Thursday, January 17, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #3

Hockey Pictorial was a monthly publication that was issued from 1955 through 1980. The editors obviously knew what hockey fans wanted, as it seemed every second issue featured a Maple Leaf player on the cover. OK, maybe the Leafs weren't featured that frequently, but why put Bruin Doug Mohns on the cover when you can put Frank Mahovlich? It's a no-brainer. Anyway, here are four Hockey Pictorial issues from my collection ranging from October 1958 to October 1961.
As the Leafs prepared for the 1958/59 campaign, they were coming off a last place finish in which the bright spot was Mahovlich winning the Calder Trophy. The Big M bested Bobby Hull as top rookie even though Hull out pointed him 47 to 36 on the strength of his potting 20 goals to Hull's 13. The Leafs would sneak past the Rangers to make the playoffs on the final day of the 58/59 season to begin their rise to their dynasty of the 1960's.
The October 1961 cover featured another Leaf coming off a Calder winning season. In 1960/61, Dave Keon posted 20 goals and 45 points to be awarded top rookie. Toronto finished second with 90 points, two behind Montreal.
Keon did indeed avoid the sophomore jinx improving to 26 goals and 61 points in 64 games in 61/62 and earning a Second Team All-Star selection.
1960/61 proved to be the breakout season for Frank Mahovlich as he threatened Maurice Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. He finished with 48 goals and was named First Team All-Star. In addition, Hockey Pictorial named him "Top Thrill Producer" as seen below.
Bob Pulford graced the cover in September 1960 after scoring career highs of 24 goals and 52 points. He would go on to help Toronto win four Stanley Cups in six years, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #2

Here's two early 1960's Maple Leafs magazine covers, the first a Quebecois issue from June 1960. It's called "Sport Revue, Le Magazine Sportif des Canadiens-Francais". The magazine is entirely in French, so I don't understand  much of it. The headline of the Bower article, "Johnny Bower devrait etre avec Toronto depuis onze ans" translates to "Johnny Bower should be with Toronto for eleven years". This is a very bold statement as he had just completed only his 2nd season in the Leaf net. It's also an amazingly accurate statement as Bower was indeed Toronto's goaltender for eleven seasons. 
The next magazine is the "Official National Hockey Annual of 1961" with a great cover painting of a Maple Leaf getting dumped by Chicago's Pierre Pilote as the puck finds it's way behind Glenn Hall.
Inside is a terrific article on Maple Leaf captain George Armstrong in addition to numerous articles on the stars of the NHL and the upcoming 1961/62 campaign.

Friday, January 11, 2019

John Tavares Scoring Pace

John Tavares has potted 29 goals in 43  games for the Maple Leafs this year, on his way to a career best total. This pace ranks Tavares as the second fastest to 29 goals in the last thirty years.
The thing is, the Leafs top goal scoring seasons were put up, among others, by Rick Vaive in the early 1980's when Game Logs are tougher to find. This is when we head to the google newspaper archives and delve into the files of the Montreal Gazette. I checked all the other top goal scoring seasons in Leaf history and where each player stood after 43 team games. When I could, I included the players' actual number of games to that point if it differed from the team total.

1931/32 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 29 Goals
1933/34 43 Team Game, Charlie Conacher 31 Goals
1934/35 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 27 Goals
1960/61 43 Team Games, Frank Mahovlich 43gp 37Goals
1976/77 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 43gp  28Goals
1977/78 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 27Goals
1981/82 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 39gp 27Goals
1982/83 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 41 gp 28Goals
1983/84 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 42gp 35Goals
The newspaper clippings that I found of each of the 43rd game of the season are below. We get a real sense of the pace that Frank Mahovlich was on in 1960/61 in his chase for Rocket Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Even in January the Big M was generating headlines as he notched his 37th goals in the 43rd game of the season. Alas, Mahovlich would slow down over the last third of the season, finishing with "only" 48 goals in 70 games.
Jan 16, 1961
Jan 17, 1978
Jan 11, 1982
Jan 17, 1983
Jan 11, 1984
So, Tavares pace this season is behind only that of Andreychuk in 93/94, Vaive in 83/84 and Charlie Conacher in 33/34. Below are the NHL scoring leaders after 42 Leaf games in 1983/84 illustrating how good Vaive's season was to that point. Of course he would slow down, scoring 17 goals in the remaining 37 games to end up with 52 markers. John Tavares should be a good bet to get to that total this year.
Jan 11, 1984

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #1

Over the last few years I have been posting all the Maple Leaf game programs I own, dating back to 1930. I keep them over at what I call the Maple Leafs Programme Project. The long term goal is to try to collect at least one Leafs program from every year played in Maple Leaf Gardens. I believe I have 35 of the 50 seasons covered from 1930 (Mutual Street Arena) to 1979. We're getting there. 
Now, I've decided to do the same for all the magazines in my collection that feature Maple Leafs covers (most are either Leafs or early Gretzky). The first one above, is a terrific looking cover of Liberty magazine from December 16, 1933. Liberty was a general interest magazine along the lines of The Saturday Evening Post and was published until 1950. Even though this issue depicts Leafs and New York Rangers on the front, there is no corresponding article inside. So, all we get to enjoy is the terrific cover.
This beauty here is from March 1948, Sportfolio magazine picturing Turk Broda on the cover with an in depth article in side. This was a smaller, almost pocket-sized magazine published in Canada that was chock-full of sports articles and photos.
Amongst the article's tidbits are the fact Broda's entire equipment setup costs $200, he won the Leafs team golf championship and plays Handball during the season to keep his reflexes sharp. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Victoria Cougars 1952

Here's another great old hockey photo, this one found in the online Victoria, BC Archives. It's simply titled "Victoria Cougars players with boy in trench coat, 1952". Looking at the Society for International Hockey Research player photo database, it's fairly easy to determine the three players in the photo. From Left to Right; Bernie Strongman, Eddie Mazur, James Fodey.
Winnipeg native, Bernie Strongman played for Victoria from 1949 through 1953 when he retired. He had helped the Cougars win the Lester Patrick Cup as champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. According to the Society for International Hockey Research database, Strongman is alive to this day, having turned 99 years old in June.
Eddie Mazur played two full seasons with Victoria before being called up by the Montreal Canadiens for the 1951 Stanley Cup playoffs. After potting 43 goals for the Cougars, Mazur got into two matches for the Habs that spring, the year they lost to Bill Barilko's Maple Leafs. After helping Montreal win the 1953 Stanley Cup (scoring 4 points in 7 playoff games), Mazur would play a full season with the Canadiens in 1953/54, tallying 21 points over 67 games.
On the right we have goaltender Jerry Fodey, and his very presence helps nail down the date of this photo. Although the file of the photo says 1952, Jerry Fodey played but one season for Victoria, 1949/50. Strongman and Mazur both played that season as well, so the photo must be form the 49/50 campaign. That year the Cougars finished sixth and a distant last place in the PCHL's North Division, Fodey playing all but one of the 70 games while posting a somewhat respectable 4.29 GAA.
The Victoria Cougars name, which had originated in 1922 with the Patrick brothers in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and transferred to the Detroit Cougars in 1926 (and eventually the Red Wings) would last in the Western League until 1961. The name was re-incarnated in the BCJHL in 1967, the major junior WCHL/WHL in 1971 and finally the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League Junior B circuit from 2002 to present.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Willie O'Ree Rare Photos

With today being the day Willie O'Ree is inducted into the Builders wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's a good time to share a couple rare photos of the trailblazing player. These are from the collection of our friends at Vintage Sports Images .
The first photo shows O'Ree with the Boston Bruins in what has to be the 1960/61 campaign as bespectacled Al Arbour is with Chicago. O'Ree had played two games with Boston in 57/58, but this was his only full season (mostly) in the NHL, playing 43 games and tallying 14 points. Behind O'Ree is big Bill Hay and of course in net is Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall.
This next photo shows O'Ree later in his playing career with the San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League. Willie starred for for the Gulls from 1967/68 to 1973/74. To narrow down the timeframe on this photo we look at the other players in the picture. Using the SIHR photo database it is determined that the Gull on the left side is Bruce Carmichael who was a Western League star for fifteen seasons. His only season with San Diego was 1968/69 in which he notched 26 goals in 74 games. 
The middle Gull congratulating O'Ree on an apparent goal scored is Alex Faulkner, the first Newfoundlander to play in the NHL. He played one game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1960/61 then 100 games with the Red Wings the next two seasons. 1968/69 was Faulkner's second with San Diego and he tallied 67 points in 71 games. As for O'Ree, that season he collected 38 goals and 79 points in 70 games finishing fifth in the WHL in goals.
The opponent for the Gulls on this night was the Portland Buckaroos, #12 Mike Donaldson with his back to the camera and peaking out from behind Faulkner is the legendary Connie "Mad Dog" Madigan. 
Willie O'Ree would produce over 700 points in the high minor leagues before initially retiring in 1974. He played a few more years of senior hockey in San Diego and even came back to score a point-per-game with the San Diego Hawks of the Pacific Hockey League in 78/79 at the age of 43.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Maple Leafs' Torrid Scoring Starts Pale to Mario

What a helluva time to be a Maple Leafs fan. After literally a lifetime of suffering through mostly atrocious teams (with a few glimmering points), it appears we have finally come out on the other side. Toronto is a legitimate contender and a high-powered scoring juggernaut. I sure as hell am going to enjoy the ride, hopefully for at least a few years (please, hockey gods).
After their fifth game of the 2018/19 campaign, the Leafs hold the top four spots in NHL scoring; Matthews and Rielly with 12 and Tavares and Marner with 10. 
I mean, Matthews just broke Wayne Gretzky's record for youngest player with at least 12 points in their first 5 games of a season...and Rielly broke Bobby Orr's modern record for most points by a defenceman in their first five games of a season... I need to lay down.
In all seriousness though, as good as these numbers are, it's fun to look at two of the greatest ever and how they came out of the gates through the years.
The Great One had at least 12 points in his first 5 games of the season a ridiculous TEN different times, topping out with 15 points (7 g, 8a) in 1983/84. Matthews does have him on goals though as those seven were Gretzky's most in his first five games of a season. Crazy.
That brings us to Mario Lemieux. This is were things get just silly. In October 1988, in his first five games of the season, Mario cranked out NINE goals and TEN assists for NINETEEN points, easily the most of anyone since then. This of course, was the year he challenged Gretzky's all-time records for goals and points. Although he ended up missing four games, he finished with 85 goals (7 behind the record) and 199 points. The thing is, in his NEXT five games, Mario collected 18 MORE points. After 10 games of the 1988/89 campaign, Le Magnifique had 16 goals, 21 assists and 37 points. 
This wasn't an anomaly for Mario, in 1992 he scored 17 points in his first 5 and 32 in his first 10 games. And in 1995 he tallied 32 points once again in the first 10 games of the season. These guys sure could fill the net back in the day. I miss fire-wagon hockey, and perhaps it's beginning to make a comeback.
Now, nobody is seriously comparing Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly to Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr...but, the rate that they are producing at this moment really does make it fun to compare numbers. For now, I will enjoy the run. 
Before this season began I personally just wanted to get the regular season over and for get the Leafs playoffs to begin. This is where the real history is made and my childhood/lifetime of enduring the Leafs can be justified. But, seeing as how these guys are breaking scoring records...maybe the regular season will be worthwhile after all. Let the fun continue.

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