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1938–39 Boston Bruins · NHL
Stanley Cup Champions
Prince of Wales Trophy Winners
Division 1st NHL
1938–39 record 36–10–2
Home record 20–2–2
Road record 16–8–0
Goals for 156 (1st)
Goals against 76 (1st)
General Manager Art Ross
Coach Art Ross
Captain Cooney Weiland
Arena Boston Garden
Team Leaders
Goals Roy Conacher (26)
Assists Bill Cowley (34)
Points Bill Cowley (42)
Penalties in minutes Jack Portland (46)
Wins Frank Brimsek (33)
Goals against average Frank Brimsek (1.56)
← Seasons →
1937–38 1939–40

The 1938–39 Boston Bruins season was the Bruins' 15th season in the NHL. The Bruins finished first in the NHL and won their eighth Prince of Wales Trophy. The Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 1, with the winning goal scored by Roy Conacher to win the Stanley Cup for the second time, the first time in 10 years.

Off-season[edit | edit source]

In the off-season, the NHL lost a franchise, as the Montreal Maroons folded, leaving the league with seven teams, and eliminating the American and Canadian Division format the league had been using since the 1926-27 season. The Bruins made a key acquisition, acquiring Roy Conacher from the Kirkland Lake Hargreaves of the NOHA.

Pre-season[edit | edit source]

Art Ross congratulates Cooney Weiland on being named assistant GM, October 18, 1938.

The Bruins opened their training camp in Hershey, Pennsylvania on October 17, 1938 with 42 players in attendance. Besides remaining as team captain, Cooney Weiland was also made assistant general manager by Art Ross. Eddie Shore missed the start of camp but was reported to be on his way from Edmonton.[1] New acquisition Roy Conacher turned heads very quickly with his outstanding play. Shore arrived and participated in drills on October 19.[2]

The NHL schedule and playoff format was also released on October 19. The Bruins played most home games on Tuesday with the remainder on Sunday. Camp was cut to 30 players on October 20.[3] The development of Mel Hill, Terry Reardon, Pat McReavy, Robert "Red" Hamill and Conacher resulted in the sale of Leroy Goldsworthy and the loan of Art Jackson to the New York Americans on October 24. On October 28, Reardon and Hamill were loaned to the Hershey Bears and Ross announced his third line would consist of Conacher, McReavy and Hill.[4]

Tiny Thompson's eye injury changed the Bruins goaltending fortunes for the next decade, October 30, 1938.

The Bruins played the following exhibition games:

Tiny Thompson played the first and last game in net while Frank Brimsek played the October 29 game. During a practice after the October 30 game, Thompson was hit in the eye by a Bobby Bauer backhand shot, which required stitches and swelled the eye shut. This accident changed the Bruins netminding fortunes for the next decade as Frank Brimsek was kept with the Bruins instead of being sent to the minors.

After playing in a full slate of exhibition games, Eddie Shore once again held out in a contract dispute with Art Ross that was handed to NHL President Frank Calder to resolve.

Regular Season[edit | edit source]

1938[edit | edit source]

The Bruins used two jerseys in the 1938-39 season.

The Bruins introduced a slightly altered uniform from that worn in the past two seasons. Added was gold to the shoulder yokes, a different stripe pattern on the arms, stripes to the pants and, the socks changed to a pattern that would last nearly three decades. Black numbers and a black block "B" on each arm outlined in gold remained. The new uniform was worn at home and the previous one with black shoulder yolks on the road. Oddly, there were games where Frank Brimsek wore the old uniform while the rest of the team sported the gold shoulder ones. The Bruins introduced the new uniforms for their home opener[5] and used the new jerseys exclusively in the 1939-40 season. The numbers would change to gold in the 1940-41 season.

Bruins penalty killers in 1938-39 - Gord Pettinger, Cooney Weiland.

The first two lines from the 1937-38 season remained unchanged with Charlie Sands, Bill Cowley and Ray Getliffe as the first line and the second, the Kraut Line of Woody Dumart, Milt Schmidt and Bobby Bauer. The new third line, tabbed the "Baby Line", had Pat McReavy centering Mel Hill and Roy Conacher. For the first time in their history, the Bruins had a semblance of a fourth line, mainly used for penalty-killing, manned by Gord Pettinger and Captain Cooney Weiland. A third player was added later in November when the Eddie Shore contract hold-out was resolved.

Jack Crawford became a regular in the 1938-39 season (with a full head of hair).

The Eddie Shore hold-out resulted in Jack Crawford being recalled and paired with Jack Portland while Dit Clapper and Flash Hollett formed the other duo. Crawford became a regular and would play his entire twelve season career for the Bruins. He eventually became the team's captain and in the 1940's, was easily recognized by the helmet he wore, when they went out of style and were scarcely used. Crawford suffered a concussion early in his career and stuck with the helmet as a result. Several sources indicate that he wore the helmet due to being embarrassed by baldness caused by poisoning from a painted helmet but several photos in the 1940's show him with a full head of hair. As in the previous season, all of Boston's defensemen wore helmets, though Dit Clapper gave up wearing one in December. Forward Charlie Sands also wore a helmet.

Three road games kicked off Boston's season but due to Tiny Thompson's eye injury, Frank Brimsek started the first two games. The Toronto Maple Leafs were the Bruins first opponent on November 3, 1938. The sting of losing to the Leafs in the playoffs still fresh, Bill Cowley and the Bruins defense were the difference in a 3-2 win. Cowley assisted on all three goals while Jack Crawford had his first career goal, Dit Clapper tied the game and Jack Portland scored his first in nearly two years. Brimsek posted the win in his first NHL start and made several outstanding saves.

Bill Cowley opens the scoring, November 6, 1938.

Bill Cowley's torrid pace continued on November 6, 1938 against the Detroit Red Wings. His backhand opened the scoring in the first period, then he set up Charlie Sands for a goal in the second. Mud Bruneteau narrowed it to 2-1 and then during a Detroit power play, Frank Brimsek threw the puck into the crowd. A penalty shot was awarded but Brimsek stopped Charlie Conacher, Roy's brother. A few minutes later, Ray Getliffe poked in a rebound off a Cowley shot. In the third, Woody Dumart snapped a shot between Normie Smith's legs as the Bruins won 4-1 for Brimsek's second win.

Bruins-Americans action, November 13, 1938.

With a week off until their next game, the Bruins returned home. Still a hold-out, Eddie Shore was banned from attending Boston's practices and instead, worked out with the Boston Olympics.[6] Tiny Thompson returned to the nets during the November 13, 1938 game against the New York Americans. In the second period with the Amerks up 1-0 on a power play goal by Lorne Carr, Woody Dumart missed on a penalty shot. Shortly after, Milt Schmidt took a penalty and Eddie Wiseman made it 2-0. In the third period, Flash Hollett beat Earl Robertson with a long, low shot to break his shutout bid but afterwards, the Americans continually iced the puck and the game ended in a 2-1 Bruins loss. Art Ross took notice of Wiseman's prowess and would acquire him the next season.

Cooney Weiland scores, November 15, 1938.

Eddie Shore continued to hold out and sat in Section 33 for the home opener on November 15, 1938 against Conn Smythe's Toronto Maple Leafs. Constant chants from fans for his return soured the mood and the game ended in a 1-1 tie. Jack Crawford set up Cooney Weiland for Boston's goal and Smythe sang Crawford's praises. He told the press that he'd purchase him for $10,000 and also offered the same sum for each member of the Kraut Line.[7] With the two extra forwards comprising the "fourth line", Art Ross kept mixing the lines up. Indications were that Shore would sign a deal the next day or risk suspension.

Bobby Bauer scores the winner from Eddie Shore, November 20, 1938.

Shore signed on November 16, 1938 for $7,000, $6,000 in salary plus $1,000 if the Bruins made the playoffs. This was $500 more than the Bruins had originally offered and, Shore was paid for the four games he missed. With Shore's signing, the Bruins were one player over the game limit. Pat McReavy was the odd man out and deciding to keep Jack Crawford, Flash Hollett switched from defense to complete the fourth line. Shore wasted no time making his presence felt in his first game back on November 20 against Detroit. The Red Wings had an emergency goaltender, Harvey Teno, playing his second NHL game and in the third period, he'd held the fort with Detroit leading 1-0. After Cooney Weiland tied it up, Shore made one of his patented rushes and set up Bobby Bauer for the winner. Milt Schmidt and Woody Dumart piled on as the "B's" won 4-1.

Alex Shibicky scores, November 22, 1938.

The New York Rangers visited on November 22, 1938 with GM Lester Patrick boasting of the Blueshirts five-man unit "streamlined hockey." Art Ross was skeptical and promised speed and power from the Bruins game. [8] He proved prophetic as Charlie Sands (playing with a fever) blasted a shot in from the blueline and later in the second period, rare scorer Jack Portland ripped in a 40 footer to make it 2-1 Boston. In the third period, Roy Conacher converted on a two on one with Gord Pettinger and right off the faceoff, Conacher returned the favour. Clint Smith scored a consolation goal with 14 seconds left as the Bruins won 4-2.

Frank Brimsek replaced four time Vezina Trophy winner Tiny Thompson, November, 1938.

With first place on the line, the Americans, the only team to beat the Bruins, visited on November 27, 1938. The Amerks had seven ex-Bruins in the line-up but were no match for the "Rossmen" that evening. Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt and Ray Getliffe had a three point night as the Bruins led 6-0 before Bruins alumni Nels Stewart and Hooley Smith scored at the mid-point of the third period. Getliffe and Cooney Weiland salted the game away in an 8-2 thrashing. Lorne Carr had a penalty shot which followed a new format for the first time. Previously, the players had shot the puck from a spot 38' away from the net. The revised shot allowed the player to carry the puck in from center ice. Tiny Thompson stopped Carr in what would be the last of the 468 games he played for Boston.

The bombshell was dropped on November 28, 1938 when Art Ross and Weston Adams announced that Thompson had been traded to Detroit for goalie Norm Smith and $15,000. In the press release, they mentioned that at age 34, Thompson was beginning to slip and that 23 year old Frank Brimsek was ready to step into his shoes without adversely affecting the club. They also mentioned that Thompson wasn't happy and the offer was the largest ever made for a goaltender.[9]

Tiny Thompson's 74 shutouts is still a Bruins team record.

The fall-out was immediate. Norm Smith, who'd been suspended by the Red Wings for refusing to report to the minors, also declined to report to the Bruins farm team and retired. Thompson's best friend, Dit Clapper, told the press that he'd asked to be traded. Art Ross squashed this request and insisted that there would be no dealing Clapper. Rumours flew that Thompson wasn't thrilled with Ross' commitment to attacking hockey as it increased his goals against. When Thompson arrived in Detroit, he professed he was happy with the trade and predicted that his career would last longer with his new club than if he'd stayed in Boston. To thank Thompson for his service to the Bruins, he was given a $1000 bonus.

Frank Brimsek leads the Bruins onto the ice. Note the two jersey styles.

Hockey critics loudly criticized the deal, summed up by Clem Loughlin, former coach of the Black Hawks, who said "Art Ross is taking a terrible gamble."[10] However, Frank Brimsek had proven he was ready for the NHL earlier in the month, besides leading the Providence Reds to the championship the previous season. Ironically, Brimsek had been in Detroit's amateur system but they'd let him go. Twelve years younger than Thompson, he'd more than justify Ross' confidence in him. Thompson retired after two seasons with the Red Wings while Brimsek would play nine for the Bruins. The Bruins had difficulty contacting Brimsek and after he took the bus to Boston, instead of the train, he checked into a hotel and reported to the Boston Arena but found it empty. Not knowing the press and Cooney Weiland waiting for him at the train station, Brimsek went to see a movie. After being paged in the theatre, he returned to his hotel and met the welcoming party. A man of few words, the only time he spoke at any length to questions was to express a desire to wear his red pants in net, as they fit him best.

Frank Brimsek, Jack Portland, Don Willson, Flash Hollett, December 1, 1938.

The next morning, November 30, 1938, Brimsek and the team boarded a train for Montreal. The Brimsek era had a rocky start during the December 1, 1938 game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins suffered their first shutout of the season and lost 2-0. Opinion was that both goals were not Brimsek's fault as one was off a goalmouth scramble while shorthanded and the other came off of a 2 on 1. There were also references that the team was trying too hard to protect him.[11] The Bruins even tried Eddie Shore at center for the last two minutes of the game but to no avail. It didn't help matters that Tiny Thompson played brilliantly in his first game in a Red Wings uniform and won 4-1. Shutouts would be the news of the month for Boston, but for the good.

Cartoon celebrating the start of Frank Brimsek's shutout streak.

Frank Brimsek's amazing run began on December 4, 1938 against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks. Woody Dumart was out of the line-up with a heel injury so Dit Clapper played on the Kraut Line while Flash Hollett filled in on defense. The change was magic with Milt Schmidt and Clapper both scoring twice as the Bruins won 5-0 and moved into first place, which they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the season. Tiny Thompson also had a shutout, blanking Toronto 1-0. The home fans got their first look at Brimsek in NHL action on December 6 versus Chicago and gave him a tepid welcome. Brimsek ditched the red pants and wore black ones.

Frank Brimsek's "split save" style stopped a penalty shot in his first Bruins home game, December 6, 1938.

A hard checking first period turned against the Bruins as Dit Clapper left the game with an ankle injury. A shot trickled by Brimsek but Eddie Shore threw the puck out of the crease with his hand, giving Chicago a penalty shot. Brimsek stopped Joffre Desilets with a great split save. Bobby Bauer put the "B's" up early in the second period on the power play before Bill Cowley was knocked out with a knee strain. The Bruins played ferociously and took the action to the Hawks, leaving Brimsek to make only three saves in the second. Gord Pettinger's score was disallowed for kicking in the puck. The third period was a different matter as Chicago fired most of their 24 shots on goal during the frame, especially during their only power play. Pettinger scored right after the man advantage was killed and the game ended 2-0. A thunderous ovation and congratulations from his teammates greeted Brimsek whose performance was described "to say he was good is to understate, he was perfect."[12]

During his shutout streak, Frank Brimsek, Eddie Shore and #6 Ray Getliffe battle the Rangers in a 3-0 win on December 11, 1938.

With Dit Clapper and Bill Cowley joining Woody Dumart on the injured list, the shorthanded Bruins headed to New York for a game against the Rangers on December 11, 1938. Continuing their superb play in front of Brimsek, Jack Portland scored his third of the season, followed by Mel Hill and Gord Pettinger in a 3-0 win for Brimsek's third consecutive shutout. Returning home to play the Habs, Jack Shewchuk was called up for the December 13 game, his first in the NHL. Clapper played sparingly and with Hollett back on defense, reporters noted that for the first time, the Bruins used six defensemen.[13] Woody Dumart played and sparked the Bruins to a 3-0 lead, with two goals by the Kraut Line and one by Pettinger. In the last minute of the second period, Herb Cain scored on Brimsek, ending his shutout streak just under 232 minutes, breaking Tiny Thompson's team record. Toe Blake added another but the Bruins held for a 3-2 win.

Bruins-Habs action in front of Frank Brimsek, December 15, 1938.

A tight-checking game in Montreal followed on December 15 without Bill Cowley and Jack Shewchuk, who'd been sent back to the minors. Scoreless until the third period, when Cooney Weiland deked out Walter Buswell and then flipped the puck over Claude Bourque, the Habs then turned it on. After firing a shot at Brimsek, Babe Siebert bowled him over, clearing the net but Eddie Shore stopped the rebound. Canadiens coach Cecil Hart played four forwards for the last six minutes of the game. Rod Lorrain had the best scoring chance as he fired a shot from in close that Brimsek was screened on but managed to kick out. The Bruins held on for a 1-0 win, Brimsek's fourth shutout in five games and fifth consecutive victory.

Frank Brimsek had his 5th shutout in 6 games, December 18, 1938.

On December 18, 1938, the Bruins played Detroit in the first head-to-head match between Tiny Thompson and Frank Brimsek since Thompson's trade. The Red Wings were tied for last in the league and had a weaker defense than the "B's." Thompson stood on his head for more than 50 minutes as both teams were held scoreless. Ironically, his best friend Dit Clapper broke the ice at 11:16 of the third period. Milt Schmidt added an empty net goal in the last minute as Boston won 2-0. A 3-0 win over the Amerks on December 20, featuring Eddie Shore's first goal of the season, ran Brimsek's streak to three shutouts and an incredible six in seven games. However, Milt Schmidt suffered a leg cut that caused him to miss six games.

Rangers Phil Watson ends Frank Brimsek's shutout streak while #4 Charlie Sands looks on, December 25, 1938.

The Rangers came to the Hub on Christmas to find the Bruins short their top two centers. Cooney Weiland took Milt Schmidt's place on the Kraut Line while versatile Flash Hollett subbed for Bill Cowley. With Charlie Sands ailing, but in the line-up, Harry Frost was recalled and played his first NHL game spelling off Sands. The "Rossmen" had four power plays to the Blueshirts one but neither could take advantage. After a scoreless first period, a long shot from Bryan Hextall flew towards Frank Brimsek at 5:09 of the second frame. Phil Watson tipped it in to end Brimsek's shutout streak at a shade over 220 minutes. Brimsek stopped Alex Shibicky on a breakaway in the third period but the Bruins couldn't solve Dave Kerr and the game ended in a 1-0 Boston loss.

After trouncing the Maple Leafs 8-2 on December 27, led by Woody Dumart's four points, a two game road trip to New York followed. Pat McReavy was recalled from the farm and Harry Frost sent down. The Bruins stumbled against the Amerks on December 29, losing 4-2. The Rangers Dutch Hiller scored the winning goal in overtime on December 31 as the Bruins lost 2-1. Boston finished the year with 27 points, solidly in first place.

1939[edit | edit source]

Doug Young scores, January 1, 1939.

The New Year began with Pat McReavy being sent back to the minors and still missing Milt Schmidt and Bill Cowley to injuries. Tiny Thompson's return to Boston with his new team, Detroit, was a sellout for the January 1, 1939 match. The ever popular Thompson was given a standing ovation on his return to the Bruins ice and put on a great show. The Bruins widely outplayed the Red Wings and led 1-0 going into the second period. Frank Brimsek had only one shot to handle in the second frame while Thompson stopped several excellent Boston scoring chances. Doug Young tied the game up at 11:04 of the third but the dam burst as goals by Mel Hill, Flash Hollett (playing center for Cowley) and Charlie Sands saw the Bruins win 4-1.

The Bruins team in numerical order, January, 1939.

Two tired teams played on January 3 at the Boston Garden as the Bruins pulled out a 2-1 win over the Americans. Rookie Roy Conacher scored the winner, his fourth of the year, which would start him on a tear. The game two nights later in Chicago was a copy of the match against the Amerks, tight-checking and the Bruins pulling out a 2-1 victory on a late goal, this time by Mel Hill. Milt Schmidt returned to the line-up for the January 7 game in Toronto but they were skunked 2-0, with Turk Broda getting his sixth shutout of the season, to tie Frank Brimsek. Schmidt got into gear against Chicago on January 10, setting up two goals as the Bruins won 3-1.

Versatile defensman Flash Hollett filled in at all three forward positions, January, 1939.

With a week off until their next game, Art Ross put his charges through several light workouts. Bill Cowley participated, wearing a brace for his knee. The Bruins also tried out some aluminium sticks but stopped after three of them shattered.[14] Leading the Rangers by only two points for first place, the "B's" met Toronto on January 17. The game was rough from the get-go, highlighted by a prolonged scrap by Eddie Shore and Red Horner in the first period which Shore won. With the Leafs leading 1-0, Milt Schmidt tied it up late in the frame and the game remained scoreless until Ray Getliffe won it in the third period, set up by Flash Hollett. Boston dropped a 1-0 decision to Montreal on January 19 despite Frank Brimsek stopping "three sure Canadien goals in the last period alone when left unprotected."[15]

Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart battle Detroit, January 22, 1939.

Moving on to Detroit on January 22, 1939 for their third meeting against Tiny Thompson, the teams were held scoreless after two periods. Boston scored two quick goals in the last frame by Milt Schmidt and Charlie Sands, then played defense for ten minutes which the Red Wings couldn't penetrate. Sands then converted a Bill Cowley pass on a two man breakaway before Roy Conacher was tripped by his brother Charlie. Woody Dumart scored on the ensuing penalty shot, the first Bruins success using the modern format. Roy Conacher scored a last minute goal for a 5-0 win, earning Brimsek his 7th shutout. Cooney Weiland missed the game with an infected toe but took Art Ross' place on the bench as coach.

The Bruins have a long history of community work, January 24, 1939.

The Habs came to the Hub on January 24 with Cooney Weiland still out and acting as coach. Canadiens GM/coach Cecil Hart professed that he had the formula to defeat the Bruins, by coming out hard for the first 10 minutes of the game.[16] Before the game, Weston Adams presented a cheque to the Boston Community Fund. The Bruins took Hart's advice, dominated the game early and built a 3-1 lead going into the third period. However, Montreal tied it up and as momentum shifted to their favour, Roy Conacher took a penalty. Weiland sent Milt Schmidt and Flash Hollett out to kill it off. They did so and then some as Schmidt scored shorthanded on a beautiful pass from Hollett. Not to be outdone, Hollett's solo effort 29 seconds later resulted in another shorthanded goal. The teams then traded goals as the Bruins won 6-4. Hart was let go following the game and replaced with Jules Dugal.[17]

Nels Stewart-Flash Hollett melee, January 29, 1939.

Back in the line-up for the January 29 away game against the Americans, Cooney Weiland opened the scoring on a breakaway while the "B's" were shorthanded. After future Bruin Eddie Wiseman tied it up, Eddie Shore scored on the power play but the goal was initially disallowed by referee Norm Lamport. After he consulted with the goal judge, who declared the puck went in and hit the back bar, Lamport allowed the goal. Amerks GM/coach Red Dutton was furious and physically removed the judge. In the second period, Nels Stewart and Flash Hollett fought, which turned into a melee. Both players were ejected from the game. Roy Conacher scored the winner in the third frame while the teams were each a man short. After Woody Dumart missed a penalty shot, Hooley Smith cut the Bruins lead but they hung on for a 3-2 win.[18] The Bruins finished the month with a 2-2 tie against the Amerks on January 31 as Mel Hill required stitches, Dit Clapper suffered a serious leg cut and Lorne Carr was knocked unconscious by Eddie Shore.

Mike Karakas and Frank Brimsek with their mothers, February 5, 1939.

In a surprising move, on February 1, 1939, Art Ross demoted first line winger Charlie Sands and called up Terry Reardon.[19] Dit Clapper missed the February 2 game against Toronto, recovering from a cut on his leg, requiring Flash Hollett to play defense and the call-up of Robert "Red" Hamill. The Bruins won 2-1 as Hollett suffered a rib injury and Leafs Rudolph Kampman broke his nose blocking a Reardon shot. Defenseman Jack Shewchuk was recalled and played in the February 5 match against Chicago. Before the game, goalies Frank Brimsek and Mike Karakas, who both grew up in Eveleth, Minnesota, presented their mothers with flowers. Mrs. Brimsek enjoyed the game more than Mrs. Karakas as the Bruins blanked the Black Hawks 3-0, giving Brimsek his 8th shutout.

Art Ross and Conn Smythe ended their feud on February 6, 1939.

Before the Bruins game against the Maple Leafs on February 7, Art Ross attended a fete of the Gridiron Club. A long standing rivalry with Conn Smythe was addressed as the two sat together and buried the hatchet. Each aired their grievances ending with Smythe praising Ross' accomplishments and relating that the two of them were "working towards the same end, that of putting the NHL on the highest plane possible."[20] They vowed the feud was over except when their clubs played each other. With Ray Getliffe dispatched to the minors, the game featured a new third line of Terry Reardon, Red Hamill and Gord Pettinger. Several Bruins also wore Ross' latest invention, "gators" to protect the back of their legs from cuts.[21]

Terry Reardon, Jack Shewchuk, Robert "Red" Hamill, February 7, 1939.

Milt Schmidt and Murph Chamberlain fought in the first period but after Red Horner grabbed Schmidt, Eddie Shore left the bench which resulted in a brawl. Conn Smythe put on a show in the second period, as during a time-out, he jumped onto the ice to get an autograph from Horner and then presented it to a boy. Schmidt opened the scoring on a pretty passing play with Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart. Flash Hollett played, despite suffering separated rib muscles five days before, and set up the Bruins second goal, by Dumart, on the power play. Both Turk Broda and Frank Brimsek played excellently with the game ending in a 2-0 Bruins victory and Brimsek's 9th shutout.

Ott Heller trips #9 Roy Conacher while #10 Bill Cowley skates past, February 9, 1939.

Trailing the Bruins by eight points, the Rangers were desperate for a win during the "B's" visit to MSG on February 9, 1939. Down 1-0 early in the first period, Roy Conacher and Bill Cowley took over the game as Cowley's pass sent Conacher in alone to even the score. There was no score in the second period but not for lack of chances, especially when Frank Brimsek stopped Bryan Hextall on a penalty shot. In the last frame, Cowley's pass to Conacher allowed him to break around the Rangers defense for a marker before an Alex Shibicky power play goal tied it up. With less than three minutes left, Cowley set up Conacher for the winner and his first hat trick. Bobby Bauer added an empty netter as the Bruins won 4-2, extending their unbeaten streak to eight games.

The Gallery Gods presentations to Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper, February 12, 1939.

The return match in Boston on February 12, 1938 saw presentations to Eddie Shore and Dit Clapper by the Gallery Gods. Roy Conacher's bruised hip and Mel Hill's charley horse keep them out of the game, joining Dit Clapper. Without time to recall replacements, the Bruins played shorthanded, made worse when Red Hamill was lost five minutes into the game when his eye was clipped with a stick.[22] After a scoreless first period, the Rangers carried a 3-0 lead into the last half of the third. With less than four minutes left, Eddie Shore set up Milt Schmidt for a power play goal. The Kraut Line didn't leave the ice for the rest of the game as Shore set up Woody Dumart with 1:10 left. Frank Brimsek was pulled and despite constant pressure, the Bruins couldn't even the score and lost 3-2. The next day, Hamill and Terry Reardon were sent to the minors while Charlie Sands and Ray Getliffe were recalled.

Charlie Sands and Ray Getliffe returned from the minors, February 13, 1939.

Sands and Getliffe weren't reunited with center Bill Cowley though but instead, formed the third line with Gord Pettinger. Cowley was matched with Mel Hill and Roy Conacher. This threesome stuck for the rest of the season and playoffs, where they would set a record that is still unbeaten in NHL history. Detroit had yet to beat Boston during the season and Tiny Thompson was determined to remedy this during the February 14 game. After a five game absence, Dit Clapper returned and Thompson stood on his head during the first two periods, shutting out the Bruins and carrying a 1-0 Red Wings lead into the third. In the last ten minutes, Art Ross shortened his bench, playing Eddie Shore and Flash Hollett almost exclusively on defense and moving Clapper up to wing.[23] At 13:50, Shore took a face-off, won it to Milt Schmidt who whiffed a shot to Bobby Bauer. Bauer sunk a one-timer to even the score. A few minutes later, Shore set up Bauer again for the winner. Despite Thompson stopping 40 shots, the Bruins prevailed 2-1.

Rod Lorrain scores Montreal's only goal, February 16, 1939.

Before the Bruins headed to Montreal for a game on February 16, 1939, Jack Shewchuk was sent to the minors. After Bobby Bauer put Boston up early in the first, the game turned rough, resulting in a slew of injuries. Habs Jimmy Ward dislocated his shoulder and was lost for the season while Walter Buswell suffered a concussion and Babe Siebert a hip injury, knocking all three players out of the game. By 10:35 of the third period, Rod Lorrain cut the "B's" lead to 2-1, but then referee Norm Lamport gave two Habs misconducts. Down five men, several fans went so enraged they jumped onto the ice after Lamport and had to be stopped by the players of both teams. Roy Conacher, Jack Portland and Dit Clapper scored in the last five minutes, resulting in a 5-1 Bruins win. After the game, it was discovered that Eddie Shore had played with a broken toe.[24]

The Bruins continued to dominate the league, February, 1939.

Tiny Thompson finally got his revenge, beating the Bruins 4-1 on February 19. Eddie Shore played, despite his broken pinky toe. Roy Conacher had the game of his life on February 21 against Chicago as he scored four goals in the Bruins 8-2 thrashing of the Black Hawks. A two game road trip saw Boston lose 1-0 in Toronto on February 25 and beat Chicago 5-1 on February 26. Charlie Sands missed both game with the flu. The Habs limped into Boston missing five regulars and battling for the last playoff spot. The Bruins handled them easily, winning 6-2, powered by Bill Cowley's three points. Boston ended the month with 62 points, 11 up on the Rangers. They had five days until their next game.

The Kraut Line secured first place for the Bruins, March 7, 1939.

The Rangers had to beat the Bruins on March 5, 1938 if they were going to catch them. It was a hard-checking game full of chances for both teams. They traded goals in the first two periods with both of the Bruins markers scored by Bill Cowley. After Cecil Dillon put New York up 3-2, Muzz Patrick was penalized for butt-ending with two minutes left in the third. He was so incensed, he rushed at referee Clarence Campbell, pushed him and drew a game misconduct. Bobby Bauer tied it up on the ensuing power play, sending the game into overtime. Milt Schmidt and Roy Conacher scored in the extra frame as the Bruins won 5-3. Rangers GM Lester Patrick was livid after the game and blamed the loss on Campbell.[25] On March 7, the Bruins dumped the Red Wings 3-0, giving Frank Brimsek his 9th shutout, clinching first place and the Prince of Wales Trophy, the 8th in team history.

Roy Conacher set a new rookie goal record, March 12, 1939.

A loose and happy Bruins team travelled to New York to play the Americans on March 9. The game was wide-open with no penalties and the Amerks took a 4-3 lead into the third. A wild period saw eight goals, six by Boston in the "B's" 9-6 win. Bill Cowley had five points while Roy Conacher had four, including his 21st goal of the season. The Rangers and Bruins met on March 12 and since both teams had little to play for, the game lacked grit and had only one penalty. Roy Conacher scored his 22nd goal, setting a new rookie goal scoring record while Charlie Sands broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Bruins won 4-2. Ray Getliffe missed the game as his daughter was in the hospital with pneumonia.[26] Art Ross noted the Bruins had slipped into bad habits such loose checking, which he vowed to remedy going into their last games.

Weston Adams, Cooney Weiland, Art Ross, Frank Calder at the presentation of the Prince of Wales Trophy, March 14, 1939.

Before the March 14 game against Chicago, NHL President Frank Calder presented the Prince of Wales Trophy to the Bruins. Having received good news that his daughter was recovering, a re-invigorated Ray Getliffe played and scored the winner as the "Rossmen" triumphed 4-2. Roy Conacher scored twice, bringing his league-leading goal total to 24. The Bruins swept the season series against the Black Hawks and the loss eliminated them from the playoffs. After the game, it was discovered that Dit Clapper had a broken toe.[27] Red Hamill was recalled to replace the injured Charlie Sands for the March 19 game against Montreal. March 19 was the Bruins last game of the season, against the Canadiens. The Habs were playing for fifth place and the game was wide-open. Boston blew a three goal lead and the game went into overtime tied 5-5. Dit Clapper, playing with a broken toe and having already marked two points, set up the winner and added an insurance goal as the Bruins won 7-5, their 8th straight win.

Eddie Shore with a new helmet for the playoffs, March 20, 1939.

Frank Brimsek led the NHL with 33 wins and a 1.56 GAA, earning both the Vezina Trophy and the Calder Trophy. He also recorded 10 shutouts, tied for the league lead. Bill Cowley led the team with 42 points and despite missing 14 games due to injuries, was third in the league. His 34 assists were a league high. Cowley's linemate, rookie Roy Conacher, scored an NHL high 26 goals and was runner-up for the Calder Trophy. Milt Schmidt continued to show improvement and scored 32 points. Dit Clapper led the Bruins defense with 13 goals and 26 points, though he had played a few games as a forward. Boston earned 74 points, their highest point total since the 1929-30 season. The Rangers beckoned as the Bruins first round opponent.

Final Standings[edit | edit source]

National Hockey League
GP W L T GF GA Pts
Boston Bruins 48 36 10 2 156 76 74
New York Rangers 48 26 16 6 149 105 58
Toronto Maple Leafs 48 19 20 9 114 107 47
New York Americans 48 17 21 10 119 157 44
Detroit Red Wings 48 18 24 6 107 128 42
Montreal Canadiens 48 15 24 9 115 146 39
Chicago Black Hawks 48 12 28 8 91 132 32

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against
Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

Game Log[edit | edit source]

1934 Logo.jpg Regular Season Results 1934 Logo.jpg
No. R Date Score Opponent Record
1 W November 3, 1938 3-2 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 1–0–0
2 W November 6, 1938 4-1 @ Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 2–0–0
3 L November 13, 1938 1-2 @ New York Americans (1938–39) 2–1–0
4 T November 15, 1938 1-1 (OT) Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 2–1–1
5 W November 20, 1938 4-1 Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 3–1–1
6 W November 22, 1938 4-2 New York Rangers (1938–39) 4–1–1
7 W November 27, 1938 8-2 New York Americans (1938–39) 5–1–1
8 L December 1, 1938 0-2 @ Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 5–2–1
9 W December 4, 1938 5-0 @ Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 6–2–1
10 W December 6, 1938 2-0 Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 7–2–1
11 W December 11, 1938 3-0 @ New York Rangers (1938–39) 8–2–1
12 W December 13, 1938 3-2 Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 9–2–1
13 W December 15, 1938 1-0 @ Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 10–2–1
14 W December 18, 1938 2-0 @ Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 11–2–1
15 W December 20, 1938 3-0 New York Americans (1938–39) 12–2–1
16 L December 25, 1938 0-1 New York Rangers (1938–39) 12–3–1
17 W December 27, 1938 8-2 Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 13–3–1
18 L December 29, 1938 2-4 @ New York Americans (1938–39) 13–4–1
19 L December 31, 1938 1-2 (OT) @ New York Rangers (1938–39) 13–5–1
20 W January 1, 1939 4-1 Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 14–5–1
21 W January 3, 1939 2-1 New York Americans (1938–39) 15–5–1
22 W January 5, 1939 2-1 @ Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 16–5–1
23 L January 7, 1939 0-2 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 16–6–1
24 W January 10, 1939 3-1 Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 17–6–1
25 W January 17, 1939 2-1 Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 18–6–1
26 L January 19, 1939 0-1 @ Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 18–7–1
27 W January 22, 1939 5-0 @ Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 19–7–1
28 W January 24, 1939 6-4 Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 20–7–1
29 W January 29, 1939 3-2 @ New York Americans (1938–39) 21–7–1
30 T January 31, 1939 2-2 (OT) New York Americans (1938–39) 21–7–2
31 W February 2, 1939 2-1 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 22–7–2
32 W February 5, 1939 3-0 Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 23–7–2
33 W February 7, 1939 2-0 Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 24–7–2
34 W February 9, 1939 4-2 @ New York Rangers (1938–39) 25–7–2
35 L February 12, 1939 2-4 New York Rangers (1938–39) 25-8-2
36 W February 14, 1939 2-1 Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 26–8–2
37 W February 16, 1939 5-1 @ Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 27–8–2
38 L February 19, 1939 1-4 @ Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 27–9–2
39 W February 21, 1939 8-2 Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 28–9–2
40 L February 25, 1939 0-1 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (1938–39) 28–10–2
41 W February 26, 1939 5-1 @ Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 29–10–2
42 W February 28, 1939 6-2 Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 30–10–2
43 W March 5, 1939 5-3 (OT) New York Rangers (1938–39) 31–10–2
44 W March 7, 1939 3-0 Detroit Red Wings (1938–39) 32–10–2
45 W March 9, 1939 9-6 @ New York Americans (1938–39) 33–10–2
46 W March 12, 1939 4-2 @ New York Rangers (1938–39) 34–10–2
47 W March 14, 1939 4-2 Chicago Black Hawks (1938–39) 35–10–2
48 W March 19, 1939 7-5 (OT) Montreal Canadiens (1938–39) 36–10–2

Playoffs[edit | edit source]

Boston had a first round bye, advancing straight to the Semi-finals, where they faced the second place New York Rangers in the first best of seven series in NHL history. New York had 58 points during the regular season, which was 16 less than the Bruins. The Kraut Line matched up against the Rangers top line of Alex Shibicky and the Colville brothers. The line of Roy Conacher, Bill Cowley and Mel Hill dominated and scored over half of Boston's goals in the playoffs.

Boston Bruins 4, New York Rangers 3[edit | edit source]

This series is best remembered for Mel Hill scoring three OT goals, still an NHL record for OT goals in a series by one player. Game 4 was one of the most violent in NHL history with six major penalties, stick swinging and a battered and concussed Eddie Shore insisting on playing and returning to game action with a broken nose.

Milt Schmidt's disallowed goal, Game 1 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 21, 1939.

Game 1 opened at Madison Square Garden in New York. Due to a charley horse, Charlie Sands was replaced in the Bruins line-up by Red Hamill. It was a clean, hard-checking game in which goalies Dave Kerr and Frank Brimsek dominated. In the first period, Woody Dumart checked Ott Heller, stripped him of the puck and sent it to Milt Schmidt who scored. However, referee Mickey Ion disallowed the goal and called a penalty on Dumart for fouling Heller. Late in the second period, Gord Pettinger was penalized for tripping Lynn Patrick. Neil Colville retrieved the puck out of a goalmouth scramble and passed to Alex Shibicky who broke the ice. Early in the third period on the power play, Milt Schmidt carried the puck in the Rangers zone and was knocked down by Muzz Patrick. Ion was also bowled over but Bobby Bauer picked up the puck and scored. Incredibly, Ion ruled the goal invalid because he didn't witness it, despite the goal judge indicating it counted.[28]

Mel Hill's triple OT winner, Game 1 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 21, 1939.

Shortly after, Ion called a penalty on Heller. Bill Cowley tied the game up at 4:40 of the third, on a great deflection of a Dit Clapper pass. A few minutes later, Jack Crawford was sent off for high-sticking. Frank Brimsek made two great saves off George Allen and Lynn Patrick to keep the score 1-1. The teams played to a stand-off and the game went into overtime. In the first OT, Mel Hill was sent in alone on Dave Kerr who made a great glove save. Cowley was then dazed by a hit but stayed in the game. In the third OT, Roy Conacher collided with Kerr, whose shoulder was injured. The game was halted for ten minutes while Kerr received treatment. In the last minute of the period, Cowley drifted into the right corner by the Rangers net and zipped a pass out front to Mel Hill who whacked it in for a 2-1 Bruins win.

Frank Brimsek stops Neil Colville, Game 2 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 24, 1939.

Game 2 moved to the Boston Garden, where another clean, hard-fought game ensued. The Rangers received bad news that goalie Dave Kerr was out with a separated shoulder, from his collision with Roy Conacher. Bert Gardiner took his place. Cecil Dillon also missed the game with a leg injury, the first game he'd missed in a decade. Past the halfway mark of the first period, Conacher and Neil Colville were given co-incidental penalties for high-sticking but with three minutes left, Jack Crawford was tripped by George Allen. Conacher scored on the power play and while still short-handed, Gardiner caught another Conacher shot and threw the puck into the crowd. A penalty shot was awarded which Gardiner saved with his knee on Conacher's attempt.[29] However, just after Allen stepped out the penalty box, Bill Cowley poked in a rebound of a Mel Hill shot to make it 2-0 Bruins.

Cartoon celebrating the Bruins OT wins, March, 1939.

Shibicky cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period and began to attack in four man waves for the rest of regulation. With a little over three minutes left, Phil Watson fed a cross-crease pass to Dutch Hiller who tied it at 2-2. The Kraut Line played the first five minutes of overtime and switched off. After several close chances for the Rangers, Bill Cowley carried the puck into New York's zone and drew both defensemen to him. His drop pass to Hill was driven in from 40', his second straight OT winner. Gardiner made 35 saves but the "B's" were up 2-0 in the series. Dit Clapper picked up the overtime winning pucks from both Games 1 and 2.[30]

Cartoon of Milt Schmidt's two goals, Game 3 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 26, 1939.

Game 3 in Boston saw Bert Gardiner still in the nets for the injured Dave Kerr. During their first shift of the game, the Bruins third line scored, as Gord Pettinger took a Flash Hollett pass in front of Gardiner, spun, and fired a shot into the top corner. Pettinger had been a Ranger but was traded because after languishing on the bench for nearly an entire game, he took his skates off and was unable to fulfill Frank Patrick's call to go on.[31] Early in the second period, the Kraut Line scored their first playoff points, with Woody Dumart setting up Milt Schmidt. Schmidt brushed off a check by Babe Pratt and fooled Gardiner with a backhand-forehand move.

The Bruins goal scorers, Game 3 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 26, 1939.

The Rangers got their only goal of the game at 13:06 when Babe Pratt's long shot deflected in off Jack Portland's stick to make it 2-1. Furious pressure on Frank Brimsek ensued with the Bruins breaking out on several odd man rushes. Dumart broke in alone during one, deked Gardiner, but hit the post. Three minutes into the third period, Neil Colville missed a great opportunity to tie the game, sliding under a shot under Frank Brimsek, a hair wide of the post. At the halfway mark, Milt Schmidt victimized Babe Pratt again, spun off him and backhanded a goal in from a sharp angle. This deflated the Blueshirts, made worse when a little over two minutes later on the power play, Bill Cowley went through the entire Rangers team to make it 4-1 Bruins. Gardiner made 29 saves to Brimsek's 23. Boston wasn't penalized during the game and took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

Milt Schmidt scores, Game 4 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 28, 1939.

Game 4 at MSG saw the Rangers facing elimination which looked likely after Milt Schmidt scored less than a minute into the game off a Bobby Bauer rebound. Shortly after the Bruins killed off a penalty, Mac Colville one-timed in a cross-crease pass by Alex Shibicky to tie the game at 8:58. Tight-checking ensued until at the 13 minute mark behind the Bruins net, Phil Watson high-sticked Jack Portland. Bryan Hextall jumped Portland from behind resulting in Eddie Shore wading in after Hextall and sticks flying, everyone on the ice joined in, except Bert Gardiner. Rangers defensemen Muzz Patrick, who'd been a Canadian boxing champion, went after Shore and broke his nose, the 13th time it had been broken in Shore's career.[32] It took five minutes until things calmed down and four players on each team received major penalties.

Violence from Game 4. #2 Eddie Shore battles Muzz Patrick with #8 Jack Portland and #16 Red Hamill.

Shore left the game for repairs and the teams played three men aside for five minutes. As soon as they were back at even strength, Babe Pratt and Jack Crawford, who'd both been in the melee, fought again. In the second period, Mickey Ion called penalties for the smallest infractions. During one of the Bruins power plays, the Rangers cleared their zone and Frank Brimsek kicked out a long shot which came out to Muzz. He kicked in the puck, which was protested by the Bruins for five minutes, but Ion counted it.[33] The Bruins then had a 5 on 3 advantage and an unsteady Shore returned to play with plaster over his broken nose. The "B's" couldn't capitalize and neither could the Rangers on a power play they received afterwards. Bert Gardiner was a stand-out in the third period as the Bruins dominated play but Brimsek was forced to stop Watson on a breakaway. Despite pulling Brimsek in the last minute, the Rangers held on for a 2-1 win.

Bobby Bauer's tying goal, Game 5 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 30, 1939.

Game 5 was in Boston and the Bruins were seething from what they regarded as the Rangers attempt to knock Eddie Shore out of the series in Game 4. They were particularly incensed that Art Coulter punched Frank Brimsek.[34] However, there were no fights in Game 5 and with his nose bandaged, Eddie Shore played. The first period was wide-open until Red Hamill was called for interference. During the power play, a scramble in front of the Bruins net saw the puck cleared to Coulter. His shot hit a leg, the post and went in. Less than a minute later, Ott Heller tripped Bobby Bauer and was sent off. Flash Hollett stopped a Ranger clearing attempt at the blueline and two passes later, Bauer slid a rebound between Bert Gardiner's pads to tie the game 1-1 at 7:39.

Clint Smith's OT winner, Game 5 of the 1939 Semi-finals, March 30, 1939.

The second period saw three Ranger and two Bruins penalties called but neither team could convert. Both teams started the third period conservatively with rushes rarely involving more than two skaters. After Roy Conacher was mugged by Ott Heller with no penalty called, Eddie Shore was left writhing on the ice after a hit from behind. Another non-call by referee Norm Lamport resulted in the crowd showering the ice with debris. Muzz Patrick got into an altercation with an ice cleaner which made the situation worse. When play resumed, Dit Clapper hit every Ranger in sight and was finally penalized for a clean check, despite Jack Crawford being subjected to the same treatment with no call. Garbage showered down but Lamport refused to allow the ice to be cleaned so the Bruins killed off the penalty while dodging the refuse.[35] The game went into overtime where Clint Smith was the hero, beating Brimsek with a long shot at the 17:19 mark. The Rangers were back in the series, trailing 3-2.

Game 6 was in New York and saw no goals in the first period. The Bruins took the lead on Mel Hill's third goal of the playoffs before Phil Watson tied it up in the second. Bruins penalties in the third period were costly as Bill Carse and Alex Shibicky capitalized to lead the Rangers to a 3-1 win and tie the series.

Woody Dumart crashes into the net, Game 7 of the 1939 Semi-finals, April 2, 1939.

Game 7 in Boston saw over 17,000 in attendance, the largest crowd in Bruins history to that point. It was a tense affair with the Bruins close to becoming the first team to blow a 3-0 series lead. After a scoreless first, George Allen fell in the Rangers zone with the puck. Gord Pettinger flipped the disk to Ray Getliffe who smacked it by Bert Gardiner at 15:52. Less than two minutes later, the Bruins couldn't clear the puck from their zone. Muzz Patrick caught the puck at the blueline and fired a skimmer that went through a crowd to tie the game. Alex Shibicky hurt his back and didn't play in the third period with Bob Carse taking his place. Referee Mickey Ion put his whistle away and called no penalties in the second nor third periods. No goals were scored in the third period but a hard check by Dit Clapper caused Alex Shibicky to miss the rest of the game.

Cartoon celebrating Mel Hill's three OT goals.

The Rangers were left wondering how the game might have turned out different with Shibicky as the series into its fourth overtime game. Bobby Bauer came close to ending the series in the 1st OT with a backhander that beat Gardiner but hit the post. In the 3rd OT, Mel Hill and Muzz Patrick took matching minor penalties at the 5:00 mark. Exiting the box, Hill rushed into the Rangers zone. Conacher took a heavy shot on Gardiner who steered it behind the net. Cowley beat the Rangers' defensemen to the puck, slid it out front to Hill who waited until Gardiner made the first move and then fired the series winner through his pads. [36] The "Sudden Death" Hill moniker was born with all three of his record overtime goals assisted by Bill Cowley.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 March 21 Boston Bruins 2–1 (3OT) New York Rangers 1–0
2 March 23 New York Rangers 2–3 (OT) Boston Bruins 0–2
3 March 26 New York Rangers 1–4 Boston Bruins 0–3
4 March 28 Boston Bruins 1–2 New York Rangers 3–1
5 March 30 New York Rangers 2–1 (OT) Boston Bruins 2–3
6 April 1 Boston Bruins 1–3 New York Rangers 3–3
7 April 2 New York Rangers 1–2 (3OT) Boston Bruins 3–4

Boston Bruins 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 1[edit | edit source]

The Bruins opponent in the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who finished the season with a 19–20–9 record, earning 47 points, which was 27 points fewer than Boston. The Leafs defeated the New York Americans and Detroit Red Wings to earn a spot in the first best of seven Finals. Toronto's Buzz Boll and George Parsons missed the series with injuries. The Bruins third line of Ray Getliffe, Gord Pettinger and Flash Hollett held the Maple Leafs top line of Gordie Drillon, Syl Apps and Bob Davidson to one goal in the series.

Cartoon of sniping between Art Ross and Conn Smythe, April 6, 1939.

Game 1 was at the Boston Garden but the day before, Toronto GM Conn Smythe demanded that all the Bruins sticks be checked to ensure that they were no longer than 53" as per NHL rules. This forced nearly all Bruins players to make adjustments.[37] Boston GM Art Ross noted that all teams, including the Leafs, used sticks over the regulated length and countered that goalie Turk Broda's pads were too wide. He also warned Smythe to not place attendants with sticks around Maple Leaf Gardens to quickly replace broken Leaf sticks. Ross also indicated that patrons of the upper level in the Garden would be frisked for projectiles, noting that such precautions were taken in Chicago for the 1938 Stanley Cup Finals and produced a dozen barrels of fruits and vegetables.[38]

Woody Dumart goal, Game 1 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

Despite Leafs coach Dick Irvin promising that his team would be faster than the Bruins, Toronto found itself outpaced often and were forced to take seven penalties. "Penalties killed us" Irvin moaned after the game.[39] The match was slow as due to unseasonal warmth and it pouring rain out, the air blowers couldn't operate, causing soft ice. In the first period with Red Horner off for cross-checking Gord Pettinger, the Kraut Line applied incredible pressure to Turk Broda. Woody Dumart finally popped the puck in with a drive from the slot, his first career playoff goal. The Leafs bothered Frank Brimsek little in the period, sending only two shots on goal while the Bruins had eight. Boston was comfortable going into a defensive shell in the second period and had no shots on Broda.

Bobby Bauer goal, Game 1 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

Toronto pressed the entire frame but constantly ran up against the checking of defensemen Jack Portland and Eddie Shore and managed only four shots on goal. Frustrated, the Leafs took four penalties in the period while the Bruins had none. The penalties were even at two each in the third period but the Leafs took two in succession, giving the Bruins a 5 on 3 power play. The "B's" couldn't convert but shortly after, Shore pulled the puck out of a goalmouth scramble and fired it in, just as referee Mickey Ion blew his whistle, disallowing it. At the 13:54 mark, Boston's defense was caught near their blueline. Gus Marker and Red Horner were left uncovered in front of Brimsek and tied it up. Just as it seemed that the game was going to overtime, Bobby Bauer burst down the right wing, beat three Leafs and fired a shot over Broda's shoulder. The Leafs had a late power play but the Bruins held on for a 2-1 victory.

Art Ross kids with Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer after Game 1 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

After the game, Smythe belittled Boston's play and opined that if that was the best game they could muster, they'd lose the series. He particularly derided the Bruins not being able to score during their two man advantage. Still, showing his decency, he provided tickets to the game to two nurses who saved Ace Bailey's life. Dick Irvin promised "we'll beat 'em Sunday, gang."[40] Art Ross' refuse prevention strategy worked, with only one program thrown on the ice all game. The Kraut Line was especially happy with the win, as the Leafs "Bingo" Kampman, also from Kitchener, Ontario, had razzed them all summer about Toronto knocking them out of the playoffs the season before. The Bruins told the press they were plenty annoyed at having to cut their stick lengths while it was noted that Turk Broda's pads were within the regulation width.

Doc Romnes OT winner, Game 2 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 2 was in Boston and the day before, a confident Conn Smythe proclaimed "we will win the series."[41] By all reports, the Bruins outplayed the Leafs by a wider margin than in Game 1 but a first period penalty to Mel Hill for interference proved costly. Bingo Kampman scored after a goal mouth scramble before the Leafs first line scored their only goal of the series. Nick Metz's pass from behind the net to Syl Apps, who sunk a 15' backhander and put Toronto up 2-0. The "B's" had two power plays of their own but couldn't convert. In the second period, the Bruins continually attacked, which paid off when Roy Conacher backhanded a 20' shot in from a Bill Cowley drop pass. Cowley set up the tying goal by Hill and then hit the post with seconds left. A scoreless third period moved the game into overtime where Doc Romnes was sent off for hauling Bobby Bauer down. The Leafs killed it off and after Romnes jumped back on the ice, he scored from close in for a 3-2 Toronto victory.

Frank Brimsek save, Game 3 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 3 was at Maple Leaf Gardens but the day before, April 10, 1939, the Bruins train pulled into a very snowy Toronto. Art Ross had the phones to the player's hotel rooms disconnected so they wouldn't be disturbed by calls from family members who lived in the area.[42] The Leafs were upbeat, confident they would win both matches in Toronto as Boston had only won once there in the last four playoff series between the teams. The first period featured tight checking, no penalties and Turk Broda stopping Roy Conacher on a breakaway. Play opened up in the second frame and with the Leafs really flying, Eddie Shore engineered the turning point in the series when he caught Busher Jackson with a thunderous open-ice hit.

Bobby Bauer opened the scoring in Game 3 from Milt Schmidt (center).

Jackson crumpled, his shoulder dislocated, and missed the rest of the series. "The check was perfectly clean" Jackson offered after the game.[43] As the Leafs highest scoring left winger, Jackson was sorely missed. Late in the period, Shore was penalized, setting up the game's first power play. The Leafs pressed furiously and as the man advantage carried into the third period, Shore exited the box just as Milt Schmidt and Bobby Bauer started a rush. Schmidt fed Bauer a perfect pass as he burst down the right wing and his sharp angle shot beat Broda five-hole.

The Leafs first line didn't score for the last 3 games of the series.

Re-doubling their efforts, Toronto laid siege to Frank Brimsek but Bill Cowley broke free and passed to Roy Conacher. His shot missed but in an attempt to block it, Gord Drillon ran into Broda. The puck bounced off the back boards, which Conacher shot into the empty net to make it 2-0 Boston at 8:12. Five minutes later, Jack Crawford caught a high Toronto clearing attempt and broke in on a 3 on 1 with Cowley and Conacher. Conacher drew Broda and Bucko McDonald to the right and passed to Crawford, who scored into the open left side for his first playoff goal. Gus Marker scored a last minute goal as the Bruins took the game by 3-1 score.

Roy Conacher scored the winning goal in 3 consecutive 1939 Stanley Cup Finals games.

Game 4 was in Toronto and "Stanley Cup by Sunday night" became the Bruins slogan. Art Ross announced that he'd be stepping down as coach after the series, to be replaced by Cooney Weiland.[44] With Busher Jackson out of the line-up, Nick Metz's brother Don made his NHL debut. However, this game was decided by Roy Conacher and Eddie Shore. With his famed brother Charlie in attendance, Roy scored the winning game early in the first period with Bingo Kampman off for roughing Milt Schmidt. Mel Hill's pass to Roy put him through the Leafs defense and he scored from close range. The Bruins were content to play defensive hockey after this and as the Leafs attacks were blunted, they became frustrated and the roughness grew. Referee Norm Lamport called the game loosely and late in the period, Bob Davidson high-sticked Shore, trying to goad him into a penalty. Uncharacteristically, Shore dropped his stick, backed away and no penalties were called.

Bruins Gord Pettinger attacks the Leafs net, Game 4 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

In the second period with Ray Getliffe off for holding, Shore killed off the penalty nearly single-handed, blocked four shots and nearly scored on a solo rush up the ice.[45] Before this, Toronto's Red Heron, playing his first game, took a holding penalty. Davidson had a breakaway but Frank Brimsek held firm and made a pad save. In the third period, the Bruins kept checking the Leafs to a stand still and a mistake by Nick Metz led to Roy Conacher's second goal. Mel Hill picked off Nick's clearing pass and fed it to Bill Cowley. With the Leafs caught up-ice, Cowley found Roy alone in front of Broda and he fired in his second goal of the game. Roy Conacher had scored the winning goal in consecutive games as Brimsek recorded his first playoff shutout in Boston's 2-0 triumph.

Mel Hill opens the scoring, Game 5 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

Game 5 in Boston saw the Leafs put Jack Church in the line-up in case Bingo Kampman's knee injury worsened. The first period was wide-open and rough until Eddie Shore took a tripping penalty at the halfway point. The man advantage was nullified after Gord Drillon tripped Dit Clapper. Once Shore hopped back on the ice, a passing play on the left boards from Clapper to Bill Cowley to Roy Conacher ended when Conacher was tripped from behind and slid the puck to Mel Hill racing in from the right wing. A forehand fake drew Turk Broda to the ice, then Hill deked around him and put a backhander into the net at 11:40. Toronto tied the game 1-1 when Hill took a holding penalty and Kampman's screen shot from the point deflected off Clapper's skate and in.

Roy Conacher scores the 1939 Cup winner, April 16, 1939.

The Bruins widely outplayed the Leafs in the penalty-free second period. Frank Brimsek wasn't troubled by a shot until nine minutes had passed and had only three all period. Boston had nine shots with the most important one coming at 17:54. Shore dug the puck out of a scrum at the centre ice boards and fed it to Conacher who gave it to playmaker Cowley. The Leafs defense furiously back-pedalled, expecting a pass to the outside to Conacher. Instead, Cowley floated a soft pass between them which Conacher picked up, broke in alone and then fired a shot over Broda's shoulder for a 2-1 Bruins lead going into the third period.

The Bruins hold off the Leafs, Game 5 of the 1939 Stanley Cup Finals.

The Leafs frantically tried to tie it up as the Bruins went into a defensive shell for most of the frame. A penalty to Reg Hamilton killed Toronto's momentum and just as they started to apply pressure, Kampman was sent off for tripping Woody Dumart with five minutes left. Once back at full strength, the Leafs chances were bolstered when Shore took a penalty for wading into a scrum. Debris rained down and the Leafs put four forwards on for the power play. Clapper broke up one rush and after Cooney Weiland stopped another, he was clothes-lined by Nick Metz. Playing four on four, Milt Schmidt crossed the Toronto blueline, held the puck and sent a cross-ice pass to Flash Hollett. He fired it past Broda with 37 seconds left and the Bruins went on to win 3-1 and took the series in five games.

NHL President Frank Calder presents the Stanley Cup to Art Ross, April 16, 1939.

Conn Smythe raced across the ice to congratulate Art Ross.[46] Rookie Frank Brimsek held Toronto to just six goals in the five games series. With two assists in Game 5, Bill Cowley passed Gord Drillon for the playoff scoring lead, racking up 11 assists and 14 points. His linemates Mel Hill and rookie Roy Conacher finished third and fourth. After receiving the Stanley Cup from NHL President Frank Calder, Art Ross handed it to team captain Cooney Weiland. It was Weiland's last game as a player, as his took over the coaching reins from Ross. Weiland, Dit Clapper and Eddie Shore were the only players left from Boston's last Cup win, ten years previously. The next evening, the team had a victory dinner at the Copley-Plaza Hotel.

# Date Visitor Score Home Record
1 April 6 Toronto Maple Leafs 1–2 Boston Bruins 0–1
2 April 9 Toronto Maple Leafs 3–2 (OT) Boston Bruins 1–1
3 April 11 Boston Bruins 3–1 Toronto Maple Leafs 2–1
4 April 13 Boston Bruins 2–0 Toronto Maple Leafs 3–1
5 April 16 Toronto Maple Leafs 1–3 Boston Bruins 1–4

Player Stats[edit | edit source]

Regular Season[edit | edit source]

Scoring
# Player Pos GP G A Pts PIM
10 Cowley, BillBill Cowley C 34 8 34 42 2
9 Conacher, RoyRoy Conacher LW 47 26 11 37 12
15 Schmidt, MiltMilt Schmidt C/D 41 15 17 32 13
17 Bauer, BobbyBobby Bauer RW 48 13 18 31 4
14 Dumart, WoodyWoody Dumart LW 46 14 15 29 2
12 Hollett, FlashFlash Hollett D/F 44 10 17 27 35
5 Clapper, DitDit Clapper RW/D 42 13 13 26 22
11 Pettinger, GordGord Pettinger C 48 11 14 25 8
6 Getliffe, RayRay Getliffe C/LW 43 10 12 22 11
18 Hill, MelMel Hill RW 46 10 10 20 16
2 Shore, EddieEddie Shore D 44 4 14 18 47
7 Weiland, CooneyCooney Weiland C 45 7 9 16 9
4 Sands, CharlieCharlie Sands C/RW 37 7 5 12 10
19 Crawford, JackJack Crawford D 48 4 8 12 12
8 Portland, JackJack Portland D 48 4 5 9 46
6, 16 Hamill, RedRed Hamill LW 6 0 1 1 0
5 Shewchuk, JackJack Shewchuk D 3 0 0 0 2
16 Frost, HarryHarry Frost RW 4 0 0 0 0
4 Reardon, TerryTerry Reardon C/RW 4 0 0 0 0
16 McReavy, PatPat McReavy C 6 0 0 0 0
1 Thompson, TinyTiny Thompson G 5 0 0 0 0
1 Brimsek, FrankFrank Brimsek G 43 0 0 0 0
Goaltending
Player MIN GP W L T GA GAA SO
Brimsek, FrankFrank Brimsek 2610 43 33 9 1 68 1.56 10
Thompson, TinyTiny Thompson 310 5 3 1 1 8 1.55 0
Team: 2920 48 36 10 2 76 1.56 10

Playoffs[edit | edit source]

Scoring
# Player Pos GP G A Pts PIM
10 Cowley, BillBill Cowley C 12 3 11 14 2
9 Conacher, RoyRoy Conacher LW 12 6 4 10 12
18 Hill, MelMel Hill RW 12 6 3 9 12
15 Schmidt, MiltMilt Schmidt C 12 3 3 6 2
17 Bauer, BobbyBobby Bauer RW 12 3 2 5 0
14 Dumart, WoodyWoody Dumart LW 12 1 3 4 6
12 Hollett, FlashFlash Hollett D 12 1 3 4 2
2 Shore, EddieEddie Shore D 12 0 4 4 19
19 Crawford, JackJack Crawford D 12 1 1 2 9
6 Getliffe, RayRay Getliffe C/LW 11 1 1 2 2
11 Pettinger, GordGord Pettinger C 12 1 1 2 7
5 Clapper, DitDit Clapper RW/D 12 0 1 1 6
4 Frost, HarryHarry Frost RW 1 0 0 0 0
16 Hamill, RedRed Hamill LW 12 0 0 0 8
8 Portland, JackJack Portland D 12 0 0 0 11
7 Weiland, CooneyCooney Weiland C 12 0 0 0 0
1 Brimsek, FrankFrank Brimsek G 12 0 0 0 0
Goaltending
Player MIN GP W L GA GAA SO
Brimsek, FrankFrank Brimsek 863 12 8 4 18 1.25 1
Team: 863 12 8 4 18 1.25 1

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes; PPG = Power-play goals; SHG = Short-handed goals; GWG = Game-winning goals

MIN = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; GA = Goals-against; GAA = Goals-against average; SO = Shutouts

Awards and Records[edit | edit source]

Transactions[edit | edit source]

Farm Teams[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Video[edit | edit source]

A minute worth of footage from the New York Americans home opener on November 13, 1938 in which they defeated the Bruins 2-1. The Americans goals by #9 Lorne Carr and #10 Eddie Wiseman are shown. Both teams play in white jerseys making it a challenge to distinguish between them at times. The end of the clip shows Milt Schmidt setting up Bobby Bauer who nearly scores. Schmidt then bodychecks an Americans player and appears hurt.

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Boston Globe, p.11 October 18, 1938.
  2. Boston Globe, p.21 October 21, 1938.
  3. Calgary Herald, p.13, October 20, 1938.
  4. Boston Globe, p.31 October 28, 1938.
  5. Boston Globe, p.6, November 12, 1938.
  6. Boston Globe, p.21, November 9, 1938.
  7. Boston Globe, p.21, November 16, 1938.
  8. Boston Globe, p.22, November 23, 1938.
  9. Boston Globe, p.11, November 28, 1938.
  10. Edmonton Journal, p.7, November 29, 1938.
  11. Boston Globe, p.22, December 2, 1938.
  12. Boston Globe, p.21, December 7, 1938.
  13. Boston Globe, p.21, December 14, 1938.
  14. Boston Globe, p.22, January 14, 1939.
  15. Boston Globe, p.18, January 20, 1939.
  16. Boston Globe, p.9, January 24, 1939.
  17. Montreal Gazette, p.16, January 28, 1939.
  18. Boston Globe, p.8, January 30, 1939.
  19. Boston Globe, p.21, February 2, 1939.
  20. Boston Globe, p.6, February 7, 1939.
  21. Boston Globe, p.10, February 7, 1939.
  22. Boston Globe, p.4, February 13, 1939.
  23. Boston Globe, p.8, February 15, 1939.
  24. Boston Globe, p.18, February 17, 1939.
  25. Boston Globe, p.18, March 8, 1939.
  26. Boston Globe, p.8, March 13, 1939.
  27. Boston Globe, p.19, March 15, 1939.
  28. Boston Globe, p.21, March 22, 1939.
  29. Boston Globe, p.28, March 24, 1939.
  30. Boston Globe, p.22, March 24, 1939.
  31. Boston Globe, p.4, March 27, 1939.
  32. Boston Globe, p.10, March 29, 1939.
  33. Boston Globe, p.10, March 29, 1939.
  34. Boston Globe, p.22, March 30, 1939.
  35. Boston Globe, p.26, March 31, 1939.
  36. Boston Globe, p.8, April 3, 1939.
  37. Boston Globe, p.16, April 5, 1939.
  38. Boston Globe, p.18, April 6, 1939.
  39. Boston Globe, p.18, April 7, 1939.
  40. Boston Globe, p.18, April 7, 1939.
  41. Boston Globe, p.4, April 8, 1939.
  42. Boston Globe, p.10, April 11, 1939.
  43. Boston Globe, p.21, April 12, 1939.
  44. Boston Globe, p.20, April 13, 1939.
  45. Boston Globe, p.18, April 14, 1939.
  46. Boston Globe, p.8, April 17, 1939.
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