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Saturday, March 4, 2017

The NHL Record for Most Saves in a Regulation Game - 1940-41 Chicago Black Hawks Sam LoPresti Jersey

Sam LoPresti, a native of Eveleth, Minnesota, first played in the American Hockey Association for the St. Paul Saints in the 1937-38 season, suffering through a 10-36-2 record with a 3.62 goals against average, but with 2 shutouts.

His second year with the Saints saw him manage to post a winning record, having improved by 13 wins to 23-21 while lowering his goals against average to 2.73.

1938-39 St. Paul Saints team
The 1938-39 St. Paul Saints

LoPresti improved by another 6 games in 1939-40 with a noteworthy 29-18 record while lowering his goals against average yet again to 2.55, thanks in part to 4 shutouts. He then went on to post a 6-1 record in the AHA playoffs with a 1.29 goals against average as St. Paul defeated the Omaha Knights to win the league championship.

1939-40 St Paul Saints team
The 1939-40 AHA champion St. Paul Saints
with LoPresti front and center

During the season, LoPresti caught the attention of Chicago Black Hawks president Bill Tobin and head coach Paul Thompson during an exhibition game between the two clubs. He was signed by Chicago for the 1940-41 season and assigned to the Kansas City Americans, also of the AHA.

After 18 games with Kansas City, LoPresti was recalled by Chicago when goaltender Paul Goodman retired in mid-season. LoPresti made his NHL debut on January 5, 1941 and went unbeaten in his first four starts, a 2-2- tie against the Boston Bruins in his debut followed by wins over the New York Rangers, Montreal and Detroit. After a defeat by Montreal, the Black Hawks tied Boston again and then defeated the New York Americans and the Rangers, making LoPresti an impressive 5-1-2 in his first seven games and having taken the Black Hawks from a losing 7-10-4 to now a winning 12-11-6.

It couldn't last though, as Chicago had the second worst offense and third worst defense in the then seven team NHL and they proceeded to lose seven of their next eight with only back-to-back wins over the moribund Americans providing some eventual relief.

After losses at Montreal and the Rangers, LoPresti earned his first NHL shutout when he blanked the Red Wings 1-0 on February 27th.

Then came a home and home series with the Bruins. The first game in Chicago on March 2nd was a close game, but the Bruins prevailed 4-3.

The clubs reconvened on this date in 1941 in Boston. LoPresti was immediately under siege from the powerful Bruins, who were on their way to a first-place finish. The Bruins pelted the rookie goaltender with shot after shot, only to see him turn away one after another. LoPresti made 27 saves in the first period alone.

He faced an even greater onslaught in the second period when the Bruins pressured him with 31 more shots, but still LoPresti held off the attack as best he could. Roy Conacher finally beat him for the first Bruins goal on Boston's 42nd shot.

Lopresti blackahwksS

With the game tied at 2-2 late in the third period, the Bruins Eddie Wiseman scored for Boston, and despite facing another 22 shots, Chicago fell 3-2 despite LoPresti making an NHL record which still stands to this day of 80 saves in a regulation 60 minute game. LoPresti's effort was not lost on the Bruins crowd, who gave him an ovation for his stellar effort despite the loss.

Of note, the Bruins winning goaltender was Frank Brimsek, not only a fellow American in an age when players from the United States were a rarity, but one who also hailed from tiny Eveleth, Minnesota. Brimsek made 18 saves on 20 Chicago shots, less than a quarter of what LoPresti faced.

"The Bruins didn't get the winning goal until the end of the game, " LoPresti recalled later on. "Wiseman got it on a rebound. But we couldn't do anything right from the opening faceoff. Just couldn't move the pick out of our zone. They were shooting from every angle and I didn't see half the shots. They were bouncing off my pads, chest protector, my arms, my shoulders. I didn't even know where they were coming from. I lost between eight and ten pounds that night."

No NHL goaltender since that night has faced more than 73 shots.

Chicago would finish the season with a tie against the Americans followed by three consecutive losses to finish with 39 points from a 16-25-7 record, good for fifth in the league. Despite their losing record, the format that season called for six of the seven teams to make the playoffs. In the Quarterfinal round, Chicago defeated the Canadiens 2 games to 1, with each game being a close, one goal margin. Detroit then eliminated the Black Hawks in two straight.

LoPresti returned to Chicago for the 1941-42 season and put together a record of 21-23-3 with a 3.19 goals against average with 3 shutouts while playing in 47 of the Black Hawks 48 games. Chicago finished mid-pack and were paired with the Bruins in the playoffs, who defeated them 2 games to 1, with the Black Hawks win being a shutout for LoPresti.

1941-42 Chicago Blackhawks team
The 1941-42 Chicago Black Hawks

He then enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II and was assigned to the SS Roger B. Taney, which protected ships as they crossed the Atlantic. The Taney was torpedoed and sunk in February of 1943 and LoPresti was listed as missing in action, thought to be a casualty.

However, as the Taney sank, LoPresti and 25 other men abandoned the ship and sought safety on rafts. The next morning, those on the rafts were picked up by the #4 lifeboat, but with minimal food or water. The lifeboat then made an incredible, nearly 2,500 mile voyage to the South American coast. LoPresti in particular was credited with saving the men's lives by fashioning a weapon by lashing a knife to a boat hook. He then dove into the water and was able to catch a 35 pound dolphin, which provided blood to drink and meat, which they cooked in a metal bucket with a fire made of rags and kerosene. The men were finally rescued off of the coast of Brazil 42 days after their ship sank. LoPresti had lost 55 pounds during the time he was lost at sea.

After he returned from the war, LoPresti played. for the San Diego Skyhawks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1943-44 and 1944-45. He then returned to Minnesota and continued to play senior hockey with the Duluth Coolerators, Duluth Steelers and finally two seasons with the Eveleth Rangers, where he was named the North American Hockey League MVP in 1950. LoPresti was a charter member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.

His son Peter LoPresti also played in the NHL for the Minnesota North Stars from 1974-75 through 1978-79.

Pete-LoPresti card fact
Sam and Peter LoPresti were the first father/son goaltending combo
in NHL history and the first pair to also record an NHL shutout

Today's featured jersey is a 1940-41 Chicago Black Hawks Sam LoPresti jersey as worn during the season he set the NHL record for Most Saves in a Regulation Game with 80 on this date in 1941.

Chicago introduced their red and black barberpole jerseys for the 1937-38 season and wore them all the way through the 1954-55 season, wearing them exclusively for all games home and road until the 1939-40 season.

Chicago Blackhawks 1940-41 jersey

In today's video section, Ron Tugnutt takes a run at LoPresti's record of 80 saves, but comes up short after making 70 while facing 73 shots.

Friday, March 3, 2017

1991-92 New York Rangers Brian Leetch Jersey

Although he was born in Texas on this date in 1968, defenseman Brian Leetch and his family moved to Connecticut when he was just three months old. He began to develop his hockey skills at the ice rink managed by his father Jack Leetch. Leetch, a multi-sport athlete in high school played both hockey and baseball, which included winning a state championship as a pitcher. His hockey prowess was also clearly evident when, in 1983-84, he scored 52 goals and 101 points in just 28 games for Cheshire High School. He next played for Avon Old Farms School, totaling 70 goals and 90 assists for 160 points in 54 games over two seasons.

His performance for Avon Old Farms led to his being named to the United States roster at the 1985 World Junior Championships, the first of a number of appearances for the US in international hockey. He returned to the World Juniors in 1986, scoring a goal and 4 assists in 7 games as the Americans won a bronze medal. Following his 84 point season for Avon in 1985-86, Leetch was selected by the New York Rangers in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft as the ninth overall pick in the first round.

Leetch played his only season of college hockey, scoring 9 goals and 47 points in 37 games for the Boston College Eagles in 1986-87, earning NCAA First Team All-American honors, was named both Hockey East Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year, was Hockey East Tournament MVP and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player of the year.

Leetch Boston College
Leetch had a stellar season for Boston College

During that season he played in his third consecutive World Juniors, where he was named to the tournament All-Star Team, and then after the conclusion of his college season, played for the United States again, only this time at the senior level World Championships, scoring 3 goals and 7 points as a 19 year old.

For the 1987-88 season, Leetch joined the United States National Team in preparation for the upcoming Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. During the Games, he scored a goal and 5 assists for 6 points in 6 games.

After the conclusion of the Olympics, Leetch made his NHL debut, playing in the remaining 17 games on the Rangers schedule in the spring of 1988, scoring 14 points.

The following season he became a full time NHL professional, seeing action in 68 games, making his presence known around the league by setting a rookie defenseman scoring record with 23 goals on his way to averaging more than a point per game with 71 (good for second in team scoring), all of which earned him the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. After the conclusion of the season, Leetch appeared in his second and final World Championships for the US, scoring 7 points in 10 games, with 3 of those being goals.

Leetch Young
Leetch won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie

He would play in his first of ten NHL All-Star Game in 1990 and then raised his personal best to a team leading 88 points in 1990-91 with 16 goals and 72 assists, five points better than forward Bernie Nicholls. That fall, Leetch would once again suit up for the United States, this time during the 1991 Canada Cup tournament.

Leetch 1991 CC
Leetch during the 1991 Canada Cup

Leetch then set a career high in 1991-92 with 102 points from 22 goals and 80 assists, good for second on the Rangers, just five behind new arrival Mark Messier. His 100 point season was the first by an American defenseman and also the last 100 point season by a defenseman. His outstanding season was recognized when he was named the winner of the Norris Trophy as the league's Best Defenseman.

Leetch 1991-92 TBTC
Leetch wearing the Rangers 1991-92 Turn Back the Clock jersey

He was named an assistant captain for New York for the 1992-93 season, but was limited to just 36 games that season.

Leetch captaiin
Leetch wearing the captain's "C"

For the 1993-94 season, he returned to full health and played in all 84 of the Rangers games, which included equaling his career high with 23 goals on his way to 79 points. In the playoffs, the Rangers swept the New York Islanders in four, eliminated the Washington Capitals in five, outlasted the New Jersey Devils in a dramatic seven game series, which included three double overtime games. In Game 7, the Devils scored with just 7.7 seconds left to send the game to overtime before Stephane Matteau scored a memorable series winning goal after 84 minutes of play to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Rangers opponent was the Vancouver Canucks, who won Game 1 in overtime in New York. The Rangers then won the next three games, including two wins on the road in Vancouver. The Canucks rallied with a Game 5 win in New York and forced a Game 7 with a win back at home. Leetch opened the scoring at 11:02 of the first period followed by a goal from Adam Graves for a 2-0 New York lead after one. The teams traded goals in the second period and the Rangers held on for the final 15:10 after Trevor Linden's second goal for the Canucks made it 3-2.

The championship for New York was their first Stanley Cup since 1940, a span of 54 years. Leetch was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, thanks to his defensive skills as well as being the playoff's leading scorer with 11 goals and 34 points in 23 games.

Leetch Smythe
Leetch accepts the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994

With the NHL season shortened in 1994-95 by a labor dispute, Leetch was limited to 48 games, during which he scored 41 points. He averaged more than a point per game in 1995-96 with 85 points while playing in all 82 of the Rangers games.

Leetch was named as the captain of the United States team for the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in the fall of 1996. The US made their intentions clear during their opening game, a 5-3 win over Canada. They then defeated Russia 5-2 on familiar ice in New York and won the North American Pool with a 9-3 thumping of Slovakia to earn a bye into the Semifinals, where they again defeated Russia by the same 5-2 score to advance to a best of three final against Canada.

Game 1 in Philadelphia went to Canada 4-3 in overtime before the Americans fought back with a 5-2 win in Montreal to even the series followed by another 5-2, again in Montreal, to capture the first World Cup and the United States most significant victory since 1980. Leetch was fourth on the team and sixth in tournament scoring with 7 assists in 7 games played.

Keith Tkachuk, Leetch and Joel Otto are presented
the World Cup by legend Jean Beliveau

The 1996-97 season saw Leetch score 78 points for the Rangers on his way to a second Norris Trophy after finishing the season a +31. The 1997-98 season saw Leetch named the Rangers team captain, a position he would hold for three seasons. During that season, the NHL would take the first break from its schedule to allow its players to participate in the Olympics, Leetch's second Games. As an assistant captain for the US, he would score a goal and 2 points in 4 games.

Leetch 1998
Leetch during the 1998 Olympics

Leetch would play six more seasons for New York, highlighted by a 21 goal, 79 point season in 2000-01, the season during which he also played in the 1,000th game of his career. Also during this time period, he would play in his third Olympics in 2002, earning a silver medal, again as an assistant captain, while contributing 5 assists in 6 games.

Leetch 2002
Leetch won an Olympic silver medal in 2002

With the Rangers having missed the playoffs for the previous six seasons and on their way to a 13th place finish in the Eastern Conference out of 15 teams in 2003-04, they began rebuilding by trading away veteran players, which saw Leetch dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for two prospects and a first and second round draft picks.

Leetch Vintage
Leetch wearing a 1970s Rangers vintage jersey
during his final season with the Rangers

He would eventually play just 15 games for Toronto plus 13 playoff games. In the fall of that year, Leetch played for the final time for the United States in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. It would be his last hockey for a calendar year, as the upcoming season of 2004-05 was cancelled due to labor issues.

Leetch 2004 WCOH
His last of 11 appearances for the United States came in 2004

For the 2005-06 season, Leetch, now a free agent, signed with the Boston Bruins, for what proved to be the final season of his career. He played in 61 games that season, which included 5 goals and 27 assists for 32 points, which included the 1,000th point of his career on October 18, 2005.

Leetch Bruins
Leetch finished his career with the Boston Bruins

His final totals were 1,205 games played, 247 goals and 781 assists fr 1,028 points. He won a Stanley Cup in 1994, the 1989 Calder Trophy, the Norris Trophy in 1992 and 1997, the 1994 Conn Smythe Trophy and played in ten NHL All-Star Games.

Gretzky Leetch 1992
Leetch guards Wayne Gretzky during the 1992 NHL All-Star Game

Internationally, he won a bronze medal at the 1986 World Juniors, a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics and the 1996 World Cup as team captain.

His jersey #2 retired by New York on February 24, 2008 and he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Leetch jersey retirement
Leetch's #2 raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey from his 102 point season, the first 100 point season ever by an American defenseman and the season he won his first Norris Trophy.

The Rangers have worn blue jerseys with RANGERS diagonally across the front of their jerseys since their inaugural season of 1926-27 with very few exceptions. They wore modernized jerseys with their shield crest for two seasons in the latter half of the 1970s and when the returned to their classic jersey styles for home and road, they wore NEW YORK on the front of the blue road jerseys from 1978-79 to 1986-87.

They reverted to having RANGERS on the front of their blue jerseys again for Leetch's rookie season of 1987-88 with the names straight across the back. The names became the classy vertically arched letters in 1990-91 and only a change to a lace up collar and a change to the waist striping in 1997-98 happening during his lengthy New York career.

New York Rangers 1991-92 F jersey
New York Rangers 1991-92 B jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2001-02 New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey worn only on October 7, 2001 against the Buffalo Sabres, who also wore special jerseys crested with "New York" diagonally across the front in the Rangers first home game following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York.

Leetch 911 jersey
Leetch in the one game only 9/11 Tribute jersey

The jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund, with the jerseys of Leetch and goaltender Mike Richter raising $15,010, second only to team captain Messier's $20,010.

New York Rangers 2001-02 9-11 F jersey
New York Rangers 2001-02 9-11 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2003-04 New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey. This highly attractive alternate jersey was worn by the Rangers from 1996-97 to 1997-98 and again from 1999-00 to 2006-07. The Rangers made a white version of this "Liberty" jersey, which replaced the navy blue version for only the 1998-99 season until bringing back the navy version for its second seven season run, which only came to an end when Reebok introduced their Edge jerseys in 2007-08 and all third jerseys were eliminated for that season.

New York Rangers 2003-04 alt jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1996 United States National Team Brian Leetch jersey as worn by the American captain.

Retail versions of his highly collectable style were sold only in the home white style in numbered sizes, such as 48 and 52, with sewn on USA cresting and customized with Leetch, Richter and Jeremy Roenick, who actually did not participate in the 1996 World Cup due to being between NHL contracts at the time and therefore not having insurance in case of a major injury, and did not have the World Cup tournament logo patch.

In addition to the retail jerseys not being sold with the World Cup patch, the Leetch jerseys did not come with the captain's "C" either. Both would need to be added separately for proper authenticity as is the case with today's extra extra bonus jersey.

Also of note, some uncustomized white jerseys were produced for retail sale and can be recognized by their letter sizing, such as L and XL, and sublimated USA cresting as opposed to the customized jerseys, which had sewn on twill logos and numbered sizing.

Blue road jerseys are even more scarce, having only been produced for use by the United States national teams in 1996 and 1997, and since they were intended to be worn by players, come in larger sizes such as 54, 56 and 60.

USA 1996 WCOH jersey photo USA 1996 WCOH 2 F.jpg
USA 1996 WCOH jersey photo USA 1996 WCOH 2 B.jpg 

In today's vdieo section, Leetch is welcomed back to Madison Square Garden for the first time, now as a member of the Bruins.

 Next, Leetch scores the first Rangers goal in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

Next, a pair of tributes to Leetch, the first one on the occasion of his #2 being retired by the Rangers and the second after being named as one of the best 100 players in the first 100 years of the NHL.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin Jersey

The Toronto Arenas had won the Stanley Cup in 1918 but quickly ran into financial difficulties and were sold by their owners, The Toronto Arena Company, who owned the Arena Gardens rink where the team played, to new owners for $5,000.

 photo Mutual_Street_Arena_interior.jpg
The Arena Gardens, later changed to the Mutual Street Arena

The new owners were Charile Querrie, the General Manager of the Toronto Arenas, and the owners of an amateur hockey club called the St. Patricks. The new ownership group then changed the NHL club's name to the Toronto St. Patricks and their sweaters from blue to now green.

Rebounding from a chaotic 5-13 season resulting from the sale or defection of their best players due to the financial problems of the previous ownership, the St. Patricks were essentially starting over from scratch for the 1919-20 season.

1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team photo 1919-20 Toronto St Patricks team.jpg
1919-20 Toronto St Patricks

While they did not qualify for the playoffs, the St. Patricks did improve their season record to 12-12 and were led in points by Corb Denneny, a holdover from the Toronto Arenas, who had 24 goals and 36 points in 24 games, good for fourth in the league.

Future Hall of Famer Babe Dye led the club with 33 goals and 38 points in 23 games in 1920-21, and the team would finish first in the second half standings, but lost in the NHL finals to the Ottawa Senators.

Babe Dye during the 1920-21 season

1921-22 again saw the St. Patricks led by Dye's 31 goals and 38 points in 24 games, as Toronto would defeat the Senators 5-4 in a two-game, total goals series to capture the O'Brien Trophy and earn the right to play for the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Millionaires, champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

The series was a best-of-five and all games were played in Toronto. The Millionaires won Game 1 and Dye scored in overtime to even the series at 1 game apiece. Vancouver shut out Toronto 3-0 in Game 3, only to have the St. Patricks return the favor 6-0 in Game 4. Dye took control of the deciding Game 5, scoring four goals to lead the St. Patricks to a 5-1 victory and the Stanley Cup.

1921-22 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto St. Patricks

The next two seasons Toronto would finish in third place, and miss out on the playoffs both times. Dye again led the team in scoring both seasons, with 37 points in 1922-23 and just 19 in 1923-24, but still enough to lead the club.

1923-24 Toronto St Patricks team photo 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks team.jpg
The 1923-24 Toronto St Patricks

Dye rebounded with 38 goals and 46 points in 1924-25 to lead the team for the fifth season in a row and Toronto again returned to the playoffs, only to lose out to the Montreal Canadiens 5 goals to 2.

Another Hall of Famer, Jack Adams, would finally unseat Dye as the club's leading scorer, as he managed 21 goals and 26 points to Dye's 23 points in 1925-26, but Toronto would fail to reach the playoffs.

St. Pats Owner Querrie lost a lawsuit to the notorious Eddie Livingstone, the one time owner of the franchise when they were known as the Toronto Blueshirts and played in the National Hockey Association, and decided to put the team up for sale. The club was purchased by Conn Smythe for $160,000 and took control of the team on February 14, 1927 and immediately changed the club's name to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

On this date in 2002, the Toronto Maple Leafs wore the green jerseys of the St. Patricks, along with brown pants and helmets, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the franchise changing their name to the Maple Leafs in a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo Sabres, led by captain Mats Sundin's two goals.

Sundin Maple Leafs St Patricks photo SundinStPats.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 Toronto St. Patricks Mats Sundin jersey as worn once on March 2, 2002 to mark the 75th Anniversary of the change in the club's name from the St. Patricks to the Maple Leafs following their purchase by Conn Smythe.

The original 1919-20 St. Pats jerseys were alternating green a white hoops on the body, while the sleeves were green with a single white band and white cuffs. For 1920-21, the sweaters were solid green with white cuffs, collar and waist stripe. They reverted to their original horizontally striped sweaters for 1921-22.

For 1922-23, the location of the sweater's colors were reversed, with the result being a predominately white look now that the arms were white with a green band and cuffs. This style was worn for three seasons through 1924-25. It was back to an all-green look for 1925-26, including the collar and cuffs, with the only white being three narrow stripes along the waist.

Finally, for the team's final season as the St. Patricks, they added a white chest band trimmed with narrow white stripes and reduced the three narrow waist stripes to two. With the sale of the club to Smythe, this jersey would not finish out the season, as it was immediately replaced by a solid white sweater with a green maple leaf crest, with the team colors permanently changing to blue and white for the 1927-28 season.

It would be the St. Patricks final green jersey with the white chest band of 1926-27 which would become the basis for the modern day Maple Leafs throwback jersey featured today.

Toronto St Pats 99-00 jersey photo TorontoStPats99-00F.png
Toronto St Pats 99-00 jersey photo TorontoStPats99-00B.png

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

1972-73 Minnesota North Stars Charlie Burns jersey

The 1969-70 season was the third for the Minnesota North Stars. They were coached by Wren Blair, who was also the club's General Manager.

Blair North Stars 1

They began the season with a win on October 11, 1969 with a 4-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers with Cesare Maniago in goal getting the shutout. The team alternated wins and losses for their first six games until back to back losses to the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins at home. Minnesota then earned only their second ever win over the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 to close out October at 4-4 after going 1-7-2 against Montreal their first two seasons. November was more challenging for Minnesota, going 3-6-4, which included a tie versus the Canadiens.

Maniago North Stars

December was remarkable for the North Stars, as the team set the tone for the month with a 5-5 tie against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 3rd. Remarkably, they once again beat the Canadiens on December 6th, which was followed by a tie at Boston. They returned home and defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 8-5 for their final win of the month. Having already alternated ties and wins for their first four games of the month, the North Stars then proceeded to alternate ties and losses for their remaining nine games in December. They finished with a 2-4-6 record in their 12 games that month, with every other game resulting in a tie.

With their record at 9-13-10 following their loss on December 27th, Blair stepped aside from his head coaching duties and installed North Stars player Charlie Burns as the North Stars new head coach, who gave up playing when he assumed his new duties.

Burns North Stars 2

After his debut on December 30th, a scoreless tie against the Los Angeles Kings, Burns picked up where Blair left off, alternating ties and losses over his first four games. Burns finally got his first win on January 14th, a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues.

And then it began...

A 1-1 tie against the Oakland Seals came on the road the next night in California. That was followed by a nine game losing streak, the first four coming at home at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. The club hit the road for games in Montreal and Boston, and while they acquitted themselves well losing by only one goal both nights, they were still losses. The losing streak eventually ran out to nine games with defeats at home to Toronto 4-2, in Chicago 7-4 and back at home to Pittsburgh 7-5. The loss to Toronto left Minnesota with a 1-9-2 record for January.

The losing streak ended on February 7th when they outshot Montreal 35-28, but were trailing 1-0 with 3:06 to play when J. P. Parise scored his 14th goal of the season against Phil Myre to salvage a 1-1 tie.

Parise North Stars
J. P. Parise versus Montreal

The Penguins extended their record against the North Stars to 5-0-1 on the year when they beat Minnesota 6-3 at home. This was followed by losses at Oakland and home against Chicago, their 12th loss in 13 games.

The North Stars again salvaged a tie late in the game on February 15th when Danny Lawson scored his fourth of the year with 2:08 remaining against the Blues Jacques Plante. Minnesota then held on for a 1-1 tie on February 18th against the Detroit Red Wings despite being outshot 46-26.

Maniago North Stars 4
Maniago was the North Stars number one goaltender in 1969-70

Chicago extended the North Stars misery with a 3-2 win on February 19th followed by another loss, this one to the Bruins two nights later at home. The North Stars led after two periods on February 25th at home to the Kings, but eventually settled for yet another tie.

The winless streak reached 20 games on February 28th when they were hammered by the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 to close out February with a 0-7-4 record, leaving them 10-30-18 for the season to date.

On this date in 1970, Burns, with a horrid 1-17-8 record as head coach, took matters into his own hands, inserting himself into the lineup against Toronto, making him the last player/coach in NHL history.

Burns North Stars 3
Charlie Burns wearing his distinctive padded helmet

The game, played in Minnesota, Bill Collins got Minnesota on the board at 8:12 of the first period from Parise and Danny O'Shea for the only goal of the first period as the North Stars out shot the Maple Leafs 18-14.

Bill Goldsworthy scored his 27th goal of the season just 55 seconds into the second period with assists from Minnesota native Tommy Williams and Parise for a 2-0 North Stars lead. The trio struck again at 14:42 when Parise's 19th came from Goldsworthy and Williams followed by an unassisted goal by Goldsworthy just 1:58 later at 16:40 to extend the Minnesota lead to 4-0 after two.

Goldsworthy North Stars 2

Collins scored his second of the game from Danny Grant at the 59 second mark of the third period and then the trio of Parise, Goldsworthy and Williams did it again when Parise scored his second of the night and 20th of the season at 7:33 for a 6-0 North Stars advantage.

Williams North Stars

At the 9:49 mark, hostilities broke out when Toronto's Terry Clancy and Jim Dorey and Minnesota's Barry Gibbs, Claude Larose and Goldsworthy all got fighting majors, with Goldsworthy's completing his Gordie Howe Hat Trick on the night. The three North Stars also all got misconduct penalties, while Dorey was whistled for a misconduct and a game misconduct.

Goldsworthy North Stars
Goldsworthy had a busy night, with 2 goals, 2 assists and 21 penalty minutes

At 10:50, Collins completed his hat trick with an unassisted goal against Maple Leafs goaltender Bruce Gamble and Lawson finished the scoring with his 6th goal of the season from Ray Cullen and Leo Boivin at 13:12 for a final score of 8-0 to end the North Stars record winless streak at 20 games.

Despite the lopsided score, Toronto actually out shot Minnesota 41-40 with Maniago getting the shutout for the North Stars.

The North Stars finished the rest of the schedule 8-5-4 once their record 20 game winless streak ended with Burns now acting as a player/coach for the remainder of the schedule. Despite their dismal January and February, the North Stars actually qualified for the playoffs, assisted by the fact the NHL placed all six of the new expansion teams into their own West Division when the league expanded in 1967-68.

1969-70 Minnesota North Stars team
The 1969-70 Minnesota North Stars

St. Louis had a fine 37-27-12 record for 86 points to win in a romp, while Pittsburgh finished with a 26-38-12 record for 64 points followed by the North Stars at 19-35-22 for 60 points, while Oakland at 58 points won a tiebreaker with Philadelphia for the final playoff spot thanks to 22 wins versus the Flyers 17 with the Kings in last at a lowly 38 points.

Such was the difference in experience and talent in the established East Division that all four teams that made the playoffs had over 90 points, Chicago (99), Boston (99), Detroit (95) and the New York Rangers (92), from pummeling the expansion teams in the West. Of the teams in the East that missed the playoffs, Montreal would have won the West Division(!) with 92 points, while Toronto's 71 would have been good for second behind St. Louis, the only Original 6 team with less points than a Second 6 team.

The North Stars were paired with the Blues in the first round of the playoffs and each team won two games at home before the Blues closed out Minnesota with wins in St. Louis (6-3) and back in Bloomington (4-2).

Minnesota was led in scoring that season by Parise with 24 goals and 48 assist for 72 points, followed by Williams (15G, 52A) at 67 and Goldsworthy's team leading 36 goals and 29 assists for 65 points. Other 20 goal scorers for Minnesota that season were Collins and Grant with 29 and Larose with 24.

Larose North Stars

Maniago did the bulk of the work in goal for the North Stars, playing in 50 games, with Fern Rivard (14 games), Gump Worsley (8), Ken Broderick (7) and Gilles Gilbert (1) all seeing time in goal.

Worsley North Stars
Goaltender Gump Worsley played without a mask

Burns, a center, would play 11 NHL seasons for Detroit, Boston, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Minnesota and was known as an excellent skater and playmaker who was defensively responsible. After his time in Boston, he would play four seasons in the minor Western Hockey League before returning to the NHL when the league expanded in 1967, doubling the amount of available jobs overnight. His final NHL totals were 749 games played with 106 goals and 198 assists for 304 points.

Burns North Stars

Burns did not return to the bench for the North Stars 1970-71 season, as the team hired Jack Gordon as their next head coach. Burns would play three more seasons for Minnesota and one final one for the New Haven Nighthawks of the AHL, again while acting as a player/coach.

The following season, now fully retired as a player, he would return to the North Stars as head coach again when he replaced Gordon (who then concentrated solely on his General Manger duties) for the final 42 games of the season, finishing with a 12-28-2 record. Gordon then hired Ted Harris  as head coach for the 1975-76 season. Burns had one final season of coaching, leading the Sioux City Musketeers of the junior USHL in 1977-78.

Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Minnesota North Stars Charlie Burns jersey as worn by Burns during his final NHL season.

The North Stars wore this style of home jersey for their inaugural season of 1967-68 and again in 1968-69. They then for Burns' first three seasons with Minnesota, the club did away with the green sleeve ends. The green sleeves then returned for three seasons, starting with Burns' final season in the NHL. The team then changed their jerseys to a new template starting in 1975-76, ending this style's run after eight seasons.

Minnesota North Stars 1971-72 F jersey
Minnesota North Stars 1971-72 B jersey

Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 Minnesota North Stars J. P. Parise jersey as worn by Parise the season he led the North Stars in scoring. The North Stars debuted in 1967-68 with similar jerseys, only without white shoulders. The white shoulder yoke was added for their second season of 1968-69 and was used through the 1974-75 season.

Minnesota North Stars 1972-73 F jersey
Minnesota North Stars 1972-73 B jersey


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