Sunday, May 1, 2016

1988-89 Washington Capitals Clint Malarchuk Jersey

Born on this day in 1961, Clint Malarchuk was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques #74 overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft and spent the majority of the season in the American Hockey League but did make his NHL debut with a pair of appearances with the Nordiques in 1981-82.

He would again spend most of his time in the AHL in 1982-83, but did earn his first NHL victory in 15 games with the Nordiques, posting an 8-5-2 record. The following season he again split time between the AHL and the Nordiques, only this time with the majority of games spent in the NHL, again finishing the season with a winning record of 10-9-2.

Clint Malarchuk

Malarchuk played all of 1984-85 with the Fredericton Express in the AHL before becoming a full time NHLer in 1985-86, seeing action in 46 games in Quebec, going 26-12-4. After one more season with the Nordiques, and appearing in a career high 54 games, Malarchuk was traded to the Washington Capitals as part of the deal which brought Dale Hunter to the Capitals.

As the Capitals number one netminder, he matched his career high with 54 games, winning 24 of them and leading the NHL in shutouts with 4. He made it into 42 games with the Capitals in 1988-89 before being traded on March 7th to the Buffalo Sabres who sent Calle Johansson to Washington.

15 days later Malarchuk would suffer a grotesque injury when his throat was slashed by a skate during a game, causing a ghastly scene on the ice as he bled profusely from a severed carotid artery and feared for his life. Sabres trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former army medic in Vietnam, rushed to his aid to control the bleeding until doctors arrived, saving Malarchuk's life.

It took doctors 90 minutes and 300 stitches to close the horrific wound, but Malarchuk would spend just one night in the hospital. Two days later he made an appearance at a Sabres game, receiving a two minute standing ovation. Incredibly, four days after the accident he would return to practice and a week later he played for the last five minutes of the final game of the regular season.

Clint Malarchuk

The following season he would play 29 games, going 14-11-2. An increase in games to 37 preceded his last season in the NHL, as he saw action in 29 games as he again split time with Darren Puppa.

Following the conclusion of his NHL career, Malarchuk would play three seasons in the IHL, first with the San Diego Gulls, followed by two with the Las Vegas Thunder, highlighted by going 34-10-7 in 54 games in 1993-94. He would get into 1 game in 1995-96 and three the following season while the assistant general manage and coach to conclude his playing career. His #30 would be the first number retired by the Thunder.

While in Las Vegas, Malarchuk, known for his wacky sense of humor, pulled one of our favorite pranks ever. He told a reporter that he spoke fluent Czech and proceeded to translate the reporter's questions to then 18 year old Radek Bonk, as well as Bonk's replies. The problem was, Malarchuk didn't actually know a single word of Czech, and was speaking gibberish to Bonk, who struggled to keep a straight face throughout!

Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Washington Capitals Clint Malarchuk jersey, from his second season in Washington D. C.

This jersey features the five stars down the sleeves, which the Capitals jerseys had from 1974-75 until 1982-83 until going to just four stars for two seasons until reverting back to five again for the 1985-86 season.


The Capitals wore these jerseys from their inception in 1974 all the way through the 1994-95 season.

What really sets the authentic version of the Capitals jersey apart from the replica jerseys is that each letter of the Capitals logo on the front is a separate piece of material, rather than the entire crest being embroidered in a smaller size onto a patch, which would then be sewn onto the jersey. Each of the 16 stars on the chest and sleeves are also separate pieces of material which are sewn on. If you can get an old game worn or authentic Capitals jersey, do so, as it is one of the largest differences in quality between the authentic and the replica of any jersey.

Washington Capitals jersey
Washington Capitals jersey

Today's video section begins with an interview with Malarchuk shortly after his injury. You have to just shake your head at the part where he says "it's part of the game."


Here is Malarchuk having a full on slugfest with Troy Gamble and then discussing the fight and his subsequent suspension while playing for the Las Vegas Thunder.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 IIHF Division I Group A World Championship

The 2016 IIHF Division I Group A World Championship concluded yesterday in Katowice, Poland. The teams taking part in the competition were Austria, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Poland and Slovenia.

Play began on April 23rd with Slovenia dominating Japan by a score of 7-1, led by team captain Jan Urbas, who scored twice and had three assists. In goal for Japan was former Los Angeles Kings goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji. Miha Verlic also had two goals and two assists for Slovenia.

Japan Slovenia Verlic Fukufuji photo Japan Slovenia Verlic Fukufuji.jpg
Slovenia defeated Japan to open the tournament

Italy opened their tournament with a 3-1 win over host Poland after scoring a goal in each period.

The third game saw Austria fall behind South Korea 2-0 after two periods but then fight back with a by Markus Schlacher and Konstantin Komarek, the latter coming with 3:55 to play. Regulation ended in a tie and overtime passed without a winner before the game moved to a shootout. Komarek scored in the first round for Austria and none of the remaining three shooters were able to score, giving the Austrians a 3-2 win and 2 points in the standings.

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Komarek with the only goal of the shootout

On April 24th, Slovenia remained on top of the standings with 6 points after defeating Italy 3-1. South Korea beat Poland 4-1 and Austria stayed in the hunt with a 3-1 win over Japan.

After a day off, play resumed on Tuesday the 26th as South Korea beat Japan 3-0 behind 29 saves by Matt Dalton, a Canadian who obtained South Korean citizenship a month ago and one of a half dozen North American-born players who compete in the Asia Hockey League who are on the South Korean roster. The win for South Korea was their first ever win over Japan, dating back to their first meeting, a 25-0 win for Japan 34 years ago.

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Matt Dalton shuts out Japan as South Korea defeats
their Asian rival for the first time in 34 years

Austria won again, defeating the Italians 4-2 and Poland upset the first place Slovenians 4-1 to give the home fans their first victory to celebrate. This left the standings after three games at Austria leading with 8 points, South Korea at 7 and Slovenia still in the running at 6. Italy and Poland were tied at 3 with Japan trailing with 0 and now relegated to Division I Group B for 2017.

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Poland's first win was an upset over Slovenia

Play on Wednesday the 27th began with Italy winning 3-0 against the Japanese to keep the Italian medal hopes alive. In a crucial match, third place Slovenia dominated second place South Korea in a 5-1 romp, led by Anze Kuralt's goal and two assists.

Italy vs South Korea photo Italy vs South Korea.jpg
Italy earned a medal with their win over South Korea
and perhaps a promotion for 2017

The defeat of South Korea gave Austria an opening to secure a medal, but it was not to be, as Grzegorz Pasiut's goal at 12:34 of the first period stood up behind goaltender Przemyslaw Odrobny's 29 saves to shut out the favored Austrians 1-0.

This turn of events left the standings all bunched up going into the last day, with Slovenia leading with 9 points and a strong goal differential of +9. Austria was second one point back with 8 at +4 while South Korea was still in it with a shot at gold with 7 points. Italy and Poland were tied at 6 points with Italy at even in goal differential and Poland at -1. Japan was still winless and a zero points.

The first game of the final day, yesterday, saw South Korea needing a victory in regulation to have a chance at the title. It was not to be however, as Italy scored a power play goal 2:38 into the game and then added a second 4:35 into the third period for a 2-0 lead. Then things got interesting, as 31 seconds later Michael Swift was sent off for South Korea only to have Thomas Larkin of Italy get called for tripping 44 seconds later. With the faceoff down in the Italy end and down by 2 goals, the South Koreans pulled goaltender Dalton for a 5-on-4 advantage. It would take Eric Regan 23 seconds to capitalize with assists from Wonjun Kim and Kisung Kim to make the score 2-1 with 3:47 to play. Italy held strong, including the last 25 seconds while down a man and with Dalton pulled again for a 6-on-4 South Korean advantage. The three points from the regulation win gave Italy 9 points and a momentary share of first place.

The day's second game saw Slovenia taking on Austria with the winner now sure to earn the promotion to the Top Division for 2017 thanks to South Korea's loss. The first blow was struck by Austria at 5:49 when Komarek scored with Kuralt in the box for Slovenia. A little over five minutes later Slovenia tied the game on a goal by Robert Sabolic.

The game turned in the second period when Alexander Pallestrang for Austria was called for checking to the head and given a major. It would take nearly the entire five minutes, but with just 12 seconds left in their advantage, Slovenia got a goal from Ken Ograjensek at 7:29 to take a 2-1 lead.

During the third period, Austria would kill off two penalties followed by Slovenia surviving a shorthanded situation of their own. Finally with 1:24 to play, Austria pulled goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum for an extra attacker. Then Verlic was called for boarding with 50 seconds to play, giving Austria a final 6-on-4 advantage, but they failed to convert and Slovenia held on for a 2-1 regulation victory.

Slovenia vs Austria photo Slovenia vs Austria.jpg
 Ken Ograjensek's goal earned Slovenia
gold and a promotion for 2017
The three points Slovenia earned vaulted them to 12 points and the tournament championship as well as the promotion to the Top Division for 2017.


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Slovenia proudly posing with their gold medals

The final game of the schedule saw fifth place Poland taking on sixth and last place Japan. Poland romped to a 6-1 first period lead and extended that to a final 10-4 win with nine different players scoring for the Poles. So close were the standings that Poland leapt from fifth to third in the final rankings, no doubt pleasing the home fans with bronze medals.

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Poland's dominating win over Japan moved them past
Austria in the standings, earning them the bronze medal

Italy was classified second, tied with Poland with 9 points but earned the silver thanks to their 3-1 head to head win over the Poles. Italy may still be promoted to the 2017 Top Division, but must wait for the final results of the upcoming 2016 World Championships in Russia. Their promotion is dependent on the fate of both Germany and France, co-hosts for the 2017 World Championships. If France and Germany finish in positions 7 and 8 in Group B in Russia, their places in 2017 are protected by being the co-hosts and only one team from the 2016 Worlds will be relegated, which would leave Italy in Division I Group A for 2017.

Austria had gotten off to a strong start with wins over South Korea, Japan and Italy, but a 1-0 loss to Poland and yesterday's 2-1 defeat by Slovenia suddenly saw the Austrians go from leading the standings after 3 games to finishing without a medal in the final classification. South Korea fared well, winning 4-2 over the host Poland and defeating Japan for the first time in their history by a score of 3-0 and an even goal differential for the tournament. Japan trailed the pack at 0-5 and are relegated to Division I Group B for 2017 and will be replaced by newly promoted Ukraine.

Today's featured jersey is a 2014 Slovenia National Team Anze Kopitar jersey as worn during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Up until the 2014 Olympic Games, Slovenia wore blue jerseys trimmed in red in the colors of the Slovenian flag.

Their national football club had begun wearing green kits as far back as 1994, which are the traditional colors of the capital city of Ljubljana, which has a green dragon perched on a white castle atop green hills on it's coat of arms, which is placed on a half white, half green field for the city flag.

Additionally, those colors were used by NK Olimpija, the most successful club team at the time, which is based in Ljubljana.

The national hockey team continued to wear blue jerseys accented with red and white through the 2013 World Championships before debuting their new blue and green jerseys for the 2014 Olympics, which caused quite a stir, as the shade of green was a very modern electric shade of green and nothing like the traditional primary colors that essentially every other nation uses.

As a former member of Yugoslavia, which endured a horrible war in the aftermath of the breakup of that former communist nation, perhaps some of the motivation for Slovenia originally changing the national soccer team colors was to differentiate themselves from other former Yugoslavian members Croatia and particularly Serbia, who also wear red, white and blue colors.


Slovenia 2014 jersey photo Slovenia 2014 F.jpg
Slovenia 2014 jersey photo Slovenia 2014 B.jpg

Today's featured jersey is a 2006 Slovenia National Team Anze Kopitar jersey as worn during the 2006 World Championships in Riga, Latvia when Slovenia was still using the blue, white and red colors of their national flag.

Slovenia first began play as an independent nation in 1993 in Pool C. They earned promotion to Pool B in 1997. When the IIHF restructured their ladder system for 2001, Slovenia was placed in Division I Group B, which they immediately won, earning their first spot in the Top Division for 2002. Their story has since been one of promotion and relegation, as they have bounced back and forth between Division I and the Top Division 11 times in the last  15 years as they look to secure a permanent place in the Top Division.


Slovenia had never qualified for the Olympics prior to 2014 and were not guaranteed a spot based on their world rankings. They were placed in Group F in the Olympic Qualifying process and won their group over Belarus, Denmark and Ukraine. Slovenia were ranked 17th in the world and it was a shock that they advanced to the Olympics despite being ranked lower than Germany (10th), Denmark (12), France (13), Belarus (14) and Kazakhstan (16). In Group F, they opened with a 4-2 win over Belarus before a key 2-1 win over hosts Denmark. They then dominated Ukraine 6-1 to secure their place in the Olympics.


Koptiar was originally drafted 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2005 while he was playing for Södertälje SK in the Swedish Elitserien (having competed for their U18, junior and senior level teams all in the same season!).

After one more season in with Södertälje Kopitar has now completed his tenth season with Los Angeles, which includes leading the team in scoring seven times, being named their most popular player twice and their best defensive player four times - all four coming during a season that he also led the club in scoring!

He also became the first Slovenian to win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and is easily the most accomplished Slovenian player of all time. He is now approaching 250 NHL goals, currently at 243 and has appeared in three NHL All-Star Games.

Internationally, Kopitar has skated for Slovenia three times each at the U18 World Championships and U20 World Championships and four times at the IIHF World Championships as well as at Slovenia's first Olympics in 2014.

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Slovenia 2006 jersey photo Slovenia2006B.jpg

Today's video section is highlights of Slovenia's decisive win over Austria on the final day of the tournament, which was very much in doubt going into the last day, with five teams still in contention.


Friday, April 29, 2016

2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph Jersey

Goaltender Curtis Joseph, born on this date in 1967, first gained recognition when he led the Notre Dame Hounds to the Junior A Centennial Cup championship in 1988 following a season in which we posted a record of 25-4-7 in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. The following season he crossed the border into the United States to play for the University of Wisconsin Badgers for the 1988-89 season as their number one goalie. Joseph finished with a 21-11-5 record with a 2.49 goals against average to lead the Badgers into the NCAA national playoffs.

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Joseph played college hockey at Wisconsin

Undrafted, Joseph was signed by the St. Louis Blues for the 1989-90 season, where he split his time between the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL, playing in 23 games with a 10-8-2 record, and the Blues of the NHL, where he impressed with a 9-5-1 record in 15 games played following the Blues trade of goalie Greg Millen.

The following season "CuJo", known for his snarling dog mask inspired by the 1983 film Cujo about a rabid St. Bernard, played in 30 games with a 16-10-2 mark playing behind Vincent Riendeau. The Blues recognized Joseph's talent, which made Riendeau expendable, as he was shipped to the Detroit Red Wings, clearing the way for Joseph to take over as the Blues top netminder for the next four seasons. He finished the 1991-92 season with 60 games played ahead of teammates Guy Hebert (13 games played) and Pat Jablonski (10 games).

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Joseph's trademark snarling dog mask

In 1992-93, Joseph played in 68 games, winning 29. He impressed during the playoffs, particularly when he stopped 119 out of 122 shots in back to back double overtime games against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next season of 1993-94, he was again a workhorse, playing in 71 of the Blues 84 games as he finished with a 36-23-11 record, his first 30 win season.

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Joseph began his NHL career with the Blues

He would play 36 games of the strike shortened 1994-95 season, his last with St. Louis. Prior to the start of the 1995-96 season, Joseph was traded to the Edmonton Oilers by then head coach and general manager Mike Keenan among the many deals he made to remake the Blues roster to his liking.

Joseph played for the Oilers in 34 games that season as well as appearing for the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder for 15 games, winning 12 while losing just 2 and tying once.

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Joseph played three seasons in Edmonton

Following the 1995-96 NHL season, Joseph was a member of the Canadian National Team for the 1996 World Championships, where he won a silver medal, and then later that fall he was a member of the Canadian team for the inaugural World Cup of Hockey.

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Joseph during the 1996 World Cup playing for Canada

He next set a career high in appearances when he played 72 games for the Oilers in 1996-97, winning 32. He duplicated that effort in 1997-98 with 71 appearances, winning 29. During the 1997-98 season he was also on the roster for Canada during the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the first to feature current NHL players.

With his contract with Edmonton having expired, he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 1998-99 season, which began a run of success, as he would play 67, 63 and 68 games over the next three seasons, winning 35, 36 and 33 games respectively. He was a runner up for the Vezina Trophy in both 1999 and 2000, while also being a finalist for the Pearson Award in 1999.

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Joseph saw three straight 30 win seasons with Toronto

During the 2001-02 season, Joseph was limited to 51 games, but was back to full health by the playoffs, as he helped the Maple Leafs reach the Conference Finals for the second time following their earlier run in 1999. He also appeared in his second Olympics in 2002 in Salt Lake City, playing in Canada's opening game as they went on to win the gold medal.

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Joseph in goal for the opening game of the 2002 Olympics

With the Oilers management now willing to sign CuJo for four years, he left Edmonton and signed as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings for the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. Some also speculate to a rift between Maple Leafs GM Pat Quinn after Quinn replaced Joseph after his opening game loss in the Olympics earlier that year.

His time in Detroit started off well enough, as he played in 64 games, winning 34. The Red Wings, however, were swept in the first round of the playoffs and it was of little consolation that all four games were one goal losses with two coming in overtime.

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Joseph's time in Detroit was unsettled

The following season was an up and down one for Joseph, as former Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek came out of retirement and returned to the Detroit roster. With Manny Legace there as a capable backup, the Red Wings attempted to trade Joseph, but his $8 million contract made that impossible. At one point Joseph was sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL, but a groin injury to Hasek got Joseph recalled, and with Hasek now out for the rest of the season, Joseph eventually played in 31 games.

The following NHL season was lost to the lockout. Unlike many players, Joseph did not find a team in the minors or Europe and did not play that season. When play resumed for the 2005-06 season, Joseph was now a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, who signed him as a free agent. That year, CuJo played in 60 games, his tenth season of 60 or more games. Additionally, he would win 32 games to become the first goaltender in NHL history to win 30 games or more for five different teams.

He played in 55 games in his second and final season with Phoenix.

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Joseph reached 400 career wins with Phoenix

Without a NHL contract, Joseph joined the traditional Team Canada squad for the 2007 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland where he backed the Canadians to the championship.

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Joseph celebrates with the Spengler Cup

He remained unsigned for the 2007-08 until January when he joined the Calgary Flames as a backup to the established Mikka Kiprusoff. He eventually saw action in nine games for Calgary before returning to the Maple Leafs for his final NHL season of 2008-09. He shared time with number one Vesa Toskala and Martin Gerber, eventually playing in 21 games.

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He spent the second half of 2007-08 with the Flames

His final career statistics are 943 games played (5th all time), with 454 wins (4th all time), the most of any goaltender to never play in the Stanley Cup Finals. His 24,279 saves are third all time. CuJo also played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1994 and 2000.

Today's featured jersey is a 2000-01 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph jersey. This jersey was worn by the Maple Leafs for their final season in Maple Leaf Gardens in 1998-99. It was brought back as a third jersey in 2000-01 and was worn through the 2006-07 season after which all third jerseys were dropped during the change to the new Reebok Edge jerseys.

This style was so popular that it was brought back in an Edge version as quickly as possible for the 2008-09 season and lasted another three seasons until being replaced by a different throwback alternate jersey.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2000-01 jersey photo Toronto Maple Leafs 2000-01 jersey.jpeg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1998-99 Toronto Maple Leafs Curtis Joseph jersey. After the Maple Leafs wore the same jerseys from 1970 to 1992, the popularity of the Turn Back the Clock jersey was the inspriation for their new jerseys for the 1992-93 season, a return to the simple dual blue stripes from their 1937-38 jerseys. The retro leaf from the TBTC jerseys was used as the secondary shoulder logos as the 1970's primary logo was retained as the main crest.

In 1997-98 the basic block font for the name and numbers was changed to a more modern, rounded font as seen here. This look remained through the 1999-00 season when the number font returned to a more traditional style and the secondary logos were replaced by a new TML monogram for the 2000-01 season.

Today's bonus jersey also features the "Memories and Dreams" patch worn for the final season of play in Maple Leaf Gardens, the season today's featured jersey was first introduced, also with the "Memories and Dreams" patch.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1998-99 jersey photo Toronto Maple Leafs 1998-99 jersey.jpg
 photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1991-92 St. Louis Blues Curtis Joseph jersey. This classic Blues jersey was first introduced in 1984-85, but with the word "Blues" arched over the Bluenote crest. The wordmark was gone by 1987-88 and the jerseys remained the same through the 1991-92 season, the year all the players wore the NHL 75th Anniversary patch on the upper right chest. Additionally, the Blues also wore their own 25th Anniversary patch on the upper left sleeve.

The following season the names on the back changed from one color to three to match the numbers for the final two seasons of this style.
 
St Louis Blues 1991-92 jersey photo St Louis Blues 1991-92 F jersey.jpg
St Louis Blues 1991-92 jersey photo St Louis Blues 1991-92 B jersey.jpg

For more Joseph jerseys, we recommend CujoCollector.com.

Today's video section begins with a compliation of CuJo highlights.


Next, Joseph takes on the Red Wings Tim Cheveldae in a real goalie fight as there were a number of two on one battles on the ice, which prompted Cheveldae to come to the rescue of a teammate, which brought Joseph out of his crease with fists flying.


Finally, a desperate, diving save by Joseph in overtime of Game 7 in the 1997 playoffs for the Oilers.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

1995-96 Winnipeg Jets Keith Tkachuk Jersey

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

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

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

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

Winnipeg Jets 75-76

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

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

Winnipeg Jets 77-78

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

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

Winnipeg Jets 78-79

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

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

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


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

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

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

Teemu Selanne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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



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


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



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



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


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




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

 

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