Thursday, April 28, 2016

1995-96 Winnipeg Jets Keith Tkachuk Jersey

The late, great original Winnipeg Jets were formed in 1972 as one of the founding teams of the World Hockey Association, which brought professional hockey to several Canadian cities, including Winnipeg, Ottawa, Quebec City, Edmonton and later Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

The Jets would make the biggest splash in the league by luring away Bobby Hull from the NHL's Chicago Black Hawks for the unheard of sum of $1,000,000, putting the fledgling league on the map.


Their first season of 1972-73 saw them finish first in the Western Division and make it all the way to the Avco Cup Finals where they would fall to the New England Whalers. While they would fail to qualify for the playoffs the next two seasons, they would set themselves up to be one of the most exciting teams in all of hockey for the next four years by signing Swedes Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson.


The duo, paired with Hull, would electrify the franchise as they finished second, fourth and seventh in league scoring in just their first season together as Hull set a new professional record with 77 goals, although the club failed to qualify for the playoffs.

1975-76 was the season it all came together for the Jets. They tied the Houston Aeros for the most points in the league with 106 as Hull, Nilsson and Hedberg finished second, third and seventh in league scoring. Once in the playoffs they cruised through the Edmonton Oilers 4-0, the Calgary Cowboys 4-1 and swept the Aeros in the finals in four straight to capture their first WHA championship.

Winnipeg Jets 75-76

While Hull only played in 34 games in 1976-77, Hedberg led the league in goals with 70 as he and Nilsson came two-three in the scoring race. The Jets returned to the Avco Cup Finals but fell to the Quebec Nordiques in seven games.

Hull returned to full-time duty in 1977-78 and the dynamic trio finished with Nilsson, Hedberg and Hull 2-3-4 in scoring, with teammate Kent Nilsson eighth. The Jets finished atop the league standings and defeated the Birmingham Bulls and New England Whalers to take home the championship for the second time.

Winnipeg Jets 77-78

1978-79 was one of change for the Jets, as Hull would only compete in four games and Hedberg and Nilsson would defect for the bright lights of Broadway when they signed to play for the New York Rangers of the NHL.

Still, the remainder of the Jets would pull through, coming in third in the regular season standings in the final WHA season, but defeat both the Nordiques and then the Oilers to win their second consecutive Avco Cup and their third overall as they went to the league finals for the fifth time in seven seasons.

Winnipeg Jets 78-79

The Jets, along with New England (Hartford), Edmonton and Quebec were admitted into the NHL for the 1979-80 season, but at a steep price. The restrictive rules placed on the renegade clubs joining the NHL saw the Jets required to relinquish leading scorer Kent Nilsson, Terry Ruskowski (4th in scoring) and Rich Preston (6th). In addition, leading scorer among defensmen Barry Long was also gone from the roster. Forced to draft 18th out of 21, the Jets would finish dead last in the NHL for the next two seasons.

Acquiring Dale Hawerchuk in the 1981 draft started the Jets back on the road to respectability. Eventually the Jets would claim fourth overall in the league in 1984-85, but were doomed by finding themselves in the same division with league powerhouses Edmonton and the Calgary Flames. With the current divisional playoff format of the time, the Jets were forced to face the Oilers at the height of their dynasty no less than six times in the eight seasons between 1983 and 1990, losing each and every series while winning a total of only four games as the Oilers went on to win five Stanley Cups and the Flames one during that time period.

While the Jets playoff success in the NHL was derailed by the Oilers dynasty, one enduring memory is the "White Out", which arrived in the 1987 playoffs when the Jets asked fans to wear white to home playoff games in response to the Flames "C of Red". Following their four game sweep of Calgary that season, a tradition was born which the franchise continues to employ to this day.

While they were a competitive club on the ice, it became increasingly difficult for the Jets to compete financially, being the fourth smallest market in the NHL (pop. 675,000 and about the size as Omaha, Nebraska), and hampered by playing in the Winnipeg Arena which opened in 1955 and lacked the modern amenities such as luxury boxes and club seating required to keep pace in the modern sports landscape.

They tried to remain competitive, including trading Hawerchuk to Buffalo in 1990 for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and a draft pick which would become Keith Tkachuk.

1992-93 saw the arrival of Russian Alexi Zhamnov, the bruising Tie Domi and the dynamic Finn Teemu Selanne, who would electrify the city with 76 goals as a rookie.

Teemu Selanne

Still, playoff success eluded the Jets and they slipped in the standings, completely missing out on the playoffs in 1994 and 1995.

With the weaker Canadian dollar of the day hurting the franchise financially, eventually the push for a new arena began, which was eventually unsuccessful, making the owners of the club willing to sell the team they viewed as inviable. When it proved impossible to find a local buyer, the owners announced their intention in May of 1995 to sell the club to buyers from outside of Winnipeg, who would inevitably move the team.

The fans of Winnipeg rallied in a way never seen before or since. The "Save the Jets" rally at The Forks on May 16, 1995 drew over 35,000 people in an effort to raise funds to purchase the franchise. While an astonishing outpouring generated a reported $13 million, it fell far short of the over $110 million required and it was announced on October 18, 1995 that the team had been sold to Americans Richard Burke and Steven Gluckstern, who had originally hoped to move the club to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and with the Jets eventually landing in the most unlikely of places, in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona.

Still, the Jets would play one final season in Winnipeg before any relocation was to happen. Morale among the fans only deteriorated further when Selanne, who won over the hearts of Winnipeggers with his scoring exploits and personality is sent to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in February of 1996 in a salary dump. For a city about to lose it's franchise, having it's most beloved player since Bobby Hull miss the going away party was a real kick in the stomach.

A rise in the standings in 1995-96 saw the lame duck Jets qualify for the playoffs on the final day of the season to put the moving vans on hold for as long as the team could last in the postseason. Paired against the Red Wings in the playoffs, Detroit took the first to games at home while the Jets responded by winning Game 3 at home. Detroit then won at Winnipeg to put the Jets on the brink, but they staved off elimination with a 3-1 win in Detroit to return home to Winnipeg, but the end came for the Jets with a 4-1 loss in their final game on this date in 1996.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Winnipeg Jets Keith Tkachuk jersey as worn in the final game in Jets history, a loss at home which eliminated the Jets from the playoffs for a final time. This jersey features the Cherished Memories worn during the final ten games in Jets history plus their playoff series versus Detroit. There was also a blue version worn on the road jerseys.

Tkachuk wore the captain's "C" for that game, as regular team captain that season Kris King was out of action with an injury.

Winnipeg Jets 1995-96 jersey photo WinnipegJets95-96F.jpg
Winnipeg Jets 1995-96 jersey photo WinnipegJets95-96B.jpg
Winnipeg Jets 1995-96 jersey photo WinnipegJets95-96P1.jpgaaWinnipeg Jets 1995-96 jersey photo WinnipegJets95-96P2.jpg

Apologies in advance for more video today than you can shake a hockey stick at, but we felt it was all relevant and worth including.

Most importantly, one of our favorite hockey videos ever. At an hour long, it's a lot to ask of our readers accustomed to our usual brief videos, but ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the genius that is "Death by Popcorn - The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets".

Not recommended for those of you at work due to it's length and a couple of unfortunate rough spots in the language from the Oilers jersey wearing "man on the street" 10 and 34 minutes into the video, but it's essential viewing if only for Hawerchuk's speech on the occasion of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Next, the announcement in May, 1995 following the end of the 1994-95 season that the efforts to save the Jets have failed and the franchise will be relocated.

Now, "The Funeral", a 90 minute farewell gathering at the Winnipeg Arena to say goodbye at the conclusion of the 1994-95 season to the team and retire Thomas Steen's #25 on May 6, 1995 (in ten parts), which inspired the "Save the Jets" fundraising campaign and gathering of 35,000 fans ten days later in Winnipeg.

Here is a news report, first on the plight of the Quebec Nordiques, and then a look at public efforts to save the Jets by raising enough money to purchase the team to prevent the current ownership from moving the team, which would ultimately fail. The Nordiques would in fact move to Denver for the start of the 1995-96 season, but the Jets will remain in Winnipeg for one final lame duck season.

Now, an interview with Selanne from the "Save the Jets" rally ten days after "The Funeral", followed by the player introductions at the rally followed by John Paddock and then Randy Gilhen addressing the gathering.

Next, Tkachuk scores his 50th goal of the season in the final regular season game in Jets history on April 12, 1996 to earn the Jets a playoff berth, followed by a report on "Puck-gate", as none other than Wayne Gretzky makes off with the puck from the final game!

In this video, the Jets get help from a higher power in the effort to stay in Winnipeg.

Highly recommended viewing, the half hour documentary on the Winnipeg Jets and their financial issues from TSN - "Winnipeg Jets - For the Love of the Game", which includes an interview with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

If we haven't put enough demands on your time today, here is our final effort to cost you your job if you are viewing all this at work, here is the conclusion of the final game in Winnipeg Jets history, their 4-1 loss at home to close out their playoff series against Detroit on this day in 1996.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

1993-94 Buffalo Sabres Dominik Hasek Jersey

The 1993-94 NHL season concluded with a record number of shutouts, as the various goaltenders combined for 99 regular season shutouts, led by Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour with 7 apiece.

Hasek Sabres
Dominik Hasek

Hasek and the Sabres finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 43-32-9 record for 95 points and drew the New Jersey Devils, who finished with the second best record in the conference at 106 points, but were seeded third behind the division winning New York Rangers (112 points) and Pittsburgh Penguins (101).

The Sabres were led by Dale Hawerchuk's 33 goals and 86 points, followed by Russian Alexander Mogilny's 32 goals and 79 points. No other Sabre reached 60 points that season. Hasek played in 58 games during his second season in Buffalo, up from 28 the year before, as he split time with Stanley Cup champion Grant Fuhr in the Sabres net. Hasek's 30 wins were good for 6th place in the NHL that season.

The Devils were led in scoring by defenseman Scott Stevens 78 points from 18 goals and 60 assists. The forwards were led by Stephane Richer's 72 points from 36 goals and 36 assists. John MacLean led the club in goals with 37 on his way to 70 points.

That season's Calder Trophy winner Martin Brodeur led the Devils goaltenders with 47 games played and 27 wins, dividing his time with Chris Terreri, who won 20 of his 44 games played.

Brodeur Calder
Brodeur with the Calder Trophy

The Sabres won the opening game of their playoff series on April 17, 1994 when Hasek blanked the Devils 2-0 in New Jersey. Hasek made 30 saves in the contest to make Todd Simon's power play goal late in the first period stand up until Mogilny sealed the game with an empty net goal with nine seconds remaining.

Two nights later the Devils evened the series by winning 2-1 when Stevens scored at 13:39 of the third period to restore the New Jersey lead after Mogilny had tied the game for Buffalo at the 38 second mark of the third period. Brodeur finished with 23 saves to Hasek's 30 to get the first playoff win of his career.

The series then shifted to Buffalo on April 21st where the Devils repeated their 2-1 victory of Game 2. Richer opened the scoring at 19:01 of the first period and Tommy Albelin scored the vital second Devils goal at 15;43 of the second. Brodeur allowed a power play goal to Mogilny on the power play at 4:08 of the third period to make it a tense final 16 minutes, which included killing off a penalty at 11:54, but the Devils held on behind Brodeur's 29 saves compared to Hasek's 24.

Game 4 on the 23rd saw the two teams combine for as many goals as they had scored in the previous three games combined. The Devils opened the scoring at 9:11 of the first period on the power play, but Buffalo took the lead with two goals within 34 seconds later in the period. The teams traded goals within the first four minutes of the second period to make the score 3-2 for Buffalo, but MacLean tied the game after two periods with a power play goal at 18:36.

Just 30 seconds into the third period Wayne Presley gave the Sabres a lead they would not lose and Rob Ray took some pressure off with his goal for Buffalo at 11:35. The game finished at 5-3 in favor of the Sabres with Hasek making 20 stops to 25 for Brodeur.

Tied at 2 games apiece, the series moved back to New Jersey on April 25th. After Buffalo took a 3-1 lead at the 4:52 mark of the second period, the Devils scored four straight goals over the final 32 minutes to win going away 5-3. Brodeur was credited with 17 saves, while Hasek recorded 30 in the loss.

Brodeur Devils
Martin Brodeur

With the Sabres season now on the brink, they returned home to The Aud on this date in 1994 with no margin for error. The first period passed by scoreless despite three powerplays for Buffalo and two for New Jersey. At the conclusion of the first period, the Sabres held an 11-9 edge in shots on goal.

The second period saw five penalties, two against Buffalo and three for the Devils, including Ken Daneyko's second and third of the game. Despite the number of penalties, neither goalie gave an inch, with Brodeur stopping 10 shots and Hasek 14.

The third period was a close fought battle, with 9 shots for Buffalo to New Jersey's 8. A late penalty on Bobby Carpenter of New Jersey provided the only power play of the period. When Buffalo failed to convert, regulation ended scoreless with a 31-30 edge in shots for the Devils.

The Devils held the edge in play in the first overtime, winning the battle in shots on goal 10-6 with each team getting one power play. Still, the game continued on to a second overtime period as Hasek and Broduer continued to match saves.

A late Buffalo penalty in the first overtime carried over into the second overtime, but still New Jersey could not solve Hasek despite outshooting them 11-8. The remainder of the second overtime passed with no additional penalties as the scoreless game marched on to a third overtime.

Despite no power plays, the Devils took it to the Sabres in the third overtime by putting 14 shots on Hasek to only 5 for the Sabres. Brodeur had to endure one power play for Buffalo, which came at the 12:10 mark. The Sabres man advantage passed without a goal, as did the remainder of the period in this now epic battle.

The first minutes of the fourth overtime saw Hasek turn away 4 Devils shots before center Dave Hannan scored when he pounced on a loose puck and launched a backhander past Brodeur at 5:41 to give Buffalo a 1-0 win after 125:43 of scoreless play to force a Game 7 in New Jersey. It was only the seventh goal Hannan had scored all season, as he had totaled just 6 goals in 83 regular season games.

The final four saves Hasek made in the fourth overtime gave him an even 70 for the game, which set an all-time NHL record for Most Saves by a Goaltender in a Shutout, which still stands today. At the time, it was the 6th longest game in NHL history and still ranks in the top ten.

New Jersey would return home to host Game 7, which they would win 2-1 as Hasek saved 44 of the 46 Devils shots, while the Sabres only managed 18 shots for the entire game, less than the Devils had in the third period alone. Buffalo scored first at 6:00 of the first period on a power play, but it would be their final goal of the series. New Jersey evened the score at 9:53, also on the power play. Claude Lemieux's fourth goal of the series at 13:49 proved to be the difference in this epic battle between two of the finest goaltenders of their generation.

Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Buffalo Sabres Dominik Hasek jersey as worn during his record setting 70 save shutout of the New Jersey Devils during Game 6 of their first round playoff matchup on this date in 1994.

The Sabres wore their original style of blue jersey from their inception in 1970-71 through the 1995-96 season until a complete change to their identity package, which resulted in a complete overhaul, with a new logo and color scheme. The black and red look was around for a decade until a return to their blue and gold colors, only with the controversial "Buffaslug" logo.

Their classic look returned for 2006-07 as a third jersey for one season. The white version of their original look was worn for the first NHL Winter Classic in 2007 and a modernized version of the classic look was back in 2008-09 as a third jersey. The unloved slug logo died at the end of 2009-10 and the updated classic third jersey was promoted to the primary home jersey for 2010-11 and has remained in use ever since.

Buffalo Sabres 93-94 jersey photo Buffalo Sabres 94-95 F.jpg
Buffalo Sabres 93-94 jersey photo Buffalo Sabres 94-95 B.jpg

Today's video selection is a review of the Sabres and Devils playoff series of 1994, with commentary by Don Cherry and annoying music by some evil musician with a synthesizer and way, way too much caffeine.

This second clip features excitable Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret's call of Hannan's goal to win Game 6, which included his famous reference to vanished union leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard Jersey

On this date in 2003, Denmark pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the World Championships with a shocking 5-2 win over the United States.

Making it's return to the Top Division for the first time in 54 years, Denmark immediately scored it's biggest hockey victory ever in the opening game of the tournament, which was held in Tampere, Finland.

Kim Staal, who had seven years of professional experience in the Swedish Elitserien, led the Danes with two goals and two assists.

The Americans, with 12 NHLers on it's roster, outshot Denmark 55-22 but could not solve goaltender Peter Hirsch, who made several outstanding saves.

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Peter Hirsch in the Dane's goal

Bo Nordby-Anderson and Staal both scored on breakaways, putting backhanders past American goaltender Ryan Miller 3:42 apart to give Denmark a 2-0 lead in under 10 minutes of the opening period. Jesper Damgaard increased the Danish lead with a one-timer slapshot from the point at 12:21.

Jim Fahey got the United States on the board with a power-play goal at 16:06 of the first period.

At the start of the second period, Chris Rogles, who played in Germany for the Cologne Sharks replaced Miller in the American goal only to have Ronny Larsen score high on the glove side at 3:09 on yet another breakaway.

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Mike Grey crashes the US goal

Kelly Fairchild cut the deficit to 2 with a goal at 2:24 of the third period to give the United States hope, but Hirsch stood strong in goal as the Danes killed of multiple penalties in the period to hold off the Americans despite the huge shot advantage they held.

At the final buzzer, hundreds of rowdy, flag-waving Danish fans celebrated in the stands, with some even brought to tears.

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Denmark celebrates the finest moment in their hockey history

"We didn't feel the pressure," said Denmark head coach Mikael Lundstrom. "We're not here on vacation. We're not here just to learn, but to play some good games. We know that we have some forwards who can score goals, Kim Staal for instance. We didn't say that we should go out and win, but we said we would do our best ad try to play a good game."

Denmark would lose its next two group games to Russia 6-1 and Switzerland 6-2. Based on their win over the US, the Danes advanced to the next round of group play, where they would tie eventual 2003 World Champions Canada 2-2, as surprising a result as their win over the United States.

Losses to Sweden (7-1) and Latvia (4-2) would end the fun for Denmark, but they had to consider their tournament a success, having avoided relegation in their long-awaited return to the Top Division.

Denmark currently ranks 15th in the IIHF Men's World Rankings and has played at the top level of the World Championships since 2003, finishing as high as 8th in 2010. While finding themselves in the Relegation Round three out of their first seven years in the Top Division, the Danes successfully avoided the drop each time. Starting in 2012, a new format has been in place which has done away with the Relegation Round and Denmark has finished high enough in the Qualification Round standings to remain in the Top Division.

Current Danes in the NHL include the Canucks Jannik Hansen, Mikkel Bødker of the Avalanche, Franz Nielsen of the Islanders, Lars Eller of the Montreal Canadiens, Nikolaj Ehlers of the Jets, who all played full time roles with 67 or more games played, and Oliver Bjorkstrand, who played 12 games for the Blue Jackets plus goaltender Frederik Andersen with the Ducks. Other successful Danes currently play in the top professional league in Sweden.

Today's jersey is a 2005 Denmark National Team Jesper Damgaard jersey. This style of Denmark jersey was part of Nike's updates for all the national teams in 2005 and was only worn once before the change to the Nike Swift template for 2006.

Damgaard, a defenseman, was the long-time captain of the Danish National Team and played for Denmark at the World Championships 17 times, at one time leading the national team in games played with 240.

Denmark 2005 jersey photo Denmark2005F.jpg
Denmark 2005 jersey photo Denmark2005B.jpg

Today's video section begins with Denmark's top ten goals since earning their promotion in 2003.

Our final highlight today is Lars Eller's first NHL goal, which came in his debut on November 5, 2009.

Monday, April 25, 2016

1970 Soviet Union National Team Vladislav Tretiak Jersey

Widely considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, Vladislav Tretiak was born on this date in 1952.

An unknown 20 year old, Tretiak was the starting goaltender for the Soviet National Team as the historic 1972 Summit Series began in Montreal. Since the Canadian scouts had only seen him play once, a dismal performance in which he allowed eight goals against due to excessive celebrations at his bachelor party the night before, he was dismissed as no threat to the best professionals Canada had to offer.

Tretiak CCCP

Two Canadian goals before the game was seven minutes old only seemed to reinforce the scouts opinion on Tretiak, which would soon change. The Canadians would manage just one more goal for the remainder of the contest as the Soviets came alive and pummeled the startled Canadians 7-3.

His continued outstanding play in the first half of the series earned him a tremendous amount of respect and admiration as the Soviets showed that they were able to compete with the Canadians. Eventually Canada would prevail in the series by the slimmest of margins, but Tretiak's reputation had been cemented by his play in the series.

Tretiak CCCP

Although he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1983 , it was at a time when Soviet players were not allowed to leave for the NHL. Tretiak would spend 15 full seasons playing for Central Sports Club of the Army (CSKA), or as more commonly known, the "Red Army".

During his 15 seasons in the Soviet Hockey League, Tretiak and Red Army would win the championship 13 times and finish runners up the other two. Tretiak was also named the First Team All-Star Goalie 14 consecutive seasons and league MVP five times. Outside of the Soviet Union, Tretiak and the club would take home the European Cup 13 times.

Tretiak Red Army

Internationally, Tretiak's resume would show three Olympic gold medals (Japan in 1972, Austria in 1976 and Yugoslavia in 1984), ten World Championship gold medals (1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 & 1983) and gold medals in the European Championships nine times. In addition he would be named the winner of the Golden Hockey Stick as the most outstanding player in all of Europe in 1981, 1982 and 1983.

He would also participate in two Canada Cups, earning a bronze with a depleted squad in 1976 and gold in 1981 when he was named the tournament's MVP. His final goals against average in 98 international games was an outstanding 1.78.

Tretiak CCCP

Another career highlight for Tretiak is the 1975-76 Red Army tour of North America when the Red Army faced off against various NHL club teams, the first time any Soviet club team had faced off against clubs from the NHL. Red Army came away with dominant victories over the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins and a notorious loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, but the most memorable game was a New Year's Eve contest against the Montreal Canadiens, that season's eventual Stanley Cup Champions, which ended in a 3-3 tie with Montreal outshooting Red Army 38-13 in a game considered by many to be one of the greatest games ever played.

After his early retirement in 1984 at the age of 32, ranked as #37 in the Top 100 Stories of the Century by the International Ice Hockey Federation, due to his desire to wanting to face a new challenge of playing in North America and the Soviet authorities refusal to grant him permission and the strain of the eleven month a year commitment required by the Soviet hockey system plus friction with his coach Viktor Tikhonov, Tretiak would finally make his way to North America in 1990, having been hired by the Chicago Blackhawks as their goaltending coach.

He would become the first Soviet-trained player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and the first European player voted in without ever having played in the NHL. His induction would be ranked by the IIHF as #55 on Top 100 Stories of the Century. In 2000 he would be voted the Best Russian Hockey Player of the 20th Century as well as being named the goaltender for the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team, a tremendous honor of he highest caliber, as only one player at each of the six positions would be named to this most exclusive team. Tretiak would be elected as the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation in 2006.

IIHF All Century Team
The IIHF Centennial All-Star Team announcement honoring Valeri Kharlamov, Tretiak, Slava Fetisov, Borje Salming, Wayne Gretzky and Sergei Makarov.

The many highlights of Tretiak's career appear over and over again of the IIHF list of the Top 100 Stories of the 20th Century. The Soviets victory over Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup ranks as #9, the New Year's Eve game with Montreal #23, the shock opening game of the 1972 Summit Series as #3 and the Soviets victory over the NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup as #36.

Even the defeats of the Soviets during the Tretiak era were so uncommon that they merit recognition on the list as well. A loss to Poland in 1976 was #39, the conclusion of the 1972 Summit Series was #2, the loss to the USA in the 1980 Olympics was #1, their loss to the Czechs in 1972 was #5 and in again 1974 was #67.

Tretiak Soviet Union, Tretiak Soviet Union

Today's featured jersey is a 1970 Soviet Union Vladislav Tretiak jersey. The owner of this fantastic piece of hockey history dates this jersey as having been worn from 1970 to 1972, up until the 1972 Summit Series when they Soviets wore a brand new set of sweaters.

Tretiak would have then worn this beginning at the age of 17 at the 1970 European Junior Championships (gold), followed by the World Championships (gold) as well as the Izvestia Cup (silver). In 1971 the cycle would be repeated with the European Juniors (gold), World Championships (gold) and Izvestia Cup (gold). The routine would change in 1972 with first the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan (gold) followed by the World Championships (silver) later in the spring. If in fact worn for each of those tournaments, which is entirely feasible as all those tournaments would total 34 games in all for both the red and white sweaters, this would have been a gold medal winning jersey six times and a silver twice out of eight tries, making this perhaps the most accomplished sweater in hockey history!

To read an interesting story about Tretiak's later white sweater from the 1974 Summit Series, check out this story of theft, deception, adoration and reunion about Doug Duke's Tretiak Sweater which was originally published by the Montreal Gazette.

Tretiak sweater reunion, Tretiak sweater reunion
Vladislav Tretiak reunited with his white sweater from the 1974
Summit Series, which was swiped decades earlier by Doug Duke

Today's first video is his introductory video from Tretiak's Hall of Fame induction.

Here are highlights from the memorable game between the Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens on New Year's Eve in 1975.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers Rick Dudley Jersey

The Cincinnati Stingers were granted their franchise on May 6, 1973 but had to wait until their new home arena, the Riverfront Coliseum, was constructed before they could begin play in the 1975-76 season.

Cincinnati Stingers pennant

The team took part in the WHA drafts while they waited for the arena to be ready, drafting Dean Talafous of Wisconsin with their first pick, and loaning out Dennis Sobchuk and John Hughes to the Phoenix Roadrunners to keep them active.

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Sobchuk enjoyed the best years of his career with the Stingers

Once they had a completed home, they reclaimed Sobchuk, his brother Gene Sobchuk and Hughes and set out to fill their roster. They were led in scoring their first season by former Buffalo Sabre Rick Dudley, who led the team with 43 goals (leading the club by 11) and 81 points in 74 games. In one memorable day, the Stingers were scheduled to play the Minnesota Fighting Saints, only the Houston Aeros came out to face them because Minnesota had folded that day!

Dudley Stingers, Dudley Stingers
Leading scorer Dudley opted for a headband rather than a helmet
leaving little doubt this was the 1970's
The club finished with a respectable 35-44-1 record and only missed out on the playoffs by 2 points. Their 71 points were 12 more than the Edmonton Oilers, yet it was Edmonton that somehow managed to qualify for the postseason thanks to a quirk in the system in the always off-beat WHA.

1975-76 Cincinnati Stingers
The 1975-76 Cincinnati Stingers

For the 1976-77 season, Blaine Stoughton jumped to the  Stingers, who had obtained his rights from the Nordiques in the WHA expansion draft. The move to the free wheeling WHA was a revelation for Stoughton, who teamed with Dudley and Leduc to form the high powered "LSD Line".

Stoughton and Leduc each had 52 goals to finish fourth in the league, with Leduc's 107 points 7th overall and Stoughton's 104 good for 9th, while Dudley reached 88. Sobchuk was right behind the lead pair with 96 points to place 10th in WHA scoring right behind Stoughton.

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Blaine Stoughton

The club finished in second place in the Eastern Conference with a team record 83 points, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. That season also saw the debut of future NHL head coach and TV commentator Barry Melrose on defense. Following the season a proposed WHA merger with the NHL that would have included the Stingers was defeated by a single vote.

The 1977-78 season saw one of the more unusual jersey related occurrences in hockey history when Robbie Ftorek joined the club after the demise of the Roadrunners. Current team veteran Claude Larose had worn #8 for the past two seasons and Ftorek had also been wearing #8 as a tribute to former Boston Bruin Fleming Mackell. Neither wanted to relinquish their favorite number, so they had the team petition the league and permission was granted for both players to wear #8 during the season!

1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers
The 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers

Ftorek went on to lead the club in scoring by a wide margin with 109 points, well clear of new team captain Dudley's 71. Ftorek's 59 goals were third overall in the WHA. In the standings, the Stingers finished seventh in the one-division now shrinking WHA, two points out of the playoffs.

Dudley Stingers, Dudley Stingers
Cincinnati Stingers team captain Dudley
Ftorek again led the team in points in 1978-79 with 116, while Peter Marsh was tops in goal scoring with 43. New and notable additions to the Stingers roster included goalie Mike Liut and future 700 goal scorer an Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Gartner.

Liut Stingers
Goaltender Mike Liut

Gartner Stingers 
Mike Gartner as a Stinger in 1978-79

Also notable on the Stingers roster in 1978-79 was eventual six-time Stanley Cup winner and Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who failed to impress with a lone goal in 47 games. Three seasons later he would score 50 for the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

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Messier got off to an inauspicious start with the Stingers

The Stingers finished the season in fifth place out of the surviving six teams, as the Indianapolis Racers folded after 25 games. Rather than have the top four teams play for the championship, Cincinnati was paired with the fourth place New England Whalers in a best of three series to determine who would join the top three clubs in Round 2.

The Whalers won Game 1 by a score of 5-3 in Hartford. Game 2 in Cincinnati saw the club win their one and only playoff game in team history 6-3 in front of their home fans. In the decisive Game 3, the Whalers prevailed by a score of 2-1 to eliminate the Stingers in what would prove to be the final game in franchise history on this date in 1979.

Following the season, the WHA agreed to a one-sided merger plan with the NHL, which allowed Winnipeg, New England, Quebec and Edmonton to join the NHL as expansion franchises, while the owners of both Cincinnati and the Birmingham Bulls were given a cash payment of $3.15 million as a buy-out, putting an end to the Stingers franchise after just four years on the ice.

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers Rick Dudley jersey. With the Stingers name lending itself to a multi-stripe theme, it's a wonder the Stingers jerseys were as reserved as they were. The club wore essentially the same jerseys for their all-to-brief four year run, with the only change worth mentioning being changing from two color names for their first two seasons to one color names for their final two.

Dudley's name on a contrasting nameplate was unique to the era until recently revived as a throwback element by the Philadelphia Flyers.

In addition, the filled-in outline around the captain's "C" is not something seen in the NHL, while it has been used in various other leagues on occasion.

A favorite part of the Stingers jerseys is the crest, an effective piece of graphic design that has stood the test of time with flying colors.

Cincinnati Stingers 77-78 jersey, Cincinnati Stingers 77-78 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1977-78 Cincinnati Stingers Robbie Ftorek jersey. Or is it a Claude Larose jersey?

In a story that could only come from the wacky WHA, LaRose was the Stingers leading scorer at the time they acquired the league MVP Ftorek, formerly of Phoenix - and both wore the #8. The Stingers appealed to the league and were granted permission to have both players wear #8 - at the same time!

Since the nameplate was removed from this jersey, there's no way to be certain short of photomatching, which one of Ftorek or Larose wore this particular #8 jersey. Larose was traded to the Racers after 51 games of that season, leaving Ftorek's to wear #8 all by himself for the remainder of his time in Cincinnati.

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Cincinnati Stingers1977-78 Jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1977-78BJersey.png

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1978-79 Cincinnati Stingers Michel Dion jersey. This yellow home jersey is from the Stingers final season when one color names were used and serves to illustrate that the Stingers never had a white jersey, as they always played in gold at home.

Cincinnati Stingers 1978-79 jersey photo Cincinnati Stingers 1978-79 F jersey.jpg
Cincinnati Stingers 1978-79 jersey photo Cincinnati Stingers 1978-79 B jersey.jpg

Extra extra bonus jersey: Today's extra extra bonus jersey is a 1976-77 Cincinnati Stingers Blaine Stoughton jersey. This jersey is from the Stingers first two seasons when two color names were used.

Cincinnati Stingers 1976-77 jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1976-77Fjersey.jpg
Cincinnati Stingers 1976-77 jersey photo CincinnatiStingers1976-77Bjersey.jpg
Our first video is a profile of former Stinger Stoughton.

Here is amateur footage of the minor league Cincinnati Clyclones playing while wearing Stingers throwback jerseys.


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