Friday, May 31, 2013

Winter Classic

Snapped these two photographs when I attended a Leafs- Bruins playoff game.

 The sweaters were designed for Toronto and Detroit when they take part in the upcoming Winter Classic. They are on display at the Air Canada Centre.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Headline: May 24, 1979

It may not be on the same scale as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but a Stanley Cup celebration can contribute to civic pride.

And no other franchise in the National Hockey League can match the Montreal Canadiens for  putting on a victory party.

In 1979, after bumping off the New York Rangers four games-to-one, Montreal held their Cup parade on May23. It was the Habs fourth straight championship.

What amazed most observers was the short period of time it took to travel the parade route. This was accomplished by ditching separate floats and packing players and management under one roof in a sight-seeing bus.

"There were people shouting, people crying, people pulling their hair," stated Montreal forward Mario Tremblay. "It's really unbelievable to see everybody in the street to cheer us. This is what winning the Stanley Cup is all about."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Headline: May 22, 1956

In a trade made on May 21, a youngster, Eric Nesterenko, and a veteran, Harry Lumley, were shipped to Chicago by Toronto in exchange for cash.

While Lumley played goal the following season (1956-57) with Buffalo in the American Hockey League, Nesterenko flourished with the Chicago Black Hawks. He remained in Chicago for 16 seasons and played on their 1961 Stanley Cup team.

Lumley, eventually made it back to the NHL in 1957 with Boston.

Since this was an off-season transaction, both Lumley and Nesterenko were occupied with other matters. Lumley, was involved in the auto industry as a partner in two car dealerships. Nesterenko, had just started a job with Toronto Hydro at their Leaside Station.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Headline: May 20, 1971

In addition to winning four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bobby Baun added another piece of silverware to his collection in the spring of 1971.

For his outstanding work during the 1970-71 campaign, Baun was selected by club directors to receive the J.P. Memorial Cup. This in-house award was created to honour Bickell, who played an important part in the formation of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens.

Bobby Baun returned to his first NHL home on November 13, 1970, in a trade between Toronto and St. Louis. The Leafs sent Brit Selby to St. Louis in exchange for their former defenceman. Baun left the Leafs in the 1967 expansion draft and he became an original member of the California Seals.

Upon returning to the Maple Leaf  fold, Baun's contributions on the blue line enabled Toronto to break-out of an early season slump and work their way to a playoff spot.

"In naming Baun the winner, it was stressed he always exemplified the image of what Maple Leaf players should be," noted a newspaper report.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Headline: May 17, 1950

No matter the era, every young hockey player dreams of making a careeer in the game. A true sense of making it comes when a prospect signs his name on a pro contract.

Future Leaf captain and four-time Stanley Cup champion, George Armstrong, signed his first professional contract om May 16, 1950.

After inking his deal, Armstrong spent one season with Toronto's American Hockey League farm team, the Pittsburgh Hornets. In 1951-52, "Chief", participated in 50 contests with Pittsburgh and 20 wearing the Leafs blue and white.

Over the next 19 seasons, starting in 1952-53, Armstrong became a Maple Leaf forever and retired having played only for Toronto.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Original Six Playoff Hockey

It was a long time between playoff home wins for the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins. Their victory in game six on Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre was Toronto's first since March 31, 1959.

During regulation time on that eventful evening in '59 at Maple Leaf Gardens, both clubs scored two goals. The Toronto marksmen were Gerry Ehman and Brian Cullen. Boston forwards Jerry Toppazzini and Bronco Horvath beat Toronto goalie Johnny Bower.

In overtime, Frank Mahovlich emerged as the hero. Picking-up a deflected puck off defenceman Jim Morrison, the Leaf forward unleashed a backhand that got past Harry Lumley in the Boston cage. Mahovlich's tally came at 11:21 of extra-time.

Beyond 1959, Boston and Toronto met in three quarter-final series in 1969, 1972, and 1974. In these encounters, Toronto managed to win only one game.

This victory came on April 6, 1972, when the Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 4-3 at Boston Garden. Jimmy Harrison's winner came in overtime and was scored against Gerry Cheevers.

Other than this thrilling win, Boston dominated, outscoring Toronto 24-5 (1969), 18-10 (1972), and 17-9 (1974).

When I attended game four on May 8, 2013, the Leafs playoff home ice losing streak against Boston was still intact. No matter the outcome, it was a brilliant display of Original Six playoff hockey.

Boston vs. Toronto. Wednesday May 8, 2013. Air Canada Centre, Toronto. Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals. Final Score: Boston Bruins-4 Toronto Maple Leafs-3 (OT)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Headline: May 15, 1961

On May 15, 1961, came news of the death of a true National Hockey League pioneer - Tommy Gorman.

In his role as a general manager, Gorman won seven Stanley Cups. His ability to assemble talent resulted in the Ottawa Senators becoming a dynasty in the early 1920s. Gorman's squads were crowned Cup champions three out of four years from 1920 to 1923.

Over the next two decades, Gorman managed Stanley Cup teams in Chicago and Montreal (one Cup for the Maroons and two with the Canadiens).

Known for his sense of humour and willingness to call things as they were, are evident in the following story.

After another NHL executive was called on the carpet for tampering, Gorman confronted him. The smoking gun in this case was a letter Gorman's counterpart sent to an opposition player.

During their discussion, Gorman spelled out the true mistake his colleague made.

"You fool...why didn't you use the telephone?," Gorman asked his rival.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Different Result

It was like 1959 all over again for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they faced the Bruins in game seven of the 2013 Eastern Conference quarter-finals last night. The last time Toronto and Boston engaged in a seventh and deciding contest was on April 7, 1959, at Boston Garden.

Toronto entered the final frame down by a 2-1 score. Goals by Vic Stasiuk and Leo Boivin gave Boston the advantage. Toronto's tally came off the stick of Larry Regan.

Bob Pulford's unassisted marker early in the third pulled the Leafs even. On the play, Pulford directed a shot on goal and went in after the rebound. Boston goalie, Harry Lumley, attempted to control the puck, but Pulford shot it into the net.

As time ticked away, it looked like overtime was a possibility. The Leafs, however, had other plans.

"Big Frank (Mahovlich) hurtled down (the) left wing, drew Fern Flaman and passed over to Ehman, Gerry turned the puck loose just as as he hit left defenceman Morrison (Jim)," noted Red Burnett in the Toronto Daily Star on how the winning goal took shape. "The shot hit the far post and caromed around behind the unhappy Lumley.

Unfortunately for Leaf fans, the same result couldn't be reached in 2013.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Headline: May 13, 1958

Considered to be one of the best to ever lace-up skates, Gordie Howe won his third Hart trophy (most valuable player) in 1958.

After all the votes were counted, Howe took top spot, followed by Andy Bathgate (New York Rangers) and Doug Harvey (Montreal Canadiens).

During the 1957-58 campaign, "Mr. Hockey" played in 64 games, scoring 37 goals and 44 assists for a total of 77 points. Previous to his win in '58, Howe captured the Hart in 1952, 1953, and 1957. He would go on to once again claim the Hart 1n 1960 and 1963.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ottawa vs. Montreal - 1923

Looking back on the Sens-Habs series, which ended last night in Montreal, their tribute performance to the WWE in game three stands out for many who took in the action. However, when it comes to unrest and disorder, this contest couldn't hold a candle to a previous tilt between these two historic franchises.

 Back in 1923, the two rivals met to determine an NHL champion, who would advance to play for the Stanley Cup.

Game one of a two game series, where the number of goals were the deciding factor, was played on March 7, 1923, at Montreal's Mount Royal Arena.

"The game ended in a riot when a spectator started to beat up referee Marsh (Lou) as he came off the ice," began a game story in The Globe. "The police rescued the official and the Ottawa players were escorted to their dressing room. The crowd rushed the ice and minor fights started."

And what caused the Montreal fans to go over the edge? "The crowd first became incensed at the officials when Joliat (of Montreal) drew three minor penalties in the opening twenty minutes of play," noted the story. "From then until the finish it was almost a parade to the penalty box."

A total of 12 penalties wre handed out, with Montreal getting 10 and Ottawa only one.

Aurel Joliat

"Coutu was the worst offender, getting a match foul for deliberately striking Dennenay (of Ottawa)over the head just after the latter had tallied the first goal.

Dennenay's goal came in the second frame.

"Near the close of the match Sprague Cleghorn (of Montreal) attacked Hitchman...which resulted in the Ottawa player leaving the ice with a badly cut head."

These infractions put a huge dent in the Canadiens manpower situation. According to the newspaper account, Montreal played shorthanded for 41 of the 60-minutes of regulation. At times they were either down-one-man, or played 4-against-6, and 3-against-6.

As hostilities exploded after the game, only time would bring the disorder to an end. "Attempts to stop the mix-ups by striking up the National Anthem proved futile and the incipient riot died of its own accord."

Although Montreal won game two on March 9th by a 2-1 score, it was Ottawa who headed west to play for the Stanley Cup. They outscored Montreal 2-0 in game one, and their lone marker in game two gave them the series victory.

After defeating Vancouver in a best-of-five series, Ottawa took on the Edmonton Eskimos for Lord Stanley's mug. The visitors from the east defeated Edmonton in game one of their best-of-three showdown by 2-1 margin. On March 31, 1923, Ottawa were crowned Stanley Cup champs when they downed Edmonton 1-0 in game two.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Headline: May 9, 1969

Even when it came to selecting an All-Star Team, Bobby Orr rose above the competition.

When the results of voting by the National Hockey League Writers' Association were released for 1968-69, Orr secured 176 of a possible 180 points.

His nearest rival with 175 points was Chicago left winger Bobby Hull.

While Orr, at 21 years-old, was the youngest member of the 1969 All-Star Team, Gordie Howe held the title as the oldest at 41. Howe earned 174 points and started at right wing.

Joining Orr on the blue line was veteran Tim Horton. The Maple Leaf defenceman raked-in 123

On the Second All-Star Team, Boston's Ted Green (77 points) and Montreal's Ted Harris (67) were paired together.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Headline: May 8, 1975

Considered one of the best at turning a situation to his teams advantage, Scotty Bowman was at his best following a playoff defeat to Buffalo.

Unhappy over the officiating in a semi-final game played on May 7, 1975, Bowman expressed his displeasure to reporters following the contest.

"I think the crowd reaction influenced the referee. But that's what home ice is all about isn't?," asked Bowman after the Canadiens fell 5-4 to the Sabres. The victory allowed Buffalo to take a 3-2 series lead.

Bowman clearly planted a seed for game six, but no amount of mind-games prevented Buffalo from advancing to the Stanley Cup final against Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Headline: May 6, 1974

On the road to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 1974, the Philadelphia Flyers advanced to the Final by defeating the New York Rangers in a series that went seven games. The deciding contest was played on May 5, 1974.

"When you win a big game like we did from the Rangers, no one is too tired. We're too hungry to be tired. We want that champagne, the big bonus and the honor - mostly the honor," said Philadelphia goalie Bernie Parent, on looking forward to facing the Boston Bruins.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Headline: May 3, 1967

After their Stanley Cup win the night before against Montreal, the Maple Leafs received plenty of press coverage.

"It may sound corny, but this has to be the greatest thrill of my life. I've had a lot of wonderful moments in hockey and other Stanley Cups but nothing to equal this," stated Maple Leafs goalie Terry Sawchuk after game six.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Boston and Toronto: The First Series

After joining the National Hockey League in 1924-25, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs didn't meet in a playoff series until 1932-33.

Game one of their semi-final match-up was played on March 25, 1933, at Boston Garden.

In a closely played contest, Boston's Marty Barry emerged as the local hero, when he scored the overtime winner against Toronto's Lorne Chabot. Boston defeated Toronto 2-1.

Looking to gain a split in Boston, the Maple Leafs had a huge challenge in front of them, as they hadn't won on Bruins ice in four years.

Once again, overtime was needed as neither team scored in regulation time.

With Bruin George Owen in the penalty box for tripping, Toronto's Kid Line of Joe Primeau, Harvey Jackson, and Charlie Conacher, set out to tie-up the series. They were joined by Hap Day and Bill Thoms.

"Day passed the puck out of the corner to Thoms," noted The Globe when describing how the overtime winning goal started. "Thompson (Bruins goalie Tiny Thompson) stopped Thoms shot, but Jackson was there to ram the rebound back at him and the puck glanced into the net off the goalers pad."

The overtime trend continued when the best-of-five showdown shifted to Maple Leaf Gardens for game three on March 30.

Following a scoreless first period, Boston's Nelson Stewart gave his team a one goal edge. Toronto's Ken Doraty set the stage for extra-time with his goal at the 13:34 mark of the final frame. Eddie Shore scored in overtime to give the visitors a 2-1 series advantage. Shore's goal came at 4:24 of  OT.

For one Leaf, Shore's winner only added to the pain and misery he was already feeling.

"At 6 o'clock last night Joe Primeau developed a case of blood poisoning from an infected foot," reported The Globe. "...Despite the advice of Dr. Rush...he insisted on going into the game."

Unable to perform in game four on April 1, Joe Primeau's absence served as a rallying-call for his teammates.

Although the Leafs fell behind early in period one, they went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. Goals by Charlie Sands and Busher Jackson accounted for the Leaf scoring. Toronto would add three more tallies over the remaining forty-minutes and skated to a 5-3 win.

A deciding contest was held on April 3 at Toronto.

To the surprise of no one, Toronto and Boston engaged in another defensive battle from start to finish in game five. After going scoreless over sixty-minutes, the two teams began a stretch of six overtime periods. There was even talk of flipping-a-coin to decide who would advance and play the New York Rangers in the next round. This all came about after eight periods were completed. But league president, Frank Calder, wanted no part of this new procedure for selecting a winner.

In a scoring summary published in The Toronto Daily Star, one statistic stands out for its sheer size. It credits the Leafs with 114 shots on net, and the Bruins with 93.

Out of all these blasts, only one found the back of the net.

Lou Marsh, the legendary sports editor of The Star, captured what happened after Toronto's Andy Blair took the puck away from Bruin defenceman Eddie Shore.

"Suddenly Blair reaches out with a stick that seems as long as a fishing pole...hooks the puck away just inside the blue line. Down the right boards comes the smallest man on the ice...the lightest and tiniest man in that grim struggle...Blair shoots the puck back of leg weary Shore as Doraty comes chop chopping in like a man with club feet...he isn't even a good free skater...but he gets there the strongest man on the ice at the moment."

"Doraty picks the puck up. Doraty shoots! Doraty scores!! He scores!!!"

We can only hope the current Leafs and Bruins provide us with such exciting moments.