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Showing posts from April, 2009

Sports Illustrated memories

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Sports Illustrated magazine. We all know it, most of us love it. I was lucky enough to be given a subscription to S.I. for most of 1983 and 1984. This turned out to be one of the greatest gifts ever for a pre-pubescent sports nut (some might say I still am one). I don’t have a lot of those old mags now having sold a lot of them off while in college. Out of these one hundred or so issues, very few had a hockey cover. Those two years produced one Gretzky cover, one Mike Bossy and one Billy Smith. Athletes such as George Brett, Alan Trammell, Carl Lewis and Patrick Ewing each had at least two cover appearances in my stack, I had some great early Michael Jordan covers while still with North Carolina and the first two or three covers featuring Mike Tyson. All of these sold for good money years later. Needless to say, those hockey covers meant a lot to a kid from Newmarket, Ontario. This era was also the beginning of the rise of my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. I was proud to see them make the…

Warren Young, Mario's Sidekick

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Warren Young caught lightning in a bottle. Having been drafted in the fourth round by the California Seals in 1976, he opted to return to Michigan Tech to complete his college career. He would graduate in 1979 with a B.S. in management and a point per game over 4 hockey seasons. Young would soon establish himself as a professional scorer leading the EHL with 53 goals as a Baltimore Clipper. Moving up to the Central League he would score 26 ,31 and 26 goals for the North Stars farm team. Through all this, he would play only five games in the NHL, never distinguishing himself. By now, the years of bus rides to nowhere had him discouraged and a free agent at 27.The Pittsburgh Penguins signed him to their Baltimore AHL team and he responded with 63 points in 59 games as well as 8 points in 15 games with the big club.
The following year, Mario Lemieux, fresh out of junior hockey personally requested the 29 year old Young as a line mate. "He handles the puck so well he makes room for me…

Bjorn Johansson, the next Borje Salming

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Bjorn Johansson was the fifth overall selection in the 1976 NHL amateur draft by the California Seals. A 20 year old defenseman, Johansson was coming off a 30 goal, 51 point season in the Swedish League with Orebro IK. He had been named to the World Junior tournament all-star team that year and had scouts comparing him to the recent Swedish grad, Borje Salming. Johansson was thought so highly of, he was drafted two spots ahead of Hall of Famer Bernie Federko as well as contrymen Kent Nilsson and Thomas Gradin. He also was selected ahead of fellow defensemen, Reed Larson, Randy Carlyle, Mike McEwen and Rick Green.
Johansson would of course never play for the Seals, nobody ever would again as that summer the team would transfer to Cleveland becoming the Barons. He would barely play for the Barons either, counting a mere 15 games and two points over two seasons. He collected 24 and 25 points in consecutive years in the minors before heading back to Sweden.
Johansson reverted to his scoring…

Bobby Lu, Lowest Career Playoff GAA

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Roberto Luongo is currently in the midst of only the second playoff season of his career. Including 2007 he has now played in fifteen career playoff games, not a substantial amount, but a fair sized sample from which to gauge his performance. Luongo’s career playoff Goals Against Average is a miniscule 1.64. This number is the the best of any modern tender since 1945. All-time, Luongo is only bettered by Alec Connell, Charlie Gardiner and Lorne Chabot all of whom retired in the mid 1930’s.
The only other modern era goalies who have bettered a 2.00 GAA in 15 or more playoff games are Ilya Bryzgalov (16 gp, 1.68), Patrick Lalime (41 gp, 1.77), Turk Broda (46gp, 1.84), Gerry McNeil (35 gp, 1.89) and Martin Brodeur (172 gp, 1.96)….quite an eclectic group indeed. Bryzgalov had a somewhat surprising run taking over for JS Giguere in 2006 and played five games in winning the ’07 Cup. Patrick Lalime led Ottawa to a final appearance yet owns a mere 21-20 W/L record. Turk Broda was an all-time l…

Stanley Cup Finals Competitiveness

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I was recently reading a book on the WHA and specifically the 1978 Avco Cup finals. The Winnipeg Jets swept the New England Whalers by scores of 4-1, 5-2, 10-2 and 5-3. This works out to an average margin of victory of four goals each game, which seems like a very non-competitive series. The fact that the series was a sweep must make this one of the least competitive final series in hockey history. The goal differential would be a good way to decide this, as well the length of the series itself would be the other factor in deciding how competitive it was. I decided on a formula of Avg Goal Differential multiplied by the Length of Series Factor. If a series went the full distance of seven (or five games prior to 1939) I assigned a one to series length, if it went one game short of full, I assigned a two continuing on to a sweep in a seven game series being assigned a four in series length. The lower the number here, the longer the series went, and hence the more competitive it was.
The…

Canadian NHL teams, No Cups since '93

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Pretty much once a week, myself and three or four friends of mine will get into heated email debates about hockey, usually about the virtues of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks. Most often the Canuck “fans” in our group will bash the Leafs for not having made the Stanley Cup Finals even once since 1967, and they will extol the virtues of the ‘Nucks and the fact that they have been to the finals a whole two times since their inception. Our retort as Leaf lovers is to chastise this “celebration of losing” and failure to close the big one. Once in a while, a Canadiens, Oilers, Flames or Sens fan or two will be included in our ridiculous arguments, backing their squads. I recently decided to compare these six Canadian NHL teams in raw numbers. I chose to look at each franchise’s records since a Canadian team last won the Cup, that of course being Montreal in 1993. The winning of the Cup is the ultimate goal for any team and fan and this would trump any dispute between fans.


A…

Most Goals, none on the Powerplay

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There was a pretty cool stat on the Canucks game broadcast tonight; Alex Burrows is far and away leading the league in most goals scored without collecting one on the power play. With 27 goals scored he is six ahead of Calgary’s Rene Bourque who in turn is five ahead of Carolina’s Chad Larose at 16. In fact Burrows is now forth all-time for most goals in a season without a PPG.

Doug Smail makes the top ten twice with 25 goals two years after his 31. He would later score 25 again while scoring only one on the powerplay. The Jets of 84/85 had the fifth best powerplay in the NHL led by the likes of Dale Hawerchuk, Paul MacLean, Thomas Steen and Brian Mullen. They were anchored by Dave Babych and Randy Carlyle who notched six PPG’s each. Smail would go on to tally 210 career goals with only six of them on the powerplay!
Mike Donnelly of the Kings would parlay his big year into far more powerplay time the following year than Smail received. Donnelly scored 29 goals again in 92/93, this t…