Custom Search

Little changes to the game from when I was a kid

In the past, I’ve posted a fair bit on my beloved “olden days”.  Not everyone’s cup of tea, I realize, but for me, those memories are a connection to a great time in my life in the late 1950s and early 1960s—and also to an important in the history of our great game of hockey.

One of those posts was about 12 things I preferred about pre-1967 expansion hockey”.  Another was about how there was no glass or protection for fans in NHL rinks back in the 1950s and early '60s. (Click to check out those earlier posts.)

Times were indeed different, in life and in hockey.

It’s summertime and on occasion I flip over to Leafs TV, because they fill the sometimes quiet off-season programming gap with some wonderful old-games on occasion.  They re-play “Sunday Night Classic” broadcasts hosted by Joe Bowen, all taped in the early 2000s or thereabouts.

Well, there are two things I noticed while watching some of these old games that would never happen today.  One is that, during the 1964 finals between Toronto and Detroit, at one point, Red Wing defenseman Pete Goegan has the puck behind the net.  He’s looking one way, then the other, as defensemen do all the time when they are looking to move the puck out of their zone safely  But in this instance, the wingers were apparently covered along the boards— so he held on to the puck for a while.

All of a sudden, the whistle blows (the referee was a then fairly young Vern Buffey, I believe, who became a legendary ref and later jumped to the fledgling World Hockey Association in the 1970s) and there is a face-off in the circle next to Detroit goalie Terry Sawchuk.

The reason?  Goegan didn’t move or advance the puck in time, I guess.  Now, there was no penalty against Detroit or anything like that.  The punishment was a face-off in their own end.

How peculiar.

The other was after I had been watching a great, great game—Game 7 of the 1959 semi-finals between a very good Boston team and a young, emerging Leaf squad.  The Bruins had former Leafs Jim Morrison, Harry Lumley, Fleming Mackell and Fern Flaman (pictured at right) along the famous “Uke Line”—Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiak and “Bronco” Horvath.  They were all Ukranian by background, thus the “Uke” line.  (Interestingly, Horvath was later in the Leaf minor-league system toward the end of his career in the mid-‘60s.  Stasiak was with the Red Wings in the aforementioned 1964 series against the Leafs.)  They also had stalwarts like Jerry Toppazzini and future Leaf defenseman Larry Hillman.

For their part, the Leafs had Johnny Bower in his first year with the team and old timer Bert Olmstead over from the then three-time defending champion Habs.  But it was a mostly young team, with Baun and Brewer, just kids, on the defense, and youngsters like Billy Harris, Frank Mahovlich and Dickie Duff up front, along with Bobby Pulford, the Cullen brothers and Gerry Ehman.

In any event, the Leafs came from behind with two third-period goals at the old Boston Garden and upset the Bruins in 7 games.

When it was over, the Bruins just skated off the ice, while the Leafs had a short celebration and then jumped off the ice, too, to head to their dressing rooms.

It was no big deal.  It wasn’t like the Bruins left in a huff, to my knowledge, or were being un-sportsmanlike.

But no “traditional” post-series handshakes?  Interesting, I figured.  Was it an infrequent “tradition”, I wondered, the teams shaking hands at the conclusion of a series, or did that hockey ritual start regularly only in the early ‘60s?

Others may have a better recall than I?  Let me know!

No comments:

Post a Comment