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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

1994-95 Quebec Nordiques Stephane Fiset Jersey

After playing his first season of junior hockey for the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, goaltender Stephane Fiset was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques 24th overall with the 3rd pick in the second round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

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Fiset in junior hockey with Victoriaville

He was back with the Tigres for the 1988-89 season where he won 25 games and posted the lowest goals against average in the league. His play was recognized with a spot on the Canadian team at the 1989 World Junior Tournament.

Fiset, born on this date in 1970, was back with Victoriaville for one final season of junior hockey in 1989-90 as well as a return trip to the World Juniors, where he went 5-1-1 in seven games to lead Canada to a gold medal as well as being named the Best Goaltender of the tournament. He also made his NHL debut that season, playing in 6 games for the Nordiques.

Still needing more seasoning, Fiset spent the vast majority of the 1990-91 season with the Halifax Citadels in the American Hockey League, going 10-15-8. He also was called up for three games with the Nordiques, who, aside from Ron Tugnutt, had a very unsettled backup goaltending situation.

Fiset split the 1991-92 season between Halifax (29 games) and the Nordiques, playing in 23 games, which included finally getting his first NHL win on his way to a 7-10-2 record, respectable numbers for the lowly 20-48-12 Nordiques, who finished 21st out of the 22 teams. In fact, Fiset's 7 wins led the team, as Jacques Cloutier (26 games) and Tugnutt (30) could only manage 6 wins apiece despite more games played.

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Fiset was known for his distinctive masks

Backing up newly arrived goaltender Ron Hextall, who arrived as part of the ransom of holdout Eric Lindros, Fiset played in 37 games in 1992-93, posting an 18-9-4 record for the improving Nordiques. Fiset also made three starts for the Citadels in the AHL that season.

With Hextall having been traded during the offseason, Fiset took over the reins as the team's #1 goaltender for the first time, playing in 50 games compared to backup Jocelyn Thibault's 29.

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Fiset broke into the NHL with the Nordiques and
eventually became their number one goaltender

At the conclusion of the season, Fiset was called upon by Team Canada for the 1994 World Championships, winning both of his starts as Canada defeated Finland to win the gold medal.

Fiset again got the majority of the starts in the strike shortened 1994-95 season, 32 vs the 18 of Thibault as the steadily improving Nordiques now had a roster with the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Owen Nolan. Unfortunately, the team's financial situation was dire, and the club was sold to new owners who relocated the club to Denver, Colorado for the 1995-96 season.

Fiset moved with the franchise, now renamed the Colorado Avalanche. Fiset was still getting the majority of the starts for the team until a blockbuster trade in early December which saw the arrival of star and future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, who had had a major falling out with the Montreal Canadiens. With Thibault departed in the Roy trade, Fiset remained as the backup. By the end of the regular season, Fiset had seen action in 37 games and tallied a stellar 22-6-7 record, while Roy led the club with 39 appearances and a 22-15-1 mark.

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Fiset played one season in Colorado, which concluded with a Stanley Cup

The club was clicking on all cylinders, with Sakic leading the team with 120 points, closely followed by Forsberg's 116, as the playoffs arrived. Colorado then marched through the playoffs, defeating the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings, each in six games, before sweeping the Florida Panthers in four straight to win the Stanley Cup in their first year in Colorado.

With Roy now at the helm, Fiset was dealt during the off season to the Los Angeles Kings to replace the departed Kelly Hrudy and team with Byron Dafoe. Fiset played a team high 44 games while Dafoe was in goal for 40 in 1996-97.

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Fiset's "King Tut" mask worn while he was a King

For 1997-98, Dafoe was gone and Fiset played in a workhorse 60 games, more than double the combined 29 by Jamie Storr and Frederic Chabot. Fiset and the Kings improved 20 points in the standings, which allowed Fiset to post a winning record of 25-25-8, an distinct improvement over the previous season when the King's struggled.

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Fiset set career highs with the Kings in 1997-98

Fiset led the Kings in games over the next two seasons, although Storr's games played continued to rise as he first took control of the backup job and then split time nearly evenly (47-42) in 1999-00.

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Fiset during the latter part of his Kings career

The 2000-01 season was a disaster for Fiset, as a knee injury cost him 25 games, which was followed by a second one that knocked him out of the lineup for 31 games. In the end, he played only seven games for the Kings and three for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL as he was working his way back into playing form.

Unable to regain his form after his knee injuries, Fiset played 23 games for the Kings top AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs before a late season trade to his hometown Canadiens, for whom he would play just two regular season and one playoff game before retiring.

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A rare shot of Fiset while with Montreal

His final NHL totals were 390 games played, 164 wins against 153 losses, 44 ties and 16 shutouts and a career 3,07 goals against average and a 90% save percentage. He also won a Stanley Cup with Colorado and a World Championship with Canada.

Today's featured jersey is a 1994-95 Quebec Nordiques Stephane Fiset jersey as worn during the Nordiques final season in Quebec.

This style Nordiques jersey dates back to the 1975-76 World Hockey Association season and would remain essentially unchanged through their final season in Quebec of 1994-95, with the only change worth noting being changing from one color blue numbers to two colors with the addition of red trim in 1991-92.

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Bonus jerseys: Today's bonus jerseys are 1997-98 Los Angeles Kings Sephane Fiset jerseys. These jerseys were worn during Fiset's second season with Los Angeles when he set career highs in games played with 60 and wins with 26.

This was the final season for the Kings "Chevy" logo black, white and silver jerseys which arrived on the scene with the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in 1988-89. While the jerseys remained unchanged for ten seasons, the customization evolved over time from two color names and numbers to three color names and numbers for the 1991-92 season, to finally easier to read one color names while sticking with the three color numbers from 1992-93 onward, with the numbers on the white jerseys (finally) changing to a more legible black rather than their original lower contrast silver.

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Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is 1998-99 Los Angeles Kings Sephane Fiset jersey. After an absence of a decade, purple returns to the Kings jerseys in this complete overhaul of the Kings look. Not a particularly good look, these dark and moody jerseys also featured an overly detailed coast of arms main crest and cartoonish number font and "Los Angeles" plastered across the waist of both the home and road jerseys.

One year later a purple alternate was introduced which featured the secondary crown logo as the main crest. After three seasons, the team would come to the realization that the crown made for a bolder main crest and in 2002-03, swapped the crests on all three of their jerseys, ending the use of this specific black jersey with the coat of arms crest after four seasons. The new combination of the black jersey with the crown logo would remain in use for 11 years through the 2012-13 season.

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Today's video section begins with Fiset himself, speaking in French for a minute.

Next up, the Top 10 Canadian World Junior Performances. Fiset is ranked as #7 and it begins at 4:55 and lasts for 1:45. Note the extremely rare jerseys Canada are wearing, a first generation Tackla jersey without the colored shoulders but with the diamond logos on the shoulders, ones we have never seen available for purchase, retail or game worn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson Jersey

Perhaps no other player represents the new found freedoms and moralities, and subsequent excesses, of the 1970's more than Derek Sanderson.

Sanderson, born on this date in 1946, helped his hometown Niagara Falls Flyers win the 1965 Memorial Cup championship and became the league's leading scorer in 1967 with 101 points in 47 games.

He made his NHL debut with two games with the Boston Bruins in 1965-66 and two more the following season prior to becoming a full time member of the Bruins in 1967-68. After scoring 24 goals and 49 points, Sanderson was named the recipient of the 1968 Calder Trophy. He also had toughness to go with his offensive skills. In 48 games of junior hockey in 1965-66 Sanderson accumulated 238 penalty minutes, a trait he brought with him to the NHL with 98 PIM's his rookie season which preceded four straight years over 100. To complete his reputation as perhaps the best two way player in the game, he was also very solid in the defensive zone as well.

In his third full season in the league the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup and added a second in 1972, which gave rise to his celebrity. He also embraced the changing morals of the time like a rock star, indulging himself in spoils of fame to excess. The obvious outward signs were the dramatic changes in his appearance, as first his sideburns grew in the style of the day, followed by the lengthening of his hair as he embraced a playboy lifestyle by wearing a mink coat and diamond rings and driving his Rolls Royce when he didn't have a girl on each arm. All of this earned him the title of one of the sexiest men in America from Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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The evolution of Derek Sanderson

Following the 1972 Stanley Cup, with his value as a player and celebrity at an all time high, the Philadelphia Blazers of the brand new World Hockey Association were looking to get themselves noticed and offered Sanderson a contract worth $2.65 million, which the Bruins wisely declined to match in hindsight, making Sanderson the highest paid athlete in the world at the time.

Sanderson's time with the Blazers was an unqualified disaster due to pressure to perform, Sanderson's wild private life plus an injured shoulder and a slipped disk in his back. All of this prompted the Blazers to buy out his contract after a mere eight games, six points and 69 penalty minutes.

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Sanderson during his brief time with the Blazers.
Notice the cigarette in his mouth!

He returned to the Bruins for 25 games of the 1972-73 season, for what proved to be essentially a lost season of only 38 combined games, including the playoffs.

He managed less than 30 games with Boston in 1973-74 and was traded to the New York Rangers for the 1974-75 season. He rebounded somewhat on the ice with 25 goals and 50 points, but it was in New York that his drinking started to get the better of him.

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Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers in 1974

After just eight games in 1975-76, the Rangers dealt Sanderson, once called "trendy and tactless" by Sports Illustrated, and his drinking and drug problem to the St. Louis Blues where his talent was still able to see him through to 67 points in 65 games. But the downward spiral was in full effect and the 1976-77 season saw Sanderson play 65 games for the Blues, 8 games in the minors before being sold to the Vancouver Canucks for the final 16 games of the season.

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Sanderson's off-ice issues limited him to
less than two full seasons in St. Louis

He began the 1977-78 season out of hockey, but made a late season signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 1978, scoring his final four NHL points in 13 games before his hobbled knees and otherwise deteriorating physical condition led to his retirement.

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Sanderson's last stop was with the Penguins

After a series of bad investments and his continued alcoholism and drug problems, Sanderson found himself broke, having blown $3 million by his own estimate, and out of a job and living in a park while his poor health had him reduced to getting around on crutches. Finally after several years, thanks in part to former teammate Bobby Orr, Sanderson began to get the help he needed in rehab. Orr stuck with him until the cure finally took hold - after 13 drug and alcohol clinics, where doctors told him he was addicted to 11 different drugs.

Once back on his feet, literally and figuratively, after no less than five hip replacement surgeries due to decaying bones caused by years of drug abuse, for which he cannot take pain medication for fear of an addiction relapse, he began a career as a sportscaster and also eventually provided financial advice to young athletes to help ensure that they did not end up losing all their money in the same way he once did. He currently also in involved in with several charitable organizations, making guest appearances to use his celebrity to raise awareness and money for their causes.

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A healthy and happy Sanderson today

His final NHL career totals were 598 games played with 202 goals and 250 assists for 452 points and amassed 911 penalty minutes.

In 2012, Sanderson published his story in "Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original"

Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey as worn when Sanderson and the Bruins captured the 1970 Stanley Cup, the first of two in Sanderson's career.

Sanderson was first assigned #23 with the Bruins and then #16 when he became a regular member of the roster. Following his return after his brief stay in Philadelphia he wore #27 for a year, then changing to #17. He wore #4 in New York before a change to #16. He wore #19 in St. Louis and again Vancouver but was able to reclaim his preferred #16 in Pittsburgh.

1969-70 Boston Bruins
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1972-73 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. After his ill-fated singing with Vancouver of the WHA, which lasted all of eight games, Sanderson was able to return to the Bruins where he was give the #27 to wear, as #16 was now being worn by Fred O'Donnell.

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Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1973-74 Boston Bruins Derek Sanderson jersey. Back with the Bruins again for the 1973-74 season, Sanderson asked for a different number than the #27 he wore the previous season after his return to Boston following is buyout by the Blazers of the WHA.

Trying to get him as close to his old #16, the Bruins assigned Sanderson #17 for 1973-74. Sanderson played in 29 games before an injury ended his season. Hoping to fill the void left by Sanderson, the Bruins acquired Bobby Schmautz in February of 1974 and gave Schmautz Sanderson's #17 for the remainder of the season!

We're unsure if the Bruins knew Sanderson's time with the club was over and felt comfortable giving his number away, perhaps they knew he would be happy with a different number when he returned or perhaps it was just a matter of practicality, and #17 was one of the only remaining game jerseys ready for game use when Schmautz arrived in Boston, but it's hard to fathom an NHL team giving away a player's number in midseason while the previous wearer was still a member of the club, injured or not.

During the offseason, Sanderson was traded to the New York Rangers, which ended his time with the Bruins. The fact he wore so many different numbers in Boston epitomizes Sanderson's turbulent and unsettled time with the Bruins.

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Boston Bruins 1973-74 jersey photo Boston Bruins 1973-74 B jersey.jpg

We start today's video section with a tribute to Sanderson, showing him at his finest as a player.

In this next video, Sanderson the broadcaster gives his thoughts on the closing of the Boston Garden.

Here Sanderson recalls Bobby Orr's game winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals that he assisted on and then gets into the topic of sobriety and his friendship with Bobby Orr, a nice way to conclude today.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Cleveland Barons/Minnesota North Stars Merger

Our story today begins back in 1967 when the NHL expanded from six teams to 12 with the addition of the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and the focus of today's story, the California Seals and the Minnesota North Stars.

While the North Stars thrived in the hockey hotbed of Minnesota, the situation in California got off to a rocky start. San Francisco was not considered a particularly lucrative market for hockey, but the terms of the new television agreement the league had signed with CBS called for two of the six new expansion clubs to be located in California.

The Seals were supposed to have been located in San Francisco, but the planned arena was never built. Instead, the team was based across the bay in Oakland. The club was originally called the "California Seals" to appeal to fans in the larger San Francisco and address complaints from the other NHL team, who thought Oakland was not a major league city, as it's only other professional sports team at the time was the Oakland Raiders of the second rate American Football League. Then, on November 6, 1967, after having played just a dozen games, owner Barry Van Gerbig announced the team's name was being changed to the "Oakland Seals"!

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Team captain Bobby Baun wearing their first "C" logo jersey
from the club's original name of "California Seals"

Poor attendance led to threats by Van Gerbig to move the club and the poor record in the ice led to only seven of the original 20 players returning for the second season. While the team finished with records below .500, they qualified for the playoffs in 1968-69 and 1969-70, but lost in the first round both times.

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The 1968-69 Oakland Seals now wearing "O" logo sweaters

Prior to the 1969-70 season, Van Gerbig sold the club to a group called Trans National Communications, but when the group filed for bankruptcy, ownership reverted to Van Gerbig, who put the club up for sale once again.

The Oakland Seals were then purchased by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, who had moved to the bay area in 1968. Never one to sit still, Finley renamed the team the "California Golden Seals" and changed the team's colors from green and blue to green and gold to match those worn by his baseball club, as well as having the team wear flashy white skates!

Owner Finley changed the Seals colors to green and gold
with flashy (and infamous) white skates

Unfortunately the the Golden Seals finished last in the NHL during their first season under Finley's ownership with just 45 points from 78 games. Even worse, the Seals first overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft had already been traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Ernie Hicke and Montreal's first round pick in 1970, used by he Golden Seals to take Chris Oddleifson, and the always needed cash. The Canadiens then used the draft choice obtained from the Golden Seals to select none other than future Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur.

The team improved by 15 points the following season, but suffered from the emergence of the World Hockey Association, as the frugal Finley refused to match the WHA's contract offers to his players resulting in five of the team's top ten scorers leaving for the rival league and the Golden Seals once again sank to the bottom of the standings with 48 points in 1972-73 and followed that up with just 36 points in 1973-74.

Matters were made worse, if that's even possible, by a divisional restructuring which somehow found the Golden Seals placed in the newly created Adams Division with the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, in an apparent effort by the league to kill off the franchise, as each of the other clubs were a minimum of 2,300 miles to the east!

Having grown tired of owning the hockey team, especially in direct comparison to his three-time world champion Athletics baseball team, Finley tried unsuccessfully to sell the Golden Seals and the franchise was eventually eventually taken over by the NHL.

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Goaltender Gilles Meloche wearing the new post-Finley
team colors of Pacific Blue and California Gold

Melvin Swig then purchased the team in 1975 with plans to have the team play in a new arena in San Francisco. Those plans never came to pass following the election of a new mayor who was opposed to the plan, so after nine money-losing seasons, low attendance and few victories, minority owners George and Gordon Gund convinced Swig to relocate the team to their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, making the club the first NHL team to relocate since 1934 and bringing to and end the Golden Seals ordeal in California, where the team had more names than playoff appearances!

Once relocated for the 1976-77 season, the franchise was renamed the Cleveland Barons and took up residence in the Richfield Coliseum, giving them the largest seating capacity in the NHL at the time of 18,544, but they would never come close to filling it in the two years they played in Cleveland. Their 1976 home opener drew only 8,900 fans and they attracted 10,000 at only seven out of their 40 home games.

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The 1976-77 Cleveland Barons team

After the first season in Cleveland, majority owner Swig sold his interest in the team to the Gund brothers, who tried to put a more competitive team on the ice the second year. The Barons were able to  defeat the defending champions the Montreal Canadiens in November and the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres in consecutive games in January. They also set an attendance record of 13,110 vs. Philadelphia that year, but a agonizing 15 game losing streak eliminated them from playoff contention and an eventual point total lower than the year before.

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Goaltender and Golden Seals holdover Gilles Meloche
anchored the NHL's Cleveland Barons

After the season the Gunds tried to buy the Coliseum, but failed. Meanwhile, the North Stars had fallen on hard times in Minnesota, thanks to a combination of poor play which caused them to miss the playoffs four of the previous five seasons and competition from the cross-town Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA, who played just 11 miles up the road in St. Paul and at times drew sellout crowds of over 17,000 during the North Stars down period.

With serious concerns that both clubs were on the verge of folding, on June 13, 1978, the league granted approval for the Barons to merge with the Minnesota North Stars under the Gunds ownership. The team would play in Minnesota and retain the North Stars name, but take the Barons place in the Adams Division. The Barons remain the last franchise in the four major North American sports leagues to cease operations.

Things had to happen fast, as the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft was just two days away and a special dispersal draft for the excess players from the combined rosters needed to be held first. The new North Stars were allowed to protect 10 players and two goaltenders from the combined rosters of Cleveland and Minnesota prior to the dispersal draft, in which any team wanting to claim an unprotected player could do so for $30,000.

Working quickly for the freshly merged club, Minnesota's brand new General Manager Lou Nanne (who had only stopped playing at the end of the just completed season!) and Cleveland's GM Harry Howell (who became the combined team's head coach) evaluated their recently combined roster and protected Per-Olav Brasar, Brad Maxwell, Bryan MaxwellGlen Sharpley, Tim Young and goaltender Pete LoPresti from the North Stars roster and Mike Fidler, Rick Hampton, Al MacAdam, Dennis Maruk, Greg Smith and goaltender Gilles Meloche from the Barons.

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Tim Young

Only the five worst teams were allowed to make selections from the unprotected players in the Dispersal Draft, held on this date in 1978, and the Washington Captials chose to pass, and were instead allowed to make an additional pick at the end of the first round of the 1978 Amateur Draft.

After the St. Louis Blues chose Mike Crombeen from the Barons roster, the North Stars were allowed to protect an additional player, which was Ron Zanussi. The Vancouver Canucks then chose Randy Holt, also formerly of the Barons. After the Pittsburgh Penguins passed on their chance to select a player, Bob Stewart was then added to the protected list by Minnesota. The Dispersal Draft then concluded when the Colorado Rockies declined their chance to select a player.

The newly merged roster was then immediately supplemented later the same day by the North Stars having the first overall pick in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft thanks to Minnesota having finished dead last in the league at the end of the 1977-78 season. They chose eventual NHL Rookie of the Year and future team captain Bobby Smith in the first round and his Ottawa 67's linemate Steve Payne in the second round, both of whom would go on to be 40 goal scorers for the North Stars. They then hit on future Miracle on Ice team member Steve Christoff later in the second round, who would score 26 goals twice for the North Stars and excel as a penalty killer, and another future team captain, defenseman Curt Giles in the fourth round.

In addition to those protected in the dispersal draft and chosen in the Amateur Draft, the team was also able to retain several players who were not chosen in the Dispersal Draft despite not being protected. Among those were Tom YounghansFred Barrett and Bill Butters off the North Stars roster and the return to Minnesota of J. P. Parise from Cleveland as well as goaltender Gary Edwards, who supplanted LoPresti as Meloche's backup, playing in 25 games in 1978-79.

Looking back on the previous week, Nanne probably could not believe his luck, having taken over as General Manager the worst team in the NHL, he now suddenly found himself with the additions of Fidler, MacAdam, Maruk, Greg Smith, Parise, and goaltenders Meloche and Edwards plus draft picks Bobby Smith and Payne for the upcoming season - and all without having to have traded a single asset!

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Bobby Smith arrived in Minnesota the year
they merged with the Cleveland Barons

The critics said if you combined the rosters of two terrible teams, you were going to be left with a terrible team, but the combined talents of of the two teams plus the addition of their draft class of 1978 proved them wrong. While they did miss out on the playoffs in 1979, the 1979-80 roster reached the playoff Semifinals.

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A common thread from the Seals to the Barons and
eventually the North Stars, Gilles Meloche

Then the 1980-81 team, who by now had Christoff and Giles plus 1979 draft picks Craig Hartsburg and homegrown Neal Broten plus electrifying undrafted free agent Dino Ciccarelli (who was passed over after having suffered a broken leg in juniors), veteran Paul Shmyr, tough guy Jack Carlson and rookie goaltender Don Beaupre, made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in the space of three short seasons after having finished dead last in the NHL.

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The new look North Stars reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1981

It would take 22 years before the NHL would return to Ohio, but not to Cleveland, as the new team would be in the form of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000-01.

Today's first featured jersey is a 1974-75 California Golden Seals Gilles Meloche jersey. Meloche arrived in Oakland for the 1971-72 season after a trade from the Chicago Black Hawks, who had drafted Meloche in 1970.

After the departure of owner Finley, the Golden Seals colors were changed from his signature green and gold to the even less intimidating shades of "Pacific Blue" (teal) and "California Gold" (yellow), quite probably the worst colors ever for an NHL team, which were about as intimidating as Easter eggs. The change also gave the team more total color schemes than playoff appearances as well.

Aside from the unusual color scheme of the last incarnation of Golden Seals jerseys, another odd characteristic of this set was the decidedly "football jersey" style vertical stripes where the arms meet the body of the jersey, which are something that had never appeared on an NHL jersey before or since.

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Today's second featured jersey is a 1976-77 Cleveland Barons Gilles Meloche jersey. Made by ProJoy at a time when replicas were less than accurate. While this jersey has it's issues, like the sleeve stripes being straight instead of angled, the crest is very well made, with each piece being a separate piece of fabric sewn together. The Gothic "B" in the state of Ohio in the center of the main logo is five separate layers of fabric and both the curved "Cleveland" and "Barons" names are each intricate single pieces of twill sewn onto the "C"!

What sets the 1976-77 jerseys apart from the 1977-78 jerseys is the wonderful State of Ohio patches on the sleeves for the numbers. The other difference between the two year was that the 1976-77 jerseys did not have the names on the back of the road jerseys.

But then, as is part of the fun of jersey collecting, a mystery presented itself in the form of this picture...


A name on the back of a Barons road jersey with the State of Ohio sleeve patches? That didn't add up, so we posted the photo on a collector forum and questioned wether it was perhaps from a pre-season game before the 77-78 season.

The key to the mystery was that the Barons are shown playing the St. Louis Blues, who they played twice that season - once on February 28th, a Monday, and again on April 2nd, a Saturday and a national TV hockey day.

Due to the fact their game was going to be shown on national TV, the Barons were required at the request of the network to add names to the back of the jerseys, which were then removed after the game because the team owners thought that having names on the back of the player's jerseys would hurt their program sales.

Armed with that unique story, we had our jersey customized as it was worn on April 2nd, 1977 against the Blues, complete with the State of Ohio patches and the name on the back for national TV purposes. We love being able to say that a jersey was worn on one specific date, generally through the addition of a unique patch, a trend that will no doubt apparent to regular readers of this blog.

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Today's third featured jersey is a 1983-84 Minnesota North Stars Gilles Meloche jersey. An interesting fact about Meloche is that he played for the California Golden Seals from 1971-72 to 1975-76, the Cleveland Barons in both 1976-77 and 1977-78 and then the Minnesota North Stars from 1978-79 to the 1984-85 season, 14 seasons in all with three different teams without once ever having being traded or signing a free agent contract as the Seals relocated to Cleveland and the Barons then merged with the North Stars.

Joining Meloche on the journey from California to Cleveland to Minnesota was MacAdam and technically Greg Smith (1 game as a rookie with the Seals before their move to Cleveland) and Maruk, who was traded to Washington after just two games with the North Stars (only to return to Minnesota five years later).

We doubt if any other players ever had so much discontinuity in such a continuous career as Meloche (14 seasons with three teams but no trades or free agent signings) and MacAdam (10 seasons of the same)!

The North Stars ushered in their new era of Gund's ownership with a new style of jersey, dropping the dual waist and arm stripes of the same color by changing to dual two color stripes of the same width. While the white home jerseys got the addition of black trim back in 1981-82, the green road jerseys did not have the addition of the striking black accent color until 1988-89.

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Today's video is a brief, and frankly depressing look at the history of pro hockey in Cleveland through the departure of the Barons.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1921-22 Vancouver Millionaires Jack Adams Jersey

John James "Jack" Adams was born on this date in 1895 began his professional career with the Toronto Arenas of the brand new National Hockey League in 1917-18. The club won the NHL playoffs over the Montreal Canadiens to win the O'Brien Cup and advance to the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, whom they defeated 3 games to 2 to take possession of the cup.

Adams played 17 games for the Arenas in 1918-19, which included scoring his first NHL goal when he totaled 3 goals and 3 assists over the course of the season. In December 1919 Adams was sold to the Vancouver Millionaires for the 1919-20 season and saw an immediate rise in his scoring output. 15 points in 22 games followed by a jump to 29 points in 1920-21, which included 17 goals, up from just 9 the season prior, to win the PCHL scoring title. Following the regular season, Vancouver defeated the Seattle Metropolitains to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals against the NHL champion Ottawa Senators, who won 3 games to 2 in five one-goal games in front of a record average of 10,000 spectators in Vancouver's Denman Arena. In the five games, Adams scored a pair of goals and an assist.

Adams really lit the lamp in the 1921-22 season with 26 goals, plus 4 assists, in 24 games. Vancouver again bested Seattle in the PCHA finals to move on to the Stanley Cup Finals versus the Toronto St. Patricks, another five game series which would go the way of the St. Patricks despite Adams 6 goals in the 5 games to lead all goal scorers.

The St. Patricks must have been impressed with Adams, as they made a deal to acquire the righthanded center for the 1922-23 season. He continued his scoring output with 19 goals and 28 points in 23 games followed by 18 points in 22 games in 1923-24.

Jack Adams

He exceeded a point-per-game in 1924-25 with 21 goals and 31 points in 27 games. After another 21 goal season in 1925-26, Adams was sold to the Ottawa Senators in August of 1926, a move which saw him in a far different role which limited his offensive output to a meager 5 goals and 1 assist in 40 games. The payoff however was his second Stanley Cup championship, as the Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 1 in a two-game series to earn the right to meet the Boston Bruins in an unusual best-of-three series which concluded with Ottawa taking the cup after 2 wins and a pair of ties - the last ties in Stanley Cup history as all games were played to a conclusion thereafter.

1927 Ottawa Senators
The 1927 Stanley Cup Champion Ottawa Senators with
Adams in the top row, second from the right.

With his playing days now over, Adams began a new chapter in his life in hockey when NHL president Frank Calder recommended Adams become the new coach and general manager of the Detroit Cougars, who had struggled financially and on the ice during their first NHL season. The team improved from 12 wins to 19 in their first season under Adams. After three seasons the club was renamed the Falcons for two seasons before finally becoming the Red Wings for the 1932-33 season after being purchased by James Norris, a year before Adams guided the club to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals aided by Norris' financial backing.

Jack Adams - coach
Red Wings coach Jack Adams

Two seasons later the Red Wings reached the pinnacle, capturing their first championship in 1936.

1936-37 Detroit Red Wings
The 1936 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings successfully defended their championship by winning another Stanley Cup in 1937 and would return to the finals in 1941 for the first of three consecutive times, which concluded with another championship in 1943, Adams third as a coach. He remained behind the Red Wings bench until 1947 when he chose to concentrate in his general manager duties alone after 20 years behind the bench.

Adams celebrates 1943
Adams celebrates the 1943 Stanley Cup
championship with two of his players

Under Adams direction, the Red Wings had built a farm system which provided a steady stream of talent, including the core group of Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel and Gordie Howe. It was this group of players that led the Red Wings to seven consecutive first place finished from 1948 to 1955, during which they won four Stanley Cups, making Adams the first and only person to have his name on the cup as a player, coach and general manager. In all, his name appears on the cup nine different times.

He remained the Red Wings general manager until 1963, a 36 year run that remains the longest in NHL history. After leaving the Red Wings, Adams became the founding president of the Central Hockey League, a post he held until his death in 1968.

Adams was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1959 and named the winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1966. In 1974, the NHL introduced the Jack Adams Award, given annually to the most outstanding coach each season.

Today's featured jersey is a 1921-22 Vancouver Millionaires Jack Adams jersey from the season Adams won the PCHL scoring title. No original Millionaires jerseys are known to exist and most Millionaires memorabilia was lost when Denman Arena burned down in 1936.

Jack Adams Vancouver Millionaires

Bonus jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Vancouver Giants throwback 1915 Vancouver Millionaires jersey as worn on November 21, 2008 when the Giants held a "Stanley Cup Legends Night". The Millionaires won their only Stanley Cup in 1915 wearing the original version of this jersey.

Vancouver Giants

Today's featured video is a departure from the norm, a music video featuring photos and archival footage of the Vancouver Millionaires as part of a music video for a song entitled "The Vancouver Millionaires".

Our next video is a report of the Canadian junior team the Vancouver Giants wearing throwback 1915 Millionaires jerseys, including cream colored hockey pants. Good stuff!


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