May 03, 2016

Stanley Cup Flashbacks: 1942: The Leafs Improbable Comeback

The year is 1942. The NHL witnesses the greatest comeback in the history of professional sports in North America.

Entering game 4, the Leafs were on the verge of imminent elimination. The Detroit Red Wings had convincing victories in each of the first three contests, and held the series in a 3-0 stranglehold.

Cue the Leafs comeback. Coach Hap Day benches regulars for game four and inserted rookies who responded to win game after game, coming all the way back to take game 7! They were the first team in hockey history to win a series after being down 3 games to none. Only the 1975 New York Islanders could duplicate this rare feat.

Benched players included Gord Drillon, and Bucko McDonald. Picking up the slack was Gaye Stewart and, most notably, Don Metz. Metz took's Drillon's spot on the top line. That line also featured brother Nick Metz on the opposite wing.

Centering the Metzs was the outstanding Syl Apps. He tied the NHL record of 14 points in a post-season. He would score 7 points in the finals, including a 2 goal, 5 point night in game 5 against the Wings.

Apps was outscored in the final series by both Billy Taylor and Sweeney Schriner, who scored twice in the 3-1 game 7 victory. Goaltender Turk Broda was so good in the final 4 games of the finals that they actually engraved his name on the Cup twice. It was actually an oversight.

After a decade of disappointment in the 1930s, the Leafs had finally won the Stanley Cup. Before the end of the decade they would be one of the greatest teams in all of sporting history. However World War II would rip the team apart for the 1943 and 1944 seasons.

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