Showing posts from September, 2011

Elwin "Moe" Morris. War-Time Fill In and Cup Winner

During the second World War, as in most sports, rosters of NHL teams were depleted by players signing up for military duty. When the Toronto Maple Leafs reported for training camp in the middle of October 1943 there were only three veterans present. Bob Davidson, Lorne Carr and Bucko McDonald who were soon joined by fellow vets Babe Pratt, Mel Hill and Reg Hamilton.

One of the many rookies that would round out the line-up was 22 year old defenceman Elwin "Moe" Morris. He had previously been a "well-regarded" backfielder with football's Toronto Argos in 1940 and had graduated from the Toronto Marlboros junior and senior programs.
Morris' hockey career really took off in 1942/43 aftre joining the Toronto Navy squad. He joined the Navy in December, 1942 and would be discharged in June of '43 for physical reasons. Upon arriving at Leaf camp in 1943 Morris said, "I don't know what happened last year but I suddenly gained confidence." He had prod…

Bill Cowley and the lost 100 point season.

The 1943/44 NHL season had the highest goals per game average in modern history. The 8.167 goals per match was higher even than the 8.025 of 1981/82. During this season Boston's Herb Cain set the record for points in a season with 82 besting the 73 shared by Cooney Weiland and Doug Bentley. Cain's teammate Bill Cowley would have most likely shattered even this number if not for a mid-season injury. In fact, Cowley was on pace to be the first to score 100 points almost a quarter century before Phil Esposito did it for the first time.

Cowley had in fact just the previous season got within one point of the single season points record when he scored 72 over a full season. He began the 1943/44 season in fine if unspectacular fashion with 14 points in his first 8 games.

Dec. 3, 1943

At this point, the media started to realize there may be some scoring records set this season. The Montreal Gazette on Dec. 4, 1943 stated; “Unless Bill Cowley and Modere (Mud) Bruneteau st…

Darryl Sittler; The Mother of all Breakout Games

Earlier this year I discussed Darryl Sittler's amazing 10 point night on February 7, 1976. I noted that the game represented a breakout of sorts in Sittler's overall career arc. Upon further inspection, Feb. 7, 1976 indeed appears as a dramatic stepping stone to a new level of performance for Sittler.

1975/76 was his sixth season in the NHL and after two developing years to start his career he became a nice point per game centreman. Over Sittler's third through fifth seasons, he produced 1.06 points per game. In 1975/76 up until Feb 7, he had continued along at 1.04 points per game. However, since the new year of 1976, Sittler had actually slowed down his production to pedestrian standards. Over the 17 games leading up to his explosive night, he had a mere 13 points.

The Toronto media was calling for the Maple Leafs to aquire a "top scoring" centre if they had any hope of contending. The truth is, the media may very well have had a point. Over the three previous s…

Oddball Hockey Memorabillia

When I first started the Hockey Den, I intended it as a showcase for my hockey collection and it has since evolved into more of an analysis of hockey history and statistics. In fact I am indeed always adding memorabillia to the Den, and yesterday I picked up some nice oddball stuff.

Above and below are cards from Lipton Soup issued in 1974. Bobby Hull in the original Jets jersey is a fairly rare card, and I love the photo of the rookie year Borje Salming sprawling to block a shot.

The next one is a 1983 issue from the Hockey Hall of Fame picturing Cyclone Taylor. This was back at the time that the Hockey Hall shared a building with the Canadian Sports Hall on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition. Pretty much every time I visited the CNE for the fair or for a Blue Jays game, I would go to both Halls. If I recall, they were free admission, times sure have changed.

These next two are part of a sticker set put out in 1974 by Loblaw's a grocery store chain in Canada. The Orr go…

Charlie Simmer, Two of the Greatest Goal seasons...almost

Charlie Simmer had two of the greatest back-to-back goal scoring seasons in NHL history...just about. In 1979/80 he scored 56 times in 64 games to tie for the league lead and the next year he matched it and played only one more game. Both years were marred by long-term injuries.

In 79/80 he threatened to equal Rocket Richard's mark of 50 goals in 50 games a year before Mike Bossy would do it. That year, Simmer had 36 goals through the first 40 games but injured his right knee ligaments on Jan. 9 and missed the next 15 games. Upon his return he ripped off 11 goals in his next 10 games to get to 47 goals in his first 50 games. In fact his scoring average before the injury was 0.900/game and afterwards was 0.833 (20 goals in 24 games). His season-long Goals/Game of 0.88 was only the 7th time since 1930 a player scored at that rate and works out to a 70 goal pace over 80 games.

The next season, Simmer was just as good...and just as injury bitten. He had 56 goals in 65 games until March…

David Krejci, Improbable Playoff Goal Leader

The NHL playoff Goal Leader for 2011 was Boston's David Krejci who tallied 12 times. During the regular campaign he scored only 13 times over 75 games. This is one of the lowest regular season goal totals for a player that would go on to lead the playoffs in goal scoring of all-time.

Prior to Krejci, the most recent unlikely playoff goal leader would have to be Edmonton's Fernando Pisani with 14 in 2006 after a regular season of 18 goals. Krejci just about accomplished a rare feat of scoring as many or more goals in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. This in fact did happen three times over four years in the mid-1990's, mainly due to the fact that the players had played far less than the full amount of regular season games.

Sergei Fedorov led the playoffs in goals with 10 in 1998 after scoring only 6 in 21 regular season games. In both 1997 and 1995 Claude Lemiuex led each playoff with 13 goals, during seasons which he scored only 11 and 6 goals. However he onl…

Big Minus Cup Finalists

The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals between Vancouver and Boston was certainly one of the strangest in history. It produced the worst Plus/Minus number by a player who sucessfully got to the Cup Finals. In truth, Canuck Christian Ehrhoff merely tied the record of -13 set by Luc Robitaille in 1993. Ehrhoff played 23 of Vancouver's 25 games on his way to equaling the unwanted record.

Canuck captain Henrik Sedin checked in with a -11 mark which is the second worse rating for a Cup Finals participant since +/- became an official statistic. The only two other players to make it to a Final while sporting a -10 rating was Florida's Scott Mellanby in 1996 and Boston's Don Sweeney in 1990.

How rare is it for a player to get to the Finals and have even a -7 rating over the playoffs? Since 1984 it's been done by only 13 players.

If the threshold is raised to a -5 rating, even that is a rare number for a player who made it to the Cup Final. As some solice for the five Canucks who were at l…