Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gretzky's 100 points in 34 games

I read in a few places how today is the anniversary of Wayne Gretzky reaching the 100 point plateau in 1983...in 34 games played. Below are the top scorers through December 18, 1983:
(GP-G-A-Pts)

Gretzky          34 37 63 100
Kurri               34 28 38 66
Trottier            33 22 33 55
PStastny          34 17 38 55
Nicholls           34 22 30 52
Bossy               27 24 23 47
Savard             33 22 25 47
Tanti                32 25 21 46
Federko           32 20 26 46
Dionne             34 14 32 46
Pederson          32 14 31 45
Messier             33 13 32 45
Deblois             33 16 28 44
Coffey              34 15 29 44

After less than three months of the season, Gretz had a ridiculous 34 point lead on teammate Jari Kurri and a 45 point lead on third place Bryan Trottier and Peter Stastny. One strange name on the 1983 leaders list is Winnipeg Jet Lucien Deblois who had collected 44 points in his first 33 games. He would slow down considerably and finish the year with 79 points.
Of course the scoring rates were somewhat different in the 1983/84 than they are currently. To be exact, back then an average NHL game produced 7.90 goals, nowadays it is 5.47 per game. Today there are about 69% of the goals scored compared to 30 years ago. With a little math we can put the 83/84 numbers into the scoring race of 2014/15. Current players in Red:


Gretzky           34 26 44 70 
Kurri               34 19 26 45
Seguin             30 23 15 38
Trottier            33 15 23 38
PStastny          34 12 26 38
Malkin             30 15 22 37
Voracek           30 11 26 37
Tarasenko        31 20 16 36
Nicholls            34 15 21 36
Crosby             27   9 26 35
Giroux             30   8 27 35
Stamkos           33 18 17 35
Kessel              31 17 17 34
Getzlaf             32 10 24 34
Nash                 29 20 12 33
Bossy                27 17 16 33
Johnson             33 10 23 33
Tanti                  32 17 15 32
Savard               33 15 17 32
Kane                  32 15 17 32
Federko              32 14 18 32
Dionne                34 10 22 32
Pederson             32 10 21 31
Messier               33   9 22 31
Backstrom          30   8 23 31
Giordano             33  8 23 31
Hudler                 32 13 17 30
Forsberg              30 12 18 30
Deblois                 33 11 19 30
Coffey                  34 10 20 30

Amazingly, Gretzky would still be winning the race by a full 25 points over Kurri and 32 over actual leader Tyler Seguin. As well, Seguin's 23 goals look all the more impressive as only Gretzky's 26 adjusted goals would be beating him. In fact there are no other 20 goal scorers other than Tarasenko and Nash after adjusting the old figures to today.

Interestingly, there are more players with over a point-per-game today than the adjusted figures from 30 years ago. Eleven guys today are scoring at least one point a game, the adjusted old-timers only have six at that level.

Anyway we look at it, Gretzky really was in his own league.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jean Beliveau Day; March 24, 1971


On Wednesday, March 24, 1971 the Montreal Canadiens held a Jean Beliveau Day prior to that evening's match with the Philadelphia Flyers. Their captain was winding down his illustrious career and this was fourth-to-last regular season home game. Beliveau and the Canadiens would of course extend his career and the season all the way to a Stanley Cup victory of Chicago almost two months later. This night however, was Beliveau's special one.

"I must admit," Beliveau said, "For one of the few times in my career, my mind wasn't on hockey the past few days. I found the first period quite difficult but started getting back into the game in the second and third periods." Montreal beat the Flyers 5-3 and Beliveau assisted on Montreal's second goal, the 15th of the year from John Ferguson. Ferguson commented on the goal, "I had a lot of time and a lot of room. But when you get a pass like that from Jean it makes a difference."

Prior to the game there was a 32 minute on-ice ceremony emceed by Radio Canada broadcaster, Rene Lecavalier. During the events Beliveau was presented with a cheque of $155,855 to the Jean Beliveau Fund for Underprivileged Children which he called, "The highest and best thing that could happen to any man. It's the greatest mark of esteem they could have given me." The cheque was delivered by three of his former coaches, Punch Imlach, Toe Blake and Rollie Hebert. (below) Beliveau commented on the generosity afterwards, "The donations to the Fund really surprised me, especially since money is hard to come by these days."  

Donations to the Fund were given by, among others; $5000 each from the Quebec Government, NHL Oldtimers and the Canadiens themselves, $7000 from Molson's Brewery and $4000 from Colonel Sanders Foundation. Beliveau would be presented a litany of other gifts as well. His teammates presented a silver bowl and team Management gave him a gold and silver mounting of Beliveau's 500th goal puck.

On top of this the Hockey Night in Canada crew represented by Danny Gallivan gave Jean a bronze statue of the milestone 500th goal and the Flyers Captain Ed Van Impe presented a silver tray. Jean, his wife Elise and daughter Helene were also given plane tickets to Paris, tickets to the 1972 Munich Olympics and finally a trip to Guadeloupe for a Caribbean holiday.  



Friday, November 28, 2014

The Eruption of Petri Skriko


Going into play on November 18, 1986 Vancouver Canuck, Petri Skriko had produced 5 goals and 8 assists in playing all of his team's 18 games. This is about as average as one could get in the mid-1980's NHL when players scoring at a point per game pace was commonplace. Then came the Eruption of Petri Skriko. What sounds like an Icelandic volcano was in fact one of the greatest goal scoring bursts in NHL history.

On Nov. 19, Vancouver won at home against Calgary by a score of 5-0. Skriko had a natural hat-trick before the second period had ended, the last two were shorthanded goals. November 21 saw the Canucks lose at home to the Rangers 8-5, but Skriko one-upped himself. Instead of a natural hat-trick to open the scoring, he went one better. Before the second period was two minutes old, Petri Skriko had pumped four goals past John Vanbiesbrouck, the last of these was also shorthanded. He added his fifth goal at the halfway point of the game to give Vancouver a 5-2 lead. Alas, the Rangers poured the next six goals past Wendel Young and Richard Brodeur for the win.

The following day they traveled to Edmonton only to lose 5-2, with Skriko being shutout. Next came a back-to-back with Los Angeles. The Canucks won at home by 11-5 with Skriko counting another pair of goals and two helpers. In Los Angeles on November 26, Skriko continued his rampage with his THIRD hat-trick in eight days including yet another shorthanded marker.

By this point, Skriko had collected 17 goals and 10 assists for 27 points in 23 games and was now 5th in the NHL in goals. Over his previous five games he had accumulated a ridiculous 12 goals and 14 points. Yes, 12 goals in 5 games is pretty darn good, Wayne Gretzky himself only managed to have a stretch that good once in his career. Gretz scored 15 (FIFTEEN) goals in a five game period culminating with his 5 goal effort on Dec. 30, 1981 against the Flyers to reach 50 goals in 39 games.

Soon after this eruption, much like an Icelandic volcano, Petri Skriko went dormant. Over their next six games Vancouver went 1-6 and Skriko was held scoreless with 3 assists. Amazingly, if not unsurprisingly, Skriko would not score a goal until he potted an empty-netter on Dec. 23,  12 games after his amazing run. After reaching 17 goals through 23 games played at the end of November, Skriko wouldn't score his 20th until Jan. 16 versus Calgary in his 45th game.

Petri Skriko would finally awaken again on March 6 against Montreal with yet another hat-trick, to bring his season goal total to 24. I believe he missed 4 games prior to this at some point in February, so before this game he had counted a measly 4 goals over his last 41 games. He was shutout the next game after the latest hat-trick but scored a pair of goals in each of the next three games for another 9 goal outburst over a 5 game stretch. Three goals in his final 8 games brought the season total to 33 in 76 games, 21 of which were scored over two five game segments. In 1986/87 Petri Skriko was the very essence of hot and cold.

Skriko scored 30 goals each of the next two seasons. He would return to play in Finland in 1992/93 before finishing his career with six seasons in Denmark before retiring at age 36.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pat Quinn, R.I.P.


Pat Quinn passed away this week and the tributes have been pouring in. Quinn was universally revered and should really be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I believe the only reason he hadn't been so honored yet was due to the fact that he was on the selection committee. Quinn is fifth overall in career NHL coaching victories with 684, and even though he never won the Stanley Cup, he has the 6th most career playoff wins with 94.

It's interesting to me how the Vancouver Canucks and their fan base have seemingly claimed Quinn as their own when in reality he coached in and won more than twice as many games with Toronto. In fact, Quinn owns the highest career winning percentage of any Maple Leaf coach ever. I understand that Quinn coached Vancouver to their magical run of 1994 and that carries a lot of weight in people's memories. In truth, he coached almost as many games with Philadelphia and was even more successful. Granted, Quinn also filled roles of player, General Manager and President with Vancouver...indeed we can all share in honoring him.

 Below are the top five coaches by Percentage in Leafs history (GP W-L-T Pct)
Quinn    574 300-196-52    .591
Irvin       427 216-152-59   .575
Imlach    770 370-275-125 .562
Day        546 259-206-81   .549
Burns     281 133-107-41   .546

As for playoff games, even though he never won a Cup he is still over .500 with Toronto.
(GP Pct)
Day     80 .613
Quinn  80 .513
Irvin    66 .508
Burns  46 .500
Imlach 92 .478







Thursday, November 20, 2014

Maple Leafs Surrender 9 Goals at Home


Nashville 9, Toronto 2. 
Nine goals by one team in a game is rare nowadays. In fact the Leafs haven't scored nine themselves since the 2006/07 season and they had not given up at least nine goals since Dec. 26, 1991 when they lost 12-1 in Pittsburgh. 

The last time Toronto had surrendered at least nine on home ice was all the way back on Jan. 14, 1991 when Buffalo beat the 11-30-4 Leafs by a score of 9-3. The Sabres got out to a 4-1 lead after the first period, chasing starter Peter Ing from the net. The Leafs actually got within a goal five minutes into the second on goals from Gary Leeman and Dave Ellett. The Sabres then poured three past Jeff Reese in a three minute stretch and two more in the third. In the end Reese allowed five goals on 14 shots while Ing allowed his four on 13 shots. Each of  Alexander Mogilny and Pierre Turgeon ended up with 2 goals, 3 assists and a plus 6 rating, while Toronto's Vinny Damphousse and Michel Petit were each a minus five.

The time previous that the Leafs allowed at least nine at home was two seasons before on March 18, 1989 when Winnipeg smashed them 10-2. This game was only 2-0 for Winnipeg after one period before the Jets ripped four past Alan Bester to go up 6-0 after two. By the time it was over, Bester had given up all ten goals on 35 shots against and Vinny Damphousse posted another minus 5 rating. For the Jets, Tomas Steen had a hat-tick and five points and Dale Hawerchuk collected five assists and six points.

The Maple Leafs of the late '80s early '90s were not a very good team, (Newsflash). From 1987/88 through 1991/92 they posted seasons of 52, 62, 80, 57 and 67 points and won a mere three games in two playoff series. 25 years later, the current edition of the Leafs are somewhat reminiscent of these teams of the past. They are a team that's barely good enough to fight for a playoff berth and not quite bad enough to receive a high draft pick.

Is it possible to equate Kessel, Bozak, vanRiemsdyk to Leeman, Olczyk, Damphousse as the top line in their mid-20's with defensive issues? Nazem Kadri is Daniel Marois, the young up-and-coming scorer? Dion Phaneuf as the ex-Calgary Flame, current captain near 30 years old? Joffrey Lupul as the often injured scorer Wendel Clark? Gardiner and Rielly as Al Iafrate and Luke Richardson, the young stud defenders in their early 20's? Bernier and Reimer as Jeff Reese and Peter Ing, the young goaltending tandem? This may all be a bit of a stretch, but it sure is fun to compare different eras. 

Truthfully, I'm not sure this edition has much more hope than the one from 25 years ago. Remember, those Leafs of old would soon trade for 19 mostly prime seasons worth of two future Hall-of-Famers in Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour. Even with this, they still never even reached the Stanley Cup final.
Unless the current Leafs are going to acquire Steve Stamkos (maybe?) and say a Rick Nash or Joe Thornton...I'm afraid what we see is what we get.




Saturday, November 15, 2014

John Collins Cartoons; From World War to Hockey Wars

Jan 12, 1943
A while back I high-lighted the hockey related newspaper cartoons of the great John Collins of the Montreal Gazette. Interestingly, he began with The Gazette mainly as a political cartoonist, satirizing the main figures in the conflict of the Second World War. Collins would at times take a sporting angle while looking at the world events as seen in the above cartoon. This one depicts Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt looming over an over-matched Adolf Hitler, complete with swastika marking.

Oct 22, 1945
Collins would pretty much stay away from sports-themed drawings until after the War had ended. With the beginning of the 1945/46 NHL campaign, he diverted his talents to the far lighter realm of sports.

Oct 23, 1945
Dec 1, 1945
John Collins held his post as Montreal Gazette resident cartoonist until retiring in 1982. He would pass away in 2007 at 89 years of age.
Nov 24, 1945
Dec 3, 1945 
Dec 8, 1945
Dec 22, 1945
Nov 1, 1945
Nov 10, 1945
Nov 17, 1945



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Happy 90th Johnny Bower

Hockey Hall of Fame card, 1983
Johnny Bower turns 90 years old today. He joins Wally Stanowski (95) and Howie Meeker (91) as the only living Leafs over 90 years old. In honour of the living legend, I am posting pretty much every piece of Bower memorabilia from my den. 
Nov. 1964 Hockey Illustrated
Feb. 1966 Hockey Illustrated
1966 Esso Schedule
Jan. 16 1968 All-Star Game Program 
1988 Maple Leafs Schedule signed with Dick Duff
1968/69 Post Cereal Marble & 1960/61 Shirriff Coin 
1966 Coca Cola How to Play Goal
Headline Hockey, 1963
Feb. 16, 1963 Game Program

2004/05 In The Game, Memorabilia
1963 Signed Maple Leafs Team Stick

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