Monday, November 25, 2013

1975 WHA All-Star Game Program

I picked up this rare program last week, it's from the 3rd annual World Hockey Association All-Star game. It took place on January 21, 1975 at the brand new Edmonton Coliseum. 
The lineup page is below and shows many Hall of Famers. 

The West team won by a score of 6-4, and were led by 46 year-old Gordie Howe who had a goal and an assist. The capacity crowd of 15,326 saw what was supposed to be the last All-Star game in the legendary career of Howe. Of course he would play another five full seasons after this one and played his actual last All-Star game in 1980 as a member of the NHL's Hartford Whalers. 
Gordie's goal was the result of a half-speed backhand shot trickled over the goal line. "I was trying to pass into the goalmouth," he said. "I knew it was in when Andy Brown (East goalie) called me lucky." Howe even kept his stick from the game wrongfully stating it was his last All-Star match. "Sure it was fun. It's nice to wind up with one for the road, but the real highlight was to have the kid score one." Mark Howe took a flip pass from his pop to score the first goal of the game.

Terrific sketches of all the players throughout the program. Bobby Hull joined Howe in scoring a goal for the West squad in the second period. 

Despite Howe's heroics, the MVP of the match would be Rejean Houle of the Quebec Nordiques. He would tally two goals and two assists as the all-French line of Houle, Marc Tardif and Serge Bernier.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Smiling at The Great One

Pictured above is the first ever cover of The Hockey News for Wayne Gretzky. It's dated October 27, 1978 and shows a great shot of The Kid as a member of the soon-to-be defunct Indianapolis Racers. My favourite part of the photo is Gretzky's teammate staring at him from the bench, simply smiling.

It's fairly easy to find out the happy player is Claude St.Sauveur. He was the only number 20 on the Racers that season. It's also easy to determine at which game this picture was taken. The Racers are wearing their road dark uniforms, and the only away game they played prior to October 27 was in Quebec against the Nordiques. Indy goalie Eddie Mio shutout the Nords by a score of 4-0. This was the Racers first win of the 78/79 season after losing 6-3 and 9-3 at home. That makes this photo as the day of Wayne Gretzky's first ever professional victory.

This helps identify the backup goalie on the right side of the pic as Gary Inness, riding the pine that evening. He was number "30", which matches the zero visible on his arm. The player in the middle, directly behind Gretzky is defenseman Larry Sacharuk, the only player who's number started with a "4".
Of course Gretzky and Mio would be traded to Edmonton after five more games. In just over a month the entire team would fold. St.Sauveur wound up in Cinncinnati with the Stingers, Inness would end up in the NHL with the Washington Capitals posting a respectable 3.70 GAA in 37 games. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Showdown '78 Poster

I had this poster on my bedroom wall as a kid and had kind of forgotten about it. It probably is one of the first pieces of the collection that came to be my Hockey Den. Showdown was a contest staged by the NHLPA and shown during intermissions on Hockey Night in Canada. It was filmed in one day in the summer and shown over the course of the following season. I figured it was time to scan this thing. Just check out the lineup, ten of the 16 guys ended up in the Hall of Fame.

As well as stars of the current day, old-time greats were brought out to conduct a shootout. Just amazing to see these guys in full uniform at their age. Gump Worsley was 49 years old and Johnny Bower 53. George Armstrong at 48 and Andy Bathgate at 46 looked like they could still play in the NHL. 
Maurice Richard was 57 years old during Showdown '78 and still had the intensity in his eyes.

47 year old Dickie Moore is thwarted by a text-book Johnny Bower pokecheck.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Stastny's Taped Captain "C"

Above is the cover for the NHL Goal Magazine from February 1983. Quebec Nordique, Peter Stastny is shown proudly displaying the captain "C" , but the problem is Stastny did not take over the Quebec captaincy until 20 games into the 1985/86 campaign when captain Mario Marois was traded to Winnipeg.

Here is a Hockey Digest from around the exact same time showing Statsny with a C. This one as well as the Goal Magazine photo show what appears to be a letter C applied to his jersey using only white hockey tape. The closeup of the first picture below clearly shows it as a rather poorly looking tape-job. Why would an NHL player have a taped-on C as is done in mens beer-leagues or kids minor hockey?

There is an obvious explanation for the temporary feel to Stastny captaincy in February 1983. Just a month before during a game against the touring Soviet National team, captain Mario Marois suffered a broken leg. He would be out for the rest of the 1982/83 season, but remained as official team captain. lists only Marois as captain for this season. Statsny was presumably merely the acting captain for on-ice purposes from January 1983 through the end of the season.

The Stastny hockey cards that us kids were collecting during this 1982/83 season propose a slightly different problem. These also show Stastny with an improvised taped-on C but these photos would have to have been taken during the 1981/82 campaign. What gives here?

Once again I turn to For 81/82, they have the Nordiques captains listed as Andre Dupont for 60 games and Robbie Ftorek for 19 games. Was Stastny given the temporary captaincy for one game after Ftorek was dealt to the Rangers before Dupont was chosen? If so, the hockey card company caught a photo of this one game. I have no other explanation.

The next two seasons saw Stastny pictured properly without a captain C, and only in 1986/87 (picturing the 85/86 season) does Stastny finally have an official C on his jersey after the Marois trade.

Below is a Stastny game-used jersey from 1986 with the real C sewn to it, not taped on.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dave Keon Skate Sharpener

Another recent acquisition of the Den. I have never seen this item before and just had to have it. The Dave Keon Skate Sharpener is from the mid-1960's and still has the price-tag from Woodward's Department store in Vancouver. These were perhaps more famously available through the Bee Hive Syrup company.
One wrapper from a corn syrup bottle and $1.25 (Regular Value $1.98!) and the item was on it's way via Canada Post.

I am tempted to try it out on a pair of my old vintage skates, looks like it's in good enough shape to still put a nice edge on a skate blade.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

1948/49 Hockey Album

I picked up this gem on the weekend, a 65 year old book just loaded with rare photos. The photos are from the legendary Turofsky Studios of Toronto.

Pictured above are very early shots of Gordie Howe and Bill Barilko. Howe is 19 years-old here and Barilko is 20 in his first full season of the NHL. The Howe picture is the one that was colourised and used on his rookie hockey card 1951/52 Parkhurst.

Here's a fantastic shot of the penalty box loaded with Leafs and Bruins. Baby-faced Bill Barilko is caught staring into the lens.

Times have certainly changed. Leaf, Gus Mortson is being carted off on a stretcher after a big hit. Not carried by doctors or paramedics, but by ushers and policemen. No neck brace, using simply his glove as a head-rest.

Another example of the long-gone tradition of teams sharing the penalty box.

A rookie Red Kelly of the Red Wings and Leaf Vic Lynn surrounded by Wings. Goaltender, Harry Lumley following the deflected puck past the camera.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Primary Points

I recently discovered the website, if you like in depth hockey statistics you'll love it.
On the site, you can sort NHL players into many different categories of stats from Percentage of Powerplay or Shorthanded time on the ice a player spends, ratio of penalties drawn and taken, and probably my favourite one, Primary Points. This stat is the total of a player's goals and Primary Assists. It's scoring leaders without those sometimes undeserving, uncalled-for Secondary Assists.

NHL Primary Points Leaders thru Oct 31

Phil Kessel               16
Steven Stamkos       15
Daniel Sedin             15
Sidney Crosby          14
Alex Steen                14
Frans Nielsen            14
Logan Couture          13
Patrick Marleau         13
Corey Perry              13
Henrik Sedin             11
Martin St.Louis         11
Matt Duchene           11
James vanRiemsdyk  11
Alex Ovechkin          10
Joe Pavelski              10
Jiri Hudler                 10
Jonathan Toews        10
Jason Spezza            10
Tyler Seguin             10
Henrik Zetterberg     10
Pavel Datsyuk          10
Joffrey Lupul            10
Patrick Kane            10
Tomas Hertl             10
Sean Monahan         10
Mikhail Grabovski    10

Some interesting numbers here. Crosby has so far collected 7 Secondary Assists dropping him from first in actual points to fourth in Primary Points. Henrik Sedin also has 7 Secondary helpers dropping him from second to tenth in scoring. Every one of Ovechkin's five assists are Secondary and NONE of Daniel Sedin's 9 helpers are Secondary. Also, none of Corey Perry, Mikhail Grabovski and Sean Monahan's assists are Secondary ones.

Last season, NHL scoring leader Martin St.Louis had what seems like a high number of 26 Secondary assists with only 17 Primary ones. His Primary points total of 34 ranked him only 19th in the NHL. Definitely a fun stat to pay attention to as the season progresses.

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