Remembering May 10, 1970

DonBuddinE6

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 25, 2005
162
May 10 will be the 50th anniversary of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, their first such victory since 1941. This post – sort of a long read, I suppose – is my recollection of those times.

The 69-70 Bruins
By the start of the 69-70 season, the Bruins were by far the most popular sports team in town: Bobby Orr was in his prime. Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield had arrived the year before in the Greatest Trade of All Time. Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie provided both goals and attitude. Gerry Cheevers was usually solid in goal (which couldn’t always be said for his backup Eddie Johnston). John Bucyk on left wing was a veteran, a solid goal scorer ever since the old Uke line with Vic Stasiuk and Bronco Horvath in the 50s. And then there was Teddy Green, the face of the Bruins until the emergence of Orr and Esposito and as rugged a defenseman as any. Green was lost for the season when he was felled by Wayne Maki who viciously swung his stick and connected with Green’s in a pre-season fight. But even without Green, the Bruins were as tough as any team in the league.
The previous season had been the most exciting season in the previous dozen years – admittedly not a high bar to clear as the Bs had finished out of the playoffs for 9 years running in the early/mid 60s. The 68-69 B’s lost to the Canadiens in the playoffs 4 games to 2, in one of the most thrilling series ever, when the magnificent Jean Béliveau scored in double overtime at the Garden. So when 69-70 began, Bruins fans had great hopes, even after Green went down.

The regular season was both exhilarating and frustrating. At the time, the NHL had 2 divisions – one division contained the “original 6” teams [okay, they weren’t the original 6, but that’s a different discussion], and the other had the 6 expansion teams (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, LA, St Louis, Oakland, Minnesota), none of whom were nearly as good as even the worst original-6 team. The Bruins consistently won at home that year against everybody, did reasonably well against the expansion teams on the road, but couldn’t win at all on the road against teams in their division. Toronto was terrible that year, but the rest of the teams in the Bruins’ division were all very close to each other. Going in to the final day of the regular season, Boston and Chicago were tied for 1st place, with Chicago getting the tiebreaker. The Bruins played Toronto and beat them handily on the final Sunday, and Chicago were playing at home against the Canadiens. When Chicago beat the Habs, the Hawks clinched 1st place, and the Bruins, tied with Chicago at 99 points, were 2nd. Bruins fans ruefully thought back to a Sunday afternoon game at the Garden in January. Referee Bill Friday ruled that a shot (by Cliff Koroll, IIRC) went in the net and came right back out, but neither the goal judge nor any of the fans saw it (and there was no replay). The final score was 1-0 Chicago: had the so-called ‘goal’ not been given, there would have been no tie with Chicago at the end of the regular season, and the Bruins would have finished in first.

The tickets
Henry, Bill, Joan, Lee and I went to every single home game for 5 years, starting somewhere in 68-69. Henry and I were gofers at a civil engineering company, and Bill worked there as a Northeastern co-op. Joanie was Bill’s girlfriend, Lee had been Henry’s best friend since forever. We didn’t have season tickets, but we did the long waits (and some overnights) at North Station when tickets went on sale. And we took at least 1 trip a year to Montreal to see the B’s play at the Forum. Omigod, those were amazing times.
We were only interested in standing room tickets. They didn’t sell standing room as such, but there were hundreds of seats behind a post, or in the back of the grandstand where the balcony cut off your view, or anywhere in the 2nd balcony that wasn’t 1st or 2nd row. (In the 2nd balcony, people in the 1st row sat, people in the 2nd row had to stand to see over the 1st row, and people in the 3rd and 4th rows had to find spaces between the standees in row 2.)

There were four spots in the Garden that were great for standing: the 4 corners of the 1st balcony. In each corner was a railing where 6 or 7 (8 if you squeeze) people could stand. The people in front of you, in the last row of the balcony, were 2 steps below us, so we had a clear view of the ice even when they stood up. We would stand at the railing behind Section 104 – at the end where the Bruins shot in the 1st and 3rd periods. A long way up, but much closer than the last rows of new stadiums. And the corners are great viewpoints for watching hockey.
For the 1970 playoffs, I got lucky. A few days before the end of the regular season, I was reading the Globe on the subway to work and saw a 1-sentence blurb in the “Sports Notes” column where they put miscellaneous junk: “Bruins playoff tickets for the 1st 7 games go on sale at 8:00 today at the North Station Box Office.” Holy shit. They decided to put the tickets on sale with virtually no notice – the only mention was 1 sentence in the Globe, and they’re opening the Box Office 2 hours early. There was no time to get in touch with the others – we didn’t have pagers then, let alone cell phones – I just went straight to North Station. The line was relatively short, and soon after I got there Billy showed up as well. They were limiting each person to 8 (I think) tickets, but you could get back in line again. It took Bill and me maybe 3 trips through the line to get enough for the gang, plus a few extras, for all 7 games.

The Playoffs
The playoff format was slightly different then: In the first round in each division, the 1st place team (Chicago) played the 3rd-place team (Detroit), and 2nd (Boston) played 4th (NY). As the playoffs got underway, we fans were hopeful, but we all knew well that the team had trouble on the road all season. And that the BlackHawks were especially tough at home and would have the extra home game.

But first we had to make it past the Rangers. The Rangers were a tough team led by the Hadfield-Ratelle-Gilbert line, and a strong Walt Tkachuk centering another line. Brad Park led the defense (Bruins fans thought he was a wuss until he put on a B’s sweater a couple of years later), and Ed Giacomin was steady(ish) in goal. The opening game was music to fans’ eyes and ears, an 8-2 blowout, the Garden as rollicking as it had ever been. The Bruins took care of business in the second game as well. But when the series moved to Madison Sq Garden for games 3 and 4, the road troubles had not gone away: the Bruins lost both games, and the series was tied at 2. Game 5 at home was the most important game the Bruins were to play that season. Instead of the open, high-flying game that they’d played all season, it seemed that they magically switched to Stanley Cup-style play: tight play, skating the wings, taking opportunities when they come, and shutting down the opponents. Not the style we were used to seeing in Garden. And they beat the Rangers 3-2. Game 6 in New York was no contest (4-1 B’s) – the Bruins’ performance in Game 5 really finished off the Rangers. To paraphrase a different coach from a different time, it was on to Chicago.

Tony Esposito won the Vezina Trophy in 69-70, and he was outstanding in goal for Chicago. Stan Mikita and of course Bobby Hull led the team in offense, and Chicago Stadium was a bear of a place to play – the Bruins had won exactly 0 games there during the season. After coming so close the year before, B’s fans had that all-too-familiar feeling of Hope shadowed by Doom. And then something magical, unexpected, glorious, impossible, amazing, stupendous happened. The Boston Bruins went into Chicago in the first game and dominated the Hawks, beat ‘em 6-3. They played as they had in the last 2 games against the Rangers – it was as if a switch had been turned on, and the team recognized that they could play just as well on the road as in the Garden. And then, to the amazement of everyone, they beat the BlackHawks again in the second game, 4-1. The games weren’t even close. The Big, Bad Bruins had become the Big, Bad, Dominant Bruins. Chicago put up a token fight in the 2 games in Boston, but the Bruins won them both handily. Not one sane person would have foreseen the Bruins sweeping Chicago, but there it was. And the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals, looking to end the drought since their last win in 1941.

St Louis had been the best of the expansion teams, but they still sucked compared to any of the original 6 teams, so the outcome did not look to be in doubt. Because St Louis finished 1st in their division and Boston 2nd in theirs, St Louis had the first two games at home (and the 7th at home, in the very unlikely event that things got that far).
St Louis was no match for Boston. In Game 1, Scotty Bowman, the St Louis coach, tried double-teaming Bobby Orr, which left players like Bucyk and Espo open much of the time. The Bruins won a pair of laughers at the old St Louis Arena, a decrepit old barn, 6-0 and 6-1, then took the 3rd game at the Garden 4-1. Winning the Cup was now a formality (in 1970, a 2004 Red Sox-Yankees series had not been imagined). But if the Bruins were to lose Game 4, the next game would be in St Louis, an anticlimactic place for a Stanley Cup win.

May 10th
Game 4 was Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, at 2pm. National television on CBS (Dan Kelly announcing), and local radio with Fred Cusick and Johnny Peirson. And was it ever a hot day – 90 degrees, crazy hot for early May back then. The five of us left the Dew Drop Inn, our usual pre-game haunt on Merrimac St, around 12:30 to be 1st in line at the door, like always, to race up the 99 steps to our standing spot. But there were 2 groups of 2 in front of us in line – turned out to be no problem, as they didn’t know the right route to Section 104 and showed up well after we’d claimed our spot. The mood was unlike anything I’ve ever known, before or since – not really the nervous type of mood you typically get before a crucial game, but much more of an expectant/exuberant mood waiting to celebrate, because it just didn’t seem remotely possible that the Bruins wouldn’t win today. And everyone had forgotten about that 1-0 loss in January to the BlackHawks: if the Bruins had finished 1st in their division, Game 4 would have been in St Louis, not Boston.

The Garden was packed, of course. Lots more people standing than usual – no electronic tickets in those days, and it wasn’t particularly difficult to get in a game by slipping the ticket-taker a $10 or a $20. The press boxes were packed, and you could pick out some familiar faces – Gordie Howe was in a blue dress shirt and tie in the CBS booth, Réné Le Cavalier was doing the French-language CBC broadcast. Inside the Garden it was broiling, especially up at the top where we stood. The chief usher (who by this time knew us pretty well) even opened the fire escape doors just behind us once the game got going, in a mostly-futile attempt to get some air circulating.

I don’t remember too many details of the game, except that the Bruins were obviously very tense, and the Blues were playing as if they had nothing to lose. It was a close game, no one ahead by more than a goal, and then St Louis took a 3-2 lead either late in the 2nd or early in the 3rd. Which, I very much assure you, changed the mood from expectant/exuberant to nail-bitingly-tense. 10 minutes left in the 3rd, Bruins down a goal and skating like crazy, Blues defending brilliantly, clock winding down. A roar every time Orr touches the puck. About 5 or 6 minutes left in the game, Bucyk in his usual place just to the left of the crease. Somebody passes to him, I don’t remember who, I just remember #9 poking it in and raising his stick, right below where we’re standing, and the game is tied. An eruption for the ages from the crowd. The game wasn’t over yet, but no one sensed that the Blues had anything left. They’d given it their best shot.

None of us behind Section 104 saw the overtime goal, Orr’s goal, just 40 seconds into the overtime. It was at the far end of the rink, a hazy miasma having settled in the Garden (smoking was still allowed). There was just a celebratory din, a din I not ever to be forgotten. The Cup came onto the ice, Bucyk held it up high, all the while trying to skate through the zillion people who’d managed to come on to the ice. Chants for Teddy Green to lift the cup. The celebration in the Garden went on and on and on til we eventually headed to the street. At one point, maybe I’d gotten a little too exuberant, and a haggard-looking guy comes up to me and says to keep it cool. A plainclothes cop. Eventually back to the Dew Drop, then some Chinese food, and home very, very late.

Aftermath
The next day was the parade down Washington St. Players and coaches in convertibles, throngs of fans I don’t know how-many deep. I yelled to Harry Sinden “who won the Smythe?” as he passed by, he answered “Bobby.” The latter passed by a few cars later, and I remember an extremely good-looking 20-ish woman trying to jump from the sidewalk into his lap. Like everyone else on the team, he looked totally wasted.

Two or three days later, when the afterglow was still a fresh memory, Henry (my fellow gofer) and I had to take some snapshots of some plans at City Hall, and we decided to make a detour on the way back, via the Garden. For no particular reason we wandered over to the Bruins office at 150 Causeway St. The Bruins office looked like any other office -- a lobby plus a hallway that I imagine led to a bunch of individual offices – except for one crucial element. The Stanley Cup was just sitting there, on a table in front of some pictures of old Bruins, along with a rent-a-guard, sitting in a chair, not much interested in anything that Henry or I did, So we each posed in front of the Cup, taking photos of each other. And that’s how my avatar photo came to be.

It seemed like the beginning of a dynasty. The next year, the Bruins had one of the most dominant teams I’ve ever seen in any sport – maybe even more so than the 2007 Patriots -- absolutely obliterating team and individual records for scoring. Then they ran into Ken Dryden and the Canadiens in the quarter-finals (along with new coach Ton Johnson blunderingly putting Eddie Johnston in goal for game 2), and they were out of the 70-71 Cup. They were still great, though not as dominant, the following year and did win the Cup, but even that year they missed out on clinching at the Garden when they lost Game 5 of the Finals at home to the Rangers. By the following year, the WHA and Orr’s knees had laid waste to the dynasty that never was.
 

Norm Siebern

Member
SoSH Member
May 12, 2003
6,561
Western MD
What a fantastic post. Great job, thank you.

Being Mothers Day, we had a celebration for my mom at a friends house. I was ten, and a dutiful son. The game was on the TV, but many in my family and our friends were simply mingling, milling about, save for a few who were plastered in front of the set in the living room. When Orr flew through the air, I jumped from my spot next to the TV, screamed in triumph, and ran out of the house yelling. I remember running circles around the yard, leaping in the air and crashing over and over again just as I had seen Orr do. One of my few very vivid childhood memories.
 

Lose Remerswaal

Missing an “R”
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Great post. Only thing you left out was Giacomin coming out and warning Sanderson that they were getting paid to "get him"


I remember watching on TV and then riding my bike up and down my street screaming with joy. It was the first local team victory I cared about (didn't follow the C's until Dave Cowens arrived the next year)
 

NAR29996

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 2, 2006
634
Kissimmee, FL
My family was at my grandmother's celebrating Mother's day. Her brother, and brothers-in-law were big hockey fans and insisted we watch the game. First game I ever remember watching. We didn't get much in the way of sports in Maine growing up.
 

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
I was 12 living in Wellesley at the time. My dad got transferred to Philly a year later and hear I am. I was in 7th grade at the then Junior High. My friend and I got so frustrated that it went to overtime we went out to practice baseball at the junior high field which I lived next door to. Not keeping track of time (for a 12 year old probably with mild add then) My dad yells out from the backyard........Awww Scawed! We looked at each other in shock threw our bats and gloves in the air and ran home to his house to watch the rest of the celebration. My dad till the day he died always use to rub it in that I missed two of the greatest moments in Boston sports history and he saw them. That goal and Fisks HR in game 6 when I fell asleep in my bedroom watching the late innings. That was one of the 3 or 4 greatest moments in Boston sports history in my lifetime. Maybe the late 60's to mid 70's Bruins still might be the most popular team in Boston sports history. A hell of a day and season. I have every game and outcome memorized not so much the scores but the outcome and team they played from Feb. 22nd till the end of the year. The only problem with that Bruins era is that I believed they underachieved. Some people believe in 69 they had the Habs on the ropes in the eastern Finals in games one and two in Montreal and of course 1971 which I still believe might be the greatest team I've seen in Boston sports history. They are 1A and the 86 Celtics are 1B. The 07 Pats Weren't as good at the end of the year so I don't put them up there. The 2018 Red Sox did kick butt but it's probably tainted so I'll go with the 78 or 04 Sox. The 04 or 03 Pats are up there. That 71 team broke every record in the NHL and had the best record in NHL history up to that point. And then......Oh the pain Ken Dryden and the stinking Habs. April 17th 1971 is one of the worst days in Boston sports history Game 7. I didn't cry but I was numb like somebody died in the family. After we moved to Philly area for the 71-72 season(Me and Don Earle who became the Flyers announcer. My dad and I are listening to a game on tv in October and we here this familiar voice?? Doesn't that sound like Don Earle? We didn't even here he was fired or quit, But it wasn't for hit the bleeping post, comment which I think is an urban legend) Anyway they had almost as good a team in 72 and won the Cup of course(They had to!!! Just to prove that 71 was a fluke). Then Orr gets hurt at the beginning of 72-73 season. The 73-74 team was very good but of course ran into the Broad Street Bullies in the Finals. Game 2 was the key allowing the Flyers to tie it after they pulled the goalie and Clarke won it in ot. But that was not a crazy fluke like blowing a 5-1 lead in game 2 in 71 to the Habs because supposedly some of them were hungover??Hate to say it but the Flyers deserved to win. And to this day it is the worst rub it in I've ever had to face in my Boston sports history from Flyers fans in my high school. Worse then Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone.Anyway back to 70, a bunch of my classmates went to the parade. I wasn't allowed to go. It's a moment and season I will never forget. Hockey was my favorite sport when I moved to Philly in fall of 71. I Like baseball and basketball better now but I still consider that Bruins team my favorite Boston team of all time. Great memories. Johnny Bucyk is still my favorite hockey player till this day.
 
Last edited:

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
My family was at my grandmother's celebrating Mother's day. Her brother, and brothers-in-law were big hockey fans and insisted we watch the game. First game I ever remember watching. We didn't get much in the way of sports in Maine growing up.
And wasn't it like 92 degrees give or take that day? Oh I forgot to read you were in Maine, lol. It was one of the hottest days of the year until July or August. I remember the AC wasn't working too well at St. Paul's RC church in Wellesley that morning, lol. We called my grandmother in Providence to wish her a Happy Mothers Day and I apologized that we couldn't celebrate it like we usually did with her because of the Bruins game. I wanted to be in the the area if they won. She understood and we went down the next Sunday. I re-read the thread. I saw he did mention the 90 plus degrees.
 
Last edited:

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
And what bugs the hell out of me till this day is that after that awful upset in 71, the NHL decided to change to a more logical format of 1st place playing 4th place and 2nd place playing 3rd. Had they done that logical thing in 71???????? The Bruins beat the Leafs and possibly win the Stanley Cup that year. A year too late, thanks NHL!!
 

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
May 10 will be the 50th anniversary of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, their first such victory since 1941. This post – sort of a long read, I suppose – is my recollection of those times.

The 69-70 Bruins
By the start of the 69-70 season, the Bruins were by far the most popular sports team in town: Bobby Orr was in his prime. Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield had arrived the year before in the Greatest Trade of All Time. Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie provided both goals and attitude. Gerry Cheevers was usually solid in goal (which couldn’t always be said for his backup Eddie Johnston). John Bucyk on left wing was a veteran, a solid goal scorer ever since the old Uke line with Vic Stasiuk and Bronco Horvath in the 50s. And then there was Teddy Green, the face of the Bruins until the emergence of Orr and Esposito and as rugged a defenseman as any. Green was lost for the season when he was felled by Wayne Maki who viciously swung his stick and connected with Green’s in a pre-season fight. But even without Green, the Bruins were as tough as any team in the league.
The previous season had been the most exciting season in the previous dozen years – admittedly not a high bar to clear as the Bs had finished out of the playoffs for 9 years running in the early/mid 60s. The 68-69 B’s lost to the Canadiens in the playoffs 4 games to 2, in one of the most thrilling series ever, when the magnificent Jean Béliveau scored in double overtime at the Garden. So when 69-70 began, Bruins fans had great hopes, even after Green went down.

The regular season was both exhilarating and frustrating. At the time, the NHL had 2 divisions – one division contained the “original 6” teams [okay, they weren’t the original 6, but that’s a different discussion], and the other had the 6 expansion teams (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, LA, St Louis, Oakland, Minnesota), none of whom were nearly as good as even the worst original-6 team. The Bruins consistently won at home that year against everybody, did reasonably well against the expansion teams on the road, but couldn’t win at all on the road against teams in their division. Toronto was terrible that year, but the rest of the teams in the Bruins’ division were all very close to each other. Going in to the final day of the regular season, Boston and Chicago were tied for 1st place, with Chicago getting the tiebreaker. The Bruins played Toronto and beat them handily on the final Sunday, and Chicago were playing at home against the Canadiens. When Chicago beat the Habs, the Hawks clinched 1st place, and the Bruins, tied with Chicago at 99 points, were 2nd. Bruins fans ruefully thought back to a Sunday afternoon game at the Garden in January. Referee Bill Friday ruled that a shot (by Cliff Koroll, IIRC) went in the net and came right back out, but neither the goal judge nor any of the fans saw it (and there was no replay). The final score was 1-0 Chicago: had the so-called ‘goal’ not been given, there would have been no tie with Chicago at the end of the regular season, and the Bruins would have finished in first.

The tickets
Henry, Bill, Joan, Lee and I went to every single home game for 5 years, starting somewhere in 68-69. Henry and I were gofers at a civil engineering company, and Bill worked there as a Northeastern co-op. Joanie was Bill’s girlfriend, Lee had been Henry’s best friend since forever. We didn’t have season tickets, but we did the long waits (and some overnights) at North Station when tickets went on sale. And we took at least 1 trip a year to Montreal to see the B’s play at the Forum. Omigod, those were amazing times.
We were only interested in standing room tickets. They didn’t sell standing room as such, but there were hundreds of seats behind a post, or in the back of the grandstand where the balcony cut off your view, or anywhere in the 2nd balcony that wasn’t 1st or 2nd row. (In the 2nd balcony, people in the 1st row sat, people in the 2nd row had to stand to see over the 1st row, and people in the 3rd and 4th rows had to find spaces between the standees in row 2.)

There were four spots in the Garden that were great for standing: the 4 corners of the 1st balcony. In each corner was a railing where 6 or 7 (8 if you squeeze) people could stand. The people in front of you, in the last row of the balcony, were 2 steps below us, so we had a clear view of the ice even when they stood up. We would stand at the railing behind Section 104 – at the end where the Bruins shot in the 1st and 3rd periods. A long way up, but much closer than the last rows of new stadiums. And the corners are great viewpoints for watching hockey.
For the 1970 playoffs, I got lucky. A few days before the end of the regular season, I was reading the Globe on the subway to work and saw a 1-sentence blurb in the “Sports Notes” column where they put miscellaneous junk: “Bruins playoff tickets for the 1st 7 games go on sale at 8:00 today at the North Station Box Office.” Holy shit. They decided to put the tickets on sale with virtually no notice – the only mention was 1 sentence in the Globe, and they’re opening the Box Office 2 hours early. There was no time to get in touch with the others – we didn’t have pagers then, let alone cell phones – I just went straight to North Station. The line was relatively short, and soon after I got there Billy showed up as well. They were limiting each person to 8 (I think) tickets, but you could get back in line again. It took Bill and me maybe 3 trips through the line to get enough for the gang, plus a few extras, for all 7 games.

The Playoffs
The playoff format was slightly different then: In the first round in each division, the 1st place team (Chicago) played the 3rd-place team (Detroit), and 2nd (Boston) played 4th (NY). As the playoffs got underway, we fans were hopeful, but we all knew well that the team had trouble on the road all season. And that the BlackHawks were especially tough at home and would have the extra home game.

But first we had to make it past the Rangers. The Rangers were a tough team led by the Hadfield-Ratelle-Gilbert line, and a strong Walt Tkachuk centering another line. Brad Park led the defense (Bruins fans thought he was a wuss until he put on a B’s sweater a couple of years later), and Ed Giacomin was steady(ish) in goal. The opening game was music to fans’ eyes and ears, an 8-2 blowout, the Garden as rollicking as it had ever been. The Bruins took care of business in the second game as well. But when the series moved to Madison Sq Garden for games 3 and 4, the road troubles had not gone away: the Bruins lost both games, and the series was tied at 2. Game 5 at home was the most important game the Bruins were to play that season. Instead of the open, high-flying game that they’d played all season, it seemed that they magically switched to Stanley Cup-style play: tight play, skating the wings, taking opportunities when they come, and shutting down the opponents. Not the style we were used to seeing in Garden. And they beat the Rangers 3-2. Game 6 in New York was no contest (4-1 B’s) – the Bruins’ performance in Game 5 really finished off the Rangers. To paraphrase a different coach from a different time, it was on to Chicago.

Tony Esposito won the Vezina Trophy in 69-70, and he was outstanding in goal for Chicago. Stan Mikita and of course Bobby Hull led the team in offense, and Chicago Stadium was a bear of a place to play – the Bruins had won exactly 0 games there during the season. After coming so close the year before, B’s fans had that all-too-familiar feeling of Hope shadowed by Doom. And then something magical, unexpected, glorious, impossible, amazing, stupendous happened. The Boston Bruins went into Chicago in the first game and dominated the Hawks, beat ‘em 6-3. They played as they had in the last 2 games against the Rangers – it was as if a switch had been turned on, and the team recognized that they could play just as well on the road as in the Garden. And then, to the amazement of everyone, they beat the BlackHawks again in the second game, 4-1. The games weren’t even close. The Big, Bad Bruins had become the Big, Bad, Dominant Bruins. Chicago put up a token fight in the 2 games in Boston, but the Bruins won them both handily. Not one sane person would have foreseen the Bruins sweeping Chicago, but there it was. And the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals, looking to end the drought since their last win in 1941.

St Louis had been the best of the expansion teams, but they still sucked compared to any of the original 6 teams, so the outcome did not look to be in doubt. Because St Louis finished 1st in their division and Boston 2nd in theirs, St Louis had the first two games at home (and the 7th at home, in the very unlikely event that things got that far).
St Louis was no match for Boston. In Game 1, Scotty Bowman, the St Louis coach, tried double-teaming Bobby Orr, which left players like Bucyk and Espo open much of the time. The Bruins won a pair of laughers at the old St Louis Arena, a decrepit old barn, 6-0 and 6-1, then took the 3rd game at the Garden 4-1. Winning the Cup was now a formality (in 1970, a 2004 Red Sox-Yankees series had not been imagined). But if the Bruins were to lose Game 4, the next game would be in St Louis, an anticlimactic place for a Stanley Cup win.

May 10th
Game 4 was Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, at 2pm. National television on CBS (Dan Kelly announcing), and local radio with Fred Cusick and Johnny Peirson. And was it ever a hot day – 90 degrees, crazy hot for early May back then. The five of us left the Dew Drop Inn, our usual pre-game haunt on Merrimac St, around 12:30 to be 1st in line at the door, like always, to race up the 99 steps to our standing spot. But there were 2 groups of 2 in front of us in line – turned out to be no problem, as they didn’t know the right route to Section 104 and showed up well after we’d claimed our spot. The mood was unlike anything I’ve ever known, before or since – not really the nervous type of mood you typically get before a crucial game, but much more of an expectant/exuberant mood waiting to celebrate, because it just didn’t seem remotely possible that the Bruins wouldn’t win today. And everyone had forgotten about that 1-0 loss in January to the BlackHawks: if the Bruins had finished 1st in their division, Game 4 would have been in St Louis, not Boston.

The Garden was packed, of course. Lots more people standing than usual – no electronic tickets in those days, and it wasn’t particularly difficult to get in a game by slipping the ticket-taker a $10 or a $20. The press boxes were packed, and you could pick out some familiar faces – Gordie Howe was in a blue dress shirt and tie in the CBS booth, Réné Le Cavalier was doing the French-language CBC broadcast. Inside the Garden it was broiling, especially up at the top where we stood. The chief usher (who by this time knew us pretty well) even opened the fire escape doors just behind us once the game got going, in a mostly-futile attempt to get some air circulating.

I don’t remember too many details of the game, except that the Bruins were obviously very tense, and the Blues were playing as if they had nothing to lose. It was a close game, no one ahead by more than a goal, and then St Louis took a 3-2 lead either late in the 2nd or early in the 3rd. Which, I very much assure you, changed the mood from expectant/exuberant to nail-bitingly-tense. 10 minutes left in the 3rd, Bruins down a goal and skating like crazy, Blues defending brilliantly, clock winding down. A roar every time Orr touches the puck. About 5 or 6 minutes left in the game, Bucyk in his usual place just to the left of the crease. Somebody passes to him, I don’t remember who, I just remember #9 poking it in and raising his stick, right below where we’re standing, and the game is tied. An eruption for the ages from the crowd. The game wasn’t over yet, but no one sensed that the Blues had anything left. They’d given it their best shot.

None of us behind Section 104 saw the overtime goal, Orr’s goal, just 40 seconds into the overtime. It was at the far end of the rink, a hazy miasma having settled in the Garden (smoking was still allowed). There was just a celebratory din, a din I not ever to be forgotten. The Cup came onto the ice, Bucyk held it up high, all the while trying to skate through the zillion people who’d managed to come on to the ice. Chants for Teddy Green to lift the cup. The celebration in the Garden went on and on and on til we eventually headed to the street. At one point, maybe I’d gotten a little too exuberant, and a haggard-looking guy comes up to me and says to keep it cool. A plainclothes cop. Eventually back to the Dew Drop, then some Chinese food, and home very, very late.

Aftermath
The next day was the parade down Washington St. Players and coaches in convertibles, throngs of fans I don’t know how-many deep. I yelled to Harry Sinden “who won the Smythe?” as he passed by, he answered “Bobby.” The latter passed by a few cars later, and I remember an extremely good-looking 20-ish woman trying to jump from the sidewalk into his lap. Like everyone else on the team, he looked totally wasted.

Two or three days later, when the afterglow was still a fresh memory, Henry (my fellow gofer) and I had to take some snapshots of some plans at City Hall, and we decided to make a detour on the way back, via the Garden. For no particular reason we wandered over to the Bruins office at 150 Causeway St. The Bruins office looked like any other office -- a lobby plus a hallway that I imagine led to a bunch of individual offices – except for one crucial element. The Stanley Cup was just sitting there, on a table in front of some pictures of old Bruins, along with a rent-a-guard, sitting in a chair, not much interested in anything that Henry or I did, So we each posed in front of the Cup, taking photos of each other. And that’s how my avatar photo came to be.

It seemed like the beginning of a dynasty. The next year, the Bruins had one of the most dominant teams I’ve ever seen in any sport – maybe even more so than the 2007 Patriots -- absolutely obliterating team and individual records for scoring. Then they ran into Ken Dryden and the Canadiens in the quarter-finals (along with new coach Ton Johnson blunderingly putting Eddie Johnston in goal for game 2), and they were out of the 70-71 Cup. They were still great, though not as dominant, the following year and did win the Cup, but even that year they missed out on clinching at the Garden when they lost Game 5 of the Finals at home to the Rangers. By the following year, the WHA and Orr’s knees had laid waste to the dynasty that never was.
And of course though the Bruins did make some great trades before(Espo, Hodge trade) and after( Ratelle and Park trade and acquiring Middleton after that) they goofed on two key trades in 71 then 72. Acquiring Mike Walton from Leafs and trading Rick Macleish to the Flyers in a 3 way trade(Parent went from Flyers to Leafs) and then the next year trading Reggie Leach and Rick Smith (Underrated) to the Seals for Carol Vadnais. I know they needed to bolster the defense but Leach was a high prospect, even higher then Macleish. I don't think they beat Habs in 73 if we had kept them but in 74 and 75 I think they could have made a difference.It was just awful seeing Macleish win the Cup and scoring 50 goals for them one year and posting awesome stats. Then to rub salt in the wound Leach goes to the Flyers in lopsided trade with the Seals for Simon Nolet and he helps the Flyers win another Cup and have a basically Hall of fame career. He's not in yet I think but he deserves to be. He posted fantastic numbers for Flyers. Just saying how much better we would have been with those 2 players.
 
Last edited:

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
May 10 will be the 50th anniversary of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, their first such victory since 1941. This post – sort of a long read, I suppose – is my recollection of those times.

The 69-70 Bruins
By the start of the 69-70 season, the Bruins were by far the most popular sports team in town: Bobby Orr was in his prime. Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield had arrived the year before in the Greatest Trade of All Time. Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie provided both goals and attitude. Gerry Cheevers was usually solid in goal (which couldn’t always be said for his backup Eddie Johnston). John Bucyk on left wing was a veteran, a solid goal scorer ever since the old Uke line with Vic Stasiuk and Bronco Horvath in the 50s. And then there was Teddy Green, the face of the Bruins until the emergence of Orr and Esposito and as rugged a defenseman as any. Green was lost for the season when he was felled by Wayne Maki who viciously swung his stick and connected with Green’s in a pre-season fight. But even without Green, the Bruins were as tough as any team in the league.
The previous season had been the most exciting season in the previous dozen years – admittedly not a high bar to clear as the Bs had finished out of the playoffs for 9 years running in the early/mid 60s. The 68-69 B’s lost to the Canadiens in the playoffs 4 games to 2, in one of the most thrilling series ever, when the magnificent Jean Béliveau scored in double overtime at the Garden. So when 69-70 began, Bruins fans had great hopes, even after Green went down.

The regular season was both exhilarating and frustrating. At the time, the NHL had 2 divisions – one division contained the “original 6” teams [okay, they weren’t the original 6, but that’s a different discussion], and the other had the 6 expansion teams (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, LA, St Louis, Oakland, Minnesota), none of whom were nearly as good as even the worst original-6 team. The Bruins consistently won at home that year against everybody, did reasonably well against the expansion teams on the road, but couldn’t win at all on the road against teams in their division. Toronto was terrible that year, but the rest of the teams in the Bruins’ division were all very close to each other. Going in to the final day of the regular season, Boston and Chicago were tied for 1st place, with Chicago getting the tiebreaker. The Bruins played Toronto and beat them handily on the final Sunday, and Chicago were playing at home against the Canadiens. When Chicago beat the Habs, the Hawks clinched 1st place, and the Bruins, tied with Chicago at 99 points, were 2nd. Bruins fans ruefully thought back to a Sunday afternoon game at the Garden in January. Referee Bill Friday ruled that a shot (by Cliff Koroll, IIRC) went in the net and came right back out, but neither the goal judge nor any of the fans saw it (and there was no replay). The final score was 1-0 Chicago: had the so-called ‘goal’ not been given, there would have been no tie with Chicago at the end of the regular season, and the Bruins would have finished in first.

The tickets
Henry, Bill, Joan, Lee and I went to every single home game for 5 years, starting somewhere in 68-69. Henry and I were gofers at a civil engineering company, and Bill worked there as a Northeastern co-op. Joanie was Bill’s girlfriend, Lee had been Henry’s best friend since forever. We didn’t have season tickets, but we did the long waits (and some overnights) at North Station when tickets went on sale. And we took at least 1 trip a year to Montreal to see the B’s play at the Forum. Omigod, those were amazing times.
We were only interested in standing room tickets. They didn’t sell standing room as such, but there were hundreds of seats behind a post, or in the back of the grandstand where the balcony cut off your view, or anywhere in the 2nd balcony that wasn’t 1st or 2nd row. (In the 2nd balcony, people in the 1st row sat, people in the 2nd row had to stand to see over the 1st row, and people in the 3rd and 4th rows had to find spaces between the standees in row 2.)

There were four spots in the Garden that were great for standing: the 4 corners of the 1st balcony. In each corner was a railing where 6 or 7 (8 if you squeeze) people could stand. The people in front of you, in the last row of the balcony, were 2 steps below us, so we had a clear view of the ice even when they stood up. We would stand at the railing behind Section 104 – at the end where the Bruins shot in the 1st and 3rd periods. A long way up, but much closer than the last rows of new stadiums. And the corners are great viewpoints for watching hockey.
For the 1970 playoffs, I got lucky. A few days before the end of the regular season, I was reading the Globe on the subway to work and saw a 1-sentence blurb in the “Sports Notes” column where they put miscellaneous junk: “Bruins playoff tickets for the 1st 7 games go on sale at 8:00 today at the North Station Box Office.” Holy shit. They decided to put the tickets on sale with virtually no notice – the only mention was 1 sentence in the Globe, and they’re opening the Box Office 2 hours early. There was no time to get in touch with the others – we didn’t have pagers then, let alone cell phones – I just went straight to North Station. The line was relatively short, and soon after I got there Billy showed up as well. They were limiting each person to 8 (I think) tickets, but you could get back in line again. It took Bill and me maybe 3 trips through the line to get enough for the gang, plus a few extras, for all 7 games.

The Playoffs
The playoff format was slightly different then: In the first round in each division, the 1st place team (Chicago) played the 3rd-place team (Detroit), and 2nd (Boston) played 4th (NY). As the playoffs got underway, we fans were hopeful, but we all knew well that the team had trouble on the road all season. And that the BlackHawks were especially tough at home and would have the extra home game.

But first we had to make it past the Rangers. The Rangers were a tough team led by the Hadfield-Ratelle-Gilbert line, and a strong Walt Tkachuk centering another line. Brad Park led the defense (Bruins fans thought he was a wuss until he put on a B’s sweater a couple of years later), and Ed Giacomin was steady(ish) in goal. The opening game was music to fans’ eyes and ears, an 8-2 blowout, the Garden as rollicking as it had ever been. The Bruins took care of business in the second game as well. But when the series moved to Madison Sq Garden for games 3 and 4, the road troubles had not gone away: the Bruins lost both games, and the series was tied at 2. Game 5 at home was the most important game the Bruins were to play that season. Instead of the open, high-flying game that they’d played all season, it seemed that they magically switched to Stanley Cup-style play: tight play, skating the wings, taking opportunities when they come, and shutting down the opponents. Not the style we were used to seeing in Garden. And they beat the Rangers 3-2. Game 6 in New York was no contest (4-1 B’s) – the Bruins’ performance in Game 5 really finished off the Rangers. To paraphrase a different coach from a different time, it was on to Chicago.

Tony Esposito won the Vezina Trophy in 69-70, and he was outstanding in goal for Chicago. Stan Mikita and of course Bobby Hull led the team in offense, and Chicago Stadium was a bear of a place to play – the Bruins had won exactly 0 games there during the season. After coming so close the year before, B’s fans had that all-too-familiar feeling of Hope shadowed by Doom. And then something magical, unexpected, glorious, impossible, amazing, stupendous happened. The Boston Bruins went into Chicago in the first game and dominated the Hawks, beat ‘em 6-3. They played as they had in the last 2 games against the Rangers – it was as if a switch had been turned on, and the team recognized that they could play just as well on the road as in the Garden. And then, to the amazement of everyone, they beat the BlackHawks again in the second game, 4-1. The games weren’t even close. The Big, Bad Bruins had become the Big, Bad, Dominant Bruins. Chicago put up a token fight in the 2 games in Boston, but the Bruins won them both handily. Not one sane person would have foreseen the Bruins sweeping Chicago, but there it was. And the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals, looking to end the drought since their last win in 1941.

St Louis had been the best of the expansion teams, but they still sucked compared to any of the original 6 teams, so the outcome did not look to be in doubt. Because St Louis finished 1st in their division and Boston 2nd in theirs, St Louis had the first two games at home (and the 7th at home, in the very unlikely event that things got that far).
St Louis was no match for Boston. In Game 1, Scotty Bowman, the St Louis coach, tried double-teaming Bobby Orr, which left players like Bucyk and Espo open much of the time. The Bruins won a pair of laughers at the old St Louis Arena, a decrepit old barn, 6-0 and 6-1, then took the 3rd game at the Garden 4-1. Winning the Cup was now a formality (in 1970, a 2004 Red Sox-Yankees series had not been imagined). But if the Bruins were to lose Game 4, the next game would be in St Louis, an anticlimactic place for a Stanley Cup win.

May 10th
Game 4 was Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, at 2pm. National television on CBS (Dan Kelly announcing), and local radio with Fred Cusick and Johnny Peirson. And was it ever a hot day – 90 degrees, crazy hot for early May back then. The five of us left the Dew Drop Inn, our usual pre-game haunt on Merrimac St, around 12:30 to be 1st in line at the door, like always, to race up the 99 steps to our standing spot. But there were 2 groups of 2 in front of us in line – turned out to be no problem, as they didn’t know the right route to Section 104 and showed up well after we’d claimed our spot. The mood was unlike anything I’ve ever known, before or since – not really the nervous type of mood you typically get before a crucial game, but much more of an expectant/exuberant mood waiting to celebrate, because it just didn’t seem remotely possible that the Bruins wouldn’t win today. And everyone had forgotten about that 1-0 loss in January to the BlackHawks: if the Bruins had finished 1st in their division, Game 4 would have been in St Louis, not Boston.

The Garden was packed, of course. Lots more people standing than usual – no electronic tickets in those days, and it wasn’t particularly difficult to get in a game by slipping the ticket-taker a $10 or a $20. The press boxes were packed, and you could pick out some familiar faces – Gordie Howe was in a blue dress shirt and tie in the CBS booth, Réné Le Cavalier was doing the French-language CBC broadcast. Inside the Garden it was broiling, especially up at the top where we stood. The chief usher (who by this time knew us pretty well) even opened the fire escape doors just behind us once the game got going, in a mostly-futile attempt to get some air circulating.

I don’t remember too many details of the game, except that the Bruins were obviously very tense, and the Blues were playing as if they had nothing to lose. It was a close game, no one ahead by more than a goal, and then St Louis took a 3-2 lead either late in the 2nd or early in the 3rd. Which, I very much assure you, changed the mood from expectant/exuberant to nail-bitingly-tense. 10 minutes left in the 3rd, Bruins down a goal and skating like crazy, Blues defending brilliantly, clock winding down. A roar every time Orr touches the puck. About 5 or 6 minutes left in the game, Bucyk in his usual place just to the left of the crease. Somebody passes to him, I don’t remember who, I just remember #9 poking it in and raising his stick, right below where we’re standing, and the game is tied. An eruption for the ages from the crowd. The game wasn’t over yet, but no one sensed that the Blues had anything left. They’d given it their best shot.

None of us behind Section 104 saw the overtime goal, Orr’s goal, just 40 seconds into the overtime. It was at the far end of the rink, a hazy miasma having settled in the Garden (smoking was still allowed). There was just a celebratory din, a din I not ever to be forgotten. The Cup came onto the ice, Bucyk held it up high, all the while trying to skate through the zillion people who’d managed to come on to the ice. Chants for Teddy Green to lift the cup. The celebration in the Garden went on and on and on til we eventually headed to the street. At one point, maybe I’d gotten a little too exuberant, and a haggard-looking guy comes up to me and says to keep it cool. A plainclothes cop. Eventually back to the Dew Drop, then some Chinese food, and home very, very late.

Aftermath
The next day was the parade down Washington St. Players and coaches in convertibles, throngs of fans I don’t know how-many deep. I yelled to Harry Sinden “who won the Smythe?” as he passed by, he answered “Bobby.” The latter passed by a few cars later, and I remember an extremely good-looking 20-ish woman trying to jump from the sidewalk into his lap. Like everyone else on the team, he looked totally wasted.

Two or three days later, when the afterglow was still a fresh memory, Henry (my fellow gofer) and I had to take some snapshots of some plans at City Hall, and we decided to make a detour on the way back, via the Garden. For no particular reason we wandered over to the Bruins office at 150 Causeway St. The Bruins office looked like any other office -- a lobby plus a hallway that I imagine led to a bunch of individual offices – except for one crucial element. The Stanley Cup was just sitting there, on a table in front of some pictures of old Bruins, along with a rent-a-guard, sitting in a chair, not much interested in anything that Henry or I did, So we each posed in front of the Cup, taking photos of each other. And that’s how my avatar photo came to be.

It seemed like the beginning of a dynasty. The next year, the Bruins had one of the most dominant teams I’ve ever seen in any sport – maybe even more so than the 2007 Patriots -- absolutely obliterating team and individual records for scoring. Then they ran into Ken Dryden and the Canadiens in the quarter-finals (along with new coach Ton Johnson blunderingly putting Eddie Johnston in goal for game 2), and they were out of the 70-71 Cup. They were still great, though not as dominant, the following year and did win the Cup, but even that year they missed out on clinching at the Garden when they lost Game 5 of the Finals at home to the Rangers. By the following year, the WHA and Orr’s knees had laid waste to the dynasty that never was.
I found it great that they shutout the Rangers in MSG. You seem disappointed in that year because they didn't clinch at home. Believe me I would have loved for them to win game 5 at home but it was just as great seeing Orr dice them up and carrying the Cup in MSG. And I would take the 86 Celtics over 07 Pats. O7 Pats weren't the same team in the 2nd half of the year like the first half. And also Game 1 of the finals was almost a deja vu of Game 2 vs. habs the year before. Bruins had a 5-1 lead over Rangers. Rangers made it 5-2. At a commercial I felt comfortable so I walked out took a walk to the news agency to get a magazine. Maybe I was too confident or cocky but I took longer then I thought. I come home turn on the TV(My parents were out) and I see Ace Bailey what a 4th liner? scores to make it 6-5?????? Damn talk up about near disaster and deja Vu? Well they won or survived but Does anybody remember that near disaster??? I was actually glad I missed it because I would have gone borderline Tobin Bridge, lol. I would have been like......"NO, this can't be happening again!!!!!! Just like the Deja Vu in game 7 2010 against the Flyers when they blew that 3-0 lead in games and game 7, when there was a too many men on the ice call! I said "NO, NO, not too many men on the ice again!!!!!!" Oh what a horrible flashback to 1979 Habs. Talk about Deja Vu.
 
Last edited:

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
9,817
A note about that 1970-71 Bruins team. Yes, they were dominant, and broke a ton of scoring records in the process. But, the league also expanded that year from 12 teams to 14. Doesn't seem like a lot, but it did mean that the talent pool would be further diluted. Neither Buffalo nor Vancouver were any good, but none of the of the "original expansion" teams were either; only the Blues won more games than they lost. The Bruins would go 38-6-4 against the 8 expansion teams. Also, among the Original 6 teams, Detroit was dreadful (2nd worst team in the league).

In addition, the league went to a balanced schedule that season, so the Bruins played 6 games each against their 13 opponents. Which means their schedule was more heavily weighted to the newer teams than it was in past seasons.

Both the Rangers (2-2-2) and Black Hawks (3-2-1) had some success against Boston, who actually went 0-3 in Chicago. So the Bruins weren't as good against the elite competition (Rangers had 109 points while Chicago earned 107). And, of course, Montreal made the trade for Frank Mahovlich, who ended up being the Habs leading playoff scorer during their Cup run. And while the Bruins did dominate Montreal during the regular season, 2 of their 5 wins came during the last 3 games of the season; playoff seeding was locked in by that point, and Montreal wisely kept Dryden hidden in the back of the bench during those 2 games.

The 1971-72 team was just as good, even if the scoring was a bit more modest, and the win total a little less (but an even better road team). Would have been nice to have beaten Montreal that season on the way to the Cup, but Eddy Giacomin basically channeled his "2011 Tim Thomas" impression and stole the opening round series from Montreal.
 

gryoung

Member
SoSH Member
Great note - invoked some wonderful memories. I was a high school junior at a school in Braintree. Several of us went to the AD, who was also the baseball coach, and asked if we could go to the parade. He said we could so long as we were back in time for practice.

We piled into a car and made the drive into town. Saw the parade and made it back in time for practice. Good stuff.
 

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
May 10 will be the 50th anniversary of the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup, their first such victory since 1941. This post – sort of a long read, I suppose – is my recollection of those times.

The 69-70 Bruins
By the start of the 69-70 season, the Bruins were by far the most popular sports team in town: Bobby Orr was in his prime. Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield had arrived the year before in the Greatest Trade of All Time. Derek Sanderson and Johnny McKenzie provided both goals and attitude. Gerry Cheevers was usually solid in goal (which couldn’t always be said for his backup Eddie Johnston). John Bucyk on left wing was a veteran, a solid goal scorer ever since the old Uke line with Vic Stasiuk and Bronco Horvath in the 50s. And then there was Teddy Green, the face of the Bruins until the emergence of Orr and Esposito and as rugged a defenseman as any. Green was lost for the season when he was felled by Wayne Maki who viciously swung his stick and connected with Green’s in a pre-season fight. But even without Green, the Bruins were as tough as any team in the league.
The previous season had been the most exciting season in the previous dozen years – admittedly not a high bar to clear as the Bs had finished out of the playoffs for 9 years running in the early/mid 60s. The 68-69 B’s lost to the Canadiens in the playoffs 4 games to 2, in one of the most thrilling series ever, when the magnificent Jean Béliveau scored in double overtime at the Garden. So when 69-70 began, Bruins fans had great hopes, even after Green went down.

The regular season was both exhilarating and frustrating. At the time, the NHL had 2 divisions – one division contained the “original 6” teams [okay, they weren’t the original 6, but that’s a different discussion], and the other had the 6 expansion teams (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, LA, St Louis, Oakland, Minnesota), none of whom were nearly as good as even the worst original-6 team. The Bruins consistently won at home that year against everybody, did reasonably well against the expansion teams on the road, but couldn’t win at all on the road against teams in their division. Toronto was terrible that year, but the rest of the teams in the Bruins’ division were all very close to each other. Going in to the final day of the regular season, Boston and Chicago were tied for 1st place, with Chicago getting the tiebreaker. The Bruins played Toronto and beat them handily on the final Sunday, and Chicago were playing at home against the Canadiens. When Chicago beat the Habs, the Hawks clinched 1st place, and the Bruins, tied with Chicago at 99 points, were 2nd. Bruins fans ruefully thought back to a Sunday afternoon game at the Garden in January. Referee Bill Friday ruled that a shot (by Cliff Koroll, IIRC) went in the net and came right back out, but neither the goal judge nor any of the fans saw it (and there was no replay). The final score was 1-0 Chicago: had the so-called ‘goal’ not been given, there would have been no tie with Chicago at the end of the regular season, and the Bruins would have finished in first.

The tickets
Henry, Bill, Joan, Lee and I went to every single home game for 5 years, starting somewhere in 68-69. Henry and I were gofers at a civil engineering company, and Bill worked there as a Northeastern co-op. Joanie was Bill’s girlfriend, Lee had been Henry’s best friend since forever. We didn’t have season tickets, but we did the long waits (and some overnights) at North Station when tickets went on sale. And we took at least 1 trip a year to Montreal to see the B’s play at the Forum. Omigod, those were amazing times.
We were only interested in standing room tickets. They didn’t sell standing room as such, but there were hundreds of seats behind a post, or in the back of the grandstand where the balcony cut off your view, or anywhere in the 2nd balcony that wasn’t 1st or 2nd row. (In the 2nd balcony, people in the 1st row sat, people in the 2nd row had to stand to see over the 1st row, and people in the 3rd and 4th rows had to find spaces between the standees in row 2.)

There were four spots in the Garden that were great for standing: the 4 corners of the 1st balcony. In each corner was a railing where 6 or 7 (8 if you squeeze) people could stand. The people in front of you, in the last row of the balcony, were 2 steps below us, so we had a clear view of the ice even when they stood up. We would stand at the railing behind Section 104 – at the end where the Bruins shot in the 1st and 3rd periods. A long way up, but much closer than the last rows of new stadiums. And the corners are great viewpoints for watching hockey.
For the 1970 playoffs, I got lucky. A few days before the end of the regular season, I was reading the Globe on the subway to work and saw a 1-sentence blurb in the “Sports Notes” column where they put miscellaneous junk: “Bruins playoff tickets for the 1st 7 games go on sale at 8:00 today at the North Station Box Office.” Holy shit. They decided to put the tickets on sale with virtually no notice – the only mention was 1 sentence in the Globe, and they’re opening the Box Office 2 hours early. There was no time to get in touch with the others – we didn’t have pagers then, let alone cell phones – I just went straight to North Station. The line was relatively short, and soon after I got there Billy showed up as well. They were limiting each person to 8 (I think) tickets, but you could get back in line again. It took Bill and me maybe 3 trips through the line to get enough for the gang, plus a few extras, for all 7 games.

The Playoffs
The playoff format was slightly different then: In the first round in each division, the 1st place team (Chicago) played the 3rd-place team (Detroit), and 2nd (Boston) played 4th (NY). As the playoffs got underway, we fans were hopeful, but we all knew well that the team had trouble on the road all season. And that the BlackHawks were especially tough at home and would have the extra home game.

But first we had to make it past the Rangers. The Rangers were a tough team led by the Hadfield-Ratelle-Gilbert line, and a strong Walt Tkachuk centering another line. Brad Park led the defense (Bruins fans thought he was a wuss until he put on a B’s sweater a couple of years later), and Ed Giacomin was steady(ish) in goal. The opening game was music to fans’ eyes and ears, an 8-2 blowout, the Garden as rollicking as it had ever been. The Bruins took care of business in the second game as well. But when the series moved to Madison Sq Garden for games 3 and 4, the road troubles had not gone away: the Bruins lost both games, and the series was tied at 2. Game 5 at home was the most important game the Bruins were to play that season. Instead of the open, high-flying game that they’d played all season, it seemed that they magically switched to Stanley Cup-style play: tight play, skating the wings, taking opportunities when they come, and shutting down the opponents. Not the style we were used to seeing in Garden. And they beat the Rangers 3-2. Game 6 in New York was no contest (4-1 B’s) – the Bruins’ performance in Game 5 really finished off the Rangers. To paraphrase a different coach from a different time, it was on to Chicago.

Tony Esposito won the Vezina Trophy in 69-70, and he was outstanding in goal for Chicago. Stan Mikita and of course Bobby Hull led the team in offense, and Chicago Stadium was a bear of a place to play – the Bruins had won exactly 0 games there during the season. After coming so close the year before, B’s fans had that all-too-familiar feeling of Hope shadowed by Doom. And then something magical, unexpected, glorious, impossible, amazing, stupendous happened. The Boston Bruins went into Chicago in the first game and dominated the Hawks, beat ‘em 6-3. They played as they had in the last 2 games against the Rangers – it was as if a switch had been turned on, and the team recognized that they could play just as well on the road as in the Garden. And then, to the amazement of everyone, they beat the BlackHawks again in the second game, 4-1. The games weren’t even close. The Big, Bad Bruins had become the Big, Bad, Dominant Bruins. Chicago put up a token fight in the 2 games in Boston, but the Bruins won them both handily. Not one sane person would have foreseen the Bruins sweeping Chicago, but there it was. And the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals, looking to end the drought since their last win in 1941.

St Louis had been the best of the expansion teams, but they still sucked compared to any of the original 6 teams, so the outcome did not look to be in doubt. Because St Louis finished 1st in their division and Boston 2nd in theirs, St Louis had the first two games at home (and the 7th at home, in the very unlikely event that things got that far).
St Louis was no match for Boston. In Game 1, Scotty Bowman, the St Louis coach, tried double-teaming Bobby Orr, which left players like Bucyk and Espo open much of the time. The Bruins won a pair of laughers at the old St Louis Arena, a decrepit old barn, 6-0 and 6-1, then took the 3rd game at the Garden 4-1. Winning the Cup was now a formality (in 1970, a 2004 Red Sox-Yankees series had not been imagined). But if the Bruins were to lose Game 4, the next game would be in St Louis, an anticlimactic place for a Stanley Cup win.

May 10th
Game 4 was Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, at 2pm. National television on CBS (Dan Kelly announcing), and local radio with Fred Cusick and Johnny Peirson. And was it ever a hot day – 90 degrees, crazy hot for early May back then. The five of us left the Dew Drop Inn, our usual pre-game haunt on Merrimac St, around 12:30 to be 1st in line at the door, like always, to race up the 99 steps to our standing spot. But there were 2 groups of 2 in front of us in line – turned out to be no problem, as they didn’t know the right route to Section 104 and showed up well after we’d claimed our spot. The mood was unlike anything I’ve ever known, before or since – not really the nervous type of mood you typically get before a crucial game, but much more of an expectant/exuberant mood waiting to celebrate, because it just didn’t seem remotely possible that the Bruins wouldn’t win today. And everyone had forgotten about that 1-0 loss in January to the BlackHawks: if the Bruins had finished 1st in their division, Game 4 would have been in St Louis, not Boston.

The Garden was packed, of course. Lots more people standing than usual – no electronic tickets in those days, and it wasn’t particularly difficult to get in a game by slipping the ticket-taker a $10 or a $20. The press boxes were packed, and you could pick out some familiar faces – Gordie Howe was in a blue dress shirt and tie in the CBS booth, Réné Le Cavalier was doing the French-language CBC broadcast. Inside the Garden it was broiling, especially up at the top where we stood. The chief usher (who by this time knew us pretty well) even opened the fire escape doors just behind us once the game got going, in a mostly-futile attempt to get some air circulating.

I don’t remember too many details of the game, except that the Bruins were obviously very tense, and the Blues were playing as if they had nothing to lose. It was a close game, no one ahead by more than a goal, and then St Louis took a 3-2 lead either late in the 2nd or early in the 3rd. Which, I very much assure you, changed the mood from expectant/exuberant to nail-bitingly-tense. 10 minutes left in the 3rd, Bruins down a goal and skating like crazy, Blues defending brilliantly, clock winding down. A roar every time Orr touches the puck. About 5 or 6 minutes left in the game, Bucyk in his usual place just to the left of the crease. Somebody passes to him, I don’t remember who, I just remember #9 poking it in and raising his stick, right below where we’re standing, and the game is tied. An eruption for the ages from the crowd. The game wasn’t over yet, but no one sensed that the Blues had anything left. They’d given it their best shot.

None of us behind Section 104 saw the overtime goal, Orr’s goal, just 40 seconds into the overtime. It was at the far end of the rink, a hazy miasma having settled in the Garden (smoking was still allowed). There was just a celebratory din, a din I not ever to be forgotten. The Cup came onto the ice, Bucyk held it up high, all the while trying to skate through the zillion people who’d managed to come on to the ice. Chants for Teddy Green to lift the cup. The celebration in the Garden went on and on and on til we eventually headed to the street. At one point, maybe I’d gotten a little too exuberant, and a haggard-looking guy comes up to me and says to keep it cool. A plainclothes cop. Eventually back to the Dew Drop, then some Chinese food, and home very, very late.

Aftermath
The next day was the parade down Washington St. Players and coaches in convertibles, throngs of fans I don’t know how-many deep. I yelled to Harry Sinden “who won the Smythe?” as he passed by, he answered “Bobby.” The latter passed by a few cars later, and I remember an extremely good-looking 20-ish woman trying to jump from the sidewalk into his lap. Like everyone else on the team, he looked totally wasted.

Two or three days later, when the afterglow was still a fresh memory, Henry (my fellow gofer) and I had to take some snapshots of some plans at City Hall, and we decided to make a detour on the way back, via the Garden. For no particular reason we wandered over to the Bruins office at 150 Causeway St. The Bruins office looked like any other office -- a lobby plus a hallway that I imagine led to a bunch of individual offices – except for one crucial element. The Stanley Cup was just sitting there, on a table in front of some pictures of old Bruins, along with a rent-a-guard, sitting in a chair, not much interested in anything that Henry or I did, So we each posed in front of the Cup, taking photos of each other. And that’s how my avatar photo came to be.

It seemed like the beginning of a dynasty. The next year, the Bruins had one of the most dominant teams I’ve ever seen in any sport – maybe even more so than the 2007 Patriots -- absolutely obliterating team and individual records for scoring. Then they ran into Ken Dryden and the Canadiens in the quarter-finals (along with new coach Ton Johnson blunderingly putting Eddie Johnston in goal for game 2), and they were out of the 70-71 Cup. They were still great, though not as dominant, the following year and did win the Cup, but even that year they missed out on clinching at the Garden when they lost Game 5 of the Finals at home to the Rangers. By the following year, the WHA and Orr’s knees had laid waste to the dynasty that never was.
Actually Espo, Hodge and Freddy arrived two years prior to the title year 67-68, in that lopsided trade with the Hawks. Orr's first year(66-67) they finished last in the 6 team league I believed. That trade was just as important in many ways as acquiring Orr. And obviously the expansion and new Western division in 67-68 helped improve their record and others in the east.
 

DonBuddinE6

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 25, 2005
162
Actually Espo, Hodge and Freddy arrived two years prior to the title year 67-68, in that lopsided trade with the Hawks. Orr's first year(66-67) they finished last in the 6 team league I believed. That trade was just as important in many ways as acquiring Orr. And obviously the expansion and new Western division in 67-68 helped improve their record and others in the east.
Yes, of course, you're right -- the Espo/Hodge/Stanfield trade was before the 67-68 season. And it was every bit as crucial as Orr joining the team.
When the trade was made, a great many Bruins fans (including me) weren't real happy. We knew nothing about Hodge or Stanfield, and Esposito had a reputation for picking up "garbage goals" -- tip-ins and rebounds. Bruins fans didn't care much about losing Pit Martin or goaltender Jack Norris (Norris was nicknamed Turtle, because of his habit of ducking high shots that went in over his shoulder). But we were livid about losing Gilles Marotte, an exciting player who'd become an offensive presence on the back line. He turned out to be pretty much a bust with the BlackHawks.
 

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
Great note - invoked some wonderful memories. I was a high school junior at a school in Braintree. Several of us went to the AD, who was also the baseball coach, and asked if we could go to the parade. He said we could so long as we were back in time for practice.

We piled into a car and made the drive into town. Saw the parade and made it back in time for practice. Good stuff.
So he basically said it's ok to cut school?? Surprised. Glad you went though. Did you have free periods and open campus then? We didn't at Wellesley then. High school or Junior High. When I was in high school in May of 74 in Philly area and the Flyers won the Cup(UGHHHHH The pain, the pain) we had free periods instead of study halls and if u missed classes you were allowed a quota of cutting or missing classes. I think it was 3, not sure. Not exactly the smartest thing. (They changed the next year.) Anyway some people cut class @ used their free periods or called out sick to go to the parade the next day. One buddy of mine who played baseball(lived in mass. for a few years but converted to a Flyers fan) was kicked off the baseball team because he missed either practice or a game to go the parade. Oh he was still a Red Sox fan @ his nickname was Spaceman(He was a pretty good high school pitcher) after Bill Lee his favorite player. I think you can figure out why. Yes he enjoyed a good toke, lol.
 
Last edited:

jaytftwofive

lurker
Jan 20, 2013
558
Drexel Hill Pa.
And didn't Mckenzie poor beer or champagne on Mayor White?? At the end at City Hall? And if I'm not mistaken White returned the favor on Pie at the 72 parade.
 
Last edited:

DonBuddinE6

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 25, 2005
162
The next season, one of the most popular shows in Boston was TV 38's "The Road to the Stanley Cup," a rebroadcast of all/most of the games in the 69-70 season. Everyone loved reliving the season, especially during the Bruins' incredible run and dominance of the 70-71 season. But when the Habs and Ken Dryden delivered the dagger in the 1st round of the playoffs, we wondered if TV 38 would offer a "Road to the Quarterfinals" series the next year.

Happy Anniversary, Happy Mother's Day to all.
 

Doug Beerabelli

Killer Threads
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
NESN+ played “The Road to the Stanley Cup” last night. It was a great watch - seeing the nostalgia of the type of broadcast production quality of the day, as well as the very different brand of hockey (and reffing) back in the day. And goalies without masks!!!

Orr was in his own world on the ice back then.
 

Salem's Lot

Andy Moog! Andy God Damn Moog!
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
7,129
Gallows Hill
NESN+ played “The Road to the Stanley Cup” last night. It was a great watch - seeing the nostalgia of the type of broadcast production quality of the day, as well as the very different brand of hockey (and reffing) back in the day. And goalies without masks!!!

Orr was in his own world on the ice back then.
People always talk about Orr carrying the puck and the end to end rushes, but another thing that stands out was his ability to execute a perfect breakout pass from around his own blue line to a forward in traffic. Right on the tape with multiple defenders on him to a forward in stride a step before they hit the blue line. Every single time. You literally couldn’t defend him. You either play him tight and he skates around you, you back off and he goes end to end, you try to “trap” and he hits Espo up the seam with that pass. Incredible.