Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1949 Maple Leafs Lineup Card

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 Bill Barilko tied the score halfway through the middle period with an unassited marker. This was Bashin' Bill's second full year in the NHL, sadly of course, he would only play two more years after this one. Four minutes later Tod Sloan put Toronto up with help from Ezinicki and Harry Watson. Watson ended up tops in Leaf scoring with 45 points, tied for 7th in the NHL. 
The win pushed Toronto closer to the .500 mark with a record of 12-14-8 but they would not win again for 11 days. That win on January 26 was the start of a 9-3-4 run for the Leafs putting them at 21-20-13. However, they lost five of the last six to close the year and end up solidly entrenched in the fourth and final playoff spot. New York would beat the Leafs the very next night back home but stumbled to a 7-16-3 record the rest of the way and finish last overall.
Inexplicably, the Leafs caught fire once the playoffs started. They beat second-place Boston 4 games to 1 and then swept first place Detroit, a team that finished 18 points ahead in the regular season. This would be Toronto's third straight Stanley Cup win, the first team to win three in a row in NHL history.
Harry Watson in the 1949 Stanley Cup Final

Bill Barilko

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Vancouver Area Hockey Jerseys, 1941/42

Last week I wrote about amateur hockey in British Columbia during World War II, 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 Chuck Rayner between the pipes. The Navy "N" a Canadian Maple Leaf is just a great looking jersey.
The third pic is of the New Westminster Spitfires who would bring up the rear of the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association in 1941/42 but looked damn good doing it in these striped beauties.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Wartime Hockey, Vancouver Norvan Shipyards

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 colour commentator Dave Tomlinson and WHA star George Lyle, thats about it. Imagine my delight then when I found on the SIHR database a team named Vancouver Norvan Shipyards from 1941/42.

The Shipyards in the team name refers to the Burrard Drydock Company on the North Vancouver waterfront which at it's peak during World War II employed up to 14,000 workers in the shipbuilding industry (photo at top). Across Canada during WWII, senior hockey leagues in most of the large cities included teams made up entirely of military personnel and/or sponsored by civilian companies that contributed to the war efforts. The North Vancouver Shipyards were no exception.

With such a large number of people working and living nearby the Shipyards, the social and athletic club was extremely important. The Burrard Drydock was reputed to have the largest five-pin bowling league in the world at the time. Employees engaged in such past-times as boxing, softball, archery and roller-skating. The Shipyards sponsoring a hockey team falls right in line with the social environment of the busy wartime outfit. There was no hockey rink onsite at Burrard Drydock, so the team played out of the Vancouver Forum a few kilometres across Burrard Inlet, still standing today (pictured at bottom).

The Vancouver Norvan Shipyards squad played in a league named the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey Association along with three other Armed Forces related teams; New Westminster Spitfires, Nanaimo Clippers and Victoria Bapcos (sponsored by a Pendrey Paint Company). On November 12, 1941 the Novans faced off in Victoria to kick off the season. It proved to be a tightly contested league as after the 28 game schedule had been completed, the top three teams were separated by only two points. Victoria finished first with 31 points, Norvans and Nanaimo tied with 29 and New Westminster brought up the rear with 23 points.

The Norvans and Nanaimo played a two game, total goal series to determine who claimed second spot. On February 20, 1942 Nanaimo travelled to the Forum at Hastings Park and walloped the Norvan Shipyards by a score of 9-2. The next day, the Clippers swept the two game set with a 4-3 win at home. On the 23rd the same teams began a best-of-three Semi-final in Nanaimo with another victory for the home team, this time 4-2. The Norvans evened it up with a 4-3 win back at the Forum the next day setting up a final match in Nanaimo thanks to their home ice advantage. The last game was no contest as the Clippers blew out Norman Shipyards 7-0 behind a shutout from goaltender Keith Langille. Nanaimo went on to beat Victoria in the final by 3 games to 1 win the PCSHA Championship.

There's no way to know for sure, but it's safe to assume that most of the players on the Vancouver Norvan Shipyards hockey team worked there in some form or another. Many of them as well as others throughout the league had recently or would soon play in the NHL. There are terrific photos of some of the Norvans players on the Vancouver Archives database. First pictured is Jack Riley who had  played two full seasons with the Montreal Canadiens in the early 1930's as a teammate of Hall of Famers Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat. Riley would star in the minor leagues up until joining the Norvans and during this 41/42 season he produced 14 points over 6 games. 
Jack Riley 
Red Beattie was another ex-NHL'er who was 35 years old when he skated for the Norvans. Beattie had played 334 games through the 1930's mainly with the Boston Bruins and all-time great Eddie Shore. His best year was 32 points in 48 games for the 35/36 Bruins. He would score 24 points for the Norvans.
Red Beattie
Jack Kilpatrick, who played for Victoria Bapcos that season was an actual Olympic Gold medalist when Great Britain won hockey Gold in 1936. Kilpatrick played most of his career with the Nelson (BC) Maple Leafs in various senior circuits and would lead the Pacific Coast league in scoring in 41/42 with 43 points in 27games.
Although most of the players in the league were military men stationed in and around the Vancouver area or civilians employed in the war effort, there were a few who would actually go overseas to fight. Doug Martinson of North Battleford, Saskatchewan was a member of the Nanaimo Clippers this 41/42 season and soon after was shipped overseas. As a flying officer in the RCAF, Martinson was killed in Belgium on November 11, 1944.
Doug Martinson
Vancouver Forum, 1940s

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Maple Leafs Scoring at 50 year Low

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         2-5-7
  • Mahovlich    2-3-5
  • Ellis              2-3-5
  • Kelly             1-3-4
  • Stanley          1-3-4
  • Horton           1-3-4
  • Armstrong     1-3-4
  • Keon              2-1-3
  • Selby              2-1-3
  • Kurtenbach    2-0-2
  • Shack             2-0-2
  • Douglas         1-1-2
  • Joyal              0-2-2
  • Pappin            0-2-2
  • Pronovost       0-1-1
  • Stemkowski   0-1-1
Somewhat surprisingly, the 3-6-2 record and 8 points still had Toronto in a fourth place playoff position at this point in the season. The Bruins and Rangers would win a combined 33 games the entire rest of the season to finish entrenched in 5th and 6th place. Toronto, even with the slow start would end up with 208 goals over 70 games only 32 less than league leader Chicago. Leafs would finish 3rd with a record of 34-25-11 and be swept in the playoffs by Montreal.
As bleak as the team scoring appeared on Nov 15 with no player at more than 2 goals scored, as usual, it evened out in the end. Mahovlich scored 30 goals over the team's last 60 and topped the squad with 32. Keon, Shack and Pulford potted 24, 26 & 28 each, a more than respectable total in those days.
It's interesting to look at the NHL leaders at the same point of the 1965/66 season also. After 9 games, Bobby Hull had 12 goals and 18 points for Chicago. He would slow down only slightly to finish with 54 goals, 97 points in 65 games. Montreal's Bobby Rosseau was tied with Hull with 18 points and scored 60 in his final 59 games to maintain 2nd in the scoring race, his best season by far. 
Chicago's Doug Mohns was perhaps the biggest surprise early on in 1965 with 7 goals and 14 points through 9 games. He ended up playing all 70 games and had 22 goals, 49 points. As mentioned, usually, things will even out in the end.

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