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Friday, May 27, 2016

1988-89 Central Red Army Evgeny Davydov Jersey

Born on this date in 1967, right winger Evgeny Davydov started his career with his hometown Traktor Chelyabinsk with 5 games in the 1984-85 season. That season his international career began with the European U18 Junior tournament. He became a regular the following season with 11 goals and 16 points in 39 games. During that season he also competed in his first World Junior Championship, scoring 3 goals and 4 points in 7 games as the Soviets won the gold medal.

As was often the case during the time of the Soviet Union, the players recognized as being the best in the land found themselves becoming members of the Soviet Red Army and being assigned to play hockey for the army's sports club, CSKA Moscow, also known as Central Red Army. There were many benefits to playing for Red Army, as the majority of the Soviet Union National Team was comprised of the Red Army squad. The downside was living life under the stern oversight of head coach Viktor Tikhonov, who had strict control of the player's lives for 11 months a year.

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Davydov joined the famed Red Army club in 1986

Davydov's Red Army career began with the 1986-87 season with 11 goals in 32 points on the high powered club. Davydov also returned to the World Junior Championships in 1987. Things did not go according to form however, as the Soviets entered their final game with a 2-3-1 record in their game against rivals Canada, who needed to win by five goals to secure the gold medal.

With the Canadians leading 4-2 with 6:07 left in the second period, a fight broke out which led to Valeri Zelepukin, who was playing hurt with a separated shoulder, being pummeled by Mike Keane. Davydov left the Soviet bench to come to Zelepukin's rescue, which sparked the most infamous bench clearing brawl in international hockey history. The officials were powerless to break up the battling players and eventually left the ice and had the lights turned off in the arena in an attempt to end the fighting.

Eventually, after the brawl lasted some 20 minutes, both teams were disqualified from the tournament, which cost Canada a medal since they were guaranteed at least a bronze. The incident became known as The Punch-up in Piestany.

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The Soviets and Canadians battle after Davydov sparked a bench clearing brawl

Davydov would play five more seasons with CSKA at the end of their incredible dynasty, winning Soviet League championships in 1987, 1988 and 1989, a Soviet Cup in 1988, the IIHF European Champions Cup four times from 1987 to 1990 and a Spengler Cup in 1991. His best seasons with Red Army came in 1989-90 with 17 goals in 44 games and in 1991-92 with 25 points in just 27 games.

During that time period, Davydov would appear in his only World Championship in 1990, where he scored 5 goals and 9 points in 9 games as the Big Red Machine of the Soviet Union would win it's final of 22 gold medals.

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The 1990 gold medal winning Soviet Union National Team

Also during this period of Davydov's career, massive changes were happening politically in the Soviet Union and the country ceased to exist in late December of 1991 while preparations were being made for the upcoming 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France. While the Soviet Union ceased to exists, a coalition of former member states competed together as the Unified Team. So short were the preparations before the Games, that the Unified Team wore the same Soviet jerseys as before, only with the letters CCCP removed. On the home white jerseys there was even the curvature around the "P" remaining!

No matter what they were called, these were still the elite of the Soviet hockey system, who roared through the competition with a 7-1 record to defeat Canada 3-1 in the final to win the Olympic gold medal to go with his World Championship and World Junior gold.

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Davydov jumps on top of the goal as the Soviet Union
celebrates its' 1992 Olympic gold medal

With his Olympic obligations to the Motherland now completed, Davydov began the next phase of his career as he reported to the Winnipeg Jets for the final dozen games of their NHL schedule where he impressed with 4 goals and 7 points followed by his first playoff experience with an additional 7 games.

Davydov then completed his first, full NHL season in 1992-93, showing good promise with 28 goals and 49 points in 79 games, nearly twice as many as he had ever played during a Soviet regular season, where his previous maximum was 44. Also of note was his +/- rating of -2, showing he was not a one way defensive liability.

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Davydov showed promise with the Jets in 1992-93

Despite the promise shown by Davydov in 1992-93, he was considered expendable in light of the Jets having a lineup that consisted of the likes of rookie superstar Teemu Selanne, Thomas Steen, fellow Russian Alexei Zhamnov, Darrin Shannon and Keith Tkachuk which resulted in Davydov being traded in September of 1993 to the expansion Florida Panthers.

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Davydov's time with the Panthers was brief

Life with the expansion Panthers was difficult and not a good fit for Davydov, and after just 21 games and a mere 2 goals, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in January of 1994 where he fared no better, scoring just 5 goals in 40 games for the even more offensively challenged Senators.

His 1994-95 season cannot be descirbed as anything but a bust, as Davydov played just 3 NHL games with Ottawa, scoring just once. He also saw action in 11 games for the San Diego Gulls and 18 with the Chicago Wolves, both of the IHL. His final NHL totals were 155 games played, 40 goals and 39 assists for 79 points.

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Ottawa was Davydov's final NHL stop

The remainder of his career was spent back in Europe, where he spent the next ten seasons meandering through its various pro leagues. 1995-96 saw Davydov play 7 games with EHC Olten of the Swiss second division followed by 3 regular season and 13 playoff games with HC Amiens in France, highlighted by 15 goals and 24 points during the playoffs.

The next two seasons brought a measure of stability, as he signed with Brynas IF Gavle in Sweden, scoring a league leading 30 goals and 48 points in 46 games in 1996-97 followed by a 33 point season in 40 games with Brynas in 1997-98.

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Davydov with Brynas of the Swedish Elitserien

He was on the move again in 1998-99, splitting time between Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague (14 games) and EV Zug in Switzerland (11 games).

For the next two seasons, Davydov was back with Olten in the Swiss second division, where he excelled with 26 goals and 56 points in 1999-00 before setting career highs in 2000-01 when he cut loose for 31 goals and 80 points in 40 games, an average of two points per game.

He could not sustain that success however, as 2001-02 saw him struggle with 2 goals in 7 games with Karpat Oulu in Finland followed by 5 goals in 34 games with the Berlin Capitals in the German DEL.

If possible, Davydov's 2002-03 season was worse, as he only managed cameo appearances which amounted to 5 scoreless games with Krylja Sovetov Moscow (Soviet Wings) followed by a mere 2 games with HC Milano in the top Italian league, where he scored his lone goal of the season while acquiring another stamp in his passport.

In 2003-04, he showed some signs of his past promise. After 12 games with Olofstroms IK in the Swedish second division, Davydov again returned to Russia, only this time in the third division with Velkom Moscow, where he scored 10 goals and 30 points in 30 games.

His final season of play was with Titan Kiln, also in the Russian third division, where in 32 games he wrapped up his career with 7 goals and 25 points.

After starting his career with the prestige and stability of playing with Central Red Army and winning three league championships and three gold medals in the World Juniors, World Championships and Olympics, his move to the NHL, which looked promising after his first full season in Winnipeg, ended quickly 64 games later and he began a journey through the hockey wilderness, never spending more than two consecutive seasons with any single team, as he moved among ten leagues spread among seven countries - Switzerland, France, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Finland and Italy.

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Davydov waves to the crowd at the 1992 Olympic hockey medal ceremony

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Central Red Army Evgeny Davydov jersey. Unlike today's featured jersey, this is a prime example of a typical Soviet jersey from the era that has been hammered with game use that has worn the combination of silk screening and heat pressed graphics, which have been both ground off or peeling off, particularly along the waist stripe, lower left arm and lower torso.

The Super Series of games, in which Soviet Club teams came to North America to play exhibition games against NHL club teams, gave the top Soviet clubs who came over in 1989 and 1990 (Red Army, Dynamo Riga, Khimik Voskresensk, Soviet Wings and Dynamo Moscow) an injection of cash and a nice, new set of top quality jerseys.

While some of the team's jerseys appear to have been worn for games back in the Soviet Union with Cyrillic names added, Red Army in particular, others were likely sold following the final game of the club's North American tour, probably in one of a few different manners, either as a complete team set to a well funded memorabilia seller in a shady deal out of the back door of the locker room by the team's head coach for personal gain or individually by the team's equipment manager as an impromptu garage sale to the lucky fans who happened to be in the area or the the knowledgeable individual collector hoping for just such an opportunity after the Soviet's final game before heading home.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1990-91 Central Red Army Evgeny Davydov jersey as worn during his time with the most dominant club in the history of hockey. Unlike many of the somtimes paper thin mesh jerseys with silkscreened or heat sealed graphics as seen in today's featured jersey, this Red Army jersey is a top of the line, Canadian-made CCM jersey produced to the same standards as one would find in the NHL and very likely produced for use in the 1989, 1990 or 1991 Super Series and then converted to Cyrillic names for use back home in the Soviet League.

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Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1992 Unified Team Evgeny Davydov 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.

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 they did not even alter the chest 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.

Unlike the screened or heat pressed Soviet jerseys, this Tackla jersey uses the dye sublimation process, in which each jersey starts as a white blank jersey and then has all the graphics dyed into the jersey, not added onto the jersey, a much superior process which is permanent and allows the jersey to retain its vibrant colors indefinitely.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
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, followed by a brief clip of the medal ceremony.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Going Out in Style - The Orlando Solar Bears

Founded in 1994 as a member of the International Hockey League, the Orlando Solar Bears began play during the 1995-96 season, which, along with the expansion San Francisco Spiders, boosted the IHL from 17 teams to a high of 19, up from 9 just six seasons earlier.

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In addition to the arrival of the Solar Bears, other changes in league membership saw the Denver Grizzlies relocate to Salt Lake City as the Utah Grizzlies, having been displaced by the arrival to Denver of the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL. Additionally, the San Diego Gulls moved north to become the Long Beach Ice Dogs.

The Solar Bears were an immediate success on the ice, as they won the Central Division with 110 points, third best in the league thanks to a 52-24-6 record. They were led in scoring by Craig Fisher, who had a league leading 74 goals, 18 more than anyone other player, and 130 points, which was second in the IHL scoring race. Mark Beaufait was second on the club with 109 points, good for fifth in the league, while Dave Barr was ninth with 100. Former Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Allan Bester was a workhorse in goal, playing in 51 games with a 32-16-2 record while also finding the time to play in 10 games with the Dallas Stars of the NHL.

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Craig Fisher, the inaugural season leading scorer

During the playoffs, the Solar Bears defeated the Fort Wayne Komets 3-1, the Detroit Vipers in seven and the Cincinnati Cyclones 4-2 to advance to the Turner Cup Finals during just their first season before unfortunately being swept by the Grizzlies.

For the 1996-97 season, while the league remained at 19 teams, the Spiders folded after just one season. The Atlanta Knights relocated to become the Quebec Rafales, the Grand Rapids Griffins were formed, the Minnesota Moose relocated to become the Manitoba Moose, and the Peoria Rivermen moved to become the San Antonio Dragons.

The Solar Bears were moved out of the Central Division and moved to the equally inappropriate North Division! They exceeded their point total by one with 111 and again had the third best record in the league. For 1996-97, they were led in points by Beaufait's 91 points, seventh in the IHL, while Hubic McDonough's 30 goals were tops for Orlando. Bester raised his games played to 61 with a 37-13-3 record. While the Solar Bears defeated the Griffins 3-2, they were upset by the Cleveland Lumberjacks 4-2 in the second round of the playoffs.

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Allan Bester

Entering the 1997-98 season, the IHL league lost the Phoenix Roadrunners and dropped to 18 clubs. While Orlando remained grouped with Detroit, Grand Rapids and Quebec, the North Division was now renamed the Northeast Division. While still a successful club on the ice with a 42-30-10 record, the Solar Bears dipped to 94 points, which was seventh overall in the IHL.

Beaufait was again their leading offensive threat with a team leading 85 points while McDonough was tops in goals with 32. Their goaltending was divided between David Littman (44 games - 21-13-6), Bester (26) and Scott LaGrand (23).

The Solar Bears began their march into the playoffs with a 3-1 win over the Indianapolis Ice, the eliminated the Cleveland Lumberjacks 4-1 before falling to the Detroit Vipers 4-3 in the Semifinals.

The 1998-99 season saw the IHL shrink by two teams as Quebec and San Antonio folded, bringing the league down to 16 clubs.

Orlando posted the same 94 points as the season prior, which was again the seventh best record. Beaufait again led the team in scoring with a team highs in goals (28), assists (43) and points (71). Latvian Grigori Panteleev was just behind with 25 goals. Littman was the goaltender of choice, playing in 55 games with a 32-17-1 record, while none of the other four goaltenders had more than 17.

The Solar Bears received a bye in Round 1 of the playoffs before sweeping the Michigan K-Wings 3 games to none. They got their revenge on the Vipers from losing in last season's Semifinals by becoming the only team in the 56 year history of the IHL to come back from a 3 games to none deficit to win a playoff series when they reeled off four straight wins, 3-2, 2-1, 4-1 and finally 5-4 in Game 7 on a goal by Todd Krygier just 25 seconds into overtime to return to the Turner Cup Finals for the third time in six seasons.

There, they met the Houston Aeros. After the teams split the first two games in Houston, the Aeros put the Solar Bears on the brink by winning the first two games back in Orlando. The Solar Bears fought back with an overtime win at home in Game 5 and forced a Game 7 with a 3-2 victory back in Houston, but fell short 5-3 in the deciding Game 7.

For the 1999-00 season, the IHL got smaller for the third straight season. Now reduced to 13 teams, the league lost the Fort Wayne Komets, who left to join the United Hockey League. Also leaving the IHL was Indianapolis, who transferred to the Central Hockey League, and the Las Vegas Thunder, who lost their lease at their home rink and subsequently folded.

The Solar Bears 47-23-12 record was good for fourth in the league with 106 points in the Eastern Division. Once again, Beaufait was the team leader in all three offensive statistical categories with 28 goals and 50 assists for 78 points. Another Latvian, Herbert Vasiljevs was second with 25 goals and 60 points.

The goaltending was a literal revolving door, as no less than eight different players donned the pads for the Solar Bears! Scott Langkow saw the most action, but that was with just 27 games. Rick Tabaracci was the only other player over 20 with 21, while Corey Schwab had 16. While none of the other five goalies reached 10 games, each one played at least twice and none of the eight had a losing record. The "big three" were a combined 34-18-8 and the remaining five contributed to an excellent 13-5-4 mark as a group.

Their playoff season was an abbreviated one, as they fell in six games to the Cyclones.

By now the IHL was reeling, and two more clubs fell by the wayside for the 2000-01 season, bringing the league down to now 11 teams. Long Beach left for the West Coast Hockey League while the Michigan K-Wings (formerly the Kalamazoo Wings) folded due to the loss of their affiliation with the NHL's Dallas Stars and concerns over larger market teams entering the league.

For the sixth consecutive season, the Solar Bears finished the season with a winning record. They won 47 games, lost 28 and had 7 shootout losses for 101 points, second overall in "The I".

It should come as no surprise that Beaufait lead Orlando in scoring for the sixth consecutive season, as he was tops in goals (23), assists (42) and points with 65. J. P. Vigier equaled Beaufait's 23 goals. While six goaltenders suited up for the Solar Bears, Norm Maracle was the clear number one with 51 games played and a 33-13-3 record.

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The main cog in the Orlando offense, Mark Beaufait

Cincinnati was the first to fall in the playoffs to Orlando, 4 games to 1. The Solar Bears got out to a 3-0 lead over Grand Rapids before eventually winning in six games to advance to the Turner Cup Finals against the Chicago Wolves. Orlando dominated at home, winning the first two games 7-2 and 5-1. The Wolves took Game 3 in Chicago 3-1 before Orlando took charge with a 2-1 win in overtime of Game 4. Back in Orlando, the Solar Bears won the Turner Cup with a 5-1 victory in front of their home fans one final time in what would be the last IHL game ever played.

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The 2001 Turner Cup champion Orlando Solar Bears

The IHL had been moving into major markets, including those which already had NHL teams, such as Chicago, Detroit and Long Beach, near Los Angeles. In response, many NHL teams switched their affiliations to teams in the American Hockey League, reducing the number of affiliated IHL teams to just four in 1997-98. The loss of subsidized player salaries, high expansion costs and greatly increased travel costs were too much for the IHL, which ceased operations after the 2000-01 season.

Six teams, the Chicago, Grand Rapids, Houston, Utah, the Milwaukee Admirals and Manitoba were granted admittance into the AHL, while Cincinnati joined the ECHL. Unfortunately for the fans of the Solar Bears and the Kansas City Blades, owner Rich DeVos owned three clubs, Orlando, Kansas City and Grand Rapids. Rules would only allow DeVos to own one club in the AHL, which was was chosen to be Grand Rapids. In addition to the Solar Bears and the Blades, Cleveland and Detroit also ceased operations when the IHL folded.

Despite their success on the ice, Orlando never drew very well and trended downward each and every season. They averaged 10,460 in 1995-96 and two seasons later they were down to 7,219. The Solar Bears dropped into the 6,000's for 1998-99 and 1999-00 before a plummet in 2000-01 to 5,156, which was less than half of their inaugural season average. By comparison, after a peak of 7,285 in 1991-92, the DeVos' Blades were down to 5,235 in 2000-01 while his surviving Griffins averaged 8,022 and were just two seasons removed from three consecutive at over 10,000.

It should come as no surprise that Beaufait was the Solar Bears all-time leading scorer with 159 goals and 340 assists for 499 points, far outdistancing Todd Richards' 260 and McDonough at 231, the only three players over 200 while with Orlando.

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Team captain Richards accepting the Turner Cup
following the Solar Bears last game

When the Solar Bears folded after the 2000-01 season, Beaufait played one year in the AHL before moving to Germany to play seven seasons with the Berlin Polar Bears, which seemed entirely appropriate for someone who had played six seasons with the Solar Bears.

Fisher retained his records for Most Goals in a Season (74) and Most Points in a Season (130), while Beaufait was tops in single season assists with 79. Barry Dreger set the team record for Most Penalty Minutes in a Season with 387 while Bester set the goaltending mark for Most Wins in a Season with 37 in 1996-97.

Orlando finished with a 286-162-44 franchise record, with at least 42 victories in each of their seven winning seasons.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Orlando Solar Bears Allan Bester jersey as worn during the Solar Bears inaugural season by the team's original number one goaltender. With it's purple, black and teal color scheme, this jersey could not be more representative of the trendy colors of the 1990's which look terribly dated today.

Not only is the name on the back italicized, but be sure to note a rare feature of names on the back of pro or college sports jerseys - seldom seen lower case letters!

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Orlando Solar Bears Craig Fisher jersey as worn on the road during the Solar Bears inaugural season by the team's original leading scorer. Note the Turner Cup Finals patch on the upper right chest.

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Orlando Solar Bears 1995-96 jersey photo Orlando Solar Bears 1995-96 R B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1997-98 Orlando Solar Bears Todd Richards jersey. This black jersey was an alternate style worn by the team. Note the different treatment for the names on the back when compared to the home and road jerseys. While the letters are no longer italicized, they are retain the Solar Bears trademark lowercase letters which are now not only three color letters, but vertically arched as well!

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Orlando Solar Bears 1997-98 jersey photo Orlando Solar Bears 1997-98 A B jersey.jpg

Today's video looks back at the 2001 Turner Cup champions, the Orlando Solar Bears, who went out in style, winning the title in their final game ever.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

1977-78 Washington Capitals Robert Picard Jersey

Defenseman Robert Picard, born on this date in 1957, was a defenseman with the Montreal Juniors who tore up the QMJHL from 1973-74 until 1976-77. As a rookie in junior hockey, Picard introduced himself to the league with 53 points and a whopping 296 penalty minutes as a 16-year-old. Gaining experience and confidence, he returned for the 1974-75 season and made leaps in all categories, nearly doubling his goal total to 13 and raising his assist total to 74 for a total of 87 points in 70 games. His increased offensive numbers did nothing to harm his aggressiveness, as he spent 337 minutes sitting out his various transgressions, the equivalent of more than 5 1/2 games of penalty time.

After a similar season in 1975-76, Picard earned top prospect status for the upcoming NHL draft with a 32 goal, 92 point season in 1976-77 while maintaining his penchant for time in the penalty box with a career "low" of 267 minutes. His leadership was also on display as he was the Juniors team captain that season.

When the 1977 NHL draft arrived, Picard did not need to wait long to hear his name called, as he was selected third overall by the third year Washington Capitals, who hoped he would anchor their defense for years to come.

His first season in Washington of 1977-78 saw Picard finish fourth in team scoring behind a trio of forwards with 10 goals and 37 points while topping 100 penalty minutes with 101.

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Robert Picard

With the Capitals not qualifying for the playoffs, Picard had the honor of being selected to play for Canada in the 1978 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where Canada won a bronze medal behind the dominant Soviet Union and host Czechs in only their second year back in international hockey following an eight year absence due to the rules governing the status of amateur players.

Washington improved by 15 points in the standings during his second season of 1978-79 and Picard's numbers reflected their improvement, as he more than doubled his goal total to 21 while scoring a career high 65 points, establishing team records in the process. Even more notable was his improvement from a -26 as a rookie to a +3 rating. During the season he was also a member of the NHL All-Star squad who faced off against the Soviet Union in the 1979 Challenge Cup, held in place of the traditional NHL All-Star Game.

Despite their improvement in the standings, the Capitals again missed the playoffs which freed Picard to participate in his second World Championships in Moscow, where Canada narrowly missed out on another bronze by a single point.

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After posting an 11 goal, 54 point season for the Capitals in 1979-80, and appearing in his first proper NHL All-Star Game, Picard was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goaltender Mike Palmateer. His stay in Toronto lasted less than a full season, as the Maple Leafs sent Picard home to Montreal after 59 games of the 1980-81 season.

With such stalwarts as Larry Robinson and Rod Langway on the Canadiens roster, Picard was not relied on for his offense the way he was in Washington, which obviously reduced his point totals while with the Canadiens, scoring 28 points followed by 38 in 1982-83.

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Picard with his hometown Canadiens

Early in the 1983-84 season, Montreal sent Picard west to the Winnipeg Jets after just seven games. He would play two seasons for the Jets, with his second of 1984-85 seeing him score 12 goals, his only season of double digit goals since leaving Washington. He would score 34 points that season and be whistled for 107 penalty minutes while equalling a career best +31 rating, previously set in Montreal in 1983.

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Picard while with Winnipeg

His 1985-86 season was split between Winnipeg (20 games) and the Quebec Nordiques (48 games) following yet another trade between Canadian based teams for Picard, his fourth Canadian club in six seasons.

The Nordiques had actually drafted Picard back in 1977 when they were still members of the WHA, even signing him to a contract, but he was not allowed to play for them at the time since he had already signed with the Capitals of the NHL.

He played in 48 games his first season in Quebec, but his total games were limited by a lacerated hand and broken ribs, this following missing the start of the season with the Jets due to a training camp concussion. Despite all that, he still tallied 41 points that season, his highest total since his early days in Washington.

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Picard while with yet another Canadian franchise, this time Quebec

He played three additional seasons with the Nordiques before being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings, playing 20 games before retiring as a player.

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Picard finished his career with Detroit

His final career totals were 899 games, 104 goals and 319 assists for 423 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Washington Capitals Robert Picard jersey as worn during Picard's rookie season in the NHL with the Capitals. Picard wore #24 in honor of his uncle, former NHLer Noel Picard.

The Capitals wore their star-spangled jerseys from the time of their NHL debut in 1974 through the 1994-95 season when they stopped wearing their classic red, white and blue jerseys and changed to a new blue and black color scheme.

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Washington Capitals 77-78 jersey, Washington Capitals 77-78 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978 Canada National Team Robert Picard jersey as worn in the World Championships when Picard earned a bronze medal.

This loud style was worn during the early days of Canada's return to international competition following their eight years away from the international scene in a dispute concerning the rules governing the amateur status of the full time hockey players from communist countries such as the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Today's video segment begins with an episode of the competition Showdown '80, a shootout style challenge shown during intermissions of network hockey games during the 1979-80 season. This episode features an ever tiring Mike Palmateer facing off against half a dozen NHL stars, including Robert Picard.

This next video features Robert Picard relative and predecessor Noel Picard, who gets emotional when thinking about his playing days with the Blues.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers Pelle Lindbergh Jersey

Born on this date in 1959 in Stockholm, Sweden Per-Eric "Pelle" Lindbergh made his debut with Hammarby IF of Stockholm's junior team in 1975 and made his international debut for the Sweden National Team that same season in the European Junior Championships earning the silver medal as well as the award for Best Goaltender. A second season with Hammarby as well as a second European Junior Championship appearance followed in 1976-77, which resulted in a gold medal as well as a second Best Goaltender award at the 1977 EJC.

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Lindbergh in goal for Hammarby. Note the
Flyers logos on his mask even then.

His first season with Hammarby IF in Sweden's Division 1 in 1977-78 was highlighted with four games played at the newly promoted World Junior Championships, backstopping Sweden to a silver medal. At the time, NHL players had begun appearing in the World Championships, beginning in 1976. International Ice Hockey Federation officials began to fear that true amateur and younger players were losing their places they traditionally held with teams at the World Championships, so the Under-20 Junior Championships were elevated to full world championship status in 1977.

A second season with Hammarby IF in Division 1 in 1978-79 saw him named Best Goaltender at the 1979 World Junior Championships, where Sweden would win the bronze medal, followed by making his debut with the Sweden National Team at the senior level at that year's World Championships in Moscow, helping Sweden to a bronze medal finish. He was also drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 35th overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft and the second goaltender and second European taken that year.

1979-80 was a breakthrough season for the young netminder, as he would take over the starting role in goal for AIK Stockholm in the Elitserien, Sweden's highest professional level, appearing in 32 games and being named to the 1980 Swedish Olympic Team. Lindbergh would appear in five of Sweden's seven games as Sweden won the bronze medal.

He would make his NHL debut with the Maine Mariners of the American Hockey League in 1980-81, winning the Hap Homes Award, the Les Cunningham Rookie of the Year Award and the Red Garrett Most Valuable Player Award honors after a stellar 31-14-5 record in the regular season and a 10-7 mark in the playoffs as Maine reached the Calder Cup Finals.

Prior to the next season, Lindbergh was named to the Sweden National Team's roster for the 1981 Canada Cup tournament. He would split time in 1981-82 between the Mariners (25 games) and make his NHL debut with the Flyers with eight games, posting a 2-4-2 record.

The departure of Pete Peeters for the Boston Bruins opened up more time for Lindbergh in 1982-83, as he became the number one goaltender for the Flyers, appearing in 40 games, posting a 23-13-3 record and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team and played in his first NHL All-Star Game. Following the NHL season Lindbergh played in his second World Championships for Sweden and yet another medal, this time a bronze, his seventh international medal.

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Lindbergh at his first NHL All-Star Game in 1983.

Bob Froese took the majority of the starts in Philadelphia in 1983-84 with 48 games played, with Lindbergh finishing with a 16-13-3 mark in 36 appearances.

The high point of Lindbergh's career came in the 1984-85 season, when Lindbergh saw the bulk of the workload, seeing action in 65 games while going 40-17-7 to lead the league in wins and help the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Finals. His outstanding play was rewarded with his second NHL All-Star Game appearance as well as being named the recipient of the 1985 Vezina Trophy, the first European goaltender in NHL history to ever win the award.

Pelle LIndberg
Lindbergh with the Vezina Trophy.

Lindbergh also became the first goaltender to bring a water bottle with him on the ice during a game to combat severe dehydration that plagued him, a now accepted and regular practice.

In addition, Lindbergh was also known for his stark white goalie mask used during a period when nearly all goalie masks were adorned with increasingly elaborate paint schemes to reflect either the team's identity or their individual personality. The mask was a replica of his idol and goaltending coach, former Flyer goalie Bernie Parent.

Pelle LIndberg
Lindbergh facing The Great One, Wayne Gretzky

Following his Vezina Trophy winning season, Lindbergh signed a six year contract with the Flyers and bought himself a 565 horsepower, customized Porsche 930 Turbo. He began the 1985-86 season in good form, winning six of his first eight starts, but tragedy struck when Lindbergh crashed his car while driving impaired on November 10, 1985, leaving him brain-dead and his two passengers seriously injured.

Lindbergh was kept on life support long enough for his father to arrive from Sweden to join Lindbergh's mother, who was already in the United States on a visit, to say goodbye and then make the final decision to donate his organs and end life support on November 12th. Lindbergh was just 26 years old.

His death stunned is teammates, the city of Philadelphia and the nation of Sweden. Fans then made Lindbergh the top vote getter for the 1986 NHL All-Star Game, the first time a player was chosen posthumously for an all-team in North American sports.

While Lindbergh's #31 was never officially retired, no Flyer has worn the number since.

The Flyers created the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award in 1994, given annually to the Most Improved Player each season.

For more on the life and career of Pelle Lindbergh, we recommend Pelle Lindbergh: Behind the White Mask.

Today's featured jersey is a 1984-85 Philadelphia Flyers Pelle Lindbergh jersey from the season he recorded his career high 40 wins. The Flyers adopted this modernized version of their classic jersey in 1982-83, Lindbergh's second season with Philadelphia. It featured the addition of more black trim to separate the orange arm coloring from the white of the body and was made by Sandow SK. The following season the jersey remained the same, but was now made by CCM. One season later the Flyers jerseys again were rebranded, this time by Eagle.

This style Flyers jersey was essentially carved in stone, as it remained unchanged through the 2006-07 season after which it was replaced by the Reebok Edge jersey, sadly doing in an iconic jersey after 20 years of service.

Philadelphia Flyers 85-86 jersey
Philadelphia Flyers 85-86 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1979 Sweden National Team Pelle Lindbergh jersey as worn in the 1979 World Junior Tournament which took place in Sweden. Lindbergh was named the Best Goaltender and helped Sweden earn a bronze medal that year.

This jersey is from a period of time in the late 70's/early 80's when Sweden moved away from their traditional three crowns logo and instead sports the phrase "Tre Kronor", which translates to "Three Crowns".

Sweden 1979 WJC jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
While there are numerous Lindbergh game highlights, news reports and tributes available, we chose to feature this excellent tribute today.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The 2016 IIHF Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

The 2016 class was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame yesterday and included four players, all with NHL experience to go with their international accomplishments.

First, was Slovakian Peter Bondra, who first competed for Slovakia at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, scoring 3 goals in 3 games. He then appeared for the Slovaks at the 1998 Olympics, the first for the star players of the NHL. In 2002, he and the Slovakians had the tournament of their lives, as Bondra scored 7 goals to lead all players and 9 points in 9 games, including the game winning goal in the gold medal final with less than two minutes to play as Slovakia won their first, and to date only, World Championship.

He returned for his second World Championship in 2003 and won a bronze medal. Bondra made one final international appearance, that being during the 2006 Olympics where he scored 4 goals in 6 games.

Peter Bondra Slovakia photo PeterBondraGoldMedal.jpg
Bondra celebrates with his 2002 World Championship gold medal

"I'd like to thank Slovakian hockey. I was always proud to play for my country, Olympics or World Championships. My dream was to always play for the national team and score the game winning goal for a gold medal. My dream came true," Bondra stated at the ceremony.

Today's featured Bondra jersey is a 2002 Slovakia National Team Peter Bondra jersey as worn when "Peter the Great" scored the game winning goal in the championship final of the 2002 World Championships, an unexpected title considering that just three months earlier Slovakia failed to advance out of the Preliminary Round of the 2002 Olympics. Slovakia's rise to the World Championship came less than ten years ofter becoming an independent nation following the breakup of Czechoslovakia  in 1993 and being forced to start at the lower depths of the IIHF ladder system in Pool C, while the Czech Republic was allowed to retain Czechoslovakia's place in the Top Division of the World Championship system.

Slovakia 2002 WC jersey photo Slovakia 2002 WC F.jpg
Slovakia 2002 WC jersey photo Slovakia 2002 WC B.jpg

The next player, alphabetically, to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame was Russian Sergei Fedorov, whose international career began during the days of the Soviet Union. The young hockey protege was a three time member of the Soviet Union National Team at the World Junior Championships in 1987, 1988 (silver) and 1989, when he won a gold medal. Later that spring he made his debut at the World Championships at the senior level, where he added a second gold medal. He returned to the 1990 World Championship with the Soviets and took home a second consecutive gold.

His final international appearance for the Soviet Union came at the 1991 Canada Cup, and actually occurred after his defection in July of 1990.

Fedorov Soviet Union photo Fedorov Canada Cup.jpg
Fedorov skating for the Soviet Union for the final time at the 
1991 Canada Cup three months before they country ceased to exist

He returned to the international stage in 1996 as a member of Russia at the World Cup of Hockey, as the Soviet Union by now had ceased to exist, breaking up on December 26, 1991. His second international appearance for Russia was at the 1998 Olympics, where he won a silver medal, his first for Russia. Four years later, he was again a medal winner at the Olympics, this time a bronze in 2002.

18 years after his last World Championships, Fedorov would return in 2008, scoring 5 goals and 12 points in 9 games as he won his third gold medal at the Worlds and his first for Russia, as the previous two were won with the Soviets.

In 2010 he played in both the Olympics in Salt Lake City and then later the World Championships three months later where he won a silver medal.

"I am so honored and so pleased that this life of hockey that has given me so much joy has borught me to this place and this special recognition,' said Fedorov.

Today's featured Fedorov jersey is a 1996 Russia National Team Sergei Fedorov jersey as worn when Fedorov played in his first international tournament for Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, his first international appearance in seven years.
Although scheduled to wear a new style for the 1998 Olympics, Russia rejected their previously approved jersey so late that they were forced to revert to their "waving flag" style from the 1996 World Cup. Fedorov and the Russians then won the Olympic silver medal in this "retired" jersey style.

Russia 1996 WCOH jersey photo Russia 1996 WCOH F.jpg
Russia 1996 WCOH jersey photo Russia 1996 WCOH B.jpg

Joining Fedorov in the IIHF Hall of Fame was fellow Russian Valeri Kamensky, who won gold his first time out at the 1984 European Under-18 Junior Championships for the Soviet Union. He followed that with a bronze at the U20 World Juniors in 1985 and a gold a the World Juniors in 1986, where he led the tournament in goals with 7 on his way to 13 points in 7 games.

Later in the spring of 1986, Kamensky made his debut for the senior level team at the World Championships, winning another gold medal just months apart. Kamensky was busy in 1987, as he first played for the Soviets in the two game Rendez-vous '87 series against the NHL All-Stars in Quebec. He next played in the World Championships, scoring 5 goals and 8 points in 10 games, earning a sliver medal. Finally, later in the spring, he competed for the Soviets at the 1987 Canada Cup.

Kamensky Soviet Union photo Kamensky Soviet Union 2.jpg
Valeri Kamensky began his international career with the Soviet Union

He made his Olympic debut at the 1988 Games in Calgary, where he contributed 6 points in 8 games on his way to a gold medal. Along with other Soviet National Team duties, such as the Izvestia Trophy, Kamensky played in the next three World Championships, winning gold in 1989 and 1990 and bronze in 1991 when he was named as the tournament's Best Forward following 6 goals and 11 points in 10 games before closing out his international Soviet career with the Goodwill Games in July of 1990.

His first World Championship for Russia came in 1994 with 5 goals and 10 points in 6 games. In 1996, Kamensky won the Stanley Cup with the Colordao Avalanche, which earned him a place in the Triple Gold Club, having previously won an Olympic Gold medal and a World Championship gold medal.

With the NHL now accommodating their players participation in the Olympics, Kamensky was able to return to the Olympics for the first time in a decade, where he earned a silver medal.

He wrapped up his international career with the 2000 World Championships, his seventh.

Today's featured Kamensky jersey is a 1988 Russia National Team Valeri Kamensky jersey as worn when Kamensky played in his first Olympic Games while as a member of the Soviet Union. This was one of the first times the Tackla company of Finland supplied jerseys to the IIHF and before they developed their signature look with colored shoulders adorned with their trademark diamond shaped logo.

Soviet Union 1988 Olympic jersey photo Soviet Union 1988 Olympic jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

The final player inductee was Finn Ville Peltonen, who first played for Finland at the European U18 Junior Championship where he began his medal collection with a bronze. He then moved up to the U20 level at the 1993 World Juniors.

He made his Olympic debut at the 1994 Olympics, winning a bronze medal, which was followed by a silver medal at the World Championships later that spring in his first attempt.

He became a legend in Finland when he scored a hat trick and had an assist in Finland's 1985 World Championship gold medal winning final game, a 4-1 win over Sweden. Peltonen finished with 6 goals and 11 points.

Peltonen goal #3 photo Finland Goal 1995.jpg
Mika Stromberg and Saku Koivu celebrate as
Peltonen is elated after completing his hat trick

He played in both the World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 followed by the 1997 World Championships. At the 1998 Olympics, Peltonen won a bronze medal. He next won three consecutive World Championship medals, silver in 1998 and 1999 and bronze in 2000.

After a break of a couple of years, Peltonen played in the next six World Championships from 2003 to 2008, winning a bronze in 2006, a silver in 2007 and another bronze in 2008. During this timer period, Peltonen also finished as runner up in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and won a silver medal at the 2006 Olympics.

Aside from games as a part of the Euro Hockey Tour, Peltonen's final major international tournament was the 2010 Olympics games, his fourth, where he won a bronze medal.

In all, Peltonen represented Finland 19 times, winning 13 medals.

Today's featured Peltonen jersey is a 1995 Finland National Team Ville Peltonen jersey from the 1995 World Championships where Peltonen famously had a hat trick in the gold medal game to give the Finns their first ever world Championship, which came at the expense of arch rival Sweden.

This jersey was made by Tackla though branded as Reeebok. This style was worn during 1994 and 1995 until Nike became the supplier to the IIHF in 1996.

Finland 1995 home jersey photo Finland 1995 H F.jpg
Finland 1995 home jersey photo Finland 1995 H B.jpg

Pat Quinn was also inducted into the builders category. He led Canada to its first gold medal in 50 years at the 2002 Olympics and also led Canada to the championship of the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and gold medals at both the 2008 U18 World Championship and the 2009 World U20 World Championships.

Pat Quinn photo Pat Quinn.jpg
Pat Quinn

Ben Smith, who was a four time US Olympic Women's hockey coach, who led the Americans to the gold medal at the first women's Olympic hockey tournament in 1998, was also inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame

Ben Smith photo Ben Smith.jpg
Ben Smith

Finally, the deserving winner of the second Richard "Bibi" Torriani Award was Gabor Ocskay of Hungary. The Torriani Award is given to players who have had a great international career regardless of where they have played in recognition of players who did not necessarily win Olympic or World Championship medals, but who still had remarkable careers.

Ocskay first gained recognition outside of his native Hungary at the age of 16 when he was the top scorer at the 1992 European Junior Championships C Pool with 10 points in just 3 games as he led the Hungarians to promotion to the B Pool.

He would go on to play for Hungary at the European U18 juniors twice, the U20 World Juniors twice, the World Championships 16 times in the B, C and D Pool and later at the Division I level and a round of Olympic qualifying, scoring 76 goals and 91 assists for 167 points in 122 games. He also played his hometown Alba Volán Székesfehérvár of the Hungarian Nationwide Championship League for 16 seasons, eventually scoring 307 goals and 446 assists for 753 points in 488 games.

Ocskay trophy, Ocskay trophy
Gabor Ocskay

He was a three time Hungarian Player of the Year, a two time Hungarian champion and won two bronze, two silver and a gold medal as he helped guide Hungary up the IIHF ladder, all the way to the Top Divsion by winning the Division I Group B championship in 2008, only without Ocskay, as he unexpectedly died on March 24th, 2008 of a heart attack at the age of only 33, just two days after winning the 2008 Hungarian championship. His passing hit the hockey fans in Hungary hard, and they remembered him by lighting candles at every ice rink in the country.

Gabor's sister Zsuanna remarked, “The family and the whole Hungarian community, which is like family, have never forgotten him,” she said. “The rink in his hometown of Szekesfehervar bears his name since 2009 and the ice hockey academy is named after him. Some of the players who trained there were members of this national team that competed in St. Petersburg.”

Today's featured Ocskay jersey is a 2009 Hungarian National Team Gábor Ocskay jersey that he would have worn in Switzerland at the 2009 Top Division World Championships had he been alive to do so.

Hungary 2009 jersey photo Hungary2009F.jpg
Hungary 2009 jersey photo Hungary2009B.jpg

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