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Saturday, June 28, 2014

1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz Jersey

Wes Walz returned from the hockey wilderness on this day in 2000 when he signed a contract with the expansion Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

Expected to be a force offensively after scoring 104 points in 63 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in junior hockey, Walz was selected in the third round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, ahead of players such as Kris Draper, Robert Reichel, Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure, although it must be noted that selecting Soviet players was still a gamble at the time.

Walz lived up to the Bruins expectations with 54 goals and 140 points in 56 games and 37 points in 19 playoff games in his final season of junior hockey, won a gold medal with Canada at the 1990 World Junior Tournament, including five points in seven games, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins in two games, which included scoring his first NHL goal. In 1990-91 he split time between the Maine Mariners and the Bruins and played for no less than four teams in 1991-92, the Mariners (21 games) and the Bruins (15) and, following a trade, the Hershey Bears of the AHL (41) and the Philadelphia Flyers (2).

After a full season with Hershey in 1992-93, he signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames and again divided his time between the AHL and the NHL. 1994-95 Walz was limited to 39 games with Calgary in 1994-95. He then signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent, but only appeared in two games with the Detroit and spent 38 games with Adirondack of the AHL.

And with that, his once promising NHL career wound down after just 169 games and 78 total points.

Fast forward four seasons and Walz, a six year veteran of the NHL, was playing for Lugano of the Swiss Nationalliga A after three successful seasons with EV Zug, which included leading the team in points and to a championship in 1997-98.

A father with growing children ready to start school, Walz, now age 30, had a desire to return to North America, and the expansion taking place with the addition of Nashville in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and now Columbus and Minnesota in 2000 had created roughly 100 new jobs for players in the NHL. With both Columbus and Minnesota looking to stock up their rosters for their debut seasons in 2000-01, Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough contacted Walz, his GM when he was with Calgary, to see if he would be interested in a job, which Walz jumped at.

"I was excited about the prospect of playing in the league again, and the timing was right for me to give it another shot. The experience of playing in Switzerland had been a good one, but the challenge of living in Europe was growing a little tougher. My son needed to get started in school, and the language barrier was becoming a factor in some of our decision-making. We were ready for a move." Walz recounted.

During the Wild's first training camp, the hard working, tireless Walz caught the attention of head coach Jacques Lemaire, who tabbed Walz as a "checker". With his role now defined and plenty of ice time to be had on the outgunned expansion Wild, Walz transformed himself from a marginal NHL forward into one of the most tenacious defensive forwards in the NHL. He chose the #37, the first one ever assigned to him in training camp as rookie, to remind himself of where he came from and to keep himself humble, and seized the opportunity to return to the NHL. He played in all 82 games of the Wild's debut season, scoring 18 goals, seven of which were shorthanded which was second best in the league.

As a reward for his hard work and to use him as a role model to the team's younger players, Walz was named team captain for the first time in December of 2000. Not having captained a team since he was 14, he recalled, "I wasn't very big when I was a kid, and being captain then didn't have anything to do with leadership. It was just a matter of who was scoring the most goals. This is a huge honor, and certainly nothing I was expecting. I'm surprised and very humbled."

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Walz as Wild team captain

When Walz was not wearing the "C", which Lemaire rotated on a monthly basis, he was often one of the Wild's assistant captains throughout his time in Minnesota. He was also selected by the local Professional Hockey Writer's Association as the Wild's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 2001.

His hard work was also recognized with the second invitation of his career to play for Team Canada, this time at the 2001 World Championships, something that certainly would not have happened had he stayed in Europe off the radar.

Wes Walz
Walz playing for Canada at the 2001 World Championships

In 2002-03, Walz helped the Wild advance past the favored Colorado Avalanche thanks to is defensive work against Colorado's top players, Peter Forsberg in particular, as the Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit in games to win in seven. The Wild repeated the comeback feat in round two against the Vancouver Canucks as Walz contributed a vital five of his seven playoff goals during the series. His hard work that season was recognized when he was named one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy, which recognizes the top defensive forward in the league.

Wes Walz
Walz makes Daniel Cloutier look foolish
as he scores in Game 7 against Vancouver

After his 2003-04 season was cut short by a sports hernia, which required surgery and months of rehabilitation, Walz resumed playing after the lockout ended and set a personal high with 19 goals and came within a point of tying his NHL career best with 37 points in 2005-06, earning another Masterton Trophy nomination in 2006.

In 2006-07, Walz was credited with one of the most unusual goals in the league, an overtime game winner on December 29th against Columbus. Walz drove to the net as teammate Martin Skoula was shooting the puck. Simultaneously, Jason Chimera checked Walz just as the puck arrived - and disappeared into the airborne Walz's breezers! When Walz then landed in the net, the puck when in with him, and after a video review, he was credited with the winning goal!

Wes Walz
Walz scoring the game winning goal - with
the puck stuck in the leg of his pants!

In 2007-08, Walz played the first 11 games of the season prior to taking an indefinite leave on November 11th following a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins before formally announcing his retirement on December 1, 2007 as the all-time franchise leader in games played and one of only two remaining original members of the team.

Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz jersey from his time in Switzerland. Perhaps the worst hockey jersey ever on planet Earth, EV Zug apparently purchased their jerseys on clearance from the circus clown supply store. It looks like a minor league New Year's Eve special occasion jersey or perhaps some sort of European Mardi Gras in a very 1990's style when torn paper edges and paintbrush strokes were all the rage in graphic design.

We're not certain how the jersey's four sponsors must have felt about having their logos lost in the clutter of the busiest jerseys we've ever seen. It would be interesting to hear a players perspective on what it was like to play in these jerseys, as they could either make their teammates highly visible on the ice, or have the opposite effect of making them blend into the multicolored background of the spectators.

Don't miss the video of the jerseys in action below, as Walz's jersey carries an ad on the back so large, it obscures both his name and number!

Wes Walz EV Zug jersey
Wes Walz EV Zug jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2005-06 Minnesota Wild Wes Walz jersey which features the NHL Cares/Katrina Relief Fund patch worn for the first period only for each team's first home game.

Wes Walz
Walz wearing the NHL Cares patch during the first period of the Wild's first
game of 2005-06, the NHL's return to action following the NHL lockout

The patched jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, Louisiana in August of 2005. Sidney Crosby's game worn jersey generated the highest final price league-wide with a final bid of $21,010 followed by Alexander Ovechkin at $7,929. Overall the auction of 600 jerseys raised over a half a million dollars, which was then matched by the Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation for a total of $1,060,944.

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Our video section today begins with a beautifully produced look back at the career of Wes Walz and his retirement announcement.

Next, the always tenacious Walz scores a shorthanded goal while playing for EV Zug in Switzerland. Notice that Walz has a full size "Key Player" ad covering his name and number on the back of his jersey! Apparently he is so "key", that everyone knows who he is without aid of any identifying information, like being able to actually see his name and number.

Finally, highlights of the Minnesota Wild Skills Competition, where the fastest skater compeition was won annually by Walz, over recognized NHL speedster Marian Gaborik.

Friday, June 27, 2014

1972-73 Winnipeg Jets Bobby Hull Jersey

On this date in 1972, the Winnipeg Jets signed Bobby Hull to a $2.5 million ten-year contract, which included a $1 million signing bonus, firing the first major shot in the WHA/NHL war for the control of hockey.


Hull had been a member of the Chicago Black Hawks of the NHL for fifteen seasons when the upstart World Hockey Association came looking for a star player to jump start the league and attempt to buy instant credibility, and found their man in Hull.

Coming off a 50 goal season with Chicago, when Hull jokingly told the WHA he'd jump for a million dollars, the WHA owners and league officials agreed to contribute to the cause and Hull was signed to a ten year, one million dollar contract. The WHA would not last the full ten years.

Once Hull was in the fold, other players soon followed, mainly in search of the higher paychecks offered by the new league, as Gerry Cheevers, Pat Stapleton, Ralph Backstrom, J. C. Tremblay and Rejean Houle also jumped leagues.

Despite an injunction filed by the Black Hawks which kept Hull out of the first 14 games of the 1972-73 season, the damage was done and eventually Hull became a full time Jet and the WHA was off and running.

Hull paid immediate dividends to the league and the Jets, raising the profile of the league and leading the Jets in scoring with 51 goals and 52 assists for 103 points, placing fourth in league scoring as the Jets finished atop the Western Division standings and leading Winnipeg to the Avco Cup Finals. Hull was also named the WHA Most Valuable Player in 1973, but it could be said that he had already earned that distinction by simply signing with the league in the first place!

While not every team and every building in the WHA was first class, the league debuted with teams in Cleveland, Boston, New York, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Quebec City in the east and Edmonton, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Winnipeg in the west, with the Boston franchise, known as "New England" taking the inaugural championship.

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In order to compete, or more accurately try to gain an advantage, the WHA embarked on a policy of signing underage players, as NHL rules prohibited the signing of any player under the age of 20, which the WHA gleefully ignored, allowing it to scoop up players such as Wayne GretzkyMark Howe and his brother Marty, Mike Gartner and Mark Messier over the course of it's history.

For the next season, Hull was joined in the league by NHL legend Gordie Howe, who was lured out of retirement in order to play with his sons in Houston with the Aeros.

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Mark, Gordie and Marty Howe

Hull would top his goal output with 53, but the Jets would drop in the standings and get bounced in the playoffs in four straight by Howe and the Aeros.

The franchise shifting began in season two, with the New York Raiders being renamed the "Golden Blades" and then moving out of Madison Square Garden to save money, landing in New Jersey in a rink so bad the ice surface wasn't level as the puck would vanish from the goalies view as it sank into the dips of the waves on the ice surface! Worse, the visiting teams had to change out of their gear only after being bused back to their hotel. Additionally, the Philadelphia market was lost as the Blazers relocated out west to Vancouver, while Ottawa moved into Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The season concluded with the Howe's leading the Aeros to the title.

The league expanded in 1974-75 with new teams being added in questionable markets such as Indianapolis and Phoenix, the New England franchise abandoned Boston for Hartford, the bad joke that was New Jersey moved to San Diego while the former Los Angeles franchise briefly stopped in Detroit before moving to Baltimore mid-season before folding for good. It would be the very first franchise to fold completely in the league, setting the tone for what was to follow, as Chicago was lost for good after the season. At the conclusion of the season, Houston defended their title.

Cincinnati was added to the league, along with Denver, but the Franchise shifting continued in 1975-76, as the brand new Denver club moved to Ottawa mid-season and then quit after 41 games and the Minnesota Fighting Saints called it quits after 59 games. Meanwhile, Vancouver moved inland to Calgary and Winnipeg claimed their first championship.

The league continued to press on in 1976-77, but the hopes of lasting long enough for a merger with the NHL started to become the goal, as the league, which once had teams in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, now had teams in Birmingham, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Phoenix and San Diego.

The unsettled nature of the league continued as Cleveland moved to St. Paul but failed to last the whole season. Toronto moved to the deep south to Birmingham. Quebec won their only championship that season.

San Diego, Calgary and Phoenix failed to answer the bell for the 1977-78 season as the league shrunk down to only eight clubs and the Jets won their second championship.

Hull, Hedberg & Nilsson Winnipeg Jets, Hull, Hedberg & Nilsson Winnipeg Jets

Long time franchise Houston threw in the towel after the 1977-78 season, leaving the final WHA season with seven clubs, beginning with Indianapolis, who folded after 25 games, leaving just six teams to stagger home to the finish line - Cincinnati and Birmingham plus mainstays Edmonton, New England, Quebec and Winnipeg, who won their second consecutive, and third overall, title.

Following the conclusion of the seventh season of the WHA, a merger agreement was struck, which allowed Edmonton, Quebec, Hartford and Winnipeg to join he NHL as expansion teams, with some rather strict provisions that cost them millions of dollars and many of their players, leaving them at an enormous competitive disadvantage, which some clubs dealt with better than others, primarily the Oilers, who won the Stanley Cup just five seasons later, their first of five in seven seasons.

Despite the history of unstable franchises, the WHA left a legacy of entertaining, wide-open play, higher player salaries and the acceptance of European players.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Winnipeg Jets Bobby Hull jersey as worn by Hull in the preseason prior to the first ever WHA regular season when they changed to jerseys with the same first year only crest, but with a different striping pattern.

The regular season set of jerseys were notable for their contrasting nameplates, the blue jerseys having white nameplates with red lettering and the white jerseys sporting red nameplates with white letters.

For the second season the Jets adopted their more familiar round logo, which survived the entire lifespan of the WHA and lasted until the 1989-90 NHL season before undergoing a modernization.

72-73 Winnipeg Jets jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our first video is an interview with Hull on the occasion of the Jets retiring his jersey #9 in 1989.

Our next video features other WHA players giving their scouting reports on Hull followed by Hull's thoughts on joining the league. Notice the white nameplates with red lettering on the Jets first year jerseys.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

1928-29 Montreal Canadiens George Hainsworth Jersey

George Hainsworth, born on this date in 1895, originally played for the Saskatoon Sheiks of the Western Canada Hockey League for three seasons, beginning in 1923-24 when he recorded four shutouts in 30 games. After two shutouts the following season, he added another four in 1925-26, giving little indication of what was to follow.

Following the death of legendary Montreal Canadiens goaltender Georges Vezina, Hainsworth was sold to Montreal for the 1926-27 season and impressed right from the start, going 28-14-2, with half of those wins being shutouts to lead the NHL with 14. His goals against average (GAA) of 1.47 was third in the league behind only the Montreal Maroons Clint Benedict's 1.42 and the New York Rangers Lorne Chabot at 1.46. Hainsworth was named the first recipient of the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the goaltender of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season, unlike today's voting process, first introduced in 1981.

It was more of the same the following year when Hainsworth went 26-11-7 with 13 shutouts, good for second in the league, which was led by the Boston Bruins Hal Winkler and Alec Connell of the Ottawa Senators who tied at 15. Hainsworth again won the Vezina Trophy, as the Canadiens allowed the fewest goals against over the course of the season.

Despite the shutouts Hainsworth had recorded during his first two NHL seasons, no one could predict what he had in store for the league in 1928-29. The Canadiens season began with a 3-1 win at home over their rivals, the Montreal Maroons, and a 4-2 loss on the road to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hainsworth's first shutout of the season came in game three on November 20th, a 1-0 win over Boston, and was quickly followed by another shutout two days later in a scoreless tie versus the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After a loss and a tie, shutout number three came on December 1st over Ottawa. Hainsworth recorded back to back shutouts on the 15th in another scoreless tie against the Maroons and a 5-0 drubbing of the Chicago Black Hawks. Following a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Cougars another pair of clean sheets were posted against Ottawa on the 22nd and Detroit on the 27th. At the end of the calendar year, Hainsworth and the Canadiens were 7-5-3 with seven shutouts and counting.

1928 began with a trio of ties on New Year's Day, the 3rd and a scoreless one on the 5th. After a loss on January 10th, the Canadiens would go the rest of the schedule with a remarkable just one further loss, a span of 65 days and 25 games.

A 1-0 win over Chicago on January 15th added to the shutout total which now stood at nine. Following a 1-1 tie on the 17th, Hainsworth racked up three consecutive shutouts, a 0-0 tie on the 19th, a 1-0 win the next day and another scoreless draw on the 22nd. A 1-1 tie with Toronto and a 2-1 win over Ottawa preceded a pair of 1-0 blankings of the New York Americans and the Ottawa Senators pushed the shutout total to 14. Since the loss to Boston on January 10th, Hainsworth had only allowed four goals in ten games with a record of 6-0-4.

Two ties were followed by back to back shutouts on February 12th over the Pirates and again on the 14th over the Black Hawks to set a new NHL record with 16. After a 1-1 tie, shutout number 17 came in a 1-0 defeat of the Maroons on February 21st, pushing the Canadiens undefeated streak to 16 games.

The unbeaten streak would end on February 23rd with a 2-1 loss at Toronto, which only served to strengthen the Canadiens resolve, as they did not allow another goal until five games later, when the Pirates (4-0), Americans (0-0 tie), Bruins (3-0) and Senators (3-0) all failed to solve Hainsworth and the Canadiens defense.

Detroit broke the scoreless streak with a 1-1 tie before the Canadiens finished the season with three straight wins, including Hainsworth's record 22nd shutout of the season, a 1-0 win over the Maroons.

His 22 shutouts came despite rule changes such as permitting forward passing from the neutral zone across the blue line into the attacking zone and new overtime rules allowing for an extra ten minutes of playing time - a non-sudden death format which meant all ten minutes were played in their entirety, regardless if a goal was scored.

Hainsworth would finish the season with a record goals against average of 0.92, easily capturing his third consecutive Vezina Trophy. Such was Hainsworth's dominance that he outdistanced the New York Americans Roy Worters by nine shutouts and buried the old record by seven. Additionally, no other goaltender had ever had a goals against average under 1.0 before or since.

Because of a league-wide goals against average of 1.45, 15 scoreless games and 94 ties over the course of the 1928-29 season, the rules were changed for the next season to allow for forward passing in the offensive zone as well as the previously permitted defensive and neutral zones. This led to abuses by some players, who stood in front of the opposing net waiting for a pass. By December of that season the offside rule was created which meant players were no longer allowed to enter the offensive zone prior to the puck.

The effect of the rule changes were immediate, as Chabot led the NHL in shutouts that season with a mere six, while Hainsworth was second with four, which included the 50th of his NHL career. Tiny Thompson captured the Vezina with a goals against average of 2.23.

While Hainsworth would lose his grip on the Vezina Trophy, he was able to finally grasp the Stanley Cup that season, with a 2 games to none defeat of Boston.

The Canadiens backed that up by defeating the Chicago Black Hawks in 1930-31 for their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

1931-32 saw Hainsworth record his sixth consecutive 20 win season in an era which the season schedule was just 44 games long. After the 1932-33 season, in which Montreal sank in the standings and Hainsworth posted the first losing record of his career, he was dealt to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Chabot.

The move to Toronto suited Hainsworth, as he once more posted a dominant record of 26-13-9 the first time out and then topped that with his only 30 win season in 1934-35 with a 30-14-4 mark in a 48 game season to lead the league in wins both times. Another 20 win season followed with 23 in 1935-36.

His final NHL season saw him play three games for Toronto and then return to close out his career with the Canadiens with four final games. Hainsworth's final NHL totals stood at 465 games with a record of 246-145-74, 94 shutouts and a goals against average of 1.93.

Hainsworth's 22 shutouts in a single season came in just a 44 game schedule and still stands as the NHL record, as does his 0.92 goals against average. His career goals against average of 1.93, in 465 games, remains second all-time behind on Connell's 1.91 and his 94 shutouts, a mark that would stand as the record for 27 years, still ranks third behind Martin Brodeur's 108 and Terry Sawchuk's 103.

Hainsworth was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961.

Today's featured jersey is a 1928-29 Montreal Canadiens George Hainsworth jersey. The Canadiens were founded in 1909 but did not wear their now iconic red sweaters with the blue chest stripe until the 1912-13 season when it was introduced as an alternate jersey due to their red, white and blue striped "barberpole" jerseys drawing complaints that they were too similar to the Ottawa Senators similarly striped red, white and black jerseys.

White trim was added to the blue central stripe the following season, essentially creating the same basic jersey that remains in use today.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

2000-01 Columbus Blue Jackets Lyle Odelein Jersey

It was on this date in 1997 that the NHL officially approved expansion to a 30-team league by the year 2000. In an unusual plan, the Nashville Predators began play in 1998-99 and the Atlanta Thrashers started life the following season in 1999-2000. Then, the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets completed the extended round of expansion by joining the league for the 2000-01 season, nearly three and a half years after first being granted their franchises. The Blue Jackets would be the first NHL team to play in Ohio since the Cleveland Barons departed in 1978.

From over 14,000 entries in a name the team contest, the name "Blue Jackets" was chosen, which was a nickname for the Union soldiers in the Civil War, to honor the contributions made by the state of Ohio, including the fact that Ohio contributed more of it's population to the Union Army than any other state and that many of the Union uniforms were also manufactured in Columbus.

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The Blue Jackets started out life in the NHL with a rough go, finishing last in the Central Division in each of it's first three seasons and averaging only 69 points in it's first seven, missing the playoffs each time out.

Things finally improved for the Blue Jackets when they made the playoffs for the first time after a 92 point season in 2008-09, the last of the four new teams to qualify for the postseason.

They were led for nine seasons by the franchise's all-time leading scorer Rick Nash, who arrived in time for the 2002-03 season after being drafted #1 overall in the 2002 Entry Draft.

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Nash was the first overall pick in 2002

Nash tied for the league lead in goals with 41 during the 2003-04 season, earning a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy in just his second season in the league. Despite having now moved on, Nash's 547 points in Columbus  still leads second place David Vyborny by 230.

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Nash with the Richard Trophy

Goaltender Steve Mason added to the brighter outlook for the Blue Jackets, earning the Calder Memorial Trophy for his stellar debut season in 2008-09.

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Steve Mason poses with the Calder Trophy

Unfortunately, Columbus was unable to capitalize on that appearance and again failed to reach the postseason for the next four seasons and Nash was eventually traded following the 2011-12 season. In another trade of note, the Blue Jackets dealt their second and fourth round picks at the 2012 draft for goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who would win the 2013 Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender.

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Sergei "Bob" Bobrovsky proudly displays his Vezina Trophy

The 2013-14 season was one of change for the franchise, and for the better. First, the club was moved to the Eastern Conference and the newly created Metropolitan Division, along with their regional rivals the Detroit Red Wings, a move wholly endorsed by team management which would result in less travel and numerous earlier start times to their games. Additionally, the team is also much closer to new division rival and top draw, the Pittsburgh Penguins, than they were to many of their previous Central Division rivals.

The club responded well and finished fourth in the Metropolitan Division and immediately drew the Penguins as their first playoff opponent in five years, but bowed out in six games.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Columbus Blue Jackets Lyle Odelein jersey. It features the Blue Jackets Inaugural Season patch, as well as one of our custom made Hockey Fights Cancer patches. This style jersey would be used by the team for their first six seasons, but the "Stinger" mascot shoulder patches would only last three seasons until a  pair of new secondary logos would replace the brightly colored cartoon insect, a Civil War uniform cap on the right shoulder and the state of Ohio flag flying around a star on the left, the same crest used on the front of their first alternate jersey, intoduced in 2003-04.

Odelein was selected by the Blue Jackets in the 2000 expansion draft and later named the first captain of the franchise.

The Hockey Fights Cancer patch was first worn by the captain of each team for one game only in January of 2001. The patches from 2001 do not carry the date, as they did in the subsequent three years of the program. Each specially patched game worn jersey would then be auctioned off for charity as part of the festivities at that year's NHL All-Star Game to raise money for cancer research.

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Dasherboard: When the Nashville Predators joined the league in 98-99, a major realignment of the divisions took place, expanding from two six and two seven team divisions, to six divisions, some with as few as four teams. The Predators came out fine in this plan, being grouped in with established nearby clubs in Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis.

Atlanta was added to the Southeast Division, centrally located between Washington and Carolina to the north and the two Florida clubs, Tampa Bay and Florida, who played in the Miami area, to the south.

Columbus fit in naturally with Nashville in the Central Division when they joined the league, but due to the increased number of teams in the east, Minnesota was slotted in with the teams in the Northwest Division - Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver - none of whom are even in their time zone and most of which aren't even in the same country!

The other victim of the realignment was the Dallas Stars, who were inexplicably placed in the Pacific Division - 885 miles from their nearest division neighbor and over 1900 miles from said Pacific Ocean after which their division was named...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

1973-74 Minnesota North Stars Tom Reid Jersey

Born on this date in 1946, Tom Reid had a 12 year NHL career that started with the Chicago Black Hawks.

Tom Reid Black Hawks
Tom Reid with the Black Hawks

Reid, a defenseman played for the St. Catharines Black Hawks of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1964-65 to 1966-67. A defensive defenseman, Reid is described in his biography on the Hockey Hall of Fame's Legends of Hockey website as "a stay-at-home defender who viewed the offensive zone as a distant moon"!

He graduated from junior hockey just as the NHL expanded from six teams to 12 and landed a spot on the Chicago blueline with 56 games in his rookie season of 1967-68 as well as seeing his first taste of playoff action with nine postseason games. After 30 games with Chicago in 1968-69, he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars on Valentine's Day in 1968. In all, he played 86 games for the Black Hawks, totaling seven assists.

Reid competed in the final 18 games of the North Stars schedule and established himself as a regular the following season with 66 games played, which included his first NHL goal.

The 1970-71 season saw his offensive output leap up to 17 points, more than double his previous high of eight. Additionally, the North Stars would make a push in the playoffs, first defeating the St. Louis Blues in six games before stretching out the eventual champion Montreal Canadiens to six games for the right to play in the finals. The North Stars 6-3 Game 2 win in Montreal on April, 22 was the first time a 1967 expansion team had ever defeated an Original 6 club in the playoffs.

70-71 Tom Reid rookie card
Tom Reid's 1970-71 rookie card

The 1971-72 season was the most remarkable of Reid's career. It saw the player once described as "a sort of third goal post, firmly anchored to his own zone" go on a goal scoring binge, as he netted six for a career high, including by far the most memorable goal of his career.

Tom Reid
Reid doing his best imitation of a third goal post

On October 14, 1971 Tom Reid scored on a penalty shot against Hall of Famer Ken Dryden of the Canadiens. It was scored by the most unlikely of sources, a man who only scored 17 goals in his entire career and the only penalty shot ever scored against Dryden!

As told by long time North Stars announcer Al Shaver in "Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne"
Let's not forget the shot that was heard around the world. Well, maybe just the hockey world. Allan Thomas Reid was not a prolific scorer among NHL defensemen. In a span of 10 shin-bruising seasons with the North Stars, Tall Tommy scored only 17 goals, but on the night of October 14, 1971, he performed a feat that put him in a class by himself and earned him a place in the team history book. On one of his rare good scoring opportunities, Reid was fouled by a Montreal player and the referee awarded him a penalty shot.

Coach Jack Gordon, showing supreme confidence in Reid's scoring prowess, asked the ref, "Does Reid have to take the shot?" To young Thomas that was the ultimate insult, but take the shot he did. Unleashing all of his anger over the coach's lack of confidence, Reid launched a blistering rocket that left Ken Dryden trembling in his skates. The twine behind Dryden bulged, the red light flashed, bells chimed, fireworks filled the air, brass bands started playing, an thousands of fans began chanting, "Tommy! Tommy! Tommy!" And so, a hero was born on that autumn evening, many years ago.
Reid's own version of the event naturally differs slightly from Shavers.
I came out of the penalty box and was heading toward the bench when a clearing pass hit my skate and careened toward the Montreal zone. Instead of going to the bench I went after the puck and had a clear breakaway. Guy Lapointe tripped me from behind and I slid hard into the boards.

Referee Bruce Hood skated over and asked if I was okay. I said "Yes," and then, "You're giving him a penalty, right?" He said, "You're getting a penalty shot." I said: "Bruce, go to hell. I don't want a penalty shot." "You got one," he replied.

When I got to the bench, coach Jack Gordon asked what was going on. Hood skated over and said, "Let's go." Jack said, "What do you mean?" and was then informed of the penalty shot. Jack said, "Does he have to take the shot?" and I informed Hood that I thought my leg was broken. Hood said, "Let's go or you'll get a delay of game."

Everyone on the bench was giving me advice about what to do with the shot, but J. P. Parise simply said, "Put the damn thing behind him."

I was so focused as I got ready to take the puck that I couldn't hear a thing. There were 15,000 people in the building, but I heard nothing. It was a warm October night so the ice was a bit wet, and I was worried about carrying the puck across the blue line. My main concern was just getting off a shot.

I skated in, got to the high slot, and shot the puck. Ken Dryden wasn't expecting a shot that quickly and he overreacted. I was aiming for the corner, but the puck went between his legs and into the net, my big claim to fame.

When I got back to the bench, I said to Jack, "Was there ever any doubt?"
Tom Reid penalty shot
Tom Reid's famous penalty shot goal against Ken Dryden

Reid's 21 points for the season also raised his career best in that category as well. Additionally, his 107 penalty minutes established a career high. In the postseason, Reid scored the only playoff goal of his career against the Blues to cap off a most memorable season.

Two seasons later, Reid set a career hight with 23 points from four goals and a career best 19 assists in 76 games. He stayed true to his defensive roots the following season, again topping 70 games for the fourth time in five seasons with 74 games played, but managed just six points while leaving the point gathering to teammates Dennis Hextall (74 points) and Bill Goldsworthy (72). He did top 100 penalty minutes for only the second and final time in his career with 103.

Reid competed in 69 games in 1975-76, contributing 15 assists and 54 games in 1976-77, adding another eight assists to his career total.

Tom Reid

It was around this time that Reid developed a small red rash on his arm, which itched terribly as his skin began to deteriorate. Eventually the condition was given the name "gunk". Eventually league doctors, trainers and equipment manufacturers began to investigate and discovered that about 100 players across the NHL were suffering from various degrees of the same condition, but none as severe as Reid's, whose skin eventually got so bad that he could only sleep sitting upright in a wooden chair.

The condition was so severe, Reid was forced to retire after managing to play only 36 games of the 1977-78 season, in which he scored his final NHL goal and added six assists to push his career totals to 690 games played, 17 goals and 113 assists for 130 points as well as 42 playoff games with one goal and 13 assists. Doctors finally concluded that Reid's rash was caused by allergies to his hockey equipment and the dye in his jersey.

Former teammate Lou Nanne relates a story about Reid and his noted sense of humor:
Tom Reid was a terrific defensive defenseman. He was very consisent - game in and game out you knew you going to get strong defense from Tommy. His play never varied.

I had three concussions in my career. The third one was the result of a real good check by Dennis Owchar one night in Pittsburgh. At the doctor's suggestion, I had started wearing a helmet after my second concussion to help prevent further ones.

But this night in Pittsburgh I was playing defense with Tom Reid, and I was carrying the puck up the ice. I thought I had made a real good move to get by Owchar, but as I slipped the puck though his legs to try to go around him, he hit me with a shoulder right between my shoulder blades and I went down very hard. I hit my head on the ice so hard I eventually had seven stitches, even with the helmet.

I tired to get up, was real dizzy and started going back down again. The next thing I know, the trainer, Doc Rose, is on the ice telling me to lie down, that they're going to carry me off.

I said, "There's no way. I've never been carried off the ice, and I'm not going to let anybody carry me off now."

I tried to get up again, and I went right back down. And as I'm going down this time, Tom Reid leans over and says. "Louie, Louie, before you go, can I have your condominium in Florida?"
Since his retirement from hockey, armed with that same sense of humor, he has worked as a color analyst for the North Stars, Minnesota Gophers and now the Minnesota Wild. He is also the president of the North Stars Almuni Chapter and owner of Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub, the place to meet before and after Wild home games down the street at the Xcel Energy Center.

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota North Stars Tom Reid jersey. This was the third style of green jersey worn by the North Stars, with the original having a lace up collar, which was dropped during their first season for a v-neck collar. Starting in season two in 1968-69, a white shoulder yoke was added to the jerseys. This third style remained in use through the 1974-75 season.

1973-74 Minnesota North Stars jersey
1973-74 Minnesota North Stars jersey

Our video section today begins with a look at the 1975-76 Minnesota North Stars, some of the crappiest, most annoying filmmaking in the history of sports. If you choose to suffer though Part 1, I recommend skipping ahead to the 3:58 mark. Perhaps Parts 2 through 5 improve after getting past the first half of Part 1. You click the link, you take your chances...


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