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Can you imagine something like this today—a Toronto Maple Leaf “album”?

In case you've missed some recent posts...

-Why we fans are the weak link in the labour dispute

-A thank you (and some individual shout-outs) to many of the great posters here at VLM

-Hey, the Leafs are apparently the 120th "smartest spending" team in pro sports (NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL)

-Grading the Leaf heading into the season (forwards) Part II

-Grading the Leafs heading into the season (goalies and defence) Part I


I think I've written about this before, but back in the early 1960s, as a very young but definitely devoted Maple Leaf follower, I sent away for one of those “offers”—you know, where you send 50 cents, or a top from some food product or other to obtain something that you wanted.  (Hey, maybe kids still do that today; our kids are grown now and I am somewhat out of that loop…)  Now, I realize that’s not a very good description, but I’m struggling to find a clearer way to depict this sort of old-time “transaction”.

Here’s what I (none to well) am referring to:  Back when the Leafs were really good and actually challenged for or even won the Stanley Cup on occasion, then GM and coach Punch Imlach was approached about doing a “record”.  I’m not talking about Johnny Bower’s famous (perhaps infamous is the better word) recording of “Honky the Christmas Goose”.  No, I’m actually recalling a different project, one where Imlach and a few of the Leaf players recorded an audio album called “Let’s Talk Hockey”.

Bower was indeed one of the participants, along with (as you can see above) Dave Keon, Andy Bathgate and defenseman Tim Horton.  The inclusion of Bathgate in this project would mean this occurred likely in the summer on 1964, after the Leafs had won their third Cup in a row, but before Bathgate was traded away to the Red Wings in the spring/summer of 1965. (Bathgate, seen in the photo above,  was a marvellous winger with the New York Rangers for more than a decade before Imlach acquired him for Dickie Duff, a favourite Leaf of mine back then, along with Bob Nevin and some promising youngsters like Rod Seiling and Arnie Brown.)

In any event, there was also an accompanying booklet written by Imlach and the players, as they each described a particular aspect of hockey and playing the game—Imlach of course speaking of coaching and strategy and the players talking on various aspects of their role on the team.

I have no recollection of ever actually having the album (if I ever had one, I would think that I would have held onto it, though goodness knows I’ve lost far more valuable items than that over the years…), so I may have my facts wrong on this one.  Maybe the items I'm thinking about were two different offers/productions?

I’m hoping some other Leaf fans from yesteryear can bail me out. 

Nonetheless I still have the “booklet” (upper right), so maybe people were able to send away separately for the booklet and the “album”.  Whatever the details at the time, I thought you might enjoy this, while we await positive news on the NHL  “labour” front.

I will say this: things were a lot simpler in a lot of ways back in the early and mid 1960s….but I love these little nuggets from Leaf history.


  1. Michael,

    I found references to a 1960's ESSO "Lets Talk Hockey" set on Ebay which was listed at $999.

    The sellers description is as follows:
    You are bidding on a Complete set of 10 Esso "Maple Leafs Hockey Talks records". These records were issued by Esso gas staions in the mid 60's in the Toronto area only.
    This set is in Mint condition as you can see by the scans. All records are in the same condition.
    The list of records are as follows:
    1 - George Armstrong
    2 - Johnny Bower
    3 - Dave Keon
    4 - Frank Mahovlich
    5 - Tim Horton
    6 - Bob Pulford
    7 - Brit Selby
    8 - Eddie Shack
    9 - Ron Ellis
    10 - George "Punch" Imlach

    The set you refer to is also on Ebay

    The sellers description is as foollows:
    Price: US $220.00
    1963-64 Toronto Maple Leafs "Let's Talk Hockey" Dave Keon, Johnny Bower and Andy Bathgate Signed Album & Vinyl

    Up for auction is this very rare and highly collectible 1963-64 Toronto Maple Leafs "Let's Talk Hockey" Vinyl

    Album. The album has been hand signed on the front cover in-person by Johnny Bower, Dave Keon and Andy Bathgate. As well the back cover has been signed by Dave Keon and Johnny Bower.

    This is a very rare album cover to own unsigned let alone signed by 3 Hall of Fame Maple Leaf legends. This album was signed in-person in Toronto, Canada over the last 6 years at various signing events as well as a private invite only event that Keon attended.

    You will also get the vinyl record as shown.

    The LP features the following 5 Toronto Maple Leafs: Punch Imlach, Johnny Bower, Tim Horton, Dave Keon and Andy Bathgate, explaining the various aspects of hockey.

    Johnny Bower explains Goaltending: Angles, Poke Check and Sweep Check.

    Tim Horton explains Defensive Play: Bodycheck, Two-On-One Checking and Blocking A Shot.

    Andy Bathgate explains Gripping The Stick: Top Hand, Bottom Hand and Follow-Through.

    Dave Keon explains: Handling The Puck: Stick Handling, Flip Pass and Stopping.

    Punch Imlach explains: Coaching Tips.

    The front of the Album Cover features photos of Punch Imlach, Johnny Bower, Tim Horton, Dave Keon and Andy Bathgate centered by the Stanley Cup. The back of this Album features biographies of all 5 Leafs on the LP.

    I vaguely recollect the ESSO promo. The 1963-64 package was offered after I had gone to the States for college. There wasn't a lot of Leaf memorabelia for sale at that time but it has sure increased in value. The only Leaf item that I still have from that period u
    is a Leaf pennant.

  2. Thanks very much for that legwork, Pete Cam. It helps fill in some of the blanks in my memory!