Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday - 1954-55 Boston Bruins Cal Gardner Jersey

With today being "Black Friday" we are going to feature just the second black jersey ever worn in the NHL.

While the league was founded back in 1917. there were just four clubs and closest any of them came to a black jersey was the Ottawa Senators, who wore red, black and white striped barberpole jerseys. The brand new Hamilton Tigers came close, with gold and black vertically striped jerseys in 1920-21.

When the Boston Bruins arrived on the scene in 1924-25 their original colors were brown and yellow, chosen in recognition of the colors of owner Charles Adams' grocery store chain, First National Stores.

Boston Bruins 1924-25 jersey photo Bruins24-25F.jpg
A 1924-25 Boston Bruins sweater from
their very first season in the NHL

With the folding of the Western Hockey League, the growing league expanded to 11 teams in 1926-27, with the Bruins still wearing white sweaters trimmed in brown and gold, the first year Detroit Cougars wore white trimmed in red, Montreal had two clubs, the red clad Canadiens and the Maroons, New York now boasted to entries, the patriotic Americans and the expansion Rangers and their "blueshirts". Ottawa still had their traditional barberpoles, while the short-lived Pittsburgh Pirates wore gold.

In Toronto, the club was not yet wearing blue, but green owing to their very Irish name St. Patricks. A midseason change in ownership saw the name change to the Maple Leafs and new white sweaters with a green maple leaf logo before changing the team colors to blue the following season. During this era of the NHL, all teams wore juat one sweater for all games, home or road.

Boston Bruins 1926-32 jersey photo BostonBruins1926-32F.jpg
This style of Bruins jersey was used from 1926-27 through 1931-32,
still in brown and gold

Also new to the NHL in 1926-27 was the Chicago Black Hawks, who rose from the ashes of the WHL's Portland Rosebuds. Chicago made their debut in white sweaters trimmed in black.

Irvin Pictures, Images and Photos
Dick Irvin of the 1926-27 expansion Chicago Black Hawks

For the team's second season, the colors of their jerseys were reversed to black sweaters with white stripes, making it the first black sweater ever worn in the NHL after ten seasons of play. This jersey was used from 1927-28 through 1933-34, the season the Black Hawks would win their first Stanley Cup Championship.

Chicago Black Hawks jersey Pictures, Images and Photos
Teddy Graham wearing the revised Black Hawks jersey in 1930

Also in 1927-28, Toronto introduced the first "change" sweater, a plain white stripe-less uniform with a blue maple leaf worn for games primarily against the Rangers, who also wore blue. The New York Americans became the second team with two sweaters with the arrival of their white jersey in 1933-34, followed by Detroit, who by now were known as the Red Wings, the following season.

The Bruins would finally change from brown and gold to their now familiar black and gold in 1934-35, but their jerseys remained primarily withe with black and gold striping.

The Canadiens were next to add a second sweater with the arrival of their whites in 1935-36, giving half of the league's current eight teams two different styles.

1940-41 saw the Bruins wear two jerseys for the first time, as a new gold sweater joined their primary white jerseys.

1940-41 Boston Bruins jersey,1940-41 Boston Bruins jersey
Bill Cowley in the new 1940-41 Boston Bruins jersey

1940-41 also saw Chicago wear a white jersey for the first time since their inaugural season. With both Boston and Chicago adding a second sweater in 1940, now every team had two different ones except for the Rangers, who still had only their blue jerseys. The Americans, who had dropped their classic stars and stripes jerseys in 1938, actually had two different white styles to choose from for all games.

The Bruins dropped their gold jerseys in 1944 and went with a single style until the 1948-49 season when, for the first time in their history, they finally introduced a black sweater. This was only the second black jersey in NHL history, coming 21 years after the Black Hawks wore the first.

Boston Bruins 1948-49 Johnny Peirson jersey photo BostonBruins1948-49JohnnyPeirsonjersey.jpg
The second black jersey in NHL history,
the Boston Bruins 1948-49 sweaters

Finally, in 1951, after 25 seasons, the New York Rangers introduced a brand new white jersey, giving every team a separate home and road sweater.

Of note, the Bruins brought back a gold jersey in 1955-56, making them the first team in the history of the NHL to have a third jersey, years ahead of their time, as the NHL would not embrace the alternate jersey concept as we know it until 1995 - forty years later!

Boston would wear three jerseys for just two seasons until dropping the black ones. They would bring back their black sweaters in 1959 through 1965 before once again sticking with just the white and gold for another two seasons. They would not have a third jersey again until the aforementioned 1995-96 season.

Today's featured jersey is a 1954-55 Boston Bruins Cal Gardner jersey. Of interest, this particular sweater was worn during the filming of both "Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story" and later "The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story".

While not as popular as game worn jerseys, "movie worn" jerseys are a sub-niche of collecting which can yield some interesting and offbeat jerseys with an interesting story behind them, such as those worn in such films as "The Mighty Ducks" franchise, "Miracle", "Goon", "Mystery Alaska" and, of course, "Slapshot" and others, and often at bargain prices.

The first Bruins black sweater of 1948-49, which debuted for the Bruins 25th anniversary season, had a wide white stripe flanked by a thinner gold stripe on each side on both the arms and waist. This style would last just one season until replaced by today's featured jersey. This updated style was introduced in 1949-50 had the colors of the arm stripes now reversed to gold trimmed in white. The same pattern was used on the waist stripes, only now doubled to two thinner versions. It was used for five seasons, the last being 1954-55. 

While the famous Bruins spoked B logo debuted in 1948-49 for the team's 25th Anniversary, it was only on the team's white sweaters and the spoked B would not appear on a black jersey until 1955.

Boston Bruins 1954-55 jersey photo BostonBruins1954-55Fjersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1954-55  jersey photo BostonBruins1954-55Bjersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with the early history of the Boston Bruins.

Next is the trailer for "The Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story", the movie in which today's featured jersey was part of the wardrobe during filming.




  1. You show Cal Gardner, Parkhurst card, in Boston uniform. Did you ever notice that «his» head has been added to Milt Schmidt's body ? See background and the «C»... Cal was being freshly traded from Toronto. To my knowledge, it was the first occurrence of the «fake» technique on hockey cards... The next year, Parkies use a photo of Montreal Floyd Curry on Paul Masnick's card. In 1975, Mario Tremblay's rookie card has Gord McTavish picture... A great surprise for Tremblay's ma, I imagine. And Bobby Orr, with a false Chicago jersey on Boston bench ! Cheers.

  2. My mistake : you are actually showing John Pierson's card (#88), not Gardner's (#99); Schmidt is #92 : same photo as #88...

  3. One last comment about jerseys and hockey cards... Surprisingly, Jean-Guy Talbot and Bob Turner are wearing a Shawinigan Cataracts jersey on their rookie cards in the «Parkies» 1955-1956 series. You find five different Toronto Maple Leafs sweaters in that set, same number for Montreal, while Newsy Lalonde and Georges Vezina wear a dark blue turtle neck on nice «paintings» portraying both. Set is completed by press action photos colourized like postal cards...


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