Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Denman Arena Pics

Here's some great pics I found on the Vancouver Archives website of the old Denman Arena in Vancouver's West End. I wrote about it last year;

Above is from 1929, and below is an aerial view from 1940 showing Coal Harbour. Stanley Park is on the left side, while the arena is on the right edge.

The two pics below show the interior of the rink during militaryt drills in 1919. Note the incredibly steep upper deck seating.

Below is a panoramic view looking out into Coal Harbour with the Vancouver Rowing Club on the left side. This still stands to this day and was used as Germany House during the 2010 Olympics.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pro Hockey's First 100 Point Scorer

Most good hockey fans would know that the first 100 point season in the NHL was achieved by Phil Esposito. In 1968/69, Espo notched a then unheard-of 126 points. Sixteen years before this, Gordie Howe tallied 95 points in 1952/53 to come close to the magical century plateau.

Who was professional hockey's first ever 100 point scorer? Surprisingly, although not at the NHL level, the barrier was indeed broken well over a decade before Howe came close in the early 50's.

The top minor pro circuit American Hockey League had two 100 point men in 1947/48. Providence's Carl Liscombe scored 118 points and Cliff Simpson of Indianapolis notched 100 exactly.

The Pacific Coast League which would become the Western Hockey League produced it's first 100 point scorer two years before the AHL's first. Vancouver Canuck, Andy Clovechok scored 103 points in 54 games.

As for the lower minor professional leagues, it appears that the Eastern Hockey League produced pro-hockey's first ever 100 point man as early as the 1939/40 season. Ab Collings of the New York Rovers scored 42 goals, 59 assists and 101 points in 61 games.
Ab (Albert) Collings, pictured at top, was a 5'11", 180 lb Left Winger from Winnipeg who would move up to the AHL the year after his 100 point campaign. He played the next four seasons with Providence and Philadelphia in the AHL but would never score more than 45 points in a year. He also served in the Canadian military and played for Calgary RCAF Mustangs and Toronto RCAF. Collings ended his career in the PCHL in 1948/49 scoring 13 points in 21 games with three different teams. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 90.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seals/Barons All-Time Team

In the spirit of selecting the 40th anniversary squads for the Canucks, Sabres and Leafs I thought it would be fun to look at some of the lesser franchises of all-time, and the best teams they could put together over their histories. Let's have a gander at the all-time team for the long defunct California Golden Seals/ Cleveland Barons franchise.

Over eleven years of existence the team lost well over twice as many games as they won, and posted a winning percentage of only .349. Only twice did they have a season in which they had a better than .400 win Pct, topping out with 69 points in their second year of 1968/69.
This was their first of only two seasons qualifying for the playoffs and they actually went seven full games before losing to the lower-ranked Los Angeles Kings. Earl Ingarfield led the team with 10 points in the 7 games and actually finished second over the duration of the 1969 post-season in Points/Game. Ingarfield scored at a 1.43 Pts/GP clip, behind only Phil Esposito's 1.80.

What follows is the best we can do in assembling an all-time "all-star" team for this storied franchise.

Dennis Maruk 236-94-117-211
Ted Hampson 246-61-123-184
Walt McKechnie 250-62-109-171
Dave Gardner 289-67-99-166

Right Wing
Al MacAdam 320-88-129-217
Bill Hicke 262-79-101-180
Norm Ferguson 279-73-66-139
Bob Murdoch 206-59-72-131

Left Wing
Joey Johnston 288-84-101-185
Rick Hampton 285-56-96-152
Gary Jarrett 268-54-71-125
Gerry Pinder 74-23-31-54

Carol Vadnais 246-63-83-146
Mike Christie 225-10-65-75
Bob Stewart 414-19-80-99
Dick Redmond 109-15-52-67
Jim Neilson 213-9-61-70
Bert Marshall 313-8-60-68

Gilles Meloche 93-191-62, 3.77
Gary Smith 61-119-27, 3.33
Charlie Hodge 20-40-16, 3.09
Gary Simmons 27-48-12, 3.51

There is somewhat of a theme among the Seals/Barons alumni, many of them were not quite at their peak of production while skating in either Oakland or Cleveland. A great deal of ex-Seal/Barons went on to far bigger and better things after leaving the franchise.
The examples begin with all-time centre Dennis Maruk, who would explode for 60 goals and 136 points for Washington a few years after leaving the franchise. Walt McKechnie as well would blossom further, enjoying an 82 point season with the Wings in 75/76. Norm Ferguson and Gary Jarrett would each go on to have multiple 30 goal seasons, albeit in the WHA.

As good as Carol Vadnais was with the Seals he would truly fourish with Boston (who wouldn't in those days?) and tallied four straight 50 point seasons including 74 points for the 74/75 Bruins. Fellow defenseman Dick Redmond had some very nice years with Chicago and Boston after leaving the Seals. The franchise's top two goaltenders would each go on to have terrific seasons later in their careers.

Two players who don't make the all-time squad really display the post Seals/Barons blossoming factor. Charlie Simmer and Reggie Leach both went on to become all-stars and produce multiple 50 goal seasons each. Others like Ivan Boldirev, Ron Stackhouse and Dennis Hextall went on to have terrific post-Seals/Baron seasons. Paul Shmyr and Tom Webster are two that would star in the WHA. To me, it seems like an inordinate number of players to improve significantly after leaving one franchise.

Interestingly, over the course of the franchise's history only one man managed to play at least ten games while maintaining a +/- rating over zero. Defenseman Gerry Odrowski played 116 games, scoring 16 points and slightly impressively a +4 rating. He is the only player ever to achieve that. Also, Mike Christie in 1976/77 put together arguably one of the best ever Cleveland Baron seasons with 33 points on defense and a +18 rating. This on a team that went 25-42-13 and is 13 higher than any other single franchise season .

The Barons would merge with the equally awful Minnesota North Stars in 1978/79 and the two teams actually became one good team, reaching the Stanley Cup finals a mere three seasons later.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Early Returns from the KHL

As NHL camps open this weekend, the Kontinental League in Russia is already in full regular season mode. Here are some first week numbers of some of the bigger names that are plying their trade in Mother Russia.

Evgeni Nabokov, the ex-Shark has 2 wins and 2 losses for St.Petersburg SKA with a 2.95 GAA. Teammates Maxim Afinogenov and Alexei Yashin each have 1 goal and 3 helpers over five games. Mattias Weinhandl is tied for league scoring honours with 3 goals, 5 assists.

Magnitogorsk Metallurg boasts the KHL's goal leader in Denis Platonov who has 8 markers and zero assists in 5 games. He equalled the KHL record with four goals in one game this past Monday. Platanov was a 3rd round choice of Nashville in 2001 but his North American career spanned all of three games with AHL's Milwaukee Admirals in 2003/04. The 28 year old is in his ninth year of the Russian top league with his career high in goals being 17 in 53 games four seasons ago. Teammates on Magnitogorsk, Sergei and Fedor Fedorov have had an interesting start to their seasons. Neither of them have registered a point over five games and Sergei has 14 PIMs while Fedor has 25. One may think the brothers collected all these penalties in one melee together, but no. Sergei got all 14 minutes in one game that included a 10 minute misconduct, while during his second shift of last Saturday's game versus Chelyabinsk Fedor got tossed for a five minute kicking infraction that also carried a 20 minute game misconduct. It would seem the Fedorov boys are taking out their scoring frustations in the wrong manner.

Over in Omsk Avangard Jaromir Jagr has lured his Olympic buddy little Roman Cervenka to play with him, each has 2 goals in 3 games to start the year. With Dinamo Riga, 38 year old Sandis Ozolinsh has 5 assists in 4 games in a solid start to the season. Alex Radulov has come out gang-busters with a goal and 5 assists in 3 games for Ufa Salavat.

Perhaps the biggest new name in Russia this season is Dominik Hasek with Moscow Saprtak. The 45 year old Dominator may have finally hit the wall as he sits with a 1 and 4 record and a very non-dominating 3.62 GAA and .860 Save Pct.

Prior to their win Friday, Moscow Red Army had endured their worst start ever with three straight losses. The streak was broken with a brilliant 47 save shutout by ex-New York Ranger, Steve Valiquette.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Toronto Maple Leafs All-Star Team, 1970 to Present

As a point of comparison, having just chosen my Canucks and Sabres 40th anniversary squads I will now select my Leafs team from the same era, 1970 through present day.

Mats Sundin 981-420-567-987
Darryl Sittler 844-389-527-916
Doug Gilmour 393-131-321-452
Bill Derlago 378-158-176-334

A very tight battle for top Leaf centremen of the last 40 years with Sundin coming out ahead of my sentimental favourite Sittler. Although Sittler had five top-ten point finishes in the '70s and a Second-Team All-Star berth, Sundin had two Second Team selections. When points are adjusted for different scoring eras, Sundin pulls ahead even further. Sundin's adjusted points in a low scoring era go from 987 to 1093 while Sittler in a higher scoring era drops from 916 to 797.
Gilmour's two brilliant seasons in the early '90s easily place him third on this list ahead of four-time 30 goal man Bill Derlago.

Right Wing
Rick Vaive 534-299-238-537
Lanny McDonald 477-219-240-459
Gary Leeman 545-176-231-407
John Anderson 534-189-204-393

Vaive's three straight 50 goal seasons, seven straight 30 goal years and top goal per game rate during the era puts him on top of the Right Wings. Lanny McDonald topped 40 goals three straight years and garnered a Second Team all star spot in 1977 and Leeman amazingly recorded the second ever Leaf 50 goal season, before becoming even more valuable as trade bait for Doug Gilmour. John Anderson tallied 30 goals in four consecutive seasons and had Toronto based burger restaurant chain, good enough for fourth on this list.

Left Wing
Wendel Clark 608-260-181-441
Dave Andreychuk 223-120-99-219
Steve Thomas 377-118-173-291
Tiger Williams 407-109-132-241

Clark's '93/'94 year was one of the best in Leaf history with 46 goals in 64 games, and he should have won the Calder trophy over Gary Suter in '86. Andreychuk's stint as a Leaf was brief but solid and he scored 33 Powerplay goals in his first 114 Leaf games. Stumpy Thomas and Tiger Williams were not only two of the greatest sparkplugs in Leaf history but possessed two of the greatest nicknames.

Borje Salming 1099-148-620-768
Tomas Kaberle 820-80-402-482
Ian Turnbull 580-112-302-414
Bryan McCabe 523-83-214-297
Al Iafrate 472-81-169-250
Jim McKenny 501-68-213-281
Dmitry Yushkevich 506-25-110-135
Dave Ellett 446-51-172-223

"King" Salming was a six-time (consecutively) All-Star and surely one of the greatest Leafs of All-Time and perhaps the greatest of this era. The recently maligned Kaberle is in fact one of the best Leaf d-men over the last forty years and the under-rated Ian Turnbull certainly earns a spot in the top four. McCabe, Iafrate and McKenny were at times all considered top offensive contributors that never really did it consistenly over a yearly basis.

Curtis Joseph 138-97-28, 2.49
Felix Potvin 160-149-49, 2.87
Mike Palmateer 129-112-41, 3.43
Ed Belfour 93-61-15, 2.51

Cujo's four terrific seasons beats out Potvin's six pretty-darn good seasons. The eccentric and noodle-kneed Palmateer ranks slightly ahead of fellow eccentric Belfour in the Leaf revolving door of goaltending since 1970.

Overall, this squad may rank slighly ahead of the Canuck All-Time team on the strength of their defensemen and centres, but still behind Buffalo overall.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Garnet "Ace" Bailey

"Every team should have an Ace Bailey...He's not going to score you 50 points every year but he made up for it in different ways, being an Ace Bailey, a real character." This is a quote from Boston Bruin teammate John Bucyk form the website . Garnet Bailey (no relation to the original Leaf) had in many ways what can be described as a storybook hockey career. His life was cut short on Sept. 11, 2001 when he was onboard flight 175 that struck the World Trade Center. By this point in his life, Bailey was Head of Pro Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings and was on his way to L.A. for the start of training camp on that fateful day.

Bailey was drafted by the Bruins 13th overall in 1966 and would play one more junior year scoring 93 points for the Edmonton Oil Kings. By the age of 20 he was a point per game player with the AHL's Hershey Bears and would stick in the NHL the following year. Perhaps his greatest moment in the NHL would come in game 1 of the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals against the Rangers. Bailey beat Brad Park and Eddie Giacomin on a solo effort rush for the game winning goal. This play was immortalized by singer Gord Downie in a song appropriatley titled "Ace Bailey" on his album The Battle of the Nudes in 2003. At the end of the track, the audio call of Bailey's goal is palyed as well as a quick post game comment from Ace himself.

After hoisting the Cup with Orr and Espo, Bailey went on to play with Detroit, St.Louis and Washington twice scoring as many as 19 goals in a season. In 1978/79, he ended up with another all-time great in the WHA as Bailey was roommate and mentor to 17 year old Wayne Gretzky.
Bailey helped acclimatize the youngster into the big league way of life, and helped The Great One deal with his longtime fear of flying.
When the Oilers moved to the NHL, Bailey tried his hand at coaching in the Edmonton system with Wichita in the CHL. He soon moved to the scouting department and was instrumental in building and sharing in five Cup victories. In 1994 Bailey followed his pal Gretz to Los Angeles to run their pro scouting department.
Today, the Ace Bailey Children's Foundation helps to enhance the happiness of hospitalized children and their families. As teammate Wayne Cashman is quoted on the foundation's website, "Children all felt they were special to Ace, and you know, they were."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Buffalo Sabres 40th Anniversary All-Time Team

Time to look at the Sabres all-time squad as they celebrate their 40th anniversary along with the Canucks. Interestingly each franchise has been to two Cup Finals neither winning the ultimate prize. Over their histories Buffalo has obtained 494 points more than Vancouver, or an average of six additional wins per season. In theory, The Sabres all-time team should be slightly better than the Canucks.


1st Gilbert Perreault 1191-512-814-1326
2nd Pat LaFontaine 268-158-227-385
3rd Dale Hawerchuk 342-110-275-385
4th Don Luce 766-216-311-527

Mr. Sabre, Gil Perreault is the easy choice for first team centre. He has 130 more goals, almost twice as many assists and over 500 more points than any other player to don the blue and gold.
LaFontaine's stay in Buffalo was short but brilliant, his 1.44 points per game with Buffalo is tops by far and his 148 points in '92/'93 is 21 more than any other Sabre. Hawerchuk scored between 86 and 98 points in four straight seasons and his 80 assists in '92/'93 is second most in Sabre history. Luce had a +61 rating in '74/'75, highest ever for single season.

Right Wing
1st Danny Gare 503-267-233-500
2nd Alexander Mogilny 381-211-233-444
3rd Rene Robert 524-222-330-552
4th Mike Foligno 664-247-264-511

Perhaps the most highly competitive position in Buffalo history, Gare takes top RW spot on the strength of two 50 goal seasons, and a Second Team all star selection in '79/'80. Mogilny's incredible 76 goal season and 0.55 goals per game as a Sabre barely beats out French Connection liner Robert.

Left Wing
1st Rick Martin 681-382-313-695
2nd Dave Andreychuk 837-368-436-804
3rd Craig Ramsay 1070-252-420-672
4th Miroslav Satan 578-224-232-456

Once again, a tight battle at LW with Martin's far superior goals per game beating Andreychuk's slightly longer tenure. Career long Sabre Ramsay had 8 consecutive 20 goal seasons and finished his career with a Selke Award in '84/'85.

1st Phil Housley 608-178-380-558
2nd Mike Ramsey 911-73-256-329
3rd Alexei Zhitnik 712-55-234-289
4th Jim Schoenfeld 584-45-183-228
5th John Van Boxmeer 294-49-166-215
6th Bill Hajt 854-42-202-244
7th Doug Bodger 479-54-233-287
8th Lindy Ruff 608-102-183-285

Housley is easily the top Sabre defender in their history and never scored less than 62 points in any of his eight Buffalo seasons. Ramsey and Zhitnik were long time Sabre soldiers who played in a combined six all-star games. Schoenfeld was selected as second team all-star in '79/'80 a year which saw him record a +60 rating. Van Boxmeer's brief stint saw him tally over 50 points in three straight seasons. Lindy Ruff is the only defenseman not named Phil Housley to have scored 20 goals in a season with 20 even in '85/'86 (Housley did it five times).

1st Dominik Hasek 234-170-70, 2.22
2nd Ryan Miller 187-104-34, 2.57
3rd Don Edwards 156-83-61, 2.90
4th Tom Barrasso 124-102-28, 3.28

Hasek, with five Vezina's and back to back Hart Trophies make him not only the greatest Sabre goalie, but one of the greats in NHL history. Miller with one Vezina and first team all-star selection has alot of work to do even challenge The Dominator. Don Edwards and Tom Barrasso have each also won a Vezina and had two All-Star selections each as a Sabre.

In the end, when comparing Buffalo's to Vancouver's all-time teams the Sabres far better goaltending and superior top-level talent at centre would give them the edge over the 'Nucks.
Perhaps next, as a point of comparison I'll look at other franchises best players from 1970 through the present. Toronto will be next.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vancouver Canucks 40th Anniversary All-Time Team

In honour of Vancouver and Buffalo celebrating their 40th year in the NHL, I am going to select their respective franchise All-Time squads. Today we look at the Canucks.
There are many obvious choices, it's when we get deeper that some tougher decisions arise.
Players listed in order followed by GP-G-A-PTS

1st Henrik Sedin 728-138-434-572
2nd Thomas Gradin 613-197-353-550
3rd Patrik Sundstrom 374-133-209-342
4th Cliff Ronning 366-112-216-328

Having won the franchise's first and only Hart Trophy, "Hank" Sedin is the easy choice for top centreman. Fellow Swede, Gradin had a nice run in the early 1980's topping out twice at 86 points. The Canucks have obviously done well with Swedish centres as Sundstrom ranks as their third best ever. He tallied 38 goals and 91 points in '83/'84. The fourth slot comes down to Brendan Morrison and Cliff Ronning, with Ronning's five plus seasons including 85 points in '92/'93 topping B-Mo's seven plus seasons of consistent if unspectacular play.

Right Wing
1st Pavel Bure 428-254-224-478
2nd Trevor Linden 1140-318-415-733
3rd Stan Smyl 896-262-411-673
4th Tony Tanti 531-250-220-470

Bure gets the top pick over franchise games played leader Linden. Bure not only has by far the top goals per game rate at 0.59 (second is Tanti at 0.47) but he is also the only Canuck to have scored at least one point per game over his career. Linden ranks second overall in franchise goals and points to Markus Naslund, and is an easy choice for second RW. Smyl three times scored over 30 goals and had 88 points in '82/'83. Tony Tanti takes fourth over Todd Bertuzzi and Alex Mogilny on the strength of five consecutive seasons scoring between 39 and 45 goals. Bertuzzi really had only two very good years although one resulted in a first team All-Star selection. Mogilny as well had a brief period of Canuck greatness with a second team All-Star pick in '95/'96.

Left Wing
1st Markus Naslund 884-346-410-756
2nd Daniel Sedin 705-208-339-547
3rd Don Lever 593-186-221-407
4th Andre Boudrias 458-121-267-388

Franchise leader in goals and points makes Naslund an easy selection for top Canuck LW all-time. Perhaps Daniel Sedin will overtake the top spot in years to come if he continues his second all-star team play of last year. Lever's eight years with Vancouver included a 38 goal campaign in '74/'75. Boudrias' 62 assists in the same year still rank as the third most in one Canuck season.

1st Mattias Ohlund 770-93-232-325
2nd Jyrki Lumme 579-83-238-321
3rd Dennis Kearns 677-31-290-321
4th Ed Jovanovski 434-57-177-234
5th Doug Lidster 666-65-242-307
6th Harold Snepsts 781-35-160-195
7th Rick Lanz 417-56-171-227
8th Sami Salo 470-62-142-204
9th Paul Reinhart 131-24-90-114

Obviously the weakest position over the course of the Canucks history as they never really have had a veritable top-flight defenseman for any length of time. Their most talented defender may very well have been Paul Reinhart who had back to back 57 point years in the late '80s while missing 29 games over the two seasons. If not for injuries, Reinhart may not have been merely one of the top Canuck defensemen ever, but perhaps a Hall of Famer. Over his 11 seasons he missed 232 games to injuries yet his 0.86 career points per game rank sixth all-time among defensemen.

1st Kirk McLean 211-228-62, 3.28
2nd Roberto Luongo 155-86-26, 2.39
3rd Richard Brodeur 126-173-62, 3.87
4th Dan Cloutier 109-68-24, 2.42

For now McLean holds top spot over Luongo, perhaps for only another season or two. Captain Kirk's 1991/92 season may even rank ahead of Luongo's best as a Canuck. His 38-17-9 record with a league leading 5 shutouts and 2.74 average was good for a second team All-Star selection. Luongo's '06/'07 record of 47-22-6 and 2.29 average also garnered a second team pick.
Using the old favourite Adjusted Goals, Bobby Lu's Adjusted GAA of 2.46 only slightly bests McLeans season Adjusted average of 2.54. Richard Brodeur had a similarly terrific Adjusted GAA of 2.53 in '81/'82 and easily ranks as the third best Canuck goalie ever.

Next we'll look at the Buffalo Sabres 40th anniversary all-time squad.
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