Tuesday, 07 April 2020 10:42

Brad Park

Brad ParkWhile growing up in Scarborough, Ontario, future hockey star Brad Park often skated with and against older kids. He developed into a strong player and was part of the Scarborough Lions team that won the first Quebec Peewee Tournament in 1960.

He was still small at age 15, standing only 5 feet tall. But Park grew eight inches in a year. When he tried out for the Toronto Marlboros in 1965, he got noticed quickly for his physicality. During the first scrimmage, he slammed info Brent Imlach, son of Maple Leafs coach and GM Punch, and knocked him out. Park made the team and, in 1967, starred for the Memorial Cup champions.

In 1966, the New York Rangers made Park a first-round draft pick, taking him second overall. In 1968, after a brief stint in the AHL with the Buffalo Bisons, Park made the big league team.

Park split his 17-year NHL career between the Rangers, Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings.

While in the ‘Big Apple,’ Park became the Rangers' best defenceman. His play drew comparisons with the great Bobby Orr. Both were credited with revolutionizing the "offensive" defenceman.

In his final two seasons, Park helped the struggling Red Wings make the playoffs. This feat helped Park set an NHL record. He qualified for the postseason in each of his 17 NHL seasons. The previous record holder was Jean Beliveau with 16 straight playoff appearances.

When he retired in 1985, Park was the all-time leader among NHL defencemen with 683 assists and ranked third in goals (214) and points (896). He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, in his first year of eligibility.

Published in 2020 Inductees
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 14:49

Brian Kilrea

Brian KilreaBrian Kilrea hockey career, is most notable for his 35 year association with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League.

Kilrea nicknamed “Killer” has made an impact throughout his career as a player, general manager and coach.

While playing for the Los Angeles Kings, Kilrea scored the first goal in the team’s history on October 14, 1967.

After retiring as a player in 1970, Kilrea moved into the realm of coaching. He took over as coach of the OHA's Ottawa 67's and never looked back. He led the team to the Memorial Cup in 1984,and then joined the New York Islanders as an assistant to Al Arbour for his first and only taste of NHL coaching.

He returned to the Ottawa bench in 1986-87 and later won a second Memorial Cup in 1999. Kilrea developed an enormous list of future NHL stars, including Doug Wilson and Jim Fox. In the mid 1990's he was forced to assume a scouting role when his health suffered, but a short time later, he returned and set the Canadian junior record for coaching wins on January 17, 1997. The record 742nd win came courtesy of a 6-0 Ottawa thrashing of the North Bay Centennials to move past former Portland Winter Hawks coach Ken Hodge.

In 2002-03 Kilrea celebrated his 1,000th victory as a head coach in the CHL. Within months of this accomplishment, Brian Kilrea was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder Category.

Published in 2018 Inductees
Sunday, 23 March 2014 20:00

Cassie Campbell

Cassie Campbell-Pascall (born November 22, 1973) Campbell is a former Canadian female ice hockey player. She was the captain of the Canadian ice hockey team during the 2002 Winter Olympics and led the team to a gold medal.

Born in Richmond Hill, Ontario and raised in Brampton, Ontario. She attended high school at North Park Secondary School and is an alumna of the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Her charity work among communities in the greater Toronto area has been well received, and she is known as a great role model and humanitarian.

The left winger took on the role of captain again in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and again successfully led her team to the Gold Medal with a 4 – 1 win over Sweden. Cassie was also captain of the Calgary Oval X-Treme, a team in the Western Women's Hockey League. Campbell has also played for the Toronto Aeros and Mississauga Chiefs.

Cassie Campbell retired from competitive hockey on August 30, 2006. She then joined Hockey Night in Canada as a rinkside reporter, becoming (on October 14, 2006) the first woman to do colour commentary on a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. She has done modelling, and hosted women's hockey segments on TSN's hockey broadcasts.

In 2007, she was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. On November 22, 2009, Campbell ran a leg in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch relay, through the town of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. During the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, Campbell provided colour commentary for women's hockey.

Published in 2012 Inductees
Saturday, 19 April 2014 20:00

Charlie Conacher

Conacher played three years of junior hockey, most notably with the Toronto Marlboros. Playing with future Maple Leafs teammate Harvey "Busher" Jackson, he achieved staggering scoring numbers, leading the Marlboros to the Memorial Cup playoffs in 1928 and 1929. In 28 playoff games with the Marlies in those two seasons, Conacher scored 50 goals, including 28 goals in the 1929 playoffs to lead his team to a Memorial Cup championship.

Signed the next season by the Maple Leafs with Jackson, Toronto manager Conn Smythe paired the two with former farmhand Joe Primeau. The trio, nicknamed the "Kid Line" for their inexperience - Primeau was 23, Conacher and Jackson both 18 - became an immediate sensation in Toronto. The following season, Conacher broke into the elite of the league, despite missing a number of games due to a reinjured hand he scored 31 goals - the first of five times he led the league in goal scoring - and finishing third overall in points.

A broken collarbone sidelined Conacher for weeks in the 1933 season, the only one in a six year stretch in which he failed to lead the league in goals - but he was once again named to the Second All- Star Team at right wing. The next three seasons saw Conacher cemented among the top players in the game, as he regained his form and led the league in goal scoring all three seasons and in points in 1934 and 1935, being named First Team All-Star all three seasons, years in which the Leafs finished as runner-up in the Stanley Cup finals. Conacher retired after the 1941 season.

After his retirement, Conacher went into coaching, meeting with remarkable success: he led the junior league Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey Association to four straight OHA Championships between 1941 and 1944, as well as three straight Eastern Canada amateur championships in 1942, 1943 and 1944, and the Memorial Cup Championship in 1944. The Generals finished in second place in both 1946 and 1947.

After resigning from his coaching post in Oshawa, Conacher was named to replace Johnny Gottselig as coach of the Chicago Black Hawks 28 games into the 1949 season. Over his three seasons at the helm, Conacher coached the Black Hawks - a team on which his younger brother Roy played - to 6th, 5th and 6th place finishes respectively.

Conacher had nine siblings, including Hockey Hall of Famers Lionel Conacher and Roy Conacher. He was also the father of retired NHL forward Pete Conacher. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961 and, later, to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1975. In 1998, he was ranked number 36 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Published in 2013 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Conn Smythe

Constantine Falkland Cary Smythe MC (February 1, 1895 – November 18, 1980) was a Canadian builder in the National Hockey League. He is best known as the principal owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927 to 1961 and as the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens. As owner of the Leafs during numerous championship years, his name appears on the Stanley Cup eleven times: 1932, 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1966.

Early years

Born on February 1, 1895, in Toronto, Smythe went to high school at Upper Canada College (until his father, a journalist, could no longer afford the tuition) and Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Smythe never liked his given name, Constantine, and when he was finally christened at age 9 he insisted on it being changed to Conn, in tribute to King Conn, the Irish ruler who fought 100 battles. He began engineering studies at the University of Toronto in the fall of 1912. There he played hockey as a centre, leading the Varsity Blues men's ice hockey team to the finals of the 1914 Ontario Hockey Association junior championships and to the OHA junior championship the following year. The coach of the losing team in 1915 was Frank J. Selke, who years later would work for Smythe at Maple Leaf Gardens. In between seasons, Smythe also played on the U of T football team, although not as a starter.

Smythe and the Maple Leafs

On February 14, 1927, Smythe invested $10,000 and with the help of some partners bought the St. Pats, renaming them the Toronto Maple Leafs. At first, Smythe's name was kept in the background. However, when the Leafs promoted a public share offering to raise capital, it announced that "one of the most prominent hockey coaches in Toronto" would be taking over management of the club. That prominent coach turned out to be Smythe. The next season, Smythe changed the team's colours from green and white to their present blue and white. While he claimed that the blue stood for the Canadian skies and the white for snow, it has been a long-standing tradition that top-level Toronto teams wear blue. At the start of the next season Smythe took over as coach as well. For the next three years, he was a one-man band as governor, general manager and coach.

Before the 1931–32 NHL season, Smythe led the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens. In its first season in the new building, the franchise won its first Stanley Cup as the Maple Leafs. As part of a corporate reorganization, the Leafs became the leading subsidiary of the newly created Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd.; Smythe remained the largest shareholder.

Smythe had a life-long involvement with Thoroughbred horse racing, and on September 20, 1930 his horse, Rare Jewel, won the Coronation Futurity Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. The horse had been a 100–1 longshot paying $214.40 on a $2 bet, and Smythe had bet heavily on the race. Between the winnings from his bet and his portion of the winner's purse as horse owner, Smythe won more than $10,000 on that one race. Three weeks later, he put his windfall to work for the Leafs by purchasing star defenceman King Clancy from the depression-strapped Ottawa Senators for $35,000.

A partner for several years with Larkin Maloney in a number of horses, in 1959 their horse Wonder Where was voted Canadian Horse of the Year and following its formation, the filly would be inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In 1973, Smythe became a founding member of the Jockey Club of Canada. In 1977 he was inducted in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Becomes majority owner of the Leafs

Smythe oversaw one of hockey's greatest dynasties when Toronto won six Stanley Cups in 10 seasons between 1942 and 1951. Hap Day coached the team to five of those Cups and was assistant general manager for the sixth. He was named in a poll of Canadian sports editors the "most dominating personality in any capacity in sports" for 1949. Notably, only two of these teams finished first overall, and one barely made the playoffs with a record three games under .500. However, Smythe was known for caring little about gaudy regular season records. From the 1940s onward, his two mantras to Leafs teams were to make the playoffs and keep the turnstiles clicking at Maple Leaf Gardens. In part because of this, the Leafs did not post a 100-point season until 1999–2000, 20 years after Smythe's death.

However, the Leafs spent most of the 1950s as a mediocre team, struggling under three different coaches while Day remained assistant general manager under Smythe. Even so, in 1955, Smythe turned over most responsibility for hockey operations to Day, but nominally remained general manager. However, just after the Leafs were eliminated from the playoffs in 1957, Smythe told the media that it had been "a season of failure" and that he didn't know if the 55-year-old Day would be available for the next season. It was a public rebuke that triggered the response Smythe wanted: Day resigned.

In March 1957, Smythe resigned as general manager and turned the operation of the hockey team over to a seven-person committee, headed by his son, Stafford Smythe. Newspaper owner John Bassett was another member of the committee, which became known as the Silver Seven, as was Percy Gardiner's son, George Gardiner. Initially, all members were in their 30s or early 40s, but that changed before the end of the year when 54-year-old Harold Ballard, president of the Toronto Marlboros, was appointed to the committee to fill a vacancy.

Sells to his son and partners

Though the committee made most decisions involving the Leafs, Smythe was not a hands-off owner and was constantly fighting with his son. After four years, he offered to sell his shares to Stafford and in November 1961, Smythe sold 45,000 of his 50,000 shares in Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. to a partnership of his son, Ballard, and Bassett for $2.3 million—a handsome return on his investment of 34 years earlier. Smythe would later claim that he thought he was selling the company only to his son, but there is skepticism that he could have believed that Stafford could have come up with the millions of dollars needed to purchase the shares on his own.

Smythe remained chairman of the board until 1964, when Bassett succeeded him. In 1964, Smythe opposed the Pearson government's plan to replace the traditional Canadian flag with a completely new design. He wrote to Pearson: "In the Olympic Games the whole world is represented and when Canada sometimes wins a Gold Medal everybody knows, when the Red Ensign (see Canadian Red Ensign) is raised to the masthead, that Canada has won." In 1965, he unsuccessfully lobbied for the Red Ensign to be flown at the Gardens instead of the new Flag of Canada. In March 1966, Smythe sold his remaining shares and resigned from the board of directors after a Muhammad Ali boxing match was scheduled for the Gardens. He found Ali's refusal to serve in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War to be offensive, because, as he put it in his autobiography "The Gardens was founded by men - sportsmen - who fought for their country. It is no place for those want to evade conscription in their own country. The Gardens was build for many things, but not for picking up things that no one else wants." He also said that by accepting the fight, Gardens owners had "put cash ahead of class."

Published in 1998 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Darryl Sittler

The best Toronto Maple Leafs’ player ever? The player who best epitomizes the franchise? Until someone like Mats Sundin finishes his career, many would have to say classy Darryl Sittler, the flashy London Knights’ junior star, who compiled 916 career points with the Leafs, most of any player in team history.

Sittler was the Leafs' first pick in the 1970 draft and endured some struggles in his first two seasons – due to broken ribs which sidelined him for three months in his first season and being shifted to left wing because the Leafs were strong down the middle with Norm Ullman, Dave Keon and Jim Harrison.

In his third season, with Ullman and Keon defecting to the WHA, Sittler was back at his customary centre spot and notched 77 points. In the following two seasons, he reached the 80-point plateau and had risen to become one of the NHL’s most dangerous offensive weapons. The year 1976 was a momentous one, especially in two heart-stopping games: 10 points in one game Feb. 7 against the Boston Bruins and his OT winner in September to secure victory for his home country in the first-ever Canada Cup.

"Most fans remember the 10-point game but the highlight of my career would have to be the goal I scored to beat Czechoslovakia in the Canada Cup," Sittler told this magazine. "To score the winning goal while representing your country is special. I knew that the Czech goalie liked to come out so I pulled over to the left side and saw an empty net."

Sittler’s 10-point game (six goals, four assists) against Boston’s Dave Reece survived the Gretzky and Lemieux eras and likely will never be matched, considering the trap-defensive hockey so prevalent in the game today. "What happened in that game," Sittler said, "is that after the second period I had seven points, and I went into the dressing room and statistician Stan Obodiac told me that Rocket Richard held the record for most points in one game with eight. To tie the record and get three points was something. Near the end of the game, I got my 10th point and final goal when my shot went in off (Boston defenceman) Brad Park."

Sittler’s best season was 1977-78 when he collected 117 points. He went on to spend close to 12 seasons with the Leafs and finished off his NHL career with stints in Philadelphia and Detroit, retiring after the 1984-85 season with 1,121 points.


Published in 2003 Inductees
Monday, 24 March 2014 20:00

Dave Keon

Dave Keon was born on March 22, 1940 in Noranda, Quebec. A clever skater and stick handler, Keon left St. Michael's College to play professional hockey and joined the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 1960-61 season, scoring 20 goals to win the Calder Cup as the NHL's rookie of the year. Keon won the Lady Byng Trophy for combining excellent play with sportsmanship in 1962 and 1963.

Keon won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, and 1966–67. He was named MVP in the 67 playoffs and hardly ever took penalties.

He was the Leafs' leading scorer in the 1963–64, 1966–67 and 1969–70 seasons and the team's top goal scorer in 1970–71 and 1972–73. Keon was considered one of the fastest skaters in the NHL and one of the best defensive forwards of his era. He was named team captain on October 31, 1969, succeeding George Armstrong.

Keon ended his career with the Hartford Whalers in 1981-82. He scored 986 points on 396 goals and 590 assists in 1,296 regular season games and added 32 goals and 36 assists for 68 points in 92 playoff games.

Dave Keon was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

Published in 2010 Inductees
Sunday, 24 February 2019 16:03

Denis Potvin

Denis PotvinHelping set the tone as the leader of the blueline for the New York Islanders dynasty of the late 1970s and early 1980s era, Denis Potvin was a true commander on the ice.

Potvin surpassed all expectations and became the first NHL defenseman to score 1,000 career points. He was the cornerstone of the franchise's four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983.

The Ottawa native had a wealth of natural talent. He excelled on the offensive rush. And he was a tough physical presence in his own end of the rink. He was one of the most complete blueliners to ever step onto the ice.

The leadership qualities demonstrated by Potvin, along with his exceptional talent at both ends of the ice, placed him in a category reserved for only a handful of NHL defensemen.

The talented defenseman distinguished himself on the international stage through his play on Canada's 1976 and 1981 Canada Cup teams. He retired at the conclusion of the 1987-88 season with regular-season totals of 310 goals and 1,052 points. In postseason play, Potvin tallied an additional 56 goals and 164 points during his career.

Potvin was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. The ceremony was held in his hometown of Ottawa for the first time.

The popular Potvin joined the broadcasting ranks post playing career. In 1993, he was hired to add colour to Florida Panthers television broadcasts, remaining until 2009. In 2010, he was hired as an analyst on Ottawa Senators television broadcasts. He returned to the Panthers telecasts in 2014.

Published in 2019 Inductees
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 20:00

Dick Duff

Dick Duff was a winner.

Plain and simple.

He wasn’t big and he was never considered to be a prolific goal scorer, but the native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario always found a way to get it done, especially in important games.

And the gutsy left winger would do whatever it took to win.

“He would drop his gloves with anybody,” Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Bob Baun recently told Sportsnet. “I had a fight with him every practice!”

That last part was a bit of a reach, but the point was clear that Duff, though just five-foot-nine, 165 pounds, was fearless and played bigger than he stood.

Not surprisingly, his idol was Detroit Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay, who played his minor hockey in the summer in Kirkland Lake.

“He was the toughest, meanest bugger in the NHL,” Duff told Sportsnet.

Beyond being a feisty player, Duff could also produce and in key moments.

He started in the NHL with the Maple Leafs in 1955 at the age of 19, a graduate of St. Michael’s College where he won the Memorial Cup. It was quite apparent from the beginning that the Leafs held Duff in high regard, too, when owner Conn Smythe gave him sweater number nine, which had been worn by the legendary Ted Kennedy.

“When Mr. Smythe gave me Kennedy’s number, I knew they considered me a special player,” he said.

His first full season was 1955-56, when he played alongside George Armstrong and Tod Sloan. That first season he scored 18 goals, then had seasons of 26, 26 and 29, then a huge number.

He won the Stanley Cup with the Leafs in 1962 and 1963, scoring the Cup-winning goal in 1962, ending an 11-year championship drought for the Leafs. In that 1963 final, in the opening game, Duff set an NHL scoring record, with two goals in the first 1:08 of the game, the fastest pair ever from the start of a playoff game and they came against the Detroit Red Wings star goaltender Terry Sawchuk.

In his ninth full season with the Leafs, Duff was traded to the New York Rangers in a 1964 blockbuster seven-player deal that saw Andy Bathgate come to Toronto. The following season he was again traded, this time to the Montreal Canadiens to replace the retired Dickie Moore. He proceeded to be a key player in four Stanley Cup victories in five seasons. And he had a couple more 20-plus goal years, including 25 in 1967-68, eight of those a team-best game winners.

Duff ended his 18-year career with six championships and had stints with the expansion Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres, where he was reunited with his former Leafs coach Punch Imlach. Duff retired in 1972 and later returned to the Leafs for many years in the scouting department.

Duff scored 283 goals and 572 points in his career and had an additional 79 points in 114 playoff games.

He also played in seven NHL all-star games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.

“I appreciate my teammates in the NHL, who taught me how to win at the highest level of the game,” Duff said on the day of his induction.

You could safely argue that Duff taught them a thing or two, as well.

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

Doug Gilmour

Douglas Gilmour (born June 25, 1963) During his NHL career, Gilmour played for 7 NHL clubs: the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens, serving as Captain for Calgary, Toronto and Chicago. Gilmour won a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989, and the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward while with the Maple Leafs in 1993. Gilmour had 450 goals and 964 assists in 1474 games in his NHL career.

Gilmour began his junior hockey career in 1980-81 with the Cornwall Royals of the OHL in the 1980–81 season. He spent three seasons with the team, helping win consecutive Memorial Cup championships, but in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, the St. Louis Blues drafted him in the 7th round. Gilmour did not make the Blues squad for the 1982–83 season, and was returned to Cornwall. Determined to prove naysayers wrong, Gilmour earned the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL's leading scorer, totaling 70 goals and 107 assists for 177 total points. As a result of his scoring prowess, Gilmour was named the OHL's Most Valuable Player. During that memorable season, Gilmour set a (then) league record, scoring in 55 consecutive games.

During his first three seasons with the Blues, Gilmour was a consistent defensive presence, averaging a solid 50 points a season. During the 1986 playoffs, Gilmour broke out and scored 21 points in 19 games, as the Blues lost in the Campbell Conference finals. Gilmour's dynamic two-way play lead him to becoming one of the only players in history to lead in post-season scoring without making it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Just prior to the 1988–89 season, Gilmour was traded to the Calgary Flames. With Calgary, Gilmour played a major role during the Flames march to the 1989 Stanley Cup championship. Before the decisive game six of the series, Gilmour kissed and shook hands with Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry for good luck. Gilmour scored two goals in Game 6 including the Stanley Cup winning goal seal Calgary's first (and only) Stanley Cup Championship.

The Leafs acquired Gilmour in a 10-player deal, the largest in NHL history, and statistically speaking, one of the most lopsided. Toronto fans did not need to wait long for the Gilmour acquisition to pay off. He scored a franchise-record 127 points during the 1992-93 regular season. Throughout his six years as a Leaf, Gilmour was one of the most popular players on the team and in the league. He was a fan and media darling, as the spokesman for the NHLPA in community and charity events, and he also appeared in a series of memorable "Got Milk?" TV commercials.

Gilmour finished the postseason with 35 points in 21 games, second behind only Wayne Gretzky. As a result of his spectacular season, Gilmour was the runner-up for the Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP and was awarded the Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward, the first major NHL award that a Maple Leaf player had won since 1967.

Published in 2011 Inductees
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