Thursday, January 17, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #3

Hockey Pictorial was a monthly publication that was issued from 1955 through 1980. The editors obviously knew what hockey fans wanted, as it seemed every second issue featured a Maple Leaf player on the cover. OK, maybe the Leafs weren't featured that frequently, but why put Bruin Doug Mohns on the cover when you can put Frank Mahovlich? It's a no-brainer. Anyway, here are four Hockey Pictorial issues from my collection ranging from October 1958 to October 1961.
As the Leafs prepared for the 1958/59 campaign, they were coming off a last place finish in which the bright spot was Mahovlich winning the Calder Trophy. The Big M bested Bobby Hull as top rookie even though Hull out pointed him 47 to 36 on the strength of his potting 20 goals to Hull's 13. The Leafs would sneak past the Rangers to make the playoffs on the final day of the 58/59 season to begin their rise to their dynasty of the 1960's.
The October 1961 cover featured another Leaf coming off a Calder winning season. In 1960/61, Dave Keon posted 20 goals and 45 points to be awarded top rookie. Toronto finished second with 90 points, two behind Montreal.
Keon did indeed avoid the sophomore jinx improving to 26 goals and 61 points in 64 games in 61/62 and earning a Second Team All-Star selection.
1960/61 proved to be the breakout season for Frank Mahovlich as he threatened Maurice Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. He finished with 48 goals and was named First Team All-Star. In addition, Hockey Pictorial named him "Top Thrill Producer" as seen below.
Bob Pulford graced the cover in September 1960 after scoring career highs of 24 goals and 52 points. He would go on to help Toronto win four Stanley Cups in six years, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.



Monday, January 14, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #2

Here's two early 1960's Maple Leafs magazine covers, the first a Quebecois issue from June 1960. It's called "Sport Revue, Le Magazine Sportif des Canadiens-Francais". The magazine is entirely in French, so I don't understand  much of it. The headline of the Bower article, "Johnny Bower devrait etre avec Toronto depuis onze ans" translates to "Johnny Bower should be with Toronto for eleven years". This is a very bold statement as he had just completed only his 2nd season in the Leaf net. It's also an amazingly accurate statement as Bower was indeed Toronto's goaltender for eleven seasons. 
The next magazine is the "Official National Hockey Annual of 1961" with a great cover painting of a Maple Leaf getting dumped by Chicago's Pierre Pilote as the puck finds it's way behind Glenn Hall.
Inside is a terrific article on Maple Leaf captain George Armstrong in addition to numerous articles on the stars of the NHL and the upcoming 1961/62 campaign.


Friday, January 11, 2019

John Tavares Scoring Pace


John Tavares has potted 29 goals in 43  games for the Maple Leafs this year, on his way to a career best total. This pace ranks Tavares as the second fastest to 29 goals in the last thirty years.
The thing is, the Leafs top goal scoring seasons were put up, among others, by Rick Vaive in the early 1980's when Game Logs are tougher to find. This is when we head to the google newspaper archives and delve into the files of the Montreal Gazette. I checked all the other top goal scoring seasons in Leaf history and where each player stood after 43 team games. When I could, I included the players' actual number of games to that point if it differed from the team total.

1931/32 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 29 Goals
1933/34 43 Team Game, Charlie Conacher 31 Goals
1934/35 43 Team Games, Charlie Conacher 27 Goals
1960/61 43 Team Games, Frank Mahovlich 43gp 37Goals
1976/77 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 43gp  28Goals
1977/78 43 Team Games, Lanny McDonald 27Goals
1981/82 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 39gp 27Goals
1982/83 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 41 gp 28Goals
1983/84 43 Team Games, Rick Vaive 42gp 35Goals
The newspaper clippings that I found of each of the 43rd game of the season are below. We get a real sense of the pace that Frank Mahovlich was on in 1960/61 in his chase for Rocket Richard's record of 50 goals in a season. Even in January the Big M was generating headlines as he notched his 37th goals in the 43rd game of the season. Alas, Mahovlich would slow down over the last third of the season, finishing with "only" 48 goals in 70 games.
Jan 16, 1961
Jan 17, 1978
Jan 11, 1982
Jan 17, 1983
Jan 11, 1984
So, Tavares pace this season is behind only that of Andreychuk in 93/94, Vaive in 83/84 and Charlie Conacher in 33/34. Below are the NHL scoring leaders after 42 Leaf games in 1983/84 illustrating how good Vaive's season was to that point. Of course he would slow down, scoring 17 goals in the remaining 37 games to end up with 52 markers. John Tavares should be a good bet to get to that total this year.
Jan 11, 1984



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