Olden-day Leaf followers will recall that the Beatles were huge in those days, recording some of their most famous pop songs while also appearing on the Ed Sullivan show on a couple of occasions.
Well, in the summer of 1964, it wasn’t exactly Beatlemania, but, on the heels of three consecutive Stanley Cup championships, the Leafs cut a "record" of their own- sort of.
Now, I’m not referring to the song written for Eddie Shack (“Clear the track, here comes Shack”), or the Johnny Bower version of “Honky the Christmas Goose”, though those efforts were certainly popular for a time. No, I’m thinking back to a project involving then Maple Leaf GM and coach Punch Imlach, who was one of the featured celebrities of a special recording called “Let’s Talk Hockey”. (See the great old photo of the record at the top of this story.)
I don't know if this was all part of the same project, but I remember reading that the old recording company, RCA Victor, originally approached Imlach to do the project. As the story goes, they had first contacted him during the 1963-’64 season to do a recording but the team was struggling at the time so Imlach was reluctant to endorse the project. However, Imlach went on to make the famous trade for Andy Bathgate—and the Leafs won their third consecutive Stanley Cup that spring.
So that summer of ’64, four Maple Leaf players, along with Imlach as Coach, wrote scripts and voiced their sections of this “how to” effort. The four were goaltender Johnny Bower, center Dave Keon, winger Andy Bathgate and defenseman Tim Horton. All four went on to become Hall-of-Famers.
For the recording, each provided tips on everything from goaltending technique to face-offs, defensive play, shooting and coaching strategy. I'm not certain if it was actually an album or a small .45 record, as they were called back then. I'm trying to remember if the booklet and record were part of the same package you could send away for. (I just noticed that the copyright on the booklet is 1963 and the album was done in '64, so maybe they weren't connected.)
An interesting twist—the cost to buy the album was exactly $4.10, including postage. Now, that was not a small amount of money back then (the postage was probably three cents, I’m guessing). I don’t know who earned the profits. Likely it was split between the record company, the players and the Maple Leaf organization.
In any event, it was a neat thing to come across the booklet. I’m guessing some of those who were Leaf fans in those days and visit this site on occasion may still have the album, too!
I look forward to hearing from those who share this recollection and can shed some light on whether the booklet and the album are connected.