Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1949 Maple Leafs Lineup Card

Here's something you don't see every day. I picked this beauty up recently, an original 1949 lineup card from Maple Leaf Gardens. It was given out for a Saturday night game between the Leafs and the visiting Rangers. It's a simple two-sided thick stock paper that folds at the middle. Other than a few stains, it's in great shape for being over 65 years old and looks great on my Den wall.
Halfway through the 1948/49 season, Toronto and New York were tangled in a tight race for the last two playoff spots. On January 15, 1949 Toronto was in fifth place with 30 points in 33 games, while the Rangers were last with 28 in 32. Below is the newspaper boxscore from the game.
Ranger defenceman Frank Eddols opened the scoring late in the first period assisted by Buddy O'Connor who would lead New York in 1948/49 with a measly 35 points in 46 games. Maple Leaf, Bill Ezinicki collected two minor penalties in the first en route to an NHL leading 145.
21 year-old Leafs defender Bill Barilko tied the score halfway through the middle period with an unassited marker. This was Bashin' Bill's second full year in the NHL, sadly of course, he would only play two more years after this one. Four minutes later Tod Sloan put Toronto up with help from Ezinicki and Harry Watson. Watson ended up tops in Leaf scoring with 45 points, tied for 7th in the NHL. 
The win pushed Toronto closer to the .500 mark with a record of 12-14-8 but they would not win again for 11 days. That win on January 26 was the start of a 9-3-4 run for the Leafs putting them at 21-20-13. However, they lost five of the last six to close the year and end up solidly entrenched in the fourth and final playoff spot. New York would beat the Leafs the very next night back home but stumbled to a 7-16-3 record the rest of the way and finish last overall.
Inexplicably, the Leafs caught fire once the playoffs started. They beat second-place Boston 4 games to 1 and then swept first place Detroit, a team that finished 18 points ahead in the regular season. This would be Toronto's third straight Stanley Cup win, the first team to win three in a row in NHL history.
Harry Watson in the 1949 Stanley Cup Final

Bill Barilko

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vancouver Area Hockey Jerseys, 1941/42

Last week I wrote about amateur hockey in British Columbia during World War II, and this week I found old photos of some of these teams. Digging deep into the google newspaper archives I managed to find these great shots of these long-gone teams. 

All of these photos are from early 1942, the first one is of Jack Riley with the Vancouver Norvan Shipyards team. With the letters "NORVANS arched over the logo of a ship, this jersey sums up the North Shore of Vancouver terrifically. With North Vancouver being my home, I am certainly going to take a stab at using this logo on a t-shirt. 
The second one is of Victoria Navy which in spring of 1942 was playing exhibition matches but not affiliated with a league. By 1943/44 they were part of the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey League. Pictured here are Stan Taylor on the left and Bill Gibb on the right. By 1943, the Navy would have future Hall of Fame goaltender Chuck Rayner between the pipes. The Navy "N" a Canadian Maple Leaf is just a great looking jersey.
The third pic is of the New Westminster Spitfires who would bring up the rear of the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association in 1941/42 but looked damn good doing it in these striped beauties.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Wartime Hockey, Vancouver Norvan Shipyards

North Vancouver Waterfront Shipyards during WWII

I live in North Vancouver, British Columbia and have for about 16 years now. As much as I still instinctively refer to Toronto and it's surrounding environs as my hometown, North Vancouver really is my adopted hometown now. As well, I love reading and writing about hockey history and in fact, will soon be published for the fifth time in the Society for International Hockey Research Journal. However, for a hockey historian, there really isn't a lot of hockey history in my hometown of North Vancouver.

Sure, there have been 12 players born in North Vancouver to play in the NHL, but only three of them played at least 50 games. There was Todd Simpson, a tough defenceman who played 580 games and the Kariya clan (although Paul was technically born in Vancouver). Martin Jones is the new starting goalie for the San Jose Sharks and Sam and Griffin Reinhart are top prospects just starting their NHL careers. After current Canucks radio colour commentator Dave Tomlinson and WHA star George Lyle, thats about it. Imagine my delight then when I found on the SIHR database a team named Vancouver Norvan Shipyards from 1941/42.

The Shipyards in the team name refers to the Burrard Drydock Company on the North Vancouver waterfront which at it's peak during World War II employed up to 14,000 workers in the shipbuilding industry (photo at top). Across Canada during WWII, senior hockey leagues in most of the large cities included teams made up entirely of military personnel and/or sponsored by civilian companies that contributed to the war efforts. The North Vancouver Shipyards were no exception.

With such a large number of people working and living nearby the Shipyards, the social and athletic club was extremely important. The Burrard Drydock was reputed to have the largest five-pin bowling league in the world at the time. Employees engaged in such past-times as boxing, softball, archery and roller-skating. The Shipyards sponsoring a hockey team falls right in line with the social environment of the busy wartime outfit. There was no hockey rink onsite at Burrard Drydock, so the team played out of the Vancouver Forum a few kilometres across Burrard Inlet, still standing today (pictured at bottom).

The Vancouver Norvan Shipyards squad played in a league named the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association along with three other Armed Forces related teams; New Westminster Spitfires, Nanaimo Clippers and Victoria Bapcos (sponsored by a Pendrey Paint Company). On November 12, 1941 the Novans faced off in Victoria to kick off the season. It proved to be a tightly contested league as after the 28 game schedule had been completed, the top three teams were separated by only two points. Victoria finished first with 31 points, Norvans and Nanaimo tied with 29 and New Westminster brought up the rear with 23 points.

The Norvans and Nanaimo played a two game, total goal series to determine who claimed second spot. On February 20, 1942 Nanaimo travelled to the Forum at Hastings Park and walloped the Norvan Shipyards by a score of 9-2. The next day, the Clippers swept the two game set with a 4-3 win at home. On the 23rd the same teams began a best-of-three Semi-final in Nanaimo with another victory for the home team, this time 4-2. The Norvans evened it up with a 4-3 win back at the Forum the next day setting up a final match in Nanaimo thanks to their home ice advantage. The last game was no contest as the Clippers blew out Norman Shipyards 7-0 behind a shutout from goaltender Keith Langille. Nanaimo went on to beat Victoria in the final by 3 games to 1 win the PCSHA Championship.

There's no way to know for sure, but it's safe to assume that most of the players on the Vancouver Norvan Shipyards hockey team worked there in some form or another. Many of them as well as others throughout the league had recently or would soon play in the NHL. There are terrific photos of some of the Norvans players on the Vancouver Archives database. First pictured is Jack Riley who had  played two full seasons with the Montreal Canadiens in the early 1930's as a teammate of Hall of Famers Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat. Riley would star in the minor leagues up until joining the Norvans and during this 41/42 season he produced 14 points over 6 games. 
Jack Riley 
Red Beattie was another ex-NHL'er who was 35 years old when he skated for the Norvans. Beattie had played 334 games through the 1930's mainly with the Boston Bruins and all-time great Eddie Shore. His best year was 32 points in 48 games for the 35/36 Bruins. He would score 24 points for the Norvans.
Red Beattie
Jack Kilpatrick, who played for Victoria Bapcos that season was an actual Olympic Gold medalist when Great Britain won hockey Gold in 1936. Kilpatrick played most of his career with the Nelson (BC) Maple Leafs in various senior circuits and would lead the Pacific Coast league in scoring in 41/42 with 43 points in 27games.
Although most of the players in the league were military men stationed in and around the Vancouver area or civilians employed in the war effort, there were a few who would actually go overseas to fight. Doug Martinson of North Battleford, Saskatchewan was a member of the Nanaimo Clippers this 41/42 season and soon after was shipped overseas. As a flying officer in the RCAF, Martinson was killed in Belgium on November 11, 1944.
Doug Martinson
Amazingly, a few of these guys are actually still alive to this day. Cliff Gannon who played for New Westminster Spitfires and later in the Allan Cup with Regina Army Caps turned 97 years old on October 21. Perhaps the oldest living veteran of this league is on Pete Bonneville. He topped the Norvan Shipyards squad in points with 33 and played senior hockey until 1946. Born in Cornwall, Ontario in 1913, Pete Bonneville is alive at 102 years old today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Maple Leafs Scoring at 50 year Low

Last night's broadcast of the Maple Leafs/Dallas Stars game made a mention on the current team's goal scoring ineptitude (of course they would then score four in this game). The note was made that the Leafs 20 goals scored through their first 10 games of the season was their fewest since 1956/66...50 years.

Here's a look back to that long gone season and how the Leafs stood at the same point as the current campaign. It should be noted that in contrast to this years Leafs who won their 11th game,  the 1965 Leafs were shutout by the last place Boston Bruins 2-0.

Maple Leafs , Nov 15, 1965
3-6-2, 11GP 19 GF, 38 GA

  • Pulford         2-5-7
  • Mahovlich    2-3-5
  • Ellis              2-3-5
  • Kelly             1-3-4
  • Stanley          1-3-4
  • Horton           1-3-4
  • Armstrong     1-3-4
  • Keon              2-1-3
  • Selby              2-1-3
  • Kurtenbach    2-0-2
  • Shack             2-0-2
  • Douglas         1-1-2
  • Joyal              0-2-2
  • Pappin            0-2-2
  • Pronovost       0-1-1
  • Stemkowski   0-1-1
Somewhat surprisingly, the 3-6-2 record and 8 points still had Toronto in a fourth place playoff position at this point in the season. The Bruins and Rangers would win a combined 33 games the entire rest of the season to finish entrenched in 5th and 6th place. Toronto, even with the slow start would end up with 208 goals over 70 games only 32 less than league leader Chicago. Leafs would finish 3rd with a record of 34-25-11 and be swept in the playoffs by Montreal.
As bleak as the team scoring appeared on Nov 15 with no player at more than 2 goals scored, as usual, it evened out in the end. Mahovlich scored 30 goals over the team's last 60 and topped the squad with 32. Keon, Shack and Pulford potted 24, 26 & 28 each, a more than respectable total in those days.
It's interesting to look at the NHL leaders at the same point of the 1965/66 season also. After 9 games, Bobby Hull had 12 goals and 18 points for Chicago. He would slow down only slightly to finish with 54 goals, 97 points in 65 games. Montreal's Bobby Rosseau was tied with Hull with 18 points and scored 60 in his final 59 games to maintain 2nd in the scoring race, his best season by far. 
Chicago's Doug Mohns was perhaps the biggest surprise early on in 1965 with 7 goals and 14 points through 9 games. He ended up playing all 70 games and had 22 goals, 49 points. As mentioned, usually, things will even out in the end.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Mom's Friend, Fleming MacKell

On October 19, two-time Stanley Cup winner Fleming MacKell passed away at the age of 86. MacKell played thirteen seasons in the NHL and was named a First Team All-Star after the 1952/53 season in which he scored 27 goals. With 369 points in 665 games and another 63 in 80 playoff games, MacKell was an under-rated NHL star of the 1950's. 
The photo above was graciously given by MacKell to my Mother only a few years ago. My recently retired Mom was then a teller at the bank that he did his business with in Ajax, Ont. She must have struck a chord with Mr. MacKell as he would make a point of visiting only her counter every time he came in. She knew him as a friendly old gentleman, and not as an old hockey player. Once she discovered he was an ex-NHLer she of course told him about her hockey obsessed son. 
When she shared with me that she had an old NHL veteran as a bank client and asked me if I had ever heard of Fleming MacKell, I predictably replied yes. I shared with her how he and his father Jack were the second ever father/son combo to play on Stanley Cup champions after Lester and Muzz Patrick. I told her how in 1958 he had a magical playoff run when he scored an amazing 19 points in 12 games for the Bruins and how he won two Cups with the Maple Leafs before his 22nd birthday. On one of his later visits to the bank Mr. MacKell brought my Mom this terrific personalized photo to pass along to me. He even took the time to write on the back of the photo "Harry Lumley" and "Al Dewsbury" indicating the other two players shown. I especially enjoy how he wrote "Thank You Mom" at the bottom-left of the photo.
Fleming MacKell, Hockey Blueline Nov. 1958
Soon after this, my Mom told me that Mr. MacKell said he would be having some surgery done and would be moving from the Ajax area. That was about the last time she saw him. Mr. MacKell did however send her a few letters afterwards to stay in touch. I knew I had to repay his generosity and kindness to my Mother and me. I went through my collection of old hockey books and paraphernalia and found a hockey guide from the early 1950's that pictured a head shot of MacKell on the cover along with Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard. I thought he may like this so I packaged up the book and sent it to the address his letters had been sent from in Montreal.
My Mom received one more letter from Mr. MacKell and in it he mentioned that he had indeed received the book I sent him. After recovering from his surgery of a few years ago, he was living in Hawkesbury, Ontario when he peacefully passed away. I'd like to think he enjoyed the book I sent him and that it brought him back even one nice memory of a long ago time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Slow Start for Crosby

Sidney Crosby has finally scored! In his sixth game of the 2015/16 season Crosby finally made his way onto the scoresheet with a goal and two assists. The player with the fifth highest career points per game in NHL history had gone the first five games of this season without a point. Maybe it was his off-season job as a Tim Horton's drive-thru cashier that dulled his skills, but this year has been the slowest start in Sid's career. His previous worst start to a season was 2010/11 when he gathered only 3 points in his first 5 games played. Now, it may not be entirely fair to compare Crosby to the top two players in career points per game; Gretzky and Lemieux...but it sure is fun.

As one may expect, neither The Great One or Le Magnifique ever started an NHL season pointless in five games. Gretzky's worst five game start was 1996/97 when he collected a pedestrian four points in his first five games. In fact, Wayne Gretzky never ONCE went five games in a row without getting at least one point over his entire career. The closest he ever came to this was from March 22 to April 4 1999 when he received only one assist over a six game period. Of course he had played 1475 NHL games to this point and had less than three weeks left before retiring. 

Mario Lemieux like Gretzky never started a season with less than 4 points in 5 games, which he did in 2001 and again in 2005. Conversely, Lemieux's best five game start to a campaign was in 1988/89 when he exploded for 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists). Gretzky's best five game start was in 1983/84 when he collected only 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists). As a comparison, Crosby's best start was in 2011/12 when he had 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in his first 5 games.

So, as much as Crosby is killing fantasy teams around the world with his poor start, it can't continue. He'll likely end up with close to 100 points when it's all said and done right near or at the top of NHL scoring.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

1942/43 Toronto Army Daggers

Cliff Simpson
During the Second War, the Senior Ontario Hockey Association included several full teams of players enlisted in the Canadian Military and stationed in and around the Toronto area. One of the squads was the Toronto Army Daggers who's photos I found on the Toronto City Archives website. The Daggers finished third in 1942/43 with a record of 4-7-1 but still qualified for the OHA Senior playoffs. They played the Niagara Falls Cataracts winning in two straight games by scores of 4-1 and 9-2.

The Daggers were then dumped in the Semi-finals by the RCAF Flyers by scores of 7-6 and 11-1. Cliff Simpson (above) would lead the Daggers in playoff scoring with 6 goals and 9 points in the 4 games. Simpson, 19 years old at the time would go on to play bits of two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and in 1947/48 scored 110 points in 68 games for the AHL's Indianapolis Capitals.

Buck Davies (below) had 4 points in 10 games for the Daggers this season and went on to play one NHL playoff game for the 1948 New York Rangers before a decade in the AHL. 
Buck Davies
Doug Adam
Doug Adam, another 19 year old played 5 total games for the Daggers and 1 assist in 4 games for the 49/50 New York Rangers. Adam starred in the old PCHL/WHL until through the mid-1950s, twice leading the league in goals. With the EHL Charlotte Clippers in 56/57 Adam led the loop with 65 goals in 63 games. He would coach the Rochester Americans of the AHL for half a season in 1971/72 before being replaced by...Don Cherry.

Lloyd Finkbeiner was one of the few Daggers to have already played in the NHL before the 42/43 season having put in two games with the 40/41 New York Americans.
Lloyd Finkbeiner
Victor Grigg
Victor Grigg topped the circuit in PIM's this season of 42/43 as he had 42 in 11 games. The defenceman also chipped in 6 goals and 15 points. Greg would never make the NHL with his peak being a 35 point campaign for the AHL's St. Louis Flyers in 1950/51. John Holata was a rare case on the Daggers as he had actually played in the NHL this very same season in 12 games for the Detroit Red Wings, scoring 2 goals. He played 3 more games for the Wings three years later in his only other NHL stint and would lead the AHL in goals with 52 for the 46/47 Cleveland Barons. Holata tragically died in 1951 as he suffered a heart attack while driving a car in Denver where he was playing for the Denver Falcons.
John Holata

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