50 Years Ago in Hockey: Canadiens Send Leafs Packing

The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs last night in a hockey game that will be remembered more for fisticuffs than for any hockey skill that might have been on display. The Habs disposed of Toronto with a 4-1 win to take their best-of-seven Stanley Cup semi-final series in four straight games. In the other semi-final game, the Detroit Red Wings walloped the Chicago Black Hawks 5-1 to even their set at two games apiece.

Penalties Galore

The teams set a total of eight playoff records with 154 penalty minutes. A wild brawl in the first period saw 12 major penalties assessed by beleaguered referee Art Skov. Linesmen Brian Sopp and Neil Armstrong should be asking for overtime and danger pay after this one. The only players not involved were the two goaltenders.

The mess started when John Ferguson of Montreal and Leafs’ Pete Stemkowski squared off. But they were no more to blame than Eddie Shack, Orland Kurtenbach, Ted Harris and Claude Larose, all of whom seemed intent on displaying their pugilistic acumen.

Shack Bushwhacked

Eddie Shack
Eddie Shack

Dave Balon of Canadiens joined with Larose in bushwhacking Shack. Balon dragged Shack to the ice and held him while Larose bravely took a few free swings and the defenseless Toronto forward. Larry Hillman came to Shack’s rescue to even things up, and Eddie used the help offered by his team-mate to exact some revenge on Larose.

Habs’ Noel Price and Bob Baun of Toronto left their respective benches to act as peacemakers. With the linesmen unable to really control any of the combatants, the officials basically allowed the fire to burn itself out. Skov took at least 10 minutes to figure out the penalties and as time went on in the period, it became obvious that he had royally messed things up. Toronto should have had at least a two-minute power play due to some extra minors having been given to the Habs, but things never did end up that way.

During the fracas Leafs’ King Clancy and Canadiens’ Sam Pollock wandered to the penalty box to hear how Skov was handling the incident. Punch Imlach was seen with skates on at the Leaf bench, ostensibly to confront Skov directly about how the whole thing should be called. Imlach didn’t make it onto the ice.

It took 37 minutes to play the first 3:37 of the game.

Habs By Far the Better Club

Gilles Tremblay
Gilles Tremblay

As far as the actual hockey game goes, it was all Montreal. The Canadiens were far and away the better team in this series and are full-value for their quick disposition of the Leafs.

Larry Hillman gave Toronto a 1-0 lead with the only goal of the first period about two minutes after the major brawl. It was Hillman’s first goal in 50 Stanley Cup playoff games. That was the only bright spot for the Leafs all night.

Gilles Tremblay scored two goals within four minutes around the midway point of the second period and everyone in the building, including the Leafs, knew that this series was over. Jim Roberts and Dick Duff added some insurance in the third period to make the final 4-1.

Scoring hero Tremblay was happy to have played such a significant role, especially after missing last year’s post-season with a badly broken leg:

“It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ve helped the team get into the Cup final. I had some good scoring chances in the first three games but missed the net.”

Red Kelly says he may have played his final NHL game.
Red Kelly says he may have played his final NHL game.

The Toronto loss may mark the end of an era on several levels. Toronto coach-general manager Imlach is rumoured to be heading to Los Angeles to head up the new expansion team there. Red Kelly told reporters after the game it may have been his last. Other Toronto veterans whose futures are up in the air include Allan Stanley, Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower. One has to wonder if the end of the road can be far off for any of them.

Montreal coach Toe Blake was, of course, happy to win the series. But he expressed concern over the long layoff his team will have while waiting for Chicago and Detroit to settle their series.

“I tell you what, I’d like to start the final right away, the way they (Canadiens) are going. But then again, some of our players have aches and pains – bruised groins and that kind of thing. So maybe the rest will do us all good.”

Stanley Cup Penalty Records

  • Most penalty minutes, both teams, one game: 154
  • Most penalty minutes, one team, one game: Toronto had 80, Montreal 74
  • Most penalties, both teams, one period: 23
  • Most penalties, both teams, one game: 35
  • Most penalty minutes, both teams, one period: 130
  • Most penalty minutes, one team, one period: Canadiens 66 (Leafs had 64)
  • Most penalties, one team, one period: Canadiens 12 (Leafs had 11)
  • Most penalties, one team, one game: Leafs 19

Wings Whip Hawks

Paul Henderson
Paul Henderson

When the Chicago Black Hawks lose a game in this year’s playoffs, they do it in resounding fashion. After winning games one and three by 2-1 scores, the Hawks lost games two and four by a combined score of 12-1. Last night the Detroit Red Wings drubbed the Black Hawks 5-1 to even their series at 2-2.

Young Paul Henderson was the scoring star for Detroit with a pair of goals. Bobby Hull’s shadow Bryan Watson took some time from his rather effective checking duties to notch a goal as well. Old pros Gordie Howe and Andy Bathgate completed the Detroit scoring list.

Stan Mikita was the lone Chicago marksman.

One again the Black Hawks had no answer for Detroit’s power play. The Red Wings scored three times with the man advantage, giving them eight power play markers for the series.

Bryan Watson
Bryan Watson

Detroit held a wide edge in play throughout the game. They were especially dominant in the first period when only some great goaltending by the Hawks’ Glenn Hall kept things close. Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier was called upon to stop only 21 Chicago drives and wasn’t severely tested.

Detroit continued its strategy of laying on the body. While the Hawks are lighter and faster, the Red Wings’ physical game seems to have slowed the Chicagoans enough to throw them completely off their game. Even in their two wins, the Hawks didn’t do so with their accustomed firepower.

Watson’s shadow job on Hull is becoming the stuff Stanley Cup legends are made of. He completely nullified the Chicago superstar last night. The Golden Jet was limited to two harmless shots on goal. He handled questions about Watson’s tactics diplomatically:

“I’ll say this for him. He sticks a little closer to me than Provost.”

For his part, Watson seems to be revelling in his new-found notoriety. He was asked how he enjoyed checking hockey’s most prolific scorer. He said he had dreamed about the situation:

“I had a dream last night. Bobby and his wife were out dancing. I was in between them.”

Cooke Gets New Offer

Jack Kent Cooke, owner of the NHL’s new Los Angeles expansion franchise, has received a new offer of land upon which he can build his new arena. The Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Commission will make available land in the San Fernando Valley to the Canadian expatriate. Five acres will be available for the construction of Cooke’s arena, and another 45 will be designated for parking.

The community of Inglewood is also negotiating with Cooke. Cooke has promised to build a $7-million arena somewhere in the Los Angeles area. That was made a condition of the award of his franchise by the NHL governors.

Hall of Famer Frank Nighbor Passes

Frank Nighbor, the "Pembroke Peach."
Frank Nighbor, “The Pembroke Peach.”

Frank Nighbor, one of hockey’s great early stars, passed away this week at the age of 73. The 12th man to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame lost a long battle with cancer in his home town of Pembroke.

During his 18-year professional career, the man known as “The Pembroke Peach” played on five Stanley Cup winners. He won four of those Cups with the Ottawa Senators, along with his first one with the Vancouver Millionaires in 1914.

Nighbor spent most of his career with the Senators. He began his professional years with the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA in 1912, scoring 23 goals in 19 games at the age of 19. His salary for his first pro season was a whopping $750.

While he was one of the league’s top scorers, he was recognized more for introducing the sweep check and the poke check to the game.

After two seasons with Vancouver, he signed with Ottawa on November 12, 1915. He stayed with the Senators until January, 1930, when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he played the final 22 games of his NHL career.

He was the first winner of both the Hart and Lady Byng trophies.


Former Hab Kenny Reardon is in LA with Maurice Richard.
Former Hab Kenny Reardon is in LA with Maurice Richard.
  • Chicago Black Hawks have called up four players from their St. Louis CPHL farm team: Dennis Hull, Oscar Gaudet, John Miszuk and Denis DeJordy.
  • Rochester Americans rallied in the third period to edge Quebec Aces in the first game of their Calder Cup playoff series. Jim Pappin scored the game winning goal.
  • Springfield nipped Hershey 3-2 in game one of their Calder Cup series. Bill Sweeney had the winner in that game.
  • Two goals by Bob Courcy paced the Cleveland Barons to a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Hornets in the opening game of their first-round Calder Cup series.
  • Former Montreal Canadiens greats Kenny Reardon and Maurice Richard are in Los Angeles, sparking speculation that they are being courted by Jack Kent Cooke to run his NHL expansion team.
  • Reports have former Rangers coach Red Sullivan in the running to become the bench boss of the expansion St. Louis Blues.
  • John McLellan has signed a 3-year contract to coach the Nashville Dixie Flyers of the Eastern Hockey League. He will double as director of player personnel.
  • San Francisco Seals have asked permission from the WHL to use goalie Marcel Pelletier in their playoff series against the Victoria Maple Leafs. Pelletier has been designated as a replacement goalie for the four playoff teams and the Seals want to use him instead of Bob Gray, who played in the amateur International Hockey League this season. Regular goalie Jack McCartan is out with a bad knee.
  • Tulsa Oilers advanced to the CPHL final with a 5-2 win in the seventh game of their series against the Oklahoma City Blazers. Rookie Wayne Carleton scored three goals for Tulsa.
  • Rene Lecavalier has won the Foster Hewitt award for excellence in sports broadcasting