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Monday, March 18, 2013

1981-82 OPC Reboot: Blues and Nordiques

Quebec Nordiques

  The Nordiques were on the outside looking in as the end of January approached.  The team was 11-26-13.  Good enough for 35 points and a .350 winning percentage.  They were the second worst team in the NHL.  So on January 30th, 1980, the Nordiques traded for disgrunted Calgary Flames netminder Daniel Bouchard.  For the remainder of the season, they were the best team in the NHL.  Bouchard started 29 out of the remaining 30 games and the team went 19-6-5.  Good enough to go from 20th in the league to 10th. The Nordiques couldn't keep the heat up in the play-offs.  The got beat up by the Philadelphia Flyers, losing all three road games and the series 3 games to 2.

Rk          Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1     Dan  Bouchard   G  30 29 19  5   5  92  3.17  2 1740
2    Michel  Plasse   G  32 33 10 14   9 118  3.66  0 1933
3      Ron  Grahame   G  30  8  1  5   1  40  5.47  0  439
4      Michel  Dion   G  26 12  0  8   3  61  5.32  0  688
        Team Total          80 30 32  18 311  3.89  2 4800

1981-82 OPC #270 - Dan Bouchard

  Dan Bouchard was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1970.  He never played for Boston, as he was selected by the Atlanta Flames in the 1972 expansion draft.  He was only original Atlanta Flame to stay with the team until they got transferred to Calgary.  During 1980-81, the Calgary Flames relied on rookie goalies, Reggie Lemelin and Pat Riggin, often leaving Bouchard off the playing roster.  Frustrated, Bouchard asked for a trade, and he was eventually shipped to the Quebec Nordiques.  Bouchard would play five seasons for the Nordiques before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets in 1985.  For the reboot, picking the better card is a toss-up.  I like the image on the reboot card better, but the original has a picture from the correct season and it does qualify as an action shot.  Narrow win for the original.

Bonus Nordiques

1981-82 OPC Michel Plasse

 Quick, and without looking at the picture above, name the first goalie to ever be selected first overall in the NHL Amateur draft?  In 1968, the Montreal Canadiens had the option to exchange their 1st and 2nd round picks for the 1st and 2nd overall selections, bumping the rest of the teams back.  The caveat was that the Canadiens would have to use those two picks to select francophone players.  The picks were known as "Cultural" selections.  Plasse would become the first NHL goalie to play for both Quebec Nordiques and Montreal Canadiens.

1981-82 OPC Ron Grahame

  Ron Grahame had his best success in the WHA, being the only two-time winner of the Ben Hatskin trophy, as best goalie in the league.  Impressive, since he only played three full seasons in the WHA.  His NHL career started out great.  He played 40 games for the Boston Bruins in 1977-78, going 26-6-7 with a 2.76 GAA.  Instead of keeping Grahame, the Bruins traded him for a first round pick, which turned out to be Raymond Bourque.  The Kings had lost Rogie Vachon as a free agent and hoped Grahame would become their number one goalie.  Grahame couldn't hold onto the #1 spot in LA and was eventually traded to the Quebec Nordiques, where he would finish his career.  He played  a total of 6 games for the Nordiques.  I couldn't find a coloured picture of him in a Nordiques uniform, so I had to go with the black and white shot.

St. Louis Blues

  The St. Louis Blues finished the season with the second best regular season record in the NHL.  In the play-offs they ran out of gas.  They almost never made it our of the first round.  They scored in double overtime of the final game to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins.  In the second round they lost in six games to the New York Rangers.  The were a very balanced team.  Offesively they had 10 players score 20 or more goals and overall they finished second in the league in goals scored.  In net, Mike Liut was a runner-up for the Hart Trophy, winner of the Ted Lindsay Trophy and a 1st team All-Star.

Rk          Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1        Mike  Liut   G  25 61 33 14  13 199  3.34  1 3570
2    Ed  Staniowski   G  25 19 10  3   3  72  4.28  0 1010
3       Rick  Heinz   G  25  4  2  1   1   8  2.18  0  220
        Team Total          80 45 18  17 279  3.49  1 4800

1981-82 OPC #289 - Mike Liut

  Mike Liut was one of the top goalies in the 1980s.  He led all goalies in games played, wins and shutouts in the 1980s.  1980-81 was his best season, as he won the Ted Lindsay trophy, was a 1st team All-Star and runner-up for the Hart Trophy.  He was Team Canada's goalie in the 1981 Canada Cup, although it did not end well.  Team Canada lost 8-1 in the final versus the USSR.  While Liut had several more solid seasons in him, he would never reach the elite level he as he had in 1980-81.  He played for the Hartford Whalers and the Washington Capitals before retiring in 1992.  Liut had one of the great masks of the early 1980s.  Although it was never painted, it had a sinister shape to it and it gives off the goalie-masked killer vibe.

Bonus Blues

1981-82 OPC Ed Staniowski (ER)

  Ed Staniowski comes in as the first error card of the reboot.  Notice the small caps "i" in his last name.  I guess in doing an OPC retro set, you have to include some errors or else it wouldn't feel like a 1980s OPC set.  In 1980-81, Ed almost reversed his numbers from the previous season.  He went from 2-11-3, 4.33 GAA in 79-80 to 10-3-3, 4.28 GAA.  Striking while the iron was hot, the Blues shipped Staniowski to the Winnipeg Jets in the offseason.  Unfortunately, the Blues would include Paul MacLean in the package and the two players they got in return played a total of 5 career games for the Blues.  Staniowski would play 2 1/2 season for the Jets while Paul MacLean would be a six time 30 goal man for the Winnipeg Jets.

1981-82 OPC Rick Heinz (RC)

  Rick Heinze never had a rookie card.  He played 49 career games over parts of five seasons.  He is best known for his career after the NHL, at the Rick Heinz Goalie School.  Some of his former students include Curtis Joseph, Manny Legace and Garth Snow. 

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