Friday, July 7, 2017

Unidentified Maple Leafs/Bruins Photo

Here's another cool vintage hockey photo from the archives of my friends at Vintage Sports Images in North Vancouver. There's a few familiar faces that will help identifying the photo and narrowing down the date. Starting with the obvious, it is the Boston Bruins visiting the Maple Leafs in Toronto and Leaf captain George Armstrong is battling in front of the Boston net. Also, on the distant blueline is Toronto defender Allan Stanley wearing the "A" on his chest.

To narrow down a timeframe for the photo we turn to nhluniforms.com to see that the Leafs switched to a tie-down collar for the 1958/59 season and would add sleeve numbers in 1962/63. This puts the photo at somewhere between this range. This nails down Toronto's #20 as Bob Pulford who was there for that entire period. Now to the Bruins, Boston had only two players wear #4 during this time period, Bob Armstrong and Pat Stapleton. We can determine that the player in the photo is a left shot from his right hand being the one at the knob of the stick. Armstrong was a right shot, Stapleton a left shot. Zooming in on the face, and comparing it to other pics confirms it is Pat Stapleton who was a rookie in 61/62 and took over for Armstrong who was sent to the Eastern league in October of 1961.
So, since this is 1961/62 we can now confirm that the Bruins other defender wearing #20 is Leo Boivin. The goaltender proves to be a bit trickier to identify. Checking multiple databases shows that both Don Head and Bruce Gamble wore #1 for the Bruins that year and they pretty much split the playing time (Head playing 38 games, Gamble 28). First a few pics of Don Head from that era. 
Don Head Oct 17, 1961
Don Head Oct 10, 1963 with Portland
Bruce Gamble from the same era.
This one is a toughie, the Bruins made seven trips to Toronto that season (Head played four, Gamble three) and all of the players pictured played pretty much every game that season. So narrowing it down using game lineups is impossible. Looking at the photos of Head and Gamble really doesn't help, as we only see the back of the goaltender. Both men caught with the left hand, had a buzz-type haircut at the time, weighed the same and were within an inch in height of each other. If anything, the goalie pictured seems to have a bit of a bald patch on the back of his head that may match that of Don Head, but that is literally splitting hairs. I really can't say for certain which one is in the Bruins net but if I had to make a guess, I'd go with Don Head. If so, that makes this game one of Oct 14, 1961; Dec 9, 1961; Dec 23, 1961; or Jan 10, 1962. 

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