Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Johnny Bower The Seamstress gets The Shutout

John Ferguson Battling in Game Two
After Game Two of the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals, Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach stated the obvious to the Montreal Gazette, "When you have two good netminders you're not taking a chance. Bower usually goes well against Montreal so I played a hunch that he could come through in this game. He came through and so did the rest of the team."
After replacing Terry Sawchuk in Game One with 15 minutes remaining, Bower allowed one goal on eleven shots in Montreal's 6-2 victory. In the second match, Imlach started Bower and he went on to shutout the Habs 3-0.
In the process of shutting out the Canadiens, Bower earned a $100 bonus from his team. Bower was not even aware of the extra money earned for a shutout, arranged by King Clancy. "I haven't heard anything about the bonus plan but I certainly won't argue against it," Bower declared.
Ferguson Causing Trouble Again in Game Two
Once returned home to Toronto the following day Bower was back at Maple Leaf Gardens on the off-day to tend his own repairs on his goal pads. 
"I'm taking them home to make sure they stay hot. Tommy Nayler (Leaf equipment man) sews on my buckles and straps, but I like to do my own patching. That way I can soften the spots where the big rebounds pop off and sew splits in such a way that they don't give bad rebounds," Bower told the Toronto Star.
"There is art to this job, believe me. I wouldn't trust my pads to anyone but Nayler, and then only for minor repairs. The big jobs I do myself."
Bower was stellar in Game Three at The Gardens, turning aside 60 of 62 shots as Leafs prevailed in Double Overtime on Bob Pulford's winner. However, in pre-game warmup for Game Four, Bower injured his thigh stretching to make a save of Larry Hillman's shot. He would not return to play in the final round and Sawchuk was called back into action. After losing the fourth game by a familiar 6-2 score, Sawchuk found his game and guided Toronto to the Cup victory.
Game Two Shutout with his hand-repaired Goal pads

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Teenage 40 Goal Scorers

Auston Matthews just completed a rookie season for the ages, as a teenager. He became only the 12th teenager in NHL history to notch at least 40 goals and only the 3rd since 1993. Below is the chart from hockey-reference.com showing all the teenagers to top 39 goals, which adds Yzerman and Crosby to the list.
Now, of course, league-wide goal scoring rates have fluctuated greatly over the years from 8 goals per game in the early 1980's to just over 5 goals per game just prior to the lock-out of 2004. The 2016/17 season produced a scoring rate of 5.53. Hockey-ref has a wonderful statistic called Adjusted Goals in which seasons from different eras can be compared to an even playing field. Below is the list of teenagers above translated to Adjusted Goals:

Stamkos 56
Nash 48
Carson 46
Matthews 44
Gretzky 43
Crosby 39
Nolan 37
Lemieux 34
Lindros 33
Hawerchuk 33
Hawerchuk 32
Bellows 32
Turgeon 31
Yzerman 31

Matthews' season looks even more impressive after adjustment for era. His goal scoring was more statistically impressive than even Gretzky's rookie season. Amazing. The fourth best goal-scoring season by a teenager in NHL history. If Matthews doesn't win the Calder Trophy, I'll eat one of my many, many Maple Leafs hats.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Maple Leafs Rookie Production, Almost Unprecedented

Toronto's rookies in 2016/17 are really doing some special things. Individually, Matthews, Marner and Nylander are setting team records seemingly every day now. Collectively, they're doing things rarely seen in NHL history. All three of the Leafs super rookies have at least 57 points. This has happened on one team only three other times in NHL history, all in an era when goal scoring was at least 30% higher than today. 

Three Rookies, One Team 57 Points (Age in Brackets)

Toronto 16/17
A.Matthews (19) 61
M.Marner (19) 57
W.Nylander (20) 57

Quebec 80/81
P.Stastny(24) 77-39-70-109
A.Stastny(21) 80-39-46-85
D.Hunter (20) 80-19-44-63

Edmonton 79/80
W.Gretzky (19) 79-51-86-137
B.MacDonald (26) 80-46-48-94
B.Callighen (26) 59-23-35-58
D.Lumley (25) 80-20-38-58

Hartford 79/80
M.Rogers (25) 80-44-61-105
M.Howe (24) 74-24-56-80
J.Douglas (22) 77-33-24-57

The last two teams on this list were transferred from the WHA and these "rookies" had played multiple previous professional seasons prior to their NHL debuts. The Edmonton quartet had played 10 pro seasons and Hartford's, 12 seasons. Each of these groups average age was 24 years. With WHA participation disqualifying most of these players, only Dave Lumley was considered a rookie by the NHL for the 79/80 season. The Leaf trio can make these semantics moot if they can all get to 60 points, if so they will be only the second team in history with three 60 point rookies (after Quebec).
Toronto's other rookies cannot be forgotten. In addition to Nikita Zaitsev, Zach Hyman, Nikita Soshnikov, there is Connor Brown who has 18 goals and 32 points. The number of teams with four first-year players with at least 17 goals is also a very short one. Again, we have to disregard the Oilers of 79/80 for their lack of actual rookie qualifications.
Four Rookies 17 Goals (Age in Brackets)

Toronto 16/17
A.Matthews (19) 34
W.Nylander (20) 21
C.Brown (23) 18
M.Marner (19) 17

Winnipeg 92/93
T.Selanne (22) 76
E.Davydov (25) 28
A.Zhamnov (22) 25
K.Tkachuk (20) 23

Edmonton 79/80
W.Gretzky (19) 51
B.MacDonald (26) 46
B.Callighen (26) 23
D.Lumley (25) 20
R.Chipperfield (25) 18

Minnesota 76/77
R. Eriksson (22) 25
G.Sharpley (20) 25
S.Jensen (21) 22
A. Pirus (22) 20

Montreal 51/52
B.Geoffrion (20) 30
P.Meger (22) 24
D.Gamble (23) 23
D.Moore (21) 18

As with the other list, Toronto's quartet is the youngest on average. Perhaps the most comparable in production, experience and age is the Montreal group of 65 years ago. Also, the fact that era had only slightly less goals scored per game than today makes them an interesting comparison. If Toronto can produce two Hall of Famers out of their four as Montreal did (Geoffrion and Moore), I'm certain Leaf fans will be ecstatic.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Charlie Conacher Unpublished 1931/32 Photo

Charlie Conacher in Action
Well, this is pretty cool. Recently I have been helping out a friend go through old hockey photos for his store vintagesportsimages.com . I am assisting in categorizing, curating and identifying literally 1000's of images that predominantly come from the collection of the Boston Globe. He owns the original negatives, and most of them have not ever been published. I think I found a doozy here. Above is a game-play shot of Maple Leaf great Charlie Conacher that I'm fairly sure has not ever been put online. 
Below are the main two iconic images of Conacher, both staged in a photo shoot. The one in Vintage Sports Images collection is cropped from a far larger image, attached at the bottom, that gives more info about it.

The photo is definitely from an actual game, against the Detroit Falcons. The Falcons were known as such for only two seasons, 1930/31 and 1931/32 before being re-branded the Red Wings. Coancher's teammate to the right of the image is wearing number 3. In 30/31 Art Duncan wore that number, the following year it was Alex Levinsky. A quick look at the sihrhockey.org photo database, and I can safely say this #3 is Levinsky, making the photo from the 1931/32 season. 
The Leaf in the foreground appears to be wearing #11 which would make that Conacher's linemate Busher Jackson. As well, the goalie peaking in from the right side definitely looks like Leaf goalie of the time, Lorne Chabot.
Charlie Conacher was in his third NHL season in 1931/32 and his 34 goals would lead the NHL for the second straight year. This was also the first year of Maple Leaf Gardens and Toronto went on to win the Stanley Cup over New York Rangers.
Charlie Conacher original photo, 1931/32

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1964 Leafs Cup Photo

Here is the first of many awesome photos that adorns my den from my friend's vintage sport photo shop, vintagesportsimages.com . It's a fantastic shot of the 1964 Stanley Cup being handed over to George Armstrong by NHL President Clarence Campbell. What I love about the photo is the fact it's from ice-level, showing the expanse of Maple Leaf Gardens and the crowd within. Below is a photo from the Montreal Gazette the following day taken just after the initial photo was, with the players gathered around the Cup.
In addition to Armstrong (who had 13 points in 14 playoff games) and Campbell, identifying the rest of the players in the shot is fairly easy. Dave Keon (7 goals, 9 points) is in the near distance in between The Cup and Campbell and Carl Brewer (played 12 of 14 games) is behind Armstrong. The legendary King Clancy is seen stepping on the centre redline, he was assistant general manager of the Leafs. In the helmet is Billy Harris with Larry Hillman and Jim Pappin to the right. In civvies is Al Arbour who played just one of the fourteen playoff games that season.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Unidentified Hockey Photo: Bower and Howe

Leafs vs. Red Wings: Bower, Baun, Howe and...
Here's another fine photo from the collection of my friends at vintagesportsimages.com in North Vancouver. I'm helping them out identifying old hockey pics, most of which have not been seen online.
This photo clearly shows Johnny Bower in net and Leaf defender Bobby Baun and Gordie Howe. To narrow down the year, the database at nhluniforms.com is invaluable.
The Leafs added a blue shoulder yoke to their white jersey in 1958 and they then added numbers on sleeves in 1962/63. This photo then has to fall between that '58 and '62. The Detroit #8 player has a few possibilities among guys who shot left-handed during this era. Johnny Wilson wore the number in 1958/59 but the facial features don't match here. Gary Aldcorn wore number 8 in 1960/61 but his hair was a bit more receding; Murray Oliver also wore it the same year, his hair looks a bit different but there does appear to be a matching scar on the left side of his head, more on that in a bit; Forbes Kennedy was # 8 for a time in 61/62 but he was only 5'8", the guy in the photo seems far taller compared to the 5'9" Baun. Let's look at a few photos of these guys:
Johnny Wilson
Gary Aldcorn 
Have a look at the scar on Murray Oliver's temple, right at the hair-line. That's as close to a match as can be to the blown up image below it. This has to be Oliver in the original photo which puts the mystery pic in the 1960/61 season. Oliver played with Detroit the year before as well, but wore number 17 then. He was traded to Boston on January 23, 1961. Another nice vintage hockey photo added to the online world.
Murray Oliver

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Adjusted Career Points/Game

With Sidney Crosby collecting his 1000th point recently, there was lots of chatter about how few games he needed and his career points per game. Many pointed out that his 1.32 points/game over his career is the 5th best all-time behind only Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy and Orr. This is a rather impressive feat considering the era in which Crosby has played is one of the lowest scoring ever. 
On social media, folks were wondering about how the leaders would look if Adjusted Points was used to even out the different eras. Adjusted Points is calculated at hockey-reference.com and equalizes for Goals/game, roster size and length of league schedule. For example, it calculates Gordie Howe's 49 goals in 1952/53 as an Adjusted Goal total of 65 when compared to all eras. 
Using Adjusted Points, Crosby does indeed get a bump due to the era he plays in, his Points/game climbs to 1.52 while Lemieux drops to 1.68 and Gretzky drops a bit further to 1.62. Crosby certainly is in the discussion with the big boys. The problem with Adjusted Points appears when you go way back to the dawn of the NHL. Below are the Adjusted Career Points/Game leaders across all eras. I went all the way to 1.02 Career Adjusted Pts/GP, so it's a fairly long list.
(Blue are pre-WWII players, Yellow are Modern Players)
Player GP-AdjPts-AdjPts/GP
Lalonde 99 376 3.80
Denneny 328 847 2.58
Morenz 550 1229 2.24
Nighbor 349 761 2.18
Irvin 94 203 2.16
Dye 271 567 2.09
FBoucher 557 1155 2.07 
Primeau 310 612 1.97 
GHay 238 437 1.84 
BiCook 474 872 1.84
Bailey 313 568 1.82
Joliat 655 1183 1.81
NStewart 650 1170 1.80
Conacher 459 792 1.73
Lemieux 915 1540 1.68 
Fredrickson 161 268 1.67
Gretzky  1487 2475 1.66 
CCooper 286 467 1.63
Noble 510 804 1.58
Apps 423 664 1.57
Crosby 756 1146 1.52 
Broadbent 303 461 1.52
HSmith 715 1074 1.50
Cowley 549 807 1.47
Weiland 509 749 1.47
BJackson 633 879 1.39
GBoucher 449 622 1.39
Forsberg 708 977 1.38
Malkin 692 940 1.36
Clancy 592 797 1.35
Orr 657 878 1.34 
Shore 550 721 1.31
RGreen 195 256 1.31
Ovechkin 895 1165 1.30 
DBentley 566 728 1.29 
PThompson 582 753 1.29
TBlake 577 740 1.28
Siebert 592 753 1.27
MRichard 978 1229 1.26
GHowe 1767 2190 1.24
Gottselig 589 731 1.24
Lindros 760 942 1.24
Jagr 1684 2074 1.23
Beliveau 1125 1385 1.23
Lach 664 816 1.23
SHowe 698 849 1.22
Sakic 1378 1679 1.22
Bossy 752  906 1.21
Kane 715 859 1.20 
Stamkos 586 695 1.19
Esposito 1282  1508 1.18
Bure 702 823 1.17
BoHull 1063 1239 1.17
Backstrom 708 829 1.17
Palffy 684 784 1.15 
MBentley 646  734 1.14
Tavares 565 631 1.12
Dionne 1348 1493  1.11
Kovalchuk 816 904 1.11
Geoffrion 883 982 1.11
BrHull 1269 1390 1.10
Lamb 443 486 1.10
Schmidt 776 845 1.09
Yzerman 1514 1650 1.09 
Kariya 989 1078 1.09
Selanne 1451 1565 1.08
Thornton 1425 1533 1.08 
Datsyuk 953 1026 1.08
Clapper 833 890 1.07
Getzlaf 838 898 1.07
Mogilny 990 1054 1.07
Benn 562 603 1.07
Mikita 1394 1478 1.06
Giroux 631 670 1.06
Kennedy 696 728 1.05
Sundin 1346 1410 1.05 
Lindsay 1068 1109 1.04
Bathgate 1069 1113 1.04 
Oates 1337 1396 1.04
Lafontaine  865 902 1.04
Spezza 889 927 1.04
Stastny 977 1001 1.03
Lafleur 1126 1161 1.03
Zetterberg 975 1002 1.03
Toews 693 713 1.03
Turgeon 1294 1315 1.02
Well, there you have it. Edouard 'Newsy' Lalonde is the top Adjusted Point producer of all-time. As you can see, the early era guys are inflated mainly due to the shortness of the NHL seasons back then. The top 14 guys are from the 1930's or earlier, also a few relatively obscure names make the all-time list. Longtime Montreal Maroon Hooley Smith, Hamilton Tiger/New York American Red Green and Blackhawk Johnny Gottselig show high on this list. A few modern surprises like Ziggy Palffy and Jason Spezza also sneak onto the list. Can all these guys really be considered among the greatest producers of all-time?
Perhaps it would be beneficial to look at simply the raw totals of Adjusted Points, forgetting about games played:
This list is sounding a bit more like the top scorers ever. 
Another way to approach the Adjusted Points/GP could be to narrow it down to players with at least 500 games played, doing this the leaders are;
Gretzky and Lemieux are the only guys that are in the top ten of both the last two lists. This just illustrates how hard it is to compare eras. Maybe we should just leave it at that, #99 and #66 are the two greatest point producers in NHL history and Crosby is climbing fast. Who could have an issue with that?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rod Bloomfield; Reg Dunlop's Stunt Double

Above is one of the only photos of Rod Bloomfield as Reg Dunlop's skating double for the movie Slap Shot, from a 1977 American magazine named "Hockey". In the 2010 book, "The Making of Slap Shot" the details of how Bloomfield got the role are explained; 
"Bloomfield and another player were considered for the job of doubling Newman. Bloomfield was more Newman's size and build but the other guy was chosen and Bloomfield returned home, content to wait until he was called back to play an extra. About two weeks later, he received a phone call asking if he was still interested in being Newman's double. They said 'they made a bit of a mistake. They shot for two weeks and figured out he was shooting right-handed. You and Paul both shoot left. We've had to scrap all the film'
Bloomfield agreed to the demand that his blond hair be cut short and painted - not dyed- grey every day to match Newman's hair.
'That was one of the best experiences I ever had.' he says. 'I think that was the greatest thrill. I had a really good time. Paul Newman was just the greatest guy. He'd sit in the bar every night and drink beer with us. He was really down to earth'."
Bloomfield was a worthy fill-in to depict Newman's hockey skills, not only was he pretty much the same size and build, but he was a hell of a hockey player. After excelling at junior and senior levels, Bloomfield turned pro in 1973/74 with the Binghamton Dusters of the NAHL. He topped the league with 73 assists and his 119 points was four off the scoring title. The following year, his 55 goals was tops in the NAHL, this time five points off the points lead and he was named MVP. After 37 goals and 96 points in 75/76 Bloomfield exploded in 76/77. He was named league MVP once again as well as Hockey News Minor League Player of the Year with 173 points, 46 ahead of second place. 
In 1977/78, the Binghamton Dusters moved to the AHL and Bloomfield had 46 points in 49 games before he was hit in the face with a puck, forcing his retirement.
Interestingly, in his post-hockey career, Bloomfield was an electrical contractor. He worked for IBM in the early 1980's and then for five years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In 1991, through a contract with the US government, Bloomfield helped rebuild Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion, living there for another five years. 
As a native of Bracebridge, Ontario, Bloomfield was elected to the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in 2011 for his fine hockey career. 
Captain of the Dusters
1967/68 with Junior B Owen Sound

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rendezvous '87 Non-Stars

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Rendezvous '87. In lieu of the All-Star game that season, the NHL played the Soviet National team in a two game series at the Colisee in Quebec City. The NHL won the first game 4-3, the Soviets the second 5-3, in what was generally regarded as a successful event showcasing the two greatest hockey powers. However, not everyone was pleased with the fact the event even went down in the first place.
On the day of the first match, in the February 11 Ottawa Gazette, the great Bobby Orr himself is quoted showing his displeasure at Rendezvous.
He actually had a good point, Rendezvous '87 removed over twenty All-Star spots. After looking at the NHL stats up to that point in the 86/87 season, it's clear at least a few players were robbed of their one and only chance at playing in an All-Star game. 
More than a few guys missed the festivities due to injuries. Mark Howe, Paul Coffey and Mike Bossy were all voted onto the squad by fans but were unable to play and Tim Kerr was selected to the team but did not play. The others voted in were Mario Lemieux, Michel Goulet and hometown favourite, goaltender Clint Malarchuk. Overall, Team NHL had 14 forwards, 8 defencemen and 3 goalies. Below is a team full of players who up to that point in the season were most deserving of being All-Stars in addition to the Rendezvous boys.
Forwards (GP-G-A-PTS)
Dino Ciccarelli, Minnesota 54-41-32-73
Doug Gilmour, St.Louis  54-26-42-68  
Walt Poddubny, NY Rangers   51-30-34-64
Steve Yzerman, Detroit   55-20-44-64
Marcel Dionne, Los Angeles  55-21-42-63
Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles   54-31-29-60  
Paul MacLean, Winnipeg    56-26-34-60
Joe Mullen, Calgary     55-32-27-59  
Denis Savard, Chicago    49-24-35-59
Peter Zezel, Philadelphia     54-27-30-57
Bryan Trottier, NY Islanders    55-16-41-57
Peter Stastny, Quebec  41-17-33-50
Ron Francis, Hartford  56-21-35-56  
Russ Courtnall, Toronto  56-19-36-55

Ciccarelli was 4th in NHL scoring to that point and would finish 3rd in year-end All-Star voting that season. Rookie Luc Robitaille would be voted to the 2nd All-Star team after the season and Gilmour and Mullen ended up 5th in voting at their positions. All were deserving of going to a mid-season All-Star game. At least all of these guys did play in at least one All-Star game in their careers, the same can't be said for Peter Zezel. His 27 goals and 57 points to this point were certainly worthy of All-Star game recognition. He would never make an All-Star game in his career.
Larry Murphy, Washington  57-18-38-56  
Al MacInnis, Calgary  56-15-40-55
Paul Reinhart, Calgary  53-12-38-50  
Scott Stevens, Washington  54-8-27-35  
Phil Housley, Buffalo  53-12-29-41
Ulf Samuelsson, Hartford  55-1-24-25   
Gaston Gingras, Montreal 50-9-30-39
Darren Veitch, Detroit   52-10-28-38  

Murphy and MacInnis were each selected as 2nd team All-Stars after the season and would have definitely played in a mid-season game if not for Rendezvous. The last three defenders I chose here all were denied their only chance at playing in an All-Star game this season. As much as Samuelsson was reviled, he finished 6th in year end voting among defence and should have been invited to a mid-season All-Star affair along with Gingras and Veitch. None of the three would ever be an All-Star.
Patrick Roy, Montreal 3.07gaa
Mike Liut, Hartford  3.11gaa
Pokey Reddick, Winnipeg  3.17gaa
Kelly Hrudey, NY Islanders 3.18gaa

Liut and Roy would have been obvious All-Stars, Liut was voted to the 2nd Team at season's end. One of Reddick and Hrudey should have been honoured as well, once again, neither of them would be chosen an All-Star in their careers. Robbed by Rendezvous.
The link to NHL stats up until Feb. 10, 1987 is below:

Maple Leaf Rookies; Fastest to 25 Goals

Recently, on the terrific magazine-style website theathletic.com, James Mirtle discussed scoring records that Maple Leafs rookies are approaching or have already achieved. He mentions how Mitch Marner is well on pace to break Gus Bodnar's Leaf record for assists by a rookie, Auston Matthews on pace to break Wendel Clark's record for goals, and both on pace to top Peter Ihnacak's record for point. At one point the following juicy fact is mentioned:

"The goal was Matthews’ 25th of the season after 52 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Matthews’ goal broke the franchise record for the fastest player to get his first 25 NHL goals, beating Howie Meeker’s 70-year-old mark of 58 games."

This got me thinking. In 1985/86, Wendel Clark potted 34 goals in 66 games played, surely he scored 25 goals in less games. So I checked. Below are the Leafs scoring stats as published Feb.25, 1986 in the Montreal Gazette.
At this point Toronto had played 60 games as a team, but Clark having missed 14 games early in the season had played only 46. The same day this was published, the Leafs hosted the New York Rangers in their 61st game, Clark's 47th:
Not only did Clark notch his 25th goal this night, but he potted a hat-trick to get to 26 goals in his 47th game. Now, far be it from me to say that Elias Sports and Mirtle got it wrong and that Clark still holds the Leaf record for fastest 25 goals as a rookie...they are going by the number of games the team had played, not the individual. It's the same way the NHL doesn't recognize Jari Kurri, Cam Neely and Alexander Mogilny scoring 50 goals in 50 games because their teams had played more than 50. Even still, I think it's fair to recognize that Clark did what he did.
Maybe Matthews can top Wendel's 34 rookie goals in 66 games, he would need 10 goals in his next 15 games. He has already scored 14 in a 17 game stretch this season, so it's more than possible.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Maple Leafs Five Rookie Scorers in One Game

On February 6, against the Islanders, the Maple Leafs did something that hadn't been done in the NHl in over 30 years. They had five different rookies score a goal in the same game (Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Hyman, Soshnikov). The last time that happened was March 31, 1984 when the Calgary Flames did it against the Minnesota North Stars. The five Flame rookies were Tim Hunter (with two), Richard Kromm, Al Macinnis, Dan Quinn and Carey Wilson.
Toronto's previous record was four different rookies scoring in the same game, and it had been almost 70 years since that last happened. On October 23, 1948 Maple Leaf rookies Fleming MacKell, Frank Mathers, Les Costello and Bob Dawes scored in a 6-1 victory over Chicago. The crazy thing is, not one of these four would play more than 15 regular season games with the Leafs that season, and collectively that year they scored a grand total of FIVE goals (Costello had 2). The fact that all four scored on October 23 is amazing.
In addition to those four rookies, the 1948/49 Leafs would dress nine additional first year players; Tod Sloan, Ray Timgren, Ray Ceresino, Al Buchanan, Chuck Blair, Ray Hannigan, John McCormack, Stan Kemp, Harry Taylor. Perhaps expectedly, with all the youth on the squad, the Leafs finished that season in fourth place with a record of 22-25-13. Unexpectedly however, they caught fire in the post-season and would knock off second place Boston four games to one then swept first place Detroit to win the Stanley Cup. MacKell contributed greatly to the playoff run with two goals and six points in the nine games but the rest of the rookies saw limited action.
The goals scored by Mathers and Ceresino would stand to be the only ones of their NHL careers, while Dawes added only one additional goal the following years. MacKell went on to have a real nice NHL career with 149 goals, 369 points in 665 games played.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Gretzky's 18th Birthday Photo, Who's in the Pic?

I've seen this great sequence of photos floating around the internet today, Wayne Gretzky's birthday. It's from January 24, 1979, two days prior to Gretzky's 18th birthday. WHo are the rest of the guys in the photos though?
I've found online that it was Stan Weir who surprised young Wayne buy pushing the cake into his face. A pic of Weir from that era is below, I can agree that's Weir on the right of the photo.
In the white helmet behind Gretz is obviously Brett Callighen, pictured below from the year after the birthday photo.
The two guys in the back of the pic are tough to identify, I've seen an account where one of them is Dennis Sobchuk, not sure. That brings us to the guy on the left, using the Society for International Hockey Research photo database it's easy to determine it's backup goalie Ed Walsh.
Who is Ed Walsh? I asked that myself. Walsh was twice named a First Team All-Star in the AHL. In 1974/75 with Montreal's farm team the nova Scotia Voyageurs, Walsh went 27-16-3 with a 2.77gaa after graduating from the NCAAs Boston Terriers. in 1976/77 he went 26-12-2, 2.86gaa to garner 1st-Star status again. By 1978/79 when the photo was taken, Walsh was Edmonton property and got into three games with the Oilers. He went 0-2 with a 3.75gaa. Walsh would actually play for the United States in the 1980 World Championships, allowing 16 goals in 4 games.

Below is the game program from the Oilers game two days later when they celebrated his birthday once again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Three Rookies of the Month in One Season

Entering the final week of January, Maple Leaf Mitch Marner is closing in on being named Rookie of the Month for January. Through 10 games, he has 3 goals and 13 points, four points ahead of Brock McGinn and Anthony Mantha. Tied with 8 points are Connor Brown, Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk. If Marner does indeed win the award it will be Toronto's third different Rookie of the Month of the season. This has never happened since the award began in 1983/84.

A few times, a team has won 3 Rookie of the Month Awards in a season, but never three different guys. Below are the teams that have had three:

1984/85 Pittsburgh: Mario Lemieux (2), Warren Young 
During his flash-in-the-pan rookie season, Young garnered November honours by going 11-6-17 in 12 games. 
1986/87 Los Angeles: Jimmy Carson (2), Luc Robitaille
Although Carson won the award twice, Robitaille took home the Calder trophy for the season, Carson finished third in voting behind Ron Hextall.

1992/93 Winnipeg: Teemu Selanne (3)
The Finnish Flash came out of the blocks in a big way notching a stat line of 11-9-20 in his first 12 games in October. He was even better in January going 15-12-17-27 and took home the March/April Rookie award with a crazy 25 goals and 41 points over his final 21 games.

1996/97 Ottawa: Patrick Lalime (2), Wade Redden 
Lalime won the award in both December and January this season going 7-0-1, 1.50 and 8-2-1, 2.42. He would still finish 5th in Calder voting. Redden somehow won the April honours by 2 goals and 3 points in 7 games.

2005/06 Washington: Alex Ovechkin (3)
Ovie swept the award in December, January and February. 

If  Marner wins the January award, the Leafs could conceivably add a fourth Rookie of the Month winner to the list. The aforementioned Connor Brown is actually tops among rookies in January with 5 goals in 10 games, Zach Hyman has 10 points in his last 13 games and even defenceman Nikita Zaitsev has 9 points over his last 16 played. You never know.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Greatest Slap Shot Collection on the West Coast

Japanese program
The title of this post may be a tad hyperbolic, but until I'm proven wrong I will say that I have the greatest collection of original printed memorabilia pertaining to the movie SlapShot. I have easily 50 to 60 distinct items ranging from original posters, lobby cards, promotional material, publications and other various oddball stuff. It was all collected through collectable shows or internet purchases, starting in the mid-90s. As the 40th anniversary of the movie's release approaches, I thought I'd share some of the fun.
The image at the top is the cover of a Japanese program promoting the film, I'm not sure if it was given out to the press, or to movie-goers. It's loaded with colour stills and Japanese writing. More of the stills later.
This one is an original lobby card that would have been in a frame in the movie theatre's, well..lobby. 
Here is a lobby card from Spain where the movie was named El CastaƱazo, a clip of the dubbed film is here . This shot is from when Reg is asked by Lily Braden, "What's the deal with that dog?" about the statue of the dog that saved Charlestown from the 1938 flood. She was not too impressed by his answer.
Here's one of the many black and white stills printed on glossy paper that was issued by Universal Studios. This shows one of the "hockey operations" meeting between player/coach Reg Dunlop and GM Joe McGrath.
The previous two are pages from the full-colour Japanese program featuring stills from the movie that I have never seen anywhere else. The closeup of the 'Sparkle Twins', the Hansons with the Booster Club and the Booster Club themselves hanging out of the school bus are all rarely seen stills.
Slap Shot was such a huge deal in the hockey world in 1977 that even the Pro Hockey Handbook annual jumped in on the action putting Reg Dunlop on the cover of an otherwise stat-filled book.
This "Hockey" magazine is an American publication showing Newman on the cover and inside some great production shots from the filming. 
Inside the "Hockey" mag is a real nice, rare shot of Rod Bloomfield who was Newman's on-ice double during filming. Bloomfield certainly had the credentials to play a star skater on film as he had led the NAHL in assists with 73 in 1973/74 and goals with 55 in 74/75. The season after filming, Bloomfield had a season for the ages, scoring 173 points including 124 assists to lead the NAHL scoring parade by 46 points.
A few more of the black and white stills, the first showing Reg sitting in Sportswriter Dicckie Dunn's office, regaling of a possible move of the Chiefs to Florida. The second shot is a cool behind-the-scenes of Newman being mic-ed up alongside Director George Roy Hill
Here's one of my favourite items, an oversized "Sportscaster" card featuring the movie, however, this is from the Finnish release of the set. Fairly rare, extremely cool.
This is an insert to the Vancouver Sun newspaper in 1977, "Weekend Magazine" with a great shot of Newman on the cover. 
The rarity continues with this original Opening Night Screening Invitation. The film was showing at Mann's Theatre in Los Angeles on February 24, 1977, the day before it's wide-release.
Two more glossy lobby cards, the first from the Mexican release of the film, translated "Todo Vale". A great shot of Strother Martin as an ornery Joe McGrath. The second is the Spanish version of a fine shot of Reg Dunlop chatting on the phone with Suzanne Hanrahan, setting up a quick meeting.
Next we have the second edition copy of the original paperback release of the adaptation of the movie. 
These are what is called a "press book" for the film. It was given to newspapers to use in print for the movie's advertisement.
Two nice cardboard lobby cards, one the Mexican version, one the American release.
A real nice Spanish version glossy still of the brawl with Broome County after Barclay Donaldson insulted Coach Dunlop. Dave "Killer" Carlson asked him to "Take that sentence back", Donaldson did not.
I had to include this pic from the Japanese program of Michael Ontkean's Ned Braden after being awarded the Championship of the Federal League. I'm still not sure how he got his light-blue long underwear off without taking off his cup. Movie magic I guess.
This is an actual game program for the Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League featuring most of the Chiefs in the movie. Pictured on the cover is the forgotten "Hanson Brother", Jack Carlson. He was slated to be one of the three brothers along with his actual bros Steve and Jeff but was offered a contract to play in the WHA prior to the film's shooting. Jack jumped at the chance and was replaced by Dave Hanson as the third brother.
A nice shot of the War Memorial arena, home of the Johnstown Jets and Charlestown Chiefs.

During filming of Slap Shot II here in Vancouver, a teammate on my beer league squad was also one of the lead actors. He introduced me to the Hansons and I got them to sign this roster page from the program. As well, John Perpich signed his photo, I believe he was there as the Hansons agent/handler.
Below are all the great logos of the North American Hockey League from the game program.
Oh, and of course I have a copy of the original script for the movie.
A few more great shots from the Japanese program, the first is of Reg reading the newspaper article about the possible move to Florida exclaiming,"Dickie Dunn wrote it, it's got to be true!"
Slot car racing time.
 Finally, here's one of the rarest Slap Shot related items I have. It's the 1974/75 Media Guide of the NAHL. Inside is the team page for the Johnstown Jets. Included are goalie Ron Docken who played the backup to Dennis Lemieux in the movie and Guido Tenesi who of course played, (if I can read the card correctly)... Billy Charlesbois.

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