Wednesday, February 22, 2017

1998 Czech Republic National Team Dominik Hasek Jersey

The Olympic hockey tournament changed like never before in 1998 when the the National Hockey League players were allowed to compete for the first time. Prior to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, professional players were allowed to participate, but with the Games taking place in February, the highest caliber players obligated to their ongoing NHL seasons, preventing them from even dreaming of taking part in the Olympics.

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Starting in 1920, the Olympic gold medal was essentially the property of Canada, winning 6 out of 7 possible gold medals through 1952. With the arrival of the Soviet Union on the scene in 1956, the balance of power was radically changed. Through 1992, when the Soviet trained players skated together one final time as the Unified Team, the Soviets won 8 to of 10 golds, with only the Americans winning twice at home preventing a clean sweep over the course of 4 decades by the Soviets.

Sweden took the gold in 1994 over Canada, but the form charts needed to be thrown away with the sudden availability of the stars of the NHL, who were now going to be on hand for the first time since their formative years, if not the first time ever for some, most notably Wayne Gretzky of Canada. With the NHL season on hold, interest in the tournament was tremendous.

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Jaromir Jagr would be making his first Olympic appearance in 1998

The tournament began with Kazakhstan winning Group A and Belarus taking Group B, with the two former Soviet states advancing to the First Round at the expense of Slovakia, Italy, Austria, Germany, France and Japan, whose tournaments were now over after just three games of the Preliminary Round.

The tournament format now called for two groups of four teams to play a round robin schedule to determine their seeings when they all would advance to face an opponent from the opposite group in the single elimination Final Round playoffs.

Kazakhstan was placed in Group D along with the Czech Republic, Finland and Russia, who were all placed into the First Round directly based on their IIHF world ranking prior to the tournament, the same as Canada, Sweden and the United States in Group C, who were joined by Belarus.

In Group C, Canada finished first with a perfect 3-0 record to give them hope of returning to the top place on the medal stand for the first time since 1952 now that the controversy between their best amateurs versus the Soviet "amateurs" had now been finally removed, leveling the playing field on the Olympic stage for the first time in decades.

Canada's opponent as the first seed in Group C was the fourth place finisher in Group D, Kazakhstan. Sweden finished second thanks to a 4-2 win over the Americans, which paired them with Finland in the quarterfinals.

Group D winning Russia drew overmatched Belarus from Group C, while the Czech Republic's second place in Group D saw it facing the United States.

Group winners Canada and Russia held serve with a pair of easy 4-1 wins over Kazakhstan and Belarus as expected. The under achieving United States ran afoul of the Czech Republic, also by a 4-1 score. The only upset in terms of seeding came with Finland's exciting 2-1 defeat of Nordic rivals Sweden in a tense game that was scoreless after two periods.

The parings for the semifinals saw Canada drawing the Czech Republic. The Canadians were armed with some of the finest firepower in all of the world, including forwards Wayne Gretzky, Theo Fleury, Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, Joe Nieuwendyk, Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman, boasted a defensive hall of fame with Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger and Scott Stevens, with the legendary Patrick Roy in goal. Amazingly, the Canadian team General Manager Bobby Clarke chose Rob Zamuner to be on the Canadian roster over Mark Messier and Lindros as captain rather than Gretzky, Bourque or Yzerman!

Going into their game against Canada, the Czechs had won three and lost one, but goaltender Dominik Hasek was in top form, having surrendered only 5 goals in 4 games, with their only loss being a 2-1 decision to Russia in the First Round.

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The Czech Republic losing to Russia 2-1 in Group D play

The first two periods passed without a goal by either side, as Roy and Hasek traded saves. Finally halfway through the third period, Jiri Slegr beat Roy with an assist from the veteran Pavel Patera. The Canadians pressed hard for the equalizer, but the Czech defensive system stood tall and Hasek took care of the rest as time would down. Finally with just 1:03 remaining in the game, Trevor Linden solved Hasek with an assist from Lindros.

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Jaromir Jagr battles Joe Niewendyk of Canada

Following a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout to determine who would advance to the gold medal final. Fleury, Bourque, Nieuwendyk, Lindros and Shanahan were all stopped by the on-form Hasek, while Robert Reichel's opening goal in off the pipe proved to be enough to win the game for the Czechs.

Hasek Shanahan, Hasek Shanahan
Hasek stops Shanahan to seal the victory for the Czech Republic

Russia advanced to face their long-time rivals with a dominant 7-4 win over Finland, setting up a rematch of their earlier First Round game, which was won by the Russians 2-1.

The championship final, held on this date in 1998, was a predictably low scoring affair, as each team looked to exploit any mistakes by their opponent, while both teams kept their game simple and looked to avoid any unnecessary mistakes. Just like in their first meeting, the opening period passed with no scoring and moved on to the second.

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Action from the second meeting between Russia and
the Czech Republic, only this time for the gold medal

Again, Hasek in goal for the Czechs and Mikhail Stalenkov stood tall in goal for the Russians as both teams failed to solve the other. As the game approached the midway point of the third period, a faceoff took place in the Russian zone to the right of Stalenkov. Martin Prochazka won the draw back to his winger Patera, who simply slid the puck back to Petr Svoboda on the point, who teed up the puck and fired it on goal. It passed through a tangle of traffic still hooked up following the faceoff and flew past Stalenkov and into the net for a 1-0 Czech Republic lead with 11:52 still remaining.

Hasek Nagano Olympics 1998, Hasek Nagano Olympics 1998
Hasek holding off the Russian attack

The goal was enough for Hasek however, as he and his teammates finished off the shutout to capture the first gold medal of the full participation Olympic hockey tournament, making Hasek a household name around the world and Svoboda an instant and unlikely hero, as in 1,028 NHL games, the defensive defenseman had only scored 58 goals, less than 3 1/2 per season, with a career high of 8.

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Jagr's gold medal earned him a meeting with Czech President Vaclav Havel

Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Czech Republic National Team Dominik Hasek jersey as worn when the Czech Republic captured the Olympic gold medal in Nagano, Japan. This bold style of jersey was first worn in the 1998 Olympics and is associated with a golden era of Czech hockey, having been worn not only for the Olympic gold in 1998, but also for three consecutive World Championship gold medals in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

Czech Republic 1998 H jersey photo CzechRepublic1998HF.jpg
Czech Republic 1998 H jersey photo CzechRepublic1998HB.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1998 Czech Republic Jaromir Jagr jersey as worn during the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This style of jersey was first introduced for the 1998 Olympics by Nike, who produced new uniforms for each of the participating teams in that year's Games.

The Czech Republic jerseys, while somewhat similar to Canada and Belarus, with it's arched striping from the collar to the armpits, employed a unique font for the numbers as well as the bold color blocks inspired by the flag of the Czech Republic to set it apart from the others, but left no doubt as to who it belonged to with the ultra bold CZECH emblazoned across the lower back.

Czech Republic 1998 jersey photo CzechRepublic1998RF.jpg
Czech Republic 1998 jersey photo CzechRepublic1998RB.jpg

Our first video today are quick highlights from the Czech Republic's gold medal performance at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. Gooooooaaaaaaallllllll!!!!

Up next is the tense shootout between Canada and the Czech Republic in the semifinals, highlighting the sprawling, twisting, unorthodox style used by Hasek to full effect.

This next video contains highlights from the goal medal final, won by the Czech Repbulic 1-0 over Russia, focusing on Svoboda's goal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1995 Canada National Team Ryan Smyth Jersey

Having scored 50 goals and 105 points for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL during the 1993-94 season, Ryan Smyth was named to the Canadian World Junior squad for the 1995 tournament, held in Red Deer, Alberta, just 2 1/2 hours from his birthplace of Banff.

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Smyth played his junior hockey for the Moose Jaw Warriors

Canada rolled to a perfect 7-0 record to give Smyth his first gold medal upon his international hockey debut. Smyth was tied for seventh in team scoring with 2 goals and 5 assists in the seven games.

Following the World Juniors, Smyth would return to Moose Jaw to finish the 1994-95 season, and when the Warriors were eliminated from the WHL playoffs, Smyth would make his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers, appearing in three games.

After playing four seasons for the Oilers, including two Conference Semifinals appearances in 1997 and 1998, the Oilers were eliminated quickly from the 1999 playoffs, freeing up Smyth for his first World Championships, which were held in Norway. Canada missed out on a medal by dropping the bronze medal game to Sweden 3-2.

Smyth returned to the World Championships again in 2000 in Russia. Canada suffered through a rough First Round, losing to both Norway and the Czech Republic, but advanced to the Second Round, where they righted their ship with wins over Finland, Italy and Slovakia to advance to the Final Round knockout playoffs. Despite defeating Switzerland, they again fell to the eventual champion Czechs prior to losing in the bronze game for the second year in a row in a rematch with Finland. Smyth's final stats were 3 goals and 9 points in 9 games, which would prove to be a career high.

For the 2001 World Championships, Smyth was named team captain for the event in Germany. While Smyth contributed 2 goals and 5 points in seven games, A Quarterfinal loss to the United States left Canada out of the medals with a 5 place finish.

Smyth, born on this date in 1976, was named to the 2002 Canadian Olympic Team for the games in Salt Lake City, his first Olympic appearance. The Canadians stumbled out of the gate, losing to Sweden 5-2 in their first game, eked out a narrow 3-2 win over Germany and then tied the Czech Republic, but came alive in the final round playoffs, first defeating Finland 2-1 before being handed a gift when Belarus shockingly eliminated the number one ranked Swedes. With Belarus demolished 7-1, Canadian confidence was high and they captured the gold medal with a 5-2 win over the host United States just three days shy of Smyth's birthday.

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Smyth is exuberant after winning the 2002 Olympic gold medal

Two months later, Smyth was back at the World Championships, again as team captain. Smyth contributed 4 goals as the Canadians cruised to a 4-1 record before losing by a goal to the eventual champion Slovaks in the Quarterfinals.

Smyth was back again for the 2003 World Championships in Finland. They reached the playoffs with a 4-0-1 record and defeated Germany 3-2, the Czech Republic 8-4 and then downed Sweden 3-2 to claim the title and Smyth's first World Championship gold medal, as he had the honor of hoisting the championship trophy as the team captain. The gold medal was Canada's first since 1997. Smyth totaled 2 goals and 4 points in the effort.

Smyth 2003 Worlds photo Smyth2003Worlds2.jpg
Smyth with the World Championship trophy in 2003

He was back again as captain in 2004 and, following 3-1-1 early results, Canada knocked out Finland 5-4, got by Slovakia 2-1 and then claimed back-to-back world championships by defeating Sweden for the second year in a row, this time 5-3. Smyth again had 2 goals and 4 points during the tournament.

Ryan Smyth Canada photo Smyth2004Worlds.jpg
Smyth shares a moment with his daughter
after winning the 2004 World Championships

Later that same year, Smyth once again was putting on the maple leaf for his country, this time at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey where he contributed 3 goals and 4 points. Playing in front of the home fans in Montreal and Toronto, Canada won the North American pool with a 3-0 record before a dominating 5-0 win over Slovakia, followed by a 4-3 overtime thriller against the Czech Republic before capturing the championship with a 3-2 win over Finland.

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Ryan Smyth congratulated after a goal during the 2004 World Cup

With the NHL players being locked out by the owners preventing the NHL season from taking place after the World Cup, Smyth was available for World Championship duty in Austria that spring. He was named team captain for the fifth consecutive year, which earned him the nickname "Captain Canada". After going 3-0 in the First Round, a 1-1-1 Second Round saw Canada needing to regain their form, which they did with wins over Slovakia (5-4) and Russia (4-3) before losing in the finals to the Czechs, which gave Smyth his first sliver medal, having won gold in his previous five finals.

Smyth made his second Olympic appearance at the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy but the Canadians fell short in the Quarterfinals to Russia 2-0 to finish out of the medals.

Ryan Smyth Canada photo Smyth2006Olympics.jpg
Smyth at the 2006 Olympic Games

The 2002-07 season was Smyth's 12th with the Oilers, but after 53 games he was dealt to the New York Islanders in an emotional moment for Smyth. He would finish the season with the Islanders before moving to the Colorado Avalanche for the next two seasons and then joined the Los Angeles Kings for the 2009-10 season. Following the regular season, Smyth was call upon by Canada for the first time in four years for the World Championships in Germany, where he was named team captain for the sixth time. Unfortunately for Smyth, he suffered an ankle injury during the Canadians first game, which kept him out of the remainder of the competition.

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Smyth wore his emotions on his sleeve when he left Edmonton

After another season with Los Angeles, Smyth returned to the Oilers for the 2011-12 season, but the start of the 2012-13 season was delayed after New Year's by another lockout. With no NHL season occupying his time at the close of 2012, Smyth was once more wearing not only the red and white of Canada, but the familiar captain's "C", only this time for the Spengler Cup tournament, held each year in Davos, Switzerland.

Loaded with otherwise unavailable NHL caliber talent, such as Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene and Patrice Bergeron, Canada opened with an overtime loss to Adler Manheim of Germany, but won the group with a 5-0 win over HC Davos. They built off that momentum and advanced to the finals with a 5-1 win over HC Fribourg-Gotteron of Switzerland and won the Spengler Cup with a second 5 goal win over Davos, this time by a score of 7-2 as Smyth scored twice in the final, including the game winner.

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Ryan Smyth lifts the Spengler Cup

In all, Smyth competed at one World Junior tournament, eight World Championships, captaining the team six times, two Olympics, one World Cup and a Spengler Cup for a total of 89 games played scoring 23 goals and 47 points. In all, he won an Olympic gold medal, two World Championship gold medals and one silver, a gold at the World Juniors, the World Cup and the Spengler Cup during his international career.

He would eventually compete in 47 games for Edmonton once the 2012-13 season began and returned for one final season with the Oilers in 2013-14 to wrap up his career with 1,270 games played with 386 goals and 456 assists for 976 points and played in the 2007 NHL All-Star Game.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995 Canada National Team Ryan Smyth jersey from his first international tournament, the 1995 World Juniors where he earned his first gold medal out of four. This jersey would mark the first appearance of the red and black Hockey Canada logo on a Canadian National Team jersey. This style of jersey was only used for one year, having been used for the World Juniors and World Championships until Reebok was replaced by Nike as suppliers of jerseys to the IIHF beginning in 1996.

Canada 1995 WJC jersey photo Canada1995WJCF.jpg
Canada 1995 WJC jersey photo Canada1995WJCB.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2006 Canada National Team Ryan Smyth jersey as worn at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. The new Nike Swift styles made their international debut at the 2006 World Junior Championships with Canada and the USA in advance of being the predominant style worn at the Olympics five weeks later.

In Torino, every team, save Sweden and Switzerland, were wearing the new Swift styles, with all teams having changed over by the World Championships in May.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our video section today begins with highlights of Smyth on his return to the Oilers.

Next up is Smyth captaining Canada to back-to-back world championships with a victory in 2004.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

1928 Canada National Team Dave Trottier Jersey

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues athletics program was founded in 1891 and have historically iced a junior hockey team for current students and a senior team for University of Toronto graduates. The Varsity Blues Grads won the 1921 and then 1927 Ontario Hockey Association championship and then went on to win the Allan Cup as the senior hockey champions of Canada. With their victory in 1927, they were selected to represent Canada at the 1928 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Canada 1928 Olympic team 1
The Toronto Varsity Grads represented Canada at the
1928 Olympics after winning the 1927 Allan Cup

The 1928 Olympics were the third Olympic hockey championship and also served as the third World Championship and 13th European Championships, with the previous two Olympic gold medals having been won by Canada.

1928 Olympic poster

11 nations took part in the competition, with the Canadians being given a bye directly into the medal round based on having outscored their competition in the previous two tournaments by a margin of 132-3. No, that is not a typo.

The dominating Canadians were given a bye to the Final Round

The remaining ten teams were divided into three groups for First Round play from February 11th to the 16th, with the winners of each group advancing to the Medal Round.

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The beautiful setting for the hockey venue in St. Moritz

In Group A, Great Britain advanced with a 2-1 record thanks to a +4 goal differential over France (2-1, +1) and Belgium (2-1 , -1) and Hungary at 0-3.

Group B saw Sweden win with a record of 1-0-1 over Czechoslovakia (1-1) and Poland (0-1-1).

In the final Group C, hosts Switzerland prevailed with a 1-0-1 record over Austria (0-0-2) and Germany (0-1-1).

Thus, the Final Round consisted of a group of four teams, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden and Switzerland, who would play a round robin format with the top three teams earning the medals.

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After sitting on the sidelines for nearly a week,
the Canadian team was ready to play

Play began on February 17th with Canada picking up where they left off with an 11-0 win over Sweden.

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The Swedes and Canadians line up prior to their game

Meanwhile, Switzerland shut out Great Britain 4-0 later the same day.

On February 18th, Canada again dominated, defeating Great Britain 14-0 after starting off with 6 first period goals. The second game went in the Canadian's favor as well when Sweden blanked Switzerland 4-0 to leave Canada as the only undefeated team after just two games played, as if they needed the help.

St Moritz 1928 Olympic hockey 3

Then, on this date in 1928, Sweden beat Great Britain 3-1 to lay a claim on the silver medal, while the Canadians romped to a 13-0 win over the Swiss to claim their third consecutive gold medal, having out scored their competition 38-0 in their three games played.

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Canada battles Swizterland in the final game

The top scorer for Canada was Dave Trottier, who scored 12 goals and 3 assists for 15 points in three games, averaging 4 goals and an assist per game.

Other members of the Canadian gold medalists were Charles Delahaye, Franklyn Fisher, Louis Hudson, who would also win gold in 1928, Herbert Plaxton, Hugh Plaxton, who would play for the Montreal Maroons of the NHL in 1932-33, Roger Plaxton, John Primeau, Frank Sullivan, who also won a Grey Cup in Canadian Football with the Toronto Argonauts in 1921, his brother and goaltender Joseph Sullivan and Ross Taylor.

Sullivan Varsity Blues 1
Joe Sullivan

Trottier would have by far the most accomplished hockey career, playing ten seasons with the Maroons, including leading the Maroons in scoring in 1932 and winning a Stanley Cup in 1935, followed by a final season divided between the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL and the Pittsburgh Hornets of the International-American Hockey League. He totaled 446 NHL games with 121 goals and 113 assists for 234 career points.

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Dave Trottier

Today's featured jersey is a 1928 Canada National Team Dave Trottier jersey as worn during the 1928 Olympics where Trottier led all players in scoring with 15 points in 3 games. Trottier went on to an 11 season NHL career, which included a Stanley Cup championship with the Montreal Maroons.

For the 1928 Olympics, the Canadians wore plain white sweaters with a classic maple leaf logo on the front with single color numbers on the back.

Canada 1928 Olympic jersey

In today's video section, extended highlights of Canada's win over Switzerland to confirm their gold medal at the 1928 Olympics.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Alexander Mogilny Jersey

Born on this date in 1969, Alexander Mogliny, just 20 years old, made a choice that would affect the rest of his life.

While in Stockholm, Sweden, having just completed winning a gold medal at the 1989 World Championships, Mogilny made the life changing decision to become the first Soviet player to defect, leaving behind his family but escaping the totalitarian rule of the communist system, and iron-fisted Soviet old school coach Viktor Tikhonov in particular, whom Mogilny felt would make his life not only at the rink, but outside of hockey, miserable for years to come due to his independent nature.

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Mogilny while playing for the Soviet Union National Team

The story begins at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft when the Sabres, with one of their two picks in the fifth round, selected one of the most exciting young players in the world, Alexander Mogilny with the 89th overall pick. While many Soviet players had been chosen in the NHL draft before, it was generally in much later rounds when taking a flyer on a player unlikely to ever appear in an NHL game was worth the roll of the dice with an essentially meaningless pick.

Gerry Meehan, the Sabres general manager explains, "I would never have used the draft pick if I didn’t think he would be coming,” Meehan said. “The attitude then was, ‘There’s no way this guy is going to come out. He’s too big a young star.’ It was my view that it was inevitable that, sooner or later, the Russians were going to have to let their players come and play on a world stage other than the Olympics and the World Championship.”

Gerry Meehan
Gerry Meehan

At the beginning of 1989, former Sabre Don Luce, the club's Director of Amateur Evaluation, traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to to 1989 World Junior Tournament. There, Pavel Bure and linemates Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, were finishing third (Bure) and tied for fourth (Mogliny and Fedorov) in tournament scoring while leading the Soviets to a 6-1 record and the gold medal. Luce met briefly with Mogilny in Anchorage and gave him a business card, cementing Mogilny's decision to defect at the first opportunity.

Mogilny Fedorov CCCP
Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov

That opportunity arrived four months later when the Soviets were given two days in Stockholm after winning the 1989 World Championship. Luce, at home in North America, received a phone call on this date in 1989 from a man who claimed to be Mogilny's agent, Sergei Fomitchev. Unsure if he was really in contact with Mogilny, he asked Fomitchev to have Mogilny repeat what he had said to him in Anchorage. Told then that he had not played very well, Mogilny had stated "I show you next game", prior to scoring a hat trick against Canada to clinch the gold medal.

After Mogilny repeated the phrase, Luce and Meehan were on a plane to Sweden three hours later, arriving midday on May 3rd. While waiting for Fomitchev to return from shopping, the got an urgent call saying Mogilny's defection had to happen right away because it would be his best opportunity to get away.

They met at a mall and drove off. The next two days were spent moving from hotel to hotel to avoid being found while Meehan worked with the U. S. Embassy to arrange the necessary paperwork.

At one point Mogilny, from the far eastern part of Russia where few players have originated from, attempted to call home and midway through the conversation the call was disconnected, giving rise to Mogilny's fears that the call had been traced and the authorities knew where they were.

The day they left they abandoned their rental car and took a taxi to the airport, and once inside the security gates, their fears of the Soviet officials was over. With that, Mogliny had become the first Soviet athlete to defect in 45 years.

 Meehan remembers, “He asked me in his broken English, ‘Am I free now?’ " And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re free.’ And he went over and had a beer. He couldn’t believe it. He said ‘free’, he didn’t say ‘safe’. He said ‘free’. I found that to be kind of poignant.”

Fedorov defected less than a year later at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle and shortly afterwards, the Iron Curtain fell allowing Bure to join the NHL without having to defect.

During his rookie season in the NHL, wearing he number 89 presented to him by the Sabres owner Seymour H. Knox III in recognition of his place in the draft where Buffalo selected him and the year of his defection, Mogilny would play 65 games, scoring 15 goals and 43 points as he became acclimated to living in North America and learning a new language and culture. "It was a huge adjustment to come to the NHL. The language barrier was the toughest part. Lack of communication affected me both on and off the ice. It also took some time to get used to the airline travel. I had to deal with a fear of flying," Mogilny recalled.

Mogilny broke into the NHL with Buffalo

He would double his goal total the following season to reach 30 for the first time.

The arrival of Pat Lafontaine in Buffalo would give Mogilny a world class teammate to work with and his point totals took another jump upwards, finishing 1991-92 with 39 goals and 84 points and became the first Russian on an NHL All-Star Team. Given a year to work together and now fully integrated into life in the United States and the NHL, Mogilny had one of the greatest seasons in league history in 1992-93. He would score 127 points from 51 assists and a remarkable 76 goals in 77 games. His 76 goals remain tied for fifth all-time in a single season with Teemu Selanne and Phil Esposito.

With Lafontaine limited to just 38 games over the next two seasons, Mogilny was named team captain in his absence, the first European to ever captain an NHL club, but his production suffered as a result of the missing Lafontaine.

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Mogilny as captain of the Sabres

He was then traded to the Vancouver Canucks and reunited with Bure for the 1995-96 season, in which he would score 55 goals and 107 points, the second highest of his career in both categories.

Mogilny Bure Canucks, Mogilny Bure Canucks 
The Russian duo of Mogilny and Bure reunited in Vancouver

After five seasons of diminishing point totals in Vancouver, from 107 to 73, then 45 twice, he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils late in the 1999-00 season, having previously enjoyed the most minimal playoff success to that point in his career, having only escaped the first round once in ten seasons.

Prior to leaving the Soviet Union, Mogilny had already, just ten days after his 19th birthday, won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympics and then added he World Championship gold just days before his defection. Now with the Devils, Mogilny would see his first extended playoff run, which would eventually lead to a Stanley Cup championship. When he won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, he became just the ninth player in history to join the Triple Gold Club

Mogilny Stanley Cup
Mogliny joined the Triple Gold Club in 2000

The move to New Jersey was a positive one for Mogilny, as he would regain his scoring touch and exceed 40 goals for only the third time in his career, with 43 goals during an 83 point season and another run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2000-01.

He would sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 2001-02 season, where he would play for three seasons, including winning the Lady Byng Trophy in 2003 and scoring his 1,000th point in 2003-04, before returning to the Devils for the final season of his career in 2005-06 before retiring with 473 goals and 1032 points in 990 games.

Mogilny Devils, Mogilny Devils
Mogilny had a 40 goal season while finishing his career with the Devils

Following his defection, Mogilny would never play for the Soviet Union again and he would eventually suit up for Russia just once in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, cutting short what was destined to be a fine, if not outstanding, international career.

Mogliny Russia
Mogilny's lone international appearance for Russia
came during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey

When asked following his career about the reasons for his defection, Mogilny responded, “Why did I do it? I did it for freedom. If the bird can fly and the fish can swim, you have to be able to move around the world and be free and not watched constantly. If a human being doesn’t have freedom, that’s not life. It’s like living in a cage. To me, you might as well be dead.”

Today's jersey is a 1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Alexander Mogilny jersey. This jersey sports Mogilny's distinctive #89, which is based on the year of his defection from the Soviet Union and also features the Sabres 20th Anniversary patch worn in Mogilny's rookie season following his defection earlier that year.

The Sabres wore this style from their inaugural season of 1970-71 through the 1995-96 season when a complete makeover of their identity package saw them adopt new colors and a new logo for a decade until a return to their traditional blue and gold colors, which eventually included a return to a modernized version of this classic jersey in 2010-11 after having used this style as an alternate jersey in 2006-07 and again in 2008-09 to 2009-10.

Buffalo Sabres 89-90 jersey photo BuffaloSabres89-90F.jpg
Buffalo Sabres 89-90 jersey photo BuffaloSabres89-90B.jpg
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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Vancouver Canucks Alexander Mogilny jersey during his first season in Vancouver when he scored 55 goals and 107 points, the second highest of his career.

Vancouver introduced this white home jersey in 1989-90 after a decade of wearing gold jerseys at home. This style was worn through the 1996-97 season when the club got a complete makeover, with new colors and a new logo.

Vancouver Canucks 1995-96 F jersey
Vancouver Canucks 1995-96 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2003-04 Toronto Maple Leafs Alexander Mogilny jersey from the season during which he scored his 1,000th NHL point.

The evolution of this Maple Leafs jersey began back in the 1992-93 season when Toronto adopted a brand new style jersey with a more traditional look based on a sweater first worn back in 1934-35, only now paired with their modern Maple Leafs crest. The jersey first evolved with the adoption of a modern name and number font in 1997-98. While the name remained unchanged, the curvy numbers were replaced in 2000-01 with a return to a more classic block font for the numbers, although now trimmed in blue and outlined in silver, the first time a third color had been used on a Maple Leafs jersey since World War II, when the lettering on the crest was red for a few seasons.

The retro style maple leaf secondary logo was replaced by a new "TML" monogram at the same time the number font was changed in 2000-01.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey
Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey, Toronto Maple Leafs 2003-04 jersey

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1988-89 CSKA Moscow Alexander Mogilny jersey from Red Army's 13th consecutive Soviet Championship League title under Tikhonov just weeks prior to Mogilny defecting to the west.

Mogilny's departure in early May after that year's World Championships in Sweden, effectively marked the end of an era for Tikhnov and the supremacy of CSKA, as prior to the following season Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov left the Soviet Union with permission of the authorities to play in the NHL, bringing to a close Red Army's unparalleled streak of championship dominance.

CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey
CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey

In today's video section, an interview with Mogliny from the 1989 World Junior Championships in January, a few months prior to his defection in April after the World Championships. He sticks to the party line quite well, giving little hint as to what was to follow, or at least that's what the interpreter tells us...

Here is a look at the some of the career highlights of Mogilny.

Here, Mogilny scores his 70th goal of the 1992-93 season, only the seventh player to reach 70 in NHL history.

Speaking of the remarkable 1992-93 season, here is a brief feature story on the partnership between Mogilny and Lafontaine.

Finally, an excellent documentary about Mogliny's defection narrated by Meehan that runs 23 minutes and is well worth your time.


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