Friday, September 18, 2015

Detroit Red Wings (NHL, 1963-64)

1963-64 Regular Season--Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
     The Detroit Red Wings were in the middle of their 37th year of existence during the 1963-64 season. The franchise was owned by Bruce Norris and played their home games at Olympia Stadium. Former "Production Line" center Sid Abel was back behind the bench and took on the role of General Manager as well.
     On December 31, 1963, the Red Wings would ring in the new year with a game against their arch-rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, having routed the Wings in five games the previous season.
     This season was toward the end of the fabled "Original Six" era in the NHL, as the league fielded only a half-dozen teams from 1942-43 to 1966-67. As a result, most NHL rosters were pretty strong. The Red Wings were no different, as they had eight future Hall of Famers on their roster. They are Terry Sawchuck, Marcel Pronovost, Bill Gadsby, Norm Ullman, Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio and Sid Abel. The Leafs countered with their own Hall of Fame lineup: Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Tim Horton, George Armstrong, Ron Stewart, Dave Keon, Bob Pulford, Dick Duff, Bob Baun, Allen Stanley, Frank Mahovolich and coach Punch Imlach. Defenseman Carl Brewer, btw, was inducted into the Finnish Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. The Leafs would win that night's game, 5-4, in front of 14,284 fans.
     The Red Wings had a so-so season that year, going a mediocre 30-29-11, good enough for fourth, 14 points behind league-best Montreal. They qualified for the last playoff spot that year, finishing 17 points ahead of fifth place New York. The Wings were also fourth in goals-scored, denting the twine 191 times. Gordie Howe led the way with 26 goals and 73 points. Three more players scored over 20 goals that season.
     On defense, Detroit finished fourth overall as well, allowing 204 goals that year. They used five different goaltenders that year, but the main two were Sawchuk and Roger Crozier. Sawchuk was in net for 53 games, going 25-20-7 with a 2.64 GAA and 5 shutouts. Crozier went 5-6-4 with a 3.40 GAA and 2 shutouts of his own. Hank Bassen, Pat Rupp and Harrison Gray each made it into one game.
     The Red Wings drew the Chicago Blackhawks in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Chicago finished just one point behind Montreal in the standings that year, and featured stars like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall. In a back-and-forth series, the Red Wings overcame a 3-2 deficit to down the Hawks in seven games to advance to the finals. Again, they would face the Leafs for the Stanley Cup, but this time, the series would go the limit. The Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead back to Detroit, but lost a heartbreaking Game Six, 4-3, in overtime. Toronto would win their third Cup in a row at Maple Leaf Gardens two nights later. This would be the final time the Leafs and Red Wings would meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, and last playoff matchup between the two rivals until 1986-87.
     I believe I bought this program at Gibraltar Trade Center in Mount Clemens several years ago. It's in very nice shape, not tears or major creases. The program is 28 pages long, mostly with black-and-white pictures. There are some color ads. There are a few articles from around the league, including one about Jacques Plante's struggles in the Rangers' net and the end of defenseman Doug Harvey's great career. Plenty of ads for cars (it is the Motor City, after all), including the '64 Chevy Corvair, '64 Ford Falcon and the Buick Riviera. Other local ads include Stu Evans Lincoln Mercury, Peters Weiners (a hot dog company!), Vernors (still a Detroit company then) and Krun-Chee Potato Chips. There's also an ad for a "Stanley Cup NHL Hockey" table-top game.

References:
National Hockey League Statistics: 1963-64 (from hockeydb.com)

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