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Friday, November 21, 2014

One Star, One Sheet: Dale Hunter

Dale Hunter

1407 Career Games
1020 Career Points
3565 Career PIM



  Dale Hunter is one of those player you hate, until he's on your team.  Which becomes obvious once you know his nickname was "The Nuisance".  Hunter had eight seasons were he scored 20+ goals and had 200+ PIM - twice as many as any other NHL player in history. 
  Hunter was selected 41st overall in the 1979 draft by the Quebec Nordiques.  In his first NHL game on October 9, 1980 against the Calgary Flames, he notched two assists.  He added three more assists in the next game against the Edmonton Oilers.  Hunter scored his first NHL goal against Richard Brodeur of the Vancouver Canucks on October 29th, 1980.  Hunter finished his rookie season with 19 goals, 44 assists and 226 PIM.
  Hunter, born in Ontario, became a key figure in the Battle of Quebec.  In game five of the opening round of the1982 play-offs, Hunter scored 22 seconds into overtime against the Montreal Canadiens.  The goal gave the Nordiques its first NHL play-off series win.  The Nordiques would make the play-offs in all seven seasons Hunter played, including two trips to the Conference Finals.
  1983-84 would be an eventful season for Dale Hunter.  Hunter earned his first NHL suspension; three games for slashing Mike Ramsey in the face during the overtime on March 4, 1984.  The three game suspension would be the only three regular season games Hunter missing during his first six seasons.  Quite a feat for a player who played the style Hunter did.  Hunter set a career high in points with 79 during the 83-84 season.
  The Battle of Quebec reached it's boiling point during the 1984 play-offs with the Good Friday Massacre.  At the end of the second period, Hunter pushed Guy Carbonneau to the ice.  What started as a minor scrum turned into a bench clearing brawl and both teams joining the fray.  A Louis Sleigher sucker punch ended the first brawl.  The second brawl started with Dale's brother, Mark Hunter going after Sleigher.  This game gets replayed a lot as a "Classic" game, so there is a chance you might see this game on tv.  After the two brawls, seven goals are scored in the third period in this series clinching game, so it is a good game to watch on top of the brawling.  Do I have to mention that Dale Hunter, #32, is in the middle of both brawls?

   

   Hunter would play a few more seasons with Quebec before being traded, with Clint Malarchuk to the Washington Capitals for Alan Haworth, Gaetan Duchesne, and a 1st round pick.  While Haworth and Duchesne would play a combined three seasons for the Nordiques, the first round pick would score over 600 goals, win two Stanley Cups and enter the HHOF in 2012 for the Quebec/Colorado franchise. 
  Hunter played over 11 seasons with the Washington Capitals, including five as captain. His number 32 is one of four numbers retired by the Capitals.  One of the highlights of Hunter's time as a Capital would be his game 7 overtime goal versus the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1988 play-offs.  One of the lowlights would be his game 6 cheap shot on Pierre Turgeon.  Hunter claimed he thought the play was still on and he never saw the puck go into the net.  The NHL would suspend Dale Hunter for 21 games.  The longest suspension ever handed out by the NHL at that time.
  Hunter matched a career high with 79 points in 1992-93.  It was his last good offensive season, as he never had more than 46 in any future season.  In Hunter's last full season as a Capital, the team made it to the Stanley Cup final.  They were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.  
  During the 1998-99 season, Hunter's last, the Capitals traded him back to the franchise that had drafted him, although it was now located in Colorado.  Hunter was used sparingly in the play-offs, averaging under seven minutes a game, as the Colorade Avalanche lost in the Semi-Finals to the Dallas Stars.  Hunter retired in the offseason.
  Hunter, and his brother Mark (who is also prominent in the Good Friday Massacre) together bought the London Knights of the OHL.  Dale has coached the team since 2001, with a breif hiatus in 2011-12 while he coached the Washington Capitals.  The Knights won the 2005 Memorial Cup and set an OHL record by pulling off a 31 game unbeaten streak.

 
  Dale is perhaps the least offensively skill players to score 1000 points.  He never scored 80 points in a single season and has the lowest ppg of any 1000 point scorer.  What he can claim is to be the only 1000 point player with over 3000 pim.  In fact, his 3565 career PIM is second all-time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lost Cards: Butch Goring

  Butch Goring is often given credit for kicking off two things, the Islanders Dynasty and the Play-off Beard.  The New York Islanders were a 1970s version of the San Jose Sharks.  A team that would finish near the top of the standings in the regular season, but could never quite get it done in the play-offs.  They did fair better than the Sharks.  The Islanders made it to the semi-finals in four out of five seasons from 1975 to 1979.
  Late in the 1979-80 season, the Islanders traded, the original New York Islander, Billy Harris and Dave Lewis to the Los Angeles Kings for Butch Goring.  Goring, a first line player with the Kings, was now only expected to provide secondary scoring and leadership to a young Islanders team.  Goring provided both, as the Islanders would win four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983.
  Along the way, Goring won a Conn Smythe trophy in 1981 and, according to Mike Bossy, started the tradition of the play-off beard.  Going played for the Islanders until 1985, until the Islanders put him waivers.  He was claimed by the Boston Bruins.  Goring finished the season, and his career with the Bruins.  Goring never had a Bruins or an 85-86 OPC card.  Here's how it may have looked.

1985-86 OPC 267 Butch Goring
  Of note is Goring's helmet.  Goring only used two helmets during his 16 year NHL career.  One was for home games and another for road games.  One he had been using since he was 12 years old.  When Goring joined the Islanders, they couldn't find the right paint to make the helmet match the Islanders colours, so instead, they used coloured tape.  In 2010, it won the dishonour of being selected Hockey's ugliest helmet.

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Sheet, One Star: Mike Gartner

Mike Gartner

2001 HHOF
708 Career Goals
17x 30 goal scorer



  I believe Mike Gartner heads up the list of players who were very good for a long time category in the Hockey Hall of Fame.  He only has one 50 goal season and one 100 point season.  He was a little better than a point-per-game during hockey's offensive heyday of the 1980s.  He never won an award or made a post season all-star team.  What he did do was score 30 or more goals in 15 straight seasons and netted 708 goals for his career.  
   Mike Gartner started his professional career with the WHA's Cincinnati Stingers.  The Stingers were one of two WHA teams that were not included in the NHL's absorption of the WHA.  That left Gartner eligible for the 1979 NHL Draft.  The 1979 draft was extremely deep due to the lowering of the age restrictions and the availability of several young stars who had played in the WHA the previous season.  Gartner was selected 4th overall by the Washington Capitals.


  Gartner's best season was with the Capitals in 1984-85, scoring 50 goals and 102 points.  His blazing speed and scoring prowess helped him get selected to the 1984 and 1987 Canadian Canada Cup teams. Gartner would call the 1987 Canada Cup the highlight of his career.  He was never able to win a Stanley Cup, but did win two Canada Cups.  Gartner had 9 points in 17 Canada Cup games.


  The Capitals were a very good regular season team, but could never make it our of the Patrick division in the play-offs, regularly losing to Islanders in post season play.  Near the 1988-89 trade deadline, the Capitals made a traded to get grittier.  They sent Gartner and Larry Murphy to the Minnesota North Stars for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse.  The following season at the trade deadline, Gartner was on the move again, back to the Patrick division, to the New York Rangers.
  Gartner would come close to scoring 50 again in 1990-91, making a serious push for it as he scored 8 goals in the last 7 games.  Instead he had to settle for hockey's Cy Young award, with 49 goals and  20 assists.  Things really started to look up for the Rangers as the "Messiah" Mark Messier was acquired for the 1991-92 season.  Messier did deliver the Stanley Cup to New York in 1994, unfortunately Gartner was a victim of the Oilerization of the Rangers.  The Rangers boasted six former Cup winning Edmonton Oilers on their Cup wining team.  Gartner was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 1994 trade deadline for Glenn Anderson
  While with the Leafs, Gartner made it out of the second round, as the Leafs lost in the semi-finals to the Vancouver Canucks.  Gartner never won a Stanley Cup during his career.  The following season marked the end of Gartner's 15 straight 30 goal seasons, since matched by Jaromir Jagr.  While the shortened lock-out season made getting 30 goals difficult, Gartner was only on pace for 26 goals over a full season.
  Mike notched two more 30 goal seasons, one with Toronto in 1995-96 before being traded to Phoenix, where he notched his last.  He retired as a Phoenix Coyote with a total of 708 career NHL goals.
  Gartner did win one award of note in the NHL.  In 1993, he was selected as the All-Star MVP after scoring a record four goals, which he shares with a few other players. Mike played in  seven All-Star games and won the fastest skater competition three times at the skills competition.

Hey Mike, where's your 'stache?
   So where does Gartner rank in terms of greatness?  He never had a high peak but played a very good level for a very long time.  Is he really deserving of the HHOF? 
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Star, One Sheet; Brett Hull

Brett Hull

741 career goals
1991 Hart winner
2 Stanley Cups
2009 HHOF


  Whoa, what's up with the Flames card?  I went a bit out of order on the release dates on this one.  That card is from a insert set from 2003 -04 Topps, called the Lost Rookies.  (*insert shameless plug* I do lost rookies too, check them out)  I included this post-pre-rookie (huh?) to have his Flames days represented.  I was a big Flames fan as a kid as Hull was blowing up in the early 1990s.
  Hull was drafted by the Flames 117th overall in the 1984 draft.  It's not like the Flames didn't know they had a future star on their hands.  He had the lineage, being Bobby Hull's son.  He scored 50 goals in 67 games in the AHL in 1985-86.  In 52 games with the Flames in 86-87, Hull scored 26 goals and 50 points in 52 games before being traded.  True, the Flames picked up two pieces of their 1989 Stanley Cup winning team in Rob Ramage and Rick Wamsley.  Still, you have to wonder what if the Flames kept Hull. 
  Hull would set the league on fire as a St. Louis Blue.  In 1988-89, he scored 41 goals in his first full season with St. Louis, and then followed it up with seasons of 72, 86, and 70 goals.  In 1990-91, Hull won the Hart Trophy as league's MVP.  It was Hull and Oates mania.  His 86 goals are the highest by a player not named Wayne Gretzky
  Hull scored 50+ goals in five consecutive seasons.  He only one of six players to have five consecutive 50 goal seasons and was also the last to do so.
 Gretzky and Hull would be united after the Blues won the Gretzky trade sweepstakes in late February of 1996.  The expected explosion of offense never materialized.  During 15 regular season games together, Gretzky only set up three Brett Hull goals.  The Blues lost in the second round of the play-offs in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings.  Gretzky left via free agency in the off-season.  Hull and the Blues would also be disposed of by the Red Wings in the play-offs in the two following seasons. 
  In 1998, Hull signed as a free-agent with the Dallas Stars.  For the first time in his career, his team would make it past the second round, and this time they would win the Stanley Cup, albeit on a questionable triple overtime goal.  At least Brett is above rubbing it in....


  Hull played three season with the Stars, winning one Stanley Cup.  He would repeat that with the Detroit Red Wings; three seasons, one Cup. After the lost season of 2004-05, Hull retired five games into the 2005-06 season as a Phoenix Coyote.  Making him the second 700 goal scorer to retire as a Phoenix Coyote. Any guesses on the other one?
  I don't have much to say on Hull since he was such a well covered player through out his career.  I guess I should mention that he is the son of HHOFer Bobby Hull and they hold the record for most career goals by a father and son.  Perhaps if the Flames never traded him I would be in the mood to go more in-depth on him. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lost Rookies: Kirk McLean

  Kirk McLean was originally drafted by the New Jersey Devils 107th overall in the 1984 entry draft.  He made his NHL debut on April 5th, 1986, then got his first start the next night, both against the New York Islanders.  McLean would play in four more games the following season before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks.  McLean's rookie card came in the 1989-90 OPC Set.  If OPC was a bit more aggressive with its rookie cards, here's how a 1986-87 OPC Kirk McLean rookie card may have looked.

1986-87 OPC #266 Kirk McLean (RC)


Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Star, One Sheet: Jeff Hackett

Jeff Hackett

500 career games
3x 20 game winner
2nd best Save % 1995-98




  Once again we stretch the definition of a star.  Perhaps I should be calling this "One player I remember, One Sheet".  Hackett had some good years, but also had some historically abysmal years.
  Hackett played his junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.  In 1986-87, he led the OHL in GAA, 3.05 and helped the team win the OHL championship.  Hackett and the Generals would lose in the Memorial Cup final.
  His performance made him the 4th goalie taken in the 1987 Draft by the New York Islanders and 34th player overall.  The first goalie taken was Jimmy Waite at 8th overall.  Hackett led all goalies from his draft class with 500 career games played.  The Islanders had lost their dynasty and were in the process of rebuilding.  Hackett would lose his first five decisions before winning his first in 1989.  A sign of things to come for Hackett. 
  Hackett spent the 1989-90 season in the AHL with the Springflied Indians.  He won the play-off MVP as the Indians won the AHL Calder trophy as play-off champs.  He returned to the Islanders for the 1990-91 season and get the back-up job, largely due to the previous year's starter, and former Memorial Cup nemesis, Mark Fitzpatrick, missing almost the entire season due to illness.  Hackett went 5-18-1 during his rookie season.
  With Fitzpatrick ready to play and starter Glenn Healy under contract, Hackett was left unprotected in the 1991 expansion draft.  He was the first player selected overall by the San Jose Sharks.  Hackett was the main starter for the expansion team and he severely outplayed the other Sharks goalies that season.  Hackett appeared in 42 games, go 11-27-1, .892 save percentage, with a 3.84 GAA.  The other four Shark, goalies would combine for a 6-31-4 record, with a .868 save percentage and a 4.82 GAA.  Hackett was arguably the Sharks MVP during their expansion season.
  The following season would be a different story.  The entire Sharks team would take a step backwards.  All the way back to being considered one of the worst teams ever in the history of the NHL.  The Sharks finished the season in last place overall with an 11-71-2 record for 24 points.  Hackett lost 30 games while only winning two.  He holds the record for least wins while losing 30+ games in a season.  He also has the second worst winning percentage in a single season, .076, of any goalie would played 20+ games in a season.  Worst is Michel Belhumeur, .056.
  One of the lowlights during the 1992-93 season was a 13-1 pounding of the San Jose Sharks by the Calgary Flames.   Six Flames scored 3 or more points that night, including Jeff Reese.  Reese's 3 assists are notable since it's the single game scoring record for a goalie. 
  With the emergence of Arthurs Irbe in San Jose, Hackett was deemed expendable was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks for a third round pick.  Even though Hackett was on a much better team, his performance continued to be abysmal.  Hackett went 2-12-3 in 1993-94.  His career record so far, 24-94-6, with a 4.09 GAA.  Amazing he was still in the NHL.
  He rode the bench for the majority of the 1994-95 lockout shortened season, only appearing in 7 NHL games.  His GAA, 2.13, and save percentage, 2.38, took remarkable jumps, which were a sign of things to come.  During the 1995-96 season, Hackett had his first winning season, going 18-11-4, and also recorded his first career shutout.  He played even better the following season, finishing second in save percentage, .927, and vastly outplayed the Hawks #1 goalie, and future HHOFer, Ed Belfour.  Belfour did not appreciate Hackett's success and reportedly was a bit of a bully towards HackettWith Hackett's excellent play, Belfour's attitude and contract demands, The Hawks shopped Belfour around until they found a suitor in Hackett's old team, the San Jose Sharks.
  Hackett finally found himself as a #1 goalie on a playoff contending team.  While Hackett continued to play well between the pipes, the Hawks could not score.  In 1996-97, the Hawks were the second lowest scoring team in the NHL and found themselves out of the play-offs.  From 95-96 to 97-98, only Domink Hasek, .927, posted a better save percentage than Hackett, .920, and only Martin Brodeur and Chris Osgood, besting Hackett in GAA.
  After a horrendous start to the 1998-99 season for Hackett and the Hawks, the team was on a 10 game winless streak, a six player trade was made with the Montreal Canadiens.  The main player heading to the Hawks was Hackett's replacement, Jocelyn Thibault.  Hackett's play bounced back and he was the #1 goalie in Montreal until the emergence of Jose Thoedore.  By the 2001-02 season, Thoedore had taken over the #1 gig.  Hackett watched from the bench as Thoedore won the 2002 Hart and Vezina Trophies.  Hackett  numbers had sagged over the past two season but he was having a bounce back season as a back-up in 2002-03, even outplaying Theodore.  Good enough for the impending unrestricted free agent to be trade bait.  Hackett landed in Boston, via San Jose, as part of a three team trade.  Joining a stable of Bruins goalies that included 28 year old rookie, Tim Thomas
  Hackett started the play-offs on the bench but started the last three game during a five game series loss to the New Jersey Devils.  Hackett only started 10 career play-off games, seven versus Patrick Roy, and three against Martin Brodeur.  How's that for drawing the short straw.
  Hackett signed with the original goalie graveyard, the Philadelphia Flyers for the 2003-04 season.  Hackett began the season with back-to-back shutouts and then posted a third in his ninth game of the season.  I am not sure when he first suffered from vertigo, but in his first 17 games, Hackett was 9-2-5 with a .931 Sv% and 1.71 GAA.  In his last 11 games, he went 1-8-1 with a .865 Sv% and a 3.44 GAA.  He officially retired on February 9th, 2004 due to vertigo.
  For Hackett's career is seemed to have a real roller coaster ride.  Some abysmal years to begin his career on some abysmal teams.  Then he seemed to get it together and actually be one of the best goalies in the NHL in the mid 1990s.  By the early 2000s, it seemed he was to fade away, only to have a incredible rebirth in Philadelphia, only to be taken away from him due to his health.  His career best single season GAA was 2.16, and his worst was 5.28.  That's a whole 3.12 difference.  I believe that is modern era record. 
  So who is Jeff Hackett?  A mediocre goalie who lucked into a few good seasons.  Or a star goalie who was had a very unlucky start to his career?  Is he a star, or a just a player I remember?

Monday, November 3, 2014

One Star, One Sheet: Dale Hawerchuk

Dale Hawerchuk

2001 HHOF
1409 Career Points
518 Career Goals
1982 Calder winner


    For a player who put up some gaudy numbers, Hawerchuk is not considered among the elites.  Perhaps it was because he wasn't flashy, played in a small Canadian market, or never had any play-off success.
   Hawerchuk had plenty of success in his pre-NHL days.  He led the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL to back-to-back Memorial Cups championships in 1980 and 81.  His dominating play in junior, 183 pts in 73s games in 1980-81, made him the clear cut number one pick for the Winnipeg Jets in the 1981 draft.
   Aided by Hawerchuk, the Jets went from being worst in the league, with 32 points in 80-81, to a playoff team with 80 points in 1981-82.  At the time, it was the largest point increase by a team.  Hawerchuk became the 2nd rookie to score 100+ points and was awarded the Calder trophy.
  Dale would led the Jets in scoring every season he was a Jet, never averaging less than  a point per game in a single season.  Hawerchuk's best season came in 1984-85.  He scored 53 goals and 130 points to finish 3rd in the scoring race. He was voted to the 2nd team All-stars and was a runner up for the Hart trophy.  Another highlight for the Jets in the 1984-85 season was having six players score 30 or more goals.  The 1984-85 Jets are only one of three teams to have accomplished this.
  In terms of team success, the Jets only won two play-off rounds during Hawerchuk's years as a Jet, while losing eight, including five sweeps.  The Jets suffered from playing in the Smythe division during the 1980s which was owned by the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames during that decade.
     The hiring of Mike "Mikhail" Smith as GM of the Winnipeg in 1988, was the beginning of the end for Hawerchuk in Winnipeg.  According to Hawerchuk, “Mike Smith had come in and taken over as the GM in Winnipeg and was making some big changes, things were getting so bad in Winnipeg that I finally asked Smith to trade me.”  Which is a bit ironic since Mike Smith coached the 1980-81 Winnipeg Jets and helped cement the 1st overall choice in the 1981 draft for the Jets.  Smith went 2-17-4, as the third and final head coach of the Jets that season. 
  At the 1990 NHL draft, Hawerchuk and a 1st round pick, was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and the Sabres 1st round pick.  The Jets would select Keith Tkachuk and the Sabres took Brad May.
  Hawerchuk was no longer the 100+ point man he was in Winnipeg but still put up a point a game or better in his first four seasons with the Sabres until an injury plagued season in 1994-95.  Even though the Sabres were a more talented team than the Jets of the 1980s, with Pat Lafontaine, Alexandr Mogilny, Grant Fuhr and Dominik Hasek, they fared no better in the playoffs.  During Hawerchuk's five seasons in Buffalo, the Sabres won one play-off round while losing five.
  After the 1994-95 season, Hawerchuk signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Blues.  Hawerchuk was reunited with coach Mike Keenan, who had coached Hawerchuk in two Canada Cups and also in Junior B when Hawerchuk was only 15 years old.  Hawerchuk struggled to put up points with the Blues, netting 41 in 66 games before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers.
  Hawerchuk played two season for the Flyers before retiring due to a losing battle to hip injuries, which had plagued him for a few seasons.  He finally played a NHL game in May, as the Flyers went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in 1997, before getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings.
  Hawerchuk would later go into coaching and is currently the coach of the OHL's Barrie Colts.
  So once again, where does Hawerchuk rank in terms of greatness. If you consider his point totals and then consider the team he had to work with during his prime years with the Jets, you can't help but to be impressed with how many points Hawerchuk amassed.

RkPlayerFromToGPGAPTS
1Dale Hawerchuk19811990713379550929
2Thomas Steen19811990667186388574
3Paul MacLean19811988527248270518
4Laurie Boschman19821990526152227379
5Doug Smail19811990646178198376
6Brian Mullen19821987372124172296
7Dave Ellett1984199045891197288
8Dave Babych1981198632167210277
9Randy Carlyle1983199042469197266