Pappin dies at 82, credited with Cup-winning goal for Maple Leafs in 1967
It’s forever sewn into the fabric of the franchise for the 1967 Stanley Cup ring he gave to his stepfather, bitter about his 1968 trade to the Chicago Black Hawks, the ring lost in the sand of a Florida beach and disappeared for nearly four years. decades before it was discovered in 2007 by a land clearer armed with a metal detector.
Regardless of the recovery, the loss was enough that many Maple Leafs fans sewed it into a multi-part curse/conspiracy, shouldering it with some of the blame for the team not winning a championship in 55 years.
Pappin, a Stanley Cup champion with Toronto in 1964 and 1967 who played 767 NHL games for four teams between 1963 and 1976, died Wednesday. He was 82 years old.
Jim Pappin watches his shot fly past Boston Bruins defenseman Bobby Orr and goaltender Gerry Cheevers during action at Maple Leaf Gardens. / Frank Prazak, Hockey Hall of Fame
The Sudbury, Ont. native had 573 points (278 goals, 295 assists) on the right wing in 14 seasons from 1963 to 1976. If he would be the most prolific offensively with the Black Hawks, skating on the “MPH Line” with Pit Martin and Dennis Hull, it was his Stanley Cup victory with the Maple Leafs that will forever be his brightest and most intriguing moment.
“We played against each other in juniors – he was with the Toronto Marlies, I was with St. Mikes,” said Maple Leafs legend Dave Keon, deeply saddened to lose another teammate. . “He was a very good goalscorer, but he and Punch (coach and general manager Imlach) never really seemed to get along. There was always something going on between the two of them.
“Jim was a player who probably should have been a Maple Leaf, but he went to Chicago and he flourished there, luckily for him but unfortunately for us.”
Teammates (left to right) Bob Pulford, Jim Pappin and Pete Stemkowski celebrate the Maple Leafs’ most recent Stanley Cup-winning goal on May 2, 1967. / Graphic Designers, Hockey Hall of Fame
The legendary 1967 goal, scored May 2 at 7:24 into the second period of Game 6, gave Toronto a 2-0 lead against the heavily favored Montreal Canadiens, two-time defending champions. At home, the Maple Leafs beat the Canadiens 3-1, sending the Stanley Cup to the Ontario pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal that summer, not the Quebec pavilion where space had been reserved with confidently, even smugly.
The grainy footage shows Pappin shooting the skate of teammate Pete Stemkowski past Canadiens goalie Gump Worsley. Confusion over the game initially gave Stemkowski the goal, but the latter shuffled the credit to Pappin in a backroom deal between the two, with Pappin in line for the bonus if he won the playoff goals race of the Stanley Cup.
Stemkowski was apparently offered unlimited use of a backyard pool that Pappin would build with his bonus, so official credit went to Pappin for what is the most recent Maple Cup winning goal. Leafs. As Toronto’s drought grew, the two men were arguing good-naturedly over who actually scored.
But everyone took credit/blame for the goal immediately afterwards.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, winners of the Stanley Cup in 1966-1967. Jim Pappin is back row, fourth from left; Pete Stemkowski is one row down, third from left; Bob Pulford is front row, second from right; Dave Keon is in the second row, second from the left. / Macdonald Stewart, Hockey Hall of Fame
“I threw the puck in the crease and it hit (defender) Jacques Laperriere,” Pappin told reporters in a champagne-soaked Maple Leafs locker room.
Worsley and Canadiens defenseman Terry Harper disagreed, saying the puck cored Harper.
“That was a lousy goal,” grumbled Worsley, who faced 34 shots compared to the 41 the Canadiens fired on Terry Sawchuk. “The puck hit somebody and just fell. She was in before I could move.
Harper said Pappin’s shot hit him in the hip, but analysis decades later by Maple Leafs historian and archivist Paul Patskou proves the deflection was Stemkowski’s.
Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong offers Jim Pappin a sip of the Stanley Cup after Toronto wins in 1964. / Michael Sr. Burns, Hockey Hall of Fame
“I checked the TV footage and the film from the Cup and I slowed down and the puck deflected off ‘Stemmer’,” Patskou said Thursday. “You can see on the video that the ref (John Ashley) asks him if the puck hit him and for some reason he said no. Maybe he couldn’t feel it. …
“(Public address announcer) Paul Morris announces Stemmer as the goalscorer and in the radio intermission they talk about Stemmer’s goal.”
Ashley clearly knew nothing about a pool when the official score change was made.
“I don’t think they’re going to change the record books,” Keon said with a laugh.
Toronto Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong and Jim Pappin of the Toronto Marlies skate at Maple Leaf Gardens; Pappin in a portrait of Marlies, both late 1950s. / Turofsky, Hockey Hall of Fame
Born Sept. 10, 1939, Pappin would rise to the NHL for the 1963-64 season, a product of the major junior Toronto Marlboros, skating with minor-pro affiliates in Sudbury and Rochester.
He wasn’t atop the Maple Leafs’ depth chart in his rookie season, a member of the 1964 Toronto champions who would turn into a versatile cog in the gears of the Imlach Maple Leafs.
“Jim played left wing with George (Armstrong, left wing) and myself (center) in 1964,” Keon recalled. “I don’t know what happened, Punch got mad at him and pulled him off the line. Him, me and Frank (Mahovlich) played together for a little while in 1965.”
Pappin would spend a lot of time with Rochester of the American Hockey League from 1964 to 1966 before staying with the Maple Leafs, one of the few to be Imlach’s favorite whipping boy. But he persevered, scoring 32 points (21 goals, 11 assists) in 64 games in 1966-67, mostly used as a forward.
Jim Pappin in 1967 at Maple Leaf Gardens action against the Chicago Black Hawks. / Frank Prazak, Hockey Hall of Fame
He’s been brilliant in those playoffs, as the grizzled Maple Leafs didn’t have much luck against the mighty Canadiens. His 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 12 games led the playoffs, his total goals, on which the contract bonus was based, ahead of Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau by one point.
Along with the scorer title came a pool and years-long debate with Stemkowski.
Feeling ill in early February 1967, Imlach handed over coaching to King Clancy, who led the Maple Leafs to the playoffs in a light-hearted mood that contrasted sharply with what the players had experienced.
“King kind of relaxed everything,” Keon said. “We came off our 10-game losing streak and went on a 13-game unbeaten streak. We got into the playoffs and I think Chicago passed us against the Canadiens.”
The Maple Leafs eliminated the Black Hawks in a six-game semifinal before defeating the Canadiens in six games for the Stanley Cup.
Jim Pappin tests Chicago Black Hawks goaltender Glenn Hall during a 1963-64 game at Maple Leaf Gardens. / Graphic Designers, Hockey Hall of Fame
Among Clancy’s biggest moves at the end of this season, he put Pappin on a line with Stemkowski and Bob Pulford.
“‘Pully’ and I looked at Clancy like, ‘Are you crazy?'” Stemkowski recalled, quoted by authors Kevin Shea and Jason Wilson in the Maple Leafs’ 2016 centennial album. “But Pappin could skate and he could stay out. I could give him the puck and he had a good shot. Pulford was a bit of a bulldog. … I was the guy who went around corners, knocked people down and got the puck in Pulford.Those three different styles complement each other.
Pappin played another season with the Maple Leafs before being traded to Chicago on May 23, 1968 for veteran defenseman Pierre Pilote. The trade didn’t go over well with Pappin, hence the gift/loss/curse of the Stanley Cup ring, regardless that his most productive years lie ahead.
Jim Pappin about to take part in the Maple Leafs’ 1967 Stanley Cup Parade; as a member of the Chicago Black Hawks in 1968-69. / Graphic designers; The Hockey Studio, Hockey Hall of Fame
He scored a career-high then in the NHL with 30 goals in 1968-69, with 28, 22 and 27 the following three seasons before scoring 41, 32 and 36 from 1972-75.
Pappin was traded to the California Golden Seals on June 1, 1975 with a third-round pick in the 1977 NHL Draft for forward Joey Johnston, where he played one season before ending his career with 24 games with the Cleveland Barons in 1976-77.
Between seasons, Pappin ran a hockey school that doubled as a riding camp; retired for a time, he operates a tennis complex in Sudbury. But he would find his way back to hockey, scouting several NHL teams.
Until his dying days, Pappin toyed with his phantom goal that propelled the Maple Leafs to the 1967 Stanley Cup, hoping that one season soon he would no longer be famous as the highest-scoring player. Toronto’s recent decisive goal.
“Jim was a goalscorer, always looking to be in a scoring position,” Keon said. “He had a great shot. Jim was a very good player and a very good teammate.”