Sunday, May 24, 2015

The History of Hockey in Indianapolis

With today being the annual running of the Indianapolis 500, we thought it would be an appropriate day to take a look at the history of hockey in Indianapolis.

The oldest team we could find information about is the Indianapolis Capitals of the American Hockey League who began play in the 1939-40 season. The Capitals, who were a farm team for the Detroit Red Wings, started out strong, winning their division in their very first season and two seasons later, after posting a 34-15-7 regular season record went on to capture the Calder Cup as league playoff champions in 1942.

Indianapolis Capitals
A look at the uniforms of the Indianapolis Captials

They would return to the finals in 1943 but it would take eight years for the Capitals to again win the Calder Cup following a sweep of the Cleveland Barons in 1950. The club, which played it's games at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, lasted through the 1951-52 season. Les Douglas was the franchise's leading scorer, with 302 points in six seasons in Indianapolis. The most well known player for the Capitals was Terry Sawchuk, who spent two seasons tending goal before joining the Red Wings for a Hall of Fame career.

The next team to call Indianapolis home was the Indianapolis Chiefs of the International Hockey League from 1955-56 to 1961-62. They also called the coliseum home and started out poorly with an 11-48-1 record. They improved quite a bit in year two, but still finished under .500 at 26-29-5. The next season they again had a losing record (28-30-6), but came to life during the playoffs, eventually becoming the 1958 Turner Cup champions by outlasting the Louisville Rebels 4-3 in the finals. The club would last four more seasons and never manage a single winning record during their eight seasons of existence.

1956-57 Indianapolis Chiefs
The 1956-57 Indianapolis Chiefs

The next attempt at a hockey team in Indianapolis was extraordinarily brief, as the team, also named the Indianapolis Capitals but playing in the Central Hockey League this time around, had played nine games of their inaugural season when a gas explosion during an ice show killed 74 people and heavily damaged the coliseum, causing their parent club, again the Red Wings, to move the franchise to Cincinnati for the remainder of the season.

Indianapolis went without a team for the next nine years until the arrival of the first major league team in the city's history in the form of the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in 1974-75. The Racers, the first team to embrace the racing heritage of the city, played their games in the brand new 16,000 seat Market Square Arena.

The Racers had a rough start as well, winning 18 and losing 57 with 3 ties their first season in the then 14 team WHA. They bounced back nicely in year two, winning their division, although with a 35-39-6 mark. The following year they won their first playoff series but found the going much tougher in 1977-78, falling to last place in the now 8 team league and missing the playoffs.

Desperately trying to survive, owner Nelson Skalbania signed the then 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky to play for the Racers. The arrangement would only last eight games before Skalbania sold Gretzky to the Edmonton Oilers. It was a death blow for the Racers, who lasted just 15 more games before folding after just 25 games and a dismal 5-18-2 record on December 15, 1978. Like the Chiefs, the Racers never posted a winning record in their four plus seasons.

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Wayne Gretzky during his time with the Racers

Other than Gretzky, Mark Messier had a five game cameo with the Racers and Dave Keon played 12 games in Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Checkers, which suggested both "a check" in hockey as well as "a checkered flag" in racing, arrived the following season of 1979-80 as members of the Central Hockey League and played out of the coliseum. They provided the city with their first winning record since the 1950-51 Capitals when they began life with a 40-32-7 mark in their debut season. Two seasons later they improved upon that feat by winning the Adams Cup as champions of the CHL. They brought the fifth championship to Indianapolis when they went back-to-back by winning the title again in 1983 after a league best 50-28-2 record. After one more season in the CHL, down to just five clubs, folded. Long time Vancouver Canucks Goaltender Richard Brodeur and future New York Islander and Los Angeles Kings netminder Kelly Hrudey were the best known of the CHL era Checkers.

Indianapolis Checkers Adams Cup
The Checkers receiving the 1982 Adams Cup

The Checkers lived on however, as they joined the same IHL the Chiefs once belonged to for the 1984-85 season. The IHL was a step up from the CHL and the Checkers lasted three more seasons before relocating to Denver after the 1986-87 season.


After one season without professional hockey in the city, the Indianapolis Ice arrived in the 1988-89 season and began life at the coliseum, but had enough success to move to the larger Market Square Arena. Typically, the expansion club began slowly with a 26-54-2 record but immediately turned things around in their second season, going 53-21-8 to win the Western Division before storming through the playoffs with a 12-2 record to return the Turner Cup to Indianapolis for the first time since the Chiefs won it back in 1958, a gap of 32 years.

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Steve Dubinksy of the Indianapolis Ice in the 1994-95 season

They were never able to repeat their championship success over the next nine seasons, but did have five winning seasons and two division titles in their 11 year run in the IHL. The Ice were affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks, and therefore had the services of none other than Dominik Hasek for parts of two seasons upon his arrival in North America.

Dominik Hasek Ice
Dominik Hasek while a member of the Ice

After the 1998-99 season, the Ice left the struggling IHL, which lasted only two more seasons, and gained membership in the Central Hockey League, only a different CHL than the one the ill-fated 1963-64 Capitals were members of. The Ice won the Miron Cup as champions of the CHL the first time out. They continued to play for four more seasons before folding after the 2003-04 season, bringing to and end professional hockey in Indianapolis for the time being.

1999-00 Indianapolis Ice
The 2000 Miron Cup champion Indianapolis Ice

While the IHL Ice were active, there was also an Indianapolis Junior Ice that played Junior A hockey in the North American Hockey League from 1989-90 to 1994-95.

Another Junior A club named the Indiana Ice began play in the United States Hockey League in 2004 following the demise of the Ice of the CHL. They too, play at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in the now renamed Pepsi Coliseum, which has been home to nearly every major hockey team in Indianapolis hockey history, dating all the way back to the original Capitals in 1939.

Following their first three sub .500 seasons, the Ice won the Eastern Division of the USHL in 2007-08 and became the Clark Cup champions in 2008-09, the fifth team from Indianapolis to win a championships for the city represented by five different trophies - the Calder, Turner, Adams, Miron and Clark!

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The Indiana Ice pose with the Clark Cup in 2008

Just one year ago, on May 20, 2014, the Ice captured their second Clark Cup as USHL champions, the ninth title for the city of Indianapolis.

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The Indiana Ice celebrate their second Clark Cup in 2014

One virtual constant throughout the history of hockey in the city of Indianapolis has been the Indiana State Fair Coliseum, now known as the Pepsi Coliseum, which opened in 1939, which also saw the arrival of the Indianapolis Capitals. It seats 8,200 fans. In addition to all the various hockey teams who have called the Coliseum home, it has also hosted the Indiana Pacers basketball team while they were members of the ABA from 1967 to 1974, which included league titles in 1970, 1972 and 1973.

It has also hosted boxing cards, boat and sports shows, horse shows, graduation ceremonies and concerts, which include such acts as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and The Who.

Indiana State Fair Coliseum
The Indiana State Fair Coliseum

Today's race will be paced by fastest qualifier and previous winner Scott Dixon, who flew around the track for an average of 226.760 mph. The pole position is his second, the first coming in 2008 when he went on to win the race that year.

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Scott Dixon posing at the yard of bricks

Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 Indianapolis Racers Michel Parizeau jersey from the first Indianapolis team to embrace the heritage of the Indianapolis 500 in their identity package.

The Racers wore the same jerseys for each of their five seasons, the last two changing from two color names to one color names on the back and this jersey has the distinction of being Wayne Gretzky's first professional jersey.

Parizeau never led the club in scoring, but through his longevity of the ever-evolving roster was the Racers all-time leader in points, with 136 during his four seasons with the Racers. Parizeau played with both the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers in 1971-72, scoring 3 goals in 58 total games. He then joined the Quebec Nordiques of the brand new WHA in 1972 and reeled off four seasons of 25 goals or more, including a change from the Nordiques to the Racers in 1975-76. In 509 WHA games, Parizeau scored 142 goals and 394 points.

Indianapolis Racers 77-78 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1978-79 Indianapolis Racers Michel Parizeau jersey from the Racers final season. In fact, the Racers did not make it to 1979, folding after just 25 games of the season on December 17, 1978 with a record of 5-18-2, having sold Gretzky after just eight games of the schedule.

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photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with highlights of the Indianapolis Racers from 1974 to 1979.

Perhaps the most significant moment in Indianapolis hockey history, Wayne Gretzky's first professional goal as a member of the Racers.

Up next is the Indiana Ice winning the 2014 Clark Cup, the most recent of nine championships for hockey teams to call Indianapolis home.

Finally, an Indy 500 tradition that came to an end last year, Jim Nabors singing "Back Home Again in Indiana", something he had done almost every year since 1972.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The New England Whalers Become the Hartford Whalers

Founded in 1972, the World Hockey Association began it's first season with an ambitious twelve member clubs located in Cleveland, Boston, New York, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Quebec, Edmonton, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Team movement began before the second season had even begun, with Philadelphia relocating to Vancouver and Ottawa finding a new home in Toronto, while New York moved over to New Jersey and underwent a name change.

The third season saw expansion to Indianapolis and Phoenix, while the New Jersey franchise relocated cross-country to San Diego as Los Angeles moved to Detroit for just half a season prior to moving to Baltimore before folding for good after the season, as did Chicago.

And so it went for the next four seasons with additions such as Cincinnati and Denver, teams moving to Calgary, Ottawa again, Birmingham and Minnesota again, while clubs in San Diego, Phoenix, Calgary and Houtson folded after their seasons ended.

Worse, clubs were no longer waiting until the conclusion of the season to fold, as Ottawa, Minnesota (twice) and Indianapolis all called it quits mid-season.

Still, the four constants during all the franchise meandering and bankruptcies were the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets and the New England Whalers, although in the interest of fairness it must be noted that the Whalers did relocate from Boston 91 miles up the freeway to Hartford, Connecticut midway though the 1974-75 season while keeping the "New England" moniker throughout.

New England Whalers logo
The Whalers won the first WHA championship in 1973 and made the finals again in 1978. Finally after several years of negotiations and failed attempts, the Oilers, Jets, Nordiques and Whalers were granted expansion status into the NHL, leaving Birmingham and Cincinnati out in the cold. The original merger/expansion vote was initially rejected by a single vote but a massive boycott of Molson products in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Quebec City led to the Montreal Canadiens, who were owned by Molson at the time, and the Vancouver Canucks to change their votes during a second ballot, approving the plan on March 22, 1979.

One provision of the expansion, as the NHL chose to treat it, rather than a "merger", was the Boston Bruins insisting that the Whalers drop "New England" from their name. Thus, on this date in 1979, the New England Whalers formally changed their name to the Hartford Whalers.

The WHA teams were severely restricted by the terms of the deal. Since they were being treated as expansion clubs, they each were required to pay a $6 million franchise fee to enter the NHL, as well as returning any player who had left the NHL to join the WHA without compensation after being allowed to protect just two goalies and two skaters. They were also placed at the end of the line for the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, rather than having picks 1-4 as any normal expansion club would expect.

The Whalers chose to keep Jordy DouglasMark Howe and goaltender John Garrett. An agreement was also reached which allowed Gordie Howe to remain in Hartford despite the Detroit Red Wings legally having the right to reclaim the now 50 year old Howe.

The Whalers did lose Alan Hangsleben (Canucks), Rick Ley (Maple Leafs), George Lyle (Red Wings) and Warren Miller (Rangers) to their original clubs.

Once the reclaiming process was completed, an expansion draft was held, which allowed each NHL team to protect 15 skaters and two goalies before the "new" clubs were allowed to restock their rosters at a cost of $125,000 for each player chosen.

Thus, the Whalers paid $250,000 to simply keep Ley and Hangsleben on their roster in the end when they reclaimed the pair among the 16 players they selected at a cost of $2 million on top of the $6 million they had already been charged simply for the right to become a member of the NHL.

The move to the NHL resulted in an overhaul of the team's sweaters and logo. While the original team colors were simply green and white, gold trim was added for the second season while the crest was simplified to a "W" bisected by a harpoon. These jerseys would remain in use for three seasons before some striping changes to the road jerseys and the player's names changing from one color to two in 1976-77. The home jersey waist striping was changed to mirror that of the road jerseys in 1977-78 through the final WHA season of 1978-79.

On entry to the NHL, gold was dropped in favor of royal blue and a completely new jersey was designed to compliment the brand new, much more modernized team logo.

Hartford Whalers Logo
Today's featured jersey is a 1977-78 New England Whalers Rick Ley jersey. This was the third variation of road jerseys used by the Whalers while in the WHA and differed from the second version only in the waist stripes. No longer was it a wide white stripe with gold trim three stripe pattern, but now a main white stripe (thinner than previous) bordered with a pair of green stripes which were then in turn bordered by a pair of gold stripes in a five stripe "Northwestern" pattern as featured on today's jersey.

Ley played four seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to moving to the Whalers for their inaugural WHA season of 1972-73 through the demise of the WHA in 1979, being named team captain in 1975.

While Ley was reclaimed by the Maple Leafs as part of the expansion process, the Whalers reclaimed him from the Maple Leafs (for $125,000) and he played two more seasons with the renamed Hartford Whalers in the NHL, remaining team captain until 1980.

He would play 310 NHL games and 478 in the WHA with a combined 47 goals and 329 points plus 1244 penalty minutes. His #2 was one of only three numbers retired by the Whalers franchise.

New England Whalers jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with the kind we just live for. First, the Whalers are introduced to the sounds of "Brass Bonanza" in an all-too-short clip, followed by their December 27, 1976 Super Series meeting in which the New England Whalers defeated the Soviet National Team, with Vladislav Tretiak in goal, 5-2!

Friday, May 22, 2015

1907 Kenora Thistles Tommy Phillips Jersey

Born in Rat Portage, Ontario, Tommy Phillips played for the local junior team before moving to Montreal to attending McGill University in 1902, where he joined the school's hockey team and was named the team captain. He also found time to play with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, who were the present holders of the Stanley Cup at the time Phillips joined the club.

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The 1900 Rat Portage Thistles

In late January of 1903 the Montreal AAA faced a challenge from the Winnipeg Victorias, which was a best-of-three format. Montreal won Game 1 by a score of 8-1 and Game 2 was declared a tie after 27 minutes of overtime when the clock reached midnight. While Winnipeg won the third game 4-2, Montreal retained the cup with a 4-1 win  in the deciding fourth game as Phillips contributed 3 goals during the series.

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The 1903 Montreal Amateur Athletic Association

Phillips moved to Toronto to attend a different school in late 1903, and while there, he joined the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association and played as their rover. He scored 5 goals in 4 games as the club won the city and province championships, which earned the Marlboros the right to challenge the Ottawa Hockey Club for the cup in late February of 1904, which Ottawa was able to defend 2 games to none.

He returned to Rat Portage to be with his ailing father later in 1904 and took a job with a lumber company as well as a bonus to play hockey for the Rat Portage Thistles. During his first season with the team he finished second in the league with 26 goals in 8 games.

The Thistles won the Manitoba Hockey League title with a 7-1 record and subsequently challenged the Ottawa Senators for the rights to the Stanley Cup in March of 1905, a series won by Ottawa 2 games to 1. The Thistles won the first game 9-3, with Phillips finding the net no less than five times. While Ottawa took the third game by a score of 5-4, Phillips had a hat trick in the losing effort.

The founding fathers of Rat Portage saw fit to merge with the towns of Keewatin and Norman, and taking the first two letters from each, renamed the newly formed municipality Kenora in 1905. While the town's name may have changed, the hockey team kept the name Thistles.

For the 1905-06 season, the Kenora Thistles repeated their 7-1 record to win the league title once more,  with Phillips scoring 24 goals in 9 games. However, a warm spring left the teams without suitable ice for a cup challenge until the following winter!

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The 1906 Kenora Thistles

Phillips led the league in 1906-07 with 18 goals in 6 games for Kenora, who then got their long-awaited Stanley Cup challenge against the Montreal Wanderers in January of 1907. The Thistles roster was stacked with four future Hockey Hall of Famers, including "Bad" Joe Hall, Tom Hooper and Art Ross. The format of the series was a two-game, total-goals series. Phillips, the Kenora team captain, led the way in Game 1, scoring all four Thistles goals for a 4-2 win, giving Kenora a 2 goal cushion entering Game 2.

Both Phillips and Hooper recorded hat tricks in Game 2 as Kenora won the game 8-6, taking the series 12-8 and claiming the Stanley Cup for tiny Kenora, the smallest town to ever hold the cup.

Thistles headline photo Thistlesheadline.jpg

After their challenge in January, Kenora returned home with the cup to finish their league schedule, which ran through March. The Thistles won the MPHL league playoff title to retain the cup and were then immediately challenged by the Wanderers in late March. The Thistles had lost three players to injuries and skillfully replaced them all with future Hall of Famers, Alf Smith, Harry "Rat" Westwick and Fred Whitcroft. There was some controversy over Kenora's use of their replacements, but in the end Montreal won back the cup 12 goals to 8 after the series was moved to Winnipeg in search of better playing conditions. Phillips recorded a goal in each of the two games of the challenge.

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The 1907 Stanley Cup Champion Kenora Thistles

Phillips was lured east thanks to the rise in professional hockey, as up until 1906 he played in amateur leagues. Despite an potentially higher offer from the Wanderers, Phillips signed to play with Ottawa and finished third in the league with 26 goals.

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Tommy Phillips while with the Ottawa Senators

His stay in Ottawa was brief, as he signed to play for the Edmonton Hockey Club for the 1908-09 season. His first assignment for Edmonton was to participate in their cup challenge against the Wanderers in Montreal. Game 1 was a 7-3 loss for Edmonton, who also lost Phillips for the upcoming season when he broke his ankle during the contest.

He continued to travel west, as he signed for the Nelson Hockey Club in British Columbia for the 1909-10 season before playing the 1911-12 season for the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, where he scored 17 goals in 17 games to bring his career to an end at the age of 29.

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Phillips final club, the 1911-12 Vancouver Millionaires

Phillips played a total of 67 league and cup games, scoring 141 goals, a career average of over 2 goals per game, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of it's inaugural class in 1945.

Today's featured jersey is a 1907 Kenora Thistles Tommy Phillips jersey. The Thistles name was chosen in a contest and the winner was a local Scottish carpenter named Bill Dunsmore who not only submitted the name in reference to the region's Scottish heritage, but a drawing of a thistle for the team's logo.

This jersey is the style worn by the 1907 Stanley Cup champion Thistles clubThese jerseys were reproduced by the CBC in connection with their "Hockey: A People's History" documentary, and are sadly no longer available on demand.

In another one of those amazing youtube moments, here is a video on the Kenora Thistles. While the original Thistle club disbanded in 1908, subsequent clubs in Kenora have adopted the Thistle name, which was the case for the club that Louis McKay played on in 1934.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1996 Czech Republic National Team Roman Turek Jersey

Goaltender Roman Turek began his hockey career in his native Czechoslovakia with the HC Ceske Budejovice U18 and U20 junior teams beginning with the 1984-85 season. During this time he made a successful international debut with Czechoslovakia during the 1988 IIHF U18 European Junior Tournament where he won a gold medal.

For the 1988-89 season Turek joined the second division club VTJ Pisek, with whom he would play for two seasons. He would also participate in both the 1989 and 1990 IIHF World Junior Tournaments, earning a pair of bronze medals in the process.

He returned to HC Ceske Budejovice for the 1990-91 season, where he saw action in 26 games. Budejovice was relegated to the second division for the 1991-92 season, but were promoted back to the top division for 1992-93. By now Turek had taken over as the team's number one netminder and left little but scraps for his fellow goaltenders as he played 43, 44 and 44 games of the shorter European schedule and earning Czech Player of the Year honors in 1994.

Internationally, the world was in a state of change, particularly in eastern Europe. One major change was the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Turek, born in Strakonice in the western side of the Czech half of the country, would play for the Czech Republic going forward, beginning with the 1993 World Championships where he won a bronze medal. In 1994 Turek made his Olympic debut followed later in the spring with a second World Championship. He returned for the World Championships again in 1995 where he earned a berth on the tournament All-Star Team.

Turek took his game to Germany for the 1995-96 season as he joined the Nürnberg Ice Tigers of the DEL in what proved to be a busy year. He first set a new career high in games played with 48 before backstopping the Czechs to a gold medal at the 1996 World Championships with a 1.88 goals against average in 8 games played, earning not only tournament all-star recognition, but also being named the tournament's Best Goaltender. Later that fall Turek was the Czechs starting goaltender for the inaugural World Cup of Hockey.

His career took a dramatic turn for the 1996-97 season. Having been drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1990, who had subsequently moved to Dallas in 1992, Turek came to North America and spent  most of the year getting acclimated to the culture and style of hockey on this side of the Atlantic as he played with the Michigan K-Wings of the International Hockey League. He would also make his NHL debut with 6 games for the Dallas Stars, making a fine showing with a 2.05 goals against and a 93% save percentage in six appearances.

He played 23 games with Dallas in 1997-98 as a backup to Ed Belfour, winning 11. In 1998-99 Turek went 16-3-3 in 26 games with the Stars, who went on to win the Stanley Cup that season.

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Turek was dealt to the St. Louis Blues over the summer, where he immediately became their number one, playing in 67 games and setting an immediate career high with 42 wins as well as a career best 1.95 goals against average, which won him his second consecutive Jennings Trophy. He would play one more season with St. Louis before being dealt to the Calgary Flames in exchange for three players.

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Turek set a career high in wins with the Blues

The Flames rode Turek for the 2001-02 season, which allowed him to establish a career high of 69 games, followed by 65 the following season. During that season he also made his second trip to the Olympics with the Czech Republic. The 2003-04 season saw a lot of competition for playing time in the Calgary nets, with Turek playing in 18 games while competing for playing time with Jamie McLennan and Miikka Kiprusoff.

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This would prove to be the end of Turek's NHL career, as he returned to Ceske Budejovice for the 2004-05 season while the NHL lockout was in progress to help the club gain a promotion out of the second division.

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He remained with Budejovice for the next five years from 2005-06 through 2009-10, including winning Czech Extraliga Player of the Year in 2008 before his retirement. He later became first Budejovice s goaltending coach and then team president in 2013.

Today's featured jersey is a 1996 Czech Republic National Team Roman Turek jersey, a one year only style worn by Turek and the Czechs as they won their first World Championship playing as an independent nation following the division of Czechoslovakia. Somewhat unique to the Czechs, their goaltenders were often assigned the numbers 1 and 2, while most nations traditionally gave out #2 to defensemen.

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Todays video section begins with a pair of videos from the gold medal game of the 1996 World Championships, the first being the introduction of the Czech squad and the second a highlight video showing the Czechs defeating Canada to capture an emotional World Championship, their first as the Czech Republic since the division of Czechoslovakia just three years earlier.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Fog Game - 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert Jersey

In 1973-74, the Buffalo Sabres had finished mid-pack and missed out on the Stanley Cup playoffs. They rebounded strongly in 1974-75, winning the newly created Adams Division and finishing tied with the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers and also the Montreal Canadiens with 113 points.

The Sabres, led by The French Connection line, which consisted of Rene Robert (with a team leading 100 points), Gilbert Perreault (96 points) and Rick Martin (95 points), defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 4 games to 1 in the quarterfinals before ousting the Canadiens 4-2 to reach their first Stanley Cup Finals in only their fifth season of play.

Game 1 of the finals, the first without an Original Six team since 1926, was played in Philadelphia's Spectrum and went to the Flyers 4-1. Philadelphia also took Game 2 by a close 2-1 margin.

The series then moved to the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium for Game 3 on this date in 1975, which would prove to be one of the strangest games in NHL history.

"The Aud" was originally constructed in 1940, the building was renovated with the arrival of the Sabres and Buffalo Braves of the NBA in 1970.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium The Aud photo memorialauditoriumpostcard.png

Early in Game 3, a bat was spotted flying near ice level during the game. Finally at one point, with the teams line up for a face off in the Flyers zone, with the bat buzzing the players heads, Jim Lorentz raised his stick and swatted the bat out of midair and Rick MacLeish of the Flyers picked up the dead creature and deposited it over the boards at the Flyers bench.

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Jim Lorentz swats the  bat

As time passed, the sell out crowd of over 16,000 fans began to have an effect, as the non-air conditioned arena began to get warmer and steamier. Temperatures at ice level eventually got so warm that a layer of fog began to appear on the ice.

1975 Buffalo Fog Game

Eventually, the fog became thicker and thicker, causing the officials to halt play several times because the players could not see halfway down the ice. Several attempts were made to deal with the fog, including having the players skate in circles to try to stir up the air and clear the fog, as well as having the arena staff quickly raise and lower bed sheets to move larger amounts of air with some effect.

Play was resumed, but then stopped again and again and the visibility remained poor. Eventually both coaches, Fred Shero of the Flyers and Floyd Smith of the Sabres instructed their players to shoot as often as possible since the opposing goaltender was going to have problems seeing the puck.

Down by two goals, the Sabres fought back with a pair of goals by Danny Gare and Martin just 17 seconds apart to even the score at 2-2 before the struggling Sabres goaltender Gerry Desjardins let in a shot by MacLeish from 40 feet to put the Flyers back in the lead at the end of the first period.

During the intermission, Desjardins asked to be relieved in the Sabres goal. "After the second goal against me, I thought it was a grand time to get the hell out of there. I knew if I had stayed in, everything would have gone down the drain," Desjardins said following the game. "After all, we were only down by one goal. It was close at the end of the first period, Why waste it?"

During the second period, Reggie Leach scored on his own rebound after a wild scramble in front of new Sabres goalie Roger Crozier to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead, but Don Luce was able to put one past Bernie Parent to send the game into the third with Philadelphia up 4-3.

During the third period, defenseman Bill Hajt of Buffalo put in a rebound of a shot by Martin to even the score and eventually send the game into overtime.

The fog continued to disrupt play in overtime, causing seven stoppages. Finally, with about a minute to play, Perreault skated into the Flyers zone and passed the puck to Robert in the far corner. Robert, along the goal line, shot the puck from the sharp angle, which eluded Parent and went between his legs for the winning goal for the Sabres after nearly 80 minutes of play, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

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The Sabres celebrate the game winning goal

"I didn't see Perreault's pass," said Parent. "I saw Robert's shot too late for me to come out and stop it. I'm surprised he overtime took so long. It was hard to see the puck from the red line. If three men came down and made a good pass from the red line, you couldn't see the puck. A good shot from the red line could have won it. But it was the same thing for Crozier."

"There had been a lot of pressure on our line," Robert said. "People saw we scored so many goals during the season, what has happened to us now, that we're letting down, the we don't check. Philadelphia double shifts our line, you know, and they are a real good team, too. Getting a big goal like that makes you feel good. It has been tough for us."

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert jersey as worn when he scored the winning goal in overtime of the "Fog Game" in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals.

The original Sabres jerseys, worn from 1970-71 to 1976-77 featured a lace-up collar and no names on the back, unless it was for a national TV game, in which case names were added and then removed afterwards, as the club owners felt that not having names on the backs of the jerseys would lead to increased program sales.

1974-75 Buffalo Sabres Rene Robert jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Our video section today begins with a quick look at the bat attack and the fog bank which later descended over the ice.

Here is a longer look at the game, including the winning goal, with quotes from broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, Lorentz and winning goal scorer Robert.

This look at the history of "The Aud" includes footage of Robert's overtime goal in the fog.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

1997-98 Michigan K-Wings Jason Botterill Jersey

Jason Botterill's hockey career got off to a successful start beginning with the 1993-94 season, as the University of Michigan Wolverines freshman scored 20 goals and 39 points in 36 games. During that season he also won a gold medal at the World Junior Tournament playing for his native Canada. Following the season Botterill was drafted 20th overall in the first round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars.

During his second season with Michigan, Botterill won another gold medal at the World Juniors before his memorable 1995-96 season. He completed his World Junior hat trick with a third gold medal in January, making him the only Canadian to ever win a gold medal in three straight World Juniors.

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Botterill remains the only Canadian to win
three gold medals at the World Junior Tournament

He completed his NCAA season with 32 goals and 57 points in 37 games, while adding 143 penalty minutes, as Michigan defeated the Colorado College Tigers 3-2 in overtime to win the NCAA national title to complete a championship double in the space of three months.

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Botterill's magic 1996 season ended with an NCAA championship

He returned for his senior season with the Wolverines as a team captain and had his finest season with the maize and blue with NCAA career highs with 37 goals and 61 points in 42 games.

For the 1997-98 season, Botterill was assigned to the Michigan K-Wings of the International Hockey League where he played in 50 games that season. He also made his NHL debut with the Stars with appearances in 4 games.

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Botterill made his NHL debut with Dallas

While Botterill scored 38 points in 56 games for the K_Wings in 1998-99, he went scoreless in 17 games with Dallas, who traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers in the offseason. He played 25 games for Atlanta that season, which included scoring his first NHL goal. He would play an additional 17 games with the Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL before a trade in February of 2000 sent him to the Calgary Flames organization.

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Botterill scored his first NHL goal with Atlanta

He played a pair of games with the Flames but spent the majority of the rest of the season with the Saint John Flames of the American Hockey League.

Botterill, born on this date in 1976, spent the entire 2000-01 season with Saint John, scoring 33 points in 60 games before adding an additional 9 points in 19 playoff games as the Flames would win the Calder Cup as champions of the IHL.

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The Saint John Flames celebrate their 2001 Calder Cup championship

He would captain Saint John for the 2001-02, scoring 42 points evenly divided between goals and assists in 71 games. Botterill also made four appearances for Calgary in the NHL, where he would score his second goal in the NHL.

Thanks to his fine season with Saint John, Botterill was signed by the Buffalo Sabres for 2002-03, who assigned him to the Rochester Americans of the AHL, which led to his finest season as a professional as he scored 37 goals and 59 points, good for second on the team in 64 games. He also found time to play 17 games with the Sabres. tallying a goal and 5 points.

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Botterill causing havoc while with the Americans

The 2003-04 season was more of the same, as he split his time between Rochester (46 games) and Buffalo, where he played a career high 19 NHL games, scoring twice. Rochester then made a deep playoff run, defeating Syracuse and Hamilton before losing to Milwaukee in the conference finals.

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Botterill played a career high 18 games with Buffalo in 2003-04

Botterill would start  the 2004-05 season with the Americans, but 8 games into the season he would suffer a career ending concussion. His final totals from the NHL were He remained active in hockey, first working for the NHL and now currently an Associate General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Today's featured jersey is a 1997-98 Michigan K-Wings Jason Botterill jersey as worn during Botterill's first season as a professional. The club was founded in 1974 as the Kalamazoo Wings with the colors of red and white to reflect their affiliation with the cross-state Detroit Red Wings. When the club changed it's affiliation to the Minnesota North Stars in 1988, they adopted the North Stars colors of green, gold and black. Their affiliation with the organization remained intact after the NHL franchise relocated to Dallas for the 1992-93 season. After two additional seasons, the club changed it's named to the Michigan K-Wings. The instability of the IHL and the Stars ending their relationship with the club led to franchise requesting inactive status for 2000-01 before folding for good when the IHL itself imploded.

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Michigan K-Wings 1997-98 jersey photo Michigan K-Wings 1997-98 B jersey.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers Jason Botterill jersey. The Thrashers wore this style from their debut in 1999-00 through the change to Reebok Edge jerseys for 2007-08, seven seasons in all, not counting the lost season of 2004-05.

Rather than create a reverse of their white home jersey, the Thrashers got around NHL rules that dictated they not be allowed to have an alternate jersey until their fourth season in the league by choosing to feature their secondary shoulder logo as the primary logo on their dark "road" jersey from the start of their first season, essentially wearing a "home" and an "alternate" as their first set of jerseys.

Sharp eyed readers will notice this jersey lacks the NHL 2000 patch worn during the Thrashers debut season, but on closer inspection the stitching where the patch was located is still evident.

Botterill wore this jersey when he scored the first NHL goal of his career, which came on the road on January 4, 2000 against his future club the Buffalo Sabres.

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Atlanta Thrashers 1999-00 jersey photo Atlanta Thrashers 1999-00 B jersey.jpg

In today's video section, Penguins associate general manager Botterill talks to the media after the conclusion of the 2014 NHL draft.


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