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Saturday, November 7, 2015

1966-67 Chicago Black Hawks Glenn Hall Jersey

For seven seasons - day in, day out - Glenn Hall tended goal every single game, every single minute from the start of the 1955-56 season for the Detroit Red Wings and then for the Chicago Black Hawks starting with the 1957-58 season up through this date in 1962.

502 complete games in goal, 551 if you count the 49 playoff games, without ever once being pulled or given a rest - all without a wearing a mask!

Glenn Hall Blues

In that first season of the streak, Hall was the Calder Trophy winner as Rookie of the Year while a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Surprisingly, Hall was sent, along with the union organizing Ted Lindsay, to the Chicago Black Hawks in a trade following the season.

Hall Red Wings

In 1961, Hall led the Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup Championship, their first in 22 seasons. Hall was also a first or second team All-Star six times in the seven year run, no easy feat in a then six-team league against competition from Terry Sawchuk (who took over in goal in Detroit following Hall's departure), Johnny Bower, Jacques Plante, Roger Crozier and Gump Worsley.

Glenn Hall

Perhaps the closest he came to ending the streak was a puck to the face from the Toronto Maple Leaf's Jim Pappin that knocked out the only tooth he ever lost playing hockey and earned him 30 of the 250 stitches he would accumulate during his career.

Despite the end of his consecutive games streak due to a bad back, it would not deter Hall, who would go on to win the Vezina Trophy that season for the first of three times in his career and play in over 400 more games before retiring.

Hall is also known for throwing up before games, which he "credits" to being excited to play, not nerves for fear, and pioneering the butterfly style of goaltending, where a goaltender drops to his knees and spreads his legs out in a "V" shape, rather than doing the splits or laying sideways and stacking the pads on top of each other, the common styles used at the time. Keeping himself vertical also helped keep his face farther off the ice and away from the puck.

Playing with Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull was great for games, but very hard on Hall during practices. Mikita and Hull were the original developers of the curved stick and known for their blazing slap shots. Back in those days practices were not filled with the drills of today's modern practice, plus there were no rules at the time limiting the curvature on stick blades, and the players would blast shot after shot at the goaltenders, which would dip as much as two feet on their way to the net.

Hull in particular had no qualms about firing pucks at people, including trying to fire the puck at the glass in front of the goal judge at Chicago Stadium during pregame warmups to startle him into spilling his traditional coke. The problem for Hall was his location in the net in between Hull and the goal judge, requiring the puck to rip past Hall's head just over his shoulder on it's way to the glass!

Hall was set to retire at age 35, but was taken by the St. Louis Blues in the 1967 Expansion Draft, despite having just won the Vezina trophy! A 35% raise from $35,000 to $47,500 convinced Hall to extend his career. He led the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals three years in a row and also finally began to wear a mask.

Glenn Hall

He would capture the Conn Smythe Trophy in the 1968 playoffs, despite being on the losing end of a 4 games to none sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens. Each game was a one-goal victory for Montreal, with Games 1 and 3 going to overtime. Hall would also share the Vezina trophy with Plante in 1968-69.

Hall Plante Vezina
Vezina Trophy winners Hall and Plante

He retired with 84 shutouts and a lifetime goals against average of 2.51 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.

Today's featured jersey is a 1966-67 Chicago Black Hawks Glenn Hall jersey from his second Vezina Trophy winning season in Chicago. This style of Black Hawks jersey was worn during Hall's final two seasons in Chicago, as it features a v-neck collar which replaced the previous lace-up collar in 1965. No names were worn on the back of the jerseys in those days, just Hall's traditional goaltender's #1 in a simple single color.

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photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1968-69 St. Louis Blues Glenn Hall jersey from his third Vezina Trophy winning season, this one coming in St. Louis following the great NHL expansion of 1967.

This was the original style of Blues road jersey, which remained in use through the 1971-72 season when the colors of the stripes were then reversed. It would take until 1977 for names to appear on the back of Blues road jerseys.

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photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

First up in todays video section, this brief video focuses on Hall's consecutive games streak.

 Next is the excellent Legends of Hockey profile on Hall.

Friday, November 6, 2015

1991-92 Chicago Blackhawks TBTC Dominik Hasek Jersey

Dominik Hasek became the youngest player in in professional hockey history when, at age 16 he suited up for HC Pardubice in the Czechoslovak Extraliga in 1980. He would play for Pardubice for nine seasons, including winning the championship twice in both 1987 and 1989 and be named the top player of the Czechoslovak Extraliga in 1987, 1989 and 1990 as well as the Goaltender of the Year for five consecutive seasons from 1986 through 1990.

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A very young Hasek with Tesla Pardubice

He would play one season for Dukla Jihlava in 1989-90 before moving to North America as the restrictions on players from communist countries were now lifted after what would have been a highly successful, complete ten year career for many, but due to his record setting early start as a teenager, Hasek was still only 26 years of age.

Drafted 199th overall in the 10th round back in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, when players from communist countries had little chance of ever playing in the NHL, Hasek would not even find out he had been drafted until several months later! He would begin his time in North American hockey in the same place Wayne Gretzky started his professional career, Indianapolis, Indiana, playing for the Indianapolis Ice of the IHL in 1990-91.

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Hasek now in North America with the Indianapolis Ice

He would make his NHL debut on this date in 1990 in a 1-1 tie vs. the Hartford Whalers. He would see action in five games for the Blackhawks - eight years after being originally drafted! His first win would come on March 8, 1991, a 5-3 win over his future club - the Buffalo Sabres.

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Hasek during his rookie season with Chicago, as evidenced by the 1991 NHL All-Star patch, wearing the unfamiliar #34

The following season, backing up Chicago's then number one goaltender Ed Belfour, Hasek would split his time between Chicago and Indianapolis, playing in 20 games for each club. He would post a 10-4-1 record with a 2.60 goals against average that season for Chicago and would earn his first of 81 career shutouts with a 2-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 9th, 1992. The Blackhawks would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals that year before losing to the Mario Lemieux led Pittsburgh Penguins. Unable to win the starting job from Belfour, Hasek would be traded during the offseason to the Buffalo Sabres where he would begin the next phase of his career.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Chicago Blackhawks Turn Back the Clock Dominik Hasek jersey worn by Chicago during the NHL's 75th anniversary season when Hasek wore #31 after initially wearing #34 during his first season with the Blackhawks.

As part of the celebrations of the NHL's 75th anniversary in the 1991-92 season, the Original Six teams all wore a Turn Back the Clock jersey from their past at various times throughout the season. The Blackhawks "barberpole" jersey was originally worn in the 1937 season and did not feature any sleeve numbers.

This jersey also features the NHL 75th anniversary patch, as worn by all players during the 1991-92 season.

Chicago Blackhawks 1991-92 TBTC #31 jersey photo ChicagoBlackhawks1991-92TBTC31F.jpg
Chicago Blackhawks 1991-92 TBTC #31 jersey photo ChicagoBlackhawks1991-92TBTC31B.jpg
Chicago Blackhawks 1991-92 TBTC #31 jersey photo ChicagoBlackhawks1991-92TBTC31P.jpg

Here is a collection of many great saves made by Hasek in the 1992 Cup Finals versus Pittsburgh while playing for the Blackhawks.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

1995-96 Ottawa Senators Alexei Yashin Jersey

Born on this date in 1973, Alexei Yashin began his hockey career with his hometown club Dynamo Energia Ekaterinburg in the Soviet Championship League in the 1990-91 season. He also made his international debut for the Soviet Union at the European U18 Junior Championships where he earned a silver medal.

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Yashin played for the Soviet Union early in his career

For the 1991-92 season, Yashin moved to Dynamo Moscow, also of the Soviet Championship League. With the unsettled political situation of the times leading to the breakup of the Soviet Union, the next time Yashin took the ice in international play, he was a member of the Confederation of Independent States at the World Junior Championships that brought home the gold.

At the conclusion of the season, Yashin was drafted second overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.

The 19-year-old Yashin stayed with Dynamo Moscow for the 1992-93 season where he scored 10 goals and 22 points in 27 games in what was now the Russian SuperLeague. He also played in two international tournaments, the first being the 1993 World Juniors where he would skate for Russia for the first time. Later that spring, he again suited up for Russia when he made his first appearance at the IIHF World Championships, where he would win a gold medal.

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Yashin spent two seasons with Dynamo Moscow

For the 1993-94 season, Yashin would come to North America to begin play for the Ottawa Senators. His flashy offensive skills made an immediate impact as he led the Senators in scoring during his rookie season with 30 goals and 49 assists for 79 points. With the lowly Senators out of the playoffs, Yashin was free that spring to play in his second World Championships for Russia.

With the start of the 1994-95 season delayed by a labor dispute, Yashin headed west and began the season with 24 games for the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL where he excelled with 15 goals and 35 points. Once the NHL season resumed, Yashin returned to Ottawa and again led the Senators in scoring with 21 goals and 44 points in 47 games.

The first of several contract disputes with Ottawa arose heading into the 1995-96 season, and, to put pressure on the Senators, Yashin returned to Russia and even played 4 games with CSKA Moscow. Eventually, the dispute was resolved (for now) and he returned to play 46 games for Ottawa where he finished second in team scoring despite playing just half a season.

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Yashin's time with Ottawa was marred with frequent contract disputes,
such as 1995-96 when he was limited to 46 games

At the conclusion of the NHL season, Yashin was back with the Russian National Team for the 1996 World Championships in the spring, scoring 4 goals and 9 points in 8 games, and then just  before the start of the 1996-97 season, he again suited up for Russia at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Yashin then got down to business for the next three seasons, playing on all 82 of the Senators games. In 1996-97 he scored 35 goals and 75 points followed by 33 goals and 72 points in 1997-98. For the 1998-99 season, Yashin was named team captain and responded with the best season of his career, scoring 44 goals and 94 points.

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Yashin served two seasons as the Senators captain

During that same time period he would appear at the 1997 World Championships, the 1998 Olympics, where he won a silver medal, and again at the 1999 World Championships.

 With a year remaining on his contract signed after his holdout back in 1995-96, Yashin demanded a raise and refused to report to the Senators. When Ottawa stood firm, Yashin demanded a trade and in the end, he lost his captaincy and was suspended for the entire 1999-00 season by not only the Senators, but also by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which prevented him from playing with any European teams while under contract with Ottawa. Finally, an NHL arbitrator ruled that if Yashin ever returned to the NHL he owed the Senators another season of play after refusing to grant him free agent status.

With the NHL season over, Yashin was free to play for Russia to the 2000 World Championships, the only 5 games he would play all year.

Backed into a corner, Yashin returned to Ottawa for the 2000-01 season to play out the final year of his contract. He was jeered everywhere, but focused on his game and produced another 40 goal season on his way to 88 points to lead the Senators in scoring yet again. The playoffs saw second seeded Ottawa swept in four straight by the seventh seeded Toronto Maple Leafs as Yashin had only one assist in the sweep, brining his time in Ottawa to a disappointing end. He then competed for Russia in the World Championships to close out the year.

At the 2001 NHL draft, Yashin was traded to the New York Islanders for Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt as well as the second overall pick, which the Senators used to select Jason Spezza. The Islanders controversial General Manager Mike Milbury then signed Yashin to a mind-boggling ten year $87.5 million dollar contract.

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Yashin was dealt to the Islanders in 2001

He would lead the Islanders in scoring in 2001-02 and 2002-03, but would never approach his 40 goals and 88 points of his final year in Ottawa, with his best being 2001-02 when he had 32 goals and 75 points. The Islanders would make the playoffs in four of Yashin's five years on Long Island, but never advance past the first round.

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Yashin's time with the Islanders was pressure filled

During his time with the Islanders, Yashin was named team captain for the 2005-06 season and played 10 regular season and 9 playoff games for Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the Russian Superleague while the 2004-05 NHL season was canceled due to a labor dispute, the second NHL season Yashin missed in a span of six years.

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Yashin returned to Russia with Lokomotiv during the NHL lockout

From 2001-02 through 2006-07, Yashin would play for Russia at the 2002 Olympics, earning a bronze medal, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the 2004 and 2005 World Championships, winning another bronze in 2005, and the 2006 Olympics.

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Yashin was a regular on the Russian National Team
throughout his long career

With his final season in New York hampered by a knee injury which limited him to 58 games and scoring no points in the playoffs, the Islanders bought out the remaining years of his contract, brining and end to his time in the NHL.

For the 2007-08 season, Yashin returned to Yaroslavl in the Russia Superleague. He scored 43 points in 56 games and was named as the league MVP. The team then joined the new Kontinental Hockey League for the 2008-09 season and Yashin led the club on scoring both seasons and finished as the playoff runnerup both years as well.

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Yashin enjoyed two successful seasons with Lokomotiv after leaving the NHL

For 2009-10 Yashin signed with SKA Saint Petersburg and had a fine season with 64 points in 56 games. After one more season with Saint Petersburg, he would play one final season for CSKA Moscow before retiring.

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Yashin with SKA Saint Petersburg

Yashin's final NHL totals were 337 goals and 444 assists for 781 points in 850 games played. Internationally, his career included six medals including a World Championship gold, a World Junior gold and silver and bronze Olympic medals. He is still active in hockey and was the General Manager for the Russian National Team at the 2014 Olympics.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Ottawa Senator Alexei Yashin jersey. The Senators began with a similar style of jersey for their inaugural 1992-93 season, but with black armbands and red numbers outlined in white. For the next two seasons the numbers reversed colors to white outlined in red.

For 1995-96, the jersey evolved once more, with the center of the arm stripes changing to white and the addition of a white waist stripe to go along with the formerly single red waist stripe, which considerably brightened the overall look of the previous black and red version. Additionally, the sleeve numbers were now three color white numbers for one season before changing again to black numbers for the 1997-98 season. After one additional season of use in 1998-99, the Senators original black jersey was discontinued when it was replaced by the team's red alternate jersey.

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Ottawa Senators 1995-96 jersey photo Ottawa Senators 1995-96 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006-07 New York Islanders Alexei Yashin jersey. Aside from the Islanders restoring their traditional crest to the poorly received "Fishsticks" jerseys during the 1996-97 season, this bright orange creation was the Islanders first true alternate jersey in team history.

It's been referred to as the "traffic cone" jersey and the "construction worker vest". While not a popular jersey, it was worn by the team for four seasons and there would have been a fifth had the 2004-05 season been played. It's run came to an end with the elimination of third jerseys with the introduction of the Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08.

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New York Islanders 2006-07 Alt B jersey photo New York Islanders 2006-07 Alt B jersey_1.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1993 Russia National Team Alexei Yashin jersey as worn at the World Championships held in Germany where Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 to win the only World Championship gold medal of Yashin's career.

This Tackla jersey filled a narrow gap between the Tackla jerseys of the Soviet Union and the change to Reebok branding for all teams in 1994.

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Russia 1993 WC jersey photo Russia 1993 WC B jersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with a look at Yashin's scoring abilities. Say what you will about his contract disputes, public relations missteps and how he may have failed to live up to the enormous contract the Islanders foolishly gave him, at his peak, Yashin was an undeniable offensive talent who lead his team in scoring far more often than not during his career.

Say what you will about his contract disputes, public relations missteps and how he may have failed to live up to the enormous contract the Islanders foolishly gave him, Yashin did just fine for himself with by being in a relationship with supermodel Carol Alt.

Finally, an interview with Yashin regarding the pressures that come with his large contract and his desire to win the Stanley Cup from his days with the Islanders.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

1977-78 New York Rangers Phil Esposito Jersey

After eight and a half seasons in Boston, which included winning the Stanley Cup twice, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer five times and the Hart Trophy as league MVP twice, Phil Esposito was traded to the Rangers along with Carol Vadnais for Brad ParkJoe Zanussi and Jean Ratelle.

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Esposito was traded from Boston to the Rangers in 1975

Excerpted from Phil Esposito's book "Thunder and Lightning" (available used on Amazon.com in hardcover for less than a dollar!)
I was traded to the New York Rangers on November 7, 1975, in my mind a day that lives in infamy.
[Phil has just been offered a million dollar signing bonus and six-year contract at four hundred thousand dollars per season to join the Vancouver Blazers of the WHA]
[Bruins General Manager] Harry [Sinden] and I had been talking contract and he hadn't offered me very much. I went back to see him. I didn't have an agent. I never brought up he Vancouver offer. I didn't want to use that. I just told him "I don't want to leave Boston. Come on, let's have something here." He offered me a six-year deal at four hundred thousand dollars a year. I felt it was fair, considering what I had done.
"You want a no-trade clause, Phil?" he asked me.
"Harry," I said, "you and I have been through so much together, I don't need a no-trade clause. If you tell me you're not going to trade me, that's good enough for me.
As we shook hands he said, "Phil, you will be here as long as I'm here."
That was in October, just before the 1975-76 season began on the fourth, and I was happier than a pig in [slop].
We were on the road, and I was playing well even though I didn't particularly like Don Cherry's coaching style.
[At this point Esposito runs into Jim Pattinson who tells him he should have taken his offer to join the Blazers because Boston is going to trade him]
The next morning the phone rang, and [my roomate] Hank picked it up. Hank said, "Phil, it's Grapes." "Grapes" was out nickname for Don Cherry. I wondered, it's seven-thirty in the morning. We don't play until tomorrow. Why is he waking me up?
Hank handed me the phone.
Cherry said, "I've got to talk to you." I thought to myself, Oh, Jesus. I said, "If you want to talk to me, you're going to have to come up and see me." I hung up on him.
Hank said, "What's up?"
I said, "I think I've been traded."
There was a knock on the door, and in came Don Cherry and Bobby Orr. Don was wearing the ugliest pajamas I ever saw in my life. Don made a lot of money in Canada by wearing really ugly clothes. Bobby Orr was in a T-shirt and a pair of slacks.
I was sitting at the end of my bed in my underwear, hungover, and I had my head in my hands.
"What the [frick] is going on, Grapes?"
He said, "Phil, I ... well, I ..."
"Come on. Tell me. I've been traded, haven't I?"
He said, "Yeah."
[Frick] me," I said. "For who? And where?" He looked at me, and looked at Bobby, who was standing by the window. I said, "If you tell me New York, I'm going to jump out that window."
The New York Rangers were our arch-rivals. I hated New York. Whenever we went to play at Madison Square Garden, all we got to see was the dingy block between 7th and 8th Avenues and 33rd and 34th Streets. We never saw the hot spots. We would fly in on Eastern Airlines the day of the game, play, stay in the Statler Hilton, a rundown hotel right across the street, and fly out the next day. New York was filthy. It was the last place I wanted to go.
"Bobby, open the window," Grapes said.
That's how I learned I was going to New York.
On arrival in New York, Esposito found his familiar #7 taken by 16 year Rangers veteran Rod Gilbert and chose to simply double his customary #7 to the unusually high sweater number for the time of #77.

His first season of adjustment in New York would see Esposito play in 62 games and score 29 goals and 38 assists for 67 points to go along with his 16 points in the first 12 games of the season he played in Boston. While not able to reach the lofty league-leading point totals of 125-150 points as he had done with Boston, while being the first player to ever score 100 points in a season, Esposito still averaged 35 goals a season while in New York and 80 points over the final five full seasons of his career and led the Rangers in scoring three times.

On  this date in 977 Esposito would score his 600th NHL goal versus the Vancouver Canucks, becoming the first Ranger to reach that milestone and only the third player ever to reach 600 after Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull. He would then go onto to notch his 1500th point early in the 1979 season against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

When he retired in 1981, he was second to Howe in all-time league scoring with 1,282 games played, 717 goals and 873 assists for 1,590 points for an average of 1.24 points per game over 18 NHL seasons.

Esposito was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 and had his original #7 famously retired by the Boston Bruins in 1987 when Ray Bourque, the then current wearer of #7 for Boston, pulled of his jersey to reveal a permanent change to #77 in Phil's honor.

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Ray Bourque surrenders his #7 to Phil Esposito

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 New York Rangers Phil Esposito jersey. as worn in Vancouver when Esposito scored his 600th career goal, only the third player to ever do so.

This jersey style was first introduced by General Manager John Ferguson Sr. in the 1976-77 season and was the first departure in club history from the iconic diagonal "RANGERS" cresting. After proving unpopular with the tradition-bound Rangers fans, this style was only used for two seasons, the first without names on the back of the road jerseys and, thanks to a new NHL rule requiring them, with names on the back for the 1977-78 season.

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New York Rangers 1977-78 jersey photo New York Rangers 1977-78 home B jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1977-78 New York Rangers Phil Esposito jersey as worn at home in Madison Square Garden. Unlike the road jerseys that only had names on the back for 1977-78, names were always worn on the home white jerseys of this style.

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New York Rangers 1977-78 jersey photo New York Rangers 1977-78 B jersey.jpg

After being let go by the Rangers in 1978, Ferguson became the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets and reprised the exact same jersey template for the Jets beginning with their inaugural NHL season in 1979, with the only differences being the font for the name and numbers and, naturally, the team logo. The Jets would use this style all throughout the 1980's.

First up today is the "Legends of Hockey" biography on Phil Esposito.

Next up is the jersey retirement ceremony when the Bruins retired Esposito's #7 and Bourque famously shocks Phil and the stadium by giving up his number #7 to Esposito.

Here is Esposito, along with Ron Dugay, Dave Maloney and Anders Hedberg in a moment we suspect they'd all like to forget ever happened.

Unfortunately, it gets worse, as Esposito, Maloney, Hedberg and Ron Greschner take part in a sequel of even more embarrassing proportions.

We're not really sure what's happening here since this post was originally intended to be a tribute to the greatness of Phil Esposito's scoring abilities, but here's another skeleton from Phil's closet we just cannot keep to ourselves. His cohorts are Gil Gerard, Alan Thicke and The Unknown Comic. Why Phil is wearing a #14 jersey, we have no idea...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

1987-88 Vancouver Canucks Stan Smyl Jersey

Stan Smyl first played junior hockey with the Bellingham Blazers of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1974-75. He led the club to the Fred Page Cup with 33 points in 25 playoff games. He then joined the New Westminster Bruins of the Western Canada Hockey League for three playoff games later that same season before joining the team full time in 1974-75.

Smyl would be a force with the Bruins as the winger would score 32 goals and 74 points while compiling 169 penalty minutes in 72 games. The Bruins would go on to win the WCHL playoff title and advance to the Memorial Cup Final.

He would raise his goal total to 35 and his penalty minute total to 200 in 1976-77. Again, the Bruins would win the WCHL playoffs and return to the Memorial Cup, where they would emerge victorious following a 6-5 win over the Ottawa 67's.

1977-78 New Westminster Bruins

His third season with the Bruins would raise his stock with the NHL scouts, as he set a new personal best with 76 points despite being limited to just 53 games. Once again the Bruins won the WCHL playoffs and returned to defend their championship, their fourth straight Memorial Cup appearance and Smyl's third. Smyl put on a clinic during the playoffs, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 20 playoff games (including 14 in the 5 games of the Memorial Cup) as the Bruins successfully defended their championship with a 7-4 win over the Peterborough Petes as Smyl was named the Memorial Cup MVP.

Smyl Memorial Cup

Earlier that same season, Smyl made his debut for Canada at the 1978 World Junior Tournament, earning a bronze medal.

Following the season, Smyl would be taken 40th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft and then appeared in 62 games for the Canucks, scoring 38 points as a rookie.

Smyl Cancuks

In 1979-80, Smyl left no doubt he belonged in the NHL, as he averaged a point per game with 78 points in 77 games to lead the Canucks in scoring as well as leaving no doubts about his toughness with 204 penalty minutes. He also set a Canucks record with a 12 game point scoring streak and recorded his first NHL hat trick on March 7th.

He played in all 80 games in 1980-81 while scoring 63 points. For the 1981-82 season, he again played in all 80 games while equalling his high of 78 points, which included a new personal best of 34 goals. Late in the season he was named team captain, a position he would hold for the next eight years. The Canucks would qualify for the playoffs despite a losing record and go on to sweep the Calgary Flames in 3, oust the Los Angeles Kings in 5 and defeat the Chicago Black Hawks in 5 to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals only to face the powerful New York Islanders in the third season of their four year dynasty.

As captain, Smyl thrived, setting career highs in 1982-83 in goals (38), assists (50) and points (88) to not only lead the club in scoring for the second time, but also set a franchise record for most points in a season while also bettering his own team record with a 13 game point scoring streak in the process.

Smyl Cancuks

During the 1984-85 season, Smyl would become the Canucks all-time leading goal scorer as he would pass Don Lever with his 187th goal. With Vancouver missing the playoffs for the first time since Smyl's arrival, he was available to participate in the World Championships for Canada for the only time in his career, scoring a goal in ten games, which would be the game winner in a 3-1 victory over the Soviet Union on the way to a silver medal.

Despite suffering a late season season knee injury in 1985-86, Smyl was still able to keep his streak of seven seasons of 60 points or more alive on his way to earning his third Cyclone Taylor Award as Cancuks MVP, with the other two coming in 1980 and 1983.

Smyl would set a Canucks record for games played, passing Harold Snepsts on November 5, 1986 when he appeared in his 648th game. Five weeks later, he became the Canucks career point leader in style, recording a hat trick to give him 551 points to pass Thomas Gradin. While he failed to reach 60 points, he did record 20 goals for the eighth consecutive campaign.

Smyl Cancuks

Smyl would play four more seasons for Vancouver to close out his career as the Canucks leader in goals (262), assists (411), points (673) and games (896). While his offensive numbers would decrease dramatically near the end of his career, he was still a valuable player thanks to his defensive skills and relentless checking as well as his leadership.

Smyl Cancuks

He would later become the first Canucks player to have his jersey number retired on this date in 1991 when his #12 was raised to the rafters.

Smyl Cancuks

Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Vancouver Canucks Stan Smyl jersey. Smyl's rookie season was the first for the Canucks new black, orange and yellow "flying V" jerseys, which lasted until 1985, when today's featured style was introduced. These jerseys took on a somewhat more traditional approach, with the team logo as the main crest and a return to classic arm and waist striping.

Still, the Canucks bold colors still remained, standing out against a sea of reds and blues in the NHL, and they were one of only two teams, with the Kings being the other, to have yellow/gold home jersey rather than the traditional white.

These jerseys would remain in use for four seasons through the 1988-89 season when the home jersey returned to being white and the bold shoulder V striping was removed in a jersey makeover for the final three seasons of Smyl's career.

Vancouver Canucks 87-88 jersey

Today's video section begins with a look at Smyl's career as one of the greatest Canucks ever.

Finally, a look back at the New Westminster Bruins of 1977, which includes and interview with Smyl.

Monday, November 2, 2015

2004 Belarus National Team Ruslan Salei Jersey

After beginning his career with his hometown Russian Superleague club Dynamo Minsk of Belarus in 1992-93, defenseman Ruslan Salei, born on this date in 1974, played two more seasons with the club, then renamed Tivali Minsk, until taking the opportunity of the recently changed political landscape to come to North America and try to gain the attention of NHL scouts.

He signed with the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League for the 1995-96 season. While never an offensive force, he did surpass any offensive output he managed in Russia, thanks in part to the longer North American professional season, when he scored 7 goals and 30 points, five times more than the high of 6 he managed the year before in 51 games. In addition, he also showed his rugged side by accumulating 123 penalty minutes. All of this led to his being drafted 9th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

His next season was divided between the Thunder (8 games), the Baltimore Bandits of the American Hockey League (12 games) and making his NHL debut with Anaheim (30 games), which included Salei scoring his first NHL point with an assist.

Salei Ducks

For 1997-98, Salei spent the vast majority of his season with the Mighty Ducks, which included his scoring 5 goals and 15 points in 66 games. He also skated for the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the AHL in six games that same season.

He would spend the entire 1998-99 season with Anaheim, playing in 74 games as well as seeing his first playoff action in three games during the postseason. While certainly not a flashy offensive defenseman, he became a fan favorite for his grit, nastiness and determination.

After four more seasons, the Mighty Ducks would go on their first extended playoff run, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, thanks to their solid defensive corps, consisting of Niclas Havelid, Keith Carney, Sandis Ozolinsh, Salei, Vitali Vishnevsky and Kurt Sauer playing in front of Conn Smythe Winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere. The Mighty Ducks gave up just 6 goals in 4 games while sweeping Detroit in Round 1, eliminated Dallas in six, miraculously gave up just a single goal to Minnesota as they were swept in four and took the New Jersey Devils to seven games in the finals as Giguere finished the postseason with five shutouts.

The highlight of not only the playoffs, but perhaps his entire career, was Salei winning Game 3 of the finals for the Mighty Ducks with his overtime goal in Game 3 against Martin Brodeur.

After the 2003-04 season with Anaheim, Salei would travel to Russia to play with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague during the NHL lockout of 2004-05. He returned to Anaheim for one final season when the NHL resumed play in 2005-06, which included his setting a new NHL high with 19 points.

Salei left the Mighty Ducks after nine seasons to sign a free agent contract with the Florida Panthers. The change in scenery led to a change in Salei's game, as he immediately surpassed his previous offensive totals by a large margin, setting career highs with 6 goals and 26 assists for 32 points, the only time in his NHL career he would exceed 23 points.

Salei Panthers

After a second season in Florida, he was dealt at the trading deadline (for former teammate Ozolinsh) to the Colorado Avalanche for the final 17 games of the season.He would play another season for Colorado, surpassing 20 points for only the third time, the other being his second season in Florida.

Salei Avalanche

He suffered a serious back injury early in 2009-10, which limited him to just 14 games for the season. The 2010-11 season saw him reunited with his former Mighty Ducks coach Mike Babcock, this time with the Detroit Red Wings. Showing his back issues were behind him, he competed in 75 regular season games as well as 11 playoff contests.

Salei Red Wings

His final NHL totals after 14 seasons of play were 917 games played with 45 goals and 159 assist for 204 points and 1,065 penalty minutes.

Internationally, Salei was a stalwart on the Belarus blue line. The Belarusians first competed internationally at the 1994 World Championships at the Group C level, where they came second to fellow newcomers Slovakia. The won Group C in 1995 with a 4-0 record (while outscoring their opponents 19-8) and were promoted to Group B.

Salei Belarus

Salei returned to the national team in 1996 and 1997 to help them qualify for the 1998 Olympics in Japan, the first to feature NHL stars, which included a record 21-0 win over Lithuania. Once in Japan, Salei and Belarus won their preliminary round group to advance to the first round, only to be grouped with powerhouses Canada, Sweden and the United States. He also scored his first Olympic goal during

Later that same spring, Belarus, now having been promoted to the top level Group A, advanced to the second round, having finished second to the Czech Republic in Group 1 thanks to wins over Germany and Japan.

He made his next international appearance at the 2000 World Championships, which was highlighted with wins over Ukraine, a shocking 1-0 shutout of Russia and a 5-3 win over Switzerland. Salei and Belarus did not fare as well in 2001, as they finished 14th, usually enough to avoid relegation, but with Japan being protected as the Far Eastern qualifier despite finishing dead last, Belarus were relegated to Division I.

Salei made his second Olympic appearance in 2002 and scored 2 goals in 6 games as Belarus became the Cinderella story of the games. First, they needed to win Group B of the Preliminary Round to advance to the First Round, where they lost three straight games to the United States, Finland and Russia. Still, all eight remaining teams advanced to the Quarterfinals where Belarus shocked the world with their stunning 4-3 defeat of Sweden thanks to Vladimir Kopat's shot from center ice which careened off of Swedish goaltender Tommy Salo's head and into the net with less than 2 and a half minutes remaining.

In 2004, Salei helped Belarus steamroll the opposition in Division I Group A with 3 goals and 7 points for his highest scoring international tournament ever, as they went 5-0 while outscoring their competition 34-9 to return to the Top Level, where they remain to this day.

After two games in an unsuccessful Olympic qualification attempt in 2005, Salei returned to the World Championships in 2008 and again in 2009 where he scored 2 goals and 5 points while serving as team captain.

Salei Belarus

Salei participated in the third Olympics of his long international career in 2010 in Vancouver. Three months later, Salei made his final international appearance as he took part in his 9th World Championships in Germany, where he scored a goal, the 13th of his career for Belarus. In all, he would play in 69 games and score 31 points in 14 tournaments.

For the 2011-12 season, Salei signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Salei Lokomotiv

As the team were leaving to play their first game of the season, scheduled back in Salei's hometown of Minsk, Belarus, their plane crashed on takeoff, killing Salei and all but one of his 25 teammates, who then died five days later. Additionally, 11 team staff members and 7 of the 8 of the plane's crew also perished. The crash resulted in Lokomotiv bypassing their participation in the KHL season and a moving tribute to Lokomotiv on the ice in Minsk the following day.

Salei Lokomotiv

This season, tributes to Salei include former Detroit teammate Pavel Datsyuk wearing Salei's #24 during the preseason, the Red Wings honoring Salei on their patch which also includes Brad McCrimmon and Stefan Liv and the Ducks wearing Salei's #24 all season long.

At his funeral, Salei's coffin was draped with his Mighty Ducks jersey.

Salei Funeral

Today's featured jersey is a 2004 Belarus National Team Ruslan Salei jersey as worn in Salei's participation at the World Championships B Pool tournament when Salei had his highest offensive output in an international tournament with a career high 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points.

Belarus' National Team first began play in 1994 in the C Pool. It took them two tries to elevate themselves to the B Pool and two more to rise to Group A in 1997. After being relegated in 2001, the earned immediate promotion back to the Top Level in 2002. They were again relegated in 2003 thanks to Japan being exempt from relegation. Once gain they earned an immediate promotion back to the top in 2004 and have remained there ever since, which included an all-time high finish of 6th in 2006, thanks to wins over Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Switzerland on their way to finishing with a 4-3 record.

The original version of today's featured jersey was crested with "Belarus" in English, which was later changed to Cyrillic in 2002.

Belarus 2004  jersey
Belarus 2004  jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2002-03 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim Ruslan Salei jersey in which he scored the game winning goal in overtime of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as evidenced by the 2003 Finals patch on the upper right chest.

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 02-03 jersey

Today's video highlights begin with Salei winning Game 3 of the 2003 finals for Anaheim with his goal in overtime, just one of 5 playoff goals he would ever score with the Mighty Ducks.

Here are a pair of tributes to Salei, which include footage from his various NHL teams as well as playing for Belarus.


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