Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Toronto Blue Shirts, 100 year anniversary

As the Toronto Maple Leafs begin training camp in this their Centennial season, its interesting to look at what was happening at camp 100 years ago. 
Now, in reality, 100 years ago precedes the actual history of the Maple Leafs and the National Hockey League itself. In the autumn of 1916, teams of the National Hockey Association were preparing for the upcoming season. However, they did not begin gathering for camp until December as opposed to the current day, mid-September. The NHA would of course fold and re-form as the NHL the following year in a successful effort to oust Toronto Blueshirts owner Eddie Livingstone. The plan succeeded and the new Toronto NHL squad (alternately referred to in the press as the "Arenas" or "Torontos") was made up of Livingstone's former Blue Shirts players. The Leafs Centennial season is a celebration from this point (1917) onward, but the history of the Maple Leafs franchise realistically goes back further than 100 years. 
The Toronto World newspaper reported on the opening  of camp in the Dec. 2, 1916 issue;
"The Toronto N.H.A. team had its first real workout at the Arena yesterday, when six players appeared on the ice in uniform and had a good practice. Ken Randall and Alf Skinner, who have settled their differences with the club, were the new-comers. The team lined up with Claude Willson in goal, Andy Kyle and Ken Randall on the defence, Reg. Noble at left, Corbett Denneny in centre and Alf Skinner at right. Harry Cameron is expected to report on Monday. Jack Marks of Quebec practiced with the Torontos."

The "Arena" was the old Mutual Street Arena, at that time the largest rink in Toronto. It would house the Toronto NHL franchise until 1931 when The Gardens was erected. Randall, Skinner, Noble, Denneny and Cameron were the core of the previous season's Blue Shirts and would go on to lead Toronto to the Stanley Cup in the inaugural NHL campaign in 1917/18. Goaltender for the training session on this day, Claude Wilson, was merely filling in as a practice goaltender. Wilson had played two games for the Toronto Blueshirts in 1914.
On Dec. 6, 1916, The World discussed the situation of Toronto retaining previous season's top scorer Duke Keats from the 228th Battalion team;
"Captain Reade, manager of the 228th battalion team of the N.H.A. announces that Sgt. Gordon Keats of that battalion would play with the Toronto team this season. This is the end of the trouble over the Keats controversy. The 228th felt that they were strongly enough fortified with forward players, and that allowing Keats to play with the Torontos would make the two local teams better balanced. Torontos had eight out to practice following the workout of the 228th. Eddie Longfellow, the well-known lacrosse player, was the newcomer to the squad. It was his first appearance on skates this season. Wilson, Kyle, Randall, Cameron, Corbett Denneny, Skinner and Noble were the others out."
The 228th Army Battalion of Northern Fusiliers was added to the NHA for 1916 and they proceeded recruiting players from existing NHA squads. Toronto's star player of the previous year, Gordon "Duke" Keats was recruited but Livingstone complained to NHA president, Frank Robinson. He decided that the Army should make the final call, and they allowed Keats to stay with Toronto for the 1916/17 season. However, in the end, the Army was not pleased with Keats playing against the 228th in league matches and they often found Keats military duties to conduct on days the two teams would face-off. On several occasions when the 228th played the Blue Shirts, Keats was unavailable for action, often times on "latrine duty" for the military.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

World Cup Team North America, 1976 Version

The initial concept of a Team North America for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey was looked at as too gimmicky by many hockey observers and fans. As the tournament approaches however, and exhibition games are played, the idea of a team of under-23 year-olds seems fairly intriguing. In fact, I'm personally predicting that Team North America makes the tournament final against Team Canada.
Imagine if this concept was around for the very first Canada Cup, the pre-cursor of the World Cup. Below are the under-23 year-old players who would have likely been invited to camp for Team North America '76 with their 75/76 stats. In truth, the squad was barely North America and more simply Canada U-23, if not for Mark Howe, Gordie Roberts and Gary Sargent. 

  • Bryan Trottier, Calder Trophy, 95 pts
  • Pierre Larouche, 53g, 111pts
  • Tom Lysiak, 82 pts
  • Tim Young, 51pts  
  • Bernie Federko, WCJHL, 187 pts 
  • Doug Jarvis, 35 pts
  • Mel Bridgman, 50 pts
  • Dennis Maruk, 62 pts
  • Lanny McDonald, 37g, 93 pts
  • Danny Gare, 50g, 73 pts
  • Rick Middleton, 24 g
  • Wilf Paiement, 21g
  • Dennis Ververgaert, 37 g
  • Mario Tremblay, 27 pts
  • Real Cloutier, WHA, 60g, 114 pts
  • Mark Napier, WHA 93 pts
  • Clark Gillies, 34g
  • Mark Howe, 76 pts
  • Tiger Williams, 21g, 299 pim
  • Pat Hickey, 36 pts
  • Darcy Rota, 37 pts 
  • Eric Vail, 47 pts
  • Ron Sedlbauer, 19g
  • Bob Gainey, 28 pts
  • Denis Potvin, 98 pts
  • Ian Turnbull, 56 pts
  • Ron Greschner, 27pts
  • Gordie Roberts, WHA, 22 pts
  • Bob Dailey, 39 pts
  • Gary Sargent, 24 pts
  • Dave Lewis, 19 pts
  • Mike McEwen OHL, 63 pts 
  • Harold Snepsts, 18 pts
  • John Davidson, 56gp, 3.97 gaa
  • Don Edwards, AHL, 3.41 gaa
  • Mike Palmateer, CHL 3.62 gaa
  • Michel Dion, WHA 2.74 gaa
  • Pete LoPresti, 34 gp, 4.13 gaa 
Three of these guys actually made the 1976 Canada Cup team; McDonald, Potvin and Gare, so they definitely get spots on this squad. Trottier, Larouche and Lysiak are a pretty solid top three down the middle, and Doug Jarvis makes a fine fourth liner on any team. On right wing, McDonald and Gare are automatics, and 60 goals in the WHA for Real Cloutier should warrant a spot on the U-23 team. Mario Tremblay compliments Montreal teammate on the fourth line nicely.
On the left side, Gillies and Howe would get the first two spots and Eric Vail likely a third spot, in hopes his down year after winning the Calder in 1975 was merely a sophomore jinx. The fourth line pretty much forms itself with Bob Gainey joining club mates Jarvis and Tremblay on a terrific shutdown line.
Now we get to the weakness of Team North America '76. On defence, they have one of the best in the world in Denis Potvin, who was one of the top players on actual Team Canada 1976. Turnbull, Greschner and Dailey should get spots as well. After that, it's a crapshoot of the two Americans; Roberts and Sargent, the junior player Mike McEwen and Snepsts and Lewis. Those top four D would have to be leaned on heavily. In the nets it gets even worse as John Davidson was the only established U-23 NHL goalie at this point. Michel Dion who had led the WHA in 75/76 in Goals Against Average would likely get a spot and one of minor-leaguers Don Edwards or Mike Palmateer who would both blossom as NHLers in the upcoming season.
All in all, not a bad team really. They would definitely be better than the US team and likely the Finns as well. Not saying they'd have much chance of making the final, but like today's Team North America, they'd be darn fun to watch.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

1976 Canada Cup Program

As the World Cup of Hockey approaches, let's have a look at the souvenir program from it's pre-cursor, the very first Canada Cup in 1976. After the tremendous interest of the 1972 Summit Series and the subsequent 1974 re-match with WHA stars, the Canada Cup tournament was born in 1976. Even though it was won by Canada over Czechoslovakia, the event lacked much of the high drama of the Summit Series. Bellows a look at most of the interior of the program for the tournament.

The lineup and schedule pages are shown below. 
The great thing about this program is that it includes rare images of Team Canada '72 in games against Sweden and Czechoslovakia. Below is a shot of Ken Dryden being challenged by a Czech player in a 3-3 tie in Prague. The game took place a mere two days after Canada's triumph in Moscow and once again Canada pulled out late heroics with Serge Savard tying the game with only four seconds left. The broadcast of this game can be found here.

 As a tune-up for the Soviets, Canada played two games in Sweden prior to travelling to Moscow. Canada won 4-1 then tied 4-4 in a pair of penalty filled affairs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

100 Year Old Hockey Cartoons; Lou Skuce

Dec 2, 1916

I recently found these terrific old cartoons on google news archives. They're from the Toronto World Newspaper, by a cartoonist named Lou Skuce. Born in Ottawa in 1886, Skuce began cartooning professionally in the early 1910s eventually becoming the Art Editor and Editorial Cartoonist for the World.
The first three cartoons illustrate the start of the National Hockey Association season in both 1915 and 1916. The "Livvy" in the third one refers to Eddie Livingstone the owner/manager of the local Toronto Blueshirts.

Dec 11, 1916
Dec 19, 1915 
The next is a great depiction of one of the toughest players of the day, George McNamara who would suit up in 1916/17 with the 228th Battalion squad of Toronto. At 6'1" and 220 lbs, he was one of the biggest players of the era and would be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1958. In 1915/16 with the Blueshirts McNamara racked up 74 Pims in 23 games while playing a bruising defence.
Dec 6, 1916
Lou Skuce went on to illustrate many program cover for the Toronto Maple Leafs including the one below from my collection for a game at Mutual Street Arena in 1930.

Skuce also illustrated the cover for the very first game at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931 as well as the beauty below it.
Another of Skuce's hockey related projects was the Maple Leaf coasters for the O'Keefe Beverage Company in 1932. Below is his Andy Blair coaster (sadly, not in my collection).
O'Keefe Beverage Coaster, 1932
In addition to his newspaper and illustrative work, Skuce would entertain audiences of the day with live drawings as part of a stage production "with the aid of slides, lantern, screen and his facile pencil". I can't even imagine this as a form of entertainment, but this WAS 1916. He would continue producing advertisements, stage shows and murals right up to his death in 1951.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

1965 Vancouver Canucks Signed Program

Here's a Western Hockey League, Vancouver Canucks game program from the 1964/64 season. Longtime Canuck, Phil Maloney is the photo on the cover in addition to some nice old autographs from players in the game against the Los Angeles Blades. Maloney was in the midst of an 81 point campaign for Vancouver after leading the team with 90 the year previous. He had tallied 15 goals and 46 points as a 22 year old NHL rookie with Boston Bruins in 1949/50. Maloney would play a total of 158 NHL games, producing 71 points. He had previously led the Western League in points with 95 in 1955/56.
This program is from March 14, 1965 a game Vancouver won 4-2.
Lloyd Haddon, Los Angeles Blades
Defensemen, Lloyd Haddon was winding down his professional career in 1964/65 and put up 35 points from the blue line after seasons with L.A. of 51 and 49 points. He had an eight game stint with Detroit Red Wings in 1959/60.
Harley Hodgson, Los Angeles Blades

Hodgson was a stay-at-home defenceman who had 13 points this season. He is also the grandfather of current NHLer Cody Hodgson...well, no, he's not but I had to add something interesting about him.
Warren Hynes, Los Angeles

I'm pretty sure this signature is from Warren Hynes, a Right Winger for L.A. who would score 52 points this season. Hynes once led the International League in goals (39 in 55/56) and points (95 in 57/58). He never got a sniff in the NHL.

Bill Burega, Vancouver Canucks
I wrote about "Booger" here http://nitzyshockeyden.blogspot.ca/2014/09/maple-leaf-cup-of-coffee-bill-burega.html who was at one point thought to be a successor to Bill Barilko on the Maple Leaf blueline.
Bill McNeill, Vancouver Canucks
Billy McNeill would be the top scorer on the Canucks in 1964/65 with 88 points. He was a veteran  of 257 NHL games, all with Detroit Red Wings. In February 1960, it was McNeill along with Red Kelly, who threatened to retire rather than be traded to New York Rangers. The Red Wings had no choice but to cancel the trade and Kelly was soon traded to Toronto. McNeill was named a 1st Team All-Star in the Western League in both 64/65 and 65/66 when he tallied 102 points.
Les Hunt, Vancouver Canucks
Les Hunt was a defender for who notched 32 points from the back-end in 64/65. He would be selected in the 1967 Expansion Draft by Pittsburgh but never got a crack at the NHL.
Howie Young, Los Angeles Blades
Howie Young was a hard-nosed defender who led four different leagues in Penalties In Minutes throughout his career. 1964/65 was no exception as he topped the WHL with 227 PIM while notching 30 points. He had posted 273 minutes with Detroit to lead the NHL in 1962/63, smashing the league record of Lou Fontinato by 71 minutes. Young was an original NHL Vancouver Canuck suiting up for 11 games in 1970/71. Amazingly, he made a comeback after five years of retirement at age 48. He played 7 games for the New York Slapshots of the Atlantic Coast Hockey League and then 4 more with the Flint Spirits of the IHL. He of course accumulated 20 PIM in those 11 games.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

More 1980s Gretzky Posters

Last week I posted a fantastic early 1980s Wayne Gretzky poster. Here a few more that I had as a kid, and have re-purchased as an adult. The top one is a 7-Up ad from 1981. The soda company surrounded The Kid with fellow NHL "stars" Morris Lukowich and Richard Sevigny...good choices. In fairness, Lukowich was the pre-Hawerchuk star of the original Jets, leading the team in goals in their first two NHL campaigns with 33 and 35. The season this poster was released, Lukowich posted his career best numbers of 43 goals, 92 points. Hawerchuk certainly helped with those.
In 1981, Richard Sevigny was coming off a season in which he shared the Vezina Trophy with teammates Dennis Herron and Bunny Larocque (this was the last year the Vezina was simply awarded to the team with the lowest goals allowed). He would never match his 2.40 GAA from that season and was lit up by Gretzky's Oilers in those '81 playoffs as Edmonton swept Montreal in three games.
7-Up included other sports on this one as well. There is no jersey number visible, but the Montreal Expo is definitely Gary Carter. He's shown tagging out a no-name Cincinnati Red at the plate. I'll guess that the Vancouver Whitecap shown is their current team president Bobby Lenarduzzi, but I'm not interested enough to look it up. The two CFLers from Winnipeg and Edmonton shown at the bottom...does it really matter?
7-Up went back to the Great One in 1982 but this time he was by himself. This one is a classic that every eleven year old boy in Canada had hanging on his bedroom wall.

This, slightly more artsy poster I believe also came out in the early 1980s. I don't know too much about it, as I picked it up in a souvenir shop in Vancouver in the late 90s for a dollar. I do like the faux-North Stars-esque team he's playing in the upper part of the image. Pseudo Gilles Meloche is about to be schooled by a Gretzky wrap-around.
Neilson candy company issued a 50 card Gretzky set in 1982 with their Cookie Bars. This was a poster that was available as a premium that obviously did to have the NHL licensing rights. I'm surprised however that they obtained the rights to use Farrah Fawcett's hair.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Leafs vs Red Wings in Vancouver 1934, Newspaper Clips

April 20, 1934
A few years back I wrote about a 1934 tour through Western Canada by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. In fact it was my first of many articles published in the Society for International Hockey Research Journal. http://nitzyshockeyden.blogspot.ca/2008/09/1934-leafs-wings-western-tour.html 
I was able to research the tour with an entire month's worth of original Vancouver Province newspapers that I found at a garage sale, posted here are a few additional scans of some great images from the April 1934 Province.
The image at the top is an ad for an autograph signing by King Clancy and Hap Day at the Vancouver Hudson's Bay department store, for "Friends and Admirers". 
The next image is a cartoon commenting on the apparently poor ice-conditions at the Denman Street Arena.
April 23, 1934
Next, a photo of Dick Irvin, Conn Smyth and Jack Adams being shown the town at a rooftop luncheon put on by the organizers of the tour.
April 24, 1934
Front page pic of Clancy and Charlie Conacher promoting the first game of the series in Vancouver.
April 21, 1934
Another autograph session, this time with Red Horner and Herb Lewis at the local Spencer's. They will be signing "albums or anything you want." 

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