DICK DUFF, 1967 CANADIENS
Let me start out by saying this: As a member of the 1967 Montreal Canadiens, I was not happy that another team beat us in the final and got to skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup.
But if it was going to be anyone, it may as well have been the Leafs.
I was with the Leafs for Cup victories in 1962 and '63, but missed out on their three-peat when I was traded in '64.
As a Canadien, we won the Cup in '65 and '66 before meeting the Leafs in the '67 final. Finally I was going to have the opportunity to win a third consecutive Cup, a very special feat.
We had a confident team in Montreal. We felt as if we could play with anyone.
In fact, we could have beaten a young team in that '67 final. We probably could have scared them right out of the series.
But this was a veteran-filled Leafs team that had been through these playoff wars time and time again.
And when you are dealing with the likes of Red Kelly, Frank Mahovlich, Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower and Dave Keon, well, these were experienced guys who had been there before.
They probably sensed that they might not get to this point again. After all, this thing doesn't come by every once in a while.
I think it's important to note that a lot of these Leafs players had won in the past. I can't stress how vital that is. After accomplishing something like that, they were not going to be intimidated by us.
Not even when we won Game 1 by a 6-2 score.
Maybe we were a bit overconfident.
Maybe the fact that Expo 67 was being held in Montreal at the time was a distraction.
Whatever the case, we could not keep the Leafs down for the rest of the series.
After four games the series was tied 2-2 heading back to Montreal. We told ourselves this was our shot.
Instead they won the final two games to take the Cup.
There were eight seconds left in Game 6 when George (The Chief) Armstrong scored into an empty net to make the score 3-1. I said 'Nice goal, Chief, no goalie and all.'"
He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. I knew how he felt.
He was about to win the Cup.
I think one of the keys to Toronto's success was the confidence they had accumulated in beating Chicago one round earlier. I'm pretty sure the Blackhawks finished first in the regular season, so being able to eliminate them was an impressive feat for Toronto.
Since winning the Cup that year, the Leafs have never been able to do it again. I think it has to do with the farm system. I just don't think it has ever been as deep since expansion.
I'm happy that the '67 team will be honoured. I think all those guys were very proud to win and were happy to be Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was a big thing for the city, something people here have never forgotten.
JOHNNY BOWER, 1967 MAPLE LEAFS
Any discussion of our 1967 Stanley Cup team has to start with Punch Imlach, our no-nonsense coach and general manager at the time.
Punch made sure we were a close team. More importantly, he made certain we always went full out, whether it was practice or a game. He always demanded 150% from us.
Here is a scene that played out on a number of occasions.
We would gather for a morning practice and, part way through the workout, you could tell Punch didn't like our effort. So when we were done, he would inform us that we would be practising again in the afternoon.
As a result, we were on the ice again, 2-4 p.m. And by the time we were done, we'd hit rush hour on the way home, would be late for dinner and get heck from our wives once we got there.
That was motivation enough to make sure we practised hard as much as possible. And Punch knew it.
I was probably the oldest guy on the team. Thank God Punch put such good players on the blue line in front of me.
Bobby Baun. Tim Horton. Allan Stanley. Larry Hillman. The list goes on. What a solid defence we had. There was such good communication between us, too. If the puck was near my feet and I couldn't see it, the defence would always yell the location to me.
We had so much respect for our foes in the 1967 final, the Montreal Canadiens. We had won the Cup in '62, '63 and '64 before they captured it in '65 and '66.
In other words, the '67 final featured the two teams that had won the previous five Cups.
Led by the likes of Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard, Montreal could be an intimidating team. To be honest, we were a little scared of them. But we wouldn't let them see that. No way. We just kept working and working.
My goaltending partner, Terry Sawchuk, started Game 1 and we were thumped 6-2. I played Games 2 and 3, which we won 3-0 and 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Game 4 was not good for us. I pulled a groin, Terry went in and they beat us 6-3 to tie the series.
We were all knotted up at two games apiece. It was anyone's series.
Thankfully we stepped up to win 4-1 and 3-1 to take the Cup. It was a special moment, as you can imagine.
It's a good thing we won when we did because I don't know if we would have come out on top had there been a Game 7. We had so many injuries. Stanley was wearing two braces, George Armstrong was banged up, just to name a few. Luckily we finished it off in six games.
Forty years after that special moment, it's amazing how the wonderful fans in Toronto still hold us in such high esteem. No matter where we go, whether it be a golf tournament or another charity event, they know who we are.