How to Win a Cup With a 'Loser' Goalie

History says it can happen!; Who is the best sophomore defenseman?; Olympic hockey with NHLers in doubt?

There was no way that the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to win a Stanley Cup with their alleged "winning" goalie Fred Andersen.

General manager Kyle Dubas knew that and so did his coach Shelly Keefe.

But now they can win the championship with a 'loser' goalie.

His name is Jack Campbell; he's from Port Huron, Michigan and last season he played 26 games for a solid Hogtown team and still finished below .500 11-12-3 -- with a don't-hold-your-breath 2.80 goals against average.

His save percentage .904 didn't inspire visions of Georges Vezina either.

But this same "loser" of yesteryear suddenly has reappeared as The Saviour On The Lake; as in Lake Ontario.

When the Darling of Denmark, Freddie Andersen, went down with an injury ,Keefe dispatched Campbell to the crease. 

While some Leafs loyalists held their breath in fear, all Jumpin' Jack did was what he's done all season; go in and win!

At last look, his record was nine and oh -- as in oh, how wonderful.

Campbell's competence should still any further suggestions that the Dandy Dubas should trade for "goalie insurance." 

Jumpin' Jack not only has done Dubas a big favor, he unconsciously has perpetuated a historic Maple Leaf miracle goalie non-myth.

Import a puck-stopper from Nowheresville and let him lead you to the Stanley Cup.

The classic Leafs tale was written by one Frank McCool, a nondescript goalie from Calgary with a no-consequence record until the fall of 1944 when Toronto coach Hap Day pressed him into service.

"I had no choice," Day explained, "because we had no other goalies we thought were good enough."

But there was nothing promising about McCool. Apart from his unimpressive resume, Fearless Frank was assailed with a chronic case of ulcers. 

So chronic and such a case that he was suitably nicknamed "Ulcers" McCool. 

Well, Frankie Baby may have had ulcers but he also had guts. He not only tamed his ailment but finished the entire season in the Leafs goal, playing in 50 out of the 50-game season.

But that was small potatoes for Franklin. He then outlasted Canadiens Hall of Fame puckstopper Bill Durnan in the opening playoff round which Toronto won, four games to two. and then went on to even greater glory.  

McCool's encore is right out of a book of fiction; except this actually happened; he pitched three straight shutouts against the Red Wings.


Then, Maestro McCool lost the next three in a row, setting up a Game Seven which should have -- repeat, should have -- sent his ulcers through the roof of Olympia Stadium in Detroit.

It wasn't easy for McCool; that's for sure. His stomach tortured him 

throughout the rubber match but his will outfought his hurt. Fearless Frankie allowed but one Detroit goal.

His team got two and -- you can look it up -- Ulcers McCool name is on the Stanley Cup.

Who's to say Jumpin' Jack Campbell couldn't do a McCool 76 years later!

And Soupy Campbell doesn't even have ulcers!



THE JIVE: On Day One of this season it was a toss-up between Quinn Hughes of Vancouver, Miro Heiskanen from Dallas and Colorado's Cale Makar as to which was/is the best sophomore blueliner. Hughes got buried in the Canucks Covid mess and Heiskanen suffered problems of his own. Meanwhile, Makar is one very good reason why his Avs are the best in the West if not the entire league. (Matter of fact there may be a Norris in Cale's future, if not the present!)


THE JIVE: While there's plenty of time for a resolution, word is making the rounds that the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the National Hockey League  are not in agreement on key matters for the NHL's participation in the Winter Games. Should a solution not be obtained, Uncle Sam will rely on collegians, Junior aces and minor pros; which isn't the worst thing in the world. (America proved that with Gold in 1960 and again in 1980.


THE JIVE: With that deadline just a week away, the hockey world is wondering when the blockbuster deal will explode. Or will it? Islanders coach Barry Trotz, for one, has his doubts. "It's hard to make deals because of the Cap situation," Trotz explained. "But I wouldn't be surprised if there's a 'Fire Sale' in the last half-hour."


THE JIVE: Since Brad Treliving took over as Calgary's general manager, the Flames -- counting Darryl Sutter -- now have tried five head coaches. The Sutter experiment has gone from fuss to fanfare to failure. Which means that ownership has to wonder if the problem is more with the g.m. than the coach. Treliving's major player move was signing goalie Jacob Markstrom to a six-year $36 million deal. That proves that Jake has one heck of an agent and Calgary's got one mediocre puckstopper. (I'll take cut-rate David Rittich over Markstrom any day.)


* STARRY BARZY AND NURSE: The Islanders Mathew Barzal was named NHL Star of the Week along with Nurse Kelly McLaughin. Barzal's end-to-end goal as part of a hat trick was eye-opener. McLaughin, who works at Northwell Health South Shore Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. created a "Day of Hope" to support workers during the Pandemic. Yay to both!

* CANES LOADED TO TRADE: With the superior return of top goalie Petr Marzek -- 1-0 shutout -- plus rookie goalie Alex Nedeljovic being named NHL's Rookie Of The Month -- g.m. Don Waddell can put reliable vet puck=stopper James Reimer on the trade block. Elite Carolina is right up there as a Cup challenger.

* BLUER BLUES: Hard to believe but the not-that-long-ago St.Louis Cup champs are sinking out of the playoff race The 6-1 loss to Vegas last night leaves them 3-8-4 in recent games. Meanwhile the Sharks are coming on fast and easily could catch coach Craig Berube's boys. Move of Alex Pietrangelo to Vegas has hurt. New-pact Jordan Binnington no bargain in goal for Blues

* A 'STALLY' DEBUT: Eric Staal said he couldn't wait to make his Canadiens debut. Well, he did it gloriously last night, scoring in overtime last night in a 3-2 decision over Connor McDavid's Oilers. More and more Habs g.m. Marc Bergevin is pushing the right buttons for what now is a hot item Montreal team down the stretch.


What was Clarence Campbell's NHL job before he became league president in 1946?

(Answer below.)

GOOD LINES FROM YESTERYEAR: "It's hard to jump on a corpse."

-Coach Harry Neale, on a barrage of goals scored against his Canucks team by Edmonton.


Before joining the Canadian Army during World War II, Clarence Campbell was an NHL referee.