Kessel Fooled Leafs Nation

TORONTO (July 20) — When Phil Kessel told Sportsnet–590 on June 15 that he would likely bring the Stanley Cup to our city, many figured his incentive was to stick it up the old wahzoo of Leafs Nation.

The multitudes were wrong. Very wrong.

Fast Phil left town just more than a year ago with his character in tatters. A disgraceful performance on the ice in the second half of the 2014–15 Maple Leafs season (and the subsequent arrival, from Detroit, of coach Mike Babcock) punched his ticket elsewhere. The lop–sided trade with Pittsburgh on July 1, 2015 that yielded middling prospect Kasperi Kapanen was greeted rather deliriously by Toronto hockey fans. In a much–different role with the Penguins, Kessel had an ordinary 2015–16 regular season, but came alive in the playoffs on a patchwork forward unit with Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin. He nearly won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Pittsburgh defeated San Jose on June 12 for its fourth Stanley Cup title since 1991.

Three days later, in a conversation with Sportsnet–590 host Joey Vendetta, Kessel said: “I probably will end up bringing [the Cup] back up there. Nothing for sure yet, nothing’s been decided, but I think there’s a good chance that’ll happen. I have lots of friends in Toronto. That’s where I spend most of my time now.” Shortly thereafter, Kessel’s former running–mate with the Leafs, Dion Phaneuf (traded to Ottawa in early–January), let it be known he would attend the apparently–impromptu celebration. Toronto hockey zealots winced at the prospect of Kessel flaunting Lord Stanley’s mug in the city with the longest championship drought.

As it turned out, Kessel did anything but flaunt.

In an elegant, stylish move, he brought the Cup — on Monday — to the world–renowned Hospital For Sick Children. He did so without fanfare or advance–notice, wishing to keep under wraps his bountiful gesture.

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PHIL KESSEL POSES WITH TWO FRIENDS. HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN

Fat chance in the social media era.

Within moments of his arrival, Twitter was abuzz — the hospital posting images of Kessel smiling alongside young patients and their families. In no way could Phil have planned a more impeccable activity; one for which he deserves full and unconditional credit. Perhaps even a nod of reparation. Good show, No. 81.

DEBATING THE JERSEYS

While driving with my son, Shane, over the weekend, we began discussing the National Hockey League teams that have recently returned to a design that resembles their expansion (or initial) jerseys. In professional sport, it appears that old is new once again. A number of hockey, baseball, football and basketball teams have restored nostalgic looks — many after experimenting with re–makes that ranged from peculiar to utterly bizarre. The advent of third (or alternate) jerseys have further underscored the offbeat imaginations of those in the sports design industry. Many of them defy reasonable description.

There is, of course, only one site on the World Wide Web that details NHL jerseys from the beginning of time: Andrew M. Greenstein’s http://www.nhluniforms.com/. Andrew is a long–time host at KRLD News–Radio 1080 in Dallas and a valued Facebook friend. He frequently updates his hockey uniform database — from which I liberally borrowed for this portion of my blog.

In four categories, I present to you my personal views on the never–ending (and fun) NHL jersey debate:

BACK IN TIME

Six teams have recently returned to their original uniform designs.

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THE BUFFALO SABRES INTRODUCED A SHARP, BLUE–AND–GOLD UNIFORM IN 1970–71. THE CLUB TOTALLY RE–DESIGNED ITS LOOK IN 1996–97 TO COINCIDE WITH A MOVE FROM THE OLD MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM TO ITS CURRENT HOME (INITIALLY KNOWN AS MARINE MIDLAND ARENA). ULTIMATELY, THE SABRES RETURNED TO BLUE–AND–GOLD IN 2006… AND TO THEIR EXPANSION LOGO IN 2010. MY FAVORITE: THE ORIGINAL, WORN BY ALL–TIME SABRE, NO. 11, GILBERT PERREAULT.

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IN 1996, THE EDMONTON OILERS CHANGED THE LOOK OF THEIR DYNASTY YEARS WITH WAYNE GRETZKY, MARK MESSIER, PAUL COFFEY AND CO. THE NEW COLOR WAS A DARKER BLUE AND THE ORANGE STRIPING BECAME COPPER. IN 2013, THE CLUB RETURNED TO ITS ORIGINAL DESIGN. MY FAVORITE: THE RYAN SMYTH JERSEY WAS LESS NOSTALGIC, BUT SHARPER.

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THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS STILL ENGENDER DERISION, TWO DECADES AFTER DRAMATICALLY ALTERING THEIR CLASSIC DESIGN OF THE 1980’s CUP DYNASTY THAT FEATURED BRYAN TROTTIER, MIKE BOSSY AND DENIS POTVIN. THE “FISH STICKS” UNIFORM OF 1996–97 WAS LATER MODIFIED TO INCLUDE THE ORIGINAL CLUB LOGO. STILL, IT LASTED ONLY TWO YEARS AND WAS MERCILESSLY RIDICULED. THE ISLANDERS RETURNED TO THEIR ROYAL–BLUE–AND–ORANGE DESIGN FOR THE 2010–11 SEASON. MY FAVORITE: YOU’RE GONNA LAUGH, BUT I MAY BE THE ONLY PERSON ON THE PLANET THAT LIKED THE “FISH STICKS.”

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PHILADELPHIA HAS NEVER VENTURED FROM ITS ORIGINAL ORANGE–AND–BLACK COLOR SCHEME, THOUGH THE ORANGE HUE BECAME DARKER (CLOSER TO SCARLET) FROM 1974 TO 2002. THE FLYERS WORE A BLACK ABOMINATION BETWEEN 2001 AND 2010. AFTER WHICH THE CLUB RETURNED TO A REPLICA OF ITS INAUGURAL JERSEY AND LIGHTER ORANGE. MY FAVORITE: THE CURRENT UNIFORM COMBINES THE EARLY YEARS WITH THE NAME–PLATE DESIGN OF THE 1974 AND 1975 STANLEY CUP TEAMS.

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THE COMPLETE ALTERATION OF VANCOUVER’S UNIFORM FOR THE 1978–79 SEASON WAS RIVALED IN DERISION ONLY BY THE ISLANDERS “FISH STICKS”. THE YELLOW, ORANGE AND BLACK “CANDY–WRAP” DESIGN WAS SUPPOSED TO INTIMIDATE OPPONENTS. INSTEAD, RIVAL TEAMS LAUGHED UNTIL IT HURT. AS DID FANS. STILL, THE CANUCKS PLAYED IN THE 1982 STANLEY CUP FINAL WITH THE YELLOW JERSEYS AND DIDN’T OFFLOAD THE COLOR SCHEME UNTIL ORCA BAY PURCHASED THE CLUB IN 1997. AN UGLY, DARK–BLUE JERSEY PREVAILED FOR A FEW YEARS BEFORE THE ORIGINAL BLUE–AND–GREEN RETURNED IN 2007–08. MY FAVORITE: NOTHING HAS BEATEN THE INAUGURAL JERSEY FROM 1970–71, WITH THE ‘V’ IN THE SLEEVE–STRIPE.

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WASHINGTON FANS LIKELY HAVE FOND MEMORY OF THE LIGHT–BLUE JERSEY WORN BETWEEN 1995 AND 2007, AS THE CAPITALS MADE THEIR LONE STANLEY CUP FINAL APPEARANCE IN 1998. THE ORIGINAL RED JERSEY STILL EVOKES MEMORY OF THE WORST TEAM IN NHL HISTORY — THE EXPANSION CLUB THAT SLOGGED THROUGH AN 8–67–5 RECORD IN 1974–75. THE CLUB RETURNED TO PRIMARILY RED (THOUGH A DARKER HUE) IN 2007–08. MY FAVORITE: I THOUGHT THE MID–90’s DESIGN AND COLOR SCHEME WAS SHARPEST. AND, I BET’CHA RON WILSON AGREES (HE COACHED THE ’98 CAPS).

CH… CH… CHANGES

These teams are currently wearing uniforms that differ from their originals (on the left).

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THE MIGHTY DUCKS OF ANAHEIM BROKE GROUND IN 1993 BY BEING NAMED FOR A DISNEY MOVIE, AND BY INTRODUCING CONCORD–GRAPE AS A PRIMARY COLOR IN THE NHL. THE CLUB DROPPED “MIGHTY” FROM ITS NAME AND SWITCHED TO BLACK–AND–GOLD IN 2006–07, JUST IN TIME TO WIN THE STANLEY CUP. ORANGE WAS ADDED TO THE CURRENT JERSEY FOR THE 2014–15 SEASON. MY FAVORITE: NOT EVEN CLOSE. THE ORIGINAL WAS GIMMICKY AND PROMOTIONAL. BUT, FABULOUS.

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THE PERSON THAT DESIGNED THE ORIGINAL PHOENIX COYOTES UNIFORM IN 1996 HAD TO BE A DRUG ADDICT. HOW ELSE CAN ONE EXPLAIN THE PSYCHEDELIC LOGO AND COLOR SCHEME? HE OR SHE WAS ALSO WILDLY CREATIVE — THE BLACK ROAD JERSEY MAY BE THE SHARPEST IN NHL HISTORY. IN 2003, THE COYOTES SWITCHED TO DESERT–BRICK (RED) AS PRIMARY COLOR AND DESIGNED A MORE RECOGNIZABLE LOGO. BLACK WAS ADDED FOR THE 2015–16 SEASON. MY FAVORITE: ALREADY ANSWERED.

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HAVING RELOCATED IN 1993, THE DALLAS STARS MAINTAINED THE OLD MINNESOTA NORTH STARS GREEN–AND–GOLD COLORS, WHILE WEARING A PREDOMINANTLY BLACK ROAD UNIFORM. BLACK CONTINUED TO BE THE PRIMARY COLOR UNTIL 2013–14, WHEN A COMPLETE RE–DESIGN OF THE JERSEY AND LOGO YIELDED WHAT THE CLUB CALLS “VICTORY” GREEN. MY FAVORITE: THE LATTER. I REALLY LIKE WHAT DALLAS CURRENTLY WEARS — PARTICULARLY THE GREEN HOME UNIFORM.

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THE FLORIDA PANTHERS HAVE MAINTAINED SCARLET AS THEIR PRIMARY COLOR FOR MUCH OF THE TIME SINCE JOINING THE NHL WITH ANAHEIM IN 1993–94. DARK–BLUE PREVAILED FROM 2007 TO 2011 BEFORE THE CLUB RETURNED TO RED. FOR NEXT SEASON, FLORIDA HAS REDESIGNED ITS LOGO AND UNIFORM, WITH A HORIZONTAL MID–STRIPE SIMILAR TO MONTREAL. MY FAVORITE: THE NEW DUDS WILL GROW ON ME, BUT I PREFER THE ORIGINAL JERSEY AND LOGO.

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THE PREDOMINANTLY–BLACK UNIFORM CRAZE OF THE LATE–80’s AND EARLY–90’s INFLUENCED THE LOS ANGELES KINGS, WHO WELCOMED WAYNE GRETZKY IN 1988–89 BY DOFFING THEIR ORIGINAL (AND UNIQUE) PURPLE–AND–GOLD COLORS FROM 1967. PURPLE RETURNED TO THE UNIFORM BETWEEN 1998 AND 2013, BUT BLACK REMAINED THE PRIME COLOR. THE KINGS BEGAN WEARING THEIR CURRENT BLACK–AND–SILVER DUDS IN 2011–12 AND WON THE STANLEY CUP. MY FAVORITE: NO CONTEST. L.A. INTRODUCED PURPLE TO THE NHL AND ITS ORIGINAL CROWN–LOGO WAS THE BEST IN FRANCHISE HISTORY.

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THE MINNESOTA WILD HAS NEVER ISSUED A BAD UNIFORM. ITS RED AND FOREST–GREEN COLORS PERFECTLY REPRESENT THE STATE AND ONE OF THE BEST FRANCHISES — FROM TOP TO BOTTOM — IN THE NHL. GREEN WAS PRIMARY COLOR WHEN THE WILD CAME ABOARD IN 2000. RED WAS INTRODUCED IN 2003 AND BECAME PRIME IN 2007. THE WHITE UNIFORM IS LARGELY UN–CHANGED SINCE THE FRANCHISE INCEPTION. MY FAVORITE: THE CURRENT RED JERSEY WORN AT HOME.

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NASHVILLE IS MOST FAMOUS FOR A MUSTARD–YELLOW THIRD JERSEY WORN BETWEEN 2001 AND 2007. OTHERWISE, THE PREDATORS HAVEN’T MODIFIED THEIR DARK–BLUE–AND–GOLD COLOR SCHEME. GOLD BECAME PRIME ON THE HOME UNIFORM FOR THE 2011–12 SEASON. MY FAVORITE: I LIKED THE MUSTARD–YELLOW BUT I PREFER THE CURRENT SET.

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THE COLORADO ROCKIES MOVED TO THE MEADOWLANDS AND BECAME THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS IN 1982–83. RED AND DARK–GREEN WERE THE FRANCHISE COLORS FOR 10 YEARS BEFORE THE BLACK CRAZE PREVAILED IN 1991–92. THE DEVILS HAVE WON THREE STANLEY CUPS WHILE WEARING RED AND BLACK. MY FAVORITE: THE ORIGINALS, WITH GREEN. BY FAR.

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A RARE TEAM TO MOVE AWAY FROM BLACK AS PRIME COLOR, THE OTTAWA SENATORS SWITCHED TO RED FOR THEIR EIGHTH SEASON (1999–2000). MY FAVORITE: NO OTTAWA UNIFORM WAS AS SHARP AS THE ORIGINAL SET IN 1992–93.

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THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS INTRODUCED LIGHT–BLUE AS A PRIME COLOR IN THE NHL UPON JOINING IN THE GREAT EXPANSION OF 1967–68. AFTER ONE SEASON WITH THE CITY’S NAME SPLASHED DIAGONALLY ACROSS THE UNIFORM, PITTSBURGH ADDED A SHOULDER–YOKE AND THE TEAM’S LOGO TO THE JERSEY. AFTER SWITCHING TO DARK–BLUE AS PRIME COLOR FOR THREE YEARS, THE PENGUINS JOINED THE BASEBALL PIRATES AND FOOTBALL STEELERS IN BLACK AND GOLD FOR 1980–81. GOLD BECAME BEIGE FROM 2000 TO THE END OF THE 2015–16 REGULAR SEASON. PITTSBURGH RETURNED TO ITS 1980 BLACK–AND–GOLD DESIGN FOR THE PLAYOFFS AND WON THE STANLEY CUP. IT WILL CONTINUE WITH THE COLOR SCHEME MOVING FORWARD. MY FAVORITE: THE LIGHT–BLUE JERSEY WITH THE ROUND PENGUINS LOGO.

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TAMPA BAY HAS TROTTED OUT ESSENTIALLY TWO VERSIONS OF ITS UNIFORM SINCE ARRIVING WITH OTTAWA IN THE 1992 EXPANSION, THOUGH THE ORIGINAL JERSEYS WERE SLIGHTLY MODIFIED BETWEEN 2007 AND 2011. IN THE 2011–12 SEASON, THE LIGHTNING INTRODUCED THEIR CURRENT DESIGN — WITH A MODIFIED LOGO AND A CROSS BETWEEN ROYAL AND NAVY–BLUE AS PRIMARY COLOR. IT HAS BECOME (AND WILL REMAIN) THE UNIFORM OF STEVEN STAMKOS. MY FAVORITE: THE CURRENT LOOK. MUCH CLEANER THAN THE ORIGINAL.

DEFUNCT (OR FORMER) TEAMS

The uniforms of clubs that have re–located, or no longer exist.

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ATLANTA’S SECOND FORAY IN THE NHL LASTED 12 YEARS (1999–2011) — FOUR MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL ATTEMPT WITH THE FLAMES (1972–80). THERE ISN’T LIKELY TO BE A THIRD. THE THRASHERS ARE NOW THE RE–BORN WINNIPEG JETS. ODDLY, THE CLUB HAD TWO SETS OF HOME JERSEYS DURING ITS TIME AT PHILIPS ARENA, WHILE MAINTAINING THE WHITE ROAD DESIGN. IN 2006–07, DARK–BLUE GAVE WAY TO LIGHT–BLUE. MY FAVORITE: THE LATTER, WITH THE CLUB’S PRIMARY LOGO.

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THE SEALS WERE KNOWN FOR CHANGING NAMES, CHANGING OWNERS, CHANGING UNIFORMS, LOSING GAMES AND HAVING PRECIOUS–FEW SUPPORTERS DURING NINE EVENTFUL YEARS IN OAKLAND. THE ORIGINAL JERSEY–DESIGN AND LOGO FROM THE 1967–68 EXPANSION GAVE WAY TO THE OAKLAND A’s GREEN–AND–GOLD COLOR TANDEM WHEN BASEBALL OWNER CHARLIE FINLEY BOUGHT THE HOCKEY CLUB IN 1970. IN ITS FINAL TWO SEASONS, THE CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS WORE “PACIFIC” BLUE AND GOLD. MY FAVORITE: THE ORIGINAL. I LIKED THE COLORS AND THE LOGO ON THE JERSEY. 

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THE OTHER GREEN TEAM FROM THE 1967 EXPANSION WAS THE MINNESOTA NORTH STARS, WHICH CALLED BLOOMINGTON HOME TIL THE END OF THE 1992–93 SEASON. AS YOU CAN SEE, THE NORTH STARS NEVER DRAMATICALLY MODIFIED THEIR JERSEY UNTIL THEIR FINAL YEAR IN MINNESOTA, WHEN THEY RECOGNIZED A RE–LOCATION TO DALLAS WAS IMMINENT AND SWITCHED TO BLACK AS PRIMARY COLOR. BLACK WAS INTRODUCED ON THE HOME–WHITE UNIFORM IN 1981–82. MY FAVORITE: THE MIDDLE JERSEY (1978–81). MINNESOTA WORE IT WHILE LOSING TO THE ISLANDERS IN THE 1981 STANLEY CUP FINAL.

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LONG–GONE NHL TEAMS. TOP: THE KANSAS CITY SCOUTS (1974–76) AND CLEVELAND BARONS (THE TRANSPLANTED CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS, 1976–78, THEN MERGING WITH THE MINNESOTA NORTH STARS). BOTTOM: THE COLORADO ROCKIES (RE–LOCATED FROM KANSAS CITY, 1976–82) AND THE QUEBEC NORDIQUES, FROM THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION MERGER (1979–95), NOW THE COLORADO AVALANCHE. MY FAVORITE: THE RED–AND–BLACK BARONS.

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IT WAS TANTAMOUNT TO SACRILEGE WHEN THE HARTFORD WHALERS SWITCHED FROM GREEN TO DARK–BLUE AS PRIMARY COLOR IN 1992–93, FOR THEIR LAST FIVE SEASONS IN CONNECTICUT. AS SUCH, I DON’T HAVE TO IDENTIFY MY PREFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO. THE WHALERS BECAME THE CAROLINA HURRICANES IN 1997–98.

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WHEN THE WINNIPEG JETS WERE ADMITTED TO THE NHL FROM THE REMNANTS OF THE WHA IN 1979–80, THEY BUSTED OUT A DESIGN SIMILAR TO THE INFAMOUS NEW YORK RANGERS SWITCH BETWEEN 1976 AND 1978. THE LATE JOHN FERGUSON RAN BOTH CLUBS AND OBVIOUSLY PREFERRED THE LOOK. FERGIE WAS NO LONGER IN THE PICTURE WHEN THE JETS CHANGED TO A CLEANER DESIGN IN 1990–91 AND BROUGHT BACK THE ORIGINAL LOGO FROM THE WHA. MY FAVORITE: I LOVED OL’ FERGIE BUT THE LATTER UNIFORM WAS SHARPER. THE JETS BECAME THE PHOENIX (NOW ARIZONA) COYOTES IN 1996–97.

THE OLD GUARD

How uniforms have changed among three pre–expansion teams.

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BEGINNING WITH THE EXPANSION SEASON OF 1967–68, THE BOSTON BRUINS INTRODUCED SEPARATE WHITE AND BLACK JERSEYS. IN 1966–67, BOBBY ORR’S ROOKIE YEAR, BOSTON WORE WHITE AT HOME AND ON THE ROAD. THE BRUINS DID AWAY WITH THE GOLD SHOULDER–YOKE FOR THE 1974–75 SEASON (ABOVE) THEN WORE FULL–SLEEVE STRIPING (BELOW) FROM 1995 TO 2007. THE CURRENT UNIFORM MORE CLOSELY REPRESENTS THE ORR–PHIL ESPOSITO LOOK OF THE LATE–60’s AND EARLY–70’s. MY FAVORITE: THE 1967–74 DUDS, IN WHICH THE BRUINS TWICE WON THE STANLEY CUP.

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AS MENTIONED IN THE WINNIPEG JETS SEGMENT, THE NEW YORK RANGERS, UNDER GM JOHN FERGUSON, DRAMATICALLY ALTERED THEIR CLASSIC UNIFORM FOR TWO SEASONS — 1976–77 AND 1977–78 — PLACING THE CLUB LOGO ON THE FRONT OF THE JERSEY AND INTRODUCING A FULL–SLEEVE YOKE. THE BACKLASH WAS LOUD AND CONSISTENT… AND THE RANGERS RETURNED TO THEIR TYPICAL LOOK IN 1978–79. MY FAVORITE: THE ORIGINAL AND CURRENT.

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FOR THEIR CENTENNIAL SEASON OF 2016–17, THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS WILL WEAR NEWLY–DESIGNED UNIFORMS (BOTTOM–RIGHT) WITH THE CLUB’S MODIFIED LOGO, WHICH CLOSELY RESEMBLES THE 1964–67 VERSION. IN THE 1967 PLAYOFFS, THE CLUB INTRODUCED A NEW LOOK (TOP–LEFT) WITH ALTERED STRIPING AND AN 11–POINT LOGO THAT MATCHED THE RED MAPLE LEAF ON THE TWO–YEAR–OLD FLAG OF CANADA. FOR 1970–71, THE TEAM BEGAN TO WEAR THE SO–CALLED “HAROLD BALLARD” LOGO, WHICH (FOR REASONS UNEXPLAINED) IT KEPT THROUGH TO THE END OF LAST SEASON. THE JERSEY DESIGN CHANGED (BOTTOM–LEFT) TO BEGIN THE 1992–93 SCHEDULE; PAT BURNS, DOUG GILMOUR, WENDEL CLARK AND CO. TWICE QUALIFYING FOR THE STANLEY CUP SEMIFINALS. MY FAVORITE: I STILL LIKE THE 1967–70 UNIFORM. MAPLE LEAFS WERE WEARING THE BLUE HOME VERSION ON MAY 2, 1967 WHEN THEY LAST WON THE NHL CHAMPIONSHIP.

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COMING NEXT: THE BEST AND WORST OF NHL ALTERNATE JERSEYS.

EMAIL: HOWARDLBERGER@GMAIL.COM

5 comments on “Kessel Fooled Leafs Nation

  1. Hey Howard, my first comment here. l LOVE this site, and ALL of your insights! My opinion on the Kessel deal? Well, didn’t they trade the pick they got from Pittsburgh for Anderson? So essentially, they also got this great goalie in that Kessel deal (tough they did trade a few other things for Anderson, that Pittsburgh pic was central to the deal). SO add Anderson to the deal too, not bad!

  2. I always liked Kessel but expected more from him. He was exciting rushing up the ice but could have used a center skating with him. Maybe with a better coach and a decent centre he would have hit the 50 goal mark.

    I don’t know but from what I read they said Kapanen was the best player on the Marlies in the playoffs so maybe he is more than a middling prospect. The 1st round pick also gave them Andersen and not having Kessel gave them Matthews so not that bad a trade in my opinion.

  3. Loved the Seals green & gold. Forgot about the Pacific blue (with good reason).
    Hate the new Panthers uni’s. Look too much like a team from English football.
    I’m with you on newer Dallas jersey’s. The green is sharp, and translates well on TV.
    Great blog today.

  4. Never tried it myself, but I’ve always thought that if you gobbled a big handful of mescaline, washed it down with a flagon of tequila, and then sat down for a while in the desert, you would eventually see something that looked like the Phoenix Coyotes original uniforms. 67-70 Oakland Seals unis have always been my all-time fave.

  5. Fun post. I thought I was the only one who likes the Isle’s fish-stick jerseys! The original Mighty Ducks & Coyotes (got the black jersey as a Christmas present one year) are two of my favourites as well. The Sens should go back to their original design asap.
    Thanks and well done.

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