April 29, 2008

1950: Red Wings Finally Win Cup, But Without Howe

The year is 1950. The Detroit Red Wings will try yet again to win the Stanley Cup.

The Red Wings had come up short in the finals of each of the previous two seasons. Detroit knocked out Toronto to return for a third consecutive appearance. But the task of winning became much more difficult when Toronto knocked out Gordie Howe.

In one of the most controversial hits of all time, Teeder Kennedy and Gordie Howe collided. Accounts vary, but the bottom line was Mr. Hockey suffered a life and career threatening skull fracture.

The Wings would meet the New York Rangers in the all-American finals. The Rangers faced a familiar but daunting problem of their own - no home rink to play in. With the circus making it's annual appearance at Madison Square Gardens, the Rangers chose to play two of their "home" games in Toronto. All 5 other games would be played in Detroit.

Despite facing a possible 7 road games to win the Stanley Cup, the Rangers somehow managed to gain a 3 games to 2 advantage, thanks mainly to back-to-back game winning goals by Bones Raleigh.

The Wings home ice advantage proved to be too much in game 6, as the Wings pulled out a 5-4 win, forcing a decisive game 7.

Game 7 of the 1950 finals may be one of the most famous game 7s in hockey history. Detroit's Jim McFadden scored with just 4:03 left to tied the game at three and send it into what ended up being double overtime. That's when Pete Babando immortalized himself with the dramatic Stanley Cup winning goal! It was the first time the Stanley Cup was decided in overtime of a game 7.

After the victory Ted Lindsay kept the Cup on the ice, placing it on a table and skating around with it for all the fans to see. That was the beginning of the now great tradition.

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