1932 video: Habs Morenz scores to tie Leafs

A rare newsreel film of 1932 game action between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs shows some profound differences between NHL play prior to World War II and the game today.

This game seems to have been played on March, 5 1932, as it matches the description of a game written about by Charles L. Coleman in Volume 2 of The Trail of the Stanley Cup, the league’s official history of the period. But the film was not edited and released until 1933. It was narrated by Foster Hewitt, the Leafs radio announcer.

The Canadiens at the time were defending Stanley Cup champions, and they were in a hot race with the Leafs for first place in the four-team Canadian Division (the other two teams were Montreal Maroons and New York Americans) of the eight-team NHL. The Habs would beat back the Toronto challenge to win the Division in 1932 (as well as the Prince of Wales Trophy for finishing first overall and the O’Brien Trophy for having the most points among Canadian NHL teams). Winning the division earned a first-round bye, but they were knocked out in the semi-final round by New York Rangers, who finished atop the American Division (ahead of the Black Hawks, Detroit Falcons — they’d become the Red Wings the following season — and Bruins). The Leafs would eventually win the ’32 Stanley Cup.

Hewitt says the game is between “the two fastest and smartest teams in the National Hockey League.” The goal scorers in the 1-1 tie were Charlie Conacher for Toronto and Howie Morenz for Canadiens. Morenz would be awarded the Hart Trophy at season’s end for the second straight year and would finish third in scoring just behind Conacher’s linemates, Harvey (Busher) Jackson and Joe Primeau. Conacher led the NHL in goals that year with 34, including five in one January game against the New York Americans, a modern record that would stand until 1944.

Here’s the film:

As you can see, both teams are wearing their dark sweaters, but the blue and red would be contrasting to the spectators in Maple Leaf Gardens. It does make it hard to follow in black and white, however. The Leafs had a white sweater for when they’d play the Rangers, since both of those teams had blue as their primary colour. (And if you’re wondering what happened when Canadiens played Detroit, the Falcons’ sweaters were white with red trim.)

The goalie for Canadiens, who Hewitt doesn’t identify, was Hall of Famer George Hainsworth and on the goal he surrenders, it appears he was trying to cut off Conacher’s pass in front from the wing and he misplayed it into his own net. Hainsworth was elected captain of the Habs the following year by his teammates, a one-season break in the tenure of long-time captain Sylvio Mantha.

Morenz, and his linemates Aurèle Joliat and Johnny (Black Cat) Gagnon, are prominent in the film. Morenz — who doesn’t seem to be wearing his customary Number 7 but rather 5 — shows his speed as he backchecks nicely and cuts off a Leaf attack at the 4:08 mark of the video and, shortly after, stops another Leaf attack in the neutral zone, dishing it off to Gagnon.

With the Habs trailing 1-0 in the third, the film shows Habs defenceman Georges Mantha stopping a 2-on-1 by King Clancy and Hap Day.

A great backcheck by Joliet starts the play for the tying goal which Morenz finishes on a shot from the wing.

There are some very noticeable and obvious differences between this game and today’s. For one, the ice has fewer lines. In fact, only the blue lines seem evident and they are pretty thin. There’s only one face-off dot, in the middle of the rink. Faceoffs are taken with the centres facing the sideboards. There’s much lower fencing on top of the boards than we currently have (there was no plexiglass at the time, so it was likely chain link).

Note how the defencemen rarely stray from their posts and are so often stationary on the ice. Very few defenders were mobile back then — Eddie Shore and Clancy were exceptions, to name the most prominent. And you can see from where they often stand motionless how defencemen got the nickname “blueliners.”

There’s also very little passing compared to a few decades later. Puckcarriers tried to beat defenders one-on-one, which was a factor in why the games were so low scoring. Prior to 1926-27, forward passing was prohibited in the neutral and attacking zones; the puck could only be passed laterally or behind the puckcarrier. This footage is from seven seasons later, however, and it’s obvious that these players are still not head-manning the puck very much and haven’t really adjusted to the new rules.

Nor do we see a great deal of physical play in this game compared to what we see today. There’s lots of standing around, and the shifts were certainly much longer then than they are now. It could be the relative speed of this particular game made body checking less prevalent than it might have been if Shore and the Bruins were the opponent. But late in the game, Morenz tried one of his patented rushes where he’d attempt to hurdle through the tightly bunched defence pair, much as Alex Ovechkin sometimes does today. This time, Morenz is bodied to the ice by Toronto’s Red Horner.

The film was produced by Associated Screen News of Canada, a company owned by Canadian Pacific Railway that produced newsreels, shorts and industrial films from 1920 to 1958. Bernard E. Norrish, former head of the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau, whose name appears in the opening credits, was the head of ASN. Hewitt was hired to narrate the film.

Why Hewitt? The big Hockey Night in Canada national network was still a few years away, but he was already calling the Leafs games, starting in 1931 over small network of radio stations, which included one in Montreal, the first network broadcasts of NHL action. But the network was not yet called the CBC; at the time, it was at the Canadian National Railway radio network. (In May, 1933, it became the Canadian Radio Broadcast Commission before becoming the CBC in 1935 — and the CRBC was also the regulatory forerunner of the current CRTC.). The Railway connection between the film company and the radio network didn’t hurt his getting the narrator’s job for this film.

This YouTube video was uploaded by Rétro Québec, which uses its channel to, in its words, bring viewers content “not available elsewhere on the Internet.” It was recently posted on Facebook by Richard Johnson, curator of the Sports Museum in Boston. Richard is a huge hockey fan who has a great regard for the game, its roots in Montreal and the history of the Canadiens.


  1. fosterch says:

    Just read Howie’s biography, written by Dean Robinson. Hard to find but full of great stuff. Talked about his gambling debts, his love of linberger cheese, and a whole chapter of his contemporaries talking about him in detail. There was a lot of analysis about him because he died young and everyone was eulogizing him, so there’s lot of details about his skills and accomplishments. He won fastest skater in the league for instance. The Forum used to have a contest when visiting teams, like the all-star skills competition now. He also owned a restaurant briefly on Ste-Catherine Street or Crescent. Not a good businessman. Also, the Leafs almost got him!

  2. WestHab says:

    good golly i remembered my password after 3 tires.
    Love that clip, but didn’t realize Foster was that far back. “Howie Morenz the Babe Ruth of hockey” should that be the other way around?

  3. Morenz7 says:

    I never get tired of watching my old games ..

  4. slychard says:

    Wow what a trip. Truly an excellent piece of history on not only the sport I love but the country I miss. I’ve been living in the states for 20 some odd years now ( 12 in Key West Florida) and my saving grace is the fellow MTL’ERS living here I speak the most crap French with about hockey so the French tourists from France can look at us like we come from another planet. Yeah it’s wildly fun. I lived in Boston 5 years and was at game 7 of the humiliation in 94, 2 rows behind habs bench. My mom sent me a tape of me wearing a Houston Oilers hat grinning after a fight during that game. Solid stuff. But I digress, this was a beauty to watch. Thank you HIO, thank you very much. God I want a poutine!

  5. Jonson says:

    im gonna go out on a limb here but i expect the NYI to fight for a playoff spot next year. they have tons of good young players. If they stay healthy and get Striet back in the lineup they should be a lot better. If Nabokov plays there along with a healthy Rick D i think they will be a pretty good team. the list of young talent goes on and on. they cant suck forever and i think this is the year they will turn it all around.

    • JD_ says:

      Positive thinkin’ is generally healthy so I won’t for one second begrudge you for indulgin’ it and, in fairness, you do highlight the precarious nature of your call.

      From my viewpoint, however, outside of Tavares, there is nothin’ particularly exceptional about NYI’s youth roster. We could quibble about a couple of other guys but, truth be told, most every team has a promisin’ youth squad, an inevitable outgrowth of the cap.

      More importantly, the Isles are currently sufferin’ from Tampa Bay Syndrome in the form of comically bad ownership and management. Even an arguably stacked team like the Lightnin’ were jaw-droppin’ underperformers under Barrie, Koules, and the convicted felon.

      And NYI is anythin’ but stacked.

      Too many strikes against them.

      I agree teams can’t suck forever because forever is, well, an eternity. But, as the Loafs have proven year in and year out, teams can suck for an inordinately long time.

      There’s somethin’ rotten in Long Island. It’s a blight on a once great dynasty and has gotta go.

      • Ayan_SB says:

        “From my viewpoint, however, outside of Tavares, there is nothin’ particularly exceptional about NYI’s youth roster.”

        That’s nonsense, the Islanders have plenty of young talent. Wingers such Kyle Oksopo and Michael Grabner are exciting players. If you like Plekanec, then you should be a fan of Frans Nielsen. And on the defensive side, guys like Travis Hamonic, Calvin De Haan and Andrew McDonald seem to have great upside.
        They also have the promising Nino Neiderreiter as their top prospect.

        And of course, Tavares has the potential to become a truly elite player in this league. Should be interesting to see how this young NYI team fares in the next few years

        • JD_ says:

          Easy there.

          The discussion was in regards to the Isles competin’ for the playoffs this season on the back of its promisin’ youth roster, Streit, and goaltendin’.

          Streit’s a factor. Goaltendin’ isn’t.

          Most importantly, outside of Tavares, there is nobody on that youth roster who has the capacity to singlehandedly make enough of a difference to get this team into the playoffs; i.e., nothin’ exceptional.

          And, frankly, most teams have a handful of youth that are as promisin’.

          This is not about the comin’ years or up-and-comin’ prospects, this is about the playoffs right now.

        • neumann103 says:

          I think Tavares is a special talent. Okposo is one of those can do everything players who are gold. Streit is obviously good. But really any team can point to a few really good players. That does not make them all playoff teams.

          I struggled with the Islanders in my predictions this year. I think they are definitely bottom 3 or 4 team in the East. I think that on paper, no East team is worse than the Ottawa Senators, but I ended up picking the Islanders to finish last due to the intangibles of the worst management/ownership combo in the game today.

          They are kind of the Edmonton Oilers of the East although the Oilers are more talented in the youth prospect department. Sure they could break out soon. Yes they maybe are better than the worst on paper. But I think the constant vibe of disarray and randomness in the front office will infect. It is hard to be motivated in these places no one wants to play when management is obviously incapable of improving the situation.

          In three years, the Oilers will be a lot better. They will still be north of the Arctic Circle and so will be a tough sell to free agent players because of this natural disadvantage. There is no real reason the Islanders should be a last choice destination, but until things at the top change, they will be. I think it unlikely that Tavares will still be there by the time he is a UFA, but if he is I am sure he will bolt for somewhere less dysfunctional even if for less money.

          “Et le but!”

    • Neutral says:

      Jonson: you may have something there, up front they’ll give the habs fits, on D the habs will be better. should be good games.

  6. Marc10 says:

    Completely off topic, but great interview in French on CKAC (one of the last on that station…) Ian Laperriere talks about substance abuse in the League.

    Says (as best as I can remember):

    – that at any given moment he’d estimate there would be 4 or 5 guys on painkillers on any team (and that’s implying they are taking this at significant levels).

    – talks about the Boogard situation as not being that unusual in that regard (other than the fact that Boogard would have taken serious amounts)

    – is really surprised/disappointed with the reaction from the League as he sees substance usage/abuse as a significant problem

    – mentions that he himself takes 2-3 percocets a day to manage pain and could easily see someone get badly addicted especially if they’re taking stronger stuff

    – mentions that the guys are randomly drug tested twice a year and that they’d an automatic 20 game bain for roids or other banned substances

    Worth a listen if you have a few minutes. Clearly the NHL isn’t out of the woods…


    “To be irreplaceable, you have to be different”.
    Andy Warhol

    Go PK Go!

    • JD_ says:

      A few months ago, somebody wrote a really informative post about meetin’ with the Habs’ Dr. Mulder after he lectured at McGill or Concordia.

      Mulder touched on a few things, includin’ the prevalence of pill-poppin’ in the NHL, in particular sleepin’ pills. I expect it is not dissimilar from what transpires in the NFL.

      The team doctors meet every year at the All-Star Game to discuss these issues. I imagine this year’s get-together will be particularly meaningful. It just smacks of forces pullin’ team doctors in all sorts of directions, as depicted in the otherwise lousy film Any Given Sunday.

      Case in point: Why the effin’ hell did Crosby keep playin’ after the Steckel hit?

      • Marc10 says:

        The Crosby thing was insane. I’d put Halpern stepping back in after getting clocked by Ference in the same category.

        IMO, both those guys should have been assessed by an independent doctor at the scene before being allowed back on the ice…

        And both Steckel and Ference should have been suspended a very long time post game for deliberately targeting the head/attempting to injure.

        I don’t get the NHL. There’s very little in the way of post game reviews. So many dangerous hits with clear intent go unpunished. Every once in a while a guy like Lapierre or Cooke gets the book thrown at him, but most of the time guys just get off with a slap on the wrist… It’s a ticking time bomb.

        The pill popping just adds to the equation. All players should be mandated to declare what they’re consuming and randomly tested to see if they are telling the truth. If they’re lying, they get counselling.

        Or they can keep going and let the odd guy die or see his career disappear in a post concussion fog.

  7. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …if You are observant, among the adjacent YouTube clips, there is one recording the very first hockey broadcast and Habs’ game on CBC …a game as a very young boy I watched on my family’s black & white with extreme anticipation, excitement and pleasure (the picture on Our B&W not then much clearer than this video)
    …one of the benefits of being old is such memories …notwithstanding that being old, …overall …SUCKS ! 🙂

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

  8. Habitant in Surrey says:


    …Stu’s link on YouTube eventually brought Me to some Montreal Expos clips …which, admittedly, I have not thought too much about in past several years
    …but this clip focuses on some of Dave van Horne’s play-calling
    …brought back some wonderful summer memories listening to Dave as I was driving those endless summer evenings with the top down
    …Dave’s voice and description of the unseen Expos’ game was music to this ex-Montrealaise
    …I can even remember leaving Dave’s voice on the car radio during some of My trysts in the back-seat of My car …which, surprisingly, even My girlfriends did not feel out-of-sync with the passion of the occasion 🙂

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

    • HabFab says:

      I will always remember the metal bleachers at Jarry Park…man the noise we could make. Hot summers with cold beer (ID’s not checked for whatever reason) and hot dogs! Good memories!!

    • stephen says:

      Thanks for the link, Habitant!

      I had a good listen, however, and I didn’t recognize Van Horne’s voice in the calls. I don’t remember his style being of the exaggerated or over-the-top variety that I heard in the video.

      Perhaps it is just the time in between that has made it sound unfamiliar, but I remember his voice being smoother and more moderated.

      I’ve looked for other clips of his to compare but without success. Not even a clip of his famous ‘El presidente, El perfecto!’ to cap the perfect game by Dennis Martinez.

      Anyhow, didn’t mean to put a crimp in your nostalgia, but the the announcer’s voice in the video didn’t quite jive with my own! 😉

      Thanks again for the link!

      • HabFab says:

        Stephen, I can hear Dave but there was another spot I’m not so sure. Dave Van Horne was the voice of the Expos from the start however did some research and Ron Reusch was involved with CFCF TV (CTV) broadcasts. It may be his voice that is confusing.

        • stephen says:

          Hi, Habfab,

          You sent me back to listen again, but I’m afraid I still don’t hear him. What I hear is a lot of yelling/shouting that I don’t remember from Dave, beyond his whimsically emphatic ‘Up, up and away!’ on home runs. Speaking of home runs, there is a Brad Wilkerson grand slam call amongst the clips and it is simply called as ‘outta here!’, rather than the aforementioned ‘up, up and away!’…

          Don’t mean to dissect the video (or Habitant’s original sentiment) to bits, but I simply don’t hear the voice I grew up straining so ritually to hear through the static of AM radio in Eastern Ontario! 🙂

          • Habitant in Surrey says:

            …Hello Stephen …You may be correct as Dave was pretty mellow and smoother to My recollection …but I just don’t remember anyone else doing the play of the Expos
            …Whomever …still an unforgettable summer sound

            Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

          • stephen says:

            Habitant, no question, the Expos on tv & radio were a fixture of my summers growing up. I have many fond memories of muggy evenings playing little league, dad treating me to a dairy queen and listening to Van Horne through the static on the way home.

            My favourite tandem in the Expos booth was always Van Horne and Ken Singleton; their voices like two velvet ribbons intertwined with the game.

  9. Clay says:

    Great video! One thing that stood out to me was that the players weren’t trying to take each others heads off…nice to see.

    Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.

    Winston Churchill

  10. Chuck says:

    Fantastic stuff! I love seeing the old film footage of my favourite team! Sadly there’s not a lot of it… 🙁

  11. naweed235 says:

    Hello fellow Habs fans! I just got back from a week vacation in beautiful Dominican Republic and am somewhat disappointed with not finding any sort of Habs news in the last week or so…
    Did I miss anything or is Gomez still with the club, JM still feeding on young players’ soles and the 2010-2011 season still has no real champs?
    thanks in advance for filling me in 😉

  12. Maksimir says:

    The biggest difference I notice.. no hitting .. I saw at least five times where in today’s game a player would have been leveled.

    The defencemen mostly poke checked.

  13. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …Stu Hackel …Your passion for Hockey and the Canadiens shine through in Your writing

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

  14. HabFanSince72 says:

    Sunday in Montreal.

    Walking down Fairmount today. I hear some guy yelling “Go ! Will you f***ing go!”

    I look towards the sound of the yelling and it is coming from a pickup truck with Ontario plates and a Maple Leafs bumper sticker. Inside were a young couple with a bag of Fairmount bagels. The driver was visibly angry that the driver parked in front of him was waiting for people to pass before she pulled out. He was a bit chubby and wore a baseball cap backwards.

  15. HabFab says:

    Stu, totally awesome! Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Tremblant Habs Fan says:

    It’s nice to see a reference to the book ‘The Trail of the Stanley Cup’, I have volume’s one and two, a gift to my late grandfather from Mr. Coleman.

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