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Saturday, November 29, 2014

2011 Slovakia National Team Pavol Demitra Jersey

Today would have been the 40th birthday of Slovakian Pavol Demitra. Demitra began his professional career with two seasons in the Czechoslovak league before moving to North America following his having been drafted 227th overall by the Ottawa Senators. He would split three seasons between the NHL's senators and their top minor league affiliate, the Prince Edward Island Senators from 1993-94 to 1995-96.

Demitra played for the Las Vegas Thunder and Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL as well as eight games with the St. Louis Blues following a trade to the Blues organization in November of 1996. He found his greatest success with the Blues, scoring 35 goals or more three times, including a high of 37 in 1998-99, the year of his first NHL All-Star Game appearance.

Two more All-Star appearances would follow in 2000 and 2002 before Demitra would set a career high in points with 93 in 2002-03, placing 6th overall in the league scoring race. In all, Demitra would lead St. Louis in scoring four times, in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Demitra Blues

He would also be recognized with with the Lady Byng Trophy in 2000 after recording 28 goals and 75 points with just eight penalty minutes.

He returned to Slovakia during the NHL lockout of 2004-05 to once again play for Dukla Trencin. Once the NHL resumed play, the free agent Demitra signed to play for the Los Angeles Kings for one season prior to being traded to the Minnesota Wild to be teamed with fellow Slovak and close friend Marian Gaborik for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

Demitra and Gaborik

Demitra tied for the team lead in scoring during his first season in Minnesota despite Gaborik missing nearly half the season due to injury. While with the Wild, Demitra served as team captain during October of 2007.

Demitra captain

His final two NHL seasons were spent with the Vancouver Canucks, although the second was limited to 28 games following a lengthy recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.

Demitra Canucks, Demitra Canucks

His NHL career concluded with 847 games played, 304 goals and 464 points for 768 points. Additionally, in 94 career playoff games, Demitra scored 23 goals and 59 points.

For the 2010-11 season, Demitra signed with Lokomotiv of the KHL in Russia, where his renowned playmaking abilities made the veteran the club's leading scorer and placed him in a tied for third in league scoring.

Demitra Lokomotiv, Demitra Lokomotiv

Internationally, Demitra played in the 1992 European Junior Championships and the 1993 World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal, for Czechoslovakia. Following the division of Czechoslovakia, Demitra skated for Slovakia in both the 1996 World Championships and 1996 World Cup, the 2002 Olympics and 2003 World Championships, where he earned a bronze medal.

He then went on to participate in both the 2004 World Championships and 2004 World Cup, the 2005 World Championships, 2006 Winter Olympics and 2007 World Championships.

Demitra then led all players at the 2010 Olympics in scoring with ten points in seven games on his way to being named a tournament all-star. He also scored a sublime shootout goal to give Slovakia a win over Russia in the preliminary round.

His final international appearance was as the 2011 World Championships, where he had the honor of captaining the Slovak team on home ice.

Demitra captain

Demitra and Rachunek
Here, Demitra and future Lokomotiv teammate Rachunek embrace following their preliminary round game at the 2011 World Championships.

Demitra perished on September 7, 2001 when the plane carrying Lokomotiv to their first regular season game of the 2011-12 KHL season crashed on takeoff, killing 44 people, including the entire Lokomotiv roster of players, coaches and staff.

Today's featured jersey is a 2011 Slovakia National Team Pavol Demitra jersey. Demitra was captain of the Slovakia National Team for the 2011 World Championships held in Slovakia. It was the second time he had captained the national team, the other being in the 2006 Olympics in Italy.

At the conclusion of the tournament, which he announced would be his final international competition, he was given a rousing ovation, which clearly touched Demitra, who was unable to hide his emotions.

Demitra Slovakia 2011 farewell, Demitra Slovakia 2011 farewell

Slovakia 2001 jersey, Slovakia 2001 jersey
Slovakia 2001 jersey, Slovakia 2001 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2010-11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Pavol Demitra jersey as worn during Demitra's final season of play during which he scored 18 goals and 60 points in 54 games, which placed him fifth in league scoring. During the postseason, Demitra scored another 6 goals and 21 points for second in KHL playoff scoring.

The name Lokomotiv comes from the fact the club is owned by the Russian national railroad, Russian Railways. The club was founded back in 1959 and has won the Russian Open Championship three times (1997, 2002 and 2003), and were KHL runner's up twice (2008 and 2009) and were also runner's up in the 2003 IIHF Continental Cup.

Following the crash, the club fielded a team of young players in the VHL, the second level of Russian hockey, but will return to the KHL for the 2012-13 season, having signed NHL veterans Viktor Kozlov, Niklas Hagman, Staffan Kronwall, Curtis Sanford and Vitaly Vishnevsky to rebuild their roster in an attempt to return to their place among the top clubs in the KHL.

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Russia Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2010-11 jersey photo RussiaLokomotivYaroslavl2010-11B.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2006-07 Minnesota Wild Pavol Demitra jersey as worn on January 6, 2007 with the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation patch. Each player on every team would wear the Teammates for Kids patch on their jerseys for a game that January, after which the jerseys were then auctioned off for charity to raise money for the foundation.

To date, the foundation has distributed over $75 million through it's various programs in conjunction with professional athletes.

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Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey photo MinnesotaWildG06-07B.jpg
Minnesota Wild G 06-07 jersey patch photo MinnesotaWildG06-07P.jpg

Today's first video is Demitra displaying perfect timing to score a hat trick on Hat Night in Los Angeles. The results were swift and predictable!

Here is Demitra's game winning goal in the shootout against Russia in the 2010 Olympics, where he displayed his puck control by deftly lofting the puck over the Russian goaltender counter to the direction of his body following his patented "swing wide" approach to the net.


On a personal note, we had the pleasure of seeing Demitra play in person for the two seasons he was with the Wild and the opportunity to meet him in person following a few practices. Our favorite memory of him began when we were at a pre-game warmup one night. A kid came down the steps of the arena toward the glass wearing a goaltenders catching glove while the players were warming up. As soon as the kind stopped and held up his glove, Demitra looked up after finishing a stick handling warmup drill and lofted the puck over the glass to the kid, who caught the puck in the glove and ran off.

We commented, "It was like he knew it was coming," to which the regulars replied, "He did, Pavol always looks for a kid to give a puck to."

Armed with that knowledge, the next time we attended a game with our youngster, we did all we could to put ourselves in position to get Demitra's attention. Wearing our vibrant yellow Dukla Trencin jersey, Demitra's previous Slovak club of which he was then a part-owner, to stand out against the dark green seats of the Xcel Energy Center, and with our youngster not only dressed in a Wild jersey, but holding a Dukla Trencin sign with Demitra and Gaborik's numbers 38 and 10 to further stand out, we positioned ourselves alone six rows up to make any attempt to loft a puck to us easier than if we were right behind the glass in the first couple of rows, not to mention away from the larger number of fans at the glass.

Demitra Sign

As Demitra finished his stickhandling drill, he looked up to scan the crowd for a kid, we gave him a quick "over here!" wave, as if we needed to wearing the bright yellow of Dukla, and he softly floated the puck over the glass right to us, which landed more gently in our hands than one could ever imagine.

We repeated this later in the season, and those two seemingly ordinary warmup pucks now hold an even more special place in our modest collection of memorabilia now that Demitra and his many Lokomotiv teammates have now left us.

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.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

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 dominant 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.

photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1965-66 Detroit Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey from the season Howe scored his 600th NHL goal. When the NHL expanded from six teams to 12, Howe enjoyed an offensive renaissance given the chance to play against the weaker expansion clubs. After four seasons of scoring less than 30 goals, 1967-68 saw him leap up to 39 goals followed by 44 more in 1968-69, tied for his third best season of his professional career, which began in 1946 and lasted all the way to 1980.

While Detroit's red sweater dates back to 1932, the Red Wings did not wear a white sweater until 1934 to wear in games against the Montreal Canadiens. The white sweaters were originally simply a reverse of the red sweaters - all white including white sleeves with red bands around the arms and waist - and did not get its contrasting red sleeves until 1961, making the Red Wings white jerseys, now unchanged for over 50 years old, the "new" one.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1925-26 Pittsburgh Pirates Lionel Conacher Jersey

In 1925, the NHL Board of Governors announced a salary cap of $35,000 per team for the upcoming season, with the exception of the two new expansion clubs, the New York Americans and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were allowed to spend $45,000 for their first two seasons.

In 1925, with noted NHL adversary Eddie Livingstone attempting to form a rival league and looking to put a franchise in Pittsburgh, Frank Calder moved to put an NHL club in the Steel City to thwart Livingstone's plan. The new franchise was named the Pirates, taking their name directly from the city's major league baseball club.

The nucleus of the Pirates came from the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets, the previous team in Pittsburgh which had just folded due to financial difficulties as well as the collapse of it's amateur league. Joining the Pirates from the Yellow Jackets would be future Hockey Hall of Famers Lionel Conacher and goaltender Roy Worters, who was noteworthy for standing but 5' 3".

Pittsburgh Pirates 1925-26
The 1925-26 Pittsburgh Pirates with the easy to spot Roy Worters

The Pirates played their first game on this date in 1925 on Thanksgiving night when they defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Boston. With defenseman and team captain Conacher scoring the first Pirates goal. Winger Harold Darragh added the game winning goal with Worters getting the win in goal.

Their first home game came on December 2nd in front of 8,200 fans in their sold out arena, the aging Duquesne Gardens. The Pirates would play a 36 game schedule and finish with a 19-16-1 record, which was surprisingly good for the first year club and placed them third out of the seven teams. The Pirates qualified for the playoffs and were defeated by the Montreal Maroons in a two-game, total-goals series 6-4. Hib Milks, a former Yellow Jacket, led the club in scoring with 14 goals and 5 assists for 19 points.

1925-26 Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1925-26 Pittsburgh Pirates

For the 1926-27 season, the NHL expanded to ten clubs and the Pirates were placed in the American Division and embarked on a now 44 game schedule. They did not fare as well this time, missing out on the playoffs after finishing with a 15-26-3 record. Milks again led the club in points with 22 coming from 16 goals and 6 assists.

The team qualified for the postseason in 1927-28 after going 19-17-8 but were eliminated in the first round by the New York Rangers 6 goals to 4. Milks again took home the scoring honors with 18 goals and 3 assists for 21 points. This was to be Worters final season with the Pirates, having played in 123 of the Pirates 124 games to date.

Worters Pirates
Roy Worters

The club's original owner James F. Callahan was forced to sell the club due to financial problema and the other noteworthy change for Pittsburgh was after three seasons in the same sweaters, the Pirates debuted a new multi-striped style for 1928-29, but suffered a poor season on the ice, finishing with just 9 wins to go with 27 losses and 8 ties to miss out on the playoffs. Darragh and Milks tied for the team scoring lead, but with only 12 points apiece, both scoring 9 times with 3 assists.

1928-29 Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1928-29 Pittsburgh Pirates

Player coach Odie Cleghorn left the team after the previous season and their sweaters underwent a radical change for 1929-30, changing from gold and black to orange and black in an unconventional diagonally divided design.

Pittsburgh Pirates 29-30
The new Pirates sweaters for 1929-30

The stock market crash and Great Depression put the new owners in financial difficulties, which forced them to sell off their best players to try to make ends meet, which had the expected results on the ice for an already poor team. Darragh led the team in scoring that season with 32 points from 15 goals and 17 assists, with the rise in scoring coming from a new rule change which allowed forward passing in the offensive zone for the first time. The Pirates struggled through the season with a dismal 5 wins, 36 losses and 3 ties t finish a distant last in the league, $400,000 in debt and playing in a too small and too old arena.

1929-30 Pittsburgh Pirates
The 1929-30 Pittsburgh Pirates

The plan for 1930-31 was to relocate the team across Pennsylvania to Philadelphia while a replacement arena was constructed in Pittsburgh and move the team back when it was completed. That plan never came to fruition, and after a dismal season in Philadelphia as the Quakers, (an even worse 4-36-4 record) the team ceased operations while it sought a solution to it's arena issues. When no new arena was made to happen, the Pittsburgh franchise was surrendered in 1936, formally bringing to an end the the club which had not seen the ice in five years.

Today's featured jersey is a 1925-26 Pittsburgh Pirates Lionel Conacher jersey. The Pirates chose black and gold based on the colors of the City of Pittsburgh flag, and were the first team from the city to adopt those colors, as the Pirates baseball club was still wearing red, white and blue and would not change to black and gold until 1948 and the Pittsburgh entry of the National Football League would not arrive on the scene until 1933.

Conacher was an incredible multi-sport athlete who not only competed, but won championships in football, baseball, wrestling, boxing and lacrosse as well as hockey, where he won both the Memorial Cup and Stanley Cup. He retired from sport in 1937 to enter the world of politics and was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame!

He played for and captained the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets following his time in Canadian senior hockey where he won back to back USAHA championships. He turned professional with the arrival of the Pirates and their entry into the NHL. He was later traded to the New York Americans. He then moved to the Montreal Maroons and later the Chicago Black Hawks, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 1934 before rejoining the Maroons and winning a second cup in 1935 before his retirement in 1937.

Pittsburgh Pirates 25-26 jersey, Pittsburgh Pirates 25-26 jersey
Pittsburgh Pirates 25-26 jersey, Pittsburgh Pirates 25-26 jersey

Today's video selection is a look at early hockey history in Pittsburgh, which includes the transformation of the Yellow Jackets into the Pirates of the NHL.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Viktor Tikhonov

One of hockey history's most successful, respected and feared coaches, Viktor Tikhonov, passed away yesterday at the age of 84.

Tikhonov's own playing career began in 1949 with VVS Moscow, the hockey club of the Soviet Air Force, under the guidance of Soviet hockey innovator Anatoli Tarasov. He later moved to Dynamo Moscow in 1953-54, where he played for ten seasons, eventually finishing his career with 35 goals in 296 games played, four consecutive Soviet League championships (3 with VVS 1951-1953 and 1 with Dynamo in 1954) and a USSR Cup in 1952 with VVS.

After the end of his playing days, he became an assistant coach with Dynamo Moscow in 1964 and later became a head coach with Dynamo Riga. He was later named head coach of the powerful CSKA Moscow (Central Red Army) in 1977. Along with those duties also came the position as head coach of the Soviet National Team, as the vast majority of the national team was made up of players from CSKA.

Tikhonov Dynamo Riga, Tikhonov Dynamo Riga
Dynamo Riga and young head coach Viktor Tikhonov

His success was immediate, as he led CSKA to a Soviet Championship League title in his first season. Following the domestic championship, Tikhonov guided the Soviet Union to the 1978 World Championship, setting the tone for what would become a historical run of success unequalled by any coach in hockey history.

With CSKA's unparalleled ability to choose nearly at will any player it desired from other clubs, by "drafting" them into military service and then assigning them to report to duty with the army' s hockey club, CSKA was essentially a perpetual Soviet National All-Star Team competing in a domestic league. This obvious advantage led to CSKA winning 12 consecutive Soviet Championship League titles under Tikhonov's reign. Additionally, CSKA would win the Soviet Cup in 1977, 1979 and 1988, the European Cup 14 times in 1976 and 1978-1990 and the Spengler Cup in 1991.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov

Additionally, the World Championship gold medal was nearly an annual right, as the Soviets were successful in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989 and 1990 - 8 out of a possible 10 times, with a silver medal in 1987 and a bronze in 1985, making for 12 out of 12 placings in the medals.

During that period of time, the World Championships were not held during Olympic years, and the Soviet Union came home with a sliver medal in 1980, followed by gold medals in both 1984 and 1988. In 1984, the Soviet Union went undefeated in seven games with 48 goals for an 5 against, while 1988 saw them finish 7-1 with 45 goals for and 13 against.

Soviet Union 1984 Olympics, Soviet Union 1984 Olympics
The undefeated 1984 Olympic gold medal winning Soviet National Team

Other international success included soundly defeating the NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup and capturing the 1981 Canada Cup tournament, the only nation to defeat the Canadians in five tries.

CCCP 1981 Canada Cup, CCCP 1981 Canada Cup
Viktor Zhluktov celebrates after the Soviet Union’s
shocking 8-1 win in the 1981 Canada Cup final

Despite the success of his teams, he was an unpopular figure with his players, as he was an absolute iron-fisted dictator, controlling not only the player's on the ice, but their personal lives as well, confining them to barracks away from their wives and families for intensive training 10 or 11 months out of the year.

This eventually led to friction followed by an open revolt by stars Igor Larionov and Viacheslav Fetisov in 1991, as they desired more personal freedom and the opportunity to sign a contract to play in the NHL in particular. Eventually the political and economic changes in the Soviet Union resulted in the national federation allowing players to leave for the NHL, with their incentive being a portion of the proceeds from the player's contracts proving too lucrative to pass up, despite Tikhonov's desire to keep the national team intact.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov

"In the past, players stuck it out with the national team for 10 years," Tikhonov told the Toronto Sun in September 1991. "I will have to replace the departed players with juniors and they'll stay with me until they are 23 or 24, before they leave. I'm trying my best to keep the 18- and 19-year-olds from jumping to Scandinavia, Central Europe, or North America. I don't want the drain on our talent to continue, because we won't have a national team at all."

Once players began to receive permission to leave for North America, Tikhonov's obvious advantage in compiling the CSKA roster deteriorated and no more domestic titles would be forthcoming in his remaining years as CSKA coach through 1996. The strength of the National Team had also diminished, as players such as Alexander Mogilny had been lost to defection and Tikhonov did not allow players drafted by NHL clubs, such as Pavel Bure, Valeri Zelepukin, Evgeny Davydov and Vladimir Konstantinov to compete in the 1991 Canada Cup for fear of them defecting to the west as well, which led to a dismal 1-3-1 record to close out the history of the Soviet Union National Team on a down note.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in December of 1991, Tikhonov guided the Unified Team to gold at the 1992 Olympics, the final great triumph of his long and successful career.

Unified Team celebrates, Unified Team celebrates

"This is the kind of joy I haven't experienced in a long time." He explained that he had mellowed, recognizing the need for a new approach to lure NHL and European stars to play for the Unified Team. "We had a lot of new players and we didn't know them very well," Tikhonov said after the Games. "We lost a lot of good players. In order to get fresh players, the coaches had to review our approach."

Tikhonov would return for the 1994 Olympics after relinquishing his duties as coach at the World Championships, guiding Russia to the Final Round playoffs and an eventual 4th place finish.

In addition to the many, many honors and awards he would receive in the Soviet Union and later Russia, including the prestigious Order of Lenin, Tikhonov would be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. Later, when the IIHF named it's Centennial All-Star Team, four the six players named, Vladislav Tretiak, Fetisov, Valeri Kharlamov and Makarov, all had played for CSKA and the Soviet Union under Tikhonov during their careers.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov
Tikhonov receiving the Order of Friendship in 2010

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet Union National Team Sergei Makarov jersey as worn during the 1981 Canada Cup. While the Soviet Union was used to having it's way at the World Championships and the Olympics, the Canada Cup was the one time where each country could send it's best players regardless of their amateur or professional status, which benefitted Canada more than any other country.

The Soviet Union had opened it's tournament with a 1-1 tie against their rivals from Czechoslovakia and received a sound 7-3 thumping at the hands of Canada in the Round Robin portion of the tournament, knowing that both countries had already qualified for the playoffs. The Soviets then downed the Czechs 4-1 in the Semifinals and stunned Canada 8-1 in the finals, scoring the last seven goals of the contest after the game was tied at 1-1 eight minutes into the second period.

This style of Soviet jersey with the diamond shapes around the waist was used from 1977 until 1983, including gold medals at the World Championships in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1983, the 1981 Canada Cup, the 1979 Challenge Cup vs. the NHL All-Stars and most famously, a silver medal at the 1980 Olympics.

Soviet Union 1981 jersey, Soviet Union 1981 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992 Unified Team Andrei Kovalenko jersey as used in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Tikhonov's final great success of his coaching career.

With the upheaval of the political situation in the Soviet Union in 1991, there was little time to sort out what kind of identity the brand new team made up of six of the 15 former Soviet republics would compete with. Mind you, the Unified Team was not the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Team, which was comprised 12 of the 15 Soviet republics and acted more like an association similar to the European Union, rather than a country, such as the Soviet Union had.

The Unified Team competed under the Olympic flag, and with just five weeks before the games were to commence, the jersey supplier to all the Olympic teams, Tackla of Finland, made up a set of the usual Soviet Union jerseys, only without the "CCCP" lettering across the chest. Note they did not even continue or even alter the chest stripes, which were still notched on the left hand side for the curvature of the "P"!

This was the one and only appearance for these stop-gap jerseys, as Russia competed in a new set of jerseys in time for the 1992 World Championships two months later in April with"Россия" now across the front in rushed, simple one color block letters rather than the fancier two color, drop shadowed letters used during the 1991 season prior to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia 1992 Olympics Unified Team
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1988-89 CSKA Moscow Alexander Mogilny jersey from Red Army's 13th consecutive Soviet Championship League title under Tikhonov just weeks prior to Mogilny defecting to the west. Mogilny's departure in early May after that year's World Championships in Sweden, effectively marked the end of an era for Tikhnov and the supremacy of CSKA, as prior to the following season Fetisov, Larionov and Vladimir Krutov left the Soviet Union with permission of the authorities to play in the NHL, brining to a close their unparalleled streak of championship dominance.

CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey
CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey

Today's video section begins with highlights of the final game of the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.

Our next video selection is the gold medal game from the 1992 Olympics, as the Unified Team, wearing their jerseys without any national identity, captures the gold medal against Canada, followed by a brief clip of the medal ceremony.

For those of you with the time, here is a half hour interview with Tikhonov on the occasion of the Russian's first World Championship victory in 15 years in 2008, which features his long standing view on team play over individual talent and his thoughts on many other topics.

It requires some concentration to listen to the translator over the original Russian language in the background, but is a rare chance for North Americans to hear his experience come through in his own words.



Monday, November 24, 2014

1963-64 Boston Bruins Eddie Johnston Jersey

After playing junior hockey for the Montreal Jr. Royals, Trois-Rivieres Reds and Montreal Jr. Canadiens from 1953-54 to 1955-56, goaltender Eddie Johnston spent the next few seasons honing his craft as he worked his way up the ladder with stops with the Winnipeg Warriors of the WHL in 1956-57, the Shawinigan Cataracts of the QHL in 1957-58, the Edmonton Flyers back in the WHL in 1958-59, the Johnstown Jets of the EHL in 1959-60, the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL in 1960-61 where he posted a 41-20-9 record and finally the Spokane Comets again in the WHL in 1961-62 where Johnston racked up another 37 wins to show he was now ready for the NHL.

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Eddie Johnston of the Johnstown Jets in 1959-60

That move came for the 1962-63 season when Johnston, born on this date in 1935, claimed one of the rare and coveted spots as a goaltender in the six team NHL. Unfortunately, the Bruins were in the throws of a down period. Starting in 1960-61, Boston would win just 15 games out of a 70 game schedule the two seasons prior to Johnston's arrival. The low point proved to be his rookie season with just 14 wins (11 of those for Johnston) followed by a mere 18 as a team in 1963-64 with Johnston getting all 18 as he played every one of the 70 games for the Bruins, the last goalie to play in every one of his team's games, as was the norm at one time.

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Eddie Johnston, the last goalie to play every one of his team's games

After splitting time with Jack Norris in 1964-65, rookie Bernie Parent arrived in Boston for 1965-66 and took the majority of the games with 39, as well as the arrival of another NHL debutant, Gerry Cheevers, who was in the nets for 7 games. Johnston was in goal for 10 of the Bruins 21 wins in 33 appearances.

Johnston Bruins photo JohnstonBruins2.jpg

Johnston once more was the lead goaltender in 1966-67 with 34 games played, ahead of Cheevers  22 and Parent's 16, but the Bruins were once again the league's doormats with just 17 wins from 70 games, missing out on the playoffs for the eighth straight season, a dismal effort considering four of the league's six teams made the playoffs each year. But signs of change were in the air in Boston, as 1966-67 saw the arrival of game changer Bobby Orr, who caused Johnston to become one of the last goalies to wear a facemask after hitting him in the face with a shot during warmups.

Orr Johnston photo OrrJohnston.jpg
The arrival of Bobby Orr started a new era for Johnston and the Bruins

In a blockbuster trade prior to the 1967-68 season, the Bruins dealt Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin, and Norris to the Chicago Black Hawks for Fred Stanfield, Ken Hodge and Phil Esposito, whom immediately led the team in scoring six of the next seven seasons, finishing second to Orr in 1970 and 1975. Armed with this revamped lineup, Johnston's 11 wins in 28 games surpassed his 8 wins in 43 starts from the year before. The Bruins jumped up from 17 wins to 37 and a 40 point rise in the standings, no doubt aided by not only the new additions to the lineup, but also the expansion of the NHL from just six clubs to now 12, which allowed Boston to add to their win totals against the newcomers who were still finding their sea legs in the rocky waters of their first seasons in the NHL.

Johnston raised his win total to 14 but in four less games in 1968-69 as the Bruins continued their ascent up the standings. He also made his long awaited first playoff appearance of his career that season as well.

With the NHL season now up to 76 games, Johnston saw action in 37 games, nearly splitting time evenly with Cheevers, who appeared in 41. Johnston finished the year with a 16-9-11 mark and added another playoff win in two postseason games as the Bruins long march from the depths of the standings was completed with the team's first Stanley Cup championship since 1941.

Bucyk 300 goals photo Bucyk300JohnstonOrr1969.jpg
In a hilarious photo from 1970, Johnny Bucyk poses with goaltender Eddie Johnston and Bobby Orr as they pose with pucks indicating their career goal totals, Bucyk having just reached 300, Johnston still stuck at zero and Orr at 78!

1970-71 saw Johnston set an NHL career high with 30 wins, more than twice the number of wins the Bruins managed as at team in his early years with the club! His final record of 30-6-2 helped Boston to the best overall record in the league that season, but a hard fought first round, 7 game playoff loss to the rival Montreal Canadiens ended the Bruins season early.

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Johnston during his mask wearing era

In 1971-72, he again split time almost evenly with Cheevers, and in 38 games finished with a 27-8-3 mark as the Bruins once again finished with the league's best record. Unlike in previous seasons however, Johnston and Cheevers split the starts in the playoffs, with Johnston going 6-1 with a shutout in 7 appearances as Boston claimed it's second Stanley Cup in three years.

While he did not see any action in the eight games of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, Johnston was a part of the roster and did appear in some of the team's exhibition games.

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Johnston wearing the maple leaf of Canada in 1972

Even greater changes to the world of hockey were in store for 1972-73, as Cheevers bolted for the upstart World Hockey Association, leaving the veteran Johnston the clear number one in net for the Bruins. He played in 45 games, going 24-17-1 as three others shared the 38 appearances.

One of the goaltenders who shared those 38 games for the Bruins was the legendary Jacques Plante, whom Boston acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for future considerations in 1973, which turned out to be Johnston, who was sent to Toronto after the conclusion of the season, ending his 11 year run in Boston.

After one 12-9-4 season with the Maple Leafs, Johnston was again on the move, this time to the St. Louis Blues in time for the 1974-75 season. There, he capably backed up John Davidson for one season until becoming the Blues primary goaltender for 1975-76, tying for he Blues lead in wins with Yves Belanger with 11. 1976-77 again saw Johnston as the number one, with his 38 starts leading Ed Staniowsk's 29.

Johnston Blues photo JohnstonBlues.jpg
Johnston spent several seasons with the Blues

Johnston's carer began to wind down at this point, as five goalies shared time in the crease for St. Louis,  with Johnston limited to just 12 games, but a respectable 5-6-1 mark considering the Blues 20-47-13 record. In January of that year, Johnston was sold by the Blues to the Black Hawks, with whom he would play the final four games of his career before retiring at the conclusion of the season at the age of 42.

Johnston would finish his career with 592 games played, 234 wins and 257 losses and 80 ties with a career 3.24 goals against average, a nice recovery when you take into account the first five seasons he spent with the then-lowly Bruins had him at 58-139-11 - a full 81 games under .500, more than a full season's worth of games at the time!

Following his playing days, Johnston became a head coach, first for the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL in 1978 before returning to the NHL behind the bench of first the Chicago Blackhawks in 1979 before taking over as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1980-81 to 1982-83. He was then the General Manager of the Penguins from 1983 to 1988, which included drafting Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux.

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Johnston with his draft pick Mario Lemieux

He then became the GM of the Hartford Whalers from 1989 to 1992. He then returned to Pittsburgh as their head coach from 1993 through the 1996-97 season. He would then remain with the Penguins as an assistant GM and then a senior advisor before retiring in 2009 after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in his 26th year with the Pittsburgh organization.

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Johnston reunited with an old friend in 2009

Today's featured jersey is a 1963-64 Boston Bruins Eddie Johnston jersey as worn the season Johnston was the last goaltender to play every one of his team's games that season, with 70. This style of Bruins sweater was first introduced back in 1949 with less sleeve stripes and two color numbers. This sweater evolved in 1951 with the addition of an additional sleeve stripe and black cuffs.

That style remained in use through 1957-58 when the design again evolved to reach today's featured style, which had narrower sleeve stripes to accommodate numbers on the arms for the first time. The numbers on the back also now became three colors with the addition of white trim around the black numeral, which was then outlined in gold. This jersey configuration lasted through the down period of the 1960's which ended with the arrival of Orr. It was replaced by a similar, but modernized for the time jersey in time for the team's return to prominence which began in 1967-68.

Boston Bruins 1963-64 jersey photo BostonBruins1967-68Fjersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1963-64 jersey photo BostonBruins1967-68Bjersey.jpg

Today's bonus jersey is a 1971-72 Boston Bruins Eddie Johnston jersey as worn the season the Bruins would capture the second Stanley Cup of Johnston's career. This classic Bruins jersey was worn for both Stanley Cup championships. When first introduced in 1967-68 there was no white space in between the black cuffs and gold arm stripes, which was added the following season. This style remained unchanged until 1973-74 when the laces were eliminated followed by a redesign the following year, which eliminated the gold shoulder yoke and it's black trim.

A modernized version of this style, complete with laces, was introduced in 2008 and remains the Bruins primary road jersey to this day. It also managed to duplicate the success of the original jerseys, as the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, their first since wearing today's bonus jersey in 1972.

Boston Bruins 1971-72 jersey photo BostonBruins1971-72Fjersey.jpg
Boston Bruins 1971-72 jersey photo BostonBruins1971-72Bjersey.jpg

Here is a tribute to Johnston from the Penguins that looks back on his entire eareer as well as his management career afterward.



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