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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Lost Cards: 1995-96 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Gary Leeman


   Gary Leeman is best known for two things - scoring 50 goals as a Maple Leaf, and being traded for Doug Gilmour.  Or at least, that is how I remember him.  

  Leeman was drafted by the Toronto Maples in the 2nd round, 24th overall, in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft.  He was drafted as a defenseman.  After scoring 86 points in 70 games with the Regina St. Pats of the WHL, he won the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league's best  Defenceman and was a 1st Team All-star.  After the WHL season ended for the St. Pats, Leeman made his NHL debut, playing two games in the 1983 play-offs in the first round against the Minnesota North Stars.

1982-83 OPC Gary Leeman (pre-RC)

  Gary broke camp as a member of the Maple Leafs for the 1983-84 season.  Leeman scored his first career NHL goal on December 10th, 1983, against Reggie Lemelin of the Calgary Flames.  Since was still under 20, the Leafs loaned him to Team Canada to play in the World Junior Hockey Championships.  Canada finished 4th.  Leeman finished his rookie season with 4 goals and 8 assists in 52 games.  It earned him a rookie card in the 1984-85 OPC set

  During the 1984-85 season, Leeman began to spend more time as a forward and eventually made the transition to a full-time.  Gary struggled through the injury bug during his first three NHL seasons, playing in 52, 53 and 53 games during his first three NHL seasons.  

1985-86 OPC Gary Leeman

  Gary started to show signs of breaking out during the 1985-86 season.  He had 32 points in 53 games during the regular season .  A turning point was a two month trip to the AHL in January.  He scored 28 points in 23 games with the St. Catherine's Saints.  Upon being recalled,  Leeman scored five points in the last five regular season games and then added 12 points in 10 play-off games.  Leeman did not make either the 85-86 or 86-87 OPC sets.

1986-87 OPC Gary Leeman

  Gary built on his late season success during the following season.  He had 52 points in 80 games, including 20 goals, during the 1986-87 season.  Gary followed that up with back-to-back 30 goal seasons.  It was all a lead-up to a career season in 1989-90.  Leeman led the Leafs with 51 goals and 95 Points.  He became only the second player in Toronto Maple Leafs history to score 50+ goals in a a season.  Leeman and the Leafs ended the 1980's as a team on the rise.  The Leafs had a solid youth core, including players like Leeman who had improved on his point total in each of his seven NHL seasons.  As a team, the Leafs finished 3rd in the league in goals.  
  It all came crashing down in the 1990-91 season.  The Leafs dropped to 18th in the leagues for goals scored, and Leeman regressed to scoring only 17 goals and 29 points in 52 games.  Leeman missed two months of the season with a shoulder injury.  Although before the injury Leeman only had 5 goals and 10 points in 19 games.  Leeman did shows signs of life near the end of the season, netting 6 goals and an assist in the final 10 games.  There was also discord in the dressing room.  Teammate Al Iafrate was going through a rough divorce and Leeman was dating his ex-wife.  Iafrate requested a trade due to personal reasons.  He was traded in January, while Leeman was injured.
  The following season was no better for Leeman.  He was suspended for four games for hitting Minnesota North Stars player Mark Tinordi across the jaw with his stick.  His goal total continued to nose-dive.  He had 7 goals in 34 games before the Leafs traded him to the Calgary Flames, in one of the all-time bad trades in NHL history.  It was a ten-player deal, which is the largest in NHL history, and the one in which the Leafs received Doug Gilmour.  
  Leeman was buried on the depth chart of the Flames, behind Theo Fleury and Sergei Makarov.  Over parts of two seasons with the Flames, Leeman had 11 goals and 23 points in 59 games.  During the 1992-93 season, Leeman again asked to be traded and was sent to the Montreal Canadiens for Brian Skrudlund.  The trade put some spring back in Leeman's stride, as he netting 13 points in his first 9 games as a Canadien.  He slowed down as the season came to an end, finishing with a total of 18 points in 20 games as a Hab in 92-93.  Leeman suffered an ankle injury on April 2nd and missed the final five games of the regular season and first two of the play-offs.  Leeman was nagged by injuries throughout the play-offs and only played in 11 of the Canadiens 20 play-off games, scoring 3 points.  He did dress for the entire Stanley Cup Finals and got to lift Lord Stanley's Mug as NHL champion. 

1993-94 Score Gary Leeman

  While writing up this post, I decided I should try to make a card out of the picture of Leeman hoisting the Cup.  I went with 1993-94 Score since I figured I could create a template quickly and I like the simplicity of it.  Unfortunately, the font wasn't that simple.  The font I used was the closest font I could find, but it's still a bit off.  I almost went against posting this.
  Injuries continued to nag Leeman.  Leeman played only 31 games, scoring 15 points, during the 1993-94 season.  He missed time due to shoulder and forearm injuries.  Leeman also played 23 games with the Canadiens; farm team in the AHL.  Leeman was a free agent for the 1994-95 season, which was a lock-out shortened season.  Leeman signed on with the Vancouver Canucks.  In ten games, he scored goals.  He didn't play in the final two months or play-offs for the Canucks, or their farm team.  I am not sure if there was another injury or a healthy scratch.
  After playing in Europe for the 1995-96 season, Leeman took another crack at the NHL.  He played two games for the St. Louis Blues, scoring one assist, while spending the rest of the season in the minor leagues.  Leeman returned to Europe for the 1996-97 and played there until he retired in 1999.
  Leeman finished his career with 199 goals and 466 points in 667 games.  After scoring 51 goals in 80 games during the 1989-90 season, he finished his career scoring 47 goals in his last 208 games.
  Leeman's last NHL card was an autograph insert from the 1994-95 BAP set.  Which is arguably not a NHL set, since it was only authorized by the NHLPA and not the NHL.  All the players were either featured in street clothes or NHLPA jerseys from the 4-on-4 NHLPA charity games they played during the lock-out.  So while it was a Vancouver card of Leeman, it was not a Vancouver Canucks card.  I couldn't find a picture of Leeman from his two game stint as a Blues, so instead Leeman's career capper is a 1995-96 Upper Deck Collector's Choice.  

1995-96 Collector's Choice Gary Leeman

1995-96 Collector's Choice Gary Leeman

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Bob Froese

  The tale of  Bob Froese is a Tale of  Two Cities.  In Philadelphia, he was one of the best goalies in the NHL.  In New York, he was a middling back-up.  In both cities, he played in the shadows of former Vezina winners.
  Froese was originally drafted in the 10th round of the 1978 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues.  Froese never signed a contract with the Blues.  Instead he played three seasons with the Saginaw Generals in the IHL, culminating with the league championship, the Turner Cup in 1981.
  The Philadelphia Flyers signed Froese to a contract during the 1981 offseason.  Bob was sent to play with the Maine Mariners and to back-up International star Pelle Lindbergh.  Lindbergh was called up to the NHL late in the 1981-82 season and Froese followed him with a midseason call-up during the 1982-83 season.
  Lindbergh was injured during an mid-season exhibition game against the Soviet Union on January 6th, 1983.  Froese was recalled and made an immediate impact.  He set a record, since broken*, by winning his first 8 career starts.  He began his career with a 13 game unbeaten streak, which included 3 shutouts.  He was named player of the week for January 23, 1983 and co-player of the Month.  Once Lindbergh was full healthy, Froese was regulated to back-up goalie.  Froese was 9th in Calder voting, while Pelle finished 5th.  Froese finished his rookie season going 17-4-2, .896 and 2.52.  His 2.52 GAA was second best in league.  Both Lindbergh and Froese had rookie cards in the 1983-84 OPC set.  It's the only year they both made the OPC set.
  Froese outplayed Pelle during the 1983-84 season.  Froese's number slipped a bit but he still finished top 5 in GAA, 3.15, and Wins, 28. as well as top ten in save percentage, .887.  Froese started the play-offs, but the Flyers were swept in three game by the Washington Capitals.  It was the third consecutive year the Flyer lost in the 1st round of play-offs, going a combined 1-9 in those years.
  Froese found him playing back-up with the 1984-85 season began.  Although Froese played great, it was Lindbergh who got the majority of the starts.  Froese was played sparingly and against the lesser teams.  Before getting injured in December, Froese was 7-1-0, .920 and 2.09.  A knee injury against the Winnipeg Jets cost Froese two months of the season.  Lindbergh started 28 out of the next 29 games before Froese returned to the crease.  Froese played back-up the rest of the season, finishing with a 13-2-0, .909, and 2.39 GAA.  His Save Percentage and GAA would have led the league if had played enough games.  Lindbergh won the Vezina trophy that season, on the strength of wining 40 games.  The Flyers finished first overall during the NHL regular season and finally made it out of the first round.  The Flyer, with Lindbergh between the pipes, went to the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Edmonton Oilers.  His only start was the Flyer's last game in the play-offs, after Pelle was injured in Game four.  The Flyers lost 8-3 in Game Five of the Finals.  Froese gave up all eight goals.
  Froese did not get a card in the 1985-86 set.  With OPC cutting back its set from 396 cards to 264, as well as Lindbergh's breakout season, Froese was a easy choice for the cutting room, floor.  Originally was going to use a different picture for this card, but how could I pass up a Brad Marsh cameo.

1985-86 OPC Bob Froese

  The Flyers regular season success continued early on during the 1985-86 season.  To start the season Lindbergh was 6-2, while Froese went 5-0.  Tragedy struck the team in the early morning of November 10, 1985.  The evening before, the Flyers were having a team party.  Pelle Lindbergh had a few too many drinks and drove his Porsche into a pole.  He was hospitalized and taken off life support on November 11th.  One of the first things Bobby Flyers GM had to do was cancel a pending trade.  There was already a deal in place to trade Bob Froese to the Los Angeles Kings for defenceman Jay Wells.  
  Froese was to start the next game, but suffered a groin injury during practice when a shot broke his protective cup.  He returned a week later to post a 3-0 shutout against the Hartford Whalers.  Froese had a career year in 1985-86.  He led the league in wins, 31, GAA, 2.55, Save Percentage, .909 and shutouts, 5.  Froese, and teammate, Darren Jensen, won the William Kennings trophy.  He finished 2nd in Vezina voting, by 2 points to winner John Vanbiesbrouck, and was voted 2nd Team All-Star.  While Froese had another great regular season, the Flyers lost in the first round of the play-offs against John Vanbiesbrouck and the New York Rangers.  Froese was outplayed by Vanbiesbrouck and took the brunt of the blame for the early play-off exit.
  Even as the runner-up for the Vezina trophy, Froese found himself starting the season as the back-up goalie for the Flyers, to rookie Ron Hextall.  Hextall got off to a blistering start and Froese only played in three games, and winning all three, before the Flyers traded him to the New York Rangers for Kjell Samuelsson and a 2nd round draft pick on December 18, 1986.  Frustrated by lack of playing time, and tension with Mike Keenan, Froese had requested to be traded.  The prior season, Froese was the runner-up to Vanbiesbrouck in the Vezina voting, now he was runner-up to him in the Ranger's depth chart.  Hextall went on to win the Vezina trophy, while Froese finished 5th, one spot ahead of Vanbiesbrouck.  The Flyer and Rangers had a first round rematch.  This time the heavily favored Flyers won in 6 games.  Froese started two games, winning one and losing one, but Vanbiesbrouck was still the #1 goalie with the Rangers, as he started four games.  Froese finished the season 17-11-0, .885, and 3.64.  It was his last winning season in the NHL.
  Froese spent the next three seasons playing behind John Vanbiesbrouck.  He went 22-32-8, .874, and 3.59 during those three seasons.  One of the almost highlights came on November 29, 1987 when Froese was credited with scoring a NHL goal.  He was, temporally, the second goalie in history to score a goal.   Temporarily, since after video review, the goal was later changed to David Shaw.  OPC gave him a card during the 1987-88 set, but he was left out of subsequent sets.   

1988-89 OPC Bob Froese

 So I made up a 1988-89 OPC, as well as a 1989-90 OPC.  

1989-90 OPC Bob Froese

  Froese entered the 1989-90 season again as the back-up but found himself as the odd man out by January.  Rookie Mike Richter was recalled due to an injury to John Vanbiesbrouck.  Richter, who was also Froese's new roommate and student,  quickly jumped over Froese and began to challenge Vanbiesbrouck for the starting job.  Froese played his last NHL game on January 25, 1990.  He was saddled with the loss, after coming in of relief of Richter in a 8-5 loss to the Calgary Flames.  
  Froese reaggravated a shoulder injury during the 1990 Rangers training camp and he would eventually be forced to retire due to the injury.  Froese became a goalie coach for the Rangers and later the New York Islanders before answering the call of a higher power.  Froese became a pastor.  When he informed Islanders GM Mike Milbury of his decision, Milbury asked how much the church was offering him.  Froese always felt a calling to cloth.  Although he put it aside to play hockey, it became stronger after Lindbergh's death, and inevitable once he was retired.
  Froese never did get a card after the 1987-88 OPC set.  With the emergence of Mike Richter, Froese was bumped down the depth chart and wasn't included in the 1990 Junk Wax boom.  So here is a 1990-91 OPC career capper of Froese.

1990-91 OPC #532 Bob Froese

1990-91 OPC #532 Bob Froese

  Bonus:  Froese did kinda have a card made of him.  Upper Deck used to make commentative sheets for hockey.  From what I can gather, these were giveaways at the game.   A version of a Bob Froese Upper Deck made one of those sheets.  What is interesting is that Froese was featured on a sheet released in February 18, 1991, although he had not played a single game that season.   So although I couldn't find the same picture, I mocked up a 1990-91 Upper Deck Bob Froese. 

1990-91 Upper Deck Bob Froese

* Froese's record of 8 straight career wins to begin a career was bested by Ray Emery of the Ottawa Senators.  A big difference is that Froese won his eight games in 8 starts appearances over a three week span.  It took Emery 3 season, plus a lockout, and 12 games, including three in relief, to win his first 9 career decisions.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lost Cards: 1990-91 OPC Dan Daoust

 Dan Daoust was born in Montreal, Quebec, but grew up in Ontario.  He played with the Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL.  Daoust and the Royals won the highly controversial 1980 Memorial Cup.    Even though he had back-to-back 40 goals seasons, Dan was not drafted by any NHL team.  There were concerns about Daoust's size, which was generously listed as 5'10" and 160lbs.  Unable to get a NHL contract, Daoust signed on with the Nova Scotia Voyagers of the AHL, the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate.  In his first professional season, Daoust led the team, and finished second in the league, with 98 points.  His play earned him a contract with the Montreal Canadiens.
  Daoust spent another season in the AHL before making his NH debut on October 6, 1982.  The next night, he notched his first career point, an assist, against the the Boston Bruins.  He played again on October 9th, but then only played one more game as a Canadien, on November 23rd, before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 3rd round pick on December 17th.  I am not sure if he was injured or a healthy scratch during that time. The Canadiens were deep at the Center position, including fellow rookie, Guy Carbonneau, and Daoust did not fit in the team's plan.
  Daoust never had a card with the Canadiens.  He did get a rookie card in the 1983-84 OPC set as a Maple Leaf.  Since I found a neat picture of him as a Hab, I decided to make a rookie card of him as a Hab in the 1982-83 set.  Daoust sported quite the afro early in his playing days.  In the 1970s, OPC would sometime include players who had no NHL experience in their sets.  I don't remember them doing it for any player during the 1980s.  I wonder who was the last player OPC/Topps put on a card without any NHL experience, prior to the Junk Wax boom.

1982-83 OPC #401 OPC Dan Daoust (RC)

1982-83 OPC #401 Dan Daoust (RC)

  Dan was given more opportunity to play in Toronto and he took full advantage of it.  He scored 51 points in 48 games as a Leaf during the 1982-83 season and made the 1983 All-Rookie Team.  The following season, he set career highs with 18 goals, 56 assists and 74 points.  The following season, 1984-85 was a disaster for the Maple Leafs as they continued their downward spiral.  The team finished last in the NHL and last in goals scored.  As a team they scored 50 less goals than the previous season.  Daoust point total dropped to 54 points.  Although the Leafs team goal total would bounce back the follow season, it was a sign of things to come for Daoust.
  Daoust was bumped down the depth chart in 1985-86.  The Leafs had acquired Tom Fergus, and top prospect Russ Courtnall was finally fulfilling his high draft pick status.  That left the former top two Leafs centers, Daoust and Peter Ihnacak fighting for ice time on the bottom two lines.  Daoust was asked to take on a more defensive role.  Although Daoust thrived in that role, his point total basically fell of the side of the earth.  His 20 points in 1985-86 was the highest season total for the rest of his career.  OPC made a card for Daoust in 86-87 but he would not make the set again until 89-90.  So here is a 1987-88 card of Daoust.

1987-88 OPC Dan Daoust

And now a 1988-89 OPC of Daoust for the Danny Doooo mega-collectors out there.

1988-89 OPC Dan Daoust

  Daoust played for the Maple Leafs until the 1989-90 season.  In his final season as a Leaf, Daoust led the team with 4 shorthanded goals and 8 short handed points.  After the season, he signed overseas with the Swiss league.  He played professionally overseas until he retired in 1997.
  Daoust never received any cards in 1990-91 Junk Wax boom.  I assume he announced his intentions early to sign over seas, well before the card companies finalized their checklists.  Dan returned to the Toronto area after his stint in Europe.  He still lives in the Greater Toronto Area and is active in Alumni hockey.
  So for the first timer ever, two Lost Cards in one post, I present a 1990-91 OPC Dan Daoust career capper.

1990-91 OPC #531 Dan Daoust

1990-91 OPC #531 Dan Daoust

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Lost Rookies; 1983-84 OPC Jacques Cloutier

  The diminutive Jacques Cloutier, who is 5'7', played 12 NHL seasons but didn't get a rookie card until into his ninth season, when Junk Wax exploded.  He spent the majority of his career with the Buffalo Sabres, but never had a card while with them.
  Cloutier was star goalie in the QMJHL and the top underage goalie prospect in the draft.  In the two seasons leading up to the draft, Cloutier had 46 wins and 58(!!) wins for the Trios-Rivieres Draveurs.  He ranks 1st and 2nd in for most Wins in a QMJHL season by a goalie.  He is also the QMJHL career leader in wins with 142The Buffalo Sabres drafted Jacques in the 3rd round, 55th overall in the 1979 draft.  He was the fourth goalie drafted and the first underage.  (Fun Fact: Every goalie drafted in 1979 played at least a dozen games.) 
  Cloutier had a disappointing 1979-80 season in the QMJHL, only winning 27 games. After back-to-back 1st team All-Star selections, he was demoted to the 3rd team All-Star.  Cloutier turned pro in 1980-81 but did not make the NHL until the 1981-82 season.  He was called up after Bob Sauve was traded to Detroit.  Cloutier made the most of his opportunity while backing up Don Edwards.  He won his first start on December 20, 1981 against the Hartford Whalers.  Jacques went 5-1-0, .916, and 2.52 before a shot during practice broke his collarbone, causing him to miss the rest of the season.

1982-83 OPC Jacques Cloutier

  Cloutier started the 1982-83 season as the Sabres back-up but digressed from his hot start the previous season.  He finished the season in the minors after going 10-7-6, .858, and 3.50.  On the brightside, Cloutier backstopped the Rochester Americans to a Calder Cup championship in 1983.  On the downside, the Sabres drafted goalie Tom Barrasso fourth overall in the 1983 draft.  The 18 year old Barrasso made the team and became an instant star.  Cloutier played a single NHL over the next two seasons.  During the 1984-85 season, a season-ending injury forced Cloutier to the bench, were he acted as an Assistant Coach for the Rochester Americans.
  Cloutier began the 1985-86 season in the minors was was called up in December.  He earned his first career shutout on March 23, 1986, stopping 30 shots against the Philadelphia Flyers.  The following season he broke camp as the back-up but briefly overcame Barrasso as the starter.  Barrasso struggled early in the season, but eventually got his game together as Cloutier struggled later in the season.  Cloutier played 40 games that season.  His highest single season total as a Sabre. He went 11-19-5, .869 and 3.72.

1989-90 OPC Jacques Cloutier

  Cloutier lost his back-up gig on the Sabres during the 1987-88 season to Darren Puppa.  Although it was Puppa who bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL, it was Puppa who took over when Barraso was injured in the play-offs. 

1988-89 OPC Jacques Cloutier

  Cloutier started the 1988-89 season in the minors.  He was called up in November after the Sabres traded Barrasso to the Penguins.  Cloutier was once again the Sabres back-up.  That was until starter Darren Puppa went down with a season-ending injury in January.  Cloutier became the starter and held off challenges from Darren Eliot, Darcy Wakaluk, before the Sabres acquired Clint Malarchuk from the Washington Capitals.  Cloutier was the goalie who had to come off the bench to play after Malachuk had his neck cut by a skate.  In his first career play-off start, Cloutier shutout the Boston Bruins.  The Sabres gave him a rest the following night, but he returned to play the final three games of the series.  The Bruins won 4 games to 1.

1989-90 OPC Jacques Cloutier

    With the return of Puppa, and now with Malarchuk also in the fold, Cloutier was the odd man out.  Near the end of the 1989 training camp, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks to be reunited wth his AHL coach, Mike Keenan.  He set career bests across the board during the 1989-90 season with 43 games played, 18 wins, 3.09 GAA and two shutouts.  His season was cut short with a knee injury in March.  The Blackhawks made the Campbell Conference final but lost the Edmonton Oilers.  Cloutier did return to play a few games but was already pushed down the depth chart by rookie Eddie Belfour. 
  Cloutier was finally noticed by the card companies, as set sized ballooned with the start of the Junk Wax era.  He had four rookie cards in 1990-91. 
  Seldom used by the Blackhawks during the 90-91 season, Cloutier was traded to the Quebec Nordiques for Tony McKegney at the end of January, 1991.  The Nordiques finished last overall and won the Eric Lindros sweepstakes. Perhaps the trade was too late, but Cloutier did not appear in any of the update sets as Nordique.  I always like OPC Premier so I mocked up a card of Cloutier.

1990-91 OPC Premier Jacques Cloutier

  Cloutier played the next three seasons with the Nordiques but frequently battles injuries.  He retired after the 1993-94 season.  Upon retiring, Cloutier took a job as the Nordiques goalie coach.  He was a coach with the Quebec/Colorado franchise from 1994 to 2009.  He won Two Stanley Cups with the team, in 1996 and 2001.  He is now coaching in the KHL.
  I made Jacques a 1983-84 Lost Rookie.  You may have noticed above, there was a 1982-83 one done as well.  The reason I went with the 1983-84 design was that I was already mostly finished the back when I realized, I could have easily made him a 1982-83 instead.  I stuck with the 83-84 since it was basically done and out of the 1980s sets, this is the one I have made the least of.

1982-83 OPC #399 Jacques Cloutier (RC)

1982-83 OPC #399 Jacques Cloutier (RC)