Wings gave longest night happy ending
Ex-Wing remembers 1936 playoff game won 1-0 in sixth overtime
By Jerry Green / The Detroit News
Wednesday June 5th, 2005, DETROIT-- Early on the morning of March 25, 1936, Pete Kelly sat on the visitors' bench in the Montreal Forum with a group of yawning, exhausted Red Wings colleagues.
Suddenly, the athletes leaped over the boards, their yawns replaced by dazzling grins, their exhaustion gone.
It was 2:35 a.m., and just like that, in a flash it was over. Finally.
Mud Bruneteau, recently recalled from the minors to the NHL by the Red Wings, had flashed down the ice, shot and scored. At 16:30 of the sixth overtime, Bruneteau's goal ended the longest game in NHL history. It was the only goal of the long night and next morning. The Red Wings defeated the Montreal Maroons, 1-0. This was the jump-start to their first Stanley Cup championship.
"We were all tired," Kelly recalled from his home in Fredericton, New Brunswick. "I think we recovered quicker than the Maroons did. Needless to say, both teams were pretty well beat."
Kelly, who turned 90 last month, was a 23-year-old right wing on Jack Adams' Red Wings team that night. Kelly had joined the Red Wings in 1935 in a dispersal draft when the ever-changing NHL phased out the St. Louis Eagles.
"This was our first Stanley Cup," Kelly said. "And then we repeated the next year."
And so, Detroit became fixated on hockey and the Red Wings.
"I give all my respect to our old fans," Kelly said. "They took it like the Red Wings fans today. And when we'd win, boy oh boy, it was sweet."
Propelled by Bruneteau's goal, the '36 Red Wings swept the Maroons in the best-of-five series en route to the Stanley Cup Finals and the championship.
On the night of the longest game, Adams, who was always looking for an edge, ordered hot tea served to his fatigued Red Wings between the overtime periods.
Just before the sixth overtime started, the Wings' Herbie Lewis skated over to the ice-level press box at the Forum and jibed the journalists.
"We aren't keeping you boys up, are we?" according to Sam Greene's game story in The Detroit News of March 25, 1936.
They played on for 16 1/2 grueling minutes more as fans deserted the Forum.
Then, Hec Kilrea fed a pass to Bruneteau, coming down the right side. Bruneteau took the shot from 12 feet and beat the Maroons' legendary goaltender, Lorne Chabot, on the short side. Chabot had stopped the Red Wings' first 66 shots.
"Half the cage was wide open," Sam Greene wrote in his article. "But Bruneteau shot for the side that was almost closed. By luck or marksmanship, or both, he sent the puck past Chabot. The big Frenchman did not touch it. Perhaps he did not see it."
It took several seconds, but the red light flashed.
"Where did you get the puck from?" Bruneteau was asked.
"I don't know," he told Sam Greene. "All I know is I hope my old man is listening to the radio. I showed 'em they didn't bring me up for nothing this time."
Normie Smith, the Wings' goaltender, made 91 saves in the nearly nine periods of hockey.
But there was more excitement ahead, especially for Kelly.
After the Red Wings disposed of the Maroons, the Maple Leafs were next -- for the Stanley Cup.
Detroit won the first two games, Toronto the third.
Then, on April 11, the Red Wings won 3-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
The winning goal was scored by -- Kelly. He took a pass from Herbie Lewis and flipped the puck over the shoulder of Leafs goaltender George Hainsworth.
In 1939, Kelly left the Red Wings and finished his career with the New York / Brooklyn Americans -- a team, like the Maroons, disbanded as an NHL franchise early in World War II.
But Kelly will always remember the longest hockey game ever played.
He is, after all, one of the few survivors -- if not the last.
You can reach Jerry Green at email@example.com.
Cutline - Pete Kelly drinks from the Stanley Cup in 1936. His goal against Toronto clinched the Red Wings' first NHL title.