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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

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