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Saturday, June 13, 2015

1975-76 New York Rangers Brad Park Jersey

After his first season of 1965-66 playing defense for the Toronto Marlboros in junior hockey, Brad Park was drafted second overall in the 1966 Amateur Draft by the New York Rangers. He confirmed their choice in the 1966-67 season by helping the Marlboros to the 1967 Memorial Cup championship. He would play one final season of junior hockey for Toronto, scoring 10 goals and 43 points as well as 120 penalty minutes in 50 games.

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A young Brad Park with the Memorial Cup in 1967

He played a brief stint of 17 games with the Buffalo Bisons in the American Hockey League before the Rangers called the 20-year-old Park up to the NHL as an injury replacement in November. He would never again play another game in the minors. He would play 54 games with New York during his rookie year, scoring 3 goals and 26 assists as well as 70 penalty minutes and finishing as a  +12.

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Park made his NHL debut with the Rangers

Over the next three seasons his poise and confidence would grow which allowed his offensive skills to flourish in a changing NHL, as previously defense was a mainly stay-at-home position in the six team NHL. But this was a new era of expansion, with the league now at 12 teams, which diluted the talent pool and allowed skilled skaters and good stickhandlers to thrive in this new age, a movement led by Bobby Orr that Park was at the forefront of.

Park's stats from 1969-70 to 1971-72 grew in every category, with his goals rising from 11 to 24, his points from 37 to 44 to 73, his penalty minutes from 98 to 130 while his +/- rose from +23 to +62. He was recognized by playing in the NHL All-Star Game in 1970, 1971 and 1972 as well as being runner up in the Norris Trophy voting for Best Defenseman all three seasons to Orr.

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Park defending his rival Orr

1972 proved to be a landmark season for Park, as he was called upon by Team Canada to be a key member of the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, the first time the best Canadian professionals were to face off against the dominating Olympic and World Champions, a series won by Canada. Park played in all eight games of the series, and was relied on heavily in Orr's absence due to his chronic knee injuries. Park scored one goal and 5 points during the series while only being whistled for just 2 penalty minutes, no easy feat considering the legendary stories of the quick whistles used against Canada by the Soviet's hand-picked referees! Park was chosen as the MVP of the decisive Game 8 (despite the late heroics of Paul Henderson) as well as the Best Defenseman of the entire series.

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Park was a key member of Team Canada in 1972

1972 was also the year that the World Hockey Association arrived on the scene with an aggressive tactic of singing away the stars of the NHL, such as Bobby Hull and Gerry Cheevers. The WHA came after Park too, but the Rangers signed him to a $200,000 annual contract, making him the highest paid player in the NHL at the time.

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Park was at the front of the offensive revolution among NHL defensemen

Park, having knee issues of his own, was limited to 52 games in 1972-73, but rebounded strongly with the finest season in 1973-74 when he scored 25 goals and 57 assists for 82 points as well as 148 penalty minutes in 1973-74 - all career highs.

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Park set career highs in 1974

In 1974-75, Park was named captain of the Rangers, but again limited to 65 of the Rangers 80 games, but still managed over 50 points for the fourth consecutive season. By the time the 1975-76 season was a month old, the world of hockey had changed. The Rangers had gotten off to their worst start in a decade, Park was facing criticism in New York as being "overweight, overpaid and over the hill", particularly when held up against the crosstown New York Islanders flashy young defenseman Denis Potivn.

All of this led to "The Trade", where the Rangers dealt Park, star center Jean Ratelle and defenseman Joe Zanussi to the rival Boston Bruins for star Phil Esposito and defenseman Carol Vadnais. The trade revitalized the Bruins, as Park took over for Orr, after suffering another knee injury during training camp, was limited to just 10 games that season, his last in Boston as his injuries had finally gotten the better of him.

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One of the precious few games where Orr and Park shared the ice for Boston
(note the Massachusetts Bicentennial patch worn only in 1975-76)

Park settled in with the Bruins, and after scoring just 6 points in 13 games with the Rangers, he finished with 16 goals and 53 points for the Bruins in 43 games, wasting little time endearing himself to the fans in Boston.

Just as he had done on his arrival in New York, Park increased his stats during each of his first three years in Boston, cumulating with his outstanding 1977-78 season of 22 goals, 57 assists for 79 points and a career best +68 rating. Park would play in his ninth consecutive NHL All-Star Game in 1978, a streak that extended back to his first in 1970. He also finished second in the 1978 Norris Trophy voting for a record sixth time, the first five to Orr and the final one to Potvin.

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Park played in nine consecutive NHL All-Star Games

Despite repeatedly finishing second in the Norris Trophy voting to Orr, Park said, "I saw no reason to be upset because I was rated second to Bobby Orr. After all, Orr not only was the top defenseman in the game, but he was considered the best player to ever put on a pari of skates. There was nothing insulting about being rated number two to such a superstar."

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Park brought his offensive game to Boston

Park's next two seasons were hampered by injuries, playing in just 40 games in 1978-79, although scoring 39 points when healthy, and 32 games in 1979-80. He rebounded with three straight seasons of 75 games or more from 1980-81 to 1982-83, with his best being 1980-81 with 66 points, 111 penalty minutes and a +21 rating.

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Park played in two Stanley Cup Finals for Boston

For the 1983-84 season, Park signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent at the age of 35 and immediately set a career high for games played with 80. He also had the fourth highest assist total of his career with 53, showing that his passing skills were a sharp as ever. Thanks to his longevity and return from his two injury plagued seasons, Park was named the recipient of the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

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Park won the Masterton Trophy while with Detroit

He would finish his playing days with one final season with the Red Wings, his 17th in the NHL and never having missed the playoffs in any season during his career.

Park would finish with 1,113 games played (despite five knee surgeries), 213 goals and 683 assists for 896 points and 1,429 penalty minutes. At the time of his retirement he was the Rangers all-time leading scorer among defensemen and second all-time to Orr on the Bruins. At the time of his retirement he was the second highest scorer among defensemen in NHL history and still remains 13th in regular season scoring and 9th in playoff scoring. He also held the record at the time of his retirement for the most seasons played without ever missing the playoffs.

Finally, on this date in 1988, during his first year of eligibility, Park was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 New York Rangers Brad Park jersey as worn during his final season with the Rangers. This jersey was recycled from the 1974-75 season, only with the captain's "C" moved closer to the arm to make room for the large 50th Anniversary patch - the first commemorative patch ever worn by the Rangers in their history.

The white Rangers jersey dates back to 1951-52 when it was first introduced as an alternative for New York to wear, especially against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers were the last of the Original 6 teams to adopt a separate home and road jersey, as previously they had worn their blue jerseys for every game, home or away, dating back to 1926-27.

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New York Rangers 1975-76 jersey photo New York Rangers 1975-76 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1982-83 Boston Bruins Brad Park jersey. Finding his customary #2 retired in Boston for Eddie Shore, Park doubled it and went with #22, the same technique used by Esposito and Ken Hodge when they arrived in New York to find their numbers 7 and 8 unavailable.

This classic Bruins style can be traced back to 1974-75 when the colored shoulder yoke was removed and the v-neck collar introduced. The secondary bear head logos arrived in 1976-77 and named were added the following year. Aside from some detail changes, such as to the font for the numbers, this jersey would remain in use through 1994-95, a 20 year run for a jersey that looks just as good today as it did in 1974.

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Boston Bruins 1982-83 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1982-83 B jersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Detroit Red Wings Brad Park jersey as worn during during Park's final season of play, having spent his entire 17 year career with Original 6 clubs while wearing their iconic jerseys.

The red version of the Red Wings jersey dates back to 1932 when they changed their name from the Falcons to the Red Wings and has remained virtually the same since.

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Detroit Red Wings 1984-85 jersey photo Detroit Red Wings 1984-85 B jersey.jpg

First, Park's offensive skills are on display was he scores he series winning goal in overtime of Game 7 of the Adams Division finals.

Next, the excellent Legends of Hockey profile of Park.

Friday, June 12, 2015

2015 ITHF Table Hockey World Championships

Today marks the start of the International Table Hockey Federation (ITHF) 2015 Table Hockey World Championships in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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The origin of competitive table hockey dates back to the Swedish Championships in 1982 and the Table Hockey World Championships began in 1989 and were held in Stockholm, Sweden. The next edition would not arrive until 1992 in Brno, Czechoslovakia and was quickly followed by the 1993 championships in Paris, France. The tournament then began an every other year schedule which it has maintained since.

Swedes won the first nine World Championship titles, the first coming in 1989 when Mikael Krantz defeated a field of 42 players from 7 countries. 1992 saw Jacob Lindahl win the first of his two titles in the second World Championships, defeating 32 others. Lindahl won the fourth World Championships on home soil to claim his second crown, outlasting a field of 66 players from 8 countires.

Hans Österman then took the 1997 version in Helsinki, Finland and repeated the feat in 2001 in Prague and again in 2005 in Riga, Latvia to become the only 3-time World Champion when he defeated that year's Junior Champion Roni Nuttunen of Finland to prevail over a field which had grown to a record 132 entrants from 22 nationalities!

Österman's third title extended the run of Swedes to nine, which was finally broken when Finn Nuttunen became the first player to win back-to-back championships, which came in 2007 (Moscow, Russia) and 2009 (Budapest, Hungary).

Oleg Dmitrichenko of Russia took the 2011 tournament in Turku, Finland when he dethroned Nuttunen, who was making his fourth straight appearance in the finals. Dmitrichenko prevailed over a field of 105 players from 17 countries. To date the championships have also been held in Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

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Oleg Dmitrichenko winning the 2011 World Championships

The most recent event in 2013 saw Atis Sillis defeat fellow countryman Edgars Caics to claim the first world championship for Latvia to prevail over a field of 118 participants from 18 countries.

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Atis Sillis of Latvia took home the trophy in 2013

In addition to the Men's singles championships, the women have also been participating in their own tournament along side the men since 1992 in Czechoslovakia. France (1), Sweden (3), Finland (4) and Russia (4) have all won championships in that order, with Pila Pulliainen's three consecutive from 2001 to 2005 being the most among the women, but Russians have won the last four consecutive titles and will be looking to extend that streak on home "ice".

1997 saw the introduction of the World Junior Championship (18 and under) with Nuttunen standing out for his win in 2005 and achieving the double World Championship in 2007, as he also won the Open Division, the first junior age player to ever do "the double".

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Nuttunen won both the Open and Junior titles in 2007

The World Veteran Championships (40 and over) were introduced in 2005 and have been contested five times to date.

There are also team championships for both men and women, with the men's division beginning in 1992 and following a similar path to the singles titles, with Sweden dominating the first seven before Finland took one, followed by Sweden again and now Russia three times. The women's Team Championship started in 2005 with the first three going to Russia. Finland won in 2011 but Russia returned to the top in 2013.

Stiga table hockey games of Sweden are the standard used by the ITHF, the Stiga Play Off model in particular, which features all left handed international player figures as opposed to the Stiga Stanley Cup model, which has a mix of left and right handed NHL players.

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Stiga Play Off Hockey

The ITHF was founded in 2005 and currently has 19 member nations, all familiar hockey playing nations in Europe except Canada and the United States from North America. In addition to the World Championships, there are many local, regional and national tournaments which take place each season.

The 2015 World Championships begin on Friday at 10:30 AM in Saint Petersburg with play beginning  in the Team competitions with play continuing throughout Saturday in the Open Division with 108 competitors from 16 nations battling it out for the individual World Championship and then Sunday sees the Senior and Junior championships decided.

To follow the championships, please visit Stiga's Table Hockey Facebook page, the World Championships Facebook page or the tournament website.

To get involved or participate in a tournament, contact the Canadian Table Hockey Association or the United States Table Hockey Association.

To see some of the skills possessed by table hockey players, take a look at this impressive demonstration of goal scoring techniques.

Here is a video recap of the 2011 World Championships, which featured a final between Dmitrichenko and Nuttunen of Finland.

Ever wonder what the knob hockey players are saying on the ice? Here's your chance.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

1995-96 Buffalo Sabres Bryan Fogarty Jersey

Born in Montreal, Quebec on this date in 1969, Bryan Fogarty grew up in Brantford, Ontario and played in the same youth hockey system as Brantford native Wayne Gretzky. Association coordinator Bob Coyne told reporters "He was a star. From the time he put his skates on, he was better than everyone else. We had seen Wayne. Wayne had to work at it. His game was outsmarting everybody else. Fogarty's game was outperforming everybody else. That's like comparing a Volkswagen to a Corvette."

His junior career began in 1985-86 with the Kingston Canadiens of the Ontario Hockey League after being drafted first overall, ahead of players such as Adam Graves and Brendan Shanahan. His first season saw the defenseman score 21 points in 47 games. He followed that with an impressive 1986-87 season during which he scored 20 goals and 50 assists for 70 points in just 56 games to finish third in team scoring. That performance led to him being drafted #9 overall in the first round of the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, six picks ahead of Quebec's second choice in the first round - future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic who was taken at #15! Fogarty was also selected ahead of future NHL All-Stars such as John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, Mathieu Schneider and Theo Fleury, such was his talent level.

Because of his immense talent, at age 15 Fogarty was playing with 20 year old players. Being in such a group allowed him to get into clubs and bars, which led to his drinking so much to combat his severe social anxiety that he acquired the nickname "Tipsy" due to his frequent inebriation.

"He had everything. He could skate like the wind. He could see anybody on the ice. He could make the perfect pass. He was as talented as anybody I've seen in junior hockey. Everybody was telling me you can't go wrong with him," said Maurice Fillon, the Nordiques General Manager who drafted Fogarty.

After one more season with Kingston, Fogarty finished his junior career with the Niagara Falls Thunder where he dominated the OHL with 47 goals and 108 assists for a league leading 155 points, 10 points clear of right winger Stan Drulia, which earned him the Canadian Junior Player of the Year Award. His 47 goals broke Bobby Orr's 23 year old record for goals by a defenseman and the league record for points in a season by a defenseman, both of which still stand over 25 years later.

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Fogarty set offensive records with Niagara Falls that remain today

Fogarty turned pro for the 1989-90 season, splitting time between the Halifax Citadels of the AHL (22 games) and the Nordiques, with whom he scored 14 points in 45 games. In 1990-91, Fogarty showed his NHL potential with 9 goals and 31 points in 45 games for the Nordiques, including a hat trick on December 1, 1990. He also played 5 games for Halifax, but only being able to manage 50 games would set the tone for what was to follow for Fogarty in the years to come.

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Fogarty came into the NHL as a Nordique with great expectations

"Fogie and I lived in the same apartment complex as Sakic. One night we came back late and had to help him to bed. WE were worried about him making practice the next day. The next morning, we went knocking on his door. He was already at the rink, whistling and having coffee. Then he's skating circles around people. I thought, "If I drank like he did last night, I wouldn't be able to drag myself out of bed in the morning." But it wasn't affecting him. That's when we all became more concerned," said Fogarty's former teammate Ron Tugnutt.

The Nordiques tried to help Fogarty with his addiction issues and sent him to an alcohol rehab clinic, provided him with a psychologist and found a family in Quebec City for him to live with with. They also roomed him on the road with another player who was dealing with chemical dependency issues of his own, John Kordic. That arrangement worked in the fall and winter of 1991, but my January, Kordic was using again.

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1991-92 was Fogarty's last of three seasons with Quebec

Fogarty's difficulties were reflected in his unsettled 1991-92 season, as he played with four different clubs that year, spending 20 games with the Nordiques in the NHL, 2 with the Citadels and 4 with the New Haven Nighthawks, both of the AHL and 8 games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL - a total of just 34 games.

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Being sent to Halifax was not good for Fogarty's efforts to stay sober,
as it took him away from his support system

The Nordiques General Manager Pierre Pagé promised Fogarty he would trade him if he could stay sober for three months, which resulted in a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 1992. Before the 1992-93 season could begin, Kordic died of a heart attack in August, for which Fogarty blamed himself.

Fogarty only lasted a dozen games with the Penguins, who were unhappy with his conditioning. For the remainder of the 1992-93 season, he only managed 15 regular season and 3 playoff games with the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the IHL.

He was signed by the Tampa Bay Lighting as a free agent, but never managed to play for them in the NHL. Instead, he played 8 games for the Atlanta Knights, 3 games for the Kansas City Blades and 33 games for the Las Vegas Thunder, all of the IHL. He was signed as a free agent by the Montreal Canadiens in March of 1994, and returned to the NHL for 13 games - 57 games total.

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Fogarty got another chance at the NHL with Montreal

His 1994-95 season consisted of 21 games with the Canadiens until it became apparent to Montreal that Fogarty was not taking care of himself and his time with them came to an end.

He was next signed by the Buffalo Sabres in September of 1995, but again, never played for the Sabres in the NHL. He did see action with both the Detroit Vipers (18 games) and the Minnesota Moose (17 games).

In 1996-97, Fogarty returned to Kansas City, playing 22 games for the Blades. He also joined his first European club in Milan, Italy, which lasted just 7 games.

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Fogarty, seen here with Kansas City, spent the last five years
of his career bouncing around the minors and Europe

He gave Europe another try in 1997-98, showing promise by playing in 39 of the Hannover Scorpions 44 game schedule and finishing second in defensive scoring with 25 points, his highest total with one team since 1991 with the Nordiques and the first 20 point season since then as well.

That sign of a turnaround for Fogarty prompted the Chicago Blackhawks to sign him in September of 1998, but he spent 36 games of the 1998-99 season with their top IHL affiliate, the Indianapolis Ice, scoring 22 points. He finished the season with the Baton Rouge Kingfish of the ECHL, playing in 5 regular season games and 4 playoff contests.

Things really took a turn for the worse when he was arrested in June of 1999 for breaking and entering at a school in Brantford as well as drug possession. Still, in September, he was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. That experiment lasted just three games with the St. John's Maple Leafs in the AHL. Following his release, he signed with the Knoxville Speed of the United Hockey League. While he did score 17 points in 16 games, he was off to Germany and a return to Hannover for 22 games with the Scorpions.

His final season as a player saw him play 18 games with the Elmira Jackals of the UHL and 11 games with the Huntsville Tornado of the Central Hockey League.

His final NHL totals were 156 games played with 22 goals and 52 assists for 74 total points in six seasons, less than half of his record setting season in junior hockey. His non-NHL professional totals were 314 games played, 57 goals and 207 points in 12 seasons an average of just over 17 per season.

After retiring in 2001, he remained sober for more than a year and returned to Brantford to run the family business. In March of 2002, he was on vacation to do some deep sea fishing. On arrival, he and a relative went to the bar and spent the day drinking. The next morning he could not be awoken and was pronounced dead at the age of 32, which the coroner attributed to an enlarged heart.

His mother Virgina summed up Bryan with the following: "He needed the beer, but it was demise. The profession, the lifestyle - he couldn't handle it. He wanted the hockey, but it was so hard the way he was. The inside of Bryan and the world around him didn't seem to meet."

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Buffalo Sabres Bryan Fogarty jersey as worn by Fogarty during the preseason, emblematic of the several times during his career he signed with a team, including Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Chicago and Toronto, but never saw action with that club in the NHL.

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Buffalo Sabres 1985-86 jersey photo Buffalo Sabres 1985-86 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1993-94 Montreal Canadiens Bryan Fogarty jersey from his final club in the NHL. While he undoubtedly posessed the skills to play in the NHL, having played for three teams and was signed by no less than seven, his personal demons derailed his career right from the start. In all, he played for 17 different clubs in seven leagues spread over nine seasons.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

What could have been. Kevin Stevens scores for Pittsburgh with the first assist coming from a centering feed from Fogarty after a faceoff win by Mario Lemieux.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

1981-82 New York Islanders Brent Sutter Jersey

Brent Sutter, was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1980 and, while he spent the vast majority of his season with the Lethbridge of the WHL, became the fourth Sutter brother to play in the NHL when he made his debut on February 25, 1981 when he joined brother Duane in the Islanders lineup, the first time two of the Sutters were teammates in the NHL.

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Duane and Brent played together for the Islanders from 1980-81 to 1986-87 - note the one color name on Duane's jersey while Brent's was two colors!

He split the following regular season between the Broncos and the Islanders, but by the time the playoffs rolled around, junior hockey was in his rearview mirror and Brent was part of the Islanders third consecutive Stanley Cup championship, a feat he and the Islanders repeated in 1983, which saw Brent score 21 points in 20 games.

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Brent with one of two Stanley Cups he would win with the Islanders

Brent, born on this date in 1962, would go on to play 12 seasons with New York before a trade early in the 1991-92 season sent him to the Chicago Blackhawks where he would play seven additional seasons.

His finest season was by far in 1984-85 when he scored 42 goals and 102 points, a shocker since his next highest season totaled just 68 points!

His career would finish with 1,111 games played, 363 goals and 829 points to lead all the Sutter brothers in games, goals, assists and points.

Joining Brian, Duane and Darryl, Brent would be the fourth of the Sutter brothers to become a head coach. He began his coaching career after he purchased the Red Deer Rebels, the junior club each of the Sutters had played for on their way to the NHL. He was not only the Rebels head coach, but their General Manager as well.

During his second season behind the bench in 2000-01, Brent guided the Rebels to the Memorial Cup championship. After seven seasons, which also included coaching Canada to gold medals at the World Junior Championship in both 2005 and 2006, Brent joined his siblings as a head coach in the NHL when he took over behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils for two seasons before leaving to become head coach of the Calgary Flames, where he worked under his General Manger brother Darryl for half of his three seasons with the Flames. In 2012, he returned to Red Deer as head coach and general manager.

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Brent Sutter

Today's featured jersey is a 1981-82 New York Islanders Brent Sutter jersey as worn during his rookie season in which he won the first of two Stanley Cups in his career. Notice the inconsistency in the fonts between his #21 jersey with serifs on both digits when compared to Duane's #12 jersey from the same season as shown here.

While in this case both jerseys have two color names, Brent's name lacks the period after his first initial, while Duane's has a period. This is the kind of detail differences which both confuse and perplex collectors of game worn jerseys, while also being quite helpful in dating and photo matching jerseys at the same time.

New York Islanders 81-82 Brent S jersey, New York Islanders 81-82 Brent S jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1991 Team Canada Brent Sutter jersey. as used in the 1991 Canada Cup tournament. While the name and number of this jersey are sewn on twill, the main crest and sleeve logos are screen on, which has resulted in the cracking and wear displayed here. The 1991 Canada Cup jerseys featured the Labatt Canada Cup patch, which is sewn on the upper right chest.

1991 Canada Cup Team Canada
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here is footage of the Islanders celebrating their Stanley Cup victory in 1982, the first of Brent's career.

Here is a four part story on the Sutter brothers.

We conclude with Brent, then coach of the Devils, in a light-hearted moment talking about his mother dancing with broadcaster Chico Resch.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

1982-83 Maine Mariners Brian Tutt Jersey

With a career that began like many others, Brian Tutt first played junior hockey for the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in the 1979-80 season. After 59 games with the Canucks, he joined the Calgary Wranglers of the Western Hockey League for two regular season games and four playoff games.

Before his second season with the Wranglers, Tutt, a defenseman, was chosen by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1980 Entry Draft. He followed that with a fine 1980-81 season for Calgary with 10 goals and 51 points from the blueline as well as 111 penalty minutes in 72 games. The Wranglers made along playoff run and Tutt added another 3 goals and 14 points in 22 games.

He was limited to 40 games of the 1981-82 WHL season, his final one in junior hockey. For the 1982-83 season, Tutt began his professional career with the Maine Mariners of the AHL for 31 games until joining the Toldedo Goaldiggers of the IHL. After going scoreless in Maine, Tutt responded in Toledo with 5 goals and 15 points in 23 games. The Goaldiggers would then go on to win the Turner Cup as IHL playoff champions.

He was back with Toledo for the 1983-84 season, scoring 7 goals and 51 points in 82 games. For the purposes of completeness and accuracy, Tutt also played a single game that season with the Springfield Indians of the AHL.

Tutt, born on this date in 1962, would have a similar 1984-85 season, playing 80 games for the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL, setting a career high with 53 points from 8 goals and 45 assists while also playing in three games with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. He was back with Kalamazoo for the entire 1985-86 season, finding the net 11 times as he put up his third consecutive 50 point season.

1986-87 saw him split time between Kalamazoo of the IHL (19 games), a return to the Maine Mariners of the AHL (41 games) as well as playing in 15 games for the Canadian National Team.

After playing in 32 games for the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, Tutt made his first journey to Europe when his signed with EHC Lustenau in Austria, scoring 17 points in 24 games in 1987-88.

He returned to North America for the 1988-89 season, the majority of which was spent with the Canadian National Team, playing in 63 games. That season he also played for yet another new team in the AHL, the Baltimore Skipjacks, for a total of six games.

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While playing only six games for the Baltimore, Tutt was
immortalized on cardboard for the Skipjacks

After signing as a free agent, Tutt was finally able to make his NHL debut on October 7, 1989 for the Washington Capitals. He played in 7 games for Washington that month, which included scoring a goal on October 16th on the road against the Montreal Canadiens all-star goaltender Patrick Roy. For the rest of the 1989-90 season, Tutt was back with Baltimore, seeing action in 67 games for the Skipjacks.

Tutt was able to add some more stamps to his passport, as he divided his 1990-91 season between 10 games for the Canadian National Team and 35 games for Furuset IF in Oslo, Norway, where he averaged over a point per game with 13 goals and 37 points.

He was back with Furuset for 28 games in 1991-92 before rejoining the Canadian National Team for six games in preparation for the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. Tutt played in all eight of Team Canada's games, which ended with him earning a silver medal after Canada made it all the way to the Gold Medal Game. Later that spring he would also play in his first World Championships for Canada. Of note, his daughter Brianne Tutt was born on his birthday in 1992 and she would go on to become an Olympic athlete herself, participating in speedskating for Canada at the 2014 Olympics.

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A career highlight for Tutt was winning a silver medal at the 1992 Olympics

His globetrotting days would begin in earnest with the 1992-93 season when he joined Ilves Tampere in Finland, which was most notable not for his 23 points in 48 games, but his career high and league leading 148 penalty minutes. He added yet another country to his passport for the subsequent 1993-94 season when he joined Farjestads BK in Karlstad, Sweden. There, Tutt managed just 4 points in 21 games but also a more reasonable 32 penalty minutes in 21 games. He also appeared in 12 games for Canada in 1993-94.

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Tutt's rugged play earned him a career high in penalty minutes for Ilves Tampere

It was back to Ilves Tampere for 1994-95, only with a reduction in penalty minutes to 42 in 25 games. Later in the spring, Tutt the veteran was named as captain of Team Canada at the 1995 World Championships where they came away with a bronze medal.

He was back to his bruising ways in 1995-96 with 131 penalty minutes in 22 games for SaPKo Savonlinna in Finland's second division. During the holiday break, Tutt was a member of Team Canada at the 1995 Spengler Cup, where they won the tournament.

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Stephan Lebeau, Andy Murray and Brian Tutt with
one of the six Spengler Cups won my head coach Murray in 1995

Tutt spent the final four seasons of his playing days in yet another country, Germany. 1996-97 was with the Schwenninger Wild Wings, 1997-98 with the Hannover Scorpions, 1998-99 was divided between Adler Mannheim (Mannheim Eagles), with whom he won the 1999 DEL championship, and the Scorpions and his final season of 1999-00 was also with Hannover, his third with the club.

 photo Tutt Scorpions.jpg
Tutt played three seasons for Hannover

While he never became an established NHL regular, he forged an 18 year career, won medals at both the Olympics and World Championships, won the Spengler Cup with the Canadian National Team, won the IHL Turner Cup in 1983, the DEL championship in 1999, played in seven different countries and scored an NHL goal in Montreal against Hall of Famer Roy, proving there is life in hockey beyond the NHL.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Maine Mariners Brian Tutt jersey as worn during Tutt's first professional season of his career. The Mariners were the top farm team of the Flyers at the time, which is clearly reflected not only in the Mariners use of the Flyers jersey colors and template, but also it's Flyers influenced crest, done in a similar style to the parent club.

 photo Maine Mariners 1982-83 F jersey.jpg
Maine Mariners 1982-83 jersey photo Maine Mariners 1982-83 B jersey.jpg

Today's video is the final game of the 1992 Olympic hockey tournament, with Tutt and Canada in white against the Confederation of Independent States, as the team was called in the days following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Monday, June 8, 2015

1985-86 Minnesota North Stars Brian Lawton Jersey

Brian Lawton led Mount St. Charles Academy to the Rhode Island state high school championship in 1982 after scoring 45 goals and 88 points in just 26 games. In 1982-83 he not only repeated that feat with 40 goals and 83 points in 23 games and a second consecutive state championship, but he played for the United States at the 1983 World Junior Championships, held in Leningrad in the Soviet Union.

On this date in 1983 in Montreal, the Minnesota North Stars selected Lawton with the first overall pick in that year's NHL Entry Draft, giving him the distinction of being the first American ever taken first overall as well as the first, and to date only, United States high school player taken first overall.

Lawton made the jump straight to the NHL without the aid of any further seasoning in college (he had signed a letter of intent to play for Providence College), Canadian Juniors (Verdun of the QMJHL held his draft rights) the minors or even the Olympics unlike fellow American Pat Lafontaine, who was taken third overall in the same draft. The pressure on him to perform was high thanks to his lofty draft status, but it was made even higher with the unfortunate choice of jersey #98 in light of the stratospheric numbers being put up by #99 Wayne Gretzky at the time.

Lawton North Stars

The North Stars planned to bring Lawton along slowly, but a separated shoulder and stretched knee ligaments also contributed to his playing in just 58 games during his rookie year in which he scored 10 goals and 31 points.

Lawton North Stars

Before the start of the following season, Lawton was a member of the United States National Team for the 1984 Canada Cup, a prestigious assignment for a 19-year-old. He rose to the occasion, scoring five goals in six games.

Things went terribly wrong for Lawton with the North Stars in 1984-85, as he managed just five goals and six assists for 11 points in 40 games with Minnesota, which was 21st on the team in scoring and placed him behind even defenseman Randy Velischek's 13 points. He was sent to the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League three separate times after failing to produce in Minnesota. The relationship between Lawton and the team was not helped when North Stars general manager Lou Nanne was quoted in Sports Illustrated as having said, "If I had to do it all over again, I'd take [Tom] Barasso. I'm not an idiot."

In an attempt to start over, Lawton ditched jersey #98 for the 1985-86 season and instead chose #8, which just happened to have belonged to the franchise's first big star, Bill Goldsworthy. With Minnesota for the entire season, Lawton scored 18 goals and 35 points.

Lawton North Stars

The pressure to perform on Lawton was now coming from a different place - comparison to those drafted immediately after him. #2 Sylvain Turgeon of the Hartford Whalers was coming off a 79 point season, the Islanders Lafontaine had 38 goals and 70 points in 1986-87, Steve Yzerman, chosen fourth, was already captain of the Detroit Red Wings and would score 90 points in 1986-87 and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Barasso took the league by storm when he won both the Calder and Vezina trophies as a rookie in 1984.

Lawton did show improvement offensively with the only 20 goal season of his career in 1986-87 with 21 as well as a career high 44 points. With the North Stars missing the playoffs, Lawton made his final appearance for the United States, this time at the 1987 World Championships.

The 1987-88 season Lawton once again change numbers, switching this time to #11 but in the end, the season was a stagnant one offensively as Lawton played in 74 games, scoring 17 times and totaling 41 points, which was offset by his +/- rating dropping from a +20 to a -10.

Lawton's relationship with the North Stars reached it's low point in the North Stars training camp in 1988 when the club wanted to assign him to Kalamazoo of the IHL to start the season. He refused to report and threatened to retire if the club did not trade him. He was suspended by the team and three days later he was traded to the New York Rangers where he wore the number 17.

 photo Lawton Rangers.jpg

That was the start of a meandering trip through the NHL, as Lawton was only a member of the Rangers for 30 games, during which he scored 17 points, prior to being dealt to the Hartford Whalers for the second half of the 1989-90 season, now wearing #7.

Lawton Whalers

He began the following season with the Whalers, but after 13 games he was claimed off of waivers by the Quebec Nordiques in early December after 3 points in 13 games. His time with Quebec (again wearing #17) lasted 14 games before they released him despite his 11 points at the time. The Boston Bruins then signed him in early February and after eight games (now as #29) with no points he finished the season with five games for the Maine Mariners of the AHL.

Lawton Nordiques

The Los Angeles Kings singed Lawton for the 1990-91 season, but he never suited up for the Kings, instead spending the entire season with the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL where he finished second in team scoring with 26 goals and 66 points as well as 13 points in 11 playoff games.

Looking for all the scoring help they could get, the expansion San Jose Sharks inked Lawton to a contract for their inaugural season, but foot and knee injuries limited him to 59 games and 37 points, which was good for fourth place on the low scoring Sharks. While a member of the Sharks, Lawton now donned the number 9, his seventh different number in nine NHL seasons.

Lawton Sharks

The 1992-93 season, the tenth of Lawton's career, saw him play 21 games for the Sharks and nine for their top IHL affiliate the Kansas City Blades before leaving the club which resulted in a trade to the New Jersey Devils organization in late January that saw him finish out the season with the Cincinnati Cyclones in the IHL before he retired as a player.

His final NHL totals were 483 games played, 112 goals and 154 assists for 266 points. He remains the only player in NHL history to ever wear the number 98.

Since retiring as a player, Lawton has stayed active in hockey, first as a player agent and later became General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Minnesota North Stars Brian Lawton jersey. This style North Stars jersey was first worn in 1978-79, and while the white jerseys had the addition of black stripes and outlines in 1981-82, black did not arrive on the green jerseys until 1988-89, seven years later!

This was Lawton's first season wearing number 8 after changing away from the ill-advised #98 and the inevitable comparisons to Gretzky that it brought on top of the expectations of being the first American born player as well as the first US high school player ever taken first overall.

Minnesota North Stars 1985-86 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars 1985-86 F jersey.jpg
Minnesota North Stars 1985-86 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars 1985-86 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1987-88 Minnesota North Stars Brian Lawton jersey as worn during Lawton's final season in Minnesota. As stated above, the white North Stars jersey received the addition of the black trim back in 1981-82, while the green jerseys had to wait until 1988-89 for the same treatment.

Of note, the black trim on the crest and numbers is not a separate layer of twill, but simply black stitching with roughly double the normal density.

 photo Minnesota North Stars 1987-88 F jersey.png
Minnesota North Stars 1987-88 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars 1987-88 B jersey.png.jpeg

Today's video highlight is Lawton batting a puck baseball style past future NHL star Dominik Hasek of Czechoslovakia during the 1984 Canada Cup.


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