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1958 NHL Coaches Poll

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Old
03-08-2013, 06:22 AM
  #1
overpass
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1958 NHL Coaches Poll

1958 Coaches' Poll, published in the March 22 edition of the Toronto Star

The six NHL coaches - Toe Blake, Billy Reay, Sid Abel, Phil Watson, Rudy Pilous, and Milt Schmidt - all voted.

Only the winners were listed for each category, and no vote totals were given.


The text of the article named some other players who received votes. I've included those in parentheses, but it is not necessarily a complete list of players who received votes.

Best and fastest skater - Henri Richard, Montreal (closest thing possible to a unanimous choice)

Smartest player - Gordie Howe, Detroit (Andy Bathgate)

Best passer and playmaker - Gordie Howe, Detroit (Beliveau was close behind)

Hardest shot - Boom-Boom Geoffrion, Montreal (Doug Mohns was mentioned prominently, Andy Bathgate)

Most accurate shot - Maurice Richard, Montreal (Camille Henry, Andy Bathgate)

Best stickhandler - Larry Regan, Boston (Andy Bathgate)

Best man on breakaway - Maurice Richard, Montreal (Camille Henry)

Best puck carrier - Gordie Howe, Detroit

Best penalty killer - Jerry Toppazzini, Boston (Red Sullivan had strong support)

Best referee - Eddie Powers (Red Storey)

Best fighter - Fern Flaman, Boston (Dick Duff, Henri Richard, Ian Cushenan, Lou Fontinato)

Best defensive forward, checker - Red Sullivan, New York (Bert Olmstead, Nick Mickoski, Alex Delvecchio)

Best hustler, hardest worker - Red Sullivan, New York (Vic Stasiuk, Claude Provost)

Hardest bodychecker - Leo Boivin, Boston (Pierre Pilote)

Most underrated - Tom Johnson, Montreal (Camille Henry, Johnny Bucyk, Andy Bathgate)

Most improved - Forbes Kennedy, Detroit (Dickie Moore, Lou Fontinato, Henri Richard, Brian Cullen)

Best goalie on screened shots - Terry Sawchuk, Detroit (Glenn Hall had strong support in both goalie categories as well, and Jacques Plante had some votes)

Best goalie, man against man - Terry Sawchuk, Detroit

Best defensive defenceman - Doug Harvey, Montreal (far and away the best defensive rearguard - Marcel Pronovost and Fernie Flaman were mentioned also)

Best attacking defenceman - Bill Gadsby, New York (Harvey was very, very close behind)


Last edited by overpass: 03-08-2013 at 07:38 AM.
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03-08-2013, 07:16 AM
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nik jr
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great discovery

should be added to the intangibles thread: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=680440


surprising to me are dick duff and henri richard for fighting, camille henry on breakaway.

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03-08-2013, 07:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nik jr View Post
great discovery

should be added to the intangibles thread: http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...d.php?t=680440


surprising to me are dick duff and henri richard for fighting, camille henry on breakaway.
The article actually says something like "Henri Richard of all people received mention as one of the best fighters" so you aren't the only one to be surprised.

I believe Camille Henry was also named as a breakaway artist in a 1965 poll posted in the intangibles thread.

I thought it was interesting to see confirmation of Doug Harvey's defensive reputation.

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03-08-2013, 07:33 AM
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Dennis Bonvie
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Nice to see Andy Bathgate mentioned prominently.

He was my first favorite player.

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03-08-2013, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overpass View Post
The article actually says something like "Henri Richard of all people received mention as one of the best fighters" so you aren't the only one to be surprised.

I believe Camille Henry was also named as a breakaway artist in a 1965 poll posted in the intangibles thread.

I thought it was interesting to see confirmation of Doug Harvey's defensive reputation.
It was March 58 and Harvey was 33 and had won 3 straight Norris trophies and would his 4th that year,.

It would be extremely surprising to not see him as the best defensive Dman in the league at that time.

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03-08-2013, 07:50 AM
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Great find

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Old
03-08-2013, 08:36 AM
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Canadiens1958
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Excellent

Excellent work. Interesting to see the appreciation of the skills of the smaller players, Henri Richard, Dick Duff, Camille Henry, Leo Boivin and other underrated players from the era.

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03-08-2013, 10:57 AM
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What a terrific find and snapshot of the league, players at that time. Regan, Toppazzini receiving high praise, guys I never saw play, just read about in brief mentions here & there.... thanks overpass. Should be stickied.

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03-08-2013, 12:33 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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I may be mistaken, but in the polls from the 70's and 80's we've seen posted here, best puck carrier was not included as a category. I like this category. It distinguishes the ability to rush the puck from stick handling.

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03-08-2013, 12:45 PM
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Killion
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I wonder if there arent more of those available, years preceding, following, or was it just a one-off?

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03-08-2013, 04:41 PM
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Thanks for posting that overpass. Interesting stuff.

Names like Camille Henry and Red Sullivan aren't mentioned much all these years later, so it's nice to see some evidence proving how highly regarded they were.

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03-09-2013, 01:21 AM
  #12
Ed Wood
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Fascinating stuff. I find it interesting that four of the six coaches were also great players in their time.

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03-09-2013, 02:24 AM
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I value these a lot - thanks for the digging!

Good opportunity to explore some of the lesser-known names as well.

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03-09-2013, 04:35 AM
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This is a great find.

Nice to see Larry Regan get mentioned. He was an interesting guy and had a very varied hockey career.

Oldest guy to win the Calder Trophy at age 27 until Sergei Makarov won it in 1989. Later played and coached in Austria. Came back to Canada and coached the LA Kings.

This is from the LA Times:

"His approach to scouting and how you put together a team, what you required as far as veterans and youth and how that blend worked, I think was maybe a little bit ahead of the rest of the league at that time. And he knew the European leagues. Larry had been in the European scene for quite some time and knew what was coming."
--- Jiggs Mcdonald.

He also once punched referee Bruce Hood after a game. Ahh, once a Bruin.....

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03-12-2013, 02:53 AM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Thanks for posting this. A big argument in favor of Tom Johnson during the defenseman project was that he was likely underrated by Norris and All-Star voting due to being overshadowed by his teammates, particularly Doug Harvey who got all the powerplay time. Previously, Joe Pelletier's blog and the Legends of Hockey site were the best sources for this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOH
He contributed to the Habs' rapid transitional game and would have scored more points had the team not already been blessed with Doug Harvey to quarterback the power-play
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Johnson was a hard working defensive blueliner who played much of his career along side Doug Harvery, perhaps the greatest d-man in NHL history. Playing in Harvey's shadow, Johnson's talents and contributions went largely unnoticed.

"I was classified as a defensive defenceman. I stayed back and minded the store. With the high powered scoring teams I was with, I just had to get them the puck and let them do the rest," said Johnson, who wore #10 long before Guy Lafleur made it immortal.

New York Rangers' GM Emile "The Cat" Francis was one of Johnson's fans. "Johnson's trouble was playing on the most colorful team in hockey history. With guys like Maurice Richard, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Jacques Plante and Jean Beliveau in the lineup, nobody ever noticed Johnson. But he was the real worker on the team."

''He was never, ever really appreciated in Montreal, even though he played on all those great teams,'' said veteran Montreal beat reporter Red Fisher. ''The reason for it was he, and others with him, played in the very long shadow of Doug Harvey. The only defenseman I ever considered better than Doug Harvey was No. 4 Bobby Orr.''
....
Johnson escaped Harvey's shadow for one season - 1958-59. With Harvey hurt for much of the season, Johnson posted a career high 10 goals and 29 assists while earning the Norris Trophy. The Norris Trophy win interrupted Harvey's 8 year ownership of the award.
Seeing Johnson be named the most underrated player by NHL coaches the season before Harvey's injury paved the way for his Norris win adds more support to the idea.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 03-12-2013 at 03:05 AM.
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03-12-2013, 02:57 AM
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I'm not surprised to see Henri Richard listed so highly in the fighting category - he had a rep as one of the best fighters in the league. From my epic ATD bio of a couple years ago:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Fisher
(Toe Blake said, ) "At the start of training camp, we had no idea what we had. At the end, we couldn't send him back. The only thing we had to find out was how this little guy would react to the rough stuff. We didn't want a situation where Maurice would have to ride shotgun for him."

Henri was tested early and often, as Canadiens management had feared.[/B] What they discovered quickly was that Richard didn't want, nor did he need, help from his older brother. He was fearless. He was a Richard.

You should know that in the six-team NHL, bench- clearings were the rule rather than the exception. Teams met 14 times during the regular season, often on back-to-back nights. The benches cleared in Boston one night, and there was young Richard in the middle of it, taking on four Bruins, one after the other. He won the first three fights, including one over Jack Bionda, who towered over him. An exhausted Richard fought to a draw in a fourth against Fern Flaman, who was among the NHL's best and most feared fighters].
Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/sport...#ixzz1D1tnwdkv

Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideHockey: The Golden Years
It was tough enough to be a rookie in the NHL of the 1950s, but when a newcomer was the brother of the game’s biggest name, he had a rough go of it the first few times through the league as veterans put him through the time-honored process of proving he deserved to be there Richard never backed down, met his challengers head-on and rarely lost a fight against his much bigger tormenters.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Referee Matt Pavelich
But this may surprise you, pound for pound, little Henri Richard is as good as any (fighter).
-Hockey Sports Stars of 1973

______________________

You know what does surprise me? Seeing Terry Sawchuk rated so highly by the coaches as late as 1958.

I also had no idea that Duff was so highly thought of as a pugilist.

I'll admit it - I've never heard of Larry Regan.


Last edited by TheDevilMadeMe: 03-12-2013 at 03:04 AM.
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03-12-2013, 07:23 AM
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overpass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Thanks for posting this. A big argument in favor of Tom Johnson during the defenseman project was that he was likely underrated by Norris and All-Star voting due to being overshadowed by his teammates, particularly Doug Harvey who got all the powerplay time. Previously, Joe Pelletier's blog and the Legends of Hockey site were the best sources for this:





Seeing Johnson be named the most underrated player by NHL coaches the season before Harvey's injury paved the way for his Norris win adds more support to the idea.
I expect you also liked.seeing Jerry.Toppazzini voted as the best penalty killer. Although that isn't so surprising considering that he had a good reputation there and he scored 7 SHG that season.

I actually found this article while.researching Toppazzini for the ATD. I came across a profile of Toppazzini somewhere online that referenced a coaches poll from March 1958 in the Toronto Star. With that information it was fairly easy to track down the article.

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03-12-2013, 09:38 AM
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You should know that in the six-team NHL, bench- clearings were the rule rather than the exception. Teams met 14 times during the regular season, often on back-to-back nights. The benches cleared in Boston one night, and there was young Richard in the middle of it, taking on four Bruins, one after the other. He won the first three fights, including one over Jack Bionda, who towered over him. An exhausted Richard fought to a draw in a fourth against Fern Flaman, who was among the NHL's best and most feared fighters

The mention of Jack Bionda, who was also considered the greatest lacrosse player in Canada, brings back a memory for me. After he had played for Boston, he was now playing in the Western Hockey League for the Victoria Cougars. Victoria was playing Winnipeg and I was a Linesman. The puck was in the Victoria zone and Bionda got it and spun around to clear it behind his net. He shot it into his own goal. As I was bent down, digging the puck out from the back of the net, the Victoria goalie, Marcel Pelletier, said to me, in his heavy French Canadian accent, "He got one hell of a shot."

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03-12-2013, 10:25 AM
  #19
Canadiens1958
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Palestre Nationale

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhhofr View Post
You should know that in the six-team NHL, bench- clearings were the rule rather than the exception. Teams met 14 times during the regular season, often on back-to-back nights. The benches cleared in Boston one night, and there was young Richard in the middle of it, taking on four Bruins, one after the other. He won the first three fights, including one over Jack Bionda, who towered over him. An exhausted Richard fought to a draw in a fourth against Fern Flaman, who was among the NHL's best and most feared fighters

The mention of Jack Bionda, who was also considered the greatest lacrosse player in Canada, brings back a memory for me. After he had played for Boston, he was now playing in the Western Hockey League for the Victoria Cougars. Victoria was playing Winnipeg and I was a Linesman. The puck was in the Victoria zone and Bionda got it and spun around to clear it behind his net. He shot it into his own goal. As I was bent down, digging the puck out from the back of the net, the Victoria goalie, Marcel Pelletier, said to me, in his heavy French Canadian accent, "He got one hell of a shot."
Little known fact. Before playing for the Junior Canadiens and the Montreal Canadiens Henri Richard played junior for Montreal Nationale:

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...richahe01.html

which was a part of the Palestre Nationale organization the leading French Canadian athletic club in Montreal. Palestre Nationale had one of the leading Golden Gloves boxing programs in Montreal from the 1930s thru the 1970s. Their hockey teams were better left alone.

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03-12-2013, 10:34 AM
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Awesome stuff. Interesting to see some of those names. Do they still do anything like this today? I know for sure the OHL does, but only in a couple categories, not sure about the NHL.

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