Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Feb. 29 is the birthday of Hall of Famer Henri Richard. Also born on this day was current NHLers Cam Ward and Simon Gagne and ex-Toronto Maple Leaf Dan Daoust.
Montreal born Daoust was a 100 point scorer with Cornwall Royals in the Quebec League before signing as a free agent with the Canadiens. As a 20 year-old he scored 98 points for Nova Scotia of the AHL then 65 points in 61 games the following year. He finally made the big club out of training camp in 1982/83 and got into four games with Montreal recording one assist.
On December 17, 1982 Dan Daoust was acquired by the Maple Leafs in exchange for a third round draft pick. The Leafs were an NHL worst 5-18-6, and Daoust stepped right onto the top line centring Rick Vaive and John Anderson. By the new year newspaper headlines proclaimed; " 'Daa-ooo' the war cry as Leafs inch up on Wings." The Canadian Press article said;
Dan Daoust may be a little in the short side to be thought of as a savior but, nonetheless, he has become a favorite to both fans and teammates at Maple Leaf Gardens. Leaf captain Rick Vaive, despite scoring four goals Sunday in leading the Leafs to a 6-3 victory over Detroit, was strictly the second banana in the fans hearts.
The usual tomb-like Gardens rocked to the chant of "Daa-ooo, Daa-ooo" in the third period each time the high-spirited centre's name was announced in scoring summaries. "Daoust has been the spark plug for our line,"said Vaive,"before Danny got here, John (Anderson) was in a bit of a slump and I wasn't going good. Then Danny came in and we all started working hard." "Daoust is so quick, you get used to passes at any time," said Anderson, "He's being a little spark plug since he's been out there."
Daoust would go on to collect 51 points in 48 games with Toronto and claim the centre spot on the All-Rookie Team. The Leafs ended up finishing the year 3rd place in the Norris Division with a 28-40-12 record before losing in the first round to Minnesota. Even with his solid rookie season, Daoust still flew under the wire outside of Toronto. In a preview for a game in Pittsburgh in Nov. 1983, the Pittsburgh Press states,"Getting the puck to Vaive is the responsibility of center Dan Daoust, whose talent far exceeds his name-recognition. "I don't know much about him," Pens coach Lou Agnotti said. "I saw Daoust in Nova Scotia and he can motor. He had a pretty good year last year."
Daoust had 74 points in 1983/84 then 54 the year after, even still, by training camp in 1985 Daoust was being used in more of a defensive role and penalty-killer. He started 1985/86 on the third line with Greg Terrion and Gary Leeman. The Toronto Star on Oct. 1985 had a story, "Dan Daoust doesn't mind playing the role of a checking centre - as long as he gets his share of ice time. And judging by Maple Leafs coach Dan Maloney, he'll probably get it. "I didn't think I got much ice time last season," Daoust said. "I talked to Dan about it this year and he said he wanted me to play a defensive role."
A defensive role was indeed Daoust's new career path as he played all 80 games in 85/86 and scored a mere 20 points. By the following season, Daoust was fully entrenched as a checking forward, and he and Mike Allison formed the first forward unit on the league best penalty-kill unit. By November the Leafs were flying along with a PK rate in the high 80% range with A 5-2-3 record. On November 1, Toronto blanked Detroit 2-0 and Daoust broke his ankle while fighting Gerard Gallant. He would be out for three months. Playing in a total of 33 games that season, Daoust had only 4 goals and 7 points. The Leafs Penalty-Kill finished 14th overall at 78%.
Daoust played three more seasons in Toronto, never topping 18 points. He finished 5th in the NHL with 4 shorthanded goals in 1989/90. He would move to Switzerland the following year and play mainly in the Swiss 2nd Division with HC Thurgau until 1996/97. He even played 6 games with the Toronto Planets in the Roller Hockey League scoring 9 goals and 19 points.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Thanks to a twitter update from the legendary Liam Maguire, we learn today that the first ever trade in NHL history happened on February 11, 1918. The Toronto Arenas dealt spare goaltender Sammy Hebert to the Ottawa Senators for cash.
Hebert played parts of two games for Toronto in 1917/18 allowing 10 goals for a 7.50 GAA in relief of Hap Holmes. The Ottawa native would play in the Ottawa National Defense and Ottawa Senior Leagues over the next few years before signing with Saskatoon of the Western League on Dec. 2, 1921. He put up a record of 9-30-2 over two seasons then signed with the NHL Senators at the end of February 1924. He filled in for Hall of Famer Clint Benedict, posting a 4.50 GAA in two full games.
In total, Sammy Hebert played 200 minutes of NHL hockey with a 5.70 GAA. Nothing special, but he still has the distinction of being the first player traded in NHL history.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
It has been 37 years since Bobby Orr was the last rear-guard to lead in assists when he tied Bobby Clarke with 89 in 1974/75. It was Orr's fifth time leading the NHL assists back to 1969/70. The year he didn't, he finished second, 3 behind Phil Esposito. Prior to Orr, it was almost 50 years before when a defenceman led the league. In 1923/24 Ottawa Senator George Boucher notched 10 helpers to top fellow d-men King Clancy (8) and Bert Corbeau (6). Three defenders at 1, 2, 3 for the only time in NHL history. The only other defenceman to finish first in assists was Harry Cameron who did it twice, in 1921/22 with 17 and in the circuit's first year of 1917/18 with 10.
It has been since before the lockout that a d-man finished within even 10 helpers of the NHL lead. In 2003/04 Sergei Gonchar's 47 assists were 9 off the lead but he still finished in 14th place. The last man to even get close to the lead was Paul Coffey in the stike-shortened 1994/95 season when his 44 assists put him second, 4 behind Ron Francis. To even finish in the top 5 in the league is a very rare occurrence for blue liners:
- Bobby Orr, 6 top 5's (Five times leading)
- Paul Coffey, 4 top 5's (3 second place finishes)
- Ray Bourque, 3 top 5's (second to Gretzky in 86/87)
- King Clancy, 3 top 5's
- Pierre Pilote, 3 top 5's
- Harry Cameron, 2 top 5's (both first)
- Eddie Shore, 2 top 5's (1 second place by only one assist in 32/33)
- Doug Harvey, 2 top 5's (1 second place)
- Bill Gadsby, 2 top 5's (both 3rd place)
- Niklas Lidstrom, 2 top 5's (the last D-man top 5 in 2001/02)
- Denis Potvin, 2 top 5's
- George Boucher, 1 top 5 (first)
- Red Kelly, 1 top 5 (1 more later as a forward)
- Larry Robinson, 1 top 5
- Borje Salming, 1 top 5
- Brian Leetch, 1 top 5
- Sergei Zubov, 1 top 5
- Al MacInnis, 1 top 5
- Babe Pratt, 1 top 5
- Sylvio Mantha, 1 top 5
- Hap Day, 1 top 5
- Bert Corbeau, 1 top 5
- Leo Reise, 1 top 5
- Joe Matte, 1 top 5
- Sprague Cleghorn, 1 top 5
Only 25 defencemen have ever been in the top five of assists in any given NHL season. Three defencemen in the long existence of the NHL have led in assists. Karlsson has a chance to be the fourth.
Friday, February 17, 2012
The Toronto St.Patricks aquired 20 year old George Patterson on Feb. 1 1927 from the Hamilton Tigers of the Can-Pro circuit in exchange for $5000 and the loan of Al Pudas. Just over two weeks later, on Feb. 17 he would score the first ever goal for the newly re-named Toronto Maple Leafs.
Conn Smythe officially purchased the St.Pats on Feb.14, 1927 and christened them the Maple Leafs in honour of his military experience in the first World War. They would play their last game as St.Patricks two days later losing to the Detroit Cougars 5-1 at Windsor Arena in front of a reported 150 spectators.
On Feb. 17, the Maple Leafs took to the home ice at The Arena Gardens to play the New York Americans. They were adorned in "bright new uniforms with a large maple leaf on the front and trimmed with green". In the new book, "The Lives of Conn Smythe" by Kelly McParland it's noted that Smythe was somewhat fearful that "the players might be able to declare themselves free agents and demand more money on the basis that the old team had ceased to exist. To avoid this, Smythe added the old name St. Pats in small letters on the front of the new jerseys until the end of the season."
New York would tally first in that match on a goal by Billy Burch at 4:30 of the first period. George Patterson tied it at 9:40 of the second and Ace Bailey scored 35 seconds later to take the lead. Bailey and Bert Corbeau added markers in the third for a 4-1 Leaf win. Toronto would finish the season 7-4-1 under the new moniker yet still miss the playoffs thanks to an 8-19-4 start.
Patterson collected 4 goals and 2 assists in 17 total games in his rookie season but would be dealt to the Canadiens in February of the following season. He played a total of 284 career games also skating for the Americans, Boston, Detroit and St.Louis Eagles. His goal 85 years ago today was the very first of almost 19,000 regular season goals for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Torono and Vancouver have tangled exactly 50 times since that day over 20 years ago and the overall record is 23-20-7 in favour of Toronto. That means that prior to the current skid, the Leafs had a record of 23-13-6 over a 12 year period playing the Canucks.
In games at Vancouver over the last 20 years, Toronto still holds an 11-10-4 advantage despite losing the last four games here. In Toronto, the Leafs are 12-10-3 over the same time. The largest win for either team since 1991 was on Feb.22, 1993 when the Leafs came to Van City and thrashed the Canucks 8-1. Nikolai Borschevsky scored a pair and Gilmour, Krushelnyski and Anderson each had three points.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
I was at the game on November 22, 2003 a Saturday night which saw Toronto win 5-3. Amazingly, of the 20 players the Leafs dressed that evening a mere three are still in the NHL; Tomas Kaberle, Alexei Poinkarovsky and Matt Stajan. Karel Pilar is the only other one still active at all, playing with Vaxjo in the Swedish Elite League.
After a scrap between Tie Domi and Bryan Allen 23 seconds into the game, Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead before it was three minutes old on goals by Gary Roberts and Robert Reichel. Vancouver tied it on a Trevor Linden powerplay marker with 14 seconds to go in the opening period.
Leafs went up 4-2 after a scoreless second stanza with goals from Owen Nolan and Roberts by the nine minute mark of the third. Todd Bertuzzi made it close with 93 seconds remaining before Mats Sundin clinched it with an empty-netter a minute later. The goaltenders of record that evening were Ed Belfour and Dan Cloutier.
In contrast to the Leafs, out of Vancouver's 20 players dressed that game, 10 of them are still actively playing in the NHL; 14 if you include Marek Malik, Jason King and Brent Sopel playing currently in Europe and Mattias Ohlund who has been injured all season for Tampa Bay.
The two teams would hook up once again two days later in Toronto with the Leafs winning again this time 2-1. This game on November 24, 2003 stands as the last time Toronto has beaten Vancouver to this very day. I will be at the game on Saturday hoping to see that fact change.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I've been at Disneyworld in Florida for the last five days with my wife and daughter. We've done all four of the theme parks; Magic Kingdom (twice), Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. What does a hockey nerd like myself do during these long days of park exploring and family bonding? Why, count NHL caps I come across of course. I figured, what more neutral a place than Disney Florida to gauge the pulse of NHL fans and merchandise.
OK, of course most of my attention was on my family's activities and trying not to puke on the Spinning Teacups but I am a very observant person, especially when it comes to hockey logos. Whenever I spotted an NHL team hat or t-shirt I made a note and after five days, tallied up the results. Of course, the predominant sports logos worn were of the college variety. I can't count how many "U of This or That" and "Whatever State" I saw. Yankees and Red Sox paraphernalia would have to be tops among all pro sports logos I saw, (I only actually counted hockey ones) I must have seen at least a couple an hour of these two. Not surprisingly I saw only a grand total of 35 hockey logos over the five days.
Also not surprising, the two logos I saw the most were Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins with four each. A little bit of a surprise is that the next two teams I saw the most was Edmonton and Winnipeg with three each. The Oilers were the only team I saw adorning a full replica jersey. Some large fellow from Fort McMurray had a Nugent-Hopkins on. I wore my Maple Leafs cap each and every day (just in case some other idiot was counting NHL logos also) and thankfully I managed to see one other guy in a Leafs cap on the final day. I also wore my Seattle Metropolitans T-shirt one day. The other teams that I saw two each of were Montreal, Tampa Bay and New York Rangers. Strangely there was also two different guys wearing Minnesota North Stars gear.
In total there were 18 teams (one defunct) represented in my non-scientific survey. The teams I saw only once were Carolina, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa, Washington, San Jose, Philadelphia and Buffalo. I did see one hat go past me while in line at the Haunted Mansion that was full orange with a small NHL logo on the back of it. I couldn't see the front but have to assume it was a Flyers hat, so I'll bump them up to 1 and a half sightings.
Draw your own conclusions from my moronic study. I would however, be fairly comfortable in saying that Boston and Pittsburgh are indeed likely the two most popular team in these United States.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Conn Smythe acquired a player he had long coveted in Max Bentley for a very high price, but was his assessment of Gaye Stewart prior to the trade correct? In the new biography of Smythe by Kelly McParland, Smythe is quoted "Stewart scored too many goals against teams that weren’t a threat or in games that weren’t in doubt”. A fairly harsh statement indeed. Apparently Smythe was able to accurately come to this conclusion with the help of compiling ahead-of-it’s-time statistical and film evidence. Without access to game films from 1945 (I wish) I will try to prove Smythe's thinking true or false by looking at the only thing available, game by game records.
For this one I had to do my own "googling" of old Montreal Gazette sports pages as my usual go-to site the hockey summary project has no individual game records for this time period. It didn’t really take long to find the box scores that were needed.
First thing I did was narrow down games that did not match Conn Smythe’s original statement. He firstly said that Gaye Stewart scored too many goals against teams that weren’t a threat. We’ll, only one team in Stewart's big year of 1945/46 finished behind Smythe's Leafs, the other four finished with at least a .500 record. The New York Rangers can really be the only squad considered “not a threat” to Toronto or any other team for that matter as they finished with a 13-28-9 record. I found box scores for every game that the Leafs played the Rangers that year and Gaye Stewart counted only 7 goals in the 10 games. This means that he had 30 goals in 40 games against the other four “threatening” teams.
Stewart's goal rate was actually slightly less against the putrid Rangers than against the rest of the league. Smythe’s other point was that Stewart scored too many of his goals in games that weren’t in doubt. For this one I looked for games that were decided by two or more goals. The Leafs played in 15 games that season decided by two or more goals for either team and Stewart scored 11 goals in those games. This goal scoring rate was practically identical if not minimally less than in closer games.
Combined then, in games that were either against New York or of a margin wider than two goals, the Leafs had a total of 23 such games. (only two of the games met both of these criteria with Toronto and New York winning one of these blowouts each). In these 23 games that Smythe insisted Gaye Stewart did too much of his scoring, he scored 17 times. Therefore in his other 27 “close games against better teams” he scored 20 goals. These translate into goals per game of 0.739 in the “Rangers/ Blow-out” games and 0.741 in the tighter games. Stewart actually scored at a very slightly higher rate in tighter games against tougher teams.
Even if we consider these to be even, Smythe’s statement is about as false as can be.
Stewart actually re-found his scoring touch after the trade with 26 goals in the 54 games with Chicago. He followed that up with back-to-back 20 goal seasons before being traded to Detroit and the next year, the Rangers. He would play two full years in the AHL with Buffalo before retiring at age 31. Max Bentley of course helped the Leafs win the Stanley Cup the year he was aquired and two additional Cups in the next three seasons. Because of this fact, the trade would have to be considered a success for Smythe even if his thinking on Gaye Stewart's production was entirely false.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Before his recall, Aucoin had compiled 11 goals and 59 assists for 70 points in only 43 games played. He is well within reach of breaking the AHL record for assists in a season and of becoming only the fourth man in either the NHL or AHL to top 100 helpers in a single year.
The current AHL record was set by George "Red" Sullivan in 1953/54 when he notched 89 assists for the same Hershey Bears.
So far Aucoin has now missed a total of four of Hershey's games this year and they have 33 games remaining. If he were returned now, his pace put's him at an amazing 104 assists in 76 games. Aucoin has already topped the 70 assist mark three times in the AHL and has 420 helpers in 413 career AHL games. Since Nov. 23 with Hershey he has 42 assists in 27 games, or
a ridiculous 1.56 per game.
Obviously the Capitals are hoping Aucoin can provide some of these playmaking skills in the NHL, but the fact that he has played just over 21 minutes combined in two games shows he may be heading back to the "A" soon and a shot at history.
Friday, February 3, 2012
- Maurice Richard, 1944/45 8.62
- Bert Olmstead, 1953/54 11.34
- Darryl Sittler, 1975/76 10.00
- Tom Bladon, 1977/78 8.28
- Bryan Trottier, 1978/79 7.79
- Peter Stastny, 1980/81 7.10
- Anton Stastny, 1980/81 7.10
- Wayne Gretzky, 1983/84 6.91
- Wayne Gretzky, 1983/84 6.91
- Paul Coffey, 1985/86 6.87
- Patrik Sundstrom, 1987/88 7.29 Playoffs
- Mario Lemieux, 1988/89 7.29
- Bernie Nicholls, 1988/89 7.29
- Mario Lemieux, 1988/89 7.29
- Mario Lemieux, 1988/89 8.37 Playoffs
- Sam Gagner, 2011/12 9.92
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Yes, when Ian Turbull scored five goals in a game 35 years ago today, he snapped a 30 game scoreless drought. Turnbull explained that the Leafs had to change their style of play with scoring leader Darryl Sitttler out with an injured rib. "Our wingers are coming back, allowing the defence more mobility, more chance to move the puck."
The Leafs beat Detroit 9-1 this night in a game that was actually scoreless after one period. Turnbull potted two in the second against Eddie Giacomin, then had three in third against Jim Rutherford. Borje Salming had helpers on three of Turnbull's markers, the other two were actually unassisted.
Somewhat strangely, Toronto would have two more 10 goal games over the next three weeks (10-0 over Washington and 10-8 over Chicago) and Turnbull would score only one goal in those two matches. He did however add eight assists in the two games.
The record for goals by a defenceman was set in 1929, by two different defenders in the SAME game. On Nov. 19, 1929 Johnny McKinnon of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Hap Day of the Leafs each scored four times in a 10-5 Pittsburgh victory. McKinnon scored a grand total of 28 goals in 208 career NHL games.
Turnbull would amazingly go on to also have a four goal game on Dec. 12, 1981 while playing for the Los Angeles Kings. He had been traded from Toronto just one month earlier when L.A. beat Vancouver 7-5 that night. Turnbull scored all four on Canuck goalie Glen Hanlon, and would score only five more goals before retiring a year later.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Over the last few months I have been picking up alot of old Olympic hockey cards, mostly from ebay. These are mainly German in origin issued either as postcards or as premiums with food or tobacco products. They really are cool looking cards and do spice up the den nicely.
The card above is a tobacco card commemorating the 1928 Olympics and pictures Canada in action. The University of Toronto Grads represented Canada in these games in St. Moritz, Switzerland and they outscored opponents 38-0 in winning the gold. The coach of the squad was none other than Conn Smythe. The back of the card loosely translates; "Ice hockey is the fastest fighting game in the world. Canada is the homeland of this game. It's crew accomplished feats, not only Olympic champion, but could not be defeated by any enemy in Europe."
This next card is the only English one I have and comes from a set entitled "Sporting Events and Stars". Issued in 1935, the rear of the card says in part; "The world's fastest game- too fast even for the camera to focus clearly. An exciting tussle showing the Winnipeg Monarchs, the Champions of the World, pressing home an attack on the Wembley Lions, the premier British team." Incidentally, within a season of touring Europe at least three of the Monarchs had returned to England to play for the same Wembley Lions team.
The next three cards were issued after the 1936 Olympics held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Canada was represented by the Port Arthur Bearcats. The first one is Canada vs. Austria which was won by Canada 5-2.
Next one pictures Canada against Latvia, won 11-0 by Canada.