Hockey and the past is not the only thing I am qualified to write about, but it’s the fix that works right now.
With great pleasure, I listened to “When Hockey Ruled The Hub,” a radio show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. Yup, I was about 6,000 miles away in Central Oahu, but thanks to the Internet, I got to hear some taped familiar voices — Harry Sinden, Gerry Cheevers, Eddie Westfall, Fred Cusick, Don Earle, Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson. Hearing Earle and Cusick make the broadcast calls — such as “(Johnny) McKenzie with the puck, to (Johnny) Bucyk, he shoots and it deflects in off of McKenzie” was music to my ears.
Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the documentary “Big, Bad and Bobby” on the NHL Network, a channel I used to get but not now. A few months ago, I switched from cable to YouTubeTV. So far, so good on cutting the wire because there will be plenty of NHL games available to me when the league resumes — just not the ones on NHL Network.
Thanks to the Sports Hub, I got to relive those days 50 years ago, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time in 29 seasons. But I learned some things I did not know before. Like this: >> Sinden, the coach in that 1969-70 season, on Cheevers: “He didn’t care about stats like goals-against average. All he wanted to do was win and he was one of the best puck-handling goalies.”
>> Cheevers played forward at a high level, but not in the NHL, so was also considered one of the top skating goalies.
>> At one point in his career, Sanderson had a league-record 34 shorthanded goals.
>> Since that time, Sinden has heard President Donald Trump telling a story about being at one of the Bruins vs. Rangers in which he witnesses Sinden and the Rangers’ coach jawing at each other.
>> Westfall, always known as a two-way player, shadowed Chicago superstar Bobby Hull and it was a big reason the Bruins got past the Blackhawks with a semifinals sweep.
>> After a victory, Orr showed how much he truly cared about his team, saying, “There was one star tonight and that’s the Boston Bruins.”
>> McKenzie, when asked by a reporter which team he would like to see in the Stanley Cup Final (St. Louis or Pittsburgh), said he didn’t care and that the Bruins would take on anyone, including (any junior team from Alberta).
>> Sinden gave a tribute to all the moms on that Mother’s Day on May 10, 1970, by saying that all “the players are surely thanking their moms for buying them a pair of skates.”
>> Sinden was never asked until years later why he started the overtime in the game-clinching victory with his third line of Sanderson, Westfall and Wayne Carleton instead of the big guns in Phil Esposito-Ken Hodge-Wayne Cashman or Fred Stanfield-Bucyk-McKenzie. Westfall said Sinden’s answer to him one time in later days was, “I was using the best line I had.” Hockey is a two-way game and Sinden didn’t want a quick goal coming against the Bruins to end the party at Boston Garden and move the series to St. Louis.>> Orr described his winning goal after taking a give-and-go pass from Sanderson, saying he would like to be able to say he knew where he was putting the puck but that he just wanted it to get on net. “I moved across and his (goalie Glenn Hall) legs opened up a little bit and the puck went through.”
>> After the goal and the initial call of victory, Cusick, the radio announcer, exclaimed, “What could be better than that?” Some Boston fans still ask that question in all seriousness, even after six Super Bowl wins by the Patriots.
> Sinden credited St. Louis coach Scott Bowman for putting Jim Roberts as a shadow on Orr and that worked pretty well in the first two games. “That was the only time in the whole series that I was concerned,” he said.
>> Sanderson didn’t celebrate for a few seconds after the goal. “It’s in, I think,” is what the Turk said he was thinking. “Like in football, I was waiting for a flag. Is everything OK?”>>Sanderson wore a Tuxedo to the Garden that day. Defenseman Teddy Green (who was out of action recovering from a head injury) asked him how he’d feel if they lost. “I didn’t think of it” was Derek’s reply.
>> Boston Globe writer Kevin Paul Dupont, just a kid at the time, taped the radio broadcast on an Ampex machine he bought for $150, a lot of money then.
>> The crowd can be heard wild for the winning goal on the radio broadcast, but also for tying goals by Esposito and Bucyk.
>> Tom Larson, a WSBK Ch. 38 broadcaster, had just moved to Boston before that amazing season. He still lives in Boston. On the Sports Hub’s broadcast, he said the intensity of the city in its love for the Bruins in 1970 hasn’t been matched since by any other of the city’s championship teams. When he first got to town, he didn’t understand it and was thinking, “What’s wrong with these people.” Larson added that the Bruins were “so central to everything.”
>> Sanderson said the Bruins, who won another Stanley Cup in 1972, basically lost the chance to win it in 1971 at the moment the franchise didn’t give Sinden a raise and he didn’t return. “It was what, $1,500 or something,” said Sanderson. The Bruins, as Sanderson also points out, also ran into the hot goaltending of Montreal’s Ken Dryden in the playoffs. But to the Turk, Dryden was not the main reason Boston came up empty-handed.
>> Bowman thought his Blues played a good series, and said, “We battled, but couldn’t handle their offense.”
>> Bucyk had 11 goals and 8 assists in the playoffs that year.
Orr Spearheaded A ‘Kidnapping’ Of Esposito From Hospital
Orr, believe it or not, had a tiny bit of wildness in him., as Esposito recounted it on the Sports Hub show. It was Orr’s idea to steal Esposito out of Mass General Hospital and bring him to the Branding Iron, a restaurant/bar that Orr owned. As Esposito, who was in a full leg cast, described it: “I told him (Orr) I can’t go to a freakin’ party. He kept saying don’t worry. He and four or five other guys wheeled my bed out of the room and through the elevator door. My leg was in traction. I kept saying ‘Bobby, you can’t do this.” It turns out they eventually brought Esposito into the bar, gave him cheese and crackers and a beer in each hand and the rallying cry, ‘Let’s go. Let’s party,’ leaving patrons wondering what was happening. Afterward, according to Esposito and Orr, the doctor called Orr and asked, ‘Do you have my patient?’ Orr responded, ‘Yes sir. I will get him back to you.’ “