May 25, 2024

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1967 Maple Leafs recall historic Cup run ahead of All-Star honor

Members of franchise’s last title to receive Magnuson Man of Year Award in Toronto

Editor’s Note: The NHL Alumni Association will pay tribute to the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 1, as part of NHL All-Star Thursday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The NHLAA’s “Keith Magnuson Man of the Year” award will salute the seven living members of the Maple Leafs’ most recent championship. Expected to attend are Hall of Famers Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich and Bob Pulford, and fellow forwards Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Pete Stemkowski and Mike Walton.

The award is presented to a former player or players who have applied the intangibles of perseverance, commitment and teamwork developed through the game into a successful post-career transition. Honorees are ambassadors for the game at all levels through their continued commitment in community and charitable causes. This award is named in honor and memory of Keith Magnuson, Executive Board of Director of the NHL Alumni Association who died Dec. 15, 2003.

To mark the occasion, NHL.com interviewed those players for a two-part look at the 1966-67 Maple Leafs. Today, Toronto stuns the Montreal Canadiens in the Final, and the aftermath of a championship for the ages. Part 1 appeared yesterday.

Editor’s Note: The NHL Alumni Association will pay tribute to the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 1, as part of NHL All-Star Thursday at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

The NHLAA’s “Keith Magnuson Man of the Year” award will salute the seven living members of the Maple Leafs’ most recent championship. Expected to attend are Hall of Famers Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich and Bob Pulford, and fellow forwards Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Pete Stemkowski and Mike Walton.

The award is presented to a former player or players who have applied the intangibles of perseverance, commitment and teamwork developed through the game into a successful post-career transition. Honorees are ambassadors for the game at all levels through their continued commitment in community and charitable causes. This award is named in honor and memory of Keith Magnuson, Executive Board of Director of the NHL Alumni Association who died Dec. 15, 2003.

To mark the occasion, NHL.com interviewed those players for a two-part look at the 1966-67 Maple Leafs. Today, Toronto stuns the Montreal Canadiens in the Final, and the aftermath of a championship for the ages. Part 1 appeared yesterday.

TORONTO — It was fitting that Canada’s 1967 centennial year would see the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHL’s two oldest, most storied rivals, meet for the priceless trophy that was conceived in 1892 by Lord Stanley of Preston, the country’s Governor General, and awarded for the first time a year later.

Toronto had won the championship 10 times, 12 including the two won before the franchise was branded the Maple Leafs in 1927 by owner Conn Smythe. The Canadiens had won 13, plus one more in the National Hockey Association a year before the 1917 founding of the NHL.

The Maple Leafs added their 11th in 1967 with two six-game postseason series wins following a season that was tumultuous both on and off the ice — a colossal Semifinal upset of the regular-season champion Chicago Black Hawks, then a defeat of the favored Canadiens, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who figured they’d coast to their third in a row.

It was the final championship of the “Original Six” era, the six-team, 25-year period from 1942-67 that ended when expansion doubled the NHL to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season.

On Thursday, the NHL Alumni Association will honor the 1967 Maple Leafs as their Keith Magnuson Man of the Year. The seven surviving members of that team whose names appear on the historic trophy – Hall of Famers Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich and Bob Pulford, and Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Pete Stemkowski and Mike Walton – will be feted at Scotiabank Arena to begin 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend, then celebrated during a reception at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“When I got the call from the Alumni Association, I said, ‘Man of the Year? Why are you honoring me?’ Then I realized it was the whole team,” joked Stemkowski, whose delicious sense of humor is sure to light up festivities.

“We’ve been brought to Toronto a few times on the anniversaries. We marked the 40th anniversary, the 50th. It’s always flattering, a great honor. I’ll be really thrilled to see some of the teammates I speak to occasionally, always wondering how they’re doing. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong (left), equipment manager Tommy Naylor (center) and goalie Terry Sawchuk with the 1967 Stanley Cup and the Trans-Canada Air Lines Trophy, a team award voted to Sawchuk for his outstanding play in the postseason.

Conacher is pleased that it’s a team being honored this year, not an individual as has been done the 21 previous times the Magnuson prize has been awarded to a single alumnus “who has applied the intangibles of perseverance, commitment and teamwork developed through the game into a successful post-career transition.”

(The only exception was in 2018, when Toronto’s Borje Salming and Mats Sundin and the Detroit Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom were jointly honored.)

“The 1967 Maple Leafs, as difficult a regular season as we had, became in the very latter stages of that season a real team,” Conacher said. “The Magnuson honoree is the team, as opposed to any of the individuals. Dave Keon, certainly, as Conn Smythe Trophy winner, was most prominent as a player. But go down the lineup and it was a real team effort that ended up upsetting the much-favored Canadiens.”

Montreal’s 1960 championship wrapped up their unprecedented run of five in a row. They would win in 1965 and 1966 and again in 1968 and 1969; Toronto had won three straight from 1962-64. The Black Hawks’ 1961 title would prove to be the only smudge on Canada’s Stanley Cup decade.

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