(Photo: The Boston Globe, as found on Newspapers.com)
Two goalies, both alike in shutouts, in fair Boston, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge back-to-back shutouts, where uncivil teams make uncivil games clean. In other words, on October 22 and November 13, 1955, the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins had 0-0 ties thanks to the rivalry of their goalies, Glenn Hall and Terry Sawchuk.
Sawchuk had been playing full time with the Red Wings since 1950-51, the year he won the Calder Trophy as best rookie. His work, leading the team to the Stanley Cup three times over the next four seasons, earned him just as many Vezina Trophies. The Red Wings had just won the Stanley Cup in spring 1955, but they traded Sawchuk to the Bruins to make room for up-and-coming goalie, Glenn Hall. Along with Sawchuk, Vic Stasiuk and Marcel Bonin played for the Bruins and faced their former team for first time. Stasiuk said, “Sawchuk will make the Bruins a winner and will make it all the tougher for Detroit to repeat. I hope to help him both ways.” Going into these matchups, the Bruins had not been able to beat the Red Wings for two years, 13 games that Sawchuk played for Detroit. Naturally then, Sawchuk bore some bitterness and Hall had something to prove.
On October 22, 12,771 fans filled Olympia Stadium in Detroit. The game had barely begun, only 18 seconds in, when referee Jack Melhenbacher kicked out four players. After that, he only called seven more penalties for a total of 11 minutes for the Red Wings and 12 minutes for the Bruins. Even with power play opportunities, neither team could score. Sawchuk made 28 saves and Hall 19 saves to tie the game at 0-0, Olympia Stadium’s first scoreless game in two years. Boston’s unbeaten streak continued with five games, and the Red Wings’ unbeaten streak stood at four allowing them to move into a tie for third place in the league standings.
For the rematch, on November 13, Boston Garden hosted 11,333 fans. While the Bruins managed to maintain their previous 12 minutes in penalties, the Red Wings earned 26 minutes. Primarily, this stemmed from Hall – both from incurring his own penalty and from his teammate’s response to said call. In catching a shot by Leo Boivin, Hall held onto the puck longer than three seconds and received a minor penalty from referee Frank Udvari. However, that set off his captain, Ted Lindsay, whose reaction first result in a 10-minute misconduct and then a game misconduct. He had to leave and pay $75 in fines. Rookie Norm Ullman served Hall’s penalty. Meanwhile, Sawchuk “improved as the game wore on although he was sharp in the early stages, too.” He earned the first star of the game and his fourth shutout of the season. The saves were close in number though, with Sawchuk nabbing 31 and Hall 29. After the game, Detroit coach Jim Skinner said of Hall, “He’s had some games as good as Terry. It’s just a matter of experience. A couple of times around the league and he’ll be very good.” This second 0-0 tie bumped the Bruins out of second in the league standings. As the Boston Globe reported, the two teams had again “engaged in mutual frustration.”
Throughout the 1955-56 season, Detroit and Boston played 14 games against each other. They tied three times (having tied again December 8th). Then, the Red Wings got the better of the Bruins by winning eight games and losing only three. Detroit made it to the Stanley Cup finals but lost to the Montreal Canadiens. As for the goalies, Hall had the most shutouts (12) and earned the Calder Trophy as top rookie. Sawchuk had had the most shutouts (12) in 1954-55. However, the Calder Trophy must have been cursed for Detroit goalies. Like they had with Sawchuk, in 1957 Detroit then sent Hall packing (back to the Blackhawks). The Red Wings paid a high price – trading Johnny Bucyk to Boston – to bring Sawchuk home to Detroit. Considering the careers to follow, the Blackhawks and the Bruins probably thanked the Red Wings heartily.
- Herb Ralby, “Sawchuk Faces Former Teammates for First Time Tonight in Detroit,” Boston Globe, 22 Oct. 1955, p. 6.
- “Wings, Bruins Play Scoreless Tie at Detroit,” Boston Globe, 23 Oct. 1955, p. 48.
- Tom Fitzgerald, “Bruins, Detroit Play Second Straight Scoreless Tie,” Boston Globe, 14 Nov. 1955, p. 6.
- Dan Diamond and Eric Zweig, Hockey’s Glory Days: The 1950s and ’60s (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013), 47, 56, 166.
- Greg Oliver and Richard Kamchen, The Goaltenders’ Union (Toronto: ECW Press, 2014), 45-49.