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Your favourite Maple Leaf memorabilia- cards, coins, magazines, calendars?

The Leafs seem (I know, I know, it's not guaranteed yet...) headed to the playoffs and that in and of itself brings back such fond memories for me—and I’m sure for a lot of you.  My own Leaf playoff recollections date back to the very late 1950’s. (Including, for some reason, a goal Bobby Baun scored in the playoffs against Montreal.  It was a game the Leafs were trailing like 6-1, in the Stanley Cup finals in either ’59 or ‘60, but I seem to recall Baun scoring on a shot from the point to make it a bit closer…I was watching on our family's little old black and white TV, sitting on the lap of my older brother, John—who was a passionate Hab fan, but he pretended to be happy for me and the Leafs when Baun scored to try and make me feel better…)

I can sense how much it means to fellow Leaf supporters that we are  nearly back "in", and so today I wanted to do something a bit different to honour the different ways we have followed our Leafs over the years and also simply enjoyed hockey as a pastime.

We’ve spent a lot of time here lately talking about our current Leafs, things and players we’re pleased about and what the team may still ‘need’ to achieve some playoff success now—and down the road.  But I wanted to set aside the player-by-player analysis (and the negativity that sometimes comes with it, as Leaf fans fight over who knows more about what Carlyle needs to do, etc…) and just have some old-time fun today.

So here’s a question for you:  when it comes to your love of hockey, and the Leafs (it doesn’t have to be about the Leafs, if you cheer for someone else…) what are some of the things you have enjoyed over the years, either as a youngster or even as an adult, that kept you interested in the game?  Maybe it was collecting hockey cards as a youngster, or collecting memorabilia in recent times with your own children—something I have definitely loved doing when the kids were younger . (Click on the link for a Bobby Hull memory...)

Do you have any favourite old hockey cards, for example?

Maybe it was a treasured autograph of a player from the olden days—an autograph you still have, with a great story to go along with it.  (I have a frustrated story which I have shared here before—two different autograph moments my older sister managed to get for me when I was really young in the early ‘60s.  As a flight attendant, she was able to get the entire Leaf team to sign a piece of paper in 1962, which she gave to me.  She later met Johnny Bower and Gordie Howe (see the fantastic old Harold Barkley photo of the two legends on the right) on the same flight, and brought home signed photos of those two all-time greats.  Being young and foolish, I somehow lost the “team” autograph not long afterwards.  However, I held on to the Howe/Bower autographed photos for years.  Still don’t know how I managed to lose those as well…)

I’ve held on to a few old magazines form my childhood (wish I had kept a few more) but one of my own fondest keep-sakes is a Maple Leaf 'calendar' that I sent away for in the late summer of 1962—the summer after the Leafs won the Stanley Cup for the first time in my lifetime.  I’ve managed to hold on to that calendar through basement floods, many, many location changes and a host of other challenges.  I still love it.  My better half had it framed for me several years ago, and the front of the calendar is the photo I use here on VLM and as my “avatar” (is that the right word?) on Twitter.

Speaking of magazines, here is a pic of an early '80s Sports Illustrated (left).  Wayne Gretzky signed it for my then very young son.  (I knew Wayne a bit when I worked up in the Soo and he played his one year of junior hockey there in 1977-'78.  He later did me a few favours, interviews and such, including showing up as a special guest in Windsor in the summer of 1980 when I was Master of Ceremonies for a big Kinsmen Sports Celebrities dinner.) My son is not a hockey fan now, so it's possible I may have the magazine back in my possession. (Hey, it means more to me....)

One of the other great memories I have (I admit, I was a little older at the time, but I still loved it) was during the 1970-’71 NHL season when Esso (the oil company) had a special hockey promotion.  They issued a great picture “album” with all kinds of tremendous game-action photos, all in colour.  When  you purchased gas there (something my Dad generally did not do at Esso—he had a thing about Esso for some reason; I think he saw them as a big, bad oil company, but he he did it for me…) during the promotion, you would get ‘x’ (I can’t remember how many) number of little colour photos as well that you could paste into your album.  That’s another memento I have from those golden days of hockey. I’m betting some of you do as well who were around in the early '70s.

In any event, it might be anything that triggers great memories for you. I've written here before about those wonderful old Bee-Hive hockey photos.  Those were treasures.  Sending away for and receiving those brown envelopes with the pictures inside was such a thrill.  (I still pass by the old St. Larence facility in Port Credit every once in a while.  The only remnant is what I assume was once the company's head office.  The smallish brick building/land is now up for lease.  The old plant is now housing, I believe...).  That's a 1950s Bee-Hive picture of long-time Hab - and late career Maple Leaf - Donnie Marshall, at right.  Marshall was a slick player, great defensively, who had a fine 20-year NHL career and later worked for a few years as an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada.

So share your “collecting”-related memories and a story, if you have one.  (I remember, just now, as I’m writing, when you could collect bottle tops from Coca-Cola with tiny little “head shots” of various NHL players; didn’t the Shirrif (sp?) company also have a promotion where they included small photos of NHL’ers -in a kind of octoganol shape- in their tea or something along those lines?)

All this stuff was so much fun.  So whether it was old magazines, old newspaper clippings you still have, cards, pennants, autographs, send a note.  Let’s step back from the “pressure” of making the playoffs (and other more important and serious things ongoing in all our lives) for the first time in seemingly forever and just enjoy talking hockey from a little different perspective today.


  1. Well, it's long gone now, but my card collection kept me going through my youthful fan years. We traded for them, flipped cards for them, tried to see who could land them closest to a wall face up - the winner getting the card - used them as currency for gum or candy... Cards had different values: a Mahovlich was worth three Howells. say, and there were always certain cards that seemed to be harder to get than others (which increased their value, of course!).
    The only other things I had were a pennant, bought at the first game I was taken to, and an itchy woollen Leafs sweater, which I wore until it fell apart.
    Back in those days I was lucky enough to meet Lassie, Tommy and Porky from the #1 TV show of the time; Marilyn Bell after her historic swim; but the biggest thrill was meeting Dave Keon. Although I have no artifacts from that meeting, no autographed picture or card, the memory is as bright today as it was back then.

  2. Ah yes, those wonderful old Leaf sweaters, Gerund O'. And meeting some famous people back in the day, and Keon as well. That's not bad at all. (I have much the same memory about hockey cards...some cards had more "value" in those days and were seemingly harder to get, but the value wasn't monetary, as you say...)

    Thanks for sharing that Gerund. Good stuff....

  3. Michael
    I too have a number of Maple Leaf memories and souvenirs including pictures I obtained from the Quaker Oats people (late 40's early 50's)thanks to my mother saving them for me. Unfortunately they too are a little worse for wear after being pinned to my wall as a kid and then suffering a wet basement in later years. But I still have them! They are what started me collecting Leaf memorabilia. My favorite picture of my hero Sid Smith did not survive so I was delighted to meet him signing autographs at the ACC a few years before he passed away. That signed picture is now on display on my bookshelf along with a signed photo of Johnny Bower who I met a few years ago. What fine gentlemen they both were.

    One of my favorite possessions is not a Leaf souvenir but an autograph from a player for the hated Red Wings. On Christmas Day in 1955 I was playing road hockey over at my friends' house when we both got up our nerve to knock on the door of a new neighbour that recently moved in a few houses down the street. Glenn Hall was that neighbour and he was now the starring goaltender for the Wings. Even though it was Christmas Day, he invited us both in the house where we watched a little TV with him while his wife made their Christmas dinner in the kitchen. I still remember how warm and friendly he was as we talked hockey for quite some time and he signed autographs for us.

    I have another memory you might be interested in. My Dad took me to the Olympia for my 13th birthday to see the Leafs play the Wings in the last game of the regular season in 1954(March 21!!!). The Wings had 1st place locked up and the game meant something only to Leafs goalie Harry Lumley who was 6 goals ahead of Terry Sawchuck in the race for the Vezina trophy.
    Unfortunately, the Leafs were terrible that game and the Wings were pouring it on. They led 3-0 early on and the Leafs were just hanging on. Early in the second period (I think it was), our defenceman Jim Thompson tried to ice the puck to get a line change (as you know, you could do that back then) by dumping the puck from our blueline down the ice. Somehow it must have taken a crazy bounce and it beat Sawchuck! I don't remember seeing the puck go in but cheered with the rest of the Leaf fans when the red light went on. I was hoping for a comeback but, as you might guess, the Wings pressed even harder to run up the score. In the end, the Leafs managed to win 6-1 and preserved the Vezina for Lumley with a fluke goal from a guy who rarely scored. The only comfort I got from seeing my heroes play so poorly was the satisfaction of keeping that darn Red Wing goalie from winning the Vezina!

  4. Each one of the memories you bring up today is pure gold, Ed. I'm "too young" (imagine) for the Quaker Oats photos, but I know they are a wonderful part of hockey collecting history.

    Imagine meeting Glenn Hall. Hall-of-Famer to be- virtually next door! That would be like, I don't know, kids nowadays down the street spending time on Christmas Day with Patrick Roy, or in Leaf terms, Curtis Joseph or maybe these days, James Reimer. How cool would that be?

    I really enjoyed your recollections from that game at the Olympia (where I later spent some fun nights) from '54. The Vezina was a big thing in those days. (In later years, I remember the final night of the 1964-'65 season, the year Sawchuk joined the Leafs and shared time in goal with Bower...they shut out the Wings in Detroit in the last game of the season to secure the hardware for Sawchuk- who made sure it was shared with Bower!)

    Thank you so much Ed. Fabulous memories.

  5. I, too, have the Esso Collection and always loved the Keon photo you often post, Michael. My first favourite cards were the early 70's light orange border Jacques Plante and Dave Keon cards... have most of the green and red border mid 70's sets, too. Still miss the McDonald rookie card that I gave to a discouraged friend who was a big Flames fan and we shared our appreciation for Lanny.

    On the Christmas when I got my first real goal stick, I was blessed with a net, a mask and an Eaton's Leaf sweater (polyesther, I think, cause wool would've driven me nuts!). It was a great practical upgrade on my previous favourite 'original 12 expansion era' table hockey game (that I still have in working condition - Leafs/Habs - friends always had to take the Habs side)!

    Had a scrap of paper on me at a Leafs-Canucks game in the early 80's when they would drive the team bus into the old Pacific Coliseum... managed to get Mike Palmateer and Salming to sign that (think I still have that in a box along with a favourite magazine cover with Sittler front-and-foremost).

    Perhaps we should scan some stuff and send it to you to broaden your collection and increase the scope of Vintage Leaf appreciation amongst your readers!

  6. Oh goodness, InTimeFor62, I well remember those 'light orange border' early '70s cards you mention (and the green/red border year, too). I have precious few of those left. Wonderful memories, though.

    Eaton's Leaf sweaters were the best. Not that they were "authentic" or anything like that, simply that they were Leaf jerseys. Fantastic.

    Table hockey games were part and parcel of childhood (and teenage years, too, if some of us are honest!) for a lot of young hockey enthusiasts in those golden days.

    Autographs from all-time Leafs, old magazine covers- you have some great treasures, InTimeFor62.

    I would be pleased if folks sent some photos along to add to what I try to post here- thanks as always, InTimeFor62.

  7. Got to be these 3 items: my white Jersey signed by 8 members of the team before the Sens game yesterday, my Leafs hat signed by Gilmour in 2000 at the Cornwall Royals reunion, and my Felix Potvin mask from McDonald's way back in the late 90's.
    @Leafer89 on Twitter

  8. Good stuff, Leafer89. One of the best places to get things signed for fans is indeed probably things like a team reunion (like the example you mention about Gilmour in Cornwall with his old junior squad...) Guys are in the mood, receptive and mingling with fans. I think I remember the McDonald's masks because one of our sons was big into collecting hockey stuff at the time! Thanks Leafer89!