Forget for a moment that the Edmonton Oilers are one victory from becoming the first team based in Canada to win the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

Of much greater historical significance is that with a Game 7 win on Monday at the Florida Panthers (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ABC, CBC, TVAS, SN), the Oilers would join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams to lose the first three games of the Final and then rally to win the championship.

Edmonton has dramatically risen to its feet after having been all but knocked out, Florida one win from its first championship three games in a row.

But with each Oilers elimination-game victory, the 1942 Maple Leafs have increasingly been part of the conversation. Now, Edmonton is knocking on a door that only Toronto has answered since a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final format was introduced in 1939.

1942: Leafs are first team to come back from 3-0 down

Of course, the Maple Leafs were going to pull off the seemingly impossible 1942 comeback; they had to, their Cup-win-every-10-years streak on the line.

The Toronto St. Patricks won the NHL championship in 1922. The franchise then went without one until 1932, when the Maple Leafs, so named in 1926 by new owner Conn Smythe, won their first with a maple-leaf crest on their wool sweaters.

Winless again until 1942, down 3-0 to the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto roared back with four consecutive victories to claim the championship in the first Stanley Cup Final that went to a seventh game.


NHL President Frank Calder presents Hank Goldup and his teammates with 1942 Stanley Cup medals in the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room before Toronto’s 1942-43 home opener.

“By jiminy!” Maple Leafs captain Syl Apps exclaimed in the bedlam of his team’s dressing room after the game.

A Canadian Press wire report captured the Maple Leafs’ joy.

“As Clarence (Hap) Day, a coach of champions in his second year of professional tutoring, said: ‘We did it the hard way. I had my doubts right up until that final bell rang.’ ”

Rookie defenseman Bob Goldham, not yet 20, raced up to Day and dug into his pocket, extracting a hairpin and the wishbone of a chicken.

“These are my two good-luck charms!” Goldham told his coach. “I’ve been carrying them ever since we won the fourth game of the series.”

The Red Wings were a little more than half a period from resisting the Maple Leafs’ remarkable rally that saw them stave off elimination three times to force Game 7.

Howe scoresheet

Red Wings’ Syd Howe with James Norris Jr., the team’s vice president, during the 1940-41 season, and the official score sheet from Game 7 of the 1942 Stanley Cup Final.

Leading 1-0 on a second-period goal by captain Syd Howe, Detroit was overwhelmed by three goals in the third in a span of less than nine minutes: Sweeney Schriner at 7:47, Pete Langelle at 9:48 with what ultimately was the Cup clincher, and Schriner again at 16:17.

The game attracted the largest crowd to watch a hockey game in Canada, a full decade before “Hockey Night in Canada” began its national TV broadcasts in 1952.

A turnstile count of 16,218 improved by a few hundred the crowd that packed Maple Leaf Gardens on April 19, 1938, for the Memorial Cup junior final between St. Boniface and Oshawa.

"Hockey Night in Canada" radio sponsor Imperial Oil published a large newspaper ad a few days after the Maple Leafs’ improbable victory, boasting that Game 7 had attracted the largest listening audience in hockey history.

Hewitt ad

"Hockey Night in Canada" radio and later TV legend Foster Hewitt called the historic 1942 Stanley Cup Final; radio broadcast sponsor Imperial Oil Limited took out an advertisement in Canadian newspapers coast to coast to announce record listenership for Game 7.

Imperial crowed that “an enormous radio public” of more than 2,600,000 – nearly one-quarter of the country’s population – “had heard Foster Hewitt’s vivid account of this epochal game!”

Hewitt’s play-by-play was complemented by five hockey journalists and broadcasters who added opinion and spice to the intermissions with their popular “Hot Stove League” segments.

The seven-team 1941-42 NHL saw only the last-place regular-season finisher excluded from the playoffs, so the Brooklyn Americans, about to suspend operations and finally fold, packed up early.

The NHL Quarterfinals saw Boston, seeded third, defeat the No. 4 Chicago Black Hawks, and the No. 5 Red Wings bounce the No. 6 Canadiens. In the NHL Semifinals, No. 2 Toronto eliminated the No. 1 New York Rangers, and Detroit ousted Boston.

Jousting in the newspapers before Game 1 of the Final was robust.


The Detroit Red Wings’ Joe Carveth, Adam Brown (kneeling) and Gus Giesebrecht, coach and general manager Jack Adams and goalie Johnny Mowers during the 1941-42 season.

“We’re just sorry that we can’t play Toronto seven nights in a row,” sniffed Red Wings GM and coach Jack Adams.

“We like to beat the Leafs more than any other club. They gloat so much,” Detroit’s Howe added.

Day wouldn’t be goaded into a war of words.

“The playdowns have progressed beyond the talking stage,” he said. “In any event, the Detroit club has already done enough talking for both of us.”

The Red Wings had plenty to brag about early with 3-2 and 4-2 wins in Toronto, then a 5-2 victory in Detroit.


Toronto’s Gordie Drillon (left), head coach Hap Day and Bucko McDonald in the dressing room at Maple Leaf Gardens during 1941-42 training camp. Day would bench both veterans with Toronto down 3-0 in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final.

Bitterly disappointed, Smythe ordered his coach to shake up the roster for Game 4.

Day stunned hockey by benching Gordie Drillon, who had led team in scoring during the the regular season, and putting Don Metz on the top line with his brother, Nick, and captain Syl Apps.

Battleship defenseman Bucko McDonald was pulled in favor of rookie Ernie Dickens, who had all of 10 NHL games under his belt, none in the postseason.

The Maple Leafs’ plight -- indeed, their imminent demise -- delighted many.

“Backed by a high-powered publicity organization with their games broadcast from Vancouver to Halifax, the Maple Leafs have been blatantly portrayed by their drum-beaters as the supermen of hockey,” Lewis H. Walter wrote in the Brantford (Ontario) Expositor before Game 4. “But they are not hockey immortals.”


Toronto goalie Turk Broda smothers a puck during Game 4 of the 1942 Stanley Cup Final at Olympia Stadium in Detroit. The Maple Leafs staved off elimination with a 4-3 win.

And then Walter trotted out the derisive nickname that had been given to Toronto in the late 1800s for its pork- and meat-packing industry, an insult that was “intended to convey an impression that the citizens of Toronto were porcine in their tendencies and had their forefeet in anything worth having,” according to an 1898 Toronto Globe and Mail editorial.

“Hogtown makes its last stand Sunday night!” Walter exclaimed.

Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead in Game 4, Olympia Stadium fans expecting a championship sweep. But the new-look Maple Leafs tied it 2-2, surrendered the lead again, then scored twice in the third to win 4-3 and send the series back to Toronto.

That was only part of the festivities. Red Wings coach Adams jumped on the ice at the end of the game and attacked referee Mel Harwood, infuriated by late penalties called against Detroit. NHL president Frank Calder immediately suspended Adams for the rest of the series.

Game 5 was a blowout, Toronto putting nine pucks behind Detroit goalie Johnny Mowers in a 9-3 rout.


Toronto goalie Turk Broda poses with the 1942 Vezina Trophy in his team’s Maple Leaf Gardens dressing room.

Now reeling, the Red Wings hoped home ice would be kinder but the Maple Leafs just rolled on, tying the series 3-3 on the strength of goalie Turk Broda’s 3-0 shutout.

The Detroit Evening Times of April 18 set up that night’s Maple Leaf Gardens sudden-death finale, headlining its story, “Toronto Figures Wings Haven’t Chance Tonight; Last Stanley Cup Series Until War is Over Will End Tonight.”

A number of NHL players already had enlisted, including Boston Bruins superstars Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, with more to follow.

The Detroit Free Press morosely wrote of the “grim do-or-die spirit” of the Red Wings, who packed “only their will to win” on their train to Toronto.

The season came down to one final game, Detroit's once-smooth road to the Stanley Cup having spun into a ditch.


Members of the Toronto Maple Leafs pose on Maple Leaf Gardens ice during the 1942 Stanley Cup Playoffs. From left: Bingo Kampman, Bob Goldham, Wally Stanowski, Ernie Dickens, Sweeney Schriner, Nick Metz, Gaye Stewart, Don Metz, Billy Taylor and Lorne Carr.

Fatigued and a sudden-death underdog, with Toronto’s momentum not to be denied, the Red Wings were swamped in the third period by a Maple Leafs express that was cheered on by a frenzied home crowd. Detroit crashed historically, the first and only team to blow a 3-0 lead in losing the Final.

Toronto’s Billy Taylor led scoring in the series with nine points (one goal, eight assists), Schriner’s five goals tops in that category. Broda gave up 19 goals for a 2.71 goals-against average, compared to Mowers’ 25 against and 3.57 average.

It was the sixth of 23 playoff meetings to date between Toronto and Detroit, their second of seven in the championship round. It’s close overall -- 12-11 in favor of the Maple Leafs -- but very one-sided in the Final, Toronto winning six straight since Detroit’s 1936 best-of-5 title.

The Red Wings exacted a measure of revenge 10 years later; Detroit snapped Toronto’s 1922-1932-1942 streak when they swept the Maple Leafs in the 1952 semifinals, then went on to crush the Canadiens in four to win the Cup.

Now, in their first postseason meeting against the Panthers, the Oilers are poised to join an elite club of one. If that happens, surely someone in the Edmonton dressing room should utter “By jiminy!” to celebrate a time when Apps was a brilliant player, not things on a smartphone.

Top photo: Toronto captain Syl Apps hoists the Stanley Cup after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on April 18, 1942 at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Related Content