Last modified on 24 February 2010, at 16:57

History of the National Hockey League/1942–1967/Dynasties/Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple LeafsEdit

In the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals, the Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens four games to one in the only final in NHL history when all games were decided in overtime. The Cup-winning goal was scored by Leafs' defenceman Bill Barilko after he dashed in from his defensive position, despite an earlier warning from Smythe not to take unnecessary chances, and hammered the puck past Montreal goaltender Gerry McNeil. The goal completed Toronto's fourth Stanley Cup championship in five seasons and made Barilko a national hero. Four months later, Barilko and a friend disappeared in Northern Ontario, where they had flown out on a fishing trip. Barilko's disappearance became front page news across Canada, and a massive search failed to locate the missing plane. Barilko's remains were not found until 1962, the first year the Maple Leafs won the Cup since Barilko's overtime winner eleven years previous. Barilko's disappearance was immortalized 40 years later by Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip in their 1992 song "Fifty Mission Cap".

By 1962, the disappearance of Bill Barilko and the Maple Leafs' subsequent failure to win the Stanley Cup had led fans in Toronto to believe a curse had been placed on the team. The Leafs won the 1962 championship shortly before Barilko's remains were discovered. They repeated as champions in 1963. In 1964, the Leafs again played for the Stanley Cup against the Red Wings. Trailing the series 3–2, Maple Leafs' defenceman Bobby Baun suffered a broken ankle from a Gordie Howe slap shot in the third period of game six. Despite the injury, Baun returned with his ankle taped up and scored the winning goal in overtime. Baun also played the seventh game as the Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings to win their third consecutive title.