TORONTO (May 2) — It’s that date again. For the 53rd consecutive time.
As if anyone that follows the Toronto Maple Leafs need be reminded, it was on this night, in 1967, that the club won its most–recent Stanley Cup. Among National Hockey League teams that have done so at least once, our’s retains the longest–such drought, second only to Philadelphia, which hasn’t prevailed in 45 years (since 1975). For sheer futility among pre–expansion teams, the New York Rangers have but one Stanley Cup triumph (1994) in the past 80 years. But, May 2 has become the equivalent of Nov. 22, 1963 for followers of the Blue and White. Something very unique and dear to their hearts died that night… most indefinitely.
While perusing, this week, amid a bevy of items in an Army surplus trunk (where I keep the most–valuable components of my collection), I came across 100 old CHUM Charts that date from, yes, May 2, 1970 to Apr. 26, 1975. Located at 1050 on the AM radio dial, CHUM was a staple for Top 30 rock–and–roll hits between 1957 and 1986, when it changed to an adult–contemporary format. Today, the 1050 band hosts TSN Radio, our city’s second all–sports station (to The FAN–590, which launched in September 1992). In its heyday, however, 1050–CHUM owned the teenage and young–adult crowd — spinning tunes that encompassed the heights of Elvis Presley and The Beatles. To this day, most people 60 and over can remember the names of the disc–jockeys that hosted CHUM hours during the day and night: Roger Ashby, Jay Nelson, John Rode, Chuck McKoy, Tom Richards, Johnny Mitchell, Scott Carpenter, Don Reagan and Terry Steele. Each weekend, beginning on May 27, 1957, the station would publish a color folder of its Top 30 songs, based on sales of the old 78–r.p.m. vinyl records (or “singles”). Measuring 6 x 6 inches, the CHUM Charts were all the rage, with photos of disc–jockeys garnering the cover. The oldest–such item in my collection (below) dates to 50 years ago today, when American Woman by The Guess Who topped the chart for the second consecutive week.
The CHUM Charts came out each Saturday, which makes it easy to commemorate — in this photo–blog — the Stanley Cup anniversary, given that the Leafs played at home on most Saturday nights in the 1970’s (and still do). With not much else to occupy my time in our COVID–19 universe, I took a drive downtown yesterday (Friday afternoon) to Maple Leaf Gardens, which stands in its original form on the northeast corner of Church St. and Carlton St. Since 2000, when renovated on the inside, it has been co–owned and operated by Loblaws and Ryerson University. In the post–expansion era of the NHL, only four of the 12 arenas from 1967–68 have evaded demolition: the Gardens, Montreal Forum, Oakland Coliseum–Arena and the Los Angeles Forum. The others — Boston Garden, Chicago Stadium, Detroit Olympia, the old Madison Square Garden (which hosted hockey until Feb. 11, 1968), the Met Center (Minnesota), the Spectrum (Philadelphia), the Civic Arena (Pittsburgh) and the St. Louis Arena — have met the wrecking ball. Maple Leaf Gardens was built 89 years ago, in the throes of the Great Depression. It served as home of the Leafs from Nov. 12, 1931 to Feb. 13, 1999, whereupon the hockey club moved to the Air Canada Centre (now Scotiabank Arena).
MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, AT 88½ YEARS OLD, AS IT APPEARED FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
IT WAS AN EASY DRIVE DOWNTOWN FRIDAY FROM THE NORTH PART OF THE CITY. DURING THE COVID–19 PANDEMIC, TORONTO — NORMALLY PARALYZED WITH TRAFFIC — HAS BEEN LIGHTLY TRAVELED: ON THE DON VALLEY PARKWAY (TOP–LEFT) AND HIGHWAY 401 (RIGHT).
CHUM CHARTS AND THE LEAFS…
Here are eight Top–30 charts in my collection (dating from Oct. 17, 1970 to Dec. 18, 1971) with a reminder of what the Maple Leafs were up to on the corresponding Saturdays. And, some personal recollections.
The most–memorable music of my life evolved during this 14–month span.
OCT. 17, 1970: New York 6, Toronto 2 — This game occurred in the midst of the so–called “October Crisis” when members of the Front de liberation du Quebec (or FLQ), a militant wing of the province’s separatist movement, kidnapped Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. Laporte was strangled to death; his body found, on this night, stuffed into the trunk of a car. Five days earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (late father of current PM, Justin Trudeau) had invoked the only peacetime deployment of the War Measures Act. Troops from the Canadian Forces appeared on the streets of Montreal and a strict curfew was enforced. At the Gardens, the Leafs wore their remodeled white uniforms (with blue, shoulder–to–sleeve piping) for the second time, having mauled St. Louis, 7–3, in their season opener three nights before. This match didn’t turn out quite so well. Goals by Paul Henderson and Mike Walton had Toronto in front, 2–1, after the first period, but the Rangers took control in the middle frame, as Bill Fairbairn, Walt Tkaczuk and Brad Park scored late markers on Jacques Plante in a 3:50 span. Rod Gilbert and Tkaczuk rounded out the scoring in the third. Gilles Villemure stopped 26 shots for the win. Wally Harris officiated the game with linesmen Pat Shetler and Claude Bechard. On a personal note, my twin–cousins, Robyn and Allison Blatt, had been born here in the Toronto the previous day.
NOV. 28, 1970: Toronto 9, Detroit 4 — The 1970 Grey Cup had been played in the afternoon at old CNE Stadium — the Montreal Alouettes defeating the Calgary Stampeders, 23–10, for the Canadian Football League title. The Maple Leafs demolished the Red Wings on a night in which rookie Darryl Sittler scored his first of 484 NHL goals. Sittler took passes from Mike Walton and Jim McKenny to beat Roy Edwards at 1:41 of the third period, giving Toronto a 7–2 lead. Guy Trottier, Paul Henderson and Dave Keon scored for the Leafs in the opening frame, prompting Detroit coach, Ned Harkness, to replace starting goalie Don McLeod. Ron Ellis, Keon and Norm Ullman had the Leafs in front, 6–0, before ex–Leaf Garry Unger put the Wings on the board with 31 seconds left in the middle period. Sittler, Ellis and George Armstrong added Toronto markers in the third while Tom Webster, Frank Mahovlich and Al Karlander scored for Detroit. Jacques Plante stopped 29 shots for the win. The referee was Bruce Hood; the linesmen, Pat Shetler and Dave Shewchyk.
JAN. 2, 1971: Toronto 13, Detroit 0 — By comparison, Detroit’s visit to the Gardens on the night of Darryl Sittler’s first goal was a roaring success. This game remains, more than 49 years later, the most–lopsided shutout win in Maple Leafs history. It still trails, by one, the mark for most goals scored in one game: a 14–1 destruction of New York, at MLG, on Mar. 16, 1957. Since Jan. 2, 1971, the Leafs have twice scored 11 goals: shutting out the California Golden Seals on Nov. 25, 1972 and shocking the Boston Bruins (11–4) on Feb. 7, 1976 — both games at the Gardens — the latter when Sittler erupted for his NHL–record 10–points (six goals, four assists). On this night, in their first match of the new year, the Maple Leafs pored in a team–record seven goals in the third period; the final four occurring in a 2:47 span. Don McLeod and Hall–of–Fame Builder Jim Rutherford shared the misery between the pipes for Detroit. Here’s the roll–call for Toronto. First Period: Norm Ullman (2:53), Mike Pelyk (12:02), Dave Keon (16:06). Second Period: Sittler (4:28), Sittler (7:22), Paul Henderson (15:02). Third Period: Bill MacMillan (0:41), MacMillan (4:25), Garry Monahan (7:59), Henderson (15:38), Ullman (16:48), Brian Spencer (first NHL goal, 17:16), Jim Harrison (18:05). Famously, during the third–period, both Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovlich were shown, on TV, leaving the Red Wings bench for the dressing room. Mahovlich later explained they were ordered to the room by coach Ned Harkness. The Maple Leafs outshot Detroit, 49–31. Jacques Plante and Bruce Gamble shared the shutout; Gamble playing the third period. Bill Friday officiated the game with linesmen Willard Norris and Pat Shetler.
FEB. 13, 1971: Toronto 8, Los Angeles 1 — Unbeknownst to all at the Gardens, the Leafs celebrated the arrival of a baby named Mats Sundin with their rout of the Kings. Yes, little Mats was born earlier in the day to the Bromma, Sweden couple of Tommy and Gunilla Sundin. More than 23 years later (June 28, 1994), he would be traded to Toronto from the Quebec Nordiques and, ultimately, become the franchise points leader (987). While the nurses were looking after little Mats, his future club scored five goals in a 4:18 span of the second period to annihilate the purple–clad visitors from L.A. Paul Henderson was the only Leaf to score twice; singles going to Jim Dorey, Garry Monahan, Ron Ellis, George Armstrong, Bill MacMillan and Guy Trottier. Second–year forward Butch Goring had the Kings’ only marker. Toronto pored 53 shots at goalies Jack Norris and Denis DeJordy. Jacques Plante stopped 26 shots in a leisurely night at the opposite end. Dave Newell officiated the match and was injured in a collision along the boards involving Leafs defenseman Bob Baun. He was able to continue, with linesmen Matt Pavelich and John D’Amico. Things weren’t quite as rosy for the Leafs the following day. Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the record–shattering Bruins came to town for a matinee televised nationally by CBS in the United States and eased past the home side, 5–1.
APR. 10, 1971: Toronto 3, New York 1 (playoffs) — After losing the opener of their Stanley Cup quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden, the Leafs appeared to be taking control of the series. A massive, bench–clearing brawl (preserved on black–and–white tape through the years) punctuated a 4–1 Leafs victory in Game 2 at New York, two nights prior. During the melee, Vic Hadfield of the Rangers famously yanked the mask off Toronto goalie Bernie Parent and hurled it among the Garden spectators. Jacques Plante finished up. The environment was less hostile for Game 3 at the Gardens as the Leafs took a 2–1 lead in the best–of–seven affair. Ron Ellis scored a powerplay goal in the first period and Paul Henderson clicked with the man–advantage in the second. Dave Balon briefly got New York into the match at 3:17 of the third, but Garry Monahan answered just 2:05 later. The Rangers outshot the Leafs, 34–24, but Parent was brilliant in goal. Gilles Villemure took the loss for New York. The referee was John Ashley; Neil Armstrong and Willard Norris, the linesmen. Toronto could not maintain its momentum. New York won the next three encounters and eliminated the Leafs in Game 6, at the Gardens, when ex–Leaf Bob Nevin beat Plante at 9:07 of overtime.
OCT. 30, 1971: Toronto 1, Minnesota 1 — This was the beginning of an odd weekend for the Leafs, who played on three consecutive nights. The tie with the North Stars was followed by a 3–3 draw at New York and a 6–1 pounding of Detroit, at the Gardens, in a game re–scheduled from Oct. 13, when Leafs president Stafford Smythe had died. It was also an historic 72–hour period in Toronto newspaper annals. On this Saturday, the Toronto Telegram published its final issue after 95½ years. Much of the Telegram’s staff moved across King St. to unveil the Toronto Sun, our city’s tabloid, two days later (Nov. 1), as the Leafs beat Detroit in their third straight match. Dave Keon scored for Toronto in the second period against Minnesota. Ex–Leaf Murray Oliver replied for the North Stars in the third. Gump Worsley (Minnesota) and Bernie Parent were the goalies. Wally Harris officiated the match with linesmen John D’Amico and Terry Pierce.
NOV. 20, 1971: Toronto 5, California 1 — What a joyous doubleheader for a Toronto sports fan. In the afternoon, I attended the second of a two–game, total–points Eastern Conference final at CNE Stadium in which the Argonauts prevailed over the Hamilton Tiger–Cats to advance to the Grey Cup for the first time in my life. Leo Cahill… Joe Theismann… Leon McQuay… names and faces I will never forget (sadly, the Argos lost the CFL championship to Calgary, the following weekend). Several hours after the football game, I was in the east Reds at the Gardens as the Leafs easily subdued the Golden Seals. It was Toronto’s second of a four game winning — and seven game undefeated — streak. Dave Keon scored in the first period, but Ivan Boldirev tied the match early in the second. Ron Ellis, Paul Henderson and Denis Dupere then put the Leafs in control, beating Gilles Meloche in a 6:57 span late in the middle frame. Garry Monahan closed out the scoring in the third. Jacques Plante stopped 27 California shots for the win. The referee was Wally Harris; the linesmen, John D’Amico and Ray Scapinello. The Golden Seals had only six wins after 20 games.
DEC. 18, 1971: Toronto 8, Buffalo 1 — Early in the 1970–71 and 1971–72 seasons, former Toronto general manager–coach Punch Imlach watched from behind the bench with joy as his expansion–era Buffalo Sabres cruised to enormous, 7–2 wins at the Gardens. On this night, however, the Leafs got even. Playing exceptionally well under third–year coach John McLellan, Toronto pounded Imlach and the Sabres for their fourth consecutive win (a fifth would occur the following night, at Philadelphia). Dave Keon began the misery for the coach under whom he won four Stanley Cups in the 60’s by scoring the first two Leaf goals. Garry Monahan, Paul Henderson, Guy Trottier and Denis Dupere (with two) also connected for the winners. Steve Atkinson scored Buffalo’s only goal, at 6:05 of the middle frame. The match became feisty at 7:38 of the second period when Chris Evans of Buffalo and Mike Pelyk of the Leafs fought. Another member of the Stanley Cup Leafs under Imlach, Buffalo defenseman Larry Hillman, received a game–misconduct for being third man in the altercation. The Leafs outshot Buffalo, 41–30. Bernie Parent got the win between the pipes; Roger Crozier took the loss. Dave Newell officiated the match with linesmen Matt Pavelich and Ron Finn.
IN MEMORY OF…
I DEDICATE THIS BLOG TO MY FRIEND, DAN NICHOLSON, WHO DIED SUDDENLY THIS WEEK OF A BRAIN ANEURYSM. DAN IS PICTURED, HERE, WITH MAPLE LEAFS COACH SHELDON KEEFE. A GIANT IN THE LOCAL SPORTS MEMORABILIA INDUSTRY, DAN WAS THE NICEST PERSON YOU’D EVER MEET. HE WOULD GO OUT OF HIS WAY TO HELP ANYONE. AND, HE’LL BE MISSED, DEARLY, BY ALL OF HIS HOCKEY FRIENDS IN THE CITY.
MAY HIS NAME FOREVER BE A BLESSING.