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Saturday, December 17, 2016

1921-22 Ottawa Senators Frank "King" Clancy Jersey

After playing junior hockey in his native Ottawa, Frank "King" Clancy garnered the attention of the local professional club, the Ottawa Senators, who just happened to be the current World Champions.

After a tryout with the Senators, he was signed to a three year contract for $800 a year. When his current, amateur club, the St. Brigid's Athletic Club heard Clancy was planning to leave their team, they attempted to get him to reconsider, talking about the merits of amateurism and how money can often taint a sport and take the joy out of it for the athlete. When they could see that their star player was unconvinced, St. Brigid's make a counteroffer...

Seven dollars and fifty cents - for the entire season!

They explained that was all the money they had left in their treasury and Clancy could have it all if he'd stay!

Needless to say, Clancy became a member of the Senators for the 1921-22 season and played the first game of his NHL career on this date in 1921.

Clancy Rookie Card, Clancy Rookie Card

Clancy relates the story of his first NHL game in the 1968 book "Clancy: The King's Story as Told to Brian MacFarlane";
My first game as pro! I can remember it like it was last night. We were scheduled to play in Hamilton, and they had players on their roster like Goldie Prodgers and Ken Randall and the two Mummery boys [Harry and Walter]. They were all big men, powerful men. The night before I left home for that encounter, my poor dad came down to the station in Ottawa and gave me the kind of advice that any father would give a boy going off to play his first professional game. He took me aside, told me not to worry, to do my best and a lot of other things. Then he shook my hand and wished me luck as I got on the train. 
Now we're on the train and on our way, and I thought everything was just great. Every once in a while some passenger would come down the aisle and I could see he'd recognize some of the players. Now and again one the boys would be asked for his autograph. Nobody recognized me, of course, but I was tickled pink to be among the famous Ottawa Senators. 
We stayed at the Royal Connaught Hotel in Hamilton and that was great too. The next morning going into breakfast, I learned something else. At home my breakfast usually meant a plate of porridge, a piece of toast and maybe a glass of milk. But these guys! They polished off everything! Double orders of bacon and eggs, flapjacks, sausages, toast, rolls, and gallons of milk. I'd never seen fellows eat like that in all my life! It was a revelation to see a bunch of hungry hockey players tie on the feedbag. 
That night we headed out to the Barton Street Arena, the same arena that's used for hockey in Hamilton today. And if I thought I was going to get in a lot of ice time in my first game as a pro, I soon had another thing coming. 
Frankie Boucher and I sat on the bench right though the sixty minutes of game time. We got a chance to warm up before the game and we took a whirl around the ice between periods, but during the actual play we didn't get a smell of the ice. Boucher didn't get the call; I didn't get the call. We're sitting there like a couple of dummies. Now we come to the end of regulation time and the game is tied 2-2. This mean we have to play overtime. The coach, Petey Green, taps me on the shoulder and says, "You go out there in place of [EddieGerard on the defence." Then he turns to Boucher and says, "You go out there in place of [Frank] Nighbor at centre ice." Now this was sudden-death overtime and no time to be making mistakes, and here's the coach throwing two bushers out there in place of two of the greatest players in the game. 
We just begin the overtime, when I get the luckiest break in the world. I remember getting the puck. It came back to me off the draw, and it looked like a big watermelon rolling my way. I slapped at it with my stick and stumbled on ahead with it before I let fly a pass across to Punch Broadbent. I kept going up the ice because I didn't have sense enough to stay back on defense where I belonged. Then, whoops-a-daisy, I get the puck right back again, but I was off at a poor angle and on the wrong side of the net when I took this pass. There wasn't much I could to but wing a shot at the net. I let go a backhander and, lo and behold, I look up and see the goal judge waving his handkerchief and wave it in the air. To me, this handkerchief looked at big as a bed sheet. 
I had scored on my first shot as a professional in the National Hockey League, and it was a winning goal in sudden-death overtime. Naturally I was robbed by my teammates and it then dawned on me that I should keep the puck as a souvenir. When I went after it, the Hamilton goalkeeper, a fellow by the name of [HowieLockhart, just glared at me. I never did know why, until a couple of years later when I met him outside the rink one day and asked him why he would do such a thing. He said it was because the puck went though a hole in the netting at the side of the goal! It hadn't gone in the front at all and so it shouldn't have counted! 
But my first goal did count and we beat Hamilton 3-2 on that shot of mine. To this day I'm not sure whether to be proud of it or embarrassed by it. But scoring that goal on my first shot in the big leagues did one thing for me. It gave me a little confidence. My teammates hadn't see how the puck went in and they couldn't care less. In the shower after the game, Gerard, whose place I'd taken, came over to me and said, "Frankie, that was a terrific shot!:" I thought it was too - until this fellow Lockhart told me what he thought about it some time later.
The "goal" would be one of just four Clancy would score as an NHL rookie in 24 games that season. Clancy would play nine seasons with the Senators, winning Stanley Cups in 1923 and 1927 and being named their captain in 1928, before moving on to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1930 in exchange for $35,000 and two players as the struggling Senators began to sell of their most valuable assets in an effort to stay in business.

Clancy Sold, Clancy Sold

Clancy would play for the Maple Leafs for seven seasons, winning another Stanley Cup in 1932, where his charismatic personality, combined with his small size and extra large toughness, would make him a beloved icon in Toronto.

1923-24 Ottawa Senators team, 1923-24 Ottawa Senators team
The 5' 7" Clancy (back row, far right)  is dwarfed by his much larger
Senators teammates in this 1923-24 team photo

Clancy was said, according to McFarlane, to have started a thousand fights and never won any of them. At the time of his retirement in 1937, Clancy was the highest scoring defenseman in NHL history with 136 goals in 592 games, with his best season coming in 1930 with 17.

Clancy Maple Leafs, Clancy Maple Leafs

Following his playing days, Clancy became an NHL referee for 11 years before he went into coaching, first in the American Hockey League, which included a Calder Cup championship with Pittsburgh in 1952.

Doug Bentley and King Clancy Referee, Doug Bentley and King Clancy Referee
Doug Bentley politely conversing with referee Clancy

He was promoted to coach of the Maple Leafs in 1953 and, after three seasons, became assistant general manager until 1969 when he was made vice-president of the club, a position he held until he passed away at the age of 83 in 1986, the last surviving member of the 1923 Stanley Cup champions.

Clancy Coach, Clancy Coach

Clancy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958 and the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1998, he was ranked #52 on The Hockey News list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

One further tribute was bestowed on the legendary Clancy when the King Clancy Memorial Trophy was named in his honor and is awarded annually since 1987 to the NHL player who demonstrates leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made exceptional humanitarian contributions on the community.

Clancy Autograph, Clancy Autograph

Today's featured jersey is a 1922-23 Ottawa Senators King Clancy jersey. The Senators wore their barber pole jerseys for each of their 14 seasons in the NHL, a style which actually dates back to the turn of the century years prior to the formation of the NHL.

The Senators occasionally wore a special patch commemorating their standing as league champions and in 1929 an "O" crest arrived, but the black, red and white stripes were a constant, both at home and on the road, as the first road jersey did not arrive until the 1927-28 season when the newly renamed Maple Leafs introduced a white jersey to be worn for games against the New York Rangers, who also wore blue sweaters.

Ottawa Senators 1922-23 jersey, Ottawa Senators 1922-23 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1931-32 Toronto Maple Leafs King Clancy jersey. This white jersey was the first road jersey in NHL history, necessitated by the green-clad Toronto St. Patricks being sold and changing their name to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1926-27 season.

When the Maple Leafs introduced a new blue jersey for the 1927-28, the New York Rangers were already wearing blue, which, for the first time in league history, necessitated a special jersey to avoid the confusion of both teams wearing blue sweaters. It would not be until six seasons later in 1933-34 that the New York Americans would become the second team to wear two different sweaters during a season.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1931-32 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 1931-32 jersey

In today's video  section, a look at the versatility of Clancy.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Kazakhstan Independence Day

Kazakhstan had been a part of the Soviet Union since 1920 and between 1926 and 1939, it lost 22% of it's population to starvation, violence and mass emigration. Many Kazakh writers, poets, politicians and historians were killed on orders from Joseph Stalin as part of plans to suppress Kazakh identity and culture. During the 1930s and 1940s millions of people exiled from other parts of the Soviet Union were relocated to Kazakhstan, in many cases to large labor camps. By 1959, Kazakhs were a minority in their own country, accounting for only 30% of the population, while 43% were now Russians.

One of the most controversial elements of Soviet control over Kazakhstan was the Soviet leadership's decision to use lands in Kazakhstan for testing of nuclear weapons starting in 1949, causing catastrophic ecological and biological effects felt generations later, causing even greater anger toward the Soviet system when the long term effects of nuclear activity became known.

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A Soviet Nuclear test in Kazakhstan

Growing tensions within the Soviet Union led to a demand for political and economic reform in the 1980s, and came to a head in the early 1990s. When the Soviet Union dissolved, Kazakhstan declared it's independence on this date in 1991, the last Soviet republic to do so in part because of Kazakhstan's leadership feeling that the various republics of the Soviet Union were too interdependent economically to survive separation from each other.

Kazakhstan's Independence Day is normally celebrated for two days, December 16th and 17th. Speeches, songs and performances, dressing in traditional clothing are all a part of the traditional festivities.

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Three women in traditional Kazakh clothing

Many villages will set up a yurt, a large tent used in the past by nomad Kazakhs, where local delicacies are served are traditional parts of the celebrations.

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The interior of a Kazakh yurt

Visits to friends and relatives are made, with gifts of flowers or candies given. Tournaments with traditional games and races are held, and accompanied by other activities such as parades and fireworks.

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Kazakhstan is the ninth-largest country in the world and the largest landlocked one. It is located primarily in Asia. It's population mix has swung back toward Kazakhs, who now make up 67% of the population, with Russians at 21%.

In hockey, the Kazakhstan National Team made their World Championships debut in 1993 in "Pool C", the third level at the time, finishing 3rd. They have made a steady climb from their early days, and in 1996 they won "Pool C", earning promotion to the "Pool B". Seven years later, Kazakhstan won the Division 1, Group A (the equivalent to the old "Pool B") in 2003, earning a place in the Top Level for 2004.

After two years of avoiding relegation, they were relegated in 2006 back to Division 1, and finished first in Division 1, Group A early in 2009, earning a promotion back to the Top Level for 2010 beginning a cycle of promotion and relegation which saw them demoted in 2010, promoted in 2011, demoted again in 2012, promoted back to the Top Division in 2013, relegated in 2014, promoted in 2015 and once again relegated in 2016.

Kazakhstan has competed at the 1998 and 2006 Winter Olympics, finishing in 8th place in 1998. They did not qualify in 1994, 2002, 2010, fell short by a single point in 2014 and were unsuccessful most recently for 2018.

Nikolai Antropov became the first ever Kazakh player drafted by the NHL when he was picked in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1998. Antropov, a right winger, would play nine years with the Maple Leafs, two seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers and two more with the Winnipeg Jets after the franchise relocated. His final NHL totals were 788 games played, 193 goals and 272 assists for 465 points with his best season being 2009-10 with Atlanta when he scored 24 goals and 67 points.

He finished his playing career with two seasons back in Kazakhstan with Barys Astana. Antropov also played for Kazakhstan at the World Junior Championships in 1997, 1998 and 1999, the World Championships in 1998 and 2014 and the 2006 Olympics.

Antropov Maple Leafs photo AntropovMapleLeafs.jpg
Nik Antropov

The other notable Kazakh to have played in the NHL include goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, although he is a Russian citizen and chose to play for Russia in international competitions, he did play for Kazakhstan in the 1994 World Championships.

Only four other Kazakhs have played in the NHL, wingers Konstantin Pushkarev (17 games with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07) and Konstantin Shafranov (5 games with the St. Louis Blues in 1996-97) and goaltenders Vitaly Kolesnik (8 games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2005-06) and Vitali Yeremeyev (4 games with the New York Rangers in 2000-01).

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Konstantin Pushkarev

The best known club hockey team of the seven in Kazakhstan is Barys Astana, which competes in the primarily Russian Kontinential Hockey League (KHL). The club was founded in 1999 and played in the Kazakhstan Hockey Championship until 2004 when they joined the Russian hockey system, starting out in the third level. They won the Ural-Western Sibera Zone in 2007 and were promoted to the second level, spending the 2007-08 season in the Vysshaya Liga prior to gaining acceptance into the new Kontinental Hockey League for its inaugural 2008-09 season. In parallel with its KHL schedule, Barys has also won Kazakhstan championships in 2008 and 2009. The popularity of the club can be illustrated by the club's move from the 4,070 seat Kazakhstan Sports Palace to the brand new Barys Arena, which has a capacity of 12,000 fans.

NHL veterans Antropov and Yeremeyev both have played for the club, whose roster is dominated by Kazakhs, as 28 of 32 of their players are homegrown talent.

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Barys Astana

Today's featured jersey is a 2004 Kazakhstan National Team Roman Kozlov jersey as worn in the 2004 World Championships featuring a pair of our custom made Zepter sponsorship patches on the sleeves. Kazakhstan did end up in the relegation round after three preliminary round losses, but successfully defended their place by winning the group with victories over France and Japan along with tying Ukraine.

This style was worn from 1998 to 2004 with some variations along the way, such as the addition of the name Kazakhstan below the crest in 2003 and the side panels being white in 2001 and 2002.

This well traveled jersey was purchased on ebay from a seller in Australia of all places. It arrived already customized, but given the choice, we would have opted for one of the much longer names frequently found on the Kazakh national team roster, with names of 10-14 letters long being common.

Kozlov has competed for Kazakhstan on seven different occasions, including the European Junior Championships in 1999, the World Juniors in 2001 and the World Championships every year from 2001 to 2005 with a record of 27 games, 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points and has spent his professional career in the Vysshaya Liga, the second level of Russian hockey.

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Kazakhstan 2004 jersey photo Kazakhstan2004B.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a Toronto Maple Leafs Nikolai Antropov jersey as worn by the most accomplished NHL player from Kazakhstan.

After wearing it as a throwback jersey for the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1999, the Maple Leafs brought it back as an alternate jersey for the 2000-01 season. The club wore this style through the 2006-07 season when all third jerseys were dropped for the 2007-08 season with the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys. An Edge version of this jersey was then reinstated for the 2008-09 season and worn through the 2010-11 season.

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This brief video shows Kazakhstan qualifying for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Halifax Explosion - 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers Harry Hyland Jersey

The morning of December 6, 1917 was like any other day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax had been founded by the British military as a fortress to protect their interests against the French back in the late 1700s thanks to its large and deep natural harbor as well as its strategic location.

Halifax Before, Halifax Before
Early 20th Century Halifax

With World War I raging in Europe, the factories, foundries and mills in both Halifax and nearby Dartmouth were working at full capacity, keeping the harbor busy with with shipping convoys taking goods and supplies across the Atlantic, destined for the war effort in Europe.

Ferries to and from Dartmouth, located on the opposite side of the harbor, civilian shipping, as well as fishing boats and pleasure craft all competed for space with the military shipping traffic on the harbor adding to the congestion.

Meanwhile, the French vessel the Mont-Blanc was loaded with 228,000 kilos of TNT, 2.1 million kilos of wet and dry picric acid, a toxic substance used in the making of munitions and explosives, 223,000 kilos of Benzol, a highly flammable liquid similar to gasoline, and "guncotton", a highly flammable substance used in firearms, all of which made the Mont-Blanc a floating bomb of the highest order.

The Mont Blanc, The Mont Blanc
The Mont-Blanc

Unable to cross the Atlantic solo due to the risk of a German u-boat attack, the Mont-Blanc sailed out of New York for Halifax in order to join a convoy of other ships congregating in Halifax Harbour in the interests of safety. While the ship arrived in late afternoon on December 5th, it was too late in the day to enter the harbor, as the anti-submarine nets had been closed for the night, forcing the Mont-Blanc to spend the night outside the harbor.

Meanwhile inside the harbor, the Belgian relief ship Imo was forced to delay its scheduled departure that day due to the supply of coal for its boilers arriving too late for it to leave for New York in order to collect emergency supplies for civilians in war ravaged Belgium prior to the harbor gates being closed.

At 7:30 in the morning on December 6th the navy opened the gate in the nets, allowing the Mont-Blanc to head into the harbor, traveling at a speed of four knots, under the limit of five knots. At the same time, the Imo headed toward the Narrows to begin its voyage south. As the Imo increased its speed to seven knots, it encountered the first ship entering the harbor. That incoming ship went against the usual rules of passing on the left. The two ships exchanged horn blasts to signal their intent, which resulted in the Imo passing the other ship on the right, putting the Imo on the wrong side of the harbor in the Dartmouth channel.

Once past the first ship, the Imo continued to steam along on the wrong side of the channel, allowing it to avoid a tug boat towing a pair of barges which had just pulled away from the Halifax shore on the right of the Imo.

The Mont-Blanc and the Imo were now in the same channel as they continued to travel toward each other. The Mont-Blanc blew its whistle first to signify that it had the right of way and would be maintaining course, implying the Imo would have to move to the right to clear the way. The captain of the Imo however, had other thoughts, and blew his whistle twice to signify his intent to hold his course. The Mont-Blanc then moved slightly to its right closer to the Dartmouth shore to give the Imo additional room for clearance, hoping the Imo would respond in kind by moving to its right in order to give the two ships adequate distance between them for safe passage. When the Mont-Blanc again blew its whistle once, the Imo responded with two blasts of his horn, indicating it would not be changing course.

The sailors who knew what the repeated signals meant realized trouble was brewing and gathered to watch the two ships. Finally, as the Mont-Blanc and the Imo were bearing down on each other, the Mont-Blanc turned hard left into the center of the channel to avoid a collision with the Imo, as it could not move any further toward shore for fear of running aground while loaded with such dangerous cargo.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the Imo now finally chose to change course by reversing engines, which swung the ship to its right - and into the path of the Mont-Blanc. If only one of the ships had made its evasive maneuver, nothing more than a close call would have been the result. However, they both were now aimed for the same spot and the resulting collision caused the Imo to penetrate nine feet into the hull of the Mont-Blanc at 8:45 AM. The Imo then pulled away to extricate itself from the Mont-Blanc, causing enough sparks to ignite the lethal combination of picric acid and vapors from the ruptured drums of benzol, producing an uncontrollable fire at the forward end of the damaged Mont-Blanc.

Fearing an immediate explosion, the captain of the Mont-Blanc ordered the crew to abandon the ship, which was spewing a large column of oily, black smoke. As the public gathered on the streets or stood at the windows of their homes to watch the spectacular fire and exploding barrels of benzol rocketing into the air.

The rescuers, as well as those on the shore, had no idea of the danger contained inside the Mont-Blanc, as any outward warnings of the dangerous cargo in the form of red flags were not displayed on the Mont-Blanc for fear of drawing unwanted attention from the Germans while at sea. As boats rushed to their assistance, the crew of the Mont-Blanc attempted to warn them off as they rowed furiously ashore in their lifeboats, but they were unable to be understood, as the crew spoke only French as they reached the Dartmouth side and ran for the woods and to safety.

The hastily abandoned ship was now not only ablaze, but also adrift and moving toward Halifax's Richmond neighborhood and into Pier 6, which then caught fire as well. The boat was then met by the Halifax Fire Department, with its one motorized truck and a dozen horse-drawn wagons, who were all unaware of the ship's highly dangerous contents.

And then it happened.

The Mont-Blanc erupted with a force stronger than any man-made explosion in world history prior to the atomic age. The ship shattered and was blown sky-high, 980 feet into the air. White hot pieces of its hull came falling back to Earth as lethal shrapnel rained down all over Halifax and Dartmouth. A 1,140 pound piece of the ship's anchor landed 2 1/2 miles away while the Mont-Blanc's gun barrel flew over three miles, landing clear across the harbor in Dartmouth.

Halifax Explosion, Halifax Explosion
This photo was taken just seconds after the explosion of the Mont-Blanc

The fireball rose over 6,200 feet over the harbor, symbolizing the hell that had just descended on the area. The smoke from the fire reached 20,000 feet while buildings shook and items fell off of shelves as far as 80 miles away with the shock wave being felt 200 miles away as 400 acres in the immediate vicinity were completely destroyed by the blast.

Halifax damage map, Halifax damage map
Halifax damage map

Homes, apartments, business and the sugar refinery were all destroyed in an instant. Every building within a 10 mile radius, 12,000 in all, were badly damaged, if not destroyed.

Richmond School, Richmond School

Additionally, the water immediately surrounding the ship was evaporated by the intense heat of the explosion, which momentarily exposed the harbor floor! The shockwave from the blast sent water rushing violently outwards, creating a wave that spread toward both shores, rising as high as 60 feet. The wave carried the Imo onto the shore on the Dartmouth side of the harbor as the tidal wave washed up three blocks into the city.

The Imo, The Imo
The Imo, washed ashore on the opposite side of the harbor

Over 1,500 people died instantly, while 9,000 were injured by not only the blast, but falling debris from the shattered ship, collapsing buildings and shards of flying glass, which blinded 38 people with roughly 600 more suffering eye injuries while standing at their windows watching the initial blaze.

Many of those who survived the initial blast now had to hang on for their lives as the water rushed up onto the shore where they had gathered, claiming more victims who were in shock or injured and unable to withstand the surging waters. Miraculously, all but one of the crew of the Mont-Blanc survived the disaster.

Since it was wintertime, fires broke out all over as stoves, lamps and furnaces throughout the area were toppled, igniting blazes fueled by the debris, which claimed even more victims throughout the region, in part due to the majority of the firefighters having died in the initial blast, as well as the lack of standardized equipment from town to town which hampered the efforts when fire hoses could not be coupled together.

Halifax Explosion, Halifax Explosion
The damaged Halifax Exhibition Building

More fatalities occurred the following day when a blizzard dumped 16 inches of snow on the region, which included those still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings, those not yet tended to and those susceptible to the cold, as homes no longer had glass in the windows to contain any heat. In the days that followed, people moved into churches, temporary shelters and even railroad boxcars - anywhere warm and dry.

Halifax After, Halifax After
Halifax after the snowfall

The final death toll was 1,950 with 1,630 homes destroyed in the explosion and fires. 6,000 people were rendered homeless and 25,000 lacked adequate housing. Industry was essentially gone, as was the workforce.

Halfiax Herald Headline, Halfiax Herald Headline

In 1994 a study was conducted comparing 130 major, artificial, non-nuclear explosions by a team of scientists and historians and they concluded that "Halifax Harbour remains unchallenged in overall magnitude as long as five criteria are considered together: number of casualties, force of blast, radius of devastation, quantity of explosive material and total value of property destroyed."

Mont Blanc anchor, Mont Blanc anchor
The piece of the Mont-Blanc anchor, which was hurled over 2 miles by the blast

Nine days after the disaster, the first exhibition game in NHL history was contested between the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Wanderers played a benefit game for the victims of the explosion at Halifax Harbour.

The first NHL season was only four days away, as the league had only just been formed the previous month when the owners of the Canadiens, Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Arenas and Quebec Bulldogs, in an effort to rid themselves of contentious, difficult and abrasive fellow National Hockey Association owner Eddie Livingstone.

Livingstone, who owned both the Toronto Shamrocks and Toronto Blueshirts, had multiple disagreements with the NHA and his fellow owners over many matters, including his ownership of two clubs, which gave him two votes in league matters. He feuded with the Wanderers owner Sam Lichtenhein in particular, and at one point Lichtenhein offered Livingstone $3,000 to simply close up shop and walk away from the NHA, while Livingstone countered with a $5,000 offer if Lichtenhien would do the same!

Today's featured jersey is a 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers Harry Hyland jersey. At their November, 1917 annual meeting, the NHA voted to suspend operations, supposedly "due to the difficulty in running a five team league", only to meet again in a weeks time, only this time without Livingstone, to form a new five team league, the National Hockey League, which was the NHA minus Livingstone but with the Toronto franchise in new hands.

The Wanderers, who had been formed back in 1903, had first taken possession of the Stanley Cup in 1906 by winning the ECAHA playoffs and won seven cup challenges and four league titles over the next five seasons. They then fell on hard times after entering the NHA, losing the only playoff series they contested over the next eight seasons. Their final three NHA seasons saw a string of fourth and fifth place finishes, thanks in part to the loss of players off to serve in World War I, putting the team in a fragile financial position as interest in the club among the anglophones waned.

Once the inaugural NHL season began, the Wanderers, the team of Montreal's minority English speaking population, defeated Toronto in a thrilling 10-9 opening night contest attended by just 700 fans despite the offer of free admission for military personnel and their families. They were then manhandled by the Canadiens 11-2. Ottawa then took two games in a home and home set by scores of 6-3 and 9-2, with the second game begin played on December 29, 1917.

1917-18 Montreal Wanderers team, 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers team
The 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers

Four days later on January 2, 1918, the Wanderers were scheduled to play the Canadiens again, but a fire that began in the Montreal Arena's ice making plant, spread and burned the arena down to the ground. Team owner Lichtenhein had already made a request from the other clubs to loan the Wanderers better players to field a more competitive team in hopes of attracting more fans, but when the plan was rejected by his fellow owners following the fire, and with his club dealing with the loss of their home arena, Lichtenhein disbanded the club on January 4, ending the Wanderers fourteen year history.

Montreal Arena fire, Montreal Arena fire
The aftermath of the Montreal Arena fire

Harry Hyland was leading the Wanderers in scoring in 1917 when the club folded. He had a ten year career in hockey, playing first for the Montreal Shamrocks in 1908. He joined the Wanderers for two seasons, including as a Stanley Cup champion in 1910, before spending the 1911-12 season with the New Westminster Royals.

He returned to the Wanderers in 1912-13 and played six more seasons with the club with whom he averaged over a goal per game, scoring 158 goals in 134 games with a high of 30 in 18 games in 1914. His greatest single game came in 1912-13 when he scored 8 goals against Quebec.

Following the demise of the Wanderers, he joined the Ottawa Senators as a playing coach to finish the season and his career. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

Today's featured jersey is a 1917-18 Montreal Wanderers Harry Hyland jersey worn by the Wanderers for their brief time in the brand new National Hockey League. The Wanderers debuted white sweaters with the red stripe around the center adorned with a shield containing a white "W" for the 1905 season and it would remain their only sweater throughout the rest of their days.

Had the Wanderers survived, it is hard to imagine they would have ever changed their style in a manner similar to the Canadiens or Detroit Red Wings. So closely was their distinctive sweater associated with the club, that the team was often referred to as "the Redbands".

Montreal Wanderers 17-18 jersey, Montreal Wanderers 17-18 jersey

Today's first video is a reenactment of the Halifax Explosion, which illustrates the incredible devastation of the largest man made detonation on Earth prior to the atomic age.

Today's second video is actual newsreel footage of the devastation and rescue work immediately following the disaster.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Patrik and Peter Sundstrom

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

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

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

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Peter and Patrick Sundström with IF Björklöven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter Sundstrom, Peter Sundstrom
Peter Sundström

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

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Patrik with Vancouver in 1985-86

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

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

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

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

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

 photo Peter Devils.jpg
Peter Sundström with New Jersey

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

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

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

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

Sundstrom #17 banner, Sundstrom #17 banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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