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Saturday, December 12, 2015

1950-51 Toronto Maple Leafs Ted "Teeder" Kennedy Jersey

When Ted "Teeder" Kennedy was just seven years old a family friend took the impressionable youngster to see the first two games of the 1932 Stanley Cup Final, where Charlie Conacher became his childhood hero, which inspired Kennedy to wear the number 9.

After a poor experience while still in high school at the Montreal Canadiens training camp, Kennedy returned home and played one season of senior hockey for the Port Colborne Sailors, averaging a goal per game as well as 52 points in 23 games. Toronto then arranged a trade for Kennedy's rights from Montreal before he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs for a pair of games in the 1942-43 season. To this day, the trade is viewed as both one of the best in Toronto history and, as recently as 2001, called "one of the five darkest days in Canadiens history."

During his first full season with the Maple Leafs, Kennedy impressed with 49 points in 49 games, which included 26 goals while impressing the fans with his determination, toughness and playmaking skills, especially as Toronto had lost several key players to the armed forces during World War II.

Kennedy, born on this date in 1925, then led the team in scoring during the 1944-45 season with 29 goals and 54 points in 49 games. Although Toronto finished third in the six team NHL, 28 points back of the Montreal Canadiens and their 38-8-4 record, Toronto eliminated their Canadian rivals in six games of the opening round of the playoffs and then defeated the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to win the 1945 Stanley Cup championship as Kennedy scored 7 goals and 9 points in 13 games to lead the Maple Leafs in playoff scoring.

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The 1944-45 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs

The following season of 1945-46 was a lost one for Kennedy, as a slow start, illness and a season ending injury led to a dismal 21 games played with a mere 5 total points. His luck changed before the start of the 1946-47 season when no less than Charlie Conacher himself presented Kennedy his number 9 sweater. When Kennedy arrived in Toronto, Lorne Carr was in possession of #9, with Kennedy first wearing 12. He then changed to 10, but when Carr announced his retirement, Kennedy immediately wrote to Maple Leafs management requesting his desired #9. Not only did the team give him permission to change to 9, the arranged for Conacher to personally present it to Kennedy.

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Charlie Conacher presents his #9 sweater to Kennedy

With World War II having ended in 1945, many of the NHL's missing star players returned to the league, and Kennedy felt he had to re-establish himself as an NHLer, especially after his lost season of 1945-46. His concerns were unfounded, as he went out and led the team in goals with 28, assists with 32 and subsequently points with 60, which was good for fifth overall in the NHL. Not content with that, Kennedy then led the Maple Leafs in playoff scoring with 9 points in 11 games as they defeated Detroit in five and Montreal in six to claim the 1947 Stanley Cup, with Kennedy setting an NHL record which still stands as the youngest player to score a cup winning goal.

Early in the 1947-48 season, Toronto loaded up for another cup run by making one of, if not the largest trades in NHL history up to that point by sending five players to Chicago for the NHL's reigning scoring champion Max Bentley. Despite Bentley's resume, he was the Maple Leafs third line center behind team captain Syl Apps and Kennedy and the trio finished 1-2-3 in team scoring, with Apps leading with 53 points in 55 games over Bentley's 48 and Kennedy's 46. The tables were turned in the postseason, as Kennedy led the club with 14 points from 8 goals and 6 assists over Bentley (11 points) and Apps (8) as the Maple Leafs needed just 9 games to win their second consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Boston Bruins in five followed by a sweep of Detroit in the final.

During the celebrations of their championship back in Toronto, Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe announced that Kennedy would become the next team captain, replacing the retiring Apps.

"To share that honor with Syl Apps, a superb player and perfect gentleman, was a great moment. When I replaced him as captain in '48, it was the proudest moment of my life," Kennedy later reflected.

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Apps and Kennedy sharing the 1948 Stanley Cup,

Kennedy would miss a month of the 1948-49 season, but following his return in January, the team played well enough to finish fourth and qualify for the final playoff spot despite a losing record of 23-25-12. Unlike today's modern grind where the Stanley Cup playoffs last for two months, the playoffs in the Original Six era allowed for a team on a hot streak to claim the Cup in the space of three weeks, which is exactly what the Maple Leafs did by repeating their 1948 championship run by downing Boston in five games and sweeping Detroit for the second consecutive season in four straight. This gave Toronto their third consecutive Stanley Cup title, the first time in NHL history that a team had won three Cups in a row. Rising to the occasion, Kennedy again led the team in playoff scoring with 8 points in 9 games.

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Kennedy receiving his first Stanley Cup as Maple Leafs captain in 1949

The 1949-50 season saw Kennedy register his fifth 20 goal season on his way to 44 points, just one point back of Sid Smith for the team lead. In the playoffs, Detroit finally got the best of the Maple Leafs by defeating them 1-0 in overtime of Game 7 to end Toronto's unprecedented run of Stanley Cup success.

Kennedy saw his goal total dip below 20 in 1950-51, but he nevertheless set a career high with 61 points thanks to a league leading 43 assists in 63 games. During the playoffs, as was seemingly their annual custom, Toronto defeated Boston 4 games to 1 to advance to face the rival Canadiens. In one of the most remarkable finals in Stanley Cup history, every one of the five games went to overtime, with Toronto taking Games 1, 3, 4 and 5 to win their fourth title in five seasons and fifth of Kennedy's career.

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Kennedy would become familiar with the Stanley Cup,
shown here in 1951 following his fifth championship

On October 13, 1951, the Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks played an afternoon hockey exhibition prior to their regularly scheduled game later that evening for Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen of England. Toronto team captain Kennedy represented the players greeted the Princess at the game and was quoted as saying, "Here's  a kid from the little village of Humberstone, Ontario being presented to the Queen."

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Princess Elizabeth is greeted by Kennedy

Kennedy's 52 points were again good for second place in team scoring in 1951-52. The following season he missed two months of the season due to a separated shoulder and subsequent surgery, but returned before the season was over to eventually play in 43 of the now 70 game schedule. Despite missing 27 games, Kennedy finished second in team scoring to Smith by a mere two points.

After scoring just 38 points in 1953-54, Kennedy announced his plans to retire, but owner Smythe was having none of that and offered his team captain "the highest offer ever made to a hockey player", but Kennedy insisted "he hadn't produced in proportion to what he's been paid," but Smythe won out and Kennedy returned for the 1954-55 season. Kennedy rebounded with 52 points in 1954-55 thanks to 42 assists, third most in the NHL that season.

At the conclusion of the season, Kennedy was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player, as much in acknowledgement of his career accomplishments, as he was only the second Hart winner to not finish in the top ten in league scoring.

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Kennedy with NHL President Clarence Campbell
who is presenting him with the Hart Trophy in 1955

After the Maple Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs, Kennedy announced his retirement, but after sitting out the 1955-56 season, Kennedy returned to play half of the 1956-57 season to try to help the Maple Leafs who were shot on players due to injuries and had won just once in their previous 11 games. Kennedy scored 22 points in 30 games, but it was not enough to help the club make the playoffs.

Kennedy finished his career with 696 games played, 231 goals and 329 assists for 560 points, a Hart Trophy and five Stanley Cups, the most of any player at the time of Kennedy's retirement. Kennedy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and had his #9 honored by the Maple Leafs on October 3, 1993.

Upon his passing in 2009 at the age of 83, Toronto General Manager Brian Burke paid tribute to Kennedy by saying "He truly was a man of great class and he was one of the most accomplished leaders in our team's long history."

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Hall of Famer Teeder Kennedy

Today's featured jerseys is a 1950-51 Toronto Maple Leafs Teeder Kennedy jersey as worn during Kennedy's career high 61 point season when the Maple Leafs won the fifth Stanley Cup of his career.

The Maple Leafs first wore this style jersey back in 1934-35 with a slightly different crest. The crest seen on today's featured jersey arrived in 1938-39, and other than a change to red lettering from 1945-46 to 1947-48, remained the same throughout Kennedy's entire career. This exact style remained in used through 1957-58 until a lace-up collar was added. Finally, after essentially wearing the same design for 32 years, a new jersey debuted in 1967-68 with a new, modernized logo and Northwestern striping pattern.

Toronto returned to this basic template in 1992-93 and it remains in use to this day.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1950-51 jersey photo Toronto Maple Leafs 1950-51 F jersey.jpg
Toronto Maple Leafs 1950-51 jersey photo Toronto Maple Leafs 1950-51 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jerseys is a 1946-47 Toronto Maple Leafs Teeder Kennedy jersey from early in his career even before he was named as an assistant team captain. The Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup in 1947, Kennedy's second championship at the young age of just 21.

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Toronto Maple Leafs 1946-47 jersey photo Toronto Maple Leafs 1946-47 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section is the excellent Legends of Hockey profile of Kennedy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

1972-73 Minnesota North Stars J. P. Parise Jersey

Born on this date in 1941,  Jean-Paul "J. P." Parise was singed by the Boston Bruins at the age of 21 and assigned to the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario Hockey Association for the 1961-62 season. He also skated in a single game for the Kingston Frontenacs of the Eastern Professional Hockey League, foreshadowing a full season with Kingston for the 1962-63 season.

The next step up the ladder for Parise again foreshadowed the future, as he spent the two seasons with the Minneapolis Bruins of the Central Professional Hockey League. With Minneapolis, his offensive game took a stride forward, as he scored first 27 goals and 63 points in 1963-64, followed by 73 points in in 70 games of the 1964-65 season.

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Parise with the Minneapolis Bruins in 1964

For the 1965-66 season, Parise was now with the Oklahoma City Blazers, also in the CPHL, where  he proved he could also play a rugged style of play when he set a career high with 137 penalty minutes while still scoring 49 points in 69 games. That season also saw Parise make his NHL debut with the Bruins, seeing action in 3 games.

While he played 18 games with the Bruins in 1966-67, which included scoring his first NHL goal, Parise spent the majority of his season with the Blazers, scoring 33 points and 98 penalty minutes in 42 games.

The landscape of hockey would change forever following that season with the expansion of the NHL from six teams to 12. One of the effects of that shifting was Parise was selected by the Oakland Seals in June of 1967 in the NHL Expansion Draft. He would never play for Oakland however, as on October 12th he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for two players. He was assigned to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, but after just 3 games for the Americans and one lone game with the Maple Leafs, Parise was again traded on December 23rd to another expansion club, the Minnesota North Stars along with one other player for five players and the loan of a goaltender to Toronto.

Parise scored 11 goals in 43 games during the North Stars inaugural season and contributed 7 more points in 14 playoff games. He had his first 20 goal season in 1968-69 with 22 goals and 49 points before leading Minnesota in scoring with 72 points from 24 goals and 48 assists in 1969-70. His fine season was recognized when Parise was selected to play in the 1970 NHL All-Star Game.

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Parise became popular with the North Stars fans

After two more seasons with the North Stars, Parise was chosen to be a member of Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. With a Canadian lineup stacked with star players, Parise saw action in 6 of the 8 games, scoring 2 goals and 4 points, but was easily best remembered for an incident with East German referee Josef Kompalla.

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Parise was named to Team Canada in 1972

Kompalla had outraged the Canadians, who suspected him of bias when he and fellow countryman Franz Baader called Canada for 31 penalty minutes in Game Six versus just 4 for the Soviets. The Canadians had even nicknamed the pair "Badder and Worse".

Czech referee Rudy Bata and Swede Ove Dahlberg officiated Game 7 and it was announced that the East German pair had been sent home and the same referees from Game 7 would handle the final Game 8. The Soviets then wanted to include the East German pair originally scheduled for Game 8, but the Canadians threatened to pull out of the game. Eventually a compromise was agreed to, and Kompalla would return, but teamed with Bata instead of Baader.

The game saw the Soviets take a 1-0 lead with two Canadians in the penalty box. Then the game was delayed when Parise was called for interference despite checking a player who was carrying the puck. When he complained, he was immediately given a 10 minute misconduct and responded in anger by banging his stick on the ice and skating circles in a rage. His anger then boiled over and he finally rushed Kompalla with his stick raised, feinting as if he were about to split Kompalla's head open, as the controversial referee flinched in fear. Parise was then thrown out of the game for his actions and at one point, Team Canada head coach Harry Sinden threw a chair on the ice!

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His infamous stick wielding threat to Josef Kompalla

For an entertaining look into the spirit and humor of the man, we highly recommend this interview with Parise on the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

The following NHL season was Parise's best, with him setting career highs with 27 goals and 75 points, good for second on the team, as well as 96 penalty minutes. He again was recognized with a second NHL All-Star game in 1973.

Parise woud play another season and a half with Minnesota until being traded half way through the 1974-75 season to the New York Islanders. He would help lead the Islanders to their first playoff appearance in the young franchise's history. As the Islanders reached the Semifinals, Parise would finish second to former North Stars teammate and linemate Jude Drouin, with 16 points in 17 games.

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Parise was traded to the New York Islanders in 1975

Parise played two and a half seasons for the Islanders, scoring 57 and 56 points, including a 25 goal season in 1976-77, the second best of his career. Halfway through the 1977-78 season, Parise was traded to the Cleveland Barons, with whom he would play in 40 games.

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Parise during his only season with Cleveland

In an unprecedented and fitting move, the Barons franchise was merged with the North Stars organization, which saw Parise return to Minnesota for the final season of his career, where he served as team captain for the newly merged roster.

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Parise as captain of the North Stars during the final NL season of his career

His final career totals were 890 games played with 238 goals and 594 points. At the time of his retirement, Parise was third in North Stars history in goals, second in points and their all-time leader in assists.

Following his retirement, Parise became an assistant coach with the North Stars between 1980 and 1988, except for 1983-84 when he was head coach for Minnesota's top minor league affiliate, the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. He then began a new phase of his career when he became the hockey director and coach at Minnesota prep school Shattuck-St. Mary's, where players such as Sidney Crosby, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Toews and his own son, Zach Parise all played on their way to NHL stardom.

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J. P. coached son Zach and other future NHLers at Shattuck-St. Mary's

Parise found great enjoyment and a return to the spotlight in Minnesota when Zach signed to play for the Minnesota Wild in 2012.

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Zach Parise poses with his proud father Jean-Paul while displaying the goal puck which allowed him to surpass his father on the NHL goal scoring list

Parise passed away in January of 2015 after fighting lung cancer for the previous year.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Minnesota North Stars J. P. Parise jersey. Parise had his finest season in the NHL that season when he set career highs in goals and points.

The North Stars wore very similar jerseys during their inaugural 1967-68 season, only without the white shoulders. Those arrived for their second season of 1968-69 and remained unchanged through 1974-75.

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Minnesota North Stars 1972-73 jersey photo MinnesotaNorthStars1972-73Bjersey.jpg

In today's video section, the incident where Parise was thrown out of the historic Game 8 versus the Soviet Union during the 1972 Summit Series.

Here is the tribute video by the Minnesota Wild honoring the life of J. P. Parise.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

1934-35 Montreal Maroons Cy Wentworth Jersey

The Montreal Wanderers hockey club was founded in 1903 and competed during hockey's formative years. They were the darlings of the English speaking population of Montreal and won their first Stanley Cup in March of 1906. Over the next three years the Wanderers won six Stanley Cup challenges and were the first National Hockey Association champions in 1910, which once again made them the holders of the Stanley Cup.

They subsequently defended the cup one final time before falling on hard times, making the playoffs once in the next eight seasons. In 1917-18 they became a charter member of the new National Hockey League, but when the Montreal Arena burned to the ground only six games into the first NHL season. the club folded for good.

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The Montreal Arena Fire aftermath

Meanwhile, another club had been formed in Montreal back in 1909 as a charter member of the NHA in order to give the French speaking population of Montreal a team to call their own. The team, stocked with French-Canadian players, the Montreal Canadiens, took some time to develop into a contender and did not win their first Stanley Cup until 1916. They too, would join the NHL in 1917, but would not win another Stanley Cup until 1924, by now the only game in town following the demise of the Wanderers in 1918.

That would all change later in the calendar year, when a new expansion club would be formed, the Montreal Maroons, which would begin as intense a rivalry that the league as ever seen, as the Maroons were formed to specifically appeal to the English speaking fans of Montreal. While the Canadiens played at the Mount Royal Arena, a new home was constructed for the Maroons, the Montreal Forum. While the Canadiens objected to a second team being placed in Montreal, they were compensated by expansion fees and the Maroons came to be.

When they began life, the Montreal Professional Hockey Club had no nickname. Their original president, James Strachan, had been an owner of the Wanderers and attempted to revive the name, but the media eventually began calling the club the Maroons after the color of the team's sweaters.

The two clubs rivalry would begin prior to even the Maroons first game having been played, as the Canadiens would usurp the Maroons by playing the first game ever at the Maroons shiny, new arena, as the Canadiens home rink's natural ice surface was not yet playable so early in the season. Subsequently, the Canadiens game on November 29th, 1924 was relocated to the Forum by the NHL despite objections from both the Forum and the Maroons.

It would be on this date in 1924 that the Canadiens and the Maroons would first meet in a rivalry that would last 14 years. In that game, hosted by the defending Stanley Cup champion Canadiens at the Mount Royal Arena in from of 5,000 fans, was won by the francophones 5-0 over the anglophones behind by Aurel Joliat's four goals and goaltender Georges Vezina's ninth career shutout, both of whom were future Hall of Famers.

Aurel Joliat Canadiens, Aurel Joliat Canadiens
Aurel Joliat

The next meeting between the two clubs would come on December 27th at the Forum with 11,000 on hand, ending in a 1-1 draw, as would their next meeting on January 17th. The Canadiens would eventually dominate the season series with shutouts on January 31st, again by a score of 5-0, and on February 18th by a score of 1-0. The Maroons would drop the sixth game of the season series 3-1 on March 7th to finish the season at 0-4-2 versus their crosstown rivals in a series of games described at "mini-wars on ice" - and in the stands among the supporters!

For their first season, the Maroons wore simple maroon sweaters with a small block "Montreal" across the chest.

Montreal Maroons 1924-25 jersey Pictures, Images and Photos
Clint Benedict

The Maroons would turn the tables in short order, as they would defeat the Club de hockey Canadien for the first time ever on December 3rd, 1925 in the Canadiens opening game of the 1925-26 season by a score of 3-2. Nels Stewart scored the first and third goals for the Maroons, both at 15:40 of the first and third periods. Punch Broadbent would register the other Maroons goal, while the great Howie Morenz opened the scoring for the Canadiens and Billy Boucher evened the score at 2-2 midway through the third period before Stewart's game winner.

1925-26 Maroons Canadiens program, 1925-26 Maroons Canadiens program

Stewart would go on to win the Hart Trophy as the league MVP after leading the league in scoring with 42 points as the club would qualify for the playoffs following a second place finish. After defeating both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Ottawa Senators to win the NHL playoffs, the Maroons would put themselves on the map with a 3 games to 1 defeat of the Victoria Cougars to capture the Stanley Cup in only their second season of play, which would see the arrival of the large block "M" logo that would adorn their sweaters for the remainder of their time in the NHL.

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1926 Hart Trophy winner Nels Stewart

The rivalry between the two clubs would reach a new level in 1926-27, as the Canadiens would become permanent tenants of the Forum. The rivalry would be ratcheted up even further as the pair would meet in the playoffs for the first time, won by the Canadiens in a two-game, total-goals series. Game 1 was a 1-1 draw, and the Canadiens prevailed with a goal by Morenz at 12:05 of overtime to give them a final 2 goals to 1 margin. Clint Benedict of the Maroons would lead all goaltenders that season with a 1.42 goals against average yet the Canadiens George Hainsworth would win the Vezina Trophy while Herb Gardiner of the Canadiens would win the Hart Trophy.

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1927 Hart Trophy winner Herb Gardiner

The teams would finish 1-2 in the Canadian Division in 1927-28 and face each other again in the playoffs when the Maroons advance to the semifinals after defeating Ottawa. In a mirror image of their first meeting, the opening game was a 2-2 tie followed by a 1-0 win, this time for the Maroons, at 8:20 of overtime on a goal by Russell Oatman. The Maroons would eventually fall in the fifth and final game of the cup finals. The Canadiens Morenz would win the Hart Trophy that season.

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1928 Hart Trophy winner Howie Morenz

Hainsworth would win a well-earned Vezina Trophy for the Canadiens in 1928-29 thanks to a staggering 22 shutouts in 44 games.

The Maroons took the Canadian Division on a tie breaker in 1929-30, having won 23 games versus the Canadiens 21, as both teams tied with 51 points. They did not meet in the playoffs, as the Canadiens went on to win the Stanley Cup following an undefeated playoff run. Meanwhile, the Maroons' Stewart would win his second Hart Trophy that season.

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The 1930 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens

Both teams again qualified for the playoffs in 1930-31 after the Canadiens won the division while the Maroons came third. The Maroons were blown out by the Rangers in Round 1 8 goals to 1. Meanwhile the Canadiens ousted the American Division champion Boston Bruins 3 goals to 2 and then won their second consecutive Stanley Cup by defeating the Chicago Black Hawks 3 games to 2, with every goal being decided by a goal and two games going to overtime, one double overtime and the other triple overtime, in likely the closest Stanley Cup Final series ever. The Canadiens' Morenz won the league scoring race with 49 points, 17 clear of second place, to win another Hart Trophy, which he would capture once again in 1931-32.

1930-31 Montreal Canadiens team, 1930-31 Montreal Canadiens team
The 1931 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens

The 1932-33 season saw Baldy Northcott, Hooley Smith and Paul Haynes of the Maroons finish 3-4-5 in league scoring.

Russ Blinco was the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1933-34 for the Maroons while Joliat took home the Hart Trophy for the Canadiens.

The 1934-35 season would see the Maroons edge the Chicago Black Hawks after a 0-0 tie in Game 1 and an overtime winner in a 1-0 total goals series. After defeating the Rangers 2-1 and advancing after a 3-3 draw, the Maroons swept the Toronto Maple Leafs in their best of three final series to capture their second Stanley Cup after their undefeated playoff run (5-0-2).

1934-35 Montreal Maroons team, 1934-35 Montreal Maroons team
The 1935 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons

With the Great Depression in full effect, both Montreal clubs were having great difficulty drawing fans, with the Maroons particularly hurt due to the smaller anglophone fanbase in Montreal. The rest of the league was also suffering great difficulties, as the league shrank from 10 clubs in 1931 to 8 in 1935. Still, the Maroons would go on to win the Canadian Division once again in 1935-36. Later during that season's playoffs, the Maroons would battle the Detroit Red Wings in what remains the longest game in NHL history, a 6 overtime loss on March 24, 1936.

The Canadiens would edge the Maroons for the division title in 1936-37 by a single point, as the financially struggling Maroons began to sell of their better players, with team captain and franchise all-time leading scorer Smith departing for Boston. In contrast, the Canadiens' Babe Siebert was the Hart Trophy winner for the season.

Siebert Canadiens, Siebert Canadiens
1927 Hart Trophy winner Babe Siebert

The Maroons final season would come in 1937-38, but before it would begin, the two rival clubs would come together like never before. Following the premature death of the Canadiens' Morenz, the second all-star game in league history would be held as a benefit for the Morenz family, in which a team made up of both Canadiens and Maroons would face an all-star squad made up of members of the rest of the league's clubs. The All-Stars would win the game by a score of 6-5.

The Maroons and Canadiens team photo
from the 1937 Howie Morenz Benefit Game

The Maroons endured a coaching change on their way to a last place finish in the league with a 12-30-6 record. After suffering with the lowest attendance in the league for three seasons in a row, the final Maroons game was played against the Canadiens on March 17, 1938, a 6-3 win for the Canadiens. The series between the two clubs featured intense battles both on the ice, as well as between the rival groups of supporters. While both teams would win a pair of Stanley Cups during the Maroon's 14 year history, the series would eventually end in favor of the Canadiens at 40-35-17, with the Canadiens posting 18 shutouts against the rival Maroons.

The Maroons hold the distinction of being the last Canadian club added to the NHL until 1970 with the arrival of the Vancouver Canucks. They are also the last team to have won the Stanley Cup and then later ceased operations and also the last non-Original 6 team to win the Stanley Cup until the 1974 Philadelphia Flyers.

Following the demise of the Maroons, the anglophones of Montreal were left with two options, become fans of the local Canadiens, or switch their allegiance to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hailed from English Canada.

Today's featured jersey is a 1934-35 Montreal Maroons Cy Wentworth jersey from the Maroons second Stanley Cup winning season. The Maroons played in an era when teams did not necessarily have home and road sweaters, and if they did possess a white sweater, it was only worn on occasions when their dark sweaters were too similar to their opponents dark sweaters, such as the Maple Leafs wearing white when facing the blue-clad Rangers.

With the Maroons color being unique to the league, they never saw the need for an alternate design and stuck with just dark sweaters for their entire existence.

Montreal Maroons 34-35 jersey, Montreal Maroons 34-35 jersey
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

1973-74 Chicago Black Hawks Stan Mikita Jersey

On this date in 1973, Stan Mikita of the Chicago Black Hawks played in his 1,000th career game in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota North Stars. In doing so, Mikita became only the third player to appear in 1,000 games with Chicago.

Additionally, on the same date in 1978, Mikita became only the second player in NHL history to register 900 career assists in a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

Mikita's story is unlike probably any other player in the long history of the NHL. Born Stanislaus Gouth in Sokolce, Czechoslovakia in 1940, Mikita's family, fearing the political changes in the late 1940's as the Soviet Union's influence over Eastern Europe grew, sent the eight-year-old Stan, who was unfamiliar with hockey, to live with relatives in Canada just as the Iron Curtain closed and he took the family name Mikita of his aunt.

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A map showing Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain

"Hockey was the biggest help in making the adjustment to a new life," Mikita recalled. "I was sitting on the front porch, and eventually I got enough nerve to go down onto the sidewalk to watch. One day they were short a guy, so they motioned for me to come and join them."

"I had no idea how to play hockey, so the first time a guy went around me, I chopped his legs out from under him. I didn't understand a word of English, but one of the older fellows told me, in sign language, "No, we don't play hockey like that." He showed me how to hold the stick and stickhandle. That was my introduction to hockey and where I learned the English language. Needless to say, my vocabulary was limited and included quite a few cusswords."

He made his NHL debut with the Black Hawks in 1958-59 season, becoming the first ever Czechoslovakian-born player in NHL history and scoring his first point and the first of many penalty minutes. He would become a regular the following season, appearing in 67 games, scoring his first NHL goal and racking up 119 penalty minutes, as he employed a rough and feisty style in part due to his smaller size.

"I hadn't completely eliminated the language factor, and kids made fun of me. That made me determined to be better than those kids as a hockey player, but I was also in a lot of scraps. When I got to the NHL in 1959, I was still fighting. My first left-winger was Ted Lindsay, who, at 5 foot 8 inches and 152 pounds, was about my size. I asked Teddy, "You've played 16 years in the league. How did you ever survive?" He answered, "Hit 'em first." I followed that advice and made sure everyone knew that I was tough enough for the NHL," said Mikita.

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A Stan Mikita rookie card from 1960

Mikita would improve his game in 1960-61, more than doubling his goal total to 19 and nearly doubling his assist total to 34 for a 27 point increase in points to 53 in 66 games along with another 100 penalty minutes. Following the regular season, he led all goal scorers with six and helped the Black Hawks win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1938.

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The 1960-61 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks

Another leap in production in 1961-62 saw him in the 20's for goals scored with 25 and 52 assists for 77 points, tied for third overall in the league with Gordie Howe, seven behind Chicago teammate Bobby Hull. While the Black Hawks would not repeat as champions, Mikita had 21 points in 12 playoff games as the Black Hawks again made it to the finals.

After another 76 point season, Mikita would capture his first Art Ross Trophy in 1963-64, leading the league in scoring with a career high 89 points on 39 goals and 50 assists, along with 146 penalty minutes, third overall and just 5 behind the league leader.

Mikita would again lead the league in scoring in 1964-65 with 87 points and 154 penalty minutes plus 10 more points in 14 playoff games as they again reached the finals.

Then an amazing thing happened. Mikita returned home from a road trip and his wife told him that their daughter was watching the last road game on TV and asked "Mommy, why does Daddy spend so much time sitting down?" It was at that point that Mikita thought about how to explain to a three-year-old how her father took a penalty he shouldn't have and was being punished for it. He also figured out where his penalty minutes were coming from and made a conscious decision to eliminate "lazy" penalties such as holding, hooking and tripping, as well as his misconduct penalties and began to play a different style of hockey and keep quiet with the referees.

The results were dramatic.

1965-66 saw a drop in penalty minutes to 58, yet he still managed 78 points, second overall.

Mikita's reinvention of his style continued in 1966-67 as he scored 35 goals and 62 assists tying the single season league record of 97 points to capture his third Art Ross Trophy, yet even more surprising was his mere 12 penalty minutes, 142 less than just two seasons prior, which earned him the Lady Byng Award. Had you suggested such a thing was even possible the first six seasons of his career, you would have been laughed at. Mikita is fond of saying, "I realized that you need an awfully long stick to score from the penalty box." The scoring title, along with reinventing his style in play, resulted in Mikita winning the Hart Trophy as well, the first player to ever win all three trophies in a single season.

Mikita poses with his record setting trio of trophies in 1967

He would repeat the triple trophy feat in 1967-68 with a career high 40 goals, 47 assists for 87 points and just 14 penalty minutes and be named the winner of the Lady Byng, Hart and Art Ross trophies his fourth scoring title in five years.

Although his point total increased the following season to 97, tying his career best, he would finish fourth in the scoring race. The next six seasons Mikita's consistent production saw him average 78 points per season, with none lower than 65. During that time period the Black Hawks would make it to the finals in 1970-71 (18 points in 18 games) and 1972-73 (20 points in 15 games).

It was just prior to the 1972-73 season that Mikita would have a homecoming while part of Team Canada. After completing the grueling Summit Series against the Soviet Union, Team Canada travelled to Prague to play the Czechoslovakian National Team. Mikita was named team captain for the contest, which was the first time he was able to play in front of his parents and siblings.

"The welcome I received from the crowd was the proudest moment in my life," said Mikita.

 photo MikitaTeamCanada.jpg
Mikita as a member of Team Canada in 1972

His production would drop from the 80's to the high 50's, partly due to back problems which would eventually cause him to retire in 1980 as the second highest NHL career scoring leader, behind only Howe, with 1,467 points from 541 goals and 926 assists in 1,394 games, the 7th most in league history at the time. His games, assists and points were all Black Hawks records and he would finish his career with 4 Art Ross Trophies, 2 Hart Trophies, 2 Lady Byng Trophies. In addition to his trophy collection, Mikita would appear in nine NHL All-Star Games - 1964, 1967-1969 and 1971 through 1975.

Howe, Mikita & Hull-1967 ASG photo HoweMikitaampHull-1967ASG.jpg
Mikita played on a line with Howe and Hull in the 1967 All-Star Game

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Slovak Hall of Fame in 2002.

In addition to all his scoring exploits, Mikita was also an innovator of hockey equipment, both intentional in unintentional. Following a concussion in 1972-73, Mikita began wearing a helmet designed especially for him with it's distinctive round crown and even put it into production for others to purchase.

Mikita wearing the Northland dome helmet

Having even more of an impact on how the game is played, Mikita is credited with the innovation of the curved stick blade in the early 1960's.

"My invention of the curved stick came by accident. One day, I cracked my stick in practice, forming an angle in the blade. I was tired and angry at the thought of climbing the 21 stairs to the dressing room to get another stick. I fired a puck in frustration, and the way it left my stick and the sound it made against the boards caught my attention. Before the stick finally broke, I had taken a half a dozen shots, and each time, it was the same."

"After that, I intentionally bent my stick. I broke a lot before I figured out how to make the wood pliable with heat and soaking. I experimented in practice for a month or two before I used a curved blade in a game."

Handyman Mikita ushering in the curved stick era

The curve gave the puck a fluttering path like a baseball knuckleball, moving unexpectedly. Once put into use by Mikita and teammate Bobby Hull, and combined with Hull's notoriously hard slapshot, the curved stick blade quickly became adapted league wide and by 1963 rules were put in place to limit the amount of the curvature to lessen the effect.

Apparently not everyone agrees with this rule...

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Chicago Black Hawks Stan Mikita jersey from the season in which he played his 1,000th game. This was the first season that the Black Hawks numbers were two colors, previously being one color white numbers. The Black Hawks would not being using names on the back of their jerseys until 1977.

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1960-61 Chicago Black Hawks Stan Mikita jersey from his rookie season. Unlike today's featured jersey, this earlier sweater has the trappings of a 1950's style with the lace-up collar, one color numbers and no name on the back.

This indian head logo sweater, so revered today and often topping Best Jersey Lists, came into being in the 1955-56 season, replacing the previous style which had a small indian head of a different design contained in a circle logo. The 1955-56 version had no sleeve numbers and a slightly different main crest design before the logo changed to today's more familiar version and sleeve numbers were added in 1957-58. Note today's jersey has two sleeve stripes and long black cuffs, which were changed to three stripes to match the waist striping for the 1963-64 season.

Chicago Black Hawks 1959-60 jersey photo ChicagoBlackHawks1959-60Fjersey.png
Chicago Black Hawks 1959-60 jersey photo ChicagoBlackHawks1959-60Bjersey.png

We hope you have some time on your hands today, as we mine a rich vein of video about Stan Mikita and his lengthy career.

First up, highlights of the 1961 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 where Mikita assisted on the game winning goal, the first Stanley Cup won by the Black Hawks in 38 years and the only one of Mikita's career.

Here is an interview with Mikita who discusses the creation of the helmet he wore and the incident that led to the development of the curved stick and gives you a glimpse of his self-depreciating sense of humor.

Next is a nice career retrospective on Mikita.

In one of the nicer stories in hockey of the last few seasons, here is Mikita talking about rejoining the Chicago Blackhawks family as an ambassador for the team followed by the long overdue Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita Night.

For further viewing, this two part profile of Mikita from 1995 is also recommended. Part One. Part Two.

Finally, for fan's of the movie Wayne's World, no one should be without their own Stan Mikita's Donuts t-shirt.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

1977-78 St. Louis Blues Red Berenson Jersey

Red Berenson, born on this date in 1939, began by playing with the Regina Pats in Canadian junior hockey, which included two Memorial Cup appearances in the three years he played for the Pats, highlighted by his 1957-58 season during which he scored 46 goals and 95 points in 51 games.

He then joined the Belleville McFarlands, who represented Canada at the 1959 World Championships, where they captured the gold medal thanks in part to Berenson's 9 goals in 8 games. Upon his return from Europe, he joined the Flin Flon Bombers for playoffs to conclude his busy season.

Berenson then made the unusual and somewhat controversial choice of joining the University of Michigan Wolverines of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the 1959-60 season, as his NHL rights holders, the Montreal Canadians, advised him against the move. As a freshman, he scored 19 points, a total that jumped to 49 as a sophomore before peaking at 70 as a junior in 1962. Following the conclusion of the NCAA playoffs, Berenson joined the Canadiens for four regular season games (including scoring his first NHL goal) and five playoff games, becoming the first Canadian to ever make the jump from American college hockey to the NHL.

Berenson Canadiens, Berenson Canadiens

He split the next season between the Canadiens and the their Hull-Ottawa minor league club. He cracked the Montreal lineup for the entire 1963-64 (16 points in 69 games) but faced the issue of the incredible depth Montreal possessed at center, with the likes of Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom. As a result, Berenson played with the American Hockey League's Quebec Aces for essentially all of the 1964-65 season and split his time between Quebec and Montreal in 1965-66. Despite playing just 3 regular season games for Montreal in 1964-65, he was called up for the playoffs and appeared in 9 games as Montreal won the Stanley Cup, the only one of Berenson's career.

With the lineup in Montreal deeper than the ocean, Berenson was dealt to the New York Rangers in the 1966 off-season, but over the course of 49 games divided over two seasons, he only managed to score 8 total points. Rather than finding himself on his way back to the minors though, this was the season of the great NHL expansion, where six new clubs joined the league, creating over 120 new jobs for players, one of which was waiting for Berenson in St. Louis with the Blues following a trade.

Berenson was immediately energized by his new situation and reeled off 22 goals and 51 points in 55 games, eclipsing the 45 total points he had scored in his career up to that point. His 55 points also made him the leading scorer for the Blues despite spotting everyone a 20 game head start! St. Louis then, benefitting from being in the West Division, made up of the six new expansion clubs, made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Berenson Blues, Berenson Blues

Now firmly established as a team leader, Berenson again led the Blues with 35 goals and 82 points in 1968-69, 34 points more than Gary Sabourin's second-most 48, which tied Beliveau for 8th place in league scoring.

Also during that season, he became the first player since 1944 to score 6 goals in a game, which he did against the Flyers in Philadelphia, making him the first ever to accomplish the feat on the road. Of his 6 goals, four came in a span of 9 minutes and none of the 6 were scored on the power play or off deflections.

Berenson Blues, Berenson Blues

During the postseason, St. Louis again made it to the Stanley Cup finals as Berenson contributed 10 points in 12 games.

Berenson was named team captain for 1970-71, but his third season in St. Louis lasted only 45 games, as, with 42 points to his credit, he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in February of 1971 just as the Red Wings entered the worst doldrums in franchise history. In Berenson's five seasons in Detroit, the Red Wings would not qualify for the playoffs even once. Still, he continued to play his strong brand of two-way hockey and managed to score 69 points in 1971-72 and 66 in 1973-74. He also served as the Red Wings captain in 1973.

Berenson Red Wings, Berenson Red Wings

Also during his time in Detroit, Berenson was named a member of Team Canada for the 1072 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, appearing in a pair of games.

Berenson Canada, Berenson Canada

Berenson then returned to the Blues for the second half of 1974-75, only this time in a checking role, as his point production would not reach 50 points during the final four seasons of his career, although he still was a contributor on offense, recording two more 20 goal seasons in 1975-76 and 1976-77 to give him eight for his 17 year NHL career, during which he played in 987 games, scoring 261 goals and 658 points and appeared in six NHL All-Star Games. His leadership was also welcomed back in St. Louis, as he served two stints as captain for the Blues in 1976 and 1977-78.

Berenson Blues, Berenson Blues

After his retirement as a player, Berenson became the Blues head coach midway through the 1979-80 season and later won the Jack Adams Award as the league's Coach of the Year. By 1984, Berenson became the head coach at the University of Michigan, a position he has held to this day, a span of over 30 years, which has included two national championships in 1996 and 1998.

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 St. Louis Blues Red Berenson jersey. The original Blues white sweaters had a single wide, yellow stripe outlined in blue on the arms and waist, which changed to the pattern of blue trimmed in yellow and outlined in blue for their second season of 1968-69. This jersey remained virtually unchanged all the way through the 1983-84 season, with the main change being the addition of names on the back in 1974. With this jersey being from the 1977-78 season, it's clear that the nameplate has been removed at some point.

While Berenson originally wore #7 in his first stint with the Blues, Gary Unger was wearing it when he returned and Berenson went with #9.

St Louis Blues 77-78 jersey, St Louis Blues 77-78 jersey

Today's video segment begins with Berenson discussing his time in St. Louis and the impressive history of Blues players who have worn #7.

Next is the ceremony honoring the four Blues notables to have worn #7, Berenson, Unger, Joe Mullen and Keith Tkachuk.


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