-2 lead just three minutes after Carlson's goal.

The Americans added an empty net goal for the final margin and now look forward to what should be an outstanding championship final on Tuesday evening, which will be broadcast on the NHL Network in the United States and on TSN in Canada.

To see highlights of the USA vs. Sweden game, click here.


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