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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review: Hockey Card Stories


  Hockey Card Stories: True Tales from Your Favourite Players by Ken Reid was released in October of 2014.  I put it on my Amazon Wishlist and Santa was thoughtful enough to leave a copy under the tree for me. 
 This book is a must read for any hockey card aficionado, especially if you long for the old days when O-Pee-Chee was the dominate, and sometimes only, brand.  The author, Sportsnet's Ken Reid, picked out 61 cards from his personal collection and then called up 59 players on those cards to see what they thought of them.  The book is divided up into ten chapters, with each chapter featuring five to six players.  Each player's story lasts 4-6 pages.
  The cards range from 1971 to 1991 -  all O-Pee-Chee.  There is a solid range of players, from HHOFers, such as Tony Esposito and Bobby Orr, to one game wonder, Bill Armstrong.  Player's reactions of their cards range between pride, to indifference.  Although most, especially the guys with the 1970s cards, expressed embarrassment over their photos.

An example from the WHA chapter
  The book read like a bunch of short articles, or blog posts.  In fact, some of the stories were previously published online a few years ago. Check them out if you want a sampling of what is in the book.  Most stories are directly relates to the card pictures, but a few seem to use the card more of a jumping off point to cover the player more in general. 
  One of the more interesting stories was the 1984-85 OPC Ken Linseman.  I alwasy knew it was an obvious airbrush job, but there is more to it than that.  It's Linseman's head, but not his body.  I will let you google it, or go out and buy the book to learn more. 

The FrankenCard.

  This was a very interesting book to read but it left me wanting more.  I have always wondered what players thought about their cards and what type of cards or memorabilia collections they might have.  Perhaps there will be a sequel.  I do hope so.
  I definitely recommend this book to any true hockey card fan.  There are no stories about game-used jersey or serial numbered cards, so perhaps not a great buy for anyone who has never ate gum from a pack of cards.  It has a $19.95 cover price but, as always, can be had for cheaper online.  Let's finish with a word from Ken Reid himself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Star, One Sheet: Tim Kerr

Tim Kerr

4x 50 Goal Scorer
1987 2nd team All-Star
1989 Masterson Trophy Winner

  When people speak of one-dimensional players, usually someone will bring up Tim Kerr. Tim Kerr could score goals, lots of them.  A four time 50 goal scorer, Kerr also led the league in powerplay goals 3 times, including an NHL record 34 in 1985-86.  Topping out at 6'3" and 230 pounds, Kerr was made for "garbage goals".
  Tim Kerr played his junior hockey for the Kingston Canadiens.  During his drafts season, he scored 42 points in 57 games, which put him 7th on his team.  On draft day in 1979, one of the deepest ever due to minimum age changes, Kerr was not selected.  Available as a free agent, Kerr signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  Kerr made the Flyers team out of training camp in 1980, due to an injury to Ken Linseman.  Kerr scored his first career goal against Mike Veisor of the Hartford Whalers on October 26, 1980.  He would finish the season with 22 goals and 45 points in 68 games during his rookie season.  He posted similar number the following season, 21 goals, and 51 points in 61 games.
  The 1982-83 season was a sign of things to come for Tim Kerr.  His goal and point production were up, but also his injuries.  Kerr scored 11 goals and 19 points in 24 games.  He missed significant time due to a knee injury.
  Starting with the 83-84 season, Kerr ran together four impressive seasons, in terms of goals and durability.  Kerr scored 54, 54, 58 and 58 goals in consecutive season while also playing in 74 or more games in each season.  Kerr set a, still standing, NHL record with 34 powerplay goals in 1985-86 and was a Second Team All-Star in 1986-87.
  Kerr would get the nickname "The Sultan of Slot" for how lethal he was in close proximity of the net.  Kerr paid the price for playing in front of the net, but he also reaped the rewards.
  Unfortunately for the Flyers, Kerr's injury bug would resurface during the play-offs, first in 1985 and then again in 1987.  In 1985, after setting a NHL play-off record, scoring  four goals in 8:16, and in a single period, Kerr would be injured and missed the majority of the semi-finals and Stanley Cup Finals.  In 1987, Kerr suffered a serious shoulder injury versus the New York Islanders during the second round.  The Flyers, without its top goal scorer, eventually lost the Stanley Cup final to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games.
  Kerr missed all but eight games in 1987-88 due to the shoulder injury.  Kerr returned to form in 1988-89, scoring 48 goals in 68 games.  Also true to form, Kerr missed time, and a chance at another 50 goals season due to injuries.  This time to a broken jaw.  Kerr did save his best for the play-offs, scoring 14 goals and 25 points in 19 play-off games as the Flyers lost in the Semi-Finals to the Montreal Canadiens. For Kerr's determination to play and for overcoming injuries, Kerr was awarded the Bill Masterson trophy in 1989.
  Injuries continued to plague Kerr for the rest of his career.  Kerr wouldn't play more than 40 games in each of his last four seasons.  Although Kerr's on ice injuries paled in comparision to his loss in 1990, when his wife lost her life while giving birth to the couple's third child.
  Following the season, Kerr was left unprotected in the 1991 expansion draft.  he was selected by the San Jose Sharks and that same day, he was flipped to the Flyers division rival, the New York Rangers.  In another injury shortened season, Kerr had 18 points in 32 games for the Rangers.  In the offseason, Kerr was traded to the Hartford Whalers for a final, yet again, injury plagued season before retiring in 1993.
  Kerr's career is a what could have been career.  While Kerr wasn't a physically dominating player, he was extremely difficult to move once he layed down roots in front of the opponents net.Kerr could have easily had six straight career 50 goal seasons in the mid-to-late-1980s  if not for injuries.  It was the shoulder injury in 1987 that would eventually end his career.  Did injuries rob the Sultan of Slot a place in HHOF?  How do you compare him to Cam Neely's selection?