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Throwback Thursday: Today in 1938, Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens complete first ever international games

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!

Today in 1938, the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens capped off a nine-game exhibition series played in England and France. The games were the first time any North American pro sports league took their games off the continent.

The series started off in England on April 21st in London, England and were met with heavy interest. The first game took place in Earl’s Court in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,000 that saw the Habs in 5-4.

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Game two took place on April 23 in Brighton, where the game ended in a 5-5 tie. There was some heat in the games with two fights happening in the game — Red Wings centre Marty Berry and Canadiens Red Goupilli fought in the first while Montreal’s Toe Blake and Detroit’s Pete Bessoni scrapped in the second.

The two teams then travelled to France for three games marking the first pro hockey games ever played in that country. Game one in France took place on April 25th with the Canadiens took a 10-8 victory in.

“The game, clean and fast, excited the French audience of the first professional game here in history,” wrote the CP.

The second game played in France on April 27th saw the Red Wings win 4-3.

“Paris hockey enthusiasts raved over the speed and skill shown by the professionals, particularly by the Haynes-Gagnon-Mantha line of the Montrealers,” wrote the CP.

Paris’ third game was played on April 29th, which once again which saw the Habs take a 7-5 win.

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The two clubs took a six-day break as they travelled back to nearby England to cap off the series of games with another four matches. On May 5th, the series picked back up with the Habs winning 6-3, before the Red Wings bounced back with a 10-5 drubbing on May 7th in Brighton.

“The National Hockey League teams played wide open hockey with the Red Wings superior throughout, flashing a passing attack that pierced the Canadien defence with seeming ease,” wrote the CP.

The series shifted back to Earl’s Court, where Montreal won on May 10th by a score of 5-4. The final came of the tour, which took place today in 1938, saw Detroit take a 5-2 win.

The two teams immediately travelled to Southampton and began the trek back to North America on the RMS Aurania. The teams arrived back home on May 23rd. This, despite an offer to play a three game series in Switzerland that had to be turned down as it came the day before teams set sail for home.

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“We turned thousands away,” said Canadiens boss Cecil Hart. “I never saw anything like it. If they ever get any big rinks over there the game is a clinch to go.

On Twitter: @zjlaing

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