I wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to all of my loyal readers. The Legends of Hockey Network is only half a year old, but judging by readership numbers and feedback I have to say it is already a rewarding success story for myself. I vow to keep it up and improve it in 2007!
The site will remain rather static for the 24th, 25th and 26th. So I also wanted to take this time to remind readers of the many international hockey tournaments this Christmas, most notably the World Junior Championships, but also the Spengler Cup and the Mac's Midget Tournament.
I also encourage you to go to your local arena and watch a game live - it could be a senior league, maybe midget or junior hockey, or check out a University or women's game. Without even taking into account the NHL schedule, there is a lot of hockey out there to enjoy this holiday season. Seeing it live is a real treat.
As for new website content, I have a new profile - pre-WWII goalie Bill Beveridge. Which reminds me, if you enjoy any tasty beverages this holiday season, please do so responsibly!
Also, below, I have listed some of the top feature articles from the first half year of Legends of Hockey Network. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Hockey's Long History In Japan - Following the debut of Yutaka Fukufuji, the first player from Japan in the NHL, Joe Pelletier takes a brief look at the history of hockey in Japan.
Ovechkin In Lofty Territory - Joe Pelletier compares the first 100 games of Alexander Ovechkin's career to the first 100 games of many of the game's all time greats. "AO" finds himself in some very nice company.
The French Connection's Double Agent - Joe Pelletier uncovers a 1987 article in The Hockey News that looks at Buffalo Sabres super sniper Rick Martin's mysterious family past.
The Night Pat Quinn Knocked Out Bobby Orr - Joe Pelletier takes a look back to April 2, 1969, the night an unknown Pat Quinn became a household name as a dastardly villain for knocking out the great Bobby Orr with a famous body check.
Hockey in Red Square - Joe Pelletier takes a look at the Dec. 9th, 2006 outdoor charity game in the heart of Moscow at the famous Red Square. Team Russia, led by a reunited KLM Line and a rare on-ice appearance by Vladislav Tretiak, will take on the World, including Paul Coffey, Mark Howe, Jari Kurri, and Peter and Anton Stastny.
Terry Sawchuk: Born in Ukraine, not Canada? - Joe Pelletier discovers an obscure source with unsubstantiated claims that Terry Sawchuk, arguably hockey's greatest goaltender, was born in Ternopil, Ukraine, not Winnipeg, Manitoba as every other source suggests.
IIHF Announces Hall of Fame Class of 2007 - Overshadowed by the NHL's Hall of Fame induction of Patrick Roy, Joe Pelletier looks at the 9 players gaining enshrinement in the IIHF Hall of Fame. Unless you are a hockey loving old-time native of one of these countries you have to be a true die hard of a hockey fan to know a lot about these guys.
Backcheck: A Hockey Retrospective - Joe Pelletier offers a sampling of one of his favorite online hockey history resources. Experience real time newspaper reports of the Richard Riot, the Henderson Goal, the Gretzky Trade, and so much more
2006 Christmas Hockey Book Buyers Guide - Joe Pelletier gives a thorough rundown of the top hockey books available for you to put under someone's Christmas tree this year, complete with Amazon links for easy shopping.
The Class of 2007 and Beyond - With a logjam of superstars and very good players with Hall of Fame numbers, Joe Pelletier takes a look into the future and discusses who will and who will not make the Hockey Hall of Fame this decade.
Martin Brodeur Will Break Records, But Not Be Greatest Goalie Ever - It is highly likely that Martin Brodeur will finish his career as the winningest goalie of all time. It is also a pretty good bet that Brodeur will at least challenge if not better Terry Sawchuk's once untouchable status as the all time shutout king. Despite these records, his Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medal, Joe Pelletier suggests history will not remember Brodeur as the greatest goalie of all time.
Good Goal Kid, Now Get Out Of Here - Approximately 300 players retired with just one National Hockey League game to their credit. Joe Pelletier looks at Dean Morton, Rolly Huard and Brad Fast - the only three players to score a goal in their only NHL game.
Table Hockey Dreams - All the record books say that Wayne Gretzky scored 62 goals and 183 points in the 1986-87 season. Not in my record books though. My unofficial stats have The Great One equalling that production during the Christmas school break alone. Joe Pelletier fondly remembers a childhood passion.
The 10 Greatest Seasons In NHL History - Mario Lemieux wins the MVP and scoring championship despite missing 2 months undergoing cancer treatments. Rocket Richard scores 50 goals in 50 games. Wayne Gretzky obliterates all NHL records, including 92 goals and 212 points, and then betters the point total 4 years later. Bobby Orr revolutionizes hockey while becoming the only defenseman to win the scoring title. Joe Pelletier determines who had the greatest season in NHL history.
Wayne Gretzky vs. Mario Lemieux - As a new generation bears witness to the growing rivalry between Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, Joe Pelletier remembers his childhood agony of having to choose between Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
Hockey's Most Important Players - There is no shortage of great hockey players. But Joe Pelletier suggests that there are very few important players in hockey's glorious history. Pelletier identifies his most important, based on the legacies of players past. Some of those included are Borje Salming, Slava Fetisov, Jacques Plante and Frank and Lester Patrick.