Thursday, February 21, 2013

1987-88 Buffalo Sabres Ray Sheppard Jersey

On this date in 1999, Ray Sheppard became the first player in NHL history to score 20 goals or more in a season for six different teams when he scored his 20th of the year for the Carolina Hurricanes in a 4-1 win over the visiting New York Islanders.

Sheppard was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft and began his NHL career in 1987, scoring 65 points from 27 assists and 38 goals as a rookie, and surpassing the 20 goal mark for his first club. He would make the 20 goal mark again the next season with 22, but miss nearly the majority of the season due to an ankle injury and spend the end of the season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

In the offseason, Sheppard was dealt to the New York Rangers, who purchased his contract for one dollar. The Sabres were going to buy out Sheppard's contract, and Neil Smith picked up Sheppard to avoid having him hit the free agent market. If Sheppard played less than 60 games in New York, the Rangers would be paid $50,000 by the Sabres, which was less money than the $75,000 Buffalo was going to spend to buy out Sheppard's contract, and, if Sheppard scored 30 goals or more, Buffalo would receive a sixth-round draft pick in 1991.

In the 1990-91 season with the Rangers, Sheppard would score 24 goals, the second team for which he'd score at least 20, but his season was cut short by a knee injury which cost him a month before a separated collar bone and a broken shoulder blade suffered in a game against the New Jersey Devils ended his season for good.

During the season, Smith was at a card show and noticed a Ray Sheppard rookie card selling for $2, which caused Smith to say to the dealer, "I"m not spending more for the card than I did for the player."

Sheppard Rookie Card photo SheppardRookieCard.jpg
Sheppard's rookie card, apparently worth twice as much as he was!

Sheppard moved to the Detroit Red Wings for 1991-92 as a free agent where he would have four productive seasons, with 36 goals and then 32, before his career best season in 1993-94 when he would set career highs with 52 goals, 41 assists and 93 points, 27 more than he would score before or since.

 photo SheppardRedWings.jpg
Sheppard during his first season with the Red Wings

After another 30 goal season for Detroit, his third club with 20 or more, he was dealt to the San Jose Sharks, where he would add another club to the list with 27 goals in his only season with San Jose before the Sharks sent him to the Florida Panthers at the trading deadline in time for the Panthers unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Sheppard would score eight goals and 16 points in 21 playoff games.

 photo SheppardPanthers-1.jpg

In his first full season with the Panthers, 29 goals kept his perfect record intact, as he was now five for five in providing his teams with 20 goal seasons.

The 1997-98 season saw Sheppard play 61 games for Florida before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in late March.

It was on this date in 1999 that Sheppard scored his 20th goal for the Hurricanes, on his way to 25 that season, to become the first player in NHL history to record 20 goal seasons for six different clubs.

Sheppard Hurricanes photo SheppardHurricanes.jpg

He would conclude his NHL career by resigning with the Panthers as a free agent for the 1999-00 season and then spend one season in Europe with the SCL Tigers of the Swiss National League A.

Sheppard's final NHL totals were 817 games played, 357 goals and 300 assists for 657 points. Not bad for a guy who was once traded for $1.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Buffalo Sabres Ray Sheppard jersey as worn by Sheppard during his rookie season in Buffalo, a season in which he would score 20 or more goals for his first of six teams.

This classic Sabres jersey style would remain in use through the 1995-96 season until replaced by an all new look for Buffalo when the team's colors changed to red, black and white. It was brought back as an alternate jersey in 2006-07 and was the basis for a new, modernized alternate in 2008-09 before being promoted to the team's primary jersey in 2010-11, much to the delight of the fans.

Buffalo Sabres 87-88 jersey photo BuffaloSabres87-88jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1993-94 Detroit Red Wings Ray Sheppard jersey from his finest season as a professional, when he topped 50 goals and 90 points for the only time, 16 goals and 27 points more than his next highest totals.

In all Sheppard wore 14 different jerseys during his time in the NHL, the home and road jerseys for each of the six clubs he would play for, with the addition of the Detroit Red Wings Turn Back the Clock Detroit Falcons jersey worn in the 1991-92 season and the Florida Panthers blue alternate jersey worn during his final NHL season in 1999-00.

Here Sheppard scores one of his 357 career goals for the Panthers on the power play against the Boston Bruins.

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