Thursday, December 20, 2012

1940-41 Boston Bruins Frank Brimsek Jersey

One of the first great American hockey players in the NHL, Frank Brimsek of Eveleth, Minnesota first joined the Bruins following an injury to Bruins regular goaltender Tiny Thompson after having spent two seasons with the Pittsburgh Yellowjackets and the Providence Reds. whom he was playing for at the time of his call up by the Bruins.

Brimsek's first game came on December 1, 1938, a 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. His second game brought not only his first win, but his first shutout, a 5-0 win in Chicago against the Black Hawks on December 4th. His introduced himself to the home fans in Boston on December 6th in fine style, as he again shut out the Black Hawks, this time 2-0.

Brimsek Bruins, Brimsek Bruins
Brimsek's rookie card

Five days later the Bruins travelled to Madison Square Garden where Brimsek notched his third consecutive shutout with a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers. The 13th saw Brimsek gain a measure of revenge with a 3-2 win against Montreal at home even though his shutout streak ended at 211:54 when Montreal scored at 19:14 of the second period.

December 15th saw both clubs reconvene in Montreal, where Brimsek made an early third period goal stand as the game winner in a 1-0 blanking of the Canadiens for the second consecutive time.

The Detroit Red Wings hosted the Bruins on December 18th, where Brimsek once again held his opponent scoreless, this time by a final of 2-0 thanks to a late empty net goal.

Back at home in Boston, the rookie Brimsek continued his hot hand, extending his shutout streak to three games in a row for the second time in 16 days, with a 3-0 win over the New York Americans on this date in 1938, his sixth shutout in seven games just eight games into his NHL career!

Brimsek Bruins, Brimsek Bruins

His scoreless streak came to and end on Christmas Day at home when the Rangers scored the only goal of the game at 5:09 of the second period, 220:24 since the Canadiens scored against Brimsek back on December 13th, the same game his previous streak ended before beginning anew.

Later in the 1938-39 season, more shutouts would arrive on January 22nd against the Detroit Red Wings (5-0), consecutive blankings on February 5th over Chicago (3-0) and February 7th over the Toronto Maple Leafs (2-0) and finally reaching double-digits with his 10th shutout on March 7th, again over Detroit (3-0).

Brimsek's stunning arrival in the NHL earned him the nickname "Mr. Zero" as well as both the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year and the Vezina Trophy as the goaltender with the lowest goals against average for the season at 1.56.

If his rookie season was not remarkable enough, Brimsek and the Bruins proceeded to eliminate the Rangers in seven games of the Semifinals, including a triple overtime Game 7, to earn the right to face Toronto in the Finals.

The Bruins won Game 1 at home 2-1, but lost the next game 3-2 in overtime. Boston responded with a 3-1 win in Toronto prior to another shutout for Mr. Zero, a 2-0 Bruins win in Game 4 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Brimsek then led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship with a 3-1 victory in Game 5 in Boston Garden to cap off his remarkable debut season, one he was initially scheduled to spend in Providence!

1938-39 Boston Bruins team, 1938-39 Boston Bruins team
The 1938-39 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins

Brimsek was no flash in the pan either, as he would backstop the Bruins for three more seasons, winning another Stanley Cup in 1941 and a second Vezina in 1942 as well as being named an NHL First Team All-Star in 1939 and 1942.

Brimsek Bruins, Brimsek Bruins

His career was interrupted in 1943 by World War II, as Brimsek enlisted in the United States Coast Guard, which included staying sharp by playing for the Coast Guard Cutters hockey team as well as serving aboard ship in the Pacific until 1945.

Brimsek Coast Guard, Brimsek Coast Guard
Brimsek suited up for the Coast Guard Cutters during World War II

Brimsek resumed his NHL career with the Bruins beginning with the 1945-46 season when he saw action in 34 of the Bruins 50 games.

Brimsek Bruins, Brimsek Bruins
Following Brimsek's return from World War II in 1948-49, the first season
of the Bruins now iconic spoked B logo

He would play an additional three seasons for Boston prior to his final NHL season with the Black Hawks.

Brimsek Blackhawks, Brimsek Blackhawks
Brimsek during his final season while with Chicago

In all, Brimsek would play in 514 games, winning 252, 80 of which were shutouts on his way to a career goals against average of 2.70 and appearances in both the 1947 and 1948 NHL All-Star Games. His record of 252 wins by an American stood until 1994 when surpassed by Tom Barrasso, who had the benefit of playing in an era of longer regular seasons.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 as the first American ever inducted into the hall, and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. Additionally, he was ranked #67 on The Hockey News list of the 100 Greatest Players in 1997.

Today's featured jersey is a 1940-41 Boston Bruins Frank Brimsek jersey as on display at the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Brimsek's hometown of Eveleth. Despite being identified by the hall as a 1938-39 sweater, the Bruins wore black numbers that season prior to the gold numbers arriving in 1940-41, the season of Brimsek won the second Stanley Cup of his career.

After changing from their original colors of brown and gold in 1934, the Bruins changed to having the player's numbers boldly emblazoned on the front of their sweaters in 1936-37. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice the "B" logo on the sleeves where the TV numbers would later be placed in 1958.

The numbers would remain on the front of the Bruins sweaters until 1948, when the club celebrated their 25th anniversary by introducing the spoked B logo for the first time.

Boston Bruins 38-39 Brimsek jersey, Boston Bruins 38-39 Brimsek jersey

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