Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stat Kings - 1982-83 NHL Scoring Leaders

Stat Kings is a new series of posts debuting here on Shoebox Legends in 2017.  What I hope to do is to more closely tie my collection of cards to the real world of sports by matching a variety of different statistical leaders in sports up with relevant cardboard.  Where one is available I'd like to use a card of the player from the season in question, though that's not always possible.

To kick things off, I figured I'd look at the top 20 scorers in the NHL during the season that I was born, 1982-83.  As I hoped would be the case when I conceived the idea for these posts, I found that there were some expected names as well as some surprises to be found.

Alright, let's take a look at the 20 guys who racked up the most points during the '82-83 NHL season...

#20 - Stan Smyl - Right Wing - Vancouver Canucks - 88 Points
74 Games Played, 38 Goals, 50 Assists

Stan Smyl was a draft pick of the Canucks in the late '70s.  After a few seasons of continuous improvement he was named team captain heading into the '82-83 campaign.  He responded by putting up career highs in goals, assists and points despite missing six games over the course of the season.  The Canucks were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Calgary Flames, but Smyl's 88 regular season points were enough to get him onto the list here at #20.

#19 - Bryan Trottier - Center - New York Islanders - 89 Points
80 Games Played, 34 Goals, 55 Assists

Bryan Trottier is one of two New York Islanders to make this list, thanks in large part to his significant playing time on a line with the other one, who you'll read about further below.  Statistically speaking this wasn't one of Trottier's finest years, in fact this was the only season during a 7-year stretch between '77-78 and '83-84 where he failed to register 100 points.  The Islanders won their unprecedented fourth consecutive Stanley Cup in 1983 though, so I doubt this bothered Bryan much.

#18 - Ron Francis - Center - Hartford Whalers - 90 Points
79 Games Played, 31 Goals, 59 Assists

After appearing in 59 games during his rookie season the year prior, Ron Francis finally got in a full season of NHL action in '82-83 and did not disappoint.  Whalers fans knew they had a special player here, as Ron racked up 90 points playing on a team that won only 19 games all year, and without any real superstars supporting him.  This was only the beginning for Ron, who would go on to become the greatest Whaler ever to lace up skates, and one of the more under-rated players in league history.

#17 - Steve Larmer - Right Wing - Chicago Blackhawks - 90 Points
80 Games Played, 43 Goals, 47 Assists

Steve Larmer put up the same 90 points that Ron Francis did in 1982-83, but where there was a tie I used goals scored as the deciding factor, and Francis was more of a set-up guy than Larmer.  After getting a cup of coffee with the Hawks in each of the two seasons prior, Steve finally burst onto the scene in '82-83.  He appeared in every single game for Chicago, something he would do each season for the next decade plus.  His 90 points were good enough to win him the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.

I should point out that this is the one card in this post that's not actually from the '82-83 season.  O-Pee-Chee was the only major release that year and Steve didn't make the set.  He did have a card in the '83-84 set the following year, but it mistakenly featured a photograph of teammate Steve Ludzik.  So, this '84-85 was the best I could do.

#16 - Dale Hawerchuk - Center - Winnipeg Jets - 91 Points
79 Games Played, 40 Goals, 51 Assists

Finishing just above Larmer with 91 points was the previous season's Calder winner, center Dale Hawerchuk.  This was the only time in Dale's first seven seasons in the league that he failed to record 100 points.  Hawerchuk and the Jets finished fourth in the Smythe division in '82-83 and just made the playoffs, but found themselves matched up against an Oilers team full of superstars and were swept out of the first round.

#15 - Anton Stastny - Left Wing - Quebec Nordiques - 92 Points
79 Games Played, 32 Goals, 60 Assists

1982-83 was the finest of Anton Stastny's 9 NHL seasons, as he set career highs in both assists and points.  Playing alongside brothers Peter and Marian, Anton and the rest of the Nordiques secured a playoff berth by finishing fourth in the Adams Division.

#14 - Paul Coffey - Defense - Edmonton Oilers - 96 Points
80 Games Played, 29 Goals, 67 Assists

While the league still belonged to the back-to-back-to-back-to-back champion Islanders in 1983, it was clear to fans that the Oilers were on the verge of greatness.  Edmonton was stocked with young, talented players, and blue-liner Paul Coffey was certainly included among that group.  While his numbers certainly benefited from the group of guys playing around him, Coffey was a speedy scorer in his own rite and a big part of the success that Edmonton would experience during the '80s.

Perhaps the most impressive thing I can say about Paul at the moment is that he is the only defenseman on this list!

#13 - Rick Middleton - Right Wing - Boston Bruins - 96 Points
80 Games Played, 49 Goals, 47 Assists

The Bruins basically robbed the New York Rangers in a trade for Rick Middleton during the latter half of the '70s, and he quickly became one of Boston's steadier scorers.  In '82-83 Rick was in the midst of a six-season run where he scored 85 or more points.  He was a big reason why the Bruins had the best regular season record in the NHL that year.  Boston advanced through the first two rounds of the playoffs as well before finally falling in the Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Islanders.

#12 - Lanny McDonald - Right Wing - Calgary Flames - 98 Points
80 Games Played, 66 Goals, 32 Assists

1982-83 was without question Lanny McDonald's finest season offensively.  He battled it out all year with Wayne Gretzky for most goals scored.  At the All-Star break he was actually two goals ahead of The Great One.  He came up just short in the end, but registered an amazing 66 goals nonetheless!  I know offensive numbers were inflated across the game in the '80s, but 66 goals is nothing to scoff at.  To date, there have only been 22 times in league history where a player scored 66 or more in a year.

#11 - Jari Kurri - Right Wing - Edmonton Oilers - 104 Points
80 Games Played, 45 Goals, 59 Assists

After two solid years with Edmonton beginning in 1980, Jari Kurri finally eclipsed the 100-point mark in his third season.  Known as the "Finnish Flash" long before Teemu Selanne assumed the nickname, Kurri was a major piece of the most dominant NHL team of the decade.  As if the 104 points weren't enough, Jari was known as one of the better defensive forwards of his day.

#10 - Kent Nilsson - Center - Calgary Flames - 104 Points
80 Games Played, 46 Goals, 58 Assists

Kent Nilsson might be the most interesting name on this list to me.  After beginning his professional career with a few seasons in Sweden, he came over to the WHA and lit it up with two 107-point seasons.  Next it was off to the NHL where he became a consistent scorer for years, wrapping up with a Stanley Cup win as a member of the Oilers, then back to Sweden.

In the end, he didn't play long enough at the NHL level (553 games) to put up HOF-type numbers.  For a few seasons he certainly was one of the best offensive players in the league though.  He racked up 686 points in those 553 games, and was still scoring at a point-per-game pace over his final couple of NHL seasons before he returned to Sweden.  Interesting to think what could have been had Kent played his entire career in the NHL.

#9 - Glenn Anderson - Right Wing - Edmonton Oilers - 104 Points
72 Games Played, 48 Goals, 56 Assists

Surprise, surprise, another Edmonton Oiler.  It's just amazing the sheer amount of young talent the Oilers added in such a short time span in the early '80s.  Anderson's 104 points in '82-83 got him over the 100-point plateau for the second consecutive season.  He'd go on to accumulate a fist-full of Stanley Cup rings before eventual enshrinement in the Hall-of-Fame.

#8 - Michel Goulet - Left Wing - Quebec Nordiques - 105 Points
80 Games Played, 57 Goals, 48 Assists

Michel Goulet was an interesting player as well.  As his 57 goals indicates, he was a sniper.  In fact, '82-83 was the first of four consecutive seasons where he'd record 50+ goals.  After that, 49 and 48.  Despite a concussion forcing him from the game at just 33 years of age, he still racked up 548 goals and 1,152 points.

#7 - Mark Messier - Center - Edmonton Oilers - 106 Points
77 Games Played, 48 Goals, 58 Assists

As a line-mate of the man in the #9 spot on this list, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier surpassed 100 points in a season for the first of six times in 1982-83.  His 48 goals were the second most he'd ever tally in his impressive 25-season professional career.  Mark eventually captained two separate franchises to Stanley Cup glory, and his 6 rings as a player make him arguably the second best athlete in this post.

#6 - Barry Pederson - Center - Boston Bruins - 107 Points
77 Games Played, 46 Goals, 61 Assists

Here's a name I was very surprised to see this high up the list.  Barry finished second in Calder Trophy voting to Dale Hawerchuk in 1981-82.  His 107 points in '82-83 were a 15-point improvement on that rookie campaign, and the following season he'd post even better numbers than this.  Pederson seemed destined for greatness before a benign tumor in his shoulder changed the course of his career.  These days I see plenty of him as an analyst for the Boston Bruins' local TV coverage here in New England.

This is the one card in this post that I really need to upgrade condition-wise...anyone have a spare?

#5 - Marcel Dionne - Center - Los Angeles Kings - 107 Points
80 Games Played, 56 Goals, 51 Assists

Marcel Dionne recorded the same number of points as Pederson in '82-83, but lit the lamp 10 times more, so he gets the edge and a place in the top 5.  This was the fifth consecutive season that saw Dionne record more than 100 points, and the sixth and final time he'd record 50 goals or more.  His 731 career goals are 5th most all-time, and I'm not sure any current player not named Ovechkin can threaten that.

#4 - Mike Bossy - Right Wing - New York Islanders - 118 Points
79 Games Played, 60 Goals, 58 Assists

There's not much I can say about Mike Bossy that I haven't already said in the past here on the blog.  When it comes to the best pure goal scorers in the history of the NHL he's certainly in the conversation.  Flying high with 60 goals and 118 points, he was certainly the "straw that stirred the drink" (to borrow a reference from another New York team) for an Islanders team about to capture its fourth straight Cup.

#3 - Denis Savard - Center - Chicago Blackhawks - 121 Points
78 Games Played, 35 Goals, 86 Assists

Denis Savard was taken 3rd overall by the Blackhawks in the 1980 entry draft, and paid immediate dividends.  By the end of '82-83, his third NHL season, he'd already accumulated 315 points.  With Savard on the score sheet nearly every night, the Hawks found themselves atop the Norris Division at season's end.  They advanced all the way to the Conference Finals in the post-season before Edmonton knocked them off.

#2 - Peter Stastny - Center - Quebec Nordiques - 124 Points
75 Games Played, 47 Goals, 77 Assists

Peter Stastny surpassed 100 points in his rookie season and never looked back, amassing 100 points or more in seven of his first eight years in the NHL.  Other than a certain player who wore #99, he was the most dominant scorer of the '80s overall.  124 points is pretty insane, but this was only his second best season over the course of his career.  I really wish the NHL would have given us the Quebec Nordiques back over the Las Vegas Knights.

#1 - Wayne Gretzky - Center - Edmonton Oilers - 196 Points
80 Games Played, 71 Goals, 125 Assists

I don't think the guy atop the list will come as a surprise to anyone.  In his very early 20s at this point, Wayne was already tearing up the league and establishing his place as "The Great One".  While other players would consider a 100-point season a career benchmark, Wayne was flirting with 200 year in and year out.  I mean, he scored 72 points more than the next closest player in '82-83.  The only thing missing at this stage was a Stanley Cup, and that those would come soon!

As a nice way to close things out, here's a card from the next season's O-Pee-Chee release commemorating Gretzky's '82-83 Art Ross Trophy season.

Well, that was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.  I plan on doing a bunch of these over the course of the year, covering many different statistical categories and eras across both baseball and hockey.  Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!


Mark Hoyle said...

Very cool concept for a post Shane. Looking forward to some more

Marc said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this post. You were right, a few surprising names on the list.

Billy Kingsley said...

That was great, especially as I am just beginning to learn NHL history. Looking forward to seeing the next posts in the series!

Anonymous said...

Fun stuff... I got to the end and said "What? No Capitals?", but Dennis Maruk and Mike Gartner finished 7 and 12 points behind Smyl.

1982-83 was a disappointing year for this hockey collector... I'd started collecting hockey 5 years earlier, and then I had the rug yanked out from under me because Topps would only issue a sticker set (which I made a pretty good run at). I was serious enough about hockey cards that I wanted the 1982-83 OPC so I bought a hand-collated set at a show. It did take the wind out of my sails, though, as I wouldn't make another run at a hockey set until 1985-86.

Hackenbush said...

Great idea. Terrific execution. Did you read Gretzky's recent book?

Coast To Posts said...

Killer idea. Loved seeing the vintage hockey cardboard. I was also surprised to see Barry Pederson so high on the scoring list! He must have been something else that season - it's difficult to imagine what sort of hype was attributed to the game during the early 80s; I'm sure it not even close to how it is now....

Chris said...

Very cool post, lots of great information. I hope you keep going with this series.

As is often said about The Great One, his assists alone would have won the scoring title. Crazy.

I actually do have that Barry Pederson card, I can set it aside for you if you'd like. Just got a couple buybacks you might need, too.

Quebec should definitely have a team, and I think they will once the league solves the geographic issue that Detroit caused by going to the East. The Canadian dollar is an issue as well. I'm interested to see what Vegas can do, the enthusiasm for the team seems to be higher than most "new" markets.

shoeboxlegends said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Hackenbush, I haven't read that one, might have to pick it up. Chris, let me know if/when you wanna trade!

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