Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Inside the Maple Leafs Room


Time to identify another old hockey photo from my friends at Vintage Sports Images in North Vancouver. I got this one with no date or info attached, but there are some easily identifiable faces. 
The three in the middle with their jerseys removed are Allan Stanley, Bobby Baun and Tim Horton. 
The Leaf at left reading the game program certainly appears to be Carl Brewer which makes sense, as he was always more cerebral player than most. To the left of him we see a player in the midst of removing his jersey. If we look closely at the skate under the bench below him, there is a number "23" visible (see below) making this very likely the one and only Eddie Shack. You can almost see his nose poking through his jersey.
The last guy at the right side of the scene enjoying a swig of 7-Up is almost surely Larry Hillman. His face nicely matches the photo below. To narrow down the timeframe of this photo, the terrific uniform database nhluniforms.com informs us that the Maple Leafs added numbers to their sleeves for the 1962/63 season. This makes the the photo from prior to that and most likely from the 1960/61 season using the Larry Hillman factor. Hillman was claimed by the Maple Leafs in the Intra League draft from Boston in the summer of 1960. He played 62 of 70 games with Toronto in 1960/61 and only 5 games the following season, then the Leafs added the numbers to their jersey. This makes it extremely likely that this photo is from the 60/61 season. 
In conclusion, I am fairly confident that from left to right we see; Shack, Brewer, Stanley, Baun, Horton and Hillman. Allan Stanley was selected to the NHL 2nd All-Star team in 60/61, and the Leafs finished in second place with 90 points in 70 games. Alas, Toronto was beaten in the first round of the playoffs by underdog Detroit in five games. The only game they won was the first in double overtime, on a goal from George Armstrong, assisted by Allan Stanley.

Monday, May 1, 2017

"We'll Take It Here"; Punch Imlach

A few tidbits from the day off between Game 5 and Game 6 of the 1967 Cup Final culled from the archives of the Montreal Gazette and Toronto Star:
"We'll wind it up here," Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach stated after the Leafs went through an hour-long practice session on the Sunday after Game 5. Toronto had beaten Montreal at the Forum the previous night by a score of 4-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the 1967 Cup Final. Imlach continued, "We don't even have transportation booked for a return to Montreal, we haven't even tried. He finished by saying, "I have nothing to say. After 96 games, I'm all talked out. The team'll have to do the talking in this one." Of course Imlach added, "What difference does it make? Has Blake decided who he's going to use in goal?"
"You'll know who's in goal at game time and not before", said Montreal coach Toe Blake, answering Imlach's query. "It doesn't matter who's in goal as long as we work in front of him. It wasn't Vachon's fault that we lost on Saturday. He's been terrific since he came up and could rebound with a big game. Gump was great in the playoffs last year, but he hasn't played for a long time and could be rusty." However, an anonymous Habs veteran commented, "We'll win with Gump. Experience counts most in the playoffs."
Leaf goaltender, Terry Sawchuk commented on this hopefully being the final game of the season,"When I walked here in the sunshine I thought this is the kind of a morning a guy should be able to sit on a bank of a trout stream with a cold brew in one hand and a fishing line in the other."
Imlach wondered about injured Johnny Bower,"I'm surprised he didn't come out to skate today, but I guess he didn't feel he was ready." Bower of course had a torn groin muscle from warm-ups prior to the fourth game.
Montreal initially canceled reservations at a suburban Toronto motel in favour of their customary downtown hotel after they heard all the visiting newspapermen would be there as well. Alas, the newsmen moved back to the city too and it was too late for the team to switch back.
Leaf rookie Brian Conacher was somewhat miffed that he hadn't been credited with an assist in the Game Five win,"I checked the puck off Bobby Rosseau and knocked it free to Marcel (Pronovost). I felt I deserved an assist and told the referee (Bill Friday). He made the correction with the fellow at the timekeeper's bench and that's the last I heard of it." Pronovost had notched the third goal, a shorthanded marker at 12:02 of the second period on Saturday night. Fifty years later, Conacher has yet to receive his assist and he ended the post-season with 3 goals and 2 assists in 12 games. He would not play another NHL playoff game after the '67 Cup Final. 
Toronto is a 9-5 favourite to take the Cup in Game 6.
The Conn Smythe Trophy will not be presented, nor the winner named, until two days after the Cup Final. This is not because league governors will take that long to decide but because the NHL feels two presentations in one evening are too many.

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