Thursday, February 15, 2007

Celebrating the 1967 Maple Leafs

(NOTE - Mired in my own teams 5 game losing streak / freefall, I have not jumped the bandwagon, rest assured. This post on the arch rival Maple Leafs is included on this blog purely because it is a compelling story.)

In 1967, I was barely five years old. I possibly knew what a puck and hockey stick were, had heard the name Bobby Orr, and could name two or three NHL hockey teams. The game captivated me around the ages of seven, eight, and nine, never to let go.

I remember Canada`s Centennial Year. Celebrations were everywhere and there was plenty of talk about Expo `67 and something called Man And His World.

Dave Keon,
Conn Smythe Trophy Winner

Growing up a hockey fan soon there after, I heard many forgotten tales of a Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs rivalry that never did materialize in my lifetime. Hearing my father`s stories, I longed to experience it, hardly realizing the Original Six era was done with, and that game would never be quite the same.

Kids in my day, around these parts, seemed to be either Habs fans or Bruins fans, with a sprinkling of Leaf supporters that were becoming a quieter bunch by the year. On TV, there were the Canadiens and Maple Leafs. The Canadiens won Stanley Cups while the Maple Leafs floundered for reasons I did not fully understand then. I made my choice easily.

Frank Mahovlich

I could never exactly explain why, and still can`t, but resentment grew towards the Leafs. Perhaps I subconsciously disliked them for not showing up with great post seasons at the time. I always wanted to live those battles my father spoke so fondly of.

But enough about me and my Habs fan perspective. Suffice to say that I hated hating the Leafs. They seemed to never do anything right. When they finally did, in the 1990`s, I sensed a notion of the atmosphere that would permeate hockey fans Canada wide should the Leafs win or appear in the Stanley Cup final.

Punch Imlach and his famous blackboard message

But enough about me and my Habs fan perspective. Suffice to say that I hated hating the Leafs. They seemed to never do anything right. When they finally did, in the 1990`s, I sensed a notion of the atmosphere that would permeate hockey fans Canada wide should the Leafs win or appear in the Stanley Cup final.

I must say, I never felt more alive than I did in the spring of 1993. Imagine being thrilled and ultimately disapointed all at once!

Allan Stanley

On Saturday, the Maple Leafs will be honouring its last championship, the 1967 Cup winning team. It is a 40th anniversary of sorts, but more importantly, it is being seen as a bonding with past greatness, and perhaps the mending of fences from days gone awry.

Even the most die-hard of Leaf Nation subscribers has to admit that many things in the past 40 hockey seasons could have been managed much better. Hopefully, in the near future, Leafs organizations will be more aware of their fans committment to the team. Maybe they will pay more attention to their history, regardless of missteps. Maybe former players will be held in higher regard, despite not bringing home a Stanley Cup. Maybe they will be celebrated for their spirit of competition, their accomplishments, and their giving of themselves to an ever more demanding hockey public.

Terry Sawchuk

I say this without sarcasm, but if the Leafs want to be considered Canada's team, act like it. Over the past 40 years, they simply have not.

Wouldn't it be great for fans of the team, to see former players such as Wendel Clark, Paul Henderson, Dave Keon, and Felix Potvin, but to name a random few, partake in team functions, be it as simple as dropping the puck at a ceremonial faceoff on a particular night.

Eddie Shack

My wish for Leafs fan and former players revolves around the famous Ray Bourque / Phil Esposito moment in Boston years ago. I wish to see Matt Stajan go up to Dave Keon, and remove his jersey to reveal a new sweater number. I wish to see Mike Peca and Andrew Raycroft follow suit.

Is this asking too much?

General Manager John Ferguson Jr., whose father was a great player among Montreal Canadiens legends, could well appreciate such gestures.

All in time.

On the subject of Saturday's ceremony, many a good piece has been written. What I have been able to find are listed below, and I will add to them as they come in. There should be plenty!

Joe Pelletier at Legends Of Hockey has ambitiously been updating his Maple Leafs legends to include all member of the "Over The Hill Gang" from '67. You can read each players profile by clicking on their names, or simply scoot over to Joe's site and lose yourself for a few hours. Just tell the wife you're going to get some bread and milk!

From the Toronto Sun, View From The Ice by Dick Duff and Johnny Bower (Must Read!)

Globe And, Telecast Of Maple Leafs Cup Win Holds Up Well by William Houston

From the Vancouver Sun, Original Six Largely Left In The Ditch by Cam Cole

From the Toronto Sun, Keon's Leaf's Homecoming Still Tastes Bitter by Steve Simmons

From, Leafs Set To Celebrate The End Of An Era by James Murphy

From the Ottawa Sun, '67 Leafs - One For The Ages by Lance Hornby

From The Toronto Sun, The Punch Line: Celebrating the 1967 Leafs by George Gross

From the National Post, January 17, 2007, A Matter Of Honour by Joe O'Connor

From the Toronto Star, '67 Leafs: We Had A Shot At More Cups by Kevin McGran

From, Ellis Happy To See Keon Back In Fold by Jim Barber

From, Keon Set To Return To Toronto by Scotty Morrison

From Toronto Maple, A Chance To Say Thanks... by John Ferguson Jr.

From Toronto Maple, The Chief Looks Back At '67 by Mike Ullmer

From the Hockey Hall Of Fame, the 1967 Stanley Cup Champions

For an abundance of Leafs history and information, visit this Wiki link

For an overview of the entire 1967 hockey season, Wiki has it covered here

Members of the '67 Leafs are:

George Armstrong: Longest serving captain in Leafs history wins fourth Stanley Cup.

Bobby Baun: Saw little action in the final and did not attend parade out of pride.

Johnny Bower: At 42, the oldest goalie to win a Cup. Allowed only 3 goals in 3 games of final.

Brian Conacher: Scored 2 goals to eliminate Chicago and join uncles Roy and Lionel also on the Cup.

Kent Douglas: Did not appear in playoffs for the Leafs.

Ron Ellis: Scored first goal in finals deciding game.

Aut Erickson: Appeared in game 1 only, serving a TMM penalty.

Larry Hillman: Claimed from Boston in 1960 intra-league draft, won 2 more Cups with Montreal.

Tim Horton: Birth name is Miles G. Horton, but mother liked calling him Tim. Milesbits, anyone?

Larry Jeffrey: Played every minute of semi-finals but did not play against Montreal.

Dave Keon: "Turn the Keon" was a familiar chant in '67.

Red Kelly: Last of his 8 Cups, retired to coach the Los Angeles Kings.

Frank Mahovlich: Had his worst season in Toronto and was dealt to Detroit the following year.

Milan Marcetta: Appeared in only 3 playoff games for the Leafs.

Jim Pappin: Led post season scoring with 15 points, including 4 goals against Montreal.

Marcel Pronovost: Was motivated by a remark from the Canadiens predicting a Cup win.

Bob Pulford: Won 4 Cups with the Leafs. Scored OT winner at 28:26 in game 3.

Terry Sawchuk: Went 2-2 in finals with 12 goals against.

Eddie Shack: After a 26 goal season, went scoreless in final.

Allan Stanley: Played 10 seasons with the Leafs.

Pete Stemkowski: First "K" in surname is engraved backwards on the Cup.

Mike Walton: Like Mahovlich and Pappin, was one of Imlach's whipping boys.

Other players dressing for the Maple Leafs in 1967 but not appearing in the playoffs or named on the Stanley Cup were John Brenneman, Wayne Carleton, Bruce Gamble, Dick Gamble, Brent Imlach, Jim McKenny, Duane Rupp, Brit Selby, Al Smith and Gary Smith.

Non players named on the Stanley Cup are:

Punch Imlach, coach and general manager.
King Clancy: Won first Cup with Ottawa in 1923 and last this season as assistant coach.
Stafford Smythe, son of Conn Smythe, and one of the teams three owners.
Harold Ballard, president and owner.
John Bassett, chairman of the board and owner.
Bob Davidson, scout.
John Anderson, publicity.
Bob Haggert, trainer.
Tommy Naylor, assistant trainer
Karl Elieff, physiotherapist
Richard Smythe, mascot


PPP said...

I just read Cox and Stellick's book '67 and it really lays out how things went so badly for a team that had just won 4 Cups in the 60s. It's a great (yet terrible) read for Leaf fans and really for fans of hockey history.

I think that over the past decade and a half the Leafs have done a very good job of including their past stars in prominent roles and honouring them. The simplest thing is that they highlight whatever alumnus is at the game.

Thank God I wasn't alive in the 70s and only remember 89 onward of badness by the Leafs. They are heartbreakers to say the least. Maybe this celebration will spur the current management team and players to greater heights.

Robert L said...

If all goes well, this celebration should turn the corner as far the Leafs relationships with many former players go. Things between them will get better. It should be quite an emotional night. I'll actually be tuned in to the Leafs game for a change.