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Friday, June 21, 2013

1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic Prototype Jersey

On this date in 1995, the NHL gave their approval for the sale of the Quebec Nordiques which resulted in their relocation to Denver, Colorado.

Originally founded in 1972 as one of the original 12 WHA franchises, the Nordiques played seven seasons in the WHA, winning the championship once in 1977.

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques

While the league folded following the 1978-79 season, four of the league's strongest and most stable franchises would enter the NHL as "expansion" franchises, which included the Nordiques.

Life in the NHL proved both exciting and difficult. The Nordiques rivalry with Quebec neighbors the Montreal Canadiens provided some of the most intense battles of the 1980's. After missing the playoffs in 1980, the Nordiques made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, including a division title in 1986 and a pair of trips to the conference finals in 1982 and 1985.

1985-86 Quebec Nordiques

Sadly for fans of the Nordiques, the club fell on some very hard times after 1987, missing the playoffs six out of the next seven seasons, including a horrid run from 1988-89 to 1991-92 when the club won a total of 75 games, an average of less than 19 per season, including last place finishes in 1988-89, 1989-90 (33 points behind the second worst team, more than the 31 they actually scored!) and 1990-91.

The Nordiques used the resulting draft picks to select players such as Mats Sundin and Adam Foote (1989), Owen Nolan (1990), Eric Lindros (1991) (who they converted into Peter ForsbergRon HextallChris SimonMike RicciSteve DuchesneJocelyn Thibault and $15 million) and Adam Deadmarsh (1993).

All this, in addition to the selection of Joe Sakic (15th overall in 1987), gave the Nordiques a very bright future on the ice, as evidenced by their record-setting turnaround from a 52 point season in 1991-92 to a 104 point season in 1992-93, an improvement of 52 points in one year!

Unfortunately, the future did not look the same off the ice. The weak Canadian dollar hampered the bottom line, as the team's revenues came in Canadian dollars but player salaries were paid in US dollars. No doubt the small size of Quebec City worked against the team and the exclusive use of French in the city both hurt it's ability to attract certain players, Lindros in particular, sponsorships and contracts with radio and TV outlets. It's home arena, the Colisee de Quebec, built in 1949 and it's smaller 15,750 capacity also limited the team's finances.

Nordiques president Marcel Aubut sought financial help from the Quebec provincial government as well as a new publicly funded arena, all of which was turned down.

Eventually the club was sold to Comsat Entertainment Group, already owners of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, who relocated the team to Denver, Colorado for the 1995-96 season - a year in which they proceeded to immediately win the Stanley Cup with a roster full of players selected to be Nordiques.

Nordiques art

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic prototype jersey. The original 1972 Nordiques jerseys used light blue had a considerable amount of red on both the shoulders and waist stripe. The following season the blue was changed to a considerably darker shade and the amount of red was limited to the shoulders on the home jerseys and narrower striping.

The familiar Nordiques style was adopted in 1975 and remained in use through the Nordiques final season in Quebec twenty years later, although a new jersey with a modernized logo was unveiled on March 30, 1995 which was originally intended to be worn by the Nordiques in 1995-96, only it's been reported that the club missed the deadline for approval of the jersey in time for the start of the season and the jersey was now scheduled to become the team's new jerseys for the 1996-97 season, only to see the club relocate to Denver, Colorado, where they would be renamed the Avalanche, leaving the now orphaned jerseys to go forever unworn.

The only known photo of the original jerseys shows (not very thrilled) team executives (also reported as being a pair of local journalists) modeling the sweaters, failing to show even the full length of the jerseys to reveal the intended waist striping.

Nordiques unused 1995-96 jerseys

None of these jerseys were ever mass produced for retail sale, although some attempts to create them have been made, but none in any great quantities and some with less accurate colors than others thanks to a widely circulated illustration which had it's origins based on a guess while viewing a black and white photo. We were fortunate to obtain one of the accurately colored ones which do show up on ebay from time to time, which is today's featured jersey.

Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 F photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97F.jpg
Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 B photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97B.jpg

Our video section today begins with the 1984 playoffs "Good Friday Brawl"
between the Nordiques and Canadiens.

Here is a report on Eric Lindros refusal to play for the Nordiques, a stance
which would eventually lead to the long-term success of the franchise - after it moved to Denver.

Finally, a video showing how the team was playing well, but financially the club was a state of financial decline.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Many Times Can You Trade One Player?

June 20th, 1992 was the date that the Quebec Nordiques stunned the hockey world by trading Eric Lindros - twice.

The Quebec Nordiques owned the first overall pick in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft and Lindros was the consensus first pick, however, Lindros warned the Nordiques that he would not play for them if they selected him, citing the high taxes in Quebec, the lack of marketing potential in such a comparatively small city and the difficulties associated with the French language spoken exclusively in Quebec City.

Lindros held his ground, yet the stubborn Nordiques selected him with the first pick anyway. The even more stubborn Lindros wasted no time in subbing the Nordiques by refusing to wear the club's jersey for photos.


Undaunted, the Nordiques president Marcel Aubut announced that they would build the team around Lindros and refused to trade him, claiming he would not have a career in the NHL as long as he held out. Meanwhile, Lindros continued to play for Oshawa in Canadian junior hockey and Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup, the 1992 World Junior Tournament and the 1992 Winter Olympics, so there was no shortage of places for him to play during his unprecedented standoff with the Nordiques despite their 10-year, $50 million contract offer.

Lindros 1991 & 1992 photo Lindros1991amp1992-1.jpg
Lindros with Canada during the 1991 Canada Cup and the 1992 Olympics

Eventually, after his year long holdout, the Nordiques relented and traded Lindros at the draft in 1992. The problem was, they agreed to deals with both the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers!

Jay Snider, the Flyers president had been presented with Aubut's terms, but meanwhile the Nordiques General Manager Pierre Page was also negotiating with the Rangers GM Neil Smith. Their deal had reached the point of agreeing on which players and draft picks Quebec would receive from New York. All that needed to be settled between Aubut and Stanley Jaffe, the corporate operating officer of Paramount Communications, who owned the Rangers, was the amount of cash New York would part with.

Before Aubut and Jaffe had settled on the Rangers cash contribution to the deal, the Flyers Snider called Aubut to agree to the terms he had been presented and ask for a way to contact Lindros to ensure that he was willing to negotiate a long term deal with the Flyers. In Aubut's mind, the deal was not yet completed with New York, and he wanted to use the Flyers offer to squeeze more out of the Rangers.

Snider was given the phone number for the Lindros family and contacted them, as Eric's father was his agent. Both sides agreed to negotiate a long term contract and, in Snider's view, his deal was done and accepted. Aubut had even checked with Snider to see how the call to the family had gone and Snider gave Snider a thumbs-up.

But Aubut now presented the Rangers with the Flyers offer and got them to agree to a deal for Tony Amonte, Alexi Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov, James Patrick, John Vanbiesbrouck, two first round draft picks and $20 million! Aubut told the Rangers the deal was theirs an hour and twenty minutes after the thumbs-up from Snider.

Aubut then went to the Snider, where he claimed that the Quebec board of directors had told him to take New York's offer. An enraged Snider told Aubut "We had a deal!"

The Rangers meanwhile, had already made up a sweater with Lindros's name and number and began plans for a press conference to announce the deal. Furious, the Flyers contacted NHL president John Ziegler, who arranged for the three clubs to agree to arbitration in the matter.

Eventually the NHL arbitrator would rule in favor of the Flyers on June 30th that the deal had become a deal when Aubut gave Snider the Lindros family phone number. More than one club had stated that Aubut would only permit any club to speak with Lindros once it had agreed to a deal with the Nordiques.

And with that ruling, it was the Flyers who sent a King's Ransom to the Nordiques in the form of Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, two first-round draft choices (one of which was used to select Jocelyn Thibault while the other was traded away) plus $15 million.

Lindros Flyers photo LindrosFlyers.jpg
At long last, Lindros becomes a Flyer

Many view this as the turning point for the often moribund Nordiques, who, with the later addition of Patrick Roy, would go onto win a pair of Stanley Cups. Unfortunately for the fans in Quebec City, the championships would come only after the team had relocated to Denver, Colorado and been renamed the Avalanche.

It is also noteworthy that the Rangers would go onto win the Stanley Cup two seasons later - without Lindros.

Lindros would go onto spend eight tumultuous seasons in Philadelphia, where he, and his father/agent, would butt heads with the notoriously headstrong and opinionated Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke, who would eventually question Lindros' toughness. He would tally four 40 goal seasons, win a Hart Memorial Trophy and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals once in 1997, getting swept in four straight by the Detroit Red Wings.

Lindros and Clarke photo LindrosandClarke.jpg
Lindros and Clarke

Surprisingly, Lindros would be named captain of Team Canada for the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, a team that also happened to have no less than Wayne Gretzky on it's roster.

Lindros, suffering from the effects of several concussions by this time, the most recent being the devastating hit by the New Jersey Devils' Scott Stevens in the spring of 2000, refused the Flyers qualifying offer. Once he was cleared to resume playing in December of 2000, the Flyers refused to trade him to his choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs and he sat out the remainder of the 2000-01 season.

Clarke would eventually deal Lindros to the very same New York Rangers, who once thought they had a acquired him, for Jan Hlavac, Kim Johnsson, Pavel Brendl and a third round draft pick, a far cry from the original price the Flyers once paid.

Since Lindros refused to wear a Quebec Nordiques jersey, we are refusing to feature a jersey today - or learn to speak French either.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

1981 Soviet Union National Team Vladimir Myshkin Jersey

Born on this date in 1955, Vladimir Myshkin is best remembered for being the goaltender who gave up Mike Eruzione's game winning goal in the 1980 Olympic "Miracle on Ice" game versus the United States, but there was certainly more to the man that just that single goal against.

Vladimir Myshkin
Myshkin reacts to Eruzione's goal in 1980

He began his career with Krylia Sovetov (Soviet Wings), the club sponsored by the Soviet Air Force, where he played in both the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons. Following the 1979 season, he made his World Championship debut with the Soviet Union in 1979, playing in two games on the gold medal winning team.

For the 1979-80 season, Myshkin would move to the KGB's Dynamo Moscow club, where he would remain for the next 11 seasons as their undisputed number one, averaging nearly 40 games a season in a league with a schedule of between 40 and 50 games a year.

Vladimir Myshkin
Myshkin in goal for Dynamo

Unfortunately for Myshkin, his career at Dynamo coincided with the rival Red Army (also known as CSKA Moscow) club's most dominant period in their history, reeling off 13 consecutive Soviet League titles from 1977 to 1989. Finally, in Myshkin's final season with the club, payoff arrived as Dynamo Moscow was finally able to wrest the title away from Red Army in 1990.

Following the long sought after Soviet League championship, Myshkin would play one final professional season with Lukko Rauma in Finland's SM-Liiga as their number one goalie.

Internationally, Myshkin was a regular member of the Soviet National Team, but like his timing playing for Dynamo during the era of Red Army, Myshkin's career as a goaltender unfortunately coincided with that of the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, recognized world-wide as one of, if not the, top goaltender in the world. The result for Myshkin was a trophy case full of medals and little playing time.

He was a member of the gold medal winning World Championship team in 1979 (2 games played), 1981 (1), 1982 (3) and 1983 (3). Finally after the retirement of Tretiak in 1984, Myshkin was given the reins in 1985 and played in ten games only to see the Soviet Union knocked off their perch and finish third after losing to both Czechoslovakia and Canada in the Final Round.

And with that, Myshkin once more returned to his familiar role as backup on the National Team, as in the 1989, 1990 and 1991 World Championships, he would play but one game in each tournament, yet come home with gold medals in both 1989 and 1990.

The story was very much the same in the 1981 Canada Cup with one start in seven games but another gold medal to bring home in his luggage.

Vladimir Myshkin
Myshkin at the 1982 Izvestia Cup

Thing would change in the 1984 edition of the Canada Cup with Tretiak now out of the picture following his retirement after winning a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, where Myshkin saw action in but a single game once more.

Despite Myshkin's failure to secure the nearly customary gold medal in the 1984 World Championships, he was back in goal at the 1984 Canada Cup. While Myshkin would defeat Czechoslovakia, Sweden and the United States in round robin play, he would once again fall short with the weight of the world on his shoulders as Canada would take the Soviets to overtime in their semifinal match, the first overtime game in Soviet National Team history, only to have Mike Bossy deflect a puck past Myshkin, who was without his stick after Bossy had collided with him several seconds earlier, to eliminate the Soviets from the competition but Myshkin was named the goaltender on the tournament All-Star Team.

Perhaps the highlight of Myshkin's international career was his 6-0 shutout of the NHL All-Stars at the 1979 Challenge Cup, after the Soviets, with Tretiak in goal, had split Games 1 and 2.

Vladimir Myshkin

All told, Myshkin would collect six World Championship gold medals, a gold in the Canada Cup and an Olympic gold medal, eight golds in all, and play in a total of just 13 games, perhaps the greatest return on investment in the history of hockey!

Vladimir Myshkin
Myshkin in his all too familiar spot on the end of the national team bench

Following his playing career, Myshkin would coach the Swiss club HC Davos from 1994 to 1999 and later become the goaltending coach of Dynamo and CSKA Moscow before coaching Vityaz Chekov in Russia.

1980 Olympians Mike Eruzione, Vladimir Myshkin and Jim Craig at a promotional appearance in advance of the 2010 Olympics

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet National Team Vladimir Myshkin jersey as used in the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.

This style of Soviet jersey with the diamond shapes around the waist was used from 1977 until 1983, which included the memorable 1980 Olympics.

Soviet National Team 1981 jersey

Our first video today is the game winning goal from the "Miracle on Ice" when Mike Eruzione of the United States gets one past Myshkin in the Soviet goal in place of Tretiak in the third period of their game for the ages.

Here is Canada defeating the Soviet Union in overtime of the 1984 Canada Cup semifinals.

We conclude today with Myshkin's finest game, the third game of the 1979 Challenge Cup, when Myshkin and the Soviets shut out the NHL All-Stars 6-0.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Coach Who Got Traded

In a most unique transaction on this day back in 1987, the New York Rangers traded their 1988 first round draft pick to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for the Nordiques' coach Michel Bergeron.


Phil Esposito, the Rangers General Manager at the time, and you just knew during an odd story that somehow Esposito's name would come up at some point, asked the Nordiques about Bergeron almost as a joke during the draft that year and was surprised when the Nordiques GM Maurice Filion said "Let's talk."

Esposito liked Bergeron's combative style, feeling that "motivation and emotion" was what he wanted for the Rangers. Esposito had to take over behind the Rangers bench when Tom Webster was forced to relinquish the job due to an inner-ear problem and brought a fiery style to the bench and he was looking for someone with similar qualities - qualities he found in Bergeron.

Bergeron photo Bergeron.jpg

Since relations between Bergeron and Filion had become strained, the Nordiques had given Esposito permission to talk to Bergeron, who still had two years remaining on his contract. They spoke for the first time on that Monday and by Wednesday had agreed to a contract and in return, the Rangers sent Quebec it's 1988 first round draft pick and $75,000 cash.

Esposito Bergeron photo EspositoBergeronRangers.jpg

And how did it turn out for Bergeron in New York? He missed the playoffs in his first season with a 36-34-10 record and was fired by Esposito with just two games remaining in his second season with the team at 37-33-8 and replaced by... Esposito himself, who proceeded to lose the last two games of the regular season and then got swept out of the playoffs in four straight by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 photo BergeronRangers.jpg

Oddly enough, Bergeron would return to coach the Nordiques once more the following season of 1989-90, his last in the NHL. He would finish with a dismal 12-61-7 record.

And what became of the draft pick obtained by the Nordiques for Bergeron? With their second pick in the first round, and the 5th overall, the Nordiques selected Daniel Dore from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He totaled 17 NHL games played, 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 career points. To select Dore, the Nordiques passed on Martin Gelinas (1273 GP, 660 pts), Jeremy Roenick (1363 GP, 1216 pts) Rod Brind'Amour (1484 GP, 1184 pts) and Teemu Selanne (1387 GP, 1430 pts), who were picks 7, 8, 9 and 10 that year.

Slam! Sports picked Dore as #8 in their list of Top 10 draft-day busts.

Unfortunately we don't own Bergeron's snazzy plaid sport coat, so no jersey today...

Monday, June 17, 2013

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett Jersey

Perhaps no other players personifies life in the World Hockey Association better than John Garrett. Born on this date and drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Garrett, faced with the prospect of life in the minor leagues riding buses and playing in a dingy old rink for little pay while trying to crack an NHL lineup instead cast his lot with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA for a higher salary, playing time in a top professional league in a state-of-the-art, brand new arena, featuring cutting edge clear dasherboards! It was a no-brainer for many minor league players in the early 1970's to make the jump to the WHA.

In Minnesota, Garrett split time with former US Olympian Mike Curran, before becoming the number one goalie in 1974-75 with 58 appearances and a 30-23-2 record. The following season Garrett had already played in 52 of the Fighting Saints 59 games, going 26-22-4, when the franchise folded mid-season.

Garrett Fighting Saints
Minnesota Fighting Saint John Garrett - note the clear dasherboards behind him

Garrett's services were then snapped up by the Toronto Toros where their unsettled goaltending situation saw six different men play at least seven games, with none more than 26. While Garrett remained with the franchise for the next two seasons, nothing in the WHA was that simple, as the franchise relocated for the 1976-77 season to the deep south of the United States, finding a new home in Birmingham, Alabama.

Garrett Bulls

Garrett's veteran experience and strong play immediately earned him the starting job and he patrolled the crease for 65 games that season and he was named a First Team WHA All-Star. He also played in 58 games in the 1977-78 season when the "Baby Bulls" were stocked with several players under the age of 20, something never before tried in major professional hockey.

Garrett Bulls

A trade in September saw him dealt to the New England Whalers where he split the goaltending duties with Al Smith for the final season of the WHA. For 1979-80, the Whalers, now renamed the Hartford Whalers, joined the NHL.

During his time in the WHA, Garrett saw and lived through it all. A franchise folding mid-season, a franchise relocation, a trade and eventually a change in leagues!

Garrett led the Whalers in appearances in 1979-80 and 1980-81 with 52 and 54, respectively. With the Whalers failing to qualify for the playoffs in 1981, Garrett was chosen to be a member of Team Canada at the World Championships.

Garrett Whalers

He began the 1981-82 season with Hartford prior to being traded to another WHA refugee club, the Quebec Nordiques in January of 1982 to back up Dan Bouchard.

Garrett Nordiques

With Bouchard again getting the majority of the playing time in 1982-83, and the Nordiques wanting to make room for future starter Clint Malarchuk, Garrett was again dealt in February 1983 to the Vancouver Canucks. While he was unable to displace established starter Richard Brodeur, Garrett did play three seasons in Vancouver to close out his NHL career.

Garrett Canucks

Garrett's career concluded with 530 games played, 216 wins, 242 losses and 52 ties between the two leagues combined.

John Garrett masks
John Garrett's goalie mask history

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett jersey. The Fighting Saints original jerseys featured the "S" logo and were worn for the first half of their first season before being replaced by the "little saint" logo. None of the original Fighting Saints jerseys survived, as they had their crests removed and were given to Hasting High School to reuse.

Fighting Saints jerseys are some of the most sought after of the WHA game worn jerseys, thanks in part to their classic look, fantastic logo, die-hard fan base and limited availability.

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints
1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints

Bonus Jersey: Our bonus jersey is a 1977 WHA All-Star John Garrett jersey as worn in the game in Hartford, Connecticut, won by the East All-Stars 4-2.

1977 WHA All-Star jersey

Our video section kicks off with a can't miss clip as Fighting Saints coach Harry Neale interviews John Garrett on his arrival with the Fighting Saints. Dig the bow tie and suit!

Finally, a look at the Minnesota Fighting Saints 1974-75 season is this classic old film. While you are getting your groove on to the mid-70's soundtrack be sure to note the clear dasherboards used at the old St. Paul Civic Center, home of the Fighting Saints.


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