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Friday, December 19, 2014

Lost Cards: Marty Turco

  In a previous post, I mentioned that I was a passive player collector of Marty Turco.  One card that I did seek out, but never found, was of Marty Turco in a Bruins uniform.  I am pretty sure one was never made, or at least a base card was never made.  Turco, who was an unrestricted free agent, wasn't able to secure a deal with a NHL for the 2011-12 season.  After playing for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup, he signed on in Austria, which included an out-clause for any NHL team.
  During the 2011-12 season, the Bruins had a deadly duo of goalies in Tim Thomas, and Tuukka Rask.  Then Rask went down with an injury at the start of March.  The Bruins didn't have another goalie in their system who was NHL ready and they didn't want to overwork Thomas before the play-offs.  Unfortunately for the Bruins, the trade deadline was February 27th, which was a few days before Rask was injured, so Bruins had to look at free agents.  Marty got the call.
  Turco struggled with the Bruins.  He played in five games, winning two and losing two.  His 3.68 GAA and .855 save percentage were not in the same ballpark as the other Bruins goalies, 2.26 GAA and .926 Save percentage.  His brief time with the Bruins was not good.
  Turco was once again a UFA in the offseason, and once again, was unable to find work.  He held out hope until he finally announced his official retirement in January of 2013. 
  No card company bothered to make a Marty Turco Bruins card.  I figured Score would have been the best bet to have included Turco, so here`s my version of a 2012-13 Score Marty Turco card.

2012-13 Score #549 Marty Turco

Monday, December 15, 2014

So ugly, I ain't gonna buy it

  I am not much of a player collector, but I do passively collect Mike Bossy, Matt Martin and Marty Turco.  So when I recently found out that Marty Turco had a card in the 2013-14 Team Canada set, I was a bit excited.  Except imagine my horror when I saw the following.

  What an ugly card!  It's from the team picture for christ's sake.  If you can't find a decent picture, why even put they guy in the set?  There's pictures of Turco from the year he played in the Spengler Cup, couldn't they use that?  Or is the Spengler Cup not prestige enough when compared to cropping a team photo?  I am not buying that card.
  Have you refused to buy a card of player you collect, just cause it's too damn ugly?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lost Rookies: John Wensink

  By 1976, Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito had both played their last games as Boston Bruins.  Being unable to replace that level of skill, the Bruins head coach, Don Cherry, went in another direction, they became big and bad.  While not the biggest, John Wensink may have been the baddest.
  Wensink was drafted  by the St. Louis Blues in the 7th round, 102nd overall, in the 1973 draft.  Wensink played a total of three NHL games with the Blues.  A back injury, suffered in the minors, during the 1975-76 season sidelined Wensink for a season and a half.  The Blues would not resign Wensink, allowing him to become a free agent in 1976.
  Wensink never had a card with Blues.  Here's my version of a John Wensink rookie.

1974-75 OPC #397 John Wensink (RC)

  Wensink signed with the Boston Bruins prior to the 1976 season.  He previously played in Rochester of the AHL under Bruins head coach Don Cherry, becoming one of Cherry's favourite players.  Wensink scored his first career goal against the St. Louis Blues on February 1st, 1977.  Interesting fact, HHOFer Bernie Federko also scored his first career goal in the same game.  Wensink's signature moment came the next season against the Minnesota North Stars on December 1st, 1977.  Check out the recent ESPN's 30 for 30 feature covering Wensink and the incident.

  As mentioned in the video Wensink started scoring more goals and getting into less fights.  He scored 16 goals in 1977-78, and 28 in 1978-79 but would only score 22 in the next 211 games before retiring.  Cherry claimed that since Wensink fought less, opponents feared him less.  The space that opened up while opponents feared him, had now closed and that Wensink could never regain that edge that made him so feared.
  Before the 1980 season, he was claimed off waivers by the Quebec Nordiques.  Wensink was often a healthy scratch while in Quebec.  This led to a peculiar deal during the 1981 preseason.  The Nordiques loaned Wensink to the Philadelphia Flyers.  He played two preseason games with the Flyers before NHL deemed it to be illegal.  Wensink would be released and signed with the Colorado Rockies. 
  Wensink played two years for the franchise; one year in Colorado, and then a second year as the team moved and renamed themselves the New Jersey Devils.  After retiring from the NHL, Wensink was a player/coach in the Netherlands. Today, he is active with the St. Louis Blues alumni and coaching youth hockey.  Here's what a John Wensink final year card may have looked.

1983-84 OPC #397 John Wensink

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.