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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

World Juniors and Spengler Cup Updates

In yesterday's World Juniors, upsets were the story of the day as play opened with Germany shocking the Czech Republic by not just winning, but blanking the Czechs despite Germany entering the game having scored 4 goals and having given up 24 in their previous three games. The 3 points for Germany lifted them out of last place and the relegation spot for the time being.

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That unexpected win was followed by Finland having an easy time of it in their 4-1 upset over favored Russia. When the afternoon session began, the trend continued as feisty Slovakia pulled away to a 3-1 lead over Canada, while in Group B, Norway led after one period 1-0 over Switzerland, making one wonder if this day would finish with four upsets out of four.

Canada dug deep and staged a comeback against Slovakia, closing to within one before the end of the second period and then dominating the third with three goals to pull away for a 5-3 win, giving them a chance to win Group A with a regulation win over the United States today.

Switzerland settled down and scored one in the second period and took a one goal lead early in the third, but plucky Norway tied it at the 9:00 mark, but less than 3 minutes later the Swiss got the game winner on a power play to send Norway to the Relegation Round and ensure their own spot in the playoffs on Thursday.

In today's early games, the Czech Republic rebounded from their loss to Germany with a 4-1 win over Slovakia. That result sent Germany into the Relegation Round against Norway and lifted the Czechs over Slovakia into third place in the final standings with 5 points to Slovakia's 3. Slovakia's win over Germany gave them the tie breaker and puts them into the playoffs against Sweden, who won the early game in Group B with an exciting 3-2 win over Russia, which was not decided until late in the game when Jacob de la Rose (Canadiens) tipped in a shot from the point by Gustav Olofsson (Wild).

In the just completed final games of the Preliminary Round, Canada raised their game against their rivals from the United States with first place in the group on the line and came away with a hard fought 3-2 win to take Group A.

Meanwhile, in Group B, the last game went to overtime as the Swiss got out to a 3-1 lead just before the halfway point of the game, but Finland fought back to tie the game just 35 seconds into the third period. Switzerland held tough to get the game to overtime before it was decided 4-3 in favor of Switzerland in a 6 round shootout, but the point scored by Finland for getting to overtime was enough to clinch second place in the group behind perfect Sweden. Russia placed third and Switzerland advanced from fourth place.

The Quarterfinal matchups are now set. In the first game, the United States loss today sees them now drawing Russia, losers of their last two, and who will no doubt be fired up with elimination now on the line at 6 AM eastern time with each subsequent game starting at 2 1/2 hour intervals. Finland is matched up against the Czech Republic in the second game of the cross-over pairings. By winning Group A, Canada draws Switzerland while Group B winner Sweden faces Slovakia in the late game in Thursday's hockey marathon.

In the United States, all four games will be aired on the NHL Network, while in Canada TSN has all but the Finland vs. Czech Republic game, which will be on TSN2.

In Switzerland, the Spengler Cup has concluded following yesterday's semifinal games where CSKA Moscow disappointed the home fans by defeating HC Davos 5-4 in a shootout. Geneve-Servette kept Swiss hopes alive with a 6-5 win over Team Canada after the Canadians rally from 6-3 fell short.

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That set up today's championship final where Servette led 2-0 after one period and had a 4-0 lead before CSKA got on the board with a goal just before the game's halfway point. The Russians got an early goal in the third period and pulled within one with a third consecutive goal at 16:31 but that was all they could muster as Geneva sealed the win with an empty net goal from former Ottawa Senator Kaspars Daugavins with a minute remaining for the final 5-3 margin and the championship.

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The win for Geneve-Servette was their first in the 91 year history of the tournament. They became only the third Swiss team to win the cup.

1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina Jersey

In 1909, goaltender Georges Vezina joined his local team, the Chicoutimi Hockey Club.

Vezina Saguenéens
Vezina in 1909 as a member of the Saguenéens

The club, known as the Saguenéens, played an exhibition game against a brand new club playing in their first ever season, the Montreal Canadiens in February of 1910. Vezina shutout the Canadiens by a score of 2-0 that evening. So impressive was Vezina's performance that his opponent that evening, Joseph Cattarinich, recommended Vezina to his team owner George Kennedy, who reached an agreement with Vezina to play for the Canadiens beginning with the 1910-11 season.

Vezina made his Montreal debut on this date, New Year's Eve. in 1910 and went on to play all 16 of the Canadiens games in the National Hockey Association (NHA), finishing with a record of 8-8 while allowing the fewest goals in the league and his cool demeanor earned him the nickname the "Chicoutimi Cucumber". The following year he again led the league with the fewest goals allowed, but Montreal gave him little offensive support and their 8-10 record left them in last place.

Vezina Montreal 12-13
Vezina in the Canadiens barberpole jerseys of 1912-13

He recorded his first professional shutout, as well as the first in Canadiens history, with a 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on January 18, 1913. After finishing with a 9-11 mark that season, the Canadiens improved in 1913-14 when Vezina posted his first winning season with a 13-7 mark, good for a tie for first place with the Toronto Blueshirts, who defeated Montreal in a two game playoff series for the championship.

After a last place finish in 1914-15, Montreal rebounded strongly in 1915-16 to earn their first O'Brien Cup as NHA champions with a 16-7-1 record. As champions of the NHA, Montreal earned the right to host the Portland Rosebuds of the PCHA in a best-of-five playoff for the rights to the Stanley Cup.

Portland shut out Montreal 2-0 in Game 1, but the Canadiens came back to win the second game 2-1. Game three also went to Montreal 6-3 prior to Portland evening the series with a 6-4 win in Game 4 to set up a winner take all Game 5. Vezina and the Canadiens then captured the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 2-1 win over the Rosebuds in front of their fans at the Montreal Arena.

Vezina Montreal 1915-16
Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning season of 1915-16. Note the "CA" logo on the chest, worn prior to the now familiar "CH" logo, which would arrive the following season.

Montreal defeated Ottawa in a two-game, total-goals playoff 7-6 to remain NHA champions in 1916-17 to earn their second O'Brien Cup but fell in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Seattle Metropolitans.

For the 1917-18 season, Montreal began play in the new National Hockey League (NHL), Vezina recorded the first shutout in NHL history on February 18, 1918 and early in the next season, on December 28, 1918, he became the first goaltender to ever earn a point in the NHL when he was credited with an assist in a 6-3 win over the Toronto Arenas. While Montreal finished second during the regular season, they defeated Ottawa in the playoffs for their first NHL championship. They then travelled to Seattle to face the Metropolitans in the Stanley Cup Final, but play was suspended with the series tied at 2-2-1 when players began to become sick due to the Spanish Influenza epidemic, which would claim the life of Canadian Joe Hall.

1919 Stanely Cup engraving
The engraving noting "series not completed" for the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals

After four more seasons with Montreal, each with a winning record, Vezina established an NHL record with the first goals against average under 2.00 when he finished the season at 1.97. Montreal then defeated the favored Senators to become champions of the NHL and went on to capture their second Stanley Cup in 1924 when they first defeated the Vancouver Maroons 2 games to none and then the Calgary Tigers two games to none. In their four Stanley Cup contests, Vezina allowed just four goals, with a shutout in the final game to clinch the cup.

Vezina Montreal 1923-24
Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning 1923-24 season

The following season Vezina set career best marks with 17 wins as well as lowering his goals against average to 1.81.

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Vezina in the Canadiens 1924-25 jerseys which
commemorates their status as world champions

When Vezina arrived for training camp in 1925-26, he appeared sick, and by the time the regular season began on November 28, he had lost 35 pounds in six weeks and was running a fever of 102º. Still, he started the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and held them scoreless through one period. During the intermission he began vomiting blood prior to insisting he begin the second period, but he collapsed on the ice and was taken out of the game. "In the arena, all was silent as the limp form of the greatest of goalies was carried slowly from the ice," reported one journalist.

The following day he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and never played again. He returned home to Chicoutimi and died on March 27, 1926 just 39 years old.

During his 15 year career, which began on this date in 1910, Vezina played every one of Montreal's 328 regular season and 39 playoff games and had the lowest goals against average seven times and the second lowest on another five occasions.

With Vezina in goal, Montreal would win two NHA championships, three NHL championships and two Stanley Cups from those five appearances. His final combined NHA and NHL totals show 175 wins, 15 by shutout, a goals against average of 3.49 and another 15 playoff victories.

In 1926 the owners of the Canadiens donated a trophy in his name, the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most valuable goaltender each season in the NHL.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a charter member of it's inaugural 12 man class in 1945.

Today's featured jersey is a 1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina jersey. While the Canadiens are known for their iconic Bleu, Blanc et Rouge jerseys with the blue band across their red jerseys, the earliest version of of today's well known look did not arrive until the Canadiens fourth season of 1912-13 when their white, blue and red barberpole jerseys caused the Ottawa Senators to complain that Montreal's barberpole sweaters were too similar to their white, black and red version. The Canadiens response was a red sweater with a blue stripe across the chest, worn only against Ottawa.

Prior to that, the Canadiens wore a blue sweater with white striping for their inaugural season of 1909-10. For their second season of 1910-11, a gorgeous red jersey with white and green trim arrived, adorned with a green maple leaf and an Old English "C". Despite it's attractiveness, this sweater would be worn for just one season.

Vezina Montreal 1910-11

Today's video selection is a brief look at the career of Georges Vezina.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 World Juniors and Spengler Cup Updates

The 2014 World Junior Championships got underway on Boxing Day in Malmö, Sweden, with the ten nations divided into two groups, A and B.

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Play opened in Group A with Canada defeating Germany 7-2 and the United States matching that with a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic. On Friday, Slovakia announced their intention to advance to the playoff round when they beat likely relegation bound Germany with an impressive 9-2 win.

Saturday saw the United States move to the top of the group when they beat the Slovaks 6-3 while the Czech Republic beat Canada in a shootout 5-4 in easily the best game of the tournament to date. Sunday's lone game saw the Americans take their turn dominating the overmatched Germans 8-0.

Going into today's action, the US leads Group A with a 3-0 record and 9 points. Canada is next at 1-0-0-1 with a win and a shootout loss for 4 points. Slovakia is 1-1 with 3 points, ahead of their neighbors and rivals the Czech Republic, who have 2 points from their shootout win combined with a loss. Germany is 0-3 with no points.

Games today have the Germans in a must win situation against the Czechs. A regulation win for the Germans would give them a fighting chance to avoid the Relegation Round, while the Czechs need to at least make it to overtime to advance to the Playoff Round. Canada draws Slovakia in the second game and certainly have plans to rebound from their loss to the Czechs to set up a New Year's Eve showdown with the United States.

Tuesday's games see Slovakia and the Czech Republic in Group A's early game followed by the anticipated US vs. Canada showdown, which will likely determine the winner of the group.

Meanwhile, over in Group B, Russia demoralized Norway 11-0 to open play at the Malmö Arena followed by host Sweden pleasing the home fans with an opening 5-3 win over Switzerland.

Finland began their tournament with a 5-1 defeat of Norway on Friday, while Saturday's action saw Sweden take a key win over rivals Finland 4-2 followed by Russia having an easy time of it in a 7-1 victory against the Swiss. Sunday's game saw Sweden pummel Noway by a score of 10-0.

Group B is thus led by Sweden at 3-0 for 9 points with Russia 2-0 for 6 points. Finland is 1-1, good for 3 points while Switzerland is winless to date at 0-2, as is Norway at 0-3.

Games today have Russia looking to keep pace with Sweden when they play Finland in the first game, while Switzerland must defeat Norway to ensure their own safety while dooming the Norwegians to the Relegation Round.

Tuesday's games have Sweden squaring off against Russia, presumably with the winner taking top honors in Group B, while Finland faces Switzerland in the final game of the Preliminary Round.

Play will resume with the start of the Playoff Round on Thursday, as well as Game 1 of the best-of-three Relegation Round, which is expected to see Germany looking to send Norway down to Division I Group A for 2015.

Meanwhile in Davos, Switzerland, the annual Spengler Cup has entered the playoff phase.

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Play in Group Torriani saw Swiss club Genève-Servette HC blitz the Rochester Americans of the AHL 5-0 in the opening game before Russian side HC CSKA Moscow held on to defeat the Americans 4-3 the following day. Geneva then outlasted CSKA 4-3 in overtime to win the group and gain a bye into the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with Team Canada earning a 5-4 win over HC Vitkovice Steel of the Czech Republic, who where then easily defeated by Swiss host HC Davos 5-1 the day after. Davos then sent the home fans home happy when they won 3-2 over Canada on Saturday.

The quarterfinals saw CSKA Moscow outlasting Vitkovice Steel in overtime and will now face host Davos in today's first game. Team Canada beat the Rochester Americans 6-3 and will now face Genève-Servette in today's second game.

The winners of the semifinals will face off for the Spengler Cup on New Year's Eve at noon Swiss time, 5 AM Eastern Time in North America.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Spengler Cup

In addition to the ongoing World Junior Championship, this is also the time of year for the annual Spengler Cup tournament. Founded in 1923 by Dr. Carl Spengler to promote teams from German-speaking portions of Europe who may have been ostracized in the aftermath of World War I, the Spengler Cup is hosted by HC Davos of Switzerland.

The Spengler Cup, The Spengler Cup

The tournament is an invitational tournament and the oldest such tournament in the world.

The games are held between Boxing Day and New Year's Day with all games being held at the 7,080 seat Vaillant Arena in Davos.

Vaillant Arena, Vaillant Arena
The Vaillant Arena in Davos, home of the Spengler Cup

The invitees over the history of the tournament are a who's who of of powerful European clubs as well as an eclectic mix of unusual and unexpected teams.

The original winners of the Spengler Cup in 1923 was the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club of England, which was made up of Canadian students. Berlin SC of Germany won the second edition in 1924 before Oxford University reclaimed the cup in 1925 and Berlin SC again in 1926.

1923 Spengler Cup Canadians, 1923 Spengler Cup Canadians
The Oxford University Club, comprised of Canadian students

Hosts HC Davos took their first championship in 1927 and LTC Prague were the first Czechoslovakian winner in 1929 and again in 1930. Diavoli Rossoneri of Milan added Italy to the list of winners in 1934 and repeated in 1935.

HC Davos 1920's, HC Davos 1920's
HC Davos in the 1920's

An era of Swiss dominance arrived in 1938 when HC Davos took their 4th title. World War II kept the tournament from being played in 1939 and 1940, but Davos picked up where they left off by winning in 1941, 1942 and 1943. Zürcher SC continued the winning Swiss ways in 1944 and 1945, giving Switzerland six titles in a row and seven out of the previous eight.

HC Davos 1940, HC Davos 1940
HC Davos in 1940 during the Swiss run of dominance

LTC Prague reeled off three titles in a row from 1946 to 1948 and the tournament was not played in 1949. HC Milano Inter took back to back wins in 1953 and 1954, the last of five titles for Italian clubs. Rudá Hvēzda Brno of Czechoslovakia won in 1955 before the tournament was not held in 1956, the last time the Spengler Cup was not held and one of only four times since 1923 the cup has not been awarded in it's history.

After HC Davos added two more titles in 1957 and 1958, ACBB (Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt) Paris won three consecutive cups to add France to the list of winners.

Sparta Prague won in 1962 and 1963 followed by EV Füssen of Germany became the last western team to take home the cup for the next 20 years, as the Czechoslovakian and Soviet teams would dominate the competition going forward.

Dukla Jihlava would win in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1978 (when the tournament moved indoors for the first time) and 1982 and HC Slovan Bratislava would win a trio of titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974 for Czechoslovakia along with the Czechoslovak Olympic Team in 1975.

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1975 Spengler Cup action

Lokomotiv Moscow would become the first Soviet winner in 1967 and again in 1969 followed by SKA Leningrad in 1970, 1971 and 1977. The USSR B team won in 1976, Krylya Soveov Moscow (Soviet Wings) in 1979 followed by Spartak Moscow in both 1980 and 1981, with Dynamo Moscow's first title coming in 1983.

1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team, 1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team
Dukla Jihlava, winners of the Spengler Cup in 1966

1984 saw the debut of Team Canada at the Spengler Cup, which resulted in their first of 11 titles to date. The team representing Canada at the Spengler Cup was originally comprised of the Canadian National Team, a club which remained together for an entire season under the "Programme of Excellence", which began in 1983 to represent Canada at such tournaments as the World Championships, the Spengler Cup and prepare for the Olympics, rather than the current format of All-Star teams who only come together days before such competitions.

The Canadian "Programme of Excellence" lasted until 1998, when the NHL began shutting down to allow it's players into the Olympics every four years, at which point Team Canada at the Spengler Cup began to be comprised of Canadians playing professionally for club teams in Europe and occasionally North American minor leaugers, who were brought together as a squad to stand for Canada.

Spartak Moscow downed Canada in 1985 and the Canadians defeated Soviet clubs in 1986 and 1987 to claim three titles in four years. The United States broke through for their only victory with a "USA Selects" squad in 1988.

Spartak Moscow won the final two times for the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990 before the political upheaval led to the breakup of the Soviet Union, which saw CSKA Moscow win under the flag of Russia in 1991.

Although Swedish clubs had long participated in Davos, Färjestad BK's wins in 1993 and 1994 were Sweden's first titles following seven runner up finishes dating back to 1950.

The Canadians reeled off four wins in a row from 1995 to 1998, which included the participation of the Rochester Americans of the AHL in 1996, the first North American professional club to take part in th competition. Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) then became the first German team to win since 1964 when they took home the title in 1999.

Klner Haie 1999, Klner Haie 1999
The Cologne Sharks show off their 1999 Spengler Cup

Hosts HC Davos delighted the home fans by winning the tournament for the first time since 1958, a span of 42 years, when they won in 2000 and repeated the feat in 2001.

The Canadians returned to the top in 2002 and 2003 before Davos won again in 2004 before Metallurg Magnitogorsk became the first Russian club to win the tournament in 14 years with their championship in 2005.

Canada Spengler Cup 2007, Canada Spengler Cup 2007
Curtis Joseph celebrates Canada's 2007 championship

Since then, Davos in 2006, Team Canada in 2007, Dynamo Moscow in 2008 preceded Dinamo Minsk becoming the first team from Belarus to capture the Spengler Cup in 2009, the 12th country represented  with a championship.

Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009, Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009
Dinamo Minsk becomes the first club from Belarus to win the Spengler Cup

SKA Saint Petersburg won in 2010, the fourth for the team, as they won three times in the 1970's while known as SKA Leningrad.

SKA Spengler Cup 2010, SKA Spengler Cup 2010
SKA Saint Petersburg celebrate in 2010,
the first year for the new version of the championship trophy

HC Davos defeated Dinamo Riga in 2011 to win their fifth title since 2000 after their long drought dating back to 1958.

Davos Spengler Cup 2011, Davos Spengler Cup 2011
HC Davos gathers after winning their 15th Spengler Cup in 2011

Canada regained the Spengler Cup in 2012 with a particularly loaded squad thanks to the availability of many players who would normally be occupied in the NHL if it were not for the ongoing lockout. Among the notable names on the Team Canada roster were goaltender Jonathan Bernier, forwards Matt Duchene, Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Jason Williams, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and veteran Ryan Smyth.

Tavares vs Kane, Tavares vs Kane
John Tavares battles with Patrick Kane during the 2012 Spengler Cup

Still, the other clubs will benefitted from locked out NHL players, as Davos had Joe ThorntonPatrick Kane and Loui Eriksson while Fribourg had goaltender Corey Schneider, Patric HornqvistMax Talbot and Bruno Gervais on their roster.

Joe Thornton Davos, Joe Thornton Davos
Joe Thornton, wearing the flaming helmet to identify him as the leading scorer

This year the participating clubs are, as always, hosts HC Davos, Team Canada, another Swiss team Genève-Servette HC, Czech club HC Vitkovice Steel, Russian club HC CSKA Moscow and the return of the Rochester Americans of the AHL for the first time in 17 years.

Play in Group Torriani saw Genève-Servette blitz Rochester 5-0 in the opening game before CSKA held on to defeat the Americans 4-3 the following day. Geneva then outlasted CSKA 4-3 in overtime to win the group and gain a bye into the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with Team Canada earning a 5-4 win over Vitkovice, who where then easily defeated by Davos 5-1 the day after. Davos then sent the home fans home happy when they became the second Swiss team to win their group with a 3-2 win over Canada yesterday.

The quarterfinals will be played today, with crossover matchups, as the early game has CSKA Moscow facing Vitkovice Steel in the early game followed by Team Canada drawing the Rochester Americans. The winner of the early game will be matched up against Davos on Monday followed by Genève-Servette taking on the winner of the North American matchup.

The winners will face off for the cup on New Year's Eve at noon Swiss time.

While virtually unknown in the United States, the Spengler Cup does have games broadcast on TSN in Canada, particularly those that involve Team Canada, with their quarterfinal pairing against Rochester being on today and a semifinal on Monday, both at 2:00 PM Eastern on TSN with Tuesday's final live at 5:55 AM on TSN2. Those in the Rochester, New York area will be able to see the Americans in action today on the Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.

Spengler Cup logo, Spengler Cup logo

Today's featured jersey is a 2012 Team Canada Jason Demers jersey as worn when Team Canada won the Spengler Cup when they defeated HC Davos 7-2. Canada's championship in 2012 was the 12th for the Canadians since they began their participation in 1984

Club teams often wear special jerseys just for the Spengler Cup tournament, resplendent with numerous advertisements of tournament sponsors not normally found on their domestic league jerseys.

Team Canada Spengler Cup 2012 jersey photo TeamCanadaSpenglerCup2012Fjersey.png
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Bovine jersey: Today's bovine jersey is a 2013 Spengler Cup Officials Jersey as worn by the referees and linesmen during the 2013 edition of the Spengler Cup.

Taking the concept of sponsorship a step too far, the Swiss Milk sponsorship goes beyond anything previously seen in the world of ice hockey as the officials customary black and white stripes are replaced by a black and white Holstein cow pattern, compete with a picture of a cow on the front at the cost of the officials dignity, which one would think would be paramount for them to retain the respect they deserve while officiating high level games of this magnitude.

Udderly bizarre.

Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRef2013.jpg
Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRefs2013.jpg
Note the red armbands on the referee's jerseys,
as the four officials seem to be taking in all in stride

Today's video segment begins with highlights of HC Davos winning the Spengler Cup in 2000, ending their 38 year drought. Notice the previous version of the championship trophy with the glass globe on top which was used from 1956 to 2009, which is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Next, a linesman wearing one of the unfortunate cow uniforms while escorting a disqualified player off the ice.

Friday, December 27, 2013

1979-80 Los Angeles Kings Charlie Simmer Jersey

On this date in 1974, playing in the first game of his career, rookie Charlie Simmer of the California Golden Seals scored his first goal against the Boston Bruins. He later added an assist to cap off a 5-2 Seals win.

In total, Simmer would play 35 games that season with the Golden Seals, scoring 8 goals and 21 points. The next year Simmer again split time between the Seals (21 games, scoring just once) and their top minor league affiliate, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles (42 games, 23 goals and 39 points).

Simmer Seals photo SimmerSeals.jpg
Simmer while with the Golden Seals

For the 1976-77 season, Simmer again had a productive season for Salt Lake with 32 goals and 62 points in 51 games for the Eagles. He also saw action in 24 games with the parent club, only the Golden Seals had relocated to Ohio where they were now known as the Cleveland Barons.

His career took a new path of sorts when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in time for the 1977-78 season, but his return to California was a brief one, as he only played a mere 3 games with the Kings and spent the season with the Springfield Indians of the AHL, where he finished in the top ten in scoring and second in goals with 42.

Simmer played 37 games with the Kings in 1978-79, hitting the 20 goal mark for the first time with 21 after playing the first half of the season with Springfield. He also appeared in a pair of playoff games with the Kings, adding another goal to his total.

For the 1979-80 season, Simmer was now finally established as an NHL regular and on November 24th, he scored his 18th goal of the season with an assist from linemate Dave Taylor. The power play goal at 9:15 of the first period would be the start of one of the longest goal scoring streaks in NHL history.

He then reeled off goals against the Winnipeg Jets on the 27th, opened the scoring on December 1st versus the Chicago Blackhawks with his 20th goal of the season, a power play goal at 10:46 of the first period from Triple Crown Line teammates Taylor and Marcel Dionne before adding a second goal at 1:21 of the second.

Triple Crown Line photo TripleCrownLineKings.jpg
The Triple Crown Line of Taylor, Dionne and Simmer

The Atlanta Flames surrendered goal number 22 on December 4th before the streak reached five games on the 6th against the Philadelphia Flyers with another goal assisted by Taylor and Dionne.

The streak was barely prolonged when Simmer scored with less than a minute remaining in the game against the Quebec Nordiques on the 9th, his 25th goal of the season. Simmer had a four point night against the Hartford Whalers on December 12th, including a goal 8:22 into the second period.

The Vancouver Canucks were victimized by Simmer on December 15th before he stung the Toronto Maple Leafs for a pair on the 19th, both being power play goals with assists from Butch Goring and Doug Halward to push the streak into double digits at 10.

Goal #30 came on the 20th from the familiar Taylor and Dionne combo.

At home on December 22nd the Kings roared out to a 4-0 first period lead with Simmer assisting on goals by Taylor and later Dionne. The rout continued, along with Simmer's streak, when the deadly Triple Crown Line struck with goals by Simmer at 4:26 and again at 8:43 of the second period. The goal put Simmer into a tie with Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators, who had a 12 game goal scoring streak during the 1917-18 season.

Simmer Kings photo SimmerKings2.jpg

Finally, on this date in 1979, Simmer's goal scoring streak reached 13 consecutive games with an even strength goal at 18:43 of the second period, which was followed by his 34th goal of the season, and 17th of his streak with an even strength goal at 12:19 of the third from…Dionne and Taylor of course. By reaching 13 games, Simmer was now tied with Newsy Lalonde of the Montreal Canadiens, who performed the feat in the 1920-21 season.

Simmer was then held scoreless by the Minnesota North Stars, and Simmer's former Seals and Barons teammate, goaltender Gilles Meloche on December 29th, leaving Simmer in third place all-time, just one game back of Joe Malone (14 games in 1917-18) and Punch Broadbent (16 games in 1921-22).

Since the time of Simmer's streak, two other players have taken strong runs at his mark of 13, the Edmonton Oilers Dave Lumley in 1981-82, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux (1992-93) but both came up short at 12, leaving Simmer with the longest streak in the NHL since 1921, a span of over 90 years.

Simmer would remain prolific for the remainder of the season and finish with 56 goals, tied for the league lead with two others. The following season of 1980-81, Simmer would again tally 56 goals, which would remain his career high.

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He would play four more seasons with Los Angeles before being dealt to Boston for three seasons. His career would conclude with one season with the Penguins, a year in Germany playing for the Frankfurt Lions in 1988-89 and 43 games with the San Diego Gulls of the IHL in 1990-91 and a single game with the Gulls in 1991-92 closing the book on his playing days.

Simmer would finish with 712 NHL games, 342 goals and 711 points. Additionally, he would win the Masterton Trophy in 1986.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Los Angeles Kings Charlie Simmer jersey as worn during his impressive goal scoring streak that season.

This was the second season the Kings wore names on the backs of this style road jersey, which was introduced back in 1967 with one color gold numbers. One season later they introduced a bolder font for the numbers, now outlined in white which remained in use for the remainder of the life of this style jersey through 1978-79, the year the names were first added.

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Los Angeles Kings 1979-80 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1979-80Bjersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with Simmer becoming a part of the Triple Crown Line and then scoring a goal during the Miracle on Manchester playoff game.

Next, Simmer recalls his career on the occasion of being honored on Legends Night at the Staples Center in early 2012.

Finally, just what were they thinking when they made this?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

2004 Team USA Zach Parise Jersey

Today kicks off the IIHF 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmö, Sweden where the 2010 champions from the United States will be looking to defend their title.

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The World Juniors have become a much anticipated annual event, particularly in Canada, and anybody who's anybody has played in the tournament on their road to the NHL, dating back to Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mario Lemeiux, Steve Yzerman, Alexander Mogilny, Sergei Fedorov, Jeremy Roenick, Mike Modano, Pavel Bure, Jaromir Jagr and Peter Forsberg through current NHL stars Jarome Iginla, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Oveckin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Johnathan Toews and Patrick Kane, making it a must-see event each year.

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Future NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin
meeting in the 2005 World Juniors

The ten teams in this year's edition are divided into two groups of five and each team will play the other four teams in it's group once each in the Preliminary Round, with the top four advancing to the Playoff Round. With so few games determining each team's fate, no one can afford to take a night off as each and every game is critical to each team's chances.

For the unfortunate two clubs who finish in the bottom two of their groups, they will be paired in the best-of-three Relegation Round with the loser demoted to the Division I Group A level for 2015 and will need to earn their way back up to the Top Division, which can only be achieved by winning a championship in Division I Group A. This relegation format ensures that nearly every game matters in the World Juniors and the games that determine which clubs stay up can be very exciting affairs when two countries are battling with survival on the line. We strongly encourage those in attendance take in the Relegation Round, as spirited games in the much more homey secondary arena can provide some terrific competition in a small town or collegiate atmosphere that differs greatly from the environment more polished main rink and is a recommended part of the World Junior Tournament experience.

Once in the Playoff Round, the four advancing teams will be paired in the quarterfinal games which will take place on January 2nd, with the winners advancing to the semifinals on January 4th. The semifinal losers will meet for the bronze medal on January 5th with the winners meeting for the gold medal later that evening.

For 2014, Group A consists of the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia.

Group B sees Russia, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and underdogs Norway.

In Group A, the Americans and Canadians are favored to advance along with the Czech Republic while Germany and Slovakia will be battling it out for the final playoff spot, with all teams looking to avoid giving away points, or worse, being upset by either Slovakia or Germany.

For the Slovaks and Germans to avoid the Relegation Round the key will clearly be to defeat the other during their key meeting on December 27th and then steal a point whenever they can by getting to overtime against the other three teams, if not pulling off an outright upset along the way.

Group B is more clear cut, as Russia, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland are expected to advance with as many points as possible for the most favorable semifinal matchup.

Poor Norway will be in for a rough go and will most certainly be hoping one of the four teams ranked above them will be having a down year and that they can manage to take enough points in the Preliminary Round to avoid the relegation fight entirely, or their tournament will come down to the best-of-three battle with the Group A relegation representative.

Canada put together a dominant run of five consecutive titles from 2005 to 2009, but their program is a victim of it's own success in breeding top quality players, as tournament eligible players often cannot take part due to having found gainful employment in the NHL.

Still, 19 of the 22 Canadian players are already have been draft picks in the NHL. with Scott Laughton, Matt Pelech and Matt Dumba already having NHL experience. Despite the distance to Sweden, the Canadians will feel right at home playing in front of many red-clad supporters who annually make the trip to the World Juniors and waving the Maple Leaf each time they take to the ice.

The host United States has three players returning from the team that won gold last year. Captain Riley Barber, goaltender Jon Gilles and winger Ryan Hartman all are back in an attempt to capture a second consecutive gold, while 21 of the 23 members of the roster are NHL draft picks.

The tournament begins with four games today, with Germany taking on Canada and Norway facing Russia in the early games followed by the United States beginning their schedule against the Czech Republic while Switzerland faces off against the host Swedes in the evening games.

Fans in attendance in Malmö will have the luxury of being able to attend any game they choose since the two arenas are located a mere 2 miles apart, unlike some other years when the two host arenas have been several hours drive between them. The Malmö Arena is the main venue, with a capacity of 15,500 with the Malmö Isstadion as the secondary rink, with a capacity of 5,140.

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Malmö Arena

With the large number of games compressed into such a small schedule, the second arena can often find itself hosting some terrific matchups. This year, with Group B being held entirely in the larger Malmö Arena due to the presence of host Sweden, the Isstadion will host such matchups as the United States vs. the Czech Republic today, Canada vs. the Czechs on the 28th, and the highlight game of the group, the United States facing rival Canada in the group's final game on New Year's Eve. We highly recommend taking in one game at the secondary arena during the Preliminary Round each year when possible.

In the United States, the NHL Network will be airing all of the Preliminary Round games for Group A, which therefore includes all games for both the United States and Canada, as well as the three remaining Group A games which do not involve the North American rivals.

Once the Playoff Round begins, all eight playoff games on January 2nd, 4th and 5th will be aired through the gold medal final.

For viewers in Canada, TSN will be airing all of the Group A games as well as eight out of the ten Group B games prior to their coverage of the eight Playoff Round contests through the gold medal game on January 5th.

In a nice bit of traditional scheduling, the tournament always takes off New Year's Day between the Preliminary Round and the commencement of the playoffs, avoiding any conflict with the now annual NHL Winter Classic.

Today's featured jersey is a 2004 United States National Team Zach Parise jersey from the first American team to ever capture a gold medal at the World Junior Tournament, which took place in Helsinki, Finland. The United States won their group by defeating Austria, Slovakia, Sweden and Russia before defeating Finland and then Canada in the final to claim the championship.

Parise led the US with five goals and 11 points on his way to being named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

This style of jersey was first used by the United States at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and remained in use through the 2005 World Junior Tournament.

2004 USA F jersey
2004 USA B jersey

Here are extended highlights from the 2004 World Juniors when the United States captured the gold medal thanks to an errant clearing attempt by Canadian goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.

This next highlights are the gold medal final from 2013 when the United States defeated Sweden 3-1.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Hockey Christmas! Joyeux Hockey Noël!

Merry Hockey Christmas! Joyeux Hockey Noël!

We hope Santa was good to you this year and brought you the jersey you've been wanting.

We also hope you enjoy our special video collection today.

Don't forget - as our countdown clock in the right hand column shows - tomorrow the World Junior tournament begins, the annual festival hockey featuring "Tomorrow's Stars Today"!

And now...

On to the videos!

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, Happy Festivus!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

1927-28 Ottawa Senators Harry "Punch" Broadbent Jersey

Born on July 13, 1892, Harry "Punch" Broadbent, after playing four seasons for various teams in the Ottawa city league, began his professional career with his hometown Ottawa Senators for the 1912-13 season when the Senators were members of the National Hockey Association, the forerunner to the NHL. Broadbent averaged more than a goal per game with 20 as well as being credited with a pair of assists for a total of 22 points from 18 games, good for seventh in the league as a rookie.

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Young rookie Harry Broadbent in the short-lived Senators vertically striped sweater

The following season he was limited by injuries to 17 games of Ottawa's 20 games, scoring 6 goals and 13 points, but rebounded in 1914-15 with 24 goals and 27 points while playing in all of the Senators' 20 games, which placed him fourth overall in NHA scoring. The Senators would go on to win the league playoffs and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pacific Coast Hockey Association's Vancouver Millionaires, where Broadbent would score 3 of the Senators 8 goals in their 3 game series.

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Broadbent in the Senators 1914-15 flag crested jerseys

It would prove to be his last hockey for some time, as he would miss three seasons while serving in the Canadian military during World War I, for which he was awarded the Military Medal. By the time he returned to the Senators, they were now members of the fledgling National Hockey League for it's second ever season, which at the time consisted of a mere three clubs, Ottawa, the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Arenas!

Broadbent eased back into hockey with only 4 goals in just 8 games and added 2 more in 5 playoff games. He returned to form in 1919-20 with 19 goals and 23 points in 20 games to finish in the top ten in NHL scoring. The Senators advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals by winning both halves of the split NHL season and captured the first Stanley Cup championship of Broadbent's career.

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The 1920-21 season was all but lost, as Broadbent's rights were dealt to the Hamilton Tigers, but he refused to report. After six days his rights were then sold to the Canadiens, but again he would not budge. Finally, seven weeks later, Broadbent's rights were transferred back to the Senators by the NHL. Eventually, he would play in just 9 regular season games and 6 playoff games as the Senators would defeat the Millionaires for their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

On this date in 1921, just three games into the 1921-22 season, Broadbent scored his second goal of the season in a 10-0 win over the Canadiens, as well as racking up three assists, all of which came in a span of 3:15 of the third period.

He scored the game winning goal on Dec. 28th in overtime to defeat the Canadiens again, only this time in Montreal. His fourth goal of the season helped Ottawa defeat Hamilton on New Year's Eve. He tallied another goal to open the scoring in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto St. Patricks on January 4th. Three days later he found the back of the net twice to defeat the Canadiens yet again, nudging his goal total to 7 and kicking his scoring pace into a higher gear.

Two goals and two assists followed on January 11th in a 7-2 defeat over Toronto before Broadbent added another pair of goals to close out the scoring in a 5-2 win in the return match against the St. Patricks in Toronto three days later. Montreal was on the receiving end of another beating, this one 10-6, as Broadbent registered a hat trick by the time the game was 23 minutes old. The spotlight was not all his though, as teammate Cy Denneny also had a hat trick while Sprague Cleghorn and Odie Cleghorn combined for 6 goals, with Odie netting 4 to take top honors in a losing effort.

A second hat trick followed on January 21, which included extended his scoring streak just 2:45 into the game, which was won by Hamilton 7-6 in overtime, who were led by Joe Malone's hat trick.

Broadbent's goal scoring streak reached ten games in Ottawa on January 25th when he scored twice in the first 2:30 of the third period in a 4-2 win over the Tigers. Goal #20 arrived on January 28th at the 12:00 mark of the second period, followed exactly two minutes later by goal #21 as the Senators held on to defeat Toronto 2-1, meaning Broadbent was a perfect eight for eight in scoring in Senators games in January.

The streak continued into February with another pair of goals against Montreal, a 4-2 win for Ottawa. While the Senators pounded Hamilton 10-6 on February 4th, Broadbent continued his goal scoring streak, extending his streak to 13 games and Ottawa's lead to 6-0 at the time, but his run of multiple goal games ended at eight and included 18 goals during that span dating back to January 7th.

While the Tigers exacted their revenge on the Senators with a 9-1 thrashing of the Senators, Broadbent's streak continued as he registered his 25th goal of the season just after the game's midway point.

The streak then reached 15 games at the 11:45 mark of the second period in a 4-4 tie at home against the St. Patricks. Broadbent's streak was pushed to 16 games with a pair of goals in another tie, this one 6-6 versus the Canadiens in Montreal.

Finally on February 18th, 1922, goaltender Howard Lockhart and the Tigers ended the longest goal scoring streak in league history, a record which still stands today, over 90 years later. During the 16 game goal scoring streak, Broadbent tallied 27 goals, an average of nearly 1.7 per game, a streak which included two hat tricks and nine multiple goal games.

Broadbent would follow being held off the scoresheet with three goals in his next two games to pass the 30 goal mark and finish the season with a staggering 32 goals and 46 points in 24 games to win the NHL scoring title by 7 points over teammate Denneny.

Broadbent would spend two more seasons in Ottawa, including winning another Stanley Cup in 1923, his third in four seasons, before being sold to the Montreal Maroons, along with goaltender Clint Benedict, just prior to the 1924-25 season. He would play for the Maroons for three seasons, which included winning his fourth Stanley Cup in 1926.

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Broadbent during his first season with the Maroons

For the 1927-28 season, Broadbent was dealt back to the Senators, but his return lasted only a single season that resulted in just 3 goals and 5 points in 43 games. Ottawa then sold Broadbent, now 36 years old, to the New York Americans for his final NHL season of 1928-29.

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Broadbent during his return season with the Senators

He would finish his career with 122 goals and 167 points in 302 games, four Stanley Cups. one NHL scoring title and one goal scoring record which has now stood for over 90 years and counting.

Broadbent was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

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Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 Ottawa Senators Harry "Punch" Broadbent jersey from his final season in Ottawa. This sweater has the Stanley Cup Champions patch worn on the upper left chest to commemorate the Senators final Stanley Cup title in franchise history, a frequent practice of the Senators in the 1920's, as they also wore championship patches in 1921-22 and 1923-24. This patch was the inspiration for the sleeve patches on the current Senators alternate jerseys.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1928-29 New York Americans Punch Broadbent jersey. This sweater is from Broadbent's final season in the NHL. The Americans wore their star spangled sweaters from their inaugural season of 1925-26 (pre-dating the New York Rangers by one season) through the 1937-38 season. The franchise would last through the 1941-42 season before folding, leaving the NHL with just six teams for the next 25 years.

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