Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2012-13 Philadelphia Flyers Boston Strong Jersey

In a follow up to our post on Patriots' Day about the Boston Bruins wearing the "Boston Strong" ribbon patch  and the Pittsburgh Penguins wearing the "Boston 617" patch when they met in Boston on April 20, 2013, five days after the Boston Marathon bombings, reader @FlyersFansInDC on twitter pointed out that the Philadelphia Flyers also wore the "Boston Strong" ribbon on their jerseys when they hosted the Bruins two days later on this date one year ago, April 22, 2013.
We have to admit that we were not aware of the Flyers wearing the yellow and blue Boston Strong ribbon patch until it was brought to our attention. Here is the article from the Flyers website.
This past Friday, the city of Boston and the rest of the nation were able to breathe a sigh of relief. And as those impacted by the horrific tragedy in Boston on Monday, April 15 begin a difficult journey to heal, the strength of these people will again be tested. 
"We have all seen what Boston has gone through and how they all rallied together,” said Comcast Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “As someone from New England, I know how much pride that city has. We too have been moved by what we saw last week in Boston and wanted to do our part to help.” 
The Flyers, along with the great fans of Philadelphia will lend their support when the Flyers play the Boston Bruins this Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The organization will be donating the charitable portion of the money collected through the Flyers Charities 50/50 raffle at game to
In addition, the team will wear special edition jerseys with a Boston Strong patch on their uniforms and decals on their helmets. At the conclusion of the game, every player’s jersey will be available for auction with proceeds also benefitting at
Prior to puck drop, members of the Philadelphia Police and Fire Department will take part in a pre-game ceremony that includes a tribute video and performance of "God Bless America”. Throughout the game, there will be other tributes, including recognition of Temple Podiatry students who were on site at the Marathon lending their services. 
Together we can help the healing process…We are Philadelphia…We are the Flyers…We are #BOSTONSTRONG
Here is a follow up story about the results of the jersey auction and 50/50 raffle donation from the Comcast Spectacor Charites website.
In an effort to help those affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston, the Philadelphia Flyers and Comcast-Spectacor Charities honored both victims and courageous first responders during the Flyers vs. Bruins game on April 23, 2013. A donation was made to The One Fund Boston from the Flyers Charities 50/50 Raffle, as well as an online game-used and signed jersey auction.  The charitable portion of the 50/50 Raffle given to One Fund Boston was $42,798, half of the largest jackpot in U.S. history.  Special edition game-worn Flyers jerseys with Boston Strong patches sewn on were also auctioned off online.  The total amount donated to One Fund Boston from the 50/50 Raffle and online jersey auction was over $66,000. 
During a post-game press conference, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien was asked what he thought about the way Philadelphia supported Boston during the Flyers vs. Bruins game.  Julien answered, “I’ll tell you what, extremely appreciative and touching. I thought it showed a lot of class. All the support we have had, we have appreciated and what happened tonight was just another great gesture from a rival that went beyond the sport and the rivalry that exists between the two teams and showed support for another city. I thought it was great.”
"We have all seen what Boston has gone through and how they all rallied together,” said Comcast Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “As someone from New England, I know how much pride that city has. We too have been moved by what we saw last week in Boston and wanted to do our part to help.”
Today's featured jersey is a 2012-13 Philadelphia Flyers "Boston Strong" jersey as worn when the Flyers hosted the Bruins on April 23, 2013 eight days after the Boston Marathon bombings. The Flyers then auctioned off the set of jerseys to raise funds for the One Fund Boston.

The ribbon patch the Flyers wore was different than the ones worn by the Bruins is a few small ways. First, the Flyers patch did not have the white border that the Bruins version needed to stand out from their black jerseys, and second, sharp-eyed readers will notice the center of the Flyers ribbon has a small, embroidered orange area, not a clear hole in the center.

Boston Strong Flyers Giroux jersey photo GirouxCBostonStrongjersey.jpg

Boston Strong Kurtis Foster photo 167287517_slide.jpg
Kurtis Foster

Boston Strong Daniel Briere photo DanielBriere.jpg
Daniel Briere

Boston Strong Steve Mason photo SteveMason1.jpg
Steve Mason

Boston Strong ribbon patch photo FlyersBostonStrongribbon.jpg
The Flyers "Boston Strong" ribbon with the center orange embroidery
and without a white border

Here are highlights of the April 23rd game when the Flyers hosted the Bruins eight days after the bombing in Boston when the Flyers showed their support by wearing the Boston Strong ribbon patch.

Big thanks to @FlyersFansInDC for letting us know about the Flyers wearing the Boston Strong patch.

Update: Following our post Monday about the Boston Marathon bombing and the Bruins tribute jerseys, the 2014 edition of the race was held and, in storybook fashion, an American won the race for the first time since 1983 when 39 year old Meb Keflezihgi won by six seconds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1944-45 Toronto Maple Leafs Babe Pratt Jersey

During the 1944-45 NHL regular season, Maurice "Rocket" Richard broke Joe Malone's record for most goals in a season (44) on his way to becoming the first player to score 50 goals in an NHL season, which also established the standard of achieving 50 goals in 50 games, as the NHL schedule was then 50 games long.

Maurice Richard 50
Maurice Richard

Richard's teammate Elmer Lach won the scoring title with 26 goals and 54 assists for 80 points, with Richard coming in second with 73. Their linemate Toe Blake's 29 goals and 38 assists gave him 67 points, bettering the Boston Bruins Bill Cowley at 65, making it only the second time in league history that all three members of the same line finished 1-2-3 in scoring.

The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frank McCool won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, the third consecutive season the Calder Trophy winner came from the Maple Leafs following center Gus Bodnar in 1944 and right wing Gaye Stewart in 1943.

McCool Calder
McCool with his Calder Trophy

Goaltender Bill Durnan of the Montreal Canadiens won the Vezina Trophy for the second consecutive season as the league's best goaltender, as his stellar 38-8-4 record gave him 14 more wins than McCool and the Detroit Red Wings Harry Lumley's 24 wins.

The final standings were clearly a case of the "haves" and "have nots", as Montreal easily led the league with 80 points, followed by Detroit with 67 and Toronto's 52. Boston qualified for the playoffs despite a poor 16-30-4 record, as their 36 points bested the Chicago Black Hawks 33 and the New York Rangers at 32.

For reasons we will never understand, the four playoff teams were not paired up with first place playing against fourth place and second place taking on third, but with the first overall club from the regular season hosting the third place finisher while the club finishing in second place drew the weakest qualifier from fourth place!

In the First Round of the playoffs, Toronto took the first two games in Montreal, with McCool outdueling Durnan in Game 1 to win 1-0 and following that with a 3-2 win. Montreal won Game 3 in Toronto 4-1 before Toronto put Montreal on the brink of elimination with a 4-3 win in overtime of Game 4 in Toronto.

The series moved back to Montreal for Game 5, where the Canadiens pounded the Maple Leafs 10-3, but the Maple Leafs rebounded back in front of the home fans to end their rivals season 3-2 to win the series in six games 4 games to 2.

In the other series, Boston gave Detroit all they could handle. The Bruins won the first two games in Detroit 4-3 and 4-2 before the Red Wings returned the favor and evened the series by winning twice in Boston by identical 3-2 scores. The series then completely switched form, as the home team won the remaining three games. First Detroit took a 3-2 lead in games with their third consecutive 3-2 victory, this one in overtime. Then Boston forced a deciding Game 7 with a 5-3 win at home, only to have Detroit return the favor with a series clinching 5-3 win of their own back at The Olympia.

The story of the 1945 Stanley Cup Finals was the defense. For the first time, two rookie goalies met in the finals, the 26 year old McCool and Detroit's Lumley, who was just 18 years old. McCool stonewalled the Red Wings in Game 1 at Detroit, which allowed the single Maple Leafs goal to stand, giving them a 1-0 victory.

Toronto managed two goals in Game 2, which turned out to be twice as many as they needed, as McCool again stymied Detroit on their home ice with his second consecutive shutout. Game 3 saw Lumley do just about all he could to keep the Red Wings in the game, but for the third consecutive game, McCool could not be solved and he put the Maple Leafs on the verge of a championship with yet another shutout by a score of 1-0, this time at Maple Leaf Gardens.

In Game 4 in Toronto, Detroit, who had gone 8-1-1 against Toronto during the regular season, finally solved McCool with a goal two minutes into the contest, proving to themselves that he was, in fact, human after all. Despite Teeder Kennedy's hat trick for Toronto, Detroit staved off elimination by a score of 5-3, doubling the total number of goals scored in the first three games combined.

Lumley now got on a roll and blanked Toronto back in Detroit in Game 5 by a 2-0 score before the dramatic Game 6 in Toronto. McCool and Lumley both kept clean sheets for 60 minutes and the contest entered overtime with both teams scoreless. Detroit not only stayed alive, but evened the series and denied the home fans a championship celebration when they won in overtime 1-0, giving Lumley his second consecutive shutout and the fifth one in the series six games.

The decisive Game 7 took place on this date in 1945 in Detroit with the Red Wings now on a roll, having come back from being down 3 games to none and having posted two consecutive shutouts. The game was tied at 1-1 with more than half the third period gone when defenseman Babe Pratt scored at 12:14 to give Toronto a lead McCool would protect to the end, giving the Toronto franchise it's fifth Stanley Cup championship.

1944-45 Toronto Maple Leafs
The 1944-45 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto also became the first team to ever win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on the road, something that would not happen again until 1971, and to date has only happened three times following the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

McCool would only play another 22 games in the NHL due to recurring health issues with ulcers, combined with the return of the Maple Leafs incumbent goaltender Turk Broda, who had already been their starting goaltender for seven seasons, from his absence due to his military service during World War II, to backstop the Maple Leafs for another six seasons.

Pratt's goal was the first time in NHL history that a defenseman would score the cup winning goal, which seemed only fitting that a defenseman would win the cup seeing how defense ruled the day with five shutouts in the series seven games.

Today's featured jersey is a 1944-45 Toronto Maple Leafs Babe Pratt jersey. This style of Toronto Maple Leafs jersey was first used in 1938 when the previous crest was replaced with this style. The lettering in the crest was changed to red for the next three seasons, before returning to this exact style with blue lettering in the crest, which would be retained through 1958.

This jersey would be revived as Toronto's choice as their Turn Back the Clock jersey for the NHL's 75th anniversary season in 1991-92. It was so well received that they redesigned their jerseys the following season to reintroduce this jerseys striping pattern and incorporate the crest as a retro style secondary shoulder patch paired with the continued use of their modern leaf as the main crest.

After being dropped in 2007 for a simpler jersey without the waist stripes for the introduction of the Reebok Edge jerseys, this basic pattern would return again this 2010-11 season with the addition of a lace up collar which was used on this jersey from 1958 to 1967.

Furthermore, a white version of this jersey would be first used in 1998-99 to commemorate the closing of their long time home, Maple Leaf Gardens. After a one year absence, the white throwback jersey would return as one of the, if not the finest alternate jerseys in league history.

Pratt would play eight seasons for the New York Rangers prior to joining the Maple Leafs for four seasons and the Boston Bruins for one. When the NHL portion of his career came to and end, Pratt would play five more seasons, mainly with the New Westminster Royals of the PCHL.

During his NHL career, Pratt would win the Stanley Cup twice, first in 1940 with the Rangers and then again with Toronto in 1945. Additionally, he would be named the winner of the Hart Trophy in 1944 as the NHL's most valuable player and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

He went on to work as both a TV analyst and goodwill ambassador for the Vancouver Canucks, who named the club's annual trophy for their best defenseman in his honor and wore a memorial patch in his memory on their jerseys after his passing at the arena during a game in 1988.

Maple Leafs 44-45 jersey

Oh. My. God.

Here, Pratt jokes with Harold Snepets at a charity softball game in 1982 when shorts were short.

Really short.

We mean really, really unfortunately short.

Here are the Canucks receiving their 2011 awards, including past winner of the award Snepts, wearing thankfully longer pants this time around but a nearly as hideous retro jersey, presenting the Babe Pratt Award to Christian Ehrhoff.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Patriots' Day - 2012-13 Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron Jersey

Patriots' Day is a civic holiday in Massachusetts that commemorates the anniversary of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. It is observed on the third Monday in April each year when re-enactments of the battles occur at Lexington Green in Lexington and The Old North Bridge in Concord, which includes Paul Revere and William Dawes midnight rides of warning.

 photo PatriotsDaysoldiers.jpg

With the day being a holiday for schools, colleges and universities, there are sports related traditions surrounding Patriots' Day. The Boston Red Sox baseball club have been playing a home day game at Fenway Park every year since 1959,

 photo PatriotsDayFenwayPark.png
Fenway Park on Patriots' Day

Also a tradition is the famous Boston Marathon, which has been held annually on Patriots' Day since 1897, making it the oldest continuously running marathon in North America. Originally a local event, the stature of the race has grown over time and it now attracts runners from all over the globe.

Boston Marahton photo BostonMarathon2.jpg
The start of the Boston Marathon

There have been a few notorious incidents in connection with the race, such as Katherine Switzer becoming the first woman to run and finish the race as a registered entrant in 1967, despite women not being allowed to enter the race until 1972. Switzer had deceptively registered for the race as "K. V. Switzer" and had to persevere despite race official Jock Semple trying to rip off her number and eject her from the race when she was recognized as a woman, something which seems so incredibly archaic now that female participation in the race has surpassed the 40% mark. She and Semple would go on to become friends and she would later become a leader in getting the women's marathon into the Olympic Games.

 photo KathrineSwitzerBostonMarathon.jpg
Katherine Switzer's boyfriend fending off Jock Semple

The other famous scandal concerned Rosie Ruiz, who appeared out of the crowd a half a mile from the finish and ran to "victory" in the female division. Shet was quickly exposed as a fraud due to suspicions about her lack of appearance of exertion, her lack of elite physical fitness, her lack of accurate details about key parts of the race and a lack of evidence of her even being on the course during the majority of the race as well as her highly suspicious 25 minute improvement over her reported time in the New York City Marathon just six months earlier. Ruiz was confirmed as a fraud within eight days, as was her qualifying performance in New York, and Jacqueline Gareau was awarded her rightful victory.

 photo RosieRuiz1980.jpg
Rosie Ruiz looking exhausted after her duplicitous run of less than a mile

Those incidents now pale in wake of what happened during the 2013 edition of the Marathon on Patriots' Day one year ago, for that was the day of the Boston Marathon Bombings. The race began at 9:00 AM on April 15th with entrants in the Mobility Impaired Program and continued with the Elite Women beginning at 9:32 AM with the Elite Men at 10 AM. The field consisted of 23,336 competitors from all 50 states and 92 countries.

The women's winner, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya ran a 2:26:25, crossing the finish line at 11:58 AM while the winning male, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia ran a 2:10:22 race to finish at ten minutes past noon.

 photo JeptooampDesisa2013.jpg
The forgotten 2013 winners Jeptoo and Desisa hours before the bombings

At 2:50 PM, two explosions of shrapnel filled pressure cookers concealed in backpacks took place near the finish line on Boylston Street 12 seconds and 210 yards apart, killing three spectators, 29 year old restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, young Boston Bruins fan Martin Richard, age 8, and 23 year old Boston University student Lu Lingzi of China and injuring 264 others, with 14 of those requiring amputations of their shattered limbs in addition to those who lost limbs in the explosions.

Boston Marahton Bomb photo BostonMarahtonBomb.jpg

The race was halted with 5,000 runners still on the course as the graphic scene unfolded at the finish line, where many became heroes as they rushed to the aid of those hurt in the blasts, many of whom were in critical condition.

 photo carlosarredondoaidsjeffbauman.jpg
Carlos Arredondo aids the seriously wounded Jeff Bauman

The response to the bombings from the people of Boston was as predictable as it was quick - unified and defiant.

 photo BostonStrongRibbon.gif

The Boston Bruins game that night against the Ottawa Senators was postponed and the Boston Celtics basketball game the following night was cancelled. The Bruins did play their scheduled home game against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, April 17th, which featured an especially emotional rendition of the national anthem.

Three days after the bombing, April 18th, the FBI released photos and videos of two suspects, who were quickly identified as brothers. By the time the day had ended, the pair had killed Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier in an unsuccessful effort to steal Collier's gun. Shorty thereafter, the brothers hijacked an SUV before engaging the police in a ferocious gun battle in the suburb of Watertown. There, the older of the two brothers was shot several times and subsequently run over and dragged by his escaping younger brother in the SUV. The older of the two was pronounced dead at the scene just after midnight on the 19th.

A massive manhunt ensued for the younger of the two, who had abandoned the SUV and escaped on foot. Residents were told to stay indoors while the police conducted a door to door search, as many schools and businesses remained closed, as well as Boston's public transit network.

With the manhunt for the second suspect underway, both the Red Sox and Bruins games on the 19th, as well as the circus, were all postponed as the citizens were encouraged to stay indoors.

On the evening of the 19th after the orders to stay indoors was recinded, a resident of Watertown noticed the cover on his boat was loose and peered inside. There, he saw a body lying in a pool of blood. He immediately called the police, who quickly surrounded the boat and captured the suspect a short time later, setting off a celebration among the relieved public.

 photo Arrestcelebration.jpg
The spontaneous celebration after the arrest of
the remaining bombing suspect

The Bruins next scheduled game took place on Saturday the 20th versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, with both teams wearing special patches of unity and support, the Bruins with a Boston Strong ribbon in the blue and yellow colors of the Boston Marathon, and the Penguins wearing a "617" patch (Boston's area code). Both sets of jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money to support the victims of the bombings.

 photo Marchand42013.jpg
Brad Marchand during the pregame warmups wearing a first responders cap

Today's featured jersey is a 2012-13 Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron jersey which features the Boston Strong ribbon worn on April 20, 2013 in a show of unity and support for the citizens of Boston.

The alternate jersey worn by the Bruins that night is a prime example of what a third jersey can be. It's modern take on the Bruins original 1920's logo is paired with classic Bruins striping from the Stanley Cup era of the early 1970's finished off with a classic. but slightly modernized font. This highly attractive style jersey has been in used by Boston since the 2008-09 season.

Boston Bruins 2012-13 Alt jersey photo BostonBruins2012-13AltF-1.jpg
 photo BostonBruins2012-13AltB.jpg
 photo BostonBruins2012-13AltP1.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2012-13 Pittsburgh Penguins Chris Kunitz jersey which features the special "617" patch worn in support of their fellow Americans in Boston. This Penguins jersey was first introduced in 2007-08 and remains in use today, one of the more attractive of the new Reebok Edge jersey templates first worn that season.

 photo PittsburghPenguins2012-13Boston617Fjersey.jpg
Pittsburgh Penguins 2012-13 Boston 617 B jersey photo PittsburghPenguins2012-13Boston617Bjersey.jpg

Today's first video is the pregame ceremony from the April 20th game when the Bruins hosted the Penguins.

Here is an interview with Arrodondo following his helping the severly wounded Bauman who lost both legs in the blast.

Later, the two men are reunited at Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals later that season as part of the Bruins choosing fans to wave the "Boston Strong" flag prior to the Bruins playoff games that season. It was Arrodondo and Bauman's second appearance at a Bruins game, the first coming earlier while Bauman was still in a wheel chair prior to being fitted with new legs.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 IIHF World Championships Reports

While the NHL playoffs are now underway to determine who will hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, on the other side of the world, tournament time is in full swing.

The IIHF World Under 18 (U18) Championships began in Lappeenranta and Imatra Finland on April 17th. This tournament was held in Sochi, Russia last year as a test run of the Olympic facilities and was won by Canada 3-2 over the United States, breaking a streak of four consecutive titles for the Americans, who have won six of the last nine at the U18 level. The preliminary round will conclude on Tuesday and will determine who will advance to the playoffs. The Swiss opened the tournament with a 4-2 upset win over the United States so it will be interesting to see how the US responds when they play the Czech Republic at 8 AM eastern time today, which can be watched for free on

In the U18 Division 1 Group A tournament in France, Latvia (4-0) has already earned promotion to the Top Division for next year, while Italy at 0-4 will be relegated despite there being games left to play today.

Meanwhile over in the U18 Division I Group B in Hungary, the host Hungarians (4-0) have earned a promotion to Division 1 Group A while Poland is demoted to Division II Group A for 2015.

Finally in U18, Division II Group B taking place in Tallinn, Estonia sees Spain leading the standings at 3-0, with Serbia and Estonia each at 3-1 with 6 points with all teams having games left on both today and Sunday to determine who will earn the promotion to Division II Group A, whose tournament took place in Great Britain back in late March that saw Lithuania (3-1-1-0) promoted to Division I Group B while Romania (1-0-1-3) was relegated to Division III Group A for 2015.

Both Division III Group A and Division III Group B in  conducted their tournaments already, with South Africa taking the three team competition from Hong Kong and host Turkey in Group B while Australia captured Group A to move up to Division II Group B for 2015 with a 4-1 record over Israel at 3-2.

In the senior ranks for players 20 years or older, the bottom of the IIHF ladder is Division III. This level of play always features countries you may not even know had hockey teams and some wildly diverse geographic matchups. Their tournament in Luxembourg concluded a week ago with Bulgaria (5-0) outlasting North Korea (4-1), Luxembourg, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates and Georgia.

Up in Division II Group B, China, Spain, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey all met in Jaca, Spain last week where the hosts earned promotion to Group A for next year with a dominant 5-0 record.

Division II Group A wrapped up on Tuesday with Estonia cruising to a 5-0 record and 15 points, well clear of Iceland's nine to earn the right to compete at the Division I level next season. Other teams in Group A were Australia, Belgium and Serbia with Israel being relegated to Division II Group B.

Division I Group B kicks off tomorrow in Vilnius, Lithuania as Croatia, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and hosts Lithuania meet in round robin play with the winner also promoted to Division I Group A while the last place team will be relegated down to Division II Group A for 2015. The Lithuanians were excited to learn that Danius Zubrus of the New Jersey Devils will play for his country for the first time since 2005.

In the second rung on the World Championship ladder, Division I Group A, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Japan, Ukraine  and hosts South Korea begin play tomorrow in Goyang for the right to play in the Top Division next year in the Czech Republic. Games are scheduled to run through Saturday, April 26.

This year's 2014 IIHF World Championship, for teams in the Top Division, begins in Minsk, Belarus on May 9, 2014 when host Switzerland takes on Russia while France meets Canada in the other early opening game.

The field for this years World Championships include Sweden, the Czech Republic, Canada,  Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, France and Italy in Group A and Finland, Russia, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Latvia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in Group B.

With Division I Group B wrapping up today at the Gabor Ocskay, Jr. Ice Hall in Székesfehérvár, Hungary with the hosts having already secured promotion to Division I Group A for 2015, today's featured jersey is a 2009 Hungary National Team Gabor Ocskay jersey. Ocskay became a member of the Hungary National Team at the age of 18 and was named the Hungarian Best Forward three times, Most Skillful Player five times and was named Hungarian Player of the Year in 1995, 1996 and 2006, He was also the leading scorer in the Hungarian league in 1998 and 1999.

Ocskay Hungary, Ocskay Hungary

In 2008, Ocskay and Hungary won Division I Group B after a decisive 4-2 win over Ukraine. The victory for Hungary was the greatest moment in Hungarian hockey history, as it returned the nation to the Top Division of the World Championships for the first time in 70 years, triggering celebrations back home in Budapest that went into the night.

To put Hungary's accomplishment into perspective, hockey was not a supported sport under 40 years of communist rule, such as it was in Czechoslovakia, and the country had only three teams, who all played outdoors. It wasn't until 1991 that Hungary even had an indoor ice rink and they had now it had made it to the highest level of world hockey with a team of players who started their journey playing outdoors on ice that only lasted three months a year which they had to resurface themselves at times - and now they had reached the highest level of world hockey.

Back in Hungary for the domestic league playoffs in March, Ocskay again showed his undiminished offensive talent with 8 goals and 18 points in 9 games, as Alba Volán won the Hungarian championship for the sixth consecutive season and Ocskay was named the Most Skilled Player for the fifth time.

One month later the 2009 World Championships were held in Switzerland, only without Gábor Ocskay, as he unexpectedly died on March 24th, 2008 of a heart attack at the age of only 33, just two days after winning the 2008 Hungarian championship. His passing hit the hockey fans in Hungary hard, and they remembered him by lighting candles at every ice rink in the country.

Ocskay Memorial candles, Ocskay Memorial candles

Hungary National Team captain Baláza Kangyal reacted, "Terrible, incomprehensible, what happened." while teammate Viktor Tokaji said, "I'm shocked. Saturday we celebrated together a championship title, and now we lose the best player, a real friend, who always helped me."

While Hungary lost all of their six games at the 2009 World Championships and were relegated is not important, as much as through the efforts of Ocskay and his teammates that they were even there in the first place was their ultimate victory.

Ocskay was remembered by his teammates at the 2009 World Championships with a #19 decal on their helmets during the tournament.

Ocskay Hungary memorial, Ocskay Hungary memorial

During his career, Ocskay played in 531 games, scoring 354 goals and 489 assists for 843 points which included a whopping 187 games for his country, which began back in 1992, including two European Junior Championships, three World Junior Championships and 16 consecutive World Championships, helping guide Hungary from the depths of the "C" Pool to the Top Division.

Both his club team, Alba Volán Székesfehérvár, for whom he played his entire 15 year career, and the Hungarian National Team retired his famous #19 in tribute to Ocskay and Alba Volán now plays at the Ocskay Gábor, Jr. Ice Hall, named in his honor.

Today's jersey is the one Ocskay would have worn during the 2009 World Championships. Click here for a more detailed look at the life and career of Gabor Ocskay.

Hungary 2009 jersey photo Hungary2009F.jpg
Hungary 2009 jersey photo Hungary2009B.jpg

Today's video section begins with highlights of Ocskay displaying his speed and offensive skills as he terrorized goaltenders from all over the world.

This next clip is a musical tribute to Ocskay and shows not only his hockey playing skills, but more about his life off the ice and the family man that he was.

Friday, April 18, 2014

1982-83 Calgary Flames Kent Nilsson Jersey

When the Flames relocated from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980, the became the new tenants of the Stampede Corral.

Calgary Stampede Corral logo 1988

Calgary Stampede Corral 1988

The Corral was built in 1950 at a cost of $1.25 million Canadian dollars to replace the Victoria Arena, which dated back prior to World War I. It had 6,475 seats but could hold over 8,700 fans including standing room only patrons and when it was constructed it was the largest arena in Canada west of Toronto.

It originally was home of the Calgary Stampeders hockey club, who were then members of the Western Canadian Senior Hockey League. The Stampeders turned professional the following season when the joined the Pacific Coast Hockey League for one season prior to joining the Western Hockey League for the next 11 seasons. During their third year in the WHL, the Stampeders won the league championship for the only time in their five trips to the finals before folding in 1963.

The next club to call the Stampede Corral home was the Calgary Buffaloes, who became the Centennials after one season, a junior hockey team which began play in 1966. They played each of their 11 seasons the Corral, reaching the Western Canada Hockey League finals once in 1974 prior to relocating to Billings, Montana. John Davidson and Lanny McDonald were the most notable of the Centennials.

Before their departure, the Centennials shared the arena with the return of professional hockey to Calgary when the Vancouver Blazers of the World Hockey Association moved to Calgary and became known as the Calgary Cowboys, who featured one of the worst logos in professional sports history.

Calgary Cowboys logo

The Cowboys were doomed to be a financial failure, as the Stampede still only held 6,500 fans, which the franchise could not even fill. Ownership was hoping the arena would be expanded to 15,000 seats, but attendance during their second season was less than 4,500 fans and, when only 2,000 signed up for a third season, the franchise folded in the summer of 1977 after only two seasons of play.

Immediately filling the departure of the junior hockey Centennials were the Calgary Wranglers, who relocated from Winnipeg. The Wranglers played in Caglary for ten seasons, making the finals once before moving yet again in 1987. Future Flames goaltender Mike Vernon would be the best known of the Wranglers.

In 1980 the Atlanta Flames ownership was suffering from considerable financial difficulty and sold the Flames to Nelson Skalbania for a record $16 million. Skalbania moved his new purchase to Calgary, keeping both the name and the jerseys, with only a change in logo from a flaming "A" to a flaming "C". The Flames were an immediate success playing in the Stampede Corral for their first three seasons prior to moving in 1983 to the 19,000 seat Olympic Saddledome, which had been constructed in anticipation of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The Flames had a great debut season at the Sampede Corral, finishing with a 39-27-14 record and making it to the NHL playoff semifinals. Their third season saw them qualify for the playoffs, and after defeating the Vancouver Canucks, they faced their Alberta rivals the Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs for the first time ever.

The ascendant Oilers won the first two games in Edmonton prior to returning to Calgary for games 3 and 4. The Oilers embarrassed the Flames 10-2 in Game 3, but the Oilers sent the arena off in style in front of 7,242 fans with a 6-5 win in the final NHL game ever played at the Stampede Corral on this date in 1983 after building a 6-2 win and holding on through a furious Oilers rally during the final ten minutes. The series would then move to Edmonton, where the Oilers would oust the Flames from the playoffs.

The Stampede Corral is still used for the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo exhibition and festival as well as other events such as basketball, wrestling, boxing and concerts. It also hosted the 1972 World Figure Skating Championships, some hockey games during the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Today's featured jersey is a 1982-83 Calgary Flames Kent Nilsson jersey as used in the final NHL game at the Stampede Corral when the Flames defeated the Edmonton Oilers. As stated previously, the Flames jerseys remained unchanged following their move from Atlanta, save for a change in logo.

Nilsson would lead the Flames in scoring during their first season in Calgary while placing third in the league scoring race behind only Wayne Gretzky and Marcel Dionne with 131 points. After an injury shortened season in 1981-82, he rebounded to lead the Flames in scoring once more during their last season at the Stampede Corral with 103 points, which tied him for ninth place overall.

Calgary Flames 82-83 jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1975-76 Calgary Cowboys Ron Chipperfield jersey from another tenant of the Stampede Corral, the Calgary Cowboys of the WHA. The Cowboys only lasted two seasons before folding.

Chipperfield played eight professional seasons with Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton of the WHA and then moved with the Oilers to the NHL, where he later played with the Quebec Nordiques. His final professional season was spent in Italy where he won the league scoring title with an amazing 78 goals and 128 points in a mere 30 games!

Calgary Cowboys 75-76 jersey

Extra Bonus Jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1983-84 Calgary Wranglers Darryl Daignault jersey from the junior team which played at the Stampede Corral from 1977 to 1987 prior to becoming the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

This attractive jersey is reminiscent of the Winnipeg Jets jerseys of the same time period, only with stripes that run down the sides of the jersey and not across the waist, proving to be ahead of it's time, as that is now a common design element.

It also features a great logo of a cowboy roping an italicized "W", a dynamic look which was light years ahead of the Calgary Cowboys lame "Charlie Brown in a cowboy hat" logo.

Calgary Wranglers 83-84 Jersey
Calgary Wranglers 83-84 Jersey

Today's video highlights begin with a look at the 2012 Centennial edition of the Calgary Stampede, which is held every July.

This next video of cowboy Glenn Stewart putting his horse through a series of obstacles contains enough long shots to give you an idea of how small the Corral is, making it hard to imagine an NHL team ever called it's cozy confines home.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1973-74 Minnesota North Stars Dennis Hextall Jersey

Born into a hockey family on this date in 1943, Dennis Hextall was the son of New York Rangers great Bryan Hextall Sr. Dennis began is road to the NHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in 1961-62. He returned for a second season, which saw his point total more than double from 29 to 67.

Hextall then enrolled in the University of North Dakota, where he would play from 1963-64 to 1965-66, where his best season saw him score 53 points in 33 games. Fate was on his side, as after one season in the minor leagues with the Knoxville Knights of the Eastern Hockey League, where he scored 76 points while amassing 202 penalty minutes in 61 games, the NHL expanded from 6 clubs to now 12, creating roughly 240 new jobs for players in the NHL.

Still, Hextall wasn't deemed quite ready just yet, as he spent the entire 1967-68 regular season with first the Omaha Knights of the Central League before spending the majority of his season playing in 60 games for the Buffalo Bisons in the American Hockey League. Following 5 playoff games for the Bisons, Hextall made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers for a pair of playoff games, becoming only the second player to make it to the NHL after playing college hockey in the US after Red Berenson.

He would again return to Buffalo for 1968-69, scoring 65 points in 60 games as well as appearing in 13 games for the Rangers, which included his first NHL goal and four additional assists.

Hextall Rangers, Hextall Rangers

He was then traded to the dismal Los Angeles Kings, who would finish with 38 points, 20 back of the Oakland Seals for last place in the league. While with the Kings' organization, he would play in 28 games for the parent club as well as 10 games for the Springfield Kings of the AHL before being dealt in January of 1970 to the Montreal Canadiens organization, where he was assigned to the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL, where he average a point per game for the 29 games he was there.

Hextall Kings, Hextall Kings

He was then sold to the renamed California Seals for the 1970-71 season where led the club in scoring with 21 goals and 52 points although it was the Seals turn to sink in the standings to last place. The toughness in Hextall's game emerged that season as he also led the club in penalty minutes, with 217, over 120 more than his next closest teammate and enough for second place in the entire NHL.

Hextall Seals, Hextall Seals

On the move once again, Hextall was then traded to the Minnesota North Stars for two players
just after the season, but was limited to only 33 games with Minnesota and an additional 5 with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL due to a knee injury.

Hextall North Stars, Hextall North Stars

Minnesota stuck with Hextall and he responded to finally having some stability and the leadership role the North Stars put him in, as he set a career highs with 30 goals and 82 points to lead the team in scoring while also having the most penalty minutes with 140, the only one on the roster to even break 100.

Hextall North Stars, Hextall North Stars

He duplicated his 82 points in 1973-74 thanks to a career best 62 assists, and followed that with 74 points the next season, leading the team in scoring for the third consecutive season and earning his second consecutive appearance in the NHL All-Star Game. His 147 penalty minutes allowed him to regain the team lead after having finished second the previous year to Dennis O'Brien.

After qualifying for the postseason the first two seasons, the North Stars had slipped out of the playoffs the previous two seasons and their situation was no better in 1975-76 and changes were in the making. After 59 games, which included three months playing with his brother Bryan Jr. after his arrival from the Detroit Red Wings, and the team clearly going nowhere fast, Hextall was one of the few North Stars with some trade value and shipped to the Red Wings late in the season.

Unfortunately for Hextall, it was now the Red Wings turn to hit rock bottom, finishing even below the dreadful Colorado Rockies. Detroit was unable to produce much offensively, which naturally affected the now 34 year old Hextall's numbers, as he scored 46 and 49 points. His rugged style of play remained however, as he racked up 158 and then 195 penalty minutes while serving as one of the team's captains.

Hextall Red Wings, Hextall Red Wings

In 1978-79 Hextall played 20 games with the Red Wings before signing with the Washington Capitals as a free agent to finish out the season. He would return to the Capitals for 1979-80 for 15 games before retiring with 681 games played with 163 goals and 350 assists for 503 career points along with his 1,398 penalty minutes.

Despite starting his 13 year NHL career in the playoffs with the Rangers, Hextall had the unfortunate timing of joining a succession of teams while each were at low points, which limited him to only three other playoff appearances.

Dennis Hextall autograph, Dennis Hextall autograph

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota North Stars Dennis Hextall jersey as worn during the season he tied his career high with 82 points.

The North Stars green jerseys acquired a white shoulder yoke in 1968-69 and this style lasted throughout Hextall's time with the North Stars until being replaced by a new style in 1975-76, Hextall's final one with the club.

Minnesota North Stars 73-74 jersey, Minnesota North Stars 73-74 jersey
Minnesota North Stars 73-74 jersey, Minnesota North Stars 73-74 jersey

Today's video segment begins with some of Hextall's many penalty minutes, as he fights with Stan Jonathan of the Boston Bruins.

Next, Hextall is interviewed by Hall of Famer Sid Abel while with the Red Wings, although the synching of the audio is off enough to make you question who's voice it is you're hearing!

Finally, Hextall discusses getting back outdoors and playing some pond hockey in Colorado.


hit counter for blogger