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The Vintage Leaf Memories Podcast – Episode 7

Montreal-Toronto games usually deliver on the hype, at least to some degree.  I would imagine the upcoming tilt between the traditional rivals this weekend should be a dandy, too. A win would pull the Leafs within two points of Montreal in the Division standings—which would not be bad considering the relative turmoil in Leafworld in recent weeks.

What the match-up triggered for me however, as an old-time hockey guy, is a lot of reminiscing about when these two sides used to meet regularly in the NHL playoffs.  Those series stand out for me—they brought out no end of anxiety, hope, despair (in hockey terms) joy and frustration and countless moments that I’ll always remember and treasure.

In Episode 7 of “The Vintage Leaf Memories Podcast”, I take a not-very-detailed look (it’s a challenge to be precise when you are doing these things off the top of your head!) back at the Hab-Leaf series that have been such a significant part of my life as a hockey fan. Between the late 1950s and the late 1970s, those two franchises were involved in some outstanding and highly memorable series.

Leaf supporters of course fondly recall those wonderful Leaf names of the past from each of those decades but the Canadiens had some remarkable players themselves.  As I mention on the show, those mid and late 1970s Montreal squads are maybe the best NHL teams I have ever seen.  But the Habs were no less lethal in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  Canadiens General Manager Frank Selke Sr. (pictured at right) was the architect of the '50s and '60s Montreal dynasty.  He passed the torch to Sam Pollock, an equally astute manager who brought the Habs to tremendous heights in the late '60s and throughout the '70s as well. in Selke's era, players like Dickie Moore, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Laperriere, Henri Richard and Jacques Plante were just a few of the all-time greats who donned the Montreal ‘bleu, blanc et rouge’.

By the way, we’ve made a slight technical switch to the program, changing some parts of the RSS feed (my technical 'helpers' told me to say this- I have zero idea what that actually means). It shouldn't matter from the user/listener end, but for for those who subscribe via iTunes, you might briefly see some duplication of the first six episodes. Let me know if you experience any hiccups, but everything should work fine going forward.

The links are below. I hope you enjoy Episode 7.


As always, here's how to find the VLM podcasts on iTunes:

You can also listen to the podcast, and subscribe through other services, by visiting the URL of the RSS feed:


  1. Hi Michael.
    I really enjoyed your podcast ( I probably should have picked a better time than 1:30 am!)
    I've always wanted to ask, as we compare Clarke, Robertson etc---the great leaders, the tough, two way players that seem to give every thing they've got every shift---who are some players on any team you feel are this type of player? Thanks Michael. Colleen

    1. Hi Colleen- thank you. The list of leaders would be pretty long, though there weren't aren't many like Bobby Clarke.

      From a Leaf perspective, in the old days, I always thought Bobby Pulford was that kind of player in his hey-day with the Leafs. Sittler had some of that in the '70s.Gilmour certainly did during that short stretch in Toronto in the early to mid '90s.

      Across the league right now, I don't see enough of other teams to be a fair judge. By all accounts Getzlaf and Toews fit that bill. Yzerman did before them. Those are just a few names that come to mind off the top of m head but there are no doubt others.

  2. Thanks Michael. There were so many great captains and leaders around the time of the 2002 Olympics--Sakic, Lemieux, Yzerman, Shanahan, Iginla, Sundin, that were around for so long. It seems that we've not had those great franchise captains/leaders, the ones we could all name, for a while though some,like Toews, are finally emerging. C

    1. Agreed, Colleen. Those names were all individuals who led in their own way and were well respected. For me, part of the key to "leadership" is that others really want to follow your lead.

  3. I finally got a chance to listen to the podcast and found it immensely entertaining. For one who, as a high school and college student, lived through that wonderful late 50's and early 60's Leaf run it stirred some great memories.

    I cannot stress enough the intensity of the rivalry between the Leafs and Canadiens during that era. The two largest cities in Canada and the sole Canadian cities represented in the NHL made the rivalry inevitable. Add the French - English factor and the fact that they played each other 14 times during the regular season the, games between the two were usually played with fervor.

    At the beginning of this 9 year (1958-59 to 1966-67) run, the Canadiens were dominant, headlined by the most devastating power play, I believe, in the history of the NHL. Harvey, Geoffrion, Rocket Richard, Beliveau and Olmstead were deadly to the point that they effected a rule change whereby the penalized player returned to the play after a power play goal was scored. At this point Leaf fans could only hope for a good effort and the odd victory, somewhat reminiscent of the Leafs-Boston situation last season.

    As the Leafs grew stronger the rivalry intensified. The games with Montreal were always special and eagerly anticipated even moreso in the playoffs. Somewhere along the line we had transitioned from hoping to win to expecting to win. I was fortunate enough to attend every Leaf regular season and playoff game during the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons. It was especially euphoric to resoundingly defeat Montreal in the 62-63 semis. 63-64 I was off to college in the States and was only able to listen on CBC radio as the Leafs took their 3rd straight cup in the Bob Baun series. It was a doubly satisfying win as the Leafs defeated the 1st place Canadiens in the semis.

    I find it interesting that during this golden run (1958-64) consistency was the byword and pairs were together throughout. The forward position saw Pulford-Stewart, Duff-Armstrong and Mahovlich-Kelly with various linemates (although Keon-Duff-Armstrong were a consistent line after Keon joined). Defense of course was always Stanley-Horton and Brewer-Baun. Contrast this with the current day Leafs where the only pairings with a modicum of consistency are Bozak-Kessel and Phaneuf-Gunnarsson.

    George Armstrong and Bob Baun were the two players who epitomized the Leafs for me during that period. Neither were flashy stars. Both were tough, hard nosed players who gave it their all every game. We could sure use some players like them on the current squad.

    The last cup was a totally unexpected shock. I expected the Leafs to be eliminated in 4 straight in the semis. My greatest recollection was the look of sheer happiness on George Armstrong's face as he was presented the cup.

    One addendum to the Leaf-Canadien rivalry: For a period of time, once a season, the Jr. Canadiens would visit Maple Leaf Gardens on a Sunday afternoon to play the Marlboroughs. The games usually resulted in a sellout and were as intense as those of the big clubs.

    1. Thanks for a post that brings back so many fond memories, Pete Cam. That you were able to see those great Leaf teams of the early '60s in person just adds so much. I could not agree more about the continuity that those clubs had (there were always a couple of players that changed here and there but the core group was there for a long time).

      Our defense corps (including Baun) and players like Armstrong that you mention gave the club that wonderful combination of toughness, leadership- and self-belief. It's hard to explain to people nowadays just how intense those games - and days - were when it came to the Montreal-Toronto rivalry.

      And those Sunday afternoon Marlie/St. Mike's doubleheaders were something, for sure.

      Thanks for posting, Pete- and for the good words about the podcast.