Tag Archives: Bob Davidson

Orr and Gretzky Could’ve Been……..

Bob Davidson may have been Chief Scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and no doubt was responsible for guiding many great players to the Leafs, particularly in the 1960s when Toronto was winning four Stanley Cups, but he made the odd big error in judgement in his scouting career, and I mean big.

One 1972 Davidson faux pas is well-documented. It occurred when he and John McClellan travelled to Russia prior to the 1972 Summit Series to scout the Soviet squad, and came back with the report that the Soviets weren’t great shooters and their weakest spot was in goal. Of course, the squad turned out to be a powerhouse and the goalie’s name happened to be Vladislav Tretiak, who wasn’t a weak spot by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, he stood on his head in that historical series and continued to stand on his head for the next decade or so.

The other big Davidson boo boo happened much earlier than 1972 and if he’d followed up on a simple letter, the course of Leafs, Bruins, and NHL history as a whole would have been drastically altered.

In 1960, a minor hockey organizer in Parry Sound wrote to Leafs coach and GM Punch Imlach about a 12-year old player named Bobby Orr and how good the little guy was, but Imlach thought little or nothing about it and simply passed the message on to Davidson. But Davidson, without checking the kid out, decided that young Bobby was indeed too young and maybe in a few more years they’d have a look again and see how he was progressing at that time.

The Orr family was disappointed. Bobby’s father Doug and grandpa Robert were both big Leafs fans and loved the idea of Bobby eventually playing in Toronto, but it wasn’t to be because Imlach and Davidson couldn’t be bothered.

Shortly after the Leafs passed on the kid, Boston brass saw the young fellow play in a tournament in Gananogue, Ontario, began making trip after trip to Parry Sound to wine and dine the Orr clan, and the rest goes without saying.

And while we’re talking about the Leafs, Wayne Gretzky almost played in Toronto following his brief St. Louis stint in 1995-96.

Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher was on the verge of having the deal sealed. Gretzky wanted badly to play in Toronto, it was his dream to finish his career there, and he was ready to sign for around two or three million. He’d even passed on an eight million dollar offer from Vancouver because he was so eager to play for the Leafs. Gretzky told Fletcher he’d do whatever it took to get it done, but Fletcher’s bosses decided they wanted to cut back on payroll and use any extra money for the building of the Air Canada Centre.

So Gretzky signed with the Rangers instead.

(The Gretzky and Orr information comes from the Damien Cox/Gord Stellick book – ’67 The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire. The wording in this post is mine).

Non-Breaking Announcement

We interrupt the Canada-Russia tournament, which presently stands at one win for them and none for us, to give you this important non-breaking announcement.

P.K. still hasn’t signed. We’ve seen on the George Stroumboulopoulos show with brother Malcolm, and we’ve seen him in the crowd of players standing behind Donald Fehr as we’re told that they don’t like the latest offer.

We just haven’t seen him signing a piece of paper.

And speaking of Subban, a fellow at work told me how much he disliked our guy, but agreed that P.K. is going to be a superstar. And that’s all that matters.

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Game two of the big series goes September 4th in Toronto. They need this. We need this. Another loss would be terrible. I wonder if Sinden decides to go with Ken Dryden again, or starts Tony Esposito instead. Dryden was, shall we say, less than stellar in game one.

This guy Kharlamov. Holy smokes, would he ever look good in a Habs uniform.

And about the two scouts, John McLellan and Bob Davidson from the Leafs, who went to Russia and came back saying the young Tretiak wasn’t very good and might be the team’s weakest leak. Tretiak sure seemed fine to me in Montreal. Those guys must have got into the hotel vodka.

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Did you hear Foster Hewitt pronounce Yvan Cournoyer’s name during game one? He said it exactly as it looks, forgetting that Yvan is French, not English. Foster calls him “Kor-Noye-Er,” which is just weird considering Cournoyer has been in the league for eight years already. Surely Foster should have gotten it by now.

 

 

Orr And Gretzky Were Almost Leafs

Bob Davidson may have been Chief Scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and no doubt was responsible for guiding many great players to the Leafs, particularly in the 1960’s when Toronto was winning four Stanley Cups, but he made the odd big error in judgement in his scouting career, and I mean big.

A 1972 Davidson faux pas is well-documented. It occurred when he and John McClellan travelled to Russia prior to the 1972 Summit Series to scout the Soviet squad, and came back with the report that the Soviets weren’t great shooters and their weakest spot was in goal. Of course, the squad turned out to be a powerhouse and the goalie’s name happened to be Vladislav Tretiak, who wasn’t a weak spot by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, he stood on his head in that historical series and continued to stand on his head for the next decade or so.

The other big Davidson boo boo happened much earlier than 1972 and if he’d followed up on a simple letter, the course of Leafs, Bruins, and NHL history as a whole would have been drastically altered.

In 1960, a minor hockey organizer in Parry Sound wrote to Leafs coach and GM Punch Imlach about a 12 year old player named Bobby Orr and how good the little guy was, but Imlach thought little or nothing about it and simply passed the message on to Davidson. But Davidson, without checking the kid out, decided that young Bobby was indeed too young and maybe in a few more years they’d have a look again and see how he was progressing at that time.

The Orr family was disappointed. Bobby’s father Doug and grandpa Robert were both big Leafs fans and loved the idea of Bobby eventually playing in Toronto, but it wasn’t to be because Imlach and Davidson couldn’t be bothered.

Shortly after the Leafs passed on the kid, Boston brass saw the young fellow play in a tournament in Gananogue, Ontario, began making trip after trip to Parry Sound to wine and dine the Orr clan, and the rest goes without saying.

And while we’re talking about the Leafs, Wayne Gretzky almost played in Toronto following his brief St. Louis stint in 1995-96.

Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher was on the verge of having the deal sealed. Gretzky wanted badly to play in Toronto, it was his dream to finish his career there, and he was ready to sign for around two or three million. He’d even passed on an eight million dollar offer from Vancouver because he was so eager to play for the Leafs. Gretzky told Fletcher he’d do whatever it took to get it done, but Fletcher’s bosses decided they wanted to cut back on payroll and use any extra money to the building of the Air Canada Centre.

So Gretzky signed with the Rangers instead.

(The Gretzky and Orr information comes from the Damien Cox/Gord Stellick book – ’67 The Maple Leafs, Their Sensational Victory, and the End of an Empire. The wording in this post is mine).

The Ones That Got Away

Unfortunately, Andrei Kostitsyn won’t be winning the scoring championship this year as he only has a measly ten goals and thirteen assists so far.

There’s just no denying he’s one of the culprits not helping “The Team That Scoring Forgot.”

He may, however, be the best player to ever come out of Belarus, although kid brother Sergei has eleven goals in Nashville, so even that’s debatable.

The depressing facts are:

Andrei Kostitsyn was selected 10th in the 2003 draft.

After him came Jeff Carter at 11th, Zach Parise – 17th, Ryan Getzlaf – 19th, Mike Richards – 24th, Patrice Bergeron – 45th, and Shea Weber – 49th, all of whom show character whether they’re scoring or not, as opposed to Kostitsyn who is just a body who goes on the ice, skates around for a minute, and then goes off again.

This shows that scouting is not an exact science, which Bob Davidson and John McLellan could vouch for after they travelled to Russia before the 1972 Summit Series and came back saying the Russians can’t shoot and have a very weak goaltender named Vladislav Tretiak.

The Leafs Should Have Just Asked Us

I was listening the other day to a sports talk show based out of Toronto and the reporters were going on about Mike Komisarek and how he’s been a disappointment so far. They suggested he’s probably trying to do too much, and hasn’t been everything Leaf supporters thought he would be.

All they had to do was ask Habs fans. We watched on a regular basis the mishaps, miscues, and misfires from this guy. Somehow, the Toronto brass must have missed every single Montreal game played in the past when this guy wore the CH.

This reminds me of the scouting job done by Toronto people in 1972. Leaf head coach John McLellan and head scout Bob Davidson travelled to Russia to check out the Soviet squad before the big Summit Series was about to take place, and came back with this report: The Russians pass the puck too much, don’t shoot enough, and are too small. And their biggest weakness is in goal.

We know what happened later when we saw this team for the first time, and we definitely got to know their goalie, Vladisalv Tretiak, who not only stood on his head in 1972, but proceeded to do so for many years to come. (the 1975 Montreal Canadiens-Red Army game is a perfect example of seeing this guy perform miracles).

So the scouting report by McLellan and Davidson was as wrong as wrong can be.

All Toronto saw about Komisarek was that he was a big hitter, mean sometimes, and would drop the gloves from time to time. He was to be the poster boy for the new, tough Leafs. But somehow they didn’t see the rest of Komisarek – the guy who takes terrible, ill-timed penalties, and who makes such bad decisions with the puck. He should get Christmas cards with a thank-you note from every player on other teams whom he handed the puck to which led to a goal or good scoring chance.

The Leafs couldn’t get it right about the Russians, but maybe Davidson and McLellan were tired after the long plane ride and then a train to Leningrad, and weren’t thinking straight. And Tretiak was getting married the next day so his mind wasn’t on the game when he let in eight goals.

But this is 2009, with new scouts and no overseas travel involved in this decision. Why was Komisarek rated so highly by Toronto brass?