Nothing But Leafs

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Dec. 6) – From this sentence forward, an embargo on the word “lockout” will come into effect.

You will not read it again in the ensuing blog – one of the lengthiest and most enjoyable I’ve worked on since we last witnessed a game in the National Hockey League. For posterity, that was nearly six months ago – June 11, 2012 – when Los Angeles Kings routed New Jersey Devils at the Staples Center to win the Stanley Cup.

Today, I bathe you in Blue and White.

With alternating hope and tension in NHL labor talks, my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter correspondence is conclusive: Hockey’s most loyal fans are pining for their Toronto Maple Leafs. And, why shouldn’t they be?

More than 80 years ago, Canadians began to gather around their crystal sets (we call them radios) on Saturday evenings. From Victoria to St. John’s, and every place in-between, they would wait for the nasal twang of Foster Hewitt to welcome them from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. “Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland,” Hewitt chirped (Newfoundland would not become Canada’s 10th province until Mar. 31, 1949). “Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Boston Bruins.”

During the  next three hours, there’d be hell to pay for any person outside the radio gathering that spoke above a whisper.

As the decades passed, novelty gave way to tradition… and then to habit. In the 13th year of the 21st century, Canadians still gather on Saturday nights – around their High-Definition and 3-D television sets. When Hockey Night In Canada host Ron MacLean throws to a game played 30 years before, addiction withdrawal kicks in. Habits aren’t easy to break and this one is particularly onerous. As such, fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are missing their team… their tradition… their custom.

That’s why dropping in here for the next few moments may be cathartic. As you scroll downward, you will notice a pictorial hodge-podge of all things Maple Leafs – from jerseys, to tickets, to media guides, to barber shop calenders, to TV images, to programs, line-ups and media credentials. You’ll see Foster Hewitt’s autograph and Harold Ballard’s autograph; an argument about the best-ever players to wear the Blue and White.

Nowhere – as promised – will you read the filthy L-word.

For yours truly, this week is always significant. I attended my first NHL game 46 years ago Tuesday – Dec. 3, 1966 – when Gordie Howe and the Detroit Red Wings played at Maple Leaf Gardens. I was on the east side of the arena, as I recall the bright TV lights shining in my eyes. Memory has me adjacent to the blue-line in the north end of the Gardens; Detroit’s bench was down below and slightly to the left. Toronto prevailed, 5-2, on goals by Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Jim Pappin, Bob Pulford and George Armstrong. Ted Hampson and Ray Cullen scored for Detroit. It was Terry Sawchuk in goal for the Leafs; Hank Bassen for the Red Wings. Vern Buffey was the referee; Pat Shetler and Matt Pavelich the linesmen. Exactly two months later, I turned eight years of age.

So, yeah, I know a bit about your habit.

It’s been my habit for nearly half-a-century and I’m missing it, too. Since the autumn of 1975, I’ve been to roughly 90 percent of Leaf home games – as a season-ticket holder and reporter. By my calculation, that’s about 1,300 of 1,444 games at the Gardens and Air Canada Centre. Since late-January of 1995, I’ve attended roughly 90 percent of Leaf road games – as a broadcaster and writer: 612 of 680, give or take a few (and not including exhibition or playoffs). That’s 1,912-odd Leaf games in 35 full, and one abbreviated, season: roughly 54 a year. Lots of habit, in other words.

When I began the habit four-and-a-half decades ago, the players pictured here (above and below) were king-pins of the Blue and White. Routine unfolded next to my radio – at 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Wednesdays – listening to Foster Hewitt describe most of the first period at the Gardens on CKFH-1430, a radio station at which would later work for 23 years. Hockey Night In Canada went to air at 8:30 p.m. and there’d normally be two or three minutes left in the opening period once the telecast began – Bill Hewitt, following his dad’s custom, welcoming hockey fans “from Canada and the United States” across the CBC network, with analyst Brian McFarlane.

Watching Leaf games on the black-and-white TVs in our house (a furniture-console in the living-room; a smaller portable set atop the dresser in my parents’ bedroom) remains the most vivid, early memory of my life. I was allowed to stay up for the entire game on Saturday; often until the second intermission on Wednesday. Foster Hewitt and CKFH filled in the blanks. 

As written here before, I was firmly ensconced at the foot of my parents’ bed when Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967 – still too young to appreciate a haul of four championships in six years; unable to imagine the drought that would follow. When I gathered with my Grade 2 class-mates the next morning (May 3, 1967) at Wilmington Avenue Public School, we sang in unison “Leafs Won the Stanley Cup… Leafs won the Stanley Cup” – our teacher (Miss McDonald, no relation to Lanny) brimming at the front of the room.

Fascination morphed into enchantment the following year when Mom and Dad purchased a color-TV console. By then, the National Hockey League had expanded from six to 12 teams and Leafs were adorned in the uniform of Canada’s Centennial (road version modeled above by Dave Keon; home version, pictured below, currently the club’s alternate design). Not long afterward – in 1968-69 – TV began to show Leaf home games in their entirety.

Road games, with the exception of those, mid-week, in Montreal, were the domain of radio. With the advent of teams in far-away California (Los Angeles Kings and Oakland Seals), it was critical for a young Leafs fan to improvise – burrowing a portable radio in bedroom pillows and keeping the sound just low enough so his parents wouldn’t hear Foster Hewitt’s voice after 11 p.m. on a weeknight. Though I struggled mightily, it was impossible to stay awake for more than one period of a game on the west coast; Dad would apprise me of the result in the morning before I marched off to school – halcyon days, indeed, for a young hockey fan in Toronto. 

HOME JERSEY (ABOVE) OF LEAFS CAPTAIN DION PHANEUF AND PROGRAM-COVER (BELOW) FROM TORONTO-DETROIT GAME AT AIR CANADA CENTRE LAST JAN. 7 – NICKLAS LIDSTROM’S FINAL APPEARANCE HERE IN A RED WINGS JERSEY. LEAFS PULLED OFF AN UPSET-WIN, 4-3.

DEBATING THE BEST

        

CURRENTLY ON NEWS-STANDS IS A COLORFUL SPECIAL EDITION OF SPORTSNET MAGAZINE (TOP-LEFT) THAT RANKS THE TOP 30 PLAYERS IN TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY. IN 2007, I WAS ON A PANEL OF WRITERS AND BROADCASTERS THAT GRADED THE TOP 100 LEAFS FOR A COFFEE-TABLE BOOK (RIGHT). HALF-A-DECADE OF PERSPECTIVE HAS YIELDED THE FOLLOWING COMPARISON OF THE 30 BEST LEAF PLAYERS – MAGAZINE IN BLUE / BOOK IN RED:

   

01     DAVE KEON/DAVE KEON

02     SYL APPS/TED KENNEDY

03     CHARLIE CONACHER/SYL APPS

04     TED KENNEDY/FRANK MAHOVLICH

05     JOHNNY BOWER/DARRYL SITTLER

06     FRANK MAHOVLICH/CHARLIE CONACHER

07     TIM HORTON/JOHNNY BOWER

08     BORJE SALMING/TIM HORTON

09     DARRYL SITTLER/TURK BRODA

10     MATS SUNDIN/BORJE SALMING

   

11     KING CLANCY/RED KELLY

12     TURK BRODA/MATS SUNDIN

13     DOUG GILMOUR/GEORGE ARMSTRONG

14     GEORGE ARMSTRONG/DOUG GILMOUR

15     HARVEY JACKSON/HAP DAY

16     RED KELLY/HARVEY JACKSON

17     HAP DAY/KING CLANCY

18     WENDEL CLARK/MAX BENTLEY

19     RED HORNER/JOE PRIMEAU

20     ALLAN STANLEY/LANNY McDONALD

   

21     LANNY McDONALD/WENDEL CLARK

22     MAX BENTLEY/SID SMITH

23     JOE PRIMEAU/ALLAN STANLEY

24     RICK VAIVE/RICK VAIVE

25     RON ELLIS/BOB PULFORD

26     GORD DRILLON/RED HORNER

27     DICK DUFF/CARL BREWER

28     CURTIS JOSEPH/NORM ULLMAN

29     BABE DYE/DICK DUFF

30     HARRY LUMLEY/RON ELLIS

   

IMAGINE IF…

No fan of the Maple Leafs needs to be reminded of the club-record playoff famine that dates to the spring of 2004, or the Stanley Cup drought of 45 years. But, many fans have likely never seen an actual playoff ticket for Leaf games at the Air Canada Centre. The items above and below would have been used in the spring of 2012 if the club had made the playoffs and advanced to the championship round for the first time since 1967.

WENDEL TO MATS…

1993-94 HOCKEY CARDS FROM O-PEE-CHEE PREMIER (ABOVE) AND PINNACLE (BELOW) FEATURE DOUG GILMOUR AND TEAMMATES IN TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS JERSEYS; MATS SUNDIN WEARING UNIFORM OF THE QUEBEC NORDIQUES. ON JUNE 28, 1994 – PRIOR TO THE NHL DRAFT IN HARTFORD – THE LEAFS ACQUIRED SUNDIN IN A MULTI-PLAYER TRADE WITH QUEBEC THAT SENT FAN-FAVORITE WENDEL CLARK TO LES NORDIQUES. SUNDIN LATER HELD THE SECOND-LONGEST CAPTAINCY (TO GEORGE ARMSTRONG) IN LEAF ANNALS AND BECAME THE ALL-TIME FRANCHISE SCORING LEADER.

         

PICK-SIX OF LEAFS MEDIA GUIDES [1962-63 TO 2003-04]

BARBER-SHOP TALES

Among the most prized articles in my collection are the Export Cigarette wall calendars (pictured below) issued by Maple Leaf Gardens from the early-1950’s to the mid-1970’s. Measuring 25½ x 16½ inches, you would find them posted in barber-shops across the city during the NHL season – color photos adorning the top of each monthly page. They remain exquisite items of memorabilia for their scarcity and artistic allure.

The fellow, on Bathurst Street, that cuts my hair – which I’m pleased to still have in abundance nearing 54 years of age – often regales me with stories of his time working at a salon in the downtown Sheraton Centre, across from Toronto City Hall. It was the 1970’s and among his clients were Maple Leaf players and management.

“Harold Ballard and Lanny McDonald were my favorites,” Romano tells me. “I used to put orange tint in Mr. Ballard’s hair. He was very friendly and often told me exactly what was on his mind. I always remember the time he said, ‘You know, when I sign Borje Salming’s [salary] checks, I’m happy. But, the rest of them are a bunch of bums.’ Ballard and McDonald were show-men. There would be 25 people gathered around when I worked on them and they had lots of fun with the on-lookers. Before sitting down, Lanny would tell me: ‘Do whatever you want with my hair, but don’t touch the mustache.’ It was strictly off limits.”

Romano had difficulty with only one player. “Tiger Williams. Ooh, he was a mean guy. I hear he’s become a very nice man but in those days he was nasty. He always came in with a big hat. I would try to make conversation but he kind of grumbled at me. I could joke around with all the other players. As I said, Mr. Ballard and [King] Clancy were a pleasure to have as customers. But, Tiger Williams – I was always afraid if I said something wrong, he would pop me in the face. So, I kept quiet.”

EXPORT CIGARETTE WALL CALENDAR FROM 1964-65 (ABOVE) – YEAR AFTER THE MAPLE LEAFS WON THEIR THIRD CONSECUTIVE STANLEY CUP. INNER PAGES OF THE CALENDAR FEATURED NHL ALL-STAR TEAMS (BELOW) AND PHOTOS OF CHAMPIONS FROM MINOR AND JUNIOR LEAGUES.

GARDENS WALL CALENDAR (ABOVE) FROM 1966-67 – SEASON THAT MAPLE LEAFS WON THEIR LAST STANLEY CUP. DECEMBER 1966 PAGE (BELOW) BEARS PERSONAL SIGNIFICANCE AS THE VISIT BY DETROIT RED WINGS ON SATURDAY, DEC. 3 MARKED THE FIRST NHL GAME I ATTENDED. TORONTO PREVAILED, 5-2.

File:Detroit Red Wings logo.svg      

       SATURDAY, DEC. 3, 1966

LEAFS TV HAS SHOWN MY FIRST NHL GAME IN ITS CLASSIC SERIES. HERE ARE TEN IMAGES FROM THAT NIGHT AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS:

PAUL HENDERSON OF DETROIT (TOP-LEFT) ACTUALLY WORE A SURGEON’S MASK DURING THE GAME, AS HE SUFFERED FROM TRACHEITIS. THE INFLAMMATION CAUSED HIM TO BREATHE HEAVILY AND VOMIT. A MID-WINTER TRIP TO THE WARMTH OF PHOENIX, ARIZ. CURED THE PECULIAR AILMENT. UNTIL CANADA’S CENTENNIAL YEAR, CENTRE-ICE AT THE GARDENS FEATURED THE OLD-STYLE MAPLE LEAF (TOP-RIGHT) AND A DIAMOND-SHAPED MIDDLE.

DETROIT GOALIE HANK BASSEN (TOP-LEFT) FISHES PUCK OUT OF HIS NET AFTER FIRST-PERIOD GOAL BY DAVE KEON. LEAFS NETMINDER TERRY SAWCHUK (TOP-RIGHT) LOOKS BEHIND HIM AFTER RAY CULLEN SCORES FOR RED WINGS IN THE FINAL FRAME.

A YOUNG PETER MAHOVLICH OF DETROIT (11 TOP-LEFT) GETS INTO POSITION FOR FACE-OFF TO BEGIN THIRD PERIOD. NEARLY SIX YEARS LATER, THE “LITTLE M” WOULD SCORE A MEMORABLE GOAL AT THE GARDENS FOR TEAM CANADA IN GAME 2 OF THE ICONIC 1972 SERIES AGAINST THE RUSSIANS. LEAFS NO. 15 IS LEFT-WINGER LARRY JEFFREY. TV CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON CENTRE-ICE CIRCLE (TOP-RIGHT) AS REFEREE VERN BUFFEY DROPS THE PUCK.

THE “BIG M” – FRANK MAHOVLICH (PETER’S OLDER BROTHER) – PASSES NET (TOP-LEFT) AS GEORGE ARMSTRONG SCORES THIRD-PERIOD GOAL ON BASSEN. LEAFS FORWARD JIM PAPPIN (TOP-RIGHT) GOES FOR A SPILL IN THE NEUTRAL ZONE.

LEAFS FORWARD BRIAN CONACHER (TOP-LEFT) IS RESTRAINED BY LINESMAN MATT PAVELICH AFTER SCUFFLE LATE IN THE GAME WITH RED WINGS GARY BERGMAN. GARDENS SCORE-CLOCK (TOP-RIGHT) SHOWS PENALTIES RESULTING FROM ALTERCATION: CONACHER AND GEORGE ARMSTRONG (10) FOR LEAFS; BERGMAN (2) AND BERT MARSHALL (3) FOR DETROIT.

LEAFS FRANK MAHOVLICH AND ALLAN STANLEY (ABOVE) MADE NHL’s SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM IN 1965-66. MONTREAL BEAT DETROIT FOR STANLEY CUP.

GARDENS CALENDAR FROM YEAR OF THE GREAT EXPANSION: 1967-68. NHL DOUBLED IN SIZE FROM SIX TO 12 TEAMS, ADDING CALIFORNIA SEALS, MINNESOTA NORTH STARS, LOS ANGELES KINGS, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AND ST. LOUIS BLUES. LEAFS FIRST GAME AGAINST THE NEW TEAMS WAS OCT. 25, WHEN LOS ANGELES VISITED THE GARDENS WITH COACH RED KELLY AND GOALIE TERRY SAWCHUK – BOTH INSTRUMENTAL IN TORONTO’S STANLEY CUP VICTORY LESS THAN SIX MONTHS EARLIER.

INDIVIDUAL TROPHY WINNERS (ABOVE) FROM 1966-67 INCLUDED SAWCHUCK (J.P. BICKELL MEMORIAL CUP FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS) AND DAVE KEON (CONN SMYTHE TROPHY AS PLAYOFF MVP). LEAFS KNOCKED OFF MONTREAL IN SIX GAMES TO WIN THEIR FOURTH CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE DECADE. CHICAGO’S STAN MIKITA WAS LEAGUE SCORING CHAMP. BOBBY ORR OF BOSTON WAS NHL’s TOP ROOKIE.

DECEMBER 1967 PAGE OF CALENDAR (ABOVE) FEATURED THE DEFENDING MEMORIAL CUP-CHAMPION TORONTO MARLBOROS – MANAGED BY JIM GREGORY (TO BE LEAFS GM FROM 1969-79) AND CAPTAINED BY FUTURE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN BRIAN GLENNIE. FUTURE HALL-OF-FAMER BRAD PARK IS SECOND FROM LEFT IN SECOND ROW.  GLENNIE IS FLANKED BY MARLBORO OWNERS STAFFORD SMYTHE (LEFT IN PHOTO) AND HAROLD BALLARD.

EXPORT CIGARETTE CALENDAR (ABOVE) FROM 1971-72. LEAFS BEGAN THE SEASON IN VANCOUVER AND OAKLAND. THEY WERE SCHEDULED TO PLAY DETROIT IN HOME OPENER, OCT. 13, BUT THE GAME WAS POSTPONED AFTER SMYTHE DIED THAT MORNING. IT WOULD BE PLAYED ON MONDAY, NOV. 1.

GOALIE JACQUES PLANTE AND CENTRE DAVE KEON WERE NAMED (ABOVE) TO THE SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM IN THE 1970-71 NHL SEASON, ALONG WITH BRAD PARK, PAT STAPLETON, BOBBY HULL AND YVAN COURNOYER. BOSTON CLEANED UP ON THE FIRST TEAM WITH ORR, JOHN BUCYK, PHIL ESPOSITO AND KEN HODGE (ALONG WITH RANGERS GOALIE ED GIACOMIN AND CANADIENS DEFENSEMAN J.C. TREMBLAY). HABS BEAT CHICAGO IN STANLEY CUP FINAL.

PROGRAMS AND LINE-UPS

JOHNNY BOWER GRACED COVER OF THE PROGRAM FROM FINAL NHL ALL-STAR GAME TO BE PLAYED AT MID-SEASON BETWEEN ALL-STARS AND DEFENDING STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS (LINE-UPS, BELOW). GAME WAS MARRED BY DEATH OF MINNESOTA NORTH STARS FORWARD BILL MASTERTON, WHO STRUCK HIS HEAD ON THE ICE AT METROPOLITAN SPORTS CENTER IN GAME AGAINST CALIFORNIA THREE NIGHTS EARLIER AND NEVER REGAINED CONSCIOUSNESS.

LEAFS PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM DECEMBER/JANUARY 1968-69: DAVE KEON BATTLING NOEL PRICE OF PITTSBURGH AT GARDENS THE PREVIOUS YEAR.

LEAFS-BRUINS PROGRAM AND LINE-UPS FROM EARLY IN ’68-69 NHL SEASON.

THREE MORE PROGRAM COVERS (BELOW) FROM DECEMBER/JANUARY 1968-69.

PROGRAM COVER (ABOVE) FROM LEAFS-RANGERS GAME AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN IN NEW YORK. THE NEW (AND CURRENT) GARDEN HAD OPENED SEVEN NIGHTS EARLIER FOR A GAME BETWEEN THE RANGERS AND PHILADELPHIA FLYERS. EDITOR’S NOTE (BELOW) WELCOMED FANS TO THE ARENA.

RANGERS BEAT THE LEAFS 3-1 IN NEW YORK ON FEB. 25, 1968.

FOR THE GAME CLOSEST TO CHRISTMAS EACH YEAR, GARDENS WOULD ISSUE A PROGRAM INSERT WITH GREEN LETTERING (AS ABOVE) – THIS FROM DEC. 28, 1968, WITH LOS ANGELES KINGS IN TOWN (LINE-UPS BELOW).

THE 1968-69 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS ARE PICTURED (ABOVE) OFFERING SEASON’S GREETINGS TO FANS AT THE GARDENS. NOTE FAMILIAR FACE IN BOTTOM-LEFT CORNER. EACH PROGRAM INSERT CAME WITH A PAGE TO RECORD GOALS, ASSISTS AND PENALTIES (BELOW).

IT WAS ALWAYS A SPECIAL OCCASION WHEN GORDIE HOWE VISITED MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – PROGRAM INSERT AND LINE-UPS (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM DETROIT AT TORONTO GAME EARLY IN 1969-70 SEASON. SIX YEARS AFTER WALKING AWAY FROM LEAFS (AND SUBSEQUENTLY BEING TRADED TO THE RED WINGS), CARL BREWER HAD RETURNED AND WAS PAIRED WITH HIS OLD TORONTO DEFENSE PARTNER, BOB BAUN.

TWO WEEKS LATER (AND 43 YEARS AGO TONIGHT), PITTSBURGH PENGUINS WERE IN TOWN (ABOVE AND BELOW). RED KELLY, AFTER TWO SEASONS IN LOS ANGELES, HAD BEEN HIRED AS COACH OF THE PENGUINS. GLEN SATHER WOULD HAVE PROLIFIC YEARS A DECADE-AND-A-HALF LATER WHILE COACHING WAYNE GRETZKY AND THE EDMONTON OILERS; HE IS GM OF NEW YORK RANGERS TODAY. PROMISING ROOKIE MICHEL BRIERE WOULD BE KILLED IN A CAR MISHAP THE FOLLOWING SUMMER. BRYAN HEXTALL’S SON, RON, WOULD LATER BE A TERRIFIC GOALIE IN THE NHL AND IS CURRENTLY A HIGH-RANKING EXECUTIVE WITH THE STANLEY CUP-CHAMPION L.A. KINGS.

OAKLAND SEALS – IN TOWN TO PLAY LEAFS ON FEB. 25, 1970 – WERE THE RUNT OF THE 1967 EXPANSION LITTER, DRAWING SPARSE CROWDS AND MAKING THE PLAYOFFS ONLY TWICE BEFORE RE-LOCATING TO RICHFIELD, OHIO IN 1976 AS CLEVELAND BARONS. GARY SMITH AND GERRY EHMAN WERE FORMER LEAFS.

AUTOGRAPHS (ABOVE AND BELOW) ON PROGRAM FROM EXHIBITION GAME BETWEEN LEAFS AND CHICAGO IN 1970. TOP SIGNATURES ARE FROM KING CLANCY; TORONTO STAR LEGEND MILT DUNNELL AND THE NHL’s REFEREE-IN-CHIEF IAN (SCOTTY) MORRISON. BOTTOM SIGNATURES ARE FROM LEAFS GM JIM GREGORY AND BLACK HAWKS COACH BILLY REAY.

PROGRAM INSERT (ABOVE) AND LINE-UPS (BELOW) FROM VANCOUVER CANUCKS FIRST-EVER GAME IN TORONTO – ON REMEMBRANCE DAY 1970. FORMER LEAFS PAT QUINN AND ORLAND KURTENBACH PLAYED FOR VANCOUVER. LEAFS ROOKIE DARRYL SITTLER HAD YET TO RECORD HIS FIRST OF 916 POINTS WITH THE CLUB. CANUCKS BEAT THE LEAFS, 4-2.

THE FIRST VISIT TO TORONTO BY THE BUFFALO SABRES (PROGRAM INSERT ABOVE; LINE-UPS BELOW) WAS AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT. HAVING WON FOUR STANLEY CUPS WITH THE LEAFS, PUNCH IMLACH WAS FIRED IN APRIL 1969 AFTER A QUARTERFINAL SWEEP BY THE BOSTON BRUINS. BUFFALO HIRED HIM AS ITS FIRST COACH AND IMLACH RECEIVED A LONG STANDING OVATION WHEN HE APPEARED BEHIND THE SABRES BENCH ON THIS NIGHT AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. THE EXPANSION CLUB THEN ROARED TO A 7-2 HAMMERING OF TORONTO – DELIGHTING THE LEAFS FORMER COACH. 

LEAFS FINAL HOME GAME OF 1970-71 WAS AGAINST THE EXPLOSIVE BOSTON BRUINS. LINE-UPS (BELOW) DISPLAY THE BRUINS AWESOME FIRE-POWER THAT SEASON, WHEN THE CLUB ESTABLISHED A LEAGUE RECORD OF 399 GOALS SCORED – 108 MORE THAN ITS NEAREST COMPETITOR, MONTREAL. BOBBY ORR WOULD ADD FIVE ASSISTS IN THE HOME-AND-HOME SERIES WITH LEAFS TO END THE SEASON, FINISHING WITH AN ABSURD 102. PHIL ESPOSITO WOULD RECORD HAT-TRICKS IN EACH GAME TO COMPLETE HIS RECORD-SETTING TOTAL OF 76 GOALS. BRUINS, HOWEVER, WERE SHOCKED BY THE CANADIENS AND ROOKIE GOALIE KEN DRYDEN IN THE OPENING PLAYOFF ROUND.

MORE AUTOGRAPHS (ABOVE AND BELOW) FROM GARDENS PROGRAM INSERTS IN 1971-72 SEASON. AMONG TOP SIGNATURES, FROM GAME vs. BUFFALO, ARE KING CLANCY, PUNCH IMLACH, PENALTY TIMEKEEPER (AND LEAFS DEFENSEMAN OF THE 1930’s) ACE BAILEY; DAVE KEON, FLOYD SMITH AND PHIL GOYETTE. AUTOGRAPHS BELOW, FROM GAME vs. ST. LOUIS, ARE FROM FOSTER HEWITT, HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA HOST DAVE HODGE, BLUES COACH AL ARBOUR AND DEFENSEMAN CARL BREWER.

COVER OF LEAFS PLAYOFF PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM 1972 QUARTERFINAL ROUND AGAINST BOSTON. LEAF PLAYERS IN PHOTO ARE (LEFT-TO-RIGHT) DEFENSEMEN BOB BAUN AND RICK LEY; GOALIE BERNIE PARENT. BRUIN PLAYER IS WINGER KEN HODGE. AUTOGRAPH IS FROM CANADIAN COUNTRY SINGER IAN TYSON, WHO WAS AT THE GAME. BRUINS KNOCKED OFF LEAFS IN FIVE GAMES AND BEAT NEW YORK RANGERS TO WIN STANLEY CUP.

PROGRAM INSERT (ABOVE) AND LINE-UPS (BELOW) FROM NEW YORK ISLANDERS FIRST-EVER GAME IN TORONTO. ISLANDERS PROVED TO BE WORST EXPANSION TEAM TO THAT POINT IN NHL HISTORY (12-60-6 FOR 30 POINTS). ONLY BILLY SMITH AND LORNE HENNING WOULD STILL BE WITH THE TEAM SEVEN YEARS LATER WHEN IT WON ITS FIRST OF FOUR CONSECUTIVE STANLEY CUPS.

I SOMEHOW LOST MY TICKETS TO THAT LEAFS-ISLANDERS GAME AND HAD TO ACQUIRE A SPECIAL PASS (ABOVE) AT THE GARDENS. I FOUND THE TICKETS (BELOW) LATER ON. PRICES WERE A BIT MORE REASONABLE THAN TODAY.

SWEDISH PLAYERS INGE HAMMARSTROM AND BORJE SALMING (ABOVE) WERE LEAF ROOKIES IN 1973-74 AND ON THE COVER OF GARDENS PROGRAM FROM DECEMBER GAME AGAINST CALIFORNIA GOLDEN SEALS (LINE-UPS BELOW).

GARDENS PROGRAM COVERS (ABOVE) FROM 1975-76 SEASON.

INGE HAMMARSTROM, IN ACTION AGAINST KANSAS CITY SCOUTS (ABOVE), GRACES COVER OF LEAFS-WASHINGTON PROGRAM (LINE-UPS, BELOW) ON MY 17th BIRTHDAY (FEB. 3, 1976). FOUR NIGHTS LATER – IN LEAFS NEXT HOME GAME – DARRYL SITTLER WOULD ERUPT FOR 10 POINTS (SIX GOALS, FOUR ASSISTS) AGAINST BOSTON, STILL A SINGLE-GAME NHL RECORD.

LANNY McDONALD AND ATLANTA FLAMES’ ERIC VAIL ON ’75-76 PROGRAM.

WINGER DANIEL MAROIS (ABOVE) ADORNS COVER OF LEAFS PROGRAM FROM 1991-92 – THE NHL’s 75th ANNIVERSARY SEASON. LEAFS OCCASIONALLY WORE THROWBACK JERSEY PICTURED HERE.

EXPANSION SAN JOSE SHARKS VISITED TORONTO FOR THE FIRST TIME ON NOV. 4, 1991 – GOALIE ARTURS IRBE (ABOVE) ON COVER OF GARDENS PROGRAM.

        

WENT TO LEAFS-KINGS GAME AT THE FORUM IN INGLEWOOD, CALIF. ON MAR. 9, 1992 (PROGRAM AND TICKET, ABOVE). IT WAS THE KINGS 25th SEASON IN NHL.

MATS SUNDIN (ABOVE) ON COVER OF PROGRAM FROM LEAFS GAME AT FLORIDA, JAN. 13, 1999. EXACTLY ONE MONTH LATER, LEAFS WOULD PLAY THEIR FINAL GAME AT THE GARDENS – AGAINST CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS.

RUSSIAN WINGER SERGEI BEREZIN (ABOVE) ON COVER OF LEAFS PROGRAM FROM 1999 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS AT AIR CANADA CENTRE. LEAFS WOULD ADVANCE TO EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL IN PAT QUINN’S FIRST SEASON AS COACH BEFORE LOSING IN FIVE GAMES TO BUFFALO SABRES.

PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM OTTAWA DURING LEAFS-SENATORS EASTERN SEMIFINAL IN 2002. LEAFS WOULD WIN THE HOTLY CONTESTED SERIES IN SEVEN GAMES AND LOSE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP TO CAROLINA.

        

PROGRAM (TOP-LEFT) FROM LEAFS FIRST ROAD GAME AGAINST MINNESOTA WILD – A 1-0 TRIUMPH (ED BELFOUR WITH THE SHUT-OUT) ON FEB. 11, 2003. LEAFS AT PHOENIX PROGRAM (TOP-RIGHT) FROM DEC. 4, 2008 (6-3 LOSS).

CREDENTIALS

MY FIRST-EVER SEASON MEDIA PASS (ABOVE) FOR GAMES AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS – ON BEHALF OF THE COMPANY THAT PRODUCED LEAFS PROGRAM. HAROLD BALLARD SIGNED EVERYTHING BACK THEN.

LEAFS SEASON PASSES (ABOVE) FROM MY FIRST AND THIRD YEARS AT THE TORONTO RADIO STATION THAT IS NOW SPORTSNET-590.

MEDIA CREDENTIALS (ABOVE) FROM ORIGINAL WINNIPEG JETS FRANCHISE (NOW PHOENIX COYOTES). THESE WERE FROM LEAF VISITS TO THE OLD WINNIPEG ARENA IN LOCKOUT-SHORTENED 1994-95 SEASON.

IN THEIR EARLY YEARS, THE ANAHEIM MIGHTY DUCKS PROVIDED VISITING REPORTERS LAMINATED SINGLE-GAME CREDENTIALS (ABOVE).

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