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    The 1972 Summit Series & Phil Esposito Signed Jersey

    The 1972 Summit Series & Phil Esposito Signed Jersey

    I can remember the historic 1972 Summit Series like it was yesterday. I was at Sister Mary Clare Elementary School in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Our teacher wheeled in a very tall (or at least it seemed so at the time) TV stand with a tiny monitor on top – showing game one, from Montreal. What a treat – and what a testament to the fact that this series was a big deal! I have spoken to numerous people in all walks of life who said they remember watching it at school too. 


    Unfortunately, we lost that first game badly 7-3. It was a big shock to us all. Especially since Phil Esposito opened the scoring 30 seconds into the game, followed quickly with another by Paul Henderson. But the Russians scored four unanswered goals that Canada never recovered from. On to Toronto next, where Esposito opened the scoring again – this time in the second period. Canada won that one 4-1. We tied the next one in Winnipeg (I always thought that tie was weird). But it was what happened in Vancouver that prompted me to write this blog post.


    You see, we just added a new treat to our image gallery – signed NHL greats jerseys! And the first one I saw when I opened the box was a signed Team Canada Summit Series jersey by my hometown boy, Phil Esposito. It was his speech at the end of the game four loss in my new hometown of Vancouver that I really remember.

    It was a heartfelt speech that I think helped to galvanize the team for their trip to Russia. They lost the first game but won the next three close games and – of course – the series with Paul Henderson’s epic goal in the final seconds. That is also etched into all of our memories!

    I should add that Esposito scored two more goals in that game and was probably one of Canada’s most important players in that series.


    Come down and check out his signed jersey and those of other NHL legends like Bobby Orr, Dave Keon, Dale Hawerchuk and Pavel Bure, among others. We also have a Connor McDavid signed jersey as well.

    Behind the Scenes – Identifying an Image

    Behind the Scenes – Identifying an Image

    Chris Mizzoni is a good friend of mine, works with Vintage Sports Images, and really knows his stuff. He will blog for us from time to time. As you will see, he is very meticulous and fantastic at his job!

    - Blair

    Here's another fantastic Vintage Sports Images NHL photo. It came to me with no date – but three of the sports legends were labelled: Red Kelly, Ted Kennedy and Harry Lumley. These are all easily identified by most hockey history buffs, as is the second Toronto Maple Leaf in the photo – Sid Smith. A couple of other things are quickly noticed: the referee in the background is clearly "King" Clancy, and the game is taking place at Detroit Red Wings’ Olympia Stadium.

    A few other details allow us to narrow this down to the exact game this was from. Firstly, Harry Lumley was Detroit's goalie through 1949/50 (when he helped the Red Wings win the Cup) until the arrival of Terry Sawchuk the following year. Red Kelly began with the Red Wings in 47/48 and "Teeder" Kennedy was certainly active over these seasons. However, Sid Smith, wearing a number ending in "4," definitely helps to narrow down the time frame here.

    Smith had been with the Leafs for parts of the 1946/47 and 1947/48 campaigns, but wore numbers 22 and 16 respectively in those stints. He started wearing number 24 in 1948/49, when he suited up for only one regular season game with Toronto. He did however play six of Toronto's nine playoff games as the Leafs won the Cup over Detroit. So this photo is from either the 1949 Stanley Cup Final or the 1949/50 season – Lumley's last with the Red Wings.

    This is when "King" Clancy comes into the picture. Clancy retired from playing early into the 1936/37 season and coached the Montreal Maroons for part of 1937/38. Clancy then became an NHL referee until the end of the 1948/49 season. Clancy's last stint as referee was working the 1949 Stanley Cup Final. This eliminates 1949/50 as the year of the photo and nails it down as the '49 Finals, with Smith wearing #24. The four games of the final round took place between April 8 and April 16, 1949. Perhaps the exact date of this game can be determined. A little bit of Google newspaper archive digging turned up the box scores of each of the four Final games, including the referees listed.


    Game 1

    Game 2

    Game 3

    Game 4

    There we have it. The ref for each game was: Bill Chadwick in Game 1, “King” Clancy in Game 2, George Gravel in Game 3, and Chadwick again in Game 4.

    The photo has to be from April 10, 1949, Game 2, won by Toronto 3-1, at the Detroit Olympia. All three Leaf goals were scored by the aforementioned Sid Smith, with the third goal assisted by Ted Kennedy. Having Kennedy pictured in all alone on Lumley in this photo could very well make this a photo of Smith's hat-trick goal at 17:53 of the second period.

    And that’s how it’s done at Vintage Sports Images. We’re all about adding the stories behind the images, helping to make them the perfect gifts for diehard sport fans.

    North Shore News Feature on VSI

    North Shore News Feature on VSI

    We were recently featured in the Community Connections section of the North Shore News. Take a look at the article below; we think it turned out great.

    North Van’s Vintage Sports Images a game-changer when it comes to sports artwork.


    Sports photos are no longer just for man caves.


    North Van’s Vintage Sports Images is a game-changer when it comes to turning iconic sports images into artwork that can be hung anywhere in the home.


    “Our process is really unique,” explained owner Blair Peters. “We reproduce the photos on canvas and it really has a different look and feel. These vintage images are truly stunning when displayed on small or large canvasses.”


    Vintage Sports Images owns 200,000-plus negatives and slides from a variety of sports and eras that were purchased from photographers and newspapers over the years by the company’s original owner, Eric Olsen, a longtime pal of Peters.


    From legendary baseball players and goalies to classic hockey, basketball and football moments, and much more – there’s an iconic image for every sports fan.


    Vintage Sports Images has scanned approximately 50,000 sporting photos and curated the best 5,000 of the bunch based on the quality of the shot, the players, the lighting or anything else that makes the image stand out.


    Every image tells the story of an incredible sporting moment captured in time.


    Take, for example, a large canvas image titled, “Knoop turns two over Petrocelli.” The image captures this scene: As an umpire signals the out, Bobby Knoop turns a double play over a sliding Rico Petrocelli of the Boston Red Sox.

    “The composition, the second baseman is jumping, it’s like a moment in time has stopped,” explained Peters. “He’s releasing the ball and he’s literally three feet in the air and the umpire is signaling an out. It’s poetry in motion – just stunning.”


    The artworks are so compelling that Peters says his wife allowed him to hang his large-canvas Bobby Orr image upstairs in their home because it felt like a piece of art – not just another sports picture.

    Peters noted that along with homes and man caves, the canvass artworks are also ideal for businesses – his Marine Drive retail neighbours Hearthstone Brewery and MAN UP Grooming have some of the sports artwork on display – offices and recreation properties. He’s also had his images used for staging homes for open houses.


    Recently, Peters outfitted the offices of IFP (International Forrest Products) Canada, a company owned by the Kraft family, who also own the NFL’s New England Patriots. “Danny Kraft was in the other day I am told by the purchaser that he loved the sports prints. This is another service we offer. In this case I went to the offices and measured and custom ordered the prints then hung them on site,” said Peters.


    Peters just returned from a trip to spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, to catch some baseball games and check out some of the sports memorabilia shops in the area because it’s known as a hotbed for sports junkies and collectors.


    He saw some quality sports collectibles but nothing like what they are doing.


    “There’s lots of sports photography, but what makes our process so special is that we are taking these artistic shots and giving them the canvas treatment. It’s really time consuming to get this done right – they are carefully hand-stretched. They are crisp and tight, with no slack or soft spots.”


    Vintage Sports Images has printed 100- plus sports images on canvases in a variety of sizes, from 12” x 18” to 36” x 45” with prices ranging from $110 to $595.


    At the store you can search images from their catalogue by sports, athlete or team or browse online. The gallery also displays sports paintings from local artists and features some interactive displays, including a floor ball net and sticks (donated by Floorball Academy Plus owner Greg Beaudin) and a batting station courtesy of Inside Performance (a top-notch baseball training facility on the North Shore where you can see a beautiful Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax displayed).


    “It’s a really funky, unique space,” said Peters, who noted that there’s also a selection of one-of-a-kind vintage baseball caps and small team logo prints on wood that are handmade locally – plus much more. “Vintage Sports Images is your one-stop shop for sports history happiness.”


    Vintage Sports Images is located at 1089 Marine Drive in North Vancouver. Visit online at vintagesportsimages.com, call 604-770-3747 or email info@vintagesportsimages.com.

    The Great One vs. Number 4 Bobby Orr: The Debate Rages On

    The Great One vs. Number 4 Bobby Orr: The Debate Rages On

    Dave Jackson is an old friend of mine – and a sports aficionado. He graciously allowed us to post the article he wrote on Orr vs. Gretzky. Enjoy! (And feel free to share your thoughts on this! We would love to hear what you have to think!)


    Blair


    It’s the never-ending argument: who was greater… who had a more long-lasting impact on their game… whose legacy truly defines their sport? The shouting, beer-infused, projectile spittle barstool debates of yesteryear now belong to the hallowed ground and super-computers of sports history scholars and sabermatricians. Fortunately, when it comes to the NHL, we are at least spared the pedantic rhetoric of the likes of George Will.


    As for the NHL, the choice between the two (and only two) giants of their sport is clear – Bobby Orr vs. Wayne Gretzky. (Perhaps only the PGA offers the same clear delineation – Jack Nicklaus vs. Tiger Woods). So why even compare? They played different positions, skated during different eras, and their careers were vastly different in tenure. Why bother? Because humans love to compare and contrast. We like closure. Absolutes. Unfortunately, the case here is not one that is, or ever will be, easily closed. But let’s at least have some fun doing it!


    Wayne Gretzky is a contemporary of your humble author. We were both born in Southern Ontario in 1961 – and even played against each other in a couple of Peewee and minor Bantam tournaments at the time. I knew about him because, by age 11, just about anyone who followed hockey in Ontario knew about him. His minor hockey scoring feats were not just beyond legendary – they were beyond belief! At the age of 10, Gretzky scored an astonishing 378 goals and 139 assists in just one season with the Brantford Steelers. His play attracted the attention of media beyond his hometown, including a front-page sports section story in the now-defunct Toronto Telegram. By age 13, he had scored over 1,000 goals. His NHL scoring records are nearly as mind-boggling.

    Bobby Orr attracted similar attention, at just a slightly older age. The Boston Bruins first noticed Orr in the spring of 1961, playing in a youth hockey tournament in Gananoque, Ontario. The Bruins' Wren Blair described him as “a combination of Doug Harvey and Eddie Shore.” The Bruins immediately pursued Orr, with Blair making regular visits to the Orr family home in Parry Sound. In the fall of 1961, the Bruins invested $1,000 to sponsor his minor hockey team – a figure almost unheard of at that time. Although three other NHL teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens) were interested in Orr, he signed, in 1962, with the Bruins. Orr explained that he signed with the Bruins because: “They're a team of the future. They're rebuilding and I want to be part of that building program.” He made the Bruins roster at just 17 and was an immediate impact player.


    Bobby Orr was the product of a different time. His star shone in the tumultuous late ‘60s and early ‘70s. But unlike his superstar contemporaries of the era – Joe Namath, Jim Brown or Muhammad Ali – Number Four expressed no apparent social or political ideological views. He was polite, soft-spoken, respectful, well-mannered and well-groomed. In a word – Canadian.


    Cool… quiet… confidence. The Don Cherry ad nauseum video homages to Bobby Orr aside, you simply had to see him with your own two eyes to believe it – live and in-person, if you could! Grainy late ‘60s and early ‘70s film and video just doesn’t do justice to the singularly unique combination of rocket-like speed, power, grace, agility, puck-handling skill, and high hockey IQ. And while Orr possessed off-the-carts offensive prowess, he was also a responsible defenseman whose vastly superior skating ability allowed him to get back into the play quickly – especially if he was out of position. He routinely blocked shots and was a tough, rugged bodychecker – and not averse to dropping the gloves, when necessary.


    In my lifetime and in my opinion, Bobby Orr was the most dynamic, complete hockey player that’s ever played the game. Only two other athletes – Gretzky and Michael Jordan – challenged his infinitely superior skillset and ability to rise to an even higher level of greatness in clutch situations… all at the very highest level of team sport. But unlike Gretzky or Jordan, who enjoyed long and relatively injury-free careers, Orr’s was sadly cut short due to a succession of serious knee injuries – primarily his left. Perhaps the closest analogy to Orr’s all-too-short, yet incredible career would be that of “The Left Hand of God” Sandy Koufax. Both athletes were forced into retirement at the tender age of 30, and are still to this day the youngest to have been elected to their respective Halls of Fame.

    In 1971, I was lucky enough to see Orr for the first and only time live as the Bruins visited the Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens in February, winning easily 5 – 1. But what I remember vividly to this day, early in the game, was Orr setting up behind his goal and blasting off like a nitro-fuelled dragster – straight up the middle and leaving every forechecking Leaf forward in his dust. Then came the strange and pathetic vision of completely overmatched defenceman, Brian Glennie, haplessly flailing away with stick and arms, frantically trying to get an angle on Orr. In the end, all Glennie could do was fling his now-horizontal body at Orr’s feet, tackling him like a football linebacker – the last desperate method of preventing the great man from a clear-cut breakaway.


    When the referee only called a two-minute tripping penalty, instead of the obvious penalty shot, the crowd (probably close to 40% Bruins fans in attendance in those days) went nuts. Orr? As always, head down, no backtalk to the ref, quietly skating back to the bench with that “aw shucks, I hope I didn’t embarrass ol’ Brian in front of his home crowd” look. That’s the just the way Bobby Orr rolled.


    Although just 13 years his junior, Gretzky played in a much different era – pro hockey was evolving into a more structured and systematic game based, in part, on the Soviet style of play that focussed more on team passing and positional awareness than individual talent. Coaches had become more sophisticated and now espoused the importance of puck possession and cycling the puck down low. This new hockey system was tailor-made for Wayne Gretzky. His instinctual abilities as a playmaker in the offensive zone were without precedent. Not imbued with great size, speed or a particularly hard shot, Gretzky’s greatness was more subtle to the eye than Orr’s – beguiling in its magic-like nuances and rhythms. Gretzky transcended the usual norms of sport. How could a player with such obvious limited physical and athletic gifts be this amazing? To me, Gretzky’s greatest gift was being spectacular without looking spectacular.


    Gretzky’s still-hard-to-fathom numbers speak for themselves, and there’s little doubt that he would be a prolific scorer even in today’s game. But the NHL game has changed so dramatically since the days of Orr and Gretzky. Open up a YouTube video and watch a bit of game action from the ‘70s and ‘80s. If a young hockey fan had never seen pro hockey from that era, it would undoubtedly appear to them that the players were skating in quicksand; it really was played at a grindingly slower pace than today. The defensive coaching schemes of today would take away most of the open ice that Orr and Gretzky enjoyed in their day. And, in my opinion, no single position in professional sports has evolved more than that of the hockey goaltender. Today’s typical NHL goalie is a supremely athletic near-giant with yoga instructor-like flexibility, superior hand-eye coordination and amazingly fast reflexes. And perhaps most importantly, in terms of lightness of weight and increase in size, their equipment is light-years ahead of the stuff worn back in the days of Orr and Gretzky.


    Alas, I digress. So is one greater than the other? Are Smarties better than M&M’s? Porches cooler than Ferraris? Beatles or Stones? Are Orr and Gretzky even comparable? Who knows… Is there really even an answer? Either way, pull up a couple of barstools with your buddies and have at ‘er!


    What do you think? Orr or Gretzky? Leave us a comment and keep the debate alive.


    Vintage Sports Images currently has 21 Bobby Orr images and 13 Wayne Gretzky images available for the sports fan in your life or your man cave.

    MLB Spring Training

    MLB Spring Training

    As some of you may have noticed from my personal Instagram and Facebook posts, I recently returned from a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona to watch some Spring Training baseball. In addition to getting away from the dreary Vancouver weather, I wanted to get inspired by the excitement of another baseball season about to begin. That is the thing with spring… it’s a new beginning. Optimism. A fresh start.


    While sitting at Scottsdale Stadium, awaiting the Giants vs. Indians game, enjoying the sun and the beer in centre field and watching the teams get ready, I took the opportunity to read an article on the history of the Cactus League in Play Ball Magazine, the Official Spring Training Guide. This is a super cool magazine, available for free, that gives you a schedule of all the games in Arizona, as well as some interesting stories about the game.


    The Chicago White Stockings (now the White Sox) was the first team to play a barnstorming game in Arizona in 1909. The Detroit Tigers became the first team to officially train there, in 1929. They played several games against local teams, but in 1930, they moved their spring camp to California and never returned to Arizona. In 1947, Bill Veeck convinced the then New York Giants owner, Horace Stoneham, to train in Phoenix while his Cleveland Indians trained in Tucson. The Chicago Cubs then moved their team to Mesa, AZ from Catalina Island, CA in 1952. The Orioles started training in Yuma in 1954 and the Cactus League was officially born. In 1959, the New York Giants won the first Cactus League World Series, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in four games. Among the highlights was “the catch” made by MLB hero Willie Mays that prevented a Cleveland rally with two men on.


    Check out the amazing catch.

    (And check out the great Willie Mays image. Drop by the store, as the sports canvas print is currently 20% off. It’s the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life or for your man cave.)

    The Red Sox took up residence in Scottsdale in 1959, and fans got to see the last two years of Ted Williams’ career and the start of Carl Yastrzemski’s. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots trained in Tempe and the San Diego Padres started in Yuma. Charlie Finley’s A’s trained in Mesa in 1969. They went on to win three World Series titles (1972-74) while training there!


    Now, half the MLB teams train in Arizona in the Cactus League, with the other half in Florida in the Grapefruit League. If you need a little sun and enjoy baseball, it is a pleasant way to see games for cheap. I was lucky enough to catch Nolan Baumgartner’s start for the Giants. Man can he throw!


    Continue to watch the Vintage Sports Images blog, as I will be writing a few more articles on Spring Training before the season starts in April.