Friday, October 31, 2014

1959-60 Montreal Canadiens Maurice Richard Jersey

On this date in 1942, Maurice Richard made his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens - while wearing #15. He scored his first NHL point just 36 seconds into the game with an assist against the Boston Bruins at the Montreal Forum. He would score 5 goals in 16 games that season before establishing himself as an NHL regular the following season when he led the Canadiens with 32 goals while playing in 46 of Montreal's 50 games, which was good for 6th place in the league goal scoring race, just six back of league leader Doug Bentley's 38. He also added 12 goals in nine playoff games to earn his first Stanley Cup ring.

He set the hockey world on it's ear the following season, as in just his second full season in the NHL he not only led the league in goals but accomplished the unthinkable by becoming the first man to ever score 50 goals in 50 games, a feat that took 36 years to equal and only four other men have ever duplicated.

Richard came back down to Earth the following season with just 27 goals, which included passing the 100 goal mark, as well as earning his second Stanley Cup, but rebounded with a strong 45 tallies in 1946-47 to lead the league in goals for a second time and be named the Hart Trophy winner that season. Scoring was down league wide in 1947-48, as Richard managed just 28 goals to finish just five back of league leader Ted Lindsay's 33.

After just 20 goals in 1948-49, which allowed him to surpass the career 200 level, Richard had another strong season with 43 goals in 1949-50 to beat Gordie Howe by eight to win his third goal scoring title. He backed that up with a nearly identical 42 goals the following season, bested only by Howe's 43.

He netted 27 in 1952 to leave the 300 plateau in the distance and 28 more in 1953 as he won his third Stanley Cup. 1953-54 was the first of three consistent seasons with 37 (to lead the league). He became the first man to ever reach 400 career goals when he scored 38, which tied for the league lead with teammate "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, in 1954-55.

Richard scored another 38 goals in 1955-56 and got his fourth consecutive season over 30 with 33 in 1956-57, a season which saw him named team captain and lead the Canadiens to the first of five consecutive Stanley Cups under his captaincy.

The 1957-58 season saw him limited to just 28 games due to an Achilles tendon injury, but it was enough to allow him to score 15 goals that season, including his milestone 500th goal in 1957, making him the first man in NHL history to reach the magical 500 goal plateau at a time when no other player had ever reached 400 career goals!

Richard celebrates 500 goals

Richard 500 goal puck

Richard's career was now winding down and his final two seasons were curtailed by injuries, limiting him to 42 games and 17 goals in 1958-59 and his final season rose to 51 games and 19 goals to put his final career regular season goal total at 544 as well as 82 additional playoff goals as he won eight Stanley Cup rings.

Richard 1960 Stanely Cup
Richard at the conclusion of the final game of his career with the 1960 Stanley Cup

Following his career, the Richard would become only the second Canadiens player to have his sweater number retired when Montreal raised Richard's #9 to the rafters in 1960, following Howie Morenz, whose #7 was retired following his death from a heart attack five weeks after being hospitalized after breaking his leg during a game.

Today's featured jersey is a 1959-60 Montreal Canadiens Maurice Richard jersey. This jersey is from Richard's final season and features the captain's "C" on the left chest.

The iconic Canadiens jersey would remain essentially unchanged throughout the entirety of Richard's career, with the largest "change" being the addition of numbers to the sleeves in 1958.

Maurice Richard jersey

Here is footage from Maurice Richard's 500th goal.

Here is a look back at Richard's career on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his 500th goal.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Phil Housley Jersey

Phil Housley is one of the rare NHL players who never played a single game in the minors. He was drafted 6th overall in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft out of South St. Paul High School by the Buffalo Sabres.

He was a model of dependability for Buffalo, playing no less than 72 games, scoring a minimum of 15 goals, with a high of 31 in 1983-84, and totaling between 62 and 81 points for each of his eight seasons with the Sabres.

Housley Sabres, Housley Sabres

He was sent to the Winnipeg Jets in a deal that saw Dale Hawerchuk go to Buffalo and spent three seasons in Winnipeg cranking out the exact same kind of numbers he had for the Sabres.

Housley Jets, Housley Jets

He was traded to the St. Louis Blues for the 1993-94 season, but his time there was brief, appearing in only 26 games in St. Louis before once more being traded, this time to the Calgary Flames, who would then send him to the New Jersey Devils in 1995-96.

Housley Devils, Housley Devils

He then signed as a free agent with the Washington Capitals for the 1996-97 season, in which he would play in his 1000th game on this date in 1996. Housley would go on to set the unfortunate record of playing the most games in history without ever winning the Stanley Cup with 1,495. The closest Housley came to winning the cap was the following season with the Capitals when they made the 1998 finals.

Housley Capitals, Housley Capitals

He made a return to Calgary for the next three seasons followed by two as a Chicago Blackhawk who traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs, his eight and final team, where he would play in just a single regular season game and three playoff games to end his 21 year career.

Housley Flames, Housley Flames

When Housley retired in 2003, he held the record for most games played by an American, as well as the record for most career points by an American, no mean feat considering he spent the majority of his career playing defense, although he did skate at forward as well. His final statistical totals were 1495 games played, 338 goals and 894 assists for 1232 points.

He was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 2007 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

Housley USA, Housley USA

Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Buffalo Sabres Phil Housley jersey. The Sabres wore this style from their inaugural 1970-71 season through the 1995-96 season. Naturally, there were a few variations along the way which will allow collectors to date various jerseys, as the Sabres began life with lace up collars and no names on the back. Names arrived in 1977, shoulder logos and v-nick collars in 1978 and much bolder arm and waist striping in 1983.

After a change to an entirely new identity package in 1996, including new team colors of black and red, the Sabres classic jersey returned as an alternate jersey in 2006 and an updated version appear again as an alternate in 2008, which then became the team's primary jersey in 2010.

Buffalo Sabres 1989-90 jersey photo BullaloSabres1989-90Fjersey.jpg
Buffalo Sabres 1989-90 jersey photo BullaloSabres1989-90Bjersey.jpg

Bonus jersey:  Today's bonus jersey is a 2005 United States National Team Phil Housley jerseyInternationally, Housley played for the United States in the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cups, the World Championships in 1982, 1986, 1989, 2000, 2001 and 2003 and captured a gold medal in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

This style jersey made it's debut at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and was used during the World Juniors, World Championships, Olympics and 2004 World Cup, remaining in use through the 2005 World Junior Tournament.

This jersey sports Bauhaus sponsor patches on the shoulders, which is a unique element of jerseys worn during the World Championships.

USA 2005 jersey, USA 2005 jersey

In today's video secion, Housely plays for the United States in the 1984 Canada Cup versus Dominik Hasek and Czechoslovakia and gets an assist with a blast from the point.

Once more Housely gets an assist with a blast from the point versus Hasek, only this time while playing for the Capitals and wearing the unfamiliar #96.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1985-86 Washington Capitals Mike Gartner Jersey

Mike Gartner , born on this date in 1959, started his pro career with the Cincinnati Stingers of the World Hockey Association, having just turned 19 years old, below the NHL minimum age of 20 at the time.

Gartner Stingers

His 27 goals and 52 points that season for the Stingers got the attention of the general mangers in the NHL, and Gartner was drafted 4th overall by the Washington Captials in the summer of 1979 following the demise of the Stingers as well as the WHA.

As a rookie with the Capitals, Gartner scored 36 goals, beginning a streak of 30 goals or more seasons that would eventually reach into the mid 90's.

Gartner Capitals

In ten seasons with the Capitals, Gartner would average 39.7 goals per season and never less than 35 until the 1988-89 season when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars 56 games into the season while currently at 26 goals. He would, however, score an additional seven goals in Minnesota to keep his streak going at ten seasons.

Gartner North Stars

After enjoying so much stability in Washington, Gartner's time in Minnesota would be brief, as he was dealt to the New York Rangers after 67 games in 1989-90, but not before scoring 34 goals with the North Stars. After joining the Rangers, he would add 11 more to his season total which allowed him to reach the 40 goal mark for the sixth time.

Gartner Rangers

Three consecutive 40 goal seasons in Manhattan followed, which included scoring his 500th NHL goal during the 1991-92 season. He would later surpass the 600 goal barrier as well as 1,000 points, prior to Gartner once more being on the move, this time to his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. His 28 goals in 71 games in New York and the six he scored in 10 games with the Maple Leafs pushed his 30 goal streak to an NHL record 15 consecutive seasons.

Gartner Maple Leafs

The strike shortened season of 1994-95 only allowed Gartner to play in 38 games, limiting him to just 12 goals and unfairly ending his streak of 30 goal seasons at 15, a league record which still stands today and would not be tied until 2007 by Jaromir Jagr.

Back to a full season schedule in 1995-96, Gartner would run his 30 goal season total up to 16 with 35 goals. The Maple Leafs would trade Gartner to the Phoenix Coyotes in time for their first season in the desert, having just relocated from Winnipeg. There, Gartner would achieve his 17th season of 30 goals or more in his career, also a league record and one which has never been equalled. His second goal of the night was also the 1,300th point in his NHL career.

Gartner Coyotes

Gartner would play one final season in the NHL with Phoenix. He would play in 60 games and score 12 goals, which included his 700th career goal, on the fifth player to ever reach that mark.

His final career totals are 708 goals, good for sixth all time, and 627 assists for 1,335 points.

While Gartner set records for his consistent goal scoring, he was probably better known for his speed, winning the always popular and high profile "Fastest Skater Competition" at the NHL All-Star Game each of the three times he entered, including 1993 when he scored four goals and was named the MVP of the All-Star Game.

During his career he would play in seven NHL All-Star Games and following his career he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and his #11 was retired by the Capitals in 2008.

Today's featured jersey is a Gartner's featured jersey is a 1985-86 Washington Capitals Miek Gartner jersey. This jersey features the five stars down the sleeves, which the Capitals jerseys had from 1974-75 until 1982-83 until going to just four stars for two seasons until reverting back to five again for the 1985-86 season.

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1991-92 New York Rangers Mike Gartner jersey which features NHL 75th Anniversary patch on the upper left chest, while every other club, save the Philadelphia Flyers, wore the patch on their upper right chest. Having a unique patch placement when compared to other clubs is a common occurrence for the Rangers, due to the "R" of the diagonal Rangers cresting on their jerseys occupying the traditional location for patches. In general, the Rangers place additional patches on their right shoulder, but have used the left shoulder on occasion as well, as was the case with the 9/11 memorial ribbon patch.

Patches worn on the right shoulder include the Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary, the 1994 NHL All-Star Game, 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, the Rangers 75th and 85th Anniversary patches.

The only time the Rangers were able to join the flock was in 1999-00 when the NHL 2000 patch was a horizontal design, short enough to fit above the "R" in the space remaining.

New York Rangers 91-92 jersey

Here is a great career retrospective of Mike Gartner's career on the occasion of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, followed by his speech. The audio is a tad bit distorted, but still listenable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1993-94 New York Rangers Mike Richter Jersey

After playing for the United States at the 1985 World Junior Tournament, Mike Richter was drafted 28th overall by the New York Rangers before he began his college career at the University of Wisconsin for the 1985-86 season, after which he was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year.

Richter Wisconsin

That same season his international experience grew with appearances at both the World Juniors and the World Championships. He returned to Wisconsin for another season in 1986-87 which was followed up with another trip to the World Championships.

His 1987-88 season began as a member of the United States National Team in preparation for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. At the conclusion of the games, Richter joined the Colorado Rangers of the IHL for the remainder of the season, as well as all of the following 1988-89 season, during which the name of the club was changed to the Denver Rangers.

He made his NHL debut on October 19th, 1989 as a member of the New York Rangers. He made 23 appearances for the blueshirts as well as seeing action in 13 games for the Flint Spirits of the IHL.

He spent the entire 1990-91 season in New York, splitting time with his goaltending partner John Vanbiesbrouck, going 21-13-7. Prior to the start of the next NHL season, Richter was the number one goaltender for the United States team at the 1991 Canada Cup tournament. He again divided the playing time down the middle with Vanbiesbrouck for the 1991-92 Rangers, who captured the President's Trophy for having the league's best record.

Richter and Beezer
Richter and goaltending partner John Vanbiesbrouck

The 1992-93 season for the Rangers was one of disappointment, as they failed to qualify for the playoffs. Richter also suffered an injury which limited him to 38 games and saw him return to the minors when he spent 5 games with the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL on a rehab assignment. With the Rangers out of the playoffs, Richter was able to return to the World Championships for the first time in six years for the United States.

Prior to the 1993-94 season, the NHL expanded by adding two clubs, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Florida Panthers. As part of the rules of the expansion draft, existing clubs could only protect one goaltender, and the Rangers elected to keep Richter, as Vanbiesbrouck would be traded away.

Now the clear number one goaltender, Richter's games played shot up from a previous high of 45 to 68, which allowed him to set a career best record of 42-12-6. Despite not having any player in the top 20 in scoring, and in fact were led in scoring by a defenseman, Sergei Zubov, the Rangers shot back up the standings to once more claim the President's Trophy with 112 points, a 33 point improvement over the previous year. During the postseason, the Rangers swept the New York Islanders in four, eliminated the Washington Capitals in five and survived a dramatic seven game series over the New Jersey Devils before taking a 3 games to 1 lead over the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks came back to force a Game 7, which the Rangers won by a score of 3-2 to win a memorable Stanley Cup, the Rangers first since 1940.

Richter Stanley Cup

If that weren't enough, Richter was also named to the second NHL All-Star Game of his career that season and was named the game's MVP on home ice in Madison Square Garden.

Richter ASG MVP

After the strike-shortended 1994-95 season, groin problems caused Richter to miss 23 games over two separate occasions during the 1995-96 season, which cut his games played back to 41. Richter showed he was fully healed prior to the 1996-97 campaign by leading the United States to it's greatest hockey triumph since 1980 as the US won the 1996 World Cup of Hockey in a hard fought three game final over Canada. Richter's outstanding play earned him the tournament MVP award to go with his gold medal.

Richter 1996 WCOH

He saw action in 61 games that season and won 33 of them, one of two seasons with 30 wins or more for his career. His workload with the Rangers reached an all-time high when he took to the ice 72 times in 1997-98. During that season, the NHL took a break from it's schedule for the first time ever, which allowed Richter and the other stars of the NHL to participate in the Olympics for the first time ever. As if his workload wasn't enough with the Rangers, Richter now travelled to Japan and played an additional four games for the United States.

For the 1998-99 season, he played in 68 games, followed by 61 the following season. On January 8, 2001, Richter set the all-time Rangers record for games played with 598, and ten days later became the winningest goaltender in franchise history with his 267th win following a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Richter Mask

During the 2001-02 season, Richter again led the Rangers goalies in games played with 55 and totaled 24 wins, his seventh season with 20 or more wins. He also made his final international appearance for the United States, earning a silver medal on home ice at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Richter 2002 SLC

He played in 13 games of the 2002-03 season, which included his becoming the first Ranger goaltender to reach 300 wins on this date in 2002 when Petr Nedved scored at 2:20 of overtime in a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. His career came to a premature end when he suffered a skull fracture and concussion, which necessitated his retirement.

"I was hoping to get it earlier in my career. A couple of injuries the last few years and not as many wins as we wanted was a disappointment. But I'm glad I've been able to stay with this organization long enough to set it with one team. It's really a temporary thing," Richter said. "It's something you'll dwell on a little bit more after your career is done. There has been a lot of great teams and a lot of great players that I have been associated with. For me, it's a great thing we got 300, but nothing is more important to me than 301."

He did get win #301, as his final career totals stand at 301 wins and 24 shutouts in 666 games, a Stanley Cup, a World Cup and an Olympic Silver Medal. He still holds the Rangers goaltending records for games played, wins, single season appearances and wins.

Following his career, his #35 jersey was retired by the Rangers in 2004 and he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.

Richter Banner

Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 New York Rangers Mike Richter jersey as worn during that magic season when Richter was the MVP of the NHL All-Star Game and went on to win the Stanley Cup, ending the Rangers 54 year wait. This particular jersey has the 1994 NHL All-Star Game patch on the right shoulder, the customary position for additional patches on Rangers jerseys, as the diagonal cresting fills the customary spot on the upper right chest where most teams wear extra patches.

This year is naturally more closely associated with the Stanley Cup championship, and for the finals, the All-Star Game patch was replaced by the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals patch, the smallest version of the finals patch ever worn in deference to it's location on the shoulder of the Rangers jersey.

This style Rangers jersey can be traced back to the club's origins in 1926, although there has been some evolution in fonts, as well as a couple of ill-fated attempts to adopt a new style, the blue jersey with the team name diagonally across the front has been in use now for all but three of the club's 86 years.

New York Rangers 93-94 jersey
New York Rangers 93-94 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996 Team USA Mike Richter jersey as worn in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey as Richter was named the tournament MVP as the Americans won the gold medal. This short-lived "waving flag" style is very sought after by collectors and was only sold at retail in the home white version, making the blue ones very desirable, as they were only produced for use by the team itself, obviously making for an extremely limited supply.

Team USA 1996 jersey

Today's video segment is an excellent tribute to Mike Richter.

Next, is Richter in a commercial for ESPN.

Here, Richter becomes the all-time Rangers leader in wins following a dramatic overtime goal by Brian Leetch.

Finally, another commercial featuring Richter, this one for Wendy's hamburgers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires Hugh Lehman Jersey

One of hockey's early pioneers, Hughie Lehman was born on this date in 1885.

Lehman, a goaltender, began his hockey career with the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Ottawa Valley Hockey League in 1903. He played in Pembroke for three seasons, including posting an 8-0 record in 1905-06. He was known as a strong skater and good puck handler.

In 1906-07, Lehman moved to the Canadian Soo of the International Professional Hockey League for one season before returning to Pembroke in 1907-08. He joined the Berlin Professionals of the Ontario Professional Hockey League in 1908-09.

The next season was a busy one for Lehman, as he played for the Galt Professionals in two games during their challenge for the Stanley Cup against the the dominant Ottawa Senators. He played the regular season with Berlin (now known as Kitchener), which resulted in a second Stanley Cup Challenge in just two months, this time against the current cup holders the Montreal Wanderers. His puck handling skills even including scoring a goal once while playing in Berlin, something that would not happen in the NHL for another 70 years!

Following the 1910-11 season, Lehman packed his bags and moved west in order to play for the New Westminster Royals of the new Pacific Coast Hockey Association.

Hugh_Lehman,_New_Westminster_Royals photo Hugh_Lehman_New_Westminster_Royals.jpg
Hugh Lehman wearing the W of New Westminster

It proved to be a good move for him, as the Royals won the championship in their first season. After two more seasons with New Westminster the club folded and Lehman found a home in Vancouver with the Millionaires.

While up to this point in his career Lehman had not put together a remarkable season since his 8-0 season in 1906, the Millionares stormed the PCHA with Lehman playing every game on his way to a 13-4 record. As champions of the PCHA, the Millionaires earned the right to host the NHA Champion Ottawa Senators, who they swept three games to none, earning Lehman the Stanley Cup.

1915 Vancouver Millionaires
The 1915 Stanley Cup Champion Vancouver Millionaires

He would play seven more seasons with the Millionaires, winning two more PCHA titles in 1918, 1921 and 1922, but the Millionaires would fall short in their quest for another Stanley Cup.

Lehman would continue to play for Vancouver over the course of the next four seasons, but the club were now known as the Vancouver Maroons. Two of the four seasons were as part of the PCHA, where the Maroons were league champions, including the 1922-23 season in which he went 16-8-1. In his 13 PCHA seasons, Lehman was named an All-Star ten times.

The Maroons joined the Western Canada Hockey League in 1924-25, which was shortened to the Western Hockey League for 1925-26.

When the WHL collapsed, Lehman joined the expansion Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League for their first ever season. At the age of 41, he played 44 games that year, 14 more than he ever had previously, and finished with 19 wins, a career high, 22 losses and 3 ties.

Chicago Black Hawks 1924-25
The 1926-27 Chicago Black Hawks

The following season he had played in four games when Black Hawks owner and manager Frederic McLaughlin drew up some plays for the team. Lehman reacted by calling it "the craziest bunch of junk I've ever seen." When Lehman was called to McLaughlin's office afterwards, he was expecting the worst. It would turn out that Lehman had played in his final game, as McLaughlin appointed him as the Black Hawks new head coach!

Lehman was was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958.

Pembroke Mural
Lehman is memorialized in a mural in his home town of Pembroke, along with fellow Hall of Famers and Pembroke natives Harry Cameron (left) and Frank Nighbor (right)

Today's featured jersey is a 1914-15 Vancouver Millionaires Hugh Lehman jersey. No original Millionaires jerseys are known to exist and most Millionaires memorabilia was lost when their home rink, the Denman Arena, burned down in 1936.

Hugh Lehman Vancouver 1914-15

Bonus jersey: Today's Bonus jersey is a 2008-09 Vancouver Giants throwback 1915 Vancouver Millionaires jersey as worn on November 21, 2008 when the Giants held a "Stanley Cup Legends Night". The Millionaires won their only Stanley Cup in 1915 wearing the original version of this jersey. 

This jersey style was revived once again by the Vancouver Canucks of the NHL when they wore this same style in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Vancouver Millionaires on March 16th, 2013 and again on March 2nd, 2014 in the Heritage Classic against the Ottawa Senators inside the BC Place football stadium.

Vancouver Giants

Today's featured video is a departure from the norm, a music video featuring photos and archival footage of the Vancouver Millionaires as part of a music video for a song entitled "The Vancouver Millionaires".

Our next video is a report of the Canadian junior team the Vancouver Giants wearing throwback 1915 Millionaires jerseys, including cream colored hockey pants. Good stuff!

Finally a news report about a Vancouver Millionaires replica jersey being donated to the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs Wendel Clark Jersey

Toronto Maple Leaf fan favorite Wendel Clark was born on this date in 1966.

Clark played two seasons with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL during which he averaged 27 goals, 50 assists, 77 points and 239 penalty minutes per season, catching the eyes of NHL scouts everywhere.

Clark Saskatoon Blades photo ClarkSaskatoonBlades.jpg
Clark with the Blades during his junior days
while wearing the notorious Cooperalls long pants

The rugged Clark was drafted first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto and made his debut for the Maple Leafs later that year. He actually played defense in junior hockey, but was converted to a forward by the Maple Leafs, a club he would return to again and again during his career.

Clark Maple Leafs Draft Pick photo ClarkMapleLeafsDraftPick.jpg
1985 first overall draft pick Wendel Clark

A true heart and soul player, the tireless Clark became a hugely popular player with the Toronto faithful for putting everything he had in to every shift, every game. Plus, he sported one of the top, yet underrated mullets in hockey history. Clark rocked the hockey hair in 1996 like few others before or since, not to mention the classic hockey mustache to go with it.

Wendel Clark mullet
Clark with the buzz cut mullet in 1996

While it may lack the sheer volume of the Jagr or the overexposure of the Melrose, the ratio of the shortness of the buzz cut on top to the length of the "mud flap" out back ranks it among the greatest mullets in NHL history.

Clark would announce his presence in the league with 227 penalty minutes in during his rookie season in addition to his 34 goals despite a broken foot limiting  him to 66 games. The legend of Clark's toughness would begin to grow as the broken foot happened when he was hit in the skate by a teammate's slapshot, but he continued to play the rest of the game before it was diagnosed. Clark would raise his reputation the following year by increasing both totals to 37 goals and 271 penalty minutes.

Clark Maple Leafs photo ClarkMapleLeafs4.jpg

A back injury suffered after being cross-checked into the crossbar during the 1987-88 season would limit him to 28 games and his physical style would take its toll as he would see the ice in just 15 games the following season and only 38 in the following, mainly due to recurrent episodes of his back problems.

His games played would increase over the next four seasons of 1990-91 to 1993-94, but he would still average just under 60 games with 59 per season during that time period. After campaigns of 18, 19 and 17 goals, he would explode for a career high with 46 in 64 games of the 1993-94 season. His drive and leadership were recognized when he was named team captain in 1991. The Maple Leafs would make it as far as the memorable conference final seven game series against the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in 1992-93, with Clark scoring a hat trick in Game 6 as part of his 20 points in 21 playoff games that season.

The summer after his 46 goal season, with his trade value at it's highest in years, the physically aggressive but physically unreliable Clark was traded to the Quebec Nordiques in a blockbuster deal which brought Mats Sundin to Toronto.

Clark would begin to frequently move from team to team for the remainder of his career, being traded by the Nordiques to the New York Islanders after just one season with Quebec following a contract hold out which meant Clark never played in Colorado when the Nordiques moved there for the 1995-96 season despite two years remaining on his contract. He would only play 58 games with the Islanders before another deal saw him finish the season back in Toronto.

Clark Islanders photo ClarkIslanders.jpg

Two more seasons in Toronto, of just 65 and 47 games, would be followed by a 65 game stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning, during which he scored an impressive 30 goals to prove he had not lost his offensive skills. It was not enough to afford him any level of stability however, as he was again traded, this time to the Detroit Red Wings at the deadline. His 12 games with Detroit gave him a total of 77 for the season, easily his highest total in 12 years.

Clark Lightning photo ClarkLightning.jpg
Clark scored 30 goals during his brief time in Tampa Bay

He would begin his final NHL season with the Chicago Blackhawks, but once more return to the Maple Leafs to finish out his career with a final 20 games in Toronto where it all began.

Clark Maple Leafs photo ClarkMapleLeafs99-00.jpg
Clark during the final 20 games of his career back in Toronto

Clark's final career totals were 793 games played (an average of just 53 per season) 330 goals, 234 assists, 564 points and 1.690 penalty minutes. Such was the impact of injuries on Clark's career totals, his 147 goals scored during his four seasons of 30 goals or more accounted for 45% of his career total at an average of 37 goals per season, while his remaining 11 seasons saw him average just 17 goals.

Clark had his #17 jersey raised to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre in November of 2008, the 16th player to have his number honored by the Maple Leafs.

Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Toronto Maple Leafs Wendel Clark jersey. Following the success of the Maple Leafs Turn Back the Clock jerseys worn by the Original Six teams the prior season in celebration of the NHL's 75th anniversary, the Maple Leafs redesigned their jerseys for the 1993-94 season, finally ending the run of their previous jerseys which had been worn since 1970.

The Maple Leafs went back to 1934 for the simple but classy jersey template which had been worn through 1966-67, only now mated with the modern maple leaf crest first used in 1970 and the throwback maple leaf crest from the TBTC jersey of the previous season now used as the secondary shoulder logos.

This style has remained in use by Toronto ever since, with a few minor tweaks and a variety of number fonts, even surviving the loss of the waist stripes with the introduction of the new Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007, supposedly due to the original concept of the jerseys being tucked in.

Still, the waist stripes returned in 2010-11, as did the retro maple leaf secondary logos, which had been discontinued in 2000-01.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1993-94 jersey photo TorontoMapleLeafs1993-94jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 New York Islanders Wendel Clark jersey, representative of the frequent changes in teams Clark was subjected to during the second half of his career, with stops in Quebec, Long Island, a return to Toronto, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Chicago and a final return to Toronto.

The unfortunate Fishsticks jersey was derided by the fans, media and players upon it's introduction. While Clark only had to wear it for 58 games, the Islanders were forced to wear it for two seasons before a hybrid version with the classic Islanders crest replaced it full time in 1997-98.

New York Islanders 1995–96 jersey photo NewYorkIslanders1995ndash96F.jpg
New York Islanders 1995–96 jersey photo NewYorkIslanders1995ndash96B.jpg

Normally we research the daily video section just hoping to find some relevant video of an NHL player or perhaps something, anything, on an obscure European player, but not today. Oh, no. Clark was so popular in Toronto, and had we had an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

 If you are not familiar with Clark, we urge you to watch today's first video clip to truly understand the type of player he was, as just statistical numbers don't capture the spirit of a player like Clark. Without further delay, strap on your helmet for The Best of Wendel Clark!

Hell yea! Now that was some Old Time Hockey!

Here is a profile of Clark which looks back on his rookie season.

In advance of his number being honored, Clark revisits Maple Leaf Gardens and recounts some of his favorite memories as a Maple Leaf in a very well done piece.

Next is the ceremony where the Maple Leafs honored Clark's #17 in 2008.

Finally, here is Clark's first game back in Toronto to begin his second stint with the Leafs. Feel the love people, feel the love...


hit counter for blogger