August 16, 2014

1958-59: Leafs Pack Punch

The Three Stars:

Imlach Gets Leafs Back To Playoffs: The Toronto Maple Leafs make an amazing late season surge to qualify for the playoffs. They are 7 points with 9 days left in the season. Coach Punch Imlach promises his team will not only make the playoffs but will play in the Stanley Cup final. Against long odds the Leafs catch the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot on the last day of the season. Then they upset the Boston Bruins in the semi-final before bowing out to Montreal in the Stanley Cup final.

Chicago Revival: Young stars Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall, Stan Mikita, Ed Litzenberger, Eric Nesterenko and Pierre Pilote join veterans like Ted Lindsay and Tod Sloan to make the long-time cellar dweller Chicago Blackhawks into a force. They qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1953.

Stanley Cup Revamp - The Stanley Cup is redesigned to allow for wider and consistent bands on the base of trophy. The Cup can now accommodate 13 champions on each band instead of just one in "the old Stovepipe Cup."

Season Highlights: 
  • Toronto's renaissance is also partly due to their newly signed goalie - 34 year old minor league veteran Johnny Bower. The Leafs also add Allan Stanley and Bert Olmstead.
  • Longtime referee Red Story quits after the Chicago Blackhawks are ousted from the semi-final match-up vs Montreal. The Hawks, led by coach Rudy Pilous, are furious with Storey for missed calls late in the game. A 25 minute protest happens on the ice and two fans attack Storey. The next day when NHL president Clarence Campbell also criticized the officiating, Storey quit.
  • Dickie Moore wins his 2nd consecutive scoring championship and bests Gordie Howe's single season scoring record with 96 points. Moore also leads all playoff scorers with 17 points, while Marcel Bonin leads with 10 goals. 
  • The Detroit Red Wings throw "Gordie Howe Night" on March 3rd, 1959. He is given a new car which arrives on the ice carrying his parents. It is the first time his parents will have ever seen him play in the NHL.
  • Tom Johnson ends teammate Doug Harvey dominance of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best d-man.
  • Andy Bathgate captures the Hart Trophy with a career high 88 points. 
  • Jean Beliveau led the league in goals with an impressive 45. He had a career high 91 points.

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