Over the last now almost two years, I’ve enjoyed penning a daily column on the Leafs—my memories of players, games and events from many years ago, along with some posts on the current team.
While I seem to recall quite a number of things (some things clearly, some, I acknowledge, not quite so clearly!) there are always plenty of things that escape memory—certainly mine…
In any event, I wanted to share some tidbits, little fun things that may be of interest to longtime Leaf fans, some facts that, in many cases, I simply wasn't aware of.
- I always thought that the only NHL team Newfoundlander Alex Faulkner played with was the Red Wings. I remember (and wrote about here) that he had a big playoff year with Detroit in 1962-’63, including some good games against the Leafs. But Faulkner apparently also played one game for the Leafs the season before, in 1961-’62.
- I always knew that young defenseman Arnie Brown was a big part of the massive trade that brought Andy Bathgate (pictured at right with the Rangers in the 1950s) from the New York to Toronto. But I did not remember (I was maybe 9 or so at the time) that Brown had actually played 6 games with Toronto, including 2 games as a 20 year-old in 1961-’62.
- I remember Bronco Horvath was a star in the late 1950's with Boston, centering the “Uke” line with Vic Stasiak and Johnny Bucyk. I also recall reading in Punch Imlach’s great book with Scott Young (“Hockey is a Battle” released in 1969) that he considered Horvath as someone to possibly help the Leafs when they were struggling in the mid-60’s. (Horvath was in the Leafs farm system in Rochester at that point in his career.) But I didn’t know Horvath actually played 10 games with Toronto in 1962-’63, one of the seasons that they won the Stanley Cup.
- J.P. Parise I remember well as a gritty two-way winger with the Minnesota North Stars in the late ‘60s and into the 1970’s. In fact, he was good enough to be on Team Canada in the famous 1972 series against Russia. But he also played 21 games with Boston in the mid-1960’s, and one game with the Leafs in 1967-’68. I have zero recollection of him as a Bruin or Leaf.
- Larry Hopkins as a good forward at the University of Toronto with the Varsity Blues when I would go to a lot of games at the old Varsity Arena while I was an undergrad in the early to mid-‘70s. But I have absolutely no memory of him playing two games with the Leafs during the 1977-’78 season, when Roger Neilson was coaching the team. Hopkins went on to play for the Winnipeg Jets, which I do remember.
- Tod Sloan was a great Leaf throughout the 1950s, until he was moved to the Blackhawks when players who had been publicly “linked” to the fledgling players’ association were all shipped by angry team owners to Chicago- at the time a poor team. But after helping the Leafs win a Cup early in his career (1950-’51—he scored the last-minute goal to send Game 5 into overtime before Bill Barilko scored the still-famous winner against Montreal) he won a Cup 10 years later with the Hawks, before retiring after that season. I do remember Sloan at the very end of his career with Chicago, though I was pretty young at the time.
- The last Leaf goalie to play every game in an NHL season was Eddie Chadwick (right) in the mid 1950’s. (I remember interviewing Eddie when I was broadcasting Junior A games in the early ‘80s, as an in-between-periods guest. I believe he was a scout with the Islanders at the time. A really engaging guy, very nice fellow.) I’ve posted about Eddie in the past.
- In the 1960-’61 season, Frank Mahovlich looked like a sure thing to reach 50 goals. But he slowed down considerably in the last few weeks of the regular season, and was ultimately surpassed by Montreal winger “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. Something fans may not know is that Geoffrion scored goal number 50 against the Leafs at the Forum, but Johnny Bower was not in goal that night. Geoffrion scored his big goal against call-up Cesare Maniago.
- Parker McDonald I always remembered as primarily a Red Wing. He had his best years in the early 1960s, playing often on a line with Gordie Howe. But McDonald also spent some time in the mid-‘50s with the Leafs.
- Current NHL Network analyst Dave Reid was a fine defensive forward for many teams, including the Leafs, until his retirement a few years ago. But another player named Dave Reid played with the Leafs in the 1950s.
- While Johnny Bower is always credited, and rightfully so, with being hugely instrumental in the Leafs winning those 4 Cups in the 1960s, he was only in the net for the Cup-deciding game in two of those championship years. Don Simmons played the final game in 1962 against Chicago, and of course Terry Sawchuk handled the net in the memorable sixth and final game against the Habs at the old Gardens in May of ’67.
Those are interesting little bits of history, some of which I had no idea about, though I followed the game very closely as a youngster.
But it’s funny the things you do remember—sometimes obscure moments. For example (and I’ve written about this) I remember a young player by the name of Les Kozak scoring a goal in a game that Toronto won over Detroit 4-3 in the early 1960s. It was the only NHL goal he ever scored. (An injury ended his career shortly thereafter.) But I've always remembered his name.
By all means share any memories you have along these lines—little things fellow fans may not recall, or some particular moment that stood out for you that may not have been on other people’s radar screen.