Saturday, February 6, 2016


At the February lunch for the NHL Original Six Alumni, I had the pleasure of giving a talk on the career of Sandy Air.

In 1957, Sandy was a member of the Allan Cup champion Whitby Dunlops. As reigning champs, the Dunlops were selected to represent Canada at the 1958 world championships in Oslo, Norway. Due to business commitments, Sandy wasn't going to make the trip. However, he was told by Dunlops manager, Wren Blair, to stay by the phone in case he was needed.

And that call came on February 25, 1958. Hoping to bolster their attack on right wing, Blair and playing-coach Sid Smith felt it was necessary to reach out to Air. A headline in The Globe and Mail read, "SANDY AIR-LIFT PLANNED TO STRENGTHEN DUNLOPS."

On March 9, 1958, Sandy Air and his Dunlop teammates doubled-up Russia by a 4-2 score and their quest to conquer the world was complete.


Taking into account it is called Legends Row, it didn't come as a surprise when the Leafs announced that Dave Keon would be honoured with a statue in their upcoming centennial year. 

Since retiring, Keon has returned to take part in ceremonies to hail the 1960's Stanley Cup winning teams. However, he has refused to participate in an individual tribute. This stems from his firmly held belief that his former team should retire player numbers and not employ their policy of having honoured numbers.

The Maple Leafs only have two retired numbers - #6 for Ace Bailey and #5 for Bill Barilko - hanging from the rafters at the Air Canada Centre.

Left to Right: Barb Tushingham, Brendan Shanahan, Dave Keon and Jeri Horton-Joyce

Since Keon wasn't going to be part of any gathering to honour his number 14, the Leafs found another way to acknowledge their former captain. On January 23rd, Keon was front and centre in a pre-game ceremony to salute the latest members of Legends Row. Joining Keon at centre ice was Barb Tushingham (representing her father, Turk Broda) and Jeri Horton Joyce (representing her father, Tim Horton). 

And how did Keon land the number that he feels so strongly about?

The story begins at his rookie training camp prior to the 1960-61 season. During camp, Keon wore two different numbers - 8 & 24. His request to permanently wear 24 was refused and number 14 was assigned to him.

During a press conference between periods at the ACC, Keon explained his reluctance to wear number 14.

"I didn't want it fourteen was the number given to every guy coming up and down from Rochester (the Leafs AHL farm team). For a month or two weeks you wore 14 and you were gone again. That's not a good sign."

As history shows, Dave Keon put an end to that tradition.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


The first Original Six Alumni lunch of 2016 was held in early January. One of the great aspects of this gathering is the opportunity to meet new people. And this was the case to kick-off the new year.

The top photo shows John Brown, who made his first appearance at the lunch. His great grandfather, John Earls, was the founder of the OHA Toronto Marlboros. John is holding a book - 'A Great Game' - written by the former prime minister of Canada Stephen Harper.

Here is a passage from Mr. Harper's work relating to the Earls family and the 1905-06 Toronto Marlboros:

The Marlboros had again lost some key men in the off-season. This time, however, no new crop of regulars stood ready to bridge the gaps. Despite the allegations in Barrie and elsewhere of a capital-city bias, no OHA rulings came to the clubs rescue, either.
The subcommittee's pre-emptive crackdown gave the Marlboros no breaks on amateur declarations or residency certificates. Jack Earls, son of the club founder John Earls and brother of former captain Lal Earls, was denied permission to play after returning from a work stint in Buffalo.

The second photo shows a close-up view of the 1903-04 Toronto Marlboros team picture. John has marked the members of his hockey family in the image.

In 1903-04, the Marlboros lost a best-of-three challenge for the Stanley Cup to the Ottawa Silver Seven.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

RUDY MIGAY: 1928-2016

One of the interesting aspects about Rudy Migay, who passed away on January 16,  is the fact he played his entire NHL career with only one team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After winning the Memorial Cup in 1948 with the Port Arthur West End Bruins, Migay joined the Leafs' farm team (AHL) in Pittsburgh for the 1948-49 campaign. In his first season of pro hockey, Migay collected 52 points in 64 games and included in this total was 21 goals.

When he was called-up in his second season by the Leafs, Migay was on a hot-streak having recorded 7 points in his last 6 outings with the Hornets.

Rudy Migay made his NHL debut on December 1, 1949, when the Maple Leafs hosted the Detroit Red Wings.

During the period from 1949-50 to 1959-60, Rudy Migay skated in 418 contests wearing the Blue & White. In the NHL, he registered 151 points on 59 goals and 92 assists. Also, he spent parts of different seasons in the American Hockey League with Pittsburgh and the Rochester Americans.

The top photo is the game summary from Migay's NHL debut. The bottom picture shows (left to right) Hugh Bolton, Gil Mayer and Rudy Migay. All three were summoned for the Detroit game. This photo appeared in the November 30, 1949, edition of The Telegram.

Besides capturing the Memorial Cup, another highlight from Migay's career came in 1958-59. In addition to participating in 19 games with the Maple Leafs, Migay had an outstanding 51 games with Rochester. His 82 points (24 goals & 58 assists) resulted in him sharing (with Bill Hicke) the Les Cunningham Award as the league MVP.

Migay's final season as a player was in 1964-65 with the Tulsa Oilers (CPHL). He remained in the game as a coach, general manager and scout.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


On January 14, 1954, Hockey Hall of Fame goalie, Johnny Bower, recorded his first NHL shutout when the New York Rangers defeated Chicago 2-0. He would go on to register a total of 37 regular season shutouts with New York and Toronto.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Earlier this month, The NHL Oldtimers Hockey Alumni Original Six Christmas lunch was held in Markham, Ontario.
Pete Conacher (L) with Jim Morrison
Adrian Stanowski (L) with Barb Loynachan (Bob Goldham's daughter) & Craig Stanowski
Sid Smith's son, Blaine, standing between Frank Mahovlich (L) & Red Kelly
Steve Vickers (L) with Gilles Leger
Jim Gregory (L) with Frank Bonello
Harry Howell (L) with Dean Prentice
Bob & Sallie Baun
The "Big M" with Bob Nevin
Red Kelly sharing a laugh with Santa

Steve Vickers (L) with Steve Ludzik & Jim Gregory
After spreading Christmas cheer throughout the room, Santa was ready for some cake
With his round belly now full, Santa was ready for his interview with Brian McFarlane
The talented Stephanie Beaumont and her sweet voice filled the room with Christmas tunes


Monday, November 23, 2015


One year ago today, the hockey world lost one of its most beloved citizens, Pat Quinn.

In his first National Hockey League game with the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 27, 1968, Quinn let his opponents know they should keep their heads up when he came over the boards.

Red Burnett's game story in the Toronto Daily Star on Quinn's debut against the Pittsburgh Penguins noted the rookie's physical play:

Pat Quinn, another Tulsa Oiler (the Leafs' farm team in the CHL), took Dorey's place on defence and bombed Angotti (Lou) with a solid check to let the Penguins know he meant business.

Long after Quinn burst onto the NHL scene, his reputation has grown beyond that of an enforcer turned coach and executive. He became a mentor, who gave back to the game and cared about the people around him.

The story about how these character traits evolved and were nurtured are told in a new book on Pat Quinn published by Penguin Random House.

Earlier this month, Mike Wilson hosted a special event 'Inside the Room' to celebrate the release of Quinn - The Life of a Hockey Legend. Pat Quinn's siblings - Carol, Guy and Barry - were on hand to remember their brother.

Carol standing between Guy (L) and Barry.

Dan Robson (R) with Mike Wilson
Dan Robson, who authored the book, provided insight into the making of this mammoth project.

"It was an opportunity that was given to me, which I was fortunate to have," Robson said in his opening remarks.

His involvement in this undertaking began in December 2014. An email from Nick Garrison of Random House led to them meeting over drinks at a pub in Toronto.

"He started talking about Pat, who passed away 3 weeks before, and the outpouring of emotions and love for Pat in those 3 weeks after he passed away. Nick wanted to capture all that in a book and he asked me if I wanted that chance."

Robson jumped at the offer and as he stated, "it was the biggest opportunity I had in my career."

But his first reaction doesn't come as a surprise, taking into account the task at hand.

"I was immediately terrified, then I said, absolutely. It was a huge challenge, but one I hoped I could take on and do well."

When word filtered out that Robson, a senior writer with Sportsnet Magazine, would be penning Quinn's story, there was skepticism about a young scribe getting the job. Some held the opinion a contemporary of Quinn's in the media would be best suited for the assignment.

"I would expect there would be a great deal of skepticism and I had a great deal of skepticism myself," Robson said in response to the assertion. "I was in university when Pat was coaching the Leafs. I know people were unsure of me from the beginning. My goal and my job was to say here is a man, who was greatly respected and loved, and I have a blank slate."

To achieve this goal, Robson set out "to speak to everybody who knew Pat from all different capacities." Close to 100 interviews were conducted in the process. "It was my opportunity to fill in the blanks and not have any preconceived notions and try my best to tell the story through their words."

Robson's first priority was to speak with Carol, Guy and Barry.

"It starts on Glennie Avenue in east end Hamilton," Robson said of Quinn's childhood home. To this day, the house remains in the possession of Pat's sister, Carol. "I remember sitting down with Carol and having coffee all afternoon."

Roaming the rooms where a subject lived as a child can help a writer gain a sense of life back then for the individual. The fact a sibling is supplying commentary during the research is pure gold.

"I walked around the house where Pat and the rest of the Quinn family grew-up and there is so much of the family in there."

Listening to Robson chat about the Quinn family and Hamilton, it was easy to grasp the importance to him of not beginning with the obvious, but digging deeper into Pat's roots.

"Everyone thinks they know Pat from the Leafs, Canucks and Team Canada, but I had the chance to get to know where it all began. Everyone talks about Pat being a loyal man of strong values and I wanted to know where that began."

One value Robson discovered was "the pursuit of excellence that Pat had since he was a boy," a pursuit that followed Quinn into his adulthood. "He worked several jobs and was always trying to better himself. He always tried to push himself further."

Robson told the gathering "the time Quinn spent before making it is one of my favourite parts of his story."

"He was so driven by school while still toiling in the minors. He obviously loved hockey and was travelling from place to place with his family."

Delving into Quinn's history gave Robson an understanding of how he functioned later in life.

"Even after he made it and the Flyers went undefeated in 35 games and he won coach of the year, Pat still wanted to become a lawyer."

One of the fascinating aspects of the book is the exploration of Quinn's relationships with people he met along the way.

"The relationship between Pat and Trevor Linden is one that really moved me," Robson stated. "Their relationship was the most emblematic of what Pat meant to so many other people."

A trip out west in March of this year allowed Robson to meet with Linden in Vancouver and they hooked-up shortly after the Canucks organization held their tribute honouring Quinn.

"We had a long chat about Quinn as his mentor. It wasn't about the X's & O's of hockey, but Pat taking Trevor as a teenage kid, who was just about to play in the NHL, and mentor him to the point of what he became."

The end result of Robson's effort is a 349-page gem documenting Quinn the hockey legend and man.

"It started in late January (2015) and finished up in July," Robson said of the writing timeline, which by any standard is a tight deadline. "The good thing about writing about a guy like Pat Quinn, there is no shortage of people to talk about Pat Quinn. Once you got going, they just kept coming and that's what is so special about Pat Quinn."

The last word went to Pat's brother, Barry Quinn.

"It was a privilege to be Pat's brother," Barry said as he stood to address the crowd. "We were privileged to have the parents we did, my sister Carol, my brother Guy and my brother Phillip, who passed away 24 years ago."

Like his big brother, it was obvious Barry wore his big Irish heart on his sleeve.

"It was tough to lose Pat and we think about him almost everyday, He was a great guy," Barry stated with great deal of pride and a twinge of emotion in his voice.

Then, he turned his attention to Dan Robson.

"We're really glad with the way Dan has put this book together. I'm proud of Pat and I'm proud of Dan. He (Dan) has made our family proud."

There is no better ringing endorsement for Quinn - The Life of a Hockey Legend than the one spoken by Barry Quinn.