Monday, May 2, 2011
On this date in 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to win the Stanley Cup in six games, bringing to and end the Original 6 era.
The NHL began in 1917 with four member clubs, the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Toronto Hockey Club and Ottawa Senators. The Wanderers would only last six games before a fire burned down the Montreal Arena, an event which would cause the struggling club to call it quits.
The 1918 Montreal Arena fire
The Toronto franchise would be renamed the Arenas for 1918-19 and the St. Patricks in 1919-20, a season which would see the league expand to four clubs once again with the revival of the Quebec Bulldogs. That revival would last but one season before the club was relocated and became the Hamilton Tigers for the 1920-21 season.
The NHL would expand for the 1924-25 season to six clubs with the addition of the Montreal Maroons and the first club based in the United States, the Boston Bruins. If one were prone to split hairs, these six teams, the Bruins, Tigers, Canadiens, Maroons, Senators and St. Pats could be considered the true "Original 6".
The Hamilton franchise was dropped for 1925-26 and it's players transferred to a new club, the New York Americans. Additionally, a new franchise was granted to Pittsburgh, which was named the Pirates, bringing the league up to seven teams.
The following season was again one of change and expansion. A change in ownership in Toronto saw the St. Pats renamed the Maple Leafs mid-season and the Chicago Black Hawks arrived on the scene, along with the Detroit Cougars following the demise of the Western Hockey League. Those two clubs were stocked with the players from the Portland Rosebuds and Victoria Cougars. The New York Rangers, who would share Madison Square Garden with the Americans, were granted an expansion franchise as well. This brought the league now up to a full ten teams.
In 1930-31, the Pirates relocated to Philadelphia and became the Quakers, who would last just one season before folding, leaving the NHL with 9 teams. This scenario would be repeated in 1934-35 when the once powerful Ottawa Senators would relocate and become the St. Louis Eagles, who would also fold after a single season, bringing the number of clubs down to 8.
Also in 1930-31 the Cougars would change their name to the Falcons for two seasons before adopting the name Red Wings in 1933-34.
At the end of the 1937-38 season, the Montreal Maroons would drop by the wayside, lowering the number of clubs down to 7, the lowest number since 1926. Those seven clubs would carry on through the 1941-42 season, when the New York Americans, despite still playing in Manhattan, changed their name to the Brooklyn Americans in an attempt to win more fans. When that failed to work, the Americans ceased operations, a move which officially began the "Original 6" era in 1942-43.
Those six clubs, the Bruins, Black Hawks, Red Wings, Canadiens, Rangers and Maple Leafs would continue on unchanged through the 1966-67 season, 25 seasons in all.
During the Original 6 era, Detroit won the Stanley Cup five times, Montreal ten times, including five in a row from 1956 to 1960, Toronto nine times and Chicago once while the Rangers failed to win the cup despite the one in six odds.
In 1966-67, the Black Hawks finished first with 94 points, easily distancing themselves from Montreal at 77, Toronto with 75 and the final playoff qualifier New York at 72. As was the practice back then, Chicago did not draw the fourth place Rangers, but the third placed Maple Leafs, who upset the Black Hawks 4 games to 2 with all four of their wins by two goals. Montreal advanced to the finals by sweeping the Rangers in four straight.
Montreal looked to have the upper hand after winning Game 1 at home easily by a score of 6-2, but Toronto immediately responded with a 3-0 shutout behind Johnny Bower in goal. A thrilling Game 3 in Toronto saw the Maple Leafs win 3-2 in overtime. Before Toronto could exploit their home advantage Montreal took their turn winning one on the road, again by a dominating 6-2 score.
Back in Montreal, Toronto disappointed the home fans by putting Montreal on the brink with an easy 4-1 with Terry Sawchuk in goal, who took over for Game 4 when Bower was knocked out of the series with an injury.
When Game 6 in Toronto went the way of the Maple Leafs 3-1, the Maple Leafs hoisted the Stanley Cup and the Original 6 era came to an end as the league would expand by no less than six teams for the 1967-68 season, with clubs in Los Angeles, Oakland, St. Louis, Minnesota, Philadelphia and a return to Pittsburgh.
The 1966-67 Stanley Cup Champion Toronto Maple Leafs
Today's featured jersey is a 1966-67 Toronto Maple Leafs Dave Keon jersey. Keon led the Maple Leafs in scoring that season and was also named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy following their Stanley Cup victory.
This jersey style was introduced during the 1966-67 season in time for the Maple Leafs run to the Stanley Cup bearing a maple leaf which closely resembled that of the new Canadian flag introduced in 1965. This jersey would have a relatively brief lifespan, lasting through just the 1969-70 season.
Today's video selection is game footage of the Maple Leafs capturing the 1967 Stanley Cup, the final one of the Original 6 era.
Since 1967, the Maple Leafs have yet to win another cup, angering even their most ardent supporters.