Wednesday, June 28, 2017

1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz Jersey

Wes Walz returned from the hockey wilderness on this day in 2000 when he signed a contract with the expansion Minnesota Wild of the NHL.

Expected to be a force offensively after scoring 104 points in 63 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in junior hockey, Walz was selected in the third round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, ahead of players such as Kris Draper, Robert Reichel, Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Bure, although it must be noted that selecting Soviet players was still a gamble at the time.

Walz lived up to the Bruins expectations with 54 goals and 140 points in 56 games and 37 points in 19 playoff games in his final season of junior hockey, won a gold medal with Canada at the 1990 World Junior Tournament, including five points in seven games, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins in two games, which included scoring his first NHL goal. In 1990-91 he split time between the Maine Mariners and the Bruins and played for no less than four teams in 1991-92, the Mariners (21 games) and the Bruins (15) and, following a trade, the Hershey Bears of the AHL (41) and the Philadelphia Flyers (2).

After a full season with Hershey in 1992-93, he signed as a free agent with the Calgary Flames and again divided his time between the AHL and the NHL. 1994-95 Walz was limited to 39 games with Calgary in 1994-95. He then signed with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent, but only appeared in two games with the Detroit and spent 38 games with Adirondack of the AHL.

And with that, his once promising NHL career wound down after just 169 games and 78 total points.

Fast forward four seasons and Walz, a six year veteran of the NHL, was playing for Lugano of the Swiss Nationalliga A after three successful seasons with EV Zug, which included leading the team in points and to a championship in 1997-98.

A father with growing children ready to start school, Walz, now age 30, had a desire to return to North America, and the expansion taking place with the addition of Nashville in 1998, Atlanta in 1999 and now Columbus and Minnesota in 2000 had created roughly 100 new jobs for players in the NHL. With both Columbus and Minnesota looking to stock up their rosters for their debut seasons in 2000-01, Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough contacted Walz, his GM when he was with Calgary, to see if he would be interested in a job, which Walz jumped at.

"I was excited about the prospect of playing in the league again, and the timing was right for me to give it another shot. The experience of playing in Switzerland had been a good one, but the challenge of living in Europe was growing a little tougher. My son needed to get started in school, and the language barrier was becoming a factor in some of our decision-making. We were ready for a move." Walz recounted.

During the Wild's first training camp, the hard working, tireless Walz caught the attention of head coach Jacques Lemaire, who tabbed Walz as a "checker". With his role now defined and plenty of ice time to be had on the outgunned expansion Wild, Walz transformed himself from a marginal NHL forward into one of the most tenacious defensive forwards in the NHL. He chose the #37, the first one ever assigned to him in training camp as rookie, to remind himself of where he came from and to keep himself humble, and seized the opportunity to return to the NHL. He played in all 82 games of the Wild's debut season, scoring 18 goals, seven of which were shorthanded which was second best in the league.

As a reward for his hard work and to use him as a role model to the team's younger players, Walz was named team captain for the first time in December of 2000. Not having captained a team since he was 14, he recalled, "I wasn't very big when I was a kid, and being captain then didn't have anything to do with leadership. It was just a matter of who was scoring the most goals. This is a huge honor, and certainly nothing I was expecting. I'm surprised and very humbled."

Wes Walz photo C2000.jpg
Walz as Wild team captain

When Walz was not wearing the "C", which Lemaire rotated on a monthly basis, he was often one of the Wild's assistant captains throughout his time in Minnesota. He was also selected by the local Professional Hockey Writer's Association as the Wild's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 2001.

His hard work was also recognized with the second invitation of his career to play for Team Canada, this time at the 2001 World Championships, something that certainly would not have happened had he stayed in Europe off the radar.

Wes Walz
Walz playing for Canada at the 2001 World Championships

In 2002-03, Walz helped the Wild advance past the favored Colorado Avalanche thanks to is defensive work against Colorado's top players, Peter Forsberg in particular, as the Wild overcame a 3-1 deficit in games to win in seven. The Wild repeated the comeback feat in round two against the Vancouver Canucks as Walz contributed a vital five of his seven playoff goals during the series. His hard work that season was recognized when he was named one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy, which recognizes the top defensive forward in the league.

Wes Walz
Walz makes Daniel Cloutier look foolish
as he scores in Game 7 against Vancouver

After his 2003-04 season was cut short by a sports hernia, which required surgery and months of rehabilitation, Walz resumed playing after the lockout ended and set a personal high with 19 goals and came within a point of tying his NHL career best with 37 points in 2005-06, earning another Masterton Trophy nomination in 2006.

In 2006-07, Walz was credited with one of the most unusual goals in the league, an overtime game winner on December 29th against Columbus. Walz drove to the net as teammate Martin Skoula was shooting the puck. Simultaneously, Jason Chimera checked Walz just as the puck arrived - and disappeared into the airborne Walz's breezers! When Walz then landed in the net, the puck when in with him, and after a video review, he was credited with the winning goal!

Wes Walz
Walz scoring the game winning goal - with
the puck stuck in the leg of his pants!

In 2007-08, Walz played the first 11 games of the season prior to taking an indefinite leave on November 11th following a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins before formally announcing his retirement on December 1, 2007 as the all-time franchise leader in games played and one of only two remaining original members of the team.

Today's featured jersey is a 1998-99 EV Zug Wes Walz jersey from his time in Switzerland. Perhaps the worst hockey jersey ever on planet Earth, EV Zug apparently purchased their jerseys on clearance from the circus clown supply store. It looks like a minor league New Year's Eve special occasion jersey or perhaps some sort of European Mardi Gras in a very 1990's style when torn paper edges and paintbrush strokes were all the rage in graphic design.

We're not certain how the jersey's four sponsors must have felt about having their logos lost in the clutter of the busiest jerseys we've ever seen. It would be interesting to hear a player's perspective on what it was like to play in these jerseys, as they could either make their teammates highly visible on the ice, or have the opposite effect of making them blend into the multicolored background of the spectators.

Don't miss the video of the jerseys in action below, as Walz's jersey carries an ad on the back so large, it obscures both his name and number!

Wes Walz EV Zug jersey
Wes Walz EV Zug jersey

Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2005-06 Minnesota Wild Wes Walz jersey which features the NHL Cares/Katrina Relief Fund patch worn for the first period only for each team's first home game.

Wes Walz
Walz wearing the NHL Cares patch during the first period of the Wild's first
game of 2005-06, the NHL's return to action following the NHL lockout

The patched jerseys were then auctioned off to raise money to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, Louisiana in August of 2005. Sidney Crosby's game worn jersey generated the highest final price league-wide with a final bid of $21,010 followed by Alexander Ovechkin at $7,929. Overall the auction of 600 jerseys raised over a half a million dollars, which was then matched by the Garth Brooks' Teammates for Kids Foundation for a total of $1,060,944.

Minnesota Wild 2005-06 NHLCares jersey photo MinnesotaWild2005-06NHLCaresF.jpg
Minnesota Wild 2005-06 NHLCares jersey photo MinnesotaWild2005-06NHLCaresB.jpg
Minnesota Wild 2005-06 NHLCares jersey photo MinnesotaWild2005-06NHLCaresP.jpg

Our video section today begins with a beautifully produced look back at the career of Walz and his retirement announcement.

Next, the always tenacious Walz scores a shorthanded goal while playing for EV Zug in Switzerland. Notice that Walz has a full size "Key Player" ad covering his name and number on the back of his jersey! Apparently he is so "key", that everyone knows who he is without aid of any identifying information, like being able to actually see his name and number.

Finally, highlights of the Minnesota Wild Skills Competition, where the fastest skater competition was won annually by Walz, over recognized NHL speedster Marian Gaborik.

Friday, June 23, 2017

1905-06 Portage Lake Hockey Club Cyclone Taylor Jersey

Born on this date in 1884, Fred "Cyclone" Taylor was one of the first stars of the fledgling sport of hockey and one of the leading scorers of his day.

As was common in the early days of organized hockey, Taylor played for several teams in several leagues - depending on where the money was. He joined his is first professional club, thanks to a $3,000 salary offer, the Portage Lakes Hockey Club in Houghton, Michigan in the International Professional Hockey League. Taylor arrived in the latter part of the 1905-06 season in time to score 11 goals in 6 games and help the club win the league championship with a 19-5 record.

He returned for the 1906-07 season and scored 14 times in 23 games as Portage Lakes again won the championship, this time with a record of 16-8. With professional teams now starting up in Canada, many of the players preferred to play closer to home and the IPHL disbanded after before the start of the next season.

Taylor moved back east, joining the Ottawa Senators of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association for the 1907-08 season. In 1908, Taylor played the start of the season with Pittsburgh of the Western Pennsylvania Hockey League but returned to Ottawa in time for the start of the Senators next season. Once back, he scored 9 goals in 11 games as Ottawa won the league title with a 10-2 record. As champions of the league, Ottawa became the holders of the Stanley Cup, previously held by league members the Montreal Wanderers.

Taylor Ottawa 1909
Taylor of the Ottawa Senators

It was during this period that Canada's Governor General was so impressed with his incredible speed that he gave Taylor the nickname "Cyclone".

Fred Cyclone Taylor signature

After a falling out with management of Ottawa, Taylor accepted an offer to join the Renfrew Creamery Kings for the inaugural season of the National Hockey Association.

1911 C55 Taylor

There he was joined by future hall of famers Lester Patrick, his brother Frank Patrick as well as mid-season addition Newsy Lalonde. The paychecks handed out to the Renfew players earned the club the unofficial nickname of the Renfrew "Millionaires". Taylor's salary in particular was the highest ever for a Canadian athlete up to that time and remained so for many years.

Lalonde,F Patrick & Taylor 1912
Newsy Lalonde, Frank Patrick and Cyclone Taylor of Renfrew

Despite their high priced talent, Renfrew finished third in the league and reportedly lost $17,000 that season. Taylor returned for the 1910-11 season, only without the Patricks or Lalonde.

The club once again finished third in the standings and disbanded following the season, putting Taylor back on the open market. Sort of.

His rights were transferred to the Montreal Wanderers, but Taylor was quoted as saying he'd rather retire than join the Wanderers and ended up playing in a game for the Ottawa Senators. The Wanderers protested Taylor's appearance for Ottawa and won. The game was ordered replayed, Taylor and Ottawa were fined $100 each and Taylor was given an indefinite suspension, ending his 1911-12 season at one game.

In November of 1912, Taylor was lured to the Vancouver Millionaires by his former teammates the Patrick brothers, who had formed the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

Taylor Vancouver 1912-13
Taylor with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1912-13

There, he would find a permanent home, playing the next nine seasons of his career, which included five scoring titles, thanks in part to moving up to forward from defense, a career high of 32 goals in 18 games in 1917-18 and a Stanley Cup championship in 1915 thanks to a 3 games to none win over Taylor's former club, the Ottawa Senators which included Taylor scoring six times in the three games including twice in the cup clinching Game 3. The victory by the Millionaires remains the only Stanley Cup ever won by a team from Vancouver 95 years later.

1915 Vancouver Millionaires
1915 Stanley Cup champion Vancouver Millionaires

The Millionaires returned to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1918, and while they fell in seven games to the Toronto Arenas, Taylor led all playoff scorers with 9 goals in 7 games.

He stopped playing hockey after the 1920-21 season, but did return for a single game in the 1922-23 season with the club now renamed the Vancouver Maroons. He finished his career averaging more than a goal per game with 194 goals in 186 regular season games.

Following his playing career, he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. His son Fred Jr. opened a chain of hockey equipment stores called Cyclone Taylor Sports in 1957 which remain in operation today. Since 1967 the playoff champions of the three British Columbia Junior B hockey leagues is awarded the Cyclone Taylor Cup.

In 1979, the Canucks renamed the club's annual MVP award the Cyclone Taylor Award. There are also arenas in Vancouver and his birthplace of Tara, Ontario named in his honor as well as Cyclone Taylor Boulevard, which is one of the four roads around the current Ottawa Senators arena, Scotia Bank Place in Ottawa.

Today's featured jersey is a 1905-06 Portage Lake Hockey Club Fred "Cyclone" Taylor jersey. Or in this case we should we say "sweater". This classic turn of the century hockey sweater features a wonderful "PL" monogram adorned with wings on either side. This heavy sweater certainly would have kept the players warm, as the IPHL played it's games in the winter on natural ice.

While the Portage Lake team only existed for a limited number years, playing exhibition games as early as 1900 and joining the IPHL in 1904 when they began to attract players of note from Canada with the salaries they were paying in the days of amateur hockey, the lineup of future hall of famers was quite impressive, including IPHL founder Jack Gibson in the Builders category, "Bad" Joe Hall, goaltender Riley Hern, team captain Bruce Stuart, his brother Hod Stuart and of course the legendary Cyclone Taylor.

Taylor Portage Lake 1905-06

Today's video is a treat, a look at Taylor's career which includes an interview with the man himself!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic Prototype Jersey

On this date in 1995, the NHL gave their approval for the sale of the Quebec Nordiques which resulted in their relocation to Denver, Colorado.

Originally founded in 1972 as one of the original 12 WHA franchises, the Nordiques played seven seasons in the WHA, winning the championship once in 1977.

1976-77 Quebec Nordiques
The 1976-77 WHA champion Quebec Nordiques

While the league folded following the 1978-79 season, four of the league's strongest and most stable franchises would enter the NHL as "expansion" franchises, which included the Nordiques.

Life in the NHL proved both exciting and difficult. The Nordiques rivalry with Quebec neighbors the Montreal Canadiens provided some of the most intense battles of the 1980's. After missing the playoffs in 1980, the Nordiques made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, including a division title in 1986 and a pair of trips to the conference finals in 1982 and 1985.

1985-86 Quebec Nordiques
The 1985-86 Quebec Nordiques

Sadly for fans of the Nordiques, the club fell on some very hard times after 1987, missing the playoffs six out of the next seven seasons, including a horrid run from 1988-89 to 1991-92 when the club won a total of 75 games, an average of less than 19 per season, including last place finishes in 1988-89, 1989-90 (33 points behind the second worst team, more than the 31 they actually scored!) and 1990-91.

The Nordiques used the resulting draft picks to select players such as Mats Sundin and Adam Foote (1989), Owen Nolan (1990), Eric Lindros (1991) (who they converted into Peter ForsbergRon HextallChris SimonMike RicciSteve DuchesneJocelyn Thibault and $15 million) and Adam Deadmarsh (1993).

All this, in addition to the selection of Joe Sakic (15th overall in 1987), gave the Nordiques a very bright future on the ice, as evidenced by their record-setting turnaround from a 52 point season in 1991-92 to a 104 point season in 1992-93, an improvement of 52 points in one year!

Unfortunately, the future did not look the same off the ice. The weak Canadian dollar hampered the bottom line, as the team's revenues came in Canadian dollars but player salaries were paid in US dollars. No doubt the small size of Quebec City worked against the team and the exclusive use of French in the city both hurt it's ability to attract certain players, Lindros in particular, sponsorships and contracts with radio and TV outlets. It's home arena, the Colisee de Quebec, built in 1949 and it's smaller 15,750 capacity also limited the team's finances.

Nordiques president Marcel Aubut sought financial help from the Quebec provincial government as well as a new publicly funded arena, all of which was turned down.

Eventually the club was sold to Comsat Entertainment Group, already owners of the Denver Nuggets of the NBA, who relocated the team to Denver, Colorado for the 1995-96 season - a year in which they proceeded to immediately win the Stanley Cup with a roster full of players selected to be Nordiques.

Nordiques art

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Quebec Nordiques Joe Sakic prototype jersey. The original 1972 Nordiques jerseys used light blue had a considerable amount of red on both the shoulders and waist stripe. The following season the blue was changed to a considerably darker shade and the amount of red was limited to the shoulders on the home jerseys and narrower striping.

The familiar Nordiques style was adopted in 1975 and remained in use through the Nordiques final season in Quebec twenty years later, although a new jersey with a modernized logo was unveiled on March 30, 1995 which was originally intended to be worn by the Nordiques in 1995-96. 

It has been reported that the club missed the deadline for approval of the jerseys in time for the start of the 1995-96 season and the jersey was now scheduled to become the Nordiques new jerseys for the 1996-97 season, only to see the club relocate to Denver, Colorado, where they would be renamed the Avalanche, leaving the now orphaned jerseys to go forever unworn.

The only known photo of the original jerseys shows (not very thrilled) journalist Claude Cadorette on the left in the blue road jersey and Nordiques public relations employee Pierre Kirouac on the right in the home white jersey modeling the sweaters, failing to show even the full length of the jerseys to reveal the intended waist striping.

Nordiques unused 1995-96 jerseys
Claude Cadorette and Pierre Kirouac in the best known
photo of the Nordiques proposed new jersey style

None of these jerseys were ever mass produced for retail sale, although some attempts to create them have been made, but none in any great quantities and some with less accurate colors than others thanks to a widely circulated illustration which had it's origins based on a guess while viewing a black and white photo. We were fortunate to obtain one of the accurately colored ones which do show up on ebay from time to time, which is today's featured jersey.

Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 F photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97F.jpg
Quebec Nordiques unused 1996-97 B photo QuebecNordiquesunused1996-97B.jpg

Our video section today begins with the 1984 playoffs "Good Friday Brawl" between the Nordiques and Canadiens.

Here is a report on Lindros refusal to play for the Nordiques, a stance which would eventually lead to the long-term success of the franchise - after it moved to Denver.

Finally, a video showing how the team was playing well, but financially the club was a state of financial decline.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning Roman Hamrlik Jersey

The 1992 NHL Entry Draft was held on this date in Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning selected defenseman Roman Hamrlik of Czechoslovakia with the first overall pick, the first Czech ever drafted #1 overall.

Hamrlik and Esposito
Hamrlik with Phil Esposito after being drafted #1 overall in 1992.
So why is the #1 pick given a jersey with the #2?

The Ottawa Senators followed with center Alexei Yashin at #2, Mike Rathje went third to the San Jose Sharks, left wing Todd Warriner fourth to the Quebec Nordiques and the New York Islanders rounded out the top five with the rugged Darius Kasparitis, making three defensemen among the top five.

Other notable selections in the first round were Cory Stillman at #6 to the Calgary Flames, Sergei Gonchar went 14th to the Washington Capitals and long-time NHLers Martin Straka 19th to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Grant Marshall 23rd to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Later round successes were Michael Peca at #40 to Vancouver, Darren McCarty #46 to Detroit, #65 Kirk Maltby to Edmonton, #88 Jere Lehtinen to the Minnesota North Stars, Adrian Aucoin #117 to Vancouver, the indestructible Ian Laperriere to St. Louis at #158, Stephane Yelle at #186 in round 8 to New Jersey and future NHL All-Stars Nikolai Khabibulin #204 in Round 9 to Winnipeg and in Round 10, Anson Carter, #220, to Quebec.

The latest pick to see NHL action was Andrei Vasilyev (#248) who played 16 games over four seasons with the Islanders (15) and the Phoenix Coyotes (1).

Hiroyuki Miura became the first Japanese player drafted at #260 in the 11th and final round, if you don't count the fictitious Taro Tsujimoto taken in 1974 by Punch Imlach of the Buffalo Sabres! Miura played six games with the Wheeling Thunderbirds of the ECHL in 1993-94, but never came close to playing in the NHL.

Hamrlik made his NHL debut later in 1992 with the Lightning and played in 67 games and scored 21 points. He maintained his scoring pace the next season, but raised his toughness level, nearly doubling his penalty minutes from 71 to 135. Three more seasons in Tampa followed, including a career high 16 goals and 65 points in 1995-96, until Hamrlik was traded to the Edmonton Oilers halfway through the 1997-98 season as part of a five player trade.

Hamrlik Lightning photo hamrliklightning.jpg
Hamrlik during the 1997-98 season

Two and a half seasons in Edmonton were followed by a trade to the New York Islanders, where he played for four full seasons. He spent the lockout season of 2004-05 like many other European NHLers by returning to the final club he played for prior to moving to North America, in Hamrlik's case, ZPS in Ziln of the Czech Republic.

Hamrlik Islanders photo hamrlikIslanders.jpg
Hamrlik with the Islanders

With the lockout concluded, Hamrlik signed with the Calgary Flames as a free agent for two seasons prior to choosing the Montreal Canadiens as his next home beginning in 2007-08. He would play four seasons in Montreal before a move to the Washington Capitals for all of 2011-12. Once the lockout ended, he saw action in f4 games with the Capitals before being claimed by the New York Rangers in March, where he finished out his career with a final 12 games.

Hamrlik Canadiens photo hamrlikCanadiens.jpg
Hamrlik scoring against his old team, the Islanders, while with Montreal

A major reason for Hamrlik's lengthy NHL career was his remarkable consistency. From 1994 through 2011, Hamrlik has scored between 21 and 46 points, save for the one season he hit 65. He has also missed a minimum of games, a stretch of 14 of 15 NHL seasons playing 70 games or more from 1995-96 to 2011-12, a streak ended when he played "only" 68 games.

Internationally, his opportunities were somewhat limited by his regular appearances in the NHL playoffs, but Hamrlik as competed for the Czech Republic in the 1994 World Championships, the 1996 World Cup, the 1998 Olympics where he won a gold medal, the 2002 Olympics, the 2004 World Championship and the 2004 World Cup. Prior to his North American career, he played for Czechoslovakia in the 1991 and 1992 European U18 World Championships, winning gold twice and the 1992 World Juniors.

Harmrlik Czech Republic photo HarmrlikCzechRepublic.jpg
Hamrlik in action against Germany during the 2004 World Cup

Thanks to his longevity, he finished his career with 1,395 games played, 638 points from 155 goals and 483 assists.

Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Tampa Bay Lightning Roman Hamrlik jersey as worn during his highest scoring season when he scored a career high 16 goals and 65 points. He also made his first appearance in the NHL playoffs that season.

This style Lightning jersey was originally worn in their debut season of 1992-93 with a silver numbers and a blue drop shadow and a unique font for the names on the back. The following season the fonts were italicized, making for the best looking Lightning jerseys in their history.

For some reason, the club changed to radially arched letters and the now white paintbrush font numbers, which have little to do with the name "Lighting", after only just one season. This style remained in use through the 1999-2000 until they changed to a much more boring block style font and one color names with no arching or any other feature to make them unique, as all other Lightning fonts had been throughout their history up until this point. It's a change we've never understood, considering their past history of unusual choices.

Tampa Bay Lightning jersey
Tampa Bay Lightning jersey

Today's video section begins with Hamrlik being selected first by the legendary Phil Esposito.

Next, Hamrlik converts the world's best saucer pass by Tomas Plekanec after Plekanec skates the length of the ice through the entire Islanders team to win the game in overtime.

Finally, highlights of Hamrlik's time with both Calgary and Montreal, set to the typical YouTube soundtrack. No penalty points for turning your speakers off.

Monday, June 19, 2017

1988-89 St. Louis Blues Bernie Federko Jersey

Starting his path to the NHL with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL in 1973-74, Bernie Federko made an immediate impact as a 17-year-old with 22 goals and 50 points. Those totals rose to 39 goals and 107 points in 1974-75 before a dominating season in which Federko scored an amazing 72 goals in 72 games while recording an additional 115 assists to set a team record with 187 points which still stands today.

He also led the league in scoring on his way to MVP honors that season, which caught the attention of scouts in both the NHL and the WHA, leading to Federko being drafted 6th overall by the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA and 7th overall by the St. Louis Blues of the NHL.

Federko opted to sign with St. Louis, who sent him to play with the Kansas City Blues of the Central Hockey League. After 42 games with Kansas City, he was leading the league in scoring with 30 goals and 69 points when summoned by St. Louis to make his NHL debut. He would play in the final 31 games of the year with the Blues, scoring 14 goals and 23 points. Despite not finishing the season in Kansas City, Federko was named the CHL Rookie of the Year.

Federko would never play another game in the minors once he was called up, and finished a second season with St. Louis at a very similar scoring pace, finishing with 41 points in 72 games, good for second on the team behind Gary Unger's 52.

Federko Blues photo Federko Blues 3.jpg
Federko in 1977-78 with the #3 memorial patch for Bob Gasoff

Now fully settled in to the NHL, Federko unleashed his offensive game in 1978-79, scoring 31 goals and 95 points to lead the Blues in scoring for the first of eight consecutive seasons.

He pushed his goal total up to 38 the following season with a nearly identical 94 points which led to his first NHL All-Star Game appearance. 1980-81 saw him achieve his first 100 point season when he tallied 104 points for his third consecutive top ten finish in league scoring and a second consecutive NHL All-Star Game appearance.

Federko Blues photo Federko Blues.jpg
Federko lining up for a faceoff

A fourth straight 30 goal season came in 1981-82 followed by a somewhat down year for Federko, as he was held to 24 goals and 84 points in 1982-83, but rebounded in 1983-84, as he set career highs with 41 goals and 107 points to once again return to the top ten scorers in the NHL.

After a 30 goal, 103 point campaign in 1984-85, his seventh 30 goal season came in 1985-86 with 34 goals and his fourth 100 point season with 102. The Blues would qualify for the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season and make the deepest run of Federko's career, as they would reach the conference finals while Federko scored 7 goals and 21 points in 19 games.

Federko Blues photo Federko Blues 2.jpg

The 1986-87 season saw him finish second in scoring for St. Louis to Doug Gilmour when Federko was limited to 64 games and 72 points. He rebounded with 89 points in 79 games in 1987-88, which included the 1,000th point of his NHL career on March 19, 1988, but time was catching up to Federko.

Despite a decline in his offensive numbers, his final season in St. Louis saw him named as the Blues team captain and still producing at a point per game, with 22 goals and 67 points in 66 games. He'd finish his career in St. Louis with 4 goals and 12 points in 10 playoff games, his 10th consecutive postseason with the Blues.

Federko Blues photo Federko Blues 4.jpg
Federko was the Blues captain in 1988-89

Prior to the start of the 1989-90 season, Federko and Tony McKegney were traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Paul MacLean and Adam Oates.

Federko, a center, was re-united with his former Blues head coach Jacques Demers, but was behind Steve Yzerman on the Red Wings depth chart. This resulted in a cutback on his ice and power play time, resulting in 17 goals and just 57 points, his lowest in 12 seasons, leading him to retire with exactly 1,000 NHL games played.

Federko's final NHL totals were 1,000 games played, 369 goals and 761 assists for 1.130 points and Blues team records for Career Games Played (927), Career Assists (721), Career Points (1,073) and Career Playoff Assists (66).

Federko had his number 24 retired by the Blues in 1991 and was announced as a new member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in on this date in 2002.

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 St. Louis Blues Bernie Federko jersey as worn during his final season in St. Louis when he served as the Blues team captain.

This is an amazing example of a Blues jersey, as it not only has the captain's "C", but also a pair of memorial patches, the #8 on the left shoulder for Barclay Plager and the "DK" shamrock for long time Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly.

The Blues adopted this basic jersey style in 1984-85, which featured a darker shade of blue and the name "BLUES" arched over the blue note crest. After three seasons, the wordmark was dropped, leaving just the blue note once again. This new version of the Blues jersey was worn for the final two seasons of Federko's career and seven seasons overall.

St Louis Blues 1988-89 jersey photo St Louis Blues 1988-89 F jersey.jpg
St Louis Blues 1988-89 jersey photo St Louis Blues 1988-89 B jersey.jpg
St Louis Blues 1988-89 patches photo St Louis Blues 1988-89 Patches.jpg

Today's video section is a compilation of career highlights from Federko.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett Jersey

Perhaps no other players personifies life in the World Hockey Association better than John Garrett. Born on this date and drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Garrett, faced with the prospect of life in the minor leagues riding buses and playing in a dingy old rink for little pay while trying to crack an NHL lineup instead cast his lot with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA for a higher salary, playing time in a top professional league in a brand new, state-of-the-art arena, featuring cutting edge clear dasherboards! It was a no-brainer for many minor league players in the early 1970's to make the jump to the WHA.

In Minnesota, Garrett split time with former US Olympian Mike Curran, before becoming the number one goalie in 1974-75 with 58 appearances and a 30-23-2 record. The following season Garrett had already played in 52 of the Fighting Saints 59 games, going 26-22-4, when the franchise folded mid-season.

Garrett Fighting Saints
Minnesota Fighting Saint John Garrett - note the clear boards behind him

Garrett's services were then snapped up by the Toronto Toros where their unsettled goaltending situation saw six different men play at least seven games, with none more than 26. While Garrett remained with the franchise for the next two seasons, nothing in the WHA was that simple, as the franchise relocated for the 1976-77 season to the deep south of the United States, finding a new home in Birmingham, Alabama of all places!

Garrett Bulls
Garrett joined the Toros after the Fighting Saints folded

Garrett's veteran experience and strong play immediately earned him the starting job and he patrolled the crease for 65 games that season and he was named a First Team WHA All-Star. He also played in 58 games in the 1977-78 season when the "Baby Bulls" were stocked with several players under the age of 20, something never before tried in major professional hockey.

Garrett Bulls
Garrett with his excellent snorting bull mask in Birmingham

A trade in September saw him dealt to the New England Whalers where he split the goaltending duties with Al Smith for the final season of the WHA. For 1979-80, the Whalers, now renamed the Hartford Whalers, joined the NHL along with the Quebec Nordiques, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.

During his time in the WHA, Garrett saw and lived through it all. A franchise folding mid-season, a franchise relocation, a trade and eventually a change in leagues!

Garrett led the Whalers in appearances in 1979-80 and 1980-81 with 52 and 54, respectively. With the Whalers failing to qualify for the playoffs in 1981, Garrett was chosen to be a member of Team Canada at the World Championships.

Garrett Whalers
Garrett with the Whalers in their new NHL era jerseys

He began the 1981-82 season with Hartford prior to being traded to another WHA refugee club, the Quebec Nordiques in January of 1982 to back up Dan Bouchard.

Garrett Nordiques
Garrett was traded to Quebec in 1982

With Bouchard again getting the majority of the playing time in 1982-83, and the Nordiques wanting to make room for future starter Clint Malarchuk, Garrett was again dealt in February 1983 to the Vancouver Canucks. While he was unable to displace established starter Richard Brodeur, Garrett did play three seasons in Vancouver to close out his NHL career.

Garrett Canucks
Garrett's final stop in his NHL career was with the Canucks

Garrett's career concluded with 530 games played, 216 wins, 242 losses and 52 ties between the two leagues combined.

John Garrett masks
John Garrett's goalie mask history

Today's featured jersey is a 1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints John Garrett jersey. The Fighting Saints original jerseys featured the "S" logo and were worn for the first half of their first season before being replaced by the "little saint" logo. None of the original Fighting Saints jerseys survived, as they had their crests removed and were given to the local Hastings High School to reuse.

Fighting Saints jerseys are some of the most sought after of the WHA game worn jerseys, thanks in part to their classic look, fantastic logo, die-hard fan base and limited availability.

1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints
1973-74 Minnesota Fighting Saints

Bonus Jersey: Our bonus jersey is a 1977 WHA All-Star John Garrett jersey as worn in the game in Hartford, Connecticut, won by the East All-Stars 4-2.

1977 WHA All-Star jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus Jersey: Our extra bonus jersey is a 1982-83 Vancouver Canucks John Garrett jersey. Moving forward in Garrett's career, he joined the NHL with the Whalers inclusion in the expansion in 1979-80 and made his way to Vancouver after a stint with the Nordiques in between.

Vancouver had debuted their controversial "flying V" jerseys in 1978-79 with one color black number and single color orange names. In Garrett's first season with the Canucks, the numbers became a sharp looking two color, as the black was now outlined in the orange, while the names were changed to a higher contrast black from the original orange. This was also the first season when the sleeve numbers moved to the more traditional location at the top of the arms, having originally been down at the wrists!

Today's extra bonus jersey has had Garrett's original nameplate removed unfortunately.

 photo Garrett Canucks gold.jpg
Note the excessive length of the jersey, which is
bordering on the proportions of a ladies dress

Sharp eyed readers will notice the proportions of this jersey being "off", as the team has lengthened the jersey considerably, making look not unlike a dress when worn by Garrett, in an effort to surreptitiously reduce the size of Garrett's five hole between his legs!

 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1982-83 B jersey.jpg

Extra extra bonus Jersey: Our extra extra bonus jersey is a 1984-85 Vancouver Canucks John Garrett jersey.

This jersey displays an interesting history, having originally been worn by teammate Brodeur as a #35 jersey, which was then converted to #31 for Garrett, as evidenced by traces of the original #5 digit, signs of a nameplate change as well as some of Brodeur's trademark modifications, such as the sleeves having been shortened as well as having side panels added to the body.

1984-85 was the final season for this style and the only season it was produced by CCM.

 photo Vancouver Canucks 1984-85 F jersey.jpg
 photo Vancouver Canucks 1984-85 B jersey.jpg

Today's video section is a look back at the beloved Fighting Saints.


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