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Saturday, March 7, 2015

1974-75 Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur Jersey

The Montreal Canadiens were founded in 1909 as members of the brand new National Hockey Association in order to provide the French fans of Montreal a team to rival the Anglophone Montreal Wanderers.

The first player to ever score a goal for the Canadiens was future Hall of Famer Newsy Lalonde, who would lead the club with 16 goals despite only appearing in 6 games before being traded to the Renfrew Creamery Kings (also known as the Millionaires). Lalonde would add another 22 goals for Renfrew in just five games to lead the NHA in scoring with 38 goals, as assists were not awarded back then. Lalonde would return to Montreal for the 1910-11 season and again led the club with 19 goals in 16 games.

Newsy Lalonde photo Newsy Lalonde 1909-10.png
The first goal scorer in Canadiens history, Newsy Lalonde,
picture here in the first ever Canadiens sweater

With Lalonde lured out west by the Vancouver Millionaires for the 1911-12 season, Didier Pitre became the first Canadiens player to reach the 20 point mark when he finished as the runner up in the NHA scoring race with 27 goals in an 18 game schedule.

In 1914-15, Pitre became the first Canadiens player to reach the 30 point mark when he totaled 34 points from 30 goals and 4 assists, which were now credited as of 1913-14. Pitre barely missed out being the first 40 point scorer in 1915-16 when his 24 goals and 15 assists, but his 39 points made him the first Canadien to lead the league in scoring.

Didier Pitre photo Didier Pitre.jpg
Pitre was the first Canadiens player with both 20 and 30 points

For the 1917-18 season, the NHA was disbanded and a new league rose to take it's place, the National Hockey League, of which the Canadiens were charter members. The brand new NHL was led in scoring by Joe Malone, who was on loan from the dormant Quebec Bulldogs. Malone was teamed with Lalonde and Pitre and the trio put on a scoring display unlike any ever seen before, as Malone became the first Canadiens player to top 40 points when he blitzed the league for 44 goals and 4 assists for 48 points in just 20 games. Malone's 44 goals in 1917-18 would stand as the league record for 46 years until 1943-44!

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Joe Malone's 44 goals stood as the NHL record for 46 years

Such was the dominance of Malone's season, it would take until the 1927-28 season for Howie Morenz to become the first for Montreal to reach the 50 point barrier when his 33 goals and 16 assists game him 51 points to not only lead the club, but the entire NHL.

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Howie Morenz was the first to 50 points

While Toe Blake came oh-so-close to hitting 60 points in 1942-43 with 59, the honors went to teammate Elmer Lach the following season when he vaulted past the 60 point barrier on his way to 72! While it took 16 years for Lach to hit both 60 points and 70 for the first time in team history, it took him just 12 months to become the first member of the Canadiens with 80 when he scored 26 goals and 54 points for exactly 80 in 1944-45, leading a 1-2-3 Canadiens sweep of the NHL scoring race, as Lach's 80 led Maurice Richard's 73 and Blake with 67.

Elmer Lach photo Elmer Lach.jpg
Lach rewrote the Montreal record book in the 1940's,
as he was the first to 60, 70 and 80 points in two seasons

While Jean Beliveau came close with 88 points in 1955-59, it would be left winger Dickie Moore to first reach the 90 point plateau with 41 goals and 55 assists for 96 points, with Beliveau close behind at 91 to finish 1-2 in the league.

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Dickie Moore pushed the mark to 90 points

While both Frank Mahovlich (96 in 1972) and Jacques Lemaire (95 in 1973) would take runs to become the first to reach the century mark, it would be Guy Lafleur who would take the honors as the first Canadien in the then 58 year history of the club to ever reach 100 points in a single season when he scored twice and added two assists on this date in 1975 in an 8-4 Montreal win over the Washington Capitals in Montreal.

Lafleur would go on to surpass 110 points later that season as he finished with 53 goals and 66 assists for a total of 119 points.

Just one season later, Lafleur eclipsed the 120 point mark with 125 from 56 goals and 69 points to win the NHL scoring race, a feat he repeated the very next season of 1976-77 as he amassed 136 points from 56 goals and 80 assists to set a team record which still stands to this day.

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Guy Lafleur was the first to 100, as well as 110, 120 and
130 points in the span of just three seasons during the 1970's

To put Lafleur's 136 point season into perspective, Max Pacioretty led Montreal in scoring in the 2013-14 season with 60 points, less than half of Lafleur's record setting total.

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur jersey as worn during the season Lafleur became the first player in franchise history to score 100 points in a single season.

While the first red Canadiens sweater with a blue band across the chest can be traced back to the 1912-13 season, it underwent a period of evolution, which included a "CA" crest before adopting to the "CH" logo in 1916, until arriving at the today's featured jersey for the 1966-67 season when the sleeve numbers were relocated inside the arm stripes. The 1974-75 season would be the final one for this variation with the lace up collar, which arrived back in 1941, as it would be replaced by a modern v-neck for 1975-76.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section is a career retrospective of Lafleur in his native French.

Friday, March 6, 2015

1996-97 Phoenix Coyotes Mike Gartner Jersey

Mike Gartner started his pro career with the Cincinnati Stingers of the World Hockey Association, having just turned 19 years old, below the NHL minimum age of 20 at the time.

Gartner Stingers

His 27 goals and 52 points that season for the Stingers got the attention of the general mangers in the NHL, and Gartner was drafted 4th overall by the Washington Captials in the summer of 1979 following the demise of the Stingers and the WHA.

As an NHL rookie with the Capitals, Gartner scored 36 goals, beginning a streak of 30 goals or more seasons that would eventually reach into the mid 90's.

Gartner Capitals

In ten seasons with the Capitals, Gartner would average 39.7 goals per season and never less than 35 until the 1988-89 season when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars 56 games into the season while currently at 26 goals. He would, however, score an additional seven goals in Minnesota to keep his streak going at ten seasons.

Gartner North Stars

After enjoying so much stability in Washington, Gartner's time in Minnesota would be brief, as he was dealt to the New York Rangers after 67 games in 1989-90, but not before scoring 34 goals with the North Stars. After joining the Rangers, he would add 11 more to his season total which allowed him to reach the 40 goal mark for the sixth time.

Gartner Rangers

Three consecutive 40 goal seasons in Manhattan followed, which included Gartner scoring his 500th NHL goal during the 1991-92 season. He would later surpass the 600 goal barrier as well as 1,000 points, prior to once more being on the move, this time to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. Gartner's 28 goals in 71 games in New York and the six he scored in 10 games with the Maple Leafs pushed his 30 goal streak to an NHL record 15th consecutive season.

Gartner Maple Leafs

The strike shortened season of 1994-95 only allowed Gartner to play in 38 games, limiting him to just 12 goals and unfairly ending his streak of consecutive 30 goal seasons at 15, a league record which still stands today which would not be tied until 2007 by Jaromir Jagr.

Back to a full season schedule in 1995-96, Gartner would run his 30 goal season total up to 16 with 35 goals. The Maple Leafs would trade Gartner to the Phoenix Coyotes in time for their first season in the desert, having just relocated from Winnipeg. There, Gartner would achieve his 17th season of 30 goals or more in his career, also a league record and one which has never been equalled, when he scored at 9:46 of the second period on this date in 1997. His second goal of the night at 1:56 of the third period in a 5-0 Phoenix win over the Tampa Bay Lightning saw Gartner reach a milestone with the 1,300th point in his NHL career.

Gartner Coyotes

Gartner would play one final season in the NHL with Phoenix, scoring 12 goals in 60 games, which included his 700th career goal, making him only the fifth player to ever reach that milestone along with legends Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne and Phil Esposito.

For the curious, Gretzky finished his career with 15 seasons of 30 goals or more which included a streak of 13 consecutive, which was ended with an injury shortened 1992-93 season of 45 games and just 16 goals. Gretzky did return to the lineup in time for the playoffs and led the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals, adding another 15 goals in 24 games, giving him 31 combined for the season. Even if allowed to call 1992-93 a "30 goal season", he would still only equal Gartner's 15 consecutive seasons of 30 goals and ultimately fall short of Gartner's with 16 total.

Gartner's final career totals are 708 goals, still good for seventh all time, and 627 assists for 1,335 points.

While Gartner set records for his consistent goal scoring, he was probably better known for his speed, winning the always popular and high profile "Fastest Skater Competition" at the NHL All-Star Game each of the three times he entered, including 1993 when he scored four goals and was named the MVP of the All-Star Game.

During his career he would play in seven NHL All-Star Games and following his career he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and his #11 was retired by the Capitals in 2008.

Today's featured jersey is a 1996-97 Phoenix Coyotes Mike Gartner jersey from the season during which he scored 30 or more goals for a record 17th time.

Phoenix arrived on the scene in 1996-97, having relocated from Winnipeg, and introduced the most unconventional jersey striping in the league, based on Native American blanket patterns from the American Southwest. Phoenix would wear the same home white and road black jerseys for seven consecutive seasons before a complete redesign in 2003-07 to coincide with a move to their new arena, brining to a close one of the most "Love it or Hate it" chapters in NHL jersey history.

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Phoenix Coyotes 1996-97 jersey photo Phoenix Coyotes 1996-97 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Washington Capitals Miek Gartner jersey from the club Gartner spent the majority of his NHL career.

This jersey features the five stars down the sleeves, which the Capitals jerseys had from 1974-75 until 1982-83 until going to just four stars for two seasons until reverting back to five again for the 1985-86 season.

Here is a great career retrospective of Mike Gartner's career on the occasion of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, followed by his speech. The audio is a tad bit distorted, but still listenable.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The 2015 Minnesota State High School Boy's Hockey Tournament

The 2015 Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament continues today with the start of the Class AA tournament following yesterday's Class A Quarterfinals. Class AA consists of the top 64 schools by enrollment in the state and Class A is for the remaining schools. In terms of enrollment, Class AA is roughly for schools with 1,200 students or more, with the largest of the Twin Cities suburban schools reaching enrollments of 3,000.

Often compared to the Indiana State Boys' Basketball Tournament or the Texas and Florida State Football Tournaments as the most important nationally for their sport, the Minnesota State Boys' Hockey Tournament is a four day festival of excitement, color and sound as the parents, relatives, fans, cheerleaders (on skates!) and bands from 16 schools all travel to the state capital of St. Paul to cheer on their teams as they compete on the ice at the home of the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, in front of sellout crowds of up to 19,500 fans!

Such is the stature of the tournament, that last year KSTC brought in no less a talent than nationally known broadcaster Gary Thorne to handle the television play-by-play duties along side Minnesota hockey legend, Lou Nanne's expert commentary, with last year being Nanne's 50th year working the state high school tournament.

The tournament began back in 1945 in St. Paul. After a stop at the home of the Minnesota North Stars, the Met Center, for eight years in the 1970's, the tournament returned to St. Paul at the new St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards, which you can see below in one of today's videos. For nearly 50 years the tournament was played as an eight team, single class tournament, which lent itself to classic David versus Goliath matchups, as the smaller schools from the northern part of the state travelled down to the big city, taking on some of the largest schools attendance-wise in the state.

Somewhat controversially, the tournament split into two classes in 1994, based on enrollment. While schools in the smaller enrollment Class A have the option to move up and play in Class AA, the tournament lost something special in the process. Still, it is the largest state sports tournament in the United States in terms of attendance and viewership, as all the championship bracket games are broadcast on local television.

Despite the arena having hosted NHL playoff conference finals, the 2004 NHL All-Star Game and the NCAA Frozen Four twice, with the nearby University of Minnesota winning the title in 2002 and the in-state University of Minnesota Duluth taking home the national championship in 2011, on March 9, 2012 19,893 fans attended the semifinals of the state tournament, setting a new record for the largest crowed to ever attend a hockey game in Minnesota, breaking the record of 19,559, which was also a session of the State High School Tournament in 2008.

Many NHL veterans have participated in the tournament, including Neal Broten, Phil Housley, Reed Larson, John Mayasich, Mike Antonovich, Henry Boucha, Mark Parrish and current NHLers T. J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues and Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets. Of the 19 Minnesota players taken in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft between 2000 and 2009, 13 of them played in the state tournament.

Housley Packers, Housley Packers
Phil Housely of the South St. Paul Packers

Many rivalries, dynasties, villains and favorites have emerged over the years, with small schools from up north such as Eveleth, Greenway of Coleraine, International Falls and Warroad always being sentimental favorites. Roseau, in particular, has been one of the only small schools (with an enrollment of just 374 in 2012, compared to 18 Twin Cities schools between 2000-3100 students, and well below the 1150 cut-off point for Class AA status) to move up to AA and succeed with championships in 1999 and 2007.

Other schools have had their runs, with Eveleth in the late 40's/early 50's, International Falls in the 1960's, Bloomington Jefferson dominating in the early 1990's, but none more so than Edina, with ten championships, the first coming in 1969, four in the 1970's, three in the 1980's, one in 1997 and most recently in 2010. All those titles, as well as seemingly annual tournament appearances, put the Hornets at the top of the list of "teams you love to hate", as teams from the tony Minneapolis suburb Edina are considered to be "the rich kids", even sporting green and gold jerseys in the color of money, earning the Hornets the derisive nickname the "Cake Eaters", which they annoyingly wholly embrace!

Edina Champions, Edina Champions
Edina celebrating one of their 12 state titles

Aside from Edina, schools on the outs with the general public are the private schools, such as The Academy of Holy Angels (champions in 2002 and 2005), Hill-Murray (1983, 1991, 2008) and most recently St. Thomas Academy (who played in the smaller Class A, winning championships in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013 until moving up last year and are making their first appearance at the state tournament this year in Class AA).

Those private schools are considered to have the advantage of being able to recruit the best players to attend their schools rather than take what comes their way in the case of the traditional public schools who draw students from their local geographic region. This "class war" is an age old argument between the public and private schools and is only magnified with the arrival of a smaller school from the north, such as when tiny Roseau makes an appearance in St. Paul, and is one of the driving forces behind the ongoing popularity of the tournament, as every great drama must have its villain.

Since its inception, Class A has been a battle between the smaller private schools, with Benilde-St. Margaret's, St. Thomas Academy, Totino-Grace and Breck winning nine championships and the smaller schools from the northern part of the state now given a chance to compete for a state title, with classic schools like Eveleth and International Falls able to win their first titles since the early 1970's and first time winners like Hermantown, Red Wing and four time Class A champion Warroad flying the flag for the public schools who have captured nine titles since the two class system was introduced.

The 2012 Class AA tournament was won by Benilde-St. Margaret's, whose players all wore large patches in support of paralyzed teammate Jack Jablonski. Tied at 2-2 with less than a minute remaining in the semifinals, the Red Knights scored the game winning goal with less than 24 seconds remaining. They then stormed to the championship when Grant Besse set twitter ablaze with his five goal performance, three of which were shorthanded(!), as Benilde-St. Margaret's steamrolled Hill-Murray 5-1 to win an emotional championship with all thoughts on Jablonski, who was in attendance to enjoy the storybook victory that will be talked about for years to come.

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Benilde-St. Margaret's players wearing #13 patches in support of Jack Jablonski

This year's tournament began Wednesday with the quarterfinals in Class A with #2 seeded Mahtomedi from the northeast corner of the Twin Cities metro area vs New Ulm from the south central area of the state, with Mahtomedi winning 6-3. #3 East Grand Forks from northwest area of the state faced New Prague, also from south central Minnesota, woth East Grand Forks prevailing 4-0 to advance to face Mahtomedi. #1 Hermantown from up north outside of Duluth, taking on first timers Spring Lake Park from the northern Twin Cities area, With Spring Lake Park being 16-13-1 facing 25-2-1 Hermantown, it was of little surprise that the Hawks rolled to an 8-0 win. Of note, Hermantown has reached the state title game the last five years in a row, finishing as runner up every single time, with the first four of those being to a private school, Breck in 2010 and St. Thomas Academy in 2011, 2012 and 2013 until losing to East Grand Forks in 2014. Finally in the nightcap, #5 St. Cloud Apollo from the center of the state defeated private school and #4 ranked Breck from the Twin Cities 1-0 in overtime.

Class AA begins today and sees #2 seed and two-time defending champions Edina, coached by former Minnesota North Stars captain Curt Giles, taking on Bemidji from northern Minnesota. #3 St. Thomas Academy, making their first Class AA tournament after dominating Class A, will battle Duluth East. In the evening session, #1 ranked and undefeated Lakeville North from the south metro area is paired against private school and three time champion Hill-Murray from the Twin Cities area. Finally, #4 Blaine from the northern Twin Cities suburbs will square off against #5 seed Eden Prairie from the southwest metro suburbs, champions in 2009 and 2011. With the large number of Twin Cities schools taking part, one can see why Bemidji from "up north" will be a fan favorite for those without a rooting interest in one of the other seven teams.

It's a huge deal to make it "to state" in Minnesota. This past week thousands of fans attended the eight section finals just for right to go to the state tournament, which for the kids involved means staying in a hotel in the big city, playing in an NHL arena with your buddies that you grew up with in front of all your family and friends and having your games televised live throughout the state. Many players have gone on to win national championships in college and even in the NHL, and over and over again when asked for their greatest hockey memory, the answer frequently comes back "playing in the state tournament in high school." Not necessarily winning it, just playing in it.

Once, a hockey writer quoted former three time national champion University of Minnesota and 1980 "Miracle on Ice" USA Olympic coach Herb Brooks as saying that winning a state championship with St. Paul Johnson in 1955 was one of the best moments in his career. Brooks called the writer to inform him that he had been misquoted. He said it was the best moment.

Herb Brooks Johnson 1955, Herb Brooks Johnson 1955
Herb Brooks, back row far right, celebrating with his St. Paul Johnson
teammates after winning the state championship in 1955

Zephyrs, Eagles, Green Wave, Trojans, Hawks, Panthers, Mustangs, another Eagles, Hornets, Lumberjacks, Cadets, Greyhounds, Panthers again, Pioneers, Bengals and another Eagles.

16 teams, 4 days, 120,000 fans, some seriously bad hair, 16 bands, 2 champions. There's nothing else quite like it.

Today's featured jersey is a 2005 Warroad Warriors Zach Larson jersey. This jersey was worn by players at Warroad High School from 2001 to half way through the 2008-09 season. Warroad won the Class A championship in 2003 and 2005 with jerseys from this set, but being a #13 jersey, there were several seasons in which no one chose the unlucky sweater number 13.

Larson defied superstition and wore this jersey during their undefeated (29-0-2) championship season of 2005, and was a teammate to current St. Louis Blues and recent United States Olympic standout Oshie, who is the all-time leading scorer in Warroad history with 104 goals and 137 assists for 241 points in just 93 games. Oshie led the entire state of Minnesota in 2004-05 with 37 goals and 100 points.

Warroad Warrior T. J. Oshie

Other notable hockey players to come from Warroad include United States Olympian Gigi Marvin, current New York Islander Brock NelsonDave Christian, a member of the Miracle on Ice 1980 gold medal winning USA Olympic team, who would go on to play 15 NHL seasons with Winnipeg, Washington, Boston, St. Louis and Chicago, Dave's father Bill Christian and uncle, the late Roger Christian, who won gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, and Boucha, a 1972 silver Olympic medalist who would play for Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City and Colorado of the NHL. During it's history, no United States Olympic hockey team has ever won a medal without having a player on the team from tiny Warroad!

This is a classic looking jersey in the style and colors of the old Boston Bruins jerseys of the mid 70's to the mid 90's and is one of the few remaining schools to use a Native American nickname and imagery, while others such as Grand Rapids, Minneapolis Southwest and Burnsville all discontinued their use. The use of the Warriors name by Warroad High School is approved by the local Ojibwe band of Chippewa Indians who designed the logo used on the Warriors jerseys.

Due to the multiple years of service the jerseys often see, names on the back are seldom, if ever, worn on high school jerseys.

Warroad Warriors 2001-2008 jersey photo WarroadWarriors2001-2008F.jpg
Warroad Warriors 2001-2008 jersey photo WarroadWarriors2001-2008B.jpg

Let's se if we can possibly capture the event, spirit and emotion of the tournament with today's video selections, begining with a look at last years excitement.

Here's some classic footage from 1984 with St. Paul Johnson defeating Hill-Murray showing the unique clear boards from the St. Paul Civic Center and everyone wearing Cooperalls!

Check out the explosion of joy as Hill-Murray captures the state title in 2008 over Edina.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph Jersey

On this date in 1999, the Toronto Maple Leafs set an NHL record for the fewest shots taken in a winning effort with just nine shots on goal in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.

The Maple Leafs registered three shots on goal during the first period to ten for St. Louis, but ended the period leading 1-0 on a breakaway goal by Steve Sullivan with an assist from Mike Johnson at 11:03. Little did St. Louis know there ten shots in the first period would be more than the Maple Leafs would register for the whole game.

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Steve Sullivan

The second period went even better for Toronto, when Mats Sundin scored on their first shot when he beat St. Louis starting goaltender Brent Johnson with a wrist shot off Johnson's glove from the right faceoff circle.

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Mats Sundin

Toronto's second shot of the period also found the back of the net when Lonny Bohonos, who had just been called up from the minors earlier that same day, fired a slapshot from the right circle, beating Johnson between his pads at 5:58, ending Johnson's day after giving up three goals on just five shots.

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Lonny Bohonos was called up from the St. John's Maple Leafs

With Jim Carey now in goal, the Blues fared no better as Gary Valk scored for Toronto on a 2-on-1 with Igor Korolev on the first shot Carey would face, giving Toronto four goals on six shots. Carey would save the only other shot he saw in the second period, as St. Louis again outshot Toronto, this time eight to four for the period, although Toronto scored on three of the four.

Valk Maple Leafs photo ValkMapleLeafs.jpg
Gary Valk

Carey was able to withstand the two shot barrage he faced in the third period, but the Blues failed to score on any of the ten shots they threw at Toronto netminder Curtis Joseph, who made 28 saves while blanking his former club, the 22nd shutout of his career.

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Curtis Joseph 

Of the nine Toronto shots, three were credited to Sundin, with no one else having more than one.

When asked about the low number of shots, Sullivan responded "As Glen Healy told me once, 'Good teams look at the scoreboard and not the shot clock.' "

Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph jersey. While the Maple Leafs began wearing this jersey style in 1992-93, it was tweaked in 1997-98 with an odd, overly thick and quite rounded new font for the numbers and a new font for the names as well. This specification would remain in use through 1999-00 until the secondary shoulder logo was changed to a "TML" monogram and the number font reverted to a more traditional block font, only now with the addition of silver trim for the first time, while the font for the names remained unchanged, making for an odd pairing with the new number font.

This jersey also features the Memories and Dreams patch worn that year to commemorate the final season of Maple Leaf Gardens, the Maple Leafs long time home since 1931.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1998-99 jersey photo TorontoMapleLeafs1998-99jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video is a look back at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Our next video is Hamada Takasi playing the Maple Leaf Rag on his banjo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

1927-28 Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Ironstone Jersey

Born in Montreal in 1898, Joe Ironstone grew up in northern Ontario and began his playing career with the Sudbury Wolves of the Northern Ontario Hockey League (NOHA) in the 1921-22 season, winning 3 and losing 2 in the 6 games in which he played before moving to the Sudbury Legionnaires, where he won 3 out of 3 starts during the regular season prior to going 0-1-1 in a pair of playoff games.

Back with the Wolves for 1922-23, Ironstone went 4-4 in eight games. Records show he was with the Wolves again in 1923-24, but no statistics are shown across multiple sources, perhaps indicating he did not play, perhaps due to an injury. He was signed by the powerful Ottawa Senators of the NHL in 1924-25, but saw no playing time as a backup to Alex Connell, who played in all 30 of the Senators games.

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Joe Ironstone

Ironstone became a member of the New York Americans during their debut season and was again a backup goaltender, this time to Jake Forbes. While Forbes played in all 36 of the games on the Americans schedule, Ironstone was able to make his NHL debut with two periods of relief work.

Having played as little as 40 minutes over the previous three seasons, Ironstone was likely more than happy to find himself a member of the Niagara Falls Cataracts (with "cataract" meaning "a large or high waterfall") where he played 23 games in the Canadian Professional Hockey League (CPHL).

He had a busy season in 1927-28, with 14 more games with Niagara Falls. After going 3-6-5, Ironstone he became a member of the Toronto Ravinas of the same league when he was sold by the Cataracts. In 26 games he posted a winning record of 13-10-3 to help the Ravinas get into the playoffs.

It was also during this season that Ironstone played in one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins on this date in 1928 as an injury replacement for goaltender John Roach. Ironstone played well and held the Bruins off the scoreboard for the entire game, earning his only NHL shutout. He was denied the win however, when Boston's Hal Winkler matched him save for save for his 12th shutout of the season as the game ended in a scoreless tie.

The next club to employ Ironstone's services was the London Panthers, for whom he played a career high 42 games on his way to a 16-22-3 record. The 1929-30 season saw Ironstone split time between London, who switched from the CPHL to the International Hockey League (IHL). After 10 games, he was back in the CPHL with the Kitchener Flying Dutchmen, with whom he won 7 and lost 8 games.

Seemingly always on the move, the 1930-31 season was divided between the Marquette Iron Rangers of the Northern Michigan Hockey League, the Guelph Maple Leafs of the Ontario Professional Hockey League and the Syracuse Stars of the IHL.

He did not play the next two seasons, but returned to the ice with the Sudbury Legion once again for the 1933-34 and 1934-35 seasons. His final season in hockey was spent with the Falconbridge Falcons of the NOHA, with whom he completed for the Allan Cup, and also make one appearance for his original team, the Sudbury Wolves, bringing his career full circle.

Ironstone's career NHL stats are the unusual line of 0-0-1 with 1 shutout. He allowed 3 goals during his relief effort in two periods in New York, and combined with his shutout in Toronto, his final goals against average stands at 1.64.

Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Ironstone jersey from his only appearance for the Maple Leafs, which resulted in a scoreless tie.

The Toronto St. Patricks had only been renamed the Maple Leafs during the previous season when the club was purchased by Conn Smythe. At the time, they changed from the St. Pats green sweaters with a white band across the chest to a plain white sweater with a green maple leaf logo on the chest. For the 1927-28 season, the club changed colors back to blue and white, as they wore during their first two seasons while they were known as the Toronto Arenas.

The simple, stripeless white sweater, worn for games against the New York Rangers, now had a blue maple leaf crest on the front. Their primary jersey was now an attractive blue jersey with multiple arm and body stripes done in the art deco style of the times.

This exact style would remain in use three seasons until a another white stripe was added across the top of the shoulders. That version of this jersey would be used through the 1933-34 season when a reversal of course was taken and the stripes were reduced to a simple pair of narrow white stripes on the arms and waist and a new, simpler leaf crest was introduced, which is nearly identical to the one the Maple Leafs now use today, 75 years later.

Toronto Maple Leafs 27-28 jersey

Monday, March 2, 2015

2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin Jersey

The Toronto Arenas had won the Stanley Cup in 1918 but quickly ran into financial difficulties and were sold by their owners, The Toronto Arena Company, who owned the Arena Gardens rink where the team played, to new owners for $5,000.

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The Arena Gardens, later changed to the Mutual Street Arena

The new owners were Charile Querrie, the General Manager of the Toronto Arenas, and the owners of an amateur hockey club called the St. Patricks. The new ownership group then changed the NHL club's name to the Toronto St. Patricks and their sweaters from blue to now green.

Rebounding from a chaotic 5-13 season resulting from the sale or defection of their best players due to the financial problems of the previous ownership, the St. Patricks were essentially starting over from scratch for the 1919-20 season.

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1919-20 Toronto St Patricks

While they did not qualify for the playoffs, the St. Patricks did improve their season record to 12-12 and were led in points by Corb Denneny, a holdover from the Toronto Arenas, who had 24 goals and 36 points in 24 games, good for fourth in the league.

Future Hall of Famer Babe Dye led the club with 33 goals and 38 points in 23 games in 1920-21, and the team would finish first in the second half standings, but lost in the NHL finals to the Ottawa Senators.

Babe Dye during the 1920-21 season

1921-22 again saw the St. Patricks led by Dye's 31 goals and 38 points in 24 games, as Toronto would defeat the Senators 5-4 in a two-game, total goals series to capture the O'Brien Trophy and earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

The series was a best-of-five and all games were played in Toronto. The Millionaires won Game 1 and Dye scored in overtime to even the series at 1 game apiece. Vancouver shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 3, only to have the St. Patricks return the favor 6-0 in Game 4. Dye took control of the deciding Game 5, scoring four goals to lead the St. Patricks to a 5-1 victory and the Stanley Cup.

1921-22 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto St. Patricks

The next two seasons Toronto would finish in third place, and miss out on the playoffs both times. Dye again led the team in scoring both seasons, with 37 points in 1922-23 and just 19 in 1923-24, but still enough to lead the club.

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The 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks

Dye rebounded with 38 goals and 46 points in 1924-25 to lead the team for the fifth season in a row and Toronto again returned to the playoffs, only to lose out to the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 2.

Another Hall of Famer, Jack Adams, would finally unseat Dye as the club's leading scorer, as he managed 21 goals and 26 points to Dye's 23 points in 1925-26, but Toronto would fail to reach the playoffs.

St. Pats Owner Querrie lost a lawsuit to the notorious Eddie Livingstone, the one time owner of the franchise when they were known as the Toronto Blueshirts and played in the National Hockey Association, and decided to put the team up for sale. The club was purchased by Conn Smythe for $160,000 and took control of the team on February 14, 1927 and immediately changed the club's name to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On this date in 2002, the Toronto Maple Leafs wore the green jerseys of the St. Patricks, along with brown pants and helmets, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the franchise changing their name to the Maple Leafs in a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres, led by captain Mats Sundin's two goals.

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Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin jersey as worn once on March 2, 2002 to mark the 75th Anniversary of the change in the club's name from the St. Patricks to the Maple Leafs following their purchase by Conn Smythe.

The original 1919-20 St. Pats jerseys were alternating green a white hoops on the body, while the sleeves were green with a single white band and white cuffs. For 1920-21, the sweaters were solid green with white cuffs, collar and waist stripe. They reverted to their original horizontally striped sweaters for 1921-22.

For 1922-23, the location of the sweater's colors were reversed, with the result being a predominately white look now that the arms were white with a green band and cuffs. This style was worn for three seasons through 1924-25. It was back to an all-green look for 1925-26, including the collar and cuffs, with the only white being three narrow stripes along the waist.

Finally, for the team's final season as the St. Patricks, they added a white chest band trimmed with narrow white stripes and reduced the three narrow waist stripes to two. With the sale of the club to Smythe, this jersey would not finish out the season, as it was immediately replaced by a solid white sweater with a green maple leaf crest, with the team colors permanently changing to blue and white for the 1927-28 season.

It would be the St. Patricks final green jersey with the white chest band of 1926-27 which would become the basis for the modern day Maple Leafs throwback jersey featured today.

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Toronto St Pats 99-00 jersey photo TorontoStPats99-00B.png

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Icelandic Beer Day

Beer Day, or "Bjórdagurinn" is celebrated in Iceland every year on March 1st in recognition of the end of 74 years of prohibition on the sales of beer. Originally the law, passed by a public referendum, went into effect on January 1, 1915 and banned all alcoholic drinks.

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The complete ban was partially lifted to allow the sale of wines due to economic pressure from Spain in 1921, which refused to buy any of Iceland's main export, fish, unless Iceland bought Spanish wines. Another vote in 1935 lifted the ban on spirits, but strong beer was not included in the vote to please the temperance lobby, which believed that since beer was cheaper than hard liquor, it's consumption would be greater and lead to more drunkenness and depravity.

Beer Day arrived on this date in 1989, after a nationally televised live 13-8 vote in Iceland's Parliament, and was celebrated by crowds despite the 14º F temperatures for their first taste of real beer. The day went without incident, despite predictions to the contrary.

The number of liquor licenses in Reykjavik rose by 47% the first year and total alcohol consumption rose by 23%, with the most popular brands of beer being Viking followed by Thule.

In a country ranked #1 in economic opportunity and quality of life, it doesn't get any better than Beer Day, as the country with the longest work week in Europe lets down it's hair and samples a variety of different brews as celebrations are held in pubs, restaurants and clubs, continuing long into the night.

Iceland Beer Day photo BeerDay.jpg

While team handball is considered to be the national sport of Iceland, having won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, soccer is also popular.

Hockey in Iceland was first played around 1950, but artificial ice did not arrive until 1987 and the first of three indoor rinks not until 1997.

The most famous group of Icelandic hockey players were immigrants to Canada, who were discriminated against by the Canadians. Having taken up the game of hockey, they were forced to establish their own teams within the Icelandic community in Manitoba. In 1909 they established a single club, the Falcon Hockey Club, and a new league, the Manitoba Independent League, which included teams not allowed into the established Winnipeg City League.

The City League responded by allowing the best teams from the MIL into the WCL to diminish the upstart league. The Winnipeg Falcons would persist, and applied to participate in the Canadian Amateur Championship for the Allan Cup, awarded to the senior men's champions of Canada. After being repeatedly rejected, they were finally admitted in 1919-20 and won the championship in their first try, earning the right to represent all of Canada in the 1920 Olympics, the first appearance of ice hockey at the Olympics.

The Falcons defeated Czechoslovakia 15-0 in the quarterfinals, the United States 2-0 in the semifinals and easily handled Sweden 12-1 to become the first Olympic hockey champions with a team made up of Icelandic players.

The Iceland National Hockey Team is currently ranked 35th in the world out of the 49 ranked nations and has 60 registered senior male players. They played their first international game at the senior level on April 14, 1999 at the lowest rung of the IIHF ladder system, Pool D.

Iceland U18 National Team

Iceland hosted the Pool D championships in 2000, placing 5th of the 9 teams. With the reorganization of the system, Iceland was now placed in Division II in 2002, where they finished 5th and then 6th in 2003 and were placed in then newly created Division III for 2004. There, they won promotion to Division II with a 3-0-1 record, which included a 30-0 win over Armenia.

They finished 6th and last in 2005, dropping back down to Division III for 2006, where they once more earned a promotion back to Division II with a 4-0 record. They finished 4th to maintain their place in Division II, where they finished 5th in 2008 and 2009 and rose to 3rd for their highest finish in the history of the program in 2010, which they repeated again in 2011.

When the IIHF reconfigured their ladder system for the 2011-12 season, Iceland not only was placed in the upper half of Division II, Group A, they hosted the tournament in Reykjavik at Laugardalur Arena. Facing tougher competition that with the previous system, Iceland still fared well, winning their first two games and finishing fourth to maintain their place in the group they have continued to improve, finishing 3rd in 2013 and 2nd in 2014. This April they will host the 2015 Division II Group A tournament in Reykjavik once again, with hopes of earning a promotion to Division I Group B.

The team is primarily made up of players from the now six clubs in Iceland, but the 2014 team did have six players who were playing outside of Iceland, three in Denmark, one in Norway, one in Austria and three in Sweden, a real a sign of progress for the Icelandic hockey community.

Iceland also competes at the Division II Group B level of the men's U20 Junior Championships and Division III Group A of the U18 Junior Championships, and has 376 registered junior players, a sign that the growth of Icelandic hockey is well underway.

The logo for Ice Hockey Iceland tells an interesting story, featuring the Icelandic Falcon, the largest wild Falcon in the world. The white represents a glacier and the bottom is fire, to represent a volcanic eruption, which is in the shape of a maple leaf to honor the Winnipeg Falcons, the 1920 Olympic hockey champions who were of Icelandic decent.

The domestic Icelandic Hockey League dates back to 1991 and is comprised of six teams, four of which are in Reykjavik, with the other two in Akureyri in the north, home of the league's most dominant team Skautafélag Akureyar, who have won 17 of 23 championships to date. As recently as 2009, the league was just three clubs, but has now expanded to double it's previous size.

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Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Iceland National Team Hallur jersey worn in the U20 Junior Championships and features the IIHF 90th Anniversary patch worn in 1998 in the various IIHF championships that year. The name is sewn on twill, while the numbers are heat sealed onto this highly attractive jersey, especially with the addition of the anniversary patch.

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Iceland 1998 jersey photo Iceland1998B.jpg
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As one would expect, footage of the Iceland National Team is not the easiest thing to come by, but we think we have managed to assemble some items of interest for you in today's video section.

But wait! Check this out, Greece taking on Iceland in the 1999 World Championships in Division III. Youtube totally rocks.

Good seats still available by the way. Be sure not to miss Mr. Chest Hair and Gold Chains at the 3:14 mark. We suspect he's a supporter of Greece for some reason...

A commercial for Thule beer and a history lesson on the Cod War. Who knew a beer commercial could be so educational?

Apparently they drink more than beer in Iceland, as proven by this commercial.

Speaking of lessons, here is an introduction to the Icelandic language with the lovely Natalja.

Finally, our favorite Icelandic export, Lazy Town!


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