Winnipeg Jets in Czechoslovakia, 1975

My buddy Greg sent me this great shot of the Winnipeg Jets playing the Czechoslovakian National team. His dad is Norm Beaudin, pictured in the foreground. The game was during the Jets 1975 training camp which took place in Europe that season. The Czech National squad would beat the Jets by scores of 6-1 (on Sept. 25) and 3-1 (on Sept. 26). Both Jets goals were scored by Anders Hedberg. Also pictured are Jets #19 Mats Lindh and #17 Bill Lesuk. I'm not positive on the Czechoslovakian players shown, but #9 is likely Miroslav Dvorak who would go on to play three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers in the early 1980's. The goaltender is probably either Vladimir Dzurilla or Jiri Holocek. Despite not fairing well against the Czechs, Winnipeg would go on to have a terrific season in the WHA. They finished first in the Canadian Division with 106 points (52-27-2) and romp through the playoffs with a record of 12-1 on the way to the Avco Cup. For Beaudin himself, it was his final seaso…

Nitzy's Hockey Den All-Time Team Canada

Here we go. I found out this afternoon that TSN will be publishing their All-Time Team Canada after they did the seven Canadian NHL teams recently. According to Craig Button they are using players from Olympics, Canada Cups, World Cups and World Championships. I'm not certain if TSN will be considering the Summit Series, but I am. Also, Button says there is no positional requirements on this squad as is usual in international team selection. This is also a 23-man roster, same as international play.
I gave the nod to Bill Ranford on the strength of a 17-1 record and 1.61 average in the '91 Canada Cup and '93 and '94 World Championships. He backstopped Canada to it's first World Championship Gold in 33 years and was also stellar in the Canada Cup. Speaking of that, Grant Fuhr almost single-handedly kept Canada in games against the Soviets in the '87 Canada Cup. He also played in the '84 tourney and Rendezvous '87 putting up an 8-2-3 record overall…

Nitzy's Hockey Den Quebec Nordiques All-Time Team

Last week the good folks at TSN released the last of their All-Time teams for each Canadian franchise. When they did the Winnipeg Jets, they fudged the rules a little by not including the Atlanta Thrashers part of the current franchise. They did of course include the WHA Winnipeg Jets. Along the same line of thinking, I decided to create a Quebec Nordiques All-Time team using the WHA an NHL seasons, but not the Colorado Avalanche portion of the franchise.
Lots of WHA content, as there should be, Quebec was one of the strongest teams over the 7-year existence of the league. The top goalie in Nordiques history is Richard Brodeur who played all seven WHA seasons with Quebec and his 165 career wins rank only two behind Joe Daley for most in league history. In addition his WHA career goals against average was 3.64. Dan Bouchard ranks as Quebec's second best goalie who posted a 3.59 GAA over his five NHL seasons in Quebec.
The top defenceman in Quebec history is easily J.C. Tremblay w…

Nitzy's Hockey Den Vancouver Canucks All-Time Team

Last week when I chatted with Steve Dryden (Senior Managing Editor of Hockey at TSN) on the phone, we talked mainly about the Maple Leafs All-Time team. We also discussed the fact that as a Toronto native, I have lived in the Vancouver area for over a quarter century and have seen a lot in this market. In fact, the second ever game I attended in Vancouver was on May 24, 1994; Game 5 of the Campbell Conference Finals, the one where Greg Adams scored in double overtime to knock the Maple Leafs out and send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final. I've seen enough of the Canucks over the years, I figured I'd create my own Canucks All-Time team too. So here it is. The All-Time top line is probably the easiest of any Canadian NHL team. Sedins and Bure, done. As well, the top two goalies in Canucks franchise history is about as straight forward as can be. All due respect to Richard Brodeur, but he gets the nod as Foundational Player.  The Canucks all-time to defencemen is loaded with …

Nitzy's Hockey Den Canadiens All-Time Teams; Pre and Post 1960

Earlier in the week, I created a Maple Leafs All-Time team that was split from pre and post 1960. A team with over 100 years of history really should be broken up into two squads. Obviously, I would have to do the same thing with the Montreal Canadiens. So here we go. First, the original overall squad as picked by TSN.
Now, my split squads with the 1959/60 season being the dividing point. A few things. As I did with the Maple Leafs split teams, I removed the caveat of requiring a current-day player seeing as the pre-1960 team would not have one. This allows room to rightfully place Patrick Roy on the post-1960 team, sorry Carey Price. The Canadiens are perhaps weakest at LW over the last 60 years, Tomas Plekanec grabs a spot on the strength of his 15 fairly productive seasons. His 984 games played for the Habs are the 4th most since 1960, just behind Andrei Markov. Markov played all of his 990 career games for Montreal and was a productive defenceman producing 572 points. Saku Koivu …

Nitzy's Hockey Den Maple Leafs All-Time Teams; Pre and Post 1960

Yesterday TSN revealed their All-Time Maple Leafs franchise team. They had three major stipulations; one player had to be from the current roster, one line had be a checking line and one defence pair had to be shutdown. They also allowed for a Foundational Player as a sort of wildcard slot. TSN's team was selected by a combination of Bob McKenzie, Craig Button and Steve Dryden, Senior Managing Hockey Editor of TSN.  Naturally, the day before TSN released their list, I did mine. It turns out great minds think alike. The first team below is from TSN, the second was mine chosen the day before. We had the EXACT same 13 forwards, both opting to not include Darryl Sittler or Doug Gilmour. The goalies were obvious matches. We only differed on two defencemen. Not bad at all.  Soon after I tweeted my squad, I received a direct message from TSN hockey guru Craig Button and began chatting with him. He was relaying to me the comments from his boss Steve Dryden. Dryden was amazed that my team…

33 Years Ago in Leafland; May 4, 1987

Spring of 1987. The Maple Leafs went on an improbable playoff run. They got to within a game of meeting the mighty Edmonton Oilers in the Campbell Conference Finals. I was a 15 year-old hockey mad kid enjoying the fortunes of my favourite team. What better time than now to look back at this memorable time of my youth and Leafs history.
"We should have had a better team in Newmarket to get us through. You can't win with American Leaguers. Mind you they tried hard enough, but there were no Tom Ferguses among them," stated Leafs owner Harold Ballard, referring to the lack of depth Toronto had in the AHL when injuries hit. Ballard continued griping, "Who is this 27 (Miroslav Ihnacak) anyway? You can't expect him to step in. We spent so much money to go over and get him (from Czechoslovakia), but he's just stealing money." For starters, Ballard decided to lessen the load on Leafs GM Gerry McNamara and appointed his assistant , Gord Stellick as GM of Newmarke…