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Showing posts from February, 2012

Leap Year Baby, Dan Daoust

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Feb. 29 is the birthday of Hall of Famer Henri Richard. Also born on this day was current NHLers Cam Ward and Simon Gagne and ex-Toronto Maple Leaf Dan Daoust.

Montreal born Daoust was a 100 point scorer with Cornwall Royals in the Quebec League before signing as a free agent with the Canadiens. As a 20 year-old he scored 98 points for Nova Scotia of the AHL then  65 points in 61 games the following year. He finally made the big club out of training camp in 1982/83 and got into four games with Montreal recording one assist.

On December 17, 1982 Dan Daoust was acquired by the Maple Leafs in exchange for a third round draft pick. The Leafs were an NHL worst 5-18-6, and Daoust stepped right onto the top line centring Rick Vaive and John Anderson. By the new year newspaper headlines proclaimed; " 'Daa-ooo' the war cry as Leafs inch up on Wings." The Canadian Press article said;

Dan Daoust may be a little in the short side to be thought of as a savior but, nonetheless, …

The first ever NHL trade; Sammy Hebert

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Thanks to a twitter update from the legendary Liam Maguire, we learn today that the first ever trade in NHL history happened on February 11, 1918. The Toronto Arenas dealt spare goaltender Sammy Hebert to the Ottawa Senators for cash.

Hebert played parts of two games for Toronto in 1917/18 allowing 10 goals for a 7.50 GAA in relief of  Hap Holmes. The Ottawa native would play in the Ottawa National Defense and Ottawa Senior Leagues over the next few years before signing with Saskatoon of the Western League on Dec. 2, 1921. He put up a record of 9-30-2 over two seasons then signed with the NHL Senators at the end of February 1924. He filled in for Hall of Famer Clint Benedict, posting a 4.50 GAA in two full games.

In total, Sammy Hebert played 200 minutes of NHL hockey with a 5.70 GAA. Nothing special, but he still has the distinction of being the first player traded in NHL history.

Can Erik Karlsson lead the NHL in Assists?

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Ottawa Senator defenceman Erik Karlsson has 47 assists in 61 games this season and currently sits tied for second in the NHL in this category. His 47 helpers would, in Gretzky-like fashion lead all defenceman in scoring on their own (2nd place Brian Campbell has 40 points). At only 4 assists behind leader Henrik Sedin, Karlsson could conceivably lead the entire league this year. Yes, that is extremely rare for a defender to do accomplish that.

It has been 37 years since Bobby Orr was the last rear-guard to lead in assists when he tied Bobby Clarke with 89 in 1974/75. It was Orr's fifth time leading the NHL assists back to 1969/70. The year he didn't, he finished second, 3 behind Phil Esposito. Prior to Orr, it was almost 50 years before when a defenceman led the league. In 1923/24 Ottawa Senator George Boucher notched 10 helpers to top fellow d-men King Clancy (8) and Bert Corbeau (6). Three defenders at 1, 2, 3 for the only time in NHL history. The only other defenceman to …

Maple Leafs first ever Goal Scorer, George Patterson

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The Toronto St.Patricks aquired 20 year old George Patterson on Feb. 1 1927 from the Hamilton Tigers of the Can-Pro circuit in exchange for $5000 and the loan of Al Pudas. Just over two weeks later, on Feb. 17 he would score the first ever goal for the newly re-named Toronto Maple Leafs.

Conn Smythe officially purchased the St.Pats on Feb.14, 1927 and christened them the Maple Leafs in honour of his military experience in the first World War. They would play their last game as St.Patricks two days later losing to the Detroit Cougars 5-1 at Windsor Arena in front of a reported 150 spectators.

On Feb. 17, the Maple Leafs took to the home ice at The Arena Gardens to play the New York Americans. They were adorned in "bright new uniforms with a large maple leaf on the front and trimmed with green". In the new book, "The Lives of Conn Smythe" by Kelly McParland it's noted that Smythe was somewhat fearful that "the players might be able to declare themselves f…

Maple Leafs vs. Canucks, the last 20 years.

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Sure it's been 3000 odd days since Toronto has beaten Vancouver, but the domination hasn't always been one sided in the Canucks favour. I looked at Leaf/Canuck match-ups over the last twenty years dating back to Oct. 21, 1991 and found some interesting numbers.

Torono and Vancouver have tangled exactly 50 times since that day over 20 years ago and the overall record is 23-20-7 in favour of Toronto. That means that prior to the current skid, the Leafs had a record of 23-13-6 over a 12 year period playing the Canucks.

In games at Vancouver over the last 20 years, Toronto still holds an 11-10-4 advantage despite losing the last four games here. In Toronto, the Leafs are 12-10-3 over the same time. The largest win for either team since 1991 was on Feb.22, 1993 when the Leafs came to Van City and thrashed the Canucks 8-1. Nikolai Borschevsky scored a pair and Gilmour, Krushelnyski and Anderson each had three points.

3010 days since last Leaf win in Vancouver

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I couldn't believe it myself. It has been over 3000 days since Toronto has won a hockey game in Vancouver. Sure, there were seasons in there when the Leafs didn't even visit the Canucks, and one whole season was cancelled, but still...wow.

I was at the game on November 22, 2003 a Saturday night which saw Toronto win 5-3. Amazingly, of the 20 players the Leafs dressed that evening a mere three are still in the NHL; Tomas Kaberle, Alexei Poinkarovsky and Matt Stajan. Karel Pilar is the only other one still active at all, playing with Vaxjo in the Swedish Elite League.

After a scrap between Tie Domi and Bryan Allen 23 seconds into the game, Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead before it was three minutes old on goals by Gary Roberts and Robert Reichel. Vancouver tied it on a Trevor Linden powerplay marker with 14 seconds to go in the opening period.

Leafs went up 4-2 after a scoreless second stanza with goals from Owen Nolan and Roberts by the nine minute mark of the third. Todd Be…

Counting NHL Logos at Disneyworld

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I've been at Disneyworld in Florida for the last five days with my wife and daughter. We've done all four of the theme parks; Magic Kingdom (twice), Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. What does a hockey nerd like myself do during these long days of park exploring and family bonding? Why, count NHL caps I come across of course. I figured, what more neutral a place than Disney Florida to gauge the pulse of NHL fans and merchandise.

OK, of course most of my attention was on my family's activities and trying not to puke on the Spinning Teacups but I am a very observant person, especially when it comes to hockey logos. Whenever I spotted an NHL team hat or t-shirt I made a note and after five days, tallied up the results. Of course, the predominant sports logos worn were of the college variety. I can't count how many "U of This or That" and "Whatever State" I saw. Yankees and Red Sox paraphernalia would have to be tops among all pro sports lo…

Conn Smythe gets one wrong, sort of.

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All good Toronto Maple Leaf fans should know the name of the last Leaf to lead the NHL in goals scored (albeit embarrassingly due to being so long ago). Gaye Stewart was tops with 37 goals in 50 games in 1945/46. He had just that season returned from two years of miltary service to lead the NHL as a 22 year old. Stewart slipped badly the following season to 19 goals in the newly expanded 60 game schedule and after a terrible start to 1947/48 (1 goal in 7 games) he was shipped to Chicago with four others for Max Bentley.

Conn Smythe acquired a player he had long coveted in Max Bentley for a very high price, but was his assessment of Gaye Stewart prior to the trade correct? In the new biography of Smythe by Kelly McParland, Smythe is quoted "Stewart scored too many goals against teams that weren’t a threat or in games that weren’t in doubt”. A fairly harsh statement indeed. Apparently Smythe was able to accurately come to this conclusion with the help of compiling ahead-of-it’s-ti…

Keith Aucoin, AHL Assist Machine

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33 year old Keith Aucoin was recalled by the Washington Capitals on Feb 2, and has played two games for the big club this past weekend. It's unclear whether or not he'll remain with the Caps much longer, but personally I'm hoping he gets sent back to Hershey of the AHL, and soon.

Before his recall, Aucoin had compiled 11 goals and 59 assists for 70 points in only 43 games played. He is well within reach of breaking the AHL record for assists in a season and of becoming only the fourth man in either the NHL or AHL to top 100 helpers in a single year.
The current AHL record was set by George "Red" Sullivan in 1953/54 when he notched 89 assists for the same Hershey Bears.

So far Aucoin has now missed a total of four of Hershey's games this year and they have 33 games remaining. If he were returned now, his pace put's him at an amazing 104 assists in 76 games. Aucoin has already topped the 70 assist mark three times in the AHL and has 420 helpers in 413 career …

Sam Gagner goes off.

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Oiler defenceman Ryan Whitney tweeted after teammate Sam Gagner's 8 point game,

"What a sick night. When he got his 8th point Darryl Sittler's heart rate must have just skyrocketed. 8 points now is like getting 14 in 80s"

An eight point game is indeed "sick". It's only the 14th time in NHL history that a player has scored at least eight points in a regular season game. Indeed scoring is currently far lower now than in the 1980's, but is eight points now really the equivalent of 14 in the 1980's or was Whitney exaggerating a bit? Well in 1981/82 there was an average of 8.02 combined goals scored per game, this year it is 5.50. This means that 8 points today is the same as 11.63 points back then. Wow, sure Whitney was a bit over-zealous with his math, but maybe he is on to something.

Let's put all the 8 point games on an even playing field using Darryl Sittler's 1975/76 campaign as a nice middle ground, a season in which the average goals pe…

35 years ago today; Ian Turnbull scores Five

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"It was a long drought, although I had just as many chances in the last 30 games and nothing happened".
Yes, when Ian Turbull scored five goals in a game 35 years ago today, he snapped a 30 game scoreless drought. Turnbull explained that the Leafs had to change their style of play with scoring leader Darryl Sitttler out with an injured rib. "Our wingers are coming back, allowing the defence more mobility, more chance to move the puck."

The Leafs beat Detroit 9-1 this night in a game that was actually scoreless after one period. Turnbull potted two in the second against Eddie Giacomin, then had three in third against Jim Rutherford. Borje Salming had helpers on three of Turnbull's markers, the other two were actually unassisted.

Somewhat strangely, Toronto would have two more 10 goal games over the next three weeks (10-0 over Washington and 10-8 over Chicago) and Turnbull would score only one goal in those two matches. He did however add eight assists in the two g…

Vintage Team Canada Cards

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Over the last few months I have been picking up alot of old Olympic hockey cards, mostly from ebay. These are mainly German in origin issued either as postcards or as premiums with food or tobacco products. They really are cool looking cards and do spice up the den nicely.

The card above is a tobacco card commemorating the 1928 Olympics and pictures Canada in action. The University of Toronto Grads represented Canada in these games in St. Moritz, Switzerland and they outscored opponents 38-0 in winning the gold. The coach of the squad was none other than Conn Smythe. The back of the card loosely translates; "Ice hockey is the fastest fighting game in the world. Canada is the homeland of this game. It's crew accomplished feats, not only Olympic champion, but could not be defeated by any enemy in Europe."




This next card is the only English one I have and comes from a set entitled "Sporting Events and Stars". Issued in 1935, the rear of the card says in part; "…