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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Johnny Bower Cyber-Scrapbook

Toronto Maple Leaf legend Johnny Bower turns 90 years old this Saturday, Nov. 9 (or 89 or 91). The old China Wall is still kicking strong, although there is no truth to the rumour that Randy Carlyle had him dress as emergency back-up last week. 

I thought I would share a virtual scrap-book of newspaper clippings of Bower photos throughout the years. I think my favourite is the last one showing Bower and Marv Edwards in 1970 wearing cool Maple Leafs practice jerseys that I had never seen before. Enjoy.

Friday, October 31, 2014

1942 NHL Army Relief Classic

It's amazing, the things you stumble across while scrolling through old newspapers on Google News (what, you don't scroll through old newspapers on Google News?).

It was the night of February 6, 1942. A collection of National Hockey League Old-Timers played an exhibition in Boston against the Bruins of the day to raise funds for the Army Relief Fund. Check out the terrific "V for Victory" jerseys the old boys wore. The rosters are below:

The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins would finish third in the NHL that season and understandably did not go full out effort in the 30 minute affair. They boasted Vezina Trophy winner Frankie Brimsek as well as the "Kraut Line" of Schmidt, Bauer and Dumart. They also had Dit Clapper (who didn't play in this game), Flash Hollett, Roy Conacher and Bill Cowley (who would only coach the Bruins this night).

31 year-old Bruin of the day, Harvey "Busher" Jackson suited up with the the Old-Timers in order to play with fellow "Kid Line" members Joe Primeau and Charlie Conacher. Primeau was only 36 at the time but had been retired for six years, Conacher was only 32 but had hung up the blades the previous season.

 Ex-Bruin legends Eddie Shore and Tiny Thompson had been retired only a few years as well, although Shore would play five games with his Springfield AHL club this season. Ex-Ranger great Frank Boucher was re-united with Bill and Bun Cook, and perhaps enjoyed skating again so much that he would come out of retirement a few years later. In 1943/44 at age 42, Boucher would score 14 points in 15 games for the war-depleted Rangers.

The game itself drew 14,622 fans to Boston Garden and raised over $14,000 for the United States Army Relief Fund, the largest single gift in it's history.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just who IS pictured on Bryan Maxwell's Rookie Card?

Time for another look at Ken Reid's terrific new book, Hockey Card Stories. Reid shares the strange story of the rookie card of Bryan Maxwell. His first card was issued while he was with the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers in 1976/77. The only problem is, it's not Maxwell pictured on his rookie card. Reid's book describes it;

Few players, I am sure, would like to be airbrushed on their first ever hockey card. But it's not the doctoring that Maxwell talks about all these years later.
"That's not even me," says Maxwell. So, of course, after all these years, there's no mystery as to who the man on the card is...right?
"I don't know who is on my Cincinnati card," says Maxwell.

There have been cases of the wrong player being shown on a sports card, but usually the identity of the player has been figured out somewhere down the road. It seems strange to me that nobody has yet figured out who really is on Maxwell's rookie card. Let's try, shall we?

Firstly, it's easy to determine that the player on the card is wearing an air-brushed Cleveland Crusaders jersey leaving only the black shoulder trim. Bryan Maxwell had been acquired by Cincinnati from Cleveland after the 75/76 campaign. The actual Crusaders jersey is below and we can even see the faint white stitching between the collar and shoulder that is still visible on the Maxwell card. 

The question is, who played in Cleveland that year that made it on the card instead of Maxwell? The Society for International Hockey Research has a database with team player photos, looking through the 75/76 Crusaders there are only three guys that even slightly resemble the guy on the card.

Terry Ball is the biggest stretch, and he's far too old to be the guy in the photo. He has to be ruled out.

Barry Legge looks a bit more similar to the mystery man, but his chin is much less broad and pointier than him. He's out.
Lyle Moffat is closest to resembling the faux Maxwell, but honestly it's tough to make a case that it's him.

What if the guy had played with the Cleveland Crusaders even earlier than the 75/76 season? Card companies have been known to use photos that are three or four seasons old in their issues. A look through all the Crusaders rosters back to 1972/73 finds nobody who even remotely looks like the fake Maxwell. What next? While I was in the SIHR database I had a quick glance at the photos of the rosters of every single WHA team from 1975/76 as well as the ones that had become extinct prior to that. The results...nothing. There is not ONE single WHA player that looks like the guy on Bryan Maxwell's rookie card.

And that brings us to a good old fashioned dead-end. The only theory I have is the guy in the photo was not even a player. In some rare cases in the past a young trainer, bat-boy or front office executive would trick an unsuspecting photographer and find their way onto a card. Below is the 1969 Aurelio Rodriguez card that is actually a photo of the Angels bat-boy. Could this be what happened in the case of Bryan Maxwell?
He himself says hasn't a clue as to who's on his card. Perhaps Maxwell was in on the joke and is still refusing to give it up after all these years. What's your guess?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How To Play Goal by Johnny Bower

I picked up this little beauty on the weekend, it's a small booklet issued by Coca-Cola in 1966. The instructional book is chock-full of tips on playing goal from Toronto Maple Leaf, Johnny Bower. More importantly, it's also filled with fantastic comic-book style images of the goaltending legend in action. Check them out below.

Bower, straining to touch his toes. Nice Bicycle though.
Bower's crouch position depends on his level of back pain.

Obviously Mike Palmateer learned the kick-save from this book as a young boy.
How to bobble a puck in the air AND on the ice.

This one's titled, "Too many Habs!"
Perfect execution of the upper-sternum save.

The fruit of all that labour.

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