Thursday, March 31, 2016

Maple Leafs Oddball Issues

1973/74 O-Pee-Chee Ring
I've been wanting to post this for a while and finally got around to get pics of these beauties from my collection. I've picked these all up over the years at various collectible shows or off the internet. The first one is probably one of my faves, a Maple Leaf cardboard punch-out ring. These were inserted into O-Pee-Chee hockey card packs for the 1973/74 season and were meant to be worn proudly around the schoolyard by the lucky recipient. Thankfully mine is still intact although I am tempted to punch it out, slip it on my finger and wear it to work one day.
1972/73 O-Pee-Chee Logo
The year before the ring inserts, O-Pee-Chee began the punch-out collectible fad with these logo cards. Each of teh 16 NHL and 12 WHA teams were depicted.
1973/74 Mac's Milk Cloth Sticker
These are part of a 30 card set issued through the NHLPA at Mac's Milk stores in Canada. One would assume that these 3" cloth-textured stickers were meant to festoon your favourite jean jacket or Adidas bag.

1962 Dickson Orde, Sports of the Countries
This was a 25 card British issued set depicting sports from countries around the world. The one for United States shows Babe Ruth representing baseball. The Canadian card obviously shoes ice hockey and depicts a generic Maple Leaf skating up the ice, being chased by what looks like a generic Detroit Red Wing.

1963/64 Toronto Star, Hockey Stars In Action
These over-sized, thin-stocked cards were issued by the Toronto Star newspaper and showed great action scenes along with a write-up on the back of them. There were 42 cards available one per week in the paper although I believe they could be purchased as a set as well.

1964/65 Toronto Star, Stars in Action
These blank-backed cards are part of a 48 card set that was again a weekly issue through the newspaper. These ones also have a cool fold-out album that the photos can be displayed in. I'm still looking for one of those.

1965/66 Coca-Cola
These cool black and white cards were issued with Coca-Cola products in 18 card perforated panels of each NHL team. An album could be purchased by mail order.

1962/63 El Producto Coaster
This was one of six issued in a loosely connected strip by El Producto Cigars. The players were Beliveau, Howe, Keon, Hall, Richard and Mahovlich. They were apparently included in the company's Christmas box of cigars.

1961/62 Wheaties Great Moments in Canadian Sport
The player pictured on the front of this one is purported to be Frank Mahovlich. Could have fooled me. Either way, it's part of a 25 card set put out by General Mills. Five of the cards are hockey related, Bill Barilko, Rocket Richard, Bernie Geoffrion, Mahovlich and the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

1982/83 Hockey Pack

Time for another vintage hockey pack opening. This time it's a pack of 1982/83 O-Pee-Chee that I picked up for three or four bucks. I think I may have got five packs for $15 online a while back. The big ones in this set are the Grant Fuhr, Ron Francis and Dale Hawerchuk rookies worth about $30, $20 and $15 respectively. Let's see what I got.
Boom! Doug Smail rookie card right out of the gate. 81/82 was his first full season and he produced 17 goals and 35 points. In 84/85 he topped out at 31 goals and 66 points and went on to play 691 NHL games. His career totals were 189 goals and 397 points. Card is worth a quarter.
Ric Seiling and his Great Gazoo helmet were coming off a 22 goal campaign on their way to a 738 game career. Card, a quarter.
Hedberg was coming off a season where he played a mere four games in 81/82. After tearing up the WHA with Winnipeg, he and Ulf Nilsson signed with the Rangers in 1978. This year he would pot 25 goals and 59 points and he'd retire after two more average seasons. Card about 50 cents.
My first Leaf! Bunny had played 50 games for Toronto after coming from Montreal for Robert Picard. After sharing six Vezina Trophies with the Habs and posting a 2.83 GAA in 231 games, Larocque had trouble behing the pourous Leaf defenders. A 10-24-8 record and 4.69 GAA was his last full season. He played 25 total games over the next three years and unfortunately died in 1992.
St. Louis Blues Team Leaders with Brian Sutter. Sutter finished 15th in Hart Trophy voting in 81/82 and was even better the next year. 46 goals and 76 points garnered him 4th in All-Star voting at Left Wing and 10th in MVP. Card, 50 cents.
Jim Watson's last card right here after 613 NHL games. Another 25 cent card.
Billy D coming of his career-high 84 point season earned him an "In Action" card this year. He never quite met the expectations of a guy who scored 96 then 89 GOALS his last two years of junior, but he had one of the best Maple Leaf moustaches of the early 80's so there's that. Quarter.
Second card for Kevin Lowe, finally a card worth a buck. His 40 points were his career high and he finished 10th in Norris voting before going on to ruin the Oilers for years to come on the management side.
Carlyle followed up his Norris Trophy in 1981 with 75 points in 81/82 and plummeted to 13th in Norris voting. He played another ten seasons and finished at 1055 games and 647 points. 25 cents.
Sabres Team Leaders with Gilbert Perreault who tallied 73 points in 62 games. The Hall of Famer retired in 1987 with 1326 career points. Maaaaybe a 50 cent card.
Stoughton was coming off his second 50 goal campaign and would notch another 45 goals in 82/83. 
Another player's last-ever card as he would miss most of the 82/83 season after injuring his knee after three games. He played only 15 more games over the next two years. A quarter, again.

Overall, nothing that great in this pack, but lots of good memories.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

1934 Gyro Cup

Here's something really cool. A reader recently contacted me after finding an article I wrote a few years ago about a 1934 Toronto Maple Leafs tour of Western Canada. (found here) The Leafs and Detroit Red Wings travelled by train across Canada, playing exhibition matches in Winnipeg on April 14 & 16 and in Trail B.C. on April 18. They then arrived in Vancouver to play a three-game series for something called the Gyro Cup. 
The Gyro Club was, and still is a social club throughout North America and it was the Vancouver chapter that hosted the series at Vancouver's Denman Arena. The teams would end up actually splitting the series, each winning a game and tying the third. Every participant in the series was given a Gyro Cup like the one above.
The reader (who apparently has quite an extensive collection of hockey memorabilia) acquired this Gyro Cup that was originally presented to Hall of Fame broadcaster Foster Hewitt. A detailed view shows the inscriptions on the cup. 
Using newspapers from April 1934, I managed to compile the player statistics from the entire six game tour (bottom). Even without Joe Primeau, Toronto's Kid Line was racking up the points in the free-flowing, high-scoring exhibition games. I believe the Gyro Club put on more than one of these tours to Vancouver over a few years as evidenced by the pic below from Vancouver Archives of a 1936 Leafs/Blackhawks visit to Stanley Park. However, this is the only actual Gyro Cup I have ever seen. Pretty cool.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rene Boileau; "Chief Rainy Drinkwater"

Times have changed. That's about all that can be said about this story I stumbled across in the Montreal Gazette archives. It's the story of nondescript NHLer Rene Boileau, AKA Rainy Drinkwater. 
The story goes that the 20-year old Boileau was signed midway through the 1925/26 season, the New York Americans inaugural campaign in the NHL by manager Tommy Gorman. It was either an Americans team publicist or owner Thomas Duggan himself who came up with a fantastic backstory for the young Montrealer. As written in the Gazette fifteen years after the fact, the story fed to the New York media went;
"The Americans have signed Chief Drinkwater, a full-blooded Indian from the Caughnawaga Reserve. From the shores of Lake St. Louis, where his forebearers have resided for centuries, to the mad swirl of New York comes Rainy Drinkwater, to play hockey for the New York Americans. Drinkwater, who's real name was Rain-in-the-Face but was called Rainy for short, had resided in a teepee for the greater part of his life and liked nothing better than to go around Lake St. Louis in a canoe, helping his tribe get enough to eat by fishing and hunting."
This was all surprising to Boileau, who was a simple French-Canadian and had zero Native blood in him. To reinforce the tale, the Americans rented a "fancy open touring car, replete with liveried chauffeur. Rene Boileau was outfitted in colourful Indian regalia, including ornate head-dress. He was paraded up and down Broadway and around Madison Square Garden."
Imagine doing something like that today?
Cartoon from 1941 Montreal Gazette, re-telling the story of Chief Drinkwater
Alas, neither Boileau or his alias Drinkwater proved to be much of an NHL calibre player. After seven pointless games, he was returned to the Montreal Railway-Telephone League. He would continue playing minor-pro or senior hockey until 1934, never scoring more than five goals in a season.
Rene's son, Marc Boileau would star in the Western Hockey League through the 1960's and played a full season in the NHL with Detroit in 61/62 tallying 11 points in 54 games. Marc Boileau would go on to be head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins for parts of three seasons in the 1970's followed by two as head of the Quebec Nordiques in the WHA. He would coach them to the Avco Cup championship in 1977. No mention of whether or not he took the Avco Cup back to his tribal ancestry home of Lake St. Louis.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Opening a 1980/81 Hockey Card Pack

A while back I bought a few unopened packs of hockey cards from the era of my childhood. I'll  do a few posts of what I find inside over the next while. This 1980/81 Topps pack I got for $15 Canadian on eBay. Growing up in Canada,  I of course collected the O-Pee-Chee version of this release, not Topps. The Topps had a strange scratch-off over the player's name on the front of the card and was also a smaller set than its Canadian counterpart (264 cards to 396). Due to the smaller set, Topps misses out on the Mark Messier Rookie card but still has a the Ray Bourque Rookie and Wayne Gretzky Second year issues. Below are the cards in order from the pack I opened.
Borje Salming
First out of the pack, Maple Leafs Hall of Fame defender Borje Salming. He also has an All-Star card in this year's set, gaining a 2nd Team berth even though he finished second to Larry Robinson in Norris Trophy voting. After collecting 71 points in 79/80 he barely lost the 1st Team nod to rookie Ray Bourque. Good looking first card indeed, worth a couple of bucks.
Al MacAdam 
Minnesota North Star Al MacAdam was coming off a career year with 42 goals, 93 points and a Masterton Trophy win. Card is worth a buck.
Dale McCourt
McCourt was coming off a 30 goal, 81 point season (who wasn't in 1980?) The year before he had cost Detroit the draft pick that became Hall of Famer Larry Murphy in a compensation dispute with Los Angeles after the Red Wings signed free agent Rogie Vachon. Card worth a buck maybe.
Rich Leduc
Rich Leduc scored 21 goals and posted a minus 35 for the expansion Nordiques in his only full NHL season. Card worth a couple quarters.
George Ferguson 
Like Leduc, Ferguson potted 21 goals and his card is worth about 50 cents.
Larry Robinson 
Speaking of Larry Robinson, here's his All-Star card from this season. His 75 points was second among D-men to Mark Howe's 80, yet he still won the Norris and 1st Team All-Star. Card worth a couple bucks.
Lars Lindgren 
Canuck defender Lindgren had a career best 35 points in 79/80 anchoring a bullion that included Harold Snepsts, Kevin McCarthy and Dennis Kearns. Card worth 50 cents.
New York Rangers Leaders
Phil Esposito led the Rangers with 34 goals and 78 points in his last full NHL season. The next year he would drop to 20 points in 41 games before retiring as the second highest scorer in league history. Card worth a buck and a half.
NHL Assist Leaders
Boom, here we go. Gretzky, second year assist leader card. It's only worth about three dollars, but the memories of collecting this card as a nine year old kid are fantastic. The Great One would lead the NHL is helpers for a seriously ridiculous THIRTEEN straight seasons starting with this one. The other two guys on this card weren't too bad either.
Gilles Gilbert
Gilbert looks as shell-shocked as one would expect after being traded from powerhouse Boston to outhouse Detroit. Exchanged for Rogie Vachon, Gilbert had a 155-73-39 record with the Bruins with a GAA under 3.00. His three years with the Red Wings weren't quite as fruitful, going 21-48-16 with a GAA well over 4.00. His card here is worth about a dollar.
Philadelphia Flyers Poster
Here's probably the coolest thing about the 80/81 Topps set, they came with a foldout team photo poster. O-Pee-Chee did not have these. I sadly pulled the Flyers from this pack, every Leaf fan's least favourite team in the late 70's, early 80's. Even still, these go for about two dollars.

Overall, a real good vintage pack of cards, lot's of fun to open up. More to come!
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