Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Patrik and Peter Sundstrom

Patrik Sundtröm and his twin brother Peter Sundström were born in Sweden on this date in 1961.

Patrik's began his hockey career in typical European fashion, playing two hours down the road from his hometown of Skellefteå for IF Björklöven in Umeå beginning in 1978-79 with a single game before 26 games the following season. He also made his first appearance for Sweden at the World Junior Championships in 1980. Following the season, Patrik was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft in the ninth round.

Peter's career naturally took a similar, but slightly slower path, as he too played one game for IF Björklöven in 1978-79 and then 8 more in 1979-80. In 1980-81, he registered his first points, scoring 7 goals and 2 assists in 29 games. Peter was then taken in the third round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers.

 photo Peter and Patrik Sundstrom Bjorkloven.jpg
Peter and Patrick Sundström with IF Björklöven

Patrik had a very, very busy 1980-81 as he played in the Swedish Elitserien regular season for Björklöven, scoring 28 points in 36 games. He was also still eligible for the World Juniors, where he scored 7 goals in 5 games to earn the award as Top Forward of the tournament as he and his brother Peter helped Sweden win their first World Junior championship. It would then take Sweden another 31 years to earn their second.

Sundstroms Sweden, Sundstroms Sweden
Swedish gold medalists Patrik and Peter Sundström in 1981

Patrik's performance was so impressive that later that spring he also competed for Sweden again, only this time at the senior level World Championships, scoring 4 times in 7 games, earning a silver medal as runner-up to the powerful Soviet Union.

After a three month break, Sundström had the honor of playing for Sweden once again, this time at the 1981 Canada Cup just prior to the start of the 1981-82 Elitserien season, still with Björklöven. For the second consecutive season, Patrik was the second leading scorer on the club as he registered his first 20 goal season with 22 goals and 35 points and was named Swedish Player of the Year. He then made his second World Championship appearance with 7 points in 10 games.

In 1981-82, Peter was again back with his brother at Umea, where he played in 35 games, scoring 10 goals and 24 points which was followed by his first World Championship experience, contributing 4 points in 8 games. Peter played one final season with Björklöven in 1982-83, scoring 14 goals and 25 points. He then played in his second World Championships, scoring 3 goals and 6 points in 10 games of the 1983 edition.

Meanwhile, Patrik made the jump to the NHL, joining the Canucks for the 1982-83 season, where he acquitted himself well, scoring 23 goals and 23 assists for 46 points as rookie. The following season he led the Canucks in scoring with an impressive 38 goals and 53 assists for 91 total points to establish career highs in all three offensive categories.

 photo Patrik Canucks.jpg
Patrik Sundström in Vancouver's Flying V jersey

That same season Peter joined him in the NHL, suiting up for the New York Rangers, where he had a nearly identical season to Patrik's rookie campaign, as he scored 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points.

Peter Sundstrom, Peter Sundstrom
Peter Sundström

Patrik was reunited with Peter on the Swedish National Team during the 1984 Canada Cup before Patrik again led the Canucks offensively in 1984-85 with 25 goals and 68 points. He would play two more seasons with Vancouver, scoring 66 and 71 points respectively, before being traded to the New Jersey Devils just prior to the 1987-88 season.

 photo Patrik Canucks 2.jpg
Patrik with Vancouver in 1985-86

His first season with the Devils concluded with his only deep playoff run in the NHL when the Devils reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1988 which included his NHL record eight point night, coming from 3 goals and 5 assists in a 10-4 win over Washington, a playoff record which still stands today. His best season with New Jersey came with a high of 76 points in 1989-90.

Sundstrom Devils, Sundstrom Devils
Patrik was dealt to New Jersey for the 1987-88 season

That same season, Patrik was reunited once more with his brother Peter, who, after three seasons with the Rangers, spent a year back in Sweden winning an Elitserien championship in 1987 with Björklöven and followed that by helping Sweden win the World Championship (the first not won by the communist Soviet Union or Czechoslovakia in 25 years).

 photo Peter and Patrik Devils.jpg
Patrik welcomes Peter to New Jersey

Peter then returned to the NHL for a season and a half with the Washington Capitals, scoring 25 points in 76 games in 1987-88, before being traded to the Devils for the 1989-90 season, where he played 21 games as a teammate to Patrik to finish his NHL career.

 photo Peter Devils.jpg
Peter Sundström with New Jersey

Peter would then return to Sweden to join Malmo IF for the final five seasons of his career, winning Swedish championships in 1992 and 1994.

Meanwhile, Patrik would play two more seasons for New Jersey prior to returning to Björklöven, now in the second division, to finish out his career after scoring 37 points in 36 games during the 1992-93 season.

Sundstrom Devils, Sundstrom Devils
Patrik as an assistant captain with the Devils

Patrik's final NHL totals are 679 games played, 219 goals and 369 assists for 588 points, while Peter played in 338 NHL contests, scoring 61 goals and 83 assists for 144 points. Patrik would later have his jersey #17 retired by Björklöven.

Sundstrom #17 banner, Sundstrom #17 banner

Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Vancouver Canucks Patrik Sundström jersey from his career best season when he led the Canucks in scoring with 91 points.

Before the 1978-79 season the Canucks hired a professional psychologist to redesign their uniforms. The original blue and green colors were said to be "too bland, too tranquil and did not inspire emotion."

The result was the "V" design, suggesting "victory" according to the designer, one of the strangest, yet most unforgettable jerseys to ever see the ice in an NHL contest.

The bright orange was said to "evoke passion and aggression" while the black road jersey was supposed to instill fear in the opposition.

The Canucks introduced the jerseys, which none of the players had seen prior to the game, at the season opener in Minnesota. As Stan Smyl said, "I've never been ashamed to wear the Canuck's uniform, but that night none of us wanted to leave the dressing room."

They were met with much derision around the NHL and were often referred to as "those Halloween suits". Time has settled on the nickname of "The Flying V" for these jerseys.

The basic jersey produced in 1978-79 remained in use until the 1984-85 season, but with a few adjustments along the way, such as a change in color for the names on the back in 1981, relocating the very unconventional sleeve numbers from the wrists to the shoulders in 1982, and eventually evolving from one color names and numbers to two colors for both the numbers in 1981 and the names in 1982.

Despite others often ranking this as one of the top three, if not the worst, jersey of all time, we are actually fans of the whole concept of trying to design a jersey in an effort to aid your team in victory. It took some bold thinking and a lot of guts for the designer to create this jersey and then even more for the club to support the concept and stick with it for seven seasons!

The "Flying V" jerseys are a curiosity, as no other team followed them down the same path, leaving the "Flying V" as a truly unique chapter in NHL history.

 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1985-86 Vancouver Canucks Patrik Sundström jersey. After the seven season run of the highly unconventional Flying V jersey, the Canucks returned to a standard configuration by putting the team logo on the chest of their new jerseys for 1985-86. In addition, the waist and sleeve striping was also a return to the norm. The bold colors remained and the angled shoulder stripes still hinted at the V shape of the previous Flying V.

This style was used for four seasons before the V stripes on the shoulders were removed and the gold home jersey was dropped in favor of an even more conventional home white jersey.

This jersey features the Expo 86 patch in recognition of the 1986 World's Fair held in Vancouver and also the Vancouver 100 patch in honor of the City of Vancouver's 100th Anniversary.
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1985-86 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1985-86 B jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1985-86 Expo 86 pach sm.jpg  photo Vancouver Canucks 1985-86 Vancouver 100 pach sm.jpg 

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1990-91 New Jersey Devils Patrik Sundström jersey. When the Colorado Rockies relocated to New Jersey for the 1982-83 season, they adopted a red and green color scheme for their first decade before changing to their now familiar red and black.

 photo New Jersey Devils 1990-91 jersey.jpg
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's second featured jersey is a 1987-88 Washington Capitals Peter Sundström jersey from his season and a half with Washington.

The Capitals wore this style from their ininaugural season of 1974-75 all the way through the 1994-95 season. This jersey then returned in the white home version as a throwback for the 2011 NHL Winter Classic. The Winter Classic throwback then became the team's alternate jersey for the next four seasons until making the red version their new alternate starting with the 2015-16 season.

 photo Washington Capitals 1987-88 F jersey.jpeg
 photo Washington Capitals 1987-88 B jersey.jpeg
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with Patrik Sundström's goals from his record setting 8 point playoff game in 1988.

Next, the jersey retirement ceremony of Patrik's #17 by IF Björklöven.

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