21st NHL All-Star Game
Jan. 16, 1968, Maple Leaf Gardens
Toronto Maple Leafs 4, NHL All-Stars 3
Coaches: Punch Imlach (Toronto Maple Leafs); Toe Blake (Canadiens)
Game-winning goal: Ron Ellis (Maple Leafs)
MVP: Bruce Gamble (Maple Leafs)
Bobby Orr, the greatest defenseman in NHL history, made his All-Star Game debut in the finale between an All-Star team and the defending Stanley Cup champions, and the Boston Bruins superstar-to-be made headlines on and off the ice.
The 19-year-old, wearing No. 5 with Canadiens great Jean Beliveau in No. 4, roused the largest crowd in All-Star Game history with his brilliant rushes and thunderous shots, finally earning an assist on the All-Stars’ final goal scored by Norm Ullman of the Detroit Red Wings. Late in the game, Orr broke his collarbone when checked cleanly by Toronto’s Pete Stemkowski, sending him to the hospital the following day with an injury that sidelined him for 10 games.
Toronto goalie Bruce Gamble was nearly unbeatable, making 28 sometimes-miraculous saves in 40 minutes to earn the MVP award.
Detroit veteran Gordie Howe and Toronto second-year skater Mike Walton nearly came to blows after a third-period dustup, Walton claiming he’d been tripped, Mr. Hockey suggesting it was a clean hip check.
Tthen he came at me with the stick, the smart kid,” Howe said. “I almost kissed his ear, but no one was hurt, which is the important thing.”
Referee Bill Friday assessed minor penalties, saying, “Only the air was damaged.” Howe would ultimately play an NHL-record 23 All-Star Games; his 25 career penalty minutes remain the most ever.