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Sunday, March 31, 2013

1982-82 OPC Reboot: Caps and Jets

Washington Capitals

  For the second straight season, the Washington Capitals missed the play-offs while finishing the season within two points of the final play-off spot.  The Capitals had the last spot secured as late as April 1st, before getting passed by the Toronto Maple Leafs, with three games left in the season.  The Leafs would finish the season with 71 points; the Capitals had 70.  The Capitals would have to wait until 1983 before making their debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Rk             Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1      Mike  Palmateer   G  27 49 18 19   9 172  3.85  2 2679
2          Dave  Parro   G  23 18  4  7   2  49  3.63  1  811
3    Wayne  Stephenson   G  36 20  4  7   5  66  3.92  1 1010
4         Gary  Inness   G  31  3  0  1   2   9  3.00  0  180
5       Rollie  Boutin   G  23  2  0  2   0  11  5.50  0  120
           Team Total          80 26 36  18 307  3.84  4 4800

1981-82 OPC #351 - Mike Palmateer

  After falling two points short of a play-off birth in 1980, the Capitals traded for Mike Palmateer, sending the Toronto Maple Leafs All-Star defenceman, Robert Picard.  Ironic, that the Caps would then lose out to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the final play-off spot.  Palmateer's time in Washington would be short.  In his second season with Washington, he suffered a season ending knee injury.  It probably didn't help that the Capitals once call upon a drugged up Palmateer off a hospital gurney, just prior to knee surgery, to play a game.  The Capitals would sell Palmateer back to Toronto.  He would retire two season later. 

Bonus Capitals

1981-82 OPC Wayne Stephenson

  Wayne Stephenson had a late start on his NHL career.  He was 27 before he signed his first professional hockey contract in 1972, even then it was only a 30 day trial contract, as Stephenson had a bigger dream in mind, an Olympic Gold Medal.  Stephenson had played with the Canada National team since 1966.  He played in 3 games in the 1968 Olympics, helping the team win a Bronze medal.  He was slated to the be the #1 goalie for the 1972 Olympics, until Canada pulled out of the Olympics and World Championships.  Canada protested that it could never win a Gold as long as Russia was allowed to use "professional amateurs".  Stephenson would start his career with the St. Louis Blues before getting traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, where he won a Stanley Cup  in 1975, as Bernie Parent's back-up.  He would spend his final two seasons in Washington, before retiring in 1981.

1981-82 OPC Dave Parro (RC)

    With injuries to starters Mike Palmateer and Wayne Stephenson, Dave Parro was made his NHL debut for the Washington Capitals.  His first career start was against the Edmonton Oilers, although the Caps lost, Parro took consolation in stopping Wayne Gretzky on breakway.  In his fourth career start, he earned his first career shutout versus the Los Angeles Kings.  Parro took over starting goalie duties in 1981-82 after Mike Palmateer re-injured his knee.  Although it was not to last, as another rookie goalie, Al Jensen, would upstage Parro in the later stages of the season.  Then during the offseason, the Capitals would trade for another goalie, Pat Riggin. Parro would be the odd man out, playing in only 6 games in 1982-83 and playing a single minute in 1983-84. 

1981-82 OPC Gary Inness

  From the 1976-77 season to the 1982-83 season, a different goalie led the Washington Capitals in games played.  During the 1978-79 season, it was Gary Inness who led the team with 37 games played.  The Capitals signed Gary Inness in December of 1978, after the Indianapolis Pacers of the WHA folded 25 games into their season.  Inness went 14-14-8, becoming the first Washington Capitals goalie to have a .500 or better record, with more than 1 decision.  This did not inspire any faith in him by the Capitals, as they traded for Wayne Stephenson before the start of the following season.  Inness would spend the majority of his time in the AHL the following two seasons before retiring in 1981.

1981-82 OPC Rollie Boutin (RC)

   Rollie Boutin had a strong 1980-81 campaign, in the AHL.  He led the AHL in wins, shutouts and was a Second Team All-Star.  His brief time in the NHL was not as strong.  Rollie failed to build on his 79-80 season, where he went 7-7-1, 3.50 with the Capitals.  He only played two games with the big team in 80-81 and allowed 11 goals in his two starts.  Boutin would bounce around the minors for a few more season before retiring in 1984.

Winnipeg Jets

   The Winnipeg Jets won the Avco Cup, the WHA's championship, in back-to-back seasons in 1978 and 1979.  They struggled in their first season in the NHL, in thier second season, they down right awful. They scored the least goals and allowed the most goals in the NHL.  They won their first game of the season on October 17th.  They didn't win another game until December 23rd, setting a NHL record with a 30 game winless streak.  They were a bad team.

Rk                Player Pos Age GP W  L T/O  GA   GAA SO  MIN
1        Markus Mattsson   G  23 31 3 21   4 128  4.50  1 1707
2           Pierre Hamel   G  28 29 3 20   4 128  4.73  0 1623
3            Michel Dion   G  26 14 3  6   3  61  4.83  0  757
4    Lindsay Middlebrook   G  25 14 0  9   3  65  5.97  0  653
5            Ron Loustel   G  18  1 0  1   0  10 10.00  0   60
              Team Total         80 9 57  14 392  4.90  1 4800

1981-82 OPC #365 Pierre Hamel

  Pierre Hamel was selected by the Jets from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the expansion draft.  Hamel had played in 5 games with the Leafs since 1974.  Hamel would last two seasons with the Jets before returning to the minor leagues to finish his career.

1981-82 OPC #374 Markus Mattsson

    When the Winnipeg Jets merged into the NHL from the WHA in 1979, they lost a lot of key players.  Most of its players had their NHL rights already owned by another team.  The Jets were allowed claim up to two skaters and two goalies as priority selections, if the NHL who held thier rights tried to claim them.  The Islanders, who drafted Mattsson in the 5th round of the 1977 amateur draft, attempted to claim Mattsson, but the Jets denied the Islander's claim on Mattsson by labeling him as a priority selection.  After playing two seasons for the Jets, Mattsson would spend the entire 1981-82 season in the minors before signing as a free agent with the Minnesota North Stars in the following offseason.  Mattson was the Winnipeg Jet goalie to record a shutout in the NHL.

Bonus Jets

1981-82 OPC Michel Dion

    Michel Dion's season actually improved after being sold to the Winnipeg Jets in February of 1981.  While he was a Nordique, Dion was 0-8-3, 5.32 GAA in 12 games.  As a Jet, Dion was 3-6-3, 4.83 GAA in 14 games.  The three wins tied him for the team lead in that category.  He would leave the Jets via free agency to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He had his best season of his career the following year and played in the 1982 all-star game.  This is Dion's second card in the reboot, as I gave him an update card as a Penguin.

1981-82 OPC Lindsay Middlebrook (RC)

  Lindsay Middlebrook had a lot of success in the minors, winning a Turner Cup and twice being named to the 1st or 2nd All-Star team, but in the NHL, he had very little success.  Middlebrook was picked by the Jets in the 1979 expansion draft after the New York Rangers left him unprotected.  In two seasons with the Jets, Middlebrook went 2-17-3, 5.11 GAA.  He would later have stops with the Minnesota North Stars, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers.  It was with the Edmonton Oilers he had his most success, going 1-0-0, 3.00 GAA.

1981-82 OPC Ron Loustel (RC)

  One game, ten goals against.  That is the NHL career of Ron Loustel.  On March 27th, 1981, Loustel, recently called up from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, got the call to start in net against the Vancouver Canucks.  For whatever reason, coach Mike Smith left Loustel inbetween the pipes for the entire 60 minutes and 10 goals.  To Loustel's credit, the Jets defence was atrocious that net, allowing Vancouver to get 51 shots on net including 20 in the final period.   Loustel would return to the junior leagues the following season.  He only play one more professional game.  He allowed 3 goals in 33 minutes with the Fort Wayne Comet of the IHL.
  It'd be interesting to see why the Jets started Loustel and then kept him in for all ten goals.  The previous game was on March 22nd, so the team had five days to decide on who to start.  Loustel was born in Winnipeg, so that might have contributed to the decision to start him at a home game, but why leave him out to dry? 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

TTM Success: Bob Nystrom

  Bobby Nystrom scored the biggest goal in the history of the New York Islanders.  In overtime of game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, Nystrom scored the Stanley Cup winning goal on a John Tonelli pass.  Nystrom, a career-long New York Islander, played 900 games over fourteen seasons.  He played another 157 play-off games, netting 83 points and four Stanley Cup rings.  Nystorm was known for his excellent work ethic and the Islanders annually give out the Bob Nystrom award.  The 2012 winner was Matt Martin.  One of Nystrom's greatest honours was on April 1st, 1995, when the Islanders retired his number 23.  Nystrom was the first Swedish  born player to score a Stnaley Cup winning goal.  Nystrom was born in Stockholm, Sweden, but moved to Canada at age four.  His Cup winning goal did make teammates Stefan Persson and Anders Kallur, the first Swedish trained players to win a Stanley.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

1981-82 OPC Reboot: Leafs and Canucks

Toronto Maple Leafs

  The Toronto Maple Leafs finished in last place in the Adams Division, which was good enough for a play-off spot.  In 1980-81, the NHL would rank the teams by points and the top 16 made the play-offs.  The Leafs rode a five game unbeaten streak into the play-offs, just to be swept in three games by the New York Islanders.  The Islanders outscored the Leafs 20 to 4.  The Leafs used five different goalies in the regular season and three in the play-offs. 

Rk             Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA  GAA SO  MIN
1           Jiri  Crha   G  30 54 20 20  11 211 4.07  0 3112
2      Jim  Rutherford   G  31 18  4 10   2  82 5.12  0  961
3     Michel  Larocque   G  28  8  3  3   2  40 5.22  0  460
4         Curt  Ridley   G  29  3  1  1   0  12 5.81  0  124
5    Vincent  Tremblay   G  21  3  0  3   0  16 6.71  0  143
           Team Total          80 28 37  15 361 4.51  0 4800

1981-82 OPC #315 - Jiri Crha (RC)

  Jiri Crha was clearly the best Leafs goalie in the 1980-81 regular season, but when the topic is the worst Leafs goalie ever, his name tends to get mentioned.  It might have more to do with his last few games with the Leafs.  In 65 play-off minutes in 1981, he allowed 11 goals, for a 10.15 GAA.  In fact, he golds the record for highest GAA in a single play-off for a goalie who ever played more the 60 minutes.  Crha would never play another NHL game.  Crha's OPC card was the inspiration for this reboot.

1981-82 OPC #319 - Michel "Bunny" Larocque

  Michel Larocque shared the Vezina Trophy from the 1980-81 season.  He didn't share it with his Leafs teammates, he won it with his Canadiens teammates.  Larocque had a 3.03 GAA with the Canadiens, but with the Leafs, he had a 5.23 GAA.  For his career, he had a 2.83 GAA with Montreal, and a 4.87 GAA while playing for other teams.  One thing he did have, was a cool mask.  His 1982-83 OPC card is a contender for card of the year.

Bonus Leafs

1981-82 OPC Vincent Trembley(RC)

  Vincent Trembley posted a 6.71 GAA while losing all three games he played.  For that, the Leafs believed he was good enough to share the goalie duties the following season.  One of his career highlights of his career is a 4-0 shutout versus the Philadelphia Flyers on November 14th, 1981.  Other than that, he was the typical 80's Maple Leafs goalie - bad.

1981-82 OPC Curt Ridley

  Curt Ridley is best known as a Vancouver Canuck.  Ridley was traded to the Leafs in Febraury of 1980.  Ridley suffered a season ended injury in his third game as a Leaf.  A slapshot from the blueline went off his index finger in his catching hand.  It is notable since Jiri Crha would have to come off the bench to play, making him the first goalie to have ever defected from Europe and play in the NHL.  Ridley would play three more games the following season before retiring in 1982. 

1981-82 OPC Paul Harrison

  The Islanders were beating the Leafs so bad in the play-offs, that the Leafs brought in a goalie who had spent the entire season in the minors to stop the bleeding.  Paul Harrison had spent the entire 1980-81 season in the minors before getting called up by the Leafs.  Too bad he didn't play the entire series, he only allowed one goal in 40 minutes compared to 19 the other goalies had allowed in 140 minutes.  Perhaps he played great, or perhaps the Islanders grew tired of scoring.

1981-82 OPC Jim Rutherford

  Jim Rutherford was traded twice during the 1980-81 season.  He finished the season with Los Angeles, so he really shouldn't have a Maple Leafs card in this reboot.  He played 18 games for the Maple Leafs sandwiched between time with the Detroit Red Wings and LA Kings.  I had to include him because of his funky mask.  What is that on his face?  It's not a maple leaf.  Unless it is a maple leaf that is in the process of being cut in half.  A deformed maple leaf?  A sign of things to come for the Leafs of the 1980s.  That is one ugly mask.  

Vancouver Canucks

    1980-81 was the beginning of King Richard's reign as the top goalie in Vancouver.  Although it wouldn't be until the 1982 play-offs run that he'd make a name for himself.  While the Canucks goal tending was middle of the pack, they had the fifth worse offence in the league and were the only team in the NHL not to have a player score 70 points.  Thomas Gradin led the team with 69 points.  Noteworthy was Tiger Williams 35 goals and 343 PIM, becoming the first player to accomplish a 30-300 season.

Rk            Player Pos Age GP  W  L T/O  GA  GAA SO  MIN
1    Richard  Brodeur   G  28 52 17 18  16 177 3.51  0 3024
2       Gary  Bromley   G  31 20  6  6   4  62 3.80  0  978
3        Glen  Hanlon   G  23 17  5  8   0  59 4.44  1  798
          Team Total          80 28 32  20 298 3.72  1 4800

1981-82 OPC #331 - Richard Brodeur

  Brodeur was a star in the WHA for th Quebec Nordiques, but when the WHA merged with the NHL, his rights were held by the New York Islanders.  The Quebec Nordiques claimed Brodeur as a priority selection, only to trade his rights back to the Islanders for another goalie, Goran Hogosta.   Stuck behind two All-Star goalies in Billy Smith and Chico Resch, Broduer would only appear in two games before being traded to the Canucks in the offseason prior to the 1980-81 season.   Brodeur would be the #1 goalie in Vancouver for seven season before being traded to Hartford in 1988.

1981-82 OPC #336 - Glen Hanlon

  Wayne Gretzky scored over 800 NHL goals, but you always remember your first and Wayne Gretzky will always remember Glen Hanlon.  Hanlon would go onto play 477 career NHL games with four different franchises.  Since retiring, Hanlon made a career in coaching.  He coached the Washington Capitals in the NHL and the national teams for Slovaki and Belarus.  In 2006, he was named sportsman of the year by a Belarus newspaper.

Bonus Canucks

1981-82 OPC Gary Bromley

  This is the scariest card in the reboot.  Seriously, look at that guy with the beard in the background.  Must have serial killer night at the old Pacific Coliseum.  Gary Bromley's mask is a classic.  The best skull mask ever in the NHL.  I had a pretty sweet TTM return from Bromley in 2011.  1980-81 would be Bromley's final season in the NHL, after a year in the minors, he retired in 1982.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TTM Success: JP Parise

 Jean Paul Parise was never really a star, but he put together an excellent career and was part of Team Canada in 1972 Summitt Series.  Parise will be best remember for his actions in Game Eight of the Summitt Series.  After Team Canada is called for three minor penalties within the first 5 minutes, Parise threatens the referee, Josef Kompalla, with a overhand swing of his stick.  Pairse was given a game miscount for his actions.  Kompalla, USSR's choice for game 8 referee, was a late change after one of the planned officials, Rudolf Bata, got ill with food poisoning.  In game Six, Kompalla had called Team Canada for 31 PIM compared to USSR's 4.  Conspiracy theories had USSR giving Bata food poisoning so their choice of officials would call the game.  After the Parise incident, Kompalla actually called more penalties against the USSR than Canada.  Did Parise's outburst help Team Canada win?  It definitely changed the game.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TTM Success: Neal Broten

  Neal Broten is a member for the US Hockey Hall of Fame.  He was part of the Miracle on Ice team that shocked the hockey world by beating the USSR and winning Gold in the 1980 Olympics.  Teammate Ken Morrow would win a Stanley Cup a few months after the Olympics, Broten would have to wait 15 years before becoming the only other Miracle on Ice player to also win a Stanley Cup.  In the process, he became the first American born player to score a Stanley Cup wining goal.

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. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

TTM Success: Butch Goring

  Butch Goring is often considered the key piece of the puzzle that pushed the New York Islanders from play-off contenders to a Stanley Cup dynasty.  In the previous five seasons before acquiring Goring, the Islanders had lost in the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals four times.  After acquiring Goring from the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline in 1980, the New York Islanders would win four straight Stanley Cups and Goring would win the Conn Smythe trophy as play-off MVP in the 1981 play-offs.  Goring is also credited, by Mike Bossy, as being the originator of the play-off beard.  The New York Islanders were the first team to grow play-off beards. 
  Goring is also noted for being one of the least penalized players in NHL History.  He has the least career PIM, 102, for any player who has played over 1000 NHL games.  He is also shares the record for most games in a NHL season while also having zero PIM.  Both Goring and Craig Ramsey had zero PIM in 78 games.  Goring is also the first NHL player on record to have worn the number 91.  Goring was briefly the NHL record holder for most career short-handed goals.  He over took Derek Sanderson during the 1983-84 season but then passed by Wayne Gretzky, early in the 1985-86 season.  The helmets Goring wore in the NHL was the same helmets he had wore since he was twelve years old, which his dad had bought him.  For a while, the helmet he wore for Islanders road games was not painted, but covered in blue tape.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

TTM Success: Zdeno Chara

    Zdeno Chara is arguably the most intimidating player in the game.  He 's the tallest player in the NHL.  He owns the NHL record for the hardest shot, 108.8 MPH, in the All Star skills competition.  He help led the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup victory in 2011.  He has six career Gordie Howe Hat Tricks and is a fearsome fighter.  "Big Z" is one of the top players in the game today.  He also another one of the future stars that was jettison during Mike Milbury's days as GM with the New York Islanders.  Chara, along with the 2nd overall pick in 2001, Jason Spezza, were traded to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin and Bill Muckalt.  Chara signed 3 of 3 and keep both extra copies of the customs.  One thing about this return, he didn't sign his first name as he usually does.  There are other returns with the shorten signature.