Thursday, February 9, 2017

Maple Leaf Rookies; Fastest to 25 Goals

Recently, on the terrific magazine-style website theathletic.com, James Mirtle discussed scoring records that Maple Leafs rookies are approaching or have already achieved. He mentions how Mitch Marner is well on pace to break Gus Bodnar's Leaf record for assists by a rookie, Auston Matthews on pace to break Wendel Clark's record for goals, and both on pace to top Peter Ihnacak's record for point. At one point the following juicy fact is mentioned:

"The goal was Matthews’ 25th of the season after 52 games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Matthews’ goal broke the franchise record for the fastest player to get his first 25 NHL goals, beating Howie Meeker’s 70-year-old mark of 58 games."

This got me thinking. In 1985/86, Wendel Clark potted 34 goals in 66 games played, surely he scored 25 goals in less games. So I checked. Below are the Leafs scoring stats as published Feb.25, 1986 in the Montreal Gazette.
At this point Toronto had played 60 games as a team, but Clark having missed 14 games early in the season had played only 46. The same day this was published, the Leafs hosted the New York Rangers in their 61st game, Clark's 47th:
Not only did Clark notch his 25th goal this night, but he potted a hat-trick to get to 26 goals in his 47th game. Now, far be it from me to say that Elias Sports and Mirtle got it wrong and that Clark still holds the Leaf record for fastest 25 goals as a rookie...they are going by the number of games the team had played, not the individual. It's the same way the NHL doesn't recognize Jari Kurri, Cam Neely and Alexander Mogilny scoring 50 goals in 50 games because their teams had played more than 50. Even still, I think it's fair to recognize that Clark did what he did.
Maybe Matthews can top Wendel's 34 rookie goals in 66 games, he would need 10 goals in his next 15 games. He has already scored 14 in a 17 game stretch this season, so it's more than possible.




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