Showing posts from February, 2009

Roland Cloutier, "Mini Lafleur"

Roland Cloutier played a total of 34 NHL games over two seasons scoring 17 points, but what a start he had. On Oct.25 , 1978 Cloutier replaced an injured Andre St.Laurent with the Red Wings and tallied a goal in his Detroit Olympia debut. He scored five goals in his first three games on a makeshift line with Errol Thompson and fellow rookie Fern Leblanc. “Thank heavens for that line, they all were outstanding.” commented coach Bobby Kromm. Even higher praise came from Wings GM, Ted Lindsay who said Cloutier had the potential to be a “Mini-Guy Lafleur” Mini would be the operative word here as he stood only five-foot-eight and 160 pounds.
Cloutier had started the season with the Kansas City Red Wings of the Central League and would play a total of 19 games with the big club. The previous season he had notched 32 goals and 61 points in 59 games with K.C., and in his final year of junior he’d finished tenth in the Quebec League with 131 points. After his grand start with Detroit, Cloutier…

Gretzky's Calder Trophy

The 1979/80 Calder Trophy race for rookie of the year was a fairly wide open race with many candidates right down to the wire. Ray Bourque won the award as he broke the record for points by a rookie defenseman. This was of course Wayne Gretzky’s “rookie year” in the NHL and had he been eligible for the Calder it would have been no contest.
A few of the fine rookies that season were, Mike Foligno, Pete Peeters, Brian Propp and Paul Reinhart. None of these gentleman however, were even close to the Great One’s 137 points.
According to a 1980 Hockey News item, there was a precedent set well before the WHA/NHL merger that excluded WHA “veterans” from the Calder Trophy. Four years earlier, the NHL triumvirate of Clarence Campbell, Bryan O’Neill and Ron Andrews had excluded 22 year old Pat Hickey and 20 year old Wayne Dillon from the rookie voting. Both players were signed from the Toronto Toros by the New York Rangers following a 95 point year by Dillon and 69 from Hickey. They would score 4…

Pentti Lund, Calder Trophy Winner

Pentti Alexander Lund was born in Karijoki, Finland before moving to Canada at age six. He played junior hockey in Port Arthur, Ontario with the Navy Team leading the league in scoring both years. He would turn pro and score 92 points in 56 games for the Boston Olympics of the Eastern League. Lund followed that with 62 points in 68 AHL games with the Hershey Bears in 1947/48. He made the big time with the New York Rangers the following year and notched 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games winning the Calder Trophy. Lund would lead the NHL in playoff scoring with 6 goals and 11 points in 12 games while losing the final in seven to Detroit. He finished two points up on team-mate Don Raleigh, and Red Wings Gerry Couture and George Gee in perhaps the most unheralded leaderboard ever.
Lund is often credited as being the first Finnish born player ever in the NHL, but Albert Pudas (originally Putaansuu) played 4 games with the Leafs in 1926/27. Lund would play two more full seasons with the Ra…

Top Two Points Leaders = Missed Playoffs

After watching my Buds comeback against the Penguins last night including a five goal third period, it looks as if the Pens are going to be hard pressed to make the playoffs. Currently (Feb. 15) Pittsburgh sits five points behind eighth place Buffalo, and the Sabres have a game in hand. It seems like it would be next to impossible to have the top two scorers in the league and still find a way to miss the post season. Malkin and Crosby are one-two in scoring, although Ovechkin is making up ground fast. As amazing as it would seem, this would not be the first time that a team with the top two scores failed to make the playoffs. Exactly sixty years ago, in 1948/49 the Chicago Black Hawks enjoyed the top two points men in the NHL, Roy Conacher and Doug Bentley. They tallied 68 and 66 points respectively, finishing a full twelve points clear of third place Ted Lindsay. The Hawks still managed only 50 points over the 60 game season finishing seven points out of the post season dance. Their d…

Equalizing Goal Scoring

How do we compare the greatest goal scoring seasons of all-time. Which was better, Gretzky's 92 goals in 1982, Richard's 5o in 50 or Joe Malone's 44 goals in 1918. Firstly, we can look at each season using Goals per Game to account for different length of seasons, but that alone does not put each on an equal playing field. The average goals scored in a National Hockey League game has fluctuated wildly from almost ten combined goals in the late 1910's to under three goals/game in the late '20's. The average goals scored in an NHL game would hover between five and seven for the balance of the '40's through '70's before jumping up over eight in the '80's. The dead puck era would return with the new millenium with the goal average dropping into the fives again.
In order to achieve an equalized view of the greatest goal scoring seasons, we can take the player's Goals/Game and divide it into the League Goals/Game to reach a Goals Equalized…

Mike Green Update

Well, Mr.Green notched two more goals today to extend his streak to seven straight with a goal. I got lucky today, as I was driving home listening to the Rangers broadcast (on Satellite radio) of the game against Washington. During my twenty minute commute home, Green scored his first goal which promted announcer Kenny Albert and colour man Don Maloney to inform the listeners that Green had just tied the record for consecutive games scoring by a defenseman. What I could not find by searching on the internet a few days ago, I heard over the airwaves.
Albert announced that Green had just tied the NHL record of seven straight games set by Boston's Mike O'Connell in 1983/84. He also mentioned that the four other defenders who had went six consecutive games with a goal were O'Connell's team-mate Ray Bourque also in 83/84, Colorado Rockies Barry Beck, Bobby Orr, and Montreal Canadien Harry Mummery in 1920/21.

Mike Green, Goal Scorer

A colleague at work is friends with and grew up with Mike Green in Calgary. For this reason, I have been following him quite closely since his first pro season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. His development into an elite defenseman in the NHL is impressive and fun to watch, especially being a Canadian Olympic hockey team fan.
Green's current scoring exploits are nearing historical proportions. His sixth consecutive game with a goal set a franchise record for defensemen and he's the first d-man since Ray Bourque in 1984 to accomplish that. I can't find what the all-time defenseman record is, but Punch Broadbent had 16 straight games with a goal in 1921/22 and Charlie Simmer went 13 straight in 79/80. One article I read says that defenseman Bobby Connors of the 1928/29 Detroit Cougars notched a goal in 11 consecutive matches. I am doubting this is true, as Connors had a total of only 13 goals in 41 total games that season. It seems improbable that he would score most of …

Guyle Fielder, All-Time Great

Guyle Fielder played a mere six games for the Wings in 1957-58, yet he still garnered a card in that year's Topps set. These were six of his fifteen career NHL games over a seven year period without notching a single point.
In 1957/58 with the Seattle Totems, Fielder had tallied the first ever 100 point season in hockey history with 122 in 69 games. Detroit traded for him that summer but wasn't giving him ice-time, seeing as the minimum NHL contract of $7,500 was the same he made in Seattle he went back to the WHL. In 62 games with the Totems he had 111 points, then 119 the following year. The Western Hockey League was a professional league just about on par with the AHL. Most teams had players affiliated directly with NHL clubs, and in fact Fielder himself had in 1953 won the AHL rookie of the year award in his only season in that circuit.
In total, Guyle Fielder would play 21 seasons in the WHL, mainly with Seattle along with his one AHL year. From 1951/52 through 1972/73 he …

Jiri Crha

The Toronto Maple Leafs of 1980 were a team in turmoil and transition. Having in 1978 beating the New York Islanders in the quarter finals, the Leafs went on to be swept by the Canadiens in the semi-finals AND the 1979 quarter-finals. As well, captain Darryl Sittler was feuding with owner Harold Ballard, and once he was re-hired, GM Punch Imlach. When Imlach stated he was open to offers of trade for his captain, Sittler's agent Alan Eagleson said it would take $500,000 for him to waive his no-trade clause. Instead, just after Christmas 1979, Imlach traded Sittler's best friend and line mate Lanny McDonald to the lowly Colorado Rockies. In response to this, Sittler decided to remove the captain "C" from his sweater. Even with all this going on, he managed to pot 27 goals in his final 40 games and the team flirted with a .500 record until March. They finished in 11th place overall with 75 points before being swept by the Minnesota North Stars.

In his post-mortem of the…