Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Olympic Hockey Cards of the Day, 1956

Four years ago I posted a bunch of vintage (mostly German) Olympic cards from as far back as 1928, here. Now it's time to share a few new additions to my collection since then. The card above pictures the Soviets battling the Germans in the 1956 Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. The Soviet player is the great Vsevolod Bobrov, pictured below. Bobrov topped the tournament with 9 goals in 7 games as the Soviets took home their first ever Hockey Gold medal. He would go on to coach the Russian squad in the Summit Series in 1972.
The German text on the back shown below loosely translates to:
"The Soviet ice hockey players took every meeting seriously. They defeated the German representation, which consisted only of players of the Federal Republic, in the final clear 8:0 goals."
The Soviets won all five games in the Olympic tournament, outscoring their opponents 25-5 including a 2-0 win over Canada.
The next card shows the game versus Canada which took place on Feb. 4, 1956. The Canadian behind the net is Ken Laufman who's 8 assists topped the tournament. The Canadian in front is most likely Paul Knox who had played one game with Toronto Maple Leafs the previous season and led these Olympics with 12 points.
The back of this card is translated from German as; 
"This Canadian attack was exemplarily repelled by the hardly surmountable Soviet back-team. With 2:0 goals, the Soviet team won the last game of the tournament and became Olympic champion, world and European champion."

Friday, February 9, 2018

70 Years Ago Today, Canada Reclaims Gold

"The airmen ended the nine-country round robin tournament in a first-place tie with Czechoslovakia but a superior goal average hoisted the Maple Leaf to the top of the flagpole as the Fifth Winter Olympics drew to a close"
so described Jack Sullivan, Canadian Press writer as published in the Montreal Gazette on February 9, 1948. He continued:
"The team which few in the Dominion gave much chance to succeed went through the tournament unbeaten to give Canada her second championship in the Winter Olympics-writing the name of the Flyers alongside that of Barbara Ann Scott, ladies figure-skating champion.
Murray Dowey, 22-year old blonde netminder from Toronto, registered his fifth shutout in eight games and Wally Halder, the team's top scorer during the games with 21 goals and eight assists, fired the shot that proved to be the winner in the first period. Patsy Guzzo added the second Canadian goal in the middle period and Reg Schroeter made it 3-0 before the midway mark of the third as the Canadians clung grimly to their lead."
Team Photo from The Gazette
The boxscore from the final is below:
The recap in the Gazette continued describing the victory;
"During the second and third periods the partisan Swiss crowd, taking exception to some of the referee's decisions, hurled snowballs at the Flyers. The ice conditions and the refereeing were so bad that at times the game threatened to develop into a farce. The officials from Britain and Belgium were pointedly in favour of Switzerland, some of the latter's decisions being almost unbelievable. 'We played eight men-Swiss players and the referees-and still beat 'em' said Cpl. George McFaul, RCAF trainer.
Halder's goal, scored less than five minutes after the game began was the neatest of the tournament. He literally ran over the slushy ice, travelling the length of the rink to fire a low corner shot which the Swiss goalkeeper managed to kick out. Three Swiss jostled him but he grabbed the rebound and fired again. The netminder deflected the puck behind the net and Schroeter returned it to Halder, who though still hemmed in by three rivals banged it in."
The final table of standings is below. Canada won the tie-breaker with Czechoslovakia on a formula of Goals For divided by Goals Against.
"The victory celebration was hilarious. After posing for a group photograph in the middle of the ice, the players clambered over the boards, yelling and whooping it up.With Mara as team captain standing on the top step of the rostrum, they were presented with gold medals. Other members of Canada's Olympic team grabbed them as they scooted for the stadium dressing room. They blew kisses to the crowd, gave the thumbs-up sign and yelled excitedly, 'We've done it, boys'."

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Maple Leafs Players; First NHL Goal, Twice in one Game

Maple Leafs defencemen Travis Dermott and Justin Holl each scored their first NHL goal on January 31, 2018 against the Islanders. This was the first time Toronto had two players score their first ever goal in the same game in 33 years.
On January 16, 1985 in Los Angeles, rookies Bill Kitchen and Ken Strong each tallied their first NHL marker, the boxscore is below. In a strange coincidence, the two sets of first NHL goals were both scored consecutively, and each within about five minutes of each other. 
In addition, Justin Holl became the first Maple Leaf defenceman to score a goal in his first NHL game since Claire Alexander did it on November 30, 1974. Holl would add a goal the very next night in his second NHL game becoming the first Maple Leaf to score in his first two games since Daniel Marois did it in October 1988. Holl is also the first Maple Leaf defenceman EVER to score in each of his first two games.
Jan. 16, 1985

For Bill Kitchen this goal would prove to be the only one of his NHL career. He finished with 1 goal and 5 points over 29 games in 1984/85. He played the following season with AHL's St. Catherines Saints before retiring in 1986. Ken Strong had a far more prolific career than Kitchen, scoring a total of TWO goals over 11 NHL games. He also played for St.Catherines the following season before heading to play in the Austrian League for the next ten seasons. He represented Austria in two World Championships and the 1994 Olympics.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Canucks Penalty Box, 1948

The Vancouver Public Library recently released some terrific old hockey photos online, the one above  was titled simply Vancouver Canucks vs Skyhawks Hockey Fight, April 14, 1948. It shows some heated action in the penalty box, but does not name any of the players pictured. The Skyhawks were the San Diego entry in the old Pacific Coast Hockey League.
Checking the Society for International Hockey Research Database, the bleeding #10 of SanDiego is identified as Arley Carlson. Left-Winger Carlson was 24 years old at the time in his fifth professional season. In 1947/48 he posted 12 goals, 41 points in 43 games for the Skyhawks. Carlson was born in Virginia, Minnesota and would go on to star with the amateur Rochester (Minnesota) Mustangs for seven years. Virgina, Minnesota is also the hometown of Jeff, Jack and Steve Carlson of the movie Slap Shot fame. From what I can find,  although his age would fit, Arley Carlson is not the father of the movie brothers, but the odds are he is related to them.
To the right hand of Carlson is another Skyhawk identified through the SIHR photo database as Stan Warecki. The 22 year-old Warecki potted 37 goals in 47/48, second on San Diego and his 16 goals in 14 playoff games topped the league.
The Canuck player in the penalty being addressed by Carlson is a little harder to identify, seeing as he is facing away from the camera. However, on the front of his sweater is a partially obscured number that can appears to be either 2,3,8 or 9. Defenceman Chuck Millman wore #2 and is pictured below. 

#3 on the Canucks that season was ex-NHLer Mac Colville, shown below. His hair and jaw-line don't seem to match the player in the photo.
Another possibility is #8 Bob Ballance, shown next. He could quite well be the player facing Carlson in the photo. The Canucks #9 that year belonged to Bernie Bathgate, but he didn't play in the playoffs that season. The player must be either Millman or Ballance.
A look at shows the Canucks and Skyhawks both finished third in their divisions in 1947/48. San Diego had 67 points in the 66 games finishing nine behind first place L.A. Monarchs while Vancouver's 71 points were 16 in arrears of Seattle Ironman. Vancouver knocked off Tacoma and Seattle before reaching the final, San Diego had beaten San Francisco and Fresno in the Southern Division.  The teams split the first two games in San Diego each winning by a 3-2 score. Back in Vancouver, the Canucks found their scoring legs, winning game three 7-5 on April 12, 1948 and 7-6 on April 15. This photo must be from that April 15 match and simply mis-labelled. The following day, in Game five, Vancouver would take the championship with a 7-3 victory.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

NHL All-Stars of the 1980s, circa 1979

I recently picked up an old issue of Hockey Digest at the local flea market from December 1979, (OK it was a part of a self-bought Christmas present...self-buying your presents is really the only way to go). One of the first articles in the magazine was titled as shown above, "Here Are The All-Star Teams of The 1980s!". In the article, author George Vass makes bold predictions on who would be the stars of the next decade.
The All-Stars of the 80s were selected as seen below:
The author makes the rather bold statement while selecting his teams of the 1980s; 
"In fact, though it's taking a risk considering that injuries can cut short the most promising careers, it's possible to pick hockey's All-Star Team of the 1980s with  the assurance that one is not likely to be very far off."
Well...he was indeed very far off in his picks. The problem was, there was a slew of Stars, Hall of Fame players,and All-Time greats just starting their careers in 1979 or soon thereafter. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Michel Goulet, Mike Liut, Pete Peeters and Ray Bourque were mere days into their NHL careers at the time the article was written. In the next year or two Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri, Peter Stastny, Denis Savard and Dale Hawerchuk would join the league. All could be considered for All-Star teams of the 1980s. A few that the author selected definitely would not.
Perhaps the most absurd pick in hindsight for All-Star team of the 1980s is David Shand on Defense. After, back-to-back solid seasons as a 21 and 22 year old, Shand played only 207 games with 36 points before retiring in 1985. Perhaps he could have become Rod Langway, but he did not. Another pick that seems ridiculous in retrospect was Ron Sedlbauer. After notching 40 goals for the 78/79 Canucks, he played only two more seasons potting 45 total goals. The one thing that links these two would-be stars of the 1980s is the fact they both were eventually traded to the early 80s Maple Leafs. Apparently this was their downfall.
The point is further illustrated when looking at the two goalies that Vass selected as the goalies of the 1980's. Both Mike Palmateer and Don Edwards finished their careers with the Leafs in a season they posted a Goals Against Average of over 4.78. Hardly player of the decade numbers.
In selecting Bossy, Trottier and even Doug Wilson, Vass did select a few of the players who would be in the conversation for players of the decade. Perhaps though he should not have been so cocksure of his selections, and picked fewer future Leafs of the early 1980s. If he really needed a Leaf of that era, he would have been better off picking Rick Vaive and his future three consecutive 50 goal seasons...ahh hindsight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The First Game

Montreal Arena, site of Toronto's first NHL game
100 years ago today, the NHL and the Maple Leafs franchise began. The Montreal Wanderers defeated the Toronto Arenas by a score of 10-9. Below are a few descriptions of that very first game from newspapers of the day.
Toronto World newspaper, Dec 20, 1017
"About 700 people witnessed the initial professional hockey game of the season at the Arena, when the Wanderers won from Toronto by a score of 10-9. The play was somewhat ragged at times, and the visiting team (Toronto) was weak in goal. The Torontos had the better of the argument most of the game, but neither Hebert, who was the Toronto goalkeeper in the earlier part of the game, nor Brooks, in the second session, stopped the Wanderers shots as they might have done. Wanderers used Lindsay thruout and he proved more serviceable to the home team than either Hebert or Brooks."
"The visitors' forwards, Skinner, Denneny and Noble, were fast and good shots, and Randall and Cameron made excellent defence."
Harry Cameron
Montreal Gazette newspaper, Dec. 20, 1917
"Had either Heberts or Brooks shown any ability to stop shots, the Torontos would have no doubt won, as they had the best of the play the greater part of the time...Toronto, with a better man in nets will have to  be reckoned with this winter. Their forwards Skinner, Denneny and Noble are fast and good shots. While Randall and Cameron make a splendid defence. The Wanderers were lost without the two Cleghorns."
"Toronto played better hockey in the closing period than in either of the other two and outplayed the locals by three to one...The visitors were in better condition than the locals and finished much fresher. The Redbands held the lead accured early in the game by playing three men on defence allowing only two men to make the trips up the ice. "
Toronto would indeed shore up their goaltending a week later when they brought back future Hall of Famer  Hap Holmes from Seattle of the Pacific league. Holmes help guide them to a first place finish in the second half of the season (which was in truth only 8 of the 22 total games each team played).
Toronto dispatched Montreal Canadiens to win the NHL Championship and went on the win the Stanley Cup over Vancouver. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Unidentified Leafs Photo #10

Here's a great shot of the Leafs in their room from the good people at Vintage Sports Images. The two main players are easily identified as Dick Duff and Billy Harris; but the question is, when was the photo taken?
Duff and Harris played together on the Leafs  from 1955/56 February 22, 1964 when Duff was dealt to New York Rangers in the Andy Bathgate trade. The photo could be from any one of these nine seasons, or could it?
Checking the NHL Uniform Database it is confirmed that the Maple Leafs added a tie-down to their sweater collar for the 1958/59 season. Therefore this photo can only be from 1955/56, 56/57 or 57/58.

These three seasons were the first three in the NHL career of Billy Harris, by the 57/58 campaign he produced 16 goals and 44 points. That same season, Duff scored 26 goals and 49 points. They finished first and second in Maple Leafs point scoring that year.  A really nice photo behind the scenes of hockey life in the 1950's.

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