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Saturday, March 9, 2013

1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci Jersey

At the Let's Play Hockey Expo at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota, a very special event is taking place today, as 18 members of the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association are expected to appear for a reunion and autograph signing at the U. S. Hockey Hall of Fame booth from noon to 2 PM.

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This list of players is an exciting one, with several of the players not only being former Fighting Saints, but also legends of Minnesota High School Hockey, University of Minnesota Golden Gopher greats, former United States Olympians and even some having played for the Minnesota North Stars as well.

Scheduled to appear are Mike Antonovich, Henry Boucha, tough guys Bill Butters and Jack Carlson, Lefty Curran, Gary Gambucci, goaltender and current TV commentator John Garrett, team captain Ted Hampson, George Konik, Jack McCartan, Mike McMahon, Pat Westrum as well as former owner Wayne Belisle, equipment manager George Konik and head coach and general manager Glen Sonmor who tells some of the best hockey stories you've ever heard. While many of those names may not be very familiar to those outside of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, one name will stand out, that of Hockey Hall of Famer and former Toronto Maple Leafs and Hartford Whalers player Dave Keon.

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Dave Keon

The Fighting Saints were original members of the WHA in 1972-73 and played their games at the newly constructed St. Paul Civic Center, which was located next door to the RiverCentre, which is now the location of the XCel Energy Center, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild and the ongoing Minnesota State High School Hockey Championships, which concluded today with title games in Class A and Class AA, as we reported yesterday.

The Fighting Saints played through the 1975-76 season before folding halfway through the schedule, wearing blue and yellow jerseys. For the following season the Cleveland Crusaders relocated to St. Paul as the new Fighting Saints and gave it a go for half of the 1976-77 campaign, now wearing red and yellow, before they too folded before the season was completed.

Despite their too brief run, the Fighting Saints left behind a litany of great hockey memories, such as boasting the league's leading scorer Mike Walton, George Morrison's hat trick scored in 43 seconds, their lengthy streak of never being shut out and setting state attendance records of over 17,000 fans, besting the cross-town North Stars of the rival NHL.

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Mike Walton

On the other side of the ledger are the crazy stories  that surrounded the team, such as the legendary playoff battle with Gordie Howe's Houston Aeros which saw the manic Goldy Goldthorpe turned loose on the ice, team tough guy Gord Gallant punching out coach Harry Neale after breaking curfew one night, having all three Carlson brothers and Dave Hanson (of Slap Shot move fame) on the team at the same time.

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The Carlson Brothers

Other stories include Walton leaving the arena in disgust in full uniform, skates and all, and driving to a local bar to drown his sorrows following elimination from the playoffs, Belisle arriving at the airport with a paper bag full of cash to convince the players to get on a plane for a road trip as the team was in the death throws of their first battle with financial difficulties.

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Gord Gallant battling with Ted Taylor of the Aeros

In addition to the Fighting Saints reunion, there will be many other noteworthy appearances at the Expo, including four time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux, 1980 Miracle on Ice team members Bill Baker and Mike Ramsey as well as any number of former NHLers with ties to Minnesota, highlighted by Phil Housley and Reed Larson. There will also be players from the University of Minnesota, the North Stars and the Wild, such as Hobey Baker winner Robb Stauber, NHL 40 goal scorer Scott Bjugstad and Andrew Brunette.

The expo runs today from 10 AM until 6 PM and is followed immediately by the Class AA championship game to close out the high school tournament. Admission to the expo is free to all.

In recognition of the Fighting Saints reunion, today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci jersey. Gambucci attended the University of Minnesota from 1965-66 until 1987-68 and then played for the United States National Team in the World Championships in 1969, 1970 (scoring 18 points in 7 games to lead the US to promotion out of the B Pool and back up to the A Pool) and 1971, where he scored 7 goals and 10 points in 10 games.

The following season Gambucci spent the majority of his time with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL but he also made his NHL debut with 9 games with the Minnesota North Stars. After spending the entire 1972-73 season with the Barons, scoring just over a point per game with 76 in 75 games, Gambucci played 43 games with the North Stars and 21 with the Portland Buckaroos of the WHL in 1973-74.

He then signed with the Fighting Saints in 1974-75 and was with the team for the next season and a half until they folded midway through the 1975-76 season. Gambucci then concluded his career with his fourth World Championships for the United States in 1976.

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Today's video is a look back at the Minnesota Fighting Saints and some of their legendary antics.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The 2013 Minnesota State High School Boy's Hockey Tournament

The 2013 Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament continues today with the semifinal games in Class A at 11 AM and 1 PM, followed by the Class AA semifinals later at 6 and 8 PM. Class AA consists of the top 64 schools by enrollment in the state and Class A is for the remaining schools. In terms of enrollment, Class AA is roughly for schools with 1,200 students or more, with the largest of the Twin Cities suburban schools reaching enrollments of 3,000.

Often compared to the Indiana State Boys' Basketball Tournament or the Texas and Florida State Football Tournaments as the most important nationally for their sport, the Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament is a four day festival of excitement, color and sound as the parents, relatives, fans, cheerleaders (on skates!) and bands from 16 schools all travel to the state capital of St. Paul to cheer on their teams as they compete on the ice at the home of the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, in front of sellout crowds of up to 19,500 fans!

The tournament began back in 1945 in St. Paul. After a stop at the home of the Minnesota North Stars, the Met Center, for eight years in the 1970's, the tournament returned to St. Paul at the new St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards, which you can see below in one of today's videos. For nearly 50 years the tournament was played as an eight team, single class tournament, which lent itself to classic David versus Goliath matchups, as the smaller schools from the northern part of the state travelled down to the big city, taking on some of the largest schools attendance-wise in the state.

Somewhat controversially, the tournament split into two classes in 1994, based on enrollment. While schools in the smaller enrollment Class A have the option to move up and play in Class AA, the tournament lost something special in the process. Still, it is the largest state sports tournament in the United States in terms of attendance and viewership, as all the championship bracket games are broadcast on local television.

Despite the arena having hosted NHL playoff conference finals, the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and the NCAA Frozen Four twice, with the nearby University of Minnesota winning the title in 2002 and the in-state University of Minnesota Duluth taking home the national championship in 2011, on March 9, 2012 19,893 fans attended the semifinals of the state tournament, setting a new record for the largest crowed to ever attend a hockey game in Minnesota, breaking the record of 19,559, which was also a session of the State High School Tournament in 2008.

Many NHL veterans have participated in the tournament, including Neal Broten, Phil Housley, Reed Larson, John Mayasich, Mike Antonovich, Henry Boucha, Mark Parrish and current NHLers T. J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues and Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets. Of the 19 Minnesota players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft between 2000 and 2009, 13 of them played in the state tournament.

Housley Packers, Housley Packers
Phil Housely of the South St. Paul Packers

Many rivalries, dynasties, villains and favorites have emerged over the years, with small schools from up north such as Eveleth, Greenway of Coleraine, International Falls and Warroad always being sentimental favorites. Roseau, in particular, has been one of the only small schools (with an enrollment of just 374 in 2012, compared to 18 Twin Cities schools between 2000-3100 students, and well below the 1150 cut-off point for Class AA status) to move up to AA and succeed with championships in 1999 and 2007.

Other schools have had their runs, with Eveleth in the late 40's/early 50's, International Falls in the 1960's, Bloomington Jefferson dominating in the early 1990's, but none more so than Edina, with ten championships, the first coming in 1969, four in the 1970's, three in the 1980's, one in 1997 and most recently in 2010. All those titles, as well as seemingly annual tournament appearances, put the Hornets at the top of the list of "teams you love to hate", as teams from the tony Minneapolis suburb Edina are considered to be "the rich kids", even sporting green and gold jerseys in the color of money, earning the Hornets the derisive nickname the "Cake Eaters", which they annoyingly wholly embrace!

Edina Champions, Edina Champions
Edina celebrating one of their 10 state titles

Aside from Edina, schools on the outs with the general public are the private schools, such as The Academy of Holy Angels (champions in 2002 and 2005), Hill-Murray (1983, 1991, 2008) and most recently St. Thomas Academy (who play in the smaller Class A and have won championships in 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012). Those private schools are considered to have the advantage of being able to recruit the best players to attend their schools rather than take what comes their way in the case of the traditional public schools who draw students from their local geographic region. This "class war" is an age old argument between the public and private schools and is only magnified with the arrival of a smaller school from the north, such as when tiny Roseau makes an appearance in St. Paul, and is one of the driving forces behind the ongoing popularity of the tournament, as every great drama must have it's villain.

Since it's inception Class A has been a battle between the smaller private schools, with Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Thomas Academy, Totino-Grace and Breck winning nine championships and the smaller schools from the northern part of the state now given a chance to compete for a state title, with classic schools like Eveleth and International Falls able to win their first titles since the early 1970's and first time winners like Hermantown, Red Wing and four time Class A champion Warroad flying the flag for the public schools who have captured eight titles since the two class system was introduced.

Last year's Class AA tournament was won by Benilde-St. Margaret's, whose players all wore large patches in support of paralyzed teammate Jack Jablonski. Tied at 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the semifinals, the Red Knights scored the game winning goal with less than 24 seconds remaining. They then stormed to the championship when Grant Besse set twitter ablaze with his five goal performance, three of which were shorthanded(!), as Benilde-St. Margaret's steamrolled Hill-Murray 5-1 to win an emotional championship with all thoughts on Jablonski, who was in attendance to enjoy the storybook victory that will be talked about for years to come.

Benilde, Benilde
Benilde-St. Margaret's players wearing #13 patches in support of Jack Jablonski

This year's tournament began Wednesday with the quarterfinals in Class A with the traditional mix of #1 seeded St. Thomas Academy taking on St. Cloud Apollo from the center part of the state, #2 seed and traditional Class A power Breck, another private school from the Twin Cities, against Marshall, #2 seed Hermantown from up north outside of Duluth, facing nearby private school Duluth Marshall and #4 seeded East Grand Forks from northwest area of the state facing still another private school, Rochester Lourdes from the south central region.

East Grand Forks won 3-2 after leading 3-0 after two periods and will face the defending champion Cadets from St. Thomas who simply embarrassed St. Cloud Apollo 12-0, once more raising the ire of the fans who cannot wait for St. Thomas to finally move up to Class AA next season. Hermantown, runner's up to St. Thomas the last two years, won 3-0 over Duluth Marshall and will face a tough test when they meet private school Breck, who defeated Hermantown for the championship in 2010 and were 6-1 winners over Marshall. Despite most of the attention being focused on the Class AA schools, Hermantown's battle against the private schools is not to be overlooked and has been a recurring story the last three years and is playing out the same way yet again. 

Class AA began yesterday and saw #1 seed and annual contenders Hill-Murray advance with a 6-3 win over Eastview. They will meet Wayzata, survivors of a thrilling 2-1 overtime contest over Centennial, sent to overtime when Wayzata scored with a little over a minute left in regulation to tie the game. The #3 seeded "cake eaters", the Edina Hornets, cruised to a 9-3 win over Lakeville North and they will take on the last northern school, the Duluth East Greyhounds, who made a goal 1:13 into the second period hold up to outlast the other northern school Moorhead, who boast the best nickname in the state, the Spuds.

It's a huge deal to make it "to state" in Minnesota. This past week thousands of fans attended the eight section finals just for right to go to the state tournament, which for the kids involved means staying in a hotel in the big city, playing in an NHL arena with your buddies that you grew up with in front of all your family and friends and having your games televised live throughout the state. Many players have gone on to win national championships in college and even in the NHL, and over and over again when asked for their greatest hockey memory, the answer frequently comes back "playing in the state tournament in high school." Not necessarily winning it, just playing in it.

Once, a hockey writer quoted former three time national champion University of Minnesota and 1980 "Miracle on Ice" USA Olympic coach Herb Brooks as saying that winning a state championship with St. Paul Johnson in 1955 was one of the best moments in his career. Brooks called the writer to inform him that he had been misquoted. He said it was the best moment.

Herb Brooks Johnson 1955, Herb Brooks Johnson 1955
Herb Brooks, back row far right, celebrating with his St. Paul Johnson
teammates after winning the state championship in 1955

Cadets, Flyers, Mustangs, Hilltoppers, Hawks, Prowlers, Crimson, Pioneers, Wildcats, Spuds, Greyhounds, Cougars, Hornets, Red Knights, Eagles and Eagles again.

16 teams, 4 days, 120,000 fans, 16 bands, 2 champions. There's nothing else quite like it.

Today's featured jersey is a 2005 Warroad Warriors Zach Larson jersey. This jersey was worn by players at Warroad High School from 2001 to half way through the 2008-09 season. Warroad won the Class A championship in 2003 and 2005 with jerseys from this set, but being a #13 jersey, there were several seasons in which no one chose the unlucky sweater number 13.

Larson defied superstition and wore this jersey during their undefeated (29-0-2) championship season of 2005, and was a teammate to current St. Louis Blues forward Oshie, who is the all-time leading scorer in Warroad history with 104 goals and 137 assists for 241 points in just 93 games. Oshie led the entire state of Minnesota in 2004-05 with 37 goals and 100 points.

Warroad Warrior T. J. Oshie

Other notable hockey players to come from Warroad include Dave Christian, a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 gold medal winning USA Olympic team, who would go on to play 15 NHL seasons with Winnipeg, Washington, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago, Dave's father Bill Christian and uncle, the late Roger Christian, who won gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, and Boucha, a 1972 silver Olympic medalist who would play for Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City and Colorado of the NHL.

This is a classic looking jersey in the style and colors of the old Boston Bruins jerseys of the mid 70's to the mid 90's and is one of the few remaining schools to use a Native American nickname and imagery, while others such as Grand Rapids, Minneapolis Southwest and Burnsville all discontinued their use. The use of the Warriors name by Warroad High School is approved by the local Ojibwe band of Chippewa Indians who designed the logo used on the Warriors jerseys.

Due to the multiple years of service the jerseys often see, names on the back are seldom, if ever, worn on high school jerseys.

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Let's se if we can possibly capture the event, spirit and emotion of the tournament with today's video selections.

Here's some classic footage from 1984 with St. Paul Johnson defeating Hill-Murray showing the unique clear boards from the St. Paul Civic Center and everyone wearing Cooperalls!

Check out the explosion of joy as Hill-Murray captures the state title in 2008 over Edina.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

1995-96 New York Islanders Brett Lindros Jersey

Born in London, Ontario in 1975, Brett Lindros played his junior hockey for the Kingston Frontenacs beginning in the 1992-93 season. The right winger competed in 31 games that season, scoring 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points while amassing 162 penalty minutes. During that same season he also skated for the Canadian National Team in another 11 games, during which he scored a goal and 6 assists.

In 1993-94, Lindros was once more a member of the Canadian National Team, a full season club which played a full season of games against both various national teams and club teams all over the world with the long term goal of preparing a cohesive team in preparation for the Olympics. The program lasted from 1983 until 1998, when the NHL began to shut down to allow it's players to compete in the Olympics.

In 44 games with the national team, Lindros scored 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points. In addition the rugged forward was whistled for 118 penalty minutes. Aside from his time with the national team, Lindros also played 15 regular season and three playoff games with Kingston, scoring 4 goals and 6 assists.

At the conclusion of the season, Lindros was drafted 9th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Due to the lockout of 1994, the NHL did not begin it's season on time, and Lindros remained in Kingston for the first 26 games of the season. His offensive game took a step forward, as he found his goal scoring touch and lit the lamp 24 times in 26 games. Additionally, he was credited with 23 assists for a total of 47 points, an average of nearly 2 per game (1.81) in anticipation of making his NHL debut.

With the labor issues finally settled, Lindros joined the Islanders and saw action in 33 of the Islanders 48 games. He scored his first NHL goal and added three assists and a dose of grit with 100 penalty minutes.

Brett Lindros Islanders

The next season Lindros played in just 18 games, scoring once with a pair of assists before being forced to retire due to repeated concussions, including a final one in November 1995 which ended his career at the age of 20 after just 51 NHL games with 2 goals and 5 assists.

Brett Lindros Islanders

"When I was playing I was having memory loss even on the bench," he said. "I'd get back to the bench and if I'd been out there sometimes I wouldn't remember what I did."

"What was scary for me was each time it took longer to resolve. My last concussion before my 20th birthday took eight or nine weeks."

Having already suffered several concussions in juniors, he had another occurrence during his rookie season and then finally two in eight days which led multiple doctors to advise him to quit hockey due to the possibility of blindness and permanent brain damage.

"No one has wanted to talk about concussions until recently, especially in hockey," Lindros said back in 1996.

That sentiment certainly has changed 15 years later as players, teams and doctors are much more aware and more cautious of concussions than when Lindros was forced to retire in 1995. Just recently the NHL has taken steps to penalize hits to the head in an effort to reduce concussions, while the IIHF has simply taken a no tolerance policy of hits to the head, stating "there is no such thing as a clean hit to the head", giving not only a major penalty, but ejecting and suspending for one game any player who makes contact above the shoulder pads and subjecting the offending player to further suspension upon review.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 New York Islanders Brett Lindros jersey. Lindros' rookie season saw him wear the classic Islanders jersey as worn during their Stanley Cup dynasty of the 1980's during that jerseys final season.

The next year was the debut of the Islanders ill-fated "Fish Sticks" jersey, so named for the resemblance of the logo to the Gorton's brand of fish sticks. The jersey was adopted by the Islanders new owners, hoping for a fresh start after a very down period in the win column. Turmoil on the ice and with the roster did little to improve the Islanders prospects and the jersey became a focal point of fan unhappiness with the franchise, which was not helped by the jersey being mocked by rival fans, those of the New York Rangers in particular.

For a more detailed story on the Islanders "Fish Sticks" jersey, please see our earlier entry as part of our "Curious, Weird and Ugly" Collection.

New York Islanders 95-96 jersey
New York Islanders 95-96 jersey

Today's video section begins with Lindros first NHL goal, one of only two he would score.

Up next, Lindros being drafted 9th overall by the New York Islanders and donning the classic Islanders jersey worn during his first season.

Here is an interview with Lindros on a local Long Island morning news program promoting an Islanders players charity car wash. He also discusses the Islanders new "fisherman" jersey for a moment.

Finally, notorious dirty player Claude Lemieux, sitting on the Devils bench, slugs Lindros during a scuffle and draws Lindros' ire.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mark Pavelich Miracle on Ice Jersey Auction Update

UPDATE: The final highest bid for the Mark Pavelich 1980 United States Olympic Team Miracle on Ice jersey ended up being $116,203, and with the 19.5% buyer's premium added on, the final selling price then rises to $138,863. That exceeds the final price of Ken Morrow's Miracle on Ice jersey, which sold for $104,328, by $34,534.

With 17 of the Miracle on Ice jerseys still out there, although a few are in the hands of museums and the Hockey Hall of Fame, the remaining players still in possession of their jerseys will certainly have their eyebrows raised by the recent sales history of the Morrow, Eruzione and now Pavelich jerseys. Perhaps a few more will be made available as these men become grandfathers like Eruzione and start to consider their families future while planning for their estates.

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1999-00 Carolina Hurricanes Paul Ranheim Jersey

After spending four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, which included being a team captain and All-American,  as well as scoring 6 goals and 9 points in 7 games for the United States at the 1986 World Junior Championships, Paul Ranheim spent the 1988-89 season with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the International Hockey League, where he had an impressive first professional season scoring 68 goals and 97 points in 75 games which earned him IHL rookie of the year honors. The Golden Eagles then made it to the Turner Cup Finals, where Ranheim chipped in 10 points in 14 games. He also made his NHL debut with five games for the Calgary Flames, who had drafted Ranheim in the second round of the 1984 NHL draft.

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Ranheim as a member of the Wisconsin Badgers

He left the minors behind when he joined the Flames full time in 1989-90, scoring 26 goals and 54 points as a rookie, which would prove to be career highs in both categories. After playing all 80 games in 1989-90, The left winger's sophomore season was ruined when he suffered a shattered ankle which caused him to miss half the season. Once Calgary was eliminated from the playoffs, Ranheim extended his season by appearing at the World Championships for the United States, scoring 4 times in 9 games.

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He rebounded by playing in all 80 games in 1991-92, which saw him reach the 20 goal mark for the second time with 23. The 1992-93 season saw Ranheim play in all but one of Calgary's 84 games and top 20 goals for the third time with 21.

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After 67 games of the 1993-94 season, Ranheim was dealt to the Hartford Whalers as part of a six player deal along with Ted Drury and Gary Suter in exchange for Michael Nylander, James Patrick and Zarley Zalapski going to Calgary.

The move to Hartford had a dramatic effect on his offensive numbers, as he would never again score more than 10 goals in a season for the remainder of his career, but would remain a valuable penalty killer and responsible defensive forward. After four seasons with the Whalers in Hartford, Ranheim relocated with the franchise when they became the Carolina Hurricanes. Following the Whalers final season in Hartford, Ranheim would make his second appearance at the World Championships, scoring twice in 8 games in 1997.

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Ranheim scoring against Martin Brodeur

He would rarely miss a game for the remainder of his career, playing 230 our of a possible 246 games over the next three seasons with the Hurricanes, which included a return to the playoffs in 1999, Ranheim's first post season appearance since 1993 with Calgary, owing to the extended poor play of the Whalers

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A trade sent him to the Philadelphia Flyers in time for the 2000-01 season. There, his habit of staying in the lineup continued with 159 games out of 164 over the next two seasons, which were extended with playoff appearances in both 2001 and 2002.

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His final NHL season of 2002-02 began in Philadelphia but 28 games in, Ranheim was sent back west in a trade that sent him to the Phoenix Coyotes for the final 40 games of his career, which included his 1,000th NHL game on this date in 2003 in a game against the St. Louis Blues.

He would retire with 1,013 games played, 161 goals and 199 assists for 360 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Carolina Hurricanes Paul Ranheim jersey. This is a very desirable jersey, as it is the rare coming together of three different patches on one jersey, as all teams in the NHL wore the NHL 2000 patch in recognition of the Millennium. Carolina then added the Raleigh Arena inaugural season patch and then unfortunately the #3 patch on the left sleeve in memoriam of Steve Chaisson, who died in an automobile accident following a team party just after the conclusion of the Hurricanes season in the spring of 1999.

We have always given the Hurricanes original jerseys high marks for the italicized names and attractive numbers as well as the clever waist striping made of hurricane warning flags. The Hurricanes also boasted one of the better secondary logos on the league, their tattered flag flying from a hockey stick.

We have often wondered why more teams do not use italicized numbers, as they give the players the appearance of speed even when standing still. During the 1999-00 season, only five teams used italicized numbers, those being Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Nashville and Tampa Bay.

Honestly, the only thing that really bothered us was the main crest, because we always felt we were looking at the bottom of the puck because the crest was upside down!

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Carolina Hurricanes 99-00 jersey photo CarolinaHurricanes99-00Bjersey.jpg

Today's video section are the Top 5 Goals of the Week, featuring a stunning goal by Ranheim.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

1980 United States Olympic Team Mark Pavelich Jersey

Hailing from the Iron Range in northern Minnesota, Mark Pavelich attended the University of Minnesota Duluth beginning in 1977-78. His progress was pronounced as he scored 12 goals and 19 points his first season, 14 goals and 44 points his second (third on the club) and leapt up to 31 goals and 79 points to lead the team in 1978-79.

Pavelich UMD, Pavelich UMD
Pavelich while with Minnesota Duluth

His creative "rink rat" style of play caught the eye of head coach Herb Brooks who who named Pavelich to the 1980 United States Olympic Team, where he teamed with UMD Bulldogs teammate John Harrington and fellow northern Minnesota native Buzz Schneider in a line that became known as the "Coneheads".

"It was kind of unique, obviously, growing up playing hockey in Eveleth," Pavelich recalled. "I was fortunate enough to have the rink just a couple of blocks say, It was just nonstop hockey. I was always down at the rink."

During the 53 games leading up to the Olympics, Pavelich scored 45 points and during the seven games of the Olympic tournament, he averaged a point per game, with one goal and six assists, including his assist on the opening United States goal scored by Schneider and the critical first assist, earned by sending the puck into the slot despite facing and moving the opposite direction while falling backwards, where it was gathered by Mike Eruzione, who then scored the game winning goal in the "Miracle on Ice" upset over the Soviet Union, later named the top story in the IIHF's first 100 years.

Pavelich USA, Pavelich USA

Undrafted by any NHL club, certainly in part due to his 5' 8" size, Pavelich took his game to HC Lugano in Switzerland, where he racked up 73 points in 60 games before once again putting on the red, white and blue of the United States at the 1981 World Championships.

Meanwhile, back in the United States the pairing of his Olympic coach Brooks and his assistant Craig Patrick, was reunited when Patrick hired Brooks to be the head coach of the New York Rangers. They brought Pavelich back to the United States and reunited him with not only Brooks, but also former US teammate Dave Silk and later Rob McClanahan.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

Pavelich took to the NHL right off the bat, finishing third in team scoring with 33 goals and tying for second in points with Ron Dugay at 76. The following season Pavelich rose to second in team scoring with a nearly identical 75 points while raising his goal total to a team leading 37, which included the most memorable game of his NHL career against the Hartford Whalers on February 23, 1983.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

In that game, Pavelich opened the scoring with a power play goal just 1:17 into the contest. Vaclav Nedomansky banked another power play goal for the Rangers less than a minute later at 2:15. After the teams traded goals two minutes apart later in the period, the Rangers began to pull away with goals by Swede Kent-Erik Andersson at 18:36 and Pavelich's second goal, again on the power play with just ten seconds remaining in the period to give New York a commanding 5-1 lead after the first period.

Barry Beck stunned the Whalers just nine seconds into the second period before Pavelich completed his second career hat trick at the 9:06 mark. Mike Rogers made it 8-1 Rangers two minutes later. Pavelich's former 1980 teammate Mark Johnson stemmed the tide with a goal for the Whalers at 12:52 before Ed Johnstone's goal for the Rangers and Michel Galarneau's for Hartford made it 9-3 for home team after two.

But there was still more yet to come, and in surprising, record setting fashion, for at 8:40 of the third period Pavelich scored his fourth goal of the night, from Tom Laidlaw and McClanahan, followed by his fifth goal of the game from Laidlaw just 11 seconds later, making Pavelich the first American-born player in the 66 year history of the NHL to score five goals in a game. His feat also equalled the Rangers team record set by Don Murdoch in 1976-77.

"As a pro, this is my most memorable game," he said afterwards.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers
Pavelich shows his five goal pucks to the media
following his record setting performance

In 9 playoff games that season, "Pav" set a career best with 4 goals and 9 points in 9 games.

While his goal total dropped from 37 to 29 the following season, he set a career high with 82 points thanks to his 53 assists in 1983-84.

Pavelich Rangers, Pavelich Rangers

1984-85 was a season of change, as Brooks was fired as the Rangers coach after 45 games and Pavelich himself was limited to just 48 games himself, although he still maintained a nearly a point per game average with 45.

With Brooks gone, Pavelich's days in New York were numbered, as he was uncomfortable and unaccustomed to playing the traditional NHL "dump and chase" style of new Rangers coach Ted Sator and retired at the end of the season after playing 59 games, scoring 20 goals and 40 points.

He was happy to return home to the simple life of hunting and fishing, only to be called on by Brooks once more, who had now taken over as the head coach of the Minnesota North Stars. It was a short-lived reunion however, as Pavelich would only play a dozen games for the North Stars in 1986-87, although they were productive ones, with 4 goals and 10 points. The record shows that later that season he suited up for the Dundee Rockets in the British Hockey League for a single game, being credited with a pair of assists.

While now done with the NHL, he was not quite finished with hockey just yet, finding a home with HC Bolzano in Italy beginning with the 1987-88 season where he teamed with former North Stars teammate, Swede Kent Nilsson. There, Pavelich scored nearly a goal per game, with 31 goals in 36 games on his way to 73 points, more than two points per game. That was not all, as Bolzano went on to win the league championship that season, which included Pavelich's 9 goals and 20 points in just 8 playoff games.

He returned to Bolzano for another season in 1988-89, adding 23 goals and 57 points in 44 games before he retired once again.

But not for good.

With the league expanding in 1991, Pavelich was lured out of northern Minnesota one final time by the expansion San Jose Sharks, where he recorded an assist on the Sharks first ever goal on October 4, 1991. His return was very brief however, as he would only play two games before retiring, permanently this time.

His final NHL totals were 355 games played, 137 goals and 192 assists for 329 points , with another 7 goals and 24 points in 23 playoff games.

Pavelich remains to this day a unique individual, who shuns the spot light of fame accorded to the 1980 Olympic Team, rarely leaving the comfort of home in the woods of Minnesota for reunions, interviews or personal appearances, unlike the always available Eruzione, who is often kidded that he has made a career out of one goal and has never met a microphone he didn't like. "The past is the past," Pavelich has been quoted as saying.

It would take 22 years before Pavelich joined his 19 teammates for a reunion, this coming at the the 2002 NHL All-Star Weekend. "It was just that time," Pavelich said when asked why he had chosen that weekend to rejoin his teammates.

His wife Kara said of his reputation, "I know Mark is often said to be reclusive, but that's overdone. He has a very large circle of friends." when Mark was inducted into the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center Athletic Hall of Fame (the former home of the UMD Bulldogs) in 2006.

Today's featured jersey is a 1980 United States Olympic Team Mark Pavelich jersey. After 32 years with only Mark Wells' blue and white Miracle on Ice jerseys becoming available to collectors of game worn jerseys, the last year has now seen Ken Morrow auction off his Miracle jersey for $104,328 in 2012 and Eruzione parting with both is blue ($286,800) and white jersey, which sold for $657,250, considerably less than it's $1,000,000 pre-sale estimate.

Now, Pavelich's own white Miracle on Ice jersey is up for auction, becoming only the sixth 1980 US Olympic Team jersey made available, and only the fourth white one from the famous game against the Soviet Union, with the auction ending tonight at 10:00 PM eastern.

As of this writing, the high bid is currently $72,151, which is subject to a an additional buyers premium of 19.5%, which would add another $14,069, pushing the current value of the bid to $86,220.

We're unsure about the timing of auctioning off the Pavelich jersey as the auction began prior to the auction of the Eruzione collection. Perhaps the hope was that the Eruzione jersey would surpass the $1.27 million record for Paul Henderson's 1972 Summit Series Team Canada jersey, creating a buzz for the Pavelich jersey, which would be an attractive alternative for unsuccessful bidders on the Eruzione jersey.

On the other hand, with the final price of the Eruzione jersey failing to meet expectations, it could affect the frenzy that would surround another Miracle on Ice jersey. Still, with Eruzione's jersey having sold for easily over a half a million dollars and the $104,328 with the premium for the Morrow jersey, the top bid for Pavelich's jersey is now within less than $12,000 of the highest actual bid for Morrow's jersey, which should hopefully see it surpass it's silent reserve price, under which it will not be sold.

Following the auction for Pavelich's jersey tonight, the market will now be set for 1980 Olympic jerseys. With the remaining members of the team seeing what their jerseys are worth on the open market, could we now see more of them hit the market in the near future?

UPDATE: The final highest bid for the Pavelich jersey ended up being $116,203, and with the 19.5% buyer's premium added on, the final selling price then rises to $138,863. That exceeds the final price of Ken Morrow's Miracle on Ice jersey, which sold for $104,328, by $34,534.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1980 United States Mark Pavelich jersey. This style, with "USA" diagonally across the front was worn during the 1980 Olympic Team's pre-Olympic schedule of games played against an assortment of minor league, college and other national teams in preparation for their participation in the Olympics, where they wore a new set of jerseys with the "USA" cresting now arched across the front.

This jersey was auctioned off by Lelands.com in December of 2004 and sold for $4,969.87.

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Today's first video is Pavelich setting up Eruzione's game winning goal in the Miracle on Ice.

Finally, the promotional video from Classic Auctions promoting Pavelich's Miracle on Ice jersey auction.

Monday, March 4, 2013

TSG Film Recommendation - The Last Gladiators

Today we want to make you aware of an excellent documentary film on hockey enforcers, The Last Gladiators.

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The film, which was released in Canada in 2011, and based on author Ross Bernstein's book "The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL", began it's very limited theatrical release in the United States on February 1st, having been shown only in New York and Minneapolis and now currently running at The Manor Theatre in Pittsburgh.

For those of you not in Pittsburgh, the film was made available through On Demand and digital download on February 8th and the DVD will be released on March 12th.

From the film's website

Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney takes an unprecedented look at the National Hockey League's most feared enforcers and explores the career of Chris "Knuckles" Nilan. The role was simple: protect their teammates no matter the cost. For Chris this meant a shattered body, addiction to drugs, and harming the people closest to him. But in the process, he won the love of hockey's holy city, Montreal, and helped the team win the Stanley Cup. Through interviews with hockey's toughest guys, the film explores what it means to enforce the unspoken code of the NHL.
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The film has received a 90% positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com and has garnered some very supportive reviews, including this from Colin Covert from the Minneapolis StarTribune:

What’s a big-issues documentartian like Alex Gibney (“Client 9,” “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” ) doing making a film about professional hockey’s fist-swinging enforcers? Digging up an engrossing story, that’s what. The focus is Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, who played 13 years in the NHL, dropped gloves like they were hot rocks and got more penalty minutes than almost anyone else in the league. Boston-born Nilan skated (and punched) mostly for the Montreal Canadiens, throwing almost as many jabs at team management as he did on the ice. “With Chris,” one commentator observes, “disrespect was everything.” 
At the end of his career, he was in his 30s with no savings, no path forward and an increasing dependence on drink and drugs. For all his Neanderthal aggression and criminality, Nilan, now 55, is a likable subject and a nakedly candid one. His soul is a running wound and he exposes it to our view without shame. The opening sections of this film play like a greatest-hits clip collection, but when Gibney delves deeper into Nilan’s personality, it’s a magnetic portrait of a rinkside Raging Bull.
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Nilan appears more than ready to take on the entire Hartford Whalers!

Aside from the film's focus on Nilan, there are also plenty of interview clips from other noted tough guys of the past, including Marty McSorley, Tony Twist, Donald Brashear, Paul Stewart, Todd Ewen, Terry O'Reilly and even the late Bob Probert.

We personally really enjoyed the film as there is more to it than just the fighting aspect of Nilan's career.  The story of his upbringing and his relationship with his father, being taken under the wing of his much more talented Canadiens teammates and the trust in him by coach Jacques Lemaire, which led to Nilan becoming a 20 goal scorer in the NHL, how coaching changes and trades affected his career and his difficult transition to life after hockey and descent into addiction and ongoing efforts to get his life back on the tracks make for a well rounded story of one of hockey's tough guys. How do you think you would cope with going from the adrenaline rush of having 18,000 screaming fans cheering you on as you engage in a full-on brawl with someone trying to cave your face in and then suddenly one day having a desk job working the phones in anonymity? The insights offered by not only Nilan, but Twist and Ewen, give the viewer a a looking into the psyche of one of sports most unique, demanding and stressful jobs which extracts a heavy toll on those put into that role, one they are seldom prepared to walk away from.

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Click here to visit Nilan's website, KnucklesNilan.com.

To purchase the DVD of the film click the following link.

To view The Last Gladiators online, click the link below.

To purchase a copy of Bernstein's original book on hockey fighting, "The Code", please click the link below.

In keeping with the theme of Third String Goalie, here is today's featured jersey, a 1984-85 Montreal Canadiens Chris Nilan jersey from Nilan's most prolific season in the NHL, when he set career highs in not only goals, with 21, but assists (16) and points (37) as well as a league leading 358 penalty minutes, thanks in part to 28 fights that season. Nilan still ranks in the Top Ten of career penalty minute leaders with 3,043, one of just nine players to reach 3,000 career minutes. Nilan also led the NHL in 1983-84 with 338 minutes, which included a career high 29 fighting majors.

After three seasons playing college hockey for him hometown Northeastern University Huskies, Nilan, a long shot 18th round draft pick, played just 49 games in the minors, where his 304 penalty minutes saw him earn a call up to the Montreal Canadiens. He would play nine seasons in Montreal, which included winning a Stanley Cup in 1986.

A coaching change did not sit well with Nilan and led to him being dealt to the New York Rangers, where he would play for three seasons, never again approaching the 75 games he averaged with the Canadiens from 1983-84 to 1985-86. In fact, after scoring 40 goals in 1984-85 and 1985-86, Nilan would only total 34 goals for the final six seasons of his career, never being trusted by coaches and developed by his teammates the way he had been in Montreal.

After a season and a half with the Boston Bruins, Nilan was waived by the Bruins and picked up by the Canadiens, who had a change behind the bench by then. He would retire as a Canadien at the end of the 1991-92 season, having played 13 seasons, scoring 110 goals and 225 points and winning a Stanley Cup.

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Today's video section begins with the official trailer for the film. 

This next video is an interview with Nilan which is very interesting in it's own right, as he explains how the movie came about and where he was in his life at the time.

Here is one final video, where Nilan discusses his addiction with Michael Farber.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ebay Jersey of the Week - 1996 Slovakia Nike Jersey

From time to time we find a jersey that really catches our attention because we know just how long it took us toget one like it for our collection and can't believe that someone hasn't jumped on the "Buy it Now" option or bid it up to a higher price yet.

This week's Third String Goalie Ebay Jersey of the Week is a 1996 Nike Slovakia National Team jersey. This style was worn during the 1996 IIHF World Cup of Hockey.

This particular one looks to be in really good shape, especially for a jersey now 17 years old, and is blank on the back so you still have the option of adding a name and number on the back, such as Peter Bondra, Pavol Demitra, Ziggy PalffyLubomir Visnovsky or Miroslav Satan.

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Peter Bondra in a later Slovakia style jersey

It's listed as a size 56, which while too big for us, could be seen by many as a positive, as this is more likely the size worn by the actual players.

This particular style jersey does have dye-sublimated cresting, which is the way Nike made them back then, especially the wild striping on the front which contains gradients. It's priced at $124.99 in a Buy it Now format, which is a bit high, but it's a rare style and these do not come up very often, as we have seen during our time collecting jerseys. If this were a 48 or 52, we'd own it already and would have sent it out for customizing as a Bondra.

Here is a link to the actual jersey worn by Bondra in exhibition games leading up to the actual 1996 World Cup which shows the colors of the name and numbers, as well as the placement of the captain's "C". Note the Slovaks did modify their game jerseys to read "Slovensko" on the front, with a somewhat crude white backing, but as to the best of our knowledge, all the retail jerseys read "Slovakia". Here is a video showing the white version in action against Canada.

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In summary, if we didn't have a white 1996 Slovakia jersey in our collection already or if this jersey were a smaller size 52, we'd be thrilled to acquire this rare 1996 one. We like the fact it's blank and appears to be in great condition. Additionally, this seller has a huge amount of positive feedbacks in the last year for a 99% rating making us feel very comfortable pointing you in his direction, but, as always, we cannot warranty their future performance.


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