The 1958-59 NHL season was the 42nd season of the National Hockey League. Six teams each played 70 games. The Montreal Canadiens were the Stanley Cup winners as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs four games to one in the best-of-seven final series. This marked the fourth consecutive Stanley Cup win for the Canadiens as they became the first team to win four in a row.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, last-place finishers the previous season, brought up Johnny Bower to share goaltending duties with Ed Chadwick and bolstered the defence by adding Carl Brewer and Allan Stanley to aid Tim Horton and Bobby Baun. Toronto was on its way up.
The Bruins started the season respectably, posting a 4-3-3 record in October. During the October 18, 1958 game in Toronto, Doug Mohns took a Bob Pulford elbow to the face which broke his jaw. Later in the game, Carl Brewer hit Bronco Horvath in the face with his shoulder and also broke his jaw. Both would return to play in December 1958, wearing protection for their still healing jaws.
Ralph Backstrom and Jean Béliveau each had two goals apiece in a 9-1 Montreal win at the Montreal Forum on October 23. Rudy Pilous, coach of the Black Hawks, was far from pleased with his team's performance and fined his team $100 for the poor performance.
Béliveau had a hat trick on November 29 as Montreal beat Detroit 6-2 at the Forum. Gordie Howe was injured in a collision with Doug Harvey near the end of the first period and was taken to hospital. There was no serious damage and Howe was given an ovation when he returned in the third period. The next night, Montreal pasted the Red Wings 7-0 as Jacques Plante got his third shutout of the season.
On January 3, Harvey was back in the Canadiens lineup and scored two goals in a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers at the Forum. A crowd of 14,711 saw a free-for-all at the end of the game. In the last minute of play, Plante got two penalties, one of them a major that sparked the fight. Jim Bartlett had skated right into Plante and Plante retaliated by punching Bartlett. In no time at all, every player on the ice was involved except Rangers' net minder Gump Worsley, who decided to have none of the nonsense. Referee Dalton McArthur gave Bartlett a double major, one for charging and one for fighting, and a misconduct penalty. Harvey and Lou Fontinato also received major penalties.
On February 1, the Rangers downed the Red Wings 5-4 at Madison Square Garden. Lou Fontinato became incensed when Gordie Howe whacked Eddie Shack over the ear with his stick, and challenged the right wing. Howe terminated the fight with an uppercut that broke Fontinato's nose and left it several degrees off centre. On February 5, the Rangers beat the Wings 5-0 on Worsley's shutout. Detroit coach Sid Abel, formerly Howe's centreman, was furious at his team and fined 14 players $100 each for playing what he described as "the worst game of hockey he had seen in 20 years".
On February 15 at Madison Square Garden, the Gumper had Montreal shut out with ten minutes remaining. Then the Canadiens scored 5 goals to win 5-1. Coach Phil Watson was red-faced and screaming at his Ranger players and ordered every player except Worsley out on the ice for an after-game workout. Watson said Worsley hadn't played so bad. General manager Muzz Patrick said the workout was in lieu of fines.
After AHL player Bill Dobbyn lost his eye playing for the Buffalo Bisons, GM Jack Adams of the Detroit Red Wings organized a game to benefit Dobbyn. Each NHL team sent a few star players to form an NHL all-star team to play the Bisons at Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium on February 17, 1959. The Aud sold out with 9,368 fans. The all stars wore their individual team jerseys and included NHL leading scorer Andy Bathgate along with Bobby Hull, Ted Lindsay and seven of the league's top 15 scorers. The Bisons lost the game 6-2 as $25,000 was raised for Dobbyn.
With five games left in the season, the Rangers had a seven-point lead over Toronto. Then the Rangers went into a fatal tailspin, and the Leafs got hot. The key game was played March 19 between Toronto and the Canadiens. Plante couldn't play due to a severe case of boils, and so the Canadiens used Claude Pronovost in goal. He was bombed for five goals before coach Toe Blake yanked him in the third period. He was replaced by another nobody, Claude Cyr. It was his first and last NHL game. He gave up only one goal the rest of the way, but the damage was done. Toronto won 6-3. The Canadiens brought up the more capable Charlie Hodge from the Montreal Royals and on March 22, he beat the Rangers 4-2. The Rangers still had a chance to make the playoffs if Detroit beat Toronto. The Red Wings had a 3-0 lead that collapsed, and the Leafs won 6-4 and ousted the Rangers, making the playoffs themselves.
The Montreal Canadiens again won the regular season standings and again their players dominated the trophies as Jacques Plante won his fourth straight Vezina Trophy, Tom Johnson won the James Norris Memorial Trophy, ending teammate Doug Harvey's four-year monopoly, and Dickie Moore won the Art Ross Trophy, setting a new record for total points in a season: with a 41-goal, 55-assist campaign, "Digger" broke "Mr. Hockey's" record by a single point.
This season marked the final time until 1967 where we would see an active player that had played for a team not in the Original Six. Former Brooklyn Americans player Ken Mosdell suited up for 2 postseason games for the Canadiens that year, and retired after Montreal won the Cup.
After some controversial calls by referee Red Storey in Game 6 of the Montreal-Chicago Semi-finals, he looked to support from the NHL. When an Ottawa newspaper reported that NHL president Clarence Campbell said that Storey had "frozen" on two calls that should have been penalties against the Canadiens, resulting in Montreal winning the series, Storey immediately resigned, never to referee in the NHL again. Scheduled to work Game 7 of the Boston-Toronto series, Eddie Powers had to take his place.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|National Hockey League||GP||W||L||T||Pts||GF||GA||PIM|
|Chicago Black Hawks||70||28||29||13||69||197||208||921|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||70||27||32||11||65||189||201||846|
|New York Rangers||70||26||32||12||64||201||217||860|
|Detroit Red Wings||70||25||37||8||58||167||218||613|
Note: GP = Games played, G = Goals, A = Assists, PTS = Points, PIM = Penalties in minutes
|Dickie Moore||Montreal Canadiens||70||41||55||96||61|
|Jean Beliveau||Montreal Canadiens||64||45||46||91||67|
|Andy Bathgate||New York Rangers||70||40||48||88||48|
|Gordie Howe||Detroit Red Wings||70||32||46||78||57|
|Ed Litzenberger||Chicago Black Hawks||70||33||44||77||37|
Stanley Cup PlayoffsEdit
|3||Chicago Black Hawks||2|
|4||Toronto Maple Leafs||1|
|4||Toronto Maple Leafs||4|
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Boston Bruins 3Edit
The teams last met eight years before in the 1951 Semi-finals which the Leafs won 4 games to 1. Harry Lumley and Johnny Bower played all seven games in net. Former Bruin Gerry Ehman was the series scoring leader with 9 points for the Leafs with linemates Frank Mahovlich and Billy Harris while the Bruins line of Don McKenney, Fleming Mackell and Jerry Toppazzini led Boston. The series was very close and the loss of star defenseman Doug Mohns to a knee injury in Game 3 (he returned in Game 7) tipped the scales. The Leafs won twice in overtime and scored a late goal in Game 7 to prevail.
Game 1 at the Boston Garden saw Lumley shine as the Leafs out shot the Bruins 32-24. After a first period goal by Jerry Toppazzini, Gerry Ehman tied it up in the second period but Leo Labine and Vic Stasiuk then scored a minute apart. With Boston's Bob Armstrong in the box for slashing, Larry Leach scored a Shorthanded goal at 18:45 for a 4-1 Boston lead going into the third period. Despite three more Power play opportunities, the Leafs couldn't score while Don McKenney added to the Bruins total in a 5-1 win.
Game 2 at Boston was a penalty-filled game as the Leafs tried to assert themselves. After the Leafs took three penalties, Fleming Mackell put the Bruins up at 10:00 of the first period. Carl Brewer then took a tripping penalty and Mackell scored on the power play. Dick Duff cut the lead to 2-1 going into the second period. A little over three minutes in, a wild melee developed with Bert Olmstead and Jean-Guy Gendron throwing haymakers at each other. Ron Stewart tied the game up five minutes later. In the third period, Boston killed off two straight penalties before Dick Duff was called for tripping Vic Stasiuk at 13:42. Stasiuk nearly scored on a solo rush during the power play. Seconds after Duff stepped back on the ice, Leo Labine dug the puck out from the right boards and backhanded a pass to Gendron to the left of the net. His one-timer beat Bower for a 3-2 lead. With a minute left, Tim Horton made a pass from behind his net to center ice. Bower vacated the net but the pass was intercepted by Bob Armstrong. He fired wide to the right side of the open net but it bounced off the boards and Labine tapped it in for a 4-2 Bruins win.
Game 3 at Maple Leaf Gardens saw early penalties which resulted in a 4 on 3 power play for Boston. Vic Stasiuk scored at 2:43 on the power play before Bob Pulford tied it up at 16:21. In the second period, Bower stopped Don McKenney on a breakaway and made a glove save on a 2 on 1 when Larry Leach fired for the top right corner. The Leafs pressed but Lumley made several incredible saves including a rebound by Gerry Ehman that the referee had to check with the goal judge to ensure it wasn't in. The Bruins killed off a hooking penalty to Leo Labine but lost Doug Mohns to a leg injury for the next three games. John Bucyk intercepted a clearing pass from Allan Stanley and a three-way passing play between him, Jim Morrison and Vic Stasiuk resulted in Stasiuk sliding the puck under Bower for a 2-1 Boston lead. The teams traded chances in the third period. With less than three minutes left, a Jerry Toppazzini give-away in the Bruins end resulted in Billy Harris passing to Tim Horton on the right boards. He passed to Ehman in the slot who spun and fired a low shot past Lumley to send the game into overtime. Bower stopped close in chances by Toppazzini and Bucyk with poke checks. In the Leafs zone, Vic Stasiuk passed to the right point but the puck was picked up by Bill Harris. Frank Mahovlich drove for the net, distracting Jim Morrison. Harris passed to Ehman on the right wing whose shot beat Lumley to the stick side for a 3-2 Leafs win.
Game 4 at Toronto was a wide-open, penalty-filled game in which 17 infractions were called. With Fern Flaman in the box for tripping, Gerry Ehman scored his fourth goal of the series on the power play at 6:58 of the first period. After a scoreless second period, Jerry Toppazzini tied it up at 2:02 of the third period only for Brian Cullen to score less than a minute later. Bronco Horvath potted his first of the series to send the game into overtime. With Jean-Guy Gendron in the box for cross-checking, Frank Mahovlich scored his first of the series at 11:21 for a 3-2 Leafs win to even the series 2-2.
Game 5 at Boston saw the Bruins outshoot the Leafs 32-22 but Bower's play made the difference. Goals by Bert Olmstead, Dick Duff, Frank Mahovlich and Bob Pulford staked Toronto to a 4-0 lead before Jerry Toppazzini scored a consolation goal at 11:25 of the third period. With a 4-1 win, the Leafs took a 3-2 lead in the series going back home.
Game 6 at Toronto was a clean game with the fewest penalties in the series. After Jerry Toppazzini scored on the power play with Bert Olmstead in the box, Don McKenney made it 2-0 Boston a few minutes later. Olmstead then scored on a 5 on 3 power play with Stasiuk and Mackell in the box for a 2-1 Boston lead at the end of the first period. Frank Mahovlich tied it up 3:50 into the second period before John Bucyk scored twice for a 4-2 Bruins lead at the end of the second period. After several icing calls against Boston early in the third period, a Frank Mahovlich rush was broken up in the Bruins zone. Billy Harris retrieved the puck and passed it to Tim Horton, who narrowly kept it in the zone. His backhand into the slot was picked up by Gerry Ehman whose backhand shot beat Lumley low to the stick side, cutting the Bruins lead to 4-3. Lumley then stopped Bill Harris on a breakaway before the teams played four aside with Mahovlich and Mackell in the box. Carl Brewer then took a high sticking penalty giving Boston a 4 on 3 power play. Bower stopped a shot by Jim Morrison and the Bruins had difficulty getting the puck. Stasiuk finally retrieved it and rushed into the Leafs zone. Mahovlich stepped out of the box, stripped Stasiuk of the puck and rushed down the right side. Lumley stopped his shot but he rounded the net and shot the rebound in to tie the game 4-4. With a little over seven minutes left in the game, Leo Boivin rushed up the ice, deked past two Leafs and his cross ice pass found Stasiuk in the slot. His slap shot was deflected in by Bronco Horvath to make it 5-4 Boston. The Bruins forechecked very well for the remainder of the game allowing few Leafs entries into their zone. Bower tried to leave the net with a minute left but was forced to play the puck at the blue line and it was nearly stolen by McKenney. Bower then stopped Mackell on a breakaway and couldn't leave the net for an extra attacker until there was 30 seconds left in the game which ended with no further score and the series tied 3-3.
Game 7 at Boston saw Doug Mohns return to action after missing three games. The teams traded power plays goals by Vic Stasiuk and Larry Regan in a penalty-filled first period (11 were called, with a fight between Stasiuk and Bobby Baun). Several minutes into the second period, Harry Lumley was hit in the face by a Dick Duff shot. Play went on until Lumley froze the puck. The game was delayed for over 30 minutes while Lumley received medical treatment. He returned to play with 7 stitches to his upper lip and 2 teeth knocked out. No penalties were called in the period and both teams had spates of prolonged pressure. A face-off in the Bruins zone saw the puck cleared just past the blueline. Leo Boivin beat two Leafs to the puck, rushed into the Leafs zone, shifted left and beat Bower to the short side to make it 2-1 Boston. In the third period, after several Bruins chances, Bob Pulford dumped the puck in on Lumley. He saved it but missed clearing the rebound and Pulford smacked it past Lumley. As the Bruins pressed, McKenney missed a pass from Mackell in the Leafs. Brewer headmanned the puck to Mahovlich who drew both Bruins defensemen to him. He passed to Ehman on the right wing who fired it home low to Lumley's stick side at 17:27. Larry Regan was called for tripping 14 seconds later. On the power play, Stasiuk had a great chance to the right side of the net but Bower smothered his shot. Lumley was pulled for the extra attacker with 30 seconds left and a face-off in the Leafs zone. Pulford won the face-off and fired the puck into the Bruins zone. The Bruins managed to get the puck back into the Leafs zone but a great play by Allan Stanley saw him clear it again and time ran out. The Leafs won 3-2 and took the series.
|1||March 24||Toronto Maple Leafs||1-5||Boston Bruins||0-1|
|2||March 26||Toronto Maple Leafs||2-4||Boston Bruins||0-2|
|3||March 28||Boston Bruins||2-3 (OT)||Toronto Maple Leafs||2-1|
|4||March 31||Boston Bruins||2-3 (OT)||Toronto Maple Leafs||2-2|
|5||April 2||Toronto Maple Leafs||4-1||Boston Bruins||3-2|
|6||April 4||Boston Bruins||5-4||Toronto Maple Leafs||3-3|
|7||April 7||Toronto Maple Leafs||3-2||Boston Bruins||4-3|
In 1959, the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers went on a 23 game tour of Europe, visiting England, Switzerland, France, Belgium, West Germany and Austria. The Rangers line-up was supplemented by Bobby Hull, Ed Litzenberger, Eric Nesterenko and Pierre Pilote of the Chicago Black Hawks while Andy Bathgate of the Rangers didn't participate as his wife had given birth just before the tour.
It was the first time NHL teams played in Europe since the 1938 Detroit Red Wings–Montreal Canadiens European tour, a nine-game affair in Paris and London that the Canadiens won, 5-3-1.
During the tour, the teams experimented with an orange puck, designed by Clair Kenney. The players didn't like it and complained it looked like a blur on the ice.
Bobby Hull credits the series for his later success as he was allowed to play a freewheeling style instead of a checking role, which he had during his first two years with Chicago. The Rangers won the series with a record of 11–9–3.
The following is a list of players of note who played their first NHL game in 1958-59 (listed with their first team, asterisk(*) marks debut in playoffs):
- Stan Mikita, Chicago Black Hawks
- John McKenzie, Chicago Black Hawks
- Johnny Bucyk, Detroit Red Wings
- Bill Hicke*, Montreal Canadiens
- Eddie Shack, New York Rangers
The following is a list of players of note that played their last game in the NHL in 1958-59 (listed with their last team):
- Earl Reibel, Boston Bruins
- Real Chevrefils, Boston Bruins
- Danny Lewicki, Chicago Black Hawks
- Gus Mortson, Detroit Red Wings
- Kenny Mosdell, Montreal Canadiens
- Wally Hergesheimer, New York Rangers
Two minutes of video from the October 18, 1958 Toronto-Boston game showing Leo Boivin hitting the post and then a scrap between Bronco Horvath and Bert Olmstead who later sit in the penalty box together.
Over two hours of footage of Game 7 of the 1959 Bruins-Leafs Semi-finals starting in the second period. Several minutes into the second period, Harry Lumley is hit in the face by a Dick Duff shot. Play goes on until Lumley freezes the puck. The game is stopped for over 30 minutes while Lumley is repaired and to fill the time, interviews are held with Gordie Howe, Tom Foley (broadcaster), Ed Chadwick, Johnny Gagnon, Spencer Evans (Leafs publicity director) and Roger Barry (Boston hockey writer). Lumley returned to play with 7 stitches to his upper lip and 2 teeth knocked out.
- ↑ The Official NHL 75th Anniversary Commemorative Book, p.139.
|National Hockey League|
|1958–59 NHL season by team|
|Teams||Boston • Chicago • Detroit • Montreal • New York • Toronto|
|See also||All-Star Game • 1959 Stanley Cup Finals|