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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

1975-76 Tesla Pardubice Jiří Novák Jersey

In recognition of the birthdate of inventor of radio, neon lighting and the alternating current electricity transmission Nikola Tesla on this date in 1856, we feature a jersey from the club once known as Tesla Pardubice.

HC Pardubice was formed in 1923 in Czechoslovakia. The club began to play a regular schedule of games in the early 1930's and at the end of World War II a new open air stadium with artificial ice arrived.

Shortly thereafter, the club won a second division title in 1949-50, earning promotion to the top level of Czech hockey, the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League. Since their promotion in 1950, they have remained without interruption at the top level of Czech hockey, a remarkable record of over 60 years of consistency and competitiveness.

On the occasion of their promotion in 1950-51, the club adopted a new name, Slavia Pardubice, which was then changed to Dynamo Pardubice for the 1953-54 campaign. The club set a new high water mark with a third place finish in 1959-60, the same season a roof was added to the stadium for the first time!

The club changed names once again due to a corporate sponsorship arrangement with Tesla, the government-owned electronics conglomerate, and thus became known as Tesla Pardubice beginning in 1960-61.

Tesla Stained Glass

In 1964-65, Zdeněk Špaček of Pardubice led the league in scoring with 33 goals. The club received an influx of talent from the 1967 Czechoslovak junior champions when Bohuslav ŠťastnýJiří Novák and Vladimír Martinec all joined the squad which paid off with their first ever league championship in 1972-73 following a first place regular season finish, coming from a 24-9-3 record, and a 4 games to 2 end the domination of six time defending champions Dukla Jihlava. Martinec was awarded the Golden Hockey Stick as the league MVP following the season, the first of four he would win over the next seven seasons.

vladimir martinec
Vladimír Martinec

That championship earned Pardubice a place in the following season's European Champions Cup, outlasting 15 other clubs to reach the final against the dominant Central Red Army Club of Moscow, Soviet Union, who had won the last five cups in a row. Pardubice defeated Red Army in Game 1 by a score of 3-2 at home, but fell in the second game 6-1 in Moscow for an 8-4 aggregate score for the Soviets.

In December of 1977, Pardubice came to North America and played four exhibition games against clubs from the NHL, losing 6-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers , defeating the Minnesota North Stars 4-2 and then losing to the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 and the New York Islanders 8-3.

In 1978-79, Martinec won his third MVP award, following previous ones in 1975 and 1976, when he led the league with 42 goals.

Two seasons later saw the arrival of Czech hockey legend and Pardubice native, goalkeeper Domink Hašek, who later became the club's number one netminder in 1982-83.

Hasek Pardubice
Domink Hašek

Hašek guided Tesla to the league championship in 1986-87 and 1988-89, winning the Golden Hockey Stick on both occasions. Also winning an award for Best Coach, was former star player Martinec.

Tesla Pardubice 1986-87
1986-87 league champions Tesla Pardubice

With the many political changes in the world in the early 1990's, including the overthrow of the communist government in 1989, the club acquired a new name for the 1991-92 season when they became known as HC Pardubice.

Pardubice became members of the Czech Extraliga following the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. The club has changed names several times since 1995 through a series of sponsorships.

The club rose to the top again, reaching the final in 2003-04 and winning their fourth championship in 2004-05, taking advantage of the opportunity to employ Jan BulisMilan Hejduk and playoff MVP Ales Hemsky during the NHL lockout.

Milan Hejduk Pardubice
Milan Hejduk

Tesla Pardubice 2004-05
2004-05 champions HC Pardubice

Following his retirement from the NHL in 2008, Hašek returned to his roots and signed a one year contract with Pardubice for the 2009-10 season, going 23-10 on his way to leading the club to it's fifth and most recent championship at the age of 44.

Hasek Pardubice
Domink Hašek celebrates another championship on his
return to him hometown of Pardubice

The club, then known as HC ČSOB Pojištovana Pardubice, would win their third Czech Extraliga championship in 2011-12 thanks to a playoff full of upsets, as they, as the #3 seed, were paired in the finals with the #8 seed HC Kometa Brno, who had knocked out both the #1 and #2 teams from the regular season. In the final, Pardubice dispatched plucky Brno in six games.

2011-12 HC ČSOB Pojištovana Pardubice photo 2011-12 HC SOB Pojiscarontovana Pardubice.jpg
2011-12 Czech Extraliga champions HC ČSOB Pojištovana Pardubice

Beginning with the upcoming 2015-16 season, the club will be known as HC Dynamo Pardubice, reviving the classic Dynamo name first used back in 1953.

Today's featured jersey is a 1975-76 Tesla Pardubice Jiří Novák jersey. The front is dominated by the Tesla electronics company logo which makes for a striking jersey unlike any other. The jersey is customized in the classic Czech style of of the era with a small drop shadow and even smaller outline on both the letters, numbers and sponsorship logos.

Novák played for Pardubice from 1967 to 1970 and again from 1972 to 1981. His #20 has since been retired by the club, one of 11 such honored sweaters in team history.

Tesla Pardubice 75-76 jersey
Tesla Pardubice 75-76 jersey

Today's video segment begins with a look at the life and many of Tesla's inventions which changed the world and remain a part of our modern, everyday lives.

Next, HC Pardubice winning their second Czech Extraliga championship in 2010.

This next video is a slide show highlighting the fans of Pardubice, showing their passion for the club.

Finally, highlights of the team's most recent championship season of 2011-12.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

2002-03 Rochester Americans Rory Fitzpatrick Jersey

We celebrate the Fourth of July with the most appropriate jersey possible on America's birthday.

The patriotically named Rochester Americans were founded in 1956, making them the second oldest franchise in the American Hockey League by far, with the third oldest still active team having been founded in 1992.

The Americans have made it to the Calder Cup Finals 16 times, having won the championship six times, first in a run of success that encompassed 1965, 1966 and 1968 as well as an appearance in the finals in 1967, the only team to reach the finals in four consecutive seasons. Other championship titles came in 1983, 1987 and most recently in 1996.

Rochester Americans 1995-96
The Calder Cup champion 1995-96 Rochester Americans

Well known players from the early days of the Rochester franchise include goalie Gerry Cheevers, future Islanders coach Al Arbour, future Bruins coach and TV commentator Don CherryJim Pappin and Mike Walton.

Cherry Americans
Rochester American Don Cherry

After a down period in the late 1960's under the ownership of the Vancouver Canucks, when the team finished last for four straight seasons, local owners purchased the club and installed the dynamic Cherry as coach and general manager which paid dividends as the Americans finished with the best regular season record in 1973-74.

The Americans were later purchased by the owners of the Buffalo Sabres, which naturally led to their becoming the Sabres AHL affiliate, a partnership which lasted from 1979 to 2008, the longest such partnership in AHL history at 29 years which included three championships. Following three seasons apart, circumstances changed which brought the two clubs back together again when new Sabres owner Terry Pegula purchased the Americans in time for the 2011-12 season.

The 2013-14 season for the Americans was a memorable one, as the team hosted the AHL Outdoor Classic and then became the first AHL team in 17 years to participate in the long-running Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland.

Two numbers have been retired by the team in honor of three players, the #6 for Red Armstrong and #9 for both Dick Gamble and Jody Gage, who broke Gamble's team scoring records.

Gage Americans
Jody Gage

Recognizable names to have played for the Americans include Maxim Afingenov, Donald Audette, Martin Biron, Brian Campell, Randy Cunneyworth, Benoit Houge, Ales Kotalik, Uwe Krupp, Mike Milbury, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Darren Puppa, Thomas Vanek and even Grant Fuhr.

Vanek Americans
Thomas Vanek in the Americans flashy alternate stars and stripes sweater

Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 Rochester Americans Rory Fitzpatrick jersey. With it's red, white and blue color scheme, patriotic sheild logo and #4, we couldn't think of a more appropriate jersey for the Fourth of July, as it even features sponsorship from a local Chevrolet dealer. All you need while wearing this one would be for your mom to serve you some apple pie!

With it's shield crest, classic Northwestern striping pattern and shoulders decorated with basic stars, this jersey's understated elegance creates a timeless look often left behind in this modern age of excessive piping and gimmicky fonts. A true classic jersey in every sense.

Rochester Americans jersey
Rochester Americans jersey

Today's video section begins with Gage scoring his 14th goal of the playoffs in Game 7 of the 1987 Calder Cup Finals, leading to the Americans to their fifth Calder Cup championship.

Here is a further look at Jody Gage, an AHL MVP and member of the AHL Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Canada Day

Today is Canada Day, which celebrates the enactment in 1867 of the British North America Act which united New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada, which was comprised of what would be divided into Ontario and Quebec as part of the process, into a single country.

On June 20, 1868, the Governor General issued a proclamation asking for Canadians to celebrate the anniversary of the confederation. It became an official holiday in 1879 and was originally called "Dominion Day". As most residents considered themselves to still be primarily British, the holiday was not observed with any official celebration until 1917 and not widely observed as a uniquely Canadian holiday until as recently as 1958 when the government began to organize Dominion Day celebrations with a military parade in full dress uniform, called "Trooping the Colour", on Parliament Hill, followed by a band concert and fireworks display.

Dominion Day reached an important milestone in 1967 with the countries centennial, by which time Canadians became more proud of their independence from Britain. Televised concerts and other events from the nation's capital of Ottawa raised the profile of the event, while the government began to promote Dominion Day beyond the capital by giving grants to cities across the country to help fund local events.

While many people had began calling July 1st "Canada Day" informally, the new name was officially adopted in 1982. Today communities across Canada will celebrate with festivities such as parades, carnivals, picnics, air shows, concerts and fireworks, with the organized events on Parliament Hill the main event, with Queen Elizabeth sometimes in attendance.

On the jersey front, while the hockey season is completed by July 1st, the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club annually wears a special red jersey on Canada Day.

Canada Day Blue Jays jersey

Today's featured jersey is a 1996 Canada National Team Martin Brodeur jersey, worn during the inaugural 1996 World Cup of Hockey. While you may be more accustomed to seeing Brodeur wear his more familiar #30, veteran Bill Randford was also on the Canadian roster for the tournament and wore the #30 based on his greater seniority.

This "waving flag" style jersey is one of the most attractive national team jerseys and features the larger 4 inch size 1996 World Cup of Hockey patch used by the teams that wore Bauer jerseys. Only Canada wore the patch on their chest, while all the other teams in the tournament wore their patches on the left sleeve.

Canada 1996
Canada 1996
Canada 1996

Our video section begins with a salute to canada from Flippy Cat.

We know you want to be a Canadian. After watching this, you will agree too.

To sum up what it is to be Canadian, we present Joe.

No mention of Canada would seem complete without the man who penned "The Good Old Hockey Game", Stompin' Tom Connors.

Monday, June 22, 2015

1991-92 Quebec Nordiques Eric Lindros Jersey

Despite his steadfast and repeated warnings he would not play for them, the Quebec Nordiques drafted Eric Lindros with the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft on this day in 1991.

Pierre Page and Lindros 1991 Draft
The Nordiques Pierre Page with Lindros at the 1991 NHL Draft

Lindros, perhaps the most hyped and anticipated player since Wayne Gretzky or perhaps even Bobby Orr, had already led the Oshawa Generals of the OHL to the 1990 Memorial Cup championship with 45 points in 21 playoff games, scored 149 points in 57 games for the Generals to lead the league in scoring in 1991 and was named the league MVP and the CHL Player of the Year.

Lindros Oshawa Generals
Lindros with the Oshawa Generals

While Lindros was tearing up Canadian junior hockey, the Quebec Nordiques were the doormats of the NHL, having finished last overall in 1988-89 with 61 points, suffered through a dreadful 1989-90 season during which they scored a mere 31 points before "improving" to 46 points in 1990-91 but still finishing with the worst record in the NHL, earning the right to select first overall for the third consecutive year.

Having already refused to report to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in junior hockey, Lindros again made his wishes known that he had no intention of playing for the Nordiques due to several factors that did not meet his or his agent's satisfaction, including limited marketing potential, high tax rates in Quebec and the difficulties associated with playing in the exclusively French speaking Quebec City.

With both sides at a standoff, the stubborn Nordiques selected him with the first overall pick in the 1991 draft anyway. The even more stubborn Lindros wasted no time in snubbing the Nordiques by refusing to wear the club's jersey for photos.

Lindros 1991 draft
Lindros refusing to wear a Nordiques jersey at the draft

Undaunted, the Nordiques president Marcel Aubut announced that they would build the team around Lindros and refused to trade him, claiming he would not have a career in the NHL as long as he held out. Meanwhile, Lindros kept himself quite busy has he played for Team Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup, then briefly returned to the Generals for 13 games prior to joining the Canadian National Team for 24 games of their schedule, participated in the 1992 World Junior Tournament followed by playing for Canada in the 1992 Winter Olympics, so there was no shortage of places for him to play during his unprecedented standoff with the Nordiques despite their 10-year, $50 million contract offer.

Eric Lindros 1992 Olympics
Lindros skating for Canada during his year long holdout

Eventually, after his year long holdout, the Nordiques relented and traded Lindros at the draft in 1992. The problem was, they agreed to trade him on June 20, 1992 to both the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in separate deals!

Eventually the NHL arbitrator would rule in favor of the Flyers on June 30th and with that, it was the Flyers who sent a King's Ransom to the Nordiques in the form of Peter Forsberg, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, two first-round draft choices (one of which was used to select Jocelyn Thibault while the other was traded away) plus $15 million!

The trade would send the Nordiques franchise on the road to the Stanley Cup, which they would win in 1996 as the Colorado Avalanche in their first season after their relocation to Denver, Colorado.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Quebec Nordiques team issued Eric Lindros jersey made for Lindros to wear in his anticipated rookie season of 1991-92 with the Nordiques, which went unworn as Lindros made good on his threats to not play for the Nordiques and instead, would embark on a schedule of games with primarily the Canadian National Team until the Nordiques traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers in time for the 1992-93 season.

The 1991-92 season was the first one where the Nordiques changed from one color heat sealed white numbers to two color sewn on twill numbers, white now outlined in red.

1991-92 Quebec Nordiques Lindros jersey
1991-92 Quebec Nordiques Lindros jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1990-91 Oshawa Generals Eric Lindros jersey as worn the season in which Lindros scored 149 points in 57 games just prior to his being drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques.

1990-91 Oshawa Generals jersey

Extra bonus jersey:Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1991-92 Canada National Team Eric Lindros jersey as used in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France while Lindros was refusing to play for the Nordiques in Quebec.

This jersey has all the graphics dye-sublimated onto the jersey and features the unusual white nameplate with red letters on a red jersey.

1991-92 Team Canada Lindros

Today's first video is the Nordiques following through on their promise to take Lindros first overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.

Here is a report on Lindros refusing to play for the Nordiques prior to the draft.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

We just wanted to take the opportunity to thank our long running sponsor for being a part of Third String Goalie for the years that they have been with us. We sincerely hope we were able to send a number of our readers his way.

We can't think of too many things cooler than a beautifully sublimated Russian jersey, especially those with a name on the back in Cyrillic. It was a product we believed in and were excited each time we were able to add one to our collection and hope you, our readers, were too.

Thanks to Robert for believing in what we are doing here and we wish him nothing but the best going forward.

Pro Russian Jerseys, Pro Russian Jerseys

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