Sunday, 22 April 2012

Back To The Auction Block

With playoff hockey on in virtually every league across the globe, I thought it might be time to step back and take a look at some more awesome jerseys. Classic Auctions always has a ton of incredible uniforms on display on their website, and HBIC loves looking through their collections for some treasures. While I can't afford to buy any of the uniforms or memorabilia on their site, a guy can dream, can't he? In saying that, I've scoured the site for a number of interesting uniforms once again, and I bring forth Classic Auctions' best from their recent auction items.

We'll start with an incredible look at the Minnesota North Stars from 1983-84 to 1984-85. The reason these two years are significant is that the North Stars switched jersey manufacturers between the seasons, and there are a vast amount of changes seen with the change in manufacturers. We'll start with Dirk Graham's jersey from the '83-84 season. Note the width of the 8 on the back, the orientation of the "N", the size of the logo, the lack of white holes in the sleeve number, and width of the striping on both the sleeves and hems. And compare those details to those found on Harold Snepsts' '84-85 North Stars jersey. Pretty darned significant, right? It makes me long for the days of teams sourcing their own manufacturers because each uniform style was unique. Minnesota's jump from Pedersons to Steichen's/CCM removed all that was highly unique, but gave the North Stars a much better chest logo as the "N" looks much better. Call the change in manufacturers a wash in this case.

Everyone that has followed the NHL for some time has an appreciation for the gorgeous uniforms worn by the Quebec Nordiques. However, they didn't always look this way as the Nordiques had a significantly different look in the WHA and for their first season in the NHL. Garry Lariviere wore this uniform in 1979-80 as a member of the NHL's Quebec Nordiques. Note how much lighter the blue is and how white the logo is. It was thought that the Nordiques switched to their iconic look once they got to the NHL, but they actually played their first season looking like the WHA Nordiques!

Kevin Dineen's 1995-96 jersey from the Hartford Whalers. Because I can. After all, it's the Whale. Exactly. You know what I'm talking about. The Whalers' uniform still is one of the greatest in history.

How many people remember Jimmy Waite's tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks? I do, but I didn't remember him wearing #60 in 1989-90 for four games. I do remember him wearing #29, but apparently he wore #60 for a few games as a call-up in '89-90. It's another one of those uniform cameos that the Blackhawks have had in their time, much like the 1994 preseason jersey worn by #65 Ethan Moreau.

I've always believed that the Montreal Canadiens had worn CCM on the ice since the NHL awarded them the league-wide contract in the mid-1990s. After all, CCM is a Quebec-based company, so it would seemingly make sense that they would use CCM for their uniforms. However, the Montreal Canadiens opened Y2K by wearing ProPlayer jerseys for their first game in the 2000s on January 2, 2000. How many people knew that? Again, I thought they were CCM-loyal due to both the Canadiens and CCM being Quebec-based institutions. Who knew?

I found another player who suited up in the 1995 NHLPA 4-on-4 Challenge in Hamilton, Ontario during the NHL Strike. Donald Audette played for Team Quebec in the event, and wore this great NHLPA jersey as #44. Audette was part of the Team Quebec squad that featured Luc Robitaille and Vincent Damphousse, making it a formidable offensive team at that time. I'm still hunting down other members of the team, but video footage of these games would be awesome!

September 22, 2001 saw the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to play their AHL affiliate Penguins in a preseason game. The NHL Penguins iced a star-studded line-up for their AHL fans while the AHL Penguins got a boost from a major NHL star: Mario Lemieux. "I think it's going to be exciting to see me in a different uniform," Lemieux said before the game. "I always wondered what it would be like to play against the Penguins. I'll have my chance on Saturday." Lemieux would lose the only AHL game in his career as the NHL Penguins took the game by a 4-2 score on that night.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a number of minor-league affiliates over their storied history, but I had never seen a jersey for the Newmarket Saints until today. Jeff Reese's Saints jersey is on display here as he suite dup for the former AHL team in 1986-87. Check out the logo with the "saint" on it - that's a little creepy!

Wanna see "gorgeous"? Check out Eric Brolin's sweater from the AHA's St. Paul Saints circa 1927! I love the stripes! And check out that number placement between the shoulder blades! Brolin was signed by the Detroit Cougars, but they sent him to St. Paul midway through the 1926-27 season, and he donned this beautiful sweater. Honestly, this might be one of the bets old-time hockey sweaters I've seen in a long time.

However, this Colgate University sweater from the 1920s is pretty spectacular in its simplicity. While it appears to have yellowed in its 90 years of existence, I'm pretty sure this crisp white sweater would have been a spectacular sight on the ice. Simple always works well, and the logo, while understated in its placement and size, is absolutely perfect for this sweater. This, readers, is something that should be manufactured today as a throwback sweater. Absolutely perfect!

While I'm not overly fond of these Quebec Remparts jerseys that the team wore in the 2003 Memorial Cup hosted at the Colisée, there is something that should be noted on the jersey. If you examine the left shoulder and the rear hem closely, you can see the mark of CCM as the manufacturer. However, the tags on the inside show that this jersey was actually made by Nike! So what gives? Well, CCM had the jersey contract at the time for the entire Canadian Hockey League during this time, so the Remparts, along with a few other teams, had to affix a CCM logo over the Nike Swoosh on the front shoulder and on the back hem in order to have the CHL approve the usage of these uniforms in games. Talk about gamesmanship by the teams and manufacturers!

We'll finish off this auction action by looking at a couple of Canadian jerseys. The first was worn by Jack McLeod at the 1961 World Hockey Championships as he and his fellow Trail Smoke Eaters from BC represented Canada in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland. Canada went 6-0-1 with 45 goals-for compared to 11 goals-against to tie them with Czechoslovakia for the best record in the tournament. The tie that both teams recorded was against one another, so it came down to goal differential, and Canada was +34 compared to Czechoslovakia's +24. I love the "Trail" patch on the sleeve to represent the town of Trail, BC. The use of blue in these uniforms will start a trend as Canada begins to use blue in their uniforms more prominently on the international stage.

Case in point? The 1978 World Junior Hockey Championships held primarily in Montreal and Quebec City saw Canada wear uniforms that were not at all indicative of the red-and-white that they normally wear. That uniform was Craig Hartsburg's jersey, and he lined up in the tournament alongside some kid named Wayne Gretzky who led the tournament in scoring with 17 points in six games. He finished ahead of notable names like Sergei Makarov, Mats Naslund, and Anton Stastny in the tournament. But Gretzky did wear Canadian blue in picking up a bronze medal at the 1978 World Junior Hockey Championships.

There are a pile of interesting jerseys from a number of different eras and leagues that were offered up by Classic Auctions in their recent auctions. I'll have more coming up in the future, but these should do for now. Of course, you're welcome to leave comments on any of the jerseys seen above, or point me to others that you find interesting! Leave your comments below!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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