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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The 2015 IIHF World Championships

The 2015 IIHF World Championships began yesterday in Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic.

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There are 16 teams competing in two groups, a format adopted in 2012. Group A in Prague consists of Sweden (ranked #1 in the IIHF World Rankings), Canada (4), host Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (7), Latvia (9), France (12), Germany (13) and Austria(16), who were promoted from Division I Group A last year.

Group B in Ostrava has Finland (2), Russia (3), the United States (6), Slovakia (8), Norway (10), Belarus (11), Slovenia (14), who were also promoted last year from Division I Group A, and Denmark (15).

Teams will play each of the seven other teams in their group once, with the winners in regulation receiving 3 points, unlike the NHL where a regulation win is worth only 2. Winners in overtime or a shootout will receive 2 points and the OT or shootout losers 1 point. The top four teams in each group will advance to the Quarterfinals on May 14th, with the four survivors advancing to the Semifinals on May 16th, with the losers playing for bronze and the winners for gold the next day, Sunday, May 17.

While teams in the top eight will be looking to win the world championship, the goal for other nations is to rise up and be competitive beyond expectations, such as France (winners last year over Canada on opening day and later Slovakia) and hosts Belarus (victors over Switzerland and Latvia) who qualified for the Playoff Round.

For some though, the goal is to collect enough valuable points from taking the big dogs to overtime and winning games against the lower ranked teams in order to avoid relegation down to Division I Group A for 2017. Last year, 15 of the 16 teams were able to win games in regulation time and France's victory over Canada serves as a reminder that no team should be taken for granted. That said, Belarus, France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Denmark will be the teams expected to be fighting to avoid finishing last in their groups and be relegated.

There were four games on opening day, with Group A seeing Canada have a better opening day than last year with a 6-1 win over Latvia, with Jason Spezza leading the way with 2 goals and an assist, while Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and 3 points while captain Sidney Crosby had an assist and scored on a penalty shot late in the game.

The other game in Group A was a wild affair between the top ranked Swedes and the host Czechs. Sweden struck first and added a power play goal before Jaromir Jagr pulled one back for the Czechs before the first period ended. Sweden scored again to go up 3-1 before the teams traded goals early in the third to make it 4-2 for Sweden before the Czechs staged an electrifying rally to score three times in 5:19 to take a 5-4 lead with three minutes remaining.

The Swedes pulled goaltender Jhonas Enroth with 1:45 remaining and then went on the power play 20 seconds later when Petr Koukal was sent off for tripping, giving Sweden a 6 on 4 advantage, which they converted with under a minute to play to send the game to overtime. It would eventually require a shootout for Oliver Ekman-Larsson to win it for Sweden.

Group B action started with the United States winning convincingly over Finland and goaltender Pekka Rinne by a score of 5-1. Steve Moses (recently of Jokerit Helsinki of the KHL), captain Matt Hendricks, Dan Sexton, Nick Bonino and Hendricks again into an empty net accounted for the American scoring as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck held the Finns to a lone goal to take an important 3 point regulation win for the US.

Opening day play wrapped up with a 6-2 Russian win over Norway with Russia streaking out to a 4-0 first period lead before Patrick Thoresen got a pair for Norway, which Russia responded to before the end of the period for the final four goal margin. Denis Zaripov led the way with a goal and 3 points for Russia with Sergei Bobrovski getting the win in goal.

Games today include Switzerland vs Austria and France vs Germany in Group A and Slovakia vs Denmark and Belarus vs. Slovenia in Group B.

The United States plays next today vs Norway at 2:15 EST. but it will not be shown until 7 PM on NBCSN, while the next test for the Canadians comes on Sunday vs Germany at 10:15 AM EST on the TSN networks.

Friday, May 1, 2015

1964-65 Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau Jersey

Honoring Conn Smythe, the former owner, general manager and coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player judged Most Valuable to his Team during the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs. The trophy depicts Maple Leafs Gardens, which Smythe had constructed in 1931 as a new home to his Maple Leafs.

Conn Smythe Trophy

In contrast to other sports leagues playoff MVP awards, the Conn Smythe Trophy is based on a players performance during the entire postseason and not just the final game or series.

The award was first announced in 1964 and the first recipient on this date in 1965 was Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens for his performance during the 1965 Stanley Cup playoffs during which Beliveau scored 8 goals and 8 assists for 16 points in 13 games as Montreal captured their 13th Stanley Cup following a seven game series against the Chicago Black Hawks.

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The first winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, Jean Beliveau

The following season Roger Crozier of the Detroit Red Wings became the first goaltender to win the Conn Smythe trophy as well as the first player to be a member of a team that did not win the Stanley Cup.

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The first goaltender to win the Smythe, Roger Crozier

Subsequent winners were Dave Keon of Toronto in 1967 and goaltender Glenn Hall of Chicago in 1968. Serge Savard of the Canadiens was the first defenseman to win the Smythe in 1969, followed by another defenseman, Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins in 1970.

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Dave Keon poses with the Conn Smythe Trophy

Perhaps the most unexpected winner ever was Montreal's Ken Dryden, who was named the winner in 1971 with just 15 combined games of NHL regular season and playoff experience!

In 1972 Orr became the first player to win the trophy twice following the Bruins second title in three seasons. After Yvan Cournoyer of Montreal was named the winner in 1973, goaltender Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers became both the first goalie to win the Conn Smythe twice as well as the first player to win it in back to back seasons and ushering in an era of domination.

Reggie Leach became the second player on a losing club to win the trophy, extending the streak of Flyers winners to three. The next three seasons the trophy went to Canadiens, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey. The New York Islander dynasty then included four consecutive Conn Smythe recipients, Bryan Trottier, Butch Goring, Mike Bossy and Billy Smith in 1983, ending a run of ten years monopolized by three clubs.

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Montreal's Larry Robinson

Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers got his name added to the trophy in 1984, followed by teammate Wayne Gretzky in 1985. Patrick Roy of the Canadiens won his first in 1986 as a rookie, only the second one after Dryden, prior to the Flyers Ron Hextall becoming only the third player on the losing side to receive the honor in 1987.

Gretzky won his second in 1988 and Mario Lemieux matched that feat with back to back Conn Smythe trophies in 1991 and 1992. The following year Roy joined Parent, Gretzky and Lemieux as two-time winners.

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Mario Lemieux with his second Conn Smythe Trophy

1994 saw American Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers be the first non-Canadian player to win the Conn Smythe, as well as the first and only Ranger.

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The only American to win the Smythe, Brian Leetch

In 2001, Roy, now a member of the Colorado Avalanche, became the first, and to date only player, to win the trophy three times and the only man to have won it while a member of two different teams.

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Roy with his record setting third Conn Smythe

The next year new ground was broken, as Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit became the first European to ever be named the winner in the trophy's 38 year history.

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The first European to win the Smythe, Nicklas Lidstrom

2003 saw goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere become the fourth player on the losing side to take home the honors and goaltender Cam Ward became the third rookie to be named the winner, all of which were goalies, when he led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup despite not having been the Hurricanes number one goaltender at the start of the playoffs. He finished the season having a total of 28 regular season and 23 playoff games of NHL experience.

Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg joined Red Wing teammate Lidstrom as only the second European and second Swede to be named the winner of the trophy in 2008, immediately followed by Evgeni Malkin becoming the first Russian to earn the honor for Pittsburgh in 2009 before Chicago's Jonathan Toews regained the trophy for Canada in 2010.

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The first Russian to be named the winner, Evgeni Malkin

Goaltenders Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick won in 2011 and 2012 before Toews Chicago teammate Patrick Kane became only the second American to win the Conn Smythe in 2013 after Leetch in the 50 year history of the trophy.

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Just the second American winner in 50 years, Patrick Kane

Others to have won the trophy are Al MacInnis, Bill Ranford, Claude Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Mike Vernon, Steve Yzerman, Joe Nieuwendyk, Scott Stevens, Brad Richards, Scott Niedermayer and most recently, Justin Williams, the second recipient from the Los Angeles Kings in three years.

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Steve Yzerman lifts the Conn Smythe in 1998

Today's featured jersey is a 1964-65 Montreal Canadiens Jean Beliveau jersey from the first man to have his name added to the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Believau was a ten time Stanley Cup champion with Montreal in his 20 years with the club. In addition to the Conn Smythe, Beliveau also won the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion in 1956 and the Hart Trophy as MVP in 1956 and 1964. Had the Conn Smythe Trophy been in existence prior to the 1965 finals, odds are that Beliveau would have won at least one other one, particularly in 1956 when he led the Canadiens in playoff scoring with 12 goals and 19 points in just ten games.

Montreal Canadiens 64-65 jersey, Montreal Canadiens 64-65 jersey
Montreal Canadiens 64-65 jersey, Montreal Canadiens 64-65 jersey

Today's first video is a terrific find, footage of Beliveau being the first man to ever receive the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1965.

Next is the Top Ten Conn Smythe Trophy winners and a look at each of their spectacular playoff performances.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina Jersey

In 1909, goaltender Georges Vezina joined his local team, the Chicoutimi Hockey Club.

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Vezina in 1909 as a member of the Saguenéens

The club, known as the Saguenéens, played an exhibition game against a brand new club playing in their first ever season, the Montreal Canadiens in February of 1910. Vezina shutout the Canadiens by a score of 2-0 that evening. So impressive was Vezina's performance that his opponent that evening, Joseph Cattarinich, recommended Vezina to his team owner George Kennedy, who reached an agreement with Vezina to play for the Canadiens beginning with the 1910-11 season.

Vezina made his Montreal debut on New Year's Eve in 1910 and went on to play all 16 of the Canadiens games in the National Hockey Association (NHA), finishing with a record of 8-8 while allowing the fewest goals in the league and his cool demeanor earned him the nickname the "Chicoutimi Cucumber". The following year he again led the league with the fewest goals allowed, but Montreal gave him little offensive support and their 8-10 record left them in last place.

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Vezina in the Canadiens barberpole jerseys of 1912-13

He recorded his first professional shutout, as well as the first in Canadiens history, with a 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on January 18, 1913. After finishing with a 9-11 mark that season, the Canadiens improved in 1913-14 when Vezina posted his first winning season with a 13-7 mark, good for a tie for first place with the Toronto Blueshirts, who defeated Montreal in a two game playoff series for the championship.

After a last place finish in 1914-15, Montreal rebounded strongly in 1915-16 to earn their first O'Brien Cup as NHA champions with a 16-7-1 record. As champions of the NHA, Montreal earned the right to host the Portland Rosebuds of the PCHA in a best-of-five playoff for the rights to the Stanley Cup.

Portland shut out Montreal 2-0 in Game 1, but the Canadiens came back to win the second game 2-1. Game three also went to Montreal 6-3 prior to Portland evening the series with a 6-4 win in Game 4 to set up a winner take all Game 5. Vezina and the Canadiens then captured the first Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 2-1 win over the Rosebuds in front of their fans at the Montreal Arena.

Vezina Montreal 1915-16
Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning season of 1915-16. Note the "CA" logo on the chest, worn prior to the now familiar "CH" logo, which would arrive the following season.

Montreal defeated Ottawa in a two-game, total-goals playoff 7-6 to remain NHA champions in 1916-17 to earn their second O'Brien Cup but fell in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Seattle Metropolitans.

For the 1917-18 season, Montreal began play in the new National Hockey League (NHL), Vezina recorded the first shutout in NHL history on February 18, 1918 and early in the next season, on December 28, 1918, he became the first goaltender to ever earn a point in the NHL when he was credited with an assist in a 6-3 win over the Toronto Arenas. While Montreal finished second during the regular season, they defeated Ottawa in the playoffs for their first NHL championship. They then travelled to Seattle to face the Metropolitans in the Stanley Cup Final, but play was suspended with the series tied at 2-2-1 when players began to become sick due to the Spanish Influenza epidemic, which would claim the life of Canadian Joe Hall.

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The engraving noting "series not completed" for the 1919 Stanley Cup Finals

After four more seasons with Montreal, each with a winning record, Vezina established an NHL record with the first goals against average under 2.00 when he finished the season at 1.97. Montreal then defeated the favored Senators to become champions of the NHL and went on to capture their second Stanley Cup in 1924 when they first defeated the Vancouver Maroons 2 games to none and then the Calgary Tigers two games to none. In their four Stanley Cup contests, Vezina allowed just four goals, with a shutout in the final game to clinch the cup.

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Vezina from the Stanley Cup winning 1923-24 season

The following season Vezina set career best marks with 17 wins as well as lowering his goals against average to 1.81.

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Vezina in the Canadiens 1924-25 jerseys which
commemorates their status as world champions

When Vezina arrived for training camp in 1925-26, he appeared sick, and by the time the regular season began on November 28, he had lost 35 pounds in six weeks and was running a fever of 102º. Still, he started the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and held them scoreless through one period. During the intermission he began vomiting blood prior to insisting he begin the second period, but he collapsed on the ice and was taken out of the game. "In the arena, all was silent as the limp form of the greatest of goalies was carried slowly from the ice," reported one journalist.

The following day he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and never played again. He returned home to Chicoutimi and died on March 27, 1926 just 39 years old.

During his 15 year career, which began on this date in 1910, Vezina played every one of Montreal's 328 regular season and 39 playoff games and had the lowest goals against average seven times and the second lowest on another five occasions.

With Vezina in goal, Montreal would win two NHA championships, three NHL championships and two Stanley Cups from those five appearances. His final combined NHA and NHL totals show 175 wins, 15 by shutout, a goals against average of 3.49 and another 15 playoff victories.

In 1926 the owners of the Canadiens donated a trophy in his name, the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most valuable goaltender each season in the NHL.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a charter member of it's inaugural 12 man class on this date in 1945.

Today's featured jersey is a 1910-11 Montreal Canadiens Georges Vezina jersey. While the Canadiens are known for their iconic Bleu, Blanc et Rouge jerseys with the blue band across their red jerseys, the earliest version of of today's well known look did not arrive until the Canadiens fourth season of 1912-13 when their white, blue and red barberpole jerseys caused the Ottawa Senators to complain that Montreal's barberpole sweaters were too similar to their white, black and red version. The Canadiens response was a red sweater with a blue stripe across the chest, worn only against Ottawa.

Prior to that, the Canadiens wore a blue sweater with white striping for their inaugural season of 1909-10. For their second season of 1910-11, a gorgeous red jersey with white and green trim arrived, adorned with a green maple leaf and an Old English "C". Despite it's attractiveness, this sweater would be worn for just one season.

Vezina Montreal 1910-11

Today's video selection is a brief look at the career of Georges Vezina.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

1989-90 Edmonton Oilers Craig MacTavish Jersey

An era came to an end on this date in 1997, when Craig MacTavish announced his retirement from the NHL, as MacTavish was the last NHL player to play without a helmet.

When the NHL mandated the use of helmets for all players in 1979, any player already in the league was given the option of continuing to play without protective headgear.

MacTavish was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft and saw limited NHL action for three seasons as he spent the majority of his time in the American Hockey League, ut it was his 46 games with the Bruins in 1979-80 that allowed him the exemption from the new helmet rules.

He finally made it with the Bruins full time in 1982-83 and got his first extended playoff experience as the Bruins made it to the conference finals that season. After one more year in Boston, MacTavish missed the 1984-85 season following a conviction of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence and spending a year incarcerated. After his release, the Bruins and MacTavish parted ways and MacTavish joined the Edmonton Oilers, where he accepted the role of a checking center on a team loaded with offensive talent.

He would play nine seasons in Edmonton, winning three Stanley Cups in 1987, 1988 & 1990. His best offensive season was in 1988-89 when he scored 21 goals and 31 assists for 52 points, which is the best one can expect playing behind offensive minded centers like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.

Following the departure of Kevin Lowe, MacTavish became the Oilers team captain in 1992 until his late season trade to the New York Rangers in 1994, just in time to help the Rangers capture their famous Stanley Cup championship, their first since 1940.

The following season he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he would play for two seasons before being traded to the St. Louis Blues in 1995-96. He would return to the Blues for the final season of his career in 1996-97 as the last helmetless player in the league.

MacTavish Blues

His final NHL totals show 17 seasons, 1093 games played, 213 goals and 267 assists for 480 points and his name on the Stanley Cup four times. Following his playing career, MacTavish eventually became head coach of the Oilers for eight seasons, including a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.

The first player to be credited with wearing a helmet on a regular basis for protection in the NHL was George Owen back in 1928, who wore the same helmet while playing for the Bruins that he wore while playing college football. Owen played five seasons for the Bruins, winning a Stanely Cup in 1929.

After suffering a head injury in 1933, Eddie Shore began wearing a helmet for the rest of his career, but it wasn't until the on ice death of the Minnesota North Stars Bill Masterton that players began to embrace the widespread use of the helmet. At the time of the helmet rule being made mandatory 11 years later, 70% of players were wearing helmets.

While many players wear similar helmets, occasionally facial injuries can result in additions to the normal helmet, such as Pat Lafontaine's addition to protect a broken jaw.


Other players notable for their unique helmets were Stan Mikita and his rounded Northland "dome" helment, Wayne Gretzky's Jofa VM lid and Butch Goring, who wore the same Snaps helmet since he was 12 years old, famous for it's small size and lack of gloss while with the New York Islanders.

Hockey Helmets

Goring actually had a pair of the helmets, one for at home and one for the road. They went through several color alterations as Goring moved from the Los Angeles Kings to the Islanders and later the Boston Bruins and eventually the Nova Scotia Oilers to close out his career.

When Goring was traded from the Kings to the Islanders late in the 1979-80 season, the Islanders equipment man didn't have the right paint available and had to improvise while on the road to get Goring in line with the rest of the team, as his road helmet was currently painted Kings' purple while the other was painted gold. The solution was to cover one of the helmets with blue tape, giving the headgear it's distinctive non-glossy, flat appearance, as if it had been flocked.

"It looked pretty good, you couldn't tell the difference." Goring said. "The tape was light enough so it was no big deal, it did the job."

"I didn't wear it for the protection. It was almost why do you wear gloves, why do you wear pads? For me, it was like I didn't know any other way to play hockey other than with my helmet. I grew up in an era where helmets were mandatory as a kid and it just didn't make any sense to take it off because it wasn't anything cumbersome that I needed to get rid of."
"Hockey players are like any other athletes, they get attached to certain things and they had good success and the helmet for me and I actually had a couple of items I kept for a long period of time but I think it is just a comfort zone more than anything else," Goring recalled.

Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Edmonton Oilers Craig MacTavish jersey. This jersey was worn during the final championship season of the Oilers era of success.

When the Oilers first joined the NHL they wore Maska jerseys and then Sandow SK brand for two seasons before the change to Nike. It was not until the 1989-90 season that the Oilers began wearing CCM, meaning Gretzky never wore CCM jerseys while with the Oilers in the NHL.

Edmonton Oilers Jersey
Edmonton Oilers Jersey

Today's video section begins with a brief look at the history of the hockey helmet and a profile of MacTavish.

Helmets used to come in a wider variety of shapes and sizes. In one of YouTube's finest moments, we present the Toronto Maple Leafs Top 11 Worst Head Gear.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2008-09 Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidström Jersey

One of the best defensemen in NHL history, Nicklas Lidström, born on this date in 1970, had a brief hockey resume when he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989, having only played one season for Västerås IK in Sweden and in one European Junior Championship.

Lidström was the 19th defenseman taken during that draft when he was selected 53rd overall. In fact, he wasn't even the first defenseman taken by the Red Wings, who had previously selected Bob Boughner 32nd overall with their second pick.

He would remain in Sweden for two more seasons, which included appearing in a World Junior Championship, a second European Junior Championship, making his senior international debut at the 1991 World Championships, where he won a gold medal, and in the 1991 Canada Cup before joining the Red Wings in 1991-92, impressing with 60 points as a rookie.

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Lidström in the Red Wings Turn Back the Clock jersey
worn during his rookie season

After three seasons with the Red Wings, Lidström would return to the World Championships in the spring of 1994. Later that year he would play 13 games for Västerås while waiting for the NHL season to begin due to it's labor issues which delayed the start of the season until January of 1995. Back with the improving Red Wings, Lidström and his teammates were gaining more playoff experience each season, making the finals for the first time in 1995 and making it back to the conference finals in 1996.

Lidström was again chosen to represent Sweden in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey prior to the start of the 1996-97 NHL season, which would conclude with the Lidström winning the first Stanley Cup of his career.

For the 1997-98 season, Lidström was made an assistant captain for the Red Wings. Motivated by the accident in which teammate Vladimir Konstantinov was seriously injured, Detroit repeated as Stanley Cup champions again in 1998 as Lidström contributed 19 points in 22 games. Also during the 1997-98 season, Lidström would make his Olympic debut, as the NHL would suspend it's season, allowing it's best players to compete for the first time.

Lidstrom Konstantinov, Lidstrom Konstantinov
Lidström posing with Konstantinov in happier times

After three more seasons with Detroit, Lidström would be named the winner of the Norris Trophy for the first time in 2001, the first European so named.

Lidstrom Norris Trophy, Lidstrom Norris Trophy
Lidström with the Norris Trophy

The following season of 2001-02 would be a memorable one for Lidström, as he would win his second consecutive Norris Trophy, compete in his second Olympic Games, and win not only his third Stanley Cup, but become the first European to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in the process, as he chipped in 16 points in 23 games.

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Lidström receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002

After two more seasons of play with Detroit, which included winning his third consecutive Norris Trophy, the first since Bobby Orr to win three in a row, Lidström would appear in his 1,000th NHL game, having missed only 17 games in 12 1/2 seasons. After the Red Wings were ousted from the playoffs, he would make an appearance in his first World Championship since 1994. Later that fall he would skate in his second World Cup of Hockey, the final hockey he would play for over a year, as the NHL season would be cancelled due to the lockout. While many players returned to Europe to compete, Lidström, now 34 years old, chose to take the season off.

His decision recharged his batteries, as when NHL play resumed in 2005-06, Lidström set a career high with 80 points, topping his previous best of 73 in 2000, and earning him his fourth Norris Trophy. He would also set a more dubious career high with 50 penalty minutes, thanks to a change in rules enforcement coming out of the lockout. During that season he would join a prestigious few, as he would score 6 points in 8 games as Sweden would capture the gold medal at the 2006 Olympics as Lidström scored the game winning goal in the final, making him a member of the Triple Gold Club, for winners of the World Championships, Stanley Cup and Olympics, one of only 18 men to have competed the trio of championships at the time.

Lidstrom gold medal, Lidstrom gold medal
A happy Lidström with his Olympic gold medal in 2006

He became the first European in franchise history to be named team captain in 2006-07 and would later be named the winner of the Norris Trophy once again. The 2007-08 season was another great season for Lidström, as he would reach 70 points for only the fourth time in his career, win his third consecutive and sixth Norris Trophy before the Red Wings would bring home the fourth Stanley Cup of Lidström's career in the span of 11 years, the first European born and trained player to captain any team to the Stanley Cup.

Lidstrom Stanley Cup, Lidstrom Stanley Cup
Lidström raises the Stanley Cup as the
first European to captain his team to the championship

In 2009-10, Lidström became only the fourth Red Wing and eighth defenseman in NHL history to score 1,000 points. He would also compete in his fourth Olympics that season and was named team captain for Sweden.

Lidström would finish 2010-11 with a negative plus/minus rating (-2) for the first and only time in his career, but such was the respect for his ability to control a game and always make the ideal play, that he was recognized with his seventh Norris Trophy, the oldest player to ever win one, equalling the great Doug Harvey and pulling to within one of Orr's record of eight. Also that season, he scored the first hat trick of his now 19 year career at the age of 40, the oldest player to ever score a hat trick for the first time.

He would play one final season in 2011-12, after which Detroit would qualify for the playoffs for the 20th consecutive time in Lidström's career, which allowed him to finish second in NHL history in games played in the postseason with 263, just 6 back of former teammate Chris Chelios.

His final career totals are 1,564 games played, the most ever by a Red Wing or a European, 264 goals and 878 assists for 1,142 points, second all-time among Swedish-born players. Keeping in mind Lidström was a defenseman whose career high was 80 points, it's a testament to his longevity and incredible durability, as he never played less than 70 games a season and suited up 80 or more times 14 times. In all, he missed only 40 possible games in his 20 year career.

Lidstrom, Lidstrom

Today's featured jersey is a 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidström jersey as worn during the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. This jersey was based on the style first worn by the Detroit franchise back in 1926-27 when the club was original known as the Cougars, so named since their roster of players came from the now defunct Victoria Cougars of the old Pacific Coast Hockey League.

Detroit Red Wings 2008-09 Winter Classic jersey photo DetroitRedWings2008-09WClassicF.jpg
Detroit Red Wings 2008-09 Winter Classic jersey photo DetroitRedWings2008-09WClassicB.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992-93 Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidström jersey as worn during Lidström's second season in the NHL. This jersey features the Stanley Cup centennial patch in honor of the trophy Lidström would win four times during his career.

This timeless jersey style dates all the way back to 1932 when the Detroit club changed their name from Falcons to Red Wings. The original jerseys had red numbers outlined in white and no names on the back. The numbers changed to white in 1937, sleeve numbers were added in 1961 and names arrived in 1977, summing up every major changed to one of the NHL's most enduring sweaters.

Detroit Red Wings 1992-93 jersey photo Detroit Red Wings 1992-93 F jersey.jpg
Detroit Red Wings 1992-93 jersey photo Detroit Red Wings 1992-93 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with a news report about Lidström announcing his retirement.

Next, Lidström scores the game winning goal against Finland in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Finally, an excellent highlight package from his entire 20 year NHL career.

Monday, April 27, 2015

1997-98 St. Louis Blues Geoff Courtnall Jersey

On this date in 1998, the Los Angeles Kings hosted the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals with the Blues leading the series 2-0 after a pair of games in St. Louis.

Ian Laperriere opened the scoring for the Kings when he beat St. Louis goaltender Grant Fuhr with assists from Ray Ferraro and Steve McKenna at 11:01.

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The Kings celebrate Laperriere's goal

Yanic Perreault extended the Kings lead to 2-0 when he converted a pass from Luc Robitaille with just nine seconds remaining in the first period with Al MacInnis in the penalty box for St. Louis for holding the stick.

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Yanic Perreault scored the Kings second goal

At 11:03 of the second period the Kings Sean O'Donnell scored from Robitaille and Aki Berg to give the Kings a three goal lead. The period would end with no further scoring and the shots on goal after two periods at 27-20 in favor of the Blues with Kings goalie Jamie Storr turing aside all 27 St. Louis shots.

Storr Kings photo Storr Kings.jpg
Storr held St. Louis scoreless through two periods

Shortly after the third period got underway the Kings Vladimir Tsyplakov was sent off for tripping at 1:42, but Storr and the Kings successfully killed off the Blues man advantage.

Craig Conroy of the Blues took an elbowing penalty at 5:07 for the Blues followed 45 seconds later by teammate Chris Pronger being sent off for slashing, giving the Kings a two-man advantage for 1:45. Fuhr and the Blues were able to not only kill off the 5-on-3, but the remaining time in Pronger's minor, keeping the score 3-0 for Los Angeles.

The game changed at the 8:34 mark when penalties were handed out to Geoff Courtnall of St. Louis for running Storr, Laperriere of the Kings for boarding and O'Donnell of the Kings received a rare, lone fighting major for going after Courtnall with fists blazing plus a game misconduct while Courtnall never even received so much as a roughing minor to go along with his charging penalty. The end result was a full five minute five on four power play for St. Louis.

The Blues were able to convert their advantage into a goal when Pascal Rheaume broke Storr's shutout bid at 9:59 when he knocked in a rebound with assists from MacInnis and Pronger with 3:35 still remaining on O'Donnell's major.

Just over a minute later at 11:03, Blues sniper Brett Hull scored from and nice cross-crease pass from Jim Campbell and Pronger to make the score 3-2 for Los Angeles, but with 2:31 still left in the Blues man advantage.

Hull Blues photo Hull Blues.jpg
Brett Hull

Pierre Turgeon then tied the game at 3-3 just 56 seconds later on a deflection, again from MacInnis and Pronger passing the puck from point to point before firing the puck toward the slot, which was Pronger's third assist in exactly two minutes of play.

Turgeon Blues photo Turgeon Blues.jpg
Pierre Turgeon tied the game at 3-3

With the Kings now back on their heels, the Blues attacked with 1:35 still remaining on their power play. Terry Yake then stunned the already silent Kings fans when he scored at 13:06 with assists from Steve Duchesne and MacInnis to put the Blues ahead 4-3 after they were trailing 3-0 just a little over three minutes earlier. Like Pronger, it was MacInnis' third assist on the same power play, only his took an additional 1:07 to accomplish.

Yake Blues photo Yake Blues 2.jpg
Terry Yake scored the record setting and
game winning goal for the Blues

The Blues four power play goals arrived in 3:07 to set an NHL record for the Fastest Four Power Play Goals in league history.

There would be no additional scoring in the contest, as Yake's goal stood as the game winner for the Blues to give them a 3-0 series lead.

Blues photo Blues celebrate.jpg
The Blues celebrate their stunning come from behind victory

The Kings would not recover from their stunning turnaround defeat in Game 3 and would go on to lose Game 4 and the series by a score of 2-1 two nights later, only this time with Stephane Fiset in goal.

Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 St. Louis Blues Geoff Courtnall jersey as worn during the Blues record setting game in Los Angeles when he ran the Kings goaltender Storr, which resulted in a five minute power play for the Blues when O'Donnell went after Courtnall.

The Blues added a little red trim to their look in 1984. but it really became a large part of their new look in 1995, particularly the road blue jerseys, where the bottom third of the jersey and the sleeve ends became large areas of red, not just a minor trim color.

The multiple stripes across the torso were meant to convey the musical staff. The stripes were oriented diagonally, which was influenced by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim's first jerseys from 1993-94, which led to diagonal striping being used by St. Louis, Calgary and Washington in 1995.

This jersey was used for three seasons until being replaced by their sharp new alternate in 1998-99.

 photo St Louis Blues 1997-98 F jersey_1.jpg
St Louis Blues 1997-98 jersey photo St Louis Blues 1997-98 B jersey.jpg

In today's video section, Courtnall clobbering Storr, which set off O'Donnell and led to the Blues five minute power play.

Next footage of the Blues record setting power play, during which they scored four goals in 3:07 to steal the game from the Kings.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

1966-67 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr Jersey

Although Bobby Orr was signed by the Boston Bruins at the age of just 14 (prior to the implementation of the NHL Draft), league rules at the time dictated that he could not play in the NHL until turning 18. He bided his time playing for the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League and, in his final season in junior hockey, scored 94 points in 47 games, an average of two points per game, an unheard of average for a defenseman.

Orr Oshawa Generals photo OrrOshawaGenerals.jpg

Orr had first came up to the Bruins in 1966, and simply revolutionized the position of defense with his end to end rushes and attacks, previously unheard of by players of his position. He benefitted from playing in Boston Garden, where the rink was 9 feet shorter than a standard rink, getting him from one end of the ice to the other that much faster.

Bobby Orr Rookie camp
Orr, wearing #27 during his first NHL training camp

Orr would win the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year on this date in 1967 after scoring 41 points in 61 games during his first season with the Bruins . He would miss nine games late in the season with a knee injury, foreshadowing the injury problems that would plague his career. Prior to Orr's arrival, the Bruins had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons and, while they would not make the post-season during Orr's rookie season, they would make the playoffs in every subsequent season of his career in Boston.

Bobby Orr Rookie
Bobby Orr during the 1966-67 season

Despite only playing in 46 games of the 1967-68 season, Orr would win the first of eight consecutive Norris Trophies. Back on track in 1968-69, he would play in 67 games and top 20 goals for the first time with 21 and total 64 points.

Orr would explode the following season, scoring 33 goals and adding a whopping 87 assists to total 120 points, six short of the league record and become the first and only defenseman to lead the NHL in scoring, which would net him the Art Ross Trophy. Additionally, he was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as league MVP. The Bruins would advance through the playoffs, eventually winning the Stanley Cup when Orr scored the cup winning goal in overtime of Game 4, which was captured in an iconic photograph of Orr flying through the air like a superhero in celebration. 

Bobby Orr 1970 photo BobbyOrr1970Flying.jpg

Following the playoffs, he would be named the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, making him the first player to win four major NHL awards in the same season.

Orr SI cover, Orr SI cover

He would top that mark in 1970-71 with an astounding 139 points, still the all-time record for a defenseman nearly 40 years later. In comparison, the first modern offensive defenseman Doug Harvey's top offensive season was in 1956-57 when he scored 50 points on 6 goals and 44 assists and his highest ever goal total was merely 9 in 1957-58 in comparison to Orr's top season of 46 and five separate seasons of more than 30.

His 139 points included a league leading 102 assists, 26 more than the next closest player, and earned him a second place finish in the scoring race behind Bruin's teammate Phil Esposito while winning the Hart Trophy for the second time. Orr would record a plus-minus rating of +124 that season, an NHL record that still stands today.

After the Bruins Stanley Cup triumph at the conclusion of the 1971-72 season, Orr underwent knee surgery on June 6, removing several bits of cartilage and some bone spurs, causing him to miss the Summit Series with the Soviet Union in September. Once healed from the surgery, Orr was healthy enough to play in 63 games of the 1972-73 season, which included setting a new NHL record for career points by a defenseman, passing Harvey's 540 points in 1,113 games.

Orr Stanley Cup photo OrrStanleyCup.jpg

Orr went on to surpass the 100 point mark for the fourth of six consecutive seasons with 29 goals and 72 assists for 101 points, finishing second in team scoring to Esposito. Orr would play in the NHL All-Star Game and would win the Norris Trophy for the sixth of eight times.

The Bruins would return to the finals in 1973-74 following a regular season in which Orr would score 32 goals and 90 assists for 122 points followed by another 18 points in 16 playoff games.

Orr Bruins 73-74, Orr Bruins 73-74
Orr in 1973-74

Orr would once again win the NHL scoring race in 1974-75, capturing the Ross Trophy for the second time after a career high 46 goals, becoming the first defenseman to ever score 40 goals, combined with 89 assists for 135 points. He would be named to the NHL First All-Star Team for the eighth consecutive season, win his eighth consecutive Norris Trophy, play in his seventh NHL All-Star Game and win his first Lester B. Pearson Award.

His multiple knee surgeries would catch up to him, limiting him to only 10 games of the 1975-76 season. While essentially playing on one knee, Orr would compete for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, earning rave reviews and being named tournament MVP in the last hurrah of his storied career.

Orr 1976 Canada Cup photo Orr1976CanadaCup2.jpg
Orr playing the last great hockey of his career during the 1976 Canada Cup

A move to the Chicago Black Hawks followed for the next two seasons but he totaled just 26 games and 27 points in 1976-77 and 1978-79.

His final career totals are 657 games played, 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points after ten seasons in Boston and the two in Chicago. At the time of his retirement, Orr was the leading defenseman in NHL history in goals, assists and points. The only players who have averaged more points per game than Orr are Wayne GretzkyMario Lemieux and Mike Bossy - all forwards.

Orr's speed, acceleration and creative offensive ability, combined with his toughness and defensive skills revolutionized the position of defense and changed the game forever. He also moved beyond the world of hockey, becoming a mainstream celebrity in the United States.

Orr advertisement, Orr advertisement

While we have given you a brief overview of the game-changing career of Bobby Orr, entire books are devoted to his career and the impact he had on the NHL, and we here at Third String Goalie recommend Searching for Bobby Orr.

Today's featured jersey is a 1966-67 Boston Bruins Bobby Orr jersey as worn during Orr's rookie season. The origins of this jersey can be traced all the way back to 1939-40 when the Bruins jerseys first had the gold shoulders with the black trim. The first version of the spoked B logo arrived in 1948-49, changing to the block black B the following season.  This pattern of sleeve stripes was first used in 1951-52 with the width becoming narrower in 1958-59. This style remained in use through Orr's rookie season of 1966-67 before an entirely new style arrived for his sophomore season of 1967-68.

When purchasing a Bobby Orr Bruins jersey, please be aware that Orr did not wear his name on the back of any Boston Bruins jersey during his career, with the only exception being when they were temporarily added for national TV games, as was the practice back then. Quite often Orr jerseys are sold on ebay or other online stores with his name incorrectly on the back of the jersey, as if his iconic #4 wasn't enough.

Even during Orr's first season in Chicago no names were used on the back, making just the final six games of his career with the Black Hawks in 1978-79, a sad and unfortunate end to a great career and not exactly worthy of recreating for your collection, and the 1976 Canada Cup the few times Orr regularly wore his name on the back of a jersey outside of the NHL All-Star Game.

Boston Bruins 67-68 jersey
Boston Bruins 67-68 jersey

While we could post 100 videos of Orr in action, but believe this one captures the dominance of Orr's game. Simply amazing what a complete player he was.

Next is the Legends of Hockey profile of Bobby Orr which includes footage of his famous Stanley Cup winning goal, scored on this day in 1970.


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