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Friday, November 29, 2013

1935-36 Montreal Maroons Russ Blinco Jersey

Called "The Most Storied Building in Hockey History" by the Sporting News, the Montreal Forum opened on this date back in 1924 as the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Montreal Canadiens took on the Toronto St. Pats, winning by a final score of 7-1 on three goals by Billy Boucher, two by Aurel Joliat and one each from Silvio Mantha and Howie Morenz.

The Forum was originally home to the Montreal Maroons, the team of choice for the city's English speaking fans. The Maroons played there from 1924 until their demise in 1938, winning a pair of Stanley Cup championships in 1926 and 1935. Two years later the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal's French speaking fans favorite club, would begin to call The Forum home in 1926, where they would play for 70 years and win 22 Stanley Cups.

Located at Avenue Atwater and Rue Ste-Catherine, the forum was built in a mere 159 days for a cost of $1.5 million on the location of a prior roller skating rink named The Forum, which was retained as the name for the new ice hockey rink. It originally held only 9,300 fans and was renovated in 1949 to hold 12,500 and again in 1968, after which the capacity had grown to 17,959, of which 1,600 were standing room. By the time the Montreal Forum closed in 1996, 90 million people had passed through it's doors.

In addition to the Maroons and the Canadiens, the Montreal Victorias and Montreal Royals of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, also called the Forum home in addition to the many junior and other amateur teams that kept the ice occupied in hockey mad Montreal.

The longest game in NHL history occurred at the Forum in 1936, when the Detroit Red Wings and the Maroons playoff game went on and on, before being settled in favor of the Red Wings 1-0 in the sixth overtime after 176 minutes and 36 seconds on a goal by Mud Bruneteau at 2:25 AM.

In 1937 Howie Morenz, who had scored a goal during the opening night of the Forum in 1924, would lie in state at center ice following his premature death due to complications from a leg injury suffered during a game in 1937.

The first live broadcast of a game by the CBC was from the Montreal Forum, as "Hockey Night in Canada" made it's debut on October 11, 1952 when the Canadiens defeated the Red Wings 2-1.

The Forum was also the site of the shocking first game of the 1972 Summit Series, where heavily favored Team Canada broke out to a quick 2-0 lead before being steamrolled by the Soviet Union 7-3.

One of the most famous games played at the Forum was the New Year's Eve contest between the Canadiens and the Soviet Red Army Club in 1975, considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever played.

Other events held in the Forum included boxing, tennis and wrestling. During the 1976 Summer Olympics hosted by Montreal, the Forum was the site of handball, basketball, volleyball, boxing and gymnastics, including Nadia Comaneci's famous first perfect 10 in Olympic history. Concerts included The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones.

One of the most famous locations in the Montreal Forum was the Canadiens dressing room, a virtual museum in and of itself, with photos of past Canadiens Hall of Famers on the wall and the famous inscription "Nos bras meutris vous tendent le flambeau, à vous toujours de le porter bien haut." which in English is "To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high."


Today's featured jersey is a rare 1935-36 Montreal Maroons Russ Blinco jersey. This is the final style of jersey worn by the Maroons during their 14 year run. It is one of only four known jerseys in private collections outside of the Hockey Hall of Fame and sold at auction back in 2006 for $53,589.80.

Blinco was the first ever recipient of the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1933-34 and won a Stanley Cup with the Maroons in 1935, scoring the game winning goal in Game 2 of a three game sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After five seasons with the Maroons, they folded and Blinco played his final season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He scored 59 goals and 88 assists for 125 career points in 267 games.

photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section starts off with a great find, footage from the first ever televised hockey game from the Montreal Forum in 1952.

Here are highlights from Game 1 of the 1972 Summit Series held at the Forum when the relatively unknown Soviet Union shocked all of Canada by defeating Team Canada 7-3 after quickly falling behind 2-0.

Next is the historic New Year's Eve contest between the Montreal Canadiens and the Soviet Red Army which featured a matchup of goalies Ken Dryden and Vladislav Tretiak and is considered one of the greatest hockey games ever played.

Finally, the six minute ovation given to Canadiens legend Maurice Richard during the closing ceremonies at the Forum following the final game on March 11, 1996.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1970-71 Detroit Red Wings Gordie Howe Jersey

On this date in 1960, Gordie Howe became the first player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points. Five years to the day later, Howe scored his 600th NHL goal on this day in 1965.

Mr. Hockey® made his NHL debut in 1946, wearing #17 and changed to his iconic #9 at the start of the following season for the purpose of a more preferable sleeping berth on the train while the team was traveling, as the accommodations were more spacious in the lower berths and were allocated based on each players sweater number.

One of the most dominate players in NHL history, Howe would finish in the top five in league scoring for twenty straight seasons.

Teamed with linemates Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay, "The Production Line" would dominate the NHL and lead Detroit to first place in the regular season standings for each of the four seasons they played together from 1948-49 to 1951-52, a span that would include a pair Stanley Cup Championships in 1950 and 1952. So dominant was the line that they finished first, second and third in league scoring in 1949-50, led by Lindsay's 78 points in 69 games.

Howe would not be around to lift the Stanley Cup in 1950, having suffered a fractured skull earlier in the playoffs, which required emergency surgery to relieve the pressure.

Howe would return to form the following season of 1950-51, scoring 86 points to win the scoring title by 20 points over his nearest competition, the first of seven times he would win the Art Ross Trophy.

Howe would continue throughout the 1950's to accumulate championships and awards, winning the Stanley Cup in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955, the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion from 1951-1954 and 1957, and the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP in 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958 and 1960.

It was on this date in 1960 that Howe registered an assist in a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs to score his 1,000th NHL point, the first player in the 44 year history of the league to reach that milestone and he did it in his 938th game. It would be another eight years before Jean Beliveau would become the second and another 20 years before Howe would score his final point! Remember, Howe already had 14 years in the league behind him at this point.

1963 would see Howe capture both the Art Ross and Hart Trophies once more and on this date in 1965 Howe would score his 600th NHL goal in a game versus the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first player in NHL history to record 600 goals. It would be until 1972 until Bobby Hull would become the second to 600.

For comparison, Maurice Richard's final career totals when he retired in 1960 were 544 goals and 965 career points and he surprisingly never led the league in point scoring.

In 1968-69, aided by the recent NHL expansion to 12 teams which created a longer schedule of games against some admittedly weaker opponents, Howe achieved his one and only 100 point NHL season with 44 goals and 58 assists for 103 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1970-71 Detroit Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey. 1970-71 would be Howe's final season with the Red Wings. This classic style has been used by the Red Wings essentially unchanged since 1932 when the Detroit franchise first adopted the name "Red Wings" after previously being known as the Falcons and the Cougars.

Only detail changes have occurred over the years as this sweater has endured to become a timeless classic.

Today's video is the "Legends of Hockey" profile of Gordie Howe.

Here is an unusual find, Howe on the TV game show, "What's My Line?" being questioned by Hogan's Heroes' Colonel Klink Werner Klemperer and Soupy Sales. Howe's legendary toughness is apparent, as he is unfazed at being interrogated by a Nazi prison camp commandant.

Gordie tells Keith Olberman how hockey used to be and to respect your elders.

Dasherboard: From the "I Didn't Know That Department", on this date in 1941, the Boston Bruins tied an NHL record by scoring four goals in the 10-minute overtime period to beat the New York Americans 6-2. Overtime was a mandatory full 10 minute period before it was discontinued in November 1942 in favor of the now familiar "sudden death" format.

Monday, November 25, 2013

1987-88 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Robb Stauber Jersey

Born on this date in 1967 in Duluth, Minnesota, goaltender Robb Stauber would become the first goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Award as the outstanding player in US College Hockey in the eighth season of the award.

After being named an All-State Goalkeeper at Duluth Denfeld High School, Stauber would attend the University of Minnesota beginning in 1986. He would appear in 20 games and finish with a 13-5 record while splitting time with future Boston Bruins goalie John Blue. The Gophers would finish third in the nation that season after making it to the NCAA Final Four. Stauber would record his first point that season after being credited with an assist. During the season he would also play for the United States in the World Junior Tournament.

Stauber's second season with the Golden Gophers in 1987-88 would see him set a team record with 44 games played, posting a 34-10 record and lowering his goals against average from 3.53 down to 2.72 and help the team capture the WCHA Championship.

The Gophers would make another trip to the Final Four before losing to St. Lawrence 3-2 on a goal in the final minute of the game. Never one to sit back and watch the play develop, Stauber was always on the lookout to fire a long pass to send one of his potent forwards back up the ice in the other direction, and collected five assists as a result. At the end of the season he would be named the winner of the John Mariucci Award as the Gophers's Most Valuable Player, be named WCHA Goaltender of the Year, earn All-WCHA First Team honors, be named to the All-America first team, earning a coveted spot on one of the Mariucci Arena murals, reserved for Gopher First Team All-Americans, and become the first goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Award.

1988-89 would see the Gophers capture back to back WCHA Championships and Stauber would see action in 34 games, post a 26-8 record and lower his goals against average yet again to 2.43. His assist total would climb to seven, despite playing ten fewer games than the previous season. Stauber and the Gophers would make it all the way to the NCAA Championship game only to lose to Harvard 4-3 in overtime in one of the greatest college hockey games of all time. Stauber would be named the WCHA Goaltender of the Year for the second season in a row and be named one of the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

His final college career stats shows a 2.77 goals against average and a 73-23 record and he was recently named one of the Top 50 Players in WCHA History. Without question, Stauber was a supremely talented goaltender which gave him the confidence to often leave his crease to challenge shooters or corral the puck before attempting another of his home run passes to his forwards up the ice. In fact, he would even score a goal while playing in the minors later in his career.

Following his collegiate career, Stauber would make another appearance for the United States, this time at the 1989 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden.

The next season, 1989-90, he would make his NHL debut for the Los Angeles Kings, seeing action in a pair of games as a teammate to Wayne Gretzky. He would spend the next two seasons in the minors and return to the NHL full time in the 1992-93 season, in which the Kings would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals with Stauber seeing action in four games verus the Calgary Flames in the opening round.

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Stauber guarding the Kings net during the 1992-93 season

After one more season in Los Angeles where Stauber would play in 22 regular season games, including wearing the first decorated goalie pads in NHL history.

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Stauber during the 1993-94 season (above) wearing
the first decorated goalie pads in NHL history (below)

Stauber was traded to the Buffalo Sabres during the 1994-95 season, seeing six games of action.

He would spend the next three seasons back in the AHL with Rochester, where he once scored a goal, Portland and Hartford.

His final NHL totals are 62 games played with 21 wins, 23 losses and 9 ties, 1 shutout and a 3.80 goals against average along with 4 playoff games and a 3-1 record.

Since retiring as a player, Stauber has opened Stauber's Goalcrease Academy to train goalkeepers, written a book about, what else, goaltending, and has been the goaltenders coach for the University of Minnesota.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 University of Minnesota Robb Stauber jersey as worn during his career at the University of Minnesota, including his Hobey Baker winning season and was lettered by our friends at VintageMinnesotaHockey.com.

This jersey with it's classic hockey styling was first used by Minnesota in 1985-86 and the gold trim was added to the shoulder yoke after just one season. Today's featured jersey can be dated to precisely 1987-88 by the presence of the shoulder trim but the lack of a WCHA patch, which arrived in 1988-89 in gold. The WCHA patch changed to a more contrasting maroon color after one season and this style remained in use through 1992-93, the final season of the old Mariucci Arena. The only other variation of the jersey was in 1990-91 when a USA flag patch was worn (only on the home jerseys) following a wave a patriotism following the outbreak of the first Gulf War in August of 1990.

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It's a true disappointment that Stauber's college career took place prior to the age of youtube, since he was simply the most spectacular, dynamic and aggressive goaltender we have ever had the privilege of watching play live. Luckily, we did find these highlights of a vintage Gopher playoff game that contains some classic rare footage showing Stauber playing with reckless abandon early in the video from 1988 in the original Mariucci Arena. Hopefully this will give you some hint of what kind of an amazing video a true compilation of Stauber's best saves and most daring challenges would have looked like.



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