History of Jersey 83-93 Banner sm photo History of Jersey 83-93 Banner sm.jpg

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The History of the Spengler Cup

In addition to the ongoing World Junior Championship, this is also the time of year for the annual Spengler Cup tournament.

Spengler Cup logo, Spengler Cup logo

Founded in 1923 by Dr. Carl Spengler to promote teams from German-speaking portions of Europe who may have been ostracized in the aftermath of World War I, the Spengler Cup is hosted by HC Davos of Switzerland.

The Spengler Cup, The Spengler Cup

The tournament is an invitational tournament and the oldest such tournament in the world.

The games are held between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve with all games being held at the 7,080 capacity Vaillant Arena in Davos.

Vaillant Arena, Vaillant Arena
The Vaillant Arena in Davos, home of the Spengler Cup

The invitees over the history of the tournament are a who's who of of powerful European clubs as well as an eclectic mix of unusual and unexpected teams.

The original winners of the Spengler Cup in 1923 was the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club of England, which was made up of Canadian students. Berlin SC of Germany won the second edition in 1924 before Oxford University reclaimed the cup in 1925 and Berlin SC again in 1926.

1923 Spengler Cup Canadians, 1923 Spengler Cup Canadians
The Oxford University Club, comprised of Canadian students

Hosts HC Davos took their first championship in 1927 and LTC Prague were the first Czechoslovakian winner in 1929 and again in 1930. Diavoli Rossoneri of Milan added Italy to the list of winners in 1934 and repeated in 1935.

HC Davos 1920's, HC Davos 1920's
HC Davos in the 1920's

An era of Swiss dominance arrived in 1938 when HC Davos took their 4th title. World War II kept the tournament from being played in 1939 and 1940, but Davos picked up where they left off by winning in 1941, 1942 and 1943. Zürcher SC continued the winning Swiss ways in 1944 and 1945, giving Switzerland six titles in a row and seven out of the previous eight.

HC Davos 1940, HC Davos 1940
HC Davos in 1940 during the Swiss run of dominance

LTC Prague reeled off three titles in a row from 1946 to 1948 and the tournament was not played in 1949. HC Milano Inter took back to back wins in 1953 and 1954, the last of five titles for Italian clubs. Rudá Hvēzda Brno of Czechoslovakia won in 1955 before the tournament was not held in 1956, the last time the Spengler Cup was not held and one of only four times since 1923 the cup has not been awarded in it's history.

After HC Davos added two more titles in 1957 and 1958, ACBB (Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt) Paris won three consecutive cups to add France to the list of winners.

Sparta Prague won in 1962 and 1963 followed by EV Füssen of Germany became the last western team to take home the cup for the next 20 years, as the Czechoslovakian and Soviet teams would dominate the competition going forward.

Dukla Jihlava would win in 1965, 1966, 1968, 1978 (when the tournament moved indoors for the first time) and 1982 and HC Slovan Bratislava would win a trio of titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974 for Czechoslovakia along with the Czechoslovak Olympic Team in 1975.

1975 Spengler Cup, 1975 Spengler Cup
1975 Spengler Cup action

Lokomotiv Moscow would become the first Soviet winner in 1967 and again in 1969 followed by SKA Leningrad in 1970, 1971 and 1977. The USSR B team won in 1976, Krylya Soveov Moscow (Soviet Wings) in 1979 followed by Spartak Moscow in both 1980 and 1981, with Dynamo Moscow's first title coming in 1983.

1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team, 1966-67 Dukla Jihlava team
Dukla Jihlava, winners of the Spengler Cup in 1966

1984 saw the debut of Team Canada at the Spengler Cup, which resulted in their first of 11 titles to date. The team representing Canada at the Spengler Cup was originally comprised of the Canadian National Team, a club which remained together for an entire season under the "Programme of Excellence", which began in 1983 to represent Canada at such tournaments as the World Championships, the Spengler Cup and prepare for the Olympics, rather than the current format of All-Star teams who only come together days before such competitions.

The Canadian "Programme of Excellence" lasted until 1998, when the NHL began shutting down to allow it's players into the Olympics every four years, at which point Team Canada at the Spengler Cup began to be comprised of Canadians playing professionally for club teams in Europe and occasionally North American minor leaugers, who were brought together as a squad to stand for Canada.

Spartak Moscow downed Canada in 1985 and the Canadians defeated Soviet clubs in 1986 and 1987 to claim three titles in four years. The United States broke through for their only victory with a "USA Selects" squad in 1988.

Spartak Moscow won the final two times for the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990 before the political upheaval led to the breakup of the Soviet Union, which saw CSKA Moscow win under the flag of Russia in 1991.

Although Swedish clubs had long participated in Davos, Färjestad BK's wins in 1993 and 1994 were Sweden's first titles following seven runner up finishes dating back to 1950.

The Canadians reeled off four wins in a row from 1995 to 1998, which included the participation of the Rochester Americans of the AHL in 1996, the first North American professional club to take part in th competition. Kölner Haie (Cologne Sharks) then became the first German team to win since 1964 when they took home the title in 1999.

Klner Haie 1999, Klner Haie 1999
The Cologne Sharks show off their 1999 Spengler Cup

Hosts HC Davos delighted the home fans by winning the tournament for the first time since 1958, a span of 42 years, when they won in 2000 and repeated the feat in 2001.

The Canadians returned to the top in 2002 and 2003 before Davos won again in 2004 before Metallurg Magnitogorsk became the first Russian club to win the tournament in 14 years with their championship in 2005.

Canada Spengler Cup 2007, Canada Spengler Cup 2007
Curtis Joseph celebrates Canada's 2007 championship

Since then, Davos in 2006, Team Canada in 2007, Dynamo Moscow in 2008 preceded Dinamo Minsk becoming the first team from Belarus to capture the Spengler Cup in 2009, the 12th country represented  with a championship.

Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009, Dinamo Minsk Spengler Cup 2009
Dinamo Minsk becomes the first club from Belarus to win the Spengler Cup

SKA Saint Petersburg won in 2010, the fourth for the team, as they won three times in the 1970's while known as SKA Leningrad.

SKA Spengler Cup 2010, SKA Spengler Cup 2010
SKA Saint Petersburg celebrate in 2010,
the first year for the new version of the championship trophy

HC Davos defeated Dinamo Riga in 2011 to win their fifth title since 2000 after their long drought dating back to 1958.

Davos Spengler Cup 2011, Davos Spengler Cup 2011
HC Davos gathers after winning their 15th Spengler Cup in 2011

Canada regained the Spengler Cup in 2012 with a particularly loaded squad thanks to the availability of many players who would normally be occupied in the NHL if it were not for the ongoing lockout. Among the notable names on the Team Canada roster were goaltender Jonathan Bernier, forwards Matt Duchene, Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Jason Williams, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and veteran Ryan Smyth.

Tavares vs Kane, Tavares vs Kane
John Tavares battles with Patrick Kane during the 2012 Spengler Cup

Still, the other clubs benefitted from locked out NHL players, as Davos had Joe ThorntonPatrick Kane and Loui Eriksson while Fribourg had goaltender Corey Schneider, Patric HornqvistMax Talbot and Bruno Gervais on their roster.

Joe Thornton Davos, Joe Thornton Davos
Joe Thornton, wearing the flaming helmet to identify him as the leading scorer

The 2013 edition saw Genève-Servette HC defeat Russian club HC CSKA Moscow by a score of 5-3 in the final for their first ever title.

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Genève-Servette celebrates after winning their first Spengler Cup in 2013

In 2014, Genève-Servette HC again defeated a Russian club, this time Salavat Yulaev Ufa by a score of 3-0 to finish the tournament undefeated at 4-0.

Genève-Servette Spengler Cup 2014 photo Genegraveve-ServetteSpenglerCup2014.jpg
Genève-Servette celebrating after repeating as Spengler Cup winners in 2014

This year the participating clubs are, as always, hosts and defending Swiss champions HC Davos, the traditional entry from Team Canada, defending DEL champions Adler Mannheim of Germany, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg Russia and the KHL, second Swiss side HC Lugano and Jokerit Helsinki of Finland and the KHL.

Play in Group Torriani saw HC Lugano defeat Adler Mannheim 6-3, who in turn defeated Jokerit 5-3. This set up the all-important final game in which Jokerit defeated Lugano 6-4, leaving all three teams with a win and a loss! This set in motion the tie breakers and Lugano's 3 goal margin over Mannheim was the deciding factor, as Mannheim and Jokerit only won their games by two goals, which gave Lugano the advantage in goal differential by the smallest of margins, a +1 to Jokerit's zero and Mannheim's -1 to win the group and the bye into the Semifinals.

Meanwhile, Group Cattini began with Team Canada sneaking out a 2-1 win over Yekaterinburg. The Russian side rebounded with a 5-1 pounding of host Davos and then Canada won the group with a 2-0 win over the Swiss side with Jeff Glass getting the shutout.

The Quarterfinals saw crossover matchups between the second and third place teams in both groups, with HC Davos advancing with a 5-4 over Jokerit,  while Avtomobilist prevailed in their 3-1 win over Adler Mannheim.

In the Semifinals, Davos made amends for their group play shutout loss to Team Canada by streaking out to a 4-1 lead after seven minutes of the second period, only to have the Canadians score three straight in under 12 minutes to tie the game after two. Davos retook the lead a 7:33 into the third period, but Canada scored twice in a minute inside of the final five minutes of the game to advance to today's final with an eventual 6-5 victory.

In the other Semifinal, HC Lugano scored a goal in each period to punch their ticket to today's final by shutting out Yekaterinburg 3-0.

Today's final between Team Canada and HC Lugano was a close fought affair, with the score tied at 1-1 after the first period. Canada got a pair of goals in the second period from Derek Roy and Tyler Pyatt to head into the third with a narrow 3-2 lead, but Lugano tied the game five minutes into the final period. The cup winning goal came at the 8:13 mark as former St. Louis Blues forward Matt D'Agostini won it for  for Canada as Glass held off the Swiss side for a 4-3 final to wrap up the 13th championship for Team Canada.

Canada Spengler Cup 2015 photo Canada Spengler Cup 2015.jpg
Canada celebrates on the way to their 13th Spengler Cup

Today's featured jersey is a 2012 Team Canada Jason Demers jersey as worn when Team Canada won the Spengler Cup when they defeated HC Davos 7-2. Canada's championship in 2012 was the 12th for the Canadians since they began their participation in 1984.

Club teams often wear special jerseys just for the Spengler Cup tournament, resplendent with numerous advertisements of tournament sponsors not normally found on their domestic league jerseys.

Team Canada Spengler Cup 2012 jersey photo TeamCanadaSpenglerCup2012Fjersey.png
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Bovine jersey: Today's bovine jersey is a 2013 Spengler Cup Officials Jersey as worn by the referees and linesmen during the 2013 edition of the Spengler Cup. These same jerseys were worn again for the 2014 edition of the tournament as well, but have sadly been retired in favor of traditional stripes in 2015.

Taking the concept of sponsorship a step too far, the Swiss Milk sponsorship goes beyond anything previously seen in the world of ice hockey as the officials customary black and white stripes are replaced by a black and white Holstein cow pattern, compete with a picture of a cow on the front, at the cost of the officials dignity, which one would think would be paramount for them to retain the respect they deserve while officiating high level games of this magnitude.

Udderly bizarre.

Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRef2013.jpg
Spengler Cup Referee Cow Jersey 2013 photo SpenglerRefs2013.jpg
Note the red armbands on the referee's jerseys,
as the four officials seem to be taking in all in stride

Today's video segment begins with highlights of HC Davos winning the Spengler Cup in 2000, ending their 38 year drought. Notice the previous version of the championship trophy with the glass globe on top which was used from 1956 to 2009, which is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Next, a linesman wearing one of the unfortunate cow uniforms while escorting a disqualified player off the ice.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Teemu Selanne Finland Jersey Retirement

Today the Finland National Team will retire the jersey #8 of Finnish legend Teemu Selanne.

His international career for Finland began back in 1988 when he competed at the European Junior U18 Championships where he led the tournament in scoring with 7 goals and 16 points in just 6 games as Finland took home the silver medal. The following year he competed at the World Junior Championships, where he again led his team in scoring with 5 goals and 10 points in 7 games.

He made his senior level debut at the 1991 World Championships, scoring 6 goals and 11 points in 10 games, just one assist behind teammate Jari Kurri. Later that fall, Selanne participated in the 1991 Canada Cup tournament for Finland, scoring a goal and 2 points in 6 games.

Finland 1991 Canada Cup jersey photo Finland 1991 CC F.jpg
Finland 1991 Canada Cup jersey photo Finland 1991 CC B.jpg
1991 Finland Canada Cup Teemu Selanne jersey
This short lived style was worn by Finland at the 1991 Canada Cup with the cartoon lion head logo, which we recall being the logo from a Finnish bank which sponsored the national team for awhile during the early 1990's

1992 saw Selanne make his Olympic debut in Lillehammer, Norway where he led Finland with 7 goals and 11 points in 8 games with his 7 goals leading all players. Later that year, Selanne made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets, which subsequently limited his participation in the World Championships thanks to the longer NHL season as well as playoff obligations to NHL employers.

He finally returned to the international stage in the spring of 1996 when he skated for Finland at the World Championships while wearing the unfamiliar #88. He was, however, back in his familiar position as the team's leading scorer with 5 goals and 3 assists in 8 games.

Finland 1996 WC jersey photo Finland 1996 WC F.jpg
Finland 1996 WC jersey photo Finland 1996 WC B.jpg
1996 Finland World Championships Teemu Selanne jersey
The "Waving Flag" style from Nike's original entry into supplying the IIHF. The first version of this jersey had navy blue numbers with white trim on the back, which was only visible when it overlapped the blue areas of the flag design. The World Championship version also carries the Warsteiner Beer sponsorship patches on the shoulders.

Later that fall, Selanne was one of the assistant captains of the Finland squad that took part in the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. While the Finns were eliminated early after just four games, Selanne yet again was the team leader in points with 3 goals and 2 assists in their four games.

Finland 1996 WC jersey photo Finland 1996 WCOH F.jpg
Finland 1996 WC jersey photo Finland 1996 WCOH B.jpg
1996 Finland World Cup of Hockey Teemu Selanne jersey
The "Waving Flag" style was used again for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, only now the back numbers matched the sleeve numbers as being navy blue outlined in a medium blue. The sponsor patches from the World Championships are now gone and the jersey sports the smaller 3 inch diameter 1996 World Cup of Hockey logo on the left shoulder as worn by the Nike supplied teams, while the nations which wore Bauer jerseys had a 4 inch diameter logo worn on the upper right chest.

Selanne made his second Olympic appearance at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, the first time the NHL took a break to allow it's top professionals the chance to compete. There, he averaged two points per game with 4 goals and 6 assists in 5 games to lead all players in scoring as he earned his first medal in international competition when Finland defeated Canada 3-2 for the bronze.

In 1999, Selanne returned to the World Championships for the first time in three years and scored 11 points from 3 goals and 8 assists as Finland took home the silver, his first medal from the World Championships. Additionally, Selanne was named as the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Selanne's third Olympic Games came in 2002, this time as Finland's team captain for the first time on the international stage, but the team failed to advance past the Quarterfinals, although they did defeat Russia 3-1 in First Round group play.

After being held to 3 goals at the 2002 Olympics, Selanne had a return to form at the 2003 World Championships when he led the Finnish attack with 11 points in 7 games as his 8 goals led all players in front of the home fans in Helsinki, Finland.

The second World Cup of Hockey arrived in the fall of 2004, and Selanne was once again a key part of the Finland offense. He was second on the club with 4 points in 6 games as a part of their balanced attack that saw the Finns reach the final in Toronto.

Finland 2004 World Cup jersey photo Finland 2004 WCOH F.jpg
Finland 2004 World Cup jersey photo Finland 2004 WCOH B.jpg
2004 World Cup of Hockey Teemu Selanne jersey
This style served Finland well, first being worn at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. It was later worn for the World Championships in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 as well as the 2002 Olympic Games. Then modification saw the banner for the crest change from Suomi to Finland, while the word Suomi now appeared in large letters across the waist for the 2003 and 2004 World Championships and finally the 2004 World Cup of Hockey as seen here.

Selanne sat out the entire 2004-05 season due to the NHL lockout, including the European professional season as well as all international events in order to give his body a chance to heal. The decision to rest that year rejuvenated Seleanne, who nearly tripled his NHL scoring totals from the 2003-04 season as well as leading not only Finland, but the entire 2006 Olympic tournament in goals, with 6, and points, with 11 on his way to being named Best Forward and winning a silver medal.

He would miss the 2006-07 international calendar, but with good reason as the Anaheim Ducks spent the spring winning the NHL's Stanley Cup.

With the Ducks out of the NHL playoffs early, Selanne was once again available for international duty in 2008 where he earned his second World Championship medal with a bronze in his final World Championship appearance, which he announced would be his final international tournament.

However, his retirement from international hockey would be short-lived, as 2010 saw Selanne return to the Olympics once more as Finland won the bronze medal in Vancouver. During Finland's game against Germany, Selanne would become the all-time leading scorer in Olympic hockey history.

His final international tournament came in 2014 at the Sochi Olympics in Russia where Selanne once again captained the team during his sixth Olympic Games.  His 4 goals and 6 points were one point back of the team leader as the Finns would win their third consecutive Olympic medal, this time a bronze, the fourth Olympic medal of Selanne's illustrious national career as he set a record as the oldest player to ever win a medal in Olympic hockey at the age of 43. At the conclusion of the competition, Selanne would be named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

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Finland 2014 Olympic jersey photo Finland 2014 B.jpg
2014 Finland Olympic Teemu Selanne jersey
This highly unusual full bleed flag style was worn only at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. It was paired with a more conventional road blue jersey. For the subsequent World Championships later that spring, the Finns wore a white version of their blue road jersey, ending the use of this style after just one outing.

His final international totals were 54 goals and 48 assists for 102 points in 96 games. He would also retire as the holder of the Olympic record for most career points with 43. During his career, he would win three silver medals, four bronze as well as a runner up finish at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Selanne was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in November of 2015.

After today's jersey retirement by the Finland National Team, Selanne's #8 will have been retired by three teams, including the NHL's Anaheim Ducks and his original Finnish club team, Jokerit Helsinki.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

1981-82 New Haven Nighthawks Scott Gruhl jersey

Left winger Scott Gruhl first played two seasons at Northeastern University where he started off slowly with 6 goals and 10 points in 17 games in 1976-77. The following season he led the Huskies in scoring with 21 goals and 59 points in 28 games, an average of over two points per game.

Undrafted, Gruhl played Canadian junior hockey in 1978-79 for the Sudbury Wolves, racking up 35 goals and 84 points in 68 games. He turned professional in 1979-80 when he began his lengthy International Hockey League career with the Saginaw Gears. He led the Gears in scoring with 53 goals  and 93 points in 75 games. A second season in Saginaw saw a virtually identical result, with 56 goals and 90 points. 19 points in 13 games followed in the postseason, a the Gears captured the Turner Cup with a sweep of the Kalamazoo Wings.

Now part of the Los Angeles Kings organization, Gruhl was assigned to the New Haven Nighthawks of the American Hockey League for two seasons, during which he scored 28 and 25 goals, as well as making his much hoped for NHL debut. Called up by the Kings, Gruhl played in 7 games in 1981-82, which included scoring his first NHL goal, as he registered a pair of goals and an assist. 1982-83 saw him also see action in 7 games, during which he scored two assists.

It was back to Michigan and the IHL for the 1983-84 season, as Gruhl joined the Muskegon Mohawks, who he led in scoring with 40 goals and 96 points. The franchise changed it's name to the Muskegon Lumberjacks for the 1984-85 season, as Gruhl had a career year, scoring 62 goals and 64 assists for 126 points, all career bests. He placed second in the league scoring race and was named the IHL's MVP.

Gruhl Lumberjacks, Gruhl Lumberjacks

The Lumberjacks would make it all the way to the Turner Cup Finals, beginning a period of success that would see them play in the finals six times in eight seasons.

Despite his stellar offensive season, no NHL opportunities were forthcoming for 1985-86, and Gruhl once more suited up for the Lumberjacks, for whom he scored another 59 goals and 109 points. During the postseason, Gruhl had 20 points in 14 games as Muskegon won the Turner Cup with a sweep of the Fort Wayne Komets.

Gruhl Lumberjacks, Gruhl Lumberjacks

Two more seasons with the Lumberjacks saw Gruhl add 34 goals followed by 28 in 1987-88, a season during which he made his awaited return to the NHL, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins for six games during which he scored one goal.

Back in Muskegon in 1988-89 and 1989-90 back to back 92 point seasons saw Gruhl score 37 and then 41 goals, as well as two more Turner Cup Finals appearances, winning the championship in 1989 while contributing 19 points in 14 playoff games.

After seven seasons in Muskegon, Gruhl remained in the IHL, only now with the Komets. He brought not only his prodigious offensive skills, but his knack for playoff success as well, for during his first season in Fort Wayne, he extended his streak of 20 goals seasons to 12 as the Komets made it to the Turner Cup Finals.

During his second season in Fort Wayne, he scored 44 goals and 105 points to lead the Komets in scoring. Another 34 goals arrived in 1992-93, two of which he scored on this date in 1992 against the San Diego Gulls, giving him 551 and 552 to become the IHL's all-time leading goal scorer, breaking the record held by Joe Kastelic.

Gruhl Komets, Gruhl Komets

Gruhl added 15 points in 12 playoff games as Fort Wayne won the Turner Cup, the fourth for Gruhl in his career. For the 1993-94 season, he spilt his time between the Milwaukee Admirals and Kalamazoo, scoring a combined 21 goals to extend his 20 goals or more streak.

The Richmond Renegades of the ECHL was the next stop for Gruhl, leading the team in scoring in 1994-95 with 31 goals and 71 points. 17 playoff games and 18 points later, Gruhl was once again a champion, as the Renegades defeated Greensboro for the Kelly Cup, the fifth championship of Gruhl's career.

Gruhl Renegades, Gruhl Renegades

His final season in professional hockey saw him lead the Renegades in scoring yet again, this time with 46 goals, which meant for his entire 17 year professional career, Gruhl scored at least 20 goals, a testament to not only his scoring abilities, but his durability as well, as he never played less than 49 games in a season and 16 seasons of 55 or more, 9 of which were over 70 games played.

Upon his retirement, Gruhl held the IHL career goal scoring record for regular season and playoffs combined. His final regular season IHL total was 532, and with his 54 AHL, 77 ECHL and 3 NHL goals added together, his professional tally was 666.

Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 New Haven Nighthawks Scott Gruhl jersey. Done in the colors of their parent club at the time, the New York Rangers, this Nighthawks jersey features a very stylized crest, which may actually contain a hawk somewhere inside of it.

The Nighthawks were founded back in 1972 and played with the Nighthawks name until 1991-92 before changing their name to the Senators for one season prior to relocating from Connecticut to Prince Edward Island and later Binghamton, New York, where they are still known as the Senators.

Note the somewhat haphazard customization of the jersey, particularly the red drop shadow on the 6, which not only goes correctly down and to the left, but also to the right as well!

New Haven Nighthawks 81-82 jersey, New Haven Nighthawks 81-82 jersey
New Haven Nighthawks 81-82 jersey, New Haven Nighthawks 81-82 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1987-88 Pittsburgh Penguins Scott Gruhl jersey worn during his six games with the Penguins in 1987-88, the final NHL action of his career.

The Penguins changed from their previous navy blue jerseys to black and yellow during the 1979-80 season to match the colors worn by Pittsburgh's two other major league clubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates of major league baseball and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, both of whom had won championships in 1979.

The Penguins wore this basic style all the way until 1991-92, closing out it's run with back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. The jerseys did pass through several periods of detail changes, such as the placement of the sleeve numbers, angle of the sleeve stripes, heat sealed customizing, later replaced by sewn on twill, changes in font for the names, which included two color names, one color names, letters with serifs and letters without and finally a change in font for the numbers as well.

Pittsburgh Penguins 87-88 jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins 87-88 jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins 87-88 jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins 87-88 jersey

Feel the excitement at the Muskegon Lumberjacks win the 1986 Turner Cup and team captain Scott Gruhl accepts the Turner Cup.

In this next clip, Dave Michayluk scores late in a game against Sokol Kiev from the Soviet Union on an assist from Gruhl while the Lumberjacks were wearing their Pittsburgh Penguins inspired jerseys.

Monday, December 28, 2015

1975-76 Soviet Central Red Army Vladimir Petrov Jersey

A new era in NHL history began on this day in 1975, when the New York Rangers hosted HC CSKA Moscow, more popularly known as Central Red Army, the most dominant club in the history of the Soviet Championship League.

Prior to this point, the Soviet National Team had competed against the Team Canada in the Summit Series in 1972 and again in 1974 versus a team made of WHA All-Stars.

Wanting to further capitalize on the success of the Summit Series, and the capital to be gained from the mystery and curiosity surrounding the still exotic Soviets from behind the Iron Curtain, the Super Series '76 was scheduled. What set the Super Series '76 apart from the previous competitions was this was the first time that club teams from the Soviet Union would be facing teams from the NHL.

Sabres Wings Program cover, Sabres Wings Program cover
Goal magazine program cover for the 1976 Super Series

While some motivation for the series was certainly profit oriented, neither side wanted to be humbled or worse, humiliated, with the eyes of the hockey world upon them. Already armed with the Red Army club, the other team making the trip over to North America was the defending Soviet champions, Krylya Sovetov Moscow, better known to North Americans as the Soviet Wings, due to their position as the sporting club of the Soviet Air Force. To ensure the strongest clubs possible, the Red Army team was augmented with a pair of players from Dynamo Moscow and the Wings added four members of Spartak Moscow to enhance their roster.

Soviet Wings
Krylya Sovetov Moscow

Representing the NHL were the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Black Hawks and New York Islanders. While the NHL participants were all located in the east, they also represented some of the strongest clubs in the NHL at the time, with the Flyers having won the Stanley Cup the previous season over the Sabres, while the Islanders and the Canadiens were semifinalists and all of the clubs had qualified for the playoffs in 1974-75.

Despite all the games taking place in the east, don't overlook the absence of both the Detroit Red Wings (58 points the previous season compared to the 113 totaled by the Flyers, Sabres and Canadiens) and the dreadful expansion Washington Capitals, who finished the previous season at 8-67-5 for 21 points, and whom the NHL was not going to let anywhere near the best of the Soviet Union. The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, were absent due to cantankerous owner Harold Ballard's refusal to allow Soviet teams to play in Maple Leaf Gardens!

The Super Series '76 first game was held on this date in 1975 when the Red Army club invaded Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers, who were led by Rod Gilbert, Steve Vickers, Rick Middleton, Carol Vadnais and known patriot Phil Esposito, who would skate through a brick wall to uphold the honor of the NHL against the Soviets.

The Red Army club, meanwhile, was the de facto Soviet National Team, and was led by Vladimir Petrov, Boris Mikhailov, Valeri Kharlamov and goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

Tretiak 1975, Tretiak 1975
Tretiak tending goal for Central Red Army

The Red Army prevailed on that night with a dominant 7-3 victory in front of 17,500 Rangers fans. Similar to the start of the 1972 Summit Series, the North Americans scored quickly, this time just 21 seconds into the game on a goal by Vickers. Unfazed, the goal did nothing more than wake the sleeping bear, and Red Army had the lead four minutes later and led 3-1 after the first. The Soviets kept piling it on until their lead had stretched to 7-1 at one point before the Rangers were able to put two meaningless goals by Tretiak to make the final 7-3, the exact same score of Game 1 of the first Summit Series. Petrov scored four points on 2 goals and 2 assists while Kharmalov had a goal and 3 assists to lead Red Army, who were outshot 41-29.

Carol Vadnais defends Valeri Kharlamov, Carol Vadnais defends Valeri Kharlamov
Carol Vadnais of the Rangers defends Valeri Kharlamov

A near equal result followed the next day when the Soviet Wings easily handled Pittsburgh 7-4.

The next game for the Red Army came in Montreal on New Year's Eve, the now legendary game between two of the finest clubs ever, both in mid-season form, as the eventual 1975 champion Canadiens, who were on the verge of a dynasty, skated to a 3-3 tie with the Soviets in what many call the greatest game ever played, as Tretiak held off the NHLers despite being outshot 38-13.

3 stars Canadiens vs CSKA, 3 stars Canadiens vs CSKA
The three stars of the fabled New Year's Eve game, Peter Mahovlich, Tretiak and Yvan Cournoyer

Next up for the Wings was a trip to Buffalo on January 4, 1976, a night those in attendance will never forget, as the Sabres pounded the Wings 12-6, earning the distinction of becoming the first NHL club to ever defeat a Soviet club.

Sabres Wings final scoreboard
The scoreboard shows the final score of the Sabres historic victory

It would be the worst loss ever by a Soviet team in international competition. So popular was the Sabres win with NHL fans that they received a standing ovation before their next game - in Montreal!

Sabres general manager Punch Imlauch called the game "was the all-time high point for the Sabres"as well as the highlight of his lengthy career.

Sabres Wings pennant
Such was the significance of the Sabres victory that a souvenir of a game is created following the contest

"I had never been so fired up for a game," said Rick Martin. "I had played in a lot of big games, but that truly was the game I'll never forget."

The Wings rebounded from their crushing defeat by Buffalo to down the Chicago Black Hawks three days later 4-2, while the Red Army stayed unbeaten with a 5-2 win in Boston on January 8th.

The Wings then concluded their North American foray with a 3-1 record after their 2-1 defeat of the New York Islanders, but the Red Army still had one battle awaiting them in the form of the Broad Street Bullies in Philadelphia.

Played on January 11th, the two-time defending champions were also eager to defend the honor of North American hockey - by any means necessary. Fired up by club owner Ed Snider, the Flyers were out to prove they were the best club hockey team on the planet.

The Flyers reputation preceded them, and the Soviets were already aware of the Bullies style, especially in the form of captain Bobby Clarke, whose previous encounter in the 1972 Summit Series with Kharlamov had resulted in a broken ankle for the Soviet legend at the hands of Clarke.

Russian Flyers cartoon, Russian Flyers cartoon
A cartoon in a Soviet newspaper depicting
the Flyers with clubs instead of sticks

The Flyers held the Soviets scoreless after one period, taking the body whenever possible to attempt to contain the Red Army's uptempo style. The game proved to be a contentious one, with many scrums and hard hits.

Flyers vs Red Army, Flyers vs Red Army
Dave Schultz welcomes the Soviets to the City of Brotherly Love

The most notable event of the night was when the Flyers Ed Van Impe returned to the ice following a penalty, demolished Kharlamov, who stayed on the ice for a minute. When no penalty was called, the coach of Red Army, Konstantin Loktev, pulled his club off the ice in protest. A shouting match ensued between Snider and the president of the Soviet Hockey Federation, with Snider threatening to withhold payment to the Soviets.

Eventually Red Army relented, and returned to the ice, with the Flyers now even more intent on winning, and doing it their way, more than ever. It would take Philadelphia 17 seconds to score on the ensuing power play which resulted from the delay of game penalty imposed on the Soviets for their 16 minutes off the ice. A second Flyers goal ended the first period 2-0.

With the Flyers shorthanded once again, they opted to press forward, with Joe Watson eventually scoring a shorthanded goal at 2:44 of the second. Flyers coach Fred Shero joked that Watson had set back Soviet hockey twenty years with his goal against Tretiak.

The Red Army scored at the halfway point of the game to make it 3-1 after two periods, but Philadelphia controlled the third period, including scoring a fourth goal at 4:01, eventually outshooting the Soviets 49-13 to the delight of the home fans.

The Red Army thus returned home with a 2-1-1 record, when combined with the Wings, had the Soviets taking the series 5-2-1.

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Soviet Central Red Army Vladimir Petrov jersey as worn during the Super Series '76, the first meeting between club teams from the Soviet Union and the NHL.

This jersey, in it's brilliant red of communism and emblazoned with the red star and hammer and sickle, was a guaranteed attraction at the gate, as hockey fans came to see the mysterious, emotionless robots on ice who played the game in a manner unfamiliar to the NHL, weaving out of their lanes and circling back to maintain possession of the puck, rather than dump it deep in the zone and bang and fight hard to get it back.

We strongly believe that the blue nameplates with the player names on the back in English were added for the Super Series' North American fans due to the white shoulder yoke stripe being covered up and the differing shades of blue between the sweater and the nameplate material, and were likely removed once the Red Army returned home to resume it's Soviet league schedule.

While North Americans commonly read the crest as UCKA, the translation of the Cyrillic characters is CSKA (sounding like "Chess-KA" when pronounced by someone speaking Russian, as the first "U" character translates to the sound "TS"), which stands for Central Sports Club of the Army, as the team was part of the sporting arm of the Soviet Army in the same way the Soviet Wings were sponsored by the Soviet Air Force and Dynamo Moscow was sponsored by the KGB, the national security agency of the Soviet Union, similar to the CIA in the United States.

Petrov would play from 1965 to 1983 in the Soviet Championship League, scoring 435 goals and 839 points in 677 games. He would win six World Championship gold medals, be the leading scorer at four World Championships, a two time Soviet league Player of the Year and the league's leading scorer five times. Additionally, he would win two Olympic gold medals and one silver.

Red Army 75-76 jersey, Red Army 75-76 jersey
Red Army 75-76 jersey, Red Army 75-76 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1975-76 New York Rangers Brad Park jersey as worn in their 1975 game against HC CSKA Moscow to open Super Series '76 in what was the first ever game between Soviet and NHL club teams.

The Rangers wore a special patch to commemorate their 50th anniversary, only the second patch the Rangers had ever worn, and their first in 25 years. It would be another 16 seasons before the Rangers would wear another, that in honor of the NHL's 75th anniversary in 1991-92.

 photo New York Rangers 1975-76 F jersey.png
New York Rangers 75-76 jersey, New York Rangers 75-76 jersey

Extra Bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1975-76 Soviet Wings Alexander Yakushev jersey as worn by the Wings during the Super Series '76 when Yakushev was loaned by Spartak Moscow to the Wings for their series of games against the NHL.

The "KC" initials on the front translate to "KS", standing for Krilya Sovetov, which in turn translates to "Wings of the Soviet". The cresting is done in felt on the wool sweater, while the nameplate has twill letters in English on nylon, which was added for the North American TV audiences.

Soviet Wings 75-76 jersey, Soviet Wings 75-76 jersey

Today's video section begins with footage of the Rangers game against Red Army to kick off the Super Series '76 as Esposito gets the Rangers off to a deceptively quick start, as Central Red Army would score the next seven goals of the game!

Here is the complete game in four parts.

Part 1 aaaa Part 2 aaaa Part 3 aaaa Part 4

The legendary New Year's Eve game between the Canadiens and Red Army is out next featured clip.

This next clip is from the Red Army's game versus the Boston Bruins, their third game of their brief tour of North America.

Finally, the contentious game between the Flyers and Red Army, which shows this was no exhibition game, as the intensity and tension were so thick you could cut them with a knife. Just listen to the announcers as the Soviets are leaving the ice in protest to know that this was more than a hockey game, it was our way of hockey, perhaps even life, against theirs.


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