40 days of jerseys #14: Russian Penguins

ruspensback ruspensfrontJersey #14 of 40: Russian Penguins (Chernyh, #16)

Style: Replica
Size: 52
Manufacturer: No name, Made in Russia
Obtained: eBay, ~2002

I picked this one up off eBay a few years ago. It’s a replica style, with silk-screened logo and lettering.

I know little about the jersey to be honest. The size says “52” on the tag, but that would be about a medium size jersey. It fits about an XL size (for me), however. I did a search for “CHERNYH” in hockeydb and elsewhere and was not able to find any info. Maybe it’s similar to my Quebec Rafales jersey where the name/number was for someone not affiliated with the team (a customization for a fan?) or perhaps a misspelling of a name? Maybe it’s Cyrillic and I just don’t know it?

It’s layout is similar to the Chicago Blackhawks, with the red primary and white/black striping along the bottom and sleeves.

As for the team, it was a short-lived creation of then-Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin, which played several games against the then AAA-level International Hockey League in 1993-94. The team comprised of Russian players who actively played games against IHL clubs which counted towards the standings.

Baldwin invested in the Central Red Army Team and renamed them the “Russian Penguins”, with the aim of having a direct channel into the then-hot commodity of Russian hockey players as NHL prospects. The venture was short-lived, and apparently mafia-driven as well, and Baldwin and other investors pulled out of the project after only a couple of years.

The franchise continues in the current Russian KHL as HC CSKA Moscow.

This jersey is for sale or trade.

Monday: Sharks, Sharks, and more Sharks.


40 days of jerseys #13: Clerks

ClerksJersey #13 of 40: Clerks promotional jersey

Style: Replica
Size: L
Manufacturer: DDK Athletics
Obtained: Begged home office, repeatedly, 1994

You have no idea what I had to pull in order to get my bosses at the home office of the video store chain I worked for to give me this jersey. Begging was not beneath me in order to get this once in a lifetime opportunity to have two of the biggest things in one package; the sport I love and the movie that best defined what it was like to work in the environment for which I was employed.

Back in the day, when video stores ruled the world, we were oftentimes given lots of swag for purchasing x-number of video tapes to put out for rent. Believe it or not, if a video was deemed not to be that much of a big hit for purchasing by the general public, (such as Jurassic Park or Independence Day) but rather had a lesser potential for sales, the price of the VHS videos would range from $50-100 per copy! THAT is why we called your sorry ass when you didn’t return them on time!!! However, in order to entice the mom & pop stores as well as the bigger chains to buy more copies, promotional items were thrown in as collectibles. Such was the case with this jersey.

Then, after so many months, after the distributors and movie studios made some money on the tapes, they would allow the price to come down to retail value ($9.99-$24.99 usually).

So it was with Clerks, the Kevin Smith movie that introduced the world to Jay and Silent Bob, Dante, Randy, and a string of angry, weird, or underaged customers…when it came out on home video, it took off. I can recall fielding so many calls for this movie when word-of-mouth started to spread about how good this movie was.

This was one of the few movies in the 90s that I felt really related to me. Here I was in a video store, disgruntled somewhat, not feeling any direction in my life, dealing with angry shitheads who seemed to want to make my life a living hell because they didn’t return their last movie in on time…at times it was all I could do to muster the gumption to get out of bed and drag my ass into work to do it all over again day in and day out.

Hockey was my outlet (as was ham radio) and this movie had that and more.

It’s too small for me to wear, however. Jes can wear it no problem. It doesn’t have a size to it but I’ll place it at an Adult Large. I’d love to wear it, but that’s not happening anytime soon, I’m afraid.

It’s modeled after the San Jose Sharks’ jersey style of the 90s when they were setting records for merchandise sales, redefining how to market a team.

Despite having been miserable for some of my time working at the video store, I am grateful for the opportunity to work there and for a chance to get something that’s rare to come by. Which is why this jersey is not for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: From Russia with love

40 days of jerseys #12: Nashville Predators (1st Gen)

Nashville PredatorsJersey #12 of 40: Nashville Predators (no name or number)

Style: Replica
Size: XL
Manufacturer: Pro Player
Obtained: Purchased, 2000

I’ve always been a Nashville Predators fan, since they entered the NHL in 1998. The logo is in my opinion the sharpest logo in the league. I really like the sabretooth tiger’s streamlined image on the front. It’s set apart from many of the other logos in the NHL. While the jersey has undergone a few changes, the primary logo has relatively remain unchanged.

After the fossilized remains of a sabretooth was discovered in 1971 underneath what is now the location of the arena in an unearthed cave, the Predators name and moniker were unveiled in 1997 as the team was preparing to launch the following season. I instantly decided I had to get onboard as a fan because hey, it looked cool!!!

Predators’ shoulder patch

This jersey shows the “N” shoulder patch with the Arena’s 22-story tower spire in the logo. It was used from 1998-2004, then changed to a skull of the sabretooth tiger similar to the primary logo on their 3rd jersey.

I’ve been to a few games, not many, though. I watch them on TV (bring back Pete Weber!) and wish that they were on the radio locally (unfortunately there’s not a big enough market in East Tennessee for them on radio). I can still catch him from time to time on Satellite Radio, when I’m in the car…

The Preds are starting to become a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup, maybe one or two puzzle pieces left, but with guys like Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Eric Nystrom and Pekka Rinne, they’re well on their way to getting further in the playoffs…if they could only get past the second round…

This jersey is not for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: I’m not even supposed to BE HERE today!!!

40 days of jerseys #11: Knoxville Ice Bears (Berkley Scott)

bscotticebearsfrontbscotticebearsback Jersey #11 of 40: Knoxville Ice Bears (Berkley Scott, #27)

Style: Game Worn
Size: 54
Manufacturer: OT Athletics
Obtained: Raffle, 2011

I have seldom won anything in my entire life. Every now and then there will be something I get lucky on. But not very often. Heck, I took Lauren to a hamfest in Knoxville and she won a door prize, not me…I put in 5 tickets, one had her name on it, and guess who won…

My luck has improved over the years. Just this past May, I won a Yaesu FT-60R handheld radio ($150 value) at the Dayton Hamvention, but that’s ham radio stuff…read about it here if you’re interested.

I was at one of the first home games for the SPHL Knoxville Ice Bears in 2011-12. I can’t recall if I still had my season tickets or not, but in any case, I plunked down money for one raffle ticket. The promotion was to win a game-worn “jersey off the back” of the player they picked, and this night, it was rookie Berkley Scott‘s jersey they were giving away.

Luck, and the odds, were on my side. It was a mid-week game, so the crowd was not as large (typical during football season) and I saw that a small amount of tickets were sold.

Of course the raffle couldn’t go on without a little bit of drama, and on this night it was out there. The PA announcer forgot to announce the winner of the raffle during the game, so afterwards, all the raffle ticket holders gathered at the kiosk near the entrance to find out who won. And naturally, no name was posted.

After a few minutes, several of us were mumbling about what the holdup on the announcement was, and I casually asked one of the other hopefuls if they’d announced who won, and he said, “Yeah, just now, someone named Greg Williams, I think.” and I BLURTED LOUDLY that I was that person.

I went up to the table, showed them my ticket and license, and I was declared the winner.

Berkley Scott and me posing with my trophy.
Berkley Scott and me posing with my trophy.

Well, for some reason, conspiracy theorists griped that I didn’t prove who I was! Yep. I had the ticket, and the driver’s license, but somehow I was committing MAJOR IDENTITY THEFT of the REAL Greg Williams (how many of us are out there in this world? Dozens. Literally, dozens!) and I must have STOLEN THAT JERSEY!!!

I fugured both all of the conspiracy theorists were sore losers, especially when I posted to my Facebook page (under my name) my pic with the jersey and Berkley standing right alongside me, proving I yam what I yam. It’s a real nice jersey. Good colors, heavy fabric, and with a name like Scott (which happens to be my middle name), you can’t go wrong with this sweater!!!

Later that week, I won an auction for a special Air Force-themed jersey from him as well (no drama like before), but I sold it off a year later, having needed quick cash for Christmas.

scottjersey2Sadly, Berkley’s no longer an Ice Bear. He’s hopped between the ECHL and back to the SPHL the last couple of years but will be playing for the Fayetteville FireAntz this season, unless he gets the call-up to go back to the ECHL, which I hope he does get the chance to do yet again. Until then, I’ll have to be a closet FireAntz fan when he’s in town.

Surprise! This jersey is not for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: Preds!

40 days of jerseys #10: Jimmie Johnson (Lowe’s)

lowesjohnsonfrontlowesjohnsonback Jersey #10 of 40: Lowe’s Jimmie Johnson #48

Style: Replica
Size: XXL
Manufacturer: Winner’s Circle
Obtained: Purchased, 2008

Even though it’s not as much fun to watch these days, I am a NASCAR fan as well as a hockey guy. And I really like Jimmie Johnson, despite it being an apparently unpopular opinion. I picked it up at a Walmart. It has no number on the sleeves (just a Lowe’s logo) and the front and back have the #48, with Johnson’s name across the top of the back. Even though it’s 2XL, it’s still a but snug. I had a choice between this, Dale Jr, Tony Stewart, or Jeff Gordon. I think I chose wisely.

I wore this jersey one time to an Ice Bears game, and the amount of disgust people had for my wearing it was obvious within minutes of arriving. Even a traffic cop was not shy about showing his discontent for my selection of apparel. 3 people threatened to rip it off while screaming something about “Dale Jr. FOREVER!” or something. I’m certain alcohol was involved…

I don’t wear it very often, because apparently it brings out, shall we say, “passion”, in fans. He’s just that good, though…6-time champion, 74 race victories to date, and over 300 top 10 finishes, he’s secured his spot as one of the greatest of all time. Still, it’s good to wear every once in a while and rub it in when he wins:

He’s not as polarizing as Dale Earnhardt Sr. was, that’s for sure.

This jersey is not for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: Hitting the Ice Bears Lottery

40 days of jerseys #9: Calgary Flames

flamesfrontflamesback Jersey #9 of 40: NHL Calgary Flames (Valeri Bure, #8)

Style: Game Weight
Size: 56
Manufacturer: CCM
Obtained: Private purchase, 2011

I’ve always liked the Calgary Flames logo and jersey style. The Flaming “C” really sets the logo apart from other jerseys I have. So when I had the chance to purchase this from someone a few years back, I jumped at the opportunity.

This jersey is game weight, has a fight strap, and could be worn right now…if Valeri Bure still played for Calgary…

There’s something about Atlanta that causes hockey teams to defect to Canada. The Atlanta Flames were in the NHL in the 1970’s, then they moved to Calgary in 1980. The IHL Knights departed for Quebec City to become the Rafales in 1996, and most recently the Thrashers left and became the resurrected Winnipeg Jets in 2011.

The Atlanta team was named the Flames to reflect upon the burning of Atlanta during the Civil War. When they moved to Calgary in 1980, they retained the moniker. A slight homage to the Atlanta Flames is seen in the “A” logo on the jersey (for alternate Captain), as that was the logo used in Atlanta while they played there.

This jersey is not for sale or trade.

Monday: BOOM! Confetti!!!!

40 days of jerseys #8: Quebec Rafales

rafalefrontrafalesbackJersey #8 of 40: IHL Quebec Rafales (Hobson, #34)
Style: Replica
Size: XXL
Manufacturer: Bauer
Obtained: eBay, 2006 maybe?

It’s been so long since I bought this jersey, I couldn’t tell you exactly when I purchased it, other than I picked it up off eBay.

The jersey is unique in that the waist band has the player number as well as the arms and back. It was not the normal placement of a number. The shoulder patch is a fleur-de-lis (“lily flower”) with hockey sticks. The logo has a Yeti-like figure surfing on a hockey stick, and the numbers are designed in a furry-like font. It’s truly a unique jersey, and I get asked about it every time I wear it to a game.

Rafale shoulder logo
Rafales shoulder logo

The Quebec Rafales (french for “wind gust“) were in the IHL for only 2 seasons. They moved from Atlanta (formerly the Knights) in 1996, then folding in 1998. The team was put in to replace the departed NHL Quebec Nordiques, which moved to Denver in 1995 and became the Avalanche (and won the Stanley Cup in that teams inaugural season, adding insult to injury for the Quebec City fans).

The name on the jersey is a mystery. I’ve found several players in the HockeyDB site that have the name Hobson but none who played for Quebec. There was a player named Kevin Hodson who played for Detroit and Tampa Bay as a goalie. I suspect that this was customized for a fan (same as my Cherokees jersey), or the name was misspelled while getting it customized for a Hodson fan, perhaps.

While lower level hockey has not done well in Quebec City, there is an effort underway to put an expansion franchise in Quebec City by 2018. A new 18,000+ seat arena was just opened in Quebec City, so the odds of getting an NHL franchise are much more improved than when le Colisee was the main venue with around 15,000 seats. Along with Las Vegas, they are pursuing a franchise, but time will tell whether or not the NHL returns.

Because of the unique qualities of the jersey and indirect ties to my watching the Atlanta Knights in the 90’s, this jersey is not for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: Flame on!

40 days of jerseys #7: Tampa Bay Lightning

lightningback lightningfrontJersey #7 of 40: NHL Tampa Bay Lightning (LeCavalier, #4)

Style: Replica
Size: XL
Manufacturer: Reebok
Obtained: Yard sale, 2014

The Lightning were one of my first favorite NHL teams. I had family in Florida and wanted to go see the Lightning when they were getting started. However the timing was never right. The closest I got was going to a pre-season game in Atlanta between the IHL Knights and the Lightning, which was a fun game to watch. The Lightning won something like 4-1 if I recall.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Original Lightning logo

When the Knoxville Cherokees revamped their logo in 1993, they took up an affiliation with the Lightning, and were assigned Manon Rheaume, the first female goalie to play in an NHL game (exhibition). She was a worldwide celebrity and she got her first professional win as a Knoxville Cherokee.

I’ve owned Lightning merchandise, such as hats, pins, pucks, and shirts. It wasn’t until a yard sale last year when I obtained this jersey. I like how the player’s number is in the upper right, as well as the arms and back.

There have been three logo redesigns in franchise history. The jersey I have is a redesign of the original logo, removing the “LIGHTNING” from the logo and changing the “Tampa Bay” font. It lasted only 5 years before yet another redesign took out the words from the logo entirely and removed the black shadowing from the lightning logo.

The Nashville Predators have taken the “favorite NHL team” title from Tampa Bay, but I still follow them, they’re still in my top 5…

It is an XL and a tad snug on me, so this jersey is for sale or trade.

Tomorrow: What’s a Rafale?

40 days of jerseys #6: Cincinnati Cyclones (IHL)

IHL Cincinnati Cyclones
IHL Cincinnati Cyclones

Jersey #6 of 40: IHL Cincinnati Cyclones (No name, number)

Style: Replica
Size: XXL
Manufacturer: Starter
Obtained: Store bought, ~1995

There’s a couple of reasons I got this jersey. For one, I became a fan of Cincinnati after they became an IHL team, and for another, in my ham radio life, I’m big on weather, and weather spotting, and the Cyclones “Twister” logo is suited for my SKYWARN pastime.

The Cincinnati Cyclones got their start in the ECHL in 1990. The city’s had hockey teams before, during, and after, and oftentimes the franchise has been about as unstable as their moniker, despite some of the wildest fans in all of minor league hockey.

The city has had hockey several times over several decades (Mohawks, Swords, and Stingers to name a few) and were in the WHA in the 1970’s. Some NHL Hall of Famers like Mike Gartner and Mark Messier played there as did ESPN analyst Barry Melrose. They were one of two cities that did not go to the NHL when the WHA folded, despite respectable attendance.  A couple of CHL attempts floundered, and the 80’s saw little pro hockey in Cincy. When the Cyclones debuted in 1990 in the Cincinnati Gardens, the hockey-starved fans responded in droves.

Original Cyclones logo
Original Cyclones logo

When the Cyclones entered the ECHL in 1990-91, the team had the highest average of fans (7,696) in the entire league that season, a league record at the time. The following year, they averaged over 9,000 fans per game! The franchise was turning heads across the hockey spectrum, and Ohio was becoming a hockey mecca, with 3 additional cities moving in (Toledo, Dayton, and Columbus).

The Cyclones’ ownership rode that wave of success into the higher-level International Hockey League in 1992 after only 2 years in the ECHL. The jump to the higher level was a bit of a growing pain, missing the playoffs and a slight reduction in attendance, but still 2nd overall in the AAA-level league.

One of the most memorable games I attended in Knoxville history had to be against the Cyclones when Knoxville was still in the ECHL. Circa 1991-92 season, there were rumors in the weeks prior, that there were a large number of Cincinnati fans planning to attend a game in Knoxville late in the year. My wife and I weren’t dating at the time and so I took my mother along to see this game. Back then, the upper level of the arena was general admission seating, so the earlier you arrived, the better seats you had to pick from.

When we got there, there were at least 7 buses from Cincinnati!!! And word of mouth was that some had kegs of beer on board, and several of the fans were already blitzed before the doors to the Coliseum even opened. I was told that the Coliseum was originally not going to allow them in to the building, but for whatever reason relented, and extra security was called in…and needed.

Over the course of the game, several fans in Cyclones jerseys were seen taken away by KPD and escorted either back to their bus, or for one fan, off to the slammer. That fan, for whatever reason, took a puck and threw it down to the level below, barely missing the head of a daughter of a friend of mine and into the back of another fan’s head who had to be taken to First Aid (I never knew the eventual outcome of his injury). When the cops went up into my section, dozens of fans pointed to one specific person, who nonchalantly kept watching the game, beer in hand, oblivious to the fingers directed at him.

When the cops talked to him, he of course denied anything, but they decided it was time to take him out and have a talk with him. As they escorted him (one cop with a hand on his arm, the other on his jeans pocket) he started to resist. Biiiiiig mistake. He ended up getting dragged down the remaining steps, and tried to hold on to the guardrail was he was being hauled away, the crowd cheering in unison.

A friend of mine who was working concessions that night later said that as the fan was hauled into the area behind the stands he pushed a cop, yelling “F*** YOU I PAID FOR THIS TRIP!”, to which the officer replied, “F*** you, you get to spend a night with us for free!”. I’m sure it wasn’t “free”, in the long run. I don’t know how he got home…

That night it was hard to tell who was the home team. So many fans made the trip from Ohio by bus, car, plane, and probably hitchhiking, that when Cincinnati scored, it sounded louder than the Cherokees fans.

The game went to an eventual shootout, which the Cyclones won. It was a raucous game from before the start to after the finish. Even though I was a die-hard Cherokees fan, I had a great deal of appreciation for the Cyclones and their dedicated fans.

Toledo storm logo
Uglier than this?

Their logo was notorious for being considered the “ugliest in hockey”, with the scribbled twister behind a goalie’s back, wearing a Friday the 13th’s style mask, as his stick and pad made a cheesy looking “C” shape, with an oddly scripted “CYCLONES” below, and the goalie wearing the logo of himself in some sort of “Inception” style. Some thought it was worse that the 8-bit logo of the Toledo Storm…seriously.

Still, the logo endeared to the fans, myself included, and made an appearance in the 1993 movie Airborne, filmed in Cincinnati about a California rollerblading surfer kid trying to fit in with the local hockey kids. Two twin brothers who play minor characters in the movie wear the Cyclones Jersey almost the entire time throughout. This film might be more notable for Seth Green and Jack Black being featured. You can see them (and the jerseys) in the trailer below:

In 1995 the logo was changed to the one I am wearing. I found the jersey in a sporting goods store here in Knoxville. It was cartoonish, but still, I thought it looked just as good as the old “C”-shaped goalie logo. It’s on the shoulder pads, albeit with a more modern facemask. I’ve worn it several times to games, and once when visiting the Predators. There’s always a Cincinnati fan who comes up to me no matter where I go with it and remarks about the team.

I used to be able to listen to Cyclones IHL broadcasts on AM clear channel radio direct from Cincinnati on WCKY 1530. I was envious of their fan base and became a distant fan, despite having no ties to Cincinnati other than being born in nearby Dayton.

New logo
New Cyclones logo

Over the years I have followed them off and on and wondered how things might have been between Knoxville and Cincinnati had the Cyclones stayed in the ECHL, or had Knoxville stayed. It was a Knoxville businessman that started the Cyclones after all, and a great rivalry was getting started before they “graduated” to AAA hockey.

However, the IHL folded, the Cyclones came back to the ECHL (albeit another franchise with the same name) and have even won the ECHL Championship twice since re-joining.

Last year, the Cyclones ditched the “Twister” logo for something more minimalist. It looks more like the Carolina Hurricanes logo, yet they are affiliated with the Nashville Predators, now. It’s received mixed reaction.

Their recent trip into the ECHL is just starting to revive the glory days of when they barreled into the ECHL like a…some kind of a wind that swirls…the attendance numbers were lower than some of the Ice Bears’ numbers back in the mid-2000’s when they re-entered the ECHL. I’m not sure why, other than possible competition with the now-defunct AHL Cincinnati Mighty Ducks or something political, I really can’t say. However, winning two championships might have warmed the Queen City’s faithful back on board, slowly but surely.

Despite not having ever attended a game in Cincinnati (every time I’m up in the area they’re not playing, or playing on the road) I have become a fan of the team and hope to one day make a trip to see them. Then I can wear this jersey to one of their games. Until then, at least, this jersey is not for sale.

Tomorrow: NHL time!