TORONTO (Feb. 25) — It was 50 years ago this month that the National Hockey League undertook the most ambitious project of all time in professional sport — agreeing to double in size from six to 12 teams.
This came to fruition in the 1967–68 season when the existing clubs (Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs) were joined by the same number of expansion entries: California Seals, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. The newly–bloated NHL split into two divisions: East for the pre–expansion (or “Original Six”) clubs; West for the new arrivals. It is considered, beyond debate, among the most historic events in hockey history.
While recently visiting the Toronto home of hockey’s most prolific archivist, Paul Patskou, I came upon a rudimentary scrapbook from that remarkable season. A life–long Leafs zealot, teen–aged Paul had cut out newspaper stories and photos of Leaf games and affixed them rather haphazardly into this preserved collection. As an avid historian, myself, of all things Blue and White, I quickly grew entranced. Here, for nearly 50 years, Paul unknowingly sat on images that have not–since been looked at by human eyes.
These photos and articles have therefore never been posted on–line. Until now.
Good guy that he is, Paul agreed to lend me his 1967–68 creation so I could transform it into a blog; or, in this case, a two–part blog. There were so many images that a single entry on this website would take forever to load. As such, and while accompanied by my trusty NIKON camera, I have created Parts 1 and 2 of the Paul Patskou Maple Leafs collection. With entries from the three local newspapers of 1967–68 — the Toronto Star, Toronto Telegram and Globe and Mail — there are stories and photos from the majority of the 74–game Leafs schedule, including first–ever games against the expansion clubs.
THIS IS A REMARKABLE PHOTO FROM THE TORONTO TELEGRAM OF DEC. 7, 1967. IT SHOWS FORWARD BILL MASTERTON BEING STYMIED BY JOHNNY BOWER THE PREVIOUS NIGHT AT THE METROPOLITAN SPORTS CENTER IN BLOOMINGTON, MINNESOTA DURING A 1–1 TIE BETWEEN THE LEAFS AND EXPANSION NORTH STARS. MASTERTON WOULD HAVE JUST MORE THAN A MONTH TO LIVE. ON JAN. 15, 1968, HE DIED WITHOUT REGAINING CONSCIOUSNESS AFTER STRIKING HIS HEAD ON THE MET CENTER ICE TWO NIGHTS EARLIER IN A GAME AGAINST THE OAKLAND SEALS. MASTERTON REMAINS THE ONLY NHL PLAYER TO LOSE HIS LIFE DIRECTLY AS THE RESULT OF AN INCIDENT DURING PLAY. THE BILL MASTERTON MEMORIAL TROPHY HAS BEEN AWARDED SINCE THE 1967–68 SEASON TO THE “NHL PLAYER WHO BEST EXEMPLIFIES THE QUALITIES OF PERSEVERANCE, SPORTSMANSHIP AND DEDICATION TO HOCKEY.” THE FIRST RECIPIENT WAS FORWARD CLAUDE PROVOST (d. Apr. 17, 1984) OF MONTREAL. GOALIE DEVYN DUBNYK OF THE MINNESOTA WILD WON THE AWARD LAST SEASON.
PAUL PATSKOU, 63, AT HIS NORTH TORONTO HOME AND THE EDITORIAL LICENSE HE TOOK ON THE COVER OF HIS 1967–68 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS SCRAPBOOK. PAUL WAS 15 AT THE TIME.
Hockey writers from that era — Red Burnett of the Star; George Gross and Paul Dulmage of the Telegram; Lou Cauz and Rex MacLeod of the Globe and Mail — are featured. The ’67–68 Maple Leafs season, though historic, was hardly memorable for fans of the team, as it plummeted from Stanley Cup champion to playoff spectator. This resulted primarily from a 10–11–3 record in 24 games against the expansionists; Toronto being the lone existing club to perform at a sub–.500 clip while facing the new teams. It was also the only season in the mostly–terrific first rein of general manager/coach George (Punch) Imlach (four Stanley Cups between 1962 and 1967) that the Maple Leafs did not qualify for the playoffs.
So, grab a beverage and please enjoy this two–part series:
CEREMONIAL PUCK–DROP PRIOR TO THE LEAFS SEASON OPENER AGAINST THE CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS — SATURDAY, OCT. 14, 1967.
THE LEAFS LOOKED LIKE STANLEY CUP CHAMPS IN THEIR ’67–68 SEASON OPENER, MAULING GOALIE DAVE DRYDEN AND THE BLACK HAWKS, 5–1. DRYDEN FALLS TO THE ICE WITH JIM PAPPIN WHILE DAVE KEON (14) AND MIKE WALTON (16) HELP JOHNNY BOWER DEFEND AGAINST KEN WHARRAM (17).
BRIAN CONACHER (22) IS IN ALONE ON GOALIE GEORGE GARDNER DURING THE LEAFS 3–2 LOSS AT HOME TO DETROIT — WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18, 1967. FORWARD WAYNE CARLETON (25) IS ON THE ICE.
PAUL PATSKOU HAD AN AVERSION TOWARD PLAYERS’ HEADS WHILE SNIPPING NEWSPAPER PHOTOS. AS SUCH, ONLY THE JERSEY OF CANADIENS TOUGH GUY JOHN FERGUSON (22) IS VISIBLE IN THIS PHOTO FROM MONTREAL — THURSDAY, OCT. 19, 1967. JOHNNY BOWER REACHES BACK FOR THE PUCK WHILE RALPH BACKSTROM (6) OF THE CANADIENS LOOKS FOR A REBOUND. THE HABS PREVAILED, 1–0.
JOHNNY BOWER AND TIM HORTON PREVENT NEW YORK’S PHIL GOYETTE FROM SCORING AT THE GARDENS DURING 5–3 RANGERS WIN OVER THE LEAFS — SATURDAY, OCT. 21, 1967. AFTERWARD, IN THE DRESSING ROOM, BOWER IS GREETED BY U.S. SENATOR ROBERT F. KENNEDY, WHO ATTENDED THE GAME. KENNEDY WOULD BE ASSASSINATED IN LOS ANGELES JUST MORE THAN SEVEN MONTHS LATER.
THE FIRST VISIT TO MAPLE LEAF GARDENS BY AN EXPANSION TEAM WAS ON WEDNESDAY, OCT. 25, 1967 — THE LEAFS DOUBLING LOS ANGELES KINGS, 4–2. TERRY SAWCHUK (30) PLAYED GOAL FOR THE KINGS LESS THAN SIX MONTHS AFTER HELPING LEAFS WIN THE ’67 STANLEY CUP (SAWCHUK WENT TO L.A. IN THE EXPANSION DRAFT). HERE, BOB PULFORD (20) TIPS A SHOT PAST SAWCHUK WITH DAVE AMADIO (5) OF THE KINGS DEFENDING. REAL LEMIEUX (20) OF L.A. WAS BE–HEADED BY PATSKOU IN PHOTO (BELOW) WITH LEAFS GOALIE BRUCE GAMBLE (30). IT WAS THE KINGS FIRST NHL LOSS.
ON SATURDAY, OCT. 28, 1967, EX–LEAFS DEFENSEMAN BOB BAUN CAME TO TOWN AS CAPTAIN OF THE EXPANSION CALIFORNIA SEALS, WHO WERE DRUBBED, 5–2, AT THE GARDENS. LIKE SAWCHUK, BAUN HAD BEEN LOST TO THE LEAFS IN THE EXPANSION DRAFT. HE HAD PLAYED FOR PUNCH IMLACH ON ALL FOUR TORONTO STANLEY CUP TEAMS IN THE DECADE.
AGELESS JOHNNY BOWER STOOD TALL AT THE GARDENS ON WEDNESDAY, NOV. 1, 1967 — SHUTTING OUT JOHN FERGUSON AND THE CANADIENS, 5–0. MONTREAL OUT–SHOT THE LEAFS, 40–33.
THE LEAFS FOLLOWED THEIR LOP–SIDED WIN OVER MONTREAL BY GOING TO DETROIT AND BLASTING THE RED WINGS, 9–3, AT THE OLYMPIA ON THURSDAY, NOV. 2, 1967. GAME SUMMARY, BELOW.
THE RANGERS WERE BACK AT THE GARDENS ON SATURDAY, NOV. 4, 1967 AND WERE BEATEN AGAIN BY THE LEAFS, 4–2. HERE, FRANK MAHOVLICH DUELS WITH NEW YORK GOALIE ED GIACOMIN.
BENCHES EMPTIED AT THE BOSTON GARDEN ON SUNDAY, NOV. 5, 1967 DURING A 2–2 TIE BETWEEN THE MAPLE LEAFS AND BRUINS. TORONTO FORWARD BRIAN CONACHER ACCIDENTALLY CLIPPED BOBBY ORR ON THE NOSE WITH HIS STICK, CUTTING THE BRUINS SUPERSTAR (STORY BELOW). ORR TRIED TO GET AT A NEARLY–SHIRTLESS CONACHER AND THE TEAMS LATER BRAWLED.
RON ELLIS (8) GOES FOR A TUMBLE AGAINST BILL HICKE OF THE CALIFORNIA SEALS DURING THE LEAFS FIRST–EVER GAME ON THE WEST COAST — A 6–1 ROUT AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM–ARENA, WEDNESDAY, NOV. 8, 1967. IT WAS JOHNNY BOWER’S 43rd BIRTHDAY AND THE SEALS PRESENTED HIM A CAKE AT CENTER–ICE. MORE FROM THE TORONTO TELEGRAM STORY (BELOW), BY GEORGE GROSS.
THE LEAFS FIRST–EVER GAME IN SOUTHERN–CALIFORNIA WAS A 4–1 LOSS TO THE KINGS AT THE LOS ANGELES SPORTS ARENA — THURSDAY, NOV. 9, 1967. PORTION OF TORONTO TELEGRAM STORY, BELOW:
MIKE WALTON WAS ON TOP OF BRUINS GOALIE ED JOHNSTON DURING A 4–2 VICTORY BY THE LEAFS OVER BOSTON AT THE GARDENS ON WEDNESDAY, NOV. 15, 1967. AT THE OTHER END, EDDIE SHACK DID A LITTLE DANCE WHILE BATTLING FOR THE PUCK WITH EX–LEAFS TEAMMATE JOHNNY BOWER.
A PAIR OF NO. 11’s MEET AS MURRAY OLIVER OF THE LEAFS PATS THE BALD HEAD OF CHICAGO’S DOUG MOHNS DURING 2–2 TIE AT THE GARDENS ON SATURDAY, NOV. 18, 1967.
THE EXPANSION MINNESOTA NORTH STARS MADE THEIR FIRST APPEARANCE AT THE GARDENS ON WEDNESDAY, NOV. 22, 1967 AND LOST, 3–0. HERE, PETER STEMKOWSKI (12) LOOKS FOR LOOSE PUCK IN THE EQUIPMENT OF GOALIE CESARE MANIAGO. TORONTO’S GARRY UNGER IS IN THE BACKGROUND.
THE LEAFS EDGED DETROIT, 3–2, AT THE GARDENS ON SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1967.
MONTREAL’S GUMP WORSLEY WAS NONE–TOO PLEASED ABOUT ALLOWING JIM PAPPIN’S SHOT TO CAROM IN OFF HIS PADS DURING THE LEAFS 2–1 WIN OVER THE CANADIENS AT THE GARDENS — WEDNESDAY, NOV. 29, 1967. HABS DEFENSEMAN TED HARRIS (10) LOOKS BACK AT WORSLEY.
CALIFORNIA SEALS HAD BEEN RE–NAMED THE OAKLAND SEALS BY THE TIME THEY PLAYED THEIR SECOND GAME IN TORONTO — SATURDAY, DEC. 2, 1967. STILL, GOALIE CHARLIE HODGE HAD NO SUCCESS, GETTING BEATEN BY MIKE WALTON (16) DURING THE LEAFS 3–0 VICTORY.
THE LEAFS WENT TO MINNESOTA AND TIED THE NORTH STARS, 1–1, ON WEDNESDAY, DEC. 6, 1967 IN A GAME THAT SPAWNED THE ICONIC IMAGE (ABOVE) OF JOHNNY BOWER AND THE LATE BILL MASTERTON. BOWER THWARTED MINNESOTA’S BILL COLLINS (BELOW) ON A CLOSE–IN CHANCE.
GOALIE ED JOHNSTON OF THE BRUINS CANNOT STOP DEFLECTED SHOT BY BRIAN CONACHER (22) DURING 3–3 TIE AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS — SATURDAY, DEC. 9, 1967. RON ELLIS LOOKS ON.
THE LEAFS PLAYED THEIR FIRST–EVER GAME IN ST. LOUIS ON SUNDAY, DEC. 10, 1967 AND LOST, 2–1. THE WINNING GOAL WAS SCORED BY FUTURE HALL–OF–FAMER DICKIE MOORE (d. Dec. 19, 2015), WHO HAD COME OUT OF RETIREMENT TO JOIN THE BLUES FOR THEIR GAME IN OAKLAND THE PREVIOUS NIGHT. HERE ARE PORTIONS OF THE TORONTO TELEGRAM STORY FROM THE ST. LOUIS ARENA:
THE FIRST–EVER APPEARANCE BY THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS — WEDNESDAY, DEC. 13, 1967 — RESULTED IN A 3–1 VICTORY FOR THE VISITORS; A 10–MINUTE MISCONDUCT TO LEAFS GOALIE JOHNNY BOWER, AND A NASTY REACTION BY PUNCH IMLACH:
LEAFS BEAT DETROIT (AND GOALIE ROY EDWARDS) 3–1 AT THE GARDENS: SATURDAY, DEC. 23, 1967.
BOB PULFORD (20) WAS IN ALONE ON GUMP WORSLEY DURING 2–2 TIE BETWEEN THE LEAFS AND MONTREAL CANADIENS AT THE GARDENS — WEDNESDAY, DEC. 27, 1967.
EVEN A HALF–CENTURY HASN’T DULLED THE SOUR RECOLLECTION FOR SCOTTY BOWMAN OF THE ST. LOUIS BLUES FIRST VISIT TO TORONTO — AN 8–1 DEMOLITION BY THE LEAFS ON SATURDAY, DEC. 30, 1967. BOWMAN, OF COURSE, COACHED THE VISITING TEAM THAT NIGHT. BACK–UP GOALIE DON CALEY (1) WAS POUNCED UPON HERE BY FRANK MAHOVLICH (27) AND GEORGE ARMSTRONG (10).
THE LEAFS FIRST GAME OF THE NEW YEAR — AT THE MONTREAL FORUM ON WEDNESDAY, JAN. 3, 1968 — ENDED IN A 1–1 TIE. MIKE WALTON SCORED TORONTO’S LONE GOAL ON HIS 23rd BIRTHDAY.
MARCEL PRONOVOST (3) DEPOSITED PHIL ESPOSITO OF THE BRUINS INTO A VACATED NET BESIDE JOHNNY BOWER DURING 3–3 DRAW AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS — SATURDAY, JAN. 6, 1968.
END OF PART 1