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The Greatest Game Ever, 40 Years Later; Part 2

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"Probably the most important and far-reaching sporting contest ever held in this country." This is how Montreal Gazette writer Tim Burke described the New Years Eve 1975 game between Montreal Canadiens and the Soviet Central Army. He continued,"The Canadiens resurrected one of our proudest heritages and enshrined it with an un rivalled display of determination and sportsmanship."

In Burke's analysis "the fact the Canadiens had to settle for the most lopsided tie in memory; 38-13 in shots on goal, takes nothing away from their stupendous effort against a great and dauntless opponent." He summarized that Montreal was, "supreme in all facets of the game, save goaltending and shooting."
The Soviet Central Army team had just managed to tie the Montreal Canadiens 3-3 despite being outplayed by all accounts. In referring to the aforementioned goaltending of Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey offered, "Do you realize that it was more than an hour between …

The Greatest Game Ever, 40 Years Later; Part 1

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"That goal was one of the greatest moments of my life," declared Yvan Cournoyer about his 1972 Summit Series Game 8 tying goal in the third period. This statement was made mere days before he and his fellow Montreal Canadiens were to play the Soviet Union on New Years Eve 1975. As the 40th anniversary approaches of the game many call the greatest ever, let's look at the anticipation from players and media alike in the days before the historic match.
Cournoyer's teammate on both the '75 Habs and '72 Team Canada, Pete Mahovlich said, "After Paul Henderson scored that winning goal, I wanted to cry. We had come so far to take victory away from the Soviets." In this updated version of the Russia/Canada matchup, the Central Army team and the Soviet Wings would play four games each against eight different NHL teams. "This series is very important to me, Cournoyer said, "because a lot of people are trying to say that the Russians are better than …

Boston Bruins 1972 Coloring Book

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Now, I'm about the farthest thing from a Boston Bruins fan. But this recent find, this right here, may be one of the cooler items in my den. A Bruins colo(u)ring book issued in about 1972. It's in pretty damn great shape too, no childish colouring attempts at all.  Behold the 1970's awesomeness below.

An 11 Point Night in 1943 for Walter 'Pinky' Melnyk

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Walter 'Pinky' Melnyk. Not a household name perhaps. He never played in the NHL, but played parts of two seasons in the American Hockey League prior to WWII. In 1942/43 Melnyk was a member of the terrific Victoria Army team in the Vancouver Island Senior Hockey League. Having won the league championship, the Army advanced to play the Vancouver RCAF Fliers of the BC Mainland Senior League. During regular season play the Army scored almost at will, counting 127 goals over 20 games while compiling a 12-7-1 record. Led by ex-NHLers Bill Carse, Joffre Desilets and Nick Metz, Victoria Army dispatched Victoria RCAF and Victoria Navy in five straight games to meet the Vancouver Fliers in the BC Provincial Championship.  After winning the first game 10-1, they destroyed the Vancouver squad by a score of 18-5 in game two on March 3, 1943 at New Westminster's Queens Park Arena. This was the game that saw Pinky Melnyk's eruption for eleven points. The boxscore is below. Surprisin…

The First Vancouver Canucks Team, 1945/46

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1949 Maple Leafs Lineup Card

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Here's something you don't see every day. I picked this beauty up recently, an original 1949 lineup card from Maple Leaf Gardens. It was given out for a Saturday night game between the Leafs and the visiting Rangers. It's a simple two-sided thick stock paper that folds at the middle. Other than a few stains, it's in great shape for being over 65 years old and looks great on my Den wall. Halfway through the 1948/49 season, Toronto and New York were tangled in a tight race for the last two playoff spots. On January 15, 1949 Toronto was in fifth place with 30 points in 33 games, while the Rangers were last with 28 in 32. Below is the newspaper boxscore from the game. Ranger defenceman Frank Eddols opened the scoring late in the first period assisted by Buddy O'Connor who would lead New York in 1948/49 with a measly 35 points in 46 games. Maple Leaf, Bill Ezinicki collected two minor penalties in the first en route to an NHL leading 145. 21 year-old Leafs defender Bil…

Vancouver Area Hockey Jerseys, 1941/42

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Last week I wrote about amateur hockey in British Columbia during World War II,  http://nitzyshockeyden.blogspot.ca/2015/11/wartime-hockey-vancouver-norvan.html and this week I found old photos of some of these teams. Digging deep into the google newspaper archives I managed to find these great shots of these long-gone teams. 
All of these photos are from early 1942, the first one is of Jack Riley with the Vancouver Norvan Shipyards team. With the letters "NORVANS arched over the logo of a ship, this jersey sums up the North Shore of Vancouver terrifically. With North Vancouver being my home, I am certainly going to take a stab at using this logo on a t-shirt.  The second one is of Victoria Navy which in spring of 1942 was playing exhibition matches but not affiliated with a league. By 1943/44 they were part of the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey League. Pictured here are Stan Taylor on the left and Bill Gibb on the right. By 1943, the Navy would have future Hall of Fame goaltender …

Wartime Hockey, Vancouver Norvan Shipyards

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North Vancouver Waterfront Shipyards during WWII
I live in North Vancouver, British Columbia and have for about 16 years now. As much as I still instinctively refer to Toronto and it's surrounding environs as my hometown, North Vancouver really is my adopted hometown now. As well, I love reading and writing about hockey history and in fact, will soon be published for the fifth time in the Society for International Hockey Research Journal. However, for a hockey historian, there really isn't a lot of hockey history in my hometown of North Vancouver.

Sure, there have been 12 players born in North Vancouver to play in the NHL, but only three of them played at least 50 games. There was Todd Simpson, a tough defenceman who played 580 games and the Kariya clan (although Paul was technically born in Vancouver). Martin Jones is the new starting goalie for the San Jose Sharks and Sam and Griffin Reinhart are top prospects just starting their NHL careers. After current Canucks radio colo…

Maple Leafs Scoring at 50 year Low

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Last night's broadcast of the Maple Leafs/Dallas Stars game made a mention on the current team's goal scoring ineptitude (of course they would then score four in this game). The note was made that the Leafs 20 goals scored through their first 10 games of the season was their fewest since 1956/66...50 years.

Here's a look back to that long gone season and how the Leafs stood at the same point as the current campaign. It should be noted that in contrast to this years Leafs who won their 11th game,  the 1965 Leafs were shutout by the last place Boston Bruins 2-0.

Maple Leafs , Nov 15, 1965
3-6-2, 11GP 19 GF, 38 GA

Pulford         2-5-7Mahovlich    2-3-5Ellis              2-3-5Kelly             1-3-4Stanley          1-3-4Horton           1-3-4Armstrong     1-3-4Keon              2-1-3Selby              2-1-3Kurtenbach    2-0-2Shack             2-0-2Douglas         1-1-2Joyal              0-2-2Pappin            0-2-2Pronovost       0-1-1Stemkowski   0-1-1 Somewhat surprisingly,…

My Mom's Friend, Fleming MacKell

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On October 19, two-time Stanley Cup winner Fleming MacKell passed away at the age of 86. MacKell played thirteen seasons in the NHL and was named a First Team All-Star after the 1952/53 season in which he scored 27 goals. With 369 points in 665 games and another 63 in 80 playoff games, MacKell was an under-rated NHL star of the 1950's.  The photo above was graciously given by MacKell to my Mother only a few years ago. My recently retired Mom was then a teller at the bank that he did his business with in Ajax, Ont. She must have struck a chord with Mr. MacKell as he would make a point of visiting only her counter every time he came in. She knew him as a friendly old gentleman, and not as an old hockey player. Once she discovered he was an ex-NHLer she of course told him about her hockey obsessed son.  When she shared with me that she had an old NHL veteran as a bank client and asked me if I had ever heard of Fleming MacKell, I predictably replied yes. I shared with her how he and …

Slow Start for Crosby

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Sidney Crosby has finally scored! In his sixth game of the 2015/16 season Crosby finally made his way onto the scoresheet with a goal and two assists. The player with the fifth highest career points per game in NHL history had gone the first five games of this season without a point. Maybe it was his off-season job as a Tim Horton's drive-thru cashier that dulled his skills, but this year has been the slowest start in Sid's career. His previous worst start to a season was 2010/11 when he gathered only 3 points in his first 5 games played. Now, it may not be entirely fair to compare Crosby to the top two players in career points per game; Gretzky and Lemieux...but it sure is fun.
As one may expect, neither The Great One or Le Magnifique ever started an NHL season pointless in five games. Gretzky's worst five game start was 1996/97 when he collected a pedestrian four points in his first five games. In fact, Wayne Gretzky never ONCE went five games in a row without getting a…

1942/43 Toronto Army Daggers

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During the Second War, the Senior Ontario Hockey Association included several full teams of players enlisted in the Canadian Military and stationed in and around the Toronto area. One of the squads was the Toronto Army Daggers who's photos I found on the Toronto City Archives website. The Daggers finished third in 1942/43 with a record of 4-7-1 but still qualified for the OHA Senior playoffs. They played the Niagara Falls Cataracts winning in two straight games by scores of 4-1 and 9-2.

The Daggers were then dumped in the Semi-finals by the RCAF Flyers by scores of 7-6 and 11-1. Cliff Simpson (above) would lead the Daggers in playoff scoring with 6 goals and 9 points in the 4 games. Simpson, 19 years old at the time would go on to play bits of two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and in 1947/48 scored 110 points in 68 games for the AHL's Indianapolis Capitals.
Buck Davies (below) had 4 points in 10 games for the Daggers this season and went on to play one NHL playoff game f…

Maple Leafs Hockey Talks Record Albums

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The latest addition to my Den collection is one of my new favourites. The Maple Leaf Hockey Talks set of 10 records released in 1967. There are ten albums in all that were issued in Canada at Esso gas stations with a fill-up of your gas tank. Each is approximately twelve minutes long and dedicated to an individual Maple Leaf. Interviews with the player are done discussing their background and game instruction. They feature the voices of Foster Hewitt, Ward Cornell and Jack Dennett. 

 The thin vinyl (read flimsy) records each have their own sleeve and the ten sleeves come in a cardboard "carrying case" pictured above.
I found a clip online of the George Armstrong record. Seeing as I don't own a record turntable, this is for now the only way that I'll hear what's on these beauties.