Monday, May 27, 2019

1970 Blue Line Hockey Board Game

In addition to the 1957 NHL board game I picked up at the flea market last weekend, I grabbed this beauty. It's a 1970 game from 3M Sports called Blue Line Hockey. 
The back of the box replicates the cool front imagery, the inside of the box displays the many aspects of hockey that are not necessarily conveyed in this game. The game itself seems to have not evolved much from the 1957 issue I posted last week. If anything, the quality of the game has DE-volved, as the 1957 game had some fantastic graphics on the game pieces. 
The game pieces in 1970's Blue Line Hockey shown below are, I suppose more durable than the 1957 cardboard punch-outs, but they are not even close to as appealing a design.
Again, we see the eye-boggling giant checkerboard hockey rink. Truly a sight for sore eyes.
The one thing they did nail is the nicely embossed texture to the back of the game board itself.
The rules are on the inside of the game box. If you feel like trying to delve into them, go ahead. When I look at this, I have flashbacks of high school geometry. Not good memories.
The game does however come with this handsome, stand-alone scoreboard.
This slide-rule tool needed to decipher your scoring does indeed take a point or two away on the fun meter. If you are inclined to torturing your eyes, and being hypnotized by the game surface, as well as a major in calculus or trigonometry...then this game may be just for you!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Played for Both Bruins & Blues, All-Time Team

 Here's a fun thing I like to do every once in a while, assemble a squad of players who played for two distinct franchises. I did it for Leafs/Wings when they played in the Winter Classic a few years back. Also, I'm working on a squad of guys who played for both the Canucks and Leafs that includes such names as Vaive, Benning, Butcher and Kurtenbach. What follows is the all-time team of players who at some point in their careers, suited up for both of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finalists Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.
The fact that goaltender Hannu Toivonen is pictured at the top may seem a strange selection, but he is  the only retired player to play his entire career ONLY for Boston and St. Louis. Currently playing, David Backes has done the same, playing for only St.Louis and Boston. Toivonen came up with the Bruins in 2005/06 playing behind Tim Thomas and Andrew Raycroft, during the summer of 2007 he was dealt to the Blues for Carl Soderberg. He would back-up Manny Legace for the 2007/08 season before bouncing between Finland, the AHL and Sweden before retiring in 2013.
The All-Time Bruins/Blues team will begin with two Centres who were traded for each other in February 1992, Craig Janney and Adam Oates. Combined the two played 1010 games for the two franchises, producing 1203 points. They can definitely anchor the combined squad. Behind these two, current Bruin David Backes would have to fill the third Centre slot, having played 928 games with 551 points for the two teams. Fourth Centre will be Ron Schock who although known more as a Penguin, played near equal amounts of games for Boston (128) and St. Louis (122). Other Centres who played mostly for one team with a cup of coffee for the other, include Derek Sanderson, Vlad Sobotka, Terry Crisp, Craig MacTavish and Mike Walton.
The Right Wingers on the team go as follows; Joe Mullen (half a season with Blues at the end of his career), Brad Boyes (who spent his first 6 seasons between the two teams),  Dave Christian (three seasons with Boston/St. Louis) and Bill Guerin (203 total games for the clubs). On Left Wing we have Geoff Courtnall who started his career with three full season with Boston and finished it with four for St. Louis. Glen Sather played two full years with the Bruins in the late 60's and one with the Blues in 74/75. The pickings get slim after this with Garnet "Ace" Bailey playing a total of 303 games for the two and Scott Pellerin the longtime Blue who played half a season with the Bruins in 2001/02. 
On Defence we can start with Dennis Wideman who spent his first two seasons with St. Louis before being traded for Boyes and playing three more for Boston. Stephane Quintal came up for four seasons with Bruins before joining Janney in the Oates deal. He played all of 1992/93 with the Blues before moving on. Guy Lapointe, known more as a Canadien Hall of Famer, played his last two full years with St. Louis and Boston respectively. Don Awrey spent his first ten years with the Bruins before being dealt to the Blues and producing 21 points in 75 games in 73/74. Other defenders to have played for both franchises include; Rick Zombo, Jamie Rivers, Gordie Roberts, Glen Featherstone and Barry Gibbs.
Now we get to the Goalies. Hall of Famer Jacques Plante has to make the list having helped lead the Blues to two Cup Finals in 1969 and '70. His stint with Boston was short and sweet, finishing up his NHL career going 7 and 1 with a 2.00 GAA to end the 1972/73 season. Eddie Johnston played 11 years with Boston and 4 for St. Louis and would rightfully claim the top spot on the merit of 562 career games for the teams. Current Bruin back-up Jaroslav Halak of course played four seasons with the Blues prior to moving to the Islanders. Rounding out the goalie brigade are the likes of Jon Casey and Vincent Riendeau.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

1957 Copp Clark NHL Board Game, Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens

Check out this gem that I picked up at the flea market this past weekend. It was prominently displayed by my regular dealer who has a permanent set-up at the Vancouver Flea Market. It's one of those items that the second I saw it, I knew I would be walking away with it. I've never seen it before, but what a beauty.
This board game was issued in 1957 by Copp Clark Publishing Company of Canada as a fully licensed game from the NHL. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and their logos are wonderfully displayed on the game box lid. The company, Copp Clark can trace it's roots back to 1841 and still exists today solely as a book publisher. Perhaps their most well-known board game was Rummoli, which they created in 1940.
The back of the game board has more great graphics as well as a textured "gator skin" finish. Manufacturers sure put a lot of quality and care into their products in the 1950's. Upon opening the three-panelled game board, the players are met with a hypnotizing checker-patterned hockey rink.
I haven't thoroughly read the rules, but it seems to be a simple dice-rolling game, checker moving game. But in this game, you don't merely move simple checkers. Check out below the fantastic game piece players. Printed on thick cardboard, each of these full-colour, wonderfully designed pieces fit into small puck stands. Each piece is double sided and is a fine example of 50's style design. The amazing thing about the game I purchased, the players have yet to be removed from their original cardboard sheet. As much as I would enjoy punching them out and giving the game a play, these men are staying in the state they are in. I am however considering scanning them and printing it out for a t-shirt.
I certainly was a good day at the flea market!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

1978 World Junior Championship, Canada vs Sweden

Ricky Vaive, Incredulous in the Penalty Box
The other night, after the late NHL playoff game finished I instinctively changed the channel to TSN/ESPN Classic just to see what was on. Any thoughts of a regular bedtime for me were instantly ruined. Airing on the retro sports channel was a 1978 World Junior Hockey Championship game between Canada and Sweden originally played January 1, 1978. This game, at the Montreal Forum featured a 16-year old Wayne Gretzky (among many other future NHL stars). Boxscore of the game is below.
This game amounted to a semi-final match to determine who would play the winner of the Soviets and Czechs (Soviets won handily). All Canada needed was a tie against the Swedes and they would move onto the Championship game. Alas, Sweden bested Canada 6-5 on the strength of four power play markers. Canada had to make do with the Bronze medal while Gretzky was named Top Forward and topped the tourney with 17 points in 6 games, 7 more than his next teammate Wayne Babych.
Obviously, I was compelled to capture some still-shots of this somewhat historical game.
Gretzky and future Washington Capital Length Gustafsson. They would actually play two playoff games together for the WHA Oilers the following season.
Gustafsson on his own, and an out of position Canadian goalie Al Jensen. Just gotta love 1970's goaltending.
Amazingly, the Swedish penalty box was shared with the P.A. announcer. Just weird.
Future NHL star Rob Ramage and some sweet late 1970's graphics.
Canadian bench. Gretzky (2nd from left) with Wayne Babych & Bobby Smith at the far end.
The fresh-faced Kid, still three weeks shy of his seventeenth birthday.
Attendance at the Montreal Forum was apparently 2,200. I doubt it was even that high. Third period opening face-off here, note 10:00 minutes on the clock. Under IIHF predominantly European rules, teams switched ends halfway through the third as many games in Europe were still played outdoors.
Coach Ernie "Punch" Maclean, head coach of the previous Memorial Cup Champion New Wesminster Bruins. 
Al Jensen coming out of the net just a wee bit to cut down the angle on a Gustafsson slapper. The two would be teammates on the Washington Capitals for the better part of the 1980's.
Swedish defender Gunnar Persson. Team Sweden sported a polar bear crest as well as a polar bear on each shoulder. And stripes, lots of stripes.
Gretzky et al whooping it up after equalizing the game 4-4 late in the third. 
Future Montreal Canadiens star Mats Naslund getting worked on by the trainer. He topped Sweden in the tournament with 10 points in 7 games.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Oldest Goalie Playoff Debut, Curtis McElhinney

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Curtis McElhinney started his first career NHL playoff game at the age of 35 years, 343 days. He is now the oldest goalie to make his playoff debut in NHL history. The two previous oldest were Les Binkley of the 1969/70 Pittsburgh Penguins and Ross Brooks of the 1972/73 Boston Bruins; each were over 35 years old, but younger than McElhinney.
With 219 career games before a playoff start, McElhinney had played more career regular season games than Binkley and Brooks combined. By the 1970 playoffs Binkley had played 131 regular season matches for the Pens after over 600 starts in the minors. Binkley would win five of seven playoff games in 1970 with a 2.10 GAA in his only NHL playoff appearances. He played a total of ten additional playoff games with the Ottawa Nationals/Toronto Toros franchise of the WHA before retiring from professional hockey in in 1976 at the age of 41.
Ross Brooks had posted a record of 11-1-3 for the Bruins in his rookie season of 1972/73 primarily as a back-up to Eddie Johnston. On March 3, 1973 the Bruins acquired Jacques Plante from Toronto and he proceeded to go 7-1 with a 2.00 GAA down the stretch and began the playoffs as the Bruins starting goalie. After Plante lost the first two games to the Rangers, coach Bep Guidloin turned back to Johnston for the third and fourth games. EJ won the third game but lost 4-0 in the fourth. This is when Coach Bep called on the elderly rookie, Ross Brooks. Eddie Johnston was quoted in the Montreal Gazette, "That was a tough spot to put Brooksie in. After all it was his first playoff start in our biggest game. I think they wanted to give him a chance to play, and I know he wanted to play." Brooks allowed three goals on eleven shots in the first period and with the Bruins down 3-2 he apparently asked to be taken out. He was quoted, "I don't want to be a hero, there was a lot of money on the line here for me and everyone else...I told them how I felt at the end of the period and left it up to them." Brooks was yanked. Johnston was put in for the second and the Bruins lost 6-3 and were eliminated. Brooks went 26-6-3 over the next two seasons backing-up Gilles Gilbert but played no further playoff games. 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Eddie Emberg; First Player Ever to Debut in Playoffs and Score

Colorado Avalanche defenceman, Cale Makar made NHL history in the first round of the 2019 playoffs by scoring a goal in his NHL debut that was also a playoff game. He is only the seventh player to ever do this. It's a fairly eclectic list with really only one guy (Brind'Amour) who became star in the league. I was interested in finding out about the very first player to have his debut in a playoff game and score a goal, a guy I had never heard of, Eddie Emberg.
A look at the statistical record of Eddie Emberg shows his only NHL games took place in the 1944/45 post-season. He played two games for the Canadiens scoring his one and only goal in his debut match, the question is which game was actually his first? A check of's boxscore records determines Emberg's first game was March 29, 1945 in the first round against Toronto. This was the fifth game of the series that the Leafs were ahead three games to one, but game five belonged to the Habs. Montreal kept the series alive by beating Toronto 10-3, the newspaper headlines declared the surprise and concern for the Leafs.
I found one newspaper clip that mentioned Emberg "Up from Quebec Aces with Nils Tremblay for the game". 22 year-old Emberg would score ten points in seven playoff games for the Aces of the Quebec Senior League that same season. He also played game six with the Habs as Toronto rebounded from the embarrassing defeat and eliminated Montreal with a 3-2 win. The Leafs went on to defeat Detroit in seven games for the Stanley Cup.
Eddie Emberg never graced an NHL ice sheet again. He would star in the Quebec League for the next decade, leading the loop in scoring with 67 points in 40 games for Valleyfield in 1946/47. 
Boxscore of March 29, 1945
Game Five vs. Toronto.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #9

Above is a rare appearance on the cover of a hockey magazine (or magazine of any kind for that matter) of one Dave "Tiger" Williams. The publication is Action Sports Hockey from November 1978. Williams was beginning he fifth NHL season, having just compiled the top Penalty Minute season of his career with 351 total. Along with all the PIM's, Tiger posted 19 goals and 50 points as the heart and soul of the late 1970's Maple Leafs. Williams had topped the NHL in PIM in 76/77 and would again the season he made cover boy of this magazine, but even though he had his career best total the year prior, he was bested by Philly's Dave Schulz who collected 405 minutes to Williams 351.
The November 1974 Hockey World magazine below features a nice early photo of future Leaf captain Darryl Sittler. Entering his fifth season in the NHL, Sittler had topped the Maple Leafs in points the previous two seasons with 77 and 84 points respectively. In 1973/74 Sittler managed to place 9th in Hart Trophy voting, collecting two votes.
In 74/75 he still managed to top the Leafs even though his totals fell back slightly to 36 goals and 80 points. It wasn't till the following campaign that Sittler truly blossomed into an NHL star as he put forward the first 100 point season in Leafs history and placed ninth in league scoring.
Of course, both Williams and Sittler (among many others) would be gone by the late 1970's and early 80's in the purge of talent by Ballard and Imlach, leaving the team in the wasteland of the NHL landscape for well over a decade.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Maple Leafs Magazine Project #8

These two covers pretty much bookend the career of Maple Leafs goaltender Mike Palmateer. The first one is from Action Sports Hockey, April 1978 and The Popcorn Kid shares the cover with Mr. Hockey. The article on Palmateer declares him "The Best Young Goalie In The World" and shows him making one of his characteristic, unorthadox saves.
The title of the article was a bit of a misleading though. Sure, Palmateer was 24 years old and finishing up his second NHL season, but there really just weren't that many young goalies in the NHL at that time. The only other one who could be argued for this title would have been 22 year old Don Edwards of the Sabres. Amongst the 24 goalies who played at least 30 games in 1977/78, the only ones under 25 years of age were Palmateer, Edwards, the Rangers John Davidson and Jim Bedard of the Capitals. Palmateer finished the season third in the NHL with 34 Wins, 4th in Save Pct and 2nd in Shutouts. The next season he would finish 5th in Hart Trophy voting before knee issues began hindering his career.

By the time of the Hockey Illustrated cover in January 1984, Palmateer was in the final few months of his career. After being traded to Washington prior to the 1980/81 campaign, Palmateer returned two seasons later to indeed be Toronto's MVP of the 82/83 season. Sure, Rick Vaive had scored 50 goals for the second straight year, but without Palmateer the Leafs would have been even worse than they actually were. On a team that was 12 games under .500 and collected only 68 points, Palmateer was only two games under .500 and posted a respectable (for the 1980's) 3.99 GAA.
 By the time this magazine came out, Palmateer was in his last season, his GAA ballooned to 4.91 over 34 games as his knees finally forced him into retirement at age 30.

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