home | about | search | archive | lcs classic
December 16, 2018
LCS Top 100: 50-41
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Geoffrion twice led the league in goals and points in a single season, with the first coming in 1955 after Richard missed the final three regular-season games due to suspension. Despite protests from Montreal fans, Geoffrion refused to tank it and used the three extra games to pass Richard, denying Rocket what would have been the only scoring title of his career.
In 1961, the first year after Richard retired, Geoffrion had his best season, recording 50 goals and 95 points in 64 games to capture the Hart Trophy and join his rival Rocket as the only 50-goal scorers in league history.
Geoffrion retired in 1968 with 393 career goals and six Stanley Cup rings. He managed to cobble together a remarkable career even though he suffered through numerous stomach ailments, including a ruptured bowel in 1958 that almost killed him. Only weeks after receiving last rites, Geoffrion returned against doctor's orders to join the Habs for the playoffs, scoring six goals and 11 points in 10 games to help Montreal win the Cup.
Boom Boom was also famous for attending James Buchanan High School with his pals Barbarino, Epstein, and Horshack. While in school, Boom Boom enjoyed great success as a basketball player and disc jockey, but he seldom had his assignments handy.
Pegged as the next Rocket Richard, Mahovlich had to deal with unreal expectations his entire career. Beating out Bobby Hull for the Calder Trophy raised the bar even higher, but things looked swell when a 23-year-old Mahovlich rammed home 48 goals in the first 56 games of the 1960-61 season. With 14 games left, Mahovlich seemed a lock to surpass Richard's record 50 goals. Well, not so fast, Honcho.
Mahovlich went into a disastrous tailspin and failed to record another goal the rest of the season. Boom Boom Geoffrion roared past him in the season's waning days to reach 50 goals and swipe the glory. Even though he put up 36, 33, and 26 goals the next three years to help the Maple Leafs to three straight Stanley Cups, Mahovlich became the whipping boy of Toronto head coach Punch Imlach and the Toronto fans, who never let him forget his failures or the colossal scoring slump that cost him immortality. The pressure eventually got to Mahovlich, and he suffered a nervous breakdown and had to seek treatment for depression.
After winning a fourth Cup with the Leafs, Mahovlich got traded to Detroit, giving him a new lease on life. In the Motor City, Mahovlich patrolled the left wing for Howe and Alex Delvechhio, going for a career-high 49 goals in 1968-69. He spent only two full seasons and parts of two others with the Wings, scoring 108 goals in 198 games.
In 1970-71, Detroit started dumping high-priced players and shipped the 33-year-old Mahovlich to Montreal, where he'd win two more Stanley Cups and pot 129 goals in 263 games. Mahovlich jumped to the WHA in 1974, returning to Toronto with the rival league's Toros and registering two more 30-goal seasons.
Stevens enjoyed a full career before he ever stepped a cloven-foot inside New Jersey. He started out with Washington as an absolute animal. He used to fight. A lot. Stevens had 195 penalty minutes as a rookie in 1982-83 and cracked 200 four times in the subsequent six years, reaching a career-high 283 penalty minutes in 1987.
When he wasn't in the box, Stevens was also piling up points, notching four 60-point seasons and the lone 20-goal campaign of his career for the Caps. After one season in St. Louis, in which he wore the C and spearheaded a 22-point improvement in the standings, Stevens got awarded to the Devils as compensation for the Blues signing Brendan Shanahan, marking the single worst decision since "My Mother the Car."
In New Jersey, Stevens refined his game further, toning down the brutality in exchange for a more controlled defensive presence. He'd lead the Devils to three Stanley Cups, capturing the Conn Smythe in 2000 despite scoring just three goals and 11 points in 23 postseason games.
It's criminal Stevens never won a Norris Trophy. His best chance came in 1993-94 when he posted a career-high 78 points and a plus-53 for El Diablo, but he lost out to some guy named Ray Bourque. That was Stevens' last hurrah in terms of scoring, and he managed more than 30 points only once in his final 10 seasons, crippling any Norris hopes. But Stevens finished plus-393 for his career and never posted a minus season.
Malone took a regular gig the next season and played in only eight games, bailing on hockey for the promise of a secure future and better pay. But he couldn't stay away long and signed on with the Quebec Bulldogs for the 1919-20 season. Malone won his second scoring title that year, potting 39 goals and adding 10 assists in only 24 games.
On January 31, 1920, Malone scored seven goals in a 10-6 win over the Toronto St. Pats, establishing a record for most goals in a single contest that still stands today.
Exceptionally quick, Malone seemed to appear at will in the offensive zone, exploiting weaknesses in the defense and wiring accurate wrist shots into the twine. His elusiveness earned him the nickname Phantom, and he haunted the NHL for 143 goals in just 126 games. Take away his final two seasons, in which he mustered one goal in 30 games due to illness and deteriorating skills, and Malone's production is even more staggering.
Hall wasn't just an Iron Man, he was an innovator. He pioneered the butterfly technique, dropping to his knees and kicking out his pads to take away the bottom of the net. Hall played 18 seasons for the Wings, Hawks, and Blues, recording five 30-win seasons and leading the league in victories four times. Hall won three Vezinas and was named a First Team All-Star seven times. He captured his lone Stanley Cup in 1961 with the Hawks, posting a 2.02 goals-against average and two shutouts to garner Conn Smythe honors.
And before you dismiss Kurri as a product of his iconic center, check the stats. In 1988-89, his first year without Gretzky, Kurri went for 44 goals and 102 points. He followed it up the next year with 33 goals and 93 points. Wayne who?
Kurri was at his best in the playoffs. He won five Stanley Cups and scored 72 goals in 99 games during the five championship runs.
A natural playmaker, Stastny used his teammates to perfection and made everyone around him better. He teamed up with his brothers Marian and Anton to turn the Nordiques into an Adams Division power, twice reaching the Wales Conference Finals. During his nine-plus years in Quebec, Stastny recorded 81 points in 64 playoff games. He did the igloo proud.
And please, don't ever mention Frank Pietrangelo to him. Thanks.
Schmidt and his Kraut buddies, who all hailed from Kitchener, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force to fight in World War II. Schmidt lost more than three years from his prime, but returned in 1945 like he never missed a beat, scoring 13 goals and 31 points in 48 games. A year later, Schmidt would set career-highs with 27 goals and 62 points in 59 contests. After his retirement in 1955, Schmidt became the Boston coach and then the GM, pulling the trigger on the trade that landed Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield.
Bill Cook scored the first goal in New York Rangers history. It was one of 33 tallies that season for the elder Cook. Keep in mind, they only played 44 games back then. Cook won the scoring title that season and again in 1933, when he scored 28 goals and 50 points at the age of 37.
Cook was a skilled power forward who drove the net like a bull yet still had hands soft enough to revolutionize hockey's passing game, teaming with Bun and Boucher to move the puck like no line before and few since. Cook was the clear predecessor to the likes of Richard and Howe.