The Boston Bruins brought the Stanley Cup – also known as ‘Lord Stanley’s Mug’ – to Boston on April 16, 1939 after an absence of 10 years. It was the year the NHL introduced the best-of-seven playoff series, and the league was no doubt glad it did.
That 1938-39 Bruins team included Frank Brimsek at goaltender, nicknamed ‘Mr. Zero’ for the number of goals he gave up. In 1939 he was Rookie of the Year, and he would be the first American inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
At the other end of the age spectrum was veteran Eddie Shore, a bruiser famed for his defensive skill and his on-ice violence.
The Bruins had last won the Stanley Cup in 1929, having been eliminated from the playoffs seven times during the 1930s.
The Bruins luck changed in 1939, when they won the first three games of the playoffs. Then the Rangers came back to tie it up. The final game went into triple overtime and Mel Hill finished off the Rangers with a sudden-death goal. It was his third in the series, and earned him the nickname ‘Sudden Death Hill.’
The Bruins split the next two games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but then beat them in three straight games. Bill ‘Cowboy’ Cowley, the Bruins star, led all playoff players with nine goals.