For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).
This is part seven – 1973
Why was 1973 the longest season ever for Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard ? And the same for the other Cup finalists of that year – Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill White, Pat Stapleton, and Tony Esposito?
Because the 1972 season began for these guys (This Vancouver Sun said ten players but I count eleven) on the morning of August 23th, 1972 when they showed up for the first day of camp for the historic 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, and ended when Montreal hoisted the Cup in Chicago in game six on May 10th, 1973.
And what series was bigger to Ken Dryden, the Summit or the Cup? “Each is the most important series at the time you win it,” answered the thoughtful Dryden.
It was Montreal’s 18th Stanley Cup, and each player pocketed a record $19,000 for the five weeks of playoff work, and Chicago players didn’t do so badly either, taking home $14,000 each.
Yvan Cournoyer won the Conn Smythe trophy in these playoffs, and it was record-breaking series with 56 goals being scored, an average of more than nine a game. Jacques Lemaire also found himself in the record book by recording nine assists in the final. It was also Henri Richard’s 11th time he’d sipped from the Cup, whcih is unbelievable. Jean Beliveau had previously been on ten Cup teams.
Scotty Bowman, in his post-game comments, said, “Sure we knew we were the better team. After all, we’d only lost ten games during the season. But look at the pressure it put on us. We came into every game the overwhelming favourite. It’s tough to live up to your press clippings.”
Montreal’s playoff run began by taking out the Buffalo Sabres in six games, then Philadelphia in five, before besting the Hawks in six. Henri Richard considered retiring after this season but ended playing another one and a half seasons beyond. 1972-73 was also the year the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames joined the league.
One side note from this Vancouver Sun writeup. The Vancouver Canucks hired Hal Laycoe to be their new general manager, replacing Bud Poile. Laycoe of course was the villian in 1955 who got Rocket Richard all fired up, which led to the infamous Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Day of 1955. Laycoe, playing for Boston, high-sticked Rocket and of course number nine went after the bespeckled Laycoe, only to find himself held by linesman Cliff Thompson. So in order to protect himself from being hit by Laycoe while being held by the official, Rocket punched Thompson in the face twice, knocking him out cold, and the rest, as they say, is history.