Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unidentified Maple Leafs Photo No.5

Here is another unidentified hockey photo from the archives of Vintage Sports Images in North Vancouver, and this one is a toughie. It shows the Maple Leafs playing the Red Wings, but what makes it difficult is that most players faces are at a profile angle making it harder to identify them. Firstly, looking at the uniforms, the Leafs used this configuration from 1938 to 1958 excluding 1945 - 1948 when the lettering was red. I know the photo is black and white, but I'm pretty sure the text on the Leaf crest is not red. As for Detroit, they also had an extended period of time using this uniform. The only thing that changed was the 'Winged Wheel' crest which became sleeker and less stout in 1948. That dates the photo somewhere after 1948 up to 1958.

 The main figure in the image is the Leaf enlarged below.
Using only player headshot in the SIHR database and the direction of the player shooting hand, I am fairly confident that this is Howie Meeker.
Howie Meeker
Howie Meeker
Meeker began his career in 1946 and played until 53/54, so that narrows it down a bit more. The Leaf beside Meeker I believe is Rudy Migay who began his career in 1949. It's a difficult angle to be certain but I feel the nose shape and slightly pointy chin match Migay's headshots below.
Rudy Migay 
Rudy Migay
Next up is the fallen Red Wing defender sporting #3 on his back and appears to be a left-handed shot with the knob of his stick in his right hand. During the era in question the Wings had a few guys wear the number. In 1949/50 and 50/51 Clare Martin played regularly wearing the number but he was a right shot. In 1951/52 Benny Woit took over the number but he, like Martin was a right shot. Woit changed to #5 the next year when Marcel Pronovost joined the club. Pronovost was indeed a left shooter and wore the number until 1965. His closeup and headshot are below.
Marcel Pronovost
So, if this is Pronovost pictured, the photo is very likely from the 1952/53 season, Meeker's last semi-regular campaign. Meeker played 25 games that year and only 5 the next before retiring. The three players to the right and background of the photo are quite difficult to I.D. I'm having trouble figuring out the Leaf sprawled behind Pronovost, even though his face is visible (blurry, but visible).
The two distant guys could be only a few guys, judging by their shooting hand and faint facial recognition. The Red Wing is likely Benny Woit or Bob Goldham and the Leaf is likely Jim Morrison or Hugh Bolton.
Overall, as tough as this one was to figure out, I'm quite confident it's from 52/53 and that the main players pictured are correct.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Unidentified Canucks Photo

Time for another unidentified hockey photo from the good folks at Vintage Sports Images. It comes to me with zero info other than what is in the photo itself, which is quite a lot actually. 
Firstly, the Canucks wore this jersey with the "V" on the jersey sleeve for their first two years of existence 1970/71 and 1971/72. Next, all the numbers of the skaters are visible which makes for easy identification. Starting at the left is #16 Ted Taylor, a Left Winger who wore the number in both of these seasons. Taylor had been a career minor-leaguer, having played for the Western League Vancouver Canucks the two seasons prior. Taylor potted 36 goals in 69/70 in the high minors but scored only 11 and 9 goals his two NHL Canuck seasons. 
The Boston Bruin battling Taylor is an easy one, #6 Ted Green. He is adorned in a helmet that he wore after nearly losing his life to the stick of Wayne Maki a few years before. The Canuck in the middle of the frame is #19. In their inaugural season, top draft pick Dale Tallon wore the number before switching to #9 in 71/72. This is when Richard Lemieux wore the number for 42 games. Now, both players shot left-handed, and actually looked facially fairly similar (as seen below) but Tallon played at 6'1" and Lemieux 5'8". The #19 in the photo certainly looks closer to 5'8" in height and appears to me to be Richard Lemieux. That would make this photo from the 1971/72 season.
Richard Lemieux, 71/72
Dale Tallon 70/71
The Canuck in the foreground is #17 and shoots Right-handed. This would make it ex-Maple Leaf product Ron Ward. 1971/72 was his first full season and he contributed a mere 2 goals and 4 assists in 71 games. He jumped to the New York Raiders of the new WHA in 72/73 and blossomed, scoring 51 goals and 118 points. Ward eventually played for seven different teams in his five year WHA career.
So, the game shown was from the 71/72 season, which date though? The Canucks visited Boston three times that season and understandably was smoked each time by the eventual Cup champs. Although there is not much of him visible, the Bruins goalie helps narrow down the date even further. The mask of the goaltender is visible, the Bruins had two goalies that year, one with a distinctive mask. Eddie Johnston and Gerry Cheevers split the duties this season, the goalie pictured must be Johnston as he doesn't have the characteristic "stitches" as on Cheevers' mask.  Johnston played two of the three home games with the Canucks that year, winning 5-0 on November 18, 1971 and 7-3 on March 2, 1972. The game in question has to be one of these two dates. Unless I find game sheets from these two dates to see if Richard Lemieux perhaps didn't play in one, I'm happy with having narrowed it down this much.


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