Max Bentley's Biggest Night

Legendary Hall of Fame centreman Max Bentley recalls the dramatic night he won the NHL scoring title in 1946-47.

They called him the “Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle.”

Max Bentley had a professional and senior hockey career that spanned 20 years. He was the NHL’s leading scorer twice in a row, and in 1946 won the Hart Trophy as most valuable player. He played in four All-Star Games and was twice named to a post-season All-Star team.

Max played five seasons in Chicago with his brother Doug (A fellow Hall of Famer). Together, they formed the famous high-scoring “Pony Line” with Bill Mosienko.

A 1947 trade sent Max to the Maple Leafs in one of the most significant transactions in NHL history to that point. He ended up winning three Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs before spending a final NHL season with the Rangers in 1953–54.

Considered one of the best players of his era, Bentley was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. Bentley was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players of all time by the NHL in 2017.

Through my upcoming book on Mosienko, I’ve become close with the Bentley family in Delisle, Saskatchewan. I actually spent last week staying at Lynn Bentley’s home (Max’s son) while I was in town for a curling event in nearby Saskatoon. We enjoyed some golf, and many great stories were shared about Max and Doug’s exploits on the frozen rinks! It was a blast!

For today’s story we have Max Bentley recalling his biggest night in hockey to reporter Trent Frayne back in the late 1940s. It happened to be the night he clinched the NHL scoring title in 1946-47 in dramatic fashion over Maurice Richard. Enjoy!

This isn’t like playing with the Hawks a couple of seasons ago. With the Leafs it’s life and death every game.

With the old Hawks – maybe it’s different now under Charlie Conacher, I wouldn’t know – there wasn’t the pressure on every game there is today with Toronto.

We scored a lot, and had a lot scored against us. We were out to win, sure; but the other clubs didn’t play us as tough and rugged as they play the Leafs.

Anyway, it wasn’t Stanley Cups, or even playoff berths, that concerned us late in the season, most years. We were out of both.

Two years ago we came up to our last weekend of the season out of the running, but there was excitement just the same. I was one point ahead of Richard for the scoring championship. I’d won it the year before and the guys all hoped I could repeat.

Like I was saying, we came up to our last two games with me a point ahead. These games were in Montreal on Saturday and New York on Sunday. I had 68 points, the Rocket had 67.

Our coach Johnny Gottselig gave me every chance. I was on the ice half the night.

So was Richard. He got two goals.

I stayed ahead, though. Mosienko and Kaleta scored on plays which brought me two assists.

We won that game, incidentally, 5 to 4.

The next night, Sunday, the last of the schedule, found us in New York and the Canadiens in Boston.

We couldn’t get going. The Rangers got two goals in the first period and another in the second. They had us up 3 to 0.

Up in Boston after two periods, it was 2 to 2. Richard had assisted Lach on one so now we were tired.

Finally we got a goal in New York. A rookie defenseman, Jackson, scored at 4:45 and my assist was announced. Depending on what was going in Boston I was a point ahead again.

The Rangers were still outplaying us, though, and at 5:58 Hextall made it 4 to 1.

Then, with the scoring coming quick-like, Mosienko popped in Kaleta’s pass and although those two were my linemates I hadn’t figured in the play. That was at 7:28.

A minute and two seconds later we made it 4 to 3 and, as it turned out, this was the play that won the championship.

Mosie carried the puck out of our end, skating fast, and flipped it to me near centre. I gave it back at the Ranger blueline and he cut low, like he does, around the defense.

He was forced toward the corner, though, as the defense backed quickly. He took a quick look and saw me steaming towards the net, down the middle.

He passed and I let it go fast. Rayner dived but the puck was low to the left corner and he just missed it.

That was my 72nd point.

I learned after that Richard had assisted Blake on a third period goal which gave Montreal a 3 to 2 win. But it wasn’t enough.

I sneaked through by one night. Guess that was my biggest night, all right.

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