March 8, 2011Ice Hockey In The Fifties
By Sablemable aka Jan
What a great time it was to be a fan of ice hockey in the Fifties! There were only six teams to cheer for and plenty of excitement. The top three teams were the Montreal Canadiens, the Deroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. No helmets, no face masks.
The teams played in arenas like The Forum, Olympia Stadium and Boston Gardens and they were always packed. With the exception of Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, all of the rinks have been demolished. Boooooooo!
OLYMPIA STADIUM, HOME OF THE DETROIT RED WINGS
THE FORUM IN MONTREAL, QUEBEC
A VACANT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS
Everyone knew all of the players names and all of the stars of the ice. The Red Wings had Gordie Howe (later to be nicknamed Mr. Hockey) on right wing.
NUMBER 9 GORDIE HOWE
In the early Fifties, Howe, along with center Sid Abel and Ted “Terrible Ted” Lindsey on left wing were known as The Production Line. The three produced as many goals as the Ford Motor Company did cars.
On the Canadiens team, there was Maurice “The Rocket” Richard on right wing, and center Jean “Le Gros Bill” Beliveau racking up points. They were also joined by Bernie “Boom-Boom” Geoffrion, whose nickname came into being because his shots resounded like a cannon when the puck hit the boards. Boom, boom. And on defense, possibly the best defenseman ever was Doug Harvey.
The goaltender for the Canadiens was Jacques Plante, who perfected the face mask. After an injury during a game in 1959, Plante refused to return to the game unless he could wear his mask. The rest is history.
JACQUES PLANTE BEFORE THE MASK
Hockey has always been criticized for being too violent, but a few fisticuffs never hurt the game.
And what did all of this skating, puck shooting and fighting get the players? Why, the Stanley Cup, of course! During the Fifties, Montreal won the Cup five times, the Red Wings four and Toronto once.
MAURICE RICHARD AND JEAN BELIVEAU HOLDING THE STANLEY CUP
Now with so many teams due to expansion, I hardly know one from the other, but all fans no matter their age know of this era and it was the best of times. Hooray for hockey from the Fifties!!!!