Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1909-10 Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre Jersey

With the formation of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association on December 4, 1909, player-coach Jack Laviolette was put in charge of assembling a roster of French-Canadian players.

The first man he signed was former teammate Didier Pitre, with whom he had played on the American Soo Indians of the original International (Professional) Hockey League in Michigan from 1904 to 1907.

Renowned as a great skater and possessing the hardest shot in hockey, Pitre was an important acquisition for Laviolette and the upstart Les Canadiens as they sought to establish themselves as the team for the French speaking population of Montreal while in the same league with the Montreal Shamrocks and the Montreal Wanderers.

Laviolette paired himself and Pitre with Newsy Lalonde to form a line known as "The Flying Frenchmen" for 7 of the next 9 seasons. While the Canadiens finished last in their first season with a 2-10 record, Pitre managed to average just under a goal per game, with 11 in 12 contests. Pitre exceeded a goal per game average for the next three seasons with Montreal, who changed their name to the "Montreal Canadiens" for their third season, as he first put up 19 goals in 16 games to tie Lalonde for the team lead in scoring as the Canadiens finished second with an 8-8 record. Pitre then an impressive 27 goals in 18 contests, good for second place in the NHA, followed by 24 markers in the 17 games of the 1912-13 campaign to finish one behind Lalonde on the Canadiens and sixth overall.

Following the 1912-13 season, Pitre moved to the west for the 1913-14 season with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, where he scored 14 goals and 2 assists in 16 games in his only season with the Millionaires to tie for seventh in scoring.

Pitre returned to the Canadiens for the 1914-15 season in time to post the finest offensive season of his career when he scored 30 goals, plus 4 assists, in 20 games after moving from defense up to forward.

After scoring 24 goals in 24 games during the 1915-16 NHA season, fourth in the NHA, Pitre led the league champion Canadiens by contributing 4 more goals in 5 playoff games against the Portland Rosebuds as Montreal won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Pitre's share for winning the only Stanley Cup of his career amounted to $238.

Montreal again finished atop the NHA the following season to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second consecutive year after Pitre recorded his fifth consecutive 20 goal season in the NHA. His 21 goals in 20 games placed him sixth in the final season of the NHA.

For the 1917-18 season, the Canadiens became charter members of the brand new National Hockey League and Pitre would continue to play with Montreal for six more seasons, averaging 15 goals a season for the first four years while in the NHL.

The Canadiens would return to the Stanley Cup Finals one more time during Pitre's career in 1919, but the series was cancelled after five games had been played with Pitre leading all playoff scorers at the time due to the flu epidemic which would claim the life of Pitre's teammate Joe Hall.

For the final two seasons of Pitre's career, he would move back to play defense in the spot vacated by the passing of Hall.

Pitre would eventually play 20 seasons of hockey, 13 of those with the Canadiens with whom he would score 220 goals and 59 assists for 279 points in 255 games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

Today's featured jersey is a 1909-10 Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre jersey. This blue jersey with a white horizontal chest stripe and large "C" on the chest was worn by Les Canadiens during their first ever season while members of the NHA.

This jersey style lasted only a single season, as was the norm for the Canadiens during their formative years. In their first 16 seasons, Montreal would use 11 different jersey styles, including five in their first four seasons, in stark contrast to their tradition of keeping their same iconic style with only minor detail alterations since 1925.

Montreal Canadiens Didier Pitre 1909-10 jersey

Bonus Jersey: The Canadiens revived their original 1909-10 jerseys as part of their centennial celebrations during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. This was one of six different styles worn as part of the centennial jersey program.

This particular style was worn on November 21, 2009 in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Mike Cammalleri scored both Canadiens goals during the game.

This jersey was scheduled to be worn one additional time on February 13, 2010, but the centennial jersey program was discontinued by the Canadiens new ownership with two games left on the schedule, with the other being on January 23, 2010 when their red and green 1910-11 jerseys were to have been worn, making these two styles the only ones to have been worn just once.

Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey photo MontrealCanadiens09-1009-10TBTCF.jpg
Montreal Canadiens 09-10 09-10TBTC jersey photo MontrealCanadiens09-1009-10TBTCB.jpg
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Our video selection today takes a look back at the formation of Les Canadiens in 1909.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

1933-34 Montreal Canadiens Aurèle Joliat Jersey

Born on this date in 1901, Aurèle Joliat began playing organized hockey in 1916 in his native Ottawa, Ontario with the Ottawa New Edinburghs. The following season of 1917-18 saw him suit up for the Ottawa Aberdeens prior to a return to the New Edinburghs for the 1918-19 season, scoring 5 goals in 8 games. The left winger showed a glimpse of what was to come with 12 goals in 7 games of the 1919-20 season to lead the league in scoring.

He played for the Iroquois Falls Papermakers and Iroquois Falls Flyers over the course of the next two seasons, including once accepting $500 from gamblers to throw the championship game of the 1920-21 Northern Ontario Hockey Association season before proceeding to score six goals in the game to lead Iroquois Falls to title.

He escaped town before the unhappy gamblers could exact their revenge for being double-crossed and made his way out west to Saskatchewan to play for the Sheiks of the Western Hockey League, but that plan was foiled when Joliat was suspended by the NOHA, which the WHL honored, forcing him to sit out the 1921-22 season.

Before he could ever suit up for the Saskatoon,  his career path was changed forever by a seemingly unrelated transaction, as the Sheiks had signed away Montreal Canadiens 12 year veteran and star Newsy Lalonde.

Joliat was subsequently awarded to the Canadiens as compensation for losing Lalonde, a move initially unpopular with the fans in Montreal, who viewed the unknown Joliat as little solace for having lost the best player in hockey.

Aurele Joliat Canadiens, Aurele Joliat Canadiens
Aurèle Joliat

Joliat made the fans take notice however, when he finished third in scoring for the Canadiens in 1922-23 with 22 points, as his 13 goals alone equalled the departed Lalonde's entire point total from the previous season.

The following season he raised his goal total to 15 while playing on a line with Billy Boucher and new arrival Howie Morenz, who would go on to become a Canadiens legend in his own right.

Morenz and Joliat, Morenz and Joliat
Morenz and Joliat

The club won the O'Brien Cup as NHL champions after defeating the Ottawa Senators 1-0 and 4-2. They then advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they swept four games while eliminating first the Vancouver Maroons of the Pacific Coast Hockey League 3-2 and 2-1, and then the Calgary Tigers in dominant fashion 6-1 and 3-0 to claim the first cup of Joliat's career and only the second in Canadiens franchise history.

He cemented his place as a fan favorite during the 1924-25 season by leading the Canadiens with career highs in goals, with 29, and points, with 40. Aside from finishing second in the NHL in goals, third in points and fourth in assists, he also was sent off for 85 penalty minutes in just 24 games. While the 5' 7" and 136 pound Joliat was one of the smallest players in the game, he soon developed a reputation around the league for toughness and never backing down when challenged or intimidated, which earned him one of his nicknames, "The Little Giant."

Aurele Joliat Canadiens, Aurele Joliat Canadiens
Joliat wearing the 1924-25 Canadiens World Champions sweater

The 1927-28 season saw Joliat record 28 goals, the second best total of his carer, which came during a four year streak of finishing second in team scoring to Morenz from 1926 to 1929.

Montreal would climb to the top once again following the 1929-30 season by winning the Stanley Cup as NHL champions, as the PCHA and WCHL had ceased to exist by now. With the NHL expansion to 10 teams (up from only four the last time the Canadiens won the cup), Montreal needed to defeat the Chicago Black Hawks, the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins, going undefeated by winning five games and tying one.

1929-30 Montreal Canadiens team, 1929-30 Montreal Canadiens team
The 1928-30 Montreal Canadiens

Joliat's third Stanley Cup arrived the following season as Montreal successfully defended their title with wins over the Bruins and Black Hawks.

The 1932-33 season saw "The Mighty Atom" lead the Canadiens in scoring for the second time with 18 goals and 39 points before repeating the feat in 1933-34 with 22 goals and 37 points, the third and final 20 goal season of his career. Following the season his skill and hard work were recognized when he was named the winner of the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.

He would play four more seasons with the Canadiens, finishing with 16 seasons to his credit during which he scored 270 goals and 460 points in 655 games played, with his 270 goals being the third most in league history at the time of his retirement. Additionally, he added 14 goals and 33 points in 54 playoff games, as he participated in the post season during 13 of his 16 seasons. He still remains the second leading goal scorer among left wings in Canadiens history despite playing when seasons were no longer than 48 games.

Joliat was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947 and the Canadiens retired the #4 in his honor in 1984, a number also retired in honor of Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau.

Aurele Joliat Canadiens, Aurele Joliat Canadiens

Today's featured jersey is a 1933-34 Montreal Canadiens Aurèle Joliat jersey. After some early variations, the famous Montreal red sweaters settled into the "C" on the front becoming red with a white outline in 1925-26. In 1935-36 the team logo would disappear from the arm and the crest on the front would gain a blue outline, a look that has remained essentially unchanged ever since.

Today's jersey still sports the now smaller version of the logo on the arm and the blue outline has yet to appear on the main crest, dating this variation from between 1932-33 and 1934-35, which includes Joliat's final 20 goal season in 1933-34.

1933-34 Montreal Canadiens jersey, 1933-34 Montreal Canadiens jersey

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Hockey Art of Andy Warhol

Born on this date in 1928, Andy Warhol is not the first name that comes to mind when thinking of sports related art, as he is best known for his portraits, such as those of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Liz Taylor, and political icons, such as Mao Tse-Tung, Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevara.

He also gained fame for his pop art works of a Campbell's Soup can, Mickey Mouse and Elvis Presley.

In addition to his paintings, Warhol was a filmmaker and also created works in many other media. He also introduced the phrase "15 minutes of fame" to the English lexicon.

From a monetary standpoint, Warhol ranks among a very elite group of artists, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso and Warhol, who have had an individual piece sell for $100 million.

Warhol did create a number of sports related pieces throughout his career though, almost exclusivley on a commission basis. His first photo-silkscreened painting was a baseball scene, done in back in 1962. It was the first and last time he chose sports as a subject on his own.

Warhol's first real entry into the world of sports related art, and his first hockey piece, was when he was commissioned fifteen years later to create a series of works for businessman Richard Weisman in 1977, known as the "Athlete Series", which featured Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Willie Shoemaker, Dorothy Hamill, Chris Evert, Pele, Tom Seaver, O. J. Simpson, Muhammad Ali and hockey player Rod Gilbert.

Rod Gilbert by Andy Warhol

On September 2, 2009 the ten 40" square canvases were stolen from the Los Angeles home of Weisman, along with a portrait of Weisman done by Warhol. Anyone with information about the theft can call the Los Angeles Police Department at 231-485-2524.

The polaroid photos Warhol took for the Athlete Series have been displayed on their own, and include additional portraits of hockey players Ron Dugay and Wayne Gretzky taken at a later time than those used to produce the Athlete Series.

Warhol hockey polaroids
Polaroid photos taken by Warhol as the basis for future paintings

In 1978, Warhol revisited one of the subjects of the Athlete Series, Muhammad Ali. Four separate pieces were created at that time.

One of Warhol's better known works related to the world of sports was the occasion when he was commissioned by BMW to paint one of their M1 race cars as the fourth in a series of BMW Art Cars, which would later compete at the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.


"I tried to portray speed pictorially. If a car is moving really quickly, all the lines and colors are blurred.", Warhol explained. Of note, the car finished second in it's class and sixth overall out of 55 starters in 1979, the only time it ever raced.

His next sports themed work was that of a speedskater, which was his contribution to "The Official Art Portfolio of the XIV Olympic Winter Games" in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1983. He was one of 17 artists to contribute to the project.

In 1984, Warhol produced two separate pieces commissioned by long-time Canadian art gallery owner Frans Wynans featuring Gretzky. One was entitled "Wayne Gretzky 99" and produced in a limited edition of 300.


As was often the case with Warhol's silkscreened prints, a variety of color versions can be found of this work. The silkscreen prints were originally sold for $1,500 and now require between $15,000-$20,000 to obtain.

Andy_Warhol_Wayne_Gretzky_99_4 variations

The other piece was a series of six portraits of Gretzky holding a hockey stick. The portraits originally sold for $35,000 and now sell for more than ten times that much at $390,000.


Again, there were various versions of "Wayne Gretzky" produced despite the much more limited numbers produced.

Andy_Warhol_Wayne_Gretzky_4 variations

As a fundraiser for the Cincinnati Art Museum, Warhol created a poster featuring Cincinnati baseball icon Pete Rose, done in the style of a baseball card in 1985. Also that same year, he created a polo player for the cover of the 10th anniversary of Polo magazine.

One final hockey themed work of Warhol's was "Frölunda Hockey Player" in which he depicts a skater from the Swedish club Frölunda HC, Christer Kellgren, which was created in 1986. The piece was a commissioned project by the Art Now Gallery in Göteborg, Sweden, which is home to the Frölunda Indians.

Warhol Frolunda Hockey Player

Typical of the works of Warhol, several distinct variations of this piece were made in widely differing colors.

Photobucket Photobucket

There was also another group of the Frolunda Hockey Player made which featured two images of the player done in several variations.


Photobucket Photobucket

Warhol died the following year at the age of 58 from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia following a routine surgery.

Andy Warhol Signature

Today's video section will be unlike any other we've ever had, and it begins with Andy Warhol Eats a Hamburger.

Next, Andy appears in a commercial for Braniff Airlines with heavyweight boxing champion Sonny Liston. There's no way that's Andy's voice either.

Finally, "Andy Warhol" by David Bowie.

For more on Warhol, here is a link to the PBS American Masters series on Andy Warhol in 12 parts, which runs roughly two hours and contains absolutely no hockey whatsoever.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

1976 Czechoslovakia Vladimír Dzurilla Jersey

While he did not become known to hockey fans in North America until his performance in the 1976 Canada Cup, Vladimir Dzurilla's playing career began many years earlier when he first took to manning the net for HC Slovan Bratislava in his native Czechoslovakia for the 1960-61 season where Slovan finished as runners-up in the Czechoslovak Extraliga.

Two seasons later Dzurilla made his international debut for the Czechoslovakia National Team at the 1963 World Championships where he played in four of their seven games to earn his first medal, a bronze.

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In the following season of 1963-64, Dzurilla continued his career with Slovan Bratislava, finishing second for the third time in his four seasons. He then made his Olympic debut at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, Austria, playing in two games and earning his first Olympic medal, again a bronze.

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Another runner-up finish with Bratislava was followed by another appearance at the 1965 World Championships, where Dzurilla played in five games with a 1.26 goals against average and a silver medal behind the dominant Soviet Union. Dzurilla was named to the tournament All-Star Team and was recognized as the tournament's Best Goaltender.

1965-66 was another season with Slovan Bratislava, where the club came home third for the second time in his career, the other being 1962-63. He then earned a second silver medal at the 1966 World Championships in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia.

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Injury curtailed his 1966-67 season, with just 9 games played in the Czechoslovakia Extraliga, but Dzurilla bounced back in fine style with a new career best goals against average of 2.47 in 1967-68 which earned him a second trip to the Olympic Games. He was limited to just one game in Grenoble, France, but the team took second place to earn the silver medal.

The 1968-69 season saw another season with Slovan and a goals against under 3.00 at 2.91 and another third place in the league. The 1969 World Championships were a politically charged affair following the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968 following the Prague Spring, a period of liberalization and greater freedoms in Czechoslovakia under Alexander Dubček

Prague Spring
Soviet tanks invade Prague

The 1969 World Championships were originally scheduled to be held in Prauge, but were relocated to Stockholm, Sweden due to the ongoing invasion in Czechoslovakia.

began on March 15th, when the Czechs defeated Canada by a resounding 6-1 score. Sweden beat Finland 6-3 and the Soviet Union destroyed the United States with a 17-2 pummeling also on day one which would prove vital later in the tourament. Entering the tournament the Soviet Union had won the last six World Championships as well as the last three out of four Olympic Games.

On March 21st, the Czechs and Soviets met in day six of the tournament with the Soviets at 4-0 with a 34-6 edge in goals scored up to that point, while the Czechoslovakians were 3-1 following a 2-0 loss to Sweden.

To the Soviet team this was just another hockey game, but not to the Czechs. With 70,000 Red Army soldiers still occupying their country, it was about much more than just hockey.

“We said to ourselves, even if we have to die on the ice, we have to beat them,” said team captain Jozef Golonka many years later. “We received hundreds of telegrams from fans back home when we arrived in Stockholm. Almost all of them said: ‘Beat the Soviets. You don’t have to beat anyone else. Just beat the Soviets.’”

Following a scoreless first period, defenseman Jan Suchý scored his fifth goal of the competition at the 13 minute mark of period two to put the Czechs on top. Josef Černý added a second goal at the seven minute mark of the third period while Dzurilla held the Soviets at bay for a 2-0 shutout, sending thousands of Czechoslovakians into the streets back in Prague in celebration.

Czechs celebrate
The Czechs celebrate their win over the Soviet Union

The Czechs then wrapped up three more wins until they were matched up against the Soviets for the second time, as the tournament format was for each of the six teams to face the other five two times each. The Soviet Union meanwhile marched through their three subsequent games as expected, setting up the rematch with both teams now at 7-1.

Jiří Holík opened the scoring at 15 minutes to put the Czechs ahead 1-0 after one. Vaclav Nedomanský gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead in the first minute of the second, but Valeri Kharlamov responded for the Soviet Union two minutes later and Anatoli Firsov tied the game at the 13 minute mark.

Josef Horešovský delighted the Czech fans with a go-ahead goal at the nine minute mark of the third period before Jaroslav Holík sent them into rapture with another Czech score just two minutes later. Alexander Ragulin got one back for the Soviets with less than two minutes to play, but it was not enough as Czechoslovakia held on for a 4-3 win, becoming the first team to ever defeat the Soviet Union twice in a single IIHF tournament.

CSSR vs USSR 1969
Once again, the Czechs are euphoric following their
second win over the Soviet Union in 1969

Once again, a reported half a million Czechoslovakians took to the streets across the country in what was first a celebration of their hockey team's victory, but, particularly in Prague, evolved into a protest against the Soviet military which had continued their occupation of Czechoslovakia since the previous August.

From Time Magazine April 11, 1969:
Overcome by a vicarious sense of triumph, a huge and excited crowd swarmed into Prague’s Wenceslas Square. One happy hockey fan carried a poster that read BREZHNEV 3, DUBČEK 4. The crowd chanted, “We’ve beaten you this time!” Someone shouted, “The Russian coach will go to Siberia!”
Those particular protests turned violent when not only Soviet military units were attacked and their vehicles burned, but the offices of the Soviet airline Aeroflot were ransacked in what became known at the Czechoslovak Hockey Riots.

The uprising was suppressed by the Czech military, which was now under control of hardliners from the Communist Party, and the events were used as a pretext to oust the remaining leaders of the Prague Spring from power, Dubček in particular.

Heading into the final two days of the tournament, Czechoslovakia led with an 8-1 record, while the Soviet Union, thanks to their two losses to the Czechs were 7-2 and Sweden was 6-2 after a pair of losses to the Soviet Union. Sweden climbed into a tie with the Soviets thanks to taking their turn pounding the winless United States 10-4.

On March 30th, the Czechs let the gold medal slip from their grasp following a 1-0 loss to Sweden while the Soviet Union made it a three way tie atop the standings at 8-2 thanks to their 4-2 win over Canada. Since the Czechs beat the Soviets twice who beat the Swedes twice who beat the Czechs twice, the medal placings were decided by goal differential, giving the Soviet Union the gold with a +36, the Swedes silver at +26 and the Czechs bronze at +20, which mattered little to the fans back at home following their joy at beating the country of their occupying forces not once, but twice. ”You sent us tanks, we send you goals” was the celebratory cry.

For the 1969-70 season, Slovan Bratislava earned yet another second place finish in the Extraliga behind Dzurilla's career best 2.15 goals against average in 34 games played, which was his career high at the time. Later that season Dzurilla would earn his third World Championship bronze medal.

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Dzurilla in 68

The 1970-71 season would be a limited one for Dzurilla, seeing action in just 19 games and would not compete in the World Championships for only the second time in his career, the other being 1967.

He would make up for it with a busy 1971-72 season, as he would play 29 games of Bratislava's regular season, capped off with Slovan's second place finish yet again, the fifth of his 12 years with the club.

Internationally, Dzurilla competed in his second Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan where he earned his third Olympic medal and second bronze. 

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1972 also marked the first time that the World Championships were played separately in the same year as the Olympics, and were held in Prague for the first time since 1959, thanks to their relocation three years earlier due to the Soviet invasion.

The Czechs opened the tournament in dominating fashion, defeating Switzerland 19-1 and then scored wins against Sweden (4-1) and West Germany (8-1) before crafting a 3-3 tie against the Soviets. They then reeled off wins against Finland (5-3), Switzerland (12-2), Sweden (2-0), West Germany (8-1), the Soviet Union (3-2) and finally Finland (8-2) to not only earn the first gold medal of Dzurilla's career, but just the third the history of Czechoslovakia and first since 1949. There was also a certain level of satisfaction in being the ones to end the ten consecutive World Championship and Olympic gold medal streak of the Soviets which dated back to 1963.

Dzurilla photo Dzurilla1.jpg

Dzurilla would play his 13th and final season for Slovan Bratislava in 1972-73, which included Slovan would traveling to Switzerland, where Dzurilla and the team would win the annual Spengler Cup tournament.

He would then move to HC Kometa Brno for the next five seasons, from 1973-74 through 1977-78. During that time period, Dzurilla would return to the World Championships for the first time since 1972's gold medal winning team. And it was a successful return as the Czechs again captured the gold in Katowice, Poland with a perfect 7-0 record for the second gold medal of Dzurilla's career.

Dzurilla 1976 photo Dzurilla1976.jpg
Dzurilla celebrating the gold medal at the 1976 World Championships

Later that year he gained his first real exposure to North Americans when he competed in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament with a strong performance, posting a 2.36 goals against playing in all five games for the Czechs, which saw them open with a 5-3 win over the Soviet Union followed by an 8-0 pounding of Finland. A 4-4 tie with a scrappy United States was followed by a stunning 1-0 shutout over Canada in front of a sold out Forum in Montreal and millions watching on television, which cemented Dzurilla's legacy as a stellar international goaltender in what many immediately called one of the greatest games of all time.

Dzurilla Clarke 1976 photo DzurillaClarke1976.jpg
Dzurilla standing guard against Bobby Clarke of Canada in 1976

While the Czechs lost to Sweden 2-1 in their final round robin game, they still advanced to the best-of-two final against Canada, where the Canadians chased him from the nets with four goals in the first period of Game 1. After Jiří Holeček let in two goals in the first 3:09, Dzurilla came in and held the Canadians to one power play goal as the Czechs stormed back to take the lead 4-3 with four minutes remaining only to see Canada tie the game with just 2:12 left in regulation when Dzurilla sent a clearing attempt right to Canada's Bill Barber, who buried the puck into the unattended goal.

The game would then go to overtime with both Dzurilla and Rogie Vachon making great saves at either end before Canada would take the title with a goal 11:33 into overtime with Dzurilla recording 29 saves in over 68 minutes of relief.

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Darryl Sittler, Maurice Richard and Dzurilla following the 1976 Canada Cup

Following the 1976-77 regular season, Dzurilla would close out his international career in fine style, playing seven of the Czechs ten games with a 2.70 goals against average. The Czechs would defeat the Soviet Union and Sweden in the Final Round to defend their championship from the previous year thanks to a 7-2-1 record, one point better than Sweden and the Soviet Union at 7-3 thanks to their 3-3 tie against Canada earlier in the competition.

Dzurilla photo Dzurilla4.jpg

Dzurilla would play one final season in Czechoslovakia for Brno, which included traveling to North America to backstop the Czechs during their games against teams from the World Hockey Association which unusually counted in the WHA regular season standings.

From there, Dzurilla would spend the final four seasons of his 22 year career in Germany, first for Augsburger EV (Augsburger Panthers) in 1978-79 and then three seasons with SC Riessersee, which saw him named Germany's Best Goaltender in both 1980  and 1981.

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Jaroslav Halak pays tribute to Dzurilla on his mask at the 2010 Olympics

Following his career, Dzurilla was named the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame and in 1998, the IIHF Hall of Fame. His final medal total was three gold, three silver and four bronze at the World Championships and one silver and two bronze at the Olympics.

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A collection of Dzurilla's medals from the World Championships

Today's featured jersey is a 1976 Czechoslovakia Vladimír Dzurilla jersey as worn in the 1976 Canada Cup when Dzurilla shutout Canada in Montreal in a dramatic 1-0 win, considered one of hockey's greatest games.

This particular jersey wound up in the possession of Canada's goaltender Vachon when the teams traded jerseys after the contest in the European tradition.

Dzurilla Vachon 1976 photo DzurillaVachon1976.jpg
Vachon and Dzurilla sharing a moment after
swapping sweaters after the 1976 Canada Cup

This striking jersey is an all-time classic, with the simplicity of the striping, lace up collar, heraldic main crest as well as the unique font for the numbers, which are then drop shadowed and outlined, a treatment which is also carried over to the lettering on the back, which is then radially arched.

Czechoslovakia 1976 jersey photo Czechoslovakia1976jersey.jpg

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a late 1960's/early 1970's Czechoslovakia Valdimir Dzruilla jerseyWhile many would expect Czechoslovakia to wear red, they have in fact, worn blue off an on during their history, including periods of use in the 1930's, 40's and 50's as well as from 1965 to 1974 before a permanent change to red jerseys in 1975.

Czechoslovakia 1970 jersey photo Czechoslovakia1970jersey.jpg
photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Here is a special treat, footage of Czechoslovakia beating the Soviet Union at the 1969 World Championships, showing footage from the game as well as the heroes welcome they received when they returned home.

Next is Milan Novy scoring the go ahead goal with five minutes remaining in Czechoslovakia's 1-0 win over Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, the game that put Dzurilla on the map in North America.

For those of you with additional time, here is the complete round robin game between Czechoslovakia and Canada from the 1976 Canada Cup.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2006 Switzerland National Team David Aebischer Jersey

Today is Swiss National Day, first celebrated in Bern in 1891 on the 600th anniversary of the Federal Charter of 1291, also known as the Letter of Alliance, which documented the union of three "cantons" in what is now central Switzerland, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. The three regions allied for defense purposes and eventually grew into modern Switzerland.

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Following a public vote in 1993, it was made an official holiday in 1994 and is celebrated each year with paper lantern parades, bonfires, hanging strings of Swiss flags and fireworks.

The Swiss National Ice Hockey Team is a founding member of the International Ice Hockey Federation which is headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland. While not considered one of the elite hockey nations when it comes to gold medals and championships, the Swiss are a knocking on the door of being in the top echelon and are currently ranked 7th in the 2014 IIHF rankings, ahead of Slovakia, Latvia, Norway and Germany.

Despite not having won a medal in the World Championships since 1953, they are not a team one dares to overlook, as they defeated the Czech Republic 3-2 and shutout traditional hockey power Canada 2-0 two days later during the 2006 Olympics in Turin, making it as far as the quarterfinals.

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The Swiss celebrate at the 2006 Olympics

More recently, they put together a great performance at the 2013 World Championships and defeated Sweden, Canada, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Denmark, Norway and host Belarus to win Group S before defeating the Czechs again and the United States before falling to Sweden in the final to earn the silver to earn their first medal since 1953 and equal their best ever finish, which came back in 1935.

The goaltender for Switzerland during their 3-2 win over the Czechs in 2006 was former Colorado Avalanche netminder David Aebischer, one of the best known players ever from Switzerland, along with goalies Martin Gerber and Jonas Hiller, forward Nino Niederreiter and defenseman and Swiss National Team captain Mark Streit.

Aebischer was chosen 161st overall by Colorado in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft while playing for HC Fribourg-Gottéron in the Swiss National League A. He played a couple of seasons for the Hershey Bears of the AHL before moving up to join the Avalanche in 2000-01 where he would have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup as a backup to Patrick Roy. He would become the Avs #1 goalie for the 2003-04 season, following the retirement of Roy after the 2003 playoffs, and have a fine season, finishing with a 32-19-9 record and a goals against average of 2.09.

Following the lockout season of 2004-05, when Aebischer played for HC Lugano of Switzerland, he would return to the Avalanche for the 2005-06 season, only to be traded to the Montreal Canadiens at the trading deadline. He would play one full season in Montreal before signing a free agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, only to lose out in the crowded goaltending battle and find himself briefly in the AHL before returning to HC Lugano on loan, where he has now played two seasons.

In Switzerland, SC Bern traditionally leads all of Europe in attendance figures, last season averaging 16,164 fans per game, with no other club over 14,250 and only six over 10,000. The next highest Swiss club is ZSC Lions at #7 with 9,331. SC Bern has lead all of Europe in attendance for nine consecutive seasons. The Swiss National League A as a whole ranks third in the world and first in Europe with an average of 6,762, behind only the NHL and the Big Ten and ahead of the top leagues in Germany, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Today's featured jersey is a 2006 Switzerland National Team David Aebischer jersey as worn in the 2006 World Championships in Riga, Latvia. This jersey was originally purchased with "Swiss" wordmark logos on the shoulders as worn in 2005, but we instructed our customizers to create the Swiss flag patches out of twill (seen here more clearly on a white jersey). We also added some of our custom made "Tissot" sponsorship patches to give it the look of a sponsored World Championship jersey. The IIHF new logo patch on the rear hem completes the look of one of our favorite jerseys in our collection.

Some of our other favorite elements of this jersey are the retro feeling of the lace-up neck collar and the distinctive number font used by only Switzerland and Finland during this time period.

Switzerland 2006 WC jersey photo Switzerland2006WCF.jpg
Switzerland 2006 WC jersey photo Switzerland2006WCB.jpg

Today's video selections begin with highlights of Switzerland's victory over Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Next up is a highlight video Switzerland from the 2008 World Championships, including their 4-2 win over Sweden. Be sure to notice their throwback jerseys from the first game versus France.

Here is an impressive display by the Swiss fans prior to a game in where else but Bern, prior to a game vs. Germany in the 2009 World Championships hosted by Switzerland chanting "Hopp Schwiiz! Hopp Schwiiz!", the traditional Swiss fans cheer of support.

Here is a highlight video of some spectacular saves by David Aebischer while playing for not only Colorado, but also HC Lugano and Switzerland.

Monday, July 20, 2015

1999-00 Cleveland Lumberjacks Evgeni Nabokov Jersey

Before we visit the future, we must visit the past in order to understand where we are coming from. The history of hockey in Cleveland can be traced back to the Cleveland Athletic Club, the first winners of the MacNaughton Cup in 1914.

The first professional team to call Cleveland home was the Cleveland Indians of the International Hockey League, who relocated from Kitchener, Ontario in 1929 where they were known as the Dutchmen. They were rather successful their first season, going 24-9-9 and won the league championship, defeating Buffalo 3 games to 1. That would be the high point for the Indians, as they would slip down the standings, finishing last or next to last their final three seasons before being renamed the Cleveland Falcons in 1934.

Moe Roberts Indians, Moe Roberts Indians
Moe Roberts of the Cleveland Indians hockey team

The Falcons would play two seasons in the IHL, which then merged with the Canadian American Hockey League to form the new International-American Hockey League for the 1936-37 season.

Tommy Cook Falcons 36-37, Tommy Cook Falcons 36-37
Tommy Cook of the Cleveland Falcons

After one more year as the Falcons, the franchise was again renamed, this time as the Cleveland Barons for the 1937-38 season. The Barons would win the Calder Cup as IAHL champions in 1939 before the league shortened it's name to simply the American Hockey League for the 1940-41 season.

The Barons would provide Cleveland with it's longest, most stable and successful period of hockey in the city's history, playing 36 seasons, during which time they won nine championships, those coming in 1939, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1964 in front of standing room only crowds in what was the Golden Age of Cleveland hockey. So successful was the franchise, that at one point in the early 1950's ownership tried to apply for entrance into the National Hockey League and so confident their owner that the Barons issued a challenge to the NHL for the right to play for the Stanley Cup!

Barons Calder Cup, Barons Calder Cup
The Cleveland Barons accepting another of their nine Calder Cups

Eventually, ownership of the franchise passed to Nick Mileti, who became the owner of the Cleveland entry in the new World Hockey Association in 1972. The combination of the competition for the fans of Cleveland, who now had a major league team to support for the first time, and the dramatic increase in competition for players against not only the new WHA, but the expanding NHL, spelled the end for the Barons, as Mileti moved the team to Florida in the middle of the 1972-73 season.

Mileti's new WHA club, the Cleveland Crusaders, made a splash by luring goaltender Gerry Cheevers away from the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Cheevers Crusaders, Cheevers Crusaders
Gerry Cheevers

The team had a good first season, but moderate attendance for four seasons, combined with issues with their new arena located too far from the city and the impending arrival of the relocating California Golden Seals of the NHL, sent the Crusaders out of town after just four seasons.

1974-75 Cleveland Crusaders team, 1974-75 Cleveland Crusaders team
The 1974-75 Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA

The club that drove the Crusaders out of town revived the Cleveland Barons name, but did not come anywhere near duplicating the original Barons success, as they not only brought all the competitive issues the Golden Seals suffered on the ice with them from California, but compounded those by moving into the problematic Richfield Coliseum. The doomed Barons only lasted two troubled seasons, finishing with a 47-87-26 record overall. After the 1977-78 season, the Barons merged with the Minnesota North Stars, who played all their games in Minnesota, leaving Cleveland without pro hockey for the next 14 seasons.

Meloche Barons, Meloche Barons
Goaltender Gilles Meloche anchored the NHL's Cleveland Barons

Cleveland would be without professional hockey until the 1992-93 season when the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL relocated to Ohio and were the top affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Dave Michaylu Cleveland Lumberjacks Penguins, Dave Michaylu Cleveland Lumberjacks Penguins
The Lumberjacks sharp jerseys based on the Penguins jerseys of the early 1990's

The Lumberjacks had five winning seasons in their nine years of existence, including four seasons of 90 points or more, but managed only one deep playoff run. That came in 1997, when they reached the third round of the Turner Cup playoffs. At the end of the 2000-01 season, the IHL, which had been around since 1945, collapsed due to a combination of expanding too quickly and not nearly enough teams having affiliations with NHL franchises. While 6 of the 11 IHL franchises were accepted into the AHL, Cleveland was not among those, and the Lumberjacks run came to an end despite their affiliation with the Minnesota Wild.

Drake Berehowsky IHL Cleveland Lumberjacks, Drake Berehowsky IHL Cleveland Lumberjacks
The trendy late 90's teal and black look of the Lumberjacks, complete with Beaver logo and buzzsaw waist stripe

Cleveland was not left without hockey though, as the San Jose Sharks of the NHL purchased their AHL affiliate, the Kentucky Thoroughblades, and relocated them to Cleveland, where they revived the Cleveland Barons name once again.

While the Lumberjacks had averaged between 8,200 and 9,000 fans their first six seasons, their attendance had dropped to 4,200 in their final season, which proved to be the equal of the new Barons best season, due in part to the team's struggles on the ice, as they had only one winning season in five years, winning less than 30 games three times and only qualifying for the playoffs once, that being a first round exit.

Cleveland Barons Sharks, Cleveland Barons Sharks
The Cleveland Sharks logo

When the Sharks relocated the franchise to Worcester, Massachusetts for the 2006-07 season, Cleveland was left without a team for just one season before the inactive Utah Grizzlies AHL franchise was purchased and moved to Cleveland. The new franchise was named the Lake Erie Monsters where they remain today as affiliates of fellow Ohio residents, the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets. Unlike several of their immediate predecessors, the Monsters have enjoyed a steady increase in attendance (from 5900 in 2008 to 8300 in the just completed 2014-15 schedule) over their now eight seasons despite just one lone playoff appearance which ended after just one round. Still, the club hopes to maintain a steady presence as they write their chapter in the history of hockey in Cleveland.

Lake Erie Monsters, Lake Erie Monsters
The Lake Erie Monsters in action

Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Cleveland Lumberjacks Evgeni Nabokov jersey. This wild jersey is emblematic of the many special occasion jerseys seen in the minor leagues. Special one-off designs can often be seen on various holidays that occur during the hockey season, such as Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day and Valentine's Day in particular which often results in the players having to sacrifice their dignity as they are forced to wear pink jerseys with red hearts.

Other club's will create a special jersey simply to go along with a special themed promotion, such as jerseys made to look like tuxedos, cowboys, pirates, prison uniforms and guards, cows or the clothing worn by Ronald McDonald, Don Cherry, Bob Uecker and Michael Jackson, which included the players each wearing one white glove!

Tributes and awareness themes have also spawned many sets of unique jerseys, such as those for military tribute or breast cancer awareness nights, with the jerseys regularly auctioned off to the fans following the game.

In 1999 the approach of the Millennium occupied the minds of many, particularly the threat of computers world wide crashing due the "Y2K" scare - to not being able to recognize the difference between "2000" and "1900" due to only having two digits to signify the year.

Major League Baseball recognized the upcoming flipping of the calendar with the notorious "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion, wearing jerseys from twenty some years in the future, and the Lumberjacks also got into the spirit of the event with their own Millennium special occasion jersey, filled with futuristic imagery and decorated with the inspired choice of the same font used on bank checks, "MICR".

Cleveland Lumberjacks 99-00 jersey, Cleveland Lumberjacks 99-00 jersey
Cleveland Lumberjacks 99-00 jersey, Cleveland Lumberjacks 99-00 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Lake Erie Monsters Aaron Mackenzie jersey from the most recent professional team to call Cleveland home. This jersey illustrates the modern template and lines of the newest generation of Reebok designed jerseys, which have moved away from the classic horizontal striping of hockey jerseys of the past.

While the Monsters regularly wear their modern jerseys, they have also worn AHL Baron's throwback jerseys as well as WHA Crusaders throwbacks in recognition of the team's that built a foundation of Cleveland hockey history.

Lake Erie Monsters 08-09 jersey, Lake Erie Monsters 08-09 jersey
Lake Erie Monsters 08-09 jersey, Lake Erie Monsters 08-09 jersey

Today's video section begins with the Cleveland Baron's star Fred Glover, and AHL legend and one of the best players you have never heard of.

Here is a look at the history of the original Barons and the WHA's Crusaders.


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