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

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