A contrite Cherry said he understood, leading Campbell to sign off by saying, “And in the future, use your head for more than a hat rack.’’
In 1970, a big, bad blowout
Of the six times Chicago and Boston have met in the playoffs (the Bruins 5-1 in those series), the most memorable matchup came at the height of the Big Bad Bruins era, in 1970, the Boston roster chock-full of stars such as Orr, Derek Sanderson, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers, and the irascible Johnny “Pie” McKenzie (the Li’l Ball o’ Hate of his day).
For all of Boston’s offensive might, Chicago finished in first place. Both clubs collected 99 points, but the Black Hawks (the name change to Blackhawks came years later) filched first place based on more wins (45-40). The league had 12 teams, and the playoffs consisted of three rounds of best-of-seven series.
The Bruins and Hawks met in the semis, pitting the Esposito brothers, Phil the sniper for Boston and Tony the goalie for Chicago. Beyond the heated fraternal matchup, the series packed extra drama because Phil had been the centerpiece of Boston’s franchise-changing trade with Chicago in May 1967, when Boston general manager Milt Schmidt acquired Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield for Pit Martin, Jack Norris, and Gilles Marotte.
“Try to find another trade in sports history — here in Boston or internationally — that’s a better deal than that,’’ mused Richard Johnson, curator of The Sports Museum that is housed in TD Garden. “Not going to happen.’’ A few dissenting voices in the Bronx notwithstanding, of course.
Perhaps setting the stage for that Orr-Mikita joust years later, the Bruins smoked the Hawks in four straight, by a humbling 20-10 goal advantage.
In the midst of the series, the irrepressible Cheevers, who later coached the Bruins, chatted with Globe sportswriter Bud Collins about a deep bruise on his shoulder inflicted by a steaming slap shot from Dennis Hull, Bobby’s lesser-acclaimed brother. Not uncommon for the day, Cheevers puffed on a cigarette as he talked with Collins in a corner of the Bruins dressing room.
Hull’s shot had stung Cheevers, dropping him to the ice, and he needed a few moments to recover. Collins wanted to know what he thought.
“I was lying there,’’ Cheevers recounted between drags, “wishing the hell I’d been able to skate good enough when I was a kid to play some other position.’’
Prior to Game 3, Cheevers said he slept to 11 a.m., then made his way to the Garden, where he and Esposito spent a chunk of the afternoon watching TV in the dressing room. They first watched “Hollywood Squares,’’ the popular game show, and then a movie, “Rocky Mountain,’’ starring Errol Flynn.
“He got killed this afternoon,’’ said Cheevers, a self-professed Flynn fan, “but he came back to make more movies.’’
All this from a man who told Collins he defined goaltending as “99 percent luck and 1 percent praying.’’
Cheevers was in net for all four wins, outplaying Esposito’s kid brother. He was also on duty four wins later when Orr and Sanderson traded passes for No. 4’s Cup-clinching goal over St. Louis, the play that sent Orr flying through the air, having secured Boston’s first Cup in 29 seasons.
“Everyone remembers the Cup and, of course, the Orr picture,’’ said Johnson, “but it was that sweep over Chicago, as improbable as one can imagine, that really distinguished those Bruins.
“You look at that Chicago lineup and it really might be the best one never to win a Stanley Cup — the Hulls, Mikita, Tony O . . . the names go on and on.
“In my mind, it was that sweep that took the Bruins from being a great team to a legendary team.’’
Lessons from history
When the Bruins and Hawks came into the league, the term “Original Six” had yet to be coined. In 1924, the Bruins and Montreal Maroons were part of a league expansion from four to six clubs, joining Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, and the other team from Montreal known as the Canadiens.
Two years later, when Chicago was added, the league membership soared to 10 clubs, five in each of two divisions. Ottawa, Toronto, the New York Americans, and the two Montreal clubs made up the Canadian Division, while the Rangers, Bruins, Black Hawks, Pittsburgh, and Detroit made up the American Division.
The Bruins’ first trip to the playoffs came in 1927 when they faced the Black Hawks, led in their inaugural season by Dick Irvin, the league’s No. 2 scorer with 18 goals and 36 points.
The Original Six members we know today — Boston, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Chicago, and Detroit — were the six clubs still standing after World War II. Continued...