"Anyway," continued Smythe, "it's a matter of league record that Punch was selling some of our players to his Vancouver club when all the time I thought—and our Board of Directors thought—the players were still under control of the Toronto hockey club.
"When he left Toronto," Smythe concluded, "he left us with almost nothing because of his trades." The Leafs' president paused for a moment. "Then again, he did win those four cups," he said.
At game time Wednesday night Smythe took his usual seat at the end of the second row behind the penalty box. Imlach, ham that he is, waited as always until the end of the Canadian national anthem before he left the Buffalo dressing room. When he appeared at last, the standing-room-only crowd in the Maple Leaf Gardens gave him a long, rousing ovation. Referee John Ashley even delayed the start to let the fans salute their former idol. Imlach tipped his white Canadian beaver hat, and the game was on.
For Imlach, revenge was swift and sweet. The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period, but Buffalo powered its way to a 4-2 lead after two periods. That was too much for Smythe, who left his seat and did not return for the third period when Buffalo scored three more goals on its way to a 7-2 rout.
During the late minutes of the game, the Toronto crowd kept chanting, "We want Punch, we want Punch," and Reggie Fleming, one of the Sabres' players, removed Imlach's hat and waved it to the crowd. In the stands, Imlach's wife Dodo was making more noise than the other 16,353 people. "She told me she would cause a commotion if we won," Punch said.
After the game, even Punch could afford to be mellow. "If all the good wishes I received meant anything," he said in the Sabres' dressing room, "the Leafs didn't have a chance."