While rummaging through a bookshelf in my old bedroom at my parents’ house the other day, I came across an unopened DVD set titled, “Toronto Maple Leafs: 10 Great Leafs And Their Most Memorable Games”. Since we’re officially in the dog days of summer, I decided to crack open the DVDs and watch each game one by one, and write a bit about each game here, reliving some of the Leafs’ greatest moments. Here’s Part One.
In 1964, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in the middle of their dynasty years. They had just come off of two consecutive Stanley Cup wins and were battling for their third and 12th overall when they faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Final.
However, the Red Wings had a 3-2 series lead on the Leafs and had a chance to take home the Cup on home ice in Game 6. The Leafs obviously needed to win to force a deciding seventh game back at Maple Leafs Gardens.
With the stage set for such an enormous moment, I doubt anybody would’ve bet that seldom scoring, stay-at-home defenseman Bob Baun would score the goal that kept Toronto’s hopes alive. And what if I told you he did it on a broken leg?
Baun broke it on a very strange play with a little over five minutes left in the third period. He took over the centreman’s duties in the Leafs’ end and took the faceoff, a strategy often employed by Leafs coach Punch Imlach. Baun simply pivoted as the puck was dropped, and immediately fell to the ice in pain. He revealed in a post-game interview the injury occurred when he blocked a Gordie Howe slapshot right before the faceoff. Baun had to be stretchered off the ice.
Neither team could break the 3-3 deadlock, and the game would head to overtime. Johnny Bower continued his stellar play, making a couple of big stops as the Red Wings pressed hard to end the game early in the extra period.
But it was Baun, returning from his injury, who found the back of the net. The Red Wings couldn’t clear the puck and Baun swooped in to intercept it at the right point, taking a quick slapshot towards the net. The puck caught Wings goaltender Terry Sawchuk off guard and sailed over his glove.
As history tells us, the Leafs went on to win Game 7, cruising to a 4-0 victory. The Leafs would go on to win their 13th Stanley Cup in 1967, a success they have yet to repeat, even 48 years later.