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100 Years in Blue and White
A Century of Hockey in Toronto
By Toronto Star
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2016 Toronto Star Newspapers Limited
All rights reserved.
1917–1927: The Beginning
The Maple Leafs actually begin life as the Montreal Canadiens before morphing into the Toronto Blueshirts, then the Arenas, later the St. Patricks and finally the team we know today.
The National Hockey League comes into being on November 26, 1917 and begins to compete for the Stanley Cup.
The Toronto Arenas, a charter member of the NHL, win 13 of 22 regular season games in 1917–18, then go on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Arenas are renamed the Toronto St. Patricks before the 1919–20 season. The St. Pats finish with a 12–12 record and miss the playoffs.
Cecil "Babe" Dye signs with the St. Patricks in December 1919 and scores 11 goals in 23 games in his first season. He then leads the team in scoring for the next five seasons.
John Ross Roach takes over in goal in 1921 and leads the St. Patricks to their first and only Stanley Cup victory in March 1922.
Foster Hewitt does first radio broadcast of a hockey game on March 22, 1923 — a senior game between Kitchener and Toronto Parkdale — on Canada Covers America First, a radio station owned by the Toronto Star.
Clarence "Hap" Day is signed in 1924 by the St. Pats. He is named captain of the Maple Leafs in 1927 and plays 14 seasons in Toronto. Day is then hired as the Leafs coach in 1940, winning five Stanley Cup championships in the next 10 years.
Ace Bailey joins the team for the 1926–27 season and leads the St. Patricks with 28 points in 42 games.
New owners led by Conn Smythe pay $160,000 for the St. Patricks in January 1927 and announce that they will rename the team The Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club Limited.
The Surprising Roots of the Toronto Maple Leafs
By Jim Proudfoot Published: December 8, 1990
An absolutely astounding piece of historical information has just come to light. You're going to find it difficult to believe but its authenticity is beyond question. So prepare to be amazed, and then read on.
The Toronto Maple Leafs started life as the Montreal Canadiens. No kidding. They really did.
Now the Montreal-Toronto rivalry isn't as bitter as before. It used to be a feud like no other in the National Hockey League. We're talking bloodshed here, folks. But enough excitement is left to create a lively demand for tickets to next Wednesday's game at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Canadiens against the Buds. This remains the matchup local connoisseurs ache to witness, hoping for a return of the old magic.
Under the circumstances, then, it's really a gem authors Joseph Romain and James Duplacey unearthed in researching The Toronto Maple Leafs: Images of Glory, their handsomely illustrated tale of the franchise.
The Montreal Canadiens were charter members of the National Hockey Association, which was formed in 1909 and would exist for eight winters before becoming the National Hockey League. After that initial season, the NHA heard from a gentleman named George Kennedy. He owned what was called the Club Athletique Canadien in Montreal and was threatening the NHA with legal action for stealing a name that belonged to him, officially.
He was offering a way out, however. He'd call off his attorneys, he said, if he were licensed to operate a team in the NHA. So the struggling Haileybury, Ont., club was uprooted and transferred to Montreal where Kennedy was installed as owner. Naturally, he called his outfit Les Canadiens.
Meanwhile, the original 1909–10 Canadiens were sold to Toronto people, who waited until the Mutual St. Arena was completed in 1912 and then entered NHA competition as the Blueshirts. The Blueshirts later became the Arenas, who became the St. Patricks, who became the Maple Leafs in 1927 after being purchased by the late Conn Smythe. They moved to their present home in 1931.
But it's clear the Leafs of today are descended directly from the organization that came into being as the Montreal Canadiens.
"Charles Coleman made a vague reference to this in The Trail of the Stanley Cup, which is the main source for any history of hockey," says Joe Romain. "We realized it would be important in any history of the Leafs. So we did some more digging."
Simultaneously, York professor Frank Cosentino was preparing The Renfrew Millionaires and from different archives altogether, made the identical discovery. The Millionaires also played in that first league, which is why the strange birth of the Leafs came to his attention.
The Blueshirts would have been contenders immediately if they'd inherited the Canadiens' players with the franchise. Among them were Jean Baptiste Laviolette and Didier Pitre, two of the most talented Francophones ever to wear skates. But NHA rules didn't allow them to leave Quebec.
Still, the Blueshirts managed to assemble five athletes who would eventually be enshrined in the Hall of Fame: Frank Nighbor, Harry Holmes, Frank Foyston, Jack Marshall and Harry Cameron. With a few changes, they won the Stanley Cup in 1914.
Eddie Livingston, who already owned the Toronto Tecumsehs, purchased the Blueshirts in 1915 and merged them as the Arenas when the league wouldn't let him run two teams. Despite winning the newborn NHL's first Stanley Cup championship in 1918, the Arenas folded with two games to go a year later. The proprietors started over again that autumn as the St. Patricks and were rewarded with another Stanley Cup three years later. Smythe took over and changed the name, the colors and the logo in keeping with an intense patriotism, which would never waver.
If only for the wonderful old photos, Images of Glory is worth its enormous ($29.95) price. But the yarns are terrific, too. For example, Romain and Duplacey tell about a game at Mutual St. in 1926 when the St. Pats' Babe Dye lost his temper, seized the only puck in the building and sulkily refused to give it back to referee Bobby Hewitson. He remained adamant despite pleas from his teammates, the opposition and the spectators, of course. Finally, Hewitson cancelled the game and awarded it to the visitors — the Montreal Canadiens, naturally.
Dennenay Sparks Arenas' Sensational Cup Victory
Published: April 1, 1918
That the Stanley Cup sojourns in Toronto and not in Vancouver for the summer months, is due to a blue-clad player about the size of a pint of cider or a 30-second minute — Corbett Dennenay, the Cornwall boy who has been Torontos' "pinch hitter" for a couple of seasons.
Young Dennenay, who has everything that goes to make up a star pro player but size, came through with the goal tht won the cup series for Toronto within nine minutes of the completion of the hour's play in the final game of the series at the Arena Saturday night.
It was a sensational goal, in a sensational game, and to say that the crowd enthused over young Dennenay and the winning goal is putting it mildly.
For 41 minutes the rival teams had battled grimly, determinedly, cleanly and scorelessly. Then the rotund Alfie Skinner, who had been chasing that lil' old puck all over the ice heap and pestering the life out of every opponent who laid a stick on it, sailed down the right boards and heaved a 60-foot lob at Goalkeeper Lehmann.
It looked as easy to handle as a couple of fresh eggs in a glass. In fact, it was too easy. Lehmann missed it, and Alfred did a hula-hula down the ice and tried to kiss the bald spot on Cyclone Taylor's head, while the crowd yelled itself to a whisper.
After 41 minutes of scoreless hockey that one goal loomed up as large as an elephant at a tea party. It was as welcome as whiskey at an Irish wake. Both goalkeepers had been doing such marvellous work and both defences had been so steadily effective that it looked as if that one goal would win the silverware, but the Vancouvers had courage to burn.
They came on steadily, and after being foiled a dozen times when goals looked likely in the next nine minutes, finally landed the tying counter. "Cy" Taylor notched the tally on a pass from "Tornado" McKay.
Then the fat was in the fire in real earnest. Both sides buckled into the fray with every last ounce of speed, courage and determination and the crowd rocked with excitement.
When things were in the balance in the previous two periods Dennenay had been showing some sensational hockey, and so when things were in extremes to the little slender Cornwall lad the crowd looked for the game's salvation.
He had made some wonderful efforts to wiggle through the three and four-man defence Vancouver had been employing all evening, and, in spite of the fact that he had been bumped over and tripped every time he had come down and he had been inside and missed one or two counters by inches, he was still trying with every ounce he had.
Dennenay had the crowd with him every time he tried a rush. To land the winning goal he brought the puck from mid-ice alone, side-stepped and outguessed four men en route and, standing on one foot, dodged goalkeeper Lehmann's plunge and slide at him, and flipped the puck in. He was so far overbalanced that he clashed into the goal post before he could pull up.
The remaining six minutes were tense with excitement. The Millionaires threw everybody but Lehmann and one defence man up on the attack and strove valiantly to tie up, but the Arenas fastened to the puck-carriers like bull pups to ham bones, and they seldom got a decent shot.
The Arenas tightened up to a four-man defence and delayed the game every way they could. Three times they were called for playing "rag" behind the nets.
It was a good hard game all the way and it was superbly handled by the best pair of officials in the business, Harvey Pulford of Ottawa and Russell Bowie of Montreal. They made no mistakes, and they dropped on anything that looked like roughness with "a dull sickening thud."
There was only one penalty in the first period — "Cy" Taylor for loafing — but in the second and third the referees rode the players to the clink so assiduously that three times during the evening Toronto found their two subs used up and Vancouver was forced to drop a man and equalize the sides at five men each.
Outside of a jab Skinner took at Cook's head after the latter had mussed him up behind the nets there wasn't a thing that looked at all crude. The other penalties were all for slashes, trips or hard bodychecks into the boards.
Outside of Dennenay's great work, the outstanding feature was the marvellous work of Harry Holmes and Hugh Lehmann, the rival goalkeepers. No better exhibition of goal-guarding has ever been seen in Toronto than this pair gave Saturday night. They were both wizards.
It was positively uncanny the way in which this pair came out and out-guessed players who had penetrated the defences. The crowd cheered them time and time again.
Everybody else played well. Skinner's backchecking and tireless energy, which featured every game of the series, again made him stand out on Torontos' forward line, but Noble and Randall did great work. Cameron made some spectacular rushes and Mummery was a second goalkeeper. He stopped as many shots as Holmes did.
For Vancouver, McKay played a sensational game and Taylor had the crowd cheering him like a hometown favorite. Lloyd Cook and the rest of them were right at the top of their form and worked so hard and gamely that they had half the crowd cheering them.
In fact the truth is that Vancouver plainly outplayed Toronto in the first chapter, so much so that the odds dropped from 2 to 1 on Torontos down to 6 to 5, and they also had enough margin in the second period to force the "odds to evens."
In the final period, the Arenas, who had faded in earlier games in the series, came on, and showing unexpected stamina, had a margin in the play.
The game might well have ended in a tie as Skinner's goal, beautifully placed and all as it was, must be regarded as somewhat lucky.
Everything else from long range that came Lehmann's way he handled with careless ease. How he managed to miss the Skinner shot is the mystery of the game.
When Toronto Eyes Were Smilin'
On March 17, 1922 — St. Patrick's Day — the Toronto St. Pats, forerunners to today's Maple Leafs, began the best-of-five Stanley Cup final against the Vancouver Millionaires. They lost that game 4–3, but St. Pat fans continued to pack the Arena Gardens in Toronto, where the series went the limit, with the St. Pats winning their first and only Cup. The following is an excerpt from the colorful report filed by the legendary Lou Marsh on the March 28 game that cinched the Cup.
By Lou Marsh Published: March 28, 1922
Just cancel that order for the town band and tell the mayor of Vancouver he needn't sit up any more composing his ode of "Welcome to the Victorious Warriors." There ain't going to be no welcome for the Pacific coast champions in the city by the western ocean. The Millionaires are going home labeled "Thirty Cents," and the Stanley Cup will remain here in Toronto with the once-despised St. Patricks team. The Millionaires team turned out like an auction room watch — looks well, but won't stand the wear and tear.
The Irish squad just whaled the Coasters 5–1 last night in the deciding game and what is more, they looked that much the better team, and the sharks who laid in their toad skins at 8 to 5 and 2 to 1 turned out to be just plain gold fish. The pikers gathered all the gravy. The result was absolutely the biggest surprise of the upsettingist hockey season we ever had in this chunk of the old hemisphere.
The ragged-looking battlers in the green shirts hopped right into the silverware scramble with the bell, and proceeded to show the boys from the foggy western coast that they were much the best team, even without Eddie Gerard, the defenceman they borrowed from Ottawa to help them out Saturday night. (Harry) Cameron went back to his old place on the defence and "crippled" around like a 2-year-old. Any old time the management wants Cammy to star they should hamstring him. He goes better when he is wounded. He was one of the stars of an all-star team. Ken Randall, the other cripple — the most useful player St. Pats had all through the season — sat on the bench and saw the man who relieved him, Rod Smylie, step out and play sensational hockey. On the last games the dashing dentist has cinched a regular berth on St. Pats, 1923.
St. Pats did not win because they had the breaks. They won because they were the better team and they played the best hockey from end to end.
The Westerners played like a telegraph message all through the piece — in dots and dashes. They couldn't get anywhere simply because they were checked off their feet. Their shooting was atrocious all through the piece. They were checked so assiduously that they hadn't much time to get their elbows rested or their sights adjusted.
Can you imagine that for a professional champion team — 31 shots without a single score. In the final session when the protégés of the snake-chasing saint were sitting tight with everybody doing duty in the second and third line trenches they heaved 21 at (John Ross) Roach and only one got by, while the Irish got two counters on 12 shots.
That must prove either one of two things — that Roach is a net wizard and (Hugh) Lehman just ordinary, or that St. Pats are wonderful snipers and that the Vancs were shooting like old women.
Personally, I think that it was just a little of both.
The Vancouver team is the heavier and stronger team and they had the edge in speed, possibly not man to man, but in the aggregate, but the Irish squad showed that they had the brains, the pep, and the heart when it came to the pinch, and they trounced them thoroughly.
Babe Dye laid that old black bun on the target with terrific speed all night and scored four of the five goals. When he whipped it in it almost whined like a ricocheting bullet.
The defence work of (Bill) Stuart and Cameron was by far their best this season, but both excelled themselves offensively.
The boy with the sunset hair rushed incessantly. He carried the puck well, took advantage of the openings and had a keen ear out for pass signals.
He could have stuffed his lugs with cotton batten and heard Almighty Voice Dye.
He handed the Grand Llama of the Kingdom of Shoot two great across-the-ice passes and his nobs laid the ebony tablet on the altar of victory.
Excerpted from 100 Years in Blue and White by Toronto Star. Copyright © 2016 Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Contents1917–1927: The Beginning,
The Surprising Roots of the Toronto Maple Leafs,
Dennenay Sparks Arenas' Sensational Cup Victory,
When Toronto Eyes Were Smilin',
1927–1944: Leafs' First Cup and a New Home,
Brilliant Victory for Maple Leafs,
Leafs Win Three Straight and Capture Stanley Cup,
Remembering Ace Bailey and the True Birth of Leafs Nation,
Leafs and Miss Stanley Finally "Making Woo",
1944–1964: Glory Years,
Long Puck Harvest Ends with Leafs Triumphant,
Leafs 'Ugly Ducklings' Hit the Jackpot,
Leafs 'Answered Every Question',
Toronto Makes It Three in a Row,
Bashin' Bill Barilko's Blow Beats Canadiens,
Chicago Fans Egg Leafs on to Big Win,
Leafs Are Champions Twice in a Row,
Season Leaves Fans as Exhausted as Leafs,
1964-1967: Last Sip from Lord Stanley's Cup,
Salming a Solid Factor in Rebirth of Leafs,
NHL Bullies Are Tiger's Cup of Tea,
Leafs Off to Montreal Thanks to McDonald,
Storm Hits Leafs Locker Room,
Vaive Tops Big M's Record,
Wendel Clark Is No. 1 Pick in Draft,
'Too Tough to Play under Those Conditions',
1990–1999: Return to Respectability,
'Killer' Breathes Life into Leafs,
Burns Takes Charge,
Dream Season Comes to a Crashing End,
Leafs Trade Captain Clark,
1999–2014: Early Success and Then Despair,
Leafs Triumph in ACC Debut,
Colour Burke Black 'n Blue,
Leafs Snag Sniper in Kessel,
2014-2016: Back to the Drawing Board,
Fear, Pain and a Long Journey,
Leafs Give Sundin a Spot on Legends Row,
Leafs' Rebuild Gaining Momentum,
One Giant Leap,
1917-2017: Gone but Fondly Remembered,