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“phantom assists” in NHL history

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01-10-2007, 07:56 AM
  #1
LannysStach
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“phantom assists” in NHL history

as brought up in a Rocket Richard thread . . .

this was from the time before games were televised and they had instant replay.

the ethical and impeccable Dick Irvin Jr. wrote about this for a couple of pages in “My 26 Stanley Cups” (start of On The Air in the 1960s chapter) he writes about how players’ bonus’s would be based in many cases on points at the end of the season. Irvin was the official “scorer” (score-keeper) in Montreal at the time (late 50s, early 60s) . . .

A scorer would feel the pressure especially near the end of the season when the boys were trying to reach their bonus targets. Either they claimed they got an assist they didn’t get credit for, and usually didn’t deserve, or someone else on their team would ask on their behalf. Doug Harvey was the worst offender. Often, after a Canadiens goal was announced, Harvey would grab the phone in the penalty box and curse me up and down for being stingy with assists. He’d scream, “They give them out everywhere else but you won’t, you cheap ba$tard.” In other words, other scorers in the league are dishonest and you should be too.(p. 95)

I’ve read about this elsewhere, but I could remember the Irvin bit right off, so could pull it off the shelf easily. I’d love to read other scholars sources on this. Many of the scorekeepers and players involved don’t want to and never have talked about it, but I’ve come across numerous references to it over the years.

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01-10-2007, 12:51 PM
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MuzikMachine
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In the "The Rocket", there was talk about how top players would get phantom assists so Richard wouldn't win the scoring title. There was even mention of a player (Howe?) getting an assist even though he was on the bench.

I don't know if that was sensationalized for the movie, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if that occurred.

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01-10-2007, 02:32 PM
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Nalyd Psycho
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I'd say it likely happened. The motivation may very from place to place, for example, in 46-47 Max Bentley beat Richard by one point. Were Bentley's stats padded? Maybe, Bentley had a big edge in assists, while Richard had the goals. So phantom points are more likely to effect Bentley's totals. But, was it an anti French bias? Or, and, I think this is more likely, was it because the Blackhawks were the worst team in the league and having the scoring leader would help them to not lose fans?

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01-10-2007, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nalyd Psycho View Post
I'd say it likely happened. The motivation may very from place to place, for example, in 46-47 Max Bentley beat Richard by one point. Were Bentley's stats padded? Maybe, Bentley had a big edge in assists, while Richard had the goals. So phantom points are more likely to effect Bentley's totals. But, was it an anti French bias? Or, and, I think this is more likely, was it because the Blackhawks were the worst team in the league and having the scoring leader would help them to not lose fans?
And then again, Max mght have won fair & square which is more likely than some league wide conspiracy to deprive the Rocket of the Art Ross.

I have great respect for the Rocket and not winning a Art Ross does not tarnishhim in any way, I watched a video on the original six the other day and guys like Schmidt & lindsay were commenting on the strength & ability of the Rocket so he sure had the respect of his peers.

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01-10-2007, 04:51 PM
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LannysStach
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the phantom assist issue was league-wide and less a bias against some players as it was a padding for the homies. there was obviously some rather malleable ethics involved. thank god for a guy like Dick. I can just imagine who was running things in New York or Chicago in those days! :- )

Dick tells this other story that’s kinda funny (as so many of his stories are). . .

it’s the late 50s, Montreal game, they score early, there’s one assist, Dick notes it. then . . .

The PA announcer calls up to the booth. “Plante wants an assist on the goal.” I didn’t give him one. As it turned out, Plante, then the best goalie in hockey, had a rare bad game and the Canadians lost 7-4. I delivered copies of the official scoresheet to the coaches after the game. That night Toe Blake was so mad at his team, and especially at Plante, you could almost see steam coming out of his ears. I was tempted to say, “Here’s the scoresheet, coach. And by the way your goalie, who just let in seven goals, wants an assist.”

But I didn’t have the courage to tell him. It would have been like putting a lit match to a gas tank.

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01-10-2007, 05:45 PM
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I wouldn't know how to find out but I'd think the question would be in each city, what % of the home team's goals had 2 assists as opposed to the visitors.

I was looking at the stats in The Hockey News a month or so ago, and it struck me that Nashville had an odd number golas/assists, and I wondered if they had a generous scorer, but 'after further review' , not really.

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01-10-2007, 06:51 PM
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And then again, Max mght have won fair & square which is more likely than some league wide conspiracy to deprive the Rocket of the Art Ross.
Very likely, but in a one point differential, any little thing can make a huge difference. And if the Hawks scorer was more liberal with assists than Irvin...

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01-10-2007, 07:55 PM
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Just took a few years at random from the Original 6 era to compare each teams goals-to-assists ratio to see if there was anything out of whack. It would be better to examine each teams home and away games, but that would take forever. If something was up, it should be reflected in their final ratios:

Assists per goal:

1954-55:

Mtl 1.68
NYR 1.58
Bos 1.54
Det 1.52
Chi 1.50
Tor 1.50

1957-58:

Mtl 1.72
Bos 1.72
Chi 1.67
Det 1.61
NYR 1.59
Tor 1.58

1960-61:

Chi 1.74
Bos 1.67
Det 1.64
NYR 1.64
Tor 1.62
Mtl 1.61

The only slightly suspicious thing is that it seems Toronto's scorekeepers may have been a little stingier in giving out assists.

Related to this topic, in Dick Irvin's book "The Habs" it talks about how there was a game when both Richard and Lach both scored milestone goals (possibly Richard's 325th?) that both should have been credited to Bert Olmstead, but after the crowd thought Richard and Lach scored the goals there was no way it was going to be changed.

Of course the most famous story of how hometown scorekeepers cheat is how since the mid-70s the Boston Bruins have always had their shots for and against totals "adjusted" to make the team look better (which ironically makes their goalies save percentages look worse.)

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01-10-2007, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LannysStach View Post
as brought up in a Rocket Richard thread . . .

this was from the time before games were televised and they had instant replay.

the ethical and impeccable Dick Irvin Jr. wrote about this for a couple of pages in “My 26 Stanley Cups” (start of On The Air in the 1960s chapter) he writes about how players’ bonus’s would be based in many cases on points at the end of the season. Irvin was the official “scorer” (score-keeper) in Montreal at the time (late 50s, early 60s) . . .

A scorer would feel the pressure especially near the end of the season when the boys were trying to reach their bonus targets. Either they claimed they got an assist they didn’t get credit for, and usually didn’t deserve, or someone else on their team would ask on their behalf. Doug Harvey was the worst offender. Often, after a Canadiens goal was announced, Harvey would grab the phone in the penalty box and curse me up and down for being stingy with assists. He’d scream, “They give them out everywhere else but you won’t, you cheap ba$tard.” In other words, other scorers in the league are dishonest and you should be too.(p. 95)

I’ve read about this elsewhere, but I could remember the Irvin bit right off, so could pull it off the shelf easily. I’d love to read other scholars sources on this. Many of the scorekeepers and players involved don’t want to and never have talked about it, but I’ve come across numerous references to it over the years.

So, there was no anti-Rocket bias at all according to your quote.

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Old
01-10-2007, 09:10 PM
  #10
LannysStach
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ogopogo View Post
So, there was no anti-Rocket bias at all according to your quote.
no, never said it was, and in fact said in above post that it wasn't. this isn't a thread about the Rocket, it's about "phanton assists."

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