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History of the National Hockey League (1942-1967)

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The Original Six era of the National Hockey League (NHL) began in 1942 with the demise of the Brooklyn Americans, reducing the NHL to six teams. The NHL, comprising the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs, remained stable for a quarter century. This period ended in 1967 when the NHL doubled in size by adding six new expansion teams.

Maurice Richard became the first player to score 50 goals in a season in 1944–45. In 1955, Richard was suspended for assaulting a linesman, leading to the Richard Riot. Gordie Howe made his debut in 1946. He retired 35 seasons later as the NHL's all-time leader in goals and points. Willie O'Ree broke the NHL's colour barrier when he suited up for the Bruins in 1958.

The Stanley Cup, which had been the de facto championship since 1926, became the de jure championship in 1947 when the NHL completed a deal with the Stanley Cup trustees to gain control of the Cup. It was a period of dynasties, for the Maple Leafs would win the Stanley Cup nine times from 1942 onwards and the Canadiens ten times, including five consecutive titles between 1956 and 1960. However, the 1967 championship is the last Maple Leafs title to date.

The NHL continued to develop throughout the era. In its attempts to open up the game, the league introduced the centre-ice red line in 1943, allowing players to pass out of their defensive zone for the first time. In 1959, Jacques Plante became the first goaltender to regularly use a mask for protection. Off the ice, the business of hockey was changing as well. The first amateur draft was held in 1963 as part of efforts to balance talent distribution within the league. The National Hockey League Players Association was formed in 1967, ten years after Ted Lindsay's attempts at unionization failed.

Background Edit

See also: History of the National Hockey League (1917–1942)
Clarence Campbell Stanley Cup 1957

Clarence Campbell served as the NHL's third President from 1946 until his retirement in 1977.

The Great Depression and World War II had a detrimental impact on the NHL in the 1930s and early 1940s. The league peaked at ten teams between 1926 and 1931; however financial pressures led to the demise of several teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates relocated to become the Philadelphia Quakers in 1930 before folding in 1931.[1] The Ottawa Senators became the St. Louis Eagles in 1934, and likewise ceased operations after one year in their new market.[2] The Montreal Maroons suspended operations in 1937 as the Montreal market was unable to support two teams.[3] The New York Americans, renamed the Brooklyn Americans, suspended operations in 1942, citing financial difficulty and a lack of players due to the war.[4] By the 1942–43 season, the league was reduced to six teams.

There was also change at the top; in February 1943, league President Frank Calder collapsed during a meeting, dying shortly after.[5] Red Dutton agreed to take over as president after receiving assurances from the league that the Brooklyn franchise he had operated would resume play after the war. When the other team owners reneged on this promise in 1946, Dutton resigned as league president.[6] With Dutton's recommendation, Clarence Campbell was named president of the NHL in 1946. He remained in that role until his retirement in 1977. Campbell's tenure matched the stability of the league. For the first 21 years of his presidency, the same six teams competed for the Stanley Cup and that period has been called the "golden age of hockey".[7] The NHL featured increasingly intense rivalries coupled with rule innovations that opened up the game.[8]

Post-war period Edit

Syl Apps

Syl Apps, with the Cup before it was redesigned, in the 1940s

World War II had ravaged the rosters of many teams to such an extent that by the 1943–44 season, teams were battling each other for players. In need of a goaltender, The Bruins won a fight with the Canadiens over the services of Bert Gardiner. Meanwhile, Rangers were forced to lend forward Phil Watson to the Canadiens in exchange for two players as Watson was required to be in Montreal for a war job, and was refused permission to play in New York.[9]

With only five returning players from the previous season, Rangers general manager Lester Patrick suggested suspending his team's play for the duration of the war. Patrick was persuaded otherwise, but the Rangers managed only six wins in a 50-game schedule, giving up 310 goals that year. The Rangers were so desperate for players that 42-year old coach Frank Boucher made a brief comeback, recording four goals and ten assists in 15 games.[9] The Canadiens, on the other hand, dominated the league that season, finishing with a 38–5–7 record; five losses remains a league record for the fewest in one season while the Canadiens did not lose a game on home ice.[10] Their 1944 Stanley Cup victory was the team's first in 14 seasons.[11] The Canadiens again dominated in 1944–45, finishing with a 38–8–4 record. They were beat in the playoffs by the underdog Maple Leafs, who went on to win the Cup.[12]

NHL teams had exclusively competed for the Stanley Cup following the 1926 demise of the Western Hockey League. Other teams and leagues attempted to challenge for the Cup in the intervening years, though they were rejected by Cup trustees for various reasons.[13] In 1947, the NHL reached an agreement with trustees P. D. Ross and Cooper Smeaton to grant control of the Cup to the National Hockey League (NHL), allowing the league to reject challenges from other leagues.[14] The last such challenge came from the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League in 1953, but was rejected as the AHL was not considered of equivalent calibre to the NHL, one of the conditions of the NHL's deal with trustees.[15]

The Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1943 under the leadership of James T. Sutherland, a former President of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA). The Hall of Fame was established as a joint venture between the NHL and the CAHA in Kingston, Ontario, considered by Sutherland to be the birthplace of hockey. Originally called the "International Hockey Hall of Fame", its mandate was to honour great hockey players and to raise funds for a permanent location. The first eleven honoured members were inducted on April 30, 1945.[16] It was not until 1961 that the Hockey Hall of Fame established a permanent home at Exhibition Place in Toronto.[17]

The first official All-Star Game took place at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on October 13, 1947 to raise money for the newly created NHL Pension Society. The NHL All-Stars defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4–3 and raised C$25,000 for the pension fund. The All-Star Game has since become an annual tradition.[18]

"Rocket" Richard Edit

The 1940s Canadiens were led by the "Punch line" of Elmer Lach, Toe Blake and Maurice "Rocket" Richard. In 1944–45, Lach, Richard and Blake finished first, second and third in the NHL's scoring race with 80, 73 and 67 points respectively.[19] It was Richard who became the focus of the media and fans as he attempted to score 50 goals in a 50 game season, a feat no other player had accomplished in league history. During that season, Richard set a single-game scoring record, scoring five goals and three assists, in a 9–1 victory over Detroit on December 28, 1944.[12] By later scoring his 45th goal in his 42nd game, he broke Joe Malone's goal scoring record. Opposing teams did all they could to prevent him from reaching the 50-goal mark: he was slashed, elbowed and held as no team wanted to be known as the one that gave up the goal.[11] Richard finally scored his 50th goal in Boston at 17:45 of the third period of Montreal's final game of the season.[19] No other player scored 50 goals in 50 games until Mike Bossy in 1980–81.[20]

Maurice richard profile

Maurice "Rocket" Richard, the first player to score 50 goals in 50 games, retired as the NHL's all-time scoring leader.

In March 1955, Richard was suspended for the remainder of the season, including the playoffs, after he received a match penalty for slashing Boston's Hal Laycoe then punching a linesman who attempted to intervene.[20] The suspension touched off a wave of anger towards Campbell, who was warned not to attend a scheduled game in Montreal after receiving numerous death threats, mainly from French-Canadians accusing him of anti-French bias.[21] Campbell dismissed the warnings, and attended the March 17 game as planned. His presence at the game was perceived by many fans as a provocation and he was booed and pelted with eggs and fruit;[22] an hour into the game, a fan lobbed a tear-gas bomb in Campbell's direction, and firefighters decided to clear the building.[21] Fans leaving the Forum were met by a growing mob of angry demonstrators outside, who overwhelmed the 250 police officers on the scene, and rioted outside of the Forum. Seventy people were arrested, 37 people injured, fifty stores were looted and $100,000 in property damage was reported in the melee, which became known as l'affaire Richard, or the Richard Riot.[22]

The following day, Richard went on the Montreal radio and asked the fans to stop rioting and instead to support the Canadiens in the playoffs; he also said he would take his punishment and come back the following year to win the Cup.[23] While the Canadiens were eliminated in the 1955 Stanley Cup Finals, Richard led Montreal to the 1956 Stanley Cup.[22] The incident highlighted the growing cultural gap between French Quebec and English Canada and the riot is often described as an early manifestation of Quebec's Quiet Revolution.[22][24]. Campbell's decision to suspend Richard was widely supported by fans outside of Quebec. Some, including Detroit's Ted Lindsay, said the suspension did not go far enough and argued that Richard, a man who had paid more fines than any other player in league history, should have been banned for life.[21]

Richard became the first player to score 500 career goals on October 19, 1957. He retired in 1960 as an eight-time Stanley Cup champion, as well as the NHL's all-time leading scorer with 544 goals. In 1961, the league waived the customary three-year waiting period and Richard was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.[20]

Hockey Night in Canada Edit

In the fall of 1951, Conn Smythe watched special television feeds of Maple Leaf games in an attempt to determine whether it would be a suitable medium for broadcasting hockey games. Television already had its detractors within the NHL, especially in Campbell who declared it to be "the greatest menace of the entertainment world".[25] In 1952, even though only 10% of Canadians owned a television set, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) began televising games.[26] On November 1, 1952, Hockey Night in Canada was first broadcast on television, with Foster Hewitt calling the action between the Leafs and Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens. The broadcasts quickly became the highest-rated show on Canadian television.[25] The broadcast came three weeks after Montreal radio host René Lecavalier presented a French-language telecast of the Montreal Canadiens' opener against Chicago, marking the beginning of La Soirée du hockey which Radio-Canada, the French arm of the CBC, broadcast until 2004. On that same night, Danny Gallivan made his debut as the English language play-by-play announcer for the Canadiens.[25]

While Campbell feared televised hockey would cause people to stop attending games in person, Smythe felt the opposite. "There'll be thousands of people seeing hockey as played by the pros for the first time. They'll be sold on it because it's a great game, and they won't be satisfied to stay [at home] but will turn out to the rinks."[26] CBS first broadcast hockey games in the United States in the 1956–57 season as an experiment. Amazed with the initial popularity of the broadcasts, it inaugurated a 21-game package of games the following year.[25] The NHL itself adapted to be viewer-friendly. In 1949, the league mandated that the ice surface be painted white to make the puck easier to see. In 1951, it required that the home team wear coloured jerseys, and the road team wear white so that each team was distinguishable on black and white television. For the same reason, teams began to paint the centre red line in a checkered pattern to set it apart from the solid blue lines.[25]

Dynasties Edit

Toronto Maple Leafs Edit

BobbyBaun 05

Bobby Baun scored the overtime winning goal in game six of the 1964 Finals despite breaking his ankle in the third period.

In the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals, the Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens four games to one in the only final in NHL history when all games were decided in overtime.[27] The Cup-winning goal was scored by Leafs' defenceman Bill Barilko after he dashed in from his defensive position, despite an earlier warning from Smythe not to take unnecessary chances, and hammered the puck past Montreal goaltender Gerry McNeil. The goal completed Toronto's fourth Stanley Cup championship in five seasons and made Barilko a national hero.[28] Four months later, Barilko and a friend disappeared in Northern Ontario, where they had flown out on a fishing trip. Barilko's disappearance became front page news across Canada, and a massive search failed to locate the missing plane.[29] Barilko's remains were not found until 1962, the first year the Maple Leafs won the Cup since Barilko's overtime winner eleven years previous.[30] Barilko's disappearance was immortalized 40 years later by Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip in their 1992 song "Fifty Mission Cap".[31]

By 1962, the disappearance of Bill Barilko and the Maple Leafs' subsequent failure to win the Stanley Cup had led fans in Toronto to believe a curse had been placed on the team.[29] The Leafs won the 1962 championship shortly before Barilko's remains were discovered. They repeated as champions in 1963.[32] In 1964, the Leafs again played for the Stanley Cup against the Red Wings. Trailing the series 3–2, Maple Leafs' defenceman Bobby Baun suffered a broken ankle from a Gordie Howe slap shot in the third period of game six. Despite the injury, Baun returned with his ankle taped up and scored the winning goal in overtime.[33] Baun also played the seventh game as the Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings to win their third consecutive title.[34]

Detroit Red Wings Edit

Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe, pictured circa 1966, helped the Red Wings to four Stanley Cup titles in the early 1950s.

Beginning in 1948–49, the Red Wings won seven consecutive regular season titles, a feat that no other team has accomplished. During that time, the Wings won four Stanley Cups.[35] It was during the 1952 Stanley Cup Finals that the Legend of the Octopus was created. Brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano brought a dead octopus to the Detroit Olympia for the fourth game of the finals. They reasoned that the eight tentacles of an octopus represented the eight wins required to win the Stanley Cup at the time. The Wings had already won seven consecutive playoff games, and they hoped that the octopus would inspire Detroit to an eighth victory. Detroit went on to defeat Montreal 3–0 and the tradition was born.[36]

The Wings were led by Gordie Howe. In 1943, Howe was invited to the Rangers player camp in Winnipeg at the age of 15 but quickly became homesick and failed to make an impression on the Rangers coaches.[37] The Red Wings invited him to their camp the next season where coach Jack Adams called him "the best prospect I've seen in 20 years."[38] Two years later, Howe made his NHL debut for Detroit at the age of 18. On March 28, 1950, he was nearly killed during a playoff game against the Leafs. Howe mistimed an attempted check on Toronto's Ted Kennedy, causing him to slam into the boards head first. Howe was rushed to a hospital where doctors drilled a hole into his skull to relieve pressure on his brain.[39] Despite fears that he would never play again, "Mr. Hockey" not only recovered to start the following season, he won his first of four consecutive scoring titles in 1950–51 and was 52 years old when he retired from professional hockey.[38]

Montreal Canadiens Edit

Montreal Canadiens hockey team, October 1942

The 1942–43 Montreal Canadiens

The Red Wings faced the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals in three consecutive seasons between 1954 and 1956.[40] Detroit won the first two match-ups, however Montreal captured the 1956 Stanley Cup, ending one dynasty and starting another.[35] The Canadiens won five consecutive championships between 1956 and 1960, a feat no other team has duplicated.[41]

The Canadiens signed Jean Beliveau, a prospect whose arrival in the NHL had been anticipated for years, in 1953. Beliveau had repeatedly refused to turn professional with Montreal, as his Quebec Senior Hockey League team, the Quebec Aces, matched any contract offer the Canadiens made. Montreal ultimately bought the entire league outright, along with the rights to all players, and turned it professional. Beliveau finally signed with Montreal for $105,000 over five years and a $20,000 bonus, an unprecedented contract for a rookie. Beliveau ultimately won ten Stanley Cups in Montreal.[42]

Led by Richard and Beliveau, the 1950s Canadiens had so much offensive ability the NHL was forced to amend its rules to slow their offence down. The 1955–56 Canadiens frequently scored multiple goals during the same two-minute powerplay. In one game against Boston, Beliveau scored three goals in 44 seconds on the same Bruins penalty. The league instituted a rule for the following season that permitted a player serving a minor penalty to return to the ice early if one goal was scored against his team.[43]

Breaking the colour barrier Edit

On January 18, 1958, Willie O'Ree joined the Bruins as an injury call-up for a game in Montreal. In doing so he became the first black player in the NHL.[44] O'Ree played only two games with the Bruins in the 1957–58 season. He returned to the NHL in 1960–61, playing another 43 games with Boston.[45] Although he only played 45 NHL games, scoring four goals, it was enough for him to be labeled the "Jackie Robinson of hockey".[46]

O'Ree faced blatant racism from opponents throughout the season, remarking that "people just wanted a piece of me, maybe because they thought I was different, so I had to defend myself. I wasn't going to be run out of any rink."[45] He faced racial slurs from fans when he played in Chicago, Detroit and New York,[46] though the taunts were mostly absent in Montreal and Toronto.[45] O'Ree was supported by his teammates and the fans in Boston. He stated that "they were mean to me in places like Detroit and New York, too. But never in Boston. I'll never forget how my teammates there—men like Johnny Bucyk, Doug Mohns, Charlie Burns and Don McKenney—took care of me. They accepted me totally. All of them had class."[47] O'Ree was traded to Montreal in 1961 but was unable to crack the Canadiens' line-up. He played over 20 minor league seasons, twice winning the Western Hockey League's scoring title, with the Los Angeles Blades in 1964 and the San Diego Gulls in 1969.[47]

O'Ree's breakthrough came several years after another black player, Herb Carnegie was denied the same opportunity. Playing junior hockey with the Ontario Hockey Association's Toronto Rangers in 1938–39, Carnegie was pulled aside by his coach during a practice: "See that man sitting in the blues? That's Conn Smythe, owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He says he'd take you tomorrow if he could turn you white." Stung by the comments, Carnegie resolved to excel at the game. He was offered a tryout with the Rangers in 1950, and a spot on their lowest minor league team. "They told me that if I signed with the Rangers and went to New Haven, I would make international headlines. I told them my family couldn't eat headlines. That was probably when the Rangers decided to forget about me."[48]

"Norris House League" Edit

During the 1960s, it was often joked that "NHL" stood for "Norris House League" as the Norris family held interests in several of the league's teams, interests inherited from the patriarch, James E. Norris. James E. Norris had once played ice hockey for the Montreal Hockey Club, and fashioned the Red Wings logo to resemble the Montreal team's logo. When he died in 1952, he passed his interests along to his sons Bruce and James D. James D. Norris was a co-owner of the Black Hawks along with Arthur Wirtz, while his brother Bruce inherited ownership of the Red Wings. James D. Norris was also the largest shareholder in Madison Square Garden, giving him control over the Rangers.[49]

The Black Hawks qualified for the playoffs only once between 1949 and 1957.[50] The team's fortunes turned in 1958–59, following the acquisition of Ted Lindsay and Glenn Hall from Detroit.[49] The Black Hawks made the playoffs, losing to Montreal in the semi-finals in 1959 and 1960 before capturing their first championship in 23 years in the 1961 Stanley Cup Finals. This stood as the longest active cup drought in the NHL until the 2009-10 season when Chicago won the cup.[51]

The Hawks' resurgence in the 1960s led Norris and Wirtz to take advantage of their customers. Dubbed the "Chicken Wings" by fans, the Hawks were famous for fleecing their fans. Ticket sellers were arrested for scalping from the box office, while the team charged $9 for playoff tickets in 1965, $3 more than Detroit, Toronto or Montreal. The Hawks also refused to broadcast road playoff games in Chicago, preferring to charge fans to watch the games via closed-circuit television at Chicago Stadium. Fans responded to the announcements by littering the ice and passing out leaflets urging a boycott of the team during Chicago's last regular season game in 1964–65.[52]

Expansion Edit

Main article: 1967 NHL expansion

In 1963, Rangers governor William Jennings introduced to his peers the idea of expanding the league to the American West Coast by adding two new teams for the 1964–65 season. His argument was based around concerns that the Western Hockey League intended to operate as a major league in the near future. He also hoped that teams on the west coast would make the league truly national, and improve the chances of returning to television in the United States as the NHL had lost its deal with CBS. While the governors did not agree to the proposal, the topic of expansion came up every time the owners met from then on out.[53] In 1965, it was decided to expand by six teams, doubling the size of the NHL. San Francisco–Oakland and Vancouver were declared "acceptable cities" with Los Angeles and St. Louis as potential sites.[54] Fourteen applications were received from across Canada and the United States, including four from Los Angeles.[55]

In February 1966, the governors met and decided to award franchises to Los Angeles, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and St. Louis. The league rejected bids from Baltimore, Buffalo and Vancouver.[55] The six winning bids each paid $2 million for their franchises.[53] St. Louis was awarded despite no bid being received. The league's decision to grant the city a team if a potential owner stepped forward was influenced by the Norris and Wirtz families, who owned the St. Louis Arena.[55]

Canadians were outraged that none of the expansion teams were awarded to Canada. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson stated that "the NHL decision to expand only in the U.S. impinges on the sacred principles of all Canadians." Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach stated that Vancouver was "sold out" and that Toronto and Montreal did not want to share television revenue with another Canadian team.[56] Leafs co-owner Stafford Smythe put the blame on the city of Vancouver. Smythe had offered to build and operate an $8 million facility in the city's downtown area but a proposal to sell a $2.5 million section of land to Smythe for $1 was defeated in a municipal referendum. "Vancouver lost its chance the day it turned down the referendum on our arena proposal", Smythe said. "That proved to me that the people out there aren't interested in going major league."[56]

The Original Six era ended with the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals between the two-time defending champion Canadiens, and the Maple Leafs.[57] The oldest team in the league, the third place Leafs were led in goal by 37-year old Terry Sawchuk and 42-year old Johnny Bower.[58] Known as the "over the hill gang", Toronto became the oldest team to win the Cup by defeating the favoured Canadiens in six games. The Maple Leafs have not appeared in the Stanley Cup finals since.[57]

Rules and innovations Edit

Due to travel restrictions required during World War II, league president Frank Calder abolished the 10-minute overtime for regular season games in 1942 so that teams could catch their trains without delays.[4] Regular season overtime did not return with the conclusion of the war, though playoff games continued until a winner was decided. Overtime was not re-introduced for the regular season until the 1983–84 season.[59]

In 1943, the rules committee was looking for ways to increase the speed of the game and make it more entertaining. Rangers coach Frank Boucher proposed that the neutral zone be divided by a centre red line, and that teams be allowed to pass the puck out of the defensive zone into their half of the neutral zone.[60] Previously, the league required that defensive players skate the puck out of their defensive zone, not permitting a pass across the blue line.[61] Introduced in 1943–44, the new rule changed how the game was played. Where strong forechecking teams were previously able to pin their opponents in their own zone for minutes at a time, teams were able to create rushes up the ice by having defencemen pass to forwards across the blue line.[60] Scoring increased 10% league-wide, and four of six teams topped 200 goals, the first teams to do so.[61]

Stan Mikita inadvertently introduced the curved blade to the hockey stick in the early 1960s. Having cracked his blade during a practice and not wanting to go get another, Mikita shot the puck in anger. He noticed that the curve made by the crack caused the puck to behave differently. Mikita and Bobby Hull experimented with heating and bending the blade of their sticks to create different curves.[62] Mikita went on to win four Art Ross Trophies as the NHL's leading scorer using a curved blade. He later said that he regretted the idea. "It's one of the worst inventions in hockey, because it eliminated the use of the backhand."[63]

The NHL Amateur Draft was first held on June 5, 1963 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. It was created by Campbell as a means to distribute talent on a more even basis. To that point, teams had sponsored junior clubs directly, buying the rights to players on those teams. The first player selected in the 1963 draft was Garry Monahan, a 16-year-old player with the St. Michaels Juveniles. Monahan remains the youngest player ever selected in an NHL draft. The Entry Draft system did not fully replace the sponsorship system until 1969.[64]

Goaltending Edit

Plante Mask

Jacques Plante's original fibreglass mask

Clint Benedict was the first goaltender to wear facial protection, donning it in 1930 to protect a broken nose. He quickly abandoned his mask as its design interfered with his vision.[65] Twenty-nine years later, Jacques Plante made the goalie mask a permanent fixture in hockey. Plante began wearing a mask in practice in 1956 after twice suffering broken cheekbones on shots from his teammates during workouts.[66] Montreal coach Toe Blake refused to allow Plante to wear his mask in games.[67] That changed on November 1, 1959 when Plante was struck in the face early in a game at Madison Square Garden. As teams did not dress backup goaltenders during this time, the game was delayed 20 minutes while doctors frantically stitched Plante up. When Blake asked Plante if he was ready to return to play, Plante refused to return to the ice unless he was allowed to wear his mask.[68] Blake was livid, but agreed only if Plante removed the mask when his face was healed. Wearing the mask, Plante led the Canadiens on an 18-game unbeaten streak.[67] He finally removed the mask at Blake's urging and promptly lost the first game. Defeated, Blake relented. Plante's mask became a permanent fixture as he led the Canadiens to their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup. Other goalies followed Plante's lead soon after.[66]

Despite not wearing a mask for most of his career, Terry Sawchuk played goal crouched down so low that his shoulders nearly touched his knees, a technique which became known as the "gorilla crouch". Sawchuk relied on his ability to see the puck under the players' bodies, his increased mobility and his own reflexes to win four Vezina Trophies during his career.[69] By 1955, he was regarded as the greatest goaltender to ever play the game.[70] Sawchuk's career was cut short when he died in 1970 from injuries suffered in a drunken incident with teammate Ron Stewart. The Hall of Fame waived its waiting period, immediately inducting Sawchuk, who died as the NHL's all-time record holder in wins (447) and shutouts (103).[71] Sawchuk's style of play was a precursor to the modern butterfly style of goaltending.[69]

The butterfly style, which is used by almost all modern goaltenders, was invented by Glenn Hall: considered both unique and foolish, Hall's style of dropping to his knees and kicking his pads out in a V formation forced shooters to aim for the top half of the net. Hall adopted the technique as a youth when he lacked the arm strength to stop shots with his stick.[72] Hall, an eight-time All-Star, became an NHL regular at the start of the 1955–1956 season and began a sequence of 502 consecutive games as a goaltender for Detroit and Chicago,[73] a record that has been hailed as one of the NHL's most unbreakable.[72]

Unionization Edit

The first players' union was formed February 12, 1957 by Red Wings player Ted Lindsay who had sat on the board of the NHL's Pension Society since 1952.[74] Lindsay and his fellow players were upset by the league's refusal to let them view the books related to the pension fund. The league claimed that it was barely breaking even financially, and so could not contribute more than it did. Players on the Pension Committee suspected otherwise, leading Lindsay and Doug Harvey of the Canadiens to discussions on forming a union in 1956.[75] The idea quickly gained popularity and when the union's founding was announced publicly, every NHL player had signed up with the exception of Ted Kennedy, who was retiring.[76]

The owners immediately worked to crush the union. Toronto owner Conn Smythe compared the players association to communism: "I feel that anything spawned in secrecy as this association was certainly has to have some odour to it."[76] Red Wings president Bruce Norris responded by trading Lindsay to his brother's team, the Black Hawks. The move was widely seen as punitive, as the Hawks had finished last in the NHL every season, save one, from 1949 until 1957.[50] Lindsay was not the only player sent to Chicago as punishment; Glenn Hall was included as he refused to distance himself from Lindsay. In Toronto, Smythe repeatedly benched Jim Thomson, who was the union's secretary, before also dealing him to the Black Hawks.[74] The Players' Association responded by filing a $3 million anti-trust lawsuit against the NHL.[77] Persuaded by teammates Gordie Howe and Red Kelly, the Red Wings players voted to withdraw from the association in November 1957.[50] Other teams quickly followed, and the union capitulated. Union leadership ultimately agreed to drop the lawsuit in exchange for small concessions, which included a minimum annual salary of $7,000, increases to the pension contributions and moving expenses for traded players.[74]

Led by Alan Eagleson, the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) was formed in 1967.[78] Eagleson became the sport's first player agent in 1966 when he negotiated a deal on behalf of Bobby Orr with the Bruins that saw the 18-year-old rookie become the highest paid player in the NHL. At its peak, Eagleson's practice represented 150 professional athletes.[79] Eagleson had also helped settle an American Hockey League players strike sparked by mistreatment of players.[78] In June 1967, the NHLPA was announced, and quickly received acceptance from the owners.[80]

See also Edit

References Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. McKinley 2006, p. 116
  2. McFarlane 1990, p. 33
  3. McFarlane 1990, p. 37
  4. 4.0 4.1 McFarlane 1990, p. 43
  5. The Legends—Frank Calder, Hockey Hall of Fame, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-12
  6. The Legends—Red Dutton, Hockey Hall of Fame, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-12
  7. Pincus 2006, p. 72
  8. Pincus 2006, p. 66
  9. 9.0 9.1 McFarlane 1990, p. 45
  10. Pincus 2006, p. 73
  11. 11.0 11.1 McKinley 2006, p. 140–141
  12. 12.0 12.1 McFarlane 1990, p. 47–48
  13. Diamond 2003, p. 21
  14. Diamond 2003, p. 40
  15. Diamond 1991, p. 112
  16. Podnieks 2003, p. 1
  17. Podnieks 2003, p. 39
  18. McKinley 2006, p. 142
  19. 19.0 19.1 McFarlane 2004, p. 16–17
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 The Legends—Rocket Richard, Hockey Hall of Fame, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-13
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 McFarlane 2004, p. 18–21
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Pincus 2006, p. 86
  23. L'émeute du Forum (The Forum Riot) (French). (1955-03-18). Retrieved on 2008-09-19. “Je viens donc demander aux amateurs de ne plus causer de trouble, et je demande aussi aux partisans d'encourager les Canadiens pour qu'ils puissent l'emporter en fin de semaine contre les Rangers et le Detroit. Nous pouvons encore nous assurer le championnat. J'accepte ma punition et je reviendrai la saison prochaine pour aider mon club et les jeunes joueurs du Canadien à remporter la Coupe Stanley.
  24. "Rocket" Richard: The Legend—The Legacy, Canadian Museum of Civilization, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-13
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Pincus 2006, p. 90
  26. 26.0 26.1 McKinley 2006, p. 144–145
  27. Pincus 2006, p. 89
  28. McFarlane 2004, p. 69–71
  29. 29.0 29.1 McKinley 2006, p. 170
  30. Players—Bill Barilko, Hockey Hall of Fame, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-19
  31. Discography—Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip, <>. Retrieved on 2008-07-19
  32. McFarlane 1990, p. 85
  33. Players—Bob Baun, Hockey Hall of Fame, <>. Retrieved on 2008-08-10
  34. Pincus 2006, p. 111
  35. 35.0 35.1 Pincus 2006, p. 88
  36. McFarlane 2004, p. 143–144
  37. McFarlane 2004, p. 189
  38. 38.0 38.1 Pincus 2006, p. 60
  39. McKinley 2006, p. 143
  40. Diamond 1991, p. 132
  41. Pincus 2006, p. 100
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