Hockey's most famous foes, and their opposing cultures, clash for NHL supremacy in the early1960s. The freewheeling Canadiens are the toast of fun-loving Montreal, while the hardworking Maple Leafs do buttoned-down Toronto proud. But the Leafs haven't won a championship since 1951 -- when Bill Barilko scored the Cup winner before dying mysteriously that summer in a plane crash � leaving Torontonians feeling inferior to their rivals due east on the new MacDonald-Cartier highway.
Hogtown's fortunes, though, are soon looking up. With the rock-steady Tim Horton anchoring a tough team drawn from the hardscrabble mining towns of the Canadian shield, the Leafs finally lay to rest the ghost of Barilko by winning the Cup in 1962, the same year the playoff hero's body is recovered. With the Flying Frenchmen struggling to find their wings, Toronto goes on to capture the next two Cups as well.
Hockey experiences a boom in the mid-60s as the masses embrace television. Nine out of ten Canadian homes now have a TV, and Hockey Night in Canada has become a Saturday-evening institution. Meanwhile, urban expansion and the Baby Boom spur a surge in minor hockey registration.
Among those Baby Boomers is a young hockey phenom named Bobby Orr, who grew up envisioning a more stylish game on the ponds of Parry Sound, Ont. After joining the Boston Bruins at the age of 18, the dazzling defenceman's boundless talent and limitless imagination combine to make Orr the next great superstar.
Canadiens fans, weary of watching the hated Leafs pile up Stanley Cups, turn their wrath to the effortlessly talented Jean B�liveau. While goaltender Jacques Plante is forced to defend his courage after becoming the first player to don a facemask full-time, the Canadiens brass responds to the NHL's rougher brand of play by beefing up the roster with hard-nosed players like John Ferguson. This spells the end of the Flying Frenchmen era, but the strategy pays off as B�liveau and his bodyguards lead Montreal to back-to-back Cups in 1965 and '66.
As women make strides throughout society, Cookie Cartwright and a group of dedicated students start a team at Queen's University and go on to capture the first women's university championship. Meanwhile, two fiery teams in Montreal and the Toronto area play out their own version of hockey's most heated rivalry on the women's amateur circuit. The strides made in women's hockey culminate in 1967 in the first-ever ladies' North American championship, dubbed the "Lipstick Tournament."
Canada celebrates its centennial birthday by handing out federal grants to towns and villages that want to build rinks. Suddenly, tiny communities like Three Hills, Alta., have a new hub of activity and a spot on the map.
Canada receives a fitting birthday present when its two most popular teams meet in the 1967 Stanley Cup final. Montreal is again flying high as it prepares to welcome the world for the '67 Expo, but the Maple Leafs' "Over the Hill Gang" � sporting an updated logo made to resemble Canada's new flag � have other ideas. Led by long-in-the-tooth goalies Terry Sawchuk and Johnny Bower, Toronto upsets Montreal for the Cup. Budding doughnut-shop magnate Horton calls it the sweetest victory of his career.
The matchup between hockey's � and Canada's -- two most stories rivals proves a fitting end to the Original Six era. That summer, the NHL announces plans to double in size, adding a half-dozen new teams. All are based in the United States.
'67 Maple Leafs, Hockey Hall of Fame
Yonge Bobby Orr, Hockey Hall of Fame
Stan Mikita, Hockey Hall of Fame
'67 Centennial, Hockey Hall of Fame