Saturday, January 19, 2019


The above photo was posted on social media by the Hockey Hall of Fame. The caption read: "A look inside the dressing room at Maple Leaf Gardens January 14, 1947 - 72 years ago today! Assistant Trainer Bill Smith watches over Viv Lynn and Howie Meeker as they receive sun lamp and radio-therapy for their injuries."

In my Bob Goldham book, I wrote about Howie Meeker's views on the physical care Leaf players received during that era. First, here's the context that led me to pursue this aspect with Meeker.

On November 1, 1946, Goldham and his teammates made a visit to Montreal to play the Canadiens at The Forum. In the third period of a physical battle with the Habs, Goldham suffered a knee injury that resulted in him leaving the game. A newspaper story noted: "They lost Bob Goldham early when he and Reardon (Ken) tangled, both went down, and in the fall Goldham's knee doubled back and a ligament went."

Curious to know how an injury of this nature was treated, I asked Meeker. Here is his reply:

"Tim Daly had a tube of Ikthemal and no matter what the injury was he put it on. Harry Watson one day got whacked and he couldn't get in the upper berth (on the train). He had Ikthemal (cream) on the front of his chest, over his shoulder, and on the back of him. It was like tar and it smelled like tar. They had a machine there (in the dressing room) with two hip pads on the thing and it was like a toaster. No one took it seriously."

My how times have changed relating to sports medicine and treatments used to mend an athlete. Meeker's final comment certainly provides the players perspective on the treatments they received during that time.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


We are all well aware of the Toronto Maple Leafs current problems defending in their own zone. The inability to contain checks and restrict scoring chances is an ongoing obstacle for this team. Many point to the Leafs elimination game in the 2018 playoffs against Boston as the beginning of the downward slide on defence. In particular, the very visible mistakes made by defenceman Jake Gardiner. He ended the game minus-5 and the brunt of responsibility for the Leafs exchanging their hockey sticks for golf clubs fell on Gardiner.

Fast forward to a new start and great expectations for 2018-19, the Leafs came out flying with Morgan Rielly taking control of the defence. Now a veteran on the blueline, Reilly also has made a huge contribution on offence. In December, he spoke of the Leafs approach when it came to Toronto's philosophy on defending their own territory. "We have to keep our priorities in check. That's our team mentality - defence first. We come back, play strong, break it out and then we go try and hold onto to it offensively."

Looking back in Leafs history, this wasn't the first time the club adapted this mentality. I discovered this while researching my book on Bob Goldham.

The 1945-46 version of the Leafs were experiencing a terrible time containing incoming attacks. Bobby Hewitson of The Toronto Telegram wrote, "Attacking forwards are coming in in a carefree manner knowing they'll get nothing serious thrown at them - except possibly by Goldham."

By early December, Conn Smythe had seen enough of his struggling defence. In a press conference held in his office at Maple Leaf Gardens on December 6, he explained the Leafs new "mentality."

"We have decided that from here in we are going to invade the enemy territory and keep on invading," began Smythe using military terms to express his thoughts. "Our opinion is that our team is not strong - at least not at the moment - in a defensive way ... our policy then must be to keep our opposition away from our weak spots, put the opposition on the defensive and perhaps find holes in their set-up."

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately for Leaf fans, lackadaisical play has once again infiltrated the Leafs defence. In a recent game against Colorado, Jake Gardiner had the spotlight focused on him for not effectively hunting down and vigorously containing Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg.

After analysing the debacle against Colorado, Mike Babcock's inclination is to follow in the same direction as Conn Smythe. Both men realize that defence is a concept that involves all six players on the ice. Certainly, individual mishaps can be identified and ownership taken for such lapses. But overall breakdowns on defence can be attributed to defensemen and forwards.

"We didn't feel our work ethic was up to the level to be proud of last game as a group. What makes that happen and makes the group go, you don't know. But if it's just changing some lines around, then we will do that," Babcock told reporters after the Leafs resumed practice after the Colorado contest.

Reading between the lines, the Leaf coach is hoping the right combinations can keep the puck deep and limit the time the opposition has possession at the other end of the ice. Thus giving some relief to the likes of Jake Gardiner and company.

Seems like little has changed.

Monday, January 14, 2019


Hard to believe one year has passed since the unveiling at the Sid Smith Artificial Ice Rink at Christie Pits. Yesterday, Blaine Smith and I were at the rink to participate in a video shoot. It was nice to see the signage in-place and community members enjoying a game of shinny on the ice.

And as Sid Smith told Jack Batten back in 1975, "I played pretty near every sport you can think of done there. In the winter it was pick-up hockey. Strictly shinny, you know, but that's a hell of a way to learn."

I couldn't help but think, as we watched a new generation, if there was another Sid Smith developing his/her skills.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Happy to be part of Todd Denault's read list of current hockey books. His article appears in Greg Oliver's "Two Minutes for Reading so Good" on the Society for International Hockey Research website.

Todd is the author of four books - Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey (2009), The Greatest Game: The Montreal Canadiens, the Red Army, and the Night That Saved Hockey (2010), A Season in Time: Super Mario, Killer, St. Patrick, the Great One, and the Unforgettable 1992-93 NHL Season (2012) 50 in 39: Wayne Gretzky and the Story of Hockey's Greatest Record (2016, with Mike Trophy).

Thursday, January 3, 2019


In a rare afternoon contest at the Scotiabank Arena, Toronto Maple Leaf forward, Mitch Marner, tied a club record for the fastest goal (7-seconds) to start a game. He equalled the mark set by Charlie Conacher on February 6, 1932. Back in '32, Conacher added a second goal as Lorne Chabot earned the shutout in Toronto's 6-0 victory over Boston at Maple Leaf Gardens.

A newspaper account noted:

"Charlie Conacher sounded the death knell for the Bruins seven seconds after the opening bell when on a pass by Jackson he shot the puck with bullet like precision from beyond the blue line and scored a bull's eye."

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Friday, December 28, 2018


As the World Junior championships got underway this week in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, other competitions are also taking place in North America. Various minor hockey league teams are participating in tournaments during the Christmas break.

While researching my book on Bob Goldham,  I attended the Bob Goldham Memorial Christmas House League Tournament. The trip to Georgetown, Ontario, allowed me to soak up the town Goldham was born in, and in particular, the Georgetown Arena, where he played hockey as a youngster. Also, I was able to view the displays honouring Bob Goldham as a recipient of the Georgetown Hockey Heritage Award. Goldham received this award on March 4, 1985.

Of all the honours that were bestowed upon Goldham by his hometown, the hockey tournament would top the list, as I wrote in the book:

"Perhaps, the one tribute that would have meant the most to Goldham occurred in December 2010. To honour Goldham, the Georgetown Minor hockey Association changed the name of their yearly house league tournament. The 15th annual event became The Bob Goldham Memorial Christmas House League Tournament."

Here are some photos from my visit in December 2011.


Bob Goldham's daughter, Barb Loynachan and her husband, Rod, passing out awards.

Barb pointing to her dad's Stanley Cup wins with Detroit on the Cup band.

Left to Right: Yours Truly, Doug Wellington, Jim Gregory and Barb.