When Triumph Books, the publisher responsible for the Toronto Star’s latest book, 100 Years in Blue and White: A Century of Hockey in Toronto, reached out asking if I would review a copy of the book, I was most intrigued by the team’s inception.
As Leafs fans, media and bloggers celebrate the team’s Centennial Season, I think it’s important to delve into that beginning. The Star has accomplished this by compiling a book composed of its greatest articles, ones that span back to that inception — and in turn the early days of professional hockey journalism.
And while each of the nine eras the Star has identified in that 100-year history are marked with “fast facts” and a brief introduction, the 100 Years in Blue and White stands out more for its pseudo-documentary of hockey journalism through it’s archival content in language and its massive catalogue of photographs than for its new insights.
In it, the second story the Star shares looks at the Toronto Arenas’ first Stanley Cup victory. The story, dated April 1, 1918, is available in its English-language-bending entirety below.
This excerpt from 100 Years in Blue and White: A Century of Hockey in Toronto by The Toronto Star is printed with the permission of Triumph Books. For more information and to order a copy, please visit the Star Store.
Dennenay Sparks Arenas’ Sensational Cup Victory
That the Stanley Cup sojourns in Toronto and not in Vancouver for the summer months, is due to a blue-clad player about the size of a pint of cider or a 30-second minute — Corbett Dennenay, the Cornwall boy who has been Torontos’ “pinch hitter” for a couple of seasons.
Young Dennenay, who has everything that goes to make up a star pro player but size, came through with the goal that won the cup series for Toronto within nine minutes of the completion of the hour’s play in the final game of the series at the Arena Saturday night.
It was a sensational goal, in a sensational game, and to say that the crowd enthused over young Dennenay and the winning goal is putting it mildly.
For 41 minutes the rival teams had battled grimly, determinedly, cleanly and scorelessly. Then the rotund Alfie Skinner, who had been chasing that lil’ old puck all over the ice heap and pestering the life out of every opponent who laid a stick on it, sailed down the right boards and heaved a 60-foot lob at Goalkeeper Lehmann.
It looked as easy to handle as a couple of fresh eggs in a glass. In fact, it was too easy. Lehmann missed it, and Alfred did a hula-hula down the ice and tried to kiss the bald spot on Cyclone Taylor’s head, while the crowd yelled itself to a whisper.
After 41 minutes of scoreless hockey that one goal loomed up as large as an elephant at a tea party. It was as welcome as whiskey at an Irish wake. Both goalkeepers had been doing such marvellous work and both defences had been so steadily effective that it looked as if that one goal would win the silverware, but the Vancouvers had courage to burn.
They came on steadily, and after being foiled a dozen times when goals looked likely in the next nine minutes, finally landed the tying counter. “Cy” Taylor notched the tally on a pass from “Tornado” McKay.
Then the fat was in the fire in real earnest. Both sides buckled into the fray with every last ounce of speed, courage and determination and the crowd rocked with excitement.
When things were in the balance in the previous two periods Dennenay had been showing some sensational hockey, and so when things were in extremes to the little slender Cornwall lad the crowd looked for the game’s salvation.
He had made some wonderful efforts to wiggle through the three and four-man defence Vancouver had been employing all evening, and, in spite of the fact that he had been bumped over and tripped every time he had come down and he had been inside and missed one or two counters by inches, he was still trying with every ounce he had.
Dennenay had the crowd with him every time he tried a rush. To land the winning goal he brought the puck from mid-ice alone, side-stepped and out-guessed four men en route and, standing on one foot, dodged goalkeeper Lehmann’s plunge and slide at him, and flipped the puck in. He was so far overbalanced that he clashed into the goal post before he could pull up.
The remaining six minutes were tense with excitement. The Millionaires threw everybody but Lehmann and one defence man up on the attack and strove valiantly to tie up, but the Arenas fastened to the puck-carriers like bull pups to ham bones, and they seldom got a decent shot.
The Arenas tightened up to a four-man defence and delayed the game every way they could. Three times they were called for playing “rag” behind the nets.
It was a good hard game all the way and it was superbly handled by the best pair of officials in the business, Harvey Pulford of Ottawa and Russell Bowie of Montreal. They made no mistakes, and they dropped on anything that looked like roughness with “a dull sickening thud.”
There was only one penalty in the first period — “Cy” Taylor for loafing — but in the second and third the referees rode the players to the clink so assiduously that three times during the evening Toronto found their two subs used up and Vancouver was forced to drop a man and equalize the sides at five men each.
Outside of a jab Skinner took at Cook’s head after the latter had mussed him up behind the nets there wasn’t a thing that looked at all crude. The other penalties were all for slashes, trips or hard bodychecks into the boards.
Outside of Dennenay’s great work, the outstanding feature was the marvellous work of Harry Holmes and Hugh Lehmann, the rival goalkeepers. No better exhibition of goal-guarding has ever been seen in Toronto than this pair gave Saturday night. They were both wizards.
It was positively uncanny the way in which this pair came out and out-guessed players who had penetrated the defences. The crowd cheered them time and time again.
Everybody else played well. Skinner’s backchecking and tireless energy, which featured every game of the series, again made him stand out on Torontos’ forward line, but Noble and Randall did great work. Cameron made some spectacular rushes and Mummery was a second goalkeeper. He stopped as many shots as Holmes did.
For Vancouver, McKay played a sensational game and Taylor had the crowd cheering him like a hometown favorite. Lloyd Cook and the rest of them were right at the top of their form and worked so hard and gamely that they had half the crowd cheering them.
In fact the truth is that Vancouver plainly outplayed Toronto in the rst chapter, so much so that the odds dropped from 2 to 1 on Torontos down to 6 to 5, and they also had enough margin in the second period to force the “odds to evens.”
In the final period, the Arenas, who had faded in earlier games in the series, came on, and showing unexpected stamina, had a margin in the play.
The game might well have ended in a tie as Skinner’s goal, beautifully placed and all as it was, must be regarded as somewhat lucky.
Everything else from long range that came Lehmann’s way he handled with careless ease. How he managed to miss the Skinner shot is the mystery of the game.