Monday, May 2, 2011

Magical Mystery Tour : NHL Style

On April 19, 1947, National Hockey League play came to a close with Toronto's 2-1 win over Montreal. The victory gave the Blue & White their first of three Stanley Cup championships. It was time for players to hang-up their skates and engage in whatever plans were scheduled for the off-season.

In 1946-47, each of the six NHL teams played in 60 games. With new league President Clarence Campbell at the helm, this was an increase of 10 regular season games per team. In '45-46, the schedule ended after 50 contests.

As the world was making strides forward following World War 11, the NHL was eager to grow their game. It was a time for new talent to dazzle the paying customers. Players like Dit Clapper in Boston had come to the end of the line. The rosters of NHL clubs were stocked with rookies like Gordie Howe, Howie Meeker, Sid Smith and Bill Barilko. Toronto's Howie Meeker would capture the Calder Trophy as top rookie. In a game played on January 8, 1947, Meeker would score 5 goals against Chicago. In the spring, Meeker would get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup with Toronto's win over Montreal.

Not wanting to rest on their laurels, the National Hockey League decided to keep a good thing going. A tour of Western Canada was planned, with the Montreal Canadiens taking on a team of players composed from the other 5 NHL clubs. Also on the schedule, was a game to be played in Tacoma, Washington.

The squad providing the opposition for Montreal included - Bill Quackenbush, Doug McCaig, Jack Stewart, Ted Lindsay, Pete Horeck, Sid Abel, Jim Conacher (Detroit) Frank Eddolls (Montreal) Doug Bentley, Max Bentley, Bill Mosienko (Chicago) Grant Warwick (New York). The Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs were represented by goalie Turk Broda. The position of manager was assigned to Detroit's Jack Adams.

The tour opened up in Regina on April 23, 1947 and came to a close in Tocoma on May 10, 1947.

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