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Saturday, November 9, 2019

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

A momentous occasion occurred in Germany thirty years ago on this date in 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell.

After the conclusion of World War II, Berlin was divided into four sectors. The United States, the United Kingdom and France controlled what became West Berlin, while the Soviet Sector formed East Berlin.

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The Soviets also controlled the area of Germany that surrounded Berlin as well, leaving the three Allied Sectors of Berlin deep inside Soviet controlled Germany, 100 miles from the nearest Allied controlled part of Germany.

Growing differences between the former allies against Nazi Germany led to the Soviets imposing the Berlin Blockade, cutting off road and train access to West Berlin on June 24, 1948. The Allies responded with the Berlin Airlift, bringing in 13,000 tons of food per day with over 200,000 flights lasting nearly a year until May 12, 1949.

On October 7, 1949 the Soviet controlled part of Germany became a separate country, the German Democratic Republic, or "East Germany", which was heavily influenced and controlled by Soviet authorities. Meanwhile, West Germany operated as a capitalist country with a democratic government and saw it's economy and standard of living growing and improving over time, which attracted many East Germans, who wished to relocate to the more prosperous and free West Germany, away from Soviet control.

The period from 1950-1952 saw 544,000 East Germans move to West Germany and in 1953 another 331,000 migrated to West Germany, fearing an even greater increase in Soviet control. Up until 1952, passing from West Berlin into East Berlin was relatively easy until a system of passes were introduced to restrict movement. At the same time, a declaration was made that the border between the countries of East and West Germany should be considered a dangerous border and a barbed-wire fence was erected between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the border between West and East Berlin still remained open, leaving West Berlin, deep in the heart of East Germany, attracting thousands of East Germans to West Berlin as a gateway to West Germany. By 1956, the East German authorities restricted virtually all travel to West Germany.

The next step in isolating East Germany was a new passport law that reduced the number of people leaving East Germany through the West German border, which increased the percentage of people leaving through West Berlin to over 90% by 1959 since there was no physical barrier in Berlin, such as the barbed wire fence that separated the two countries along their border 100 miles to the west. There was even subway service between East and West Berlin at the time.

This left West Berlin as a tiny island of freedom and a gateway to the West located right in the center of East Germany.

By 1961, approximately 20% of the entire East German population, 3.5 million people, had left East Germany. With the majority of the people leaving being young and well educated, the population of working age people decreased from over 70% to 61% and represented a loss of manpower estimated to be worth from $7 to $9 billion. Finally on August 12, 1961 orders were given to close the border between East Berlin and West Berlin and erect a barrier to prevent any further movement of East German citizens into West Berlin and out of East Germany.

Roads were torn up and barbed wire and fences were erected around the perimeter of West Berlin, stretching for 87 miles. In 1962 a second fence was erected approximately 100 yards further into East Germany, creating what was effectively a moat that offered no protection from armed East German guards, called The Death Strip.

In 1965 the wire fencing was replaced by a concrete wall which eventually grew to be 12 feet tall and nearly 4 feet thick.

During the wall's existence, there were around 5,000 successful escape attempts to West Berlin and the number of people killed trying has been placed between 136 to above 200. Various methods of escape were used, including tunnels, hot air balloons, sliding along overhead wires and ultralight aircraft as well as escaping through the sewer system. On occasion, wounded escapees were left to die in the Death Strip, as any potential rescuers feared being shot at by the East German border guards.

On June 12, 1987, Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union to "Tear down this wall" as a sign of increasing freedoms in the Communist Eastern Europe.

On August 23, 1989, Hungary removed it's border defenses with Austria, allowing more than 13,000 East Germans in Hungary to escape into Austria. The remaining East Germans prevented from leaving flooded the West German embassy in Budapest and refused to return to East Germany. This set up a similar event in Czechoslovakia and mass demonstrations within East Germany. In October, longtime East German leader Erich Honecker resigned and on November 4 a million people gathered in the Alexanderplatz public square.

With Honecker's replacement Egon Krenz's new government tolerating the wave of East Germans leaving through Czechoslovakia, a plan was put into place on November 9, 1989 to allow people to simply leave directly through the checkpoints between East Germany and West Germany, including West Berlin.

Spokesperson Gunter Schabowski was given the assignment of announcing the new policy, however he had not been present at the meeting or fully updated on the details. Shortly before a press conference, he was handed a note that said East Berliners would only be allowed to cross the border with proper permission, but no further information on how to present the news. The new rules were to take effect the next day in order to be able to inform the border guards on the new policy, but no one had told Schabowski, who when asked on live TV when the new rules would take effect, assumed from the wording of the note that it would be the same day, replied "As far as I know effective immediately, without delay." After further questions, he confirmed that this included the border crossings into West Berlin.

Soon afterwards West German television announced that starting immediately, East German borders were open to everyone. Since East Germans had been waiting to hear this news for 28 years, thousands of East Germans went to the border crossings, demanding that the guards open the gates. Unaware of the new rules, the outnumbered and overwhelmed guards tried to call their superiors, but none of them dare give any orders to use lethal force and, without the authority to fire, the guards had no way to hold back the growing crowds and opened the gates. The wall had, in theory, come down.

Initially, the wall stayed intact, but new border crossings were added as previously severed roads were rejoined and various rules remained in effect, which included the need for visa applications in advance for West Berliners to visit the East. The guarding of the wall became more and more relaxed and more and more damage to the wall was tolerated.

Many celebrations were held in the days following, including David Hasselhoff rocking the wall on New Year's Eve 1989 wearing one amazing jacket. Note at the 3:22 mark someone almost drills him with a bottle rocket as he is leaning over!

Roger Waters performed the Pink Floyd album "The Wall" on July 21, 1990 near the Brandenberg Gate.

Finally in June of 1990, the dismantling of the wall officially began and Germany was officially reunified as one country on October 3, 1990.

As for how the separation of Germany after World War II into East Germany and West Germany affected their national hockey team, the East German National Team first competed in 1951 and participated in the World Championships from 1956 on to 1990. They had some success, reaching the highest level, the "A" Pool on a number of occasions, but often being relegated back to the "B" Pool within a year or two. Their highest finish at the World Championships was 5th place, which they managed in 1957, 1965, 1966 and 1970. They were the winners of the "B" Pool on six occasions, each time earning promotion back to the "A" Pool.

The East Germans also competed in the Olympics, first as The Unified Team of Germany, comprising athletes from both East and West Germany as a single team, in 1956, 1960 and 1964, finishing last in 1956 and 1960 and next to last in 1964. They competed as separate teams in 1968, with the East Germans finishing 8th out of 8 with a 0-7-0 record. From 1972 onward they did not compete in the Olympic hockey tournament.

The West Germans won a silver medal in 1953 in their first appearance at the World Championships but generally hovered between 5th and 7th place for the majority of it's existence with the occasional relegation to the "B" pool for a couple of years.

The Olympics were very much the same story, finishing at or near the bottom in 1952, as the Unified Team of Germany in 1956, 1960 and 1964, and as West Germany in 1968, 1972 and 1980. Some improvement was shown in the 1980's, with mid-pack finishes in 1984 and 1988, but 1976 was the highlight of the separate West German program, with a surprising 3rd place finish which earned them the bronze medal behind the dominant Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.

West Germany began by defeating Switzerland 5-1 in a qualification match to move onto the main group, whose round robin schedule would determine the medal winners.

They opened Group play by defeating Poland 7-4. Losses to Finland (5-3), the Soviet Union (7-3) and Czechoslovakia (7-4) hurt their chances, but a 4-1 win over the United States left West Germany, Finland and the USA all tied with 4 points from two wins in the standings with West Germany winning the tie-breaker and being classified third to take home the bronze.

With the reunification of Germany in 1990, the German National Team once more represented the country as a whole. Their record in the World Championship generally sees them finishing between 7th and 11th, with the occasional relegation to the second level, followed by a quick return to the top division. Since reunification, their best showing was a fine 4th place in 2010 after making it all the way to the Bronze Medal Game and finishing higher than both Finland, Canada and the United States, no doubt inspired by playing in front of the home fans as hosts of the tournament.

Their Olympic record is very much the same, with finishes of each step from 6th to 11th on their record from 1992 to 2010. Shockingly, they did not qualify for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia after being upset in overtime by Italy and then being taken to overtime by Austria while hosting their Qualification Tournament, both of which cost them vital points in the standings.

They rebounded in spectacular fashion in 2018, finding an opportunity when the NHL chose to not allow its players to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea, while the top European Leagues took a break from their schedules to allow their players the opportunity to participate. Ranked 13th in the IIHF World Rankings, Germany was again required to win a qualification tournament to even play in South Korea, and were not afforded the benefit of playing at home this time. They defeated Japan 5-0, exacted a measure of revenge on Austria with a 6-0 shutout and then outlasted hosts Latvia by a score of 3-2 when Tom Kuhnhackl scored with five minutes remaining in the decisive game to secure their spot in the Olympics.

In the Preliminary Round, Germany did not impress, finishing third behind Sweden and Finland, with only a shootout win over Norway to show for their efforts, which left them ranked 9th out of the 12 teams. They came alive in the Qualification Playoffs, defeating Switzerland 2-1 in overtime, with Yannic Seidenberg the hero, scoring 26 seconds into the extra period. This advanced Germany to the Quarterfinals, where they held a 2-0 lead over Sweden after the first period. Despite also scoring again in the third period, Sweden came from behind with three goals to send the game to another overtime tied at 3-3 before Patrick Reimer shocked the Swedes with a goal at 1:30 of the extra period.

Not content to know they would be playing for a medal, Germany got goals from Brooks Macek in the first period and Matthias Plachta and Frank Mauer before the game was even half over to streak out to a 3-0 lead over Canada. After giving up a goal to the Canadians, Germany responded with a goal by Patrick Hager at 12:31 of the second. The Germans then weathered the storm as Canada scored twice in the third period to close to within 4-3, but goaltender Danny aus den Birken held on for a tense final ten minutes, which included a 5 on 4 man advantage plus a full two minute 5 on 3 power play for Canada as the Canadians outshot Germany 15-1 in the third period, to send the Germans to a shocking place in the Gold Medal Final against the Olympic Athletes from Russia.

The Russians scored a heartbreaker with one second left in the first period, but the Germans countered with a goal of their own in the second. After Russia scored first in the third period, Germany then took a 3-2 lead with a pair of goals 3:13 apart with a little over three minutes to play, giving them hope of their own Miracle on Ice. It was not to be however, as the Russians scored the tying goal with 56 seconds remaining shorthanded, but with their goaltender having been pulled. The Olympic Athletes from Russia then won the gold after 9:40 of overtime while on a power play as the Germans took home a stunning silver medal after a tense journey through the tournament left them with a record of 1 win, 3 overtime wins, and overtime loss and two losses, both of which came in their first two games.

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The happiest group of silver medalists seen in a long time

Today's first featured jersey is a 1989 West German National Team Udo Keissling jersey from the World Championships held in Stockholm, Sweden. West Germany would finish the Round Robin portion with a 0-5-2 record, but avoid relegation by finishing with a 1-2-0 record and save themselves from the drop with a 2-0 defeat of Poland.

One of the best players in German hockey history, Udo Kiessling set a new record in 1992 with his 5th consecutive Olympic tournament appearance. Kiessling's record shows he played a single game in the NHL, in 1982 on a tryout after his German club team was an early exit from the playoffs, but returned home to play in the World Championships, never to return to the NHL again. But just because a player is not in the NHL, doesn't mean he doesn't exist, as Kiessling would go onto have a 24 year career, ending in 1996 at the age of 40.

He made his first appearance in the Olympics at Innsbruck in 1976, winning a Bronze Medal. In addition to his five Olympics, Kiessling also participated in 15 World Championships and the 1984 Canada Cup, as well as winning six national titles in Germany, where he was named the top player three times.

This beautiful jersey features the vibrant colors of the dye-sublimation process and the arresting graphics of the era with the colors of the tri-color German flag streaking across the chest, as well as the distinctive Tackla diamond logos on the shoulders and drop shadow block font for the numbers. Easily one of our favorite jerseys.

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West Germany 1989 jersey photo Germany1989WCB.jpg

Today's second featured jersey is a 1989 East Germany Torsten Hanusch jersey as worn during the 1989 World Championships B Pool. This jersey was worn in the 1989 World Championships B Pool, Hanusch's only appearance for the East German National Team.

While the East Germans competed in the World Championships on a regular basis from 1956 to 1990, they discontinued their Olympic hockey program after 1968, choosing to take the approach of funding single athletes who could win multiple medals, such as a track and field athlete, swimmers and speed skaters, rather than funding an entire team who could only hope to win a single medal, such as water polo or in ice hockey, which frankly was a long shot when up against the likes of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Canada.

This jersey has an extremely minimalist style, with only simple striping on the arms and waist and is devoid of any traditional main cresting, with only the Tackla branding on the upper right chest and the DDR initials and East German coat of arms on the left chest in the style of a soccer jersey, leaving the rest of the body devoid of any traditional main logo.

Also unusual is the East Germans choice of a primarily blue jersey, as the colors of the East German flag were black, gold and red. Additionally, many of the communist ruled nations favored primarily red sweaters, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in particular.

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Today's video selections have some footage of the West German National Team competing in the 1980 Olympics against Sweden and then the United States team, which would go on to pull off the Miracle on Ice against the Soviet Union.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Easter Epic - 1986-87 New York Islanders Pat LaFontaine Jersey

On April 18, 1987, the Washington Capitals hosted the New York Islanders in Game 7 of their opening round playoff series.

The game would not end until the early hours of the following day.

The series had opened in Washington with a split, with the Capitals taking Game 1 by a score of 4-3 and the Islanders evening the series by taking Game 2 by a 3-1 margin. Back on Long Island the Capitals took two, with a Game 3 shutout 2-0 and a 4-1 win in Game 4 to take a commanding 3-1 edge in games. The Islanders stayed alive with a 4-2 win back in Washington and forced a deciding Game 7 with a 5-4 win at home.

With viewers across North America tuned in on ESPN and the CBC, the puck dropped at 7:40 PM and the Capitals dominated early but it took nearly the entire period for Mike Gartner to eventually put Washington ahead 1-0 with 48 seconds left in the first.

Pat Flatley evened the score at 11:35 of the middle period before Grant Martin restored Washington's one goal lead at 18:45 by beating the Islanders goaltender Kelly Hrudey. The period ended at 2-1 for Washington, which held a 25-10 margin in shots.

There was no scoring in the third period until Bryan Trottier put a backhander between Captials goalie Bob Mason's legs at 14:37 to tie the game at 2-2. For the remainder of regulation both teams sought an advantage without success, and regulation came to a close without a winner.

In the first twenty minute overtime, the teams both recorded 11 shots on goal and the Capitals Greg Smith nearly won it with a slap shot that beat Hrudey but clanged off the right post with seconds remaining.

Washington did their best to end it in the second overtime by outshooting the Islanders 17-9, but could not solve Hrudey. Perhaps the best chance to end the game in the second OT was when Islander Randy Wood's shot that hit the pipe.

The game then advanced to a third overtime, the first in 16 years, and fatigue really began to take hold as Easter Sunday began. The Islanders got the better of the Capitals during the period, holding an 11-10 edge in shots on goal. Mason denied the Islanders better scoring chances and the second sixty minutes closed scoreless.

For the first time since 1951, a game would enter the fourth overtime and people really started to get punchy, ESPN's Bill Clement in particular, having taken off his shirt and converted his tie into a headband before doing some voice impressions prior to the start of the fourth overtime.

The game started to climb the list of the longest games in NHL history, entering the top five of all time after a 1:10 of play in the fourth overtime period. The Islanders moved ahead in shots four to one when Ken Leiter of the Islanders pinched in the keep the puck in the Washington end. He circled behind the goal and passed to Gord Dineen, whose shot was blocked in front of Mason. The puck deflected back to Pat LaFontaine, who fired a slapshot passed a screened Mason to finally end the game after 128:47 of play, winning not only the game, but eliminating the Capitals as the Islanders won the series 4 games to 3, despite the fact that the Capitals had not trailed in the series or the game until LaFontaine's goal.

LaFontaine's goal came at 1:58 AM, 6 hours and 18 minutes after the opening faceoff. Hrudey was credited with 73 saves, an NHL playoff record, while Mason's total was 54 in the game that would become known as the "Easter Epic".

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LaFontaine meets Mason in the handshake line following the Easter Epic

Today's featured jersey is a 1986-87 New York Islanders Pat LaFontaine jersey. Throughout his career, LaFontaine's name was spelled with a variety of all capital letters of equal size and other times when the "A" was in a smaller size as shown here.

Later LaFontaine Islanders jerseys would have the more traditional all caps of the same size, so it is essential for you to do your research for the exact specification of lettering style used for the particular year of any LaFontaine Islanders jersey you may want to add to your collection.

The smaller "A" can be found on early Islanders, 1996 USA and black Sabres jerseys.


Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1986-87 Washington Capitals Bob Mason jersey . The Capitals wore this style starting with their inaugural season of 1974-75 and continued to use it through the 1995-95 season before a radical overhaul of their branding saw them drop their red, white and blue color set in favor of a lighter shade of blue and black with bronze accents.

The team reverted to their classic red, white and blue colors for the 2007-08 season and reintroduced today's bonus jersey style for the 2011 Winter Classic, which proved so popular they made this their alternate jersey starting with the 2011-12 season through the 2014-15 campaign before switching to the red road version of this jersey.

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Today's video section features highlights of the Easter Epic, which faced off on this date in 1987. First, from the CBC, featuring a more subdued Don Cherry than the much more voluminous one he has evolved into.

Next, Bill Clement loses his mind on national TV prior to the fourth overtime.

Finally, LaFontaine reflects on his memories of the game and the playoffs in general.

Post settings Labels Easter Epic, Lafontaine Pat, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals Published on 4/18/13, 5:00 AM Central Daylight Time Permalink Location Search Description Options

Monday, March 4, 2019

1944-45 Detroit Red Wings Ted Lindsay Jersey

After growing up the son of a goaltender who once played for the storied, turn of the century Renfrew Millionaires, Ted Lindsay played junior hockey for the St. Michael's Majors before joining the Oshawa Generals in time to win the 1944 Memorial Cup.

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Ted Lindsay and the 1944 Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals

Lindsay joined the Detroit Red Wings for 1944-45 and had a couple of average seasons to begin his career, 23 points and then just 17 in 1945-46, but then the following year Lindsay was put on a line with veteran Sid Abel and a rookie named Gordie Howe and his career shifted into high gear.

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Lindsay, How and Abel, the Production Line

The line was dubbed "The Production Line" based on their offensive output, which saw Lindsay's point totals jump from 17 to 42 and then continue to rise to 52 to lead the Red Wings in scoring and the entire league in goals with 33.

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Lindsay being named a first team All-Star in 1948

His point total rose to 54 in 1948-49 before a quantum leap to 78 points in 1949-50 to win the Art Ross Trophy for leading the entire NHL in scoring as Howe and Abel came in second and third, giving the line a 1-2-3 standing in the scoring race. "Terrible Ted" also was third in the league with 141 penalty minutes, just three back of the league leader.

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Note the unusual treatment of the assistant captain's "A" contained in the diamond shape

In the playoffs, the Red Wings outlasted the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games and then duplicated the feat against the New York Rangers to win the first Stanley Cup of Lindsay's career. In both series Detroit won Game 7 in overtime.

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Lindsay celebrates with the Stanley Cup

The Red Wings would again capture the Stanley Cup two seasons later in 1951-52 after Lindsay had the second 30 goal season of his career. In 1952-53, he would again top 30 goals with 32 and 70 points for the second time with 71. After the departure of Abel, Lindsay was named captain of the Red Wings, a position he would hold until 1956. It was during this time period that Lindsay began the tradition of the captain of the winning team lifting the Stanley Cup and skating it around the ice in celebration, a scene now repeated every year.

Lindsay 1954 Stanley Cup
Captain Lindsay with the 1954 Stanley Cup

The 19954-55 Red Wings would finished first overall in the league for the seventh consecutive season and go on to take the fourth Stanley Cup of Lindsay's career. While he was limited to just 49 games of the regular season in 1954-55, snapping his 20 goals/40 points streak at 8 seasons, he was healthy in time for the playoffs where his stellar 19 points in 11 games contributed greatly to Detroit winning the second of back-to-back championships.

The time he missed also interrupted his consecutive streak of 100 penalty minutes or more streak, the only one of ten seasons he was under the century mark. So rough was Lindsay's style of play that penalties had to be created for elbowing and kneeing! He also acquired more than 400 stitches during his career before losing track.

in 1956-57, Lindsay had the greatest offensive season of his career with 85 points, this coming from 30 goals and a league leading 55 assists, which earned him a Sports Illustrated cover.

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Lindsay and Howe on the Cover of SI in the spring of 1957

He was also busy that season off the ice, organizing the NHL Players' Association. Already not on good terms with Detroit general manager Jack Adams, Lindsay's union organizing efforts saw him stripped of his captaincy and later earned him a trip out of town, as he was banished to the lowly Chicago Black Hawks, who had missed the playoffs 12 times in the previous 14 seasons, in a six team league no less! Lindsay was the NHL's third leading all-time goal scorer at the time of the trade.

While the Black Hawks would miss the playoffs in 1957-58, Lindsay would have by far his best of three seasons in Chicago in 1958-59 with 22 goals and 58 points as well as a career high of 184 penalty minutes as the Black Hawks returned to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. He would retire after one more season with Chicago with 999 games played.

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Lindsay while with the Black Hawks

After four seasons away from the ice, Adams replacement and old line mate Abel coaxed Lindsay out of retirement for the 1964-65 season. He returned to the ice on in 1964 for his 1,000th NHL game, becoming only the fourth player in league history at the time to have reached 1,000 games after linemate Howe, Bill Gadsby and Red Kelly. Lindsay added a final 14 goals and 28 points to his career totals as the Red Wings finished with the best regular season record in the league for the first time since his departure.

His final career totals are 379 goals and 472 assists for 851 points in 1,068 games played along with 1,808 penalty minutes. He also competed in 133 playoff games (in an era when the maximum number of games was just 14) scoring 47 goals and 49 assists for 96 points. At the time of his retirement, Lindsay was the highest scoring left winger in league history.

He played in 11 NHL All-Star Games and won four Stanley Cups and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, but declined to attend the ceremony since it was for men only, and he wanted his wife and family to attend, a rule which was changed for the following year.

In 1991, the Detroit Red Wings held a pregame ceremony where they retired Lindsay's #7 sweater as well as the #10 of Alex Delvecchio.

Lindsay's #7 hangs in the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with the other Red Wings honored greats

In 2010 the NHL Players Association renamed the award the players vote on for their annual MVP from the Lester Pearson Award to the Ted Lindsay Award in honor of his pioneering work in forming the player's association.

Today's featured jersey is a 1944-45 Detroit Red Wings Ted Lindsay jersey. While the Red Wings jerseys have remained essential unchanged since the dawn of time, this particular one stands out for the patches worn on the sleeves during Lindsay's rookie season in the NHL.

The patch on Lindsay's left sleeve is a "V" for victory, with three dots on the left of the patch and a dash on the right (Morse code for "v") was first worn during the 1941-42 season. It remained for four seasons through 1944-45.

On Lindsay's right sleeve is a patch promoting the purchase of war bonds. First worn in 1942-43, this patch was used for three seasons through 1944-45.

Detroit War Bonds patch

After wearing a patch during 1951 to promote the 250th anniversary of the City of Detroit, the Red Wings would not wear another patch until 1975 for the franchise's 50th Anniversary.

Detroit Red Wings 44-45 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1958-59 Chicago Black Hawks Ted Lindsay jersey. While very similar to today's Blackhawks jerseys, note the location of the crossed tomahawks inside the sleeve stripes rather than the now traditional placement on the shoulders.

This beautiful old sweater shows just why the Black Hawks jerseys frequently finish at the top of lists of best jerseys and was worn by Lindsay during the 1959 playoffs.

Chicago Black Hawks 58-59 jersey
Chicago Black Hawks 58-59 jersey

Today's video section begins with Ted Lindsay's biography from the Legends of Hockey series.

In this next clip, a look back at Ted Lindsay's career first broadcast in 1978 when Lindsay was the general manager of the Red Wings.


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