Preseason Game 06 – Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2

Preseason Game 06
Maple Leafs 2, Canadiens 2
Saturday, September 25, 1971
Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario

Bernie Parent missed the first week of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp with high intensity contract haggling, but through it all his lawyer insisted the goaltender was “in the best shape he has ever been in.”

It’s apparent now, after the Leafs’ 2-2 tie Saturday with the Montréal Canadiens, that Howard Casper wasn’t merely building up his client.

Parent again proved the substance of Casper’s testimony by shutting out the Canadiens for the first half of the game, while Denis Dupéré and Paul Henderson provided a 2-0 lead.

Jacques Lemaire and Réjean Houle scored power play goals after Parent was replaced by Jacques Plante. It was Parent’s third half-game appearance, and he has allowed only one goal.

“I feel so strong,” Parent said. “I think it must be the PT (weight training provided by Armed Forces instructors Bill Haywood and Earl Thompson), because my legs feel so good they don’t get tired at all.”

Had Parent been in camp for the entire weight training program, one can only assume he would be kicking out shots at dangerous speeds. Of course, his strength may have something to do with the 10-mile-a-day running program he was following near his home at Cherry Hill, N.J.

While Parent was vocal about how he felt, his teammates also were openly glowing with their record of five exhibitions, undefeated. They’ve tied Minnesota, Chicago and Montréal, and beaten Minnesota and Philadelphia.

“The difference is in the dressing room,” said Dupéré. “I wasn’t with the team last year, but I was at training camp with Tulsa (the Leafs’ Central League affiliate) and I know how it was. The Leafs were coming off a last place finish. This year, we’re coming off a strong finish and we know how it is to win.”

The tie with Montréal was at least a mental victory. The Canadiens had won their previous three games. They started Ken Dryden, who commands respect unknown to other rookies in the National Hockey League, in goal. And yet the Leafs had the edge most of the way, and Montréal’s tying goal was disputable.

“They were offside on the play,” said Leaf coach John McLellan. “Definitely, it wasn’t even close. He (Henri Richard) was three feet offside.

“But, I’m happy. Five games and we haven’t been beaten. It’s a bit different from last year at this time.”

The two teams meet again tomorrow at Halifax. Rick Ley, the defenceman who was injured Friday in the Leafs’ win over Philadelphia, will be out of uniform at least until the end of the week with strained ligaments in the right knee. Also missing tomorrow will be Bill MacMillan, with a charley horse, and Guy Trottier, torn knee ligament.

The same players missed Saturday’s game. The Canadiens played without defenceman Guy Lapointe, who had a sore throat, and Serge Savard, who will not risk his twice-broken leg until just before the regular schedule begins. Also missing from Maple Leaf Gardens were about 1,000 spectators who chose not to attend, even though season ticket holders must pay for exhibition games.

Guy Lafleur failed to shed his disguise as an ordinary rookie and show his fledgling superstar moves. Observers of previous Canadien exhibitions said it was his most undistinguished appearance.

However, he lost his usual right wing, Yvan Cournoyer, early in the game. Cournoyer strained a muscle in his thigh. Lafleur’s left wing, Frank Mahovlich, has had a sore back for six days. Defenceman J.C. Tremblay suffered a bruised shoulder when checked late in the game.

Cournoyer felled Bob Baun before he fell himself, by blasting a shot which struck the defenceman in the midsection. Baun was able to continue.

The most spectacular shot of the night was Henderson’s for the 2-0 score. Henderson suggested a pass to Ron Ellis, rocketing in on the right, but slapped a shot instead to beat Dryden.

Story originally published in The Globe & Mail, September 27, 1971