Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Maple Leafs, 12 Wins in First 20 Games

The Toronto Maple Leafs have started this season with 12 victories in their first 20 games of the season. Sure, that's fairly impressive but the fact they have no "extra points" and 8 losses kind of dulls the feat. No matter how you look at it though, 12 wins in 20 games to start a season is indeed a rare feat for Toronto. 

In fact Toronto has not accomplished this in 19 years, and it is only the 4th time in 63 years they have done it. Overall, this is only the 11th time in franchise history to start a year with at least 12 wins in the first 20 games. A fact that hopefully bodes well for the Leafs is that each time they have done this they havefinished at least third in their division (or the entire NHL prior to 1967) and have made the playoffs every single time. 

The eleven occasions that Toronto has started with at least 12 wins in their first 20 are as follows:

2012/13; 12-8-0

1993/94; 13-3-4
Finished 2nd

1977/78; 12-5-3
Finished 3rd

1961/62; 13-6-1
Finished 2nd

1950/51; 13-4-3
Finished 2nd

1941/42; 14-6-0
Finished 2nd

1940/41; 14-5-1
Finished 2nd

1934/35; 15-4-1
Finished 1st

1933/34; 14-3-3
Finished 1st

1920/21; 12-8
Finished 1st

1917/18; 12-8
Finished 2nd

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mike Palmateer Rookie Photos

Scott Garland and Mike Palmateer
 My source for rarely seen hockey photos from the 1970's Doug Petepiece took these great shots of one of my favourite Leafs, Mike Palmateer. These one's were fairly easy to identify the game they were from. Palmateer only wore this mask during his rookie season of 1976/77, and Toronto played in Montreal only three times that year. The first visit in October 1976 saw Leaf goalie Wayne Thomas between the pipes. Palmateer played in the other two games in November and again at the end of March.
As far as I can tell, all the players pictured played in both games and Steve Shutt scored in both as well. He's pictured below tapping in an easy one. We get a break however when looking at the Montreal Gazette archives for the game from March 30, 1977 as linked below.

Jacques Lemaire looks on as Shutt taps in a gimme on the powerplay
There it is, in photographic evidence of the same goal in the picture Doug took. So this game is from March 30, 1977 and this was Shutt's 57th goal to extend his Montreal team record. He finished with 60. Darryl Sittler would score to tie this game up at 3 with nine minutes remaining and it ended 3-3.
Palmateer peers around Brian Glennie as Pete Mahovlich and Borje Salming jostle in front
Left to Right, Palmateer, Salming, Mahovlich, Glennie, Errol Thompson, Lafleur
Ian Turnbull fights off Doug Risebrough as The Flower swoops in

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Last time Leafs started 7-2-0 on Road, 1940

The Maple Leafs of Toronto have begun the abbreviated 2012/13 season with seven wins and two losses in their first nine road affairs. Simply put, this is their best start away from home since 1940 when they had the exact same record.
A look at the road start from that season of over 70 years ago:
Game 1 Nov. 4, 1940: Turk Broda defeats Canadiens goalie Bert Gardiner 6-2. Pete Langelle tallied 2 goals and 2 helpers, he would score only twice more the entire rest of the season. Syl Apps and Hank Goldup had two points apiece.
Game 2 Nov. 17, 1940: Frank Brimsek and the Bruins were the home losers this time as the Leafs won 4-1. Goals were scored by Wally Stanowski, Sweeney Schriner, Hank Goldup and Billy Taylor. Taylor also chipped in an assist and Langelle continued his warm start with an assist on Goldup's goal. Also with one of his five points on the season, defenceman Bingo Kampman.

Game 3 Nov 21, 1940: This one was a 2-1 overtime victory in New York over Chuck Rayner and the Americans. Drillon opened the scoring in the first from Stanowski and Nick Metz then Peanuts O'Flaherty tied it up in the second with a helper from ex-Leaf great Charlie Conacher. Captain Syl Apps won it for the Buds 1:16 into the extra frame.

Game 4 Nov 24, 1940: Toronto defeats Paul Goodman and the Black hawks in Chicago by a 4-2 score. Sweeney Schriner notched a pair of goals and Syl Apps and Gus Marker had the other...well, markers.

Game 5 Nov 26, 1940: Another 4-2 road win, this time over Dave Kerr and the New York Rangers. Apps and Gus Marker scored again, and this time it was Drillon with the pair.

Game 6 Dec 1, 1940: Johnny Mowers and the Red Wings were the home victims as Leafs won 3-1. Scriner, Stanokski and Drillon counted the goals with Billy Taylor collecting two assists.

Game 7 Dec 15, 1940: Leafs extended their road streak to seven wins beating Chicago and goalie Goodman again 4-1. The regular suspects tallied with goals from Schriner, Drillon and two from Nick Metz. Drillon and Metz each had three points while Apps had two.

Game 8 Dec 17, 1940: Hank Goldup and Billy Taylor scored but the Leafs suffered their first loss away from home to Brimsek and the Bruins. Toronto however sat with a 13-3 record in the standings, 8 points ahead of second place Detroit.

Game 9 Dec 22, 1940: The lowly Americans continued the Leafs road blues beating them 2-1 behind goaltender Earl Robertson. This was one of only 6 wins for him this year as he went 6-22-8. Stanowski from Apps counted the lonely goal as New York won it at 14:32 of the third on a goal from  Murray Armstrong.

Toronto would go only 5-7-3 the rest of the season away from home and finished second overall. They went on to lose to Boston in the seven game semi-finals. I'm pretty sure they'd take a similar outcome to the current season.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Montreal Juniors vs Soviet Selects, Dec. 1974

Pic One

Pic Two
Time for another little research project looking at rarely seen photos courtesy my new 'cyber'-friend Doug Petepeice. He has sent me alot of shots of the Montreal Junior Canadiens playing against a Soviet squad. Let's figure out when and where they are from.

Seeing the two photos above at first glance one may say they are from the same match. Looking closer there are many differences between them suggesting they are from different games. The main difference is the fact that the Junior Canadiens goalie is different, perhaps they shared duties or is it two different games?

Even with a large amount of googling the archives of the Montreal Gazette newspaper and the great site of the Society for International Hockey Research which has jersey numbers for most teams ever, it has proven pretty tough to narrow down which game is which. My best educated guesses are as follows.

I found out that the Soviet Selects played at the Montreal Forum against the Junior Canadiens at least four times between December 1974 and December 1976. What makes it even tougher is that they played within two weeks in early Dec. 1974 and right before Christmas '74. As well the Junior Canadiens were reinforced in each game by either players from other junior teams or by professionals from Montreal Canadiens AHL team, Nova Scotia Voyageurs.

Pic One is from I believe Dec. 9, 1974 when the Soviets lost 4-3. The goaltending for Montreal that day was split by pro fill-in Dave Elenbaas and regular junior goalie Andre LePage, fairly sure the first one is LePage and the second pic is Elenbaas. The fact that the shots are from a nearly identical spot leads me to believe they're from the same match. This is the only game in which Montreal had two goalies play. Elenbaas is oddly wearing #24 as a goalie, a number rarely used by the team that year. It's very conceivable they gave Elenbaas this jersey simply because it was available.

 The Montreal Juniors were strengthened by other AHL pro's including #4 Gilles Lupien (unmistakable at 6ft, 6 inches) in the second shot.

Pic Three
Pic Four
These last three shots are definitely from the Dec. 9, 1974 game as evidenced by the Soviet goalie Vladimir Polupanov wearing #20. He is easily seen in the photo from the front page of  the Gazette here, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=4JAjAAAAIBAJ&sjid=v6EFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4520%2C2294793

The Soviets outshot Montreal 18-2 in the third as regular junior goalie Andre LePage had to replace Elenbaas early in the period after an injury tweak. The Soviet coach for this game, legendary Viktor Tikhonov.

Pic Five

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Rare 1970's Junior Photos

Last week I featured some terrific old hockey photos from a gentleman named Doug Petepiece. He contacted me regarding a blog post and has sent me some really cool, and I'm pretty sure rare photos from the early days of his photo journalism career. He was based out of Cornwall, Ontario and from what I have seen he covered many sporting events between there and Montreal. 

Over the next while I will be posting some of his great shots and trying to determine exactly who and what is depicted in them.

This first one is simply awesome, showing a 16-year old Wayne Gretzky playing in the 1978 World Junior Championships. Last week I posted some other of Doug's photos from this game in Cornwall on Dec. 23, 1977 in which Canada bested West Germany 8-0. He sent me this one later and I had to post it as any shots of The Great One from this tournament are rare, and I have never seen this one. West Germany's Matthias Hoppe is in goal while the defender is Manfred Schuster.

This next one is almost comical in nature. The Montreal Junior Canadiens at the beginning of a bench clearing brawl with the Cornwall Royals. I'm pretty sure this is from either 1976/77 or 1977/78, these were the only two years that Montreal had both a number 16 (clearly visible on the right) and a number 8 (fairly certain the player second from left is 8). This would be #16 Kevin Reeves and #8 Gerard Champagne. The photo below of Champagne sure looks like the #8 in Doug's photo. Doug said the poor Royals player covering up for dear life was star forward Bill Smith but he wore number 12 and to my eyes the player in the photo has a "15" on his arm. This may make him defenceman Pat Crombeen if it's 76/77 or Klas Lenader if it's 77/78,.

Anyway you look at it, the "Evel Kneivel" helmets, the hair and the smile on the Montreal player on the left make this shot a great one.

More rare junior hockey photos from Doug to come!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leafs are in a bit of a funk at home

Dating back almost one full calendar year to February 11, 2012 the Toronto Maple Leafs have three home victories in their last EIGHTEEN home matches. Yikes. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is not the worst home stretch ever for Toronto. In the midst of the 1984/85 season, during the halcyon days of Jim Benning, Peter Ihnacak and Tim Bernhardt the Leafs had one stretch of three home wins over a TWENTY-TWO game  period.

Beginning on October 17, 1984 with a 5-3 loss to the Hartford Whalers through to another 5-3 loss this time to Boston on January 9, 1985, Toronto went 3-17-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens. They would predictably finish last overall with 48 points that season and draft Wendel Clark the following summer.

The reality is however, the current run of home-ice ineptitude, although not as lengthy as the older one may be even worse. In 84/85's 22 game home slump the Leafs scored 70 goals and allowed 103 for an average of 3.18 and 4.68 per game. Over the duration of the current 18 game home stretch of embarrassment they have scored an average of only 2.06 goals per game while surrendering 3.67. Seeing as the average number of goals scored in an NHL game 28 years ago was almost 2 full goals higher (7.71/game to 5.78/game) it's difficult to compare which numbers are worse. Comparing to the league averages however, the 84/85 22 game stretch was about 20% worse than league norms while the current chunk is about 27% worse than league averages.

We really are splitting hairs here, both of these "streaks" are abysmal. The one main difference in the two teams from different eras is the fact that in 84/85 Toronto was equally as poor on the road as at home with a 10-24-6 record, while this year's saving grace has been the fact that they are 4-1-0 away from home. In all likelihood the Leafs are not as good a road team as they've shown and not as poor a home team either and in the end they'll still be what they are, a .500 hockey club fighting for a playoff berth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1978 Team Canada Juniors, Rare Photos

 I received an email about the 1978 World Junior Championships stemming from something I wrote about a while back. The sender let me know he had a bunch of photos he took at one of the tournament games in Cornwall, Ontario. He also had a program from the game which is pictured above.
The game between West Germany and Canada took place before 2,100 fans and was predictably won by Canada 8-0. 16 year-old Wayne Gretzky notched 3 goals and 2 assists as his line with Tony McKegney and Wayne Babych led the way. Gretzky was quoted afterward, "I have two pretty good line mates. They know where to go and where to be." He added, "I should have had six or seven."

Canada out shot West Germany 61 to 25 and the German goaltender Mathias Hoppe was good enough to earn their player of the match. McKegney opened the scoring at 8:37 of the first on a perfect feed from Gretzky. 15 seconds later, The Kid himself banged in his own rebound for a 2-0 lead. One shift later McKegney returned the favour as he set up Gretzky to make it 3-0 at 11:22 of the period. Three minutes later Babych continued the line's domination on a goal assisted by Gretzky.

In the second period, goals by Rick Vaive, Ryan Walter, Gretzky and Mike Gartner pushed it to 8-0.
Below are the awesome, rarely seen photos from that game.

Mike Gartner and Steve Tambellini in front of Mathias Hoppe

LW Pat Daley of Laval National

Wayne Babych charging the net

Paterson beside goalie Tim Bernhardt

Mike Gartner

'The Kid' Wayne Gretzky

Friday, February 1, 2013

Penticton V's Autographed 1954 Newspaper

I found this great old newspaper recently commemorating the Penticton V's Allan Cup victory in 1954. The really cool thing is it was autographed by a bunch of the players. By beating the Sudbury Wolves, the V's earned the right to represent Canada in the next World Championships. This is of course what they would do the following spring, winning the world title for Canada in 1955. The newspaper is a 6 page special edition of the Penticton Herald dated May 17, 1954. 

The V's were led by the dynamic Warwick brothers, Grant being the playing coach. Grant "Knobby" Warwick had won the Calder Trophy with the New York Rangers in 1942 and scored 46 points in 23 games en route to the Allan Cup. In 1992 I got the chance to hold the very Calder Trophy (mini version) that Grant Warwick won so many years ago. While coaching minor hockey in Oakville, Ontario I coached his 10 year-old grandson (also under-sized and the best player in the league) who while we were having a road hockey practice in front of his house, ran inside to proudly show his grandpa's trophy.
Grant's brother Bill had played 14 games with the Rangers in the early 40's and led the V's in regular season scoring with 95 points in 1953/54. He went on to lead the World Championships in scoring as well with 22 points in 8 games. Grant passed away in 1999, Bill in 2007.  
Dick Warwick is the smallest and youngest of the Warwick boys and at 84, the last surviving brother. He spent the majority of his career in the Okanagan Senior League.

Goaltender Ivan McLelland's highest level of hockey was 4 games with the Vancouver Canucks of the PCHL in 1951/51, 4 games in which he allowed 22 goals. He would however go 8-0 in the 1955 World Championships allowing a mere 6 goals. He is currently 81 years old.
Don Berry scored 25 points for the V's in '54 but played only 3 games of the '54 Allan Cup.
Jim Fairburn scored at a point-a-game pace in the PCHL/WHL before doing the same in Penticton, he is now 85 years old.
Defenceman Kevin Conway tallied 15 points during the 23 game Allan Cup run is alive and well at 82.

Doug Kilburn is another living member of this Vs squad at 82 (amazing and impressive that so many of them are still around). He spent most of his playing career in BC senior leagues, topping out with a season in the WHL and the IHL. he scored 12 points in the '55 Worlds.
Currently 80 year old Ernie Rucks was one of the few Vs who did not play in the 55 Worlds.
Perhaps next time I'm in Penticton, I'll drop by the old Memorial Arena to see if there is anyone to show this paper to. To me it seems to be a fairly rare artifact that maybe belongs in the old rink.

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