May 07, 2008

1964: Late Heroics Secure Another Cup Victory For Maple Leafs

The year is 1964. The Stanley Cup championship is played under the slimmest of margins, as the two-time defending champion Toronto Maple Leafs edge Gordie Howe's Detroit Red Wings 4 games to 3.

Two games were decided in overtime, with the teams splitting decisions. Two other games were literally decided in the dying seconds of the game. Bob Pulford scored, shorthanded nonetheless, with just 2 seconds on the clock to give the Leafs a 3-2 win in game one. Alex Delvecchio answered back by winning game three for the Wings with just 17 seconds remaining.

Many wonder why Bob Pulford is in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player. Well his 1964 playoff performance undoubtedly has a lot to do with it. The Pulford-Eddie Shack-Ron Stewart line held the vaunted Jean Beliveau - Boom Boom Geoffrion - John Ferguson line of the first place Canadiens to only three goals in seven games in round one. In round two he put an end to the brilliant scoring run by Norm Ullman of Detroit, whose line had four goals in the seven games against the Leafs. Pulford was the Leafs star in a 3-2 loss to Montreal, scoring both goals including one shorthanded. He was mentioned as one of the Leafs best players in three of the other games against Montreal for his hard checking and brilliant penalty-killing. In addition to his game one heroics he had two goals and one assist as Toronto won 4-3 in overtime in game six. He had his third short-handed marker in that one and set up the famous overtime marker to take game six.

The famous overtime goal Pulford set up was of course scored by Bobby Baun, with a broken leg nonetheless. In one of the most heroic moments in all of hockey history, Baun scored a goal with a cracked ankle. He had blocked a Delvecchio howitzer, instantly collapsing to the ice in immense pain. He had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher, but he came back in the game, and scored at 1:43 of extra time. He then refused to let doctors look at his foot, and returned for game 7.

1 comment:

vdkhanna said...

The Bob Baun goal epitomizes what playoff hockey has always been about.