50 Years Ago in Hockey: Red Wings Embarrass Black Hawks

In the most-watched National Hockey League playoff game in history, the Detroit Red Wings dominated the Chicago Black Hawks in every way possible. The Wings hung an embarrassing 7-0 whipping on the Black Hawks right in Chicago Stadium before a capacity crowd and millions more watching on television. The game was beamed by the National Broadcasting Company across the United States in, as they say on the network, “living color.”

Gordie Howe the Key

This game wasn’t just a loss for the Black Hawks. It was a complete and utter dismantling of every part of their game. It was the type of loss from which teams rarely recover. There seemed to be no rational explanation for Chicago’s ineptitude  – Detroit simply looked to be just that good.

And no one in the Detroit lineup looked better than the great Gordie Howe. While Gordie scored only one of the Red Wings goals, he set up three others and simply owned the game. He played like a man possessed with an uncontrollable will to not only succeed, but to eliminate, or maybe better put, eradicate any and all opposition. Howe scored Detroit’s second goal and then set up the next three. After that, the issue was never in doubt.

Bert Marshall Scores First NHL Goal

Bert Marshall
Bert Marshall

Floyd Smith and Andy Bathgate each scored two goals for Detroit. Howe, Dean Prentice and rookie Bert Marshall connected for singles. For Marshall, it was his first goal in National Hockey League competition. When his long shot went into the net for the final goal of the game at the six-minute mark of the third period, Wings Bruce Mac Gregor dove into the Chicago goal to retrieve the puck for the rookie.

After Marshall’s goal, Chicago’s freshman goalie Dave Dryden came into the game to replace starting netminder Glenn Hall. Depending who you talk to, Hall either left the net in disgust at the lack of support he was afforded by team mates, or he was summoned by coach Billy Reay to the bench. Reay probably wanted to save Hall from any more embarrassment.

Not only was the result surreal, but the entire atmosphere of the game had an unnatural tone. The lighting was the brightest ever seen at a playoff game, and the ice was painted with a blue tint, all to accommodate the color television cameras. There were red stripes painted around the bottom of the boards and white cloth was applied around the goals, both to make the puck stand out on television screens.

Chicago coach Billy Reay
Chicago coach Billy Reay

Chicago coach Billy Reay had no answer for his team’s dismal display. He refused to blame the unusual environment:

“The lighting may have bothered a few guys, but it had nothing to do with what happened to us. We were just outskated from start to finish.”

Rocket Doubts Hawks Can Recover

Maurice (Rocket) Richard was at the game and didn’t like what he saw from the Black Hawks. He likened it to a late-season 8-3 loss suffered by the Hawks at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens:

“It takes a special kind of team to recover from this kind of a game. Usually it’s very bad for morale. Now this Chicago team will be downhearted because their two big stars aren’t doing anything.”

Stan Mikita: nothing working.
Stan Mikita: nothing working.

Richard was referring to Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, Chicago’s two star forwards. Hull is bothered by a knee injury and is unable to move at his normal electrifying speed. Mikita is in some sort of funk and nothing he does seems to work. It’s possible that the Red Wings, especially centre Norm Ullman, are just that good at nullifying his skills.

Where Chicago lags badly behind the Red Wings is the power play. The Wings scored goals with the man advantage yesterday afternoon, and that in itself was the difference in the game.

Red Wings goalie Roger Crozier put in a workmanlike performance to register the shutout, his first in Stanley Cup competition. He was called upon to make only one really difficult save, but it came at a key juncture. Crozier stopped Chicago winger Doug Mohns early in the first when the score was still close. A goal there might have turned the tide somewhat. Instead, Crozier’s fine stop seemed to convince the Hawks right then and there they weren’t going to have any luck on this day.

Gamble Wins AHL Scoring Title

Dick Gamble
Dick Gamble

The Rochester Americans closed out their American Hockey League regular season with a 3-3 tie against the Cleveland Barons. The tie left the Amerks with the division crown and second in the overall AHL standings.

Dick Gamble garnered two assists, which enabled him to claim the AHL scoring crown. Gamble finished the season with 47 goals and 51 assists, three points better than Cleland Mortson of the Quebec Aces.

Gamble was tied for the league lead in goals with Alain Caron of Buffalo, who also scored 47 times. Caron scored in the Bisons’ final game to tie Gamble in that department.

Mike Walton, Darryl Sly and Gerry Ehman had the Rochester scores. Howie Glover, Bill Speer and Keith McCreary replied for the Barons.