Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 13
The Stanley Cup Journal

After three seasons with the Chicago
Blackhawks, Metro's wish for good luck came true -- he won the Stanley Cup, although he did so as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Metro won the Cup with Detroit in 1952 and again in 1954.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
Metro Prystai was a junior star with the Moose Jaw Canucks for four seasons before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1947-48. Then, through his 11-season NHL career, the airlines should have provided a special shuttle for Prystai as he moved from Chicago to Detroit then back to Chicago before finishing his career with Detroit in 1957-58.

Just 5'8" and 155 pounds, Metro used his size to whip gazelle-like around the rink from his centre ice spot. In his third season with the Blackhawks, Metro enjoyed the best season of his NHL career, scoring 29 goals and finishing in ninth spot among the NHL's scoring leaders with 51 points. But that summer, the Hawks dealt Metro to Detroit with Bob Goldham, 'Sugar Jim' Henry and Gaye Stewart while Pete Babando, Al Dewsbury, Harry Lumley, Don Morrison and 'Black Jack' Stewart joined the Hawks. It was a bitter disappointment for Prystai until he realized that the Red Wings were poised for great things.

Detroit finished first for a third straight season in 1950-51, but it was 1951-52 that made Metro's smile widen that much more. The Wings again finished on top of the NHL standings. In the semi-final, Detroit blanked the reigning Stanley Cup champion Maple Leafs in four straight, with Prystai picking up four assists.

The pride of Yorkton, Saskatchewan,
Prystai scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for Detroit on April 15, 1952. Metro scored twice and assisted on a third goal in a
3-0 Wing win over Montreal
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/HHOF)
The final saw Detroit facing Montreal for the Stanley Cup. The Red Wings breezed right through this series as well, going undefeated in the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup. Detroit never surrendered a single goal on home ice and netminder Terry Sawchuk collected four shutouts. In Game Four, the Stanley Cup-winning game, Metro Prystai was named first star, scoring twice and credited with an assist as the Wings thumped Montreal 3-0. Metro's first goal, scored at 6:50 of the first period, was the Stanley Cup-winning goal, scored at the Olympia on Detroit's home ice surface.

The Detroit Red Wings were in the midst of their first dynasty. In 1952-53, they again finished first for a remarkable fifth time. Metro contributed significantly with 16 goals and 34 assists to finish seventh in the regular season scoring race. But Boston surprised the Wings by defeating them in the semi-finals.

Almost unbelievably, the Red Wing juggernaut continued with a sixth first place finish in 1953-54. Detroit pushed Toronto aside in five games in the semi-final, then met the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup final. The series seesawed back and forth and went to a seventh and deciding game. Montreal drew first blood with a goal by Busher Curry in the first, but Detroit's Red Kelly evened the score early in the second. By the end of regulation time, the score was a one-one draw. Overtime. Loved by the fans; dreaded by the players. The next goal would decide it all.

Metro Prystai is sandwiched between two precious commodities -- the Stanley Cup on one side and his grandson Jordan on the other. Prystai and the Cup paraded through the streets of Yorkton in the Chevy convertible, much to the delight of local residents. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Just past the four-minute mark of the first overtime period, Tony Leswick lofted the puck towards Canadiens' goalie Gerry McNeil. It was an easy save for the diminutive netminder. But then, the unheard of happened. Doug Harvey, Montreal's all-star defenceman, reached up to block the shot and only got a piece of it. The puck changed its path and went over McNeil's shoulder into the Canadiens' net. The Detroit Red Wings had won the Stanley Cup! A fluke goal had decided the Stanley Cup champion. Metro Prystai and his teammates went wild on home ice in Detroit as captain Ted Lindsay skated up to accept the historic trophy from NHL president Clarence Campbell.

* * *

Fifty-one years later, that same Stanley Cup was taken to Yorkton, Saskatchewan as the guest of Metro Prystai. Saturday, July 9 began with Metro and the Stanley Cup, along with Mayor Phil DeVos, hosting a special pancake breakfast in CPR Park. With the last of the syrup drained from the plates, Prystai and the Stanley Cup moved over to the Yorkton Sports Hall of Fame, where fans lined up to meet Metro, take photos posed with the Stanley Cup and get the autograph of the hockey star.

Metro (4th from left) celebrates his two championships with his four children. Enjoying the Stanley Cup, left to right, are Michael, Karen, James and David. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
What would ordinarily be a full Saturday for most people had just begun for Metro Prystai. At 11:00 am, a parade celebrating Saskatchewan's centennial was held, with Metro seated in a 1956 red Chevy convertible, waving to the crowd as he sat beside the Stanley Cup.

Although you and I know of Metro Prystai for his hockey exploits through the late 1940's and '50's, Yorkton residents know the 77-year-old equally for his baseball prowess. In the early fifties, Metro was playing-coach for the Yorkton Cardinals — a team that also featured his brothers Billy and Harry, Springfield Indians' Vern Pachal (who was the goal-scoring champion of the EHL in 1951-52) and Stan Obodiac, who later oversaw public relations for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Every one of the boys on that team were proudly born and raised in Yorkton.

The Stanley Cup was then carried over to Metro's Yorkton home, where a small party was waiting on the arrival of the special guests. Metro's wife Mavis was there, along with children David, Karen, Michael and James as well as grandchildren Jordan, Emma and Jacob.

Metro and the Cup then left for Wynyard, a town of 2,000 steeped in agriculture found 150 kilometres west of Yorkton. Metro and Mavis had raised their four children in this community. In fact, the Prystai family had often skated at the Memorial Arena where Metro, on this Saturday, was meeting his fans and showing them the Stanley Cup. Mayor Sharon Armstrong came by to show her support of this wonderful adventure.

Metro Prystai scored 151 goals and 179 assists for 330 points through his 11-season, 674-game career in the NHL. He was a Stanley Cup winner in 1952 and in 1954, both with the Detroit Red Wings. (Dave Sandford/HHOF)
Another party got in on the action too — a wedding party! The proud groom and blushing bride, along with their attendants, posed with the Stanley Cup. Although you know they will remember that day forever anyway, spending time with the Stanley Cup offered one additional reason that Saturday, July 9 will be a memorable day for the happy couple.

By 8:30 that evening, after twelve hours of activity with champion Metro Prystai, it was time to pack the Cup away and ready the venerable old bowl for its next adventure. And you can read about it Friday, as the Sutter brothers celebrated with the Stanley Cup in Viking, Alberta, and the fun stays right here in Stanley Cup Journal!

Kevin Shea is the Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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