Monday, May 12, 2008

Going under cover

Sports Illustrated recently launched an online feature called the Archive, which allows you to search for any player or team and browse through all of SI's articles, photos and videos. It's addictive stuff. And you can learn a lot.

For example: Did you know that the Toronto Maple Leafs have never been on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

According to their archive, no Leaf has ever made the cover -- not even in the background of another hockey photo. That seems odd, although you have to consider that SI's hockey coverage peaked in the 70s and 80s, and the Leafs weren't exactly... um... newsworthy back then. Still, the Leafs have apparently shown up in over 550 SI articles over the years, so it's a little strange that they never even managed a cameo on the cover.

All of which begs the question: if there's an SI cover curse, how bad would the Leafs be if they had ever been on one? Not to worry. Considering the current state of the team, and the current almost complete lack of hockey coverage in Sports Illustrated, I wouldn't expect any cover appearances any time soon.

What about the other Canadian teams?

Montreal Canadiens - Thirteen covers. The team made frequent appearances in the 60s and 70s, but since then have only been on twice -- once each for their Cup wins in 1986 and 1993.

Edmonton Oilers - Ten covers. For some reason this surprised me -- I would have expected more, since SI had a lot of hockey coverage in the 80s. Needless to say, all but one of the covers feature Gretzky and the appearances end in 1989. Another surprise: Gretzky made only one cover appearance as a King, and two more as a Ranger.

Ottawa Senators - No covers.

Vancouver Canucks - Two covers, but in both cases a Canuck is only shown in the background of a cover that focuses on the New York Rangers.

Calgary Flames - Two covers. One featuring Jarome Iginla's face along with a few dozen others on a "Minorities in Sports" feature, and another with an unindentified Flames being run over by Tomas Sandstrong of the Kings. Oddly enough, there is a cover featuring Jim Craig of the Atlanta Flames.

Neither the Jets or Nordiques ever made an appearance.

For whatever it's worth, the Toronto Blue Jays have made the cover eight times, including three weeks in a two in 1992 and this sweet shot of Shaker Mo rounding third at the Ex.

(Note: The SI Archive doesn't seem to be 100% reliable, and they're not completely consistent with how they tag each cover. For example, I found two old Wayne Gretzky covers that showed up under his name but not in a search for the Oilers. So please forgive any errors above.)

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