The Toronto Maple Leafs have the honor of being the last team during the “Original Six Era” to win the Stanley Cup — and they have Jim Pappin to thank for the large part he played. The Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens four games to two in the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Pappin led all Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs, with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 12 games.
Championships seemed to follow Pappin wherever he went during the early part of his career. In 1964, he won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs. In 1965 and 1966, he won back-to-back Calder Cup Championships with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. After his second Stanley Cup Championship in 1967, Pappin won another Calder Cup in 1968; that’s five championships in five seasons.
Pappin was later traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, where he was consistently one of the team’s top scorers during the early-to-mid 1970s, and played in five NHL All-Star Games.
Recently, Pappin was signing autographs at AU Sports, a sports card and memorabilia store near Chicago, and graciously answered a few questions about his career.
Sal Barry: You led the Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs in 1967 — including four goals and six assists in six games during the Finals. What went right for you in the playoffs?
Jim Pappin: If you work hard in the playoffs, you don’t have to work in the summertime (laughs). They always say, if you play hard and win the Championship, you get bottled beer instead of draft beer. It’s a good incentive.
SB: Who were your linemates in 1967?
JP: Peter Stemkowski and Bob Pullford.
SB: You won three Calder Cup Championships with the Rochester Americans, and had a lot of characters on that team: Don Cherry, Al Arbour, Bronco Horvath…
JP: We had a great team. Arbour and [Gerry] Ehman were two big ones. We had Mike Walton and Stemkowski — he didn’t play on a championship team in Rochester because he got called up. Horvath was pretty well done by then. I played with a fellow who should have been in the NHL and never had a chance: Dick Gamble. He was a great hockey player. But he made more money in the American league than in the NHL. That happened a lot in those days.
[Note: Gamble played 1951-52 to 1953-54 in the NHL, then played almost exclusively in the minors until 1970.]
SB: You won your first Stanley Cup in 1964 and your second in 1967. Which was more special, the first Stanley Cup Championship or the Stanley Cup Championship where you led the team in scoring?
JP: The last one, 1967. I hardly played in the first one.
SB: How did your 1967 Stanley Cup ring get lost?
JP: My ex-father-in-law lost it. He was walking in the ocean, he got knocked down in the water and it came off of his finger. He lost it in 1972, and a guy found it in 2007. Cost me $15,00 to get it back. It’s worth $100,000 now. My son has got it now. He was born in ’67, and he put it away.
SB: Were you shocked when the Maple Leafs traded you to Chicago in 1968?
JP: Not really. I had been sent down to Rochester. We won the Stanley Cup in 1967, and in 1968 Punch Imlach sent me down again to Rochester. We won another Calder Cup. Then I got traded in May. If Toronto had let me pick a team to get traded to, I would have said Chicago, so I that’s how happy I was.
SB: As a member of the Black Hawks, you lost in the Cup Finals in 1971 and 1973. What do you remember about those series?
JP: I remember more about losing than I do about winning. We should have won both series. We were winning 2-0 in the seventh game [in 1971], and the Canadiens got a fluke goal from outside the blue line. Tony Esposito was the best goalie in the league. We got to the Finals a couple of times with Tony. If you don’t have goaltending, you don’t have anything.
SB: What are your memories of Stan Mikita?
JP: He was a great competitor. I played against Mikita in junior for a year and in the NHL for five years. He was a great player. He was mean. I got here [to Chicago] too late. When he was a mean player, he got a lot of room and could play. And then he changed his style. When he was mean, he got room. Once he got soft, he didn’t get room. That still shows how good he was, because he still played so well.
SB: Where you surprised when Chicago traded you to the California Golden Seals in 1975?
JP: No, I was done. I was almost 37. I played a little bit, but I hurt my back in February. I got into shape over the summer and came back with Cleveland — the team moved to Cleveland — and then I went down again in December.
SB: Who was your favorite teammate during your career?
JP: Dennis Hull. I played with him for seven years. We were always friends.
SB: Who was your toughest opponent?
JP: Any one of the Montreal Canadiens (laughs). They were all good players.
SB: Who do you think will win the Stanley Cup this year?
JP: The same team that I thought would win it last year — Tampa. I can’t believe they got beat.
SB: Do you think Bobby Hull could shoot the puck harder than today’s players?
JP: Oh yeah. If Bobby had one of the sticks from today, his shot would kill somebody.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■