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.

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