1968 Stanley Cup Finals
The 1968 Stanley Cup Final was a best-of-seven series between the Montreal Canadiens and the St. Louis Blues. The Canadiens would sweep the series in four straight games, in the first Stanley Cup series after the NHL expansion to twelve teams. Each game was decided by one goal.
Paths to the final
This was the first Stanley Cup championship after the 1967 NHL expansion. All of the new teams were placed in the West Division, all the Original Six teams were put in the East Division, and the playoffs were organized so that divisional champions would play off for the Stanley Cup.
Glenn Hall was sensational, especially in game three when the Canadiens outshot the Blues 46 to 15. Wrote Red Burnett, the dean of hockey writers then: "A number of Hall's saves were seemingly impossible. Experts walked out of the Forum convinced no other goaltender had performed so brilliantly in a losing cause." In the overtime of game three, Hall made a spectacular save on Dick Duff and then, standing on his head, made another save. "It was a heartbreaker to see," said Burnett. "After the saves on Duff, Bobby Rousseau came and batted home the second rebound." Hall's heroics even in defeat earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
However, Montreal was not to be denied and won the Stanley Cup in game four as J. C. Tremblay fired home the winning goal. When the game ended, the fans came on the ice to celebrate, and balloons, hats and programs were thrown from the stands. Jean Beliveau, in a cast and crutches from his broken ankle, with Ralph Backstrom accepted the Cup from NHL president Clarence Campbell and the players did a victory lap with the Cup.
Less than twelve minutes after the Canadiens won the Cup, Canadiens coach Toe Blake announced his retirement. He gave the reason that it had been a hard season, but the real reason was that his wife was dying of cancer and he wanted to spend his time with her. The celebration became a mournful event with players paying tribute to Blake, many in tears. He won eight Cups as the Canadiens' coach and three others as a player with the Canadiens and Montreal Maroons, the former being a record that stood for thirty-four years. None other than Bowman, the runner-up team's head coach in this Finals, would be the one to break Blake's record: he won the Cup with the Canadiens in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979, with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, and with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, 1998, and 2002.
|May 5||Montreal||3||St. Louis||2||OT|
|May 7||Montreal||1||St. Louis||0|
|May 9||St. Louis||3||Montreal||4||OT|
|May 11||St. Louis||2||Montreal||3|
Montreal wins the series 4–0.
Montreal Canadiens 1968 Stanley Cup champions
- Coaching and administrative staff
Stanley Cup engraving
- Ernie Wakely was engraved on the Cup twice with Montreal in 1965, 1968, but did not play any games for Montreal both seasons. His first NHL game was in 1963, and his second NHL game was in 1969. He would lead the NHL with the best goals-against average while playing with St. Louis in 1971.
- Toe Blake is the only coach to win the Stanley Cup in his first (1956) and last NHL season (1968) as such.
- Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Stanley Cup. NHL.
- Podnieks, Andrew; Hockey Hall of Fame (2004). Lord Stanley's Cup. Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-55168-261-7.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Stanley Cup Champions