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April 17, 2009

Celebrating Without The Cup

The 1947 Stanley Cup championship featured one of the oddest Stanley Cup celebrations ever seen - the Stanley Cup was not in attendance.

The final series came down to the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens. Incredibly it was the first Toronto-Montreal Stanley Cup finals ever.

The up and coming Maple Leafs won the Cup, surprising even their boss Conn Smythe. The Leafs were a young group of soon-to-be great players and soon-to-be the NHL's first dynasty, winning three championships in a row and four in five years.

But in this year they had no fewer than six rookies in the lineup. The Leafs took a 3 games to 2 lead and returned home to Maple Leafs Garden looking to clinch. But Smythe was so certain that Montreal would force a game seven that he actually ordered the Stanley Cup to remain in Montreal.

But the Leafs won, 2-1, and celebrated their Stanley Cup championship without the Stanley Cup!

The Cup was brought in the next day. The players gathered at Maple Leaf Gardens for photos and celebrations.

Not only were the 1947 Leafs young, but they were banged up. Nick Metz, and Bob Goldham were all sidelined with injuries. Others continued to play despite getting hurt. Vic Lynn was clubbed on the head by Rocket Richard. Joe Klukay was actually taken from the ice on a stretcher in game four after hitting his head against the boards.

The Leafs were powered by the great goaltending of Turk Broda and the inspired play of Teeder Kennedy. After a monstrous series against Detroit, veteran Syl Apps was quiet in the finals.

Howie Meeker was another star on the team, and the NHL's 1947 Rookie of the Year, winning the Calder trophy over Detroit's Gordie Howe.

Wild Bill Eznicki effectively shadowed Rocket Richard, frustrating Richard in game two to a game misconduct and a suspension in game three.

Mustachioed Garth Boesch, Hollywood Wolves call up Bill Barilko and the "Gold Dust Twins" Gus Mortson and Jim Thomson anchored the hard-hitting and under-rated defense.

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