Monday, June 27, 2016

Jaromir Jagr, Oldest Top-Ten MVP Voting Ever

Jaromir Jagr finished 7th in Hart Trophy voting for the 2015/16 season...at age 43. It was his first top-ten finish in MVP voting in a decade when he finished second in 2005/06. Jagr is now the oldest player ever to finish in the top-ten of NHL MVP voting. Only two other men have done so past the age of 40:

Jacques Plante, Toronto 5th  1971, 42yo
Gordie Howe, Detroit 6th  1970, 41yo
Gordie Howe, Detroit 5th  1969, 40yo


Plante was 5th in voting despite playing only 40 games but he posted a 28-11-4 record and 1.88 GAA for a 4th place team. Howe was 6th in 1969 after scoring 103 points. He followed that up with 71 points in 1970 and another 1st Team All-Star  selection. Any way you look at it, pretty heady company for Jagr. If we lower the age threshold to 38 years old, only four other players have finished in the top-ten:

Al MacInnis, St.Louis 6th  2003, 39yo
Howe, Detroit 5th 1968, 39yo
Red Kelly, Toronto 9th 1967, 39yo
Ron Francis, Carolina 6th 2002, 38yo
Gordie Howe, Detroit 7th 1967, 38yo
Red Dutton, NY Americans 5th 1936, 38yo

Jagr was the top scoring player on a first-place team and there is really no reason to think he won't be as valuable to the Panthers again next season...and perhaps many more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Vancouver Blazers WHA Programs

I found this fantastic cache of 1970s hockey goodness this past weekend. Picked up eight WHA Vancouver Blazers programs in Gibsons, BC for the grand total of five dollars. Pretty, pretty good score. They range from October 1973, the third game ever for the Blazers through to November 1974. Two Gordie Howe covers and two Bobby Hull covers, real beauties.
Oct 1973 - Feb 1974
Nov 22, 1974
Jan 26, 1974
April 4, 1974
Jan 9, 1974
On top of the fantastic covers of these things, the greatness inside these programs is just as good. Check out some of the gold pictured below.
Gordie Howe, for Capt. George's Restaurants
Nightmare fuel
Some of the all-time greats...well, one.
The collage was big in the 1970s
A police sketch of Gordie promoting his upcoming appearance
Little known fact; in his spare time Bobby Hull was a hobby electronics enthusiast
When you score 50 goals like Danny Lawson you get a red velvet chair in the locker room and a personal tailor
Your 1973 Vancouver Blazers


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Vintage Photo of NHL Oldtimers Game in Vancouver, Part 2


I began last week, the task of identifying the above photo. As far as I know at this point, it is from an Old-timers game of ex-NHLers and PCHL/WHLers that took place at Vancouver's Forum in the 1950s or early 60s. The major finding is the fact that Hal Laycoe is definitely in this old-timers photo, but he was an active NHLer until 1956, so the pic must be from after that year. After finding and discounting a newspaper article on a similar game from 1953, I managed to find mention of a game the following year in the Vancouver Sun; March 1, 1954. Using "Laycoe Parameter", this is still not likely the game pictured in the above photo, but let's confirm anyway.

The newspaper photo identifies the following guys; Art Somers, Bill Carse, Clint Smith, Tip O'Neil, Bill Hutton, Chuck Millman and goalie Earl Robertson. Bill Hutton and Clint Smith are perhaps the only two guys that I can identify in the mystery photo. See the comparisons below.
Bill Hutton, and in mystery pic

Clint Smith in mystery pic
Clint Smith
I found some good photos of Art Somer and Bill Carse from around the same era, I can with high certainty say these two do not appear in the mystery photo.
Art Somer, 1949
Bill Carse, late 1940s
In addition to the great newspaper photo, the Vancouver Sun had the great Babe Pratt write about the game in which he played. The first few paragraphs are below.

The article by Babe Pratt goes on to mention players from the game; Sweeney Schriner, Lorne Carr, Art Chapman, Alex Shibicky and the recognizable Eddie Shore. I'm fairly certain that none of these guys are pictured in the mystery photo.

It's pretty safe to rule out the 1954 Vancouver Old-timer game as being the one in my photo, I'm still leaning toward late 1950s or early 60s. The hunt continues.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Did Gordie Howe Score 50 Goals in 1953?


Gordie Howe, the greatest ever, did just about everything one can do on the hockey rink. One of the only things he did not accomplish was scoring 50 goals in a season...or did he? On March 24, 1953, upon conclusion of the NHL season the Canadian Press had an article titled simply;
"What's This?"
But for an official ruling, Gordie Howe would have tied Maurice Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Howe, who wound up the season with 49 goals, believes he scored one goal which was awarded to Defenceman Red Kelly.
The goal occurred Feb. 8 in Boston. Late in the third period, Kelly fired a shot from the blueline which beat Jim Henry. Howe claimed he tipped the puck before it went into the net, and his teammates agreed. But the officials didn't see it and credited Kelly with the goal. 
Howe, who at that time was looking for his 40th goal of the season and his 200th since breaking in, wasn't bitter about the decision however.
"It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," he said of Kelly, who was trying for 20 goals.
The goal in question was officially counted as Kelly from Lindsay and Delvecchio at 16:20 of the 3rd period. The few accounts I could find of the game from the following day make no mention of Howe having possibly tipped the puck on Kelly's goal. It turns out, even with this possible extra marker, Red Kelly failed to get his 20 goals that season. He was attempting to tie Flash Hollett's record for defencemen. 
Below are the NHL scoring leaders from February 10, 1953 at which point the Red Wings had played a total of of 51 of their 70 scheduled games. At this time, Howe had notched an incredible 17 more goals than second place marksman, Maurice Richard. Although Howe slowed his production to 10 goals and 24 points of his last 19 games, he maintained his 17 goal lead over the second best goal scorer in the circuit (Ted Lindsay with 32, Richard stalled at 28). 
NHL Leaders, Feb 10 1953


Monday, June 13, 2016

Kris Letang Joins Exclusive Club


Pittsburgh Penguin, Kris Letang potted the Stanley Cup winning goal in game six against the San Jose Sharks. By doing this he managed to have a hand in all four of his team's game-winning goals in the Cup final. He becomes only the fourth player to accomplish this feat, the other three are among the greats of the game, Milt Schmidt, Jean Beliveau and Wayne Gretzky. The circumstances of each follows.

1941, Milt Schmidt

Game 1 3-2 Win 3rd Period BOS : Pat McReavey (Milt Schmidt, Jack Crawford) (EV) 9:16
Game 2 2-1 Win 3rd Period BOS : Roy Conacher (Milt Schmidt) (EV) 17:45
Game 3 4-2 Win 2nd Period BOS : Milt Schmidt (Woody Dumart, Dit Clapper) 0:59
Game 4 3-1 Win 2nd Period BOS : Bobby Bauer (Milt Schmidt) 8:43
1965, Jean Beliveau
Game 1 3-2 Win 3rd Period MON : Yvan Cournoyer (Ted Harris, Jean Beliveau) (PP) 8:59
Game 2 2-0 Win 2nd Period MON : Jean Beliveau (Noel Picard, Claude Provost) (PP) 2:55
Game 5 6-0 Win 1st Period MON : Jean Beliveau (Bobby Rousseau, Dick Duff) (PP) 7:14
Game 6 4-0 Win 1st Period MON : Jean Beliveau (Dick Duff, Bobby Rousseau) (EV) 0:14

1987, Wayne Gretzky

Game 1 4-2 Win 1st Period EDM : Wayne Gretzky (Jari Kurri, Kevin Lowe) (EV) 15:06
Game 2 3-2 Win OT EDM : Jari Kurri (Paul Coffey, Wayne Gretzky) (EV) 16:30
Game 4 4-1 Win 1st Period EDM : Kevin Lowe (Wayne Gretzky) (SH) 18:44
Game 7 3-1 Win 2nd Period EDM : Jari Kurri (Wayne Gretzky) (EV) 14:59

2016, Kris Letang 

Game 1 3-2 Win 3rd Period PIT : Nick Bonino (Kris Letang, Carl Hagelin) (EV) 17:27
Game 2 2-1 Win OT PIT : Conor Sheary (Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby) (EV) 02:35
Game 4 3-1 Win 2nd Period PIT : Evgeni Malkin (Phil Kessel, Kris Letang) (PP) 02:37
Game 6 3-1 Win 2nd Period PIT : Kris Letang (Sidney Crosby, Conor Sheary) 07:46



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vintage Photo of NHL Oldtimers Game in Vancouver


It appears I may have found myself a good old-fashioned mystery at the Vancouver Flea Market last week when I picked up this old photo of two obviously old-timer hockey squads. It's probably a reproduction of an old photo (I paid a buck, so that doesn't matter) printed on thicker stock paper measuring 10" x 13". The image itself is the prize, I've never seen this online anywhere. The print definitely has some wear to it, but I'm not sure how old it is. There is no date or names on it at all, but there is however one face that is easily identifiable. The dour looking gent in the black overcoat in the second row, right of centre beside the old fellow in glasses is Hall of Famer Fred "Cyclone" Taylor. Now,  I am aware that Cyclone Taylor organized NHL old-timer games in Vancouver as fundraisers starting around 1948. Taylor lived and worked post-career in Vancouver right up until his death in 1979.
The arena in which the photo is taken certainly looks like the Vancouver Forum, built in 1931 and longtime home of the Western Hockey League's Canucks. There are also a few more players that I'm fairly certain of at first glance. The bespectacled player in back row, far right, behind the ref is most likely Hal Laycoe. Laycoe played in the NHL from 1945 to 1956 after which he would coach the Western League New Westminster Royals and Portland Buckaroos  from 1956 to 1969. In the back-row again, number 15 in white is almost certainly Father David Bauer of Canadian National team coaching fame. He played junior at St. Mike's College before being ordained as a minister in 1953. He coached St. Mike's to a Memorial Cup win in 1961, then moved out west to coach at UBC before starting the National team program. The guy directly behind Cyclone Taylor sure does look like Walter "Babe" Pratt who won the 1944 Hart Trophy, then played and coached in New Westminster in the early 50s. Bauer, Laycoe and Pratt are pictured below.

So, this mystery photo is obviously from one of these Cyclone Taylor organized old-timer games, the question is what year? Even though, I believe the first one of these was played in 1948, the first mention of an old-timers game in Vancouver I can find in google news archives is from 1953. Low and behold, look at the uniforms being worn in the photo below. 
March 3, 1953
Well, the uniforms sure do match. Problem is, not one of the players pictured and mentioned in the newspaper pic appear to be in my mystery flea market photo. Most definitively, number 10 in dark jersey Bill Hutton, does not match the number 10 dark in my photo. Perhaps I can cross-reference some names in the boxscore from this game to see if any of these guys can be seen in the photo that is likely from a slightly later date. Since Laycoe was an active NHLer until '56 and its unlikely he would have played in an oldtimers game before then, the photo must be from after this time. The mystery continues.





Thursday, June 2, 2016

Cyclone Taylor at Ottawa Senators Old-timers Game, 1953


Here are some great pics found in the newspaper archives of the Ottawa Citizen from 1953. It may be a photo of one of the very last times that all-time great Cyclone Taylor appeared in public in a hockey uniform. The day was March 24, 1953 in front of 5,000 spectators at the Ottawa Auditorium, the occasion being an old-timers game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Maroons.
However, at 68-years old, Cyclone didn't actually play in the game but took warm-ups in full equipment to the delight of the fans. Also dressing only for the pre-game were three other Senator stars of the past; Harry Broadbent, Frank Nighbour and Cy Denneny, (pictured below) all in their early 60s at the time.
Among the ex-players that did play in the game was goaltender Alec Connell who was a mere 53 at the time along with Al Shields and Yip Radley both in their mid-40s (below). The Maroons beat the Senator oldsters by a score of 5-2 with the help of Bill Cowley only six years retired from NHL active duty. 42-year old Syd Howe potted a marker for the Sens in front of goalie Bill Beveridge. 



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