a img { display:none; } a:hover img { display:block; } -->

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Star, One Sheet; Grant Fuhr

Grant Fuhr

403 Wins
4 Stanley Cups
2003 HHOF

  Grant Fuhr is considered one of hockey's top clutch goalies.  Fuhr won four Stanley Cups and was in net for Team Canada's memorable 1987 Canada Cup victory.  Accolades, controversy and curiosity were prevalent in Fuhr's career.
  Fuhr was born to a bi-racial couple but was put up for adoption shortly after birth and was raised by a white family.  Fuhr's skin colour made headlines as the Edmonton Oilers selected him 8th overall in the 1981 draft.  Fuhr made the team out training camp, lost his first game but then set a rookie record by going unbeaten in his next 23 games.  He finished the season 28-5-14, with a 3.31 GAA and was the runner-up for the Vezina trophy.  His rookie season was the only time Grant Fuhr finished in the top ten for GAA.  Fuhr's play-off legacy would get off to a rocky start as he was involved in the Miracle in Manchester and a first round exit by the Oilers.

  Fuhr struggled the following season and was actually demoted to the AHL for a month.  Although the Oilers made it to the Stanley Cup finals, Fuhr only played 11 mins in the play-offs.  The Oilers went with Andy Moog during the 1983 play-offs.  For fives seasons Moog and Fuhr would split time during the regular season but after 1983, the play-offs were a different story.

  In 1983-84, Fuhr would return to form, he led the NHL in wins and set a single season records for goalies with 14 assists.  Fuhr started the play-offs as the go to guy and he held down the fort as the Oilers ended the New York Islanders dynasty and begin their own.  Fuhr would help the Oilers win four cups in five years.  It could have been five in five if it wasn't for Steve Smith's infamous own goal in 1986.
  Fuhr was Team Canada's starting goalie for the 1987 Canada Cup.  While the scores aren't flattering, 16 goals against in 3 games, Fuhr stood on head during the finals as the Soviets and Canadians kept fans on the edge of their seats.  Team Canada won the third game 6-5 on a late goal by Mario Lemieux,

  Although Fuhr would win the Vezina in 1987-88, his GAA, 3.43, and Save Pct, .881, weren't top ten in either category.  It is the only time since Save Pct became an official stat in 1983, that a Vezina winner did not finish in the top ten in either GAA or Save Pct.  As I mentioned, other than his rookie season, Fuhr never made the top ten in GAA.  Only twice in his career would he have a save percentage over .900, and that was in the mid-90s, during the dead puck era.  It would be Fuhr's play in the play-offs that would catapult him into stardom. 
  During the 1988 offseason, everything changed for the Oilers with the trading of Wayne Gretzky.  Fuhr would have his first losing season of his career, going 23-26-6, with a 3.81 GAA.  The following season, the Oilers would find a way to rebound and win a Cup without Gretzky, but it was also without Fuhr.  First it started with Fuhr's retirement.  Frustrated with his contract and not being able to wear a Pepsi logo on his goalie pads, Fuhr handed in his signed retirement papers to Oiler GM Glen Sather.  Sather, figuring it was only a ploy to get a new contract, never filed the papers.  Fuhr would unretire and make it to Edmonton in time for training camp.
  The inauspicious start to the season would be an omen for Fuhr.  He injuried his knee in pre-season, missing the first 11 games of the season.  He would play 17 of the next 22 games before suffering a shoulder injury.  He missed over 30 games before returning and then re-injuring the shoulder again.  Fuhr would watch creasemate Bill Ranford carry the Oilers to a Stanley Cup victory over the Boston Bruins.
  During the following offseason, Fuhr's career would hit rock bottom.  During the mid-80s, rumours ran rampant about drug use by the Edmonton Oilers.  The story was broke by Sports Illustrated and sparked RCMP investigations into the team.  No charges were laid and no names were named.  Although once Fuhr checked himself into a drug rehab during the 1990 offseason, the controversy sparked up again.  Fuhr admit to using illegal substances, i.e cocaine, from about 1983 to 1990.  The NHL, who had a strict and harsh drug abuse policy, suspended Fuhr for one year.  Considering Fuhr's confession and self-admission to rehab, the NHL later reduced his suspension to four months.  Fuhr made a triumphant return to the NHL on February 18th, 11 months since he last played in the NHL, with a 27 save shutout versus the New Jersey Devils. 
  Fuhr played well enough to get the nod for the play-offs.  He helped the Oilers reach the Conference finals before bowing out to the Minnesota North Stars in five games. 
  When it came time for the 1991 Canada Cup, Grant Fuhr was not invited to camp.  Officially, it was stated he hadn't played enough over the past year to be considered ready.  Instead, it was Fuhr's Edmonton Oiler back-up, Bill Ranford who got the started gig.  Team Canada never lost a game in the tournament and Ranford was selected at tournament MVP. 
  Bill Ranford was proving himself to every bit "money" as Grant Fuhr, but without the baggage.  During the 1991 training camp, Fuhr was shipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a seven player deal.  Fuhr led the NHL in losses, 33, in 1991-92 and once again found himself expendable, as top prospect, Felix Potvin, pushed his way into the crease.  During the 1992-93 season, Fuhr was traded to Buffalo.
  In Buffalo, Fuhr continued his mediocre regular seasons and once again found himself hounded by the next hot prospect.  This time it was Dominik Hasek.  Hasek, who actually only two years younger than Fuhr, vaulted over the more experienced Fuhr.  Fuhr found himself riding the pine during the regular season, and also in the play-offs.  He would, along with Hasek, win the William Jennigs trophy in 1994, although Fuhr's GAA was more than 1.50 higher than Hasek's.  After spending a little over two years in Buffalo, Fuhr was once again part of a large deal.  This time he was going to Los Angeles.
  Reunited with former Oilers Wayne Gretzky, and Jari Kurri, Fuhr was expected to provide insurance for the injured Kelly Hrudey.  It was a disaster, Fuhr would go 1-7-3, with a 4.04 GAA.  It appeared Fuhr was done.  The Kings allowed to walk via free agency in the offseason.
   Fuhr still had one admirer, Mike Keenan.  Keenan was so convinced that Fuhr could still play that he didn't bother resigning Curtis Joseph, trading his rights to Edmonton.  At first it seemed like a disaster, Fuhr showed up at training camp overweight, Keenan exiled him from training camp for a week.  Fuhr got his act together in time for the season and would set a NHL record by playing 79 games, including a NHL record 76 straight.  He reinjured his knee in the 76th game of the season, causing him to miss three games, otherwise he likely would have started in all 82 games.  This was also the season the Blues traded for Wayne Gretzky and were expecting a deep run in the play-offs.
  Fuhr's knees would once again get injured during round one of the play-offs versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.  In a controversial play, Nick Kypreos "jumps" on a prone Grant Fuhr during a goal mouth scramble.  Fuhr reinjures his knee and is out for the rest of the play-offs.  Kyperos is suspended for one game.  Jon Casey takes over in net for the Blues.  The Blues are able to beat the Leafs in six games but lost in double overtime of the seventh game versus the Detroit Red Wings in round two.
  Granted, it was during the trap era, statistically, Fuhr had his best seasons while playing for the Blues.  During four season with the Blues, Fuhr was 108-87-41, with a 2.68 GAA and a .900 save percentage.  Fuhr was never able to lead the Blues past the second round in the play-offs and during his final two seasons with the Blues, his back-ups were outplaying him during the regular season.  The Blues let Grant Fuhr leave via free agancy in 1999.
  Fuhr returned to the battle of Alberta, but this time, he was on the other side.  Fuhr signed with Calgary Flames.  Fuhr spent the season as the back-up goalie and his numbers once again ballooned.  In 23 games he was 5-13-2, with a 3.83 GAA.  His 13th loss of the season tied him with Gilles Meloche for most losses in a career.  He retired after the 1999-00 season.
  Grant Fuhr was a first ballot HHOFer.  He certainly never made on his regular season numbers.  He shared the crease with Andy Moog during the 1980s, but Fuhr took his game to another level when it really mattered.  He made his name as big game goalie.  He survived the drug scandal and some horrible years in the early 1990s to finish his career on a positive note.
  If Fuhr had retired in 1989, does he still make the HHOF?  Other than a few good years in St, Louis, again not top ten in GAA or save percentage, Fuhr was mediocre at best.  Andy Moog's regular season numbers were slightly better than Fuhr, and he played well in spot duty during the Cup runs.  If Moog starts during the play-offs, do the Oilers still win those Cups?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Out Joey, Billy's on the boards

  What a great card to represent the dead puck era.  Bill Lindsay, a career grinder, having his sweater grabbed by an unknown Washington Capitals assailant.  A scene so offensive, skilled playmakers, such as Joe Juneau, on the bench, cringe in horror.
  Juneau had 70 assists and 102 points in 1992-93, his rookie season.  Neither total was good enough to crack the top ten.  Lindsay, a key player in the Florida Panthers 1995 play-off run, had 34 points in 1996-97, matching his career high, set the previous season.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Star, One Sheet: Ron Francis

Ron Francis

 2007 HHOF
1798 Career Points
2 Stanley Cups
3 Lady Byngs

  Quick, without looking at the picture above, name the only 500 goal scorer to have never scored 40 goals or more in a single season?  Francis scored 549 career goals, but never scored 40 in a season.  Francis only broke the 30 goal mark three times in his career, setting a career high 1989-90 with 32 goals.
  Francis was drafted 4th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the 1981 Entry Draft.  Francis quickly became the team's top playmaker but the Whalers struggles continued, they finished last in the Adams division for four straight years.
  The Whalers didn't make the play-offs until the 1985-86 season.  While Francis missed 29 games that season due to a ankle injury, the team was led by Francis' cousin, recently acquired goalie, Mike Liut.  Francis would struggle in the play-offs, only getting 3 points in 10 games and the Whalers would be eliminated in the 2nd round.  The franchise would not win another play-off round for another 16 years.
  While Francis continued to put up points in the regular season, including 101 in 1989-90, he never once led the Whalers in play-off scoring.  In his 33 play-off games as a Whaler, Francis only totaled 22 points. 
  At the 1990-91 trade deadline, the Hartford Whalers made one of the worst trades in NHL history, that didn't include cash or draft picks, when they sent Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings to the Pittsburgh Pengiuns for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski.  Cullen, who was a year younger than Francis and only in his third NHL season, has scored 204 points since the start of 1989-90.  Francis, who was in his tenth season, had 177 points.  The Whalers would make the play-offs in '91 and '92, losing in the first round each time, before missing the play-offs for six straight seasons.  They wouldn't make the play-offs again until 1999, as the Carolina Hurricanes.  Cullen would be out of the NHL by 1999. 
  The trade would help the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups.  Francis exorcised his play-off demons by scoring 44 points during the two Stanley Cup runs.  Francis led the NHL in  regular season assists in back-to-back seasons.  His 92 assists and 119 points in 1995-96 were career highs.  During his time as a Pittsburgh Penguin, eight seasons, Francis would fill his trophy cases with two Stanley Cups, two Lady Byng and a Frank Selke.

Francis and his first Stanley Cup

  In the 1998 offseason, Francis would return to the franchise that drafted them, although it was after the Whalers moved and changed their name to the Carolina Hurricanes. Francis, now 35, continued to be a solid performer on the Hurricanes and was a vital part of their 2002 Stanley Cup finals run.  He would add two more trophies to his resume in 2002, winning the King Clancy trophy and his third career Lady Byng.
  The Hurricanes missed the play-offs the following season and were on the outside looking in 2004 when they traded Francis to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Leafs would lose in the second round and Francis would retire during the ensuing lock-out.
  Francis was rarely highlight reel material.  He was never a 1st or 2nd team all-star.  Only five times in a 23 year career did he make the top 10 in scoring.  It is his career numbers that are staggering.  Only Wayne Gretzky had more career assists than Francis.  Francis ranks fourth all time in career points.
   Also, what I found interesting is that Francis only once played for Team Canada and it was not at the World Juniors.  He helped Team Canada win a  Silver at the 1985 World Championships.  Francis never played in the Canada Cup, World Cup, or the Olympics.  During Francis' career the top two center spots were always reserved for Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, but it's still surprising Francis was never selected, even in a defensive role.  You would think he would have made the 1998 Olympic team over Rob Zamuner.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TTM Success: Ryan Keslar

  Here's a TTM that I had written off.   I received it on June 1st, 2013, which was 794 days after I had sent it.  Holy cow!  Ryan Kesler signed one of two cards.  I had sent it c/o the Vancouver Canucks.  Very surprised, and happy, to get this one back.  But it does make you wonder where it was sitting for the past two years.
  Kesler was coming off a 41 goal season and was a major factor in the Canuck play-offs run in 2011.  He has not been able to recapture his play from that season.  He only had 49 points in 77 games in 2011-12 and was hampered by injuries in 2013.  Canucks will need Kesler to return to his 2011 form to be considered Stanley Cup Contenders in 2014.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lost Cards: 07-08 OPC Sean Burke

  I was preparing a One Star, One Sheet post for Sean Burke when upon further investigation, I was missing a Vancouver Canuck card of Burke.  I originally thought now existed.  Burke only played 16 games with the Canucks during the 1997-98 season.  A season in which he started with Carolina and ended with Philadelphia.  Two cards were produced depicting Burke as a Canuck.  So a sheet I though was complete, was now incomplete.  Only his 1997-98 Donruss Elite fits the criteria for the project. Of course that year is sparse on Sportlots, available only from sellers who card an arm and leg for S/H to Canada.
  While I was thinking about it, I did a double check to see if Burke had a card of him as a Los Angeles King.  Burke never had a card as a Los Angeles King, so I decided I'd take this One Star, One Sheet thing a bit further.

2007-08 O-Pee-Chee #601 - Sean Burke

  The front was easy, as per usual, but the back was killer.  OPC used a few different fonts which I had a hard time matching, they centered the stats under the headings, the black items were faded to different degrees, and I had a hard time keeping the stats lined up.  I ended up with about 90 layers for just the stats.  I only put the last 10 years since that's all OPC was showing for the older players from this set.  I don't think I'll be doing anymore backs for 07-08 OPC.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

One Star, One Sheet: Wendel Clark

Wendel Clark

1st Overall Pick 1985
2x All-Star
330 Career Goals

  Wendel Clark was the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise from the mid 1980s to early 1990s.  He was anarchy on skates.  He could score, he could hit and he could fight.  A fan favourite, Clark would have three stints with the Maple Leafs, never playing a full season with any other franchise.
  Drafted 1st overall in the 1985 Entry Draft, Wendel would lead all rookies with 34 goals, while only playing in 66 games.  Clark played with reckless abandon and laid out some legendary hits, including this one on Bruce Bell of the St. Louis Blues.  Clark's take no prisoners style of play would quickly take a toll on him.  After playing 80 games in his sophomore season, Clark would play a total of 81 games over the next three seasons and wouldn't play more than 70 games again in a season again until his 11th season in the league.
  Clark would start the 1991-92 season on fire, scoring eight goals and 13 points in his first six games, before once again going down with an injury.  There was a big change when Clark returned to the Leafs, Cliff Fletcher had just pulled the trigger on, arguably, the best Leafs trade ever, acquiring Doug Gilmour in a ten player deal with the Calgary Flames.  The Leafs played better than .500 hockey the remainder of the season but fell short of the making the play-offs.
  The next season would be the season that will go down in history as the greatest Leaf season, for anyone under the age of fifty.  The Leafs would add the supporting cast to not only make it to the play-offs, but make it to one win from the Stanley Cup final.  After a disappointing regular season, 39pts in 66gp, Clark would get 20pts in 21 games during the play-offs, including 10 points in the seven game series against the Kings, along with a memorable fight in game one vs Marty McSorley.  In the final two games, both losses, Clark scored five goals.
  Clark would have his best season in 93-94, scoring 46 goals and 76 points in only 64 games.  Which would be 60 goals if prorated over 84 games, which was the length of the 93-94 season.  It was also the last season Clark would top 100 PIM.  The Leafs would again reach the Stanley Cup Finals but lost to the Vancouver Canucks.  Clark struggled in the series, only getting one point in five games.
  The off-season Cliff Fletcher made another stunning trade, sending Clark to the Quebec Nordiques in a deal that would bring future HHOFer Mats Sundin to Toronto.  Clark would spend the 94-95 lockout shortened season in Quebec before being traded to New York Islanders, for Claude Lemieux.
  Wendel's time on the island would be short.  The Islanders, one of the worst teams in the NHL, in the standings and in the fashion sense, would trade Wendel Clark back to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a deal that would include promising young d-man Kenny Jonsson and a 1st round draft pick, which would be used on Roberto Luongo at 4th overall, going to the Islanders. 
  By this time, injuries had played a toll on Clark and he was no longer a bull in the china shop.  The Leafs were also not the Leafs he had left in 1993.  The Leafs were dispersed in the 1st round of the play-offs in 1996 and would miss the play-offs in each of the next two seasons.
  Clark would sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 1998-99 season.  He would be traded to the *gasp* Detroit Red Wings and finished the year with 32 goals and a Lady Byngian 37 PIM in 77 games.  The Red Wings, in pursuit of a three-peat, were bounced in the second round.
  As a free agent, Clark would sign with the *gasp* Chicago Blackhawks.  Clark struggled with the Hawks, scoring only two goals in 13 games before being released.  He would finish his final season with his third, and final stint, as a Toronto Maple Leaf. 
  Clark played the game with reckless abandon, but ultimately paid the price.  While Wendel Clark is not a HHOFer, he is a hockey legend.  The ultimate hockey triple threat; goals, hits and fists.


Friday, August 9, 2013

TTM Success: Derek King

  Selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1985 entry draft by the New York Islanders, Derek King, put together a solid NHL career.  He scored 261 goals in 830 career games.  In 1991-92, King scored 40 goals for the Islanders.  King also played a big role in helping the 1993 Islanders knock off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs, by collecting eight points in the series.  King would also play with the Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues before retiring in 2000.  He is now the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. 


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

TTM Success: Perry Berezan

  Perry Berezan scored one of the biggest goals in Calgary Flames history, and he did it while sitting on the bench.  Yes, we are talking about the Steve Smith own goal of 1986. 

You can see him on the bench at the 1:24 mark of the video on the bench.  Originally there was so much confusion, the refs gave the goal to Lanny McDonald.  It would be eventually correct and it was the game-winning goal in game 7 of the Smythe division final.  It was the only Stanley Cup the Oilers didn't win in a five year period.  Berezan was never able to crack the Flames line-up full-time and he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars at the 1989 trade deadline.  The Flames would go onto win the Cup that year.  Berezan would play a few seasons for the North Stars and then a few more for the expansion franchise, San Jose Sharks, before retiring in 1993.

Monday, August 5, 2013

One Star, One Sheet: Don Beaupre

Don Beaupre

2x All-Star
268 Career Wins

  Alright, here's the first guy who may not be considered a star in the One Sheet, One Star project, but he was a solid performer for a decade and was the goalie of my dad's favourite team when I first started watching hockey as a child.
  Beaupre was a 2nd round pick by the Minnesota North Stars in the 1980 entry draft.  He was the first goalie picked in the 1980 draft, one spot ahead of Kelly Hrudey.  Beaupre would impress during training camp and made the team.  He ended the season skating off the ice in disappointment, while the New York Islanders celebrated a Stanley Cup win against the surprising North Stars. Beaupre started the last two games in the series and was in net for the North Stars lone win in the series.  Check this out for some vintage footage of games four and five of the 1981 final.
  Beaupre's rookie card, his 1981-82 OPC, was part of the 1981-82 OPC goalie reboot project.  Check out Beaupre's reboot.
  During his first five seasons, Beaupre would split time with Gilles Meloche.  Beaupre wouldn't crack 50 games or 25 wins in a season until 1985-86, the season after Meloche was traded.  By then, the promising North Stars of the early 1980s were on the decline.  In Beaupre's final full season with the team, the North Stars finished as the worst team in the NHL, with 51 points.  Since they played in the Norris division, they finished 1 point out of a play-off spot.
  The following season, 1988-89, Beaupre found himself the odd man out, as the North Stars started the season with Kari Takko and Jon Casey.  Frustrated with his demotion to the IHL, Beaupre requested a trade.  Beaupre got the trade he demanded, but still found himself still playing in the minors.  He was now stuck behind Pete Peeters and Clint Malarchuk for the Washington Capitals.
  Beaupre eventually play himself into the Capitals starting line-up and had his best seasons playing behind Washington's stingy defense.  In 1990-91, Beaupre would led the NHL in shutouts, 5, and finish second in GAA, with 2.64.  Beaupre's mask with the White House prominently on the helm, is one of the iconic goalie masks of the early 1990s.  Although I don't buy it when he croons that the Capitals and you were more than a team.
  The Capitals of the mid 1990s were stock piling young goalies and with the likes of Jim Carey, Olaf Kolzig and Bryon Dafoe, all ready to contribute, Beaupre found himself expendable.  Beaupre moved from one nation's capital to another's, as he joined the Ottawa Senators on the eve of the lock-out shortened 1994-95 season.  Beaupre would finish the season 3-25-3, with a 3.36 GAA.  His GAA set a franchise record, since broken, for lowest GAA by a Senators goalie.  He beat the previous mark by a full goal.
  Beaupre started the 1995-96 season with Ottawa before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Beaupre finished his career the following season.  He lost his final 22 decisions.  No win, no ties, 22 losses.  Is that a record?
  Since retiring Beaupre has been a successful business man.  He current runs Beaupre Aerial Equipment.  He is also a gracious TTM signer.  He was one of my earliest TTM returns.