Vintage NHL Jerseys

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Apr. 25) — With only eight shopping months remaining until Christmas, here’s a wonderful idea for the old fart in your life: Buy him a vintage National Hockey League jersey. I’m serious. He’ll wear it to bed; wash it with “like colors” and fold it militarily. You can peruse many–such items on–line or at any number of sporting goods stores. If you live here in Toronto — where everything memorable about the NHL is ancient history — the Spirit of Hockey retail outlet at Brookfield Place (northwest corner of Yonge and Front St.) has a terrific selection. You can then walk down an escalator and visit the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As one who is approaching old fart–age myself (yet triumphantly beating it back, to this point), I have long “collected” vintage NHL jerseys. I occasionally wore them to morning skates and practices at the Air Canada Centre when covering the Toronto Maple Leafs for The FAN–590. My colleagues would gawk at me. And then sneer. I felt myself on an island until a Leafs trip to Edmonton in the early–2000’s, whereupon my pal Mark Spector (now of Sportsnet) showed up at Rexall Place for a morning skate adorned in a green Oakland Seals jersey from 1969. Spec and I quickly became kindred spirits. Great wardrobes do think alike.     

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CLOSE–UP OF MY PITTSBURGH PENGUINS HOME JERSEY FROM 1967–68.

When still married and living up in Thornhill, my vintage NHL jerseys hung prominently in a large walk–in closet off our bedroom. My wife Susan often had to negotiate around them to access her belongings (I found out — too late — this was another way to guarantee divorce). Though now residing in tighter accommodations (a large, two–bedroom apartment in mid–town Toronto), the hockey items still hang in a closet — infinitely more “out of the way” than in our old house. I’ve invited Susan to come look for herself, but she’s repeatedly demurred (we get along just fine, by the way, co–parenting two precious children).

Late last week, I pulled my jerseys out of the closet and pointed my trusty NIKON at them. Thought you might like to have a look.

Remember: Eight months ’til Christmas.

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FROM THE EARLY YEARS OF THE OLD MINNESOTA NORTH STARS — HOME GREEN AND ROAD WHITE JERSEYS (ABOVE) WORN BETWEEN 1968–69 AND 1974–75. THE FRANCHISE RE–LOCATED IN TEXAS FOR 1993–94 AND BECAME THE DALLAS STARS.

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MINNESOTA WORE THIS JERSEY ON THE ROAD FOR THREE SEASONS, BEGINNING IN 1975–76.

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REPLICA HEAVY SWEATERS FROM THE 1950’s TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.

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THE MAPLE LEAFS WORE THIS JERSEY ON THE ROAD FROM 1963–64 THROUGH THE END OF THE 1966–67 REGULAR SEASON.

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TO CELEBRATE OUR COUNTRY’S CENTENNIAL YEAR (AND THE 11–POINT EMBLEM ON THE FLAG OF CANADA), THE MAPLE LEAFS DEBUTED THIS JERSEY DURING THE 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS AND WORE IT ON HOME ICE FOR THE NEXT THREE SEASONS — TO THE END OF 1969–70. IT IS CURRENTLY THE LEAFS’ ALTERNATE (OR THIRD) JERSEY.

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SWEATER THAT CLOSELY DEPICTS THE OAKLAND SEALS HOME JERSEY — WORN IN THEIR FIRST TWO NHL SEASONS: 1967–68 AND 1968–69. THE YELLOW IN THE LOGO WAS ACTUALLY A PALE BEIGE COLOR. THIS IS THE JERSEY THAT WARMED MY HEART WHEN I NOTICED MARK SPECTOR WEARING SOMETHING LIKE IT ONE DAY AT A PRACTICE IN EDMONTON.

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WHEN CHARLES O. FINLEY — OWNER OF THE BASEBALL OAKLAND A’s — PURCHASED THE SEALS, HE ORDERED A JERSEY REDESIGN THAT INCORPORATED THE A’s GREEN–AND–GOLD COLORS. THE NEW CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS WORE THE GOLD UNIFORM AT HOME, AND GREEN ON THE ROAD, FOR FOUR SEASONS BEGINNING IN 1970–71.

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IN THEIR FINAL TWO NHL SEASONS (1974–75 AND 1975–76), THE SEALS WERE OWNED AND OPERATED BY THE LEAGUE. THEY WORE THIS JERSEY ON THE ROAD, WITH COLORS NOTED IN THE CLUB’S MEDIA GUIDE AS “PACIFIC BLUE AND CALIFORNIA GOLD.” THE SEALS MOVED TO RICHFIELD, OHIO FOR THE 1976–77 SEASON AND BECAME THE CLEVELAND BARONS.

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THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS WORE THIS DEEP–ORANGE JERSEY ON THE ROAD DURING THEIR STANLEY CUP SEASONS AS THE “BROAD STREET BULLIES” IN 1973–74 AND 1974–75.

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THE NHL EXPANDED TO WASHINGTON AND KANSAS CITY IN 1974–75. THE ILL–FATED KANSAS CITY SCOUTS WORE THESE RATHER ATTRACTIVE JERSEYS (BLUE ON THE ROAD; WHITE AT HOME) FOR TWO MISERABLE SEASONS — WINNING 27 OF 160 GAMES.

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THE SCOUTS RE–LOCATED IN DENVER FOR THE 1976–77 SEASON AND BECAME THE COLORADO ROCKIES. THE JERSEY (WITH IDENTICAL COLOR SCHEME) WAS APPROPRIATELY RE–DESIGNED. THE ROCKIES HUNG AROUND FOR SIX LARGELY–INEPT SEASONS AND ARE BEST–REMEMBERED FOR THE TEAM DON CHERRY COACHED IN 1979–80. THE FRANCHISE MOVED AGAIN IN 1982–83… AND IS STILL THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS.

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ARGUABLY MY FAVORITE NHL JERSEY OF ALL–TIME: THE ORIGINAL ROAD VERSION WORN BY THE PHOENIX COYOTES FOR SEVEN SEASONS AFTER RE–LOCATING FROM WINNIPEG IN 1996–97. ONE CAN ONLY IMAGINE THE CHEMICALS COURSING THROUGH THE VEINS OF THOSE THAT DESIGNED THE TEAM LOGO.

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IN 2002–03, NHL TEAMS BEGAN WEARING PREDOMINANTLY–COLORED JERSEYS AT HOME FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1969–70. COYOTES MARKED THE OCCASION BY COMPLETELY RE–DESIGNING THEIR UNIFORM. NOW CALLED THE ARIZONA COYOTES, THE CLUB STILL WEARS THIS JERSEY IN GLENDALE. COLORS ARE OFFICIALLY KNOWN AS “BRICK–RED AND SAND.”

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FOR THEIR EXPANSION SEASON OF 1967–68, THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS DESIGNED A RATHER BLASE UNIFORM WITH THE CITY EMBLAZONED DIAGONALLY ACROSS THE FRONT OF THE LIGHT–BLUE HOME AND WHITE–ROAD JERSEY. THIS APPARENTLY RESULTED FROM TEAM PERSONNEL DITHERING IN CONSIDERATION OF THE RED–AND–WHITE UNIFORM WORN BY THE AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE PITTSBURGH HORNETS. SUDDENLY PRESSED FOR TIME, THE PENGUINS CHANGED COLORS AND WENT CONSERVATIVE.  

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SWEATER–REPLICA OF THE PENGUINS 1967–68 ROAD JERSEY.

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IN THEIR SECOND YEAR, THE PENGUINS RE–DESIGNED THEIR JERSEYS AND PLACED THE TEAM LOGO ON THE FRONT. PITTSBURGH WORE THIS JERSEY AT HOME FOR TWO YEARS; THEN ON THE ROAD IN 1970–71.

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AS PART OF THE GREAT EXPANSION IN 1967–68, THE LOS ANGELES KINGS BECAME THE FIRST NHL TEAM TO WEAR PURPLE. THE PREDOMINANTLY–GOLD JERSEY (TOP–RIGHT) WAS THE ONLY ROAD UNIFORM IN THE 12–TEAM LEAGUE TO NOT HAVE A WHITE BASE. OWNER JACK KENT COOKE DIDN’T LIKE USING “PURPLE.” HE DESCRIBED IT AS “FORUM BLUE” — A CROSS–REFERENCE TO THE ARENA HE BUILT FOR THE TEAM IN SUBURBAN INGLEWOOD.

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LOS ANGELES RE–DESIGNED ITS JERSEY IN 1980–81 AND WORE THIS VERSION ON THE ROAD FOR EIGHT SEASONS. IT IS BEST–REMEMBERED FOR THE YEARS OF THE FAMED “TRIPLE–CROWN” LINE: MARCEL DIONNE CENTERING DAVE TAYLOR AND CHARLIE SIMMER.

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EXPANSION IN 1972–73 BROUGHT THE ATLANTA FLAMES INTO THE NHL (ALONG WITH THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS). EXCEPT FOR THE OCCASIONAL STRIPE RE–DESIGN, THESE WERE THE HOME–WHITE AND ROAD–RED JERSEYS THROUGHOUT THE CLUB’S EIGHT–SEASON EXISTENCE. THE FLAMES RE–LOCATED TO CALGARY FOR 1980–81.

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VANCOUVER CANUCKS AND BUFFALO SABRES JOINED THE NHL IN THE 1970–71 EXPANSION. THE CANUCKS WORE A VERSION OF THIS JERSEY ON THE ROAD FOR EIGHT SEASONS.

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BUFFALO’S ORIGINAL HOME JERSEY — WORN FROM 1970 TO 1996. THOUGH NOW A DARKER BLUE, THE SABRES WENT BACK TO THIS DESIGN ON THE ROAD IN 2010.

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CONCORD–GRAPE BECAME A TEAM COLOR FOR THE FIRST TIME WHEN THE ANAHEIM MIGHTY DUCKS JOINED THE NHL IN 1993–94. THIS WAS ANAHEIM’S ORIGINAL ROAD JERSEY.

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SWEATER REPLICA OF THE JERSEY WORN BY THE BOSTON BRUINS FROM 1934 TO 1936.

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AMONG MY FAVORITE ITEMS: A REPLICA SWEATER OF THE BRUINS JERSEY (WORN AT HOME AND ON THE ROAD) DURING BOBBY ORR’S ROOKIE SEASON OF 1966–67.

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BOSTON WORE THESE JERSEYS DURING THE BOBBY ORR–PHIL ESPOSITO STANLEY CUP ERA OF 1967–68 TO 1972–73. BRUINS WON THE CUP IN ’70 AND ’72.

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THE BRUINS WORE THIS JERSEY (AND PATCH) FOR THE BRIDGESTONE WINTER CLASSIC AT FENWAY PARK ON JAN. 1, 2010. BOSTON DEFEATED PHILADELPHIA, 2–1, IN OVERTIME.

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AHHH, THE OL’ GREEN FISH–TAIL. A SWEATER REPLICA OF THE ROAD JERSEY WORN BY HARTFORD WHALERS UPON JOINING THE NHL IN THE 1979–80 ABSORPTION OF FOUR CLUBS FROM THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION. HOCKEY LEGENDS GORDIE HOWE, DAVE KEON AND BOBBY HULL DONNED THIS JERSEY IN ’79–80. THE WHALERS MOVED TO NORTH CAROLINA IN 1997–98 AND BECAME THE CAROLINA HURRICANES.

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THE BLACK–AND–RED STRIPED JERSEY (TOP–LEFT) OF THE CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS (SEPARATE WORDS) FROM 1939–40 TO 1954–55; THE CLASSIC RED UNIFORM (TOP–RIGHT) ADOPTED IN 1955–56 AND STILL WORN BY THE BLACKHAWKS (ONE WORD) AT HOME.

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THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS UNVEILED THIS MONSTROSITY IN 1995–96. HOCKEY FANS THE WORLD OVER ARE THANKFUL IT LASTED FOR ONLY TWO SEASONS.

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AMID NUMEROUS INCARNATIONS TROTTED OUT BY THE ST. LOUIS BLUES SINCE 1967 WAS THIS ROAD JERSEY WORN FOR THREE SEASONS BEGINNING IN 1995–96. WAYNE GRETZKY, BRETT HULL AND GRANT FUHR WERE AMONG THOSE THAT DONNED THE UNIFORM.

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