Part one covered cards 1-18, all of which were Bruins. This next block is mostly Chicago. The Black Hawks were dismal through most of the 1950s, finishing last every year but one between 1946-47 and 1956-57. In 1957-58, they would fire coach Tommy Ivan in midseason and hire Rudy Pilous and finish fifth – two points ahead of last-place Toronto.
The seeds, however, of the team that would win it all in 1961 are starting to emerge with this group here. In 1958-59, this team would jump from fifth to third, and by 1961, they had their first Stanley Cup since 1938.
The last card in this post is of Guyle Fielder, who is probably the best scorer you’ve never heard of.
Page 3 – cards 19-27
#19: Bob Bailey was what you would call today an “energy guy.” A forward who really didn’t have the scoring ability to stick at the NHL level, he hit a lot and forechecked and brought a lot of fire. 1957-58 was the best year of his NHL career, scoring 9 goals and 21 points in 64 games (split between Chicago and Detroit). Once his 150 NHL games were over, he played in the minors until 1968, scoring as many as 132 points in a season (1965-66 Dayton Gems).
#20: Glenn Hall (RC) was picked up from Detroit in July of 1957 in what is really a mind-bogglingly bad trade by Jack Adams. Hall and Ted Lindsay – both of whom were First-Team All-Stars in 1956-57 – went to Chicago for a two-way winger, a grinder, a backup goalie and a minor-leaguer. Hall’s crime was being in net for two failed playoff runs. He would go on to backstop the Hawks for a decade, play 502 straight games (he’d played 140 by this point) and be a regular First-Team All-Star. Detroit rapidly fell from contention and didn’t win another Cup until the 1990s.
#21: Ted Lindsay was coming off a 30-goal, 85-point season. He was sixth in goals, first in assists and was the NHL’s second-leading scorer in 1956-57. Why was he sent to Chicago? This was his punishment for his role in creating the NHL’s first player’s association. Ted was 32 and had a lot of miles on a fairly small frame, so his 1957-58 wasn’t one of his best seasons. He’d have a strong ’58-59, retire after ’59-60 and make a one-year comeback in 1964-65. As of the start of 1957-58, he was fourth all-time in goals and third in points.
#22: Pierre Pilote (RC) was entering his second season in 1957-58 and would register his first 30-point season. Through the mid-sixties, Pierre was the top offensive defenseman in the league, won three Norris trophies and set a single-season points record with 59 in 1964-65. Then a kid named Orr came along….
#23: Jim Thomson had been captain of the Maple Leafs and the key to their blue line until he, too, decided to take part in the formation of the players’ association. As with Lindsay, he was punished by being sent to Chicago, where he would play just a single season before retiring. Thomson holds an odd record. He has the most points in a single season (29) by a player who didn’t score a goal. His 1947-48 stat line read 59-0-29-29.
#24: Eric Nesterenko was expected to be a big scorer with the Leafs, but this never materialized. Dispatched to Chicago in 1956, he became instead one of the league’s best penalty killers and defensive forwards, though he would actually pot 20 goals in ’57-58. He did score 250 career goals, but it took over 1200 NHL games to get there. His last recorded action came in 1975-76 with the Trail Smoke Eaters.
#25: Gus Mortson was another ex-Leaf defenseman. In the late 1940s, he and Thomson were one of the top pairings in the game and he was a First-Team All-Star in 1949-50. Mortson had been in Chicago since 1952 and was a tough defender with some offense. He was sixth in scoring by defensemen between 1946-47 and 1956-57 and 17th all-time entering 1957-58. After 1957-58, he would spent half a season in Detroit, and then play the balance of his career in the minors and senior hockey, finally retiring in 1967.
#26: Ed Litzenberger (RC) was a big centre who had been buried in Montreal. In 1954-55, he was dealt to Chicago, emerged as a near point-per-game player and won the Calder. He would score 30-plus goals three times in the late 1950s, but a car accident in 1959-60 derailed him. He became a useful role player and won four straight Cups between 1960-64.
#27: Elmer Vasko (RC) was a giant of a defenseman known to the fans as “Moose.” Surprisingly mobile for his size, he’d be a force on the Hawks’ blue line until 1966. If he’d had more of a mean streak, he would have been as fearsome a defenseman as anyone. As it was, he was effective for a decade-plus between Chicago and Minnesota.
Page 4 – cards 28-36
#28: Jack McIntyre was coming off the best season of his career entering 1957-58. This season, though started poorly. After just four assists in 27 games, Jack, Bob Bailey and Hec Lalande were sent to Detroit for Bill Dineen, Lorne Ferguson and Billy Dea. This trade, just 8 days before Christmas, sparked Jack and he rebounded with 15 goals in the back half of the season. His last NHL action came in the 1959-60 season, but he played another nine seasons in the minors and in senior hockey.
#29: Ron Murphy was an excellent two-way forward who put together an 18-year NHL career, starting in 1952-53 with the Rangers and finishing with the 1969-70 Bruins. He scored 21 goals for Chicago’s Cup-winner in 1961 and was a key veteran pickup as the Bruins came back to life in the late 1960s.
#30: Glen Skov was another excellent checker, though he came to prominence with the Cup-winning Detroit teams of the early 1950s. A Hawk since 1955, Glen would match his career high with 17 goals in 1957-58. He’d spend the next two seasons in Chicago and Montreal almost exclusively as a penalty killer and spare forward before spending one season as a player-coach in Hull-Ottawa.
#31: Hec Lalande was an excellent scorer in junior who never really was able to replicate it at the highest levels. I would guess some of this might have been his size, as he was only 150 pounds. His last NHL action would come in 1957-58, but he would go on to a lengthy and prolific minor-league career – particularly in the Eastern League, where he would twice break 100 points. As an aside, this card was a complete pain to acquire. It’s rarely centered and decent versions go for stupid amounts on eBay. I found one at a good price at a show.
#32: Nick Mickoski was a pretty decent winger who gets forgotten because of the teams he played for. He played over 700 games between 1948 and 1960 but only saw playoff action in three seasons. He was a good skater with some size and scored 19 goals or better four times – good production for the era. When his NHL days were done, he played in the minors through the mid-60s and senior hockey un Newfoundland until 1969.
#33: Wally Hergesheimer burst on the scene with the Rangers as a 24-year-old in 1951, scoring 26, 30 and 27 goals. A broken leg slowed him up in 1954-55 and his production began to decline. Traded to Chicago in 1956, a broken collarbone wrecked his first season there. He would not see any NHL action in 1957-58 and only limited in 1959. When his rights were traded to Buffalo of the AHL for ’57-58, the Hawks picked up a young Ken Wharram in return. After a brief return to the Rangers in 1958-59, he would finish in the minors in 1962.
The team switches to Detroit here – I’ll talk more about them in the next post. Detroit was still strong in 1957-58, but iffy player moves (and the emergence of Montreal and Toronto) spelled the end of the dynasty days.
#34: Alex Delvecchio spent his entire career (1950-74) with Detroit. A natural athlete and great skater, Alex had the good fortune to spend most of those years on a line with Gordie Howe. He was the Wings captain for over a decade and an easy pick as a Hall of Famer. He looks rather young here and maybe kind of familiar. The reason for this is that this is the same picture Parkhurst used for his 1952-53 card and it wasn’t new then. I think it dates from his 1950-51 season with Omaha.
#35: Terry Sawchuk has his name misspelled on this card. One of the consequences of there being no Topps sets in 1955-56 and 1956-57 is that Sawchuk’s time as a Boston Bruin is completely flushed down the memory hole. Terry, after being the best goalie in the game in the early 1950s, was pushed aside by Glenn Hall and found himself a Bruin. His nerves went on him in the middle of ’56-57 and he left the team. Detroit reacquired him for 1957-58. He would play all 70 games that season (the last time he would play a full season), but his 2.94 GAA was the highest of his career to date. He would don a mask and claimed it added years to his career. He retired as the all-time leader in wins and shutouts.
#36: Guyle Fielder (RC) has one of the more interesting cards in this set, because on the back, he has the highest stat total of any player to appear on a card pre-1969. The NHL record for points at this time was Gordie Howe’s 95-point effort from 1952-53. Fielder’s 122 points, scored for the WHL’s Seattle Americans, are the most ever shown on an NHL card until Phil Esposito’s 126 for the 1968-69 Bruins. Fielder only played 9 NHL games and never recorded a point, but he scored 1771 of them in the Western League plus 85 in the AHL and 75 in the PCHL. In total, his minor-league career reads 1487GP – 438G – 1491A – 1929PTS. Truly one of the great minor-league players of all time. I don’t know why it didn’t work at the NHL level. Usually, when you see something like that, it’s about foot speed, but that’s just a guess.
This ends the next two pages of the set. Part 3 will mostly deal with Detroit and start to introduce the Rangers.
This is also post #200 on this blog. It has taken entirely too long to get here.