Thursday

Mud Bruneteau

On March 24, 1936, the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Maroons faced-off in what would turn out to be the longest game in National Hockey League history. The playoff match reached a 9th period (6 overtime periods) of scoreless hockey. While the era did not feature the same speed as the modern game does, you can understandably imagine just how exhausted and fatigued both teams were.

By the 9th period it became more and more essential to keep fresh legs on the ice. Top players on each team were greatly fatigued and teams began relying more and more on inexperienced younger players as they had more stamina to continue the marathon. One of those rookies was Moderre Bruneteau, the youngest player on the ice that night.

At the 16 minute mark of the 9th period, Bruneteau surrounded the puck in the Detroit zone. He made a centering pass to Hec Kilrea, who broke in on the Montreal defense. Kilrea faked a return pass and then slid it across the blue line and behind the Montreal defense. As the two Montreal defenders closed in to prevent Kilrea burst through, Bruneteau swept in behind the defensemen and, in far from classic fashion, banged home the loose puck in front of Montreal goalie Lorne Chabot.

The rookie won the game, and became immortalized forever as a hockey legend.

"Thank god" a relieved Bruneteau said. "Chabot fell down as I drove it in the net. It's the funniest thing. The puck just stuck there in the twine and didn't fall on the ice."

It was as if the puck and the net were as tired as the players were.

Detroit recovered from that marathon to sweep Montreal in the playoff round. They later faced the Toronto Maple Leafs and swept them in the Stanley Cup finals. The Red Wings had won their very first Stanley Cup.

Mud Bruneteau of course will forever go down in hockey legend for ending the longest game in NHL history. Come playoff time, the media, be it in print or broadcast, always do a feature on his heroics.

But often lost in the legend of Mud Bruneteau is the fact that he was a very good hockey player.
"Mud" helped the Wings win another Cup in 1937 but didn't blossom as a player until the Wings 3rd Cup championship in 1943. Often playing with Carl Liscombe and the great Syd Howe, "Mud" led the Wings in goals with 23 goals. He added 5 more in the playoffs, including a hat trick in game one of the Finals against Boston. In 1943-44, Bruneteau had a career high 35 goals in just 39 games.

Despite another solid year with 23 goals in 1944-45, Mud left the NHL by the 1946-47 season. Mud then turned to the Omaha Knights of the United States Hockey League where he played for 2 seasons before becoming the team's head coach. He led the team to the USHL title in 1950-51.

1 comments:

Ronald Valois,  2:25 AM  

A player from St. Boniface!

75 years ago today!

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