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Friday, November 16, 2012

2003 Sweden National Team Mats Sundin Jersey

The fourth member of the 2012 class of inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame was Mats Sundin, whose career began with the distinction of being the first European player drafted with the number one overall pick in NHL history when the Quebec Nordiques selected him with the first pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

Sundin Nordiques draft day, Sundin Nordiques draft day
The #1 overall pick in 1989, Mats Sundin

He led the Nordiques in scoring with a career high 47 goals and 114 points in 1992-93 before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 1994 in a blockbuster deal which saw six players, including Maple Leafs team captain and fan favorite Wendel Clark, and a two first round draft picks change hands.

Sundin immediately led the Maple Leafs in scoring in 1994-95 during the strike-shortened season with 47 points in 47 games.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs
Sundin early in his career with Toronto, as evidenced by the lack of an "A" or a "C" on his jersey

In 1996-97, Sundin became the 16th, and first European, captain in franchise history following the trade of current captain Doug Gilmour on February 25, 1997. Sundin would set a record as the longest serving European-born and trained captain in NHL history as he remained the Maple Leafs team leader for ten seasons.

The Maple Leafs moved into the new Air Canada Centre in January of 1999 and Sundin finished the season as the team's leading scorer the fifth consecutive season while extending his 30 goal streak to four consecutive seasons. Toronto immediately made the deepest playoff run since Sundin's arrival in Toronto in 1994. The Maple Leafs finished the regular season with a 45-30-7 record for 97 points and entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in the east, drawing the Philadelphia Flyers as their opponents. Once the Flyers were dispatched in six closely fought games, four of them by a single goal, one of those in overtime, Toronto advanced to face the Pittsburgh Penguins, another series which went six games, with three one goal games, two of which required overtime.

While Toronto fell in five games to the Buffalo Sabres, Sundin would finish the postseason with a career high 16 points from 8 goals and 8 assists in 17 games.

After leading the club in scoring for the seventh consecutive season in 2000-01, the Maple Leafs would sweep their opening round series against inter-province rivals the Ottawa Senators before taking eventual cup finalists the New Jersey Devils to a full seven games. Sundin would play in 11 postseason games that year, scoring 6 times and totaling 13 points during a run of six consecutive playoff appearances for the Maple Leafs.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs 2001-02 season was one of celebration, as the franchise was recognizing their 75th Anniversary as the Maple Leafs. At the conclusion of the season, Sundin led the club in scoring for the eighth consecutive season, thanks in part to the third 40 goal season of his career with 41. While Toronto would once again reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002, Sundin would only see action in 8 of the Maple Leafs 20 playoff games due to an untimely wrist injury.

Sundin Maple Leafs St Patricks, Sundin Maple Leafs St Patricks
Sundin wearing the throwback Toronto St. Patricks jersey in honor of the team's 75th anniversary

In the 2002-03 season, Sundin continued his trademark durability and reliability, as he played in 75 of the Maple Leafs 82 games, keeping intact his streak of at least 73 games played every season of his NHL career, save the strike shortened 1994-95 season when he played in 47 games of the 48 game schedule.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs

Offensively, Sundin scored 41 goals, which tied him for the second highest of his career and his most in five seasons. He also added 39 assists for 80 total points, which would prove to be the 6th highest of his career. More significantly, Sundin became the first Swedish player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career points with a goal in a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on March 10, 2003 and followed that two weeks later by playing in his 1,000th career game, also a first for a Swede.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs

After having his streak of consecutive seasons leading Toronto in points when Alexander Mogilny topped Sundin 79 points to 72, he began a new streak by leading the Maple Leafs in points after scoring 31 goals and 44 assists for 75 points. Additionally, Sundin guided the Maple Leafs into the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. His 75 points marked the 12th consecutive full season of over 70 points for the Maple Leafs captain.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs

After the 2003-04 season, during which Sundin led the Maple Leafs in scoring for the ninth time in ten seasons, the 2004-05 NHL season was eventually cancelled due to the owners locking out the players. While 388 NHL players played in Europe during the season, with 75 of those in the Swedish Elitserien, the 33-year-old Sundin chose to sit out the year.

When play resumed in the 2005-06 season, Sundin had the misfortune of being struck in the eye with a puck seven minutes into the game on opening night, the first game back after the lockout, which also broke an orbital bone in his face, sidelining him for a month.

Sundin Eye Injury, Sundin Eye Injury

With his teammates given an unexpected 12 game head start on their captain, they could still not hold off the eager Swede once he returned to the ice. Benefitting from the new rules package which eliminated obstruction, Sundin matched his goal total from his last complete season while exceeding his number of assists to finish with 31 goals and 47 assists for 78 points, three more than in 2003-04 and ten more than any Maple Leaf that season. Had Sundin been able to compete in all 82 games that season, he was on pace for 91 points.

In 2006-07, Sundin joined an exclusive club in fine style, as he became the 35th player and first Swede to reach the 500 goal mark, which he did in unbelievable style with a shorthanded, unassisted game winning goal in overtime to complete a hat trick! The goal gave the Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames in from of a delirious home crowd at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Sundin 500th goal, Sundin 500th goal
Sundin celebrates his 500th NHL goal

"It's an achievement not many players have reached in this league and, once I'm retired, I'm going to appreciate it even more. It's a special way to get it. I'll remember this day throughout my whole life," Sundin said following the game.

Sundin also had an assist during the game to give him four points on the memorable night. The final goal was his 15th overtime goal of his career, the most in NHL history at the time and a record he still shares with Sergei Fedorov, Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr.

Even Flames captain Jarome Iginla had to admire Sundin on the night. "He was really going tonight. It was an amazing shot on that last goal. Not many people would have stopped that. He got a screen and he got it all. You don't want to call it a nice goal, but it was impressive," said Iginla.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs
Sundin wearing the Teammates for Kids patch in January of 2007

The 2007-08 season would prove to be Sundin's final season with the Maple Leafs and it was a memorable one for many reasons. On October 11th, Sundin broke the franchise record for most points with his 917th and, later in the same game, he registered his 390th goal which moved him into the franchise lead in that category as well, supplanting Darryl Sittler in both categories and earning first, second and third star of the game in the process.

He later became the first player in history to score 400 goals while with the club before later breaking an 83-year-old record for the longest home scoring streak with a point in his 15th consecutive game.

Somewhat controversially, he refused to waive his no trade clause late in the season, stating he did not want to be a rental player, and if he won the Stanley Cup, he wanted to do so over the course of an entire season. Staying with the club allowed him to lead the team in scoring that season for the 12th time in his 13 seasons with the Maple Leafs. He also holds the NHL record for the longest serving European born captain of an NHL franchise, at 10 seasons, and is one of only two players to record 20 goals in his first 17 NHL seasons.

Sundin Maple Leafs, Sundin Maple Leafs

He would play one final season in the NHL, signing a free agent contract after the first of the year, which allowed him to play in 41 games of the 2008-09 season, scoring 9 goals and 28 points to push his final career totals to 564 goals (2oth on the all-time list) and 785 assists (32nd all-time) for 1,349 points (27th all-time) in 1,346 games. He leads all Swedish players in all three categories as well as holding the record for the Most Games Played by a European born and trained forward.

In February of 2012, Sundin was honored by the Maple Leafs when they added his jersey #13 to the ranks of the numbers honored by the franchise at the Air Canada Centre.

Sundin #13, Sundin #13

Today's featured jersey is a 2003 Sweden National Team Mats Sundin jersey. Sundin had a long and successful international career playing for Sweden, beginning in 1989 at the European Junior Championships. In 1990, he played at both the European and World Juniors before making his senior level debut in fine style, winning a gold medal at the 1991 World Championships. Later that same year me joined the world's elite at the 1991 Canada Cup.

Another gold medal followed at the 1992 World Championships and a bronze arrived at the 1994 Worlds. Sundin next skated at the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996 and won his third goal medal at the 1998 Worlds after his first Olympics earlier that same year.

He then competed at the 2001 Worlds, the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 2003 World Championships, earning a silver medal, the 2004 World Cup and capped off his international career in the best possible way with a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

His final tally would be three gold, one silver and two bronze at the World Championships to go along with his gold medal at the Olympics while often serving as team captain.

Sweden 2003 jersey, Sweden 2003 jersey
Sweden 2003 jersey, Sweden 2003 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2001 NHL All-Star Game Mats Sundin jersey. Sundin was named to the NHL All-Star Game nine consecutive times, from 1996 to 2004, although he was forced to miss the 2003 game due to injury.

After wearing some really nice looking jerseys the previous two All-Star Games, the NHL came up with some rather unattractive jerseys as a result of everyone being just a little too excited for the overblown Millennium. While not as bad as Major League Baseball's "Turn Ahead the Clock" jerseys worn in 1999, these NHL All-Star jerseys certainly had a futuristic "Star Trek" feel too them.

Oddly, the "World" team wore red and the "North America" team wore blue - dark vs. dark - while the goalies for both teams wore white jerseys(!), not unlike a soccer match where the goalkeepers wear a distinctly different color from the rest of the squad. Additionally, the World team had the player names below the numbers while the North Americans kept their names in the traditional location above the numbers.

While the oddity of these jerseys could be justified for the game in 2000, unfortunately the game in Denver in 2001 also stayed with the Millennium jerseys one time too many.

NHL All-Star Game 2001 jersey, NHL All-Star Game 2001 jersey
NHL All-Star Game 2001 jersey, NHL All-Star Game 2001 jersey

Today's video section begins with Sundin being selected first overall at the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

Next, Sundin scoring his 1,000th NHL point with a goal in a 302 win over Edmonton on March 30th, 2003.

Such was the level of Sundin's popularity that he regularly appeared in TV commercials. Here's a classic one with Wayne Gretzky for McDonald's.

Not everyone was a fan of Sundin however...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

1992 NHL All-Star Game Joe Sakic Jersey

The third of the 2012 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame was long time Colorado Avalanche and Quebec Nordiques captain Joe Sakic.

Sakic was originally drafted by the Avalanche franchise when they were still the Quebec Nordiques 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.

A little known fact is that Sakic's parents were Croatian immigrants and he grew up speaking Croatian before attending elementary school. He would be named Rookie of the Year in the Western Hockey League of Canadian Juniors in 1987 after scoring 133 points. He also survived a horrific bus crash involving his club, the Swift Current Broncos, in which four of his teammates were killed. The following year Sakic was named WHL Most Valuable Player and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year after scoring 160 points.

Sakic Swift Current Broncos, Sakic Swift Current Broncos
Sakic during his days with Swift Current

He scored an assist on his NHL debut on October 6, 1988 versus the Hartford Whalers and originally wore sweater #88 because Alain Cote was wearing his preferred #19. He finished with 62 points in 70 games.

Sakic Rookie, Sakic Rookie
Sakic wearing #88 as a rookie

With Cote now retired, Sakic claimed his #19 for 1989-90 and scored 102 points. 1990-91 saw Sakic score 109 points, sixth overall in the league, and be named co-captain of the Nordiques (for home games).

Sakic would miss 11 games in 1991-92, which would hurt him in his chances to repeat another 100 point season, and he would conclude the year with 94 points. During this time period. the Nordiques regularly finished in last place, which allowed them to load up on high draft choices and put them in position to acquire a number of talented players, highlighted by their trade of holdout Eric Lindros.

Now named full time team captain of the newly reconfigured Nordiques, Sakic would respond in 1992-93 with 105 points and lead the Nordiques out of the wilderness and into the playoffs for the first time in his career on the heels of a staggering 52 point improvement, double their total of the year prior. Without any previous playoff experience, the Nordiques would be eliminated in the first round by arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens.

Sakic Nordiques Captain, Sakic Nordiques Captain
Sakic as captain of the Nordiques

1993-94 was a slight step back for Sakic, as he would fall short of the 100 point barrier with 92, but the Nordiques would take a large step back, dropping 28 points in the standings and miss the playoffs yet again.

The Nordiques final season of in Quebec saw Sakic finish fourth in scoring during the lockout shortened 1994-95 season and the Nordiques would capture the division title, only to be eliminated in six games by the New York Rangers, ending their time in Canada.

Relocated to Denver, the Colorado Avalanche took to the ice in the 1995-96 season hoping to continue the improvement shown during Sakic's seven seasons in Quebec. Little did anyone anticipate the events that would unfold that season.

After having a major falling out with the Montreal Canadiens, superstar goaltender Patrick Roy was traded to the Canadiens former arch-rivals, now located in Colorado, a trade which would have never, ever happened had the club remained in Quebec, and the Avalanche were now on their way to glory.

Sakic topped 50 goals for the first time with 51, adding 69 assists for a career high 120 points for third in the league. The Avalanche would storm the playoffs, defeating first the Vancouver Canucks, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks by identical 4 games to 2 margins. Next up was a hard fought series with the Detroit Red Wings, upsetting the team that finished 27 points ahead of them in the standings 4-2 for the right to face the upstart Florida Panthers, whom they easily dismissed in four straight games for the the franchises first Stanley Cup Championship in their first season out of Quebec. Sakic would lead the playoffs in scoring that season and be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

It had been a long journey for Sakic, who, along with Curtis Leschyshyn, were the only two Nordiques players from the 1988-89 season to suffer through the years of last place finishes to eventually raise the Stanley Cup.

Sakic 1996 Stanley Cup, Sakic 1996 Stanley Cup
Sakic raises the 1996 Stanley Cup after many years of toil with the franchise

Sakic would eventually play 13 seasons in Colorado, scoring 100 points twice more in his career, eventually surpassing the 600 goal, 1,000 assist and 1,600 point marks. The Avalanche were regular fixtures in the playoffs, and contenders for the Stanley Cup for seven straight seasons, reaching the conference finals in six of those seven seasons, including winning the Stanley Cup again in 2001, the same season he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP, the Pearson Award and the Lady Byng Trophy.

Sakic 2001 Stanley Cup, Sakic 2001 Stanley Cup
Sakic again raised the Stanley Cup in 2001

Today's featured jersey is a 1992 NHL All-Star Joe Sakic jersey from the NHL's 75th Anniversary season. For the game in Philadelphia, the Campbell Conference wore red jerseys in the style of the first NHL All-Star Game, held in 1947. Back then the format was for the defending Stanley Cup champions to play an all-star team made up of players from the other five clubs in league, in a game held prior to the start of the regular season.

The Wales Conference wore white jerseys, which were first used in 1951 when the format of the game was changed to the First Team All-Stars facing off against the Second Team All-Stars.

Sakic wore #16 for the game due to to 16 year veteran Bryan Trottier also being on the Wales Conference roster. With Sakic only being in the league for four seasons at the time, Trottier's seniority gave him the right to wear the #19 and Sakic was obliged to chose a different number, in this case the similar appearing #16.

NHL All-Star 1992 jersey, NHL All-Star 1992 jersey
NHL All-Star 1992 jersey, NHL All-Star 1992 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006 Team Canada Joe Sakic jersey. This jersey was worn at the Olympic Games held in Torino, Italy. Yet again, Sakic was obligated to to switch to a number other than his usual #19, this time in deference to Steve Yzerman, whose #19 was retired by the Canadian National Team in 2005.

Aside from Sakci changing to #91, the retirement of Yzerman's #19 also affected others on the Canadian Roster who also wore #19 in the NHL; #9 Shane Doan, #39 Brad Richards and #97 Joe Thornton.

Canada 2006 Olympic jersey, Canada 2006 Olympic jersey

Our first video today are the Top 10 Joe Sakic Moments from his throughout his career.

Our second video is a tribute video dedicated to his entire career on the occasion of his retirement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

1999-00 Washington Capitals Adam Oates Jersey

The second of this year's Hockey Hall of Fame inductees was Adam Oates, a Canadian, who took the less travelled route to the NHL at the time by playing college hockey in the United States. While with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, more commonly known as RPI, he led the Engineers to the 1985 NCAA Championship. He graduated with single season school records for most assists, setting the tone for his NHL career in the process, with 60, points in a season with 91 and career points with 150.

Oates RPI, Oates RPI
Oates celebrates RPI's national championship

After RPI's championship season, Oates signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Red Wings. He would play four seasons in Detroit before being traded to the St. Louis Blues and beginning his journey around the league. Upon his arrival in St. Louis, he would be paired with Brett Hull, a move that enabled him to immediately score over 100 points for the first of four times in his career, a 24 point improvement over his final season with the Red Wings. During his second season in St. Louis, 1990-91, he would accumulate 90 assists despite playing in only 61 games, which allowed him to raise his career best from 102 points up to 115.

Oates Blues, Oates Blues

Following a contract hold out the following year, he was traded to the Boston Bruins. He would show St. Louis the error of their ways with a career high 45 goals and 145 points to finish third in league scoring in 1992-93, a position he would repeat the next season with 32 goals and 80 assists for 112 points.

Oates Bruins, Oates Bruins
Oates during his career best season in 1992-93

The relationship with the Bruins soured and Oates would once more be on the move three seasons later, this time to the Washington Capitals, where he would change his jersey number from #12 to #77 in honor of Bruins teammate Ray Bourque, who remained in Boston.

In Oates first full season in Washington, the Capitals would make it all the way to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals before falling to his former club, the Red Wings.

Oates Capitals 1998 Finals, Oates Capitals 1998 Finals
Oates shakes hands with Steve Yzerman following the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals

Oates would play six seasons for the Capitals, including being named team captain in 1999. He led the league in assists in 2000-01 and would repeat that feat again the following season, becoming the oldest player to ever do so at age 39. That season would also see him score his 1,000th assist, becoming only the eighth player in NHL history to reach that milestone.

Oates Capitals, Oates Capitals
Oates as captain of the Capitals

However, Oates would once again be traded, finishing the season by playing 14 games with the Philadelphia Flyers. 2002-03 would see Oates return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time, now with the Mighty Ducks of Anahiem, before falling in seven games to the New Jersey Devils.

Oates Ducks, Oates Ducks
Oates while with the Mighty Ducks

2003-04 would see him add one last opportunity to add to his sweater collection, as he would dress for his seventh and final club, the Edmonton Oilers. His final career totals would stand at 341 goals and 1079 assists for 1420 points in 1337 games and Oates would play in five NHL All-Star Games. His playmaking ability would see him total more assists in the 1990's than any other player, save for Wayne Gretzky. Oates had the most points of any eligible player not in the Hockey Hall of Fame up until his induction this year.

In addition to being voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Oates' memorable day continued with him being named head coach of the Washington Capitals, his first NHL head coaching position.

"Obviously, a fantastic day. I don't know if that's happened before," Oates said of being picked for induction and hired as a coach on the same day. "It's just a special, special day for us."
Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Washington Capitals Adam Oates jersey. This jersey style was introduced for the 1995-96 season, debuting not only a new eagle logo, but an entirely new color scheme as well. This style was worn for all of Oates' six seasons in Washington.

Washington Capitals 99-00 F jersey, Washington Capitals 99-00 F jersey
Washington Capitals 99-00 F jersey, Washington Capitals 99-00 F jersey
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1989-90 St. Louis Blues Adam Oates jersey from Oates early days in the NHL, where he rose to prominence as a high scoring playmaker.

This style of Blues jersey can be traced back to the 1984-85 season, when the newly introduced style had "Blues" arched over the Blue Note crest. The red trim arrived a year later and the arched "Blues" was dropped for the 1987-88 season. A subtle change arrived in 1989 when the sharp corners of the crest became rounded, brining us to this exact style as worn by Oates. The Blues had one more tweak to make though, as the names changed from one color to three color for the final two seasons of this style, beginning in 1992-93.

St. Louis Blues 89-90 jersey, St. Louis Blues 89-90 jersey

Here is Oates talking about his favorite memories of playing in St. Louis.

Uh, yea...

And a few less speaking lines this time around...

Finally, here is Oates and other prominent members of the hockey community discussing his career in advance of his upcoming induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1998 Russia National Team Pavel Bure Jersey

One of the four 2012 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Pavel Bure was once selected to practice with Wayne Gretzky and Vladislav Tretiak for a television program at the age of 11. By the age of 14, Bure was named to the famed Central Red Army's junior team.

In 1986, five years before playing in Vancouver as a professional, Bure toured Canada with a Soviet youth team and played a game at the Pacific Coliseum, his future home rink.

He made his debut with the Central Red Army senior club in 1987-88 at the age of 16 as a fill-in player when the Red Army Club was without several regulars who were participating in the 1987 Canada Cup. In all, he managed to get into five games, which included scoring his first goal.

While with CSKA Moscow, Bure was teamed with Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, a dangerously potent line combination that was set to dominate not only Soviet hockey, but international hockey for years to come, until politics interfered and changed everything.

Bure CSKA, Bure CSKA

Bure set a Soviet League record for goals by a rookie in 1988-89 when he totaled 17 goals in 32 games, a mark that would stand for 18 years as CSKA continued their dominance by winning the league championship for the 13th consecutive season. He was recognized for his for his efforts by being named the league's rookie of the year. He also participated in the 1989 World Junior Tournament, with his eight goals tying for the tournament lead. Additionally, his 14 points led the competition in scoring, earning him Best Forward honors while leading the Soviet Union to the gold medal.

Mogilny would later defect after that spring's World Championships in Sweden, breaking up the line the Soviets expected would lead them into the future.

Later on June 17, 1989, thanks to some detective work by their head scout, the Vancouver Canucks were able to draft Bure one year earlier than many thought he would be eligible due to a rule that stated he needed at least two seasons of play, with a minimum of 11 games each season, for his top-level European club.

Although Bure only played in five league games, it was discovered he had also competed in enough exhibition and international games to make him eligible to be chosen 113th overall in the 6th round. The Detroit Red Wings had even been told by an NHL vice-president that Bure was not eligible prior to their fifth round pick. Verbal complaints and written protests followed, which resulted in a formal investigation, which ended in league president John Ziegler declaring the pick illegal on May 17, 1990.

Bure would compete in the 1990 World Junior Championships, this time scoring seven goals in seven games, but come up short with a silver medal. Later that spring he made is debut with the Soviet National Team as a 19-year-old at the World Championships in Switzerland in which he scored six points in ten games on the way to a gold medal.

Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure at the 1990 World Junior Championships

Another international tournament was on the calendar for 1990, this time in Seattle, Washington for the Goodwill Games. While the Soviet Union won the gold medal, and Bure contributed four goals and an assist in five games, the tournament is best remembered for the defection of Bure's other linemate, Fedorov, who tried to persuade Bure to defect with him. Bure declined out of concern for repercussions against his brother Valeri, who was then an up and coming 15-year-old in the Soviet Union.

After the Canucks selection of Bure was negated by the league's ruling, Vancouver appealed to the league and provided game sheets proving his participation in the required number of games. On June 15, 1990, the day before that year's Entry Draft in which Bure would have been fair game for any team who wished to select him, Vancouver's selection of Bure was permanently reinstated.

In Bure's third season with Central Red Army in 1990-91, he tied for the team lead in scoring with 46 points in 44 games. His 35 goals were one behind the league leader in that category. During the season he also participated in his third World Junior Championships. Bure finished as the tournament's leading scorer once more following his 12 goal, 15 point effort, but had to once more settle for a silver medal. He concluded his junior career with a tournament record 27 goals.

Bure CSKA, Bure CSKA
Bure as a member of the famed Central Red Army team

Later that spring he participated in the 1991 World Championships where he tied for the team lead with 11 points in 11 games on his way to a bronze medal finish.

Bure left Moscow on September 6, 1991 and the Canucks began to negotiate a contract with him, but before it could be finalized, the Canucks also had to deal with the Central Red Army club, who had an existing contract with Bure. The two sides met in late October of 1991 in Detroit and in the end, Bure was free to join the Canucks following a $250,000 payment to Central Red Army. Once that deal was settled, Bure signed a four year contract with Vancouver, making him the second highest paid player on the team behind only team captain Trevor Linden.

Due to the court proceedings, Bure missed the first month of the season and eventually made his NHL debut on November 5, 1991 against the Winnipeg Jets which ignited "Pavel-mania". His speed on the ice was eye-catching and led to his eventual nickname of "The Russian Rocket".

Pavel Bure
Prior to his NHL debut, Bure poses for one of
Upper Deck's unconventional "lifestyle" cards

After a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on November 7th, Bure got his first NHL point on November 10th with an assist on a goal by Cliff Ronning in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders. As he adjusted to life in North America and the NHL style of game, he was able to score 12 goals in 42 games. It was at that point that Bure caught fire and surged to the end of the season with a stellar 22 goals in his final 23 games, which sent Vancouver into a frenzy and gave him 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games, which tied a team record for points by a rookie.

Pavel Bure
Bure as a rookie in 1991-92

Once in the playoffs, Bure registered his first hat trick during Game 6 of the Canucks opening round series against Winnipeg. The Canucks would participate in two rounds of the playoffs that season, with the confident rookie scoring 6 goals and 10 points in 13 games.

At the conclusion of the season, Bure was named the winner of the 1992 Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, the first Canuck's player to win an individual award in the team's 21 seasons.

Pavel Bure
Bure poses with the Calder Trophy

Now with a full year of experience and confidence under his belt, Bure got off to a flying start, scoring a career high four goals in only the third game of the season. He also set Canucks team records for goals and points in a period when he scored three goals and added an assist during the second period of the Canucks game against the Winnipeg Jets. Additionally, his four goals set a team record for goals in a game and shorthanded goals in a game, as two of Bure's goals came with the Canucks a man down.

That season he participated in his first NHL All-Star Game, scoring twice for the Campbell Conference. Not long after the all-star game, Bure set the Canucks team record for goals in a season with his 46th goal, passing Tony Tanti's mark of 45. He continued to light the lamp at a furious pace, hitting the 50 goal mark on March 1st in a neutral site game in Hamilton, Ontario against the Buffalo Sabres.

March 9th saw Bure pass Patrik Sundstrom's franchise record of 91 points with a pair of assists in a 7-2 win over the New Jersey Devils before reaching the rarified air of the 60 goal plateau, which he accomplished during a 6-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Bure would finish his sophomore season with exactly 60 goals and 50 assists for 110 points.

He duplicated the 60 goals again the following season as part of a nearly identical 107 point season in 1993-94, and added another 16 goals and 31 points in 24 games as he led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals. He would play four more seasons with the Canucks, including scoring 51 goals in his final season in Vancouver in 1997-98.

He only played 11 games during his first year with the Florida Panthers, but was worth the wait when he unleashed back to back 58 and 59 goal seasons in 1999-00 and 2000-01, leading the league in goals both times.

Bure Panthers, Bure Panthers
Two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Pavel Bure

The Panthers acquired his brother Valeri in 2001-02, but after 56 games, during which he scored 49 points to lead the Panthers for the season, he was traded to the New York Rangers in March. More knee injuries limited him to just 39 games in 2002-03 and forced him to miss the 2003-04 season. After the 2004-05 season was canceled due to the lockout, the additional time off still did not allow Bure to return to full health and he announced his retirement in November of 2005.

In 12 NHL seasons, Bure played in 702 games, scoring 437 goals and 779 points and played in six NHL All-Star Games, including being named the game's MVP in 2000.

Internationally, Bure played in three World Juniors, winning gold in 1989 and silver medals in 1990 and 1991. At the World Championships, he won gold in 1990 and a silver in 1991. Eligible for the Olympics thanks to the NHL's full cooperation, he was able to earn a silver in 1998, along with being named the tournament's Best Forward, and a bronze in 2002. Earlier this year, Bure was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Russia National Team Pavel Bure jersey. This jersey was intended to be used by Russia at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but was never actually worn by the Russians.

The story behind this jersey comes from the designer of the jersey who did all the jerseys for the 1998 Olympics while he worked at Nike: "My personal favorite of the '98 series that unfortunately never made the ice. We had gotten so far into the process that yes, we had released replicas and authentics at retail. If my memory is correct we only did replicas blank, the authentics got name and numbers.

"The real story is that we came within weeks of the Olympics and then (Valentin Sych) a top ranking official in Russian hockey (the guy who approved everything) mysteriously died, i.e. "assassinated". Next thing we know we get a call and they no longer want the jersey and we scramble to try and revise it, strip it down, etc...  and finally run out of time and have to settle with giving them the '96 World Cup jerseys since we have stock and could easily produce them again. We never really heard the "too Soviet" complaint, we just heard "He's dead and we don't want it now."

The designer also related that the pyramid shapes running down the arms were inspired by similar shapes on the domes of St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow.

As the designer stated, the jersey was originally approved and had made its way into the marketplace, with the blank ones being sold with letter sizes (L, XL) and the authentics, sold with numbered sizing (48, 52), which all came with Sergei Fedorov's name and number 91.

We were able to obtain a blank one, and with all customized examples being Fedorovs, we chose to take an alternate route and had ours lettered with team captain Pavel Bure's #10, with the name being done as "P. Bure" due to Pavel's brother Valeri Bure also being on the roster. Note that the name, number and "C" are a pale champagne color, and not white, a detail often lost in photos of the pre-customized ones and simply done incorrectly in white on some of the non-Fedorov examples we have seen.

Russia B 98 unused jersey, Russia B 98 unused jersey
Russia B 98 unused jersey, Russia B 98 unused jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Vancouver Canucks Pavel Bure jersey. This jersey was part of the very first group of NHL alternate jerseys introduced in 1995-96.

While this jersey was fairly unconventional for it's day, particularly for it being one of the first three jerseys to use gradients thanks to the dye-sublimation process, diagonal lines had been introduced into jersey design by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim two years earlier.

While this jersey was only used for two seasons, it certainly outlived the outright failures of the Mighty Ducks and Los Angeles Kings alternates, which were scrapped only after being worn six times each. The Canucks jersey would have likely lasted longer than just two seasons, but fell victim to the club introducing an entirely new color scheme and logo thanks to a change in ownership at the time.

The two years of this jersey's lifespan coincided with the two seasons that Bure changed from his original #10 to #96 before changing back to #10 for the 1997-98 season, which saw the new orca whale logo and team colors arrive.

Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey, Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey
Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey, Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey

In today's video segment, a look at what could have been, with Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov playing together at the 1989 World Junior Tournament.

Finally, here is Bure's speech on the occasion of his induction into the Hall of Fame.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Olympic Pre-Qualification Update

Over the weekend the 2014 Winter Olympic Pre-Qualification Phase concluded with action in Groups G, H and J sending three winners onto the Final Olympic Qualification, which will take place from February 7th to 10th, 2013.

Kiev hosted Group H, which saw hosts Ukraine (currently ranked 20th in the IIHF World Rankings) and Poland (23rd) on a collision course following dual shutouts of overmatched Estonia and Spain. While Poland struck first with a goal at 3:28 of the first period, Ukraine evened it up at 1-1 with a power play goal with just over a minute remaining.

Just 39 seconds into the second period, Ukraine capitalized on a late penalty call in the first period to take a lead they would not relinquish, adding a late goal in the second with 31 seconds to go and then their third and fourth power play goals of the game for a final 5-1 margin to the delight of the blue and yellow clad home supporters.

Ukraine, Ukraine
Ukraine celebrates their Group H victory

Things were tighter in Group J heading into Sunday, as three teams had a chance to advance, as Japan (22nd) led with 5 points after a 2-0 victory over Romania and an 3-2 overtime win over South Korea (28th). Great Britain (21st) was second at 4 points thanks to a point from their 5-4 shootout loss to South Korea and 3-0 win over Romania. South Korea were still in with a shot thanks to picking up 2 points from their shootout win over Great Britain and the point gained in their overtime loss to hosts Japan, but needing an outright win over Romania on Sunday to keep their hopes alive.

South Korea got the win they needed in the form of a 2-0 triumph over Romania to give them 6 points in the standings and hoping that Great Britain would defeat Japan in overtime, which would leave South Korea, Great Britain and Japan all tied with 6 points with South Korea holding the tie-breaking advantage to win the group.

Unfortunately for the South Koreans, things did not go their way, as the British capitalized on a power play midway through the first period to take a 1-0 lead and struck again just 30 seconds later against one time Los Angeles Kings goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji, silencing the home fans in Japan.

By no means did Great Britain go into a defensive shell, as they held the advantage in shots on goal in both the first (16-7) and third periods (10-6), while the second was even at nine each. Following a scoreless second period, Japan got one past Stephen Murphy in goal for the visitors at 4:01 of the third, setting up a tense final run to the finish, which included a late power play for Japan with just 1:41 remaining, which became a 6-on-4 when Japan pulled their goalie with 60 seconds left. Murphy and Great Britain stood tall to hold on for a 2-1 win, and the three full points gained from winning in regulation leap frogged them over both Japan's 5 and South Korea's 6 to win the group with 7.

Great Britain vs. Japan, Great Britain vs. Japan
Stephen Murphy's 21 saves on 22 shots led Great Britain to the next round

Group G in Budapest saw hosts Hungary cruise to the deciding game with a 5-1 win over Lithuania  and a 13-0 drubbing of Preliminary Qualification Group K winners Croatia. Their opponents were the Netherlands, who downed Croatia 8-2 before easily handling Lithuania 9-2.

The two clubs then engaged in what was not only the most thrilling game of this round of Olympic Qualification, but perhaps the entire 2012-13 season in the world of hockey.

Hungary opened the scoring at 8:17 with a power play goal just 21 seconds after a too many men penalty on the Netherlands. The Dutch rebounded at 11:59 to even the score before adding two more before the period ended at 3-1 in favor of the visitors.

While Hungary scored at 1:19 to pull within one, the Netherlands captialized on the only penalty of the period to restore their two goal lead at the three minute mark. Just over eight minutes later Hungary again closed to within 1 at 3-2 and then had the building rocking when they tied the score at 16:28.

Netherlands vs Hungary, Netherlands vs Hungary
The hard fought game between Hungary and the Netherlands
could have gone either way

The Netherlands retook the lead at 8:50 of the third period only to have Hungary's Janos Vas matched his brother Marton Vas' earlier goal. Hungary finally was able to lead the game for the first time since midway through the first period when they scored at 15:04, sending the home fans into a frenzy.

Hungary was unable to hold on for the remainder of the game though, as the Netherlands fought back to tie the game at 6-6 with just 1:30 left in regulation.

Neither team was able to score during the remainder of the third period or the five minutes of overtime which followed, meaning the winner of not only the game, but the group, would be decided by a three round shootout.

After the first two shooters missed the net, team captain Diederick Hagemijer scored for the Dutch and Csaba Kovacs of Hungary was stopped by goalkeeper Ian Meierdres for Holland. Marcel Kars then advanced the Netherlands to the Final Olympic Qualification in February with the clinching goal to make the final score 7-6 in a terrific night of hockey as the 24th ranked Netherlands upset the 19th ranked Hungarians at home.

Netherlands flag, Netherlands
Everyone loves winning a trophy, and that is a seriously nice one
the Dutch they are clearly enjoying

Remember, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Ukraine will not be advancing to the 2014 Olympics just yet, as they must participate in another phase of the competition, the Final Olympic Qualification, which will take place from February 7th to 10th in 2013.

Things get much tougher for those teams advancing, as they are slotted into Groups D, E and F, where teams ranked 10-18 await.

The Netherlands (24) will be looking to return to the Olympic Hockey Tournament for the first time since 1980, but face long odds as the lowest ranked team remaining when they participate in Group D, which is being hosted by Germany (10) and will also consist of Austria (15) and Italy (16).

Group E sees Latvia (11) hosting France (14) and Kazakhstan (17) plus Great Britain (21) (who have not skated in the Olympics since 1948) while Group F will take place in Denmark (12) with Belarus (13) and Slovenia (18) all awaiting Ukraine (20), whose only Olympic participation was in 2002 in Salt Lake City and the top ranked team to advance from the just completed round of Pre-Qualifcation.

Only when the Final Olympic Qualification is concluded will the winners of those three groups gain an entry into the actual 2014 Winter Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi a year later where hosts Russia (1), Slovakia (6) and the United States (7) in Group A, Finland (2), Canada (5) and Norway (8) in Group B and the Czech Republic (3), Sweden (4) and Switzerland (9) in Group C welcome the final three survivors of the three step qualification process which began in September 2012 in Croatia.

While little publicized and virtually unknown in North America, the Olympic qualification tournament can provide some some of the most dramatic moments, as we have seen today, particularly in Groups D, E and F with an actual berth in the Olympics on the line, as making it to the games in as good as a gold medal for the participants of the lower ranked nations and is a source of tremendous pride for all involved to compete at the highest level on sport's biggest stage against the world's best.

Our first featured jersey today is a 2002 Ukraine National Team Vadim Shakhraychuk jersey as worn during the 2002 World Championships in Sweden. It features the Coat of Arms of Ukraine as the main crest, a trident commonly called the Tryzub, a symbol which dates back over 1,000 years and most historians agree depicts a stylized falcon which in turn represents the Holy Spirit.

Nike Ukraine jerseys are quite difficult to obtain, and even more so from this time period. Once the challenge of even acquiring one been met, having it customized properly is even more difficult, as jersey material fabric in it's singular shade of blue is simply unavailable. Fortunately for us, the experts at Exclusive Pro Sports were able to custom dye fabric to match in order create an accurate nameplate, something we are confident no other customizers are capable of.

Ukraine 2002 jersey, Ukraine 2002 jersey
Ukraine 2002 jersey, Ukraine 2002 jersey
Ukraine 2002 jersey, Ukraine 2002 jerseyaaUkraine 2002 jersey, Ukraine 2002 jersey

Our second featured jersey is a 2008 Great Britain National Team Jason Hewitt jersey as worn during Olympic Pre-Qualifying Group D held in Poland in November of 2008. This is a truly striking jersey with it's large, dynamic lion crest logo with Union Jack mane. The curved, vertical striping only add to the excitement of this vibrantly colored jerseys. Easily one of our favorites in the Third String Goalie collection.

Great Britain 2008 jersey, Great Britain 2008 jersey
Great Britain 2008 jersey, Great Britain 2008 jersey

Today's final featured jersey is a 2008 Netherlands National Team Ivy van den Huevel jersey as worn in the 2008 IIHF Division I Group A World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria as well as the IIHF Group C Pre-Olympic Qualification Tournament in Narva, Estonia in November 2008.

The main crest, striping, name, numbers and even the IIHF logo on the back are all dye-sublimated, with the name on a nameplate which was then sewn on, while the sponsorship patch on the back is printed on a patch which was then sewn onto the jersey. The pair of sponsorship patches on the arms are embroidered patches which were then sewn on.

This very attractive jersey in the traditional Dutch color of orange features a striking main logo and some basic, yet effective striping and contrasting blue accent colors for an overall excellent look.

Netherlands 2008 jersey photo Netherlands2008F.jpg
Netherlands 2008 jersey photo Netherlands2008B.jpg

The Great Britain and Netherlands jerseys are from our friends at WorldHockeyJerseys.com, the number one source of game-worn jerseys from national teams of the International Ice Hockey Federation. Nick and Mike have supplied us at Third String Goalie with a number of our jerseys, including those from Estoina, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Iceland, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain. To view their home page on ebay and check for any upcoming auctions, please click here.

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