Saturday, March 24, 2012
"Mud" Bruneteau had already played a season with the Detroit Olympics in the International Hockey League and was splitting time between the Olympics 23 games that season) and their parent club, the Detroit Red Wings (24 games) during the 1935-36 season when he was called up to the Red Wings near the end of the regular season. In his two dozen games, he had scored the first goal of his NHL career and was able to add a second before the conclusion of the regular season schedule.
Bruneteau, whose actual first name was Modere, remained on the roster as Detroit were to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Montreal Maroons in a matchup of the winners of the American and Canadian Divisions for a spot in the finals. Game 1 was scheduled for the Montreal Forum on this date in 1936.
Norm Smith was the starting goaltender for the visiting Red Wings, while Lorne Chabot got the start for the host Maroons. Both teams were anxious to start out with a victory as the format of the playoffs in those days called for a best-of-five series, making the first win all that more critical in the club's efforts to become the first to win three games.
Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith
Both teams were held scoreless in the first period as they settled into the contest, and the second period passed without a goal as well. Despite the efforts of both clubs, each goaltender stood tall as regulation time came to and end still tied at 0-0 as the game went into overtime.
Few in attendance expected what was to come, as neither Smith or Chabot could be solved and the first extra period passed into the second. Yet still the game continued when neither club got the break they were looking for as the second overtime concluded still scoreless.
Smtih in the Red Wings goal during the historic game against the Maroons
A third overtime came and went as the length of the game had now doubled from three periods to now six. The referees had even stopped taking their skates off between periods for fear that they would not be able to get them on again since their feet were so swollen.
The game was now beginning to move well up the list of longest games in league history as the fourth overtime marched on. By the nine minute mark the game had now become the second longest ever as it surpassed the 68:52 of extra time the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers had required six years earlier.
It was now well past midnight when the fifth overtime began as the tired players fought to end the epic, each careful of not being the one who would make a critical mistake in the exhausted condition.
Now at 100 minutes of overtime having been played as the sixth overtime began, the game was now within range of the all-time record, which arrived after another 4 minutes and 47 seconds, surpassing the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins playoff game from April 3, 1933.
Yet still the marathon continued with no finish line in sight as the halfway mark of the period passed while the quality of the ice continued to grow worse and worse with each passing period, raising concerns that a crazy bounce would lead to a turnover which would decide the game.
Finally, mercifully, it came to an end. Bruneteau, the rookie and youngest player on the ice with just two career goals to his name, became the unlikely hero and etched his name into the record books when he picked up a loose puck behind the Montreal defense and managed to get the puck past Chabot for the only goal of the game after a record 116:30 of overtime at 2:25 AM, nearly six hours after it's 8:30 PM faceoff. Adding in regulation time, the game fell just 13 and a half minutes short of the equivalent of three complete games.
"Thank God," Bruneteau said. "Chabot fell down as I drove the net. It's the funniest thing. The puck just stuck there in the twins and didn't fall on the ice."
The game winning puck from the longest game in NHL history,
part of the collection of the Hockey Hall of Fame
The winning goaltender Smith was credited with an absurd 90 saves, while Chabot made 66 despite recording 8 full periods of shutout hockey. Smith reportedly lost 12 pounds over the course of the game!
In the 76 years since that record setting night (and early morning), no game has ever reached the 100 minute mark of extra time, with only the May 4, 2000 game by the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins even reaching a fifth overtime, falling 24:29 short of the record, yet still good for third place on the all-time list.
Perhaps both physically and mentally drained because of their overtime loss, the Maroons would not put up much resistance over the next two games, as Smith shut them out again in Game 2 by a score of 3-0 and Detroit swept the series with a 2-1 win back at home to advance to the finals, where they captured the Stanley Cup 3 games to 1 over Toronto, which included an overtime Game 3 which thankfully ended after just 31 seconds!
Bruneteau would go on to have a 11 year NHL career, which included three seasons of 20 goals or more, with a high of 35 in 1943-44, the same season he set a career high with 53 points while serving as one of the team's captains. He would spend his entire career with the Red Wings, which included playing with his younger brother Ed Bruneteau from 1940-41 to 1945-46.
Ed and Mud Bruneteau
In addition to winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie, the Red Wings would repeat as champions again in 1927 and Bruneteau would have the pleasure of sharing one with his brother in 1943, during which he would score a hat trick in Game 1 of the finals against the Boston Bruins.
Today's featured jersey is a 1935-36 Detroit Red Wings Mud Bruneteau jersey. Notice the ornate chain stitching on the winged wheel crest of the sweater, which was first adopted just four seasons earlier in 1932-33 when the franchise changed their name from the Falcons to the Red Wings when the club was purchased by James Norris, whose family eventually owned the team for 50 years.
Today's "video" segment is a brief clip of the radio call of Bruneteau's game winning goal in the longest game in NHL history.