Friday, January 30, 2009

Little Known Hall of Famers, Duke Keats

Gordon Keats was nicknamed by his young friends "Duke" after a warship. His professional career began with the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association in 1915 where he finished fifth in scoring with 22 goals in 24 games. His hockey career was delayed due to two years of military service during WWI. Upon returning he took his career out west joining the Edmonton Eskimos playing seven seasons with them mainly in the Western Canada Hockey League. He was named a first team All-Star for five straight seasons with Edmonton.
When the Western League folded in '26 he finally made the jump to the NHL, playing 3 seasons with the Boston Bruins, Detroit Cougars and Chicago Black Hawks. At the age of 33 he would join the Tulsa Oilers of the American Hockey Association leading that loop in scoring one season.
Lester Patrick once praised Keats for being "the brainiest pivot that ever strapped on a skate".
His career scoring totals of 393 games, 271 goals and 417 points would gain Keats election to the Hall in 1958.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yes, these guys were All-Stars....

Over the years, the NHL All-Star game has included a few somewhat questionable "All-Stars". Whether it was the league's unofficial policy to have every team represented or an injury to more deserving star player, a few guys have been included in the mid-season classic that you probably have forgotten about.
Pictured above we have Bob Woytowich who played for the West Division team in 1970. That season, he had a respectable 33 points as a defensman for the Pens. Pittsburgh also had Dean Prentice representing them. Woywotich was however one of only five d-men on the West squad that year, a fairly weak field I suppose. Doug Roberts was a bit more of a stretch on the 1971 squad. He was the only rep from the California Golden Seals, ending up with 17 points and a -56 plus minus rating. A better choice would have been rookie teammate Ron Stackhouse or goalie Gary 'Suitcase' Smith could easily have replaced the Blues Ernie Wakely for the West team.
Bob Manno was a 1982 Maple Leaf All-Star alongside sniper Rick Vaive. Manno probably actually deserved to be there as he would tally 50 points and an amazing +5 for another atrocioius Leaf squad.
Speaking of Leafs, Mirko Frycer was their sole representative in 1985 breaking Vaive's three year run of All-Star games which probably should have been four. Tracy Pratt was the second Canuck All-Star in 1975 along with the aforementioned Gary Smith. The Canucks, who actually had a good squad that year finishing first in the Smythe Division would have been better represented by any number of players including Andre Boudrias, Don Lever, Dennis Ververgaert or Bob Dailey.
Dave Langevin himself will probably tell you that he felt out of place on the 1983 Wales Conference squad alongside, Ray Bourque, Denis Potvin, Rod Langway and Mark Howe. If the Isles really did need to have that fourth All-Star in the game, Tomas Jonsson (who never made an AS team) would have been a better choice.
Other names that don't quite fit the All-Star mold; Randy Manery, Atlanta 1973, Doug Jarrett, Chicago 1975, Nick Libbett, Detroit 1977, Norm Barnes, Flyers 1980, Hector Marini, New Jersey 1982 and Doug Smail, Winnipeg 1990.
Perhaps the biggest ever All-Star act of coach's bias is Lee Fogolin making the 1986 squad along with EIGHT other Oilers. Fogolin was a solid, if unspectaclar defenseman, but he was in no way shape or form an All-Star at the NHL level.
Brad Marsh made the 1993 Wales squad more as a token pick from a brutal expansion Senators team. I'm not so sure the Sens deserved to have two players picked though, as Peter Sidorkiewicz was actually the winning goalie of the game. Marsh did however notch the all important 15th goal in the Wales 16-6 victory.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

He was an All-Star Rookie?...Bruce Bell

Bruce Bell made the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1984-85, along with Mario Lemieux, Chris Chelios, Tomas Sandstrom, Warren Young and Steve Penney. My most prominent memory of Bruce Bell, was when Wendel Clark absolutely destroyed him with a clean body check in the 1986-87 season. Clark caught Bell with his head down coming around his own net...pretty much ending the career of the promising defenseman.
Bell was drafted in the 3rd round by Quebec in 1983. In his rookie year, Bell tallied 37 points and a plus 32 rating for the Nordiques before being traded to the Blues. After the 86-87 season, and Clark's hit, Bell would play only 14 more NHL games. He would end up playing five different years in the AHL, as well as the IHL,CHL, Colonial League, British and Austrian Leagues and finished in the WCHL with the powerhouse Phoneix Mustangs.
His career totals of 76 points in 209 games tell of a promise unfullfilled. Currently he runs the Bruce Bell Hockey School out of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Little Known Hall of Famers; Tommy Dunderdale

Tommy Dunderdale was born in 1887 in Australia. He moved to Ottawa with his family as a 17 year old in 1904, within two years he was playing pro for Winnipeg of the Manitoba Hockey League. After three seasons he went to Montreal to play with the Shamrocks, then to the Quebec Bulldogs, both of the National Hockey Association which preceded the NHL. At age 24 in 1911, he moved out west to the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and the Victoria Aristocrats. He would play 13 seasons on the coast, also with the Portland Rosebuds, being named First team All-Star six times. He led the league in goals three times and retired as the PCHA career leader with 194 goals.
Dunderdale's career professional totals through 19 seasons were 309 games played, 267 goals and 336 points.
He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the player's category in 1974.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Worst Goalie Seasons

For some unknown reason, I was goofing around with my favourite site, ....must have been a slow day at work. I have recently been looking for the worst goals against averages in junior hockey history, (a future blog posting) and decided to check all NHL goalies with a single season GAA over 4.50. On this fantastic site, I'm able to create my own criteria for searching. I choose goalies that played at least 20 games in a season and produced an average of at least 4.50.
It turns out that the worst average in NHL history of 7.11 was spit out by the "immortal" Frank Brophy of the Quebec Bulldogs in 1919-20. The Bulldogs that year went 4-20 in spite of Joe Malone's league leading 39 goals. Goaltender, Brophy was 19 that season which proved to be his only NHL showing.
The second worst GAA in history belongs to New York Ranger Ken McAuley, who in 1943-44 had a 6.24 average over 50 games. McAuley went 6-39 -5 in playing every minute that year except for a 20 minute period played by 17 year old future Hall of Famer Harry Lumley. Of course Lumley allowed zero goals in his brief stint.
Mike Veisor of the 82-82 Hartford Whalers posted the third worst average of 5.53 over 23 games. Veisor was backup to all-time great Greg Millen that year...Millen finished at 4.81 good for 31st on the worst season ever list.
Ron Low, amazingly had back-to-back years of 5.45 GAA, in the first two seasons of Washington Capital hockey. Over those two years he was a collective 14-67-4, which helps explain his atrocious career record of 102-203-38.
One thing I noticed on the list of worst goals against averages ever was the large amount of Toronto Maple Leafs from the early 1980's. I ended up having a bit of a flashback, seeing as this was my childhood of my hockey fandom. The first Leaf doesn't make the list until 16th place with Rick St.Croix and a 5.11 GAA in 1983-84, but they make up ground in a hurry with a total of ten (10) goalies of the worst 62 all-time. Ten goalies over an eight year period had goals against averages of over 4.50...this was my childhood. Along with St.Croix, there was Tim Bernhardt (5.07), Mike Palmateer (4.88), Ken Wregget (4.84), Don Edwards (4.78), Michel Laroque (4.69), Jim Rutherford (4.65) and Vincent Tremblay (4.52). These were guys who were once good, if not very good goalies nearing the end of their careers (St.Croix, Palmateer, Edwards, Larouque, Rutherford) or guys who never really panned out (the others), although Wregget won a Cup with Pittsburgh, he ended up below .500 on his career. This group of early 80's Leaf goaltending ineptitude doesn't even include Allan Bester or the barely memorable Jiri Chra. Again....these were my formative years as a hockey fan. For this reason, I am immune to any current trials and tribulations of my beloved Maple Laffs.

The Leafs, with ten appearances on the list, far out-number any other team. Hartford and Winnipeg with five and Pittsburgh with six, are the only teams that even come close to the crapitude of the 1980's Maple Leaf goaltending. Even the horrible expansion Sharks and Senators squads and the perenially goaltender starved Canucks can't come close to my Buds.
One interesting note from the worst goalie averages of all-time was the fact that Georges Vezina (yes, the trophy guy) had a GAA of 4.66 in 1919-20. As well, the two seasons before and after this he went 4.19 and 4.12. Was the man the true legend he's made out to be, or was he merely a product of the time, an era of far more goals per game than today? This we shall leave for another posting...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Three Consecutive MVP Awards

Another cool fact about Johnny Bower is the fact that he is one of only four men in professional hockey history to have won their league MVP award in three consecutive years. Two of the other three, you may have heard of, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky. The fourth gentleman you may not have heard of, Paul Polillo (pictured above) in the old Colonial Hockey League.

Other men have come close to three consecutive MVP's, only to fall short. Guyle Fielder of the old Western League actually won four MVP's in a row, but these were not true league-wide awards. There were two awards given out in three of those seasons, one for the Coastal Division and one for the Prairie Division. On top of that, each division had only four teams from which to choose an MVP.
Eddie Shore won three MVPs in four years in the early '30s. Gordie Howe won three of four in the late '50s. Len Thornson won three in four years and four in six from 1959-1964 with the Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL.

Johnny Bower would win three in a row with the AHL's Providence Reds and Cleveland Barons from 1955-56 through 57-58. Over these three years he had a record of 112-56 with a 2.45 GAA and would finally in 1958-59 become a permanent NHLer with the Leafs.
Orr of course won three straight from 69-70 to 71-72. Gretzky won eight in a row and nine of ten in the '80s.

That brings us to Paul Polillo of the Colonial League's Brantford Smoke. He won three consecutive MVPs starting in 1994-95 tallying 146,186 and 173 points. He had played four years at Western Michigan University and was drafted by the Penguins as the fourth pick in the 1988 supplemental draft of collegiate players. The highest level he would play was one game in 1994-95 with the Denver Grizzlies of the IHL.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Johnny Bower, 55 year old goalie

29 years ago today, Johnny Bower dressed as an emergency backup for the Maple Leafs.
In a Vancouver Sun article by Dave Stubbs, he recounts how Bower, who was retired for over ten years was almost called on as replacement. January 9, 1980, the Leafs goalies, Mike Palmateer and Paul Harrison both had a bad case of the flu. Young Vincent Tremblay was summoned from the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL, but it was uncertain if he'd arrive on time. Bower was a scout for the Leafs at the time, and was heading out on a road trip when GM Punch Imlach told him not to leave. Imlach signed him to a $1 contract and Bower headed to the Maple Leaf Gardens training room to find his duffle bag of goalie equipment he stashed away ten years prior.
Bower spent the game in the training room in full gear while Tremblay was pulled after four goals against in ten mimutes. The ailing Paul Harrison took over in the 5-3 Montreal victory, with Bower on guard as emergency replacement, thankfully not used that night. Bower remains one of the most popular ex-Leafs at 83 year old, and perhaps still currently a Leafs fourth string goalie.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

1973-74 Sorel Black Hawks

The Quebec Major Junior League, Sorel Black Hawks (Epreviers in French) scored 620 goals in 70 games. 620 goals in 70 games, that's an average of 8.86 goals each and every game. Each team in the league that season scored an average of 5.41 goals/game which is quite impressive, however, Sorel's average was 63.8 percent higher than the league average. This percentage abovethe average is by far the greatest differential in modern major junior hockey history. There were two teams in the 1946-47 Ontario Hockey Association that topped Sorel's percentage, yet the disparity in team's talentof that day was the main cause for a few teams dominating the league. Both St.Mikes and the Galt Red Wings scored almost 70% more goals than the league average.
The Epreviers du Sorel were a true offensive juggernaut, they had six players top the 100 point mark and an entire line EACH top 90 goals AND 200 points. Pierre Larouche, Michel Deziel (pictured above) and Jacques Cossette totalled 692 points. Larouche's 157 assists still stands as the CHL record.
Other notable dominant scoring teams were as follows;
-The 70-71 Quebec Remparts led by Guy Lafleur, Andre Savard and Jacques Richard outscored the league average by 53.6%.
-The Mario Lemieux led Laval Voisins in 1983-84 scored 50.3% more goals than league average. -The 2004-05 London Knights of Corey Perry, Rob Schremp and Dave Bolland scored a seemingly paltry 310 goals yet this was 49% more than league average.
-The 1963-64 Toronto Marlboros of Pete Stemkowski, Mike Walton and Ron Ellis scored over league average by 47.5%.
-1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings totalled 40.1% more goals than league average led by Brian Propp, Ray Allison and Laurie Boschman.
-Rob Brown, Mark Recchi and Greg Hawgood led the 86-87 Kamloops Blazers to 39.3% more goals than league average.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pauli Jaks, Goaltender

Pauli Jaks was goaltender for the Switzerland world junior team in the 1991 and 1992 tourneys. Big deal, one might say. Well, yes it was a big deal, seeing as he was named All-Star AND Top Goalie in 1991.
I distinctly remember watching the first game of that '91 tournament held in Saskatoon. Canada beat the Swiss 6-0, but they peppered Jaks with well over 50 shots and they should have easily hit double digits. My friend and I decided to have a contest of sorts later that year by trying to collect the most Pauli Jaks Upper Deck rookies. I think I still have about 60 to this day. Jaks overall record of 1-4 with a 6.00 GAA doesn't seem worthy of Top Goaltender status, and perhaps it was more of a sentimental choice. Canada's Trevor Kidd who went 4-1-1 with a 2.25 GAA would probably have been the better choice. However, Kidd never really stood on his head in a close game and lost a big game to the Czechs to put the Gold medal hopes in jeopardy.
It's illustrated how important Jaks was to the Swiss as his backup allowed 18 goals in the two games that Jaks didn't play. His biggest moment would prove to be in beating Norway 2-1 to allow the Swiss to avoid relegation to the B pool.
Pauli Jaks would go on to be drafted that summer by the L.A. Kings in the 5th round in a fairly weak draft for goalies. He was actually picked ahead of Corey Hirsch and would play the following two years with L.A.'s top farm club in Phoenix. His one and only game in the NHL would come on Jan. 29, 1995 and as luck would have it I happened to be in a Vancouver sports bar (suprise) that night. The Kings game was on in the background of a pool game I was playing. When I saw Pauli Jaks take over for Jamie Storr to start the second period, I had to watch. He ended up allowing 2 goals on 25 shots for a .920 save Pct. in a 6-3 loss to Chicago. By the next game, Hrudey or Fuhr was back from injury, and Jaks was sent back down, never to return. He would return home to play the next nine seasons with HC Ambri-Piotta of the Swiss league and inspire the likes of Aebischer and Gerber.
As it is, my 60 Pauli Jaks rookie cards are worth perhaps 25 cents each.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Curtis Joseph Milestones

This past week, Curtis Joseph finally won his first game of this season. It was the 450th victory in his career, good enough to maintain fourth place on the all-time list. He will in all likelihood remain in fourth for quite a while, he is not going to catch Ed Belfour who is 34 wins ahead, and the nearest active player is Chris Osgood, 75 wins in arears with a 36 year old body that is starting to break down. It's possible that Evgeni Nabokov at 228 wins and 33 years old or Roberto Luongo with 208 wins at 29 years old have a shot at breaking 450 wins.
In addition, to his milestone victory, Cujo will most likely soon top the all-time number for losses by a goaltender. Currently he sits at 348 career losses, right behind "leader" Gump Worsely at 352 and Gilles Meloche with 351. One would expect Joseph to get 5 or 6 more starts from the Leafs and with a current winning pct of .167, the record could well be his.
In addition to the unenviable feat of most career losses, Cujo is also working on another not-so-pleasant number. As of Jan.2/09 he posseses a frightful .849 save percentage. This would be the worst number posted by a goalie playing at least fifteen games since Jimmy Waite had an .843 PCT in 93/94. The immortal Eddie Mio somehow managed to allow a goal on almost 19% of shots put his way in 85/86 for a Save Pct of .817. This is by far the worst number since the stat became official. Also noteworthy is Brian Hayward who, in 52 games for Winnipeg in 85/86 stopped .843 pct of his shots against.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

THE Worst Hockey Logos EVER

Finally, the Worst of the Worst…
The Cyclones logo has it all. A fantastically horrible drawing with an equally terrible design concept. I am assuming the “goalie” is supposed to be forming the letter “C” with his arms. I really enjoy his stumpy blocker arm that appears to be holding only the bottom part of a goalie stick. The goaltender as we know, is the only player that can play with a broken stick, but there’s no reason to display this fact in a team’s logo. I also really like the fact that the goalie has the actual logo on his own jersey, nice attention to detail I must say. The cyclone that is hovering behind the goalie looks as if it was sketched in as an afterthought. In fact the entire logo appears to have been drawn on a napkin, with that being it’s final stage of design.
The Tidewater Sharks of the Southern Hockey League, wow. Pure greatness in this one. By great I mean, awful. This round nosed killer of the sea has had his tail fin sliced down the middle and the ends jammed into red dancing shoes…with handles on them. He’s a mad bugger though, watch out for this guy traipsing down the ice while performing his patented, “bouncing a giant puck on the end of the stick” move. One of the wonders of nature indeed.

The New York Slapshots…oh my. The most interesting thing about this squad was that they were coached by the Hammer, Dave Schultz…to a last place finish of 21 wins and 38 losses. This Tron-reject of a logo is wearing CRICKET PADS for Christ’s sake. And the “artist” didn’t even bother giving it feet. Oh crap…I drew the character too close to the edge of the circle…I know, I just wont give him feet. No one will ever know....
Also, is it just me, but does he have quite the rack on him or what. Quite the busty fellow indeed. I wont even touch the hockey stick. There's just too much brutalness in this one.

I’ll finish with a simple, yet awful logo for the Decatur Storm. This would fail as a logo for an elementary school debate team. Obviously another example of the coach’s kid designing the team logo, not a good idea.
Anyhow, these are my picks for worst hockey logos in history. Feel free to comment on any of these delightful pieces of art.

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