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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Lost Cards: 1980-81 OPC Gerry Cheevers

  In the 1964 NHL Intra-League draft, a forerunner of the waiver draft, saw an incredible blunder by the Detroit Red Wings.  The draft lasted three rounds and the Wings took a chance by selecting a young goalie named George Gardner in the final round.  Although to do so they would have to expose one of their goalies, rookie Roger Crozier or veteran Terry Sawchuk.  The Wings believed neither of the teams with picks left  (Leafs, Habs, and Hawks) remaining would take a goalie.  The Wings exposed Sawchuk and the Leafs quickly snapped him up.  The Red Wings basically traded HHOF Terry Sawchuk for George Gardner.  The Leafs were also able to keep top prospect  Gerry Cheevers.  Cheevers was exposed after the Leafs selected Sawchuk, but neither the Hawks or Habs scooped him up.
  Sawchuk and Johhny Bower combined to win the Vezina trophy in 1964-65.  Crozier won the Calder trophy as top rookie, and was selected to the 1st All-Star Team, as the Red Wings led the league in Points, but had a first round exit.  Cheevers had a great season in the AHL, leading the Rochester Americans to a Calder Cup Championship.
  As the 1965 NHL Intra-League Draft loomed, the Boston Bruins were keeping an eye on the Maple Leafs goalie situation.  The Leafs could protect only two goalies and thus leave one of Bowers, Sawchuk, or Cheevers exposed, unless of course, one of the goalies was not a goalie.  When Leafs GM Punch Imlach handed in his protected list, goalies Sawchuk and Bowers were listed, as was Cheevers, as a skater.  It was worth a try but the list was ruled invalid.  Cheevers was left unprotected and the Bruins selected him with the first overall pick.
  In the end, the move worked out for both teams.  The Maple Leafs, led by Bowers and Sawchuk in net, would win the Stanley Cup in 1966.  Cheevers and veteran Ed Johnston, along with help from Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, guided the Boston Bruins to Stanley Cups victories in 1970 and 1972.

1972-73 OPC NHL Gerry Cheevers

  In 1972, the fledgling rival league, the WHA , was looking to make a splash and sign some top talent for their league.  Cheevers was looking for a bigger salary and the Bruins were being stingy.  With contract talks stalling between Cheevers and the Bruins, the Cleveland Crusaders stepped in and made Cheevers a seven year, $1.4 million contract that the Bruins wouldn't match.  Cheevers jumped ship to the WHA and was selected at the WHA's best goalie for the 1972-73 season.  Cheevers played three and a half season in Cleveland before jumping ship back to the NHL.  Cheevers had a few disputes with management of the Cleveland Crusaders, over finances and also over public criticism of his play.  In January of 1975, Cheevers refused to play and eventually came to an agreement with the team that would terminate his contract with the Crusaders.  He quickly resigned with the Boston Bruins and finish the 1974-75 season in the NHL
  Cheevers played for the Bruins until 1980.  In his final season he finished 6th in GAA, 2.81, and 2nd for shutouts, 4.  Upon retiring, he would take over as the Bruins head coach until 1985.  1985 was also the year he was elected to the HHOF.
  Since Cheevers announced his retirement early in the summer, O-Pee-Chee did not include in in this 1980-81 set.  And since I seem to have a thing for early-80s Bruins goalies (see Baron, Moffat, Stewart), I decided to make Cheevers a career capping Lost Card.

1980-81 OPC #401 Gerry Cheevers

1980-81 OPC #401 Gerry Cheevers

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Lost Rookies: 1985-86 OPC Todd Charlesworth

  How do I choose my players for the Lost Cards?  Some are fairly obvious overlooks by OPC.  A player with a lengthy career who was ignored by OPC for years, such as Garth Butcher or Tim Hunter.  Some are career cappers, like Pierre Larouche, or  Butch Goring, who had All-Star careers but retired before OPC finalized their lists before the upcoming years.  Players like Dan Bouchard or Harold Snepsts, received horrendous airbrush treatments for their single cards with a particular team.  Then there was the original reason behind Lost Rookies, players who had never received a NHL card, such as Bob Mason, or Tim Tookey.
  How I find player for this last category has changed.  Originally, I could find players I remembered or even followed as a child, such as Frank Caprice, but eventually it became finding player whom I didn't recognize.  For example, while doing research on Dave Gagner for a Lost Rookies post, the name Todd Charlesworth grabbed my attention.  While Dave was drafted 12th overall in the 1st round of the 1983 Entry draft, Todd was drafted 22nd overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the 1st pick in the 2nd round.
  Never heard of him.  Wonder if he had a card? I was intrigued by the name and did a quick search.  The search didn't turn up any cards, but did turn up a nice picture, in a sweet jersey, suitable for a card.  So the decision was made, a card for Todd.
  I don't have much to say about his actual career.  He graduated quite quickly to the NHL, jumping in straight from juniors.  In 1983-84 he had a ten game stint with the Penguins while spending the rest of the season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.  1984-85 saw "The Next One" Mario Lemieux join the beleaguered Penguins.  Lemieux assisted on Todd's first career goal, and only goal of the 84-85 season, a game-winner against the New York Islanders.  Charlesworth had 9 points in 67 games in 84-85, his only full season in the NHL.
  Charlesworth made the Penguins out of training camp for the 85-86 season but only played in two of the first four games before being sent down.  He did score goals in back-to-back games in 1987-88.  Otherwise, he spent the majority of his time in the IHL.
  Todd left the Penguins via free agency and signed with the Edmonton Oilers for the 1989-90 season.  He wasn't able to make the team and the Oilers sent him to the New York Rangers in a mid-season trade for future considerations.  He played seven games with the Rangers.
  Todd would toil in the minors until the 1994-95 season and would retire in the city he played most of his pro hockey, Muskegon, Michigan.
  There was nothing in particular that drew me to Todd Charlesworth.  Although, the name is kind of cool.  And I do love that hideous yellow Penguins jersey.  Otherwise, its a player without a card but with a good picture available online.  Usually there is a bit of backstory that draws me in but this time, it's a neat name in a cool jersey.
1985-86 OPC #273 Todd Charlesworth (RC)

1985-86 OPC #273 Todd Charlesworth (RC)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lost Cards: 1986-87 OPC Don Edwards

  If you made an All-Time Buffalo Sabres roster, there is no question Dominik Hasek would be your starting goalie.  The back-up nod would go to either Ryan Miller, Tom Barrasso or, my pick,  Don Edwards.
  The Sabres used their first round pick in 1975 to draft goalie, Bob Sauve, 17th overall.  Four rounds and 72 picks later, they would draft the other half of an All-Star tandem, Don Edwards.  Sauve would reach the NHL first, but Edwards would leave the greater impression.  Edwards was called up in February of 1977 and proceeded to win seven of his first nine games, including shut-outs against the Black Hawks and Flyers.  Edwards would finish the season with 25gp, 16-7-2 record with a 2.52 GAA.
  Edwards would begin the 1977-78 season as the Sabres starter.  He finished the season as a 2nd Team All-Star, as well as finishing 4th in the Hart Trophy voting.  Don won, a then Sabres record 38 games.  Edwards would have an off year in 1978-79, 26 wins and 3.02 GAA, before returning to the 2nd Team All-Star in 1979-80.  Edwards won 27 games, and 2.57 GAA.  The Sabres, with Edwards and Sauve between the pipes, allowed the few goals in the NHL, earning them the Vezina Trophy.  In 1980, the Vezina trophy was awarded to the goalies on the team with the fewest goals allowed.
  Don continued his solid play for the Sabres, tying for the league led in shutouts in 1980-81.  The following season, Edwards would share history with Wayne Gretzky.  Gretzky would break the single season mark for goals, 76, when he recorded a hat trick against Edwards and the Sabres on February, 24, 1982.  Edwards would finish the season with a 3.52 GAA, good for 9th best in the league.  During Edwards five full seasons with the Sabres, The Sabres would finish 5th or better in least Goals Allowed and Edwards would finish 4th or better in the All-Star Team voting.
  The Sabres would deal Edwards to the Calgary Flames on draft day 1982, in a two player, six draft pick trade.  The trade would give the Sabres three first round picks.  They selected Paul Cyr with the 1st rounder picked up in the Edwards trade.  The two other Sabres 1st round picks turned out to be HHOFers, Phil Housley and Dave Andreychuk.
  Edwards would not duplicate the success he had with the Sabres.  Splitting the net with incumbent Reggie Lemelin, Edwards was not able to outplay Lemelin and found himself expendable as rookie Mike Vernon earned his way onto the Flames roster.  The Flames would trade Edwards to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who were looking for a veteran presence between the pipes, for a 4th round draft pick.
  Edwards' decline would continue as he set career worst of 4.73 GAA and tied a career worst with 23 losses, although while only playing in 38 games during the 1985-86 season.  Edwards was not able to fend off youngster, Ken Wregget, to keep the starters job.  Like Mike Palmateer, a few years ago, the Leafs asked the veteran to stay home.  Unlike Palmateer, the Leafs bought out the remaining two years on Edwards contract.
  Edwards would spend  the 1986-87 season playing semi-pro in Ontario.  Like Palmateer, after a season out of the NHL after being dropped by the Maple Leafs, he got a try out with the Edmonton Oilers.  Again, like Palmateer, he did make the team.  Edwards would play a few games with the Oiler's AHL farm club before retiring for good.
  Edwards was an All-Star goalie with the Sabres but his star quickly fell once he left Buffalo.  Ultimately, he ended up in Toronto, which was a death sentence for goalies in the early-mid 80s.  Edwards did get into the 1985-86 OPC set as an airburshed Maple Leaf, but never got a proper send-off.

1986-87 OPC #272 Don Edwards

1986-87 OPC #272 Don Edwards

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Lost Cards: 1980-81 OPC Gary Smith

  Gary "Suitcase" Smith was well known for being a "character" and for being on the move.  He earned the nickname "Suitcase" even before he played a season in the NHL.  The Toronto Maple Leafs were already set in net with veterans and future Hall of Famers, Johnny Bowers, and Terry Sawchuk, as well as another top prospect in Gerry Cheevers.  So Gary found himself bouncing around the minors in 1964-65, as well being loaned to the Boston Bruins as a back-up.
  Smith would see his first NHL action the following season, 1965-66.  Gary started, and lost, against the New York Rangers on February 19th, 1966.  Over two seasons, Smith would play in five games for the Leafs, going 0-4-0, 3.62.
  As a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, Smith's antics included attempting to punt the puck up into the scoreboard and stickhandling the puck into the opposition zone in an attempt to score a goal.  Smith inspired a NHL rule change that would penalise goalies if they attempt to cross centre ice as part of the play.
  Gary was left exposed in the 1967 NHL expansion draft and was selected as the 11th goalie in the draft, by the California Seals.  Smith would overtake veteran Charlie Hodge by the Seals sophomore season in the NHL, and by the 1969-70 season, Gary was a league leader... in losses.  To prove it was no fluke, Gary not only led the league in losses in 1970-71, but set a NHL record by losing 48 games.
  OPC was fairly brutal to Gary during his playing days.  No offense Gary, I am sure the ladies appreciated your cards, but your card career was full of mug shots and photo day poses.  Only the 1977-78 OPC comes close to pleasing to goalie card aficionados.  So for a bonus, I'll update a few of Gary's OPC card fronts with action shots.

1970-71 OPC Gary Smith

  For the 1971-72 season, Gary Smith went from the doghouse, the last place Oakland Seals, to the penthouse, the West division top team, Chicago Black Hawks.  Smith followed up his record setting season in futility by sharing the Vezina trophy with Tony Esposito.  Smith had 5 shutouts in 28 games for the Hawks on 1971-72.

1972-73 OPC Gary Smith

  After another season backing-up Tony Esposito, Smith was traded to the Vancouver Canucks.  Where he promptly led the league in losses for the third time in his career.  The 1974-75 season saw a re-alignment of divisions and the Canucks thrived in the newly created Smythe division, finishing first.  Smith led the league in games played, 72, and finished third in All-Star balloting.  Unfortunately for the Canucks, the first round was not a divisional match-up but instead teams were ranked based on points, which meant the 88pts Canucks had to face the 113pts Montreal Canadiens.  The Canucks lost in five games.

1974-75 OPC Gary Smith

  Smith played another season with the Canucks before being traded to the Minnesota North Stars for Cesare Maniago.  After a mediocre season, Smith signed as a free agent with the Washington Capitals in 1976 but was sold back to the Minnesota North Stars later the same season.  Smith left to play in the WHA in 1977 and signed on with the Indianapolis Racers.  Smith would go 0-10-1 with the Racers before the team folded 25 games into the WHA season.  Smith was picked up by the Winnipeg Jets and finished the season on a hot streak, back stopping the team to an Avco Cup league championship.  Smith allowed the last goal in WHA history to Dave Semenko.

1978-79 OPC Gary Smith

  When joining the NHL, the Winnipeg Jets retained their rights to Gary Smith.  Smith started the Jets first NHL game, October 10, and registered the first Jets NHL win, October 14, versus the Colorado Rockies.  Smith eventually slid down the depth chart behind Pierre Hamel, Markus Mattson and Lindsay Middlebrook.  Smith finished the season, and his career, with the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.
  Gary Smith wore a mask for the majority of his career, up until his final season.  When he switched to the helmet/cage combo, he painted the helmet two colours.  I cannot recall another goalie doing this.  When I saw the image and discovered Gary was lacking a final year card; his previous was a head in the 79-80 set, I decided to act.

1980-81 OPC #400 Gary Smith

1980-81 OPC #401 Gary Smith