Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hockey Reporting, Circa 1901

I came across this terrific article in the newspaper archives of The Nelson Tribune dated January 30, 1901. It's a write-up about a the first game of the Stanley Cup challenge between the Winnipeg Victorias and the Montreal Shamrocks. The article itself is bordering on the hilarious as it really is merely a play-by-play account of the action on the ice. I mean, a literal play-by-play report of the entire game; from offside calls, goaltenders stopping the play, pucks getting 'lifted' into the grandstand and on and on. Check it out below and replay the action in your imagination.

MONTREAL, January 29, 1901.—The hockey game between the Victorias of Winnipeg and the Shamrocks of Montreal was faced off at 8:10 p.m. The game was very even. Johnson secures puck, loses it, and Grant lifts. Brennan secures puck, going down to Victoria's goal. Brown makes a good stop. Bain shoots on goal off-side. First game for Shamrocks in six minutes. 
Dan Bain
Off again, Trihey secures puck but loses it to Bain. Bain makes a run, but is stopped. Play is all in Victoria's vicinity. Johnson makes a run, but loses to Scanlan, who takes it down to Victorias' end, offside. Off again, Bain secures puck, and passes to Gingras, who loses to Grant. Grant makes lift off-side. Off again, Trihey passes to Scanlan, who passes to Johnson. Bain makes the second game for Winnipeg in two minutes. 
Harry Trihey
Off again, Wood shoots on goal, loses it. Johnson has it, loses to Brennan. Trihey secures, loses to Woods. Bain secures, makes a hot shot on goal, but misses. Another long lift by Flett; Grant makes a shot. Gingras loses to Scaulan. Woods shoots on goal but loses. Bain misses. Johnson makes shot on goal, misses Brennan loses,to Bain. Wall makes long lift. Magnus Flett passes to Johnson, Gingras makes a good run but he is stopped by Grant. Woods has the puck, loses to Brennan but gets it again. Johnson lifts on goal but misses. Grant makes long lift. Flett lifted puck into grand stand. Scanlan makes a run passes, Flett relieves, Gingras passes to Woods,who shoots on goal. Scanlan making run loses to Flett. Bain making great run shoots on goal but no go. Scrimmage around Shamrock's goal, off-side. Grant secures, loses to Johnson who loses to Grant. Fleet lifts. Third game for Victorias, Woods scoring in three minutes. Off again, Gingras secures, loses to Brennan, off-side. Off again, Trihey shoots on goal. Woods' game not counted. Trihey making for Victorias' goal, off-side. Off again, Trihey secures, loses to Gingras. Third game for Victorias, Bain scoring from a pass from Gingras. 
Antoine Gingras
Off again, Bain secures, but loses to Grant. Johnson secures, Bain has it again. Off again, Shamrocks' man kicking. Grant has it, but is stopped by Brown. Bain makes a hot shot on goal. Grant' secures, loses to Woods, who loses to Wall. Wall makes a long lift. Johnson secures, loses to Grant, who is making a run on Victorias' goal. Two men ruled off, one Victoria and one Shamrock. At half time it stood 3 goals to 1 in favor of Victorias. Woods scored fourth game. Off again at 9:52. Johnson secures, Bain shoots on goal. Trihey shoots on goal, Flett makes beautiful shot, Bain makes a run on Shamrocks' goal, but misses. Woods secures but is knocked down by Grant. Magnus and Brennan on fence. Farrell secures and shoots in fifth game for Shamrocks in five minutes.
Off again. Gingras secures and is working down ice. Bain secures and shoots on goal. Trihey secures and passes to Farrell, who loses to Woods. Again Gingras secures but falls. Wall lifts. Sixth goal for Shamrocks. Off again. Gingras passes to Bain, Woods shoots on goal. Loses to Wall. Bain loses to Farrell. Magnus relieves and Bain makes a run down the ice, off side. Again Farrell makes a hot shot on Victorias' goal. Seventh game scored by Woods for Victorias.

It was a fine exhibition. 

I like how it ends with a simple "It was a fine exhibition." After all the intricate details laid out, this is the only actual commentary that is given. It seems like it was indeed an exciting match though with "Woods" (Burke Wood) breaking a 3-3 tie late in the game. Winnipeg would go on to win the second match of the best of three series two days later on an overtime winner by Dan Bain. This was the second time the Winnipeg Victorias had won the Stanley Cup, the first was in 1896. They would retain the Cup for over a year, winning challenges from Winnipeg HC in February 1901 and Toronto Wellingtons in January 1902.

They would finally be de-throned by Montreal HC in March of the same year, never to win it again.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gretzky's 100 points in 34 games

I read in a few places how today is the anniversary of Wayne Gretzky reaching the 100 point plateau in 34 games played. Below are the top scorers through December 18, 1983:

Gretzky          34 37 63 100
Kurri               34 28 38 66
Trottier            33 22 33 55
PStastny          34 17 38 55
Nicholls           34 22 30 52
Bossy               27 24 23 47
Savard             33 22 25 47
Tanti                32 25 21 46
Federko           32 20 26 46
Dionne             34 14 32 46
Pederson          32 14 31 45
Messier             33 13 32 45
Deblois             33 16 28 44
Coffey              34 15 29 44

After less than three months of the season, Gretz had a ridiculous 34 point lead on teammate Jari Kurri and a 45 point lead on third place Bryan Trottier and Peter Stastny. One strange name on the 1983 leaders list is Winnipeg Jet Lucien Deblois who had collected 44 points in his first 33 games. He would slow down considerably and finish the year with 79 points.
Of course the scoring rates were somewhat different in the 1983/84 than they are currently. To be exact, back then an average NHL game produced 7.90 goals, nowadays it is 5.47 per game. Today there are about 69% of the goals scored compared to 30 years ago. With a little math we can put the 83/84 numbers into the scoring race of 2014/15. Current players in Red:

Gretzky           34 26 44 70 
Kurri               34 19 26 45
Seguin             30 23 15 38
Trottier            33 15 23 38
PStastny          34 12 26 38
Malkin             30 15 22 37
Voracek           30 11 26 37
Tarasenko        31 20 16 36
Nicholls            34 15 21 36
Crosby             27   9 26 35
Giroux             30   8 27 35
Stamkos           33 18 17 35
Kessel              31 17 17 34
Getzlaf             32 10 24 34
Nash                 29 20 12 33
Bossy                27 17 16 33
Johnson             33 10 23 33
Tanti                  32 17 15 32
Savard               33 15 17 32
Kane                  32 15 17 32
Federko              32 14 18 32
Dionne                34 10 22 32
Pederson             32 10 21 31
Messier               33   9 22 31
Backstrom          30   8 23 31
Giordano             33  8 23 31
Hudler                 32 13 17 30
Forsberg              30 12 18 30
Deblois                 33 11 19 30
Coffey                  34 10 20 30

Amazingly, Gretzky would still be winning the race by a full 25 points over Kurri and 32 over actual leader Tyler Seguin. As well, Seguin's 23 goals look all the more impressive as only Gretzky's 26 adjusted goals would be beating him. In fact there are no other 20 goal scorers other than Tarasenko and Nash after adjusting the old figures to today.

Interestingly, there are more players with over a point-per-game today than the adjusted figures from 30 years ago. Eleven guys today are scoring at least one point a game, the adjusted old-timers only have six at that level.

Anyway we look at it, Gretzky really was in his own league.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jean Beliveau Day; March 24, 1971

On Wednesday, March 24, 1971 the Montreal Canadiens held a Jean Beliveau Day prior to that evening's match with the Philadelphia Flyers. Their captain was winding down his illustrious career and this was fourth-to-last regular season home game. Beliveau and the Canadiens would of course extend his career and the season all the way to a Stanley Cup victory of Chicago almost two months later. This night however, was Beliveau's special one.

"I must admit," Beliveau said, "For one of the few times in my career, my mind wasn't on hockey the past few days. I found the first period quite difficult but started getting back into the game in the second and third periods." Montreal beat the Flyers 5-3 and Beliveau assisted on Montreal's second goal, the 15th of the year from John Ferguson. Ferguson commented on the goal, "I had a lot of time and a lot of room. But when you get a pass like that from Jean it makes a difference."

Prior to the game there was a 32 minute on-ice ceremony emceed by Radio Canada broadcaster, Rene Lecavalier. During the events Beliveau was presented with a cheque of $155,855 to the Jean Beliveau Fund for Underprivileged Children which he called, "The highest and best thing that could happen to any man. It's the greatest mark of esteem they could have given me." The cheque was delivered by three of his former coaches, Punch Imlach, Toe Blake and Rollie Hebert. (below) Beliveau commented on the generosity afterwards, "The donations to the Fund really surprised me, especially since money is hard to come by these days."  

Donations to the Fund were given by, among others; $5000 each from the Quebec Government, NHL Oldtimers and the Canadiens themselves, $7000 from Molson's Brewery and $4000 from Colonel Sanders Foundation. Beliveau would be presented a litany of other gifts as well. His teammates presented a silver bowl and team Management gave him a gold and silver mounting of Beliveau's 500th goal puck.

On top of this the Hockey Night in Canada crew represented by Danny Gallivan gave Jean a bronze statue of the milestone 500th goal and the Flyers Captain Ed Van Impe presented a silver tray. Jean, his wife Elise and daughter Helene were also given plane tickets to Paris, tickets to the 1972 Munich Olympics and finally a trip to Guadeloupe for a Caribbean holiday.  

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