Friday, January 30, 2015

Howie Harvey, Doug's Goaltender Brother

I am currently reading Bruce McDougall's excellent book, "The Last Hockey Game". It is a fantastic account of the behind-the-scene doings of the players and events of the Stanley Cup Final clinching game of May 2, 1967. Yes, the last time the Maple Leafs won the Cup when they topped the Canadiens four games to two in the final. The book is not just for Leafs and Habs fans, it's a terrific snapshot of how the NHL used to be in the  final days before expansion full of seldom heard stories and anecdotes.

One of the quick stories is about how hockey players were able to play through pains and injuries, it centres around a  little known goalie, Howie Harvey;

"(Red) Kelly remembered  a kid named Howie Harvey, who went to St. Michael's College, the Catholic high school in Toronto where Kelly and several teammates had played junior hockey. Harvey was a goalie, good enough to earn a tryout one fall with the Leafs. At the tryout, Harvey watched a deflected puck hot Leafs' regular goalie, Baz Bastien, in the face. The puck dislodged Bastien's eyeball, rendering him blind in one eye.
Most other players, after seeing such an accident, would simply have adjusted their pre-game ritual and kept right on playing...
Howie Harvey was an exception. Harvey skated to the bench, took off his gloves, leaned his stick against the wall, unbuckled his goalie pads and quit pro hockey on the spot. Even Harvey's big brother Doug, an all-star defenceman with the Montreal Canadiens, couldn't entice him back to the game."

An interesting little bit of hockey lore, but is it true? Howie Harvey was indeed a star goaltender and younger brother of Hall of Famer Doug Harvey. The two actually were teammates with the Montreal Junior Royals in 1944/45 and the senior Montreal Royals the following year. At that point, still being junior eligible, Howie was acquired by St. Michael's College Majors in Toronto. Here, he played in a star-studded lineup that included Red Kelly, Fleming Mackell, Rudy Migay and Ed Sanford. After helping St. Mikes to the 46/47 Memorial Cup, Howie Harvey graduated to the senior Toronto Marlboros for two seasons.
Howie Harvey & Red Kelly celebrating the 1947 Memorial Cup win
The database of the Society for International Hockey Research states plainly that Harvey retired for a different reason all together; "Retired because of a persistent skin rash, Sept. 21, 1949." So, what caused this promising young goaltender to quit the game he excelled in, was it his witnessing a gruesome injury, or was it a skin condition?   It was training camp for the 1949/50 campaign when the event in question happened. I managed to find a newspaper article detailing it;

Sept 20, 1949 Pitt Post Gazette
Bastien did indeed suffer the career ending injury in practice, but it was with the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets, farm team of the Maple Leafs, not during a Leaf practice. Also, no mention of Howie Harvey is made in the article. An article from two days later does however mention Harvey, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Sept. 22, 1949 is below;

Harvey himself is quoted,"I was bothered with a skin ailment last winter. I don't think I can stand another season of it." There we have it. Howie Harvey was indeed slated to replace Baz Bastien in the Pittsburgh Hornets net and would have essentially been one step away from goaltender of the Maple Leafs. In Kevin Shea's 2008 book, "St. Michael's College:100 Years of Pucks and Prayers", Harvey's skin problems are detailed, "severe allergies eventually forced him to leave the game he loved. Following games, Harvey's hands and face would swell considerably. Toronto's team doctor's suspected that Howie was allergic to material used in his hockey equipment, but they were never able to diagnose what it was that caused the reaction. Majors teammate and future NHLer,  Benny Woit is quoted,"The gloves and the pads bothered him and he used to get pretty sick on the ice." 

Benny Woit also added regarding Howie Harvey, "He would certainly have gone to the NHL. He was as good as any of them up there."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lester Patrick's All Time All-Stars, circa 1927

I found this terrific article from the Ottawa Citizen, dated February 15, 1927. The cartoon above was included with the article. It's written by Hall of Famer and then, current coach/ general manager of the New York Rangers. In it, Patrick selects his all-time all-star team from players who had retired by that point in hockey history, it's a veritable who's-who of turn-of-the-century hockey.

Patrick writes;

"Very frequently, I am asked by some red-hot fan to name the greatest player the game has ever known. My long experience in the game has taught me to be careful in naming my man, for nine chances out of ten I have not named the man the fan expected me to name, and then I have an argument on my hands."
"It is not my intention to attempt to  pick an all-star team from the ranks of present-day players, but I will attempt to to pick an all-time all-star aggregation from the ranks of players who have now passed out of competition."
"Here are my selections and what those old stars are doing now (1927)
Paddy Moran (Quebec), Canada Customs, Quebec, Canada.
Percy Lesueur (Ottawa), Mgr. Ice Arena, Windsor, Ont.
In their heyday, Moran and Leuseur were two of the smartest goalers I ever saw in action.
Ernie 'Moose' Johnson (Montreal Wanderers), trainman, Portland, Ore.
Hod Stuart (Montreal Wanderers), deceased
Silas Griffis (Kenora Thistles & Vancouver Maroons), manager Vancouver Sun
Frank McGee (Ottawa), deceased
Russell Bowie (Montreal Victorias) business in Montreal
Dubby was buit like a greyhound and was a super-star at all times and never had an off-night
Fred Taylor (Ottawa & Montreal Maroons) Canada immigration, Vancouver
Cyclone was one of the speediest skaters that ever performed with stick and puck.
Tom Phillips (Kenora Thistles) deceased
Billy Gilmour (Ottawa) business, Ottawa

A very nice representation of old-time hockey superstars, who could argue with Patrick other than perhaps adding himself to the roster. Each and every one of the players mentioned was eventually enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Is This The Worst Maple Leafs Squad Ever?

On December 16, 2014 Toronto beat the Ducks of Anaheim 6-2. Their record of 19-9-3 was good for 6th in the Eastern Conference, 3 points out of first place. Toronto was 7 points up on 9th place. Then, the World Junior Championships moved into the Air Canada Centre and the Maple Leafs played 13 of their next 17 games on the road. To say it has not gone well is an understatement. Toronto has gone 3-14 to the All-Star break and plummeted out of the playoff picture.

Five goals scored during the current six game losing streak has raised the question on many fronts; "Is this the worst Leaf team in recent history?" Since Toronto won the Stanley Cup in 1967, the worst Leaf edition before this year would have to be the edition from exactly 30 years ago in 1984/85. This memorable squad  which is ingrained in my childhood memory finished with 48 points and a record of 20-52-8, good for last overall in the NHL. The current Leafs have gained only one less point than the 84/85 team did all season, so they should end up with a fair bit more when all is said and done. Remember, the record of the current squad has just crossed the .500 level (in the wrong direction of course), so could it realistically be worse than the 84/85 last place team? Let's compare these two wonderful squads, by looking at the top-9 forwards, top-6 defenders, 2 goalies and prospects from each.
2014/15 Forwards (Age)
Phil Kessel (27)
James van Riemsdyk (25)
Tyler Bozak (28)
Nazem Kadri (24)
Joffrey Lupul (31)
Mike Santorelli (29)
Leo Komarov (28)
Peter Holland (24)
David Clarkson (30)

1984/85 Forwards
Rick Vaive (25)
Bill Derlago (26)
John Anderson (27)
Miroslav Frycer (25)
Dan Daoust (24)
Peter Ihnacak (27)
Greg Terrion (24)
Stew Gavin (24)
Russ Courtnall (19)

The nine guys from '85 averaged 24.6 years of age, the NHL average for forwards that season was 25.6. Each and very one of them would play at least 400 career NHL games, Vaive scored over 400 goals, Courtnall and Anderson topped 200 goals. The current squad averages 27.3 years of age at forward, slightly above the current average. Kessel, the current version of Rick Vaive will likely top 400 career goals and Lupul is close to 200 career goals, vanRiemsdyk should get their...the rest, who knows. Overall, the mere presence of David Clarkson makes me prefer the forward core from 30 years ago.
Edge: 84/85

2014/15 Defence
Dion Phaneuf (29)
Cody Franson (27)
Roman Polak (28)
Stephane Robidas (37)
Morgan Rielly (20)
Jake Gardiner (24)

1984/85 Defence
Borje Salming (33)
Jim Benning (21)
Al Iafrate (18)
Gary Nylund (21)
Bob McGill (22)
Bill Root (25)

Jeez, what's to like about either of these groups? Other than Bill Root (who was marginally a 6th D this season anyway) every one of the 84/85 group played over 600 NHL games, and Salming topped 1000 and is in The Hall. Even with him, this sextet averaged 23.3 years old, two full years under the NHL average. From the current group, Phaneuf and Robidas should make it to 1000 games, but unless Jake Gardiner is moved to Centre and turns into Red Kelly 2.0...none of them are getting into the Hall of Fame without paying. 
Edge: 84/85

2014/15 Goalies
Jonathan Bernier (26)
James Reimer (26)

1984/85 Goalies
Tim Bernhardt (27)
Ken Wregget (20)

Both pairs of goalies are well under the league average in age. Bernhardt would play more than half of his NHL career games in 84/85, Wregget however went on to a 575 game NHL career (48th most in history). Bernier seems to be a slightly above average NHL goaltender as evidenced by his higher than average Save Pct. James Reimer is a serviceable number two man. I have to begrudgingly take the current pair over the old one.
Edge: 14/15
2014/15 Prospects
William Nylander (18)
Josh Leivo (21)
Frederik Gauthier (19)
Connor Brown (21)
Andreas Johnson (20)
Rinat Valiev (19)
Greg McKegg (22)
Sam Carrick (22)
Stuart Percy (21)
1984/85 Prospects
Steve Thomas (21)
Gary Leeman (20)
Todd Gill (19)
Craig Muni (22)
Alan Bester (20)
Walt Poddubny (24)
Cam Plante (20)
Dan Hodgson (19)
Jeff Reese (18)
This one is tougher to judge, as we're only speculating on the future of the current prospects but there doesn't seem to be many first or second liners other than (hopefully) Nylander. The 84/85 roster produced 1000 game men Todd Gill and Steve Thomas, 50 goal scorer Gary Leeman and "three assists in one game" goaltender, Jeff Reese.
Edge: 84/85

One other thing to remember about the 1984/85 team is that, in finishing last overall, they were able to draft 1st overall pick Wendel Clark. The current Leafs will likely not be drafting a player of that calibre this off-season. So, even though this year's team will accumulate more points and finish higher than the one from 30 years past, I really believe the older team had a better overall roster and was better set up for the future. Yikes.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Seattle Seahawks, Hockey's Version

Frank Jerwa, Seattle Seahawks
As the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks prepare for a chance to repeat their Super Bowl title, let’s have a look at the original Seattle Seahawks…hockey’s version.

Goaltender, Emmett Vende
From 1933 to 1941 Seattle boasted a minor professional hockey team with that very name. Initially members of the North West Hockey League along with Vancouver, Portland, Edmonton and Calgary, they were subsequently a member of the fledgling Pacific Coast Hockey League. The Seahawks would regularly play before hometown crowds in excess of 4,000 and captured the NWHL title in 1935/36. Over the tenure of their existence many past and future NHLers would wear the Seahawks sweater.  The original coach and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks was none other than Hockey Hall of Famer, Frank Foyston.

The owner of the Seahawks was Phil Lycette who was a somewhat strange character. At different points in his ownership he was either trying to sell the team or purchasing entire other teams in the circuit. In the spring of 1937 Lycette was quoted, “I told Frank Patrick I was willing to dispose of the hockey franchise to anybody who made a reasonable offer.” Another time he accused his own players of "laying down" and not giving their best efforts.

One of the more notable NHLers that played at one time with the Seahawks was ex-Maple Leaf, Ken Doraty who put up 42 points in 48 games in the final season of his career, 1938/39. Gord Fraser played a season in Seattle after suiting up for 144 NHL matches, having scored 14 goals for Chicago Black Hawks in 1926/27. Art Gagne finished his career with the Seahawks in 1936 after 228 NHL games. He had scored 20 goals for Montreal Canadiens in '27/28 and 19 for the Ottawa Senators in '30/31. Veteran of 308 NHL games, Johnny Shepard would also wind down his career with two seasons in Seattle.

Dave Downie, he of 11 NHL games played with Toronto would prove to be the Seahawks most effective scorer over the five seasons of their PCHL stint. Downie played 207 games notching 222 points leading the loop in goals one year and points another. Defenceman Pat Egan suited up for the Seahawks as a 20 year old in 1938/39 (and led the league in PIMs with 185) before going on to a fine 554 game NHL career. 
Hal Tabor

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mystery Hockey Photo, Vancouver Lions 1930

Looking through the Vancouver City Archives I found this great photo titled simply, Vancouver Lions 1930. The Lions were members of the Pacific Coast Hockey League from 1928 to 1931, playing out of the Denman Arena in Vancouver. They won the league championship all three seasons before the league disbanded in 1931. Interestingly, this year's squad was coached by Guy Patrick, the lesser-known brother of Hall of Famers Frank and Lester Patrick. Guy never played the game in any discernible manner, but was the arena manager for the family's Denman Street facility. In addition to coaching and managing various versions of the Vancouver Lions he had coached the female Vancouver Amazons in 1922 and would eventually marry one of the players, Kathleen Carson. 
Guy Patrick
Using the database of the Society of International Hockey Research I was able to identify each player in the team photo which includes many future NHLers.

Back Row, Left to Right;

Lorne Carr was 19 years old and the Lions were his first pro team after starring with the junior Calgary Canadians. Carr of course would go on to star in the NHL scoring 426 points in 580 games. He was a first team All-Star with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1943 and 1944 scoring 36 goals in 50 games in 1943-44.

Sam McAdam was 22 this season and actually played five NHL games with the New York Rangers in this 1930-31 campaign. This would be his only stint in the big-time as he played until 1944 mainly in the North West Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey League.

Gord Pettinger was the relative giant on the team standing a full 6 feet tall. The 19 year old was also in his first professional season after a pair of Memorial Cup appearances with his hometown Regina Pats. The lanky Centre would go on to play 292 NHL games with the Rangers, Bruins and Red Wings with his best season coming in 1938-39 when he tallied 25 points in 48 games for Boston.

Frank Jerwa led the Lions in scoring in this his third year with the squad, scoring 16 points in 32 games. The 21 year old would make the jump to the NHL with the Bruins the following campaign. In all he played 81 NHL matches collecting 27 points.

Robert Sanderson would have one of the shorter careers of the Lions pictured here. 25 at the time, he would hang up the blades by 1932, never having reached the NHL.

Ralph Blyth was another who never played in the NHL but he managed to carve out a nice career in the North West until 1946. In 578 mostly PCHL games he played everywhere from Calgary, Edmonton and Portland to Seattle, Spokane and New Westminster. While with Seattle in 1944 he scored a PCHL record three goals in a 46 second span.

Chuck Dunn was another relative giant at 5 foot, 11 inches and 160 pounds. He never played in the NHL, retiring with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1935.

Front Row, Left to Right;

Jimmy Arnott was 23 at the time of the photo and would play in nearly every game of the three year existence of this incarnation of the Vancouver Lions.

Percy Jackson the 24 year old goaltender posted 28 shutouts over the three seasons of these Vancouver Lions. He would get spot duty in the NHL over the next six years playing seven games for the Bruins, Rangers and New York Americans. He won only one game and posted a Goals Against Average of 3.98 in his NHL career.

Doug Brennan was an elder statesman on this Lions squad at 27 years old. The 180 pound defender was a stalwart on the blueline over the Lions three year tenure. The following year he jumped to the NHL and played the next three seasons with the New York Rangers. Two separate suspensions for striking an official may explain his career ending in 1936. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1958 Leaf Caricatures by Jack Reppen

This full page Christmas greeting was in a Toronto Maple Leafs program in December, 1958 that I picked up recently. As an animation artist by trade, I always enjoy when I see hockey and art colliding. This one was from the pen of Canadian artist Jack Reppen. The close-ups of the individual caricatures are below. 

Great stuff from Reppen, a few strokes of the pen beautifully captured each individual's character, especially the Conn Smythe and Punch Imlach drawings. Reppen was a freelance cartoonist with the Toronto Star from 1952 until his untimely death from cancer in 1964. For the last five years of his life Reppen had dedicated himself to contemporary painting and exhibited regularly. Below are two more portraits from the same 1958 Leafs program of two of hockey's greats.

Gordie Howe by Jack Reppen, 1958
Maurice Richard by Jack Reppen, 1958

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hockey Tips by Dave Keon

Here's one of my favourite new additions to The Hockey Den, a very cool booklet from the early 1970's featuring Dave Keon. It's loaded with great artwork depicting Keon instructing how to play as an all around Centreman. I'm not sure who issued the book, but judging by the sideburns on him in the photo on the back page, it's 1970 or 1971. 

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