The Boston Bruins will play the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals and it will mark the first time since 1979 that the championship will be decided between two "Original Six" NHL clubs. That's right, in 1979, the New York Rangers faced the Montreal Canadiens in the Cup finale, with Montreal winning in five games and it was a reprise of days gone by.
Although it occurred a whopping 34 years ago, I still remember the playoffs well -- most notably that the Rangers never should've been there. The New York Islanders were a far superior team but Ranger goalie John Davidson played the series of his lifetime and he shut down Mike Bossy, the Islanders sharpshooting sniper, and advanced the Blue Shirts to the Stanley Cup and his club's Northern exposure to Montreal. If it hadn't been for Davidson's stellar performance, we'd be looking back to 1972 when the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers and Bobby Orr hoisted his final Cup as the last "Original Six" matchup.
So, it's 2013 and we've got the Bruins vs. Chi-town and the occasion calls for sentimental softies, such as yours truly, to reminisce a bit to the days of the Original Six, way before the New York Islanders were born -- no, not Bob Bourne! We're talking really born, "launched," "expanded" or just put into business as the North American professional ice hockey league attempted to go, well, North American and expand to places like Atlanta, Georgia, and Uniondale, Long Island.
The NHL had already created franchises in places like Los Angeles and Oakland, California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, St. Louis, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, for god-sakes. They were the outer-reaches of ice hockey civilization for anyone who laced up skates in Canada in 1942.
So I long for the days of the Original Six and I note that when the Original Six played -- Men were men.
When the Original Six played, there was only one Zamboni and a fan never got near the machine.
When the Original Six played, there were two-line passes and it was a good thing.
When the Original Six played, hockey sticks were made out of wood.
When the Original Six played, there was one referee and two linesmen and they were called the refs.
When the Original Six played, ties were like 'kissin' your sister.'
When the Original Six played, Bobby Rousseau and Bruce MacGregor wore hockey helmets, and everyone knew the former was really named Joseph Jean-Paul Robert.
When the Original Six played, veteran 'keeper Gump Worsley was holding out as the last goalie without a mask and Boston's Gerry Cheevers was the first to decorate his mask, and he did it by drawing stitches where he would've been cut.
When the Original Six played, Derek Sanderson was the toughest Bruins player and Keith Magnuson was the toughest Blackhawks player, but you feared Chicago winger Bobby Hull and his slapshot.
When the Original Six played, the only Tweets were from birds. Twits were a whole other story.
When the Original Six played, you were allowed to "sneak in" an air horn and blast it after your team scored.
When the Original Six played, you could sit amongst the "Gallery Gods" at the famed Boston "Gaahden" and still see the ice through the smoke that wasn't from pre-game fireworks but from cigarettes.
When the Original Six played there were obstructed views, the smell of freshly-popped popcorn by the Bruins' locker and no texting for food to be delivered to cushy premium seats.
When the Original Six played, "old-time hockey" wasn't Eddie Shore, because Eddie Shore was playing.
When the Original Six played, you were allowed to walk around The Garden and jump on empty soda cups and listen to the echo of sound reverberate in the Blues.
When the Original Six played and you missed your train and had to wait a whole hour for the next one, you took those squished-up cups, folded them up and played a mean game of floor hockey in the basement of Penn Station, only stopping for some Nedicks to get a sip of cold refreshment but, really, to make a new puck.
When the Original Six played, Madison Square Garden was "new" (in 1968) but the "old" Garden, Boston Garden and Maple Leaf Garden were the jewels.
When the Original Six played, they renovated buildings and didn't pretend to "transform" them.
When the Original Six played, phones had wires and rotary dials and everyone had one phone number and one address and that was it.
When the Original Six played, we had 13 channels and the game was on Channel 9.
When the Original Six played, there was no "Peter Puck" and "FoxTrax" were hunted by the hounds.
When the Original Six played, you did not "Tebow," you knelt and prayed and you didn't dare touch the consecrated host for fear of going to hell or getting yelled at by The "Monsignor," and you weren't sure which was worse.
When the Original Six played, the only Nielsen ratings you worried about were the stats of Roger Neilson.
When the Original Six played, Phil and Tony Esposito were household names, and Tony's autograph was on our street hockey sticks and "Jesus Saved" but Phil "scored on the rebound."
When the Original Six played ...