Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chris Osgood, Hall of Famer?


Yesterday, a good friend of Nitzy’s Hockey Den, Joe Pelletier brought up an interesting point on his terrific blog, greatesthockeylegends.com . In his mind, Chris Osgood will be very difficult to keep out of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I’ll take it one step further and say that Osgood is a guaranteed lock for the Hall. At first thought, one might think that’s going a bit far, the argument has always been that his team, The Red Wings were a championship squad with or without him. However, if his numbers are looked at closely the Hall of Fame is an easy call.

As of the end of 2008/09 his career record is 389-204-89 a .636 winning percentage, good for fourth all-time. His 389 wins place him tenth on the all-time list. All men above him are in the Hall of Fame save for Brodeur, Belfour and Joseph who will be eventually. Even his 49 career shutouts place him 23rd overall. He is currently working on his fourth Stanley Cup, (third as the number one goalie) and his playoff record stands at 73 wins and 45 losses. This .618 playoff winning percentage is now fifth all-time for goalies with at least 100 games. Only Ken Dryden, Billy Smith, Jacques Plante and Grant Fuhr are ahead of him in this respect and like Osgood, all of these it may be said played on stacked teams that perhaps could have still won without them.

Sure, Osgood has never won a major award (he has been the part of two Jennings Awards for lowest team goals against), and he has been an end of season All-Star only once (Second Team in 1996). Hall of Famer Billy Smith, won only 305 regular season games with a .556 winning pct. He was similar to Osgood in the fact he played on a talent loaded team that won multiple Cups, and only once was an All-Star. Of course, Smith did win one Conn Smythe Trophy and his playoff record is slightly better than Osgood.

Chuck Rayner, of the 1940’s Rangers is in the Hall with a .422 career winning pct. and a 3.05 GAA. Eddie Giacomin is in the Hall with exactly 100 less wins than Osgood and zero Cups to his name. Harry Lumley is in with a 330-329-142 record and only one Cup.
Gump Worsley made the Hall on the strength of his four Cups with the Habs in the late 1960’s not his career record 18 games under .500. Over those five seasons with the four Cup wins, The Gumper played 158 games or an average of only 30 games per year. His playoff record with the Rangers before joining the powerhouse Canadiens was 5 wins, 15 losses.

Even when not playing behind the Red Wings, Chris Osgood has fared well. Over his three seasons playing for the Islanders and Blues he played 179 games with a 2.51 GAA, just a tick higher than his career 2.47. His 84-67-20 record over that span is also more than adequate.
One could assume that the 36 year old Osgood will stay healthy and should easily push his win total to the top five in history. In my view however, he could retire tomorrow and be a lock for the Hallowed Halls in Toronto.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red Wings vs Penguins...first re-match in 25 years.




Detroit vs Pittsburgh. Re-match of last year’s six game final series. This of course is the first re-match of a previous year’s Cup final since the 1983 & 1984 finals between the New York Islanders and the Edmonton Oilers. There are many similarities between this year’s final and the re-match from 25 years ago. In each matchup the defending champs are searching for their fifth Stanley Cup in recent years, the Wings would be their fifth in twelve seasons and of course the Isles were going for their fifth consecutive. The challengers in each series each had the marquee player in the game in Gretzky and Crosby. The Islanders in 1984 had won a collective 58 Stanley Cups to the Oilers zero and the Wings have 30 collective Cups and the Penguins 3 (one each for Guerin, Kunitz, Sykora and Adams).

If one compares the rosters, we can pretty much match up player-to-player the rosters of the Islanders to the Wings and the Oilers to the Pens. Listed below are each Islander and Red Wing with GP-G-A-PTS in that season's playoffs.

Clark Gilles 21-12-7-19, Johan Franzen 16-10-9-19 Both squads are somewhat surprisingly led in scoring by big wingers with a playoff pedigree. Both 29 years old and 6'3", 220lbs.

Mike Bossy 21-8-10-18,Henrik Zetterberg 16-9-9-18 Proven snipers and previous Conn Smythe trophy winners.

Bryan Trottier 21-8-6-14, Pavel Datsyuk 13-1-6-7 High scoring, two-way centres both having a somewhat down playoff scoring wise.

Pat Flatley 21-9-6-15, Val Filppula 16-1-13-14
Relative youngsters providing unexpected secondary scoring.

Pat LaFontaine 16-3-6-9, Jiri Hudler 16-4-5-9 Shifty "water-bugs" breaking out, ready for the next step.

Brent Sutter 20-4-10-14, Marian Hossa 16-6-6-12
Not close in age, but are leaders and producers on each of their teams.

John Tonelli 17-1-3-4, Tomas Holmstrom 16-2-3-5
Both sparkplug type players known for clutch efforts.

Greg Gilbert 21-5-7-12, Dan Cleary 16-8-6-14
Each stepping up their scoring to fill in for others having down playoffs.

Butch Goring 21-1-5-6, Kirk Maltby 13-0-1-1
Veteran grit and leadership.

Bob Nystrom 15-0-2-2, Mikael Samuelsson 16-5-4-9
Both large bodied veteran Swedes with heart.

Duane Sutter 21-1-3-4, Darren Helm 16-3-0-3
Young role players that chip in when needed.

Denis Potvin 20-1-5-6, Niklas Lidstrom 14-4-9-13
Veteran, all-round defensemen. Multiple Norris Trophy winners both.

Tomas Jonsson 21-3-5-8, Brian Rafalski 11-2-6-8
Smaller, offense-first secondary d-men.

Stefan Persson 16-0-6-6, Niklas Kronwall 16-1-6-7 Persson listed at 6'1", 189lbs, Kronwall at 6'0'', 189 lbs.

Ken Morrow 20-1-2-3, Brad Stuart 16-1-6-7
Big, shut-down defenders.

Paul Boutilier 21-1-7-8, Jonathan Ericsson 15-2-3-5
Youngsters providing needed, surprise scoring.

Dave Langevin 12-0-4-4, Brett Lebda 16-0-6-6
Extremely serviceable third line d-men.

Chris Chelios 15-1-9-10,Chris Chelios 6-0-0-0
Chelly, 1984 playoffs with the Habs compared to this year...just because we can.

Billy Smith 12-8 2.72, Chris Osgood 12-4 2.30
Multiple Cup winning vets who never really got respect or consideration for national level squads.


Next come the 1984 Oilers and the current Pens.

Wayne Gretzky 19-13-22-35, Sidney Crosby 17-14-14-28 Each "The Face of the NHL" , outright superstars looking for their first Cup.

Mark Messier 19-8-18-26, Evgeni Malkin 17-12-16-28
Both, big-bodied game changers ready to step out from the shadow of their team-mate.

Jari Kurri 19-14-14-28, Bill Guerin 17-7-7-14
Both sniping right-wingers riding shot gun with the best in the game.

Glenn Anderson 19-6-11-17, Chris Kunitz 17-1-11-12 Speedy, hard-working secondary scoring contributors.

Ken Linseman 19-10-4-14, Jordan Staal 17-2-4-6
See above.

Pat Hughes 19-2-11-13, Maxime Talbot 17-4-3-7
Unexpected third line points.

Dave Hunter 17-5-5-10, Ruslan Fedotenko 17-6-5-11
Fiesty wingers that also provide big goals.

Willy Lindstrom 19-5-5-10, Miro Satan 11-1-5-6
Veteran extra scoring.

Kevin McClelland 18-4-6-10, Tyler Kennedy 17-3-3-6
Two-way specialists.

Dave Lumley 19-2-5-7, Matt Cooke 17-1-6-7
The diggers and sparkplugs.

Jaroslav Pouzar 14-1-2-3, Petr Sykora 6-0-1-1
Peripheral scoring from Czech veterans.

Dave Semenko 19-5-5-10 ,Craig Adams 17-3-2-5 Hard-working, less talented team players.

Paul Coffey 19-8-14-22, Sergei Gonchar 15-2-10-12
Power play quarter backs.

Kevin Lowe 19-3-7-10, Kris Letang 16-3-6-9
Secondary defenseman scoring.

Randy Gregg 19-3-7-10, Mark Eaton 17-4-2-6
Big, defenders that can point as well.

Charlie Huddy 12-1-9-10, Philippe Boucher 8-1-3-4
See above.

Lee Fogolin 19-1-4-5, Hal Gill 17-0-2-2
Big defenders that do NOT point as well.

Don Jackson 19-1-2-3, Brooks Orpik 17-0-4-4
See above.

Grant Fuhr 11-4 2.99, Marc-Andre Fleury 12-5 2.62
Young, goalies with a flair for the dramatic save.

By no means is this a scientific comparison between the 1984 and 2009 Stanley Cup re-matches, but I found it quite interesting how the teams favourably matched up with each other. Let's just hope this version of the Pens/Wings doesn't end in five games like the Oilers/Isles Part Two did.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Most Playoff games without scoring


Currently still playing in this season's playoffs are three players who have gone over 40 playoff games without scoring their first goal. Firstly Penguins Hal Gill sits at 72 games and Detroit's Brett Lebda has played (as of May23) a total of 51 scoreless playoff contests. Also, Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik has gone 41 games of his own.
As well Wings, Anders Eriksson has now played 36 career scoreless games. In fairness, these four are more "shut-down" type defenders and not known for their scoring. Plus, all of them have literally years to go to catch all-time scoreless leader, Craig Muni.

Muni won 3 Stanley Cups with the Oilers and played a total of 113 career playoff games without even an empty net tally to speak of. Craig Muni is one of the many that my Leafs let slip away for next to nothing. After being a 25th overall pick out of Windsor in 1980, he toiled for four full seasons in the AHL with St.Catherines. During this time he would be deemed good enough to only play 19 games with the powerhouse Leafs of the early 80's. Glen Sather signed him as a free agent in the summer of '86 and he instantly contributed to three Cups in four years. Anyway, it was par for the course for the Leafs to let somebody go that would develop elsewhere. Guys that come to mind are Walt Poddubny, Rick Kehoe, Randy Carlyle, and earlier, Rene Robert and Bernie Parent. But I digress...
Other d-men that have played over 60 matches without scoring are Don Awrey, Luke Richardson, Alexie Gusarov, Bob Boughner and Allen Pedersen. I'll stop picking on defenseman, let's check in with the drought-ridden forwards.


All told, there have been fourteen forwards that have played at least 25 scoreless palyoff games. Most of these are enforcer, mucker types such as John McIntyre with 44 games and the leader among forwards Jim McKenzie with 51 games. Once again, most of these guys weren't required to score, especially in the playoffs. The top goal season by these 14 guys was 10 or 12 in any one year with two notable exceptions. Igor Korolev is third among forwards with 41 scoreless playoff matches, mainly with the aforementioned Leafs. In his career he had seasons of 22, 20 and 17 goals. It's not as if he was contributing in other ways in the post season as he only managed 8 assists and a -12 over his 41 career games.
The other supposed "scorer" who didn't in the playoffs was Danny Lewicki. Although he won a Cup with Toronto as a 19 year old rookie in 1951 he played 28 career games with no tallies and 4 assists. In that Cup year he'd scored 16 regular season goals, and would go on to have seasons of 29, 18 and 18 with the Rangers.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tom Edur and the untapped careers


Tom Edur, Todd Bergen, Fred Arthur and Robin Sadler. Who are they? More specifically, what do they have in common? Firstly, they were all once upon a time, future NHL stars. What they have in common is that each and everyone of them walked away from the game for personal reasons leaving an NHL career untapped.

Tom Edur had the most successful and longest NHL career of the four. At 17 he won the Memorial Cup with the Toronto Marlboros in 1973 alongside the likes of Mike Palmateer, Mark and Marty Howe and Bruce Boudreau. He was offered $250,000 to sign for three years with the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA and promptly notched 38 points in his rookie season. Having been drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1974, he opted to stay in the WHA for the bigger dollars. After his third year, and another 35 point season he opted to join his former Cleveland coach Johnny Wilson and the Colorado Rockies of the NHL. As a 22 year old first year defenseman, he tallied 32 points and a fantastic +14 for the second worst team in the league whose collective plus/minus was -328.

The summer after this season he became a Jehovah’s Witness.

Having been disillusioned and somewhat disappointed by the off-ice life of a pro hockey player since leaving junior, he turned to God. In a story in the Denver Post from June 1979, Edur tells how right from the start of his career he was shocked by the amount of drinking and promiscuity among the players. He begrudgingly gave in to the lifestyle, but always felt uneasy about it.

After starting the 1977 season with the Rockies, he was once again acquired by his ex-coach Johnny Wilson. This time he was traded to Pittsburgh for ex-Marlie teammate Dennis Owchar. He’d end up 77/78 with 10 goals and 55 points finishing eleventh among NHL d-men in scoring. Just prior to next training camp Edur informed the Penguins that he was retiring. Thinking he was holding out for more money, they offered him an open contract for any amount of money and as well, the option of not playing on Sundays. He declined. Even half way through the year, while he was visiting Pittsburgh, the Pens offered him $20,000 to play two weekend games. He stayed retired and committed to his faith.
The following off-season, hoping to bring Edur back to the game, the Edmonton Oilers drafted his rights from Pittsburgh when the WHA merged with the NHL. Tom Edur, was a 25 year old offensive defenseman and could have teamed up with Gretzky and the Oilers for years to come.

Todd Bergen didn’t have as long a pro career as Tom Edur, but it was electrifying while it lasted. Drafted in the fifth round in 1982 by Philly, he played two junior seasons with Prince Albert of the WHL scoring 57 goals in only 43 games during his second year. Jumping to Hershey of the AHL the following season he notched 39 points in 38 games before getting the call to the Flyers. With the big club he thrived, scoring 11 goals and 16 points in 14 games. He scored two goals in his first game against Vancouver on Jan.8 including the game winner. An abdominal injury in his second game sidelined him for two months. In the playoffs, he would lead all rookies with 13 points. Figuring he had some bargaining power he opted to not attend camp the following fall. He was suspended by the club and he abruptly retired to pursue a professional golf career (he had a -1 handicap). Some say the reason he retired was his clashes with coach Mike Keenan, for whom he was apparently a favourite “whipping boy”. He would be traded to Minnesota, and actually reported to camp in 1985. His abdominal injury had not healed and an MRI proved the injury was worse than suspected. After sitting out the entire year he played for the North Stars farm team in Springfield in 86/87 scoring 23 points in 27 games. The Stars did not offer a contract for the following year and he retired for good. After working as a golf-pro in Prince Albert he moved to Vancouver Island where he currently operates a fishing tackle business in Campbell River.

Fred Arthur was a 6’5” defenseman from Toronto. He played on back-to-back Memorial Cup winners with Cornwall in 1980 and ‘81 along with Dale Hawerchuk, Dan Daoust, Doug Gilmour and Marc Crawford. Drafted 10th overall by Hartford in 1980 he was traded to Philadelphia in 1981. He played 74 games with the Flyers in 1981-82 counting 8 points. He would be sent to the minors early in the 1982/83 season, and rather than accept demotion he retired to attend medical school. I believe Fred Arthur is currently a doctor in London, Ontario.

Robin Sadler was drafted 9th overall in 1975 by Montreal after scoring 93 points as a defenseman with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings. He would attend one week of training camp before he decided he didn't want to play pro, saying there was too much pressure. He returned his signing bonus and went home to North Vancouver. By 1976 he would try once again, this time in Sweden with Vastra Frolunda. The next off season he signed with the WHA Oilers only to run into the same issues in training camp that he dealt with previously. He would contact Montreal in Feb. 1978 to express interest in returning and played 9 games with Nova Scotia of the AHL scoring 6 points. Once again, he quit the team near the end of that season. He would return to Europe in 1979 playing in Austria and Holland through most of the 1980’s, scoring at over a point per game pace. Sadler would actually play for Austria in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. He is currently a real estate agent in North Vancouver, B.C.
Four names from hockey's past that may or may not have panned out into stars. One can only assume they made the right decisions and wonder what might have been.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ciccarelli, DiDomenico....Friends of the fractured femur.


The Voltigeurs of Drummondville pulled off a slight upset by beating the Windsor Spitfires in overtime 3-2 on Saturday night. The winner was tallied by Maxime Frenette who spent most of the playoffs as the 13th forward on the Volts, that is until Drummondville’s star Chris DiDomenico was injured. DiDomenico suffered a broken femur in the Quebec League final against Shawinigan and was at benchside sitting in a wheelchair for Frenette’s dramatic winner. Frenette had only played the last four games of the final and scored one goal after tallying 19 points in 52 regular season games.

Back to DiDomenico, even with his unfortunate injury (on an icing chase for the puck) he led the league with 31 playoff assists in 15 games. The Maple Leaf 6th round pick in 2007 had recently signed a three year entry level contract with the big club. As well, he had a terrific run with team Canada winning a World Junior gold medal while playing on a line with John Tavares. The Leafs had big future plans for DiDomenico which will be put on hold for perhaps 12 months. This is the same injury suffered last year by Kurtis Foster of the Minnesota Wild on a similar play no less. Foster was out for almost a full year, returning at the end of this year in seemingly full health to score six points in ten games.

DiDomenico’s injury also recalls the trials of Dino Ciccarelli some thirty years previous.
Dino had just completed the 1977/78 season for the London Knights with 72 goals, besting the likes of both Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Smith. He was still a year away from the draft and was rumoured to be joining his London teammates Rob Ramage and Pat Riggin as a baby Bull with Birmingham of the WHA. Ciccarelli would instead have a 16 inch metal rod inserted into his upper leg after tripping over a broken stick in practice and breaking his femur. After months of painful rehab, Dino was able to return to the Knights for the end of the78/79 season, but hardly impressed scouts for the upcoming draft. He scored a mortal 8 goals and 19 points in 30 games. Not surprisingly, the scouts ignored him. “Nobody was going to take a chance on a cripple,” Ciccarelli commented. However, Lou Nanne general manager of the North Stars took that chance a few months later. He signed Dino as a free agent just prior to his final year of junior. The gamble obviously paid off, as Ciccarelli would score 50 goals and 103 points in 62 games with London, in addition he scored 5 goals in 5 games with team Canada at the World Junior Championships. He would finish the 79/80 season skating with the Oklahoma City Stars of the CHL, scoring 5 points in 6 games. 48 games and 32 goals into the next season, Ciccarelli was finally called up to Minnesota and Nanne’s gamble finally paid dividends. Dino notched 18 goals and 30 points in the final 32 games and added 14 goals and 21 points in 19 playoff games as the North Stars made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Dino Ciccarelli would of course go on to play 19 seasons in the NHL scoring 608 goals, Chris DiDomenico and the Leafs would be ecstatic with a career even half as good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Playoff Woes of San Jose


Well, the San Jose Sharks have once again struck out big in the playoffs. This year could be their most disappointing early exit, but those involved with the franchise are no strangers to earlier than expected playoff exits. Since 2000/01, the Sharks have finished first or second in their division in seven of the eight seasons and have only once gotten as far as the semi-finals. This was in 2004 when they lost in six games to the Calgary Flames. However, the worst Sharks playoff team ever was in 1995, a squad that may very well be the worst NHL team in history that actually won a playoff series.

In 1994/95 the Sharks finished the lockout shortened season with a 19-25-4 record and a .438 winning percentage. They would match up against the Flames in the first round and managed to surrender an NHL record (for a 7 game series) 35 goals. The Sharks won the first two games of the series each by 5-4 scores and then lost the next three by a combined score of 21 to 6. San Jose won game six by 5-3 and of course won game seven in overtime, 5-4. All told, they scored 26 goals and were still outscored by 9.

San Jose was given the privilege of taking on regular season champs Detroit. The Wings barely noticed the Sharks in sweeping them by scores of 6-0, 6-2, 6-2, and again 6-2. The aggregate score of 24-6 did quite a number on the Sharks individual plus/minus stats.
For the entire playoff “run”, San Jose managed four wins against seven losses and scored 32 goals while surrendering 58. Certainly this has to be one of the most atrocious ratios for a team that actually managed to win a round.

The Sharks had five players among the worst single playoff +/- ever. Mike Rathje at -15, Tom Pederson -14 and Ulf Dahlen, Craig Janney and Sandis Ozolinsh at -13. They had exactly ONE skater with a plus rating in Shawn Cronin who played nine games and was +2. As poor as their regular season was with a team +/- of -92 over 48 games, they managed to top that in 11 playoff games with a ridiculous team rating of -115.
Dahlen led the squad with five goals and nine points in eleven games and Wade Flaherty and Arturs Irbe checked in with Goals Against Averages of 4.93 and 5.13 respectively.

Perhaps Joe Thornton and the boys can look back at this squad and take solace in the fact that they were only a collective -37 in six games versus Anaheim this year.

NHL in Hamilton?

I may begin to start posting some of my homemade hockey logos and T-Shirts on my blog, just to mix it up from time to time. In the spirit of another attmpet to bring an unsuccessful U.S. franchise north of the border, I present my logo for the Coyotes next season...
I feel the logo offers both the gepgraphical and societal representation of the great burg of Hamilton, Ontario. As well, I figured the city deserved a most hideous colour combo for their team. I'll be forwarding a copy to Mr. Balsille and awaiting his response with bated breath.

(Ifany Hamiltonians are offended, I apologize. I have relatives there and it really is not a bad town.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Worst Playoff Plus/Minus


Plus/Minus in the playoffs, not a stat we often think about, but still it’s still a fairly revealing number when looked at in depth. This year the worst rating is from Mike Commodore of Columbus with a -7 in 4 games. The single season worst playoff rating is -15 by Mike Rathje of San Jose in 1995, in fact the Sharks of that season produced five of the six worst single season +/- ratings in playoff history. That will be for another blog entry.



Luc Robitaille’s -13 in 1993 is quite strange seeing as the Kings went to the final that year and throughout the playoffs outscored their opponents 93-90. He was more than double his next worst team-mate Gary Shuchuk at -6 and only four other Kings ended up in the minus. That is a very hard-earned -13 for Lucky Luc.

The Winnipeg Jets are well represented with Tomas Steen’s -13 in 1985, Troy Murray’s
-10 in 1992 and Lucien DeBlois rating an amazing -10 in the three game sweep to the Oilers in 1984 in which Edmonton outscored the Jets 18-7 in the series. In 1985, after beating the Flames 3 games to 1 the Jets were once again swept by the Oilers, being outscored 22-11. Winnipeg’s nemesis in 1992 proved to be the Canucks as the Jets blew a 3-1 series lead being outscored 21-5 over the final three games.

Adam Graves and Mark Messier of the ’95 Rangers had -13 and -11 ratings respectively and the team as a whole was -51 over the ten games they played. This seems quite strange as New York scored 35 goals while giving up 36. The following year was more of the same as they scored 34 goals to 36 against yet the team somehow came out with a -42 rating over 11 games. Obviously, they lived and died by their powerplay as they tallied 25 PPG over the two playoff seasons out of their 69 total.

Ray Bourque seems out of place on the list of worst plus/minus with his -10 in 12 games even though the Bruins made it to the semi-finals against Pittsburgh. This last series is where Bourque incurred the most of his minus as the Pens outscored the B’s 19-7. This series was memorable for Mario Lemieux’s goal in which he turned Bourque around twice before scoring on a breakaway.

Now we’ll turn to the career worst playoff +/- and we see some of the same names as before.
Tomas Sandstrom tops (or bottoms) the list with a career -45 rating followed by Dino Ciccarelli at -37. Sandstrom, over 13 playoff seasons only once avoided a minus in 1991 when he was +1 over ten games. Ciccarelli would in all likelihood not be so low if plus/minus was an official stat before 1983/84. In 1981 he notched 21 points in 19 games and the North Stars outscored their opponents 84-73. The aforementioned Winnipeg Jets have both Tomas Steen and Paul MacLean on the career list with the least amount of games played. Bryan Trottier surprisingly checks in with a career playoff -19, again due to the stat becoming official after his Islanders glory years.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Goals per Game in Playoffs


Crosby and Ovechkin hat-tricks in the same game, impressive. Sure it was only the fourth time in playoff history that two guys have done it in the same game. The fact I find additionally impressive is that Crosby now has 8 goals in 8 playoff games this year, and Ovechkin is not far behind with 7 in his last 6 games and 9 games in total. How rare is it to average a goal per game in the NHL playoffs? It has not been done since 1992, and only by sixteen players since 1919. It was only done three times in the high flying 1980’s and never by Gretzky. Seeing as Crosby is up to 8 goals, I set that as the minimum number to be included in the chart below.Mario Lemieux most likely would have broken the record of 19 playoff goals if he hadn’t missed five games in 1992 due to injury. Jean Beliveau has the highest GPG (minimum 10 games) in modern history at 1.20. Only four players have averaged a goal per game while playing in more than twelve playoff games, Lemieux, Jari Kurri in 1985, Mark Messier in 1983 and Reggie Leach in 1976. Crosby and Ovechkin have a shot at joining this elite group and perhaps challenge the all-time record of 19.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dennis O'Brien, Dave McLlwain...4 teams one season


Watching Coach’s Corner the other day Don Cherry mentioned that Shane O’Brien of the Canucks is the nephew of one of his ex-players, Dennis O’Brien. Grapes stated that Dennis O’Brien held the record for playing on four NHL teams in one season. I decided to verify this seeing as what the source was. Indeed, during the 1977/78 season O’Brien did play for Minnesota, Colorado, Cleveland and Boston. He was claimed on waivers on Dec. 2 by the Rockies, traded to the Barons for Mike Christie on Jan. 12, and subsequently claimed by the Bruins on waivers once again on March 10 (see the card from that year above with the full airbrush job on his uniform). He would play 16 games for the B’s notching 5 points and 14 of the 15 playoff games as Boston lost the Final to Montreal. So, Grapes was correct, but was this a record? Four teams in one season is certainly the record, but O’Brien does not hold it solely.

In 1991/92 Dave McLlwain turned the trick as well. His trifecta of transactions was not quite as simple as O’Brien’s. After only 3 games McLlwain was traded from Winnipeg to Buffalo in a six player deal. A mere two weeks later, he was dealt to the Islanders in a blockbuster, eight player deal mainly involving Pierre Turgeon for Pat LaFontaine. Finally after 54 games on the Island, he was in a four player deal to the Maple Leafs. All tolled, McLlwain was involved in three transactions including fifteen other players and cash. Quite the season indeed.
He was actually still active in pro-hockey up until 2009, playing for the Cologne Sharks in the German League at age 42.
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