Monday, April 11, 2011

Maple Leaf Gardens : The First Stanley Cup Pt.2

Exactly 79 years ago, newspapers were documenting Toronto's Stanley Cup win against the New York Rangers. It was the third Cup for the franchise, but the first for their new arena - Maple Leaf Gardens.

Game one of the 1932 Stanley Cup finals was played on April 5, 1932. The contest took place in New York's Madison Square Garden.  Going into the third period, Toronto lead 5-2, but Ching Johnson and Bun Cook pulled the Rangers to within one. As New York continued with their offensive assault, one member of the Leafs decided to take action. Sensing his teammates required a timeout, goaltender Lorne Chabot pulled one of the oldest tricks ever created by the goaltending fraternity. In order to stall for time, Chabot undid a strap on his goalie pads. Working in conjunction with King Clancy, the two were able to prevent the game from proceeding. Noticing what his goalie was up to, Clancy got the attention of referee George Mallinson. By the time Mallinson reached Toronto's goal, Chabot had unfastened several more straps. The delay enabled the visitors enough time to regain their composure. Red Horner's goal at 14:37 of the final frame provided Toronto with an insurance goal. The Leafs escaped New York with a 6-4 win.

Game two was played on April 7, 1932, however, there was a change in venue. No, the action wasn't shifting to Toronto. Due to a circus booking at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers and Leafs played game two at a neutral site. Both teams arrived in Boston on April 6th. Game two would unfold on Boston Garden ice, with locals and visitors from New York and Toronto filling the stands. Neither team was able to skate on the off day due to a wrestling event which was scheduled in the Garden.

In game two, it appeared as though the Rangers felt right at home on Bruins ice. They held a 2-0 lead in period two on goals by Bun Cook and Doug Brennan. On a solo rush, Busher Jackson deked by two Ranger defenders and scored on goaltender John Roach. The equalizer came off the stick of Charlie Conacher. Once again, setting up a thrilling third period.

While Busher Jackson was serving a penalty, King Clancy took the occasion to play a little offence. With Joe Primeau on the attack with him, the two played some give-and-go. On the play, Clancy emerged from behind the New York net with the puck and after three attempts, shot the puck past Roach. Clancy's shorthanded goal opened the floodgates for Toronto. Goals by Conacher, Clancy and Cotton provided the Leafs with a 6-2 win.

Game three of the best-of-five series was played on April 9, 1932 in Maple Leaf Gardens. The stakes were high for both clubs. Toronto, one victory away from winning their first Stanley Cup in the Gardens. New York, a loss would shatter their dreams of continuing the series.

With crowd support firmly in their favour, Toronto took a 3-1 lead into period three. An attendance record was set for Maple Leaf Gardens with the final tally reaching 14,366. There wasn't an inch to spare in the standing room sections. All eyes were focused on the ice as Toronto built-up a 6-2 margin on New York. The Rangers scored two late goals, but the contest was already out of their reach. Toronto captured the Stanley Cup with their 6-4 win. The Leafs became the first team to sweep a best-of-five series. Also, they set a scoring record by netting 18 goals in 3 playoff games.

A newspaper account described the final game in the following fashion.

The game itself was a brilliant exposition of hockey. Speed was the predominant factor. Every man stood up under the gruelling, and both teams turned loose a bewildering display of beautifully timed combinations. There were no fluke goals. Every counter was earned by sheer wizardry of stick, blade and brain.

At the conclusion, fans in the Gardens flung paper and programs into the air. New York players hung around long enough to shake hands with the victorious Leaf squad. The penalty box area was the primary focus of attention, as a microphone was set up in the vicinity. The crowd was addressed by Conn Smythe, coach Dick Irvin and captain Hap Day. Their speeches were broadcast on the radio for all to hear. When Toronto Mayor William Stewart attempted to express his congratulations, the crowd took action. They wanted to hear from King Clancy and other members of the club. The best the Mayor could do was utter "Ladies and Gentlemen."

The Maple Leafs dressing room was surrounded by fans. Ace Bailey was the first to take a footstep out the door and was promptly swarmed by autograph seekers. Next in line was goalie Lorne Chabot. When Busher Jackson appeared, the young ladies went wild. As he was about to depart, Jackson gave one woman an autograph along with a "sweet smack on the lips."

Like the first kiss, the first Stanley Cup is always the sweetest.

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