Monday, January 13, 2014

Montreal's Gain

In hockey there is no greater rivalry than the one between Toronto and Montreal.

Dick Duff and Frank Mahovlich experienced early success with the Maple Leafs, then found their way to Montreal. As members of the Toronto Maple Leafs they shared Stanley Cup wins in 1962 and 1963. Mahovlich went to capture two more championships wearing Blue & White in 1964 and 1967.

Duff was traded to New York in February '64, thus ending his run in Toronto. Mahovlich left the Leaf organization in March 1968. He was the cornerstone of a huge transaction with Detroit.

While the two ex-Leafs were productive with their new teams, additional chances to sip from Lord Stanley's mug didn't materialize. Their luck changed, however, when they joined the previously despised Montreal Canadiens.

A native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Dick Duff became a Hab on December 22, 1964.

"If Dickie plays anything like he used to play for Toronto,  I don't see why he shouldn't help us," noted Canadiens coach Toe Blake. "He was a good two-way player with the Leafs."

Montreal's new left-winger made his debut in a contest at the Forum on December 23, 1964.

"The critical crowd of 13,313 appreciated Duff's work as he set up some smart plays, had a couple of scoring chances and was always back on the wing as soon as the Rangers had the puck," wrote Pat Curran in The Gazette of Duff's performance.

Forty-three years ago today, on January 13, 1971,  Frank Mahovlich was shipped from the Red Wings to Montreal for Guy Charron, Mickey Redmond and Billy Collins.

"I'm happy with the move to Montreal, but the trade didn't really come as a surprise," said Mahovlich upon arriving in Bloomington, Minnesota, to face the North Stars.

Rising to the occasion, it didn't take The Big M long to fit in.

"It was a case of Frank being in position when he scored the opening goal at 16:59," noted a game story of Mahovlich's first period tally. "Terry Harper's shot deflected off Cournoyer and Mahovlich was just outside the crease when he steered the puck past Cesare Maniago."

Of interest, the piece documents that Mahovlich wore a sweater with number 10 on the back, as Montreal and Minnesota skated to a 3-3 tie.

Like their time in Toronto, Duff and Mahovlich enjoyed enormous success in Montreal. Duff flourished in his new surroundings winning Cups in 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. Mahovlich upped his Cup count with victories in 1971 and 1973.

On both counts, clearly a case of Montreal's gain .

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