50 Years Ago in Hockey: Howe Nets 600th In Losing Cause

The Montreal Canadiens edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in Montreal last night, but the big story was a milestone reached by one of hockey’s all-time greats. Gordie Howe of the Wings finally scored his 600th career goal.

In the other two National Hockey League games, Boston nipped Toronto 2-1 in a dud of a game, and Chicago blanked the New York Rangers 1-0.

Rousseau Bags Winner

Bobby Rousseau
Bobby Rousseau

At Montreal, Bobby Rousseau’s 11th goal of the season at 13:26 of the final frame proved to be the difference in the Habs’ win over the Red Wings.

Canadiens held a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Gilles Tremblay and Yvan Cournoyer. The teams skated through a scoreless second period.

The Red Wings pulled to within one with Norm Ullman’s sixth of the season at 8:24 of the final frame. Rousseau then scored a masterpiece of a goal to restore the two-goal margin. He picked off an errant Detroit pass at centre ice and skated in all alone on Red Wing goalie Roger Crozier. The slick Montreal right-winger made a deft move on Crozier, forcing him to move from one side of the net across the crease. Rousseau neatly slipped the puck between Crozier’s legs for the third Montreal goal.

With three and a half minutes to play, Howe finally made history. The veteran superstar had gone five games without a goal before beating Montreal goalie Gump Worsley with a flip shot from close in. Everyone in the building was aware of the historical significance of the tally and the crowd of nearly 15,000 erupted into a loud ovation in recognition of Howe’s feat. They littered the ice with newspapers, programs and various other items, and the cleanup took several minutes to carry out.

Howe is the first NHL player to reach 600 regular-season goals in a career, and many feel it’s a record that will never be eclipsed.  There aren’t many athletes who can combine the longevity and high level of play needed to reach such a total.

Canadiens goalie Gump Worsley, who had been victimized by two other milestone goals by Howe, retrieved the puck from the goal and gave it to Howe, along with a congratulatory tap with his stick on the back side.

Howe seems to enjoy scoring monumental goals against Canadiens. In the past, he netted numbers 100, 400, 544 and 545. The latter two markers tied and broke the previous NHL career goal record, held by Maurice (Rocket) Richard.

Short-staffed Bruins Edge Lacklustre Leafs

The Boston Bruins, playing again without three of their best defensemen, met little resistance as they ventured into Maple Leaf Gardens and came out on the long end of a 2-1 decision. The game was as poorly played as any game seen in Toronto in a couple of seasons.

Forbes Kennedy interfered with Leaf goalie Terry Sawchuk on Bruins winning goal.
Forbes Kennedy interfered with Leaf goalie Terry Sawchuk on Bruins winning goal.

To make matters worse, the winning goal for the Bruins should never have counted, a fact agreed upon by both teams. Only referee Bill Friday, who must have had his attention inexplicably drawn elsewhere, thought the goal was legal.

Eddie Westfall gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 13:23 of the first when his harmless-looking shot from the boards found its way past Toronto goalie Terry Sawchuk and into the goal.

Frank Mahovlich tied the score a couple of minutes later. The Big M fired one of his patented slap shots (few of which we’ve seen this season) at Bruins rookie goalie Bernie Parent. Parent, who played a fine game, made a great save on the bullet drive, but was unable to corral the rebound. The puck went directly onto Mahovlich’s stick and he whipped the rebound shot past Parent.

That set the stage for the wacky goal that gave Boston their win, and on a more serious note, may have caused Bruins bench boss Milt Schmidt to collapse.

Playing without Ted Green, Leo Boivin and Al Langlois, their three most dependable rearguards, the Bruins started to wilt under the pressure of a mild Toronto resurgence. All that came to a screeching halt at 10:54. Reg Fleming picked up the puck in the Toronto zone and the floated in front of the Toronto goal just above the circles, with no Leaf interested in challenging him. This gave Bruins truculent forward Forbes Kennedy time to physically remove Sawchuk as a factor in the play. He pinned the Leaf netminder to the ice and Fleming casually lofted the puck into the Toronto net.

Friday signalled goal, much to the surprise of Fleming and especially Kennedy. The Leafs protested vociferously to Friday, but to no avail. The goal counted and Sawchuk earned a $25 fine for the 10-minute misconduct penalty Friday imposed upon him.

Milt Schmidt
Milt Schmidt

While all the protestation was going on , Schmidt collapsed behind the Boston bench. He was revived fairly quickly, but was led by staff to the Gardens hospital. Scout Harold (Baldy) Cotton saw Schmidt go down and after helping him to his feet, took over behind the bench for the final five minutes. Meanwhile, the game continued with the trainer changing lines until Cotton took over.

General manager Hap Emms arrived a minute or two later from his seat on the opposite side of the rink and took over for Cotton for the rest of the game. Schmidt later said that the fainting spell was due likely to a week-long bout with the flu. Doctors were unable to determine the cause of the spell.

Kennedy admitted after the game the goal should have been disallowed by the referee:

“I was the most surprised guy in the rink when Friday allowed the goal.”

The Bruins used Niagara Falls junior defenseman John Arbour and veteran minor-leaguer Barry Ashbee on the blue line for this game.

Wharram’s Goal Stands Up

Kenny Wharram
Kenny Wharram

At New York, Kenny Wharram’s eighth goal of the season was the only one of the game and gave the Chicago Black Hawks a 1-0 win over the Rangers.

Wharram’s goal came with 5:05 remaining on the clock in the final period. New York’s Vic Hadfield was in the penalty box at the time serving a minor for tripping.

The goal came on a nice three-way passing play. Phil Esposito got the puck at the point for the Hawks and fed Stan Mikita in the corner. The heady Mikita found Wharram in front of Rangers rookie goalie Ed Giacomin and the veteran right-winger drilled it past him for the game’s only goal.


Dave Creighton
Dave Creighton
  • Norm Beaudin scored two goals for Pittsburgh Hornets as they edged Hershey Bears 3-2
  • Niagara Falls Flyers lost their third straight game, 3-2 to Montreal Junior Canadiens.
  • Kitchener Rangers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over St. Catharines Black Hawks.
  • Baltimore of the AHL traded veteran forward Dave Creighton to Providence for Ed McQueen, who plays both forward and defense.