A disembodied voice introduces players and officials, announces goals, assists and penalties, reveals the Three Stars as well as delivers special announcements such as pre-game ceremonies. These faceless public address announcers are known solely by their voices and their unique deliveries. The Toronto Maple Leafs introduced a new p.a. announcer to start the 2016-17 season; just the fourth of the team’s storied history.
The Toronto Maple Leafs finished the 1941-42 regular season in second place. They defeated the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, propelling them into the Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings. Although the Leafs had finished 15 points higher than the Wings during the regular season, Detroit was no pushover. “Detroit will come out roaring,” predicted Leafs managing director Conn Smythe. “Unless we can out-thump them, we’ll be behind the eight-ball.”
There have been several seasons in which the Toronto Maple Leafs were in disarray, but it would be hard to argue that the 1979-80 season tops all of them for dysfunction.
Punch Imlach, who was hired by the Maple Leafs in June 1958 as the coach and general manager (whether he had the actual titles or not), had been been fired by Stafford Smythe in April 1969, and then was rehired as general manager by Harold Ballard on July 4, 1979.
February is Black History Month, and when it comes to sports, it is hard to argue that the most important athlete in black history is Jackie Robinson, who broke the colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Robinson went on to a Hall of Fame career, and his number 42 has been retired league-wide. Today, on April 15, every Major League player wears Robinson’s number 42.
Amongst hockey fans — and those pulling into the drive-thru for a double-double and a Boston Cream donut – it seems everyone is acquainted with the name “Tim Horton” but many have no idea who Tim Horton was.
While awaiting his birth, his mother always referred to him by ‘Tim,’ but too ill to attend the christening, she was astonished to discover that her husband had named the baby ‘Miles Gilbert Horton.’ “He was always ‘Tim’ to relatives and friends, and later to his many fans,” his wife, Lori, wrote in In Loving Memory: A Tribute to Tim Horton. “Except for certain documents and the odd piece of official business, Tim’s given names were never used.”
We mourn the loss of one of the great goaltenders in NHL history. But many forget that Johnny Bower was a best-selling recording artist, too.
Chip Young, a CBC producer, had written a short Christmas story about a wild goose that ate so much that he couldn’t swim or fly, but in the end, saves Santa Claus. Encouraged by ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ broadcaster Ed Fitkin, who was also a prolific hockey author, Young turned the story into a song with the help of composer Orville Hoover, then approached Toronto’s coach Punch Imlach to get permission for one of the Maple Leafs to record the song he had written.
Christmas Day contests in the National Hockey League were, at one time, a grand tradition for fans. I remember well sitting with my family after Christmas dinner watching the Toronto Maple Leafs play.
While it was a grand tradition for fans, for the players? Not so much! Maple Leafs alumni relate stories with a tinge of sadness, explaining how Santa’s magical arrival took place a few days before Christmas so Dad could have Christmas with his kids before having to head off on a Christmas Day road trip.
A rumour has swirled through Toronto for decades – the Hockey Hall of Fame is haunted!
Dorothea Mae Elliott was just 19 years of age in 1953 and working at the Bank of Montreal at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets, now the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Co-workers described the young lady as “full of life and always smiling,” “the life of the party; the most popular girl in the bank” and “a beautiful girl, tall and buxom” who resembled actress Rita Hayworth.
But something was troubling Dorothea…
Much to the exasperation of his wife, Conn Smythe enlisted for duty in the Second World War. Many questioned why Smythe, almost 45 years of age with a family and significant business interests, would insist on joining up again having already served honourably in Canada’s First World War effort. “I felt it was a shame that we had to go back to Europe and win the war again that we thought we’d won for all time back in 1918. But if we had to, I wanted to be there,” he explained.
After Dad died, my brother and I assumed the task of going through his belongings, making piles in strategic corners of the room: “This pile is yours, this pile is mine, this pile’s for Goodwill.”
One of the items we came across was a small, homemade wooden box secured with a tiny lock. By shaking it, we could tell there were items inside, but there was no key to be found. For months, the box sat unopened at my Mom’s house. Finally, curiosity got the better of me and, with everyone’s permission, I pried the hinges off the back of the box so we could discover its contents.