Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Unidentified Hockey Photo: Gretzky vs Canucks

Here's a colourful photo from my pal at Vintage Sports Images in North Vancouver. The info that came with it was simply that it was Gretzky and Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy was Captain of the Canucks from 1979/80 through 1981/82. This photo has to be from 81/82 because the Oilers switched to white letters on their nameplate after having orange letters until 1980/81.

This being 1981/82 gives two possibilities as to who Vancouver #17 in the foreground is. Jerry Butler wore the number for 25 games this year as he split time between Vancouver and Dallas of the CHL. On March 9, 1982 the Canucks acquired Tony Currie along with Rick Heinz and Jim Nill from St. Louis for a 4th round pick. Both Butler and Currie are right shooters like the guy in this pic, but Edmonton had already visited Vancouver for the last time of the season six weeks prior to Currie being traded for. This means the #17 shown here can only be Jerry Butler.

Butler was obtained two years before along with Tiger Williams from Toronto for Rick Vaive and Bill Derlago and he would sign with Winnipeg to begin the 82/83 campaign. McCarthy would be usurped as captain of the Canucks the following season by Stan Smyl and was traded to Pittsburgh in 1984.

If The Great One appears a bit flustered in this photo, it is fully understandable. His performance in this match was below his usual standards, especially for the 81/82 season. Although unable to determine which exactly of the four games in Vancouver this pic is from, it's certain he wasn't his usual point producing self. In the first visit to the Pacific Coliseum that year on October 9, Gretzky was shutout in a 6-2 Canuck win. Next visit on December 5, the squads tied 3-3 with Wayner again not scoring a goal but picking up two helpers. On New Years Eve, the Canucks shut down a rampaging Gretzky who had the night before scored his 50th goal in his 39th game. After recording 15 goals and 25 points the previous 5 games, Gretzky produced nothing in a 3-1 loss.

The final time in Vancouver on January 22, the Oilers finally pulled out a 4-3 win with a goal and assist for Gretzky. Over the four games in Vancouver in 81/82, Edmonton went 1-2-1 and Gretzky had a pedestrian one goal and three assists. He produced points a rate of one per game, while in his other 76 games that season he average 2.74 points per game.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Unidentified Hockey Photo; Maple Leafs vs. Red Wings

Here's another fantastic hockey photo from vintagesportsimages.com. It came to me with no date but three of the guys labelled, Red Kelly, Ted Kennedy and Harry Lumley. These are all easily identified by most hockey history buffs, as is the second Maple Leaf in the photo as Sid Smith. A couple other things are quickly noticed, the referee in the background is clearly "King" Clancy and the game is taking place at Detroit's Olympia Stadium.

A few other details allow us to narrow this down to the exact game this was from. Firstly, Harry Lumley was Detroit's goalie through 1949/50 (when he helped Detroit win the Cup) until the arrival of Terry Sawchuk the following year. Red Kelly began with the WIngs in 47/48 and "Teeder" Kennedy was certainly active over these seasons. However, Sid Smith wearing a number ending in "4" definitely helps narrow down the timeframe here.

Smith had been with the Leafs for parts of the 46/47 and 47/48 campaigns but wore numbers 22 and 16 respectively in those stints. He started wearing #24 only in 1948/49 when he suited up for only one regular season game with Toronto. He did however play six of Toronto's nine playoff games as the Leafs won the Cup over...Detroit. So this photo is from either the 1949 Stanley Cup Final or the 49/50 season, Lumley's last with the Wings.

This is when "King" Clancy comes into the picture. Clancy retired from playing early into the 1936/37 season and coached the Montreal Maroons for part of 1937/38. Clancy then became an NHL referee until the end of 1948/49 season. Clancy's last stint as referee was working the 1949 Stanley Cup Final. This eliminates 49/50 as the year of the photo and nails it down as the '49 Finals with Smith wearing #24. The four games of the final round took place between April 8 and April 16, 1949, perhaps the exact date of this game can be determined. A little bit of google newspaper archive digging turned up the boxscores of each of the four Final games, including the referees listed.

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

Game 4

There we have it, the ref for each game were; Bill Chadwick in Game 1, Clancy in Game 2, George Gravel in Game 3 and Chadwick again in Game 4. 

The photo has to be from April 10, 1949, Game 2 won by Toronto 3-1 at the Detroit Olympia. All three Leaf goals were scored by the aforementioned Sid Smith, the third goal assisted by Ted Kennedy. Having Kennedy pictured in all alone on Lumley in this photo could very well make this a photo of Smith's hat-trick goal at 17:53 of the second period. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

35 Years Ago Today; Gretzky Erupts

35 years ago today, Wayne Gretzky erupted for the greatest stretch of scoring in his career. Going into a game against Minnesota on December 19, 1981, The Great One was comfortably in the lead in NHL scoring with a line of 35 goals, 48 assists, 83 points through 34 games. The hockey world was abuzz with the possibility of him scoring 50 goals in 50 games...or better. The scoring leaders at this point were as follows: (G-A-Pts)

Gretzky  35-48-83
PStastny 21-39-60
DTaylor  18-35-53
Dionne   23-29-52
BSmith   20-32-51
Savard    15-35-50
Bossy     23-26-49

Gretzky had a nice 23 point lead on second place Peter Stastny, that would be padded further during a 9-6 home victory over the North Stars. Gretzky notched 3 goals and 4 helpers to take him to 38 goals in 35 games. The following night, Calgary came to town and the Oilers lost 7-5, Gretzky scored only 2 goals and an assist.
On December 23, Edmonton hosted Vancouver and prevailed 6-1 on the strength of a goal and 3 helpers from Gretzky. He had now tallied 6 goals and 14 points over his previous three games. He was just warming up.
After the Christmas break, Oilers hosted the Kings and routed to a 10-3 victory. Gretzky potted 4 goals and an assist to take his goal total to a ridiculous 45 through 38 games. Now it was just a matter of time as to when he would break the mark for fastest 50 goals in a season. Even Wayne himself couldn't have guessed it would happen so soon.
On December 30, with Philadelphia in town and the Oilers won a hard-fought game 7-5. Gretz potted 5 goals and added an assist, the 50th goal into an empty net as Flyer Bill Barber dove headlong in vain. 50 goals in 39 games. Gretzky's outburst had produced an astonishing 15 goals, 10 assists and 25 points over a five game period. Think about that again.
The Oilers lost 3-1 in Vancouver the following night as Gretzky was finally shut down. When the New Year dawned, the NHL scoring leaders were as such:

Gretzky   50-58-108
PStastny  25-43-68
Dionne    26-38-64
DTaylor   22-42-64
Bossy      30-33-63
BSmith    22-36-58
Savard     17-41-58

The Kid's lead had ballooned to 40 points. While Gretzky was collecting 25 points in 5 games, Stastny had 8 in 4, Dionne 12 in 6, Taylor 11 in 6, Bossy 14 in 6, Smith 7 in 6 and Savard 8 in 7. Four of these guys were scoring at least two points per game, and all lost significant ground to Gretzky.

Of course, Gretzky ended up with 92 goals and 212 points in 1981/82 and a 65 point lead over second place Mike Bossy. He never again produced at such an amazing rate over the rest of his career.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Unidentified Hockey Photo; Canucks vs. Red Wings

Time to identify another old hockey photo for my pal at vintagesportsimages.com in North Vancouver. This one came to me as is, with no information whatsoever. Luckily this one is fairly easy to narrow down to a specific season. The Vancouver Canucks began play in the NHL in the 1970/71 season, this also was the last NHL season (for a while) of Gordie Howe. Gordie is seen in the middle of this melee, so the photo is from the 1970/71 campaign. The game was obviously in Detroit, what with the Wings logo on the ice at the right side of the photo.
Another way to help pinpoint an old Canuck photo is looking for the "V" on the sleeve stripe. Thanks to the great site nhluniforms.com we learn that Vancouver had this style of jersey for only their first two seasons of existence. Below is a closeup of one of the Canucks in the photo.
Using the sihrhockey.org database, it's easy to identify most of the players in the pic as follows;
Detroit #15 Rene Leclerc, #12 Tom Miller, #9 Gordie Howe, #11 Don Luce, #16 Ron Harris, #5 Serge Lajeunesse; Vancouver #9 Ed Hatoum, #15 Rosaire Paiement, #5 Darryl Sly, Helmeted Wayne Maki, #16 Ted Taylor, #12 Mike Corrigan, #3 Pat Quinn

This game was most likely from March 25, 1971 at Detroit Olympia as Detroit’s #12, Tom Miller was acquired from the Rangers on February 2nd of that year, this is the only #12 listed on Detroit's roster for the entire season. At that point in the year Detroit had only one more game hosting Vancouver, March 25. The Red Wings won this game 4-3.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Unidentified Hockey Photo; Eddie Jeremiah

A good friend of mine has just opened a vintage sports image shop here in North Vancouver, conveniently named Vintage Sports Images. He has literally thousands of original, never-seen photographic negatives from all sports. He prints them on canvas and they look so good, most of them appear to be paintings. Naturally, I am lending my expertise at identifying players and events in any photos of his that have missing pieces of info. 

The first one I'm looking at is a really cool shot of what appears to be an old Boston Bruin from the 1930's. He has no other information on it than that. Firstly, a closer look shows a patch on the player's left shoulder that says "Cubs". The Boston Cubs did indeed play from 1930 to 1936 in the Canadian-American Hockey League. The CAHL was a minor league that begat the International-American Hockey League in 1936 and would become today's American Hockey League in 1940. A look at the Society for International Hockey Research player photo database quickly identifies the player. The photo shows Ed Jeremiah who played for the Boston Cubs 1931/32. The SIHR database has the photo below.
 I found the original, showing Jeremiah with Dartmouth College in 1928.
Jeremiah in the middle, Dartmouth 1928
Eddie Jeremiah did indeed play 15 games for the Boston Cubs in 1931/32 scoring a pair of goals as a defenceman. He had begun that season in the NHL with the New York Americans, playing 9 games before being dealt to Boston on February 1, 1932. He appeared in six games for the Bruins at the end of the campaign, not registering a point.
Coaching Dartmouth
Jeremiah spent the next three years in the CAHL and IHL but would never grace an NHL ice sheet  again. In 1935/36 he began his coaching career back with the Boston Olympics and guided them to a championship. Jeremiah became coach of his alma mater Dartmouth in 1936, a post he held until he retired in 1967. 
Eddie Jeremiah would pass away in the summer of 1967 at 61 years old. His lifetime record at Dartmouth  was 308-247-12. 

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