Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The First Game

Montreal Arena, site of Toronto's first NHL game
100 years ago today, the NHL and the Maple Leafs franchise began. The Montreal Wanderers defeated the Toronto Arenas by a score of 10-9. Below are a few descriptions of that very first game from newspapers of the day.
Toronto World newspaper, Dec 20, 1017
"About 700 people witnessed the initial professional hockey game of the season at the Arena, when the Wanderers won from Toronto by a score of 10-9. The play was somewhat ragged at times, and the visiting team (Toronto) was weak in goal. The Torontos had the better of the argument most of the game, but neither Hebert, who was the Toronto goalkeeper in the earlier part of the game, nor Brooks, in the second session, stopped the Wanderers shots as they might have done. Wanderers used Lindsay thruout and he proved more serviceable to the home team than either Hebert or Brooks."
"The visitors' forwards, Skinner, Denneny and Noble, were fast and good shots, and Randall and Cameron made excellent defence."
Harry Cameron
Montreal Gazette newspaper, Dec. 20, 1917
"Had either Heberts or Brooks shown any ability to stop shots, the Torontos would have no doubt won, as they had the best of the play the greater part of the time...Toronto, with a better man in nets will have to  be reckoned with this winter. Their forwards Skinner, Denneny and Noble are fast and good shots. While Randall and Cameron make a splendid defence. The Wanderers were lost without the two Cleghorns."
"Toronto played better hockey in the closing period than in either of the other two and outplayed the locals by three to one...The visitors were in better condition than the locals and finished much fresher. The Redbands held the lead accured early in the game by playing three men on defence allowing only two men to make the trips up the ice. "
Toronto would indeed shore up their goaltending a week later when they brought back future Hall of Famer  Hap Holmes from Seattle of the Pacific league. Holmes help guide them to a first place finish in the second half of the season (which was in truth only 8 of the 22 total games each team played).
Toronto dispatched Montreal Canadiens to win the NHL Championship and went on the win the Stanley Cup over Vancouver. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Unidentified Leafs Photo #10

Here's a great shot of the Leafs in their room from the good people at Vintage Sports Images. The two main players are easily identified as Dick Duff and Billy Harris; but the question is, when was the photo taken?
Duff and Harris played together on the Leafs  from 1955/56 February 22, 1964 when Duff was dealt to New York Rangers in the Andy Bathgate trade. The photo could be from any one of these nine seasons, or could it?
Checking the NHL Uniform Database it is confirmed that the Maple Leafs added a tie-down to their sweater collar for the 1958/59 season. Therefore this photo can only be from 1955/56, 56/57 or 57/58.

These three seasons were the first three in the NHL career of Billy Harris, by the 57/58 campaign he produced 16 goals and 44 points. That same season, Duff scored 26 goals and 49 points. They finished first and second in Maple Leafs point scoring that year.  A really nice photo behind the scenes of hockey life in the 1950's.


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