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Maple Leafs Celebrate Third Straight Championship

Apr. 25, 1964 - Dodging champagne corks, shuffling around on broken glass, and shouting above the raucous voices of well-wishers, Toronto coach Punch Imlach tipped his hat back and lavished praise on his Maple Leafs.

“They acted like champions, and they played like champions. Three of them went out there with their legs frozen. What more can I say — what more could I ask? That’s the difference between a hockey team and a baseball team. Did you ever hear of baseball guys going like that?”

The joy was unrestrained in the Leaf dressing room after tonight’s 4-0 blasting of the Detroit Red Wings for Toronto’s third straight Stanley Cup.

Prime Minister Lester Pearson shook hands all around and had a few special words for Red Kelly, scorer of Toronto’s third goal and Member of Parliament for York West.

Kelly, who suffered damaged knee ligaments when checked by two Red Wings in the sixth game in Detroit Thursday, was later taken to a hospital.

Detroit coach Sid Abel, almost unrecognized in the throng, fought his way to Imlach and forced smiles as he posed for pictures.

Close behind him was Gordie Howe, Detroit’s all-time great, who gave a big handshake and a friendly hug to shutout goalie Johnny Bower, a summertime friend of Howe’s.

Andy Bathgate, the ex-Ranger who scored the first and winning goal, was almost mobbed by reporters, photographers, players, politicians, policemen, and team officials.

“I’ve been around a long time waiting for something like this,” said Andy. “I didn’t know it would take a trade to get me to the Cup celebration, but I couldn’t be happier. This is a great club to play with, and they’ve been great to me.”

Someone asked Imlach if he had any message for Detroit defenseman Bill Gadsby, who has played 18 years in the NHL without making it to the Stanley Cup winners’ circle.

“Yes,” said Punch after pondering for a second. “Just tell him I’m sorry he wasn’t able to make it and that I hope he sticks around until he does.”

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