Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Original Six

In my research for a picture book I am writing about wartime Toronto and the Maple Leafs dynasty, I discovered that the Detroit Red Wings, whom the Leafs faced in the 1942 Stanley Cup, were made up completely of Canadians.  Then I googled the Toronto Maple Leafs 1942 and discovered that they were all Canadian except the Russian born Sweeney Schriner.  On to the Montreal Canadiens who, like the Leafs, were an all Canadian team.  The New York Rangers, despite being the furthest team from Southern Ontario where most of the talent was found, were also an all Canadian team.  The Boston Bruins roster showed an all Canadian team except for the American born Frank Brimsek and Cliff Thompson.  Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks, were the only team that had any significant number of Americans at six, but the majority (18) were still Canadians.

These were the original six teams of the National Hockey League.  This was the era of Bobby Orr, Pierre Pilote, Red Kelly, Doug Harvey, Harry Howell and Tim Horton (yes, the donut shop owner Tim Horton).  Nicknamed "The Golden Age of Hockey", this was the era of no helmets and less body contact, of close friendships and intense rivalries, of lower salaries and higher expectations, the era of shorter haircuts and clean shaven faces.  On Saturday night, hockey fans often listened on their living room radio to the play by play by Foster Hewitt.  For the Leafs fans who purchased tickets, they attended the game at Maple Leaf Gardens dressed in suits and fedoras, dresses and pillbox hats (sometimes the hats ended up on the ice after a player scored three goals in a game).  The Golden Age of Hockey lasted until 1967, when the NHL expanded.  It would never be the same.

Note:  For more information on the Original Six, visit (

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