Wednesday, November 25, 2015

1949 Maple Leafs Lineup Card

Here's something you don't see every day. I picked this beauty up recently, an original 1949 lineup card from Maple Leaf Gardens. It was given out for a Saturday night game between the Leafs and the visiting Rangers. It's a simple two-sided thick stock paper that folds at the middle. Other than a few stains, it's in great shape for being over 65 years old and looks great on my Den wall.
Halfway through the 1948/49 season, Toronto and New York were tangled in a tight race for the last two playoff spots. On January 15, 1949 Toronto was in fifth place with 30 points in 33 games, while the Rangers were last with 28 in 32. Below is the newspaper boxscore from the game.
Ranger defenceman Frank Eddols opened the scoring late in the first period assisted by Buddy O'Connor who would lead New York in 1948/49 with a measly 35 points in 46 games. Maple Leaf, Bill Ezinicki collected two minor penalties in the first en route to an NHL leading 145.
21 year-old Leafs defender Bill Barilko tied the score halfway through the middle period with an unassited marker. This was Bashin' Bill's second full year in the NHL, sadly of course, he would only play two more years after this one. Four minutes later Tod Sloan put Toronto up with help from Ezinicki and Harry Watson. Watson ended up tops in Leaf scoring with 45 points, tied for 7th in the NHL. 
The win pushed Toronto closer to the .500 mark with a record of 12-14-8 but they would not win again for 11 days. That win on January 26 was the start of a 9-3-4 run for the Leafs putting them at 21-20-13. However, they lost five of the last six to close the year and end up solidly entrenched in the fourth and final playoff spot. New York would beat the Leafs the very next night back home but stumbled to a 7-16-3 record the rest of the way and finish last overall.
Inexplicably, the Leafs caught fire once the playoffs started. They beat second-place Boston 4 games to 1 and then swept first place Detroit, a team that finished 18 points ahead in the regular season. This would be Toronto's third straight Stanley Cup win, the first team to win three in a row in NHL history.
Harry Watson in the 1949 Stanley Cup Final

Bill Barilko

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