Monday, March 27, 2017

Maple Leafs Rookie Production, Almost Unprecedented

Toronto's rookies in 2016/17 are really doing some special things. Individually, Matthews, Marner and Nylander are setting team records seemingly every day now. Collectively, they're doing things rarely seen in NHL history. All three of the Leafs super rookies have at least 57 points. This has happened on one team only three other times in NHL history, all in an era when goal scoring was at least 30% higher than today. 

Three Rookies, One Team 57 Points (Age in Brackets)

Toronto 16/17
A.Matthews (19) 61
M.Marner (19) 57
W.Nylander (20) 57

Quebec 80/81
P.Stastny(24) 77-39-70-109
A.Stastny(21) 80-39-46-85
D.Hunter (20) 80-19-44-63

Edmonton 79/80
W.Gretzky (19) 79-51-86-137
B.MacDonald (26) 80-46-48-94
B.Callighen (26) 59-23-35-58
D.Lumley (25) 80-20-38-58

Hartford 79/80
M.Rogers (25) 80-44-61-105
M.Howe (24) 74-24-56-80
J.Douglas (22) 77-33-24-57

The last two teams on this list were transferred from the WHA and these "rookies" had played multiple previous professional seasons prior to their NHL debuts. The Edmonton quartet had played 10 pro seasons and Hartford's, 12 seasons. Each of these groups average age was 24 years. With WHA participation disqualifying most of these players, only Dave Lumley was considered a rookie by the NHL for the 79/80 season. The Leaf trio can make these semantics moot if they can all get to 60 points, if so they will be only the second team in history with three 60 point rookies (after Quebec).
Toronto's other rookies cannot be forgotten. In addition to Nikita Zaitsev, Zach Hyman, Nikita Soshnikov, there is Connor Brown who has 18 goals and 32 points. The number of teams with four first-year players with at least 17 goals is also a very short one. Again, we have to disregard the Oilers of 79/80 for their lack of actual rookie qualifications.
Four Rookies 17 Goals (Age in Brackets)

Toronto 16/17
A.Matthews (19) 34
W.Nylander (20) 21
C.Brown (23) 18
M.Marner (19) 17

Winnipeg 92/93
T.Selanne (22) 76
E.Davydov (25) 28
A.Zhamnov (22) 25
K.Tkachuk (20) 23

Edmonton 79/80
W.Gretzky (19) 51
B.MacDonald (26) 46
B.Callighen (26) 23
D.Lumley (25) 20
R.Chipperfield (25) 18

Minnesota 76/77
R. Eriksson (22) 25
G.Sharpley (20) 25
S.Jensen (21) 22
A. Pirus (22) 20

Montreal 51/52
B.Geoffrion (20) 30
P.Meger (22) 24
D.Gamble (23) 23
D.Moore (21) 18

As with the other list, Toronto's quartet is the youngest on average. Perhaps the most comparable in production, experience and age is the Montreal group of 65 years ago. Also, the fact that era had only slightly less goals scored per game than today makes them an interesting comparison. If Toronto can produce two Hall of Famers out of their four as Montreal did (Geoffrion and Moore), I'm certain Leaf fans will be ecstatic.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Charlie Conacher Unpublished 1931/32 Photo

Charlie Conacher in Action
Well, this is pretty cool. Recently I have been helping out a friend go through old hockey photos for his store vintagesportsimages.com . I am assisting in categorizing, curating and identifying literally 1000's of images that predominantly come from the collection of the Boston Globe. He owns the original negatives, and most of them have not ever been published. I think I found a doozy here. Above is a game-play shot of Maple Leaf great Charlie Conacher that I'm fairly sure has not ever been put online. 
Below are the main two iconic images of Conacher, both staged in a photo shoot. The one in Vintage Sports Images collection is cropped from a far larger image, attached at the bottom, that gives more info about it.

The photo is definitely from an actual game, against the Detroit Falcons. The Falcons were known as such for only two seasons, 1930/31 and 1931/32 before being re-branded the Red Wings. Coancher's teammate to the right of the image is wearing number 3. In 30/31 Art Duncan wore that number, the following year it was Alex Levinsky. A quick look at the sihrhockey.org photo database, and I can safely say this #3 is Levinsky, making the photo from the 1931/32 season. 
The Leaf in the foreground appears to be wearing #11 which would make that Conacher's linemate Busher Jackson. As well, the goalie peaking in from the right side definitely looks like Leaf goalie of the time, Lorne Chabot.
Charlie Conacher was in his third NHL season in 1931/32 and his 34 goals would lead the NHL for the second straight year. This was also the first year of Maple Leaf Gardens and Toronto went on to win the Stanley Cup over New York Rangers.
Charlie Conacher original photo, 1931/32


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1964 Leafs Cup Photo

Here is the first of many awesome photos that adorns my den from my friend's vintage sport photo shop, vintagesportsimages.com . It's a fantastic shot of the 1964 Stanley Cup being handed over to George Armstrong by NHL President Clarence Campbell. What I love about the photo is the fact it's from ice-level, showing the expanse of Maple Leaf Gardens and the crowd within. Below is a photo from the Montreal Gazette the following day taken just after the initial photo was, with the players gathered around the Cup.
In addition to Armstrong (who had 13 points in 14 playoff games) and Campbell, identifying the rest of the players in the shot is fairly easy. Dave Keon (7 goals, 9 points) is in the near distance in between The Cup and Campbell and Carl Brewer (played 12 of 14 games) is behind Armstrong. The legendary King Clancy is seen stepping on the centre redline, he was assistant general manager of the Leafs. In the helmet is Billy Harris with Larry Hillman and Jim Pappin to the right. In civvies is Al Arbour who played just one of the fourteen playoff games that season.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Unidentified Hockey Photo: Bower and Howe

Leafs vs. Red Wings: Bower, Baun, Howe and...
Here's another fine photo from the collection of my friends at vintagesportsimages.com in North Vancouver. I'm helping them out identifying old hockey pics, most of which have not been seen online.
This photo clearly shows Johnny Bower in net and Leaf defender Bobby Baun and Gordie Howe. To narrow down the year, the database at nhluniforms.com is invaluable.
The Leafs added a blue shoulder yoke to their white jersey in 1958 and they then added numbers on sleeves in 1962/63. This photo then has to fall between that '58 and '62. The Detroit #8 player has a few possibilities among guys who shot left-handed during this era. Johnny Wilson wore the number in 1958/59 but the facial features don't match here. Gary Aldcorn wore number 8 in 1960/61 but his hair was a bit more receding; Murray Oliver also wore it the same year, his hair looks a bit different but there does appear to be a matching scar on the left side of his head, more on that in a bit; Forbes Kennedy was # 8 for a time in 61/62 but he was only 5'8", the guy in the photo seems far taller compared to the 5'9" Baun. Let's look at a few photos of these guys:
Johnny Wilson
Gary Aldcorn 
Have a look at the scar on Murray Oliver's temple, right at the hair-line. That's as close to a match as can be to the blown up image below it. This has to be Oliver in the original photo which puts the mystery pic in the 1960/61 season. Oliver played with Detroit the year before as well, but wore number 17 then. He was traded to Boston on January 23, 1961. Another nice vintage hockey photo added to the online world.
Murray Oliver
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