August 31, 2014

1973-74: Flyers Become First Expansion Team To Win Stanley Cup

The Three Stars:

Broad Street Bullies Win Stanley Cup - Philadelphia's rugged Broad Street Bullies set a NHL penalty minute record last season. This season they became the first of the modern expansion teams to win the Stanley Cup. The Flyers, led by inspirational and feisty captain Bobby Clarke and goaltending hero Bernie Parent, upset the Boston Bruins. The Bruins were favored as Phil Esposito had scored 68 goals and 145 points and Bobby Orr (122 points) captured his 7th straight Norris Trophy.

Howe Joins Sons In WHA - That upstart league is at it again. Last season they stole a number of marquee NHL names. Now they convinced the greatest name in the game to come out of retirement. But Gordie Howe was not coming alone. He joined sons Mark Howe and Marty Howe in leading the Houston Aeros to the WHA championship. Gordie was named as league MVP.

European Invasion - The Toronto Maple Leafs import a pair of Swedes in Borje Salming and Inge Hammarstrom. Salming really establishes himself as star defenseman who can not be intimidated by even the NHL's toughest villains. His acceptance paves the way for waves and waves of European talent over the coming years.

Season Highlights:

  • The Montreal Canadiens are unable to re-sign goaltender Ken Dryden. He "retires" and takes a job as an law clerk while he pursues his law degree. The Canadiens are unable to get far in the playoffs with Wayne Thomas and Bunny Larocque in net.
  • Tim Horton Killed In Car Accident - Veteran defenseman Tim Horton is killed after a game on February 21st, 1974. The 44 year old Buffalo Sabres defenseman was driving home to southern Ontario after a game and is killed when he loses control of his Ford Pantera sports car.
  • Vancouver's Wayne Maki, just 29 years old, dies of brain cancer.
  • The New York Islanders draft Denis Potvin 1st overall. He goes on to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He goes on to become one of the game's all time greats.
  • The WHA creates a Summit Series copy cat exhibition with the Soviets, complete with Paul Henderson playing again. However this time Team Canada loses 4-1-3.
  • An unexpected hero emerges in Philadelphia - anthem singer Kate Smith

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