Sunday, April 21, 2019

Eddie Emberg; First Player Ever to Debut in Playoffs and Score


Colorado Avalanche defenceman, Cale Makar made NHL history in the first round of the 2019 playoffs by scoring a goal in his NHL debut that was also a playoff game. He is only the seventh player to ever do this. It's a fairly eclectic list with really only one guy (Brind'Amour) who became star in the league. I was interested in finding out about the very first player to have his debut in a playoff game and score a goal, a guy I had never heard of, Eddie Emberg.
A look at the statistical record of Eddie Emberg shows his only NHL games took place in the 1944/45 post-season. He played two games for the Canadiens scoring his one and only goal in his debut match, the question is which game was actually his first? A check of NHL.com's boxscore records determines Emberg's first game was March 29, 1945 in the first round against Toronto. This was the fifth game of the series that the Leafs were ahead three games to one, but game five belonged to the Habs. Montreal kept the series alive by beating Toronto 10-3, the newspaper headlines declared the surprise and concern for the Leafs.
I found one newspaper clip that mentioned Emberg "Up from Quebec Aces with Nils Tremblay for the game". 22 year-old Emberg would score ten points in seven playoff games for the Aces of the Quebec Senior League that same season. He also played game six with the Habs as Toronto rebounded from the embarrassing defeat and eliminated Montreal with a 3-2 win. The Leafs went on to defeat Detroit in seven games for the Stanley Cup.
Eddie Emberg never graced an NHL ice sheet again. He would star in the Quebec League for the next decade, leading the loop in scoring with 67 points in 40 games for Valleyfield in 1946/47. 
Boxscore of March 29, 1945
Game Five vs. Toronto.





Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #9

Above is a rare appearance on the cover of a hockey magazine (or magazine of any kind for that matter) of one Dave "Tiger" Williams. The publication is Action Sports Hockey from November 1978. Williams was beginning he fifth NHL season, having just compiled the top Penalty Minute season of his career with 351 total. Along with all the PIM's, Tiger posted 19 goals and 50 points as the heart and soul of the late 1970's Maple Leafs. Williams had topped the NHL in PIM in 76/77 and would again the season he made cover boy of this magazine, but even though he had his career best total the year prior, he was bested by Philly's Dave Schulz who collected 405 minutes to Williams 351.
The November 1974 Hockey World magazine below features a nice early photo of future Leaf captain Darryl Sittler. Entering his fifth season in the NHL, Sittler had topped the Maple Leafs in points the previous two seasons with 77 and 84 points respectively. In 1973/74 Sittler managed to place 9th in Hart Trophy voting, collecting two votes.
In 74/75 he still managed to top the Leafs even though his totals fell back slightly to 36 goals and 80 points. It wasn't till the following campaign that Sittler truly blossomed into an NHL star as he put forward the first 100 point season in Leafs history and placed ninth in league scoring.
Of course, both Williams and Sittler (among many others) would be gone by the late 1970's and early 80's in the purge of talent by Ballard and Imlach, leaving the team in the wasteland of the NHL landscape for well over a decade.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #8


                                       
These two covers pretty much bookend the career of Maple Leafs goaltender Mike Palmateer. The first one is from Action Sports Hockey, April 1978 and The Popcorn Kid shares the cover with Mr. Hockey. The article on Palmateer declares him "The Best Young Goalie In The World" and shows him making one of his characteristic, unorthadox saves.
The title of the article was a bit of a misleading though. Sure, Palmateer was 24 years old and finishing up his second NHL season, but there really just weren't that many young goalies in the NHL at that time. The only other one who could be argued for this title would have been 22 year old Don Edwards of the Sabres. Amongst the 24 goalies who played at least 30 games in 1977/78, the only ones under 25 years of age were Palmateer, Edwards, the Rangers John Davidson and Jim Bedard of the Capitals. Palmateer finished the season third in the NHL with 34 Wins, 4th in Save Pct and 2nd in Shutouts. The next season he would finish 5th in Hart Trophy voting before knee issues began hindering his career.

By the time of the Hockey Illustrated cover in January 1984, Palmateer was in the final few months of his career. After being traded to Washington prior to the 1980/81 campaign, Palmateer returned two seasons later to indeed be Toronto's MVP of the 82/83 season. Sure, Rick Vaive had scored 50 goals for the second straight year, but without Palmateer the Leafs would have been even worse than they actually were. On a team that was 12 games under .500 and collected only 68 points, Palmateer was only two games under .500 and posted a respectable (for the 1980's) 3.99 GAA.
 By the time this magazine came out, Palmateer was in his last season, his GAA ballooned to 4.91 over 34 games as his knees finally forced him into retirement at age 30.


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #7

Here's two nice covers from the late 1970's featuring "The King" Borje Salming. The first one is an Action Sports Hockey magazine issued in February 1978 while Salming was in the midst of his fourth of six consecutive All-Star seasons. The previous year, 76/77 he was named to the First All-Star team after producing 66 assists and 78 games. Salming finished second to Larry Robinson for the Norris Trophy by a vote of 186 to 157. The King's season was so good that he even finished fourth in Hart Trophy voting (the highest defenceman) and also placed fifth in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy.
The second magazine is another Action Sports Hockey dated March 1979 again with Salming on the cover. This season, Salming put up 73 points in 78 games and was again named a Second Team All-Star. He also finished seventh in Hart Trophy voting, the second and final time he received votes as Most Valuable Player in the league.
Inside this issue there is also an article on Leaf goaltender Mike Palmateer being one of the top goalies in the NHL. In fact he placed third in All-Star voting behind only Ken Dryden and Chico Resch. Palmateer also placed fifth in Hart Trophy voting on the strength of a 2.96 GAA and .909 Save Pct. The Maple Leaf goalie actually topped the NHL in a stat called Goals Saved Above Average with 48.84. This mark still stands as the fifteenth best season all-time. Sadly, 1978/79 would prove to be Palmateer's last great season as knee issues limited his ability and he played only five additional seasons.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #6

I've always quite liked the illustration of Eddie Shack attacking a Montreal Canadien on the front of this 1965 Hockey Illustrated magazine, probably because it's from the pen of Jack Davis. Davis was a re-knowned illustrator in the second half of the 20th century, perhaps best know for his work in Mad Magazine. The 1965/66 season proved to be one of the best in Shack's career as he posted 26 goals after scoring only 5 the previous season.
Inside the magazine, there is an article titled "Big League Hitters Are Baun...Not Made" about the bodychecking prowess of Leaf defender Bobby Baun. He was in the midst of his tenth NHL season but would play only 44 games in 65/66 with no goals and a mere six helpers.
In February 1966 Hockey Illustrated once again featured the Leafs, picturing Johnny Bower and Bobby Hull on the cover. Bower posted a career high Save Percentage in 65/66 with a .930 mark. This was the fifth time in seven years that Bower topped the NHL in Save Pct. Appropriately there is an article inside titled "Johnny Bower's Secrets of Goaltending".  Toronto would finish fourth this season with 74 points and lose to Montreal in the Semi-Finals 4 games to 2.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #5

Here are two beautiful magazines with Toronto Maple Leaf covers from 1964. The first is a December 1964 Hockey Illustrated featuring a terrific shot of Johnny Bower stretching to make a save against Red Wing Marcel Pronovost. The Leafs had won the previous three Stanley Cups, but would slip to fourth place in the 1964/65 season and lose to Montreal in the Semifinal. Toronto had claimed goalie Terry Sawchuk in the Intra-League Draft in June 1964 in order to help the now 40-year old Bower in the Leaf nets. Bower, who played 51 games in 63/64 in front of back-up Don Simmons, had his workload cut to 34 games in 64/65. The duo of Sawchuk and Bower proved successful enough to garner the Vezina Trophy as Toronto allowed the least number of goals against. 
The article headline inside the magazine declares "The Leafs will be stronger than ever!", alas The Big M was a bit off in his assessment. Mahovlich himself was voted to the Second All-Star squad alongside teammate Carl Brewer, but it seemed the Leafs were aging out of their Stanley Cup window.
Dave Keon is pictured on this nice cover of "Official Sports Inc Hockey" magazine as he battles two un-named Boston Bruins. Like most Leafs, Keon's numbers dipped a bit from the three-time Cup winning season 63/64 to 64/65. His points dropped from 60 to 50 and he even slipped a spot in the Lady Byng voting from 2nd to 3rd. Although Keon was only 24-years old, the Maple Leaf core (Armstrong, Kelly, Bathgate, Horton, Bower & Sawchuk) around him seemed to have reached their prime and were on the decline.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #4


Time for some more Toronto Maple Leafs magazine covers! Here's a beautiful Dick Duff cover of Hockey Blueline magazine from January 1959. I have this entire season bound together in a nice ring binding. I think it was done for issue to the media, not sure how many survive bound together as the whole season. 
The cover of the bound 1958/59 Blueline magazines
Here's a great December 1967 cover of Hockey World picturing mostly New York Rangers, but amidst all the white shirts is Maple Leaf Pete Stemkowski. He was in the midst of a season in which he he was traded to Detroit among others in the Paul Henderson trade. The previous spring, Stemmer helped lead the Leafs to the Stanley Cup by tallying 12 points in 12 games while playing on a line with Jim Pappin and Bob Pulford. 
Perhaps the greatest part of this magazine is a full page, full colour photo of Bobby Orr, your Rookie of the Year from 1966/67.

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