Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dan Daoust; The Last Maple Leafs Rookie Hat Trick

Four goals in a debut for Auston Matthews. What else can be said about a feat that was the very first of it's kind in National Hockey League history, nothing. However, one of the more interesting things about his four goal game, is the fact it was the first hat trick by a Maple Leafs rookie in well over thirty years. The last Leaf rookie to score three in a game, Dan Daoust in 1983.
February 16, 1983, Toronto beat the visiting St.Louis Blues by a score of 6-3 behind the 24 saves of Rick St. Croix. The Leafs went into the game with a 14-30-10 record, the Blues not much better at 19-29-11. Daoust notched his first at 17:47  of the first beating Mike Liut to make it 2-0 Toronto. The assists went to John Anderson and Gaston Gingras. He made it 3-0 with an unassisted goal at 11:14 of the second. Two and a half minutes later he assisted on Rick Vaive's 38th goal of the year to make it 4-1 Toronto. 
After the Blues made it 5-3, Daoust completed his hatty 6:35 into the third period on assists from Anderson and Jim Benning. The four points for Daoust gave him 30 points in his previous 21 games played.
The win was the first of six straight for Toronto and they went 14-10-2 to finish the season. Daoust finished his rookie campaign with 51 points in 48 games and a spot on the All-Rookie team. Still, Toronto was ousted in the first round of the playoffs by Minnesota by three games to one. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pro Hockey Season Kicks Off, 100 Years Ago

As the NHL prepares to commence it's 100th anniversary season, it is interesting to look at the hockey world of 100 years ago. Not 1917, which was the first the year of the NHL but the National Hockey Association of exactly 100 years ago and the fall of 1916.
The NHA signalled the beginning of its final campaign with a pre-season All-Star game of sorts that took place on December 17, 1916 in Toronto. Yes the season began a fair bit later 100 years ago. The game pitted the newly formed powerhouse 228th Battalion hockey team formed of military players in the Toronto area and an All-Star team consisting mainly of the other Toronto NHA entry, the Blueshirts, reinforced by eastern players Newsy Lalonde, Didier Pitre and Jack Marks.
As described the following day in the Toronto World, the match was no contest but still entertaining;
"Wonderful Speed Displayed By Soldiers' Hockey Team
Saturday night's pro. hockey season opener deserved a bigger attendance than was in evidence. Despite the fact that the 228th Battalion snowed the All-Stars under to the tune of 10 to 3, it was a real lively contest, with an abundance of thrills.
All good things that have been printed about the soldiers' ability to play hockey haven't been enough. Saturday night they looked to be the greatest aggregation of puck-chasers that ever stepped on the arena. And that doesn't exclude the champion Toronto's of several seasons ago or any of the coast teams who have played here. They have barrels of speed, team play, all are classy stick-handlers and weight is their middle the end of the game, when you would have expected to see the overworked regulars show signs of tiring, it looked as if they could have left Oatman, Arbour and a goalkeeper on the ice and still played rings around the All-Stars."

The review of the All-Stars was less than complimentary, especially toward the Eastern imports;
"Generally speaking, it looked as if there would have been more stars on the ice if they had stayed in the wet district. Newsy never worked himself too hard and Pitre didn't seem particular what got by him. When Marks got the puck he made the soldiers hustle, but he didn't seem too anxious to get it."
The soldiers however received glowing reviews;
"(Eddie) Oatman and (Amos) Arbour were the pick of the soldiers. The way those two boys went down made the fans gasp. Each scored three goals. Oatman gets back with his man faster than (Alf) Skinner does, and that's saying a lot. Arbour is a scrappy little player with barrels of speed. He stickhandled his way thru every kind of defence Saturday night. (Art) Duncan was good also. And (Howie) Lockhart in goal should have been drawing money for net minding long ago. He stopped everything he had a chance on and some on which everybody thought he had no chance. (Claude) Wilson was only fair."
To be fair, Claude Wilson, the goalkeeper for the Stars was only a practice goalie for the Blueshirts had not played pro hockey for two years, and even then he was only a fill-in for Toronto's Hap Holmes. And even then, he played a mere sixteen minutes of scoreless tending over two games. 
In the 1916/17 season, the Blueshirts would go on to play .500 hockey until the team folded on February 11, 1917. This was precipitated when the 228th Battalion was summoned overseas to military duty on February 10 and the remaining four teams voted to suspend the Blueshirts operations and continue play with four Eastern teams (Ottawa, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Quebec). The Blueshirts players were dispersed among these clubs by drawing of names. Such was the business of hockey 100 years ago, a year before the NHL was formed.
228th Battalion Team

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 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.

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