Sunday, January 22, 2017

1997-98 New York Rangers Pat LaFontaine Jersey

Drafted by third overall by the New York Islanders, Pat LaFontaine delayed his entry into the NHL by first playing for the United States National Team in preparation for the 1984 Olympics.

Lafontaine USA 1984, Lafontaine USA 1984

At the conclusion of the Olympics, LaFontaine then joined the Islanders for the remainder of the 1983-84 season, scoring 13 goals in 15 games. He would play seven seasons on Long Island, unfortunately arriving at the conclusion of the Islanders dynasty which occurred with the loss in the 1984 Stanley Cup Finals to the Edmonton Oilers. It would be the last time LaFontaine would play in the finals, as his teams would never advance past the second round of the playoffs for the remainder of his career.

He proved to be a prolific goal scorer with the Islanders, scoring 38 goals in this third full season and then posting four consecutive seasons of 40 goals or more, highlighted by his career high of 54 in 1989-90 and his 105 points that year was his best as an Islander.

Lafontaine Islanders, Lafontaine Islanders

The highlight of LaFontaine's time with the Islanders was scoring the series winning goal in the fourth overtime of Game 7 between the Islanders and the Washington Capitals during the 1987 playoffs. "It was the most memorable moment in my hockey life. Even today, wherever I go, people come up to me and start telling me where they were during the Easter Epic," LaFontaine said.


LaFontaine would suffer a concussion during the playoffs in 1990, the first of several that would affect his career.

With the situation in New York looking dismal for the foreseeable future, LaFontaine turned down a contract offer from the Islanders and sat out the first three weeks of the season before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Sabres were a good fit for LaFontaine and he immediately scored 93 points in 57 games that season, although he was limited by a broken jaw which led to some interesting headgear upon his return.


He followed up his first season in Buffalo with the best offensive season of his career in 1992-93, after being named team captain, with 53 goals and 95 assists, helping set up many of Alexander Mogilny's 76 goals in the process, for a career best 148 points and second place in the NHL scoring race.

Laftontaine Mogilny 92-93, Laftontaine Mogilny 92-93
LaFontaine and Mogilny were rewarded with spots in the
1993 NHL All-Star Game

The next two seasons were a struggle for LaFontaine, as he only managed to play in 38 total games due to knee surgery for a torn ligament. Still, he was awarded the Masterton Trophy in 1995.

Proving he still could compete, he had his seventh 40 goal season in 1995-96, finishing with 91 points. Early in the next season, he would suffer another concussion, costing him several months of playing time which would limit him to just 13 games. Sabres management and team doctors refused to clear him to play, but LaFontaine demanded a trade, believing he could still play.

The Sabres subsequently traded him to the New York Rangers for the final season of his career. He managed to play in 67 games, which included reaching the 1,000 point milestone on this date in 1998, as well as representing the United States a month later at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Lafontaine USA 1998, Lafontaine USA 1998
LaFontaine at the 1998 Olympics

After suffering another serious concussion in a collision with a teammate in mid March, LaFontaine would miss the remainder of the year and retire at the end of the season, having totaled 468 goals, 545 assists and 1013 points in his abbreviated 15 year career.

In addition to the 1984 and 1998 Olympics which bookended his international career, LaFontaine would also compete for the United States in the 1987 Canada Cup, the 1989 World Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup and the gold medal winning 1996 World Cup of Hockey team, where LaFontaine had four points in five games.

Lafontaine USA 1996, Lafontaine USA 1996
LaFontaine hoists the 1996 World Cup

In 2003 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as well as the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2006, the Buffalo Sabres would retire LaFontaine's #16 on March 3rd.

An interesting note of trivia, LaFontaine is one of only three players to play for all three teams from the state of New York, and the only one to have played his entire career in New York state. LaFontaine once joked, "I got to play for three great organizations in my career and never once had to buy new license plates."

Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 New York Rangers Pat LaFontaine jersey. This highly attractive jersey was worn during the season LaFontaine scored his 1,000th career point.

The beautiful "Liberty" jersey was first introduced in 1996 and featured a bold new crest featuring the Statue of Liberty and a very classy darker shade of blue than the traditional road jerseys. This style is perhaps the finest third jersey in NHL history and would remain in use through the 2006-07 season until being discontinued when all clubs were limited to just two jerseys with the arrival of the new Reebok Edge jerseys.

During LaFontaine's career, there was inconsistency in the way his name was displayed on the back of his jerseys. The Islanders had it as both "LAFONTAINE" in all capital letters of the same size and also "LAFONTAINE" with the "A" capitalized, but in a smaller size. The Sabres seem to have used all capitals the same size while the Rangers used the small "A" style. His 1987 USA Canada Cup and jerseys used the smaller "A", while we have seen his 1996 USA World Cup jerseys both ways!

If you are going to add a LaFontaine jersey to your collection, we strongly recommend searching for photos and videos of the style of jersey you wish to replicate and supply your findings to your customizers in order to get the most accurate jersey possible.


We begin today's video selections with the Top 10 goals by Pat LaFontaine.


Next, a tribute to LaFontaine on the occasion of his jersey retirement by the Sabres.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

2017 Hockey Day Minnesota

Today is the eleventh annual Hockey Day in Minnesota, an annual event run in cooperation between Fox Sports North and the Minnesota Wild. FS North will feature over 16 hours of hockey related programming, beginning at 9 AM central time.

Hockey Day logo, Hockey Day logo

Stillwater, 20 miles northeast of St. Paul, has been chosen as the host site. Several outdoor games will be played there in Lowell Park on the St. Croix River under the shadow of the picturesque Stillwater Lift Bridge which connects Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The forecast looks marginal though,with a high of 40º and a 50-60% chance of rain throughout the day, but a cooling system should help keep the ice in good condition.

2017HDM_logo Bridge
The Stillwater Lift Bridge which spans the St. Croix River

The day begins with a pair of boys high school hockey games starting at 10 AM with Thief River Falls from the far northwest corner of the state taking on Mahtomedi from the northeast part of the Twin Cities metro area (7 miles west of Stillwater), who are ranked #5 in the smaller Class A.

That game will be followed by #6 AA Eden Prarie (9-4-2), also from the Twin Cities metro area, facing hosts Stillwater (13-1-0), who are the #1 ranked Class AA team in the state at 1:00

The player to watch in that game is Casey Mittlestadt, who has already played on the US National U18 Team, been written about in the New York Times, has committed to play at the University of Minnesota next season and is a consensus top five pick for this year's NHL draft.

Mittelstadt EP 2
Casey Mittlestadt

Following the second high school game, FSN will have plenty of feature programming on various hockey topics around Minnesota at all levels until the excitement builds at 5 PM when the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers visit the University of Wisconsin Badgers in a Big Ten Hockey Conference matchup in an intense rivalry that dates back over 50 years.

Gophers vs Badgers
The Golden Gophers and Badgers will
renew their rivalry in Madison

Following the college game, it's finally time for the pros to take center stage when the red-hot Minnesota Wild host the Anaheim Ducks. The Wild are led by forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. The Wild lead the Western Conference with a 29-10-5 record under new head coach Bruce Boudreau and will be facing his former team the Ducks, who are leading the Pacific Division with a 26-13-9 record, just 2 points back of the Wild.

Suter Parise, Suter Parise
Ryan Suter and Zach Parise

Over 18,000 fans will be on hand at the Xcel Energy Center with many more taking in the festivities in Stillwater as well as all the other 47 boys high school games scheduled to take place around the state today.

Also, at 3:00 on the sister Fox Sports North Plus channel, the Minnesota State Mavericks will face the St. Cloud State Huskies in a WCHA women's college matchup.

Following the Wild game, Hockey Day in Minnesota will conclude with a tape delayed broadcast at 11 PM of the Minnetonka vs. Stillwater girls high school outdoor game from Lowell Park.

It's going to be a fantastic, fun filled day of hockey, hockey and more hockey and a great way to to spend your Saturday if you can access FSN.

Today's video section begins with a look at the preparations for Hockey Day Minnesota in Stillwater.



Next, a look at Mittlestadt and the Eden Prarie Eagles.



Stillwater Lift Bridge 2

Friday, January 20, 2017

1924-25 Montreal Maroons Clint Benedict Jersey

Clint Benedict of the Montreal Maroons became the first goaltender in the NHL to reach 20 career shutouts on this date in 1925 with a 2-0 shutout over the Boston Bruins.

While Benedict reached 20 NHL shutouts in 1925, he actually had 23 career shutouts at that point, as the NHL had only been formed in 1917, and Benedict's professional career dated back to the 1912-13 season when he joined the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey Association.

He would back up future Hall of Famer Percy LeSueur for two seasons until taking over as the starter in 1914, leading the NHA in Goals Against Average for three consecutive seasons and recording four shutouts in five seasons.

The 1914-15 Ottawa Senators of the NHA

Following the 1916-17 season, the NHA would disband and the Senators would join the newly formed National Hockey League. As part of the NHL, the Senators would win the Stanley Cup in 1920, 1921 and 1923 with Benedict as their goaltender. He would also lead the NHL in wins for six of his seven seasons with the Senators after joining the new league.

The relationship between Benedict and the Senators would sour over the matter of Benedict's drinking, which included the Senators withholding some of his salary as a result. When Benedict sued the club, they countersued and Benedict's problems were revealed and the relationship was damaged beyond repair.

As a result, Benedict was traded to the Montreal Maroons in time for their inaugural season in 1924-25 with his NHL career shutout total standing at 18. After a previous clean sheet, Benedict would get his 20th NHL shutout on this date in 1925, the first goaltender in the NHL to reach that milestone.

The inaugural 1924-25 Montreal Maroons

The following season of 1925-26 saw Benedict add six more shutouts to his career total during the regular season. He would then lead the Maroons to their first Stanley Cup championship in only their second season while recording three more shutouts in four Stanley Cup Finals games against the Victoria Cougars.

The Stanley Cup Champion 1925-26 Montreal Maroons photo 1925-26MontealMaroonsteam.jpg
The Stanley Cup Champion 1925-26 Montreal Maroons

In 1926-27,  Benedict would record 13 more shutouts in 43 games and two seasons later add 11 more to his tally as scoring in the NHL reached an all-time low, with Toronto's Ace Bailey led the league with 22 goals and 32 points in a 44 game schedule.

To open up the game, the rules were changed, now allowing forward passing in the attacking zone beginning with the 1929-30 NHL season. The changes were immediate and dramatic, as Cooney Weiland led the league with 43 goals and 73 points, 41 points more than Bailey's league leading total the previous season! Shutouts by goaltenders were obviously negatively affected, and Benedict's in particular, as his total went from 11 to zero in his final NHL season.

Benedict earned his place in hockey lore in 1930 when, following being hit in the face by a shot from the Montreal Canadiens Howie Morenz on January 5th, which broke his nose and fractured his cheek, he returned to the ice six weeks later on February 20th against the New York Americans, now wearing a protective facemask based on one used by boxing sparring partners. His use of the mask was short-lived. Varying accounts claim he wore it for one, two or even as many as five games, modifying the mask and even trying different styles, before giving up on the idea of wearing a mask due to them restricting his vision.

"The nosepiece protruded too far and obscured my vision on low shots," Benedict said. After losing 2-0 to Chicago on February 25th wearing it, "I threw the darn thing away. I blamed it for the loss and that was that." He then tried a wire cage-style protector, like a baseball catcher's mask, "but the wires distracted me. That's when I gave up."

Clint Benedict mask, Clint Benedict mask
Benedict wearing his famous facemask

He was again injured on March 4th in a game against Ottawa when he got hit in the face during a goalmouth scramble, which proved to be his final NHL game as well as his reported final (of five) games wearing a mask.

If the reports of Benedict wearing the mask for five games are accurate, he would have tied the Americans in the first game, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 in the second, lost to Chicago 2-0 in the final game for the leather mask, again defeated the Maroons 5-1 on March 1st before leaving the game on March 4th, a 6-2 defeat by the Senators for a record of 2-2-1 in the five games while wearing a wire mask of some style.

He played one final season for the Windsor Bulldogs of the IHL before retiring as a player.

Benedict finished his NHL career with 190 wins and 28 ties, along with 57 shutouts in 362 games, holds numerous Maroons goaltending records, including most wins, shutouts and lowest goals against average, and won four Stanley Cups. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.

Today's featured jersey is a 1924-25 Montreal Maroons Clint Benedict jersey from the Maroons first season, and the one in which Benedict would become the first to reach the 20 shutout mark in NHL history.

The Maroons sweaters in their inaugural season read "MONTREAL" across the front, rather than the more familiar "M" logo that they would adopt for their second season and continue to wear for the remainder of the franchise's remaining 13 seasons.


Our video selection today is a trip through time and a look at the Evolution of the Goalie Mask. Hopefully you will see some forgotten favorites from the days of the early paint jobs on the full face mask.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

1973-74 Atlanta Flames Ed Kea Jersey

Born on this day in Weesp, Netherlands in 1948, the story of Ed Kea is one of triumph and tragedy.

His family emigrated to Ontario, Canada when Ed was four years old and he began to play hockey like many young boys in Canada.

His first professional club was the Jersey Devils of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL) in 1969-70 where the defenseman played 52 games, scoring 22 points and accumulating 130 penalty minutes.

Kea Jersey Devils 69-70

The following season he played 74 games with Jersey, scoring 34 points, and also played five games with the Seattle Totems of the Western Hockey League.

For the 1971-72 season, Kea would head to St. Petersburg, Florida for a year with the short-lived Suncoast Suns of the EHL. Kea was the Suns highest scoring defenseman and set career highs with 10 goals and 39 assists for 49 points.

1971-72 Suncoast Suns
The 1971-72 Suncoast Suns. Kea is third from the right in the front row wearing the assistant captain's "A".

He moved a step closer to the NHL in 1972-73 when he played for the Omaha Knights in the Central Hockey League. In 68 games he equalled his career high ten goals from the year before and contributed six points in 11 playoff games as the Knights won the Adams Cup as league champions.

The 1973-74 season was a memorable one for Kea. He would play seven games for the Knights and 51 games for the Tulsa Oilers, scoring 23 points, but the true highlight was making his NHL debut with the Atlanta Flames. He would see action in just three games that season, but his two assists would make Kea the first player born in the Netherlands to ever score a point in the NHL.

Kea Flames
Ed Kea, the first Dutchman to ever score a point in the NHL

He would work to establish himself as a full-time NHL regular the following season, as he spent 21 games with Omaha but the majority of the season with 50 games in Atlanta, which included his first NHL goal, also the first one ever by a player born in the Netherlands.

Kea would play exclusively in the NHL over the next three seasons with the Flames, supplying solid defensive work, with a +21 rating in 1976 and a +25 in 1978, as well as steady offensive contributions with 27, 25 and 26 points.

He played on more season in Atlanta, although he was limited to 53 games, but still managed his usual point production with 24. He also appeared in a pair of games with Tulsa back in the CHL.

Prior to the 1979-80 season, Kea was traded to the St. Louis Blues, where he would play three and a half seasons with a +9, +15 and +19 rating to go along with his 19, 21 and 16 points the first three seasons.

Kea Blues

After 46 games in 1982-83, Kea was sitting at just five assists with a -7 rating and was sent down to the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the CHL, where during just his ninth game with the Golden Eagles, Kea would suffer a career ending severe head injury when his bare head struck the ice face first after a clean check, breaking his nose and knocking him unconscious. He would require emergency major brain surgery to save his life two days later to relieve hemorrhaging, swelling and clotting and was left both mentally and physically disabled after beating 50-50 odds of surviving the surgery.

Worse yet, since he was playing in the minor leagues, the NHL benefits for catastrophic injuries did not apply to his case, and with his inability to support his wife and four children, times were very hard for the Kea family.

It was the handling of Kea's case in particular that appalled journalist Russ Conway, which led to him exposing the corruption of Alan Eagleson and his embezzlement of insurance payments meant for the players he represented as head of their union which led to Eagleson's conviction of fraud and embezzlement.

Kea survived the surgery and underwent therapy and rehabilitation and moved on to a life beyond hockey, but 16 years later tragedy struck again, and Kea died in 1999 at the age of just 51 when he drowned in the swimming pool at his family's summer cottage.

Of note, former NHLers Jeff Bukeboom and Joe Nieuwendyk are Kea's nephews.

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Atlanta Flames Ed Kea jersey as worn by Kea during his rookie season in the NHL when he became the first player born in the Netherlands to score a point in the NHL. In his ten year career, Kea would score 30 goals and 145 assists for 175 points.


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

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

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

Atlanta Flames 73-74 jersey
Atlanta Flames 73-74 jersey

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

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



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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

1963-64 Detroit Red Wings Terry Sawchuk Jersey

Terry Sawchuk idolized his older brother Mitch, who wanted to be a goaltender. Sadly, at just seventeen years of age, Mitch died of a heart attack. After inheriting his older brother's goalie equipment Terry began playing hockey in a local league and began to excel to the point that at age 14 a local scout for the Detroit Red Wings had Sawchuk work out for him and later signed Terry to an amateur contract to play for their junior team.

Sawchuk turned pro with Detroit in 1950, filling in for the injured Harry Lumley, who would return in time to lead the Red Wings to the 1950 Stanley Cup championship. Despite winning the championship, Lumley was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, promoting Sawchuk to the Red Wings goaltending job in time for the 1950-51 season even though he only had seven games of NHL experience.

A young Terry Sawchuk in goal for Detroit

The Red Wings faith in Sawchuk would immediately pay off, as he would record a record of 44 wins, 13 losses and 13 ties with 11 shutouts and a goals against average (GAA) of 1.99 in his first full season, earning the Calder Trophy.

The 1951-52 season saw even more success, as he would again win 44 games, post 12 more shutouts and lower his goals against to 1.90, which would earn him his first Vezina Trophy. The Red Wings would advance through the playoffs and capture the Stanley Cup as NHL champions that season.

Terry Sawchuk and Red Wings captain Sid Abel
celebrate winning the 1952 Stanley Cup

Sawchuk would earn another Vezina Trophy in 1953, a second Stanley Cup championship in 1954, both the Vezina and another Stanley Cup in 1955, giving him three of each in just his first five seasons in the league.

1953-54 Detroit Red Wings team
The 1953-54 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings

Feeling they had a new goaltender on the rise in Glenn Hall, the Red Wings would trade Sawchuk to the Boston Bruins prior to the 1955-56 season. He would record just 22 wins for Boston that season after having had a minimum of 32 during his time in Detroit. In his second season in Boston, Sawchuk was diagnosed with mononucleosis, but returned to the team just two weeks later. His play was poor, as he was weak from the illness and he announced his retirement from hockey early in 1957.

With Hall having fallen out of favor with the Red Wings, they traded Johnny Bucyk to Boston to reacquire Sawchuk for the start of the following season. He would play seven seasons for the Red Wings during his second stint in Detroit. While in Detroit, he would begin wearing a mask for the first time during the 1962-63 season after accumulating over 350 stitches up to that point in his career.

During his second tour of duty with Detroit, Sawchuk would
join the ranks of goaltenders now wearing protective masks

He would post between 22 and 29 wins in five of those seven seasons and add 23 more shutouts to his career total, with one of them coming on this date in 1964 after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 to pass legendary Canadiens goaltender George Hainsworth's career total of 94 set in 1936, a record that had stood for 28 years.

The Red Wings, feeling Sawchuk was expendable due to the promising Roger Crozier, left Sawchuk exposed in the waiver draft and was claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, where the 35-year-old would share goaltending duties with forty-year-old Johnny Bower.

Sawchuk and Maple Leafs partner Bower

The pair responded by winning the Vezina Trophy in 1965, Sawchuk's fourth, perhaps in part to their decreased workload keeping them fresher on the days they did play, as they both went from 50+ games played down to the mid-30's that year. They were the first pair to share the Vezina, then awarded statistically to the goaltender for the team that gave up the least number of goals and not a vote for who is considered the best goaltender, as it is today.

Sawchuk and Bower accepting the Vezina Trophy in 1965

Two seasons later, in 1966-67, the Maple Leafs would capture the most recent Stanley Cup in their history, and the fourth and final one of Sawchuk's career.

1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs team
The 1966-67 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs

Once more, a championship season for Sawchuk was rewarded by being let go by his club, as he was left unprotected in the 1967 expansion draft and claimed by the Los Angeles Kings. He would play 36 games for the Kings in 1967-68, adding two more shutouts to his total. The Kings would trade Sawchuk to the Red Wings for the 1968-69 season. 

Sawchuk Kings
Sawchuk wearing the royal purple of the Kings

He would play the final season of his career with the New York Rangers, seeing action in eight games, which included recording the final shutout of his career, giving a league record of 103.

Sawchuk Rangers
Sawchuk's final 8 games came with the Rangers

His final NHL totals were 971 games over 21 seasons, an NHL record 447 wins, 330 losses and 172 ties (also an NHL record), with 23% of his wins coming via shutouts. In addition to his 103 regular season shutouts, he would also record 12 more in the playoffs.

Sawchuk would die at age 40 in 1970 just after the conclusion of the hockey season due to a pulmonary embolism as the result of an accidental injury suffered in a conflict with his Rangers teammate and housemate Ron Stewart.

In 1971 Sawchuk was named the winner of the Lester Patrick Award and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His #1 retired by the Red Wings in 1994.

Sawchuk's record for most wins lasted for 30 years until being broken by Patrick Roy on October 18, 2000 and his 103 shutouts stood as the record for 39 years until being surpassed by Martin Brodeur in December of 2009.

For further reading, several books have been written on the tumultuous life of Sawchuk.

Today's featured jersey is a 1963-64 Detroit Red Wings Terry Sawchuk jersey as worn the season he set the NHL record for most shutouts in a career. 

From 1932 to 1934, the Red Wings only wore red sweaters for both home and road games, with the white jersey not being introduced until the 1934-35 season. The next real change of note was the addition of red sleeves decorated with sleeve numbers for the first time in 1961, as seen on today's bonus jersey. Names would not appear until 1973 with only changes to fonts for the name and numbers since.

Detroit Red Wings 1957-58 jersey photo DetroitRedWings1957-58jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey:
Today's bonus jersey is a 1950-51 Detroit Red Wings Terry Sawchuk jersey
The Red Wings jersey is a true classic in the NHL and has remained essentially unchanged since it was introduced back in 1932 when the club changed their name from the Falcons, as they had been known since 1930.


The original Detroit red sweaters used red numbers trimmed in white from 1932-33 until a change to single color white numbers in 1937-38, with the next change to the red jerseys being the addition of names in 1977-78.

This jersey was worn by Sawchuk during his rookie season of 1950-51 when he became the first NHL goaltender to ever win 40 games in a season and claim the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, and is an early example of a Red Wings jersey as evidenced by it's lack of sleeve numbers.


Detroit Red Wings 1954-55 jersey photo DetroitRedWings1954-55jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1969-70 New York Rangers Terry Sawchuk jersey as worn by Sawchuk during his final win and 103rd and last shutout. This jersey was then recycled the following season when it was worn by Gilles Villemure, who won the Vezina Trophy that season, giving this jersey a highly unique pedigree!

New York Rangers 1969-70 F jersey
New York Rangers 1969-70 B jersey

This Legends of Hockey profile covers Sawchuk's career from the time of his youth through the end of his career and premature death at age 40.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

1997-98 New York Rangers Wayne Gretzky Jersey

Instituted to promote the NHL's participation in the upcoming Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the first Olympics to be supported by a suspension of the NHL season to allow the best players an opportunity to represent their home country at the Games, the 1998 NHL All-Star Game was the first to use the World vs. North America format. The new format would last for five years, and during those various All-Star games, each player would wear the flag of their home country on their respective All-Star jerseys.

 photo 1998NHLAll-StarGame.jpg
Dominik Hasek (World) and Wayne Gretzky (North America)
in their 1998 NHL All-Star Game jerseys, complete with a
flag patch for each player's home country

On this date in 1998, for the first year under the new format and for the one and only time, each player would also wear the flag of their native country on their NHL club team jersey during the weekend's 1998 Super Skills Competition. For some players, this would be the only patch they would ever wear on a particular style of NHL jersey, and for knowledgeable collectors, it's a chance to create a interesting jersey with a unique story behind it.

Gretzky 1998 SSC photo Gretzky1998SSC.jpg
Wayne Gretzky wearing a Canadian flag on his New York Rangers
jersey - the only patch he would ever wear on a Rangers jersey

For the 1998 Super Skills Competition, the North American players would wear their dark road jerseys while the World Team would dress in their home whites.

The array of flags in use was quite impressive, with North America being represented by the both Canada and the United States, while the World Team sported the flags of the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden.

Among the most decorated jerseys from that event were from the host Vancouver Canucks. While most of the flags were located in the traditional patch location of the upper right chest, the Canucks were already wearing the 1998 NHL All-Star Game patch in that location as hosts of the event, and chose to locate the flag patches for Canadian Mark Messier (dark jersey) and Russian Pavel Bure (light jersey) to the top of the right shoulder. This pair of jerseys also illustrates how the new format would sometimes pit teammates against each other for the first time in an NHL All-Star Game, a new quirk of the World vs. North America format not seen before.

Vancouver Canucks R 97-98 jersey photo VancouverCanucksD97-98jersey.jpg
Vancouver Canucks W 97-98 jersey photo VancouverCanucksW97-98jersey.jpg

A similar situation occurred with the Detroit Red Wings, as they were already wearing the "Believe" patch for injured teammate Valdimir Konstantinov and team masseuse Sergei Mnatsakanov. They took a different route than Vancouver and put their flag patches in the standard location for Brendan Shanahan (dark jersey) and Slava Fetisov, Igor Larionov and Nicklas Lidstrom (light jerseys) with the Believe patch just below.

Shanahan 1998 SSC photo Shanahan1998SSC.jpg

 photo DetroitRedWings1997-98ASGjersey.jpg

Winners at the event were Teemu Selanne - Puck Control Relay, Scott Niedermayer - Fastest Skater (13.56 second lap around the rink), Ray Bourque, Peter Forsberg and Shanahan - Accuracy Shooting, Al MacInnis - Hardest Shot (100.4 mph) and Dominik Hasek - Goaltenders Competition.

Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 New York Rangers Wayne Gretzky jersey with the Canadian Flag patch on the upper right chest as worn only during the 1998 Super Skills Competition during the NHL All-Star Game weekend.

This is special since it is the one and only additional patch Gretzky would ever wear on any Rangers jersey during his three seasons in New York.

It's actually a little surprising that the flag patch was located on the right chest, as the Rangers have had a history of relocating various other patches to both the right and left shoulders due to the diagonal cresting on the front of their jerseys interfering with the standard patch placement commonly used by other clubs.

Of note, defenseman Brian Leetch was also a part of the North American team and would have worn an American flag on his Rangers jersey for the Super Skills Competition.

New York Rangers 1997-98 ASG G B jersey photo NewYorkRangers1997-98ASGGjersey.jpg
New York Rangers 1997-98 ASG G B jersey photo NewYorkRangers1997-98ASGGBjersey.jpg
 photo NewYorkRangers1997-98ASGGPsm.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1997-98 Buffalo Sabres Dominik Hasek jersey as worn during the 1998 Super Skills Competition when Hasek won the Goaltenders Competition with the additon of the Czech Flag for that event only. No other Sabres were a part of the 1998 NHL All-Star Weekend, making Hasek the only one to wear a flag on a Sabres jersey, either dark or white.

Unlike Gretzky in New York, Hasek wore six patches during his nine seasons with the Sabres, but only two full season patches with this particular style Sabres jersey, which was introduced for the 1996-97 season, those being the SHK III patch for Sabres owner Seymour Knox, and the NHL 2000 patch, worn by all NHL players in celebration of the Millenium. Additionally, Buffalo did wear the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals patch during their series against the Dallas Stars.


Buffalo Sabres 1997-98 F
Buffalo Sabres 1997-98 B
Buffalo Sabres 1997-98 P

We have replicated a number of the jerseys from that event for our own collection, and here are the rosters for you to choose from if you would like to add a flag to a jersey you already own or create a new, unique project for your own collection.

At the time of this writing, the flag patches appear difficult to obtain on ebay, as it is now 15 years after the final World vs. North America game. For accuracy, you need the style with the quarter inch wide white border around the flag as shown above. A search for "NHL flag patch" is a good place to start.

Today's video section is the player introductions for 1998 NHL All-Star Game. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any footage of the Super Skills Competition at this time.

 

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