Wednesday, March 27, 2013

1952/53 Parkhurst Album

Here's one of my favourite new additions to the den, an original album that once held Parkhurst cards.
1952/53 was the second year of hockey cards issued by the company, the "folio" is in pretty fine shape for 60 years old. The reverse of the folder is pictured at the bottom and lists all of the cards in the set.
These are quite rare as they were meant to take a beating while protecting the precious cards inside. 

I've also shown my card from this set, #44 featuring Maple Leaf great Ted "Teeder" Kennedy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nazem Kadri, Top 10 in Scoring

It still amazes me at how Nazem Kadri has blossomed this season. Even as a die-hard Leaf supporter, I'm waiting for the bubble to burst, he can't be THIS good, can he?

Being a Maple Leaf in the top 10 of NHL scoring is one thing, but not as rare as one may think, Kessel did it just last year and Sundin and Gilmour finished top 10 twice each. OK, that's it since the 1970's so maybe it is pretty rare. Now the fact that Kadri is 22 years old while being a top 10 scorer...THAT is a rarity for Toronto.

The last time the Maple Leafs had a player 22 or younger finish in the top 10 of NHL scoring was 66 years ago, in 1946/47 when 21 year-old "Teeder" Ted Kennedy finished in third place.

Darryl Sittler came the closest most 'recently' when he placed 8th in scoring in 1973/74 at age 23, and before that it was The Big 'M' Frank Mahovlich finishing 3rd in 1960/61 at age 23.

Below is the list of all the times Toronto has had a player 22 years-old or younger in the top 10 of NHL scoring.

Ted Kennedy,  46/47 3rd (21)
Ted Kennedy,  44/45 5th (19)
Gus Bodnar,  43/44 10th (20)
Syl Apps,  36/37 2nd (22)
Busher Jackson,  32/33 2nd (22)
Busher Jackson,  31/32 1st (21)
Charlie Conacher,  31/32 4th (22)
Charlie Conacher,  30/31 3rd (21)
Andy Blair,  30/31 3rd (22)
Reg Noble, 17/18 3rd (21)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1930's Leafs Bruins Photos

The great website recently had a posting of an old photo that had been colourized. The pic below is originally from the Boston Public Library archives.
Pictured heading to the ice of The Boston Garden from their change room are Charlie Conacher, Buzz Boll and Hap Day. The Leafs had to run the gauntlet of Boston fans through the arena concourse. It's dated 1937.
Of course, this lead me to search the rest of these archives and found some more great shots.
This one is dated 1938/39 and pictured the Leafs battling the Bruins. #17 for Boston is Bobby Bauer, #15 is Milt Schmidt. Leaf goalie is Turk Broda and behind their net is Syl Apps. This may be from the Stanley Cup finals of that season.
This one's dated 1930/31 and shows Leaf goalie Lorne Chabot and #4 Hap Day behind the net. It appears to be Ace Bailey skating out to cover #7 Cooney Weiland. #5 Dit Clapper is open in front of the cage.

Here's a really nice shot of Syl Apps, King Clancy, Dick Irvin and Gord Drillon.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sidney Crosby is Darn Good

Over his last 82 games played since early in the 2010/11 season Sidney Crosby has scored 46 goals and 91 assists for 137 points. These three seasons represent Crosby's 23, 24 and 25 year-old seasons. In an interesting comparison, over the same age seasons of their careers, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky scored at only slightly higher rates.

Interestingly while Crosby has to this point played the equivalent of one full season in his age 23, 24, 25 seasons, Lemieux in the same seasons played 158 games or two full seasons. Gretzky, in his age 23, 24, 25 seasons played 234 games or three full seasons. The scoring totals for each in these respective seasons are as follows:

Crosby, Lemieux, Gretzky in their Age 23, 24 & 25 seasons (GP-G-A-Pts)

Crosby         82-46-91-137

Lemieux   158-149-218-367
Avg.             79-75-109-186

Gretzky    234-212-416-628
Avg.             78-71-139-210

Of course the league scoring rates have fluctuated dramatically over the years. In the three years in question for Gretzky the scoring average was close to 8 goals per game. In Lemieux's three years in question the average was 7.25 and in Crosby's last three years the league scoring average has been 5.55 per game. Equalizing all three seasons to 8.00 the average season of each is (G-A-Pts):

Crosby   66-130-196
Lemieux 83-120-203
Gretzky  72-142-214

Three very similar scoring rates. It just displays exactly how impressive Crosby has been both before and after his concussion problems.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Red Kelly Cracks the Whip, Literally

Here's a story I had never heard that I just stumbled upon. On Wednesday November 27, 1974 in New York during a game against the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leaf coach Red Kelly coached the game while carrying a six-foot long bull whip. Yep. A bull whip, look at the Associated Press photo below published the day after. Crazy.

One week earlier, Kelly and his Maple Leafs came under harsh criticism from 70 year-old team president Harold Ballard and this apparently was Kelly's response. On November 19, 1974 Toronto held a record of 5-8-1 and were six points behind Boston and eighteen behind Buffalo in the NHL's Adams Division. The Leafs had lost three of four games and Ballard decided to go on a rant. Most famously, this was the occasion when he said "You could send Inge Hammarstrom into the corner with six eggs in his pocket and he wouldn't break any of them." As well, the curmudgeon said the players should be ashamed to walk the streets and face citizens of Toronto because of the way they had been playing.

The supportive president also said his players were being fat, lazy and unmotivated and coach Red Kelly was being too easy on them. He said they had been hurt by a lack of leadership and that captain Dave Keon was not giving the leadership a captain should provide. Of coach Kelly, Ballard flatly stated that was "too nice a guy," to which Kelly replied,"Mr. Ballard is president of the club and I can't blame him for being upset. I'm not happy either."

How did the team respond to such criticism? They lost the next night to Pittsburgh 8-5, followed by two more losses and a tie. Apparently that was too much for Red Kelly to take and out came the whip, literally. An Associated Press story from Nov 28, 1974 states, 

    "...Ballard has stated that coach Red Kelly is 'too nice a guy', with his players. Kelly took steps to        change that Wednesday. He brought a six-foot bull whip and walked with it in his hand during Wednesday night's game against the Rangers." 

Kelly commented after the game, "There have been a couple of comments that I'm not cracking the whip enough, so I cracked it a few times behind the bench. It worked well enough in the first period, but after that, it didn't go so well."

No, it did not go well at all as Toronto dropped a 4-1 decision to the Rangers despite a terrific 48-save effort from goalie Doug Favell. Referring to his coach's bizarre tactic Favell said, "It didn't bother me. He couldn't reach the net with it, so I was safe."

As ridiculous as Kelly's actions may seem they may have indeed had the desired effect. Toronto snapped out of their funk three days later thanks to the worst team in history, the Washington Capitals. Even a scuffling Toronto squad managed to rout them 7-1. Whatever the cause for the turnaround, the Leafs would go 26-21-12 the remainder of the season after Kelly's whip cracking in New York. They would go on to upset the Los Angeles Kings in a best-of-three first round before getting swept by the eventual Cup champion Flyers. 

Red Kelly coached Toronto for two more seasons. For captain Dave Keon this season would be his last in Blue and White, Ballard's comments were a large part of his jumping to the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

1995 to 2013 Lockout Year Leaders; Very Similar Numbers

A search of Google newspaper archives turns up the NHL scoring leaders from the same point in the shortened season as this year, 18 years ago in 1995. It's amazing how much has changed yet still remained the same.

The numbers really are strikingly similar with a Penguin leading the parade both in '95 and now. 14 players had at least 25 points back then compared to 13 this season. The goal leaders are within one with Jagr having 16 goals after 23 games in 1995 and Stamkos 17 at the same point this year. Perhaps most amazing is the fact that Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne are both still active and productive members of the league.

The question is, will someone top 70 points or Peter Bondra's 34 goals this season in the same 48 game schedule?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Vintage NHL Schedules

A few of  my collection of old NHL schedules. I really love the old style artwork, and they look great displayed on one of the Den shelves.

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