Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More, Worst Hockey Logos Ever

Next we have “Poor concepts that just didn’t work"
The Georgetown Raider appears to be humping another Georgetown Raider in their logo. I know this simplistic “stick figure” style was popular in the 70’s and early 80’s, but as a hockey logo it just fails.

The Mario Lemieux era Laval Voisins of the QMJHL had this MC Escher-ish sideways letter ”L”. Apparently a “voisin” is a neighbour, so not only does the logo suck, the name itself does too.
The Merritt Centennials transferred from White Rock midway through the 73-74 season. I’m not sure which centennial they are attempting to honour, it’s not the country, not the province and not the town of either White Rock or Merritt. And why would you recognize any centennial with a logo of a turntable record player. In fact the centennial that the team may have been honouring was of the invention of the electric phonograph in 1877.

Back to the “Q” we go for the Montreal Red White and Blue. I understand it is an homage to the “bleu, blanc et rouge” of the Habs, but…I don’t know. I have searched for any semblance of a letter or hidden image in this tri-colour stack, and I get nothing.

The Toledo Storm is merely a collection of bad clip-art…just putrid. This team actually finished first in the ECHL and won the championship as well.

I did some research on the city of Fort Wayne, Indiana and there never has been anything to do with the space industry in that city. Why then would one decide to picture an astronaut in their logo? I suppose they were jumping on the moon landing hype of the day while tying in their long time Komet name. The drawing is actually good in this logo, what really bugs me is the blatant rip-off of the Cleveland Indians “Chief Wahoo” mascot. Also, his hockey stick has the worst lie I’ve ever seen. Imagine trying to stickhandle with that thing.

Lastly, there is the abysmal New York Golden Blades of the WHA. They were a one year entry lasting 24 games before moving to New Jersey. Could their ridiculous figure skate logo have been the cause? Really, what were they thinking?
Next installment, The VERY WORST logos of all-time.

Worst Hockey Logos...Ever

We here at Nitzy’s Hockey Den, (by ‘we’, I mean ‘me’) enjoy concentrating on the stats and history of the great game of hockey. However for this entry, I am staying away from numbers and delving into the artistic side of the game. Myself being a designer in the animation industry, I am perhaps a somewhat rare breed that has an insatiable need to talk, read, write about and play hockey in addition to having an artistic side. In fact, in my nearly twenty years of work and study in animation, I would say perhaps 2 to 3 percent of artistic colleagues even come close to having my passion for hockey. They would far rather discuss comic books, sci-fi movies or play delightful little dice games. I have another blog, where I have posted mainly my own hockey related art, from t-shirts, homemade hockey cards and designs from my hockey themed children’s books. I digress, in this entry I will post my choices for worst hockey logos ever. I recently discovered this great site which seems to have pretty much every logo ever made. I decided to include any logo I could find, regardless of level or league. With the help of I came up with the following worst hockey logos ever.
Let’s start with what I call the “Art School Drop-Outs”

From what I can see, animals are difficult to translate into logo form, specifically the feline sub-genre. Firstly, the Seawolves animal…I guess it’s a seawolf. Not sure if such a creature exists, or even how it would survive. The one attempted to be drawn here does not seem to possess gills or a blowhole, I’d be worried about this creature in any amount of water, especially with that one hooked hand. Overall, this is just a very poor drawing of a very poor concept. Although, compared to the cats that come next, it’s bordering on artistic genius.
The Wildcat franchise of the old Colonial Hockey League had three full attempts at getting this right. I’d say that the logo actually got worse each year and when the team moved to London in 1994, it seems they got the coach’s kid to design the logo.

The bad feline logos may have started with the Hamilton Tigers of the early 1920’s NHL. Upon moving the Quebec Bulldogs (including Joe Malone) to the steel city, they came up with this gem of a logo, I realize that team merchandise was non-existent in the 1920’s, but come now….this abomination of a one-eyed tiger is simply awful.

The final big cat entry is somewhat confusing. The team is the Elmira Sugar Kings, yet they feature a terrifying lion snapping a fat hockey stick in half. Not sure what that has to do with sugar, yeah, yeah…King of the Jungle…a lion, I get that, but still a bit of a stretch and awful looking to boot.

Next we have the logos which have two big strikes against them…poorly drawn AND racist. The sly looking Muskegon Mohawk should have a tear running down his cheek in sadness for his poorly drawn visage. It really is hard to screw up a profile of the human face, but this one manages to do it. The Utica Mohawk is not much better. They opted for the more graphically stylized look that just doesn’t work. Incidentally, the worst goalie in NHL history played for this squad on the downside of his career. Michel “Ill-Humour” Belhumeur had a record of 0-24-3 and a GAA of 5.36 with the expansion Washington Capitals in 1974-75. He played 24 games for Utica with a 4.08 average this season.
Finally, we have the Saginaw Lumber Kings. There really is not much to be said about this atrocity. A little bit of knowledge of human anatomy may have been beneficial. The arms and hands bend and join at all sorts of weird places. Yet this logo does make a nice bookend with the Seawolf thing at the beginning.
More terrific logos to come....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old Boy All-Star Teams

The fantastic site allows one to analyze with stats pretty much any hockey related query you can have. And I have probably far too many hockey related queries floating around my underutilized brain. With that, I present my selections for all-time single season All-Star teams for players of 35 years or older.

Johnny Bucyk makes each of the first two teams at Left Wing, while Niklas Lidstrom makes the First and Third squads. Ten of the eighteen overall selections are from seasons from the mid 90's or later. This is obviously a statement of how players are staying at the top of their game longer into their careers with the help of technology and training.
Hal Winkler's NHL career of two seasons at age 34 and 35, came after starring for well over a decade in various Senior Leagues and Western Professional circuits. He really made up for lost time, in 75 career NHL games he posted a 1.60 GAA with 21 shutouts.
Bill Cook actually led the league in goals in this season of 31-32 AND the following year as well.
Doug Harvey won his sixth of seven Norris Trophies in 1961. Martin Brodeur may very well have been on his way to another fantastic season this year before injuring himself in November. He along with Lidstrom may have many more All-Star calibre seasons still in them, well past the age of 35.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Evgeni Malkin...Assists machine

Man, do I love the look of those old 1979-80 cards, glad O-Pee-Chee went back to it this year.
Mr. Malkin currently has 44 assisits through 36 games, this pace translates to 100 assists exactly. I realize it's still early, but if he manages to keep up his pace, he will be the only gentleman NOT named Gretzky, Lemieux or Orr to achieve this. Gretzky topped 100 assists in eleven different seasons, consecutively of course, topping out at 163 in 1986. Lemieux had 114 in 1989, and Orr 102 in 1971...that's it. A few have come close, adam Oates with 97 in 84 games in 1993, Joe Thornton with 96 a few years back and Pat LaFontaine and Doug Gilmour both notching 95 in 1993.
It seems improbable that Malkin can keep up this pace however. In averaging 1.22 assists/game this year, he is nearly doubling his two season career average of 0.694/game. One would think his pal Sidney Crosby would have been the one making a run at 100 assists, and he may very well do it one of these years. Crosby has a three year career average of 0.916 A/GP, and this year is actually ahead of that at 0.944.
I'd be tempted to predict that Crosby will even end up this season with more assists than Malkin, but it will be intersesting to watch a run at 100.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tony Hand, 4000 Points

This is Tony Hand, born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1967. He has been playing in the top hockey leagues in Britain since 1981...yes, he is still playing. Including regular and post season, mid-season club competitions and playoffs, Hand has played in 1,386 games and as of this writing just this month notched his 4,oooth point. According to the Ice Hockey Journalists UK website, he made the post season all star team NINETEEN of the twenty-three seasons from 1983-84 through 2005-06.
Sure, the top league in Britain is not the NHL, it has been compared to the calibre of the ECHL. The league however has drawn a fair amount of top players over the years, including Garry Unger at the end of his career, goalie Frank Pietrangelo, Doug Smail for a season (named top player, of course), Jim Paek and WHA star Ron Plumb. Also, top flight minor leaguers such as, Ken Priestlay, Ed Courtenay, Mike Babcock (yes, that Mike Babcock), Fred Perlini and John Craighead.
Tony Hand actually was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1986 and survived their full training camp. He was offered a contract by the Oilers and would play the year with the Western League Victoria Cougars. He played three games and tallied eight points before heading home due to homesickness. He would return to train with Victoria the following training camp before playing an exhibition game with the Oilers (assisiting on a Kevin Lowe goal). This time, Sather offered Hand a contract to play in the AHL with the Cape Breton Oilers. Hand turned it down, as he would make more money playing back home. Glen Sather is actually quoted as saying Hand was the second smartest player in camp after Gretzky, and he figured he would have had a good career.
For all of Hand`s scoring exploits, there were players who ripped up the British leagues even more than he did. The aforementioned Fred Perlini, a Maple Leaf farmhand in the early 80`s played a decade in Britain. In his 310 games he notched a simply silly 1403 points. His average of 4.53 points per game destroys Hand`s PPG of 2.90. Another Ontario boy, Rick Fera who was a point-a-game guy in the OHL went over to Britain to torch the opposition. In his 363 career games he managed a measely 1736 points. His PPG of 4.78 is only achieved by the kid in Atom hockey who hits puberty at age 10.
Some individual season records border on the ridiculous. While Hand scored at his best 105 goals in 35 games and in another season, 222points in 44 games, these are not the tops in league history. Kevin Conway, yet another Ontario native, who twice topped 120 points in the OHL, scored an amazing 148 goals in 29 games in 1987-88...ummm, that works out to over 5 (FIVE) GOALS per game. A fellow by the name of Patrick Scott notched 180 goals and 319 points in 1993-94 while playing in 56 games though for a rather pedestrian 5.70 points per game.
I would be remiss if I did not mention a guy who, also in 1993-94 (they must have been using juiced pucks...or midget goalies) scored 140 goals and 243 points. This guy`s name was Hilton Ruggles, you read that correctly, Hilton Ruggles. If ever there was a great British hockey name, his is the best. He was however born in Montreal and played in the Q, scoring 63 goals for Longueil in 1983-84. If anyone has a Hilton Ruggles hockey card, I need one.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Major Junior Flashes in the Pan

While looking up CHL records for my last post, a few other records caught my eye. If you know who holds the CHL record for Powerplay Goals in a season you are either the record holder himself, or a member of his immediate family. Jason Krywulak of the 1992-93 Swift Current Broncos tallied FORTY-SEVEN (47!!) PPG of his 81 goals that year. Young Jason was never drafted, and soon attended the U. of Calgary where he played for three seasons, making the post season all-star squad each year. A few stints in Germany and the Roller Hockey circuit and he was done before turning thirty.

The record for goals by a defenseman is another non-descipt gentleman. Larry Sacharuk notched FIFTY goals as a rear guard for Saskatoon in 1971-72. He was drafted the following summer by the Rangers 21st overall. Following two productive AHL seasons, including 27 goals in 42 games for the 1974 Providence Reds, he had a few cups of coffee with the big club. Apparently unimpressed, New York dealt him to St.Louis where in 1974-75 he notched 20 goals and 42 points. For some reason, he ended up back with the Rangers for a few years then finished up in the AHL with two 50 plus point seasons. That was just about it for Ol' Larry, the only defenseman in major junior history and perhaps hockey history, to tally a fifty goal year.

Vancouver Giants,The Best Junior Team far

This past week, I went to my first Giants game in a few years at the old Pacific Coliseum. They beat Swift Current 8-1 to improve their record to a ridiculous 28-2-3 for an .894 winning percentage. If this were to hold up for the remainder of the season it will be the highest ever in CHL history. The '05 London Knights led by Corey Perry hold the record currently at .882 with the '71 Guy Lafleur led Quebec Remparts holding down second with an .879 Pct.
Perhaps even more impressive for the Giants is their ratio of Goals For to Goals Against. With 163 goals for and 64 against they have a ratio of 2.55 to 1. London had an impressive ratio of 2.48 -1 with 310 GF and 125 GA. The 1979 Trois Rivieres Draveurs (whatever that is) scored 527 goals and allowed 233 for a ratio of 2.26-1. Obviously this Giants team is in unchartered waters of domination, and it is more impressive that they have been able to stay dominant after winning the Memorial Cup a few years ago.

Click on the title of this post for footage shot from our front row seats and expertly edited by my pal Geoffy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Darryl Sittler, Toronto Toro?

This is the rare occaison for my blog where I post a photo of an item which is NOT in my real-life den. This is only the case because this card of course doesn't exist (a little photoshop on my part). I recently picked up an old hockey magazine from March 1974 with an article about how Sittler almost became a Toronto Toro of the WHA.

Apparently, after his third NHL season of 1972-73 he was offered a $1,000,000, five year deal by John Bassett, owner of the Toros. The team was in the midst of transferring from Ottawa after the inaugural WHA season. Sittler was coming of a 77 point year in leading the Leafs in scoring. Bassett wanted to snag the 23 year old who was taking the city by storm. The Toros had traded a player to the Alberta Oilers just to obtain his WHA rights. Sittler had earned $30,000 the previous season and soon after the year ended had verbally agreed to a $70,000 yearly deal with the Leafs. Then came the Toros offer, mindblowing to all.

Sittler's agent, the convict, Alan Eagleson went back to the Leafs with the giant offer. The Buds offered a counter of $750,000, which at $150,000/year was more than enough to keep him a Leaf. Eagleson, being the classy gentleman he is went back to the Toros and asked for the original million, plus crazy additional demands such as a rent free farm for Sittler, endorsements with food-chain stores associated with the Toros, cars for Sittler and his wife AND Eagleson's fees. Bassett and the Toros of course withdrew from the bidding, and within a week Sittler's signing with the Leafs was announced.

Sittler of course went on to score 789 points in his final 643 games with the Leafs. The Toros on the other hand would try to fill the superstar void with ex-Leafs, Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson, Wayne Carleton and Brit Selby with minimal degrees of sucess. In three years, they would be the Birmingham Bulls, and Sittler, on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shooting Percentage Leaders

I thought this was kind of interesting, Kyle Wellwood is on pace to obliterate the single season record for shooting percentage. The current Canuck has 11 goals thru 24 games while firing a mere 30 shots on the net. His 36.67 percentage would be almost four points higher than the current record holder, Charlie Simmer.
I have never really put too much stock in shooting percentage, as it's not a stat a player can really strive for. It seems more of an after the fact kind of thing, I mean, would a guy not take a shot on net in order to protect his shooting pct. Wellwood's number is however such an increase over the current record that it stands out as fairly noteworthy.
The top ten list below consists of some pretty good players, yet only one Hall of Famer in Kurri. This perhaps reinforces the somewhat frivolity of the statistic.

Shots on goal for players was not kept as an accurate stat until 1967-68, which explains the lack of oldtimers on the list. Incidentally, the career leaders are Craig Simpson at 23.66 and Charlie Simmer at 22.34. As well, there is only one Hall of Famer in the top ten here with Mike Bossy at 4th overall.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Powerplay Goal Specialists

As of this moment, (early Dec./08) Teemu Selanne has tallied 14 goals on the season for the Ducks. 13 of these goals have been notched on the powerplay for an astounding 93 percent. If continued for the season, this would be the highest percentage of one player's goals that were scored via the powerplay. The current record for players with at least 17 PPG in a season is 80.0% by The Roadrunner, Yvan Cournoyer. The top two single season PPG scorers, Tim Kerr (34) and Dave Andreychuk (32) notched percentages of 58.2 and 59.3 of their goal totals.
Two defensemen check in at second and third place, with over 70% of their goals on the powerplay. Dave Andreychuk and Paul Gardner both have two seasons of over 58% powerplay goals.
Paul Gardner is actually also the career leader in PPG Pct among forwards, and the only forward with over 50% of his career goals scored on the powerplay. In fact only twelve forwards have ever scored over 40% of their career goals on the powerplay. Gardner had a solid career that ended at age thirty after two MVP seasons in the AHL. Soon after, he jumped into coaching, spending five years as head coach of the Newmarket Saints, followed by a long stint as assistant coach for Barry Trotz in Nashville. As of 2008-09 he was head coah for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Russian League.
Defensemen of course tend to score a higher percentage of their goals with the man advantage and Dave Babych is the only player in history with a higher than 60% PPG Pct. finishing a full four percentage points ahead of second place Rob Blake.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

All-Time Teams by Province

Keeping with the theme of my last post, I decided to determine all-time all star teams by province of birth. Six provinces have had enough NHL players to put together solid squads, right down to thirteenth forward, seventh defenseman and third goalie. I also attempted, (with limited success) to make US teams by state. No real suprise that Ontario ranks number one with almost 2,000 natives having played in the NHL.
Ontario and Quebec are fairly even in their forwards, and Quebec may have a very slim edge in goaltending, but the overall strength of defensemen from Ontario gives Upper Canada the nod over Lower. There is of course a small drop off in calibre with the teams that follow, but Saskatchewan rises to third place on the backs of Howe, Shore and an impressive trio of goalies.
The lack of third and fourth line excellence in Alberta keeps them in fourth. B.C. boasts a solid contingent of forwards but are kept in sixth spot by superior defense and stellar goaltending.

Massachusetts and Minnesota prove to be the cream of the crop from the States, yet their overall lack of numbers of players makes filling out a real all star roster difficult. Names like Darren Turcotte, Andy Brickley, Tom Chorske and Dave Langevin among others, keep these two squads at the bottom of the list. In an imaginary eight team tournament between these squads, the game between Massachusetts and Minnesota would in all likelihood determine which team didn`t go winless.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hometown All Stars

Which town or city has produced the greatest collection of players ever? I decided to figure out which city has the greatest All-Star team of players hailing from it's boundries. I was unforgiving on borderlines and birthplaces, the player had to be born in the specific city. What follows is, in my opinion, the worldwide cities that produced the greatest all-time squad using career stats. Any current players' stats are accurate up until the end of Nov./08.

There really can be no argument, the city of Montreal has produced the greatest collection of players of all-time. This squad has no room for forwards Mike Bossy, Nels Stewart, Henri Richard and Rod Gilbert or a plethora of goalies including Bernie Parent, Gump Worsely and Lorne Chabot.
Ottawa places a strong second without finding room for, Aurel Joliat, King Clancy and Clint Benedict in net. Toronto leaves Rick Middleton and Bill Durnan on the sidelines.
Sault Ste Marie finishes a perhaps surprising sixth place on the strength of the Esposito brothers and Ron Francis. Moscow is the first non-Canadian entry even with Mikhail Shtalnekov between the pipes and that's without Vladimir Krutov in favour of Alex Ovechkin.
Quebec City has a surprising unspectacular squad led mainly by Phantom Joe Malone and Patrick Roy.
Boston is the first American representative buoyed by Jeremy Roenick and Tom Barrasso. Timmins, Ont is the first small town representative with a strong Maple Leaf contingent of Mahovlich, Stanley, Barilko and Paul Harrison.

The third tier of cities is bogged down by a weak goaltender or by having ONLY a strong goaltender. Humboldt, Saskatchewan is the smallest town on the list with a population of around 5,000. The town produced Glenn Hall and a very serviceable squad of skaters.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More Team Canada Ratings

I ordered these VHS tapes of the '87 Canada Cup back in the early '90's from an ad in the Hockey News. I think they cost something like 60 bucks back then which was alot for a young punk like me. The three tapes had each of the final three games in their entirety and were well worth the money. Watching these games back as they happened with my friends as bunch of 15 and 16 year old morons is still one of my favourite pre-adult memories.
Anyway, I wanted to apply my player rating system used earlier (for 1972 and 1976 series) to the '87 version of Team Canada. I finally found the game boxscores and away I went. Below is a refresher on how the ratings points are awarded an estimated value to each goal scored in the tournament.
Next is the Team Canada leaders. No suprise that Gretzky and Lemieux dominate, they were in on a majority of goals and most of the important ones. Perhaps a slight suprise is Larry Murphy, currently sporting a giant head and bad hair as an analyst on the NHL Network. He figured in on many important goals and was the decoy third man on the winning goal in Game Three.

I decided to do the ratings for only the four Russia/Canada games (including the 3-3 tie in the last preliminary round game). I rated the Soviet players as well to see if Gretz and Mario were still dominant.

Well, there you have it. #66 and #99 were equally as impressive in the four games versus the Russians. Once again, Murphy is the third highest rated Canadian followed by a cavalcade of commies, (not sure if that's politically correct...what do I care, we won the cold war). The Russians rank seven players higher than the next Canadian, all of them very close in their value of points scored. Perhaps the biggest suprise is d-man Normand Rochefort ranking higher than Bourque and Coffey on the strength of contributing to big goals in games one and two of the finals.
Finally, I ranked Team Canada players for the 2002 Olympics. We see that Joe Sakic indeed deserved the MVP for the tournament, earned mainly with his four points in the gold medal match. It's also interesting to see that probably only two (Iginla for certain, Gagne most likely) of these top eight ranked players will be back for 2010. That is of course unless Special Ed turns into the second coming of Doug Harvey over the next calendar year.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

1930 Maple Leafs Programme

I recently picked up this gem, an original game program from the 1930/31 season. It was from a game in late December 1930, the last season that the Leafs played in The Mutual Street Arena before moving a few blocks north to Maple Leaf Gardens. This rink, also called the Arena Gardens was built in 1912 and stood until 1989. At the time it was built, it was the largest indoor arena in Canada and held 7,500 spectators for hockey. The rink lent it's name to the Toronto Arena hockey club which played the first two seasons of the NHL before changing their name to The St.Patricks and ultimately the Leafs.
The squad this season featured many future Hall of Famers such as Charlie Conacher, Joe Primeau, King Clancy, Hap Day, Red Horner and Ace Bailey. The cover of the programme features a terrific drawing of the Leafs battling the Montreal Maroons. Pictured watching the action in the first row are each of the other teams in the NHL among them the Philadelphia Quakers, Detroit Falcons and Ottawa Senators.
The back cover of the book has a sweet ad for CCM skates, pictured below.

Here's some shots of the arena in it's heyday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goalie of the 80's

The 1980's. Not a great decade for goalies, probably the worst ever. Any other decade you can pretty much pick one or two goalies who dominated, 70's Dryden and Parent, 60's Bower and Hall, 50's Sawchuk and get the picture. The 80's however provide at least five guys who can make an argument for goale of the decade. Here are the leaders in Wins, Goals Against Average and Win Percentage for the decade. As I did not have half season stats, I used full seasons from 1979/80 through 1989/90.

Perhaps not suprisingly, Mike Liut leads in wins as he was one of the few who was a regular for the entire decade. His 3.50 GAA was a respectable twelfth overall, he was however only 18 games over .500 for the decade and under .500 for the playoffs. Pete Peeters is a similar case to Liut, as his raw numbers look terrific. Second in wins and average as well as fifth in win percentage. In fact, on these numbers alone he rates as one of the top five goalies of the decade....but, his playoff record of 35-35 is pedestrian.
Bob Froese may be a bit of a suprise in the GAA and Win Pct rankings, yet he just barely qualifies with 13,400 minutes played for the decade. Greg Millen on the other hand played over 33,000 minutes, most by a good margin. Millen also led with 270 losses which takes the glow off his finishing fifth in victories. In his defense, he was only two games under .500 in the post-season for the decade at 21-23 with a 3.31 average. Still, not goalie of the decade numbers.
Which brings us to Patrick Roy who also just barely qualifies, yet his 2.82 Avg is far and away the best, plus he won a Cup and was post season All-Star twice. His 2.34 playoff average is stellar and goes nicely with a 35-17 record. I just don't think Roy played enough to be called goalie of the 80's. We'll leave the 90's for his taking. Andy Moog has some very nice numbers for the decade, but his three Cups were mainly as backup to Fuhr and he was never an end of year All-Star.
In my mind the question comes down to Billy Smith or Grant Fuhr with each back-boning four Cups. Even though Smith's GAA is superior, I put more stock in Fuhr's 38 additional regular season wins. Here in order are my picks for top five goalies of the 1980's

Monday, November 10, 2008

NHL One-Hit Wonders

I was talking hockey with a pal at work the other day, and for fun I asked him to name each of the players that has scored 70 goals in an NHL season. He, being a good hockey fan easily named all eight guys right down to Mogilny, Selanne and the often overlooked, Bernie Nicholls. Yes, Nicholls tallied 70 goals on the nose during the 1988-89 season no doubt aided by his new teammate the Great One. After naming all these players, I thought aloud that Nicholls, I believed never scored even 50 goals in any other season. Indeed, his next highest output was 46 in 84-85. This difference of 24 goals between his best and second best goal scoring years had to be one of the largest ever…off I went to check.

It turns out that Nicholls is merely tied for the fifth highest differential from best to second best seasons. The chart that follows shows all the players with at least a twenty goal difference.
There you have it, Scott Bjugstad is the biggest One-Hit Wonder in NHL history, notching 43 in 1985-86 and never again scoring more than 11 goals. He played 317 games in the NHL with a career total of 76 goals…43 of them in that one season. What was the cause for this huge aberration? That year, the North Stars boasted four fine centremen in Neal Broten, Brian Bellows, Dennis Maruk and Keith Acton, so Bjugsatd as second line right-winger behind Ciccarelli still had talented players on his line. More importantly perhaps was his power play time, as Bjugstad scored 14 extra man markers, second on the squad behind Dino. He had 1 PPG the year before and zero the year after his outburst. Did he get more power play time because he was scoring more or vice versa? Either way, this season stands as the greatest ‘flash in the pan’ in NHL history.

Second on the list is Wayne Babych with a high of 54 goals in 1980-81 and a next best of 27. His career was progressing nicely with 27 and 26 goals in his first two seasons before his big year at age 22. For some reason, this was it for him. He played 3 more years with St.Louis, then bounced between three teams in two years before hanging it up at 28 years old.
Third on the list of one-hit wonders is Tom Webster who tallied 30 for Detroit in 1970-71 and had only 3 other goals in his NHL career. He did however only skate in 34 other games as he played the bulk of his career in the WHA. He would actually notch 53 in one WHA season, and top 40 in two others. Alas, as far as NHL careers go, his gap of 27 goals from his best to second best, is tied for second all-time.

Next, is Jacques Richard who’s 52 and 27 goal seasons give him a difference of 25. In fact, if I ever do a study on largest gap between a player’s points in his best to second best year, he may be up even higher. In his 1980-81 season of 52 goals he also had 103 points, never before or after had he more than 43. This difference of 60 points must be one of the tops all-time. I’ll get back to you on that one.

Other notes from my list;
Rosaire Paiement’s differential can also be attributed to his jumping to the WHA.
Gerry Heffernan was wartime fill with the Canadiens, and was back playing Senior hockey once the war ended.
Chris Valentine scored 30 as a rookie with the 1981-82 Capitals, and never really got a fair chance to repeat that. After his next two seasons were spent mainly in the AHL, he bolted to play in Germany for twelve highly productive seasons.
Church Russell played three years with the Rangers, scoring 20 goals in 1946-47 and zero goals in his other 36 games.
Some names I expected to be high, but did not make the list are;
Gary Leeman, Goal difference of 19; Warren Young, 18; Ron Sedlbauer, 17

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bill McDougall

As an avid hockey fan, I recall hearing from afar the playoff scoring exploits of one Bill McDougall of the Cape Breton Oilers in 1993. Over a six week period, consisting of 16 games he fired 26 goals and 26 assists for an incredible 52 points. This very well could have been the greatest playoff performance ever. In addition, the Oilers won the Calder Cup AHL championship that season going 14 and 2 along the way. McDougall scored at least one point in each game of the playoffs, he scored at least two points in 14 of the 16 games and at least three points in 10 of the 16 games. Read that last line again.
Using newspaper articles from The Halifax Daily News and The Edmonton Journal, I have managed to put together a game by game record of this amazing stretch of games.

McDougall actually got better in each of the first three rounds, scoring 3.0 points per game in round one, 4.0 points per game in round two, and 4.5 points per game in the two game round three. During the final round, he fell to a merely excellent 2.4 points per game. Overall, his 52 points in 16 games is an average of 3.25 per match. He had a hand in over 61 percent of Cape Breton’s playoff goals.
So, was this the greatest playoff scoring performance in hockey history? I decided to compare McDougall's 16 game run against the greatest scorer ever. I went through Wayne Gretzky’s career game by game log to find if he ever had a sixteen game stretch like McDougall’s. It turns out that The Great One, (not surprisingly) on five different occasions had better than 52 points in a 16 game stretch.
Gretzky’s best output was his last 16 games of November and December 1981 in which he tallied 58 points. This culminated with Wayne scoring nine goals in the last two games of December to reach 50 goals in 39 games. Gretzky never did top 26 goals in a 16 game period, and McDougall’s playoff tops Gretz’s best 16 straight playoff games by 8 points. Sure, it wasn’t the NHL, but the pressure and relative dominance still stands for something.
Bill McDougall was a rare player in that he never played major junior or college hockey. He was playing Junior B with the Streetsville Derbys as a 20 year old, and played with the Humbolt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior League the year after. Two seasons in the Newfoundland Senior League followed before he finally turned pro with the Erie Panthers of the East Coast League at the age of 23. Here he scored 148 points in 57 games garnering MVP honours. Signed as a free agent in 1990 by the Red Wings, he scored 10 goals in 11 games at the end of that season. Three productive years in the AHL brings us to his 1993 playoff exploits.

At this point in his career, McDougall was playing for a contract, (as he was most of the time). He was turning 27 that summer and believed he deserved an honest crack at the NHL. He had been up for a cup of coffee with Edmonton at the end of the season scoring 3 points in 4 games. Following his 52 point playoff, Glen Sather, who finally did attend the last three games of the final, said of him, “He handles the puck, he sees everybody…he made a lot of things happen.” Slats wasn’t impressed enough to offer the one-way contract that McDougall coveted. He had a standing offer to play the following season in Zurich, Switzerland for $100,000 tax free. However, when Tampa Bay offered him a two year contract he jumped.

In the Lightning’s first game of 1993-94, McDougall scored two goals and an assist. This would prove to be the high point of his NHL experience. Apparently, coach Terry Crisp was not a fan of his and the ice time dwindled. McDougall went down to the IHL’s Atlanta Knights and won yet another minor league championship. This year he scored a still impressive 19 points in 14 playoff games. In the end, he had tallied 3 goals and 3 assists for Tampa Bay in 22 regular season games and they bought him out of the final year of his contract.

That was it for Bill McDougall in North American professional hockey. He would star for the following nine years in Europe playing in Italy, Germany and Switzerland even winning a few Spengler Cups with team Canada. He would end his career playing senior hockey in southern Ontario with the Dundas McCoys. As of the start of the 2008-09 season, Bill McDougall is in his first year as head coach of the Milton IceHawks in the Ontario Tier 2 circuit.

Can we honestly compare Bill McDougall’s exploits in the AHL to that of some of the greatest scorers in hockey history? Although this was the AHL, and his playoff opposition was in the form of goalies Fredric Chabot, Damian Rhodes, Mike Maneluk and Olaf Kolzig; Rhodes and Kolzig both went on to future success in the NHL. The fact that this was a successful championship run, as well as McDougall’s far superior playoff dominance rating, I believe make McDougall’s efforts the most impressive in the game’s history.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Greatest Playoff Years Ever

In my last post, I reminisced about Ken Yaremchuk's great yet fleeting AHL playoff of 1989 and promised to find the best individual playoffs of all time. In order to find somewhat of an even measuring stick I decided to use a player's Points per Game average and the Percentage of his Team's goals scored. I multiplied the two and came up with a rating of how strong that individual's playoff was. I went through each year of NHL playoffs and came up with following list, click on the list to open a large view of it.

It only stands to reason that The Great One has three of the top five playoff performances of all-time. Mario Lemieux barely edges out Gretzky after I adjusted his Percentage of Team Goals. Le Magnifique had his hand broken by an Adam Graves slash in game two of the second round and missed the next five matches. The Pens tallied 22 goals in those games, so in the games Mario played they scored 61 times meaning he was in on well over half the goals when he was in the lineup. Babe Dye of the 1922 Toronto St.Pats is a somewhat suprising number three, having been in on 62% of his squad's goals that post season. Stan Mikita rounds out the top six with a fantastic 21 points in 12 games enroute to losing the Cup to Toronto. The ill-stricken 1919 final between Seattle and Les Canadiens is represented by Frank Foyston's 9 goals in 4 games and Newsy Lalonde's 18 points in 9 games including the NHL portion of his playoffs. A few other suprises are Fleming Mackell with 19 points in a losing effort in 1958 and Marcel Bonin with 15 points for the victorious Habs in 1959.

The next list is of Great Playoffs by players who did NOT make it to the Final of that season.

Seeing as these guys didn't play as many games in their playoffs it created a smaller sample size of their work which leads to some higher percentages. However, these efforts cannot be overlooked. Dennis Maruk tops the list as he ripped off 13 points in a 5 game first round loss, gaining a point on 65% of the North Stars goals. Darryl Sittler is next with a 2.33 point/game effort and points on an amazing 67.7% of the Leafs goals that post season.
Perhaps even more impressive are the efforts by Rick Middleton and Barry Pederson for the '83 Bruins. Tallying 33 and 32 points respectively in 17 games, both in on over half the Bruins goals. Middleton holds the records for most points in a series with 19 in 7 round games against Buffalo, and most points by a player not advancing to the final.

Finally, I decided to find some other various fantastic playoffs from around the hockey world. I checked some of the top junior post seasons as well as WHA and AHL.

This is were it gets real interesting, obviously there are some crazy junior numbers put up by future superstars. My old favourite, Ken Yaremchuk's 1989 first round rates very nicely, but then we find what would have to be considered the greatest post season performance in professional hockey history. Bill McDougall of the 1993 Cape Breton Oilers played out of his mind for about six weeks that spring. He tallied 52 (FIFTY-TWO points!!) in a 16 game run to the Calder Cup championship that year. This number stands as the highest total in pro history.
along the way he had a game of seven points and another of five goals. I am going to delve further into this historic run in a future post, but for now there is no disputing the fact that this was the greatest professional playoff ever.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...