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April 25, 2017

Stanley Cup Heroes - Ken Dryden

No rookie made a more spectacular and unsuspecting NHL debut than Montreal Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden.

The lanky Dryden spent the entire 1970-71 season in the American Hockey League, but received a late season call up in what was expected to be a chance to give a young goalie some apprenticeship behind established starter Rogie Vachon. It was standard with the Habs back then to serve a lengthy apprenticeship. It was part of their tradition.

Dryden watched the first game from the press box, and then played in the final 6 games of the regular season. He played spectacularly, only allowing 9 goals. People still expected Vachon to start the playoffs, but to everyone's surprise, the Canadiens started a rookie at such a critical point. It was even more daunting since Montreal opened the playoffs against Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

The first round series against Boston is now considered a classic. Dryden made spectacular save after spectacular save against the likes of Orr, Esposito and Johnny Bucyk. The Habs upset the defending champs 4 games to 3. Propelled by this feat, they went on to win the Stanley Cup themselves. It's hard to believe that any of this could have happened without Dryden, a veteran of only 6 games. He had a GAA of 3.00 in 20 games, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

The next season he would take over as the Habs starter, and won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year.

Full Ken Dryden Biography

April 24, 2017

Stanley Cup Heroes: Glenn Anderson

With blazing speed Glenn Anderson became a dangerous clutch goal scorer playing on Mark Messier's right wing with the Edmonton Oilers and later the New York Rangers. He also played with the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues.

Anderson was a big part of the Oilers dynasty during the 1980’s, collecting five Stanley Cup rings. He picked up a 6th ring while playing with Messier and the New York Rangers in 1994. Glenn scored a career total of 498 goals, just falling shy of the magical 500 mark. "Andy" also added 601 career assists for 1099 points in 1129 games. Included in his totals were two 54 goal seasons and 3 100 point seasons.

Anderson was a skating contradiction. He played with reckless abandon, fearlessly crashing the net, doing whatever it took to score a goal. Yet at the same time there were periods of time where he was criticized for being lazy and uninterested. His mind would drift during regular season games, but he was all business come the playoffs. In addition to his 6 Cup rings, Anderson scored 93 career playoff goals (5th best in NHL history), 121 assists for 214 points (4th best in NHL history) in 225 playoff contests. Seventeen of his playoff goals were game winners.

Glenn briefly played Major Junior Hockey in the WHL, and spent a year with the University of Denver of the WCHA. But most of his pre-NHL training came with the Canadian National Team in 1979-80. Like most players on the national team the youngster with speed to burn was a little known prospect at that point. The team however did feature future NHL standouts Paul MacLean and Randy Gregg, as well as serviceable future pros Tim Watters, Jim Nill and Kevin Primeau.

Long before NHLers participated in the Olympics, the national team of prospects represented Canada's hopes against the "amateur" powers such as the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Canada played well in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, and with a little more puck luck could have staged their own Miracle on Ice. Unfortunately the record book's 6th place finish does not adequately reflect that. Anderson scored 2 goals and 4 points in thattourney.

Anderson made his NHL debut the following season and instantly drew two comparisons to big name celebrities. One was Guy Lafleur. A early newspaper report had a Oilers scout quoted as comparing Anderson to the most electrifying player in hockey at that time, although the Oilers management was quick to dismiss the comments as they didn't want to place extra pressure on the youngster. They insisted the comment referred to his skating ability.

Anderson also had an uncanny resemblance to popular Hollywood comedian Robin Williams. His teammates called him 'Mork' after the famous Williams TV character. However Anderson hated that nickname and grew a beard to shed himself of the resemblance.

Number Nine let his play do the speaking as his rookie season rolled on. He excelled and finished the year scoring 30 goals in just 58 games. The Hockey News named him as the player of the week late in the season, and his teammates stopped calling him Mork and just called him Andy.

Tim Burke of the Montreal Gazette became a big fan of Anderson's and even published an article comparing him to Rocket Richard. As if Guy Lafleur skating comparisons weren't tough enough, even being mentioned in the same breath of Rocket Richard is quite numbing.

While no one has or likely ever will come close to being what Rocket Richard was, the comparison had good merit in that Anderson would be a poor man's Richard. Anderson was a great player from the blueline in. He had a flare for scoring exciting and big goals and was at his best in big games, especially the playoffs. He played a similarly reckless style - yet no one can be compared to Richard.

Glenn took his fine rookie season to the next level in the following years. He scored a career high 105 points (38 goals and 67 assists) in 1981-82. He nearly equaled that in 1982-83 when scored 48 times and had 104 points. He also was a strong part of the Oilers fantastic first run at the Stanley Cup - scoring 10 goals and 20 points in 18 games while falling just short to the New York Islanders.

Glenn just missed the 100 point level in 1983-84 when he scored 99 points but he did set a career high with 54 goals. That spring the Oilers captured their first Stanley Cup. Anderson played a nice role in that victory - scoring 6 goals and 17 points in 19 games.

After a strong showing in the 1984 Canada Cup, Anderson got off to a slow start in the 1984-85 season. He finished the season strong but by season's end his scoring totals slipped to 81 points (including 42 goals) in 80 games. He had perhaps his strongest playoff in the spring of 1985 - scoring 10 goals, 16 assists and 26 points in 18 games as the Oilers repeated as Stanley Cup champions.

Anderson, who was best known as Mark Messier's right winger although he spent a lot of time in his early career on the left side as well, missed 8 games in the 1985-86 but he equaled his career high 54 goals and added 48 assists for 102 points. However his Oilers stumbled in the playoffs and were out in just 10 games. Andy had 8 goals in those 10 contests!

Anderson scored 35 and 38 goals in the following two years, both of which saw the Oilers win the Cup. However in 1988-89 - the first year without Wayne Gretzky - Anderson fell to just 16 goals and 64 points. It was an unusual blip for Anderson, who continued to play with his usual linemate Mark Messier.

Anderson returned to his usual form in 1989-90 - scoring 34 times and collecting 72 points. The Oilers went on a bit of an unexpected playoff run and won the Stanley Cup for the 5th time in 7 years. Anderson played a big role - scoring 10 goals and 22 points in the 22 post season games.

Anderson spent 12 years for the Oilers before he was traded with star goaltender Grant Fuhr (and Craig Berube) to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Vinnie Damphousse, Peter Ing, Scott Thornton, Luke Richardson and cash. The Oilers were being forced to dismantle as economic woes hit them hard. Toronto's new GM Cliff Fletcher wanted Anderson for his veteran leadership and playoff savvy.

Anderson's scoring tailed off once he left Edmonton. He only cracked the 20 goal level once and often spent more time in Europe or with the Canadian National Team than in the NHL.

Late in 1994 he was traded to the New York for Mike Gartner. Andy played thirty-five games as a Ranger and went on to win a Stanley Cup with them.

After playing with the Canadian Nats and teams in Germany and Finland, Glenn spent a brief time in St. Louis in 1995, before he left to play in Germany.

 He wanted to finish his career with the Vancouver Canucks, who were a strong contender and also Glenn's hometown. The Canucks signed him but first he had to pass through waivers. Glen Sather upset Canucks boss Pat Quinn by taking Anderson. Rumors persisted that Sather was returning a jab at Quinn who earlier in the decade snapped up the Oiler's Randy Gregg from waivers. Anderson reluctantly returned where he played 17 games in his second Oiler stint where he was then put back on waivers and claimed by the St Louis Blues.

Anderson had always expressed an interest in playing hockey in Europe, which is where he returned to in 1996-97 for one final season of hockey. Anderson's speed was a big asset for various Team Canada squads in International events. Anderson participated in the 1980 Olympics before joining the NHL. He also participated in 2 Canada Cup tournaments, 2 World Championships, and Rendez Vous '87. He had once stated he would like to have played in the Soviet Elite Leagues.

Glenn Anderson was a very nice player on a very strong team. In some ways that helped his status in the hockey world, but in other ways it kept him in the shadows and from greater individual acclaim.

After waiting several seasons, Anderson was finally rightfully inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008, although his former Oilers co-horts couldn't understand why he was not inducted earlier.

"I don't even think there should be a debate about him," said Glen Sather, the Oilers architect.

"I was there for most of his accomplishments and he's achieved many more huge results than guys that are in the Hall. It kind of astounds me that every time I've seen his name mentioned that he hasn't been one of the guys who have been elected automatically."

"He was the kind of player who, the bigger the game, the better he performed. Just based on his credentials in the playoffs alone I think he's a guy who really qualifies."

Former teammate Kevin Lowe was also critical that Anderson did not share a place in the hallowed hall along side Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Mark Messier much sooner.

"Those five guys, to a man, would say it's ridiculous that Anderson is not in the Hall because they all view him on the same level as themselves," said Lowe. " When I sat in that dressing room with all those great players, when I looked around the room and we were in a big game, the one guy I thought would score the big goal was Anderson, and to his credit he did.

"Maybe, to his fault, a lot of the lesser games were less important to him. He would have scored 600 goals had they been. But anyone who has won championships recognized that Anderson was one of those big-game players. He has all the stats to support it."

This Day In Hockey History: April 24th

1948 - Detroit Red Wings' center Jimmy McFadden was voted the Calder Trophy as the best NHL rookie for the 1947-48 season.

1969 - Jean Beliveau scored at 31:28 for the only overtime goal of his playoff career to give Montreal a 2-1 victory at Boston.

1979 - Rangers and Flyers set an NHL playoff record for most goals in one period, with nine in the third period. New York won the period 6-3 and the game 8-3.

1989 - Kings' Wayne Gretzky scored his 86th career playoff goal, making him the #1 playoff goal scorer in NHL history (passing Mike Bossy who had 85 with the Islanders).

1993 - Brad May's goal at 4:48 of overtime gave the Sabres a 6-5 playoff win over the Bruins at the Aud, and a four game sweep in the Adams Division Semi-Finals.

1993 - Ray Ferraro scored at 25:40 of OT for his second straight overtime goal, to give the Islanders a 4-3 win over the Capitals in Game 4 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals in New York. It was the Islanders' third straight OT win.

1996 - Pittsburgh's Ken Wregget stopped Joe Juneau on the 1st OT penalty shot in Stanley Cup history, at the 15:44 mark of the second OT between the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh won the game on a power play goal by Petr Nedved after 79:15 of OT.

1997 - Patrick Roy set an NHL record with his 89th career playoff win, passing former NY Islander Billy Smith as Colorado won 7-0 over the visiting Blackhawks

1999 - Patrick Roy became the first goalie in NHL history to win 100 playoff games, as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Sharks 3-1 at San Jose.

2002 - Ottawa's Patrick Lalime tied Brent Johnson's NHL record (set one night earlier) by starting his playoff career with 3 straight shutouts.

2003 - Petr Sykora scored the winning goal 48 seconds into the 5th overtime, the NHL's 4th-longest game, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 60 saves as the Mighty Ducks won 3-2 against the Stars at Dallas, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Happy Birthday to Phil Watson, Gus Bodnar, Darren Veitch, Ken Klee, Kris Letang, Frans Nielsen, Peter Skudra, David Maley, Jeff Jackson, Byron Ritchie, Dale Craigwell, Philippe Dupuis, Patrik Juhlin, Brett Sterling and Anton Lander

April 21, 2017

Great Moments In Hockey History: Bill Barilko Scores

April 21st, 1951. The tragic 
Bill Barilko story is about the take place.

The Montreal Canadiens and Barilko's Toronto Maple Leafs are meeting in the Stanley Cup finals, for only the second time in history. The Canadiens pulled off an upset against mighty Detroit to play for the Cup.

The two Canadian teams combined for one of the most dramatic Stanley Cup finals in history. Every game went into overtime. Every game had a hero.

The teams split overtime wins in the first two games played in Toronto. Improbably Toronto would sweep the Canadiens in Montreal in games 3 and 4. Though both were tight and in overtime, somehow Toronto gained a stranglehold on the series that was not truly indicative of the parity between each team.

Toronto had a chance to win the Cup in game 5 on home ice. But it would not be easy. Montreal led 2-1 late in the game. With the goalie pulled and with just 32 seconds left in the game, Tod Sloan, who was every bit a hero in this series as anyone, miraculously scored to once again send the two teams into overtime.

This overtime would not last long. At 2:53 of the first overtime, Bill Barilko sneaks into the slot and one times a shot into the net past Montreal goalie Gerry McNeil. Bill Barilko shot the puck as hard as he could, so hard that he fell forward as the puck sailed into the net. The Leafs had won another Stanley Cup.

Tragically, Bill Barilko would never score another goal. With a real promising career ahead of the 24 year old, he would die in a float plane crash that summer. His body and the wreckage would not be found for 11 years.

April 18, 2017

Hockey At The Boston Marathon

While most of you know me as a hockey guy, truth is I don't play. I don't skate very well. I handle the puck like Tom Sestito. I can't score on the Shooter Tutor.

I am a runner, though. In fact, I have been training for a Boston qualifying attempt in May. So needless to say Monday's Boston Marathon was of interest to me.

Hockey fans will be interested to know that among the many inspiring stories out of Boston on Monday was the story of former NHLer Bobby Carpenter running the marathon while pushing injured women's hockey star Denna Laing in her wheel chair. The duo finished the 42.2km race in just over 4.5 hours - a very impressive time.

Laing was paralyzed in a women's game ahead of the 2016 Winter Classic, ending a promising career.

For the 53 year old Carpenter, who played nearly 1200 games in the NHL, this was his second consecutive running of the Boston Marathon. Carpenter has been friends with Laing's father since his youth.

The duo ran for the Journey Forward charity which is dedicated to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries. They have raised more than $80,000.

"I love the fact that we're running for Journey Forward," Laing told NHL.com. "It gives me a sense of doing something bigger than myself and that place has been so good to me. The people are great. And there are so many people in there working so hard every day. We're all just looking to get better and keep getting to be our best selves.

"I think that Journey Forward's the perfect representation of what the marathon stands for, because everyone's looking at the marathon to go a little further and do something that they wouldn't think that they could do before, and that's exactly what we're doing at Journey Forward. They're pushing us to be better, go forward, and do something that you might not have thought you could a couple months ago or a couple weeks ago."

You can donate to Journey Forward here.

April 14, 2017

Jarome Iginla Back To The Flames?

When the regular season ended for the Los Angeles Kings, many wondered if we had seen the last of
Jarome Iginla.

Maybe not.

The 39 year old veteran and future Hall of Famer has hinted he might continue you on for at least one more season.

"I'd like to keep playing," he surprised.

“I will be 40 in the summer and coming off of really my toughest year I’ve had in my career. Looking back it was a tough year but I’m also thankful looking back I haven’t had a lot of those tough years and I would like that chance to – and I really do think I can do better, but we’ll see where that’s at,” Iginla said philosophically. “Part of it is also understanding I’m not as prolific a goal scorer, point producer, whatever but I think I can still have a really good year and be effective for teams and compete hard and battle and stuff like that and try to do the strengths I do or have been able to do as a player.”

So Iginla is willing to see what is out there, and he is willing to play a lesser role. Is there any chance Iginla could return for one last season with the Calgary Flames, where he is arguably the greatest player in franchise history?

The idea was floated prior to this season's trade deadline. With Iginla's Colorado Avalanche buried in the standings, everyone including Iginla expected a trade. Iginla could control his destiny, and chose to go to LA even though at that point the Kings' playoff hopes were already slim.

Did the Flames make a move for Iginla then? Will they make an offer this summer?

It could be an awkward fit for the young and exciting Flames. They are built on speed and skill, while Iginla has lost a step. Iginla is a former 50 goal scorer struggled this season though he did find a bit of finish in LA. Perhaps if he were to play with a top young playmaker like Sean Monahan he could rebound to the 20 goal level? Or perhaps he could provide a leadership role from the bottom six while sliding up to a top line from time to time? Or would Iginla's stature in Calgary interfere with the good thing they got going?

Jarome Iginla has become a real vagabond late in his career, which is a little sad. He will always be a Calgary Flame in most of our eyes. It might be unlikely, but it would be nice to see him end his career with the franchise.

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