On April 25, 1964 the Toronto Maple Leafs won their third consecutive Stanley Cup with a 4-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. In winning the Cup in 1962 and 1963 the Leafs never once had a series go the full seven games, the 1964 playoffs were far different.
Finishing the regular season with 78 points in 70 games, good for third place in the NHL, they drew a match up with the first place Canadiens in the semi-finals. Toronto fell behind 3 games to 2 before heading home to a Johnny Bower shutout in game six by a score of 3-0. Back in Montreal, for game seven, the Leafs took the series with a 3-1 behind Dave Keon’s hat trick and advanced to the Cup final against Detroit.
Once again, Toronto fell behind in the series 3 games to 2, but in this case the sixth game would be on the road. Toronto would prevail in overtime on the famous Bobby Baun “broken leg goal” to send the Stanley Cup final to game seven back at Maple Leaf Gardens. Andy Bathgate gave Toronto a lead three minutes into the deciding match and it remained 1-0 through two periods. Dave Keon and Red Kelly each scored six minutes into the final period and Captain George Armstrong iced the game as Bower recorded his second shutout of the post-season. Frank Mahovlich topped Toronto with 15 points in the 14 playoff matches while Dave Keon led the way with 7 goals. The Leafs would win one more Stanley Cup in 1967, and are still waiting to get back to this day.
When I think of Muhammad Ali, I remember huddling around the TV with my father in the early ‘70s, watching him. I was mesmerized by the boxing legend, who could easily back up his hilarious trash talking.
Check out some of Ali’s best knockouts.
Born Cassius Clay, he won the gold medal at the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics in the light heavyweight division. He won the WBA, WBC and lineal heavyweight titles in 1964 when he beat Sonny Liston. Clay renounced his “slave name” in 1965, when he converted to Islam and became Muhammad Ali. In 1967, Ali was found guilty of draft evasion during the Vietnam War. He lost his license to box, was stripped of his heavyweight titles, and had his passport taken by the court (so he couldn’t go overseas to fight). Four years later, he appealed the conviction and won. In 1971, he lost the “Fight of the Century” to Joe Frazier. He beat George Foreman for the world championship title in 1974 – and defended the title 10 times, over the next three years, including beating Joe Frazier in the “Thriller in Manila.”
There are numerous movies and documentaries about Ali. An all-time favorite is When We Were Kings – about the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” championship fight against George Foreman.
Sports Illustrated ranked him as the greatest athlete of the 20th century, having been the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. He was one of five athletes of my time (the list includes Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson) that I had to watch. Ali’s press conferences made me laugh and, as an athlete, he was incredible.
Was there a dry eye in North America as one of the greatest boxers of all time lit the torch at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony?
Muhammad Ali passed away last year at the age of 74.
In writing this post, I have been humming the song Black Superman. I’ll leave it with you – to remind you of Muhammad Ali’s greatness.