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What was your first-ever true-"blue and white" Toronto Maple Leaf memory?

Being a young sports fan clicks us for everyone at different times, I think it’s fair to say.  I was raised in a hockey-mad household, so it was natural that I was well-ensconced in the nuances of cheering for an NHL team (if not, given my youth, the strategic nuances of the game itself) by the time I was four and five years old.

Whatever triggers our interest may happen later for some, but the bottom line is, for all of us, at some point, something happens that makes us fall in love with hockey—and with a particular team.  It may have been sitting with your Dad on a Saturday night watching the Maple Leafs until it hit you that, hey, I like the Leafs, too.  Maybe you developed a fondness for a particular player because of the way they looked, the number they wore, or something they did that caught you eye and made you watch a bit more closely.

So as many of us long for a return to the good, old NHL hockey that we love and appreciate, what I’m wondering today is:  when did Toronto Maple Leaf hockey click in for you?  Was there a play, a game, a particular moment where and when you realized that you were hooked, that hockey was something you really wanted to follow—and that the Leafs were your team?

Some of you who have followed VLM for a while will know it happened for me back around 1958.  I was driven to cheer against the team my Dad and two older brothers rooted rabidly for—the hated (to me) Montreal Canadiens.   Meanwhile I fell for the Leafs, and Eddie Chadwick, Dickie Duff, Marc Reaume (right, a young player who lived in the small southwestern Ontario town right next to me when I was a kid in the 1950s), Frank Mahovlich and others who were part of that late ‘50s Leaf squad that took shape so nicely—and went on, ultimately, to win those three Cups in a row in the early 1960s under legendary coach Punch Imlach.

Yes, times have changed since the Maple Leaf  ‘60s “hey-day”.  We've had some good years since, but no championship to hang our hat on.

Regardless, we’re all still here, still supporting the blue and white for a reason.  We love hockey, we follow the Leafs with a certain level of passion and/or desperation/hope/belief—whatever word most closely describes our own rooting interest.

But it would be fun to hear exactly what is your earliest Toronto Maple Leaf memory.  Whether it was actually going to a game, reading a particular hockey magazine or newspaper article, watching a game on television, getting a Leaf jersey as a present or listening to an old transistor radio under your pillow to follow a Leaf game in the “good old days”, everyone started on this bandwagon somehow.

This site usually gets hundreds of (sometimes more) visits every day.  I know not everyone who stops by will be able to leave a comment, but I’d like to hear from as many of you as possible.

Thinking happy thoughts can only be a good thing as we wait for NHL hockey to return at some point.

I look forward to your memories...


  1. There are many jumbled memories of radio and televised games that were shared with my Dad, but there is one moment in the 70's where Dave Keon was stationed at the crease when a puck looped towards him and he deftly corraled the puck with an open hand, dropped it to the ice and lifted a patented, straight stick backhand into the net before anyone could react.

    I don't remember the other team or many details of that particular game, I was just so impressed with the skills shown by our captain and leader that it made the impression that stirs excitement about the game to this day. It was something different that I had not seen anyone else do to that point in my fandom.

    We were able to watch so few games that these images were a great treat... I cannot remember a day that I awoke, after the Leafs had played the night before, when my Dad would not have listened to hear the results of all the games on the radio and would leave a note with all the scores from around the league along with notes on who had scored for the Leafs - not to mention a word of encouragement for the day ahead. I miss him...

  2. That's exactly what I was looking for, InTimeFor62- a game, or moment, something, that kind of triggered your being a fan. The Keon recollection fits.

    But your deeper point is one that connects a lot of us, and also connected us to our Dads. It was that special relationship that we had with out father or close relative, watching games. It was a little different and unique for all of us, I sense. That your Dad, for example, would take the time each morning to jot down a note about last night's games - along with your broader relationship with him - is something you obviously remember and treasure to this day, even though he's gone.

    Thanks InTimeFor62.

  3. My lifelong fandom for the Toronto Maple Leafs started in 1955 when I was 8 years old. My father took me to a game at the old Gardens, a rare treat indeed! We sat in what were probably the blues at that time, between center ice and the blue line. I remember it was difficult to see the play along the near boards - one reason I bought season's tickets in the end blues when I got the chance years later. And it was impossible to follow the action when everyone stood up. It was me among the giants back then!
    I can't remember who won the game, or who we were playing, though I believe it was the Red Wings. What I do remember is the incredible atmosphere in the building, the guy who shouted "C'mon Teeder!" when our Captain at the time, Ted Kennedy, was on the ice and a goal was needed. I'm sure I remember the ice being cleaned by teams of scrapers and pairs of men pulling barrels of hot water that melted and smoothed the ice behind them. I remember the excitement and the passion of the fans, of their identification with the Leafs. And I remember feeling that I had joined this "club" - which for better and worse I've stayed with all my life.
    Most of all I cherish it as one of those "guy times" with my Dad, through whose contacts I was eventually able to get my own seats. I think of him now every time I go to a game, and feel him watching, cheering, groaning, or exulting with me. I think of his subtle lessons about winning and losing, competition, fair play, being a good sport, which shaped me and have stayed with me lifelong.

  4. What a great memory, Gerund O'- a game at the Gardens with your Dad at the age of 8. Outstanding.

    Again, as with InTimeFor62, the real memory has to do with special time with your Dad, which I have to believe was a huge trigger for so many individuals who remain Leaf fans to this day. Wonderful story- thanks for sharing it today, Gerund.

  5. My household was never very hockey mad, my dad was never much of a fan and my Mom was a Bruins fan (well, like a lot of hockey loving girls in the 60's she was a Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr fan).

    By my childhood my mom wasn't so much in love with hockey any more, and i was on my own to find a lvoe for the game myself.

    I flirted with the Habs ('93 bandwagon), Sharks (they had the jaws theme in NHL 96), and Sabres (location, closer to me than Toronto) but never stuck with them.

    in high school I worked in a take out pizza place, and the delivery guy would always have the Leafs game on the radio, so listening to every game for 2 seasons really got me hooked (helps that the early 00's Leafs were contenders).

    The moment that sticks with me the most is the '02 playoffs vs Ottawa, May 4th 2002. my Leafs fandom was growing strong (much to the chagrin of my lifelong Habs fan girlfriend/now wife)and i was workig that night, and the Leafs game gave us a good bump in our dinner rush, and then the game was tied in the 3rd, and the phone started ringing again. Well playoff OT has no commercial breaks, so no one wanted to leave for more snacks. So 1OT comes and goes, the phone keeps on ringing. We're cheering for the Leafs to win , but cheering harder for Joseph to keep the Sens from scoring. 2OT, even busier, and by the intermission before 3OT we've run out of chicken wings, even with our usual extra Saturday supply.

    That was one night at work I really enjoyed, and has stuck with me, so that's my strongest early Leafs memory.

    My second earliest was actually my disappointment in Carolina beating Montreal in the second round that year, because 1) We lost out on a Habs/Leafs conference final, the closest to a cup final we'll get betweent he two, and 2) we could have destroyed that Habs team (sorry Dougie)and made it to the '02 cup finals (of course we should have beat that Hurricanes team too).

  6. It was 1945 and the Leafs were playing Detroit in the cup finals. Three players I remember most were Wally Stanowski, Sweeney Shriner and most of all Frank McCool the goalie, probably because he had stomach ulcers and never played again. Also Turk Broda came back from the war the next year and he was the regular goalie.

  7. Many memories as a young boy but the first I can recall was being allowed to stay up late and watch Saturday night Leaf games. My grandparents lived with us and had their own apartment downstairs. My recollection of the first time I felt the passion was during a Montreal-Toronto game in the very early 1960's and seeing my grandfather's excitement during the game. He absolutely despised everything Montreal, the players, the fans and the announcers...especially Danny Gallivan. It got me hooked and fortunately my father held seasons tickets in the last row of MLG and I was able to attend games fairly regularly. In those days the Greys were bench seats and the ticket-takers would allow parents to bring a young child into the game for free if the child sat on their knee. Many of the patrons would just squeeze down and I was able to get my own share of a bench. I was at the game in 1964 (sitting on Dad's knee) when the Leafs won the Cup and when Andy Bathgate scored on a breakaway early in the game my father cheered,hoisted me in the air and both my shoes flew off into the seats below. I went home shoeless that night but with a miniature Stanley Cup souvenir instead. Been a Leaf fan since those days and even the dark periods have not shaken my faith.

  8. Those are great old names, Tom. My Dad used to talk to me about Sweeney Schriner and a lot of the great old Leafs, even though he was a die-hard Habs guy himself. (I was born in 1953, and Dad would talk to me about many of the players he had seen and followed before my time...)

    McCool was a very good goalie, Stanowski a solid Leaf as well. Leaf fans all know about Turk Broda. A lot of players missed time because of their military service in that era. I didn't realize Broda was one of them.

    Great to hear from you Tom. Thanks for posting today.

  9. What a great memory for you, ingy56. To be able to share time with your grandfather, learn to hate the Habs - what could be better!

    That Bathgate goal is a classic in Leaf history on that great night in the spring of 1964. For those just popping by now, that was Game 7, after the famous Bobby Baun overtime-on-a-broken-ankle goal in Detroit a couple of nights earlier in Game 6.

    The Bathgate breakaway goal was a classic, against Terry Sawchuk. What a thrill for you to be at the Gardens with your Dad that night- and see the Cup presented, even without shoes!

    Not surprised you are a Leaf fan to this day, with all that in your blood.

    Thanks for a terrific story, ingy56.

  10. I have a bunch of jumbled memories of the 93 and 94 Leafs. I think I even have a memory of watching one of the St. Louis games in 93.


  11. Elseldo, I'm trying to remember if that (triple?) OT against Ottawa was the night that Gary Roberts scored off a face-off?

    Regardless, I think a lot of us fell in love with the Leafs listening to games on the radio, as you did (even though you had flirtations with other teams - you're forgiven...). For me it was Foster Hewitt, Joe Bowen no doubt for you.

    I hope you and your better half can co-exist peacefully, given that she likes the Habs!

    And yes, that '02 loss to Carolina still stings.

    Thanks elseldo.

  12. The first memory I have of the leafs is the night before my first ever hockey game. I wanted to watch a hockey game so I knew how to play the next day. I figured watching the game would instantly make me a great player. I remember telling myself the first player to touch the puck would be my favourite player. It happened to be Peter Zezel. I clearly remember my Dad saying that if I liked Zezel I would have to work on my faceoffs.

    The next day in the locker room when they were handing out Jerseys I asked for number 25, sadly the highest number was 18. I asked for number 18 to be as close as possible to number 25.

    I know he will never be considered one of the greats but that is my first memory and I always had a soft spot for Zezel and was very sad to see him die so young.

  13. I was a Ranger fan as a very young boy in the late 40's. I think it was a combination of love of the uniform and being contrary to my father who was a Leaf fan. My favorite players were Don "Bones" Ralaigh and Chuck Rayner (I was an aspiring goalie at the time) although I was also a big fan of Turk Broda.

    Hockey news and particularly Leaf news was confined to newspapers and the radio although we were also able to gain information from the statistics on hockey trading cards.

    My defining Leaf moment came as an 8 year old on April 21, 1951. The family was gathered around the radio for game 5 in the Leafs-Canadiens Stanley Cup final. I remember the excitement building as the game stayed close and ultimately went to overtime. The definining moment came when Bill Barilko scored the winning goal that brought the Leafs the Cup. I became a Leaf fan and a huge Barilko fan. Tragically he was never to play again but I have remained a Leaf fan to this day.

  14. I came into my Leaf fandom pretty late in life. My first ever Leafs memory was also my first ever Leafs homegame; Wendel Clark's retirement night.

  15. That's a sweet story, Trevor. Zezel was a fine player, a proud Leaf (an excellent face-off guy, as your Dad said) and by all accounts, a tremendous individual. A shame indeed that he died far too young.

  16. That classic Ranger jersey (with the letters written on a diagonal across the front), may be my favourite all-time hockey jersey. (I remember my Dad speaking to me about Chuck Rayner, one of those great old time goalies...)

    I get the "contrary" thing. That's how I became a Leaf fan- my Dad and two older brothers were incredibly passionate Hab fans.

    Listening on the family radio and the memorable Barilko goal were clearly enough to get you to come over the the dark side, Pete Cam!

    Great story. Thanks PeteCam.

  17. A retirement night game is enough to do it, too, Colin (SkinnyFish). As we all know, Clark was a beloved Leaf. How many guys played with his heart? The fact that he had three incarnations here just seemed to add to his legend. Thanks Colin.

  18. I'm not entirely sure what 'hooked' me but my earliest memory I want to say is a Tie Domi fight. Not entirely sure who he fought. I would have been about 5, turning 6. At that time I was obviously a fairly casual fan considering I rarely got the chance to watch games...early bed times and such.

    He was probably a favourite of mine over the next few years. I distinctly remember calling a friend of mine named Domenic 'Domi' all the time.

  19. I first started following hockey in the late 70s, when I started in school. I'm not sure what the first game I watched was or when I first realized I was born to be a hockey fan. But the first time I was aware that I was watching the Leafs, I was instantly hooked. So many stars to watch, Sittler, Salming, Palmateer, McDonald, et al. What I didn't realize was that, not only was I watching at playoff time and that the Leafs were soon to be sent packing for the summer, but that the entire team was to be dismantled within a few short years. My lasting specific memory was of Tiger Williams going crazy on the referees after being eliminated by the Canadiens. As an impressionable kid, I was as convinced as he was that the refs were completely responsible for the Leafs getting swept.

    Nonetheless, I could not wait for the next season to begin. Once it did, I found myself planted in front of the television every Saturday afternoon by 3 or 4, watching and waiting through whatever lame programming was on (we only received one television station at the time), until 8 pm and the familiar opening Hockey Night in Canada theme music.

    Looking back now, it almost seems comical how I sat on the edge of my seat, really believing that those Leaf teams of the early 80s could compete. They were so bad I had no idea! When they would pull out a win I couldn't wait to brag on them the next day with my friends. Maybe this is why the optimism we share here sometimes doesn't seem so delusional. As much as we may fret about our goaltending now, how'd you like to go back to the days of Jiri Crha or Bunny Larocque?

  20. Domi was a very popular Leaf, for sure, RJ. So it makes sense that, as a youngster just starting to follow hockey, he would have caught your eye. Thanks for chiming in today, RJ.

  21. It's funny that my first true Maple Leafs memory occurred when I honestly wasn't a fan of the team. I grew up in the Soo, where everyone was a Leafs fan, a Red Wings fan or had some sick obsession with Patrick Roy. I was one of the few who never really played hockey so I really ignored a lot of it. My first fandom was for the legend Teemu Selanne, so I fell in with the Winnipeg Jets... which pretty much put me on the outside of everything.

    It was my eldest brother who was the Leafs fan. Loved them. Told everyone he cheered the Leafs when they were crap (80s) so he had a better claim to enjoying what happened in the early 90s. So I watched that fabled season with him, not a fan, but following his obsession with it. He loved Gilmour and Clarke as much as my friends did. He got angry with Fraiser and Gretzky. I watched bemused, but with no love for the Kings I could sympathize at least.

    I didn't know it at the time, but his Leafs passion set the groundwork for mine. Of course, Teemu got traded, Winnipeg moved and I lost touch with that side of it. Rejecting the Coyotes and becoming a Leafs fan was an easy choice because of those shared moments.

  22. The Leafs were swept by the Habs in '78 and '79, as I recall, Pete. I'm trying to remember if that particular game was the spring of '79. I think that was the game the Leafs came back from a 4-0 deficit in the third period but lost in overtime. There was some upset after the Hab goal, and yes, Tiger and some Leafs were unhappy. I can't recall if it was a penalty call or something else that triggered the frustration.

    That Leaf team did have the talent to attract a youngster like yourself back then, Pete. Palmateer, Turnbull, Lanny, Sittler, Tiger. Some fine players, for sure.

    But as you say, Imlach soon dismantled that squad, unfortunately. And the early '80s were tough, including, yes, our often sub-par goaltending (though I liked Bester later on...).

    But despite all that, you're still a Leaf guy all these years later- thanks Pete.

  23. I’ve been watching the Leafs since I was born, but my first real vivid memory came in 2004. The Leafs were playing the Sens in the playoffs and Patrick Lalime… Well, he didn’t have a great night. When Joe Nieuwendyk scored his second of the game my whole family was dancing all over the house. It was incredible.

    My next vivid Leafs memory came later in those playoffs. Let me preface this by saying that I had been to maybe 1 or 2 Leafs games up until that point, so going to see them play was probably the greatest feeling ever at that time. The Leafs were playing the Flyers, and my dad comes home from work one day saying that one of his coworkers had tickets to game 6, and couldn’t go, so he gave them to my dad. So we went down to the game, and to be honest he was probably more excited than 10 year old me, although I was pretty damn excited too. The game was awesome. The hockey was back and forth all game, and the overtime was incredible. I nearly lost my voice screaming when Tucker nearly ended Sami Kapanen’s life with his incredible hit in OT. Jeremy Roenick scoring the winner hurt more than I can ever remember hurting before though. I can still vividly remember him dancing up the boards after scoring, watching from our row 10 seats. Painful to watch.

  24. Selanne was a worthy player to have as a favourite, Phil, though it sounds like being a Jets fan in the Soo made you a a bit of a hockey loner!

    As with so many others who've posted today, the family connection was a significant element in your becoming part of the Leaf fan brigade, Phil. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  25. It's actually still a painful memory to recall now, Russel! We had a shot to send it back to Philly for a 7th game, but it wasn't to be. The Roenick celebration still stings.

    I love hearing about the family celebration after a big Leaf goal. Those had to be fantastic memories for you.

    Thanks Russel. Hope you enjoy the VLM site.

  26. my dad taking me a to a game in the very early-90's... in one of the boxes no less! leafs tied the whalers i believe... really a special dad/son bonding moment.

  27. It's been fun reading all these stories... thank you for suggesting that Michael!

    Have you ever felt like bailing on the Leafs (and what helped you to 'hold on' - might help us all through to the other side of the CBA interim waiting period through which we have 'suffered')?

    Maybe that's another article!

  28. The father-son bond is where it all started for a lot of as hockey fans, Alex C. - that game at the Gardens did it for you! Thanks for taking the time to post.

  29. Actually, there's a story I will share on this subject in the next while, InTimeFor62. I think we all have gotten frustrated at times, with ownership, management, players, etc.

    And I agree, I've thoroughly enjoyed the stories people have shared today...

  30. Gary Leeman vs Denis Savard
    Dave Manson joined in from the dressing room.
    Clark had to use every muscle to restrain Johhny Kordic. AWESOME.

  31. Sounds like a late '80s moment, Anon. And old-fashioned brou-ha-ha. We don't see that kind of thing much nowadays!

  32. My Grandpa would turn on the TV about 7:30PM (to warm up the tubes) on Saturday night for HNIC. I think there was a country music show on before the games...Tommie Hunter maybe? I remember Howie Meeker, Peter Puck, Shootout and that some little goalie named Palmateer liked popcorn. I recall when Carl Brewer came out of retirement. I know my Dad liked Turnbull, Sittler and that Salming could skate "like a hot knife through butter". And I remember the Leafs losing to an amazing Canadien team in 1978. But my true Leaf memories really didn't start until after Gramdpa died in 1980. That's when I started spending more weekends with my Grandma. Until then, growing up a kid in Niagara Falls NY, I was pretty much a Sabres fan, but in a Leafs family (grandparents were from St Catherines). Perreault was my idol. But I began a ritual of watching the Leafs with Grandma and they quickly became my team. Salming, Vaive, Derlago, Anderson, Daoust, Bester, Korn, Frycer, Inachek, Poddubny (met him across from MLG back in the day at a pancake place (?), etc. The 93 playoffs. The great runs in the Quinn years. I'm rambling.... Thanks for a great blog.

  33. Hi Michael:
    Interesting Topic.
    It was not that easy being a fan in 1949 when I was nine years old. Games were only on radio and globe and mail for me. Going to Maple Leaf Gardens meant seeing the senior Marlboros (my Dad had friend who played for KW Dutchman) and also Junior Double Headers. My first connection was Danny Lewicki who was good centerman who moved from Senior Marlies to Leafs. I also had connection? whith Johnny McCormack, defensive centerman (same last name). At the time, I was Chicago fan and Bill Mosienko (best player on Blackhawks). Somehow, I had Tod Sloan ring from BeeHive, but suspect that was because they ran out of Rocket Richard rings.
    We moved to Hamilton in 50's, and being good hometown boy that meant rooting for Hamilton Red Wings who were farm team of Detroit. Many players moved from Hamilton to Detroit and I got to see future Hawks like Hull, Mikita, Vasko. Now, a Leaf connection started thru two St. Michaels Majors by the name of Keon and Mahovlich who made you rise from your seat.
    Interestingly, I got a closer connection to Leafs when I went to school in Waterloo, and saw a junior age Davey Keon playing for the KW Senior Dutchman in 1959-1960. The reason was KW was going to represent Canada (must have been Squaw Valley) and Keon was trying out. Well, here was this little guy scooting all over the ice, and these bigger, older senior players were doing their darndest to knock him into the second row. He would look trapped against the boards, and somehow he would escape by going low. He went on to do this same act for years with the Leafs.

  34. First off, love this thread. Read it often, post almost never. Really appreciate both the early Leaf memories, but also the newer ones too. Love hearing that something I remember clearly was another person's first Leaf moment. Beautiful stuff.

    I'm not exactly sure about the very first memory, although every kid in Toronto wanted to be Paul Henderson that fall after the Canada-Russia series. But one that sticks is the absolute reverence extended to Jacques Plante, even though he didn't suit up for the Leafs until late in his career. I still remember staring at a photo (probably a hockey card) for hours, wondering what made him so magical.

    Another favorite was all the buzz around the Swede during the summer of '73. He was going to be the league's new great goal scorer, someone to lift the Leafs back to glory. Lots of anticipation for Inge, with only an occasional mention of the teammate that came with him, just so our new star wouldn't feel so alone in North America. Some guy named Borje. I still remember the 7-4 win against Buffalo to start the season. The Leafs were back!

    Lots of radio games, too. HNC was huge, but radio gave us the games every other night of the week. Oh, and playing with the antenna (or aluminum foil) to occasionally pick up the snowy reception from a Buffalo broadcast across the lake. But the, that was huge. I still love listening to hockey on radio and I wish kids today could experience the same thing. Technology is great, but some things do get lost.

    Summer of '74 we moved to the Southern US. For me, hockey was frozen in time for a decade or so. No internet, no access to anything, really. For a few years, NBC would broadcast an occasional Saturday afternoon game, but local channels would sometimes preempt the broadcast. Hit or miss. By the 80s, though, nothing.

    Then, word of some new guy started to trickle through. The savior. The wunderkind. Despite the limited coverage for anything hockey related, one name kept reappearing in the newspaper. Wendall Clark. Even from the distance, it was clear he was special. A few years later, the 10-player trade. And ESPN was showing hockey games...actual hockey games. Back then, they treated the NHL with respect. And the Leafs were back.

    Michael, thanks for the chance to share much more than your initial question asked for, but also a chance to revisit some really great memories. Always appreciate your thoughtful approach to the Leafs. Cheers!

  35. Nice to hear that it started, in part, with your grandmother, JB. You're right, Tommy Hunter may well have been the program on before HNIC- I'm not a hundred per cent sure, but he was a well-known Canadian singer with a popular TV program for many years.

    Gilbert Perreault, by the way, was a great favourite player to have. I haven't written enough about him here at VLM. One of the most remarkable offensive talents I have ever - and I mean ever - seen.

    The Leaf names you mention bring back memories. All of those you cite were talented guys who played hard for the Leafs. Someone like Frycer would be an excellent offensive guy today, I think. Lots of skill. Poddubny scored a big playoff goal against the Blues, I recall...

    Great post, wonderful memories. And thank you for the kind words JB.

  36. So many great old hockey names, RLMcC...My Dad spoke to me about Danny Lewicki (not to be confused with Tony Leswick, I think it was, of the Red Wings, who scored a famous OT goal against my Dad's beloved Habs in the early-mid '50s, if I'm not mistaken...)

    Mosieknko, of course (he of the 3 goals in 20 seconds or something, right?) and Tod Sloan, the fine Leaf who finished his career by winning a Cup with the Hawks in 1961.

    There were some great future Red Wings on those Hamilton junior teams, eh? And those St. Catharines kids did OK years later with the Hawks, helping Sloan win that '61 Cup.

    Keon...what a great story. For you to see that in person, amazing. Wasn't there something where Keon was scheduled to go to the Olympics, but for some reason Ralph Backstrom or someone else went in his place? What a great career Keon had.

    Thanks as always for a post that warms the heart, RLMcC.

  37. 1967...5 years young...Watching playoffs with my cousins, dad and 4 uncles in Scarborough, all of them drunk I'm sure. Leafs win game and the Cup which started a parade around the house with my cousins and myself riding on our dad's shoulders, everyone cheering, kids high fiving every time we passed each other. Awesome...Also learned a lesson about ducking your head when you go through a doorway!

  38. First, let me thank you for the kind words, Anon. That's very nice to hear.

    Paul Henderson, Jacques Plante, Borje Salming- fond memories there for sure, Anon. (By the way, the opening night game that you mention...was that not Lanny McDonald's first ever Leaf game, and he scored a couple of goals?)

    I agree with you whole-heartedly about listening to hockey games on the radio. There was - and still is -something special about being connected to hockey through that medium. I miss those days and still enjoy listening to games on the radio.

    I can understand how difficult it would have been to stay connected to the game when you were down in the southern part of the United States, especially in those days. But if anyone could create that old feeling for you, I'm not surprised it was Wendel.

    Thanks Anon. Stay in touch.

  39. Times were simpler in 1967, Anon, but that May night was special for Leaf fans everywhere. It's something you remember 45 years later, though you were so young at the time. And yes, we can learn life lessons in those moments - like when we need to duck! Thanks for sharing that great old-time family memory.

  40. Amazing stories here. I don't have one, unfortunately. I actually can't touch a single moment that made my fandom. There was no out- or inside influence for me to fall into the fold. I can only point out a single player, Wendel Clark, who, I guess over time, got to me.

    Nowadays I'm much more conservative about fighting in hockey, but damn, Wendel would lay the smack down on the biggest, baddest players in the league. He wasn't a goon, he was the reason goons generally pacified themselves coming to The Gardens. Nobody in their right mind would look forward to fighting Wendel And he didn't fight without purpose, either. So I don't have a single moment that made me a Leafs fan, the fandom kinda grew on me watching Wendel over the years.

    This probably answers your earlier question about my all-time favourite Leaf as well, although I think you probably knew it already.

    Cheers, and keep on writing, Michael.

  41. I know of your admiration for Wendel, CGLN. It was well-placed. And the young man could play as well, eh?

    It's funny: sometimes, as we have discussed on this subject, there is a single event or moment that triggers a lifelong love and passion. In your case (and a few others who posted above), it was something that was acquired over time.

    Either way, it's awfully hard to get off the Leaf bandwagon once you're on it, regardless of some pent-up frustration that we might feel along the way. Thanks as always, CGLN.

  42. Many years ago, in 1942, as a very young lad, I can vividly remember going to my very first Maple Leaf game. One very cold and dark evening my Uncle picked me at the house and off we went, taking the street car down to Maple Leaf Gardens.
    It was amazing when we arrived there. Huge crowds all going into this wonderful building and the sounds.....Laughter, loud talking and I can still hear the guys selling the programmes.
    We walked up the stairs to the entrance to the seats. I was amazed at the sights! The ice was so white and many lights and the crowd. We took our seats, in the green section, and settled in to watch the game.
    The two teams were already on the ice skating around as they prepared for the game. The Maple Leafs in their Blue uniforms and their opponents, the Boston Bruins, in white, brown and gold. What I sight.

    The band, which was ensconced on a balcony at one end of the arena played National Anthem of the time and the game was on....I can remember a Bruins player wearing a leather helmet but I really liked number 12 for Toronto who was Gord Drillon.
    He became my favourite and, when I got home I had my Grandmother stitch number 12 on the back of my new Maple Leaf sweater......Wonderful memories....

  43. Streetcars, a favourite uncle, magazine vendors, bright lights. The Gardens. Wonderful memories indeed, dugger.

    I was born in '53, but Drillon was a fine Leaf in our team's history, a scoring leader at one time, I believe. Thanks for visiting, dugger.

    1. Gordie Drillon was the last Maple Leaf to win the scoring title. Way back in, I believe, 1938.
      Hate to admit this but I ended up as a Chicago Black Hawk follower.It was around 1944-45, Gord Drillon had been traded to Montreal,I was listening to a game, Foster Hewitt broadcasting a meeting between Toronto and the Hawks in Toronto.
      Well, the Chicago goalie was injured and, since there was no backup in those days, the Hawks had to use a goalie from the crowd,I think it was a junior B goalie, supplied by Toronto. It turned into a rout.
      Hewitt made a comment that the Hawks goalie was like sieve. Interestingly I can still hear him saying that.I felt so sorry for Chicago I converted that evening to a Black Hawk follower. Boy, did I suffer for so many years but I hung in there.....
      Still follow them.

  44. Thanks for sharing that, dugger. The Hawks built that fine squad in the late '50s and could well have won more Cups than the one they did in '61. The championship three years ago was a nice moment, too, I'm sure.