Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unidentified Maple Leafs Photo No.5

Here is another unidentified hockey photo from the archives of Vintage Sports Images in North Vancouver, and this one is a toughie. It shows the Maple Leafs playing the Red Wings, but what makes it difficult is that most players faces are at a profile angle making it harder to identify them. Firstly, looking at the uniforms, the Leafs used this configuration from 1938 to 1958 excluding 1945 - 1948 when the lettering was red. I know the photo is black and white, but I'm pretty sure the text on the Leaf crest is not red. As for Detroit, they also had an extended period of time using this uniform. The only thing that changed was the 'Winged Wheel' crest which became sleeker and less stout in 1948. That dates the photo somewhere after 1948 up to 1958.

 The main figure in the image is the Leaf enlarged below.
Using only player headshot in the SIHR database and the direction of the player shooting hand, I am fairly confident that this is Howie Meeker.
Howie Meeker
Howie Meeker
Meeker began his career in 1946 and played until 53/54, so that narrows it down a bit more. The Leaf beside Meeker I believe is Rudy Migay who began his career in 1949. It's a difficult angle to be certain but I feel the nose shape and slightly pointy chin match Migay's headshots below.
Rudy Migay 
Rudy Migay
Next up is the fallen Red Wing defender sporting #3 on his back and appears to be a left-handed shot with the knob of his stick in his right hand. During the era in question the Wings had a few guys wear the number. In 1949/50 and 50/51 Clare Martin played regularly wearing the number but he was a right shot. In 1951/52 Benny Woit took over the number but he, like Martin was a right shot. Woit changed to #5 the next year when Marcel Pronovost joined the club. Pronovost was indeed a left shooter and wore the number until 1965. His closeup and headshot are below.
Marcel Pronovost
So, if this is Pronovost pictured, the photo is very likely from the 1952/53 season, Meeker's last semi-regular campaign. Meeker played 25 games that year and only 5 the next before retiring. The three players to the right and background of the photo are quite difficult to I.D. I'm having trouble figuring out the Leaf sprawled behind Pronovost, even though his face is visible (blurry, but visible).
The two distant guys could be only a few guys, judging by their shooting hand and faint facial recognition. The Red Wing is likely Benny Woit or Bob Goldham and the Leaf is likely Jim Morrison or Hugh Bolton.
Overall, as tough as this one was to figure out, I'm quite confident it's from 52/53 and that the main players pictured are correct.

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