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Thursday, February 28, 2013

1981-82 OPC Reboot - Flyers and Penguins

Philadelphia Flyers

  The Broad Street Bullies, once again bullied their way through the league.  The Flyers led the league, and set a franchise record, with 2581 PIM.  The Flyers were solid in net, finishing second in the league for the fewest goals against.  Rookie Rick St Croix finished second in the league in GAA and Pete Peeters was fourth.

Rk            Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1      Pete  Peeters   G  23 40 22 12   5 115  2.96  2 2333
2   Rick  St.  Croix   G  26 27 13  7   6  65  2.49  2 1567
3         Phil  Myre   G  32 16  6  5   4  61  4.07  0  900
          Team Total         80 41 24  15 241  3.01  4 4800

1981-82 OPC #245 Pete Peeters

  Pete Peeters took the reigns of starting goalie in the 1979-80 season after Bernie Parent retired.  I think Pete Peeters is one of the most underrated goalies from the 1980s.  He had the second most wins and second best GAA in the 1980s.  Also, according to hockeyreference.com, he has the 10th best career adjusted GAA of all-time. 

1981-82 OPC #252 Rick St Croix (RC)

  1980-81 was Rick St Croix's best season by far.  Granted he played one more season for the Flyers before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1982-83 season.  His stats with the Flyers; 38-26-16, 3.23 GAA.  With the Maple Leafs; 11-28-2, 4.63 GAA. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

  The Penguins limped into the play-offs, going 3-6-4 in their last thirteen games.  They finished 15th overall and had to face the second overall team, the St. Louis Blues.  The Penguins battled and made it all the way to double overtime in game five before bowing out.  The Penguins relied heavily on Greg Millen, playing him in 63 games, but lost Millen via free agency in the offseason.  When it was time to produce the set, OPC decided not to include any goalies for the Pittsburgh Penguins, making them the only team without a goalie card in the set.

Rk        Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1    Greg  Millen   G  23 63 25 27  10 258  4.16  0 3721
2     Nick  Ricci   G  21  9  4  5   0  35  3.89  0  540
3    Rob  Holland   G  23 10  1  5   3  45  5.01  0  539
      Team Total         80 30 37  13 338  4.22  0 4800

Bonus Penguins

1981-82 OPC Greg Millen (Pens)

    Greg Millen did have a card in the 1981-82 OPC set, but he was given an airbrush job and was featured as a Hartford Whalers.  That card was featured in an earlier post.  I decided I had to give Greg Millen a Penguins card since he was the man between the pipes for the Pens in 1980-81.  In the off-season, the Penguins and the Whalers engaged in a bidding war for Greg Millen.  On June 15th, Millen signed with the Whalers, netting Millen a pay increase from $40,000 a season to $160,000. 

1981-82 Nick Ricci (RC)

  Nick Ricci was being groomed as the goalie for the future, but he never made it.  He played 19 games over four seasons for the Penguins before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  he played two more seasons in the minors before retiring. 

1981-82 OPC Rob Holland (RC)

  First off, there are two things wrong with this card.  The uniform dates the picture from the 1979-80 season.  Also there is the big logo on top of the picture.  I could not find a good Rob Holland picture on the internet.  So I had to borrow one off eBay.  I guess I should mention that Classic Hockey Images has hundreds of classic goalie pictures available for sale.  Check out their other items.  Holland's NHL career only lasted two seasons.  Before the 1981-82 season, he was traded to the New York Islanders and spent his final six professional seasons in the minors.

Penguins Update

1981-82 OPC Michel Dion

  Michel Dion was signed by the Penguins with the hopes that he would back-up Greg Millen for the 1981-82 season.  Instead Millen was lost via free agency and Dion would go on to represent the Penguins in the 1982 All-Star game.   With his distinctive bird beek mask in Penguins colours, Dion'd first season would be the only bright spot in his Penguins career as then team would go on a two year nosedive, winning the Mario Lemieux sweepstakes for the 1984 draft.

1981-82 OPC Paul Harrison

  Worried about their goaltending depth, the Penguins traded for veteran Paul Harrison during training camp of the 1981-82 season.  Harrison would only play 13 games for the Penguins before being lost on waivers to the Buffalo Sabres in February of 1982.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TTM Success: Pat Verbeek

  The Little Ball of Hate, aka Pat Verbeek, had 2905 PIM during his career.  That is the most PIM by player who scored 500 or more goals in his career.  He had three seasons where he scored over 40 goals and also had 200+ PIM.  He's the only player in NHL history to accomplish that feat.  Verbeek spent his early career on poor teams, the New Jersey Devils and Hartford Whalers.  In his first 12 seasons, there were only two seasons Verbeek was on a .500+ hockey team.  In the 1996 off-season, Verbeek signed with the Dallas Stars and helped the team go from 66 points the year before to 104 points in 1996-97 and won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999.  Behind Dave Andreychuk, Verbeek has the second most career NHL goals from a player who has been passed over by the Hall of Fame. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TTM Success: John Slaney

  John Slaney had a long professional career, albeit mostly in the AHL.  He played in 1124 games in 20 professional seasons, but he will best be remembered for a single moment before his pro career began; The Slaney Goal.  Before the influx of Eastern Bloc players in the early 1990s, it was only once every 4-5 years when the best players from Canada and Russia would face-off.  In between those years, it was at the World Juniors Hockey Championships where the two countries would battle for hockey supremacy.  January 4th, 1991, Canada versus Russia.  It was only a round robin game, but considering the standings, the winner would get Gold, or in Russia's case, a win or a tie for Gold.  With the score tied 2-2 and a little over 5 minutes remaining in the game, John Slaney picked off a clearing attempt at the blue line in the Russian zone and wired a slapshot past the Russian goalie.  The goal would clinch Canada's first ever back-to-back Gold medals in the tournament.  Slaney would go on to play 268 NHL games over 9 seasons with 7 different franchises.  He did find success in the AHL, setting a record for career points by a defenceman, since broken.  While Slaney never found the NHL success that was expected of him, he did have a very long pro career and will always be remembered for the Slaney Goal of 1991.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lost Cards: Pelle Lindbergh

  Pelle Lindbergh is tragic story.  A young superstar who authored his own demise through over-estimating his own indestructibility.  On November 12, 1985, Lindbergh crashed his Porsche into a wall.  Lindbergh's blood alcohol level was .24, well above the legal limit of .10.  He was known for driving fast and speed also contributed to the crash.  Lindbergh was pronounced brain-dead the day after the accident.  A few days later, he was taken off life support.  He was only 26 when he died.
  Lindbergh lives on today as a "what could have been" story.  He had won the Vezina trophy in 1984-85 and had backstopped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals.  He was the first European goalie to win any NHL awards or honours. 
  Lindbergh only had two OPC cards.  He had a rookie card in the 1983-84 set, and then also a card in the 1985-86 set.  He never had a card in the 1984-85 set.  He struggled in the 1983-84 season, allowing Bob Froese to get the majority of starts, and the lone Flyers goalie card in the set.  I created this card during last summer, before OPC put out its 2012-13 set.  Unfortunately, they used the exact same picture for Lindbergh's sticker insert.

1984-95 OPC Pelle Lindbergh

Saturday, February 9, 2013

TTM Success: Jack Lynch

  Jack Lynch spent his career on some fairly bad teams, but no team rivals the 1974-75 Washington Capitals.  Traded midseason from the Detroit Red Wings to the Capitals, Lynch would play 20 games for Washington in 1974-75, scoring six points and registering a minus 52.  Based on his 20 games with the Caps, Lynch would have been on pace for -216 if he had played the entire season with the team.  The following season was a better one for Jack and the Caps.  The Caps won 11 games, up from eight the previous season and Lynch improved to a -52.  Unfortunately for Jack, his career ended due to injuries in 1979 before the Capitals started to be a competitive team.  He added a post-it note on the card on the right, pointing out that the player on the card is not him, but teammate Bill Collins.  Jack currently works for Ontario Tourism.

Friday, February 8, 2013

1981-82 OPC Reboot - Islanders and Rangers

New York Islanders

  The New York Islanders won their second of four straight Stanley Cups in 1981.  They led the league in points and goals scored.  During the season, the team traded away disgruntled star goalie Chico Resch and brought up rookie Roland Melanson to split the starts with Billy Smith.  Once the play-offs arrived, it was all Billy Smith, as the Islanders dominated in the play-offs, going 15-3.

Rk            Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA  GAA SO  MIN
1        Billy  Smith   G  30 41 22 10   8 129 3.28  2 2363
2        Glenn  Resch   G  32 32 18  7   5  93 3.07  3 1817
3    Roland  Melanson   G  20 11  8  1   1  32 3.10  0  620
          Team Total          80 48 18  14 254 3.17  5 4800

1981-82 OPC #207 - Billy Smith

  Billy Smith was elected to the HHOF in 1993.  The Islanders had split the regular season games between Resch and Smith fairly evenly during the previous five and a half season before trading Resch.  Although during the 1980 playoffs, it was a different matter, Smith played 1198 minutes compared to Resch's 120.  Smith would continue to build on his reputation as a play-off goalie, helping the Islanders win the Cup four straight seasons, and winning the Conn Smythe in 1983.  Smith had 14 OPC cards made during his career.  Ten of them showed him wither posed or in warm-up. 

Bonus Islanders

1981-82 OPC Roland Melanson (RC)

  Roland Melanson came to the Island at the right time.  He was part of three Stanley Cup winning teams.  "Rollie the Goalie" led the NHL in save percentage in 1983-84, the first season it was officially tracked.  In 1982-83, Melanson was named to the NHL's 2nd All-Star team.  Melanson had his best seasons with the Islanders but while he split time with Billy Smith in the regular season, he rarely played in the play-offs.  He was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in 1984 for a 1st round choice, used to select Brad Dalgarno. 

New York Rangers

  The New York Rangers went into the play-offs on a hot streak.  They went 6-2-2 to finish the season with 74 points and the 14th play-off seed.  In 1980-81, teams were seeding 1-16 regardless of division or conference.  In the play-offs they beat the Los Angelese Kings, 99 points, and the St. Louis Blues, 107pts, before getting swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champs, the New York Islanders, 110pts.  The Rangers used five goalies during the 1980-81 season.

Rk          Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA  GAA SO  MIN
1    Doug  Soetaert   G  25 39 16 16   7 152 3.93  0 2320
2      Steve  Baker   G  23 21 10  6   5  73 3.48  2 1260
3     Wayne  Thomas   G  33 10  3  6   1  34 3.40  0  600
4    John  Davidson   G  27 10  1  7   1  48 5.14  0  560
5      Steve  Weeks   G  22  1  0  1   0   2 2.00  0   60
        Team Total          80 30 36  14 309 3.86  2 4800

1981-82 OPC #222 - John Davidson
  John Davidson is another goalie from this set that is best known as a sportscaster.  As for his playing days, he is best known for two things, backstopping the 1979 Rangers to the Stanley Cup finals and for being the first NHL player to wear 00.  Davidson only wore 00 for less than a season but it can be seen on his 1978-79 card.  Davidson's career was cut short by chronic knee problems.  He played in only 13 games from the 1980-81 season to his final season, 1982-83.

1981-82 OPC #231 - Steve Baker

  Steve Baker only played four NHL season, all with the New York Rangers.  Baker burst onto the scene in 1979, only losing one out his first ten games.  He struggled to keep that pace up and was never able to secure the #1 spot for himself.  He did have a sweet mask.  Here's a clip of a young Steve Baker explaining his goalie equipment to Phil Esposito.

Bonus Rangers

1981-82 Doug Soetaert

  Doug Soetaert finally got a chance to play for the Rangers in the 1980-81 season.  He had spent the last five seasons splitting time between New York and the AHL.  A knee injury to John Davidson left the #1 spot opened and Soetaert filled that role for the majority of the season.  The Rangers didn't feel Soetaert has right for the job, so he found himself traded to the Winnipeg Jets in the off season.  Doug was the #1 goalie in Winnipeg before a trade to Montreal, where he helped mentor Patrick Roy and won a Stanley Cup in 1986.

1981-82 OPC Wayne Thomas

  Wayne Thomas started his career as a Montreal Canadien in 1973.  He shutout the Vancouver Canucks in his first career start.  The following season, he found himself as the starting goalie, as incumbent Ken Dryden left the team to study law.  The following season, Ken Dryden returned and the Canadiens carried three goalies.  Dryden played 56 games, Michel Larocque played 25 games and Thomas played zero games.  Thomas spent the entire season watching, not even getting to play in the minors.  The Toronto Maple Leafs were so impressed by Thomas's season, that they traded a 1st round pick for him.  It looked great early, as Thomas played in the All-Star game in his first season in Toronto.  Eventually Thomas lost the #1 job in Toronto and would eventually get picked up on waivers by the New York Rangers.

1981-82 OPC Steve Weeks (RC)
  Steve Weeks got his first OPC card in the 1982-83 set, his next card was in 1989-90.  I wonder if that gap is a record.  He played 18 or more games in every season in between.  He played for 6 different teams in a thirteen year career.  Perhaps the quietest 13 year goalie career that I know of.  At least for a guy who played in an era that I watched hockey.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

TTM Success: Tony Twist

  Tony Twist was one of the most feared fighters in the NHL during the late 1990s.  Twist never finished in the top 10 in PIM.   In 1991-92, Twist set a career high with 164 PIM in 44 games.  Twist was massive. Twist was 6-1 and tipped the scales at 245lb during the height of his career.  He was an intimidating figure with a heavy right hand.  His career was cut short in 1999 after suffering numerous injuries in a motorcycle accident.  I added a video below from youtube that feature some great quotes from a candid Tony Twist.