It was a team like no other.
The 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs are the answer to this trivia question – what was the only team to come back to win a best-of-seven Stanley Cup final after falling behind 3-0?
The Leafs lost the first three games to the Detroit Red Wings before storming back to win it all. And as raw rookie forward Gaye Stewart recalled, the Leafs were called "world champions" in those days. The heading above a photo of that team says, "Stanley Cup, emblematic of World's Professional Hockey Championship"’.
"That was a dig against the Russians," Stewart said. The Leafs, with Conn Smythe as GM, Hap Day as coach and Frank Selke Sr. as business manager, produced a 27-18-3 record during the regular season before ousting the New York Rangers 4-2 in the best-of-seven semi-final.
The final should have been a bit of a mismatch because the Wings had been very mediocre during the regular season with a 19-25-4 record. Somewhat shockingly, the Wings won the first two games in Toronto by scores of 3-2 and 4-2. In game 3 at home, the Wings won 5-2 to take a 3-0 series lead.
Then the comeback began. The Leafs, sparked by goaltender Turk Broda, came back to win games 4, 5, 6 and 7 by scores of 4-3, 9-3, 3-0 and 3-1. In Game 7 in Toronto, Syd Howe gave Detroit a 1-0 lead but Russian-born legend Sweeney Schriner scored twice and journeyman Pete Langelle fired the winner to lift the Leafs to the win.
"When the score was tied, Smythe came into the dressing room and said, 'Here’s $100 for the guy who scores the winning goal,'" recalled defenceman Wally Stanowski, 85. "So Pete Langelle got the $100.
"There was a little strategy involved in that series," Stanowski continued. "One of the Maple Leaf directors, Colonel Wm. MacBrien, talked to us the day before Game 4 and said, 'Don’t read what's in the newspapers.’ It (publicity) made Detroit a little overconfident. They had all the champagne ordered for after Game 4. The champagne has never been opened. The colonel said to play it one game at a time. By the time the seventh game came around, Detroit was pretty desperate. There was a lot of pressure on them."
It was a bittersweet victory for two of the Leafs because Day caused a few heads to rumble with what was called a "very public benching" of star forward Gordie Drillon and defenceman Bucko McDonald for the final four games of the series. In the off-season, Drillon was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. "There was a reason for Gordie getting benched," Stanowski said. "In the third game, there was a puck deep in our end and Gordie was only about six feet from the puck and he could have gotten it easily but he made no attempt to get it. A Detroit player, who was further away, came in, grabbed the puck and scored. The deal with Bucko – he wasn’t that good a skater and Detroit had a good skating club."
When all is said and done, you hate to say it but those Red Wings are the greatest hockey choke of all time. "I had just turned pro not long before that," recalled Stewart, who played the final three games of the series against the Wings. "I didn’t do much but I was only 18 at the time so it was exciting. I was floating in awe. I didn't recall being nervous. After the series I went back to high school at Northern on Mount Pleasant and people asked me, ‘Where were you?'"
What Stewart was trying to say was that there was little publicity in those days and not many people had realized he was playing for the Leafs.
The Dunlops were Canada's representative to the 1958 World Championships, as the defending Allan Cup champions. The team took an ocean liner to the championships in Norway because team manager Wren Blair was terrified of flying. Everyone was sick for six days because of the rough waters but the chance to restore Canada's pride was worth it. After a 14 game exhibition tour of Europe the Dunlops competed at the World Championships in Oslo, Norway.
Notable members of the team are, former Whitby mayor Bob Attersley, former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Sid Smith and Boston Bruins president Harry Sinden. Harry Sinden was captain of the 1958 Dunlops, while former Leaf captain Sid Smith was a playing coach. The Town of Whitby honoured this great team for their incredible achievements with their induction into the Whitby Sports Hall of Fame.
This was a dream team, one of the finest in Canadian junior hockey history. No less than 11 players from the 1963-64 Memorial Cup-winning Toronto Marlboros graduated to the NHL. That’s how superior that team was, a squad concocted when the Metro junior league dissolved following the 1962-63 season and when the Neil McNeil team returned to the junior B ranks. So for the 1963-64 season, the Marlies joined the OHA, taking some Neil McNeil players with them in the process.
Consider this: the Marlboros were 60-10-8 overall that season, including 40-9-7 in regular-season play in the OHA’s Major Junior Series and they were 20-1-1 in post-season play. It’s generally believed that the 1968-69 Montreal Junior Canadiens are considered the finest junior team ever assembled in Canada. Some 15 members of that team went on to the NHL. The Marlies are rated second best. Pete Stemkowski led the Marlies in scoring that season with 103 points, including 42 goals and 61 assists. Mike Walton was second with 92 points on 41 goals and 51 helpers. Ron Ellis was third with 84 points, 46 of them coming on goals. Andre Champagne and Grant Moore posted 71 points each and star defenceman Rod Seiling contributed 13 goals and 54 assists for 67 points. Gary Smith was the workhorse goaltender, playing 54½ games with a GAA of 3.41, while backup Bill Henderson got into a mere game and a half.
Research shows that defenceman Jim McKenny was the only player to dress in all 56 regular-season games. “It wasn't really fair,” McKenny said of the power the team possessed. “It was a combination of two teams: the Marlboros and Neil McNeil. It wasn’t fair to the rest of the teams in Canada. We were too good. We were so much better. If Boston had been able to combine their sponsored teams in Oshawa and Niagara Falls, they would have had a pretty good team, too.”
In the playoffs, the Marlies swept the Montreal Junior Canadiens (4-0) in the OHA final. Then they dumped the North Bay Trappers (2-0) and the Scotty Bowman-coached Montreal Notre Dame de Grace Maple Leafs (3-1-1) in regional playdowns. Finally, they disposed of the Edmonton Oil Kings in four games in the Memorial Cup final, which was played at Maple Leaf Gardens. “When we played Edmonton, they didn’t have a chance,” McKenny said. “We had the biggest team in hockey that year. We had big guys like Ray Winterstein and Jack Chipchase on defence. They were huge.”
As it turns out, Stemkowski, Walton, Ellis, Champagne, Smith, Seiling, McKenny, Brit Selby. Wayne Carleton, Gary Dineen and Nick Harbaruk made it to the NHL. And so did Gregory, a Colgate-Palmolive purchasing agent, who went on to be a GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs and, at 68, served as the NHL’s senior vice-president of hockey operations. “It was fantastic coaching those guys. When you get older, the team gets better in your head.” Gregory said.
“My only regret was the short time I spent with them,” Dineen said. “I was playing for Father David Bauer and the Canadian Olympic team in Innsbruck and I only joined the team after the completion of the Olympics. As a matter of fact, I think the team was disappointed that when I joined the team, I only weighed 160 pounds, which brought the team average down to 191 pounds,” Dineen said, chuckling. “We were the biggest team in hockey just ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks.”
In 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals. Montreal was considered to be a heavy favourite. But Bob Pulford scored the double-overtime winner in Game 3, Jim Pappin got the series winner in Game 6, and Dave Keon won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs as the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in six games. The Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since.
Andrew James Bathgate (born August 28, 1932) Andy Bathgate was a popular star player of the New York Rangers and also holds the honor of being declared the MVP of both the NHL and WHL.
He played 17 seasons in the National Hockey League for the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.
He started his professional career with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL in the 1952–53 season. He bounced between the Vancouver Canucks and the Rangers for two seasons before settling with the Rangers in 1954–55. He played 10 full seasons with the Rangers, where he became a popular player in New York as well as a top-tiered player in the NHL.
Andy Bathgate won the Hart Memorial Trophy for the MVP of the NHL in 1958–59 after scoring 40 goals, which was no easy feat in that era. He is famous for contributing to one of the greatest innovations in NHL history. Renowned for the strength of his slapshot, during a game against the Montreal Canadiens, Bathgate shot the puck into the face of Jacques Plante, forcing Plante to receive stitches. When Plante returned to the ice, he was wearing a mask. That started a trend that continues to this day.
Angela James has been called "the first superstar of modern women's hockey". She has been hailed as a pioneer who brought the women's game into the mainstream.
The Toronto native had a reputation as a big, tough and talented player who could score goals. As a result, she also drew comparisons to Mark Messier of the NHL. In 1990, James scored 11 goals in five games at the first world championship in women's hockey (held in Ottawa), leading the Canadian team to its first gold medal. She also led the women's team to the world championship title in 1992 (Tampere, Finland), 1994 (Lake Placid, US) and 1997 (Kitchener, ON.)
An eight-time scoring champion and six-time most valuable player during her senior career, James has been honoured by several organizations. She was named Toronto's Youth of the Year in 1985. In 1992, James was presented the city's Women in Sport Enhancement Award. Hockey Canada named her the 2005 recipient of its Female Hockey Breakthrough Award.
The Flemingdon Park arena was renamed the Angela James Arena in 2009. The Canadian Women's Hockey League presents the Angela James Bowl to its leading scorer each season.
James has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, including the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
After earning a diploma in Recreation Facilities Management from Seneca College, James was hired by the school as a sports programmer in 1985. She continues to work for Seneca and is now a senior sports coordinator at its King campus.
Robert Michael "Bob" "Le Capitaine" Gainey is the former executive vice president and general manager of the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League. He is also a former professional ice hockey player who played for the Canadiens from 1973 until 1989.
He was a cornerstone of the Montreal dynasty between 1976 and 1979, when the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup four consecutive times, and later their captain for eight years, including in 1985-86, when they recaptured the Cup. But Gainey was hardly a prolific scorer -- he finished with 239 goals and 501 points in 1,160 NHL games. What he did better than any forward of his generation was stop the opposition's prolific scorers.
At age 24 in 1977-78, his fourth full NHL season, Gainey was the first recipient of the Frank Selke Trophy, given to the League's top defensive forward. He won the next three as well, and is the only four-time Selke winner. Had the award been around earlier, he might have won six or seven straight. Then he was runner-up in 1981-82 and remained a top 10 vote-getter for the next four seasons.
After retiring from active play, he became a hockey coach and later an executive with the NHL Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars organization before returning to Montreal as general manager from 2003 to 2010. He is currently a team consultant for the St. Louis Blues. Gainey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bob “Bobby” Baun was born in Lanigan, Saskatchewan, September 9, 1936. Baun started with the Toronto Marlboros and then was assigned to the American Hockey League's Rochester Americans.
He was brought up to the Leafs for the 1956-57 season. He played 11 seasons with the Leafs and won Stanley Cups in 1962, 1964 and 1967.
Bobby Baun's playoff heroics are what the Stanley Cup is all about, he played in the 1964 series against Detroit, took a shot off his ankle from Gordie Howe which broke it, however he continued to play and forced game 7, he played injured and won the Stanley Cup.
Baun was picked by the Oakland Seals in the 1967 Expansion Draft. After only one season in California, he asked to be traded back to one of the Original Six teams and the Seals complied, dealing him to Detroit, where he played for three years.
Finally, he came back to the Leafs in 1970-71 and played until 1972-73.
He coached the Toronto Toros of the WHA in 1975-76. Baun ended up playing in 964 games, scoring just 37 times but adding 187 assists for 224 points, not to mention 1493 penalty minutes. He added 3 goals and 15 points in 96 playoff games.
Robert Marvin "Bobby" Hull OC (born January 3, 1939) is a retired Canadian ice hockey player. He is regarded as one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time and perhaps the greatest left winger to ever play the game. Hull was famous for his blonde hair, blinding skating speed, and having the fastest shot, earning him the nickname "the Golden Jet". He possessed the most feared slapshot of his day. In his 23 years in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association, he played for the Chicago Black Hawks, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers.
Hull quickly blossomed into a star, finishing second in the rookie of the year balloting his first season. Hull originally wore numbers 16 and 7 as a Blackhawk but would later switch to his famous number 9, a tribute to his childhood idol Gordie Howe. By his third season, he led the league in goal- and point-scoring. He went on to lead the Chicago Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961—their third overall (and most recent) and first in 23 years. He and teammate Stan Mikita were the most formidable forward duo of the Sixties, notorious for curving the blades of their sticks. Armed already with a blazing, heavy shot, his curved blade caused the puck to veer high and at all different angles. Hull's ability to harness the blade's unpredictability would make it one of hockey's most memorable signatures.
Although he was only 5'10" in stature, Bobby had a solid build (he grew up on a dairy farm) and his playing weight was 185 pounds. His electrifying style would make him one of hockey's first international superstars and arguably the NHL's marquee star of the Sixties.
On March 12, 1966, he became the first NHLer to score more than 50 goals in a season, surpassing Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion's hallowed mark of 50 goals. His 51st goal against the New York Rangers earned him a seven-minute standing ovation from the Chicago Stadium faithful. (After the game Rangers' goalie Cesare Maniago claimed that the Black Hawks' winger Eric Nesterenko had interfered with him during the play: "Nesterenko got the blade of his stick under mine and kind of lifted it and pushed it aside, and the puck got past my stick on the left side.") Hull would eventually score 54 goals that season, the highest single season total of the Original Six era. He led the league in goal scoring seven times during the Sixties. Despite Hull breaking his own record by four goals in 1968–69, the Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season. By his final NHL season, he had scored 50 goals or more a remarkable five times, only one fewer than every other player in history who had done so combined to that date.
His slapshot was once clocked at 118.3 mph (190.4 km/h) and he could skate 29.7 mph (47.8 km/h).
Long unhappy because of his relatively poor salary in the period when he was hockey's preeminent superstar, Hull responded to overtures from the upstart World Hockey Association's Winnipeg Jets in 1972 by jesting that he'd jump to them for a million dollars, a sum then considered absurd.
Gathering the other league owners together to contribute to the unprecedented amount on the grounds that inking such a major star would give instant credibility to the new rival league that was competing directly against the entrenched NHL, Jets' owner Ben Hatskin agreed to the sum, and signed Hull for a contract worth $1,000,000 over ten years. Although his debut with Winnipeg was held up in litigation by the NHL, Hull instantly became the WHA's greatest star, and with Swedish linemates Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson formed one of the most formidable forward lines of the 1970s (known as "The Hot Line"), leading the Jets to two AVCO Cups during his time with the club. His best year was 1975, when he scored 77 goals to set a new professional mark.
Because he joined the rival league, Hull was not allowed to represent Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series. However in 1974 he got his chance to play on the international stage when he suited up for the WHA team representing Canada in a series against the USSR national team. The WHA lost the series four games to one (three ending in a tie), despite Hull's seven goals. He was a key member of the Canadian squad that won the 1976 Canada Cup, though, scoring five goals in seven games.
Robert Gordon "Bobby" Orr, (born March 20, 1948) is a retired ice hockey player. A defenceman, he is considered to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time. He played his National Hockey League (NHL) career with the Boston Bruins, with the exception of two brief seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks.
Orr won two Stanley Cup championships with the Bruins when Boston defeated the St. Louis Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals in four games and the New York Rangers in the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals in six games, scoring the clinching goals in both series, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP both years. He also led Boston to the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Winning a record eight Norris Trophies as the league's best defenceman, Orr is often credited for revolutionizing his position. He remains the only defenceman to have won the league scoring title with two Art Ross Trophies and holds the record for most points and assists in a single season by a defenceman.
Orr retired having scored 270 goals and 645 assists in 657 games, adding 953 penalty minutes. At the time of his retirement, he was the leading defenceman in league history in goals, assists and points, tenth overall in assists and 19th in points. The only players in league history to have averaged more points per game than Orr are Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy.
Orr inspired the game of hockey with his command of the two-way game, which was unique for a defenceman. Defencemen with goal-scoring ability were not common in the NHL before his arrival. Orr was unique in that he could score goals as well, and he influenced countless defencemen who followed him. His speed, most notably a rapid acceleration, and his open-ice artistry electrified fans as he set almost every conceivable record for a defenceman. In contrast to the style of hanging back defensive play common in the later 1950s and 1960s, Orr was known for his fluid skating and end-to-end rushing. Orr's rushing enabled him to be where the puck was, allowing him not only to score effectively but also defend when necessary. According to longtime Bruins coach and general manager Harry Sinden, "Bobby became a star in the NHL about the time they played the National Anthem for his first game with us."
Orr also benefited from playing most of his career in Boston Garden, which was nine feet (2.7 m) shorter and two feet (0.6 m) narrower than the standard NHL rink. This suited his rushing style very well, as he was able to get from one end of the ice to the other faster than in a standard rink.
His style of play was also hard on his knees and shortened his career. "It was the way I played," Orr has said. "I liked to carry the puck and if you do that, you're going to get hit. I wish I'd played longer, but I don't regret it." Orr stated in 2008. "I had a style — when you play, you play all-out. I tried to do things. I didn't want to sit back. I wanted to be involved."
The NHL waived the mandatory three-year waiting period for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and he was enshrined at age 31—the youngest player ever to be inducted, and one of only ten players to get in without having to wait three years. "Losing Bobby", said Gordie Howe, "was the greatest blow the National Hockey League has ever suffered." One of Orr's lasting legacies is that his popularity helped to cement the expansion of the NHL in America. His number 4 jersey was retired by the Bruins in January 1979. At the ceremony, the crowd at Boston Garden would not stop applauding and as a result, most of the evening's program had to be scrapped at the last second owing to the constant cheering.
He has been honoured with his name recorded on Canada's Walk of Fame. A museum exists in his honour in his hometown of Parry Sound called the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame. In 1979, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.