Friday, September 19, 2014

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 2 - Where to Buy Your Jerseys

Day 2 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp brings us to our next "drill", where to buy your jerseys.

In the pre-internet past, buying jerseys was limited to the souvenir stand of your local team and a few select options at a limited number of sporting goods stores.

With the arrival of the internet into our homes, the options for the jersey collector have expanded exponentially since the mid 1990's, beginning with any number of online retailers and of course, ebay, the world's biggest garage sale, where collectors across North America could buy and sell their jerseys without regional boundaries and limited selections as in the past.

Other options beyond ebay that began to appear were online stores, such as, United States College Hockey Online's internet store ( and, who focus almost exclusively on hockey, as well hockey equipment dealers like and, who all have a jersey selection as part of their hockey gear websites as well as other broader appeal sporting goods retailers such as and

No mention of online jersey sellers would be complete without a mention of the wonderfully unique, who deal with mainly national team jerseys of quite nearly 50 different countries and have been responsible for some real gems in our collection, such as national team jerseys from Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands and Poland since their founding in late 2006. It was absolutely unheard of to be able to purchase a Mongolian National Team jersey on demand until WHJ came on the scene!

If you are looking for some really obscure or unique items, go no farther than The selection offered by VMH is like no other, beginning with a 1915-16 St. Paul Athletic Club jersey and moving through the history of Minnesota hockey through classic high school, junior, college, minor league, WHA and NHL Minnesota classics, all produced with painstaking detail and quality. And if you are a fan of the University of Minnesota, or the players they have recently sent to the NHL, VMH is the place for you to get your Gophers jerseys, from 1936 to 2008.

Unfortunately the main source we have relied on for over a decade, ebay, has taken an enormous turn for the worse, as fees associated with selling on ebay have risen again and again and again, which are naturally passed on to the buyer whenever possible. Rising postage costs have also made ebay less attractive to a certain degree, especially when items have to cross the border between Canada and the United States, but the main problem with buying on ebay these days is the incredible proliferation of fake jerseys from China flooding the market and making the legitimate jerseys quite difficult and time consuming to locate and identify among all the static.

fake hockey jersey
A poor quality knockoff jersey with "Gonchar" misspelled!

Sadly, ebay has little reason or incentive to attempt to curtail all the illegal activity crowding out the legitimate jerseys as they profit from each and every one of the thousands of the knockoffs listed on their site through the listing fees they charge, whether an item sells or not.

Should any of these jerseys actually sell to those unknowingly thinking they are getting a great deal or don't care that the jersey is a fake when compared to the price of a real jersey, ebay makes even more money on both the final value fee and the subsequent paypal payment, further reducing their incentive to clean up their listings, as turning a blind eye to the fake jerseys only helps their bottom line.

Still, despite it's problems, ebay is still the place to look for the majority of what you want as long as you are able to identify the real jerseys from the counterfeits, especially if you are interested in any of the older style jerseys prior to the arrival of Reebok becoming the supplier to the NHL in 2007-08, as the above listed online shops only carry the current seasons jerseys almost without exception.

If one thinks ebay has gotten bad, it hardly compares to the cesspool of junk peddled on Craigslist. Even finding a legit jersey for sale with adequate photos is like finding a needle in a haystack, but it can be done with some persistence and luck.

Another alternative to paying retail prices at the various online stores or dealing with the hassles of ebay is to buy directly from other collectors. A limited number of online forums, such as that hosted by IceJerseys or the game worn forums at both and all have marketplace sections where collectors can buy from and sell to other members of their online community.

After you have been a member of these discussion forums for a period of time, you will learn which members are trustworthy and have established reputations as honest people to deal with. We personally have started to buy an increasing percentage of our jerseys directly from others this way.

Some of those forums have rules which require you to be a member for a period of time and also participate as an active member of the forum with a minimum number of posts before you can sell your jerseys there. Please be respectful and follow not only their established guidelines, but the spirit of those guidelines. Creating a two dozen brief posts all in one day which add nothing to the conversation and annoyingly dredge up old threads to simply meet the number of posts required will not fool anyone will harm your reputation as a trustworthy seller and won't earn you selling privileges anyway.

If you have any other favorite sources to obtain your jerseys, we'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.

We also invite you to visit the selected advertisers mentioned above in our ThirdStringGoalie marketplace sections in our right hand column of this page.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 1 - What to Collect

Welcome to Hockey Jersey Training Camp! We are going to cover a number of topics over the course of this training camp in an effort to aid the collector of jerseys, both veteran and rookie.

Our first "drill" will focus on what to collect.

Many fans just buy a jersey or two from their hometown team and call it a day until the player whose name is on the back of their jersey leaves the team, especially under less than friendly circumstances. They are then faced with the choice of wearing a newly outdated jersey, buying a new jersey or simply going to the games with a team sweatshirt.

The avid jersey collector does have to worry about such things, as they have any number of jerseys to fall back on in the event a star player leaves their team.

Many collectors simply buy what catches their eye, regardless of what team it's from, to some degree, as some passionate fans cannot overcome their hatred of their favorite team's rival to ever own one from "the enemy". Other collectors develop a theme to their collections, and that's what we are going to focus on today.

The most common theme is to buy jerseys from your favorite team, be it an NHL club, their local minor league affiliate, junior or college team. For example, some collectors will only purchase Avalanche jerseys. Others Avalanche fans will branch out to include such things as jerseys of Avalanche players from appearances in All-Star games and various international tournaments, such as a Joe Sakic 2000 All-Star jersey or a Peter Forsberg Sweden National Team jersey, in both an effort to wear something a little different from the masses and demonstrating the increased depth of their hockey knowledge, like this amazing Colorado Avalanche collection. One way to add interest to the single team approach is to add jerseys with additional anniversary, all-star or memorial patches a club may have worn.

Other fans will focus their collection not on a single team, but a single player, with Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemeiux being prime examples, as both players not only wore a number of NHL jerseys, with Gretzky having played for four different teams, while Lemeiux wore no less than eight different Penguins styles, 11 different All-Star jerseys and skated for Canada in five international tournaments.

Other star players often lend themselves to this approach, such as Jonathan ToewsTeemu Selanne or Jaromir Jagr to name a few, with the multiple options for NHLAll-Star and International jerseys they have worn during their careers. Sydney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin also lend themselves to this approach for those of you just getting started in collecting given the opportunity you will have to buy their jerseys when they are current, rather than trying to find discontinued styles that are long out of production from older players, although you better get started, as Ovechkin has already played for Moscow Dynamo, who changed jerseys every one of his five seasons there, the Washington Capitals, who have already changed jersey styles during his nine seasons with the club, in four NHL All-Star games and the Russian National Team 12 of the last 13 years!

Some fans in smaller locales have been known to collect the NHL jerseys of former players on their local minor league team who have gone on to play at the highest level. This can lead to some unusual and off-beat player choices, as obvious star players are passed over for journeymen types with short careers due to their local connections to the collector.

Other player oriented themes are Hall of Fame players, black players, rookie jerseys and goalie collections.

Getting away from the focus on individual players, some try to collect at least one jersey from each NHL club, defunct clubs, All-Star Game jerseys, each year's Stanley Cup champion or even each year's Conn Smythe winner. One other theme is to collect jerseys from a particular season, our favorite of which is the 1991-92 NHL season, which saw the Original 6 teams all wearing Turn Back the Clock jerseys and all players wearing the attractive NHL 75th Anniversary logo that season.

Adding the unique jerseys worn each year in the now annual Winter Classic is also a good way to add some unique jerseys to one's collection without a huge financial outlay each season, although it appears that there will now be a pair of outdoor games every other season going forward to generate more specialty jerseys for you to pursue.

There is also a subset of collectors who focus on the rare, unusual and unloved jersey styles, such as the short-lived alternate jerseys like the Mighty Ducks "Wild Wing" or Los Angeles Kings "Burger King" jerseys. The New York Islanders Fisherman era sweaters and the Tampa Bay Lightning "Stormy Weather" alternates are also quite popular with fans of what we like to call the "Curious, Weird and Ugly" jerseys. Of those, the Kings alternate is the perfect storm of collectability, being scarce due to it's short life, desirable due to it's unattractiveness and the added competition to own one from those who focus on Gretzky jerseys.

Still other themes consist of either the jerseys of your home country, such as the various Team Canada or Team USA jerseys, and one ambitious collector has taken the opposite approach by attempting to collect jerseys from as many different national teams as possible, which can be quite a challenge given the over 50 full member countries in the International Ice Hockey Federation, which include lesser-known hockey playing nations as Australia, North Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa!

There's also jerseys from your favorite minor, junior or college teams that can be the basis of a collection.

Once you decide if your collecting is going to have a loose or rigid theme, then there is the aspect of buying only authentic jerseys, the kind with fightstraps which are the same as those worn by players on the ice, or if replica jerseys fit your taste and budget, as throughout the 1990's replica jerseys were made to a very high standard by CCM, Nike, ProPlayer and Starter.

And so far we have not even mentioned the aspect of focusing on game worn jerseys, which is a whole culture in and of itself, as collectors try to track down the actual jerseys worn by the players on the ice during the games. As with anything, there are options in game worn collecting to fit most every budget, as lesser known players or even pre-season jerseys can sometimes be had for prices occasionally below a retail authentic.

Pick one concept or multiple themes if you wish, but be careful to not pick them all, or you just might find yourself writing a daily blog about your collection!

Have an unusual theme for your collection not mentioned here? Please post it in the comments below, as we'd like to hear what interesting ideas others have come up with.

Our video section today features some collectors who have chosen to share their collections on youtube.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

1907 Montreal Victorias Russel Blair Jersey

Montreal native Russel Blair, born on this date in 1880, made his debut with the Montreal Victorias organization with their junior team in the Montreal City Junior Hockey League in the 1894 season as a 14-year-old. He remained with the club through 1897.

After one year away from the Victorias in 1897-98, Russel returned to the Victorias for two more seasons with their intermediate level team before another year away from the Victorias in 1899.

He rejoined the Victorias organization for the 1900 season, making his debut with the senior level club.  Blair tallied 9 goals in 7 games of the abbreviated schedules which were the norm during hockey's infancy.

Russel Blair photo RusselBlair2.jpg

For the next three seasons Blair average a goal per game, all with the Victorias, totaling 24 goals during each of the three eight game schedules as he established himself as a great two way player who excelled on defense as well as offense. He also earned himself a reputation as a clean player in what could be a very rough game.

It was then that Blair's game moved into a higher gear as he began to average two goals per game as a left winger, beginning with 17 goals in the 8 games of the 1904 season, with 7 of those goals coming in one game against the rival Montreal Shamrocks. His 17 goals were good for third in the Canadian Amateur Hockey League scoring race.

He exceeded his average from 1904 with 19 goals in the eight games of 1905 to finish second in league goal scoring to teammate and future Hall of Famer Russell Bowie.

1905 Montreal Victorias team photo 1905MontrealVictoriasteam.jpg
The 1905 Montreal Victorias team

After the Victorias moved to the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association, Blair was limited to 7 goals from just 4 games in 1906.

He set a career high with 25 goals in 10 games in 1907, which earned him an Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association 1st Team All-Star team award. Despite the career high of 25 goals, Blair was only third in ECAHA scoring.

He would play 6 games in the 1908 season, scoring 8 goals, the Victorias last in the Eastern Canada Hockey Association.

When the ECHA became a professional league in 1909, the Victorias chose to retain their amateur status and left the league, joining the Interprovincial Hockey League. Over the next two seasons, Blair would only play one game in each season, but proved his worth with two goals in each game.

As a senior level player, Blair played in 69 games from 1900 to 1910, scoring a total of 114 goals.

While several websites credit Blair with having won as many as three Stanley Cups, the glory days of the Victorias came from 1895 to 1899, as the club won or retained the cup six times, including holding the cup from December 30, 1896 to March 4, 1899. While Blair was a member of the Victorias organization during that time period, he was not yet a member of the senior level club and therefore not on the roster of the cup winning squads. Blair did compete for the cup once during the 1903 Canadian Amateur Hockey League playoffs, which were won by the Ottawa Silver Seven 9 goals to 1 over their two game, total goal series, the Victorias final attempt at the cup.

Blair was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.

Russel Blair photo RusselBlair1.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 1907 Montreal Victorias Blair Russel jersey as worn during Russel's career best season of 25 goals. The Victorias wore maroon sweaters with a white "V" crest throughout the vast majority of their history, although there are sporadic photos showing the team in white sweaters during their early days or a single player, such as the goaltender pictured above in the 1905 team photo.

The team wore a script "V" during the early days of their Stanley Cup success before changing to a bolder, symmetric "V" in 1898, as their team photo shows six of their eight players wearing the new logo, while two still have the script version!

While not a hard and fast rule, it's quite remarkable how many times a team photo from hockey's early days, up through the 1920's, has at least one player wearing a sweater which does not match the rest of the team, generally being their previous version or with one player in a white version, such as the above 1905 team photo.

Montreal Victorias 1989 photo MontrealVictorias1898sweater.png

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

1974-75 Atlanta Flames Eric Vail Jersey

Eric Vail, born on this date in 1953, was drafted 21st overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Flames following his junior career, which began with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario Hockey League. After scoring 48, then 73 points in 60 games Vail split time between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Sudbury Wolves for the 1972-73 season and caught the eye of the Flames scouts with a 48 goals and 105 points in 63 games. He also averaged 101 penalty minutes his last two seasons in junior hockey, showing a rugged side as well.

He started the 1973-74 season with the Omaha Knights of the Central Hockey League, and after 37 games was called up to the Flames for 23 games that season.

His first full season in Atlanta saw him establish himself as a valued member of the Flames by placing third in team scoring behind only Tom Lysiak and Curt Bennett while leading the team in goals with 39 on his way to being named the winner of that season's Calder Trophy.

Eric Vail

He rebounded from a sophomore slump in 1975-76, in which he scored only 16 goals, with a strong 1976-77 campaign in which he scored 32 goals and 71 points to place second on the team in both categories. His efforts earned him a chance to play in both the NHL All-Star Game and join Team Canada for the World Championships following the NHL season.

He again topped 20 goals two seasons later in 1978-79 with 35 goals and a career best 83 points. Following one more season in Atlanta, the Flames found themselves in financial difficulties due to their annual habit of being quickly eliminated from the playoffs, thanks to five consecutive preliminary losses and two seasons out of the playoffs in eight years, and the cost of competing for players with the World Hockey Association, which dramatically increased player salaries during the 1970's. The club was sold to new ownership who promptly relocated the franchise to Calgary.

After a productive 1980-81 season in Calgary, where Vail averaged a point a game, he began the 1981-82 season with the Flames but was traded after playing in only 6 games to the Detroit Red Wings where he would see action in 52 games. He spent the final season of his career with the Adirondack Red Wings in the American Hockey League, but did not receive a call-up from Detroit and retired at the conclusion of the season.

Vail's final NHL totals were 591 games played with 216 goals and 260 assists for 476 points.

Today's featured jersey is a 1974-75 Atlanta Flames Eric Vail jersey. The Flames used the same jersey for each of their eight seasons in Atlanta and it remained intact after the relocation to Calgary, allowing for the obvious change in crest from the flaming A to the flaming C, all the way through the 1994-95 season, a 15 year run for this classic hockey template.

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

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

Atlanta Flames 74-75 jersey photo Flames74-75F.jpg
Atlanta Flames 74-75 jersey photo Flames74-75B.jpg

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

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

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

Monday, September 15, 2014

1976 Team Canada Darryl Sittler Jersey

With Canada dissatisfied with the state of international hockey, owing to the controversy over the amateur status of the Soviet players, the Canadians withdrew from both the World Championships and the Olympics from 1970 to 1977.

The Canadians got what they wanted in 1972 with the wildly successful Summit Series, an eight game "friendly" competition between the best Canadian professionals versus the finest the Soviet Union had to offer. As the tournament progressed, the Soviets, looking like they would finish with a better record declared their intentions to claim "victory" in the series only to have the Canadians come out on top with a dramatic late goal by Paul Henderson in the final game of the series.

 photo Hendersonscores.jpg
Paul Henderson scores the dramatic winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series

Following the 1974 Summit Series, which featured a team of WHA All-Stars who were soundly defeated by the Soviets, an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle once more led to the formation of the 1976 Canada Cup tournament.

1976 Canada Cup program photo 1976CanadaCupprogram.jpg
The 1976 Canada Cup program cover

The tournament was expanded beyond the two-team competition of the Summit Series format to include not only Canada and the Soviets, but Czechoslovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United States, with each team playing the other five clubs in a round robin format with the top two then meeting in a best-of-three final.

The games were played in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Quebec in Canada and Philadelphia in the United States and would take place prior to the NHL season, removing any eligibility or scheduling conflicts for players, such as those faced by the Olympics and World Championships, making the all the top players worldwide available to compete.

The Canadian team was given top priority in Canada, as the political restrictions the roster faced due to the NHL/WHA rivalry that affected both the 1972 and 1974 Summit Series were also removed.

Orr Potvin and Clarke photo OrrPotvinandClarke.jpg
Canada's stellar roster included Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin and Bobby Clarke

While many hoped for an anticipated a Canada vs. Soviet Union final, the Soviets did not field their best possible team, leaving several key players at home, including Boris Mikhailov, Vladimir Petrov, Alexander Yakushev and Valdimir Shadrin for reasons subject to speculation, but thought to be a combination of a power struggle between the Soviet Canada Cup coach and the Soviet Olympic Team coach, as well as a desire to downplay the importance of the new tournament, claiming their focus was on the World Championships and the Olympics, where they knew they would have the advantage of a full roster, while Canada would have the majority of it's best players occupied with the Stanley Cup playoffs during the World Championships or unavailable as professionals during the Olympics. The Soviets were also most notably without Valeri Kharlamov, who was out due to injuries suffered in an auto accident.

Canada opened with a strong statement, as they blitzed Finland 11-2. The following day. September 3rd, the Czechs beat the Soviet Union 5-3. Two days later the Soviets had to settle for a 3-3 draw with Sweden and the Czechs hammered Finland 8-0 while the Canadians got past the USA 4-2.

On September 7th, the Soviets took their turn pummeling Finland 11-3 as the USA held the Czechs to a 4-4 draw and Canada stayed undefeated with a 4-0 win over Sweden.

The Soviet Union stayed alive with a 5-0 win over the USA and the Czechs claimed the top spot in the standings with a close-fought 1-0 triumph over Canada.

On September 11th, Sweden gave the Soviets hope by narrowly edging Sweden 2-1 but they were eliminated from a berth in the finals when Canada got the satisfaction of ending their arch-rivals tournament with a 3-1 win over the Soviet Union, setting up a Canada - Czechoslovakia final.

The finals kicked off with a game in Toronto on September 13th, with Canada making it clear they were out to set the record straight as to who was the best hockey nation with a 6-0 pounding of the Czechs. Gilbert Perrault, scored just 1:05 into the game to give Canada an early lead, and their first goal against the Czechs after being shut out by them in their round robin matchup. Denis Potvin increased the lead to 2-0 at 7:56 and Bobby Orr made it 3-0 on the powerplay at 13:34. Guy Lafleur added another at 17:01 to give Canada a dominant 4-0 lead before the first period was even over.

Canada celebrates 1976 Canada Cup photo Canadacelebrates1976CanadaCup.jpg
Canada celebrates a goal during the 1976 Canada Cup finals

There were no goals in the second and Canada added a pair in the third, with Orr scoring again at 11:35 and Darryl Sittler just before the final whistle at 19:56 for a final six goal margin as Rogie Vachon recorded the shutout for Canada.

The second game of the finals was held in Monteal on this date in 1976 and started out very much the same as Game 1, with Canada up by two after only three minutes, as Perreault scored early once more at 1:25, followed by Phil Esposito at 3:09.

The Czechs would respond this time though, with a goal in the second at 9:44 from Milan Novy.

The dramatic third period would see five goals, with the first coming at 2:14 as the Czechs evened the score at two when Jaroslav Pouzar scored. Bobby Clarke would give Canada the lead at 7:48, only to have Josef Augusta tie the game once more at 15:01.

The Czechs would then surprise the Canadians by taking the lead for the first time when future NHLer Marian Stastny scored less than a minute later at 16:00. Canada would force overtime when Bill Barber even the game at 4-4 with a goal at 17:48.

As the game moved into overtime Canada put two pucks into the Czech net, only to have them both disallowed. The first was on a shot by Lafleur, which got by the Czech netminder Vladimir Druzilla, only to have Ivan Hlinka knock the net off its pegs before the puck could cross the line, earning a penalty, but no goal.

Dzurilla Clarke 1976 photo DzurillaClarke1976.jpg
Druzilla holding off Clarke and Canada

Guy Lapointe then scored at the ten minute mark, but the rules stated that the teams had to change ends halfway through the period, so the horn sounded, negating Lapointe's goal, much to the dismay of the Canadians and their fans.

Finally at 11:33 of the overtime, the clock struck midnight for the Czechs, as Sittler deked Druzilla, who had a habit of some very unorthodox play (no doubt influencing a young Dominik Hasek) and had come way out of his net, allowing Sittler to score the game winner, (finally) giving the Canadians the championship in front of the home fans in what was the most watched program in Canadian TV history at the time.

"This has got to be the biggest thrill of my life," Sittler said. "I'm not cut out to be a hero; if I was going to do it, I was going to do it. But playing with these guys on the greatest team for the greatest country is something that will remain with me forever."

 photo SittlerRichardampDzurilla1976.jpg

Darryl Sittler, Maurice Richard and Dzurilla following the 1976 Canada Cup

Orr, who missed the 1972 Summit Series due to one of his many knee surgeries, was able to play in 1976 following his fifth knee operation. "It was Bobby's last hurrah," said Esposito. "Orr didn't show up the first week of training camp because of his knee problems, and we had some pretty imposing defensemen there. But when he arrived it was the man with the boys. He was just head and shoulders above the rest of us," said Bobby Hull.

Clarke said "I used to watch him. After the games he could hardly walk, and then he'd go out there again and play like hell. I think he played on straight determination. It's amazing what he did."

Orr finished the tournament with 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points, tied for most in the tournament with fellow Canadian Potvin and Soviet Viktor Zhulktov, and was named Tournament MVP. Orr's performance in the 1976 Canada Cup would be ranked as #56 in the IIHF Top 100 Stories of the Century.

Of note, 16 of the 21 Canadian players would eventually be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1976 Canada Cup Darryl Sittler jersey. This unique jersey would make it's debut at the 1976 Canada Cup, with it's main design patterned after the Canada Cup trophy. This style would become an icon for Canadian hockey, as it was also used in the four subsequent Canada Cups in 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991, something the marketing people would never allow to happen these days.

This style was revived once more, as it was the choice for the Canadian team in the 2005 World Championships when each country chose a throwback jersey from it's past.

The Canadian players participated in the ritual of exchanging jerseys after the game, a practice more commonly associated with European soccer, no doubt creating quite a challenge for collectors of game worn jerseys to locate and authenticate the set of jerseys worn in the final game after their departure for behind the Iron Curtain.

Canada 1976

Today's video section features Sittler's cup winning goal in overtime of Game 2 of the finals.

Here is a tribute video to Team Canada with action highlights from throughout the tournament, with perhaps the cheesiest song ever written.

Enjoy these exciting highlights of the Canada vs. Soviet Union game from the round robin stage of the tournament with Tretiak in goal for the Soviets.

Friday, September 12, 2014

1979-80 Boston Bruins Gerry Cheevers Jersey

Gerry Cheevers was a colorful character in an era filled with colorful characters and he ushered in an even more colorful era in hockey history - and did so in black and white.

Cheevers, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on this date in 1985, first broke into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs for two games as an injury replacement in the 1961-62 season.

Gerry Cheevers debut
Gerry Cheevers after his NHL debut with Billy Harris,
who had a hat trick in the Maple Leafs 6-4 victory

Unable to crack the Toronto lineup, mainly due to the presence of future Hall of Famer Johnny Bower, he spent the majority of the next four seasons with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, where he set a single season record with 48 wins in 1964-65 which still stands today. In the playoffs that season, Cheevers led the Amerks to the Calder Cup championship.

He moved to the Oklahoma City Blazers in 1965-66 and also made his Boston Bruins debut with seven games, but failed to impress with an 0-4-1 record.

Cheevers Bruins, Cheevers Bruins

The following season Cheevers split time between the Blazers and Bruins and saw action in 22 games before taking over as the Bruins number one goaltender in 1967-68 just as the lowly Bruins were gearing up to dominate the league with both Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito now in the fold as well.

After playing an NHL career high 52 games and posting a record of 24-8-8 in 1969-70, Cheevers backstopped the Bruins to the 1970 Stanley Cup by going 12-1 in 13 playoff games.

1969-70 Boston Bruins team, 1969-70 Boston Bruins team
The 1969-70 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins

In 1971-72 Cheevers set another record when he went undefeated in 32 consecutive starts (24-0-8), a record which has never been equalled. His final record for the season stood at 27-5-8 and in eight playoff games he won six and lost two as the Bruins again captured the Stanley Cup.

Despite the success the high flying Bruins were enjoying at the time, Cheevers accepted a lucrative $1.4 million offer to join the Cleveland Crusaders of the fledgling World Hockey Association for the 1972-73 season. His workload dramatically increased in Cleveland, rising from an average of 40 games with Boston the three previous seasons to 54 for the next three years in Cleveland.

Cheevers Crusaders, Cheevers Crusaders

Following his second season in the WHA, Cheevers was selected to play for Team Canada in the 1974 Summit Series against the Soviet Union for his first taste of international hockey. In a series dominated by the Soviets, Cheevers went 1-3-3 and was in goal for the only Canadian victory of the series.

After another season an a half in Cleveland, Cheevers asked to be bought out of his contract midway through the 1975-76 campaign and immediately returned to the Bruins.

Still in top form, Cheevers played another four seasons with a high of 30 wins in 1976-77 and was named to the Team Canada roster for the 1976 Canada Cup and the NHL All-Star team which faced the Soviet Union in the 1979 Challenge Cup before wrapping up his playing career following the 1979-80 season.

Cheevers Bruins, Cheevers Bruins

In all, Cheevers won 230 games in the NHL and 79 while in the WHA for 309 career victories.

Never one to embrace practice, Cheevers was hit by a puck one day and used it as an excuse to beat a hasty retreat to the dressing room. He relates, "I was trying to get out of practice one day when this shot that couldn't have broken an egg hit me in the mask. I faked a serious injury and went into the dressing room. I was sitting there having a Coke when [Bruins head coach] Harry Sinden came in and told me to get back out onto the ice. All the guys were laughing, so I knew I had to do something. I told the trainer to paint a 30-stitch gash on the mask. Then I went out and told Harry, See how bad it is!"

From then on, whenever Cheevers took a puck to the head, Frosty Forristall, the Bruins trainer, would calculate where the impact took place and how many stitches it would have resulted in, giving rise to the colorful era of the decorated goalie mask with his iconic black and white design.

Gerry Cheevers mask

Cheevers was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, where his ground breaking mask also resides.

Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Boston Bruins Gerry Cheevers jersey. The origins of this design can be traced back to 1967, a design which was simplified in 1974 when the yellow shoulders and lace-up collar disappeared. The secondary logos were added to the shoulders in 1976 and the names on the back arrived one year later. The jersey would remain unchanged through the 1994-95 season.

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Boston Bruins 79-80 jersey photo BostonBruins79-80B.jpg

Today's video segment begins with his profile from the excellent Legends of Hockey series.

Next, a profile of Cheevers from his days in the World Hockey Association with the Cleveland Crusaders.

Finally, a tribute song to Gerry Cheevers from the band Chixdiggit.


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