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Saturday, October 1, 2016

1995-96 Colorado Avalanche Joe Sakic Jersey

On this date in 2009, the Colorado Avalanche retired the #19 of long time captain Joe Sakic.

A little known fact is that Sakic's parents were Croatian immigrants and he grew up speaking Croatian before attending elementary school. He would be named Rookie of the Year in the Western Hockey League of Canadian Juniors in 1987 after scoring 133 points. He also survived a horrific bus crash involving his club, the Swift Current Broncos, in which four of his teammates were killed. Sakic was then drafted by the Quebec Nordiques 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft.

The following year Sakic was named WHL Most Valuable Player and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year after scoring 160 points.

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Sakic during his days with Swift Current

He scored an assist on his NHL debut on October 6, 1988 versus the Hartford Whalers and originally wore sweater #88 because Alain Cote was wearing his preferred #19. He finished with 62 points in 70 games as a rookie.

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Sakic wearing #88 as a rookie

With Cote now retired, Sakic claimed his #19 for 1989-90 and scored 102 points. 1990-91 saw Sakic score 109 points, sixth overall in the league, and be named co-captain of the Nordiques (for home games).

Sakic would miss 11 games in 1991-92, which would hurt him in his chances to repeat another 100 point season, and he would conclude the year with 94 points. During this time period. the Nordiques regularly finished in last place, which allowed them to load up on high draft choices and put them in position to acquire a number of talented players, highlighted by their trade of holdout Eric Lindros.

Now named full time team captain of the newly reconfigured Nordiques, Sakic would respond in 1992-93 with 105 points and lead the Nordiques out of the wilderness and into the playoffs for the first time in his career on the heels of a staggering 52 point improvement, double their total of the year prior. Without any previous playoff experience, the Nordiques would be eliminated in the first round by arch-rivals the Montreal Canadiens.

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Sakic as captain of the Nordiques

1993-94 was a slight step back for Sakic, as he would fall short of the 100 point barrier with 92, but the Nordiques would take a large step back, dropping 28 points in the standings and miss the playoffs yet again.

The Nordiques final season of in Quebec saw Sakic finish fourth in scoring during the lockout shortened 1994-95 season and the Nordiques would capture the division title, only to be eliminated in six games by the New York Rangers, ending their time in Canada.

Relocated to Denver, the Colorado Avalanche took to the ice in the 1995-96 season hoping to continue the improvement shown during Sakic's seven seasons in Quebec. Little did anyone anticipate the events that would unfold that season.

After having a major falling out with the Montreal Canadiens, superstar goaltender Patrick Roy was traded to the Canadiens former arch-rivals, now located in Colorado, a trade which would have never, ever happened had the club remained in Quebec, and the Avalanche were now on their way to glory.

Sakic topped 50 goals for the first time with 51, adding 69 assists for a career high 120 points for third in the league. The Avalanche would storm the playoffs, defeating first the Vancouver Canucks, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks by identical 4 games to 2 margins. Next up was a hard fought series with the Detroit Red Wings, upsetting the team that finished 27 points ahead of them in the standings 4-2 for the right to face the upstart Florida Panthers, whom they easily dismissed in four straight games for the the franchises first Stanley Cup Championship in their first season out of Quebec. Sakic would lead the playoffs in scoring that season and be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

It had been a long journey for Sakic, who, along with Curtis Leschyshyn, were the only two Nordiques players from the 1988-89 season to suffer through the years of last place finishes to eventually raise the Stanley Cup.

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Sakic raises the 1996 Stanley Cup after many years of toil with the franchise

Sakic would eventually play 13 seasons in Colorado, scoring 100 points twice more in his career, eventually surpassing the 600 goal, 1,000 assist and 1,600 point marks. The Avalanche were regular fixtures in the playoffs, and contenders for the Stanley Cup for seven straight seasons, reaching the conference finals in six of those seven seasons, including winning the Stanley Cup again in 2001, the same season he won the Hart Trophy as league MVP, the Pearson Award and the Lady Byng Trophy.

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Sakic again raised the Stanley Cup in 2001

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche Joe Sakic jersey and features the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals patch. This jersey stands apart with it's "mountain range" striping on the waist and arms, unlike any other jersey of it's day. Combined with it's unique color palette, custom number font, memorable secondary shoulder logos and the club's success on the ice, this style Colorado Avalanche jersey is a true icon of it's era and only the change to the templated Reebok Edge jerseys killed off what would have likely been one of those jerseys that lived on unchanged for years.

The white names and numbers on this jersey have a textured herringbone pattern pattern to them, which is called "Glacier Twill". In addition to that detail, the silver outline around all the numbers is a metallic silver material, which is often done as a flat grey material on Avalanche jerseys. The lettering for the name is also tall and narrow, as shown by the shape of the "C", which is also often found as a nearly perfect circle shape with rounded, instead of flat sides like shown here.

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Colorado Avalanche 95-96 jersey photo Colorado Avalanche 95-96 B.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic jersey. This jersey was worn on the road when Sakic was still an assistant captain of the club, as he would not become a co-captain until the following season, and then only for home games, raising questions about just when and why Sakic was wearing the "C" on the road in 1989-90, perhaps due to an injury to their then Captain Peter Stastny. Close inspection will reveal clear remnants of an "A", replaced by a somewhat crudely fashioned "C" over the top of the "A".

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Our first video today are the Top 10 Joe Sakic Moments from his throughout his career.

Our second video is a tribute video dedicated to his entire career on the occasion of his retirement.

Friday, September 30, 2016

1977-78 Minnesota North Stars Per-Olov Brasar Jersey

Born on this date in Falun, Sweden Per-Olov Brasar began his professional career with Leksands IF in Sweden's Elitserien in 1969-70 and proved to be a clutch performer in the playoffs, scoring 14 points in 14 games in both 1971 and again in 1973 when Leksands won the league championship.

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Brasar early in his career with Leksands

1974 saw Brasar make his national team debut which saw his first appearance in the World Championships with 9 points in 9 games on his way to a bronze medal. He would make further appearances for Sweden at the Worlds in 1975 (bronze), 1976 (bronze), 1977 (with 11 points in 10 games on his way to a silver medal) and a final World Championships in 1978. Additionally, Brasar was named to Sweden's lineup for the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976.

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Brasar made five World Championships with Sweden

1974-75 saw Leksands win a second championship following Brasar's best European season with 42 points in just 30 games.

After two more seasons, which included another 40 point campaign in 1976-77, Brasar made the move to North America, signing as a free agent with the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL, where the longer season allowed Brasar to set a new career best with 57 points while registering a 20 goal season while playing with fellow Swedes Roland Eriksson and Kent-Erik Andersson.

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Eriksson, Brasar and Andersson teamed up with the North Stars

After a second full season in Minnesota, he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks 22 games into the 1979-80 season. After having just scored 16 goals in two seasons, the change did Brasar good as he set career highs in all offensive categories with 22 goals, 41 assists and 63 points.

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Brasar finished his NHL career with the Canucks

One final NHL season followed in 1981-82, which included a trip to the Stanley Cup finals with the Canucks, before Brasar returned to Leksands in 1982-83. He then played his final season with Mora IK in the second division before retiring.

His final NHL totals were 64 goals and 206 points in 348 games.

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Minnesota North Stars Per-Olov Brasar jersey as worn during his rookie season in the NHL when he scored 20 goals to place third on the team behind Eriksson and Tim Young.

1977-78 was the final season for this seldom seen North Stars jersey style which was first adopted in 1975-76 and worn for just three seasons. It was the first North Stars jersey to use drop shadowed numbers, a feature that would remain in use through the 1990-91 season.

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Minnesota North Stars 1977-78 jersey photo Minnesota North Stars 1977-78 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1977 Sweden National Team Per-Olov Brasar jersey as worn when Brasar won a silver medal with Sweden at the World Championships in Austria.

In the late 1970's Sweden abandoned their traditional "tre kronor" (three crowns" cresting for their jerseys in favor of the slogan "tre kronor" above a polar bear logo, which just happened to be the exact same polar bear used by the Polar Caravans brand of RV campers in an early example of corporate sponsorship on a hockey sweater.

The polar bear was gone by late 1981 and the three crowns returned permanently in time for the 1984 Canada Cup.

1977 Sweden jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1980-81 Vancouver Canucks Per-Olov Brasar jersey. After starting life in 1970 with blue and green jerseys, Vancouver startled the world of hockey when they debuted their new "Flying V" jerseys, designed by a psychologist to be intimidating to their opponents!

Their new team logo was practically hidden on the arms among the bold stripes, which also did not leave room for the traditional location of the sleeve numbers on the upper arm, as they were now relegated to the end of the arms near the wrists - something never seen before or since.

Perhaps the most unusual and controversial feature of the jerseys was the lack of a main crest on the front, replaced instead by a giant "V" for Vancouver. Despite the derision and controversial nature of the jerseys, the Canucks stuck with them for seven seasons!

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Vancouver Canucks 1980-81 jersey photo Vancouver Canucks 1980-81 B jersey.jpg
photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 World Cup of Hockey Team Europe Anze Kopitar Jersey

Tonight is the second, and perhaps final, game of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey between Canada and Team Europe, an amalgamation of players from the European nations outside of Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

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The formation of the team was a two-pronged effort by the NHL and the NHLPA to create a more competitive team than Slovakia, Switzerland or Germany would be able to send on their own and a pretty blatant way to include Slovenia's Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings in particular as well as the New York Rangers Mats Zuccarello of Norway, who otherwise would have had no place in the World Cup.

The final roster included players from eight countries, Thomas Vanek of Austria, Mikkel Bodker, Jannik Hansen and Frans Nielsen of Denmark, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare of France, Leon Draisaitl, Christian Erhoff, Thomas Greiss, Phillip Grubauer, Tobias Reider and Dennis Seidenberg of Germany, Zuccarello of Norway, Zedeno Chara, Marian Gaborik, Jaroslav Halak, Marian Hossa, Andrej Sekera and Tomas Tatar of Slovakia, team captain Kopitar of Slovenia, Roman Josi, Nino Niederreiter, Luca Sbisa and Mark Streit of Switzerland.

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Pierre-Edouard Bellemare of France

Outside of Canada, Russia, Finland, the United States, Sweden and the Czech Republic, who are the top six ranked nations in the current IIHF World Rankings, Switzerland at 7th and Slovakia at 8th seemed like the two most likely teams to be included in the World Cup if the organizers had not gone with the Team Europe and Team North America 23 an under "young guns" concept.

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Belarus at 9th, is the highest ranked team not represented by a player on Team Europe. Germany (10th) would be the obvious choice to participate if Slovakia or Switzerland had been passed over.

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Mikhail Grabovski of the New York Islanders is the NHL's all-time
career point leader from Belarus with 296 points

The rankings for the other nations included on Team Europe are Norway in 11th, Denmark at 13, France is 14th, Slovenia in 15th and Austria 17th.

One surprising omission is Latvia, ranked 12th, as there was a time that they would have had a good chance at multiple players on a Team Europe in the decade after the breakup of the Soviet Union, such as one time NHL regulars Arturs Irbe, Sandis Ozolinsh or Sergei Zholtok. The lone remaining nation ranked above Austria without a player on Team Europe is Kazakhstan in 16th.

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Latvians Irbe, Ozolinsh and Zholtok

Team Europe's jerseys feature a "a modern E shield" crest "designed to signify unity between players" that "connects all of their home nations." Each players' jersey will feature the flag of their home country, a device employed by the NHL back during the era of the World vs. North America format of the NHL All-Star Game from 1998 to 2002.

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Mats Zuccarello carries the Norway flag on his sleeve

Additionally, the names of each European nation are printed across the sleeve as a "unity stripe" while a "continental blue color scheme highlights the harmony on a unified team".

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Today's featured jersey is a 2016 Team Europe Anze Kopitar jersey. A star center with the Los Angeles Kings, Kopitar is by far and away the best player in Slovenia's hockey history. While Slovenia is a national team on the rise, thanks to their unexpected qualification for the 2014 Olympics and return to the Olympics in 2018 now secured, as well as their eight appearances in the Top Division of the IIHF World Championships, Kopitar is the lone current Slovenian NHLer and one of just three in NHL history. If not for the Team Europe concept, Kopitar would be toiling at the Kings training camp instead of playing in the championship final of the World Cup on national TV across Canada, the United States and at home in Slovenia.

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Today's video section begins with highlights of Team Europe's Semifinal overtime win over Sweden to advance to the 2016 World Cup of Hockey finals.

Next, Europe's opening game against the United States, which resulted in an unexpected shutout win over the Americans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

1972 Team Canada Paul Henderson Jersey

"Here's a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and falls. Here's another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson scores for Canada!"

The most famous goal in Canadian hockey history occurred on this date in 1972, as
Paul Henderson scored with 34 seconds remaining in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

The Summit Series was a groundbreaking event in not only hockey history, but international politics as well. The series would be the first time that the Canadians were able to take on the Soviets with a full squad of professional players head to head against the best that the Soviets had to offer. Most in Canada fully expected an easy time of it for Team Canada, with some even predicting an eight-game sweep.

That was not to be, however, as all of Canada was stunned when the Soviets came back from an early 2-0 deficit in Game 1 to win 7-3 in Montreal.

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The stunned reaction in Canada to their Game 1 defeat

Canada would win Game 2 in Toronto by a score of 2-1 with the Soviets coming from behind by two goals in Winnipeg to earn a tie in Game 3.

Game 4 would see the Soviets up 4-1 after two periods, with the final score being 5-3, earning Team Canada a shower of boos from the Canadian crowd, earning them a tounge-lashing from a frustrated Phil Esposito as the series was about to head off to Moscow for the final four games.

Things did not start off any better for the Canadians in Moscow either, as Team Canada led 4-1 only to have the Soviets come back to win the game 5-4, putting them ahead three games to one, along with a tie and three home games remaining.

Game 6 went better for Team Canada, despite having 31 penalty minutes called against them versus only 4 assessed to the Soviets, Canada would win 3-2 in a game that would feature a pivotal moment in the series, as Bobby Clarke would fracture the Soviet's best forward Valeri Kharlamov's ankle with a deliberate slash.

Canada would even the series at three games each by winning Game 7 by a score of 4-3, with  Henderson scoring the winning goal with a shade over two minutes remaining, setting up a decisive Game 8.

While the series was supposed to be a "friendly" series of exhibition games with no overall winner, the Game 3 tie in Winnipeg left an odd amount of games to divide between the two sides, and when hen the Soviets proclaimed that even if Game 8 ended in a tie, they would be the winners on the basis of scoring one more goal than the Canadians during the series.

In an effort to ensure the best possible chance for a Soviet victory, they orchestrated a change in officials the night before the decisive game, choosing to replace the previously selected Swede and Czech referees with the same East German pair Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader
that were responsible for the great discrepancy of 27 penalty minutes in Game 6, so much so that the Canadians nicknamed the pair "Baader and Worse".

Canada threatened to leave Moscow without even playing Game 8 if that were the case and a compromise was reached where the the Soviets hand picked their favorite East German, while the Canadians got to choose the Czech ref Rudi Bata, who Canadian organizer Alan Eagleson figured didn't like the Soviets any more than he did!

Sure enough, just three minutes into the game Canada was two men short and gave up a power play goal. At 4:10, J. P. Parise was given yet another minor and his threatening reaction earned him a ten-minute misconduct. Now enraged, Parise's threatening outburst got him thrown out of the game as a game misconduct was added on.

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Phil Esposito would score once the hockey resumed to tie the game at 6:45 and then the teams would trade goals by Vladimir Lutchenko and Brad Park to finish out the first period tied at 2-2.

The Soviets would use a little home ice advantage to score in the first minute of the second, as the puck was fired over the goal, only to take a large rebound off the mesh netting that topped the boards rather than the plexiglass of North American arenas. Vladimir Shadrin would put the puck behind Ken Dryden after it landed back into the area in front of the Canadian goal.

Bill White would score for Canada halfway through the period, only to have the Soviets score just over a minute later to regain the lead again and then once more on the power play at 16:44 to take a 5-3 lead into the third period.

Phil Esposito would ignite the Canadians with a goal at 2:27 of the third to pull Canada back within one. Esposito again charged the net and Yvan Cournoyer was able to put the rebound past Vladislav Tretiak at 12:56, only to have the Soviet goal judge fail to turn on the goal light, but the goal did count to tie the game. Again, a tie would allow the Soviets to claim a series victory, so the Canadians were still desperate to score another.

With the game now winding down in the last minute of play, Cournoyer intercepted a Soviet clearing attempt and passed to Henderson. The pass was behind him and he was tripped on the play as well, which sent him crashing into the end boards to the side of the Soviet goal.

At that point, Esposito, who was following the play, put the puck softly in front of the goal where Henderson, now back on his skates and, returning to play from behind the net, was able to jump on the loose puck and swat it towards Tretiak, who blocked with his leg. The puck bounced off his pads, allowing Henderson a second shot at glory, which he put over the sprawled Soviet goaltender to give Canada the series victory with only 34 seconds remaining in the contest.

Cournoyer hugs a jubilant Henderson seconds after he
cemented his place in hockey immortality

The success of the 1972 Summit Series led to an attempt at a repeat in 1974, only this time with a team made up of players from the World Hockey Association, which was one sided in favor of the Soviets and failed to capture the public's imagination despite the inclusion of both Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, who were both absent in 1972.

The concept of the Summit Series eventually evolved into the Canada Cup tournament, which featured an expanded field of six teams, which in turn led to the current World Cup of Hockey.

The 1972 Summit Series also influenced many aspects of how the game was approached and played in North America, with off-season training now becoming important, as well as various strategy differences in puck possession and player positioning.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972 Team Canada Paul Henderson jersey as worn during the four games played in Moscow.

This jersey came up for public sale for the first time ever at auction in June of 2010 on ClassicAuctions.net, a leading online auction website based in Quebec, Canada. Fears immediately were voiced from many corners of the hockey world that this historic jersey would fall into the wrong hands - such as those of a trading card company like Be A Player or Upper Deck, who have made a business out of cutting up historical sports artifacts into hundreds of small pieces in order to create collectible trading cards.

Notable previous losses of significant items include the only set of goalie pads worn by Georges Vezina and a 1925 New York Yankees Babe Ruth jersey among the dozens of items that have been desecrated for the sake of short term profits by card companies.

The concern and publicity over the possible threat to "the most significant artifact in the history of the game of hockey" eventually saw the jersey sell for a record shattering $1,275,707, far outstripping the reported $250,000 paid for a Wayne Gretzky game worn jersey and the $191,000 for a Bobby Orr rookie jersey.

The winning bidder, Canadian real estate developer Mitchell Goldhar, not only preserved the jersey from possible destruction, but returned it to Canada from where it had been located in the United States, but took the iconic Canadian sweater on a tour of the country in an effort to share it with the citizens of the nation where everyone remembers where they were when Henderson score his dramatic goal. One of the highlights of the return of the jersey to Canada was having Henderson don the jersey once again.

Canada 1972 Henderson jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

There is much more than can be written and examined about this series, it's significance and it's impact, and in fact many have done just so, as there are a number of books available on the subject as well as DVD sets of the games.

Finally, here is Henderson himself, telling the story from his unique point of view of the series and his famous goal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci Jersey

Minnesota native Gary Gambucci, born on this date in 1946, joined the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 1965-66 season with a flourish, leading the team in scoring with 23 goals and 40 points in 28 games. After a point reduction to 27 in his junior season, he rebounded with a 41 points season during his senior season of 1967-68 when he was named an All-American.

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Gambucci led the Gophers in scoring as a sophomore

Gambucci spent the 1968-69 season with the United States National Team which saw him make his international debut at the 1969 World Championships, scoring a goal and an assist in 10 games. He also spent a season with the Rochester Mustangs of the United States hockey league, averaging two points per game with 28 goals and 62 points in 31 games.

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The 1969 United States National Team

The 1969-70 season saw Gambucci with the US National Team again, playing in his second World Championships B Pool in 1970, scoring an impressive 11 goals and 18 points in just 7 games as the Americans won the tournament and promotion back to the Top Division for 1971.

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The 1970 United States National Team

Gambucci had a stellar 1970-71 season with the US National team, scoring 51 goals and 98 points in 50 games before his third consecutive World Championships in 1971 with 7 goals and 10 points in 10 games.

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The 1971 United States National Team

His efforts saw him signed by the Montreal Canadiens in May of 1971, who then traded him to the Minnesota North Stars. He spent the majority of the 1971-72 season with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League, scoring 10 goals and 21 points in 56 games as well as making his NHL debut with the North Stars, seeing action in 9 games which included scoring his first NHL goal.

His entire 1972-73 season was spent with the Barons, who unusually relocated midway through the season to Jacksonville, Florida as their owner decided the Barons could not share the Cleveland market with the Cleveland Crusaders of the new World Hockey Association. Despite the unrest over the team's home situation, Gambucci led the team in scoring with 26 goals and 76 points to average a point per game in his 75 games.

His 1973-74 season saw him play a pair of games with the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, 21 games with the Portland Buckaroos, scoring 11 goals and 26 points in 21 games, but the majority of his season was with the North Stars back in the NHL, seeing action in 42 games, where he scored one goal and 8 points.

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Gambucci reached the NHL with the North Stars

Gambucci had been selected by the Philadelphia Blazers of the WHA back in 1972. The franchise relocated to Vancouver, who traded his WHA rights to the Minnesota Fighting Saints in June of 1974.

His first season in the WHA with the Fighting Saints was a chance to regain his offensive game, as he scored 19 goals and 37 points in 68 games in the wide open WHA. He also saw action in 7 games with the Fighting Saints minor league affiliate, the Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League.

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Gambucci switched from the NHL to the WHA in 1974

Gambucci was back with the Fighting Saints in 1975-76, playing in 45 of their 59 games, scoring 10 goals and 16 points before the franchise ceased operations on February 28, 1976.

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Gambucci at the St. Paul Civic Center, known for it's clear boards

He had one final chapter in his career, returning to the World Championship with the United States for the fourth time in the spring of 1976, contributing a goal in 5 points in ten games, which brought an end to his playing career.

His NHL totals were a modest 51 games played with 2 goals and 9 points and his two WHA seasons saw him play in 113 games with 289 goals and 53 assists. His World Championship totals were 37 games played with 20 goals and 35 points, aided by his dominating performance in the B Pool in 1970. Gambucci was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

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Gambucci was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006

Today's feature jersey is a 1974-75 Minnesota Fighting Saints Gary Gambucci jersey. The Fighting Saints came into being in 1972-73, wearing jerseys with the same striping pattern, but with the team's "S" logo in home white, road blue and alternate gold. Before the season was over, a new set of white and blue jerseys debuted with their "Little Saint" logo as the new primary crest and remained in use through their demise in 1975-76.

When shopping for a Fighting Saints jersey, notice that the logo lacks a halo, does not say "Saints" inside the "S" logo and is wearing white skates, all common mistakes seen on many retail versions of the jersey, which use the version of the logo used in many of the team's print ads.

For the most accurate version we have seen, we recommend the one available from our friends at Vintage Minnesota Hockey.

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Today's video is a look back at the Minnesota Fighting Saints and some of their legendary antics.

Monday, September 26, 2016

1980-81 New York Islanders Garry Howatt Jersey

Left winger Garry Howatt split the 1971-72 season in Canadian junior hockey between the WCHL's Victoria Cougars, playing in 24 games, scoring 5 goals and 20 points, and the Flin Flon Bombers, also of the WCHL, where he played in an additional 36 games. The Bombers suited his offensive game much better, as Howatt caught the eye of the scouts with 24 goals and 59 points with 109 penalty minutes.

His combination of offensive ability with a dose of toughness led to him being drafted by the New York Islanders in the 1972 Amateur Draft as a part of their first draft class.

The Islanders were newly created in an effort to stop the fledgling World Hockey Association from locating a team on Long Island. Even with a roster destined for a distant last place, Howatt spent the majority of the 1972-73 season with the New Haven Knighthawks of the American Hockey League. In 65 games, he scored 22 goals and 49 points as well as 157 penalty minutes. He did make his NHL debut with the Islanders that season, seeing action in 8 games with 1 assist and 18 penalty minutes.

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Howatt would make the parent club out of training camp and never play another game in the minors for the remainder of his tenure with the Islanders. His first full season in the NHL saw him play in 78 games with a modest 6 goals and 17 points and 204 penalty minutes to lead the club helped in no small part by a league leading 29 fighting majors. The Islanders still finished in the basement of the NHL, ahead of only the moribund California Golden Seals.

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Darryl Sittler and Howatt in a classic battle
that continued even as both went to their knees

For the 1974-75 season, his offensive game began to emerge, as he scored 18 goals and 48 points to finish fifth on the team. His 121 penalty minutes were third on the team, just one behind Bob Nystrom, a right winger who had great chemistry with Howatt to the point the two of them were dubbed "The Dynamic Duo" and even had their own fan club for just the two of them!

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Meanwhile, the Islanders continued to improve, finishing with a winning record and 88 points to qualify for the playoffs for the first time, going on a run that included eliminating the New York Rangers in 3 and famously defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in 7 after falling behind 3 games to none before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers in seven after again falling behind 3 games to none before rallying to win the next three and force a deciding Game 7.

Howatt would then set a career high in goals in 1975-76 with 21, the only 20 goal season of his career. His 197 penalty minutes again led the Islanders for the season. The club topped the 100 point mark for first time with 101 and again made the third round of the playoffs, defeating the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres before falling to the eventual champions again, this time the Montreal Canadiens as Howatt had his finest postseason with 5 goals and 10 points in 13 games.

With the Islanders roster taking shape, with such players as Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Billy Harris and Nystrom, Howatt's role was not that of scorer for the remainder of his time with New York and his point totals began to reflect the change in his role. In 1976-77, he contributed 13 goals and 28 points with 182 penalty minutes, while no other Islander had more than Denis Potvin's 103.

The Islanders again set a new team high in points with 106 and once again made a deep playoff run, ousting the Blackhawks in 2 and the Sabres in 4 before falling to the Canadiens dynasty in progress in six.

While Howatt was limited to 61 games in 1977-78, his 146 penalty minutes far exceeded Gerry Hart's 94, which came in 17 more games played than Howatt. The Islanders won the Patrick Divison title with 111 points to earn a bye in Round 1. They were upset by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a hard fought seven game series, three of which required overtime including the final Game 7.

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The 1978-79 season saw a bit of a resurgence in Howatt's offensive numbers, as he scored 16 goals, his highest in three seasons, and 28 points as well as 205 penalty minutes, far ahead of Nystrom's 113, the only other player with more than 80. The Islanders again won the Patrick Division with 116 points, their sixth consecutive season of setting a new team record for points in a season. They came up short in the postseason once again though, sweeping Chicago in 4 before being eliminated by the Rangers in six.

Howatt scored 8 goals and 19 points in 77 games of the 1979-80 season but set a new personal high with 219 penalty minutes. The team took a step back in the standings with 91 points, their lowest since 1974-75. In the postseason, the Los Angeles Kings fell first, 3 games to 1. The Boston Bruins were the next go, as the Islanders won in five before advancing to their first Stanley Cup Final when they beat Buffalo in six.

In the final against the Flyers, the Islanders took Game 1 in overtime before losing badly in Game 2, 8-3. They took Games 3 and 4 at home 6-2 and 5-2. Philadelphia stayed alive with a 6-3 win at home in Game 5 but the Islanders won their first Stanley Cup when Nystrom won it at 7:11 of overtime, completing a long journey for Howatt and the other four Islanders who were a part of their last place, 30 point expansion team of 1972-73 - Lorne Hennig, Jean Potvin, Nystrom and goaltender Billy Smith.

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The Stanley Cup champion 1979-80 New York Islanders

For the 1980-81 season, Howatt registered a new low of just 4 goals as he scored 19 points. His penalty minutes sank to 174, which was still enough to lead the team yet again. The Islanders rebounded to reach 110 points and win the President's Trophy for the most points in the NHL and marched through the playoffs, beating Toronto in three straight, the Edmonton Oilers in six, eliminated the rival Rangers in four straight and overpowered the Minnesota North Stars in five to win their second consecutive title. Howatt saw action in just 8 of New York's 18 playoff games, registering a pair of assists.

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Just prior to the start of the 1981-82 season, Howatt was traded to the Hartford Whalers after nine seasons on Long Island after he requested a trade to a team that would give him more responsibility on the ice. The move elevated him from a third or fourth liner on the loaded Islanders roster to a more important role with the Whalers. His offensive numbers took a leap up to 18 goals and a career high 50 points as well as setting another career best with 242 penalty minutes, 95 more than his next closest teammate.

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Despite being offered a long term contract and the team's captaincy by Hartford, Howatt instead requested a trade to the New Jersey Devils, which was granted in October of 1982.

Once in New Jersey, Howatt did not get along with the Devils management and only played 38 games with the Devils in 1982-83 plus another 11 with the Wichita Wind of the Central Hockey League. 1983-84 was even worse, as Howatt played just six scoreless games with the Devils and spent the majority of his season with the Maine Mariners of the AHL, scoring 12 goals and 32 points in 63 games to bring his career to an end in style, as he captained the Mariners to the Calder Cup as AHL champions.

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Of note, on January 15, 1983, a snowstorm prevented the officials from reaching the arena in Hartford, and Howatt (of the Devils) and Mickey Volcan (of the Whalers) were pressed into service, becoming the only active players to ever officiate an NHL game!

Howatt's final NHL totals were 720 games played with 112 goals and 156 assists for 268 points and 1,836 penalty minutes and two Stanley Cup championships at the start of the Islanders dynasty. At the time he left the Islanders, he was the franchise leader in career regular season (1,466) and playoff (279) penalty minutes.

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Years after their careers ended, Howatt and Nystrom,
the Dynamic Duo, were honored by the Islanders

Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 New York Islanders Garry Howatt jersey as worn during his final season with the Islanders, which concluded with Howatt and the Islanders second Stanley Cup victory.

The Islanders debuted with a very similar jersey to today's featured jersey, but with some differences, such as a lace-up collar, orange numbers and a different striping order. The numbers made the change to white with orange trim for 1973-74. Names on the back arrived in 1977-78 along with a change in the arm striping plus a change to a v-nick collar. Finally, the waist stripes changed to white on top over orange on the bottom with no blue showing in between, which was then repeated on the arms for the look that would carry the team through their Stanley Cup dynasty. This look would remain through 1994-95, when they were replaced by the controversial Fishsticks jerseys of the latter half of the 1990's.

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New York Islanders 1980-81 jersey photo New York Islanders 1980-81 B jersey_1.jpg

Today's video section begins with Howatt getting the better of legendary tough guy Dave Schultz, something not many can claim to have done.

Next, Howatt and Mel Bridgman really throw some bombs at each other in a short, but very intense battle.

In this next fight, Howatt appears to take exception to the bigger Fred Arthur's Cooperalls, or perhaps it was getting slashed before getting slammed into the end boards.

Finally, a profile of Howatt during his season with the Whalers, which includes some actual goal scoring.


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