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Etched in History

Maple Leafs began run of three straight Cup titles in 1961-62

Toronto featured in series about champions being removed from trophy

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

Every 13 years when the bottom band of the Stanley Cup is filled with names of champions, the top band is removed and retired to be displayed in the vault of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The current top band, featuring NHL championship teams from 1953-54 to 1964-65, is coming off, and four bands below it are sliding up one place to make room for a fresh fifth band at the bottom that will begin with the 2017-18 Washington Capitals. Each day through Oct. 2, NHL.com will look at one of the 12 Cup-winning teams leaving hockey's most coveted trophy.

 

1961-62 TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Regular-season record: 37-22-11 (85 points), second in NHL
Coach: Punch Imlach
Captain: George Armstrong
Names on the Cup: 31
Players on the Cup: 21
Future Hall of Fame players on the Cup: George Armstrong, Johnny Bower, Dick Duff, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Bert Olmstead, Allan Stanley

 

Stanley Cup engraving anomalies: "MAPLE LEAFS" appears with quotation marks, as do "PUNCH" Imlach, "KING" Clancy and "TIM" Horton, to denote nicknames for players with given names of George, Francis and Miles. There appears to be a correction in the engraving of Robert in ROBERT BAUN, one character tapped over another.

A name on the Cup: Defenseman Larry Hillman already was on the Stanley Cup as a member of the 1954-55 Detroit Red Wings. This was the first of Hillman's four championships with Toronto; the others were in 1963, '64 and '67. He won one more title with the Montreal Canadiens in 1968-69 on his fourth of the NHL's Original Six teams (he played for the Boston Bruins for three seasons from 1957-60).

 

How they made history

Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach had a simple explanation for his team's six-game Stanley Cup Final victory against the Chicago Black Hawks to end the latter's one-year championship reign.

"We just outplayed them and we couldn't be denied," Imlach said as his players spilled as much champagne as they drank in their Chicago Stadium dressing room. "Actually, I think much of our success can be attributed to our three centers of Dave Keon, Bob Pulford and Red Kelly. Those three are better than any three of the Hawks', and I'm including Stan Mikita in there."

During the regular season, Chicago forward Bobby Hull became the third NHL player to score 50 goals, joining Maurice Richard (1944-45) and Bernie Geoffrion (1960-61), each of the Montreal Canadiens, and hopes were running high in the Windy City that a Cup repeat was in the air.

In a scene eerily lit by glass-mounted strobe flashes, Toronto defensemen Allan Stanley (left) and Tim Horton help goalie Johnny Bower defend against the New York Rangers during a 1961-62 game.

 

But the Canadiens were eager to get back into the winner's circle after their five-year title streak ended in 1961, and the Maple Leafs, seeking their first Cup championship since 1951, weathered injuries to finish second to Montreal.

The Black Hawks lost the first two games to the Canadiens in the 1962 NHL Semifinals but rebounded with four straight wins to advance; the Maple Leafs won in six games against the New York Rangers.

Teammates and dear friends Red Kelly (left) and Frank Mahovlich were on Maple Leafs championship teams in 1962, '63, '64 and '67.

 

Toronto opened the Final with two wins at Maple Leaf Gardens, then lost twice in Chicago and returned home tied 2-2. An 8-4 victory in Game 5, including a Pulford hat trick, set the table for the Maple Leafs' championship, which they won with a 2-1 Game 6 victory, their only road win of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Maple Leafs defenseman Allan Stanley was 36, in his 14th of 21 NHL seasons and on his fourth of five teams. Finally he was a champion, and he would win again with Toronto in 1963, '64 and '67 as a rock-solid force on the blue line. In D'Arcy Jenish's 1992 book, "The Stanley Cup: A Hundred Years of Hockey at its Best," Stanley recalled the instant that followed Toronto's 1962 victory.

Rangers goalie Gump Worsley (left) greets Toronto counterpart Johnny Bower in the handshake line after the Maple Leafs' victory in the 1962 NHL Semifinals.

 

"My dad was the first guy on the ice," Stanley said. "He was down from Timmins (Ontario) for the playoffs. He talked his way past a couple of guards, and when we won he went flying across the ice. He ran right into me and almost knocked me down. You'd think he'd won the Stanley Cup. People thought it was (Maple Leafs owner) Conn Smythe throwing his arms around me."

Like Stanley, Frank Mahovlich, the graceful, powerful forward known as The Big M, won the first of four titles with Toronto, leading his team in the Final with four goals. He won two more championships with Montreal, in 1971 and '73.

"When does all this hit you?" Mahovlich said in the dressing room. "I know it will happen all at once and I'll realize we won it. I knew if we got a goal, we could get two."

The Maple Leafs arrived home from Chicago at 3:30 a.m. with some 3,000 fans awaiting them at the airport. A ticker-tape parade and City Hall welcome was in the works.

Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach in the dressing room with Frank Mahovlich (center) and captain George Armstrong.

 

"To understand what this means to the Leafs, think of this," Armstrong said. "I've been playing organized hockey since I was 10 or 11. That's 20 or 21 years in the sport. In all that time, it's been my one and only aim to play on a Stanley Cup team. Every player feels the same. Outside of four fellows -- Red Kelly, Bert Olmstead, Al Arbour and Eddie Litzenberger -- none of us has made it.

"We hadn't even come close. I'd been in the Final twice and we were beaten quite badly both times (by the Canadiens in 1959 and '60). So I'm talking on behalf of all the Leafs when I say that we're very happy and consider ourselves very fortunate."

The morning after the Maple Leafs' victory, there was a single switchboard operator working at their downtown arena. She wasn't answering the phone with "Maple Leaf Gardens" as usual. Her first words were "Stanley Cup champions."

Indeed, the Maple Leafs were Cup winners for the first time in 11 years. Toronto's last title, in 1951, had been bittersweet; it preceded the disappearance on a fishing trip of popular Maple Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko, four months after he scored the Cup winner in overtime in Game 5 of the Final against the Canadiens on April 21. On June 6, 1962, six weeks after Toronto won the Cup again, the wreckage of Barilko's plane was discovered in dense bush in northern Ontario.

Maple Leafs center Dave Keon, the 1961-62 Lady Byng Trophy winner, uses his backhand from in close on Chicago Black Hawks goalie Glenn Hall.

 

[Read all Etched in History stories: 1953-54 Red Wings | 1954-55 Red Wings | 1955-56 Canadiens |

1956-57 Canadiens | 1957-58 Canadiens | 1958-59 Canadiens | 1959-60 Canadiens |

1960-61 Black Hawks | 1962-63 Maple Leafs | 1963-64 Maple Leafs | 1964-65 Canadiens]

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs

Won Semifinal 4-2 vs. New York Rangers

Won Stanley Cup Final 4-2 vs. Chicago Black Hawks

Game 1: April 10 at Toronto: Maple Leafs 4, Black Hawks 1

Game 2: April 12 at Toronto: Maple Leafs 3, Black Hawks 2

Game 3: April 15 at Chicago: Black Hawks 3, Maple Leafs 0

Game 4: April 17 at Chicago: Black Hawks 4, Maple Leafs 1

Game 5: April 19 at Toronto: Maple Leafs 8, Black Hawks 4

Game 6: April 22 at Chicago: Maple Leafs 2, Black Hawks 1

Stanley Cup-winning goal: Dick Duff, Game 6, 14:14 of the third period

Maple Leafs' leading scorers in Final (three players tied with seven points): Frank Mahovlich (four goals, three assists); George Armstrong, (three goals, four assists); Tim Horton (one goal, six assists).

Winning goalies: Johnny Bower (2-1 record, 195 minutes played, six goals against, 1.85 goals-against average); Don Simmons (2-1, 165 minutes played, eight goals against, 2.91 GAA).

 

Regular-season trophy winners

Lady Byng Trophy: Dave Keon

Overjoyed Maple Leafs players Bob Nevin (left) and Dick Duff; the NHL's official scoresheet from Game 6 of the Final.

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