Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hockey Mystery Photo #3

Time for a quick one. This should be fairly easy as the Kansas City Scouts existed for only two seasons 1974/75 and 75/76. The game is obviously taking place in Montreal as the Canadiens are wearing their whites. Guy Lafleur and Pete Mahovlich are easily identified and don't help narrow it down as they played just about every game over those two years.

The Kansas City player at the top of the image has a "2" on his back and a "1" on the left elbow. Number 21 on the Scouts was Norm Dube and Phil Roberto. The 21 in the photo shoots Left, Roberto shot Right, Dube Left. Dube did play one game in the second year of the Scouts, but it looks like this is from the 1974/75. Number 5 on Kansas City was Brent Hughes the first season and Gery Bergman in the second season. Now, unless Bergman had a Bobby Hull-like hair transformation, that's not him in this picture. Bergman was cue-ball bald for years by the mid-1970's and in fact in his year with the Scouts he wore a Denis Potvin style helmet. The card of Brent Hughes below does resemble the number 5 in our photo. This pic has to be from 1974/75.

Now we get to a slight dead-end. Kansas City visited Montreal on two occaisons this season. They lost 7-2 on Dec.28, 1974 and again 4-1 on March 29, 1975. Nothing else in the photo allows us to differentiate between the games. During the March 29th game, Lafleur notched his 50th goal of the campaign at he 14:04 mark of the first. One of the assists went to Pete Mahovlich. This could very well be the instant were The Flower records his first of six consecutive 50 goal seasons.
For our purposes and for the sake of drama, let's say that's whats going on in this mystery image.







Tuesday, July 26, 2011

17 year old Gretzky almost played in Sweden?

"At the moment, I would consider it very unlikely that I play four more years of junior hockey before turning pro. The NHL rules now say I can't be drafted before then, but if and when I'm ready for the pros I want to be sure I can go." This was a 16 year old Wayne Gretzky, quoted in the Jan. 3, 1978 Montreal Gazette.

Gretzky stated himself that he figured he'd need only one more year of junior hockey. "to grow physically and learn a little more about hockey. He added "But after that I don't know what will be left to learn. By then I would have a reputation and I think I would be a sitting duck for other players out to make a reputation for themselves at my expense. I do't want that to happen. There's just too much chance an injury could finish me off before I ever get a chance at the pros."

In 1978 the NHL draft eligible age was 20 years, so there really were few options for an 18 year old player. He could follow other underagers Mark Napier, Wayne Dillon, John Tonelli and Ken Linseman to the WHA, but there was apparently another option... Sweden.

Gretzky figured Sweden, if all else fails, could provide the next-best solution of what to do at the age of 18 or 19. "I could just go over there and play with one of their major-league teams for a couple of years. The risk of injury wouldn't be so great and it would be a good learning experience for my hockey skills. I could play over there for two years and then come back to the NHL when I was eligible."

Just imagine if Gretzky had went to play the 78/79 and 79/80 seasons for Farjestads with and against the likes of Hakan Loob, Thomas Steen and Mats Naslund. Of course, he did opt for the WHA route one year sooner than even he expected, and the NHL eentually instituted the under-age draft allowing 18 year olds to play.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mystery Hockey Photo #2

Time for another mystery hockey photo. This one shows the New York Islanders visiting Detroit. Clearly pictured is Bryan Trottier and Billy Smith of the Isles and Paul Woods and Claude Loiselle of the Wings. In front of Woods is an Islander who's name ends in "EN" and has either number 2 or 7 on his helmet.

The Wings are sporting jerseys with fancy-style numbers, and thanks to http://www.nhluniforms.com/RedWings/RedWings14.html we find that they wore these only for the 1982/83 season. A look at the records shows the Isles visiting Detroit twice during the season on Nov. 3 and Dec. 8. The rosters for each game are unavailable but Billy Smith played in both matches, so that doesn't narrow it down.

Claude Loiselle played in only 18 games this season, and a quick search allows us to pinpoint the game in this photo.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=G2Q_AAAAIBAJ&sjid=nVMMAAAAIBAJ&dq=claude%20loiselle%20wings&pg=2018%2C1993793

Loiselle was apparently sent back to his junior team in Windsor on Nov. 23, 1982. His total games played to that point, 18. Therefore, he could not have played in the game against the Isles in December. The game in the photo then is from Nov. 3, 1982 a game that saw Detroit tie New York 3-3.

The Islander player in front of Woods is Mike McEwen who wore number 2 and 16 that year. Stefan Persson wore number 7, but the name in the photo definitely ends in "EN".

Another hockey photo mystery solved.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mystery Hockey Photos

My pal (and fellow hockey nerd) Jeremy was asked by another friend on facebook about the above photo. He was asked to figure out where it was from. He grabbed me via chat and asked for some assistance and we went back and forth for the next half hour. The strange thing about the photo was it's poor quality and the fact that the photo itself was apparently found in Russia.

The only clearly identified player is Ken Dryden and not his brother Dave. The number 29 is a dead giveaway, a quick check shows Dave only ever wore numbers 1, 28 and 30 in his career. The first instinct says the photo is from the 1979 Challenge Cup series which pitted the NHL stars against the Soviet National squad. The front of the jersey's of Dryden's team are fairly blurry but they very well could be the NHL crest from the '79 series. And that dark sweatered #24 on the left sure looks like Sergei Makarov. However, if this was the Challenge Cup, why the extremely poor quality of the pic? Also there appears to be a low-hanging light above the ice which suggests it wouldn't be Madison Square Garden.

Jeremy suggested if indeed it was taken in Russia, it could have been the 1969 Izvestia Tournament. A pre-NHL Dryden and Canada tied The Soviets 2-2 on Dec.4, 1969 in Moscow. Alas, a quick search produced a photo verified to be from that game. There doesn't appear to be any "Canada" lettering in our mystery photo, and the stripes on the white jersey elbows and legs don't match.


The dark team in the mystery photo really does look like the Soviets with the just barely recognizeable "diamond" pattern around the bottom of the jersey. Below is a late 70's/1980 era Makarov shot. That certainly could be him in the mystery pic.

So how exactly did the striping appear on the 1979 NHL Challenge Cup jerseys? See below, it's a match. Also, in the mystery shot Dryden seems to have a small patch on his left shoulder which indeed the 1979 NHL stars has as well (in other photos, not visible below).

The crazy thing is that the last photo of Dryden could very well be the exact 180 degree opposite view of the mystery one, check out his arm positioning. After watching a few youtube clips of the Challenge Cup, we determined that the advertising on the boards left of Dryden (Planters peanuts sign) does in fact match up with Madison Square. The final piece of the puzzle would be filling in the players whose number can be made out. Team NHL #4 was Barry Beck and #18 was Serge Savard, and both do in fact shoot Left as in the photo. The video evidence shows that yes, they even played as partners in the series. The guy above Savard's left shoulder is either #22, 23 or 27. Shutt, Gainey or Sittler. The first and last guys wore helmets in the series, so that has to be a #23 and Bob Gainey.


The only thing we failed to determine was whether this was from Game One or Two of the series. All the identified players played in each of the first two games (Gerry Cheevers played game Three for the NHL). We came to the conclusion that the photo was indeed taken at Madison Square Garden, perhaps by a Russian tourist which explains it's ending up in the Motherland. We imagine the poor quality can be explained by the simple fact that it was an old Russian camera and probably not up to par with the standards of 1979 North American ones. That light in the photo hanging low above the ice, we figure is merely a reflection from behind the viewer.


On to the next mystery! I have now gone in search online of unidentified hockey action photos to try to figure out what their origin is. Below is a New York Islanders vs Detroit Red Wings game from the early 1980's which I will delve into in the near future.





Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Game Report; Boston at Montreal Maroons, Mar. 4, 1926

I often purchase old programs either in person from dealers or on ebay, and during the process of searching for them I come across many old gems. I like to find out what exactly happened during the actual game that these programs were issued for, and what other circumstances surrounded the match. Pictured above is the cover for when Boston visited the Montreal Maroons in early March of 1926 (No, I don't actually have this one).

Coming into the match, Maroons sat in second place and Boston was 7 points in arrears. The Bruins did however hold down the third and final playoff spot by one point over Pittsburgh Pirates with two weeks remaining in the season. The Maroons were led by the legendary Nels Stewart who would end up leading the NHL with 36 goals and winning the Hart Trophy. They also had Hall of Famers Reg Noble, Babe Seibert, Punch Broadbent, and Clint Benedict in goal. Boston boasted two players who would finish second and third in goals behind Stewart in Carson Cooper and Jimmy Herberts. They also had Lionel Hitchman and 35 year old future Hall of Famer Sprague Cleghorn patrolling the blueline. In goal, Boston had relative unkown Charles "Doc" Stewart. This was Stewart's only fulltime year in the NHL and he had played nine of the previous years in the OHA Senior circuit.

The Maroons started the game about as well as they could have hoped with 2 goals before two minutes had elapsed, both short-handed. The Montreal Gazette describes the plays,"Boston's aspirations were shocked early in the game. The Maroons were off with a dash....Babe Seibert hurled by Sprague Cleghorn and flipped the puck behind the Boston goalie...it took the 9,000 spectators a moment to realize the Maroons were away to a lead. Their cheers were reaching a peak when Nelson Stewart took the puck from the faceoff and, eluding Boston's defence, duplicated Seibert's play."

Boston would pull within one with a little more than three minutes left in the first as Carson Cooper banged in a rebound. "Cleghorn and Hitchman took a grip on the defensive end, and 'Sailor' Jim Herberts and Carson Cooper started to take the ofensive play away from the Maroons," described the Gazette. "Halfway through the middle session Herberts climaxed an untiring performance by driving a sizzling shot from outside the defence which Benedict failed to see". The winner was scored by Herberts "tearing between the Maroon defence, which had been split wide, had Benedict at his mercy to count the winning goal."

The Gazette wraps up it's description of the affair with talk of the penalties called in the game. "Sailor Herberts was marked not only for his clever play, but for his rugged tactics...he took matters into his own hands and gave Dinsmore the boards and took a penalty...Reg Noble came in for a flock of minors (he got three, I suppose that's a flock), one for clipping Cooper over the head, a blow which stunned the Boston wing for a moment." Sounds like quite the spirited game.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, their one point lead on Pittsburgh would not hold up by season's end and the Pirates snagged the last playoff spot. Pittsburgh won three of the last four games including a back-breaking 2-1 overtime win over the Bruins in the second to last game of the year.

As feisty as the games were 80-plus years ago, the players were indeed much smaller than today as seen in the program listings below.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Curious Case of Dave T(h)omlinson

Dave Tomlinson played in the NHL in the early 1990's with the Toronto, Winnipeg and Florida.
Dave Thomlinson played in the NHL in the early 1990's with St.Louis, Boston and Los Angeles.

No big deal really, two guys with almost identical names playing in the NHL. In the 1970's there was Jim Jones and Jimmy Jones, but Jim played a mere 2 games with the Golden Seals and Jimmy played 148 for Toronto. There was of course the Greg Adams'. Greg D. Adams played 545 NHL games scoring 227 points while Greg C. Adams played 500 more games than his namesake and scored more than 500 more points.

The thing with the Dave's Tomlinson and Thomlinson is the eerie similarity of their career numbers.

Dave Tomlinson played 42 NHL games.
Dave Thomlinson played 42 NHL games.

Dave Tomlinson scored 1 NHL goal.
Dave Thomlinson scored 1 NHL goal.

Dave Tomlinson tallied 3 NHL assists.
Dave Thomlinson tallied 3 NHL assists.

Dave Tomlinson had a +/- of -15.
Dave Thomlinson had a +/- of -16.

Dave Tomlinson had 36 shots on goal.
Dave Thomlinson had 35 shots on goal.

AHA! They aren't clones.
I'm not sure about you, but I find this coincidence amazing.

Dave Tomlinson was born in 1969 in North Vancouver, BC and played four years at Boston University. His last season with the Terriers he scored 30 goals and 30 assists in 41 games. After his stint in the NHL and the high minor leagues he played for 10 years in the German League before retiring at age 36. Tomlinson is currently the colour commentator on the Vancouver Canucks radio broadcasts.

Dave Thomlinson was born in 1966 in Edmonton, Alberta and played junior hockey with Brandon and (if I can read the card correctly) Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He played almost 300 more high-minor league games than Tomlinson and would retire five years earlier at age 31. Dave Thomlinson is currently a lawyer.

Incidentally over their respective AHL careers, Dave Thomlinson averaged 1.013 points per game and Dave Tomlinson 1.016 points per game. Crazy.





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