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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Lost Cards: 1985-86 OPC Mike Palmateer

  The Popcorn Kid, Mike Palmateer, was an fan favourite in Toronto during his first tour of duty with the team, although his farewell tour did not go so well.
  Drafted 85th overall in the 5th round of the 1974 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Palmateer made his debut on October 24, 1976.  Upon being called up, Palmateer reportedly told the Leafs "Your hunt for a goalie is over.".  Palmateer made good on his claim, winning his first three games and going 7-2-1, with 2 shutouts, including one against the Montreal Canadiens, in his first ten.  Palmateer became the Leafs goalie of choice.  Palmateer received a rookie card from OPC in the 1977-78 set but it was one of those helmetless inaction shots, so I put together an action variant for Palmateer.

1977-78 OPC Mike Palmateer

  In the 1978 playoffs, Palmateer's stellar play helped the Leafs upset the New York Islanders in overtime of Game 7.  The Leafs made it to the Stanley Cup semi-finals before getting swept by the Montreal Canadiens.  Mike continued to start for the Leafs but suffered an ankle injury in December of 1979.  He returned a month later, but re-injured his ankle ten minutes into his first game.  Afterwards, Palmateer claimed he felt rushed to return to action and was not actually ready to return.  It took another month before Palmateer played again.
  With his contract up after 1980,  Palmateer and Leafs could not agree on a new contract and were headed to arbitration, before Palmateer was traded to the Washington Capitals in a multi-player and draft picks deal.  Robert Picard, a previous Lost Card, was the key piece received by the Leafs.   The Capitals believed their search for a goalie was over.  In fact, Caps GM Max McNab, believed they would be "set in goalie for the next ten years."  Unfortunately, Palmateer's time with the Capitals was marred by injuries and only lasted two seasons.  Palmateer got a lame warm-up shot for the 1981-92 set, which I previously tackled during the 1981-82 OPC Goalie Reboot.  Palmateer played only 11 games during the 1981-82 season, his second with the Caps, due to injuries, and did not earn a card in the 1982-83 set.  Here's what a 1982-83 OPC Palmateer may have looked like.

1982-83 OPC Mike Palmateer
  There is a story regarding Palmateer leaving the hospital, where he was scheduled for knee surgery, since he was called in to fill-in for injured goalie Wayne Stephenson.  After the game, Palmateer returned to the hospital and had the surgery that week. Obviously, this would not be the type of decision that help prolong a career.  Although, I cannot find out when this actually was.  Stephenson and Palmateer were only teammates during the 1980-81 season.  The best guess I have is either December 17, 1980 or January 4th 1981.  Palmateer suffered a knee injury during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguin on December 12th.  Stephenson started the next game, but did not play again until January 4th.  I cannot find info on his injury.  Palmateer started all the games between Dec 17th and January 4th.
  On January 4th, Palmateer started, and injured his leg in the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers.  he was replaced by Stephenson, who finished the game.  Neither goalie played again until January 24 for Palmateer, and February 5th for Stephenson.  In the meantime, Dave Parro started 6 six games and Rollie Boutin started 2.  I would really like to find a newspaper article on this to confirm it.  Since it really is an incredible story.
  The contract Palmateer had signed withe caps put him into the upper echelon of NHL earners.  Frustrated with the returns on investment, and the Capitals abysmal on-ice performance, Capitals owner Abe Pollin basically cleaned house of the Palmateer deal, firing GM Max McNab, coach Gary Green and shipping Mike Palmateer back to the Maple Leafs for cash during the 1982 offseason.
  Palmateer, once again, ended the Leafs hunt for a goalie.  Although Leafs management was unimpressed as his play, as it was hindered by the numerous injuries he had incurred and had continued to suffer.  It didn't help that Palmateer had another contract dispute with the Leafs, winning a salary arbitration case after the 1983 season.  In the 1984 training camp, Palmateer and the Leafs brass once again had disagreements over his injuries.  Palmateer believed he should have rest days after games to heal up while the team felt he should have be back at practice the next day.  With youngsters Ken Wregget and Allan Bester poised to make the jump to the NHL, the Leafs felt Palmateer and his attitude should stay home.  After going unclaimed in the NHL waiver draft, the Leafs paid Palmateer to stay home.  They did not even assign him to the minors.
  In February of 1985,  the Edmonton Oilers contacted the Leafs about acquiring PalmateerGrant Fuhr had suffered an injury and the team was looking for a veteran to back-up Andy Moog while Fuhr healed.  Although the deal never materialized, Palmateer did attend the Oilers 1985 training camp, in which he played against the Leafs in exhibition play.  He never made the team and retired after being cut.
  If he had been traded, or had made the team, perhaps he would have had a place in the OPC set.  Highly unlikely, but he does land a spot on the Lost Cards.

1985-86 OPC #276 Mike Palmateer

1985-86 OPC #276 Mike Palmateer

1 comment:

  1. That 1982-83 card is terrific. Would have been a great fit in the set.