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From the Archives: 1951-52 All-Stars and Geoffrion Becomes Rookie of the Year

Stan Fischler looks at the 1952 NHL all-star teams, dominated by players from Detroit and Montreal. Plus, he looks at the Calder Trophy race, won by Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.
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The greatest Detroit team during the Original Six Era had to be manager Jack Adams' 1951-52 edition.

Unquestionably, the Winged Wheelers had everything -- from the best goalie, best defense, scary offense and the wins to prove it.

Not only did the Red Wings finish first; that was easy with a record of 44-14-12 and 100 points. But -- if you could believe this -- winning the Stanley Cup was even easier than a walk in the park.

They wiped out the defending champion Maple Leafs in four straight games and then did a similar encore against the Maurice Richard-led Canadiens. Poof! Just like that, the Motor City sextet captured the Cup with eight consecutive wins.

"It surely was one of the best teams I ever had," said general manager Jack Adams. "Some of my younger players, such as Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, were peaking in their careers."

This annual selection of All-Stars always got a big play in Canada and 1952 was no different. Not surprisingly, my sports page edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail hailed the event with a story and photos.

(What you see here is exactly how it looked in my 51-52 hockey scrapbook. This was the last scrapbook that I put together and, page-wise, the biggest.

Curiously, the Globe story was not written by a staff writer but rather from an NHL press release which includes an egregious error. But I'll get to that in a moment.

What you see here most prominently is the announcement of the First and Second All-Star Teams. The headline in the Globe's April 30, 1952 edition reads as follows:

RED WINGS PLACE FOUR, CANADIENS TWO ON NATIONAL LEAGUE FIRST ALL-STARS.

Right wing Gordie Howe, left wing Ted Lindsay, defenseman Red Kelly and goalie Terry Sawchuk featured in Detroit's First Team quartet. Montreal defenseman Doug Harvey and Canadiens center Elmer Lach rounded out the top squad.

There were no Detroiters on the second team which was split among the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Rangers and Bruins. Toronto's pair included left wing Sid Smith and defeneman jim Thomson. Maurice Richard was second team right wing with the Bruins Milt Schmidt at center and Sugar Jim Henry in goal. Defenseman Hy Buller of New York was the final Second teamer.

The most significant aspect of the voting was that it established Howe as the league's best right wing just two years after he nearly died of a head injury suffered in the first round of the 1950 playoffs.

Each First Team member received a $1,000 prize while Second Team members were awarded $500.

On the Globe sports page, the Calder Memorial Trophy race for rookie of the year got second billing with the headline BOOM-BOOM GEOFFRION NHL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR.

The Canadiens right wing beat out Hy Buller by 16 points while Habs left wing Dickie Moore was third with 36 points.

Interestingly, whoever wrote the NHL's press release erred when he suggested that Bernie Geoffrion got his nickname Boom Boom "because of his rich, deep baritone voice." That hardly was the case.

The nickname Boom Boom actually was created by Monreal writer Charlie Boire who said the sound of Geoffrion's slapshot -- from the blade of his stick to the reverberation of the bend boards -- sounded like a "Boom" and a "Boom."

Conveniently, Geoffrion's $1,000 prize arrived the same week as his wedding to Marlene Morenz, daughter of the late Hall of Famer and Canadiens idol, Howie Morenz. Both Boom Boom and Dickie Moore eventually made it to the Hall of Fame.

One other rookie that season made it to the Hall of Fame. Detroit center Alex Delvecchio received only one vote for the Calder!

As for Geoffrion, I ghosted his autobiography, "Boom Boom," and during our conversations, he recalled. "My boss, Frank Selke, had said a year before that I'd win the Calder and sure enough, he was right!"

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