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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hockey Solstice

While today might be the shortest day of the year, it ushers in some of the longest days of hockey viewing over the next two months.

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The hockey kicks off on December 26th in Sweden with the start of the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmö, Sweden, where ten countries face off in the annual holiday season tournament which runs through January 5th's Gold Medal Final.

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The teams are divided into two groups, with Group A stacked with the defending gold medal champions the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany, with the key matchup looking to be the US vs. Canada on New Year's Eve.

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The United States will be looking to win it's second consecutive gold medal

Group B looks no easier with the hosts Sweden having to face Russia, Switzerland, Finland and Norway. Key games in the group are Sweden vs. rival Finland on Dec. 28th and and Sweden vs. Russia also on Dec. 31st.

Viewers in the United States can watch 18 games on the NHL Network, including all the Group A games, covering all the United States and Canada preliminary round games, as well as all 8 playoff round contests.

When the World Juniors takes a break on New Year's Day prior to the start of the Quarterfinals, the NHL steps into the void with the sixth Winter Classic, this year featuring the delayed game between the Detroit Red Wings (making their second Winter Classic appearance) taking on Original 6 rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to play in the Winter Classic.

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The game will be held at Michigan Stadium and is expected to set a new world record for attendance at a hockey game, as "The Big House" is the current world record holder at a certified 104.173 when the University of Michigan Wolverines faced off against rivals the Michigan State Spartans in December of 2010. Attendance at that game was actually announced at 113,411 and the stadium has held as many as 115,109 for football, so you can be certain the NHL will meticulously document each person through the turnstiles.

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The festivities for the Winter Classic actually began back on December 15th with many youth games taking place from the 18th to the 26th on the rink at Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), but the big spectator events will start on Friday, December 27th with the Great Lake Invitational (GLI) college hockey tournament when Michigan State (Big Ten) faces off against the Michigan Tech Huskies (WCHA) followed by the Western Michigan Broncos (NCHC) taking on Michigan (Big Ten) with the losers meeting the following afternoon before the championship game on Saturday evening.

Sunday sees the Windsor Spitfires (from just across the river in Canada) playing the Saginaw Spirit followed by the London Knights and the Plymouth Whalers finishing off the Ontario Hockey League doubleheader. The American Hockey League takes center stage on Monday when the Toronto Marlies square off against the Grand Rapids Griffins.

The NHL takes over on Tuesday, December 31st with the highly anticipated pair of alumni games between veteran Red Wings and Maple Leafs, which should be a virtual Hockey Hall of Fame on ice.

After the NCAA, OHL, AHL and NHL Alumni finish up at Comerica Park on the 31st, the action switches to The Big House on New Years Day for the Winter Classic itself in Ann Arbor.

Once the Winter Classic concludes, things return to normal for three weeks until the NHL Stadium series begins with the highly anticipated January 25th game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium in sunny California. That game will be followed immediately by the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils playing the first of two games at Yankee Stadium on January 26th, followed by the Rangers facing off against the New York Islanders on January 29th.

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A week later, the 2014 Winter Olympics get under way in Sochi, Russia on February 8th when the women's tournament begins, followed by the start of the men's competition on the 12th with the first two of 30 games, concluding on Sunday, February 23rd with the Gold Medal Game with the women having concluded on the 20th.

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The men's competition is divided into three groups, with Group A being Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the United States, Group B consisting of Austria, Canada, Finland and Norway while Group C has the Czech Republic, Latvia, Switzerland and Sweden battling it out.

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Canada celebrates their gold on home ice in 2010

Six days later it this incredible run of 67 days of hockey concludes with the final game of the NHL Stadium Series when the Chicago Black Hawks host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field in Chicago followed the very next day with the 2014 Heritage Classic when the Ottawa Senators travel to take on the Vancouver Canucks in what may very well be the best dressed game of the entire stretch of games, as the Senators will wear a white version of their amazing heritage alternate jersey while the Canucks will reprise their Vancouver Millionaires throwbacks from last season, although the red vs. blue Winter Classic between Detroit and Toronto is also going to look great, if not slightly unusual without a white home jersey in action.

Speaking of jerseys, decisions must be made by collectors, as each of the six NHL outdoor games will feature special one-off jerseys (as many as 11 in all since the Rangers will play twice and depending on what the New Jersey Devils decide to wear) and the Olympics see an entirely new lineup of jerseys from Nike, many of which are some of the most bold and controversial seen in a long time - another two dozen to pick from, although Nike has a history of only releasing the colored road jersey for many of the lower ranked teams at the retail level, and those they do sell are often in short supply. Those who remember 2010 will recall that after the games started, several countries jerseys were already a challenge to acquire, so shop early to avoid disappointment.

Friday, December 20, 2013

1982-83 Winnipeg Jets Doug Smail Jersey

On this date in 1981, the Winnipeg Jets faced off against the St. Louis Blues. Just after the opening face-off and before the fans could even settle into their seats, Winnipeg's Doug Smail scored just five seconds into the game to set a new NHL record for the fastest goal at the start of a game to break the eight year old record of six seconds set in 1973 by Henry Boucha of the Detroit Red Wings against the Montreal Canadiens.

Doug Smail, Doug Smail

Boucha's record was equalled by the Pittsburgh Penguins Jean Pronovost in 1976, also against the Blues.

Paul McLean added to the Jets lead two minutes later, but the Blues came back with three consecutive goals by the half way point of the game to overcome the early Jets lead. As the third period began, the Jets reasserted themselves with three goals of their own within the first 11 minutes of the third period on scores by Bengt Lundholm, Smail again and Willy Lindstrom.

When Perry Turnbull added a meaningless goal with 9 seconds remaining in the game, Smail also then received credit for the game winning goal to go along with his new record.

Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders later equalled Smail's record on March 22, 1984 in a 3-3 draw against the Boston Bruins.

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Bryan Trottier

Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny joined the group on ten years and a day after Smail's goal when he intercepted a cross ice passing attempt by Michel Petit, skated in and fired a shot past goalie Jeff Reese to begin a 4-1 Sabres victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Alexander Mogilny

Smail played at the University of North Dakota, which included winning an NCAA championship in 1980 and earning tournament MVP honors. The ultra quick winger played 13 NHL seasons, ten of those with the Winnipeg Jets before a trade to the Minnesota North Stars for one season. He would also play single seasons with the Quebec Nordiques and Ottawa Senators before finishing out his career with three year stint in Great Britain.

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Doug Smail

His NHL high of 66 points came in 1984-85 with his only 30 goal season, with 31 goals, and a career high 35 assists. He was primarily a penalty killer and defensive forward in the high flying 1980's. He did have three additional 20 goal seasons for the Jets, but never reached even 50 points in the NHL again. Of note however, was his first season with the Fife Flyers in Great Britain, where in 53 games, and free of his NHL defensive responsibilities, Smail cut loose with 74 goals and 139 points! Oddly, he also racked up 114 penalty minutes, nearly three times his NHL average of 46, which came in a considerably longer 80 game season.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Winnipeg Jets Doug Smail jersey. To celebrate their move to the NHL from the WHA, the Jets took the opportunity to revamp their jerseys, introducing an entirely new (to them) style which featured full length sleeve striping, a pattern formerly used by the New York Rangers while under the control of general manager John Ferguson, who now held the reins in Winnipeg. One unique feature of the jersey was the extremely thin font used for the names on the back. This style would serve the Jets well through 11 seasons until 1989-90.

Winnipeg Jets 82-83 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 82-83 jersey
Winnipeg Jets 82-83 jersey, Winnipeg Jets 82-83 jersey

Sadly, we were unable to locate video of Smail's goal but were able to find a clip of Trottier's rapid goal.

Recently Alexander Radulov of Salavat Yulaev Ufa took a run at Smail's record when he set the Russian and Kontinental Hockey League record at six seconds, besting Andrei Pchelykaov's Russian Super League goal at seven seconds.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts Hap Holmes Jersey

It was on this date in 1917 that the first games of the National Hockey League were played. The league was formed for one basic reason - for the owners to rid themselves of fellow team owner Eddie Livingstone!

Livingstone was the owner of the Toronto Shamrocks of the National Hockey Association (NHA) and had a contentious relationship with his fellow owners, primarily Sam Lichtenhein of the Montreal Wanderers, with whom he often butted heads with. At one point, Lichtenhein even offered Livingstone $3,000 to abandon his team and walk away, but the cheeky Livingstone countered with a $5,000 offer for Lichtenhein to do the same!

Prior to the 1915-16 season, Livingstone purchased the Toronto Blueshirts, giving him both Toronto NHA franchises - and an unwelcome two votes in league matters. When Frank Patrick and Lester Patrick, owners of the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHA) Seattle Metropolitans raided the Blueshirts roster, Livingstone transferred Shamrocks players to the Blueshirts. The league seized the Shamrocks franchise from Livingstone, as had been demanded by the league only a week earlier, not wanting one owner with whom they did not get along with having two votes, when there was now nothing left for Livingstone to sell since the club had no players. It also angered the other owners that they were now a five team league, forcing one club to be idle each week and that road trips to Toronto would be for one game instead of the more economical two, as in the past.

In 1916-17, the 228th Battalion of the Canadian Army formed a team in the six team NHA, taking the place of the Shamrocks. Unfortunately, the 228th received their orders to head overseas to join the fighting in World War I and had to withdraw from the league during the season. This gave the other four owners of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec Bulldogs and Ottawa Senators the opening they needed, and they held a meeting without Livingstone and voted to suspend his remaining Blueshirts franchise with the excuse of wanting to keep the league with an even number of teams.

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The 228th Battalion

Livingstone field suit against the league as a result. The Blueshirts home rink, the Arena Gardens, were then given three weeks to separate itself from Livingstone by the NHA or the other owners would operate without a club in Toronto and thus the arena would lose it's tennant. The feisty Livingstone of course refused to sell his club, and therefore, at their annual meeting in November, the NHA announced it was suspending league operations due to the difficulty of running a five team league, also blaming player shortages due to World War I.

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The Blueshirts home rink, the Arena Gardens

A week later, all of the owners, minus Livingstone naturally, announced they had formed a brand new league, the National Hockey League (NHL), which consisted of the Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators and the Quebec Bulldogs. The new league also claimed to have retained the contracts of the suspended Toronto Blueshirts players!

With the Quebec Bulldogs suspending operations due to financial difficulties before the new NHL could even begin the 1917-18 season, the Arena Gardens were awarded a temporary NHL franchise, managed by Charlie Querrie, to make the fledgling NHL a four team league once again and assigned the Blueshirts players on a lease basis to the temporary Toronto franchise. To further complicate matters, many of the players signed contracts with both Livingstone and the Arena.

The season, and the league, would kick off on this date in 1917 when the Ottawa Senators lost to the Montreal Canadiens 7-4 and Toronto lost to the Montreal Wanderers by a score of 10-9. The Canadiens would win the first half of the season to earn a spot in the postseason championship playoff, while the Wanderers would cease operations following the fire that burned down their home, the Montreal Arena.

The Toronto club had no official nickname, but the "Blueshirts" were successful on the ice, winning the second half of the season schedule and earned the right to play Montreal for the championship. Toronto was led by Reg Noble, who scored 30 goals and 10 assists in 20 games for 40 points, third overall in the league behind the prolific Joe Malone of the Canadiens who scored a spectacular 44 goals in just 20 games as part of his league leading point total. Corbett Denneny and Harry Cameron also were standouts for Toronto, with 29 and 27 points respectively, for fifth and sixth in league scoring. Toronto's Harry "Hap" Holmes came in second to Georges Vezina of Montreal in the goaltending department with a goals against average of 4.80 in 16 games.

Toronto defeated the Canadiens for the league championship in a two games, total goals series 10-7, capturing the O'Brien Cup. Toronto then faced off against the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA and won the Stanley Cup by 3 games to 2, causing Livingstone to again head to court to file suit for the revenue earned by "his" championship squad of players.

As a result of this lawsuit, the Arena Gardens formed a new company, the Toronto Arena Hockey Club Company, to own and run a hockey team, separate from the Arena Gardens business to protect the Arena business from Livingstone's lawsuits. The NHL then awarded a "new" franchise to the Hockey Club Company. This club was officially named the Toronto Arenas and, not surprisingly, was stocked with the same players from the 1918 championship club. When his players were once again not returned to him for the 1918-19 season, Livingstone sued the Arena Gardens.

Once again, the players were uncertain who would prevail in the courts, and covered their bases by signing contracts with both the Toronto Arena Hockey Club Company and Livingstone.

Livingstone did prevail in the courts sometimes, but not always. Two rulings in his favor of $20,000 and later $100,000 sent the Arena Gardens into bankruptcy. Despite the company's legal wranglings at the time, the arena would continue to operate for 77 years until closing in 1989.

When the Toronto Arenas did take to the ice in the 1918-19 season as Stanley Cup Champions, they did not play like it. Forced to sell most of their star players due to mounting legal bills, the Arenas record for the season was 5 wins and 13 losses, attendance was low and several players left the team. Finally, the team wrote to the league requesting that the season be ended when each of the three clubs had reached 18 games played and then officially withdrew from the league. This left only the Canadiens and Senators to play for the championship of the NHL and the right to meet the Pacific Coast Hockey Association champions for the Stanley Cup, which Montreal won 4 games to 1.

Meanwhile, Livingstone was busy was attempting to overthrow the NHA management, purchased the dormant Quebec Bulldogs franchise, and began an unsuccessful attempt to start a rival league, the Canadian Hockey Association and threatened to file an injunction to stop the NHL from operating. He also made unsuccessful attempts to start new leagues in 1920, 1924 and 1926, none of which ever played a single game.

Finally, the Toronto Arenas franchise was sold to the St. Patricks Hockey Club of Toronto, who ran the successful senior amateur St. Patricks team in the Ontario Hockey League, which included Arenas team manager Querrie in the four-man ownership group, in December of 1919.

The new owners renamed the club the Toronto St. Patricks and the $5,000 sale price was supposed to go to Livingstone to settle the purchase of his NHA club, for which he had once demanded $20,000 for after they had won the 1918 Stanley Cup. However, Livingstone never received the money, which many believe was kept by NHL president Frank Calder.

The Toronto St. Patricks were members of the NHL through the 1926-27 season, when Querrie, having been sued by none other than Livingstone, was forced to sell the St. Patricks. He reached an agreement to sell the club to Conn Smythe, who renamed the club the Toronto Maple Leafs and constructed Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931.

Today's featured jersey is a 1917-18 Toronto Blueshirts Hap Holmes jersey as worn during the inaugural season of the National Hockey League.

Holmes would win the Stanley Cup four different times, and with four different teams. He first joined Eddie Livingstone's Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA in 1912, winning the cup with them in 1914. He joined the Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA in 1915 and won the cup with Seattle in 1917.

In his only season with the Toronto Blueshirts, he would win his third Stanley Cup before returning to Seattle the following season. After the Metropolitans folded four seasons later, Holmes would join the WCHL's Victoria Cougars in 1924 and go on to win his fourth Stanley Cup, the last cup won by a non-NHL team. After one more season in Victoria, the entire WCHL folded and the Victoria Cougars players were sold to the new Detroit NHL franchise, which took the name the Cougars as a tribute to the Victoria club before eventually becoming the Red Wings. Holmes would play his final two seasons in Detroit and conclude his career with 408 games played, 198 wins, 40 of which were shutouts, 192 losses and 14 ties.

Holmes was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and the American Hockey League award for the top goaltender each season is named the Hap Holmes Memorial Award.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

1991-92 Utica Devils Jim Dowd Jersey

On this date in 1993, Jim Dowd, the first native of New Jersey to ever play for the New Jersey Devils, scored his first NHL goal in a 6-2 victory over the Quebec Nordiques in Quebec City.

Dowd, from Brick, New Jersey, helped his high school capture the state title in 1986 and in his senior year broke the national scholastic scoring record with 375 points in his four years.

He was drafted 149th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. Following being drafted he played college hockey at Lake Superior State of the CCHA for four seasons, including a National Championship in 1988. Dowd was named the CCHA Player of the Year in 1991 and during the 1989-90 season Dowd scored 25 goals and 67 assists for 92 points in 46 games.

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Jim Dowd, Craig Hewson and Tim Breslin celebrate the national championship in 1988

Following his college career, Dowd played two seasons with the Devils top minor league club, the Utica Devils in the AHL during 1991-92 and 1992-93, getting into one game with the parent club both seasons. 1993-94 saw him play the majority of the season with the Albany River Rats, 15 games with the New Jersey Devils in which he scored his first NHL goal on this date in 1993. Dowd also was part of the Devils playoff run in 1994, seeing action in 19 games, scoring 8 points.

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The 1994-95 season was one of highs and lows for Dowd. The NHL lockout shortened the regular season and Dowd then suffered a shoulder injury which limited him to only ten regular season games. Things improved for him when the playoffs arrived when he scored the game winning goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals as part of a four game sweep over the Detroit Red Wings, getting the New Jersey native his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

The next season would be one of change for Dowd, as the Devils would trade him to the Hartford Whalers, who then dealt him the same day to the Vancouver Canucks for the second half of the season. The Islanders claimed him in the NHL Waiver Draft prior to the 1996-97 season, but his time with the Islanders was minimal, as he spent the vast majority of the season with Utah of the IHL and Saint John in the AHL.

He signed as a free agent for the 1997-98 season with the Calgary Flames and split time between the NHL and the AHL. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers, who assigned him to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL for 1998-99 before he played the next season in Edmonton, when he had his best season to date, scoring 23 points in a career high 69 games.

Dowd's career took a turn when he was selected by the Minnesota Wild in the 2000 NHL Expansion Draft which gave him some much needed stability after playing for eight different teams in three separate leagues over five seasons. with Minnesota, he set career highs with 13 goals and 30 assists for 43 points in 2001-02. During his fourth season with the Wild, he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

After playing in Germany during the 2004-05 lockout for the Hamburg Freezers, he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks for 2005-06, only to be moved to the Colorado Avalanche at the end of the year. He returned to the Devils for the 2006-07 season and signed with the Philadelphia Flyers for the final season of his NHL career of 2007-08.

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Down during his return to his home state Devils in 2006-07

His final NHL totals are 728 games played, 71 goals and 168 assists for 239 points. In addition, he played in 99 playoff games with 9 goals and 17 assists for 26 points and one Stanley Cup championship.

On a personal note, we met Dowd several times while he was with the Wild and always found him to be an especially friendly player, paarticularly with children. During every single warmup at the Xcel Energy Center Dowd was responsible for at least a dozen pucks finding their way into the hands of children, primarily through the hole in the plexiglass cut for photographer's lenses.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Utica Devils Jim Dowd jersey. This jersey was worn by Dowd during his first professional season in the American Hockey League. The Utica Devils were founded in 1987 and played in Utica until 1993 before relocating to Saint John, New Brunswick, where they changed their affiliation to the Calgary Flames and were renamed the Flames.

Before the days when teams realized the power of merchandising to generate income, and came up with their own unique identities, minor league clubs would often simply take the name of their parent club, as did the Utica Devils. It is fun to see the minor league club's variations on their parent club's jerseys, in this case the "U-devil" logo worn on the chest in the classic Devils green and red colors.

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1991-92 New Jersey Devils Jim Dowd jersey as worn during Dowd's NHL debut and the only game he played for New Jersey that season.

From JeffsJerseys.com, rather than making up a brand new jersey for the NHL rookie, the Devils took a jersey worn by #24 Doug Brown from the previous season, saved the "OW" from Brown's nameplate and added "D's" to the front and back for Dowd. They then stripped the 2's off the jersey and replaced them with 3's for Dowd's first number of 34. The NHL 75th anniversary patch was added to complete the conversion in time for Dowd's debut.

To see more jersey's from Dowd's career, please visit the Dowd Collection on JeffsJerseys.com.

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New Jersey Devils 91-92 jersey photo NewJerseyDevils91-92Bjersey.jpg

Here is Dowd's game winning goal from Game 2 of the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals.

Next up is a chatty Jim Dowd wearing a mic during a game in 2007.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

1930-31 Ottawa Senators Alec Connell Jersey

On this date in 1924 goaltenders Jake Forbes of the Hamilton Tigers and Alec Connell of the Ottawa Sentators battled to the first scoreless tie in NHL history, which came in the eighth season of the NHL.

Forbes had begun his NHL career in 1919 with the Toronto St. Pats with five games in his first season. Forbes played in 20 the following year, going 13-7 and when he refused to accept Toronto's contract offer for 1921-22, he was suspended for the the entire season, missing out on the St. Pats Stanley Cup championship, and was later sold to the Hamilton Tigers.

Forbes played three seasons in Hamilton, improving from 6 wins to 9 and finally 19 to lead the league in wins during the Tigers final season. For 1925-26, the Hamilton franchise was purchased by the New York Americans and Forbes played two and a half seasons with the Americans before being loaned to the Providence Reds and later the Niagara Falls Cataracts.

Jake Forbes Americans
Jake Forbes

He would spend the next eight years divided between the Canadian-American Hockey League (with New Haven, Springfield and the Bronx) and the International Hockey League (with Windsor, Syracuse, London and Rochester) with occasional fill in duty with the Americans (9 games over four seasons) and the Philadelphia Quakers for two games in 1930-31.

For the rookie Connell, the scoreless tie against Hamilton was the first shutout of his career. After playing five seasons in the Ottawa City Hockey League, Connell was signed by the Senators of the NHL for the 1924-25 season. He would appear in 30 games his first season and post seven shutouts in all. The following season of 1925-26, Connell won 24 games in 36 stars, with 15 shutouts, a career high. In 1926-27, Connell won 30 games, 13 by shutout, in 44 appearances. The Senators would defeat the Montreal Canadiens and then defeat the Boston Bruins in their best-of-five series by the unusual line of 2 wins, no losses and a pair of ties earning Connell his first Stanley Cup.

Alex Connell Senators
Ottawa Senator Alec Connell

During the 1927-28 season, Connell set the NHL record for the longest shutout streak of 461:29 by recording six consecutive shutouts. The streak began on January 28th when he held the Montreal Canadiens to single goal in a 2-1 Senators win. The Toronto Maple Leafs then fell 4-0 to Connell and the Senators, who then prevailed 1-0 in overtime over the Montreal Maroons. The New York Rangers battled the Senators to a pair of scoreless ties on February 7th and 9th and the Senators offense again failed to support Connell on the 16th when they tied the Pittsburgh Pirates 0-0. The Canadiens failed to solve Connell while the Senators managed to find the net for the first time in four games to secure a 1-0 win. The streak ended when during Ottawa's 3-2 win over the Chicago Black Hawks on February 22nd. During the final five games of the six consecutive shutouts, the Senators only managed two goals themselves. Connell would finish the season by matching his career high of 15 shutouts.

At least he thought his season was finished. While watching Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Maroons and the Rangers, Lorne Chabot of New York was injured and Rangers coach Lester Patrick wanted Connell to come out of the stands to replace Chabot. The Maroons coach Eddie Gerard refused to grant permission for Connell to play, forcing Patrick to famously man the crease himself.

Connell played three more seasons with the Senators prior to being loaned to the Detroit Falcons for the 1931-32 season, as the Senators franchise did not play that season due to financial difficulties. Connell rejoined the Senators for 1932-33 and was named team captain, but would only see action in 15 games compared to the 48 he played for the Falcons the previous season and he retired for the first time at the end of the year.

Alex Connell Falcons
Alec Connell during his one season with the Detroit Falcons

In 1933-34, the "retired" Connell did see action in a single game when he was loaned to the New York Americans as an injury replacement. He was given a new life for 1934-35 when he was traded to the Maroons and played in 48 games, winning 24, the second highest total of his career. The Maroons then defeated the Chicago Black Hawks one goal to none in their two-game, total-goal quarterfinal series. The Rangers then fell five goals to four to advance the Maroons to the Stanley Cup Finals. Connell and the Maroons then swept the Maple Leafs in three straight games to win the second Stanley Cup of Connell's career.

Alex Connell Maroons
Stanley Cup champion Alec Connell of the Montreal Maroons

He retired again following the Maroons championship season and was out of hockey for a year but returned to the ice once again to play the 1936-37 season with the Maroons before finally retiring for good this time.

His final totals were 417 games played with a record of 193-156-67 with 81 shutouts and an impressive career goals against average of just 1.91.

Connell was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

Today's featured jersey is a 1930-31 Ottawa Senators Alec Connell jersey. The Senators familiar barberpole style jerseys underwent a change in in 1929 with the addition of the "O" crest for the first time. The next season the shoulder yoke would be white for just the one season before the struggling Senators sat out the 1931-32 season. When they returned to the NHL, they reverted to the previous style where the stripes repeated all the way to the top of the jerseys for their final two seasons in Ottawa before relocating to St. Louis in 1934-35.

Alex Connell Senators

Monday, December 16, 2013

2004 Kazakhstan National Team Roman Kozlov Jersey

Kazakhstan had been a part of the Soviet Union since 1920 and between 1926 and 1939 lost 22% of it's population to starvation, violence and mass emigration. Many Kazakh writers, poets, politicians and historians were killed on orders from Joseph Stalin as part of plans to suppress Kazakh identity and culture. During the 1930's and 1940's millions of people exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union ended up in Kazakhstan, in many cases in large labor camps. By 1959, Kazakhs were a minority in their own country, accounting for only 30% of the population, while 43% were Russians.

One of the most controversial elements of Soviet control over Kazakhstan was the Soviet leadership's decision to use lands in Kazakhstan for testing of nuclear weapons starting in 1949, causing catastrophic ecological and biological effects felt generations later, causing even greater anger toward the Soviet system when the long term effects became known.

Growing tensions within the Soviet Union led to a demand for political and economic reform in the 1980's, and came to a head in the early 1990's. When the Soviet Union dissolved, Kazakhstan declared it's independence on this date in 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so in part because of Kazakhstan's leadership feeling that the various republics of the Soviet Union were too interdependent economically to survive separation from each other.

Kazakhstan's Independence Day is normally celebrated for two days, December 16th and 17th with speeches, songs and performances, dressing in traditional clothing and setting up a yurt, a large tent used by nomad Kazakhs, where meals are served. Visits to friends and relatives are made, with gifts of flowers or candies given. Tournaments with traditional games and races are held, and accompanied by other activities that one would normally find at a festival.

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Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country in the world and the largest landlocked one. It is located primarily in Asia. It's population mix has swung back toward Kazakhs, who now make up 67% of the population, with Russians at 21%.

In hockey, the Kazakhstan National Team made their World Championships debut in 1993 in "Pool C", the third level at the time, finishing 3rd. They have made a steady climb from their early days, and in 1996 they won "Pool C", earning promotion to the "Pool B". Seven years later, Kazakhstan won the Division 1, Group A (the equivalent to the old "Pool B") in 2003, earning a place in the Top Level for 2004.

After two years of avoiding relegation, they were relegated in 2006 back to Division 1, and finished first in Division 1, Group A early in 2009, earning a promotion back to the Top Level for 2010 beginning a cycle of promotion and relegation which saw them demoted in 2010, promoted in 2011, demoted again in 2012 and again earning an immediate promotion again in 2013 as they will now seek to remain in the Top Division again at the 2014 World Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

Kazakhstan has competed at the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics, finishing in 8th place in 1998. They did not qualify for the 2010 games in Vancouver and fell short again for the 2014 games by a single point in their qualification group. They also did not qualify in 1994 and 2002.

Nikolai Antropov became the first ever Kazakh player drafted by the NHL when he was picked in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998.

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Nik Antropov

The other notable Kazakh in the NHL is San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, although he is a Russian citizen and currently chooses to play for Russia in international competitions, he did play for Kazakhstan in the 1994 World Championships.

Only four other Kazakhs have played in the NHL, wingers Konstantin Puskarev (17 games with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07) and Konstantin Shafranov (5 games with the St. Louis Blues in 1996-97) and goaltenders Vitaly Kolesnik (8 games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2005-06) and Vitali Yeremeyev (4 games with the New York Rangers in 2000-01).

The best known club hockey team of the seven in Kazakhstan is Barys, based in the capital city of Astana, which competes in the primarily Russian Kontinential Hockey League (KHL). They played in the Kazakhstani Championship until 2007, spent the 2007-08 season in the Supreme League prior to gaining acceptance into the KHL for the 2008-09 season. NHL veterans Antropov and Yeremeyev both currently play for the club, whose roster is dominated by Kazakhs, as 19 of 27 of their players are homegrown talent.

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Barys Astana

Today's featured jersey is a 2004 Kazakhstan National Team Roman Kozlov jersey as worn in the 2004 World Championships featuring a pair of our custom made Zepter sponsorship patches on the sleeves. Kazakhstan did end up in the relegation round after three preliminary round losses, but successfully defended their place by winning the group with victories over France and Japan along with tying Ukraine.

This well traveled jersey was purchased by us on ebay from a seller in Australia of all places. It arrived already customized, but given the choice, we would have opted for one of the much longer names frequently found on the national team's roster, with names of 10-14 letters long being common.

Kozlov has competed for Kazakhstan on seven different occasions, including the European Junior Championships in 1999, the World Juniors in 2001 and the World Championships every year from 2001 to 2005 with a record of 27 games, 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points and has spent his professional career in the Vysshaya Liga, the second level of Russian hockey.

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Kazakhstan 2004 jersey photo Kazakhstan2004B.jpg

This brief video shows Kazakhstan qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.


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