Friday, March 28, 2014

The Gruesome Injury of Bob Dawes


April 21, 1951 was the last game ever played by Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman 'Bashin' Bill Barilko. As most hockey fans know, he would score the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime against the Canadiens and within a few months was lose his life in a plane crash in Northern Ontario. Barilko wasn't the only player to play his last game ever National Hockey League game on this day. For Montreal Centre Bob Dawes, his NHL career was ended by a gruesome leg injury pictured above.

I found the image in google news archives and had to find out more about the poor guy pictured. According to The Montreal Gazette, "Dawes came out of a tangle with Ted Kennedy near the boards with his leg broken in four places". Each player was carried off on a stretcher, but Kennedy "wasn't seriously injured and returned almost immediately". Dawes was not so lucky.

Just the previous year, Dawes was a member of the Leafs and in 1949 he played all nine playoff games as Toronto won it's third straight Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette summed up his valuable contributions as follows, "Bobby Dawes acted as relief centre on all three Leaf lines and turned in a bruising defensive effort. He rattled his checks with body-thumps and slowed them down to lighten the load for Cal Gardner, Ted Kennedy and Max Bentley, the Leafs' regular pivotmen." Two seasons later, in the game he broke his leg, he was playing in his first playoff game of the season. The Montreal squad was injury decimated and Dawes was making his playoff debut after he played 15 regular season matches.

Unfortunately for Dawes, this was not his first brush with serious injury. Beginning in the 1947/48 season, Dawes played on Toronto's main farm team, the Pittsburgh Hornets and was a member of a promising "kid line" along with Sid Smith and Fleming Mackell. Midway through this season, Dawes year almost came to an end. On January 23, 1948 the Post-Gazette reported, "The Hornets returned home this morning fearing they had lost Centre Bob Dawes for the season. Dawes was injured in a mid-ice collision and the diagnosis at the game was a fractured leg. However, Dawes was brought home and x-rays today revealed no fracture...only a sprained and bruised knee." He ended up missing only two games.

The next year, a heel injury kept Dawes out for 15 games, yet he still managed 51 points in 55 games before joining Toronto for their Cup run. After his awful leg fracture in the '51 Final, Dawes would be out of hockey for almost two full years before returning for good. In 51/52 he got into 5 games with Montreal Royals and a pair with Buffalo Bisons. He would end up sitting out the entire 1952/53 season still recovering from his injury.

Dawes eventually returned for good in 53/54 and played ten more full seasons of professional hockey in places such as Sudbury, New Westminster, Johnstown and Saskatoon. He retired for good at age 42 in 1966/67 after playing senior hockey with Saskatoon Quakers.

Barilko hoisted aloft by Cal Gardner and Bill Juzda

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Dark Day for Teeder

Ted Kennedy pictured April 13, 1968

In looking up some information on Leafs great Ted Kennedy, I came across a Canadian Press newspaper story about an incident I had never heard of that happened in November 1949. It seems there was very little written about what happened, and even a google search now turns up only the American Senator of the same name and his famous car accident. The story is as follows, with quotations taken directly from the Canadian Press story.

According to Ontario Provincial Police it was snowing and visibility was only 50 feet. Toronto Maple Leaf captain Ted "Teeder" Kennedy was driving west along Eglinton Avenue from his home in Whitby, Ontario to Maple Leaf Gardens for a Saturday night game. Along with him was his wife who stated later that the driving conditions at the time were "wretched with snow coming from all directions".

It was Saturday, November 19, 1949 and Kennedy was the 24-year old captain of the three-time Stanley Cup defending Leafs. He was on his way to the rink for a home game against the visiting Red Wings when tragedy struck.

Kennedy, travelling at less than 20 miles per hour "swung out from behind a truck" and saw two boys walking along the highway less than 20 feet away. The captain slammed on the breaks but "slid right into them". The two boys, 10-year old Robert Armstrong and 13-year old Harold Shepherd were both wards of the Children's Society of Ontario. Kennedy took the boys to the hospital  in his car but the Armstrong boy was dead on arrival, Shepherd suffered two broken legs and would spend almost five months in the hospital.
Neither Kennedy or his wife were injured, although he would miss the game that evening.

The investigating officer, Provincial Constable E. Hardy said no charges would be laid but an inquest would be held. Kennedy would return to the Leaf lineup four days later, scoring a goal against the Canadiens. The Children's Aid Society, on behalf of Harold Shepherd ended up suing Kennedy and over a year after the accident damages were awarded. A jury decided upon damages of $3,088.25 of which Kennedy was required to pay half as Shepherd was found 50 percent responsible.

Kennedy would end up missing another dozen games in the 1949/50 season due to knee injury incurred on a "solid check from Leo Reise". Kennedy would finish second in Hart Trophy voting that year and was selected as a Second Team All-Star. Although they failed to win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup, they would regain it in 1950/51.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Maple Leaf Gardens 1960's Expansion


I recently posted the above scan from a 1965 Toronto Maple Leafs program showing an open house from September 1965. The picture on the right interested me as it shows a model of a proposed expansion to Maple Leaf Gardens. A little digging turned up a couple of published mentions of this plan over the years.

The first one is a small article from the Canadian Press dated May 16, 1963;

4,000 Seat Expansion Program Sought By Maple Leaf Gardens
A plan for a $2,000,000 expansion to provide 4,000 extra seats in Maple Leaf Gardens was presented to City Council's Works Committee Wednesday.
Harold Ballard, vice-president of the Gardens, told the committee the project was proposed to increase the seating capacity to 18,400. He said there is a waiting list of 9,000 applications for season's tickets for NHL games played in the arena by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Preliminary sketches of two additions, at either end of the Gardens, indicated the structures will protrude in air space over Carlton Street and Wood Street from 18 to 20 feet. The committee learned from John Deacon, an assistant city solicitor, that the city has no legal power to grant the request for encroachments on the street or the air space above them. He said this is prohibited by provincial legislation.
Mr. Ballard said construction of one addition could be completed for the opening of the hockey season in the fall if work could get underway soon.
Alderman Horace Brown warned the matter might take weeks to be resolved and perhaps months if provincial legislation is required. Works Commissioner Douglas Ford said the proposal would have to go to the Building and Development Committee for zoning considerations.

Yes, I believe "Works Commissioner Doug Ford" is the father of current Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. I also found in Toronto City Archives a photo of Harold Ballard holding the design plans that were being discussed. As we can see, the entire front of the Gardens would have lost it's iconic 1931 look. If the plan went through, the exterior style of the Gardens would have certainly entered the modern era. Interesting that the plans called for the expansion of one of the sides to have been done in mere months, just as the original construction of the building.
May 5, 1963
As we know, the plans were never implemented but eight years after first proposed it seems Ballard was still pushing for it. Below is a mention of it again by Canadian Press on November 5, 1971;

Maple Leaf Gardens may add 7,000 seats
Gardens president Harold Ballard said,"The first time when we asked the city to approve expansion plans in the north and south ends, we were turned down." If plans are approved, remodelling of the building would begin next spring.

Closeup of Gardens expansion model from Sept. 1965 open house.
In lieu of expansion that required approval of the City or the Province, The Gardens was merely expanded internally throughout the 1960's. By 1968 seating mezzanine galleries were added on the end walls increasing capacity to 16,485. It remained this until it's closure in 1999 when the Maple Leafs moved to the Air Canada Centre.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gaye Stewart, 2nd in the Scoring Race


Toronto Maple Leaf Phil Kessel currently sits second in the NHL in scoring. As many have noted, no Maple Leaf has won a scoring title since Gordie Drillon in 1937/38. Obviously Kessel isn't going to win it this year as he sits 15 behind Sidney Crosby but if he were to hold on to second place it would be the highest Leaf finish in scoring in almost 70 years.

In 1945/46 Gaye Stewart finished second overall to Chicago's Max Bentley, nine points behind and two points ahead of Toe Blake and Clint Smith. Bentley had held the lead for most of the season but the race for second was wide open right up to the last few days of the season. Below is how the scoring race stood with two weeks remaining in the 1945/46 campaign (Goals, Assists, Points)

March 5
Max Bentley    31 22 53
Gaye Stewart   32 13 45
Bill Mosienko   17 28 45
Clint Smith        21 20 43
Toe Blake         24 16 40

Gaye Stewart was eight back of Bentley, tied with Bill Mosienko in points. The next few days played out as follows:

March 6
Bentley   1A
Stewart  1G
Blake     3A
Smith     1G 1A
Mosienko  0

March 9
Stewart   0
Blake      0

March 10
Bentley 1A
Stewart   0
Blake   1G
Smith  1 G
Mosienko 1A

March 12
Max Bentley    31 24 55
Gaye Stewart   33 13 46
Bill Mosienko   17 29 46
Toe Blake        25 19 44
Clint Smith       23 21 44

One goal in three games for Stewart was just enough to keep him tied for second with Mosienko. Toe Blake and Clint Smith tightened up the race for second with four and three points each.

March 13
Bentley 1G 2A
Smith    1G 1A
Mosienko 1A

March 14
Stewart  0
Bentley 3A
Blake 1G 1A
Smith 1G 1A
Mosienko 1G

March 15
Max Bentley   32 29 61
Bill Mosienko  18 30 48
Clint Smith       25 23 48
Gaye Stewart   33 13 46
Toe Blake        26 20 46

Max Bentley pretty much wrapped up the scoring race with six points in two games and Stewart was passed in the scoring ladder. Four guys now sat within two points of each other for second place.

March 16
Stewart 1G 1A
Bentley 0
Blake 1G 1A
Smith 0
Mosienko 0

March 17
Stewart 3G  1A
Bentley 0
Blake 2G
Smith 1G 1A
Mosienko 0

Stewart made a terrific push in the final two games with six points to jump into second spot alone. His four goals also locked up the goal scoring title, the last one ever won by a Maple Leaf player. Final scoring leaders for 1945/46.

Final
Bentley 31 30 61
Stewart 37 15 52
Blake 29 21 50
Smith 26 24 50
Mosienko 18 30 48


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quirky NHL Award Voting Results



A few days ago, www.hockey-reference.com added some cool data to the site. They now have voting results for NHL awards dating back to the 1920's. A look through the numbers turns up a few strange looking results over the years. A few of the stranger ones are below:

1929/30 Lionel Hitchman 2nd in Hart Trophy (94 votes)
Boston defenceman Hitchman finished a mere 7 votes behind Hart Trophy winner Nels Stewart and 15 votes ahead of third place finisher and teammate Cooney Weiland. Stewart notched 39 goals, Weiland 43 goals. Hitchman tallied 2 goals, 7 assists for 9 points in 39 games yet inexplicably garnered 17 votes more than fourth place King Clancy who had 17 goals and 23 assists. Somehow, Howie Morenz and his 40 goals placed only seventh in Hart Trophy voting that season.

1938/39  Earl Robinson 28 Hart votes
1939/40 Earl Robinson 21 Hart votes
In 38/39 Chicago Right Winger Robinson scored 9 goals, 6 assists in 47 games and finished 4th in Hart Trophy voting. The following season he was traded to the Canadiens and played only 11 games collecting 1 goal and 5 points. Even still, Robinson finished 5th in Hart voting behind Ebbie Goodfellow, Syl Apps, Dit Clapper and Milt Schmidt.

1955/56 Johnny Wilson 10 Hart votes 
This season Chicago Left Winger Wilson had his top goal scoring season with 24 in 70 games to go with 9 assists. His 10 votes for Hart Trophy were more than either  Gordie Howe, Andy Bathgate, Maurice Richard or Ted Lindsay received.

1976/77 Jim Watson Retired 5 votes for All-Star defenceman
1974/75 Jim Watson Retired 6 votes for All-Star defenceman
This one may be a mistake. Jim Watson was a defenceman for Detroit and Buffalo before jumping to the WHA in 1972, he retired after the 1975/76 season. Even still, he is listed as gaining 6 votes as NHL All-Star defenceman in 74/75 although he was a member of the Chicago Cougars in the WHA. Two years later while retired, he got 5 votes for All-Star again. What likely happened here, is either the database or the voters meant to refer to Joe Watson of the Flyers. He also received votes in each of these two seasons.

1984/85 Brian Sutter 1 first place Hart Trophy vote
Wayne Gretzky received 60 of 63 first place votes for the Hart, Dale Hawerchuk and Rod Langway each got one vote. The third guy to get a first place vote was St.Louis Blues, Brian Sutter. In 84/85, Sutter had 37 goals and 74 points and although I'm sure he was extremely valuable to the Blues I'm not sure he should have a first place Hart vote especially when guys like Marcel Dionne, Mike Bossy, Ray Bourque and Pelle Lindbergh got none.

1984/85 Mike McPhee 1 first place Calder Trophy vote
Also in 84/85, Mario Lemieux was the runaway Calder Trophy winner beating Chris Chelios by 53 first place votes to 5. Others getting first place nods were Steve Penney (2), Kirk Muller, Tomas Sandstrom as well as Montreal Canadien Mike McPhee. This was McPhee's only vote of any kind but somehow his 17 goals and 54 points were considered better than Mario's 43 goals and 100 points.


1985/86 Bengt Gustafsson 1 first place All-Star Centre vote
The following year, Wayne Gretzky's record 215 points earned him 57 of 60 first place votes for All-Star Centre. The others went to Mario Lemieux with a pair and a single vote to...Washington's Bengt Gustafsson. Apparently one reporter from Washington thought Gustafsson was more deserving of First All-Star centre than Gretzky who had exactly THREE times the number of points.

2006/07 Marcel Hossa 3rd place All-Star vote
This one may be another voting mistake as Marcel Hossa had 10 goals and 18 points while his brother Marian had 100 points this season. Marian collected 20 first place votes, 26 seconds and 43 third place for Right Wing, he also accidentally got his brother a vote.



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