You may be aware that the CHL, which is celebrating 100 years of the Memorial Cup, has provided a site where you are able to learn about the first 99 championships.
If you haven’t already, click right here and give it a look. I guarantee that it will be well worth your time.
As part of this, the CHL ran a promotion aimed at selecting the Team of the Century. The other day, it revealed the four finalists — the 1995 Kamloops Blazers, 2000 Rimouski Oceanic, 2005 London Knights and 2013 Halifax Mooseheads.
For what it’s worth, my top four, in order, would be the 1969 Montreal Jr. Canadiens, 1974 Regina Pats, 1973 Toronto Marlboros and 1978 New Westminster Bruins.
To take it one step further, here are five Memorial Cup matchups I would pay to see, if only they were possible:
1969 Montreal Jr. Canadiens vs. 1978 New Westminster Bruins — With the likes of Guy Charron, Bobby Guindon, Norm Gratton, Rejean Houle, Bobby Lalonde, Richard Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Marc Tardif among the forwards on the roster, the Jr. Canadiens would be my selection as the Team of the Century. They swept the Regina Pats in the best-of-seven final in 1969, winning twice in the Montreal Forum and twice in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium. . . . Ernie (Punch) McLean’s Bruins won the 1977 Memorial Cup in Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, beating the Ottawa 67’s, 6-5, in the final of the three-team round-robin tournament. The big, bad and burly Bruins’ roster included Barry Beck and Brad Maxwell on the back end and it would be a lot of fun watching McLean’s gang try to corral the Jr. Canadiens’ high-flying forwards.
1974 Regina Pats vs. 1973 Toronto Marlboros — The Pats were led by F Dennis Sobchuk, who was one of the all-time great junior players; F Clark Gillies, a true power forward who went on to a terrific career with the NHL’s New York Islanders; D Greg Joly, who was selected first overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL draft; and G Ed Staniowski, who would be named the CHL’s player of the year the following season. The Pats’ head coach was Bob Turner, who as a defenceman had been part of five straight Stanley Cup winners with the Montreal Canadiens. . . . The Marlboros featured the Howe brothers, Mark and Marty, along with the likes of Paulin Bordeleau, Bruce Boudreau, Wayne Dillon, and goaltender Mike Palmateer. Toronto could score, as it proved in a 9-1 victory over the Quebec Remparts in the three-team tournament’s championship game. . . . The Pats were a high-powered squad with a lot of toughness and great goaltending. This would have been a terrific series.
1952 Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters vs. 1983 Portland Winter Hawks — To those of a certain generation, the Mad Hatters’ roster contained a number of magical names, such as Andy Bathgate, Lou Fontinato, Aldo (Bep) Guidolin, Harry Howell, Bill McCreary, Ron Murphy, Dean Prentice and Ron Stewart. Ohh, the memories! Yes, they could score, witness a four-game sweep of the Regina Pats in a final in which the victors held a 30-8 edge in goals. . . . These Winter Hawks were the first American team to win the Memorial Cup. They lost the WHL final to the Lethbridge Broncos, but then became the first host team to win it all in what was the first four-team tournament. Featuring the likes of Randy Heath, Ken Yaremchuk, Grant Sasser, Cam Neely and Alfie Turcotte, the Winter Hawks could wheel and deal. . . . A seven-game series between these teams might produce seven 10-9 scores.
1989 Swift Current Broncos vs. 1995 Kamloops Blazers — The Broncos may have had the best power-play in the history of the junior game. Although they had tough guy Mark McFarlane on the bench, it was the PP that intimidated the opposition. With Dan Lambert, Darren Kruger and Bob Wilkie running it from the blue line, players like Kimbi Daniels, Peter Kasowski, Sheldon Kennedy, Brian Sakic, Peter Soberlak and Tim Tisdale, who has never had to buy lunch in Swift Current after he scored the OT goal in the championship game, wreaked havoc on opposing goaltenders. When you think about what some of these players went through, from a bus accident two years earlier that claimed the lives of four teammates to the sexual abuse heaped on some of them by Graham James, their coach, this championship is even more spectacular. . . . The Blazers were the host team for the four-team tournament, but went in through the front door as WHL champions. They then won the franchise’s third title in four-year period. This may have been the best of the three championship teams, boasting the likes of Nolan Baumgartner, Shane Doan, Hnat Domenichelli, Ryan Huska, Jason Holland, Jarome Iginla, Aaron Keller, Brad Lukowich, Tyson Nash, Darcy Tucker and Randy Petruk. They whipped the Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the final.
1985 Prince Albert Raiders vs. 1966 Edmonton Oil Kings — Under head coach Terry Simpson, the Raiders were one of those teams that could play it any which way the opposition wanted. They had Ken Baumgartner and Dave Manson to keep the other guys honest. Dan Hodgson, one of the junior game’s greatest talents, keyed the offence, with help from snipers Pat Elynuik, Tony Grenier, Ken Morrison and Dave Pasin, and defenceman Emanuel Viveiros. . . . The Oil Kings, meanwhile, were in the Memorial Cup final for a seventh straight season. Led by defenceman Al Hamilton, they beat Bobby Orr’s Oshawa Generals in a six-game final in Maple Leaf Gardens. Unfortunately, the talented defenceman didn’t play a lot thanks to a groin injury that he apparently suffered in practice a week before the final series. In those days, teams were allowed to add players from elsewhere, and the Oil Kings brought in Jim Harrison, Ted Hodgson and Ross Lonsberry from the Estevan Bruins, all of whom contributed to the championship.
There you have it, for whatever it’s worth. Discuss among yourselves.