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. 
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." 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

1981 Gretzky Shoppers Drug Mart Poster

Check out this beauty. I found a bunch of old posters I had tucked away and figured I'd start posting them. This first one is from 1981 and issued through Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada. It was put out in conjunction with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association with technical info provided by George Kingston of the University of Calgary. Kingston would go on to be the first ever coach of the San Jose Sharks and in 1994 coached Canada to its first World Championship since 1961. The title of the poster is "Improve Your Hockey Skills; Skating" and shows diagrams of The Great One demonstrating various hockey skills. There were at least two other posters put out at this time, "Shooting" featuring Mike Bossy and "Checking" with Bob Gainey. 
Enjoy below the fantastic drawings of Gretzky in a Jofa helmet that he never actually wore, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about skating, I sure did.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

1978 Goalie Mask Book

Here's a great book I picked up for the Den. This large, thick-stock book published in 1978 is titled "Hockey Masks and The Great Goalies Who Wear Them". It's filled with paintings of goalie masks of the era by Michael M. Cutler. I recall going on a class trip in the late 1970s or early 1980s to the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario and there being an exhibition of actual goalie masks. I'm not sure if this book was published in conjunction with that or not, but it is certainly along the same lines. 
The cover of the book is of course the mask of Hall of Famer Ken Dryden. In 1978, Dryden was in the midst of his final NHL campaign. He would lead the Canadiens to his sixth and last Stanley Cup in the spring of 1979.
Above is Vancouver's Curt Ridley mask included in the book. 1977/78 saw Ridley play a career high 40 games for the Canucks posting a 4.06 GAA. He would actually spend the entire next season with Dallas in the Central League. After the book came out, he played only 16 more NHL games, finishing with Toronto in 1980/81.
Next is Dan Bouchard of Atlanta Flames who in 78/79 led the NHL with 32 wins while posting a 3.33 GAA. He represented Canada in the 1978 World Championships going 2-4 allowing 4.19 goals per game. This particular mask was made by Bouchard himself with the design done by his 13-year old neighbour
By the time this book was released, Gilles Gratton was pretty much out of hockey. He had played 41 games for New York Rangers in 76/77 after starring in the WHA for three seasons. He played one game in 77/78 with New Haven of the AHL, allowing six goals before retiring for good.
The above mask of Washington Capital, Ron Low was a nod to the 1976 American Bicentennial. By the time the book came out, he was a Detroit Red Wing. 
The iconic mask of Gerry Cheevers is next. In 1978, Cheevers was winding down his Hall of Fame career. His final NHL numbers were 230-102-74 and a 2.89 GAA with two Cups. His four WHA seasons produced a 99-78-9 record and 3.12 GAA.
Lastly is one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, another Hall of Famer, Vladislav Tretiak.
Over his last three seasons of his career with Moscow Red Army, he went a ridiculous 81-7-4 with a 1.67 GAA. Oh yeah, he also won three Olympic Golds and helped the Soviets win ten World Championships.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sergei Makarov, Well-deserved Hall of Famer

Sergei Makarov was overdue to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. His longtime teammates, Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov were elected in 2008 and 2001 respectively. There is no reason Makarov should have waited so long. As dominance in his league went, he was the Wayne Gretzky of the Russian League in the 1980s.

Makarov was a 1st-Team All-Star in Russia for eight consecutive years starting in 1981. He was top scorer in the league for nine of ten years beginning in 1979/80. The only year he didn't lead in points he missed 16 games and still produced 42 points in 30 games. It's not just the fact that Makarov was the top scorer either, it's the margins by which he finished ahead of the second place man. See below his percentage of points he was ahead of second place:

79/80 11.5%
80/81 29.5%
81/82  5.6%
83/84 28.1%
84/85 22.6%
85/86 19.2%
86/87  6.0%
87/88 17.7%
88/89 31.7%

Over his nine seasons as top-scorer he led by an average of 19.1% over the next best player. That is the equivalent over an 80 game season of scoring 119 points to lead when second place has 100 points. Dominance indeed.
If we were to look at only Makarov's international numbers, his Hall of Fame credentials grow even larger. In Canada Cup, Challenge Cup, Olympics, Rendezvous 87, Super Series and World Championship play, Makarov played a total of 168 games. In these matches he produced 93 goals, 112 assists and 205 points. He was named to a World Championships All-Star team on eight occasions.
Simply, Sergei Makarov was a Hall of Famer before he even played a game in the NHL.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Vintage Photo of NHL Oldtimers Game in Vancouver, Part 3

In a further effort to figure out the circumstances in the above photo I found recently, I came across a few more mentions of old-timers matches played at Vancouver's Forum. Firstly is a pic from the Vancouver Sun in 1956 of ex-NHLer Clint Smith in promotion of that year's upcoming old-timers game. Smith, it turns out, was a founding member of British Columbia Hockey Benevolent Association so it only stands to reason he'd be promoting the event. I am fairly certain that Smith is pictured in my photo wearing a dark jersey, #11.
Feb 17, 1956
From the same paper a few days later I find another photo of Smith looking apparently exhausted from the game action of that evening.
Feb 20, 1956
In addition, there is a great photo of two all-time greats Sweeney Schriner and Joe Primeau wearing what appears to be the same white uniforms in my photo. The problem is, I don't see anyone in the mystery pic that looks even remotely like them. This pretty much eliminates 1956 as being the game in my photo and pushes the date closer to the late 50s or early 60s as I suspect it was from.
Feb. 20, 1956
Feb 20, 1956 Boxscore
Next I find this write-up of the 1958 Old-Timers game at the Forum in Vancouver. This one mentions Clint Smith, Babe Pratt, Cyclone Taylor and Hal Laycoe, all who I believe are in the mystery photo. The problem is, the article also mentions the referee of the match was Maurice Richard and the players included Elmer Lach, a linesman was Frank Fredrickson and one of the coaches was Lester Patrick. I can fairly safely say that none of these all-time greats are in my photo.

Therefore, I am eliminating 1956 and 1958 as possible years for the pic, still leaning toward early 1960s. More to come.

Jan. 21, 1958

Monday, June 27, 2016

Jaromir Jagr, Oldest Top-Ten MVP Voting Ever

Jaromir Jagr finished 7th in Hart Trophy voting for the 2015/16 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

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