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Greg Scott’s “hattie” in BC; bringing back some great Leaf memories about Dave Keon in ‘64

It’s not quite on the same scale, but it was pretty darn important to the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night, when Greg Scott's big-time performance won a game for the Leaf farm team- and also instantly brought back memories of a big Maple Leaf playoff game of my youth. (I’ll come to that old-time game in a moment.)  I was so caught by the instant memory that Scott’s performance created for me that I felt compelled to Tweet about it right away.

In Abbotsford, the Marlies were in a somewhat precarious situation in the third period.  They were trailing 1-0 against the tight-checking Heat.  A loss would tie the best-of-seven series, with Game 5 coming up Wednesday night, also on the road, before a return to Toronto to finish the series- with no guarantees.

But Scott, the Marlie winger, had one of those memorable performances that Leaf and Marlie fans will talk about for a while.  Early in the third period, he scored on a strong wrist shot, which rocketed in above the shoulder of the Abbotsford goaltender, to tie the game at 1.  It may have looked like a harmless shot, but the young Marlie actually got a lot on the fast-rising wrister, and the game was suddenly tied at one.

Later in the third, when the Marlies were killing (yet another) penalty, Scott jumped on a loose back at the Abbotsford blue line and had no one between him and goalie Danny Taylor.  He drove hard to the net on his off wing (old-time Montreal great Rocket Richard used to score a lot of goals just that way) while protecting the puck.  He cut in front of the goaltender with a nice deke, slipping the puck between Taylor's legs as he swept past him.  It was a beauty of a goal—and a 2-1 Marlie lead.

An empty netter (that one he skated right into the net, just to be sure—he wasn’t going to take any chances) wrapped up the proceedings and gave the Marlies what should be an insurmountable lead in a series where the opposition seems to have a hard time finding the back of the net. (Game 5 in the series is underway as I post this; the series could be over by the time you read this piece...)

So exactly how did this great performance from Scott remind me of another moment in Leaf history?

Well, in the spring of 1964, the Maple Leafs were coming off two consecutive Stanley Cups.  But in the 1963-’64 season, things weren’t quite clicking.  Then General Manager and coach Punch Imlach made a huge late-season trade (they didn’t call it the “deadline” in those days), sending Dickie Duff and Bob Nevin, two really fine young Leafs, along with a boat load of junior stars (including Rod Seiling) to the Rangers for veteran forwards Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney.

In the short term the move worked out (though I always have rued giving away both Nevin and Duff, who went on to long and outstanding careers elsewhere…) and the Leafs ended up winning their third Cup in succession.

But it wasn’t easy.  First they had to get through the Montreal Canadiens, who had been re-shaping their roster in the early ‘60s.  (Between 1965 and 1969, they went on to win the Cup four years out of five…).  The semi-final series with the Habs was tied at 3 games apiece heading to Game 7 at the Forum in Montreal.  Beating Montreal at home in a Game 7 was just not done in those days.  Heck, just beating Montreal in a playoff game at the old Forum was something special, if you could do it.

Montreal was the heavy favorite, but little Dave Keon (seen at right in early 1960s game action against the Red Wings and defenseman Warren Godfrey) stole the show that night.  He had played well in the series to the point, but had not scored a goal.  However, in Game 7, he scored all 3 goals in a hard-fought Toronto victory.  The last was scored into an empty net.

It wasn’t easy, but the Leafs did go on for their third Cup in a row that spring.  It took a Bobby Baun broken-ankle overtime goal in Game 6 in Detroit to do it.  (The Leafs had to work awfully hard for that ’64 Cup, as I’ve written here before…)

I couldn’t help but think of Keon’s big game in ’64, when Scott scored his last goal Tuesday night.  The Leafs and Marlies both won a crucial game on the road.  The final score each time was 3-1.  One player scored all three goals for the Leafs and Marlies.  And the last goal was scored into an empty net. (I can't remember if one of Keon's goals was also short-handed.)

We should make no mistake.  While these are not the Stanley Cup playoffs, the outcome matters every bit as much to these AHL players who are fighting to capture a Calder Cup. For Scott, a 23 year-old from British Columbia—a “late-bloomer" according to Dallas Eakins—it had to be a pretty special night.  Let’s see if the Marlies go on to duplicate what the big team did back in ’64.

Sometimes, history does repeat itself—in sports, too.


  1. I just wanted to make some general observations about the Marlies.

    I like that the Marlies are doing very well in the playoffs. I think it's is important to create and organizational tradition of winning. You don't necessarily have that control over the juniors/NCAA players. But I have always believed that when your prospects play for teams that win their league, play in (and win) WJHCs, it breeds a culture of winning... it gives the players the tools they need, teaches them what it takes to win. It does not always translate, but I always think back to the way Albany and Adirondack won in the AHL, and soon after it seemed New Jersey and Detroit were winning in the NHL.

    I like what I see from this Marlies team. With last night's gritty/dig deep performance to win the series, I think it augers well for the franchise. Greg Scott may never actually be a regular NHLer. Mike Zigomanis likely never gets another NHL game. But, I think there are some very good signs going on. We all know Gardiner is going to be a good NHLer, and it seems Frattin is determined to make it also. Jerry D'Amigo has matured a lot in the last couple seasons since being sent back to the OHL. Ben Scrivens may quietly turn into a very good NHL goalie. Guys like Holzer, Blacker, Mikus and Gysbers will liekly find their ways into the NHl as 4-6 type d-men.

    A lot of credit needs to go to Eakins of course. Calder Cup or not, it's going to be extremely difficult to keep him in the organization. He's done the NHL assistant thing already, but there could easily be a head coach offer from an NHL team.

    The fear of course is that should the Marlies win it all, or make the finals, people will start naming players as locks to make the Leafs next year. My hope is that Burke and the braintrust find that hockey knowledge and talent evaluation ability they are purportedly famous for, and make accurate decisions in terms of who is ready (Kadri, Frattin, Gardiner, Holzer), who may need more AHL time (Colborne, Blacker, D'Amigo, Scrivens), and find a way to make roster room so that the Leafs actually do get better.

    All that said, it is fun watching the Marlies compete, and legitimately have a chance to be successful.

  2. I agree that there is always something to be said for developing, in any organization (including in sports) a culture of excellence, teamwork- and winning. That certainly seems to be in place with the Marlies. I, too, am impressed with their ability to win on the road (not that playing in Abbotsford with those tiny crowds is like playing in the old Spectrum in Philadelphia...), the way they come from behind and just their general level of play. They seem to be a confident bunch, good to see in a young squad.

    You make a really good point about Scott, and Ziggy. We could throw in Lashoof (who finally played the other night; good to see) and of course Hamilton, and the defenseman they added a few weeks ago....Fraser. These are character guys who make any team better.

    Whether they win the Calder Cup or not, they are taking important strides in their individual- and collective - development.

    Eakins will land somewhere in the NHL. I kind of think he will be an assistant again first, but I could be wrong. He's a good catch, for sure.

    Great post. Thanks Mark.

  3. What a treat it is to be able to see these kids play right here in Toronto for less than 20 dollars,hope the secret doesn't get out too much!
    I read somewhere that Hamilton might be a significant upgrade on Rosehill for next year's 4th line,and you are well aware Michael of the man-crush I've had on Scott for some time now...he's getting a good long look at camp in September. It even occurred to me that Zigomanis might even be the hard driving centre needed to play with Kessel and Lupul, but then I snapped out of it:I don't think he has the speed needed for that.

  4. Good to hear from you Sean....

    Nothing wrong with dreaming about what could be next fall....whether it's about Scott, Ziggy or Hamilton- or any other Marlie, for that matter. Maybe they are not the "answer", but the current NHL playoffs remind us every day that while you need sterling goaltending, a good "system" and skill, you also need players who simply are willing to pay a big price. The Marlies seem to have a number of guys with that kind of attitude and approach.

    If that can translate to the next level, it's an encouraging and hopeful sign, for sure.

    Good stuff, Sean. Thanks.