Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!
This week in 1977 (July 25), the Toronto Maple Leafs gave Roger Neilson his first head coaching gig in the NHL as the 43-year-old replaced Red Kelly.
While Neilson’s time behind the bench in Toronto was short, it was full of wacky stories from owner Harold Ballard.
The oddness started when Neilson, who had been interviewed by Jim Gregory for the job, found out he was hired while reading an old newspaper in an Austrian library in the summer of 1977.
In his first year, he brought the Leafs to a 92 point, 41 win season and three rounds into the playoffs. Toronto beat the LA Kings in two games in the first round, before dispatching the New York Islanders in seven games in round two.
But in round three, those Leafs were no match for the Montreal Canadiens who swept Toronto in four games. The season marked a 10 point regular season increase over the year prior and the Leafs got one round deeper into the playoffs.
In his second year behind the bench, the Leafs struggled with an 81 point regular season.
Nielson was initially fired by Ballard after a 2-1 loss to the …
Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation