Tuesday, September 16, 2014

1974-75 Atlanta Flames Eric Vail Jersey

Eric Vail, born on this date in 1953, was drafted 21st overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Flames following his junior career, which began with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario Hockey League. After scoring 48, then 73 points in 60 games Vail split time between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Sudbury Wolves for the 1972-73 season and caught the eye of the Flames scouts with a 48 goals and 105 points in 63 games. He also averaged 101 penalty minutes his last two seasons in junior hockey, showing a rugged side as well.

He started the 1973-74 season with the Omaha Knights of the Central Hockey League, and after 37 games was called up to the Flames for 23 games that season.

His first full season in Atlanta saw him establish himself as a valued member of the Flames by placing third in team scoring behind only Tom Lysiak and Curt Bennett while leading the team in goals with 39 on his way to being named the winner of that season's Calder Trophy.

Eric Vail

He rebounded from a sophomore slump in 1975-76, in which he scored only 16 goals, with a strong 1976-77 campaign in which he scored 32 goals and 71 points to place second on the team in both categories. His efforts earned him a chance to play in both the NHL All-Star Game and join Team Canada for the World Championships following the NHL season.

He again topped 20 goals two seasons later in 1978-79 with 35 goals and a career best 83 points. Following one more season in Atlanta, the Flames found themselves in financial difficulties due to their annual habit of being quickly eliminated from the playoffs, thanks to five consecutive preliminary losses and two seasons out of the playoffs in eight years, and the cost of competing for players with the World Hockey Association, which dramatically increased player salaries during the 1970's. The club was sold to new ownership who promptly relocated the franchise to Calgary.

After a productive 1980-81 season in Calgary, where Vail averaged a point a game, he began the 1981-82 season with the Flames but was traded after playing in only 6 games to the Detroit Red Wings where he would see action in 52 games. He spent the final season of his career with the Adirondack Red Wings in the American Hockey League, but did not receive a call-up from Detroit and retired at the conclusion of the season.

Vail's final NHL totals were 591 games played with 216 goals and 260 assists for 476 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Atlanta Flames Eric Vail jersey. The Flames used the same jersey for each of their eight seasons in Atlanta and it remained intact after the relocation to Calgary, allowing for the obvious change in crest from the flaming A to the flaming C, all the way through the 1994-95 season, a 15 year run for this classic hockey template.

The Calgary Flames pay tribute to their past by using the original Atlanta Flames logo as the A worn to designate their alternate captains.

This jersey was worn without names on the back until 1977-78 when they became mandatory for all NHL jerseys.

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Atlanta Flames 74-75 jersey photo Flames74-75B.jpg

Today's video hunt finds us with nothing but brawls to pick from, as the Flames apparently never actually scored any goals if we are to believe youtube.

Note the Philadelphia Flyers reverse nameplates. They had one set made up for TV games and wore them on both the white and orange jerseys, a look they have recently revived.

This next collection of mayhem features the Flames and the Maple Leafs from 1979.

Monday, September 15, 2014

1976 Team Canada Darryl Sittler Jersey

With Canada dissatisfied with the state of international hockey, owing to the controversy over the amateur status of the Soviet players, the Canadians withdrew from both the World Championships and the Olympics from 1970 to 1977.

The Canadians got what they wanted in 1972 with the wildly successful Summit Series, an eight game "friendly" competition between the best Canadian professionals versus the finest the Soviet Union had to offer. As the tournament progressed, the Soviets, looking like they would finish with a better record declared their intentions to claim "victory" in the series only to have the Canadians come out on top with a dramatic late goal by Paul Henderson in the final game of the series.

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Paul Henderson scores the dramatic winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series

Following the 1974 Summit Series, which featured a team of WHA All-Stars who were soundly defeated by the Soviets, an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle once more led to the formation of the 1976 Canada Cup tournament.

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The 1976 Canada Cup program cover

The tournament was expanded beyond the two-team competition of the Summit Series format to include not only Canada and the Soviets, but Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United States, with each team playing the other five clubs in a round robin format with the top two then meeting in a best-of-three final.

The games were played in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Quebec in Canada and Philadelphia in the United States and would take place prior to the NHL season, removing any eligibility or scheduling conflicts for players, such as those faced by the Olympics and World Championships, making the all the top players worldwide available to compete.

The Canadian team was given top priority in Canada, as the political restrictions the roster faced due to the NHL/WHA rivalry that affected both the 1972 and 1974 Summit Series were also removed.

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Canada's stellar roster included Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin and Bobby Clarke

While many hoped for an anticipated a Canada vs. Soviet Union final, the Soviets did not field their best possible team, leaving several key players at home, including Boris Mikhailov, Vladimir Petrov, Alexander Yakushev and Valdimir Shadrin for reasons subject to speculation, but thought to be a combination of a power struggle between the Soviet Canada Cup coach and the Soviet Olympic Team coach, as well as a desire to downplay the importance of the new tournament, claiming their focus was on the World Championships and the Olympics, where they knew they would have the advantage of a full roster, while Canada would have the majority of it's best players occupied with the Stanley Cup playoffs during the World Championships or unavailable as professionals during the Olympics. The Soviets were also most notably without Valeri Kharlamov, who was out due to injuries suffered in an auto accident.

Canada opened with a strong statement, as they blitzed Finland 11-2. The following day. September 3rd, the Czechs beat the Soviet Union 5-3. Two days later the Soviets had to settle for a 3-3 draw with Sweden and the Czechs hammered Finland 8-0 while the Canadians got past the USA 4-2.

On September 7th, the Soviets took their turn pummeling Finland 11-3 as the USA held the Czechs to a 4-4 draw and Canada stayed undefeated with a 4-0 win over Sweden.

The Soviet Union stayed alive with a 5-0 win over the USA and the Czechs claimed the top spot in the standings with a close-fought 1-0 triumph over Canada.

On September 11th, Sweden gave the Soviets hope by narrowly edging Sweden 2-1 but they were eliminated from a berth in the finals when Canada got the satisfaction of ending their arch-rivals tournament with a 3-1 win over the Soviet Union, setting up a Canada - Czechoslovakia final.

The finals kicked off with a game in Toronto on September 13th, with Canada making it clear they were out to set the record straight as to who was the best hockey nation with a 6-0 pounding of the Czechs. Gilbert Perrault, scored just 1:05 into the game to give Canada an early lead, and their first goal against the Czechs after being shut out by them in their round robin matchup. Denis Potvin increased the lead to 2-0 at 7:56 and Bobby Orr made it 3-0 on the powerplay at 13:34. Guy Lafleur added another at 17:01 to give Canada a dominant 4-0 lead before the first period was even over.

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Canada celebrates a goal during the 1976 Canada Cup finals

There were no goals in the second and Canada added a pair in the third, with Orr scoring again at 11:35 and Darryl Sittler just before the final whistle at 19:56 for a final six goal margin as Rogie Vachon recorded the shutout for Canada.

The second game of the finals was held in Monteal on this date in 1976 and started out very much the same as Game 1, with Canada up by two after only three minutes, as Perreault scored early once more at 1:25, followed by Phil Esposito at 3:09.

The Czechs would respond this time though, with a goal in the second at 9:44 from Milan Novy.

The dramatic third period would see five goals, with the first coming at 2:14 as the Czechs evened the score at two when Jaroslav Pouzar scored. Bobby Clarke would give Canada the lead at 7:48, only to have Josef Augusta tie the game once more at 15:01.

The Czechs would then surprise the Canadians by taking the lead for the first time when future NHLer Marian Stastny scored less than a minute later at 16:00. Canada would force overtime when Bill Barber even the game at 4-4 with a goal at 17:48.

As the game moved into overtime Canada put two pucks into the Czech net, only to have them both disallowed. The first was on a shot by Lafleur, which got by the Czech netminder Vladimir Druzilla, only to have Ivan Hlinka knock the net off its pegs before the puck could cross the line, earning a penalty, but no goal.

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Druzilla holding off Clarke and Canada

Guy Lapointe then scored at the ten minute mark, but the rules stated that the teams had to change ends halfway through the period, so the horn sounded, negating Lapointe's goal, much to the dismay of the Canadians and their fans.

Finally at 11:33 of the overtime, the clock struck midnight for the Czechs, as Sittler deked Druzilla, who had a habit of some very unorthodox play (no doubt influencing a young Dominik Hasek) and had come way out of his net, allowing Sittler to score the game winner, (finally) giving the Canadians the championship in front of the home fans in what was the most watched program in Canadian TV history at the time.

"This has got to be the biggest thrill of my life," Sittler said. "I'm not cut out to be a hero; if I was going to do it, I was going to do it. But playing with these guys on the greatest team for the greatest country is something that will remain with me forever."

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

Orr, who missed the 1972 Summit Series due to one of his many knee surgeries, was able to play in 1976 following his fifth knee operation. "It was Bobby's last hurrah," said Esposito. "Orr didn't show up the first week of training camp because of his knee problems, and we had some pretty imposing defensemen there. But when he arrived it was the man with the boys. He was just head and shoulders above the rest of us," said Bobby Hull.

Clarke said "I used to watch him. After the games he could hardly walk, and then he'd go out there again and play like hell. I think he played on straight determination. It's amazing what he did."

Orr finished the tournament with 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points, tied for most in the tournament with fellow Canadian Potvin and Soviet Viktor Zhulktov, and was named Tournament MVP. Orr's performance in the 1976 Canada Cup would be ranked as #56 in the IIHF Top 100 Stories of the Century.

Of note, 16 of the 21 Canadian players would eventually be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976 Canada Cup Darryl Sittler jersey. This unique jersey would make it's debut at the 1976 Canada Cup, with it's main design patterned after the Canada Cup trophy. This style would become an icon for Canadian hockey, as it was also used in the four subsequent Canada Cups in 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, something the marketing people would never allow to happen these days.

This style was revived once more, as it was the choice for the Canadian team in the 2005 World Championships when each country chose a throwback jersey from it's past.

The Canadian players participated in the ritual of exchanging jerseys after the game, a practice more commonly associated with European soccer, no doubt creating quite a challenge for collectors of game worn jerseys to locate and authenticate the set of jerseys worn in the final game after their departure for behind the Iron Curtain.

Canada 1976

Today's video section features Sittler's cup winning goal in overtime of Game 2 of the finals.

Here is a tribute video to Team Canada with action highlights from throughout the tournament, with perhaps the cheesiest song ever written.

Enjoy these exciting highlights of the Canada vs. Soviet Union game from the round robin stage of the tournament with Tretiak in goal for the Soviets.

Friday, September 12, 2014

1979-80 Boston Bruins Gerry Cheevers Jersey

Gerry Cheevers was a colorful character in an era filled with colorful characters and he ushered in an even more colorful era in hockey history - and did so in black and white.

Cheevers, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on this date in 1985, first broke into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs for two games as an injury replacement in the 1961-62 season.

Gerry Cheevers debut
Gerry Cheevers after his NHL debut with Billy Harris,
who had a hat trick in the Maple Leafs 6-4 victory

Unable to crack the Toronto lineup, mainly due to the presence of future Hall of Famer Johnny Bower, he spent the majority of the next four seasons with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, where he set a single season record with 48 wins in 1964-65 which still stands today. In the playoffs that season, Cheevers led the Amerks to the Calder Cup championship.

He moved to the Oklahoma City Blazers in 1965-66 and also made his Boston Bruins debut with seven games, but failed to impress with an 0-4-1 record.

Cheevers Bruins, Cheevers Bruins

The following season Cheevers split time between the Blazers and Bruins and saw action in 22 games before taking over as the Bruins number one goaltender in 1967-68 just as the lowly Bruins were gearing up to dominate the league with both Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito now in the fold as well.

After playing an NHL career high 52 games and posting a record of 24-8-8 in 1969-70, Cheevers backstopped the Bruins to the 1970 Stanley Cup by going 12-1 in 13 playoff games.

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The 1969-70 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins

In 1971-72 Cheevers set another record when he went undefeated in 32 consecutive starts (24-0-8), a record which has never been equalled. His final record for the season stood at 27-5-8 and in eight playoff games he won six and lost two as the Bruins again captured the Stanley Cup.

Despite the success the high flying Bruins were enjoying at the time, Cheevers accepted a lucrative $1.4 million offer to join the Cleveland Crusaders of the fledgling World Hockey Association for the 1972-73 season. His workload dramatically increased in Cleveland, rising from an average of 40 games with Boston the three previous seasons to 54 for the next three years in Cleveland.

Cheevers Crusaders, Cheevers Crusaders

Following his second season in the WHA, Cheevers was selected to play for Team Canada in the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union for his first taste of international hockey. In a series dominated by the Soviets, Cheevers went 1-3-3 and was in goal for the only Canadian victory of the series.

After another season an a half in Cleveland, Cheevers asked to be bought out of his contract midway through the 1975-76 campaign and immediately returned to the Bruins.

Still in top form, Cheevers played another four seasons with a high of 30 wins in 1976-77 and was named to the Team Canada roster for the 1976 Canada Cup and the NHL All-Star team which faced the Soviet Union in the 1979 Challenge Cup before wrapping up his playing career following the 1979-80 season.

Cheevers Bruins, Cheevers Bruins

In all, Cheevers won 230 games in the NHL and 79 while in the WHA for 309 career victories.

Never one to embrace practice, Cheevers was hit by a puck one day and used it as an excuse to beat a hasty retreat to the dressing room. He relates, "I was trying to get out of practice one day when this shot that couldn't have broken an egg hit me in the mask. I faked a serious injury and went into the dressing room. I was sitting there having a Coke when [Bruins head coach] Harry Sinden came in and told me to get back out onto the ice. All the guys were laughing, so I knew I had to do something. I told the trainer to paint a 30-stitch gash on the mask. Then I went out and told Harry, See how bad it is!"

From then on, whenever Cheevers took a puck to the head, Frosty Forristall, the Bruins trainer, would calculate where the impact took place and how many stitches it would have resulted in, giving rise to the colorful era of the decorated goalie mask with his iconic black and white design.

Gerry Cheevers mask

Cheevers was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, where his ground breaking mask also resides.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Boston Bruins Gerry Cheevers jersey. The origins of this design can be traced back to 1967, a design which was simplified in 1974 when the yellow shoulders and lace-up collar disappeared. The secondary logos were added to the shoulders in 1976 and the names on the back arrived one year later. The jersey would remain unchanged through the 1994-95 season.

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Boston Bruins 79-80 jersey photo BostonBruins79-80B.jpg

Today's video segment begins with his profile from the excellent Legends of Hockey series.

Next, a profile of Cheevers from his days in the World Hockey Association with the Cleveland Crusaders.

Finally, a tribute song to Gerry Cheevers from the band Chixdiggit.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2004 Team Canada Mario Lemieux Jersey

The 2004 World Cup of Hockey continued on this date when Canada would took on the Czech Republic in a Semifinal matchup on September 11th, 2004 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.

The Canadians had throttled Slovakia 5-0 to reach the Semi-Finals, while the Czech Republic dominated Sweden 6-1 in their Quarterfinal contest.

The first period of this thriller was a goaltending duel between Roberto Luongo, who made seven saves, and his Czech counterpart Tomas Vokoun, who stopped ten Canadian shots on goal.

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Canadian goaltender Roberto Luongo

Defenseman Eric Brewer opened the scoring at 11:15 of the second with assists from Joe Thornton and Kris Draper, followed by Canadian captain Mario Lemieux increasing the lead for Canada on the power play at 14:25 from Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier.

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Canadian captain Mario Lemieux

Petr Cajanek responded for the Czechs just 42 seconds later with assists from Milan Hejduk and Martin Rucinsky. The period would end with the score at 2-1 for Canada.

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Peter Cajanek

Martin Havlat would tie the game at 7:21 of the third on the power play with the assists going to Tomas Kaberle and Hejduk. The Canadian fans would still be celebrating Draper's go-ahead goal, from Thornton, at 13:47 when Patrik Elias would tie the game once more with a goal a mere six seconds later from Havlat.

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Elias celebrates his lighting fast Czech counterpunch goal

The remainder of the third period would be played scoreless, sending the game, and the opportunity to play in the final, into sudden death overtime.

The determined Czechs would create the first five shots on goal before Lecavalier would win the game on the first Canadian shot of the overtime from a nearly impossible angle at the 3:45 mark from Ryan Smyth to send the home fans into rapture as Canada secured their spot in the championship game, also to be played on home ice in Toronto.

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Lecavalier wins the game for Canada from a sharp angle

Today's featured jersey is a 2004 Team Canada Mario Lemieux jersey as worn on September 11th, 2004. This style jersey first appeared at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and was worn by Canada through an unparalleled period of success though the 2005 World Championships, as the Canadians won Olympic gold in 2002, the World Championships in 2003 and 2004, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, the World Junior Championships in 2005, the World U18 World Championships in 2003, the Women's Olympic gold in 2002 and the Women's World Championships in 2004.

At one point, Canada were Men's and Women's Olympic champions, holders of the World Cup, Men's and Women's World Champions and U20 World Champions all at the same time, which prompted them to make a special edition of this jersey with gold trim around the Hockey Canada maple leaf crest.

The jersey features Lemieux's captain's "C", the 2004 World Cup of Hockey logo patch as well as a 9/11 memorial patch on the right chest, which was worn only by Canada and just for that game in recognition of the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City in 2001.

Finally, this muti-patched jersey has the International Ice Hockey Federation patch on the back.

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Canada 2004 WCOH 9/11 jersey photo Canada2004WCOHB.jpg
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Today's video section consists of the highlights of the thrilling 2004 World Cup Semifinal game between Canada and the Czech Republic on this date in 2004.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

1991-92 Calgary Flames Joe Nieuwendyk Jersey

Born on this date in 1966, Joe Niewendyk played three years at Cornell University in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC), where he was named an All-American in 1986 and 1987.

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Cornell All-American Joe Nieuwendyk

He would then move onto the NHL, making his debut with the Calgary Flames, who had drafted him 27th overall in 1985. Because he played less than 25 games, he was still considered to be a rookie the following season when he scored 51 goals and was awarded the Calder Trophy.

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Calder Trophy winner Nieuwendyk

He would match is 51 goal total the following season as the Flames would capture the Stanley Cup. Niewendyk would contribute 10 goals and 4 assists in 22 games during that year's playoffs.

His goal scoring would remain consistently high, as he netted 45 in each of the next two seasons, giving him a 48 goal average in his first four NHL seasons, never scoring below 45 goals in the process. He would also average 88.5 points during that time span, with his career high coming in 1989-90 when he would add 50 assists to his 45 goals for 95 points.

He became the Flames captain in 1991 was named the winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1995, given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.

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Nieuwendyk became the Flames captain in 1991

Nieuwendyk would play in 9 seasons in Calgary before being dealt in 1995 to the Dallas Stars where he would play for seven seasons, with his best point total coming in 1997-98 when he would score 39 goals and 30 assists for 69 points.

Aside from personal best point totals, the highlight of Nieuwendyk's time in Dallas was capturing his second Stanley Cup and being named with winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the 1999 playoffs.

Nieuwendyk Conn Smythe
Conn Smythe trophy winner Joe Nieuwendyk

Near the end of the 2001-02 season Joe would be dealt to the New Jersey Devils, where he would win his third Stanley Cup in 2003.

That victory would place Nieuwendyk in the unique position of having won the Stanley Cup three times in three different decades as a member of three different teams, with championships in Calgary in 1989, Dallas in 1999 and New Jersey in 2003.

Nieuwendyk Stanley Cups

Three-time Stanley Cup champion Niewendyk
wearing three different jerseys

His career would wind down with one season with the Toronto Maple Leafs before moving to the Florida Panthers for one full season and 15 games of a second before retiring with 564 goals and 562 assists for 1,126 points in 20 NHL seasons, placing him in the top 50 in NHL history at the time of his retirement.

In addition to his NHL career, Niewendyk would also play in tournaments for Canada on four occasions. in 1986 he would win silver at the World Junior Championship, he would participate at the World Championships in 1990 and play in the Olympics twice, first in 1998 in Nagano, Japan and then earn a gold medal in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Calgary Flames Joe Nieuwendyk jersey. This jersey features the captain's "C" that Joe first wore that season along with the NHL 75th Anniversary patch worn by all the teams that season.

Calgary would continue to wear this style jersey through the 1993-94 season until it was replaced after 14 seasons.

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Calgary Flames 91-92 jersey photo CalgaryFlames91-92B.jpg
Calgary Flames 91-92 jersey photo CalgaryFlames91-92P.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2002-03 New Jersey Devils Joe Nieuwendyk jersey. This style of Devils jersey was adopted for the 1992-93 season when the Devils dropped the color green from their color set and has remained unchanged ever since. In addition, the Devils, led by team president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, have resisted the adaptation of an alternate jersey and if he has his way, the Devils will still be wearing this same jersey unchanged 100 years from now.

New Jersey Devils 02-03 jersey

Here are some highlights of Joe and Flames winning the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Here Joe makes a really nice move around Kevin Weeks to score his 500th career goal in style.

Next is a retrospective of Joe's career from ESPN.

Here is a highlight reel of Niewendyk's time with the Dallas Stars, highlighting his goal scoring ability.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

1991 Soviet Union Vitali Prokhorov Jersey

On this day in 1991 the end of an era arrived as the Soviet Union National Team played the final game in it's history.

The Soviets announced their arrival on the international hockey scene in fine style (while wearing blue jerseys!), taking the gold medal home from the 1954 World Championships in their first attempt. The Soviets had only started playing ice hockey in 1946 and stunned the hockey world with their 7-2 victory over Canada in the final.

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The Soviet Union won the World Championship on their debut in 1954

After a silver medal in the 1955 World Championships, the Soviet Union claimed it's first Olympic gold medal in 1956 with a perfect 7-0 record.

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The 1956 Olympic gold medalists from the Soviet Union

After a string of silver and bronze medals from 1957 to 1961, the era of Soviet dominance swung into high gear with ten consecutive gold medals from 1963 to 1972, which included a trio of consecutive Olympic golds in 1964, 1968 and 1972. Their run was interrupted by a silver at the 1972 World Championships before reeling off another four straight from the 1973 World Championships to the 1976 Olympics.

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The Soviet Union National Team poses with their 1976 Olympic gold medals

Five more World Championship titles followed from 1978 to 1983 and their sixth Olympic gold in eight tries in 1984. The final chapter of the Soviet National team saw them win the World Championships in 1986, the Olympics in 1988 and their final two Worlds in 1989 and 1990, the last gold medal for the Soviet Union National Team.

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The final Olympic gold medal for the Soviets came in 1988

With the political landscape at home undergoing a historic upheaval, the Soviet Union was unsure if they would even send a team to compete in the 1991 Canada Cup, but they eventually took part. Having suffered the loss of young star Alexander Mogilny to defection and players such as Slava Fetisov, Vyacheslav Bykov, Andrei Khomutov, Pavel Bure and Vladimir Konstantinov all unavailable due to commitments with professional clubs in the NHL and Europe, Evgeny Davydov left off the squad for refusing to sign a contract with the Red Army club team, and the refusal of Latvian goaltender Arturs Irbe to play for the Soviet National Team any further for personal political reasons, the Soviets did eventually decided to field a team just a few weeks before the tournament.

The Soviets set the tone for their tournament with an opening 5-2 loss to Czechoslovakia. A 3-2 loss to Sweden followed before showing signs of life when they pounded Finland 6-1. A 2-1 loss to the United States put their participation in peril.

With one playoff round berth remaining up for grabs, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and the Soviet Union were tied at 2 points apiece with a single game remaining. Before the Soviets could even take to the ice, Sweden defeated Czechoslovakia, knocking the Soviet Union out of the upcoming playoff round.

In their final game, the best they could hope for was to deny Canada the top seed going forward. Ravil Khaidarov scored for the Soviets at 3:13 of the first, but the period ended even when Canada scored at 14:47 on the power play.

Andrei Kovalenko scored unassisted at 7:46 followed but Canada's Bill Ranford stopped Vitali Prokhorov from converting a penalty shot less than a minute to give Canada a boost by keeping the score at 2-1.

Steve Larmer evened the score for Canada at 7:15 of the third following a penalty to Soviet goaltender Mikhail Shtalenkov. Alexander Semak put the Soviet Union back on top with under seven minutes to play, but Canada's Brent Sutter tied the game with 5:18 to play.

The game would remain tied at the end, giving Canada the top spot in the Round Robin stage and bring a quiet end to the history of the Soviet Union National Team following 37 years of excellence.

From 1954 to the 1991 Worlds, the Soviet Union took home a medal in every World Championship and Olympic Games, a streak of 39 out of 40. The only time they do not appear on the podium is 1962 when they did not participate due to international politics outside of the sporting world.

In addition to the World Championships and Olympics, the Soviets won the championship in 1981, placed second in 1987 and third in 1976, lost in the semifinal in 1984 in the first four Canada Cup tournaments.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991 Soviet National Team Vitali Prokhorov jersey. This style was a huge departure from the minimalist Soviet designs of the past. Prior to the 1991 Canada Cup, the vast majority of Soviet jerseys were simple red jerseys with a few basic white stripes and one color white numbers adorned with "CCCP" across the chest in a very basic font.

Just the addition of yellow accents and running the CCCP logo at an upwards diagonal by Tackla in the 1989 was considered flashy by Soviet standards.

The addition of the bold use of black, the stylized font used for the CCCP logo and the full length sleeve stripes made for an arresting look which seemed more at home in the NHL, while still retaining the intimidating look of The Big Red Machine, even if the team's roster had changed.

There was an early prototype of this jersey made with an even more arresting hammer and sickle logo, but that style was never used in competition but remains available in replica versions, and is in fact much more commonly found that the actual 1991 Canada Cup game worn version featured here.

Soviet Union 1991 jersey

Our video section today begins with a tribute to Soviet hockey history and their many successes.

Next, classic Soviet hockey footage is shown as Igor Larionov's daughters Alyonka and Diana sing Ave Maria prior to a legends game outdoors in Moscow's Red Square.


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