Leafs of 1977-78 – Part 2

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Sep. 6) – While the Maple Leafs team of 35 years ago enjoyed its best season in the Harold Ballard era, it declined rather dramatically after Game 28. Rampaging to a 19-6-3 record from Oct. 13 to Dec. 17, the Leafs of 1977-78 performed at a clip beneath .500 the rest of the way (22-23-7). Had the club not rebounded to conquer Los Angeles and New York Islanders in the ’78 playoffs, the 92-point regular schedule under rookie coach Roger Neilson would have been long-forgotten. 

MAPLE LEAF GARDENS HOCKEY PROGRAMS (ABOVE) FROM THE 1977-78 SEASON: MIKE PALMATEER ON LEFT; DEFENSEMAN RANDY CARLYLE ON RIGHT.

In this second of three parts, I take you to the pages of my scrap-books from the 1977-78 Maple Leafs. Best-remembered for Lanny McDonald’s overtime goal in Game 7 at Nassau Coliseum that eliminated the Islanders from the Stanley Cup quarterfinals, the season appeared in disrepair as Leafs suffered through a prolonged dry spell in March. The downturn began on Dec. 19, 1977 at Maple Leaf Gardens when the club fell behind, 3-0, to the woeful St. Louis Blues and had to scramble back for an unsavory 4-4 tie.  

MON. DEC. 19, 1977: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO 

ST. LOUIS HAD A TERRIBLE SEASON IN 1977-78, FINISHING WITH A RECORD OF 20-47-13 FOR 53 POINTS – AHEAD OF ONLY WASHINGTON AND MINNESOTA. ON THIS MONDAY NIGHT AT THE GARDENS, HOWEVER, BLUES TOOK A 3-0 LEAD IN THE SECOND PERIOD ON GOALS BY JIM ROBERTS, LARRY PATEY AND BRIAN OGILVIE. LEAFS ROARED BACK, AND LANNY McDONALD’S 17th GOAL (AT 10:51 OF THE THIRD) RESCUED A POINT.

WED. DEC. 21, 1977: MONTREAL at TORONTO

LEAFS WERE NOSE-AND-NOSE WITH CANADIENS IN THE STANDINGS UNTIL LARRY ROBINSON’S GOAL IN THE FINAL MINUTE CRAFTED A 3-2 WIN. MONTREAL WAS 21-7-4 AFTER 32 GAMES; 38-3-7 THE REST OF THE SEASON.

FRI. DEC. 23, 1977: TORONTO at PITTSBURGH

PITTSBURGH COACH IN 1977-78 WAS JOHNNY WILSON, UNCLE OF FUTURE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN AND COACH RON WILSON. JOHNNY PASSED AWAY LAST DECEMBER WHILE RON AND THE LEAFS WERE IN FLORIDA.

THIS CRAZY EPISODE (ABOVE) – PART OF THE NEVER-ENDING HAROLD BALLARD CIRCUS – REMAINS THE SUBJECT OF LEAF LORE ALL THESE YEARS LATER. BACK-UP GOALIE GORD McRAE WORE A BEARD, WHICH CIRCUMVENTED THE WISHES OF THE LEAFS OWNER. AS SUCH, BALLARD ORDERED THE HEAD-SHOT OF A CLEANLY-SHAVEN McRAE TO BE SUPER-IMPOSED ON TOP OF THE GOALIE’S ’77-78 IMAGE BEFORE THE CLUB MAILED ITS CHRISTMAS CARD. 

MON. DEC. 26, 1977: PITTSBURGH at TORONTO

AFTER ROMPING IN PITTSBURGH THREE NIGHTS EARLIER, LEAFS WERE BEATEN BY THE MEDIOCRE PENGUINS ON A GOAL BY BLAIR CHAPMAN WITH 32 SECONDS LEFT. LOSS REALLY STUNG, GIVEN THAT LANNY McDONALD HAD TIED THE SCORE, 4-4, AT THE 19:06 MARK – 28 SECONDS BEFORE CHAPMAN’S BREAKAWAY WINNER.

WED. DEC. 28, 1977: TORONTO at CHICAGO

FRI. DEC. 30, 1977: TORONTO at CLEVELAND

AMONG THE DEFENCEMEN FOR CLEVELAND IN THIS GAME AT RICHFIELD, OHIO WAS DARCY REGIER, CURRENT GENERAL MANAGER OF THE BUFFALO SABRES (SEE ROSTER BELOW). THE NATIVE OF SWIFT CURRENT, SASK. WAS SELECTED IN THE FIFTH ROUND OF THE 1976 DRAFT BY CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS AND MOVED WITH THE FRANCHISE TO OHIO. HE PLAYED 15 GAMES FOR THE BARONS IN 1977-78, RECORDING ONE ASSIST AND 28 PENALTY MINUTES. MIDWAY THROUGH THE SEASON, HE WAS TRADED TO  NEW YORK ISLANDERS WITH WAYNE MERRICK FOR JEAN-PAUL PARISE (ZACH PARISE’S FATHER) AND JEAN POTVIN (BROTHER OF HALL-OF-FAMER DENIS POTVIN). REGIER WOULD PLAY 11 MORE NHL GAMES IN UNIONDALE, N.Y.

SAT. DEC. 31, 1977: ATLANTA at TORONTO

MON. JAN. 2, 1978: KLADNO [CZECHOSLOVAKIA] at TORONTO

WHAT A FARCE THIS TURNED OUT TO BE. IN THE MID-TO-LATE-’70s, TEAMS FROM THE FORMER CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND SOVIET UNION TOURED NORTH AMERICA AND PLAYED EXHIBITION GAMES – MID-SEASON – AGAINST THE NHL. AFTER THE 1976 CANADA CUP TOURNAMENT, THE RUSSIANS WERE NO LONGER WELCOMED IN MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. BUT, HAROLD BALLARD CONCEDED TO HOST KLADNO OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA IN 1977-78 AND PLACED THE GAME IN THE LEAFS’ SEASON-TICKET PACKAGE AT REGULAR NHL PRICING. IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH OF A KICK, FOUR OF THE LEAFS MOST PROMINENT PLAYERS – MIKE PALMATEER, IAN TURNBULL, LANNY McDONALD AND BORJE SALMING – CAME DOWN WITH SUDDEN AILMENTS AND WERE SCRATCHED FROM THE LINE-UP. I WAS AMONG THE BOOING FANS AT THE GARDENS THAT NIGHT AS THE CZECHS ROMPED TO AN 8-5 VICTORY.

THE TRAVESTY OF JAN. 2, 1978 WAS HEIGHTENED (ABOVE) WHEN DAVE (TIGER) WILLIAMS OF THE LEAFS TOOK OUT HIS FRUSTRATION BY PITCH-FORKING KLADNO DEFENSEMAN FRANTISEK KABERLE SR. EXACTLY TWO MONTHS LATER – MAR. 2, 1978 – KABERLE’S WIFE GAVE BIRTH TO A BOY NAMED TOMAS (A BROTHER TO FRANTISEK, JR.), WHO WOULD LATER BECOME THE SECOND-HIGHEST-SCORING LEAFS DEFENSEMAN (TO SALMING). WHEN TOMAS PLAYED HERE IN TORONTO, FRANTISEK JR. SKATED FOR THE ATLANTA THRASHERS AND CAROLINA HURRICANES. THEIR FATHER WOULD COME TO NORTH AMERICA TWICE DURING THE NHL SEASON AND I’D OFTEN SIT WITH FRANTISEK SR. IN THE AIR CANADA CENTRE DURING LEAF PRACTICES. ONE DAY, I BROUGHT MY SCRAP-BOOK AND SHOWED MR. KABERLE THE PHOTO-SEQUENCE OF HIM BEING SPEARED BY WILLIAMS. UNANNOUNCED, HE REACHED INTO HIS JACKET AND PULLED OUT THE SIGNED PHOTO (BELOW) OF TOMAS (ON LEFT) AND FRANTISEK JR. IN THEIR KLADNO JERSEYS, WHICH I CHERISH TO THIS DAY.

WED. JAN. 4, 1978: COLORADO at TORONTO

FRANCHISE SUCCESSION (ABOVE): JOINED NHL IN EXPANSION AS KANSAS CITY SCOUTS (1974-75 TO 1975-76). COLORADO ROCKIES (1976-77 TO 1981-82). NEW JERSEY DEVILS (1982-83 TO PRESENT).

LOGOS FROM WEBSITE: http://www.sports-logos-screensavers.com/default.html

REPORTERS COVERING LEAFS BLASTED THE TEAM WHEN ALL FOUR PLAYERS SCRATCHED FOR THE KLADNO GAME TWO NIGHTS EARLIER “RECOVERED” IN TIME TO SUIT UP AGAINST COLORADO ROCKIES.

THU. JAN. 5, 1978: TORONTO at DETROIT

File:Toronto Maple Leafs logo.svg

      

I SAW ONLY ONE GAME AT THE OLD DETROIT OLYMPIA – LEAFS FINAL VISIT ON MAR. 25, 1979 (TICKET-STUB BELOW) – AND IT WAS, THANKFULLY, A MATINEE. ATTENDING A NIGHT GAME AT GRAND RIVER AND McGRAW IN DOWNTOWN DETROIT WAS MORE PERILOUS, AS NOTED BY THE INCIDENT (ABOVE AND BELOW) AFTER THE LEAFS-RED WINGS ENCOUNTER OF JAN. 5, 1978.

SAT. JAN. 7, 1978: VANCOUVER at TORONTO

WHEN I INTERVIEWED CESARE MANIAGO IN THE PRESS BOX AT ROGERS ARENA IN VANCOUVER DURING THE 2012 PLAYOFFS (PHOTO ABOVE), WE DISCUSSED THE CANUCKS-LEAFS GAME OF JAN. 7, 1978 AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, IN WHICH HE FACED 57 SHOTS. “I TOLD THE GUYS IN THE DRESSING ROOM BEFORE THE GAME THAT IF THEY HELD TORONTO TO LESS THAN 25 SHOTS, WE’D WIN AND I’D TAKE ALL OF THEM OUT FOR SUPPER,” MANIAGO RECALLED. “WELL, I THINK THE LEAFS HAD 25 SHOTS IN THE OPENING PERIOD. DURING THE FIRST INTERMISSION, ONE OF MY TEAMMATES – GERRY O’FLAHERTY – CAME UP AND SAID, ‘CESARE, DID YOU MEAN 25 SHOTS EACH PERIOD OR FOR THE ENTIRE GAME?’ I COULDN’T HELP BUT CRACK UP.”

MON. JAN. 9, 1978: ATLANTA at TORONTO

ATLANTA FLAMES WERE AT THE GARDENS TWICE IN A 10-DAY SPAN AND BEAT THE LEAFS HANDILY EACH TIME.

WED. JAN. 11, 1978: TORONTO at MINNESOTA

PLAYING DOWN TO THE LEVEL OF THE OPPOSITION – AS LEAFS DID WITH REGULARITY IN THE SECOND HALF OF 1977-78 – ALMOST BIT THE CLUB IN THIS MATCH AT BLOOMINGTON, MINNESOTA. I REMEMBER WATCHING THE WEDNESDAY-NIGHT GAME FROM THE METROPOLITAN SPORTS CENTER ON  CHCH-TV (CHANNEL 11). NORTH STARS, EN ROUTE TO THE WORST RECORD IN THE LEAGUE (18-53-9 FOR 45 POINTS), JUMPED OUT TO A 3-0 FIRST-PERIOD LEAD ON GOALS BY DOUG HICKS, EX-LEAF PIERRE JARRY AND FUTURE LEAF BRAD MAXWELL. BUT, THE VISITORS BOUNCED BACK AND WON THE GAME AT 18:15 OF THE THIRD PERIOD WHEN TIGER WILLIAMS BEAT GOALIE PETE LoPRESTI WITH A 40-FOOT SLAP-SHOT FROM THE LEFT-WING BOARDS.

FRI. JAN. 13, 1978: TORONTO at CLEVELAND

WHAT WAS THAT I SAID ABOUT PLAYING DOWN TO THE OPPOSITION? LEAFS WERE AT THE RICHFIELD COLISEUM FOR THE SECOND TIME IN TWO WEEKS AND GOT HAMMERED BY CLEVELAND BARONS BEFORE ALL OF 4,527 ON-LOOKERS. BARONS WOULD COMPILE A LESS-THAN-DAZZLING 22-45-13 RECORD IN 1977-78.

SAT. JAN. 14, 1978: CHICAGO at TORONTO

TUE. JAN. 17, 1978: TORONTO at ST. LOUIS

YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF 1977-78 MAPLE LEAFS STRUGGLING AGAINST MUCH-WEAKER OPPOSITION. LANNY McDONALD HAD TO SCORE HIS SECOND GOAL OF THE NIGHT – AT 9:30 OF THE THIRD PERIOD – TO GAIN A TIE WITH THE WOEFUL BLUES IN ST. LOUIS ARENA.

THU. JAN. 19, 1978: TORONTO at VANCOUVER

LEAFS BEGAN THEIR FINAL WEST-COAST TRIP BY CRAFTING THREE LEADS IN VANCOUVER, ONLY TO SETTLE FOR A 3-3 TIE WITH CANUCKS ON CHRIS ODDLIEFSON’S GOAL AT 15:42 OF THE FINAL PERIOD. VANCOUVER WOULD WIN JUST 20 OF 80 GAMES IN 1977-78.

SAT. JAN. 21, 1978: TORONTO at LOS ANGELES

LEAFS WINLESS STREAK HIT FIVE GAMES ON A SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE FORUM IN INGLEWOOD CALIF. WHEN UNHERALDED HARTLAND MONAHAN SCORED BOTH KINGS GOALS IN A 2-1 TRIUMPH.

WED. JAN. 25, 1978: TORONTO at NEW YORK RANGERS

AS HE DID TWO WEEKS EARLIER IN MINNESOTA, TIGER WILLIAMS CAME THROUGH IN ANOTHER OF THOSE WEDNESDAY NIGHT ROAD GAMES TELEVISED ON CHCH-TV. THIS TIME, TIGER BEAT HIS FORMER LEAFS TEAMMATE, WAYNE THOMAS, FOR THE DECISIVE GOAL AT 1:52 OF THE THIRD PERIOD – HIS SECOND OF THE NIGHT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. LEAFS, THEREFORE, ENDED THEIR FIVE-GAME SKID.

THU. JAN. 26, 1978: TORONTO at NEW YORK ISLANDERS

SAT. JAN. 28, 1978: TORONTO at ATLANTA

THE ROAD TEAM PREVAILED FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN AS MANY ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN THE LEAFS AND ATLANTA FLAMES IN 1977-78 – LEAFS OVERCOMING A 2-0 DEFICIT IN THE FIRST PERIOD TO WIN THE MATCH, 7-5.

CURRENT COACH OF THE ANAHEIM DUCKS HAD A BIG NIGHT IN ATLANTA FOR LEAFS, WITH TWO GOALS.

WED. FEB. 1, 1978: BUFFALO at TORONTO

SAT. FEB. 4, 1978: DETROIT at TORONTO

JIM RUTHERFORD, NOW GM OF THE CAROLINA HURRICANES, STUCK IT TO LEAFS ON THIS SATURDAY AT THE GARDENS, STOPPING 42 SHOTS IN A 2-2 TIE… DENNIS POLONICH SCORING THE EQUALIZER WITH 5:37 LEFT.

SUN. FEB. 5, 1978: TORONTO at BOSTON

I REMEMBER LISTENING TO THIS SUNDAY-NIGHT GAME ON THE RADIO, AS LEAFS WERE ABOUT TO DEFEAT BOSTON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1977-78. BUT, GREGG SHEPPARD SCORED AT 19:58 OF THE THIRD PERIOD TO MAINTAIN THE BRUINS’ MASTERY. AND, THE CELEBRATED COACH SHOWED NO MERCY AFTERWARD (BELOW).

WED. FEB. 8, 1978: ST. LOUIS at TORONTO

IN MY RECOLLECTION, THIS WAS THE MOST EXCITING LEAFS HOME GAME OF THE 1977-78 SEASON – YET ANOTHER STRUGGLE AGAINST THE WEAK ST. LOUIS BLUES. LEAFS CLAWED BACK FROM A 3-1 DEFICIT AND TIED THE GAME ON LANNY McDONALD’S GOAL WITH FOUR SECONDS LEFT IN THE SECOND PERIOD. ST. LOUIS, HOWEVER, SEEMED POISED TO WIN WHEN GARY HOLT BEAT MIKE PALMATEER WITH 7:40 REMAINING. BUT, PAT BOUTETTE ANSWERED 36 SECONDS LATER AND ERROL THOMPSON SCORED THE DECISIVE GOAL ON A BREAKAWAY WITH 2:43 LEFT, BEATING VETERAN PHIL MYRE WITH A BACKHAND SHOT ON A BREAKAWAY (PHOTO ABOVE FROM TORONTO SUN).

SAT. FEB. 11, 1978: NEW YORK RANGERS at TORONTO

MON. FEB. 13, 1978: TORONTO at BUFFALO

WHAT A SATISFYING VICTORY THIS WAS FOR FANS OF THE MAPLE LEAFS – A MONDAY-NIGHT GAME FROM MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM IN BUFFALO TELEVISED NATIONALLY IN THE UNITED STATES. LEAFS’ BIG SHOOTERS – LANNY McDONALD AND ERROL THOMPSON – SCORED UNANSWERED GOALS IN THE THIRD PERIOD TO BREAK A 2-2 TIE: McDONALD IN THE OPENING MINUTE; THOMPSON WITH 14 SECONDS TO PLAY. LEAFS WERE IN THE MIDST OF THEIR FINAL HOT STREAK OF THE ’77-78 SEASON – A 10-2-0 RUN BETWEEN FEB. 8 AND MAR. 5.

      

WED. FEB. 15, 1978: BOSTON at TORONTO

THE LONE CERTAINTY OF 1977-78 FOR THE LEAFS – LOSING TO DIVISION-RIVAL BOSTON – HAPPENED ONCE AGAIN AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, TWO NIGHTS AFTER THE BIG TRIUMPH IN BUFFALO. AS LEAFS HAD DONE AT THE AUDITORIUM, THE BRUINS SCORED UNANSWERED GOALS IN THE FINAL FRAME – BY AL SIMS AND PETER McNAB – TO BREAK A 2-2 DEADLOCK.

SAT. FEB. 18, 1978: MINNESOTA at TORONTO

ANOTHER PATTERN – SNEAKING BY MEDIOCRE OPPOSITION – CONTINUED ON THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE GARDENS, AS DARRYL SITTLER’S GOAL WITH 7:18 LEFT PROVED THE DIFFERENCE AGAINST MINNESOTA. LEAFS WON THEIR 30th GAME OF THE SEASON AND HANDED NORTH STARS ONE OF THEIR LEAGUE-HIGH 53 LOSSES.

HAROLD BALLARD HAD BIG-TIME FUN WITH SPECTATORS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS AFTER BUYING HAMILTON TIGER-CATS OF THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (STORY ABOVE). 

WED. FEB. 22, 1978: CLEVELAND at TORONTO

SAT. FEB. 25, 1978: WASHINGTON at TORONTO

NOT OFTEN A TEAM SCORES THE WINNING GOAL IN A HOCKEY GAME AT 1:06 OF THE FIRST PERIOD, BUT LEAFS DID JUST THAT – COURTESY OF IAN TURNBULL – AGAINST WASHINGTON.

LEAFS LEGEND KING CLANCY CELEBRATED A MILESTONE BIRTHDAY ON THIS SATURDAY AT THE GARDENS.

      

SUN. FEB. 26, 1978: TORONTO at CHICAGO

File:Toronto Maple Leafs logo.svg

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF LEAFS LORE THAT HAS SURVIVED THE DECADES WAS HAROLD BALLARD’S INFAMOUS STUNT AT CHICAGO STADIUM ON FEB. 26, 1978. ORDERED BY NHL PRESIDENT JOHN ZIEGLER TO DISPLAY PLAYER NAMES ON THE BACK OF THE LEAFS’ JERSEYS – AS WAS CUSTOM THROUGHOUT THE LEAGUE – BALLARD REFUSED, SUGGESTING IT WOULD CUT INTO PROGRAM SALES AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. ZIEGLER PERSISTED AND FINED BALLARD $2,000 FOR NOT HAVING THE NAMES DISPLAYED IN TIME FOR THE FEB. 13 NATIONAL TV GAME AT BUFFALO. FINALLY, BALLARD CONSENTED – ORDERING HIS EQUIPMENT STAFF TO SEW BLUE LETTERING ON BLUE PATCHES… ON BACK OF THE CLUB’S BLUE ROAD UNIFORM (STORIES ABOVE AND BELOW). ONLY HAROLD! 

TUE. FEB. 28, 1978: TORONTO at NEW YORK ISLANDERS

WED. MAR. 1, 1978: PHILADELPHIA at TORONTO

HOW COOL IT WAS TO SIT NEAR ICE LEVEL FOR A TERRIFIC WEDNESDAY-NIGHT GAME BETWEEN THE LEAFS AND PHILADELPHIA FLYERS. DARRYL SITTLER DECIDED THE BACK-AND-FORTH AFFAIR BY BEATING A FUTURE LEAFS GOALIE – RICK ST. CROIX – WITH A SLAP-SHOT FROM JUST INSIDE THE BLUE-LINE AT 10:40 OF THE THIRD PERIOD.

SAT. MAR. 4, 1978: VANCOUVER at TORONTO

HE WOULD ONE DAY COACH THE MAPLE LEAFS, BUT DEFENSEMAN RON WILSON HAD A MEMORABLE DEBUT AS A PLAYER IN THE NHL DURING THIS SATURDAY-NIGHT GAME AT THE GARDENS AGAINST VANCOUVER. WILSON FED DARRYL SITTLER FOR A GOAL THAT TIED THE GAME, 1-1, EARLY IN THE SECOND PERIOD. EXACTLY SEVEN MINUTES LATER – ON HIS NEXT SHIFT – HE TOOK SITTLER’S FEED AND BEAT CURT RIDLEY (ANOTHER FUTURE LEAF) FOR HIS FIRST NHL TALLY. ALMOST LOST IN WILSON’S ACCOMPLISHMENT WAS VETERAN RON ELLIS SCORING HIS 300th CAREER GOAL LESS THAN TWO MINUTES AFTER WILSON. LANNY McDONALD SENT THE CROWD HOME HAPPILY BY COUNTING THE GAME-WINNER WITH 2:37 TO PLAY. 

AS LEAFS PREPARED TO MEET THE NEW YORK RANGERS AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, OWNER HAROLD BALLARD (ABOVE) FINALLY RELENTED AND HAD WHITE LETTERS SEWN ON THE BACK OF THE TEAM’S BLUE ROAD JERSEY.

SUN. MAR. 5, 1978: TORONTO at NEW YORK RANGERS

THIS SUNDAY-NIGHT TRIUMPH IN MANHATTAN ENDED THE LEAFS 10-2-0 HOT STREAK. FOR REASONS NO ONE COULD EXPLAIN, THE CLUB WENT INTO A LATE-SEASON NOSEDIVE (5-12-0 IN ITS FINAL 16 GAMES), SQUASHING PLAYOFF OPTIMISM IN THE CITY.

WED. MAR. 8, 1978: LOS ANGELES at TORONTO

THE LATE-SEASON SLUMP BEGAN WITH A DREADFUL PERFORMANCE AT THE GARDENS AGAINST LOS ANGELES – ARGUABLY THE LEAFS WORST HOME OUTING OF 1977-78.

THU. MAR. 9, 1978: TORONTO at MONTREAL

SAT. MAR. 11, 1978: CLEVELAND at TORONTO

THIS SATURDAY-NIGHT HOME VICTORY OVER CLEVELAND BEGAN A THREE-GAME WIN STREAK FOR THE LEAFS – A SMALL REPRIEVE DURING THE LATE-SEASON SLIDE.

SUN. MAR. 12, 1978: TORONTO at PITTSBURGH

WHAT A GAME FOR LEAFS CAPTAIN DARRYL SITTLER, WHO ERUPTED FOR FIVE POINTS IN A ROMP OVER THE PENGUINS AT CIVIC ARENA, THEREBY BREAKING HIS EXISTING CLUB RECORD OF 100 POINTS IN A SEASON. SITTLER HAD 103 BY NIGHT’S END AFTER TWO GOALS AND FOUR ASSISTS.

ERROL THOMPSON FOR DAN MALONEY (MAR. 13, 1978)

THIS WAS A HIGH-RISK, CONTENTIOUS MOVE AT THE 1978 TRADE DEADLINE THAT COULD HAVE REALLY BURNT THE LEAFS IF DETROIT HAD MADE BETTER USE OF THE TWO FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS RELINQUISHED (ALONG WITH ERROL THOMPSON) TO ACQUIRE RUGGED WINGER DAN MALONEY. AS IT WERE, THE RED WINGS USED THE PICKS TO DRAFT LOW-IMPACT PLAYERS BRENT PETERSON (IN 1978) AND MIKE BLAISDELL (IN 1980). A MUCH-BETTER CHOICE IN ’78 WOULD HAVE BEEN AL SECORD. IN ’80, BRENT SUTTER AND BERNIE NICHOLLS WERE AMONG THOSE STILL AVAILABLE TO DETROIT.

NHL PLAYER SALARIES 1977-78

MOST LUCRATIVE SALARY IN THE NHL 35 YEARS AGO WAS PAID TO PHIL ESPOSITO OF THE NEW YORK RANGERS: $325,000. MARCEL DIONNE OF LOS ANGELES  KINGS WAS NEXT AT $320,000. JOE CONTINI OF THE COLORADO ROCKIES BROUGHT UP THE REAR AT $30,000.

WED. MAR. 15, 1978: TORONTO at WASHINGTON

THIS GAME – TELEVISED ON CHCH-TV FROM THE CAPITAL CENTER IN LANDOVER, MARYLAND – WAS DAN MALONEY’S FIRST IN A LEAFS UNIFORM. HE PATROLLED LEFT WING ON THE CLUB’S TOP UNIT WITH DARRYL SITTLER AND LANNY McDONALD, RECORDING AN ASSIST IN LOP-SIDED WIN OVER WASHINGTON.

SAT. MAR. 18, 1978: PITTSBURGH at TORONTO

AN OLD LEAF NEMESIS WAS BACK IN TOWN FOR THIS SATURDAY-NIGHT GAME AT THE GARDENS: DEREK SANDERSON, PROMINENT MEMBER OF THE BIG, BAD BRUINS FROM THE EARLY-1970s, OPENED THE SCORING FOR PITTSBURGH LATE IN THE FIRST PERIOD. PENGUINS WOULD BEAT THE LEAFS, 3-2.

SUN. MAR. 19, 1978: TORONTO at BOSTON

HERE’S A BULLETIN: LEAFS LOST TO THE BRUINS IN BOSTON.

WED. MAR. 22, 1978: NEW YORK ISLANDERS at TORONTO

AFTER THIS THOROUGH SPANKING BY THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, NO PERSON WOULD HAVE ENVISIONED THE LEAFS KNOCKING OFF BRYAN TROTTIER, MIKE BOSSY, DENIS POTVIN AND CO. IN THE PLAYOFFS. BUT, IT HAPPENED.

THU. MAR. 23, 1978: TORONTO at PHILADELPHIA

SAT. MAR. 25, 1978: NEW YORK RANGERS at TORONTO

ON AND ON IT WENT – EVEN AGAINST A MEDIOCRE RANGERS TEAM THAT FINISHED DEAD-LAST IN THE PATRICK DIVISION WITH 73 POINTS, 14 FEWER THAN THIRD-PLACE ATLANTA.

MON. MAR. 27, 1978: LOS ANGELES at TORONTO

WED. MAR. 29, 1978: TORONTO at ATLANTA

LEAFS RELAXING IN FLORIDA, COURTESY OF HAROLD BALLARD.

SAT. APR. 1, 1978: BUFFALO at TORONTO

THIS WOULD BE LEAFS FINAL VICTORY OF 1977-78 – THE CLUB FINISHING UP WITH FOUR LOSSES.

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SUN. APR. 2, 1978: TORONTO at PITTSBURGH

WED. APR. 5, 1978: MONTREAL at TORONTO

SAT. APR. 8, 1978: BOSTON at TORONTO

BOSTON PLAYERS PULLED QUITE A PRANK ON HAROLD BALLARD (NEW OWNER OF THE HAMILTON TIGER-CATS) BY DRAPING A FLAG OF THE TI-CATS’ LEGENDARY RIVAL OVER THE BOARDS DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.

SUN. APR. 9, 1978: TORONTO at BUFFALO

ON DECK FOR LEAFS WAS A BEST-OF-THREE PRELIMINARY PLAYOFF ROUND AGAINST THE LOS ANGELES KINGS.

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