Playoff Game 57 – Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1

Playoff Game 57
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 1
Stanley Cup Semifinals, Game 4
Thursday, April 14, 1966
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

It will long be remembered as the night they smashed most of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup penalty records, but last night’s game at the Gardens may have had an even more significant meaning.

It may have been the end of an era.

The Montréal Canadiens completed a four-game sweep over the Maple Leafs in their Stanley Cup semifinal with a 4-1 victory during which there were 154 minutes in penalties – a total of eight broken records.

Every minute was deserved as the only two Canadian teams in the NHL continued to try to prove who has the larger muscles.

It may have also been George Imlach’s last game as manager-coach of the Leafs, if rumours are true he will join the new club in Los Angeles.

It may also have been the last game in Red Kelly’s great career, George Armstrong’s – and what about Johnny Bower?

Kelly is said to have an inside track on the coaching job if Imlach leaves and Stafford Smythe, the club president, would likely become its general manager.

Knowing Smythe’s personality and the fact he can’t stand humiliation, there is a hunch he would wade recklessly into offseason deals to try to become a hockey power again.

That’s what we will all find out sometime in the future – perhaps the very near future.

It was the first time since 1960 that any team has lost four games in succession in the playoffs and, ironically, Montréal did it to Toronto that year also – in the final.

The Canadiens were superb and destroyed the theory once and for all they are a bunch of pantywaists. The Leafs did everything in their power to try to intimidate the Habs in this series and the Canadiens not only took it, but handed it back.

This one started with a vicious brawl that lasted 17 minutes, consumed a further 15 minutes in arguing about penalties. The period required one hour and six minutes to play.

It was the wildest scene since two seasons ago, when the Leafs tangled en masse with the Chicago Black Hawks.

Twelve major penalties, six misconducts and two minors were assessed by referee Art Skov after all the players on the ice except the rival goalies were involved in the fracas.

The sentences added up to 124 minutes, which broke the one-game record of 102 minutes in penalties for both teams. Also badly fractured was the one-period record of 55 minutes in penalties.

John Ferguson of the Canadiens and Pete Stemkowski of the Leafs started the fracas, but Eddie Shack, Orland Kurtenbach, Claude Larose and Ted Harris were equally prominent.

The Leafs were infuriated when Larose and Dave Balon both tugged Shack to the ice. While Balon pinned him Larose whacked Shack several times as he was in this defenceless position.

Larry Hillman finally came to Shack’s rescue and Shack started getting even with Larose. Meanwhile, Ferguson was giving Stemkowski a good going-over in a one-sided fight, while Kurtenbach and Harris were sparring for an opening.

Linesmen kept interfering with the fun, but they couldn’t cover all the bouts. Kurtenbach and Harris started swinging and Harris got in the only good blow – a solid right cross that knocked Kurtenbach off balance.

They wrestled to the ice with Harris on top, but eventually Kurtenbach wound up on top straddling a by-now passive Harris.

Noel Price jumped off the Montréal bench but acted strictly as an attempted peacemaker. Several seconds later Bob Baun jumped off the Toronto bench to act in the same capacity.

Skov spent several minutes trying to sort out penalties and the crowd started hollering for action. It took 31 minutes to play the first 3:37 of the game.

Shack, Kurtenbach and Stemkowski of the Leafs, and Ferguson, Harris and Larose drew two majors and automatic misconducts for their part of the fight. Harris also got a minor for hooking, and it was while this delayed penalty was inflicted that the fighting started.

Larose drew an extra minor for fighting.

After more than 10 minutes of four-a-side hockey, Armstrong questioned Skov on the penalty situation presuming that with the major penalties expired, the Leafs should have a two-man advantage because of the two minors handed to Montréal.

In the meantime, Kent Douglas was assessed a hooking penalty. When he found no room to sit down in the crowded box, he ripped out the TV monitor there and then sat down.

General manager Sammy Pollock of Montréal and assistant manager King Clancy of the Leafs went around to the penalty box to hear the discussions and it also seemed that Toronto coach Punch Imlach was wearing skates, evidently thinking he may have to skate out and interview the referee.

All told, it required one hour and six minutes to play the first period.

Six Stanley Cup penalty records were shattered in the period. The teams served 130 minutes in the period, beating the game record of 102 minutes set by Toronto and Detroit in 1952.

Referee Art Skov said Larose’s extra minor penalty for fighting was for punching Shack while he was being held on the ice by Balon.

Pete Stemkowski, who started the brawl by carrying Ferguson into the boards, said “I think his head hit the boards. In fact, I know it did.”

Stemkowski had a swelling on his right cheekbone, so he won’t forget Ferguson for a while.

Along with penalties picked up by both teams during the time the fighters were off, the teams didn’t return to full strength until 15:45 of the second period. Since the penalties came at 3:37 of the first period, their effect was felt for 19 minutes and 22 seconds. The Leafs wound up with a two-minute, one-man advantage.

First it was exciting three-man hockey, during which the Leafs scored their only goal to take a 1-0 lead when Larry Hillman beat Gump Worsley with a slapshot.

Then it was four-man hockey and someone quipped, “Hey – this is the answer for expansion.”

When things returned to normal, however, and the magnificent Canadiens were able to regroup their forces, it was no contest. Too much class, too many Tremblays and fellows named Rousseau, Backstrom and Béliveau.

Gilles Tremblay scored twice in two minutes in the second period – each time on powerplays – and the Habs were off and running.

Marcel Pronovost was off for the first goal and the power play was only seven seconds old when Tremblay converted Bobby Rousseau’s fine pass.

Frank Mahovlich, who finally got tired of Claude Provost’s shadowing, took two penalties in succession for infractions against Provost. It was during the first one that Tremblay, uncovered, took the puck from behind the net, skated out in front and beat Bower.

The Habs rubbed it in early in the third period when Jim Roberts scored while Montréal was shorthanded. Kent Douglas tried to trap a bouncing puck with two swings and two misses at the point. Roberts picked it up and outskated them all to beat Bower on a clean breakaway.

Shack was off for interference three minutes later when Dick Duff steered Béliveau’s pass into the corner of the goal during a power play in which the Canadiens were not really pressing to score.

The Canadiens will enjoy a lengthy rest, awaiting their final series against either Chicago or Detroit, whose semifinal cannot end before next Tuesday and could extend as long as a week from Sunday if it goes the full seven games.

It doesn’t matter whom the Canadiens meet, they will be solid favourites.

The Leafs?

Well, when the bugler in the stands played the Last Post in the final minute of the game, it may have been significant.

It is evident changes will need to be made before the team can become a challenger again. This the second season in succession that they have been eliminated in the playoffs.

In fact, the old Maple Leafs have won only one playoff game from Montréal in two seasons.

The changes won’t all involve players from their minor league system.

Suddenly, this morning, they are thinking of trades up there in the Gardens office.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, April 15, 1966

1st Period
MTL PEN – 03:37 – Ferguson, fighting double major + misconduct
TOR PEN – 03:37 – Stemkowski, fighting double major + misconduct
MTL PEN – 03:37 – Larose, roughing + fighting double major + misconduct
TOR PEN – 03:37 – Shack, fighting double major + misconduct
MTL PEN – 03:37 – Harris, hooking + fighting double major + misconduct
TOR PEN – 03:37 – Kurtenbach, fighting double major + misconduct
TOR PEN – 05:14 – Pronovost, holding
TOR GOAL – 05:40 – Hillman (Baun, Keon)
TOR PEN – 09:50 – Douglas, hooking
MTL PEN – 15:28 – Backstrom, interference

2nd Period
TOR PEN – 09:25 – Pronovost, hooking
MTL PP GOAL – 09:32 – G. Tremblay (Rousseau, J. Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 11:38 – Mahovlich, elbowing
MTL PP GOAL – 13:28 – G. Tremblay (Cournoyer, Rousseau)
TOR PEN – 15:22 – Mahovlich, cross checking

3rd Period
MTL PEN – 03:15 – Harris, tripping
MTL SH GOAL – 04:04 – Roberts (Harper)
TOR PEN – 05:52 – Shack, interference
MTL PP GOAL – 07:16 – Duff (Béliveau, J. Tremblay)
TOR PEN – 08:54 – Stemkowski, boarding
MTL PEN – 12:33 – Ferguson, high sticking
TOR PEN – 12:33 – Horton, high sticking
MTL PEN – 15:28 – Ferguson, elbowing / roughing double minor
TOR PEN – 15:28 – Baun, roughing
TOR PEN – 16:07 – Horton, elbowing

MTL – Worsley (W, 30-31)
TOR – Bower (L, 34-38)

MTL – 10+18+10 = 38
TOR – 9+11+11 = 31

MTLGoaltenders: Charlie Hodge, Gump Worsley. Defence: Terry Harper, Ted Harris, Noel Price, Jim Roberts, Jean-Guy Talbot, J.C. Tremblay. Forwards: Ralph Backstrom, Dave Balon, Jean Béliveau (C), Yvan Cournoyer, Dick Duff, John Ferguson, Claude Larose, Claude Provost, Bobby Rousseau, Gilles Tremblay.
TORGoaltenders: Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk. Defence: Bobby Baun, Kent Douglas, Larry Hillman, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Marcel Pronovost. Forwards: George Armstrong (C), Wally Boyer, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Orland Kurtenbach, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Brit Selby, Eddie Shack, Pete Stemkowski.