Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Turk Broda - The Pinnacle
Spotlight
One on One Treasure Chest Pinnacle

Turk Broda won the Stanley Cup
five times and the Vezina Trophy twice.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
The 1941-42 season sat on the precipice of the 'Original Six' era, as it was the final season for the Brooklyn (New York) Americans before that franchise was suspended. The Toronto Maple Leafs finished second with 57 points through the 48-game NHL season, just 3 points behind the front-running New York Rangers.

The Rangers and Leafs, who each had a bye that allowed them to watch both Boston and Detroit move forward with victories in their best-of-three quarter final series, met in the semi-final. It was a hard-fought series, but Toronto eliminated New York four games to two. In the meantime, Detroit knocked the Montreal Canadiens out of playoff contention.

The 1942 Stanley Cup final pitted the Maple Leafs against the Red Wings. Toronto predicted that they would sweep Detroit in four straight games, but the script didn't unfold as the Leafs planned.

Turk Broda poses with the Vezina Trophy. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
Detroit won each of the first three games - 3-2, 4-2 and then 5-2 - pinning the Maple Leafs to the wall. But after losing the first three games, Toronto coach Hap Day took drastic measures. To the astonishment of fans, he benched All-Star Gordie Drillon, electing to use spare forward Don Metz instead. One writer equated the decision to removing Joe DiMaggio from a World Series baseball game. Veteran defenceman Bucko McDonald was also replaced, with rookie Ernie Dickens dressing in his place. The largest crowd to watch a hockey game at Detroit's Olympia was on hand, anxious to watch their Red Wings accept the Stanley Cup. But the Leafs fought, and hard! Detroit took a 2-0 lead and it appeared that Day's experiment had failed. But then, Bob Davidson scored, followed in quick order by a tally from Lorne Carr.

Broda was sensational and going into the third period, the teams were tied 2-2. The Wings added another goal to break the tie but captain Syl Apps responded with Toronto's third goal. Nick Metz, Don's brother, scored the winning goal in Toronto's 4-3 victory, putting Detroit's Stanley Cup celebration on hold. But in the dying seconds of the game, the referee assessed Eddie Wares of the Wings with a misconduct. He refused to leave the ice. Instead, he picked up a hot water bottle from the team bench and tried to present it to the official, who immediately tacked a fine onto the misconduct. Wares finally took a seat in the penalty box. When the ensuing faceoff took place, it was discovered that the Red Wings had too many men on the ice, and the referee signalled a minor penalty. Fans littered the ice with programs, fedoras and anything else they could get their hands on. Don Grosso of the Red Wings was assigned to serve the penalty but after entering the box, he stepped back out and, in defiance, dropped his stick and gloves at the feet of the referee. Grosso was then fined, too.

Turk Broda takes a sip from the Stanley Cup. (Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
As soon as the final buzzer sounded, Detroit's coach and general manager, Jack Adams, darted over the boards and chased referee Mel Harwood, landing punches as he hurled epithets. In the aftermath, NHL president Frank Calder announced: 'Manager Jack Adams of Detroit is indefinitely suspended and prohibited from taking any further part in the bench management of the Detroit Red Wings.'

Game Five took place at Maple Leaf Gardens. Coach Day made one more adjustment to the Leafs' lineup. He inserted rookie Gaye Stewart in place of Hank Goldup. Stewart had yet to play a game in the National Hockey League. He had actually started the season playing junior. The Leafs faced a deflated Red Wings' squad, and revitalized, dumped Detroit 9-3. Pinch-hitting Don Metz scored three goals and added two assists.

Returning to Detroit, Turk Broda was the star of Game Six. The Toronto Daily Star reported: 'Turk's superb performance breaks dispirited Red Wings.' Broda earned a shutout as his teammates scored three to collect the win. Turk's performance made him the object of the Detroit fans' wrath, and they pelted him at various times with fruit, peanuts, eggs and a fish.

NHL president Clarence Campbell and Turk Broda.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
The improbable deciding contest took place in Toronto on April 18, 1942. Detroit went up 1-0 but that was all they would get past Toronto's netminder. Sweeney Schriner scored twice and Pete Langelle added the other to give the Toronto Maple Leafs the Stanley Cup in the most remarkable comeback exhibited to this day. Pandemonium broke loose on the ice, in the stands and quickly, on the streets of Toronto.

Conn Smythe, having arrived in Toronto from the military base in Petawawa, Ontario to watch the game, clambered over the boards and marched to centre ice beside his captain, Syl Apps. NHL president Frank Calder presented the Stanley Cup to Smythe, who turned and handed it to Apps. The Maple Leafs were the unlikely Stanley Cup champions, backstopped by the acrobatics of Turk Broda.

Through his Hall of Fame career, Turk Broda would be part of five Stanley Cup championships, but none were as dramatic or rewarding as the extraordinary comeback victory in the spring of 1942 — the pinnacle of Turk Broda's professional career.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.