Paul Patskou Speaks

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paulpatskou21Sportonvideo asked our friend Paul Patskou, a hockey researcher and video archivist who works with the Hockey Hall of Fame, to give us an idea of what games he thinks fans would most like to see on DVD. His response may surprise you. You can find out more about Paul at www.paulpatskou.com.

The Big M, Frank Mahovlich, had just arrived as I was anxiously preparing a number of videos for him to view. He was my favourite Toronto Maple Leaf in the 60s and I had just found film of his first shift in the NHL playing against the mighty Montreal Canadiens on March 20, 1957. Frank had been called up to replace the legendary Teeder Kennedy and as we viewed the black & white footage of him wearing #26 taking his first shift, we talked about the experience of him playing his first game as a Leaf and then we chatted about many of the great games and rivalries in his career. I asked him what he wanted to view next and to my surprise, it wasn’t any of his great games as a Leaf but a particular game played on April 8, 1971, when he was then with the Montreal Canadiens playing the Boston Bruins in the quarterfinals.

The Canadiens had finished the 1970-71 regular season in third place in the East Division 24 points behind the first place and reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, led by Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito.

Montreal was a decided underdog in the series, especially since they were using a relatively untried rookie goalie named Ken Dryden in the net. The Habs lost the first game of the series and were trailing five to one towards the 15-minute mark of the second period in the raucous Boston Garden. Usually, the outcome of a game like this would be a forgone conclusion as the intimidating Boston Bruins rarely lost such a lead at home.

Except in this game.

A goal from Henri Richard at 15:33 of the second period started this remarkable comeback that is still talked about today. The third period saw Montreal goals by captain Jean Beliveau with two, Jacques Lemaire, John Ferguson and Frank Mahovlich that resulted in one of the most memorable comebacks in NHL playoff history – a seven to five victory for Montreal to tie the series at one game apiece.

Oh yes, that rookie goalie named Dryden? Well, he shut down Orr, Esposito and company in that third period and went on to confound the Boston shooters the rest of the series, which resulted in the Habs upsetting the Bruins in seven games. Undoubtedly, game two of the series played a large part in giving confidence to the Montreal team, and they eventually beat Chicago in the finals in seven games to win the Stanley Cup.

If a poll were conducted on which game fans would most like to see on DVD, this particular game that was so fondly remembered by Frank Mahovlich would be near the top of the list. This contest had star power and much drama and excitement, and the DVD would be a certain best-seller. One problem though – the entire telecast of the game does not exist on video, or at least it hasn’t been found yet.

At the time, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) was preserving their NHL broadcasts with the kinescope method of filming the game off a TV monitor with a 16mm camera. Unfortunately, very few kinescopes from the early 70s have been found and most were of Toronto Maple Leaf games. In fact, the ‘kines’ of the April 8, 1971, game between the Leafs and Rangers were located and the game was aired on Leafs TV. This game was remarkable as well, with two bench-clearing brawls and Vic Hadfield throwing Bernie Parent’s mask into the crowd. There are three Toronto vs Rangers broadcasts from that series that exist – but none from the Montreal vs Boston quarterfinal series. And that is a shame. Oh, there are highlights from the Bruins broadcast of each game in that series as well as some silent game footage, but no televised game.

Maybe it will turn up someday, like some other great missing games from the 1970s. We will continue to look, of course. If it does surface, I’ll invite The Big M over and he can explain to me what the heck happened in the third period of that seven to five comeback game that he so much wanted to see again.

We’d love to hear what games you would most like to see on DVD. Let us know in the comments!

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