Leafs Argument / Memorabilia

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Feb. 25) – I had a Twitter debate with fans of the Maple Leafs after Saturday night’s game in Ottawa, including several who were able to plunder tickets and invade Scotiabank Place.

We argued over which team – the Leafs or Senators – has been harmed most by injury. I claimed, without hesitation, it was Ottawa – having lost its two best players (Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson) and its staring goalie (Craig Anderson). Leaf zealots countered with their club, in the absence of Joffrey Lupul, Matt Frattin and James Reimer. Clearly, Anderson and Reimer are a wash, as unproven back-ups Ben Bishop and Ben Scrivens have assumed the load. Otherwise, it isn’t close. If the Leafs are hurting more than the Senators, one  must assume that Phil Kessel and James van Riemsyk are not among Toronto’s two best players – the equivalent of Spezza and Karlsson with Ottawa. That suggestion, of course, is absurd.

JASON SPEZZA HAS PLAYED ONLY FIVE GAMES SINCE THE SENATORS SEASON OPENER (ABOVE) AT WINNIPEG ON JAN. 19. TRAVIS GOLBY GETTY IMAGES/NHL.COM

As of today, van Riemsdyk is sixth among NHL goal-scorers with 11 – one less than Thomas Vanek, James Neal and Patrick Marleau and two behind co-leaders Steven Stamkos and John Tavares. While not scoring at his career pace, Kessel has contributed mightily to van Riemsdyk with 12 assists; no one can argue that Fast Phil isn’t among the Leafs’ two best players.

Both teams – well coached – have persevered through the injuries but van Riemsdyk and Kessel are healthy and in the Toronto line-up. Spezza and Karlsson are sidelined – Karlsson, the defending Norris Trophy winner, likely until next season with a torn Achilles tendon. Therefore it’s no contest: Ottawa is handicapped to a far greater degree than the Maple Leafs.

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As the NHL standings begin to take shape, the Leafs play at Philadelphia tonight in their most important game of the season thus far. Toronto is seventh in the Eastern Conference with 22 points; the Flyers are ninth with 19. Leafs have already beaten Philly – 6-2 at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 11 – which puts them a length up in head-to-head games. Toronto also leads in wins (11-9) and has a game in hand on Philadelphia. But, points are the most determining figure and Flyers would be just one behind the Leafs with a regulation-time victory tonight. So, this one is rather crucial.

                    AT        

                          TONIGHT, 7:00 P.M. EST, TSN

“I GET NO RESPECT…”

Montreal coach Michel Therrien will never be as funny as the late, great comedian Rodney Dangerfield, and Dangerfield would not have coached as well as Therrien. But, the two might have been separated at birth.

See for yourself: 

MICHEL ABOVE; RODNEY BELOW.

TEAMMATES 33 YEARS AGO…

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and broadcaster Greg Millen see a lot of one another these days, as they did while playing for Pittsburgh Penguins (below) in 1979-80. Both had more hair back then (no laughing at Greg, okay?):

LOTS OF MEMORABILIA…

While doing more organizing in the Berger Basement this week, I came across some rather nifty items I’d like to share with you:

IN A BINDER (ABOVE AND BELOW) ARE HOCKEY CARDS OF THE MAPLE LEAFS FROM THE O-PEE-CHEE SET IN 1971-72. A CONSPICUOUS ABSENCE IS DARRYL SITTLER, THEN IN HIS SECOND SEASON WITH THE BLUE AND WHITE. 

TORONTO MARLBOROS – JUNIOR A TEAM IN THE ONTARIO HOCKEY ASSOCIATION – PLAYED THEIR HOME GAMES AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. MARLIES WON THE MEMORIAL CUP IN 1964, 1967, 1973 AND 1975. THE CLUB’S 1967-68 MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) INCLUDED FUTURE HALL-OF-FAME DEFENSEMAN BRAD PARK.

EACH YEAR, THE MAPLE LEAFS ISSUE TRAINING CAMP BOOKLETS TO MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA. A SELECTION OF THEM APPEAR BELOW:

BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHS…

More than a decade ago, the Toronto Sun sports department cleared out a boat-load of old hockey pictures – individual player shots (as with Randy Carlyle and Greg Millen) and action shots from games at Maple Leaf Gardens. Being the junk collector I am, my pal, Joel Colomby (a Sun sports employee since 1980) knew exactly where to dump the discarded items. The images were snapped by veteran photographer David Cooper, who currently works for the Toronto Star. Here is a selection of David’s work:

NOV. 11, 1970: IN THE FIRST-EVER GARDENS APPEARANCE BY THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS, DEFENSEMAN DALE TALLON SWOOPS IN ALONG THE BOARDS, PAST MAPLE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN RICK LEY. TALLON WAS VANCOUVER’S FIRST-EVER DRAFT CHOICE – TAKEN SECOND, BEHIND GILBERT PERREAULT OF BUFFALO, IN 1970. HE IS CURRENTLY GENERAL MANAGER OF THE FLORIDA PANTHERS.

DEC. 4, 1971: LEAFS FORWARD GARRY MONAHAN LOSES HIS LEFT-HAND GLOVE (ABOVE) AND BOSTON’S WAYNE CASHMAN APPEARS TO BE LOOKING FOR A HOME RUN. ALAS, THE GLOVE FELL TO THE ICE AND MONAHAN RETRIEVED IT (BELOW).

DEC. 13, 1972: VIC HADFIELD (11) OF THE NEW YORK RANGERS LOOKS FOR PUCK IN FRONT OF LEAFS GOALIE JACQUES PLANTE, AS TORONTO DEFENSEMEN MIKE PELYK (4) AND JOE LUNDRIGAN (2) TRAIL THE PLAY. BEHIND LUNDRIGAN IS NEW YORK FORWARD ROD GILBERT. THE REFEREE IS BRYAN LEWIS.

JAN. 6, 1973: TORONTO DEFENSEMAN LARRY McINTYRE LOOKS BEHIND HIM AT VETERAN LOS ANGELES FORWARD RALPH BACKSTROM, WHO EYES FLYING PUCK. KINGS FORWARD BOB BERRY TRAILS THE PLAY.

FEB. 13, 1974: BILL FLETT (IN BEARD) AND ROSS LONSBERRY (11) OF PHILADELPHIA CROWD LEAFS GOALIE DOUG FAVELL, AS ROOKIE DEFENSEMAN BORJE SALMING KEEPS EYE ON BOTH. FLYERS WON THEIR FIRST OF CONSECUTIVE STANLEY CUPS THAT YEAR. FLETT WOULD BE TRADED TO THE LEAFS PRIOR TO THE FOLLOWING SEASON.

OCT. 9, 1974: NEW JERSEY DEVILS WERE BORN AS THE KANSAS CITY SCOUTS AND MADE A STOP IN DENVER (AS THE COLORADO ROCKIES) BEFORE MOVING TO THEIR CURRENT HOME IN 1982. THE SCOUTS JOINED THE NHL WITH WASHINGTON CAPITALS FOR THE 1974-75 SEASON AND PLAYED ONLY TWO YEARS IN KANSAS CITY, COMPILING A SICKLY RECORD OF 27-110-23. IN THE SCOUTS FIRST-EVER GAME (ABOVE) – AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – DAVE KEON SHAKES OFF A CHECK AT CENTRE-ICE. GOALIE DENIS HERRON (BELOW) TURNS ASIDE A SHOT. LEAFS WON THE MATCH, 6-2.

OCT. 25, 1975: ANOTHER FAILED EXPANSION TEAM PLAYED IN OAKLAND. THE CALIFORNIA SEALS JOINED THE NHL IN THE GREAT EXPANSION OF 1967-68, WHEN THE LEAGUE DOUBLED IN SIZE TO 12 TEAMS. ATTRACTING PALTRY CROWDS AND MAKING THE PLAYOFFS ONLY TWICE, THE CLUB MOVED TO RICHFIELD, OHIO AND BECAME THE CLEVELAND BARONS IN 1976-77. KNOWN AS THE CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS DURING THEIR FINAL YEAR IN OAKLAND, FORWARDS DAVE GARDINER (7) AND DAVE HRECHOSY (ABOVE) LOOK FOR PUCK IN FRONT OF LEAFS GOALIE WAYNE THOMAS. TORONTO DEFENSEMAN IAN TURNBULL IS ON THE ICE.

APR. 6, 1976: PHOTOS (ABOVE AND BELOW) ARE FROM TORONTO-PITTSBURGH PLAYOFF GAME – THE OPENER OF A BEST-OF-THREE PRELIMINARY ROUND IN 1976. LEAFS DEFENSEMAN ROD SEILING (ABOVE) PINS PENGUINS FORWARD RICK KEHOE TO ICE IN FRONT OF GOALIE WAYNE THOMAS. PIERRE LAROUCHE OF PENGUINS IS IN THE BACKGROUND. LEAFS’ JIM McKENNY SCORES (BELOW) ON GARY INNESS, WITH CAPTAIN DARRYL SITTLER TIED UP IN FRONT BY PENGUINS DEFENSEMAN COLIN CAMPBELL – NOW THE NHL’s SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT OF HOCKEY OPERATIONS.

JAN. 1, 1977: PHOTOS (ABOVE AND BELOW) ARE FROM WASHINGTON-TORONTO NEW YEAR’S DAY 1977 GAME AT THE GARDENS. GOALIE MIKE PALMATEER AND DEFENSEMAN BORJE SALMING (ABOVE) ARE SPRAWLED ON ICE AS CAPITALS’ RON LALONDE (22) AND TONY WHITE (20) LOOK FOR THE PUCK. LANNY McDONALD (7) OF LEAFS CONGRATULATES TEAMMATE JACK VALIQUETTE (BELOW) FOR SCORING GOAL TO THE DISMAY OF CAPITALS’ JEAN LEMIEUX (17) AND GUY CHARRON (BACKGROUND). LEAFS WON THE GAME, 3-1.

FEB. 26, 1977: ROOKIE BUFFALO NETMINDER DON EDWARDS IS SURROUNDED BY PLAYERS: TEAMMATES GILBERT PERREAULT (11), JIM SCHOENFELD (6) AND JERRY KORAB (MUSTACHE, ON ICE). TORONTO FORWARDS DON ASHBY (9) AND SCOTT GARLAND LOOK FOR PUCK. ASHBY AND GARLAND WOULD BOTH DIE YOUNG IN CAR ACCIDENTS – GARLAND AT 27 ON JUNE 9, 1979; ASHBY AT 26 ON MAY 30, 1981.

MAR. 2, 1977: GOALIE GARY EDWARDS OF THE CLEVELAND BARONS SPRAWLS TO STOP A SHOT BY LEAFS FORWARD BRUCE BOUDREAU (NOW COACH OF ANAHEIM DUCKS). DAVE GARDINER OF THE BARONS TIES UP LEAFS CAPTAIN DARRYL SITTLER IN FRONT OF NET. RIGHT-WINGER FRANK SPRING (28) OF CLEVELAND IS NEXT TO BOUDREAU. THE BARONS PLAYED TWO SEASONS IN RICHFIELD, OHIO BEFORE MERGING WITH THE MINNESOTA NORTH STARS FOR THE 1978-79 CAMPAIGN.

MAR. 12, 1977: LANNY McDONALD OF THE LEAFS IS IN POSITION TO SCORE IN FRONT OF DETROIT GOALIE JIM RUTHERFORD (NOW GM OF THE CAROLINA HURRICANES) WHILE DEFENSEMAN JEAN HAMEL (5) LOOKS ON. REFEREE IS ANDY VAN  HELLEMOND.

JAN. 4, 1978: LEAFS GOALIE PAUL HARRISON SHOVES FORWARD RON DELORME OF THE COLORADO ROCKIES WHILE ROOKIE DEFENSEMAN JOEL QUENNVILLE WATCHES PLAY. QUENNVILLE IS NOW COACH OF THE BLAZING-HOT CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – UNDEFEATED IN  REGULATION TIME AFTER 18 GAMES OF THE SEASON. HE WAS COACH OF THE HAWKS’ STANLEY CUP TEAM IN 2010.

WORST NHL TEAM EVER…

PLAYER PHOTOS (ABOVE AND BELOW) OF WASHINGTON CAPITALS IN THEIR EXPANSION SEASON OF 1974-75. THE HORRENDOUS TEAM COMPILED A RECORD OF 8-67-5 FOR 21 POINTS, FEWEST IN A MINIMUM 70-GAME SCHEDULE (DATING TO 1949-50). IN 1991-92, THE SAN JOSE SHARKS, IN THEIR SECOND SEASON, BROKE THE CAPITALS’ RECORD OF LOSSES WITH 71. EXPANSION OTTAWA SENATORS HAD 70 LOSSES THAT YEAR. BUT, SHARKS AND SENATORS EACH HAD 24 POINTS, THREE MORE THAN ORIGINAL CAPITALS.

VINTAGE NHL JERSEYS…

In a green garbage bag on a top shelf of our cold cellar, I came upon NHL jerseys I bought in the 1970s at the Doug Laurie sporting goods outlet in Maple Leaf Gardens. After washing them four times, I felt it was safe enough to handle and photograph them:

I WAS AMONG THE LEAF FANS RAGING MAD AT GENERAL MANAGER PUNCH IMLACH WHEN HE TRADED LANNY McDONALD TO THE COLORADO ROCKIES ON DEC. 29, 1979. SO, I PURCHASED A ROCKIES’ ROAD JERSEY WITH LANNY’S NAME ON THE BACK.

OBVIOUSLY A BEAR FOR PUNISHMENT, I BOUGHT AN ORIGINAL WASHINGTON CAPITALS JERSEY IN HONOR OF THEIR 8-67-5 RECORD IN 1974-75. NO. 15 WAS GUY CHARRON.

I’M LIABLE TO THROW OUT THIS JERSEY, AS IT DIDN’T PASS THE SMELL TEST, EVEN AFTER FOUR WASHES. MINNESOTA NORTH STARS WORE THIS DESIGN BEGINNING IN 1978-79. DINO CICCARELLI WAS NO. 20 BUT THE GUY AT DOUG LAURIE’S SAID HE COULDN’T FIT THE LAST NAME ON THE BACK. SO, I GOT THE FIRST NAME INSTEAD.

EVER SINCE 1979, I’VE BEEN ASHAMED OF MYSELF FOR BUYING THIS MONSTROSITY, WHICH VANCOUVER CANUCKS ACTUALLY WORE FOR FIVE SEASONS. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO INTIMIDATE OPPOSING PLAYERS, WHO INSTEAD DOUBLED OVER IN LAUGHTER.

I PUT RON SEDLBAUER ON THE BACK – HE SCORED 40 GOALS IN 1978-79.

CLEARLY, I HAD NO SELF-ESTEEM IN THE LATE-70’s, AS EVIDENCED BY MY PURCHASE OF THE CANUCKS’ YELLOW HOME JERSEY… AND PARTICULARLY FOR THE LAMENTABLE DECISION TO PUT MY NAME ON THE BACK OF IT.

NOW THIS WAS A GOOD PURCHASE. WHEN HARTFORD WHALERS CAME INTO THE NHL IN 1979-80, THEY WORE THESE DANDY UNIFORMS ON THE ROAD. DAVE KEON – THE FORMER LEAFS CAPTAIN – WAS NO. 14, AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I DIDN’T GET HIS NAME ON THE BACK. FIFTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD GORDIE HOWE PLAYED ALL 80 GAMES FOR WHALERS IN HIS FINAL NHL SEASON. HIS FIRST SEASON, WITH DETROIT, WAS 1946-47.  

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS WORE THESE JERSEYS BEGINNING IN 1979, AFTER DISCARDING THEIR ORIGINAL COLORS OF LIGHT BLUE AND DARK BLUE. AND, YES, RANDY CARLYLE WAS NO. 25. SORRY RANDY, I CHOSE MY NAME FOR THE BACK OVER YOUR’S.

DURING THEIR EARLY SEASONS IN THE NHL, NEW JERSEY DEVILS WORE PINE-GREEN ON THEIR ROAD JERSEYS. ULTIMATELY, THEY CHANGED GREEN TO BLACK, WHICH THEY WEAR TO THIS DAY (AND WORE DURING ALL THREE OF THEIR STANLEY CUP SEASONS).

BACK OF A CALENDAR DISTRIBUTED TO FANS AT THE MONTREAL FORUM DURING EXPANSION SEASON OF 1967-68 – WITH LOGOS OF ALL 12 NHL TEAMS.

MINNESOTA NORTH STARS MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) DURING THE SECOND-TO-LAST SEASON (1991-92) IN THEIR ORIGINAL HOME – BLOOMINGTON – A SUBURB SOUTHEAST OF MINNEAPOLIS. NORTH STARS HAD LOST TO PITTSBURGH IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL THE PREVIOUS YEAR. THE CLUB RE-LOCATED TO DALLAS IN 1993-94 AND WON THE CUP OVER BUFFALO FIVE YEARS LATER ON DISPUTED GOAL BY BRETT HULL.

MINNESOTA GOALIE CESARE MANIAGO (ABOVE) IN THE ORIGINAL NORTH STARS HOME UNIFORM OF 1967-68. MANIAGO WAS ON COVER OF PROGRAM FROM PHILADELPHIA AT MINNESOTA GAME (BELOW) IN 1969-70.

PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM LEAFS FIRST-EVER ROAD GAME AGAINST MINNESOTA WILD, AND FROM LEAFS AT MINNESOTA GAME (BELOW) IN 2005-06.

VINYL RECORD-ALBUM (ABOVE AND BELOW) WITH PLAY-BY-PLAY HIGHLIGHTS FROM BOSTON BRUINS’ STANLEY CUP SEASON OF 1969-70.

SIGNIFICANT COVERS OF THE HOCKEY NEWS…

HOCKEY DIGEST MAGAZINE…

Using the format of the popular Reader’s Digest, this publication featured NHL greats of the 1970’s on its covers. Here’s a selection of them from my stack – including the inaugural issue:

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