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Saturday, February 27, 2016

1999-00 Detroit Red Wings Pat Verbeek Jersey

Following a prolific junior hockey career with the Sudbury Wolves, during which he scored 40 goals and 107 points while accumulating 184 penalty minutes in 61 games after being drafted by the New Jersey Devils at the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, Pat Verbeek made his debut with the Devils for the final six games of the season, where he made an impression with 3 goals and 5 points.

He returned to New Jersey the following season and made the club out of training camp. He immediately set the tone for the rest of his career by playing in 79 games, the first of 11 consecutive seasons of 73 games or more, despite his hard nosed, all-in style of play which saw him lead the Devils in penalty minutes as a rookie and register 10 seasons with 150 minutes or more, with four of those being well over 200.

During his six seasons with the Devils, Verbeek broke out of the gate as a rookie with 20 goals and 47 points. After a step back as a sophomore, his goal totals rose from 25 to 35 and eventually a career high an club record of 46 in 1987-88, along with 31 assists for 77 points while surpassing 200 penalty minutes for the first time with 227 as well as a +29 rating, a true star among fantasy hockey players!

Verbeek Devils, Verbeek Devils

That season, the Devils qualified for the playoffs for the first time since the franchise moved from Colorado, where they were known as the Rockies. Not content just to be in the postseason, Verbeek and the Devils went on a run to the conference finals, ousting the New York Islanders in 6 and beating the Washington Capitals on the road in Game 7 before taking the Boston Bruins the full distance before succumbing. Verbeek set a career best with 12 playoff points in 20 games.

Verbeek's reputation for toughness was only added to just after the 1984-85 season ended when he had one of his thumbs was severed by an auger in a farming accident. His brother drove Pat 20 miles to the hospital, only without the missing portion of his thumb. After phoning home, his father Gerry was able to locate the severed portion and deliver it to the hospital, where, after six and a half hours of surgery, the top half of his digit was reattached and his other cut fingers treated. Pat was able to recuperate over the summer and returned in time for training camp without missing a single regular season game.

Following a down season in 1988-89, during which he scored 30 points less than the previous season, Verbeek was dealt to the Hartford Whalers during the off season, but not until he had made his World Championships debut for Canada in 1989. He immediately rebounded offensively with back to back 40 goal seasons with 44 goals and setting a career high with 89 points in 1989-90 followed by 43 goals and 82 points in 1990-91, when he was named team captain, to lead the team in scoring, all while agitating his way to seasons of 228 and 246 penalty minutes. During both of those seasons, he was the only player to lead his team in both goals and penalty minutes.

Verbeek Whalers, Verbeek Whalers

He would play three more seasons in Hartford, including making his first NHL All-Star Game in 1991 and another 80 point season in 1992-93, when he lit the lamp 39 times and just missed 200 penalty minutes with 197 as he totaled 82 points. He also led the club in scoring a second time in 1993-94 with 75 points.

Verbeek Whalers, Verbeek Whalers

During the strike-shortened 1994-95 season, Verbeek was traded to the New York Rangers after 29 games with Hartford. In his 19 games in Manhattan, Verbeek was given the nickname "The Little Ball of Hate" by teammate Glenn Healey. The following season he recorded his fourth and final 40 goal season with 41 on his way to his fourth and final 80 point season with 82 while being named to his second all-star game in 1996.

Verbeek Rangers, Verbeek Rangers

For the 1996-97 season, Verbeek signed with the Dallas Stars as a free agent, which had an immediate affect on his offensive numbers, as Dallas was not a wide open offensive club, combined with the game changing to a more defensive style in the latter half of the 1990's. While his point total did decrease to 53 his first season with the Stars, it was enough for him to place second on the team in scoring. He also surpassed the 1,000 games played mark that season.

Verbeek Stars, Verbeek Stars

Verbeek would finish third in team scoring despite his increase in points to 57, 12 off the team lead of 69. Dallas would make their presence known in the postseason, making it to the conference finals in 1998 before falling to the eventual champions.

That playoff experienced served the Stars well, as they again made a long postseason run in 1999, sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in four, eliminating the St. Louis Blues in six and defeating the Colorado Avalanche in a seven game struggle to advance to the finals against the Buffalo Sabres, where the Stars won the first Stanley Cup of Verbeek's career.

Verbeek Stars Stanley Cup, Verbeek Stars Stanley Cup

For the 1999-00 season, Verbeek left Dallas when he signed a free agent contact with the Detroit Red Wings, During that season he scored 22 goals and 26 assists, which included an assists on this date in 2000 on a goal by Steve Yzerman just 40 seconds into the game to give him 1,000 career points, making him only the second player in NHL history to record 1,000 career points and 2,500 career penalty minutes, along with Dale Hunter. Less than a month later, he would reach another significant milestone with his 500th career goal, making him the first player in NHL history with 500 goals and 2,500 penalty minutes.

Verbeek Red Wings, Verbeek Red Wings

He would play one more season for the Red Wings before returning to Dallas as a free agent for his final NHL season in 2001-02.

He would finish his career with 1,424 games played, 522 goals and 541 assists for 1,063 points and 2,905 penalty minutes during a career in which he never played a single game in the minor leagues. He would also score 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in 117 playoff games while being whistled for 225 penalty minutes in the playoffs.

Internationally, Verbeek competed for Canada at the 1983 World Junior Tournament, scoring 4 points in 7 games, the 1989 and 1994 World Championships as well as the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Verbeek Canada, Verbeek Canada

Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Detroit Red Wings Pat Verbeek jersey from the season during which he scored his 1,000th NHL point.

While the Red Wings jersey has remained essentially unchanged since the dawn of time, the jersey has been adorned with many patches over it's history, beginning with the "V" for victory and Buy War Bonds patches during World War II.

The club wore a patch for the 250th Anniversary of the City of Detroit in 1951 and a patch for the 50th anniversary of the club in 1975-76. That was followed in 1981-82 by a patch for the Norris' family's 50 years of ownership of the club and the 60th anniversary of the team in 1985-86.

The 1991-92 season saw the introduction of the first full-season patch to be worn by all teams on the occasion of the NHL's 75th anniversary, followed immediately by a patch celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Stanley Cup in 1992-93. The only other league wide, full season patch was the NHL 2000 patch in 1999-00, as seen on today's featured jersey.

Stanley Cup Finals patches were worn by the Red Wings in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008 and 2009.

The "Believe" patch was worn during their successful defense of their Stanley Cup championship in 1997-98 in support of Valdimir Konstantinov and team masseuse Sergei Mnatsakanov, who were severely injured in an auto accident during the celebration of the Red Wings 1997 Stanley Cup.

There was a brief appearance of a Red Wings 75th Anniversary patch in 2000-01, but it had not received league approval and was quickly removed after just a few games.

There have been several instances of patches worn for one game, with the jerseys then being auctioned off to raise money for charity, such as the #37 Dan Snyder memorial patch for a game against Snyder's former team the Atlanta Thrashers, the NHL Cares/Katrina Relief Fund patch for the first period of the first home game of 2005-06 and the Teammates for Kids patch worn in January of 2007.

Other single game patches have appeared for the retirement of Yzerman's #19, the 2009 NHL Winter Classic and the 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame Game in Toronto.

They next wore the NHL Premiere - Stockholm patch for their two season opening games in Sweden in 2009 and during the 2011-12 season the club is wearing a patch with the initials of former players Brad McCrimmon, Ruslan Salei and Red Wings draft pick Stefan Liv, who were all killed in the air disaster which killed the Russian club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the fall of 2011.

While not on this jersey style, they wore the 2014 Winter Classic patch on January 1, 2004 when the hosted Toronto at "The Big House" in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Two more single game patches complete the Red Wings patch history, with the first having been worn on March 6, 2014 on the occasion of the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom's #5 jersey. Finally, on November 6, 2015 Detroit was the opponent for the annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game, which kicks off Induction Weekend at the Hall of Fame annually, as the Maple Leafs host a different opponent every year as both teams wear a special patch for the occasion.

For photos of all of the above, we highly recommend NHLPatches.info.

Detroit Red Wings 99-00 jersey, Detroit Red Wings 99-00 jersey
Detroit Red Wings 99-00 jersey, Detroit Red Wings 99-00 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1989-90 Hartford Whalers Pat Verbeek jersey from one of Verbeek's seasons of being the only player in the NHL to lead his team in goals and penalty minutes. This jersey can be identified as a 1989-90 jersey by the straight stripes on the arms, worn this way only two seasons, one of which was with the NHL 75th Anniversary patch. For all other years of this style, the sleeve stripes were angled across the arms.

Hartford Whalers 89-90 jersey, Hartford Whalers 89-90 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra Bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1998-99 Dallas Stars Pat Verbeek jersey from the Stars Stanley Cup winning season, this style's final season of use. This jersey was worn from the 1995-96 season, when the sleeve and waist stripes were made much larger than previously, through the 1999-00 season.

Following their Stanley Cup championship, the white jersey seen here was replaced by a white version of the club's green and black third jersey, which now became the primary road jersey beginning in 1999-00.

Dallas Stars 98-99 jersey, Dallas Stars 98-99 jersey
Dallas Stars 98-99 jersey, Dallas Stars 98-99 jersey

Today's first video shows Verbeek getting nailed but bouncing right back up again.

Next, Vebeek discusses the Hartford Whalers being "in" with the fans at the 2011 Whale Bowl outdoor game in Hartford which featured an alumni game between the Whalers and Bruins alumni teams. Note the original Whalers jerseys and the terrific Bruins throwbacks created just for this game.

Finally, Verbeek promoting his anti-odor product, Beek's Reek Out at the Let's Play Hockey Expo in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Friday, February 26, 2016

2006 Sweden National Team Mats Sundin Jersey

Looking to atone for their shocking defeat in 2002 at the hands of Belarus, Sweden came into the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy ranked second in the IIHF world rankings.

They were grouped with Slovakia (ranked 3rd), the United States (6th), Russia (7th) and qualifiers Kazakhstan and Latvia.

The Swedes opened their tournament on February 15th with a strong 7-2 win over Kazakhstan to get themselves off to an important fast start. They ran into a buzzsaw the very next day and were soundly thrashed by the Russians by a score of 5-0.

Fortunately for Sweden, overmatched Latvia was up next two days later and Sweden regained some confidence and momentum with an easy 6-1 victory. 24 hours later they had another one in the win column after a narrow 2-1 defeat of the United States. This set up a final Group B game against Slovakia with first place in the group on the line.

Unfortunately things went as poorly for Sweden as possible, as they went down to defeat 3-0 at the hands of the Slovaks, their second shutout in five games. That, combined with Russia's 5-4 win over the Americans, dropped Sweden down to third place in the final Group B standings and a Quarterfinal matchup with the second place team in Group A, who already had scored surprising defeats of both Canada and the Czech Republic in the preliminary round of group play.

However, Switzerland has also shown themselves to be inconsistent, having allowed winless Germany and Italy to tie them. They also showed they were entirely beatable in their 5-0 loss to Finland.

Sweden answered the challenge in fine style and easily ousted the Swiss from the tournament with a 6-2 win, again giving their confidence a boost when they needed it most. Next up for Sweden was the Czech Republic, who impressed no one in the preliminary round by losing three times, beating only Germany and Italy to do just enough to advance. Given a new life in the Quarterfinals, The Czechs upset Group B winners and rivals Slovakia 3-1 after an empty net goal with three seconds remaining.

Sweden earned their shot at a gold medal with a solid 7-3 trouncing of the Czechs.

Meanwhile in the other half of the bracket, the Russians had eliminated the previous gold medal winning Canadians, while Group A winners Finland ousted the United States 4-3 and then dumped Russia easily by a score of 4-0 to set up the gold medal showdown with their classic rivals Sweden.

Opening faceoff
The gold medal final opening faceoff

The red hot Antero Niittymaki got the start in goal for unbeaten Finland, while Henrik Lundqvist was named the starter for Sweden. Each team survived a penalty in the first period before Jorgen Jonsson was sent off at 14:15 for hooking. 30 seconds later Kimmo Timonen put Finland ahead with an assist from Teemu Selanne when his shot from the point trickled through Lundqvist's legs for a rather soft goal. Sweden was again penalized a little over a minute later, but held fast and the first period concluded with Finland ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard but trailing in shots 9-7.

Timonen scores
Saku Koivu watches the puck squirt through Henrik Lundqvist

The intensity picked up in the second period when Toni Lydman of Finland was penalized at 3:52 which allowed Sweden to equalize at 4:42 when Henrik Zetterberg banked one in off of Niittymaki's leg as he came out from behind the net from Mikael Samuelsson and Christian Backman.

Henrik Zetterberg celebrates
Zetterberg celebrates Sweden's first goal

A trio of Finnish penalties followed and during the third one called at 13:00 on Saku Koivu, Sweden was able to take the lead at 2-1 just 24 seconds later when defenseman Niklas Kronwall pinched in from the point and received a pass from Zetterberg. He temporarily lost the puck when a Finnish defender arrived at the same time, but he was able to recover the puck and fire a quick, hard wrist shot past Niittymaki for the goal.

Finland countered at the 15:00 mark when Jussi Jokinen swooped in behind the net and sent a quick pass to Ville Peltonen who was streaking toward the net. Peltonen was able to direct a backhander past Lundqvist to even the score at 2-2. Olli Jokinen received the second assist for Finland.

Peltonen scores
Ville Peltonen evens the game at 2-2

There was no scoring for the remainder of the second period despite a pair of power plays for Finland, the second of which was cut short by an interference penalty on Jussi Jokinen just 20 seconds into the Finnish power play. As the second period ended, the shots on goal again favored Sweden, this time by a narrow 11-10 margin.

Before the fans could settle into their seats, captain Mats Sundin won the opening faceoff of the third period and Peter Forsberg took the puck and skated over the Finnish blueline to the left side of the ice. Once across the ice he sent a pass back to Sundin trailing him over the line. Sundin then moved along the boards down to the left side of the faceoff circle and sent a backwards pass out to the blueline where a wide open Niklas Lidstrom was arriving with a full head of steam. He put everything he had into his shot which found the back of the net just over Niittymaki's shoulder only ten seconds into the period to regain the lead for Sweden at 3-2.

Lidstrom congratulations
Lidstrom receives congratulations after his goal early in the third period

Sweden killed off penalties at the 3:33 and 11:50 marks as Lundqvist shut the door in goal, as the Finns outshot Sweden 10-8 for the period, to carry Sweden to the gold medal.

Sweden celebrates gold medal 2006
Sweden celebrates their gold medals

For the tournament, Daniel Alfredsson led Sweden in scoring with 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points in 8 games, followed by Sundin's 3 goals and 5 assists, good for 8 points. Lundqvist played in 6 of Sweden's 8 games and finished with a 5-1 record and a 2.33 goals against average with a .907 save percentage.

Today's featured jersey is a 2006 Sweden National Team Mat Sundin jersey. 2006 was the year that Nike introduced the brand new Nike Swift jerseys, first seen at the World Junior Tournament on the USA and Canada. Each of the 12 participating countries in the 2006 Olympics wore the new Swift designs, except for Switzerland and the eventual gold medal winning Sweden, who were somehow able to overcome the truck-like weight and aerodynamics of the old style jerseys when compared to the new technologically advanced jerseys the rest of the field was outfitted with.

A unique addition to the Swedish jerseys from their previous sweaters was an attempt to create a "lace up" collar style, which was simply a few slits cut into the existing yoke collar and threading a white elastic threat through it, which did not actually have to be tied, as it was a single continuous piece.

Another unique feature of the jerseys Sweden wore during the 2006 Olympics was the Swedish Olympic logo added to the right shoulders, which was not added to the retail version of this jersey we purchased. After some much appreciated assistance from a friend who created an embroidery file and a helpful embroidery shop, we were able to add this vital detail to our jersey and were quite pleased with the results shown below.

Lundqvist Sweden 2006
The Swedish Olympic logo added to their jerseys at the 2006 games

Given the opportunity, Sweden always opts for their traditional bright yellow jerseys with blue crowns, stripes, names and numbers, but for this contest they captured gold in their road blue sweaters.

Sweden 2006 jersey photo Sweden2006OLYF.jpg
Sweden 2006 jersey photo Sweden2006OLYB.jpg
Sweden 2006 jersey photo Sweden2006OLYP2.jpg

Today's video selection are highlights, including all the goals, from the 2006 Olympic gold medal final between Finland and eventual champions Sweden.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

1999-00 New York Islanders Eric Cairns Jersey

After playing for the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors of the Ontario Hockey League, and recording 237 penalty minutes in 64 games during the 1991-92 season, defenseman Eric Cairns was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 3rd round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

He would play two more seasons of junior hockey with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings in 1992-93 and 1993-94 before turning professional, first with the Birmingham Bulls of the ECHL, but after just 11 games, he was promoted to the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL.

He was back with Binghamton for the majority of the 1995-96 season, but also suited up for the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL for a half a dozen contests that same season.

Cairns made his NHL debut on October 8, 1996, playing a total of 40 games, scoring a single assist and 147 penalty minutes. During the season he would play 10 games in Binghamton, but returned to New York for the final four months of the season as well as appearing in three Rangers playoff games.

Cairns Rangers photo CairnsRangers.jpg
Cairns broke into the NHL with the Rangers

The 1997-98 season was a carbon copy for Cairns, as he played 39 games with 3 assists and 92 penalty minutes for New York as well as spending 7 games with their newly relocated affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.

Early into the 1998-99 season, Cairns was waived by the Rangers, having played just 11 games of the Hartford Wolf Pack season. He was subsequently claimed by the nearby New York Islanders, who assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Lock Monsters, where he would spend the majority of his season, but did play nine late season March games with the Islanders, scoring 3 assists.

Cairns set a career high in penalty minutes during the 1999-00 season with 196 but also scored the first goal of his career on this date in 2000 against Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings at 1:25 of the second period, with an assist from Dave Schatchard to end he longest goal scoring drought from the start of a career in NHL history at 134 games.

Cairns Islanders photo CairnsIslanders1.jpg
Cairns didn't have far to travel when he was claimed by the Islanders

With just three games remaining in the season Cairns would score his second goal of his career to finish the season with 2 goals and a career best 9 points. He also suited up for the Providence Bruins of the AHL for 4 games that season, where he also scored a goal.

He would play four more seasons for the Islanders, scoring 2, 2, 1 and 2 goals.

Cairns Islanders photo CairnsIslanders2.jpg
Cairns played six seasons on Long Island

With the NHL players locked out during the 2004-05 season, Cairns played for the London Racers in England where his was involved in an incident with fellow NHL refugee, Wade Belak which ended with Cairns punching a referee and being suspended for the remainder of the season.

For the 2005-06  season, Cairns signed with the Florida Panthers where he played 23 games before being acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins to strengthen their defense and provide some protection for star Sidney Crosby. Cairns began his time in Pittsburgh in unexpected fashion, scoring a goal against his former club, the Islanders in his first game with the Penguins.

It would prove to be his last NHL goal, however, as after finishing the season with 27 games with the Penguins, Cairns would play 2 games with the Wilkes-Barre Penguins of the AHL and a lone game with Pittsburgh in the NHL before being forced to retire due to post-concussion issues.

His final NHL totals were 457 games, 10 goals and 42 points and 1,182 penalty minutes.

Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 New York Islanders Eric Cairns jersey as worn when he scored his first NHL goal after beginning his season with an NHL record 134 game long scoreless streak. Following on the heels of the disastrous Fisherman jerseys of 1995-96 to 1997-98, the Islanders returned to an updated version of their classic jersey from their Stanley Cup dynasty.

A darker shade of blue than the original and now with three color numbers, this jersey was a welcome relief for Islander fans and featured a patch on the right shoulder with four stripes symbolizing the franchise's four Stanley Cup championships. This jersey remained in use through the 2006-07 season until being replaced by a similar Reebok Edge version.

Today's jersey features the NHL 2000 patch worn by all teams during the 1999-00 season in recognition of the upcoming Millennium, with each team wearing a patch in a team color, which made for many variations of the patch, particularly the multiple shades of blue.

New York Islanders 1999-00 jersey photo NewYorkIslanders1999-00Fjersey.jpg
New York Islanders 1999-00 jersey photo NewYorkIslanders1999-00Bjersey.jpg

Today's video section begins with an interview with Cairns about his playing in England during the locked out season.

Next is the notorious Cairns incident where he got himself suspended for the remainder of the 2004-05 season in England.

Finally, a compilation of Cairns fights from throughout his career.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

1980 United States National Team Mike Eruzione Jersey

While everyone recalls the "Miracle on Ice" from February 22, 1980, many do not recall that the United States' victory over the Soviet Union was not the gold medal winning game.

In fact, the tournament format in 1980 did not even have a gold medal final, as the teams were not placed in a single elimination bracket, as is the case with the Olympics and World Championships of today. Back in 1980, the format had the top two teams from both the Blue and Red Divisions of First Round group play then placed into a new four team Final Round group.

Once placed in the Final Round group, each advancing team was scheduled to play the two surviving teams from the opposite group, with their earlier game against the team advancing from their First Round group carrying over into the Final Round standings.

What this meant for the United States in 1980 was their tournament opening tie against Sweden carried over to the Final Round, as did the Soviet Union's 4-2 win over Finland. This meant the standings heading into the final four matches stood at;
  1. Soviet Union 2 pts
  2. Sweden 1 pt.
  3. United States 1 pt.
  4. Finland 0 pts.
The United States first game was their historic matchup with the Soviets, which they famously won 4-3 and later was named the Top Story of the Century by the International Ice Hockey Federation, only it guaranteed the United States absolutely nothing.

Fortunately for the United States, nordic rivals Finland and Sweden tied in their game the evening of the 22nd, (yes, the United States game versus the Soviet Union was not even in prime time on US television despite the game being played in the United States!) and the standings prior to the final two games on this date in 1980 were now:
  1. United States 3 pts.
  2. Sweden 2 pts.
  3. Soviet Union 2 pts
  4. Finland 1 pt.
Heading into the final two games on Sunday, the worst case scenario for the United States was if Finland were to defeat them by two goals while Sweden and the Soviet Union tied, the gold would go to the Soviet Union and the United States would drop out of the medals altogether since all four teams would have the same 3 points with the USA having the worst goal differential!

Still, the victory over the Soviet Union left the United States with their fate in their own hands, as a victory over Finland would elevate them to an unreachable 5 points and earn them the coveted gold medal. Oddly, the USA was scheduled to play at 11AM in Lake Placid.

1980 Olympics USA vs Finland

Unfortunately for the United States, Jukka Porvari got Finland out on top with the first goal of the game at 9:20 of the first period with a one-timer slapshot over USA netminder Jim Craig's glove. The period would end with the USA leading 14-7 in shots on goal, but trailing on the scoreboard 1-0, the sixth time in seven games they had fallen behind.

Jim Craig USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland2.jpg
Jim Craig in goal for the Americans

The United States evened the score at 4:39 of the second period on Steve Christoff's unassisted goal on a backhander that went through Finnish goaltender Jorma Valtonen's pads only to have Finland regain the lead at 2-1 less than two minutes later when Mikko Leinonen put a second shot past Craig at 6:30 on the power play.

Once again, the United States held the edge in shots on goal at 8-6, but had just twenty minutes to get out of the hole they found themselves in against a team that had never won a medal, nor beaten the United States in Olympic hockey.

USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland1.jpg
The United States still had to face Finland before claiming the gold medal

With Finland leading 2-1 after two periods, a furious US head coach Herb Brooks warned the team during the final intermission that "If you lose this game, you will take it to your f***ing grave." He then walked almost all the way out of the room before turning around and repating "To your f***king grave."

"He didn't have to say much more than that. We knew he was right," USA forward Mark Johnson recalled.

Properly motivated, just over two minutes into the third period USA defenseman Dave Christian skated from his own zone into the Finnish end, drew the defense toward him and passed to left wing Phil Verchota who fired a wrist shot just inside the right post to tie the game at 2-2 at 2:25.

Less than four minutes later the United States struck again when Johnson, behind the Finland goal, passed the puck to Rob McClanahan, who saw Valtonen start to go down put the puck in between his gaping legs for a 3-2 lead for the USA at 6:05, sending the arena into bedlam, as loud as it had been against the Soviets two days earlier, as the United States led for the first time all game.

McLannahan USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland4.jpg
Mclanahan gave the United States their first lead of the game

Before the United States could relax, Neal Broten took a hooking penalty at 6:48 followed by Christian's tripping penalty at 8:54. The USA successfully killed off both penalties only to have Verchota whistled for roughing at 15:45 with the game still in doubt.

With both Broten and Christoff keeping Finland in their own zone during the power play, the puck was shot out toward the blueline, where it was intercepted by Johnson, who skated in, beat a defender, and made a backhand attempt, which Valtonen saved. The rebound however, went right back to Johnson who quickly smacked the puck over Valtonen's right skate for a shorthanded goal to give the United States a 4-2 lead with 3:35 left to play.

Johnson and Christian USA vs Finland 1980 photo 1980USAvsFinland3.jpg
Johnson celebrates his goal with Christoff

The Americans were now on a roll with their ultimate goal in sight and kept up the pressure, nearly scoring twice more on one shot that hit the pipe and another off the crossbar. Finally time ran out and the United States had secured their gold medal in a game many do not even remember, especially given the attention history has focused on the game against the Soviet Union and the "two days later the miracle was made complete" treatment it received in the movie "Miracle" - all of five seconds of game footage.

The final buzzer set off a new round of celebrations, as the United States successfully completed not just a seven game tournament, but a journey that began months earlier, as Brooks transformed them from rival college kids into Olympic champions.

1980 Miracle on Ice photo USA1980GoldCelebration.jpg
The United States celebrates winning the gold medal
following their victory over Finland

Still, somewhat unbelievably, there was another game left to play on the schedule between the Soviet Union and Sweden at 2:30PM. Following the Soviet's demolition of Sweden 9-2, the final placings were now set and the medal ceremony could take place on the ice with Sweden still wearing their jerseys from their game.

1980 Medal Ceremony

1980 Gold Medal

Following the presentation of the medals and the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, team captain Mike Eruzione famously called the rest of the team up onto the top level of the victory podium, which miraculously was just large enough, barely, to hold each and every member of the team.

1980 Medal Podium

Today's featured jersey is a 1980 United States National Team Mike Eruzione jersey, the actual jersey worn in the gold medal clinching game against Finland on the final day of the 1980 Olympic tournament, the sixth time the United States had come from behind during their seven games of the 1980 Olympics.

The blue jerseys are the lesser known jerseys from the tournament, as it was the white ones they were wearing when they defeated the Soviet Union and the style which has been much more heavily marketed since then.

The blue jersey Eruzione wore during the Miracle on Ice game sold in 2013 for $286,800 when put up for auction along with his white jersey from the Miracle on Ice game against the Soviet Union (which sold for $657,250), his stick, gloves, pants and warmup suit from the gold medal ceremony.

United States 1980 road jersey photo UnitedStates1980roadFjersey.jpg
United States 1980 road jersey photo UnitedStates1980roadBjersey.jpg
Photos from HeritageAuctions.com

Our video section begins with Rob McClanahan's game winning goal at 6:05 of the third period.

This next clip is the final minute of the game along with the subsequent eruption of joy as the United States completed their gold medal performance. Well, except for coach Brooks, who can be seen leaving the bench with nary a smile at the final horn.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

1992 Unified Team Andrei Kovalenko Jersey

The world outside of hockey was in a time of upheaval as the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France were approaching.

Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev had ushered in a new era of reforms. The Central Committee of the Communist Party agreed to give up it's monopoly of power in February of 1990 and several Soviet Republics had declared their independence, with Lithuania and Estonia doing so in March of 1990 and Latvia following in May.

Soviet Union Map

In March of 1991 a referendum vote was held and 76.4% was cast in favor of retaining the Soviet Union, but with a level of reforms. Seven republics boycotted the vote however, so the results were far from being as decisive as they sounded. In June of 1991, Boris Yeltsin won the post of President of Russia and took office on July 10, while Gorbachev still led the Soviet Union.

Yeltsin and Gorbachev
Yeltsin and Gorbachev

Yeltsin's policies favored the the dissolution of the Soviet Union, while Gorbachev attempted to restructure the Soviet Union as still a single entity. The New Union Treaty was set to be signed on August 20, 1991 which would convert the Soviet Union to a federation of independent republics with a common president and military force.

On August 19, 1991, hardliners looking to preserve the Soviet Union, and their own personal power in the process, put Gorbachev under house arrest and attempted to revoke his reforms which had granted unprecedented freedoms. They issued an emergency decree, suspended political activity and shut down most of the newspapers. Yeltsin quickly condemned their actions and the coup organizers attempted to have him arrested but failed.

Three days later the coup failed, it's organizers were arrested and Gorbachev returned to power as president of the Soviet Union, but with his powers now compromised.

On December 1, 1991, 90% of the voters in Ukraine voted for independence from the Soviet Union. Then a week later the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus met to discuss how to proceed and signed an agreement to dissolve the Soviet Union and replace it with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which Gorbachev described as an unconstitutional coup.

On December 12th, Russia ratified the Belavezha Accords and on December 21, 1991 representatives of all the member republics of the Soviet Union signed the Alma-Ata Protocol, confirming the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The same day, all of the former Soviet republics agreed to join the CIS with the exception of Georgia and the three Baltic States, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

Gorbachev resigned on December 25th and transferred any remaining powers of his office to Yeltsin and the Soviet hammer and sickle flag was lowered for the final time over the Kremlin on December 26th. By December 31, 1991, all official Soviet government operations had ceased and the individual republics assumed governmental control.

Soviet Union flag

This greatly affected their World Junior Hockey Team, as they had left for Germany as the Soviet Union, which ceased to exist midway through the tournament. They eventually won the gold medal only to return home to find their country no longer existed!

The Olympics began on February 8, 1992 in Albertville, France with a joint team consisting of players from six of the former 15 Soviet republics, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Uzbekistan and Armenia competing as the Unified Team under the Olympic flag.

Olympic flag photo Olympicflag.png

The Unified Team was placed in Group B and completed their schedule with a 4-1 record with dominant wins over Switzerland, Norway, France and a one goal victory over Canada and their only loss coming to Czechoslovakia, who would also cease to exist as a nation at the end of the year when it divided into the Czech Republic an Slovakia.

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The Unified Team battles Czechoslovakia

The Unified Team's second place finish in Group B saw them matched up against Finland, who finished third in Group A, on February 18th. The Unified Team won easily by a score of 6-1 to advance to the semifinals against the United States, who they easily dispatched 5-2 to earn a place in the gold medal game on this date in 1992.

There was no score after the first period of play, despite the first power play for Canada and three subsequent ones for the Unified Team, including a brief 5-on-3 for 12 seconds. The shots on goal were tied at 10-10 after one.

The game continued on and the tension grew as the second period also passed with no scoring. The Unified Team had the only power play of the period, but failed to convert. The Unified Team clearly carried the play in the second period, outshooting the Canadians 15-6.

Finally one minute and one second into the third period, Vyacheslav Butsayev solved Canadian goaltender Sean Burke with an assist from Evgeny Davidov. The game remained close for the next 14 minutes until Igor Boldin added to the Unified Team's lead when he scored from Nikolai Borschevsky and Vitali Prokhorov at 15:54, leaving the Canadians just four minutes to do what they had failed to do in the previous 56, score on goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov.

1:26 later they did just that, giving them hope that a comeback was in progress when Chris Lindberg scored with assists from Joe Juneau and Jason Woolley to reduce the Unified Team's lead back to one.

Vyacheslav Bykov sealed the gold for the Unified Team with their third goal of the period with just 1:09 remaining from Andrei Khomutov. to make the final score 3-1.

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The Unified Team celebrated their gold medal win over Canada

Surprisingly, none of the four goals in the period came on the power play despite two penalties for Canada and four for the Unified Team, which included 25 seconds of 5-on-3 midway through the period and 59 seconds more beginning at the 13:06 mark which Canada failed to convert. Despite the edge in powerplay time, the Canadians were outshot 12-6 in the third period for a final edge of 37-22 for the Unified Team, which consisted of 19 Russians, 2 Ukrainians, a Belorussian and a Lithuanian.

Unified Team celebrates
The Unified Team at the medal ceremony

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The victors posing with their gold medals

By the time the next Winter Olympics game just two years later, in an effort to separate them from the Summer Olympics, the political situation in the former Soviet Union had a chance to stabilize, as did the world of hockey, which saw the creation of many new national teams, including those of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan which were all former republics of the Soviet Union, but now had their own national teams competing in international hockey, as well as the additions of Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia, which were created as a result of the divisions of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Russia, now fielding it's own team in 1994, placed fourth and out of the medals for the first time since they joined the Olympics as the Soviet Union in 1956.

Today's featured jersey is a 1992 Unified Team Andrei Kovalenko jersey as used in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. With the upheaval of the political situation in the Soviet Union in 1991, there was little time to sort out what kind of identity the brand new team made up of six of the 15 former Soviet republics would compete with. Mind you, the Unified Team was not the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Team, which was comprised 12 of the 15 Soviet republics and acted more like an association comparable to the European Union, rather than a country, such as the Soviet Union had been.

The Unified Team competed under the Olympic flag, and with just five weeks before the games were to commence, the jersey supplier to all the Olympic teams, Tackla of Finland, made up a set of the usual Soviet Union jerseys, only without the "CCCP" lettering across the chest. Note that they did not even continue across the chest or even alter the remaining stripes, which were still notched on the left hand side for the curvature of the "P"!

This was the one and only appearance for these stop-gap jerseys, as Russia competed in a new set of jerseys at the 1992 World Championships held just two months later in April as an independent nation, separate from the other five countries of the Unified Team.

Russia 1992 Olympics Unified Team
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992 Unified Team Alexander Andrievsky jersey. This road red jersey was prepared for Andrievsky, who did not make the final roster for the Unified Team in 1992.

Note the difference in the red jerseys compared to the white set, as the inner ends of the white and yellow chest stripe on the player's left side both end in a vertical alignment, unlike the white jersey's chest stripes which still retain the curvature of the absent "P" from the former CCCP cresting.

Soviet Union Unified Team 1992 jersey photo Soviet Union Unified Team 1992 F jersey.jpg
Soviet Union Unified Team 1992 jersey photo Soviet Union Unified Team 1992 B jersey.jpg
Today's video selection is the gold medal game from the 1992 Olympics, as the Unified Team, wearing their jerseys without any national identity, captures the gold medal against Canada.

This next clip begins with the Unified Team's Group B game against Czechoslovakia and is of superior video quality compared to the previous clip of the gold medal game. It turned out to be their only loss of the tournament. The video continues with the Czechs playing against Sweden, Canada and finally the United States in the bronze medal game.

For those with the time, here is the complete game between the Unified Team and the United States from the 1992 Olympics.


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