Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Harvey Pulford

Harvey Pulford was a man for all seasons in Ottawa. They called him the Bytown Slugger, although he never gained fame in Ottawa on baseball or softball fields. Nonetheless, he was a world-class athlete before and after the turn of the 20th century and would have gained more stature in sports lore had it not been for a chap by the name of Lionel Conacher. Conacher was voted top Canadian athlete of the first half of the 20th century and Pulford wouldn’t have been far behind.

Pulford was born in Toronto but moved to Ottawa where he became a multi-faceted athlete. He was a jack of all trades (oops, sports) and master of all of them. What a 'résumé' he compiled. In a hockey uniform, he was known for being a defensive-minded but very physical defenceman, who loved to throw his 6-foot-1, 200-pound tank of a frame around. Not talented offensively or skating-wise, he kept the opposition honest with his punishing style – he was strictly on the ice to protect his own end and to protect goals from being scored against his team. Pulford started with the Ottawa Silver Seven in 1893-94 and remained a stellar contributor with the team through the 1904-05 season. Along the way, he captained the squad to three consecutive Stanley Cup titles. Pulford was a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders that won Canadian football championships from 1898-1900 and played on the Ottawa Capitals lacrosse squad that won national titles the last four years of the 19th century.

In a much smaller arena, Pulford showed off some of that hockey meanness by winning the Eastern Canada light-heavyweight and heavyweight boxing titles.

On water, Pulford was a Canadian champion in both single and double-blade paddling and won international honours in the sport of rowing. He also won Ottawa squash titles in 1922-23. Pulford was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945, the first year of inductions.

Published in 2003 Inductees
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 20:00

Herb Carnegie

He was known as “one of the best ever players to never play pro-league hockey” during an era in the 1940s and 1950s when blacks were not welcome in the NHL.

Hockey great Herb Carnegie is an inductee of 2014 to the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

“Sometimes it takes a while for the deeds that are so great in our lives to catch up to us,” said his daughter, Bernice Carnegie, who runs the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation.

Herb Carnegie is a member of both the Order of Ontario and the country's highest civilian award, the Order of Canada. We are proud to include Herb Carnegie among the sports elite as a member of the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Published in 2014 Inductees
Monday, 24 March 2014 20:00

Howie Meeker

Howard “Howie” Meeker was born November 4, 1923 in Kitchener, Ontario.

Meeker missed the 1943 and 1944 seasons while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II, but returned to join the Toronto Maple Leafs where he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as outstanding rookie player for the 1946-47 season. During that remarkable first season he set the league record of five goals in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 8, 1947.

He played in three NHL All-Star games during his career of 346 games, and won 4 Stanley Cups in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951 all with Toronto.

He also coached the Maple Leafs, replacing King Clancy on April 11 1956, leading the Leafs to a 21–34–15 record.

Meeker also spent three years as a Progressive Conservative MP while playing for the Leafs. In June 1951, Meeker won the federal by election in the Ontario riding of Waterloo South.

He also ran a hockey school as summer camps in Canada and the US for 35 years.

Howie was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 in the Broadcasters Category, following a 30 year career on Hockey Night in Canada, TSN, CTV and NBC.

Published in 2010 Inductees
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 20:00

Joe Nieuwendyk

It certainly didn’t take Joe Nieuwendyk long to make his mark in the National Hockey League and start his procession to the Hall of Fame.

A second-round draft pick, 27th overall, of the Calgary Flames in 1985 while he was playing at Cornell University, where he was a two-time All-American, he played his first full NHL season in 1987-88 and proceeded to score 51 goals and earn 92 points, which predictably earned him the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the league.

To put his numbers into perspective, Nieuwendyk became just the second NHL player to score 50 goals in his first season. The only other to do it at the time was New York Islanders superstar Mike Bossy.

Not a bad start and it only got better.

In his second season, the big centre, who was raised in Whitby, Ontario, once again scored 51 goals and capped the year off with the franchise’s only Stanley Cup win, coming against the Montreal Canadiens.

Nieuwendyk went on to become the Flames captain a few seasons later.

Knee injuries had an impact on his career at various stages. Contract issues ultimately led to him being traded in December 1995 to the Dallas Stars, for a package that included a future Flames captain named Jarome Iginla.

While he still battled injury issues with the Stars, the big centre still had his success in Dallas. Indeed, in 1999 he was a big reason why the Stars won their first Stanley Cup. With six game-winning goals in the post-season, Nieuwendyk was also named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, as most valuable player.

A third Stanley Cup win would come a few seasons later, in 2003, this time with the New Jersey Devils, though he was injured again during the final.

Nieuwendyk played a season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and parts of two seasons with the Florida Panthers before health problems forced him to retire.

But the final numbers were impressive: three Stanley Cup wins, 564 goals and 562 assists in 1,257 regular-season games. He added another 66 goals and 116 points in 158 playoff games. Talk about a big-game player.

He was also a member of Canada’s gold-medal winning team in the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Post playing days, he served as a front-office adviser with the Leafs and Panthers and was general manager of the Stars from 2009 to 2013. Just recently he was hired by the Carolina Hurricanes as a pro scout and adviser.

In 2011, Nieuwendyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Last March, Nieuwendyk had his number 25 raised in Calgary as a member of the Forever-a-Flame club.

“When I tell (my kids) about playing for the Flames and living in Calgary it’s simple: I tell them they were some of the best years of my life,” he said that special night. “Obviously, winning that Cup (in 1989) was special, but bigger than that was the feeling we had in this city, in this organization…it was a really neat feeling.”

In addition to being a superb hockey player, as a kid he was also one of the top lacrosse players in the country.

Published in 2014 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Johnny Bower

John William "Johnny" Bower (born John Kiszkan on November 8, 1924 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan), nicknamed "The China Wall", is a Hockey Hall of Fame goalie.

Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Bower served with the Canadian Army during World War II in England from 1940 to 1943 and was discharged due to rheumatoid arthritis. After the war, Bower returned to Prince Albert in 1943 to play junior hockey in Prince Albert and in the AHL — largely for the Cleveland Barons — for eleven seasons in the late 1940s and 1950s, and proved himself the star goaltender of the circuit, winning numerous awards and leading his teams to three Calder Cup championships.

During his first professional year of hockey, he changed his name from John Kishkan to Bower, to make it easier for sports writers.

He was finally picked up by the New York Rangers of the NHL for the 1953–54 season, but was sent back down to the minor leagues the following season. Bower would toil in the minors four more years in Providence (Reds 1945–1946, 1955–1956 and 1956–1957), Vancouver (Canucks 1954–1955), Cleveland (Barons 1945–1953 and 1957–1958) and then again with the Rangers in 1954–1955, before being claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1958 Inter-League Draft. He would play eleven full seasons in all with the Leafs, the remainder of his career.

The height of his NHL career came during the Maple Leafs' three consecutive Stanley Cup victories in the early 1960s — 1962, 1963 and 1964.

After the 1962 victory, Bower complained about Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks left winger and his hard slap shot, improved from that of Montreal Canadiens left-wing Bernie Geoffrion. Bower said, "He needs another shot like I need a hole in the head, which I may get."

His career would be hampered by poor eyesight, but despite that he remained a top-tier goaltender. He was known for his hard-nosed, scrappy playing style and would win another Stanley Cup in 1967 by tandeming with another Hall of Famer (Terry Sawchuk). He is the 2nd oldest goalie to play in the Stanley Cup Final at age 42 years, 5 months, 13 days. Bower claimed, "I wasn't all that glad to see the two-goalie system come in. I wanted to play as many games as I could." But Bower and Sawchuk shared the Vezina Trophy as best NHL netminder in 1964–65. His last full season was 1968–69. In 1969, Johnny became the oldest goaltender to appear in a Stanley Cup playoffs, at 44 years, 5 months, and 28 days. He played a final game in the fall of 1969 and on March 19, 1970, Johnny announced his official retirement - four months after his forty-fifth birthday. When asked, in light of his retirement, if he might reveal his true age, he replied "If you don't know by now, you never will".

His Career statistics include: 552 games played, 250 wins, 195 losses, 90 ties, 37 shutouts, and a 2.51 GAA. In addition, he remains the AHL career shutout leader. Bower was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976, and the AHL Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1998, he was ranked number 87 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. He was assistant coach for the Leafs from 1976–1978. Bower is also a member of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame since 1994. In January 2004, Bower was featured on a postage stamp. As part of the NHL All-Stars Collection, Bower was immortalized along with five other All-Stars. In 2005, the Royal Canadian Mint featured Bower on a non-circulating fifty-cent coin, as part of its four-coin Legends of the Toronto Maple Leafs coin set. In 2007, it was announced that Bower would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.

Published in 1999 Inductees
Sunday, 23 March 2014 20:00

Ken Dryden

Kenneth Wayne "Ken" Dryden, PC, (born August 8, 1947) is a Canadian politician, lawyer, businessman, author, and former NHL goaltender. Dryden is married with two children and four grandchildren and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a Liberal Member of Parliament from 2004-2011.

Dryden pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornell University, where he also played hockey until his graduation in 1969. At Cornell, Dryden led his team, the Cornell Big Red, to the 1967 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship and three consecutive ECAC tournament championships.

Dryden made his NHL debut in 1971 for the Canadiens, playing only six regular-season games after a late-season call-up but sporting a minuscule 1.65 goals-against average. This earned him the number 1 goalie job for the playoffs and the Canadiens rode their hot young goalie to win the Stanley Cup. He then became the backbone of 5 more Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979.

During that first playoff season, Dryden won the Conn Smythe Trophy (1971), as the playoffs' most valuable player. The following year Dryden won the Calder Trophy, 1972, as the Rookie of the year. In the autumn of 1972 Dryden played for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet national ice hockey team.

His regular season totals include a .790 winning percentage, a 2.24 goals against average, and, most incredibly, winning 258 games and losing only 57 games while recording 46 shutouts in just 397 NHL games.

Dryden was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. His #29 was retired by the Canadiens on January 29, 2007.

After retiring from hockey Dryden became a dedicated author for a time. His book The Game (1983, ISBN 0-470-83355-6) was a commercial and critical success, being nominated for a Governor General's Award.

Published in 2011 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

King Clancy

Francis Michael "King" Clancy (25 February 1903 – 10 November 1986) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs before becoming a coach, referee, and team executive.

Clancy's nickname "King" originates from his father, who was the first 'King Clancy' and played football for Ottawa. At the time the football was not snapped as is done today, but was 'heeled' back from the line. Frank's father was very good at this and was named 'King of the Heelers' or 'King' for short. This nickname was eventually transferred to Frank.

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Clancy played for junior teams in the Ottawa area and began his NHL career in his hometown playing for the Senators, where he would establish himself as among the league's top players and help the Senators to Stanley Cup wins in 1923 and 1927. Although he was one of the smallest defencemen of his era, he was tough and fast and would not back down. According to Brian McFarlane, it was said that King Clancy started a thousand fights and never won one.

During a 31 March, 1923 Stanley Cup game against the Edmonton Eskimos, Clancy became the first hockey player to play all six positions during one game. In the third period, goaltender Clint Benedict was given a two-minute penalty. At the time, goalies served their own penalties. Not wanting to leave the net open, Clancy played goal for the two minutes Benedict was gone.

On 11 October 1930, coming off what would be the most productive season of his career, with 17 goals and 40 points in 44 games with the Senators, Clancy was traded to the Maple Leafs, with Toronto manager Conn Smythe giving up $35,000 and two players for him. In his second season with the Leafs, Clancy helped his team win the Stanley Cup.

After a sluggish start to the 1936–37 season, Clancy announced his retirement just six games into the season. He retired as the top scoring defenceman in NHL history, with 136 career goals.

Published in 1998 Inductees
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 20:00

Larry Robinson

When you think Montreal Canadiens and the 1971 amateur draft, one name typically comes to mind: Guy Lafleur.

And well it should.

Indeed, The Flower, as Lafleur was known, evolved into one of the greatest Canadiens ever.

But there was another Habs draft pick that year who was also pretty special. His name was Larry Robinson. Selected in the second round, he went on to win nine Stanley Cups, six as a player and three as a coach.

He, too, is regarded as one of the greatest Canadiens ever, at least on the blue line.

Interestingly, as a kid, Robinson never liked the Canadiens.

"I was a Chicago Blackhawks fan," he said in his Hockey Hall of Fame bio. "I really liked their uniforms and Bobby Hull was my idol. The reason I didn't like the Montreal Canadiens was because they won all the time."

And that didn't change during Robinson's time with the Habs.

Robinson, who played his final year of junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers, went on to become a pillar on that great Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s.

Funny enough, after the draft, the Canadiens were still not high on his list of favorites.

"When I first got drafted, I was kind of disappointed," he continued in his bio. "I had been talking to a few scouts from Los Angeles and a couple of other teams. When I got drafted by Montreal, I looked at the lineup and thought, 'Holy Mackerel, I'm never going to make it with them.'"

That's how deep the Canadiens were on defence and how much seniority meant in their system. Robinson didn't actually play his first game in the NHL until January 8, 1973, when the Canadiens had injury problems. Heck, that spring he wasn't even used in the first round of the playoffs against the Buffalo Sabres. But he was still a Stanley Cup winner that year.

Soon after, the one they called "Big Bird" made his mark on Canadiens teams that were great offensively and among the very best defensively.

With the likes of Robinson, Guy Lapointe and Serge Savard on the blue line, the Habs had four seasons allowing less than 200 goals against and five more at 240 or less during the 1970s. The team won the Stanley Cup six times in that decade.

Big, strong, mobile, skilled and feared by many because of his size, Robinson won two Norris Trophies and was First or Second Team all-star six times.

Born in Winchester, Ontario, Robinson spent 17 years in Montreal and three more with the Los Angeles Kings. Not once did his teams fail to make the playoffs.

Robinson was a presence on the ice in so many different ways. Tall and rangy, he could rush the puck up the ice. He possessed a powerful shot from the point, and was a punishing body checker. Few ever dared to drop the gloves with him.

Indeed, legendary Canadiens goaltender Ken Dryden remembered back to the 1976 Stanley Cup final. The Canadiens were facing the Philadelphia Flyers, also known as the Broad Street Bullies. Dryden reflected on the impact Robinson had on that series, scoring a key goal early in the series and establishing a strong physical presence and push back with his body checking.

"They had to bring hammers and crowbars to fix the dent in the boards," recalled Dryden.

Robinson won his first Norris Trophy in the 1976-77 season, finishing with 19 goals and 85 points. The season after that he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. The second Norris came in 1980 after Robinson amassed 75 points.

Robinson's final Stanley Cup win as a Canadien came in 1986. By the time he left the Habs in 1989, Robinson was offensively the best Canadiens' defenceman ever, regular season and playoffs.

He won another Cup, this time as a coach, with the New Jersey Devils in 2000.

"Considering how long I played hockey and how many Cups I got to win as a defenceman with Montreal, it was my first Stanley Cup win as a head coach that is actually my greatest day in hockey," said Robinson.

Not surprisingly, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2007, his number 19 was raised to the rafters in the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Published in 2014 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Lionel Conacher

Lionel Pretoria Conacher, MP (May 24, 1900 – May 26, 1954), nicknamed "The Big Train", was Canada's top all-around athlete in the 1920s, excelling in Canadian football, ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, boxing and wrestling. He later became a politician and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Canadian House of Commons.

Conacher was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1900. He grew up in poverty and was one of ten children. His father was a Toronto teamster. Lionel quit school after the 8th grade to help support his family. He soon realized that sports offered a way out of poverty. He then pursued athletic success.

Junior football and rugby

Lionel first played organized football from 1912-1916 with a Toronto junior team, the Capitals, where he played middle wing (offensive tackle). Canadian football was different then from what it is today. There were fourteen players a side and a touchdown was worth only five points (as it had been in the U. S. before 1912). The Capital won the city championship each year Conacher was a member of the team. In 1919 he played halfback on the Ontario Rugby Football Union's (ORFU) Capitals. In 1920 Conochar joined the Toronto Rugby Club in the senior division of the ORFU.

Toronto Argonauts

He went on to play for the Toronto Argonauts, and was part of the 1921 Grey Cup winning team. This was the first Grey Cup game ever played between the eastern and western champions. Lionel scored two touchdowns for the Argonauts.[3] The very next season Lionel was named as team captain of the Argonauts. The team went undefeated again, with one tied game. Conacher rushed for 950 yards, in six regular-season games, including 215 yards on eight carries against Ottawa. Conacher only played two season with the Argonauts. While he played for them, the team was 15-1-1 in regular-season and play-off competition, winning one Grey Cup. He also set a season record by scoring 33 singles, including eight on 25 punts in another game versus Ottawa. This record still holds today, even though Canadian teams now play sixteen games instead of six.

Canadian Pro Football

By 1932, Conacher was a professional in four sports and ineligible to play Canadian football, which was still exclusively amateur. Therefore in 1933, he organized the first professional football league in Canada. He played halfback and captained the Toronto Crosse and Blackwell Chefs. The team was named for its sponsor, a food products company. The Chefs played teams from Rochester and Buffalo. In 1934 Conacher's team was called the Wrigley Aromints, because of a change of sponsors, this year marked his last year in football.

In 1963 Lionel Conacher was chosen as one of the charter members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. However while football was Lionel's favorite sport, it did not pay well in the 1920s and 30's. However hockey did pay well and Conacher began to play more hockey games.

Hockey Career

From 1925 to 1937, Conacher played in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Americans, Chicago Blackhawks, and Montreal Maroons. Winning the Stanley Cup in 1934 with the Chicago Blackhawks, and 1935 with the Montreal Maroons.

Hockey was Conacher's weakest sport. Conacher didn't start skating until he was 16 years old. However he quickly learned the skill while with the Toronto Century Rovers and the Aura Lee Athletic Club. He then joined the Toronto Canoe Club juniors in 1919-20. The club captured both the Ontario Hockey Associations junior crown and the Memorial Cup that season. Conacher then returned to the Aura Lees to play for their senior team for two years.

In 1922, Conacher played hockey for the North Toronto Seniors and he was in the line-up on February 8, 1923, in the first hockey match ever broadcast on radio. At this stage, Conacher was so highly regarded that the Toronto St. Pats and Montreal Canadiens both invited him to play in the NHL. That year while still active in amateur baseball, hockey and lacrosse, Lionel turned down an offer by Montreal Canadians manager, Leo Dandurand, to turn pro. Dandurand is reported to have offered Conacher $5,000 plus help in setting up his own business.

In 1924 and 1925, Conacher captained the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets as they won consecutive United States Amateur Hockey Association titles. The following year the Yellow Jackets became the expansion Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL. He was instrumental in keeping most of the Yellow Jackets together when the team went professional.

Conacher went professional when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. He was soon named the team's captain and scored the first goal in franchise history, against the Boston Bruins on November 26. On December 2, in front of 8,200 fans, Lionel also scored the Pirates first goal in Pittsburgh.

In 1927 Conacher was traded to the New York Americans, where he played four seasons and played alongside defencemen Leo Reise and Bill Brydge. In 1929 until 1930, Conacher served as the Americans player-coach.

Conacher joined the Montreal Maroons for the 1931 season. His time with the team included a career-best 28 points in 1932-33. He then joined the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1933 season, and was a key figure in the club's first-ever Stanley Cup victory that season. He finished second to the Canadiens' Aurel Joliat in the voting for the Hart Trophy and earned a spot on the NHL's First All-Star Team.

The next season, Conacher returned to the Maroons, where he'd spend his last three NHL seasons and won his second Stanley Cup in 1935. He ended his hockey career after the Maroons were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers on April 23, 1937. That final year he was runner-up to Babe Siebert in the 1937 Hart Trophy voting and was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team.

Other sports

Baseball

In 1920, Lionel hit the game-winning home run to give his team the Toronto semipro baseball crown, then promptly took a taxi across the city and scored four goals for his lacrosse team, which was losing 3-0 when he arrived. In 1926, he played professional baseball as an outfielder for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. His team won the pennant and the Triple A championship.

Boxing

In 1920 Lionel won the Canadian amateur light heavyweight boxing title. In 1921 Lionel boxed a four-round exhibition with Jack Dempsey.

Lacrosse

Lionel also played lacrosse for the Toronto Maitlands, and helped guide that team to the Ontario Senior Lacrosse championship in 1922. In 1931, Conacher became professional in a third sport when he played for the Montreal Maroons in the International Indoor Professional Lacrosse League. In 1965, he was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Wrestling

In 1916 Conacher won the amateur lightweight wrestling championship of Ontario in the 125 pound weight class at age 16 year old. After training with Ali Hassan, he made his pro debut in May 1932 for Toronto promoter Ivan Mickailoff. Conacher went 27-0 as a pro wrestler in Canada and the United States in 1933 and never lost a match in his career.

Published in 1996 Inductees
Monday, 10 April 2017 00:00

Paul Coffey

Paul CoffeyPaul Coffey was born in Weston, Ontario. He played in the Toronto minor hockey system and moved up to the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. Coffey was drafted in the 1st round, 6th overall in 1980 by the Edmonton Oilers. By his second season, Coffey had emerged as one of the premier offensive defenseman in the NHL. He was a fast and graceful skater with an amazing knack for scoring points. He scored over 100 points five times in his career, including two 40+ goal seasons in Edmonton.

Coffey's stay in Edmonton was short-lived as he was unable to re-negotiate his contract in 1987. He was traded along with Dave Hunter and Wayne Van Dorp to the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing on an emerging offensive powerhouse featuring Mario Lemieux. He led the Pens to their first every Stanley Cup championship in 1991 but was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings the following season. Paul Coffey would play in LA for one more season before being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings.

In the twilight of his career, Coffey was no stranger to trades and signings as he made his way around the league playing with the Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Boston Bruins. Even though he played more games with teams other than the Edmonton Oilers, Paul Coffey is still associated with the high scoring Oiler teams of the early 1980s.

Coffey is currently the highest scoring defenseman in NHL history and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. The Edmonton Oilers retired Coffey's number 7 during a ceremony held at the Rexall Centre on October 18, 2005.

Published in Inductees
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