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Saturday, December 10, 2016

1967-68 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard Jersey

Henri Richard knew at a young age what he wanted to do in life, but it's easy to be influenced by your older brother when he plays for the Montreal Canadiens.

"I was positive that I, too, was going to play for the team, although I never imagined playing with Maurice. Our age difference was 15 years. I hardly knew him; he married when I was a boy, and then he was so busy with hockey. He was more like and uncle than a brother. It's funny, but Maurice never talked to me about hockey, even when we were teammates. We did our talking on the ice," Richard recalls.

Richard arrived on the scene with the Montreal Canadiens at the ideal time, as the club was loaded with talent and had won the Stanley Cup as recently as 1953. Richard kicked off his career with five consecutive Stanley Cup Championships from 1956 to 1960. He was an immediate producer, scoring 40 points as a rookie in 1955-56 and just two seasons later set his career high with 80 points from 28 goals and 52 assists in 1957-58.

"We had quite the team and won the Stanley Cup in my first five years. We almost got bored winning. It was better to win after a loss, much more enjoyable."

After taking a backseat to the Toronto Maple Leafs run of cups in the early 1960's, the Canadiens were back on top again in with back-to-back championships in 1965 and 1966, and again in 1968 and 1969.

Richard was a model of consistency and durability during his 20 year career. From 1957 to 1970 he scored between 50 and 80 points in 13 out of the 14 years, playing no less than 53 games every season. His highest goal total was 30 in 1960 and his career-best 52 assists in 1958 and another 50 assists in 1963 lead the NHL both times.

Richard would win the Stanley Cup again in 1971, one he considers the sweetest. "I had had a few arguments with coach Al McNeil but went on to score the tying and winning goals in the seventh game," said Richard. This after being benched in Game 6 of the finals by McNeil.

He would win the cup one final time in 1973, giving him a total of 11, more than any other player in NHL history. "I won 11 Cups in total, a record that may never be broken. The structure of the league, with the draft and free agency, prevents the creation of dynasties like the one we had in Montreal," Richard speculated.

Richard was named captain of the Canadiens in 1971 after the retirement of
Jean Beliveau. "The oldest player usually got the "C," and at the time, it seemed a normal transition to be voted captain. I never said much to the players, but I had always tried to lead by example. Now that my playing days are over, I see the tradition, the honor, more clearly."

Richard laments, "In all my years with the Canadiens, I never played a shift on the power play. With the great teams we had, I couldn't get on that line." He continues, "I might have had that chance on another team, and though I was tempted by a large contract offer from Houston of the WHA, I'm thankful to have finished as a Montreal Canadien."

Richard retired in 1975 after 1256 games, 358 goals and 688 assists for 1046 points. He participated in the playoffs an astounding 20 times in 22 seasons, totalling 180 games, 49 goals and 80 assists for 129 career playoff points along with his 11 Stanley Cups. That's championships in half of the seasons he played in! Richard was also named the winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1974.

"I saw the younger guys coming on and retired when I knew I wouldn't play regularly anymore. After my retirement, the team went on to win four more cups in a row. I had declined a contract offer from Montreal for those years. I opened a tavern, and the guys would come for a beer and tease me with, "We really missed you out there, Henri." But I've no regrets."

The Canadiens retired Richard's #16 on this date in 1975 and he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979. His record of 11 Stanley Cups as a player still stands to this day.

Today's featured jersey is a 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard jersey as worn when Richard won his eighth Stanley Cup, tying his brother Maurice for the league record.

The Canadiens were founded in 1909 but did not wear their now iconic red sweaters with the blue chest stripe until the 1912-13 season when it was introduced as an alternate jersey due to their red, white and blue striped "barberpole" jerseys drawing complaints that they were too similar to the Ottawa Senators similarly striped red, white and black jerseys.

White trim was added to the blue central stripe the following season, essentially creating the same basic jersey that remains in use today.

Montreal Canadiens 1967-68 jersey photo MontrealCanadiens1967-68jersey.jpg
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1974-75 Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard jersey worn in his final game and features the captain's "C" on the left chest.

The Canadiens came into existence in 1909, but did not add a white jersey until the 1935-36 season and it would take until 1941 for it to evolve into the style still worn today.

Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video selection is the "Legends of Hockey" profile of Henri Richard with commentary by both Henri and Maurice Richard, along with Beliveau, a real treat to see.

Next up are highlights of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7, where Richard scores both the tying and winning goals as the Canadiens come from behind to win the championship.

Friday, December 9, 2016

2003-04 Calgary Flames Martin Gelinas Jersey

After being named CHL Rookie of the year following his 63 goal, 131 point season for the Hull Olympiques in 1987-88, Martin Gelinas was drafted 7th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

He would never play for the Kings though, as he was part of the package of players, draft choices and cash sent to the Edmonton Oilers as part of the Wayne Gretzky trade. Gelinas would begin the 1988-89 season with the Oilers, but after six games was sent back to Hull for more seasoning. He made the Oilers roster the following season in time to be a part of the Oilers last Stanley Cup championship of their 1980's dynasty. He would eventually play four seasons in Edmonton with a high of 40 points from 20 goals and 20 assists.

Not having lived up to the expectations he established in junior hockey, Gelinas was traded to the Quebec Nordiques, who after just 31 games, placed him on waivers from where he was claimed by the Vancouver Canucks for the second half of the 1993-94 season, which included a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Gelinas Canucks
Gelinas went from waivers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993-94

Gelinas would play four more seasons for the Canucks, including setting a career highs of 35 goals and 68 points in 1996-97 which included a four goal game and being voted the club's MVP.

Gelinas Canucks 2

A slow start to the following 1997-98 season (4 goals and 8 points in 24 games) plus the arrival of opinionated Head Coach Mike Keenan saw Gelinas and longtime Canucks goaltender Kirk McLean sent to the Carolina Hurricanes just after the New Year's. With Carolina, Gelinas would play five seasons, including a 23 goal, 52 point season in 2000-01 and another appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002.

Gelinas Hurricanes

For the 2002-03 season, Gelinas signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames. His first season was a good one, as he reached the 20 goal mark for the fifth time in his career on his way to 52 points, the fourth 50 point or more season of his career.

The Flames finished 6th in the Western Conference during the 2003-04 season, which included Gelinas playing in his 1,000th NHL game on this date in 2003. The Flames were paired with Gelinas' old club the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. The series went the full seven games and, after Vancouver scored with five seconds left in regulation to force overtime, Gelinas won the series for Calgary with a goal 1:25 into the extra period.

Calgary's reward was the top seeded Detroit Red Wings. After the teams traded wins in the first four games, Calgary's defense, led by goaltender Miikka Kprusoff, clamped down and did not allow another goal for the remainder of the series. Calgary won Game 5 by a score of 1-0 and Game 6 saw regulation end with both teams scoreless. With the first overtime winding down, Gelians again won the series with a goal with just 47 seconds remaining, making Gelinas the first player in NHL history to end three playoff series with overtime goals.

The Flames were then paired with the second seeded San Jose Sharks in the conference finals. Calgary got off to a great start, winning two in San Jose, only to lose the next two at home. Kiprusoff then blanked the Sharks in San Jose as the series moved back to Calgary for Game 6.

Jarome Iginla got Calgary on the board first and Gelinas registered the second Flames goal at 13:02 of the second before the Sharks solved Kiprusoff at 16:14. When the Sharks failed to score another goal, Gelinas was once more credited with scoring the game winning goal in a series clinching game for the third consecutive series, something only Ken Linseman of the Oliers in 1984 had ever done before and no one has equaled since.

With the NHL season cancelled due to the lockout the following season, Gelinas played in Switzerland for HC Forward Morges of the Swiss second division in 2004-05.

He returned to the NHL for two seasons with the Florida Panthers and a final one with the Nashville Predators to close out his NHL career with 1,273 games played, 309 goals and 351 assists for 660 points. He would return to Switzerland for one final season, playing 27 games for SC Bern in 2008-09 before retiring for good.

Gelinas Predators
Gelinas finished his career with the Predators

Today's featured jersey is a 2003-04 Calgary Flames Martin Gelinas jersey as worn during his clutch playoff performance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, where 3 of his 8 goals were series clinching goals.

When the Flames black alternate jersey was promoted to be the Flames road jersey in 2000 when the previous set of jerseys was retired, a home white companion was needed for the black alternate, and the designers simply made a white version of the black jersey's basic striping tempate and adorned it with the Flames traditional flaming C logo on the front while keeping the same name and number font from the alternate jersey. This new white jersey was used by the Flames for six seasons until being replaced by the new league-wide redesign mandated by the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08.

Calgary Flames 03-04 jersey
Calgary Flames 03-04 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992-93 Edmonton Oilers Martin Gelinas jersey as worn during his final season in Edmonton when all players wore the Stanley Cup Centennial patch on their jerseys.

By our count, Gelinas wore a number jerseys during his NHL career, 2 with Edmonton, 2 with Quebec, 5 with Vancouver, 2 with Carolina, 3 with Calgary, 3 with Florida and 2 with Nashville for a total of 19, an impressive number, but far short of Mike Sillinger's 40 documented jerseys.

Edmontoilers 92-93 jersey

Today's first video highlight is Gelinas' Game 7 winner in overtime against the Sharks.

Our next video is his Game 6 winner in overtime versus Detroit.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

1980-81 Vancouver Canucks Harold Snepsts Jersey

A rugged, stay at home defenseman, Harold Snepsts played junior hockey for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League in 1972-73 and 1973-74 before being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 59th overall in the 1974 NHL Amateur draft. He was also selected by the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA, but elected to sign with the Canucks of the more established NHL.

He split his games in 1974-75 between the Seattle Totems of the Central Hockey League and the Canucks, with whom he appeared in 27 games and scored his first NHL goal. Snepsts story is not one of goals and points though, as he never had more than seven goals and only scored 30 points once during his long career.

Snepsts Canucks

He became entrenched in the Canucks lineup the following season and quickly became popular with the Canucks faithful through is hard work, rugged style, outgoing personality and legendary mustache, which still ranks highly on lists of the best mustaches in league history. Such was Snepsts popularity with the fans in Vancouver, that they would regularly chant "Har-old, Har-old".

In just his third season of 1976-77, his popularity grew as Snepsts made his first NHL All-Star Game appearance as the Canucks lone representative in the first All-Star Game hosted by Vancouver.

In 1978-79 , Snepsts had his best offensive season with career highs in goals with seven, assists with 24 and points, totaling 31. The next season Snepsts experienced the thrill of becoming the first defenseman in Canucks history to score on a penalty shot.

Between 1977 and 1982, Snepsts was named the Canucks top defender four times in five years and increased the rugged nature of his game in 1979-80 when he raised his average penalty minutes from 130 the previous four seasons to 206 the next two years.

Snepsts Canucks

In 1982, Snepsts would appear in his second All-Star Game. Later that season the Canucks would go on a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, the only finals appearance of Snepsts career as he was credited for his sound defensive play as the Canucks continued to advance.

After two more seasons in Vancouver, in a highly unpopular move, Snepsts was dealt to the Minnesota North Stars as part of a Canucks youth movement. He set a career high in penalty minutes while with Minnesota in 1984-85 before signing with the Detroit Red Wings for the next three seasons as a free agent.

Snepsts Red Wings

After rarely missing a game in ten seasons with the Canucks, with seven seasons of over 75 games played and only full season under 68, injuries began to catch up Snepsts during the latter part of his carer, as he never again reached 60 games in his final six seasons of play.

Knee and shoulder injuries would derail his time in Detroit and Snepsts would return to the Canucks as a free agent in 1988 to provide depth and veteran leadership, which helped the Canucks set a club record at the time for fewest goals against in a season.

Looking for that same depth and experience, the St. Louis Blues acquired Snepsts late in the 1989-90 season. He returned to the Blues for the 1990-91 season, which included his 1,000th game on this date in 1990, a 2-1 Blues win over the Red Wings.

Snepsts Blues

Snepsts would retire at the conclusion of the season, having appeared in 1,033 games, scoring 38 goals and 195 assists for 233 points while spending 2,009 minutes in the penalty box.

Today's featured jersey is a 1980-81 Vancouver Canucks Harold Snepsts jersey. From the Canucks inception in 1970-71 to 1977-78 the Canucks wore blue and green jerseys, but in 1978, all that came to an abrupt end.

Before the 1978-79 season the Canucks hired a professional psychologist to redesign their uniforms. The old colors were said to be "too bland, too tranquil and did not inspire emotion." The result was the "V" design, suggesting "victory" according to the designer, one of the strangest, yet most unforgettable jerseys to ever see the ice in an NHL contest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver Canucks 80-81 jersey
Vancouver Canucks 80-81 jersey

Today's video feature is a profile of Snepsts, which includes him as one of the seven greatest Canucks of all time and the only defenseman on the list.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

1937-38 New York Americans Ching Johnson Jersey

Ivan "Ching" Johnson was born on this date in 1897 and played football and lacrosse as a youth. At the age of 19 he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and fought for three years in France during World War I. It was not until he returned from Europe that he played his first competitive hockey for the Winnipeg Monarchs in 1919 at the age of 21.

He relocated to Eveleth, Minnesota and competed for three years for the Eveleth Reds in the United States Amateur Hockey Association before the defenseman moved down to Minneapolis in 1923 to play for first the Minneapolis Millers, followed by the Minneapolis Rockets and then back to the Millers over the course of the next three seasons.

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Johnson with the Minneapolis Millers

Despite being of Irish decent, he was given the nickname "Ching" due to people believing he had an Asian appearance. He was also known as "Ivan the Terrible" for his hard hitting style of play and was often seeing grinning after a hard hit, given or received.

With the expansion of the NHL taking place during the 1920's, the brand new New York Rangers recruited Johnson as well as his Millers defensive partner Taffy Abel. Being 28 years old, Johnson insisted on a three year contract, believing it would be the only one he would he would ever sign.

1933-34 Johnson card

During his second season, Johnson was amass 146 penalty minutes, second only to the legendary Eddie Shore's 165. He set a personal high that season with ten goals, was voted team MVP by the Rangers fans and got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup as the Rangers took home top honors during only their second season of play, the first American team in NHL history to win the cup, although all of the games in the finals were played in Montreal due to the circus occupying Madison Square Garden at the time!

He missed all but six games of the following season due to a broken ankle and had to be evacuated from the hospital in Montreal due to a fire! He returned in time for the playoffs as the Rangers returned to the finals.

He was signed to a new three year deal, now aged 31, but again missed a large portion of the season due to a broken jaw, which led to him wearing an unusual protective headgear.

Ching Johnson headgear
Johnson wearing a steel device to protect his broken jaw

He avoided injury in 1930-31 to play in all 44 of the Rangers games that season and was rewarded by being named to the league's second All-Star Team. His popularity and fame began to grow when he was named to the first All-Star Team and finished just one vote short of being named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP the following season.

In 1932-33 Johnson was again a first team All-Star and helped lead the Rangers to their second Stanley Cup championship. The next season he was a participant in the league's first All-Star Game, a benefit for the Maple Leafs Ace Bailey, who's career was ended by a violent hit by Shore.

1932-33 New York Rangers
The 1932-33 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers

Such was Johnson's popularity that he was included in the 1933 Goudey Sport Kings Gum trading 48 card set, along with the likes of sporting legends Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Jim Thorpe, Kunte Rockne and Bobby Jones, one of only four hockey players in the set, along with Shore, Howie Morenz and Bailey.

Johnson Sport Kings Gum 1933
1933 Sport Kings Gum Ching Johnson card

He would play three more seasons with the Rangers, the last of which while also serving as the team's defensive coach. Following that 1936-37 season Johnson asked the Rangers for his release. He was signed by the New York Americans for one final NHL season at the age of 39 in 1937-38. He played in 31 games, but failed to register a point for the second consecutive season. This brought a close to his 12 year NHL career, far outlasting his original three year contract.

Even though his NHL playing days were over, Johnson returned to the Minneapolis Millers as a player coach for two seasons, drawing large crowds. After retiring from play at 41, he continued to coach as well as working as an on-ice official, which included an incident when working as a linesman when he forgot he was no longer in the role of a player and hit an unsuspecting puck carrier with a bodycheck!

Johnson was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

Ching Johnson Hall of Fame
Johnson accepting his Hall of Fame plaque

Today's featured jersey is a 1937-38 New York Americans Ching Johnson jersey as worn during his only season with the Americans.

The Americans began play in 1925, the year before the Rangers, and remained in New York until 1941 prior to changing their name to the Brooklyn Americans (although they continued to play in Manhattan's Madison Square Garden!) for their final season of 1941-42 until falling by the wayside, leaving the NHL with "The Original 6".

Best known for their star-spangled home jerseys, the Americans introduced a white road jersey in 1933. They changed to today's featured style in 1935 and it remained in use through the 1938-39 season until the crest underwent some modifications the following season.

Ching Johnson 37-38 Americans

We cannot believe we found this one, an interview with Ching Johnson from 1933!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Itsenäisyyspäivä - Finnish Independence Day

Itsenäisyyspäivä , or Finnish Independence Day, is celebrated with the customary public flag displays and decorations in the blue and white of the Finnish flag and most businesses remain closed for the day as people attend parades, concerts, festivals and street parties. There is also an annual military parade each year.

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The festivities begin with the traditional raising of the flag in Tähtitominmäki (Observatory Hill) in Helsinki, followed by a service at the Cathedral of Helsinki, where the President of Finland is present prior to hosting a televised banquet known as Linnan juhlat (The Party at the Castle) in the evening for around 2000 invited guests with war veterans in attendance as the guests of honor.

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Some people still keep with the Finnish Independence Day tradition of putting two candles in the window at night, a sign in earlier days that invited friendly troops into that home for food and shelter and symbolize the light of freedom or one candle for home and the other for homeland.

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The Finland National Team first appeared at the World Championships back in 1939. Their next appearance was not until 1949 when they became regulars at the World Championships. A perennial mid-pack team, it took them until 1992, a span of over 40 years, to earn their first medal of any kind. Once the floodgates opened, they captured silver in 1992 and 1994 before reaching the pinnacle with World Championship gold in 1995.

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Finland celebrates their first World Championship after arriving back home

Two fifth places in 1996 and 1997 followed before a run of four medals in row with silver in 1998 and 1999, bronze in 2000 and silver once more in 2001. A bit of a slide saw then finish 4th, 5th, 6th then 7th from 2002 through 2005 before returning to the medal podium with bronze in 2006, silver in 2007 and bronze again in 2008. Finland won their second gold medal in 2011, captained by Mikko Koivu. Two more silver medals have since followed in 2014 and earlier this year in 2016.

Koivu Finland Trophy photo KoivuTrophy.jpg
Finland's captain Mikko Koivu is thrilled to hoist
the World Championship trophy

Finland's hockey team first appeared at the Winter Olympics in 1952, and aside from 1956, has appeared in each Olympic hockey tournament since, becoming a regular medal contender in the mid 1970's, with a fourth places in 1978 and 1980. They won their first medal in 1988 with a silver and took bronze in both 1994 and 1998. In 2006 they again won silver followed by bronze medals in both 2010 and 2014 to give them medals in three consecutive Olympics for the first time.

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Jere Lehtinen, Saku Koivu and Ville Peltonen enjoying their final success as
a trio at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver where they won bronze medals

Finland has also participated in the Canada Cup and it's successor, the World Cup of Hockey, taking home the silver medal in the 2004 World Cup in the seven times it has competed.

The Finland National Team has now retired the numbers of #14 Raimo Helminen, #17 Jarri Kurri, #8 Teemu Selanne, #11 Saku Koivu, 26 Jere Lehtinen and #16 Ville Peltonen.

Today's first featured jersey is a 1991 Finland National Team Jari Kurri jersey as worn in the 1991 World Cup. This jersey was produced by Tackla out of Finland and features a short-lived cartoonish lion's head logo which was quickly replaced by a new shield-style logo which remains in use today.

Finland 1991 Kurri jersey
Finland 1991 Kurri jersey

Today's second featured jersey is a 1996 Finland National Team Raimo Helminen jersey from the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. Note that this is a #14 jersey, not the #41 Finland retired for Helminen. This attractive "waving flag" style of jersey marked Nike's entry into being the jersey supplier for the IIHF, which continues to this day. This style was worn through the 1997 World Championships until new styles were debuted for the 1998 Olympics.

Finland 1996 jersey photo Finland1996Fjerseycopy.jpg
Finland 1996 jersey photo Finland1996Bjerseycopy.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's third featured jersey is a 2004 Finland National Team Teemu Selanne jersey. Finland first wore this style for the 1998 Oympics in Nagano, Japan with the crest reading "Suomi". For the 2002 Olympics, the crest was altered to read "Finland" with Suomi now printed boldly across the waist. This would be the final appearance for this jersey, as Nike would introduce a new style for the 2005 World Championships.

Finland 2004 WCOH jersey photo Finland 2004 WCOH F.jpg
 Finland 2004 WCOH jersey photo Finland 2004 WCOH B.jpg

Today's fourth featured jersey is a 1995 Finland National Team Saku Koivu jersey. This is the same style jersey used in the 1994 Olympic games and, while branded as a Reebok jersey, they were produced by Tackla using their mesh fabric and dye sublimation process. Visually, the only difference between the Olympic jerseys and the World Championship versions are the additions of the Warsteiner sponsorship patches to each arm.

Finland 1995 road jersey photo Finland 1995 R F.jpg
Finland 1995 road jersey photo Finland 1995 R B.jpg

Today's fifth featured jersey is a 1996 Finland National Team Jere Lehtinen jersey. One year after Finland won the World Championship in a Reebok branded Tackla produced jersey, Nike became the official supplier to the IIHF for the World Championships and the Olympic Games. Following their debut at the 1996 World Championships in the spring, Nike also outfitted all of the teams at the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in the fall of 1996.

Their "waving flag" style of jerseys took Tackla's sublimation techniques to further extremes, as they introduced gradients to the international scene. These jerseys were also worn for the 1997 World Championships until being replaced by new styles for the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Finland 1996 WCOH jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's sixth featured jersey is a 1995 Finland National Team Ville Peltonen jersey. This is the home white version of the blue road jersey shown above as worn during the 1995 World Championships, differentiated from the 1994 Olympics by the Warsteiner beer sponsorship patches on the upper arms.

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

Everyone loves a parade, and Finland is no exception, only their Independence Day happens during a slightly colder time of year than we are used to in North America. Check out the group at 6:09 of part 1. We can't tell if they are enjoying the parade, or just waiting to finally cross the street. We won't blame you if you skip ahead to part 2, which contains some cool military hardware.

Check this out, from Heinola, Finland - the World Sauna Championships!

Sauna Championships not exciting enough for you? Perhaps the World Wife Carrying Championships are more your style, where the winner receives his wife's weight in beer.

Next is Finland's finest moment in hockey, winning their first World Championships in 1995 against their rivals Sweden and in Sweden.

Here are highlights of Finland winning the 2011 World Championship.

Finally, a Finnish Nike commercial featuring Mikko Koivu, Ruutu, Selanne, Filppula and Peltonen.

Monday, December 5, 2016

1911-12 Montreal Wanderers Riley Hern Jersey

Born on this date in 1880, Riley Hern played both goaltender and forward as a youth but settled on goaltending by the time he progressed to senior hockey with the Stratford Legionnaires of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1898 to 1901.

He turned professional in 1901 with the Pittsburgh Keystones of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League, which he led in victories with 9 in his first season. After going five-for-five in wins the next season, he suffered a dismal 1-10 slog through the 1902-03 season.

Looking for greener pastures, he found one in Houghton, Michigan with the Portage Lake Hockey Club. Not a member of any established league at the time, Portage Lake played a schedule of exhibition games to great success, as Hern finished the season with an outstanding record of 15-1.

1903-04 Portage Lake Hockey Club
The 1903-04 Portage Lake Hockey Club

With the stellar lineup of talent Portage Lake had assembled, which included future Hall of Famers "Bad" Joe Hall, Bruce Stuart, his brother Hod Stuart and the legendary Cyclone Taylor, thanks in no small part due to the salaries the club was paying in what was still primarily an amateur sport, Portage Lake became members of the International Professional Hockey League for it's inaugural 1904-05 season. After a second place finish in year one, Portage Lake won the league title in 1905-06 as Hern posted a 15-5 record.

He moved east for the 1906-07 season to join the current Stanley Cup holders, the Montreal Wanderers, who were members of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association at the time. Before the season began the Wanderers faced a Stanley Cup challenge from the New Glasgow Cubs, who they turned back in a two-game, total-goal series with scores of 10-3 and 7-2 to retain the cup by a total of 17-5.

Hern and the Wanderers then lost control of the cup on January 21st when the Kenora Thistles wrested the cup away with 4-2 and 8-6 wins.

After their surprising defeat, the Wanderers marched unchallenged through the ECAHA schedule, finishing with a flawless 10-0 record on the back of 105 goals scored while giving up just 39, which calculates to an average of a 10-4 win every game. As champions, and also on a roll having posted goal totals of 16, 13, 18, 10 and 16 in their last five games, the Wanderers attempted to reclaim the cup by traveling west to challenge Kenora for the rights to the Stanley Cup.

With the first game delayed a day due to bad ice conditions which forced a change in venue from Kenora to Winnipeg, Hern and the Wanderers all but reclaimed the cup during Game 1 with a 7-2 win. Kenora hung tough and won the second game 6-5, but failed to overcome the five goal deficit they faced after Game 1. With the Wanderers taking the series 12 goals to 8, they returned to Montreal with the cup in hand, only to have it stolen and held for ransom!

1907 Montreal Wanderers
The 1907 Montreal Wanderers

A some point during a team photo shoot, the cup was stolen from photographer Jimmy Rice's home and held for ransom! When no one would pay for it's return, the Stanley Cup was left on Rice's doorstep and his wife used it as a geranium planter until the fall when it was put back into service!

At some point during the time between winning the cup, having it stolen, it being used as a planter and the next cup challenge, the Wanderers had the audacity to not only engrave the name of their team into the cup, but the entire roster of the club, beginning a tradition which many feel makes the Stanley Cup the greatest trophy in sports.

1907 Wanderers engraving
The 1907 Wanderers celebratory engraving in the bottom of the bowl of the Stanley Cup

For the 1907-08 season, the Wanderers had to defend the cup against the Ottawa Victorias, whom they easily turned back 9-3 and 13-1. Following the regular season, where the Wanderers again emerged as league champions, they were challenged for the cup twice more, first by the Winnipeg Maple Leafs, who they beat 11-5 and 9-3, and then by the Toronto Professionals in a one game playoff the Wanderers won by a score of 6-4, which gave Hern a 13-2 record for the season.

1908 Montreal Wanderers Pictures, Images and Photos
The 1908 Montreal Wanderers

Once again, prior to the 1908-09 season, the Wanderers face yet another challenge for the Stanley Cup, this one from the Edmonton Hockey Club, a team stocked with ringers for the challenge. It was to no avail however, as the Wanderers won Game 1 handily, building a four goal advantage heading into the final game after a 7-3 win. Edmonton did take Game 2 7-6, but the cup remained firmly in the hands of the Wanderers.

With the 1909 schedule consisting of only 12 games, each contest was critical as the Wanderers and the Ottawa Senators engaged in a neck and neck struggle for the league championship which entitled the winner to the rights to the cup. The Wanderers gained the upper hand with a 7-6 overtime win during the opening game of the season for each club. The two clubs dominated their games against the Quebec Bullogs and Montreal Shamrocks for the remainder of January until their next meeting on January 30th when Ottawa prevailed 5-4. On February 6th, the clubs were involved in their third consecutive one goal game, won by Ottawa 9-8 and they sealed the Wanderers fate with a dominant 8-3 win in their final meeting to end the Wanderers two year hold of the cup, which included four successful defenses.

With that, the ECHA dissolved and the Wanderers formed a new league, the National Hockey Association, while the other three clubs entered the Canadian Hockey Association, which failed after less than two weeks, sending its clubs looking to join the NHA. Hern and the Wanderers tore through the now seven team league with an 11-1 record, outscoring their opposition 91-41, with Hern getting all the starts for Montreal. With Ottawa in the NHA, Montreal assumed control of the Stanley Cup once more by virtue of winning the league title. They faced one challenge for the cup from Berlin of the Ontario Professional Hockey League, whom they dispatched 7-3.

Montreal Wanderers 1909-10 Pictures, Images and Photos
The 1910 Montreal Wanderers

Hern would play one final season of 1910-11 and with the Wanderers finishing fourth with a 7-9 mark, the Wanderers would relinquish the cup as Hern's hockey career came to a close at the age of 30.

Hern would conclude his career with a 106-43 regular season record and a 10-4 won-loss record in Stanley Cup challenge games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

Today's featured jersey is a 1911-12 Montreal Wanderers Riley Hern jersey. The Wanderers adopted the "redband" style jersey and no doubt influenced the Montreal Canadiens who later adopted their iconic red sweaters with a blue band across the chest in 1913. This Wanderers jersey remained unchanged and in use until January 2, 1918 when their home arena burned down, forcing the club, already in debt, to cease operations after 14 1/2 seasons of competition.

Riley Hearn Wanderers

Sunday, December 4, 2016

1985-86 Boston Bruins Rick Middleton Jersey

Drafted in the first round, 14th overall by the New York Rangers in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, Rick Middleton had just completed a standout season with the Oshawa Generals where scored 67 goals and 137 points in 62 games to lead the Ontario Hockey League in scoring.

After playing the 1973-74 season with the Providence Reds, which included leading the Reds in scoring and a run to the AHL Calder Cup Finals, Middleton made the Rangers roster but was limited to 47 games by injuries, but still scored 22 goals in his rookie season. After one more season with the Rangers, he was traded to the Boston Bruins for twelve year veteran Ken Hodge. The trade would work out great for the Bruins, as Hodge would play less than 100 games for the Rangers before his NHL career would end, while Middleton's career was just beginning.

Middleton Rangers
Middleton while with the Rangers. Note the Rangers 50th Anniversary patch.

His arrival in Boston was a memorable one, with a hat trick in his very first game on his way to a third consecutive 20 goal season prior to the Bruins reaching the finals that season. Over the next four consecutive seasons Middleton raised his personal best point total from 60 to 86, then 92 and finally 103 in 1980-81.

The next season Middleton set a career high in goal scoring with 51 in 1981-82 and was named the winner of the 1982 Lady Byng Trophy.

He backed up his 51 goals with 49 the next season, which included 33 points in 17 games to lead the Bruins in playoff scoring. 1983-84 saw Middleton register his fifth consecutive 40 goal season with 47, and added 58 assists for a career high 105 points, his second season with over 100.

In 1985 Middleton was named one of the Bruins co-captains, along with Ray Bourque, in a system where Middleton would wear the "C" for home games, while Bourque captained the team on the road.

Middleton Bruins
Middleton wearing the captain's "C" at home

The shared captaincy system remained in place for the final three seasons of Middleton's career, which concluded at the end of the 1987-88 season, during which Middleton would play in his 1,000th NHL game and make another return to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Middleton's final NHL totals are 1,005 games played, 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points. In addition, he played in three All-Star Games and scored 100 points in 114 playoff games.

Internationally, Middleton competed for Canada in both the 1981 Canada Cup and the 1984 edition, where he played on a line with Wayne Gretzky and scored four goals and eight points in seven games to help Canada capture the championship.

Today's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Boston Bruins Rick Middleton jersey as worn during Middleton's time while sharing the Bruins captaincy. Since Middleton was the designated home captain, he would wear the "A" for games on the road while wearing the Bruins black road jerseys.

This jersey style was adopted in 1974 and went through some minor changes, such as the addition of shoulder logos in 1976 and names on the back in 1977. It would remain in use through 1995.

Boston Bruins 85-86 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's first video contains highlights from Middleton's career. While we highly recommend turning the soundtrack off, the footage is still well worth your time and shows the dynamic Middleton at his finest.

In a good dose of old time hockey, Middleton slugs it out with Darryl Sittler of the Maple Leafs as the haymakers fly.

Finally, Middleton scores on a penalty shot during the Bruins Legends Classic at the 2010 Winter Classic outdoor game at Fenway Park.


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