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Barilko disobeyed coach, won Cup for Maple Leafs in 1951

Defenseman scored historic goal in overtime after ignoring instructions

by Stan Fischler / Special to

Legendary hockey reporter Stan Fischler writes a weekly scrapbook for Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," shares his humor and insight with readers each Wednesday. Once a month, he will let a photo from his vast collection do the talking in his "Picture is Worth 100 Words" feature.

Stan's subject today is Bill Barilko, a defenseman who helped the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup four times in the five seasons he played in the NHL. Known best for his robust play (his nickname was "Snake Hips"), Barilko had been warned by coach Joe Primeau about taking dangerous offensive chances before overtime in Game 5 of the 1951 Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens. But despite the threat of a $500 fine, Barilko disobeyed instructions -- and scored the Cup-winning goal.


The 1951 Stanley Cup Final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens was extremely hard-fought. The Maple Leafs held a 3-1 lead entering Game 5 of the best-of-7 series, but each of the first four games was decided in overtime.

Not surprisingly, Game 5 also went to OT. Before overtime began, Maple Leafs coach Joe Primeau warned his five defensemen, particularly Bill Barilko, not to wander into the Montreal zone when Maurice "Rocket" Richard was on the ice. The price of disobedience: a $500 fine.

Luckily for the Maple Leafs, Barilko didn't follow instructions.

Early in overtime, despite Richard being on the ice, Barilko (No. 5 in white) disobeyed orders. As the puck skimmed out toward the Montreal blue line, he frantically rushed in, went airborne and scored the Cup-winning goal.

Primeau rushed onto the ice to embrace Barilko and (not surprisingly) told him, "Forget about the fine."

These pictures (one from behind Barilko; the other from in front of him, showing his reaction as the puck goes past Montreal goalie Gerry McNeil) were the last of Barilko in an NHL game. He died that summer in a plane crash.

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