Custom Search

Eddie Chadwick: the last Maple Leaf Ironman

The very first Maple Leaf goalie that I remember was Eddie Chadwick.

I became familiar with his name because, when I started watching games on TV, (Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights of course), it was always Leaf games that were shown where we lived, and Chadwick was always the goalie.

I stress always because he was, in fact, the last Maple Leaf goalie to play every game in a season. He did so in 1956-’57 and then again in 1957-’58.

Chadwick’s name is one I always associate with the Leafs. I’m including one of my favorite photos of Chadwick that I’ve held on to all these years. It’s a great old-style action photo. If you look closely, you can see three Red Wing greats—Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe and Norm Ullman, all Hall-of-Famers. The photo was likely taken during the 1956-’57 season, before Lindsay was traded to Chicago. Also in the picture are Future Leaf Hall-of-Fame defenseman Tim Horton and Marc Reaume (featured in the earlier post: My Local Hero).

By the beginning of the next season, then new Assistant General Manager Punch Imlach had acquired a veteran minor league goaltender, Johnny Bower, who shared time with Eddie during the 1958-’59 season. Imlach himself took full control of the team in the fall of ’58, firing incumbent coach Billy Reay and taking over as head coach himself. Ownership also named Imlach as the team’s General Manager.

Leaf fans of my generation know the rest of that story. Imlach grew to love and rely on Bower, such that Chadwick played primarily in Rochester the following two seasons. He was then traded to Boston part-way through the 1961-’62 season for another veteran goalie, Don Simmons, who went on to play a big part in the Leaf Cup victory in the spring of 1962 (see my earlier post on Don Simmons: Forgotten Hero).

Chadwick only ended up playing a few games for the Bruins, but had a solid career in the American Hockey League with Hershey and the Buffalo Bisons, retiring after the 1967-’68 season.

I had the opportunity to interview Eddie when I was a young broadcaster working some Major Junior games in the very early 1980s. He took the time to chat with me as an in-between-period guest.

He was very humble and quite engaging. I believe he was still scouting for the Islanders at the time, who were in the midst of their great 4-year Cup run, having drafted (because of hockey-smart people like Eddie and Jimmy Devellano) outstanding talent such as Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy, to mention but a few. He went on to join the Edmonton Oilers scouting staff, and they had the next great run of Stanley Cups, wisely drafting Paul Coffee, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Esa Tikkanen and many others on a team built around Wayne Gretzky.

Chadwick didn’t win any Stanley Cups as a player, but he has earned many championship rings as a scout, deservedly so.

Some of you have no doubt seen Eddie on the Maple Leaf Sunday night Classics on Leafs TV. Still engaging, he’s a throwback to the era when goalies were expected to play every night, without a mask- regardless of illness or injury.

When you look back and realize he was indeed the last Leaf goalie to play every game in a season, he was something of an ironman.  Not to the degree that fellow goalie Glenn Hall was (he played in over 500 consecutive games for Detroit and Chicago), but in Leaf lore, he is something special.

A Leaf to remember fondly.

No comments:

Post a Comment