Thursday, March 14, 2019

IN APPRECIATION OF TED LINDSAY (1925-2019)


When I first began researching my book - Bob Goldham Outside the Goal Crease - the first person to go on my interview list was Bob's former teammate, Ted Lindsay. I had Ted's contact info, but reaching him was another matter. With each telephone call to the Lindsay household, I was advised that Ted was out and wouldn't be back until late in the evening. I didn't leave my number due to the fact I wanted to avoid playing telephone tag. There was an upside to not reaching Ted. I had the chance to talk with his wife, Joanne. She was most gracious taking calls from this unknown individual in Toronto. Call after call, the duration of our conversations expanded. We chatted about Ted and other topics that popped-up. As time passed, Joanne pinned Ted down and she arranged for Ted to be home on a Sunday for the interview.

The scout responsible for Ted Lindsay becoming a Detroit Red Wing was Carson Cooper. In 1943-44, young Ted was playing in the OHA with the St. Mike's Majors. He struggled at first in Junior "A" hockey, but turned things around when he returned after spending Christmas break in Kirkland Lake, Ontario.

"When I came back to St. Mike's, everything started to fall into place," Lindsay told me during the interview. "One night I'm playing in Hamilton and I had a couple of goals and a couple of fights." After the game, Lindsay came face-to-face with Carson Cooper. "The old Barton Street Arena had 25-watt lamps in the corridors under the seats and this white haired man stepped out. He said, 'I'm Carson Cooper, chief scout of the Detroit Red Wings. Have you thought of turning pro? I'm going to check with the National Hockey League and if your name isn't on any of the other teams list, I'll put your name on the Detroit Red Wings list.'"

In October 1944, Lindsay signed his first professional contract with the Red Wings and made his NHL debut. In his rookie season, Lindsay repaid Cooper for the faith he showed in him by scoring 17 goals.

Hearing how Lindsay became a member of the Red Wings, made me wonder how he escaped the long reach of Conn Smythe and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Especially, when he played in their backyard.

"I'm trying to make the team at St. Mike's and we're playing the Toronto Marlboros. I'm backchecking trying to impress my coach and that I know the game. Jimmy Thomson of the Marlboros went by Gus Mortson on our defence and he spun Gus around like he was a figure skater. The back of Mortson's skate punched into the calf muscle of my left leg."

This play sidelined Lindsay and resulted in most of his time being spent getting treatment. And it kept him away from the prying eyes of Frank Selke and Hap Day of the Leafs. Later, Selke told Lindsay the story of how the Leafs missed out on his services.

"I was on a train with Selke and he asked me, 'did you ever understand how you ended up in Detroit and not Toronto? We heard about this young player for St. Mike's, but we didn't know his name. Hap Day told me that St. Mike's was practicing at the Gardens, so we went down to see who's there.' I was in the infirmary and Selke was so impressed by our forward, Joe Sadler, that he added him to the Leafs negotiation list. There was no communication with the Leafs and I was eventually put on Detroit's list."  

The Red Wings, led by the Production Line of Sid Abel, Gordie Howe and Lindsay, would become a hockey dynasty from the early to mid-1950s. They captured Stanley Cups in 1950, 1952, 1954 and 1955. Lindsay's first Cup in 1950 came after he won the Art Ross Trophy (top scorer) and being named to the First All-Star Team at left wing. He was a First Team All-Star on 7 other occasions, the last being in 1957. His only Second All-Star Team selection was in 1949. Lindsay became an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

Bob Goldham never forgot Ted Lindsay and the skills he brought to the table. After retiring from the game, Goldham created a list of players he deemed as those "that had it all." The criteria encompassed every facet of the game. "The players that had it all are quite numerous, but I have to put Ted Lindsay at the top. He was a marvellous competitor, who never backed up an inch and could score as well."

Due to his fierce competitive nature and intensity, Lindsay earned the nickname "Terrible Ted" and there are many examples of why it applied to him. In a contest on February 7, 1957, Jerry Toppazzini's face was rearranged by Lindsay's stick. Toppazzini suffered severe facial injuries and was out of the  line-up until the Bruins faced the Rangers on March 15, 1957.

Besides being a gifted player, Lindsay's impact was felt league-wide. In 1957, he spearheaded an attempt to form the first NHL Players Association. Unable to secure information on the players pension plan (1947-57), Lindsay took it upon himself to counter the owners. "I wanted everything for the players," Lindsay told me on that Sunday afternoon. "The owners knew what they were doing. We were too stupid to understand it, but some of us started to think. We just weren't organized. Every guy that played then loved the game of hockey. Money was a secondary thing."

As time moved on, Lindsay's relationship with Red Wings GM, Jack Adams, deteriorated. On the team level, Lindsay believed that Adams' roster moves were detrimental to Detroit's winning ways.

"You know those five Stanley Cups Montreal won after we won in 1955?" Lindsay asked, then without missing a beat, continued on with his thought. "Those should have been ours. Adams traded nine players from our Stanley Cup team. The guys that came in were nice, but we had winners. There are hockey players and there are winners."

And Lindsay didn't hesitate to express his opinion on this to one former Montreal Canadien player.

"I'd always say to Henri Richard, 'you got 11 Stanley Cup rings. You were lucky, because if Adams hadn't been so stupid and sent nine guys away from our Stanley Cup team, five of those Cups you won, we'd probably would have won.' Then Richard said, (Lindsay, speaking with a French accent) 'but Teddy, I've got the rings.'"

Lindsay's efforts to organzine his NHL brethren resulted in a relentless attack from Adams. And it reached an all-time low when his boss tried to turn his teammates against him.

"Glenn Hall was told one time by Adams, 'I don't want you speaking to Lindsay.' Hall replied, 'Mr. Adams, he has never done anything to me and if I want to speak to him, I'll speak to him.' That takes courage for a young hockey player to make that kind of statement to the manager. That was the kind of guy Glenn Hall was and those were the type of guys we had on our team and why we were so good."

Lindsay's strength of character and strong-mindedness is best articulated in this quote he provided during our talk. "I didn't play hockey because of Jack Adams. I played because I loved it." For his efforts, Lindsay was vanished by Adams to the cellar-dwelling Chicago Black Hawks in 1957. He returned Detroit to close out his playing career in 1964-65.

I couldn't help but question Lindsay about the goalie that preceded Glenn Hall.

"In the first five years of Terry Sawchuk's career, he was the greatest goaltender to ever play. But he was squirrelly. Marty Pavelich sat next to him in the room and he'd say hello to him five days in a row and Uke wouldn't say anything. Then, the next two days he'd ask 'Hi Marty, how are you'? Then, he would go into his cocoon again."

As Marty Pavelich told me in an interview for my Goldham book, "I could go to Teddy (Lindsay) and say, 'dammit keep your mouth shut tonight and don't get any dumb penalties.'" Any criticism was meant to help the team win.

Ted Lindsay passed away on March 4, 2019, at the age of 93.

His contributions to the game resulted in a trophy being renamed after him. The Ted Lindsay Award goes to the best player as voted by the National Hockey League Players' Association. A fitting tribute to Lindsay taking into account the hardships he suffered trying to organize players from his era.

In a posting on his Twitter account after Lindsay's death Wayne Gretzky wrote: "Terrible Ted" was one of the nicest men in hockey. Every player should be thankful for his courage to create the Players  Association, which has grown into partnership between players and owners of the NHL. He was a true champion on and off the ice and will be deeply missed."

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

REVIEW: GOALIE, THE SAWCHUK MOVIE



The opening images of Goalie, the movie based on the life of former NHL netminder Terry Sawchuk, sets the scene for the rest of the film. It shows an autopsy being conducted at a morgue on Second Avenue in New York City. In a business like manner, the coroner is meticulously documenting the numerous injuries Sawchuk suffered during his time between the pipes.

And from there on, the filmmakers fill in the blanks of Sawchuk's life from his boyhood in Winnipeg, Manitoba to his tragic ending in New York Hospital on May 31, 1970.

In the darkened theatre, it was painful to watch young Terry deal with the death of his older brother, Mitch (aka Mike), who had a great influence on Sawchuk becoming a goalie. His love-hate relationship with Detroit Red Wings GM, Jack Adams, who had enormous control over his career. Sawchuk looked at Adams as a father figure and it took its toll when he felt his play let Adams down. After a trade to the Boston Bruins in the summer of 1955, Sawchuk appeared in 68 games, but in 1956-57, he left the Bruins after suffering a breakdown. He took to the ice only 34 times before calling it quits. He was subsequently dealt back to Detroit. A trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs resulted in another Cup in 1967. Sawchuk closed out his career with the Kings and Rangers.

I spoke with former Boston forward, Bob Beckett, who roomed with Sawchuk and several other Bruins during the 1956-57 season. It quickly became obvious to Beckett at training camp that Sawchuk was miserable and unhappy and didn't want to stop pucks anymore for Boston.

The trade from Detroit to Boston was a tremendous blow to Sawchuk. Right from the outset of his career, Sawchuk made an impact by capturing the Calder Memorial Trophy as the top NHL rookie in 1951. He backstopped the Red Wings to three Stanley Cups and was a perennial All-Star. In 1971, he became an Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. But like Harry Lumley before him, Detroit had another outstanding goalie in Glenn Hall waiting in the wings.

Unable to cope with being away from his family and not adjusting to the Bruins losing ways, not to mention being in constant physical pain, Sawchuk sought relief in the bottle.

Many have read about Sawchuk's struggles, but it's much more powerful to see his life unfold on the silver screen. The movie holds nothing back and at times is difficult to watch. Director Adriana Maggs gets full marks for showing all of Sawchuk's warts and blemishes. There is no sugar-coating the Sawchuk story. It goes hand-in-hand with Sawchuk the man and hockey player. The later shaping a man left to contend with loneliness and human frailty.

Maggs, along with her sister, Jane, wrote the script and they make sure we see the impact Sawchuk's injuries had on his career. In one scene, he is shown in the trainers room and the doctor clearly indicates Sawchuk should call it a game. But when Jack Adams imposes his will, Sawchuk agrees to return to duty. This was a common occurrence during the Original Six era with endless players telling the same story.

In the lead role, Mark O'Brien gives a chilling performance in his portrayal of Sawchuk. He left nothing on the ice. The first thing that strikes you is his similar appearance to his subject. He looks and moves like Sawchuk. This is especially noticeable in the action scenes when O'Brien roams around the crease with no mask on to block the rubber directed at him. He has the unmistakable Sawchuk crouch down pat. One can only imagine the amount of time O'Brien spent viewing footage of Sawchuk plying his trade.  

Perhaps, the best complement of O'Brien's work is the fact he was able to dig deep and show Sawchuk's mental anguish. His performance was focused and deliberate. Through O'Brien's acting, the depth of Sawchuk's depression and hardships hits hard like a blistering Bobby Hull slapshot to the face.

A special mention to Georgina Reilly (Pat Sawchuk/Terry's wife) and Kevin Pollak (Jack Adams). Reilly's performance provides insight into the family dynamic and the pain they felt as a result of Sawchuk's up and down moods. Pollak, as boss of the Red Wings displays just how much power he had over the club.

On the production side, the Makeup Department nailed every welt, bruise and cut. Also, kudos to hockey historian Paul Patskou, who served as a consultant on the film.

With the passage of time, Sawchuk's historical significance and ranking within the game hasn't diminished. In a Collector's Edition (September 2018) of The Hockey News titled, Top 100 Goalies of All-Time, Sawchuk is ranked number one.

And as I departed the dark theatre and entered the bright sunshine, one thought crossed my mind. Terry Sawchuk was indeed the greatest goalie of all-time.

Rating: 5-out-5 hockey pucks.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

REMEMBERING TIM HORTON

On the morning of February 21, 1974, I was stunned by a telephone call from my dad prior to heading out to school. He was calling from work to advise me that Tim Horton was killed in a car accident. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

 The former Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman was a four-time Stanley Cup champion. Scott Young's column and Jim Schoenfeld's tears best show the emotions and heartache felt by everyone.






Tuesday, February 19, 2019

IVAN IRWIN THE PRANKSTER

In my last blog story, I wrote about the late Ivan Irwin's escapades on the ice. While know for his rough and tumble style of play, off the ice Irwin had playful side and enjoyed staging a prank and many fell victim to his mischievous ways.


Here's a story that anyone who knew Ivan Irwin can relate to. It happened at one of our Original Six Alumni gatherings. Ivan stopped at the table I occupied and bent down. I assumed he dropped something on the floor and was picking it up. Then, I felt my shoelaces being manipulated. I glanced down and noticed that Ivan had almost tied them together. He almost got away with it!

Emile Francis played goal for the Chicago Black Hawks and New York Rangers in hockey's Original Six era. After he hung-up his pads, Francis was a longtime employee of the New Rangers and held several positions, including coach and general manager.

Back in the 1951-52 season, Francis, Wally Stanowski and Ivan Irwin were all members the Cincinnati Mohawks a team in the American Hockey League. During an interview with Francis, he told me this story of a classic Ivan Irwin prank. And the target was Stanowski.

"Oh God, he was one of the nicest skaters I've ever seen and what a character," Francis said of Stanowski. "He broke his leg when it went through the boards," Francis noted of an injury suffered by his teammate.

In a previous blog story, I wrote about the incident Francis referenced. Here are the details:

But the worst and final injury of Wally Stanowski's hockey career came on December 23, 1951. The career-ending mishap took place during an encounter between the Cincinnati Mohawks and Indianapolis Caps. The Mohawks and Caps were locked in a 3-3 tie after sixty-minutes of play and went into overtime. But 47-seconds into the overtime period, Stanowski's skates got tangled with the boards and he broke his left leg.

At the time, Francis, Stanowski and Irwin shared an apartment. Although out of the line-up, Stanowski remained in Cincinnati.

"One night before a game, Wally said, 'all right now you guys, I want you to get a lot of rest. Get to bed early and have a good rest for the game tomorrow night'," Francis stated. Stanowski's pep-talk got to Irwin and when he discovered that Stanowski would later be going out to a local pub, he went into action.

As Francis put it, "Ivan Irwin was a real character," and set out to spoil Stanowski's night of fun while   his roommates were under curfew. "I didn't know there was such a thing as a car bomb." The device was a string of firecrackers. When Stanowski left the apartment and made his way to the car, Irwin informed the others about his prank.

"So, we hear (Francis makes the sound of a car engine turning over) and boom. All I could see is Wally's cigar and his little hat was turned around. He came out of that car and looked like he was 100 years-old. It scared me and I was upstairs in the apartment."

Monday, February 11, 2019

IVAN IRWIN: 1927-2019


Ivan Duane Irwin was born on March 13, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. When Ivan was a young boy, his father decided to move his family to Canada. Irwin passed away this morning in Ajax, Ontario at the age of 91.

He didn't become interested in hockey until he was 16 years-old. As one writer noted, "He picked-up the game like a natural improving with finesse in every outing."

In 1943-44, Irwin skated in a hand-full of games for Northern Vocational High School in Toronto and played midget hockey for the Scarboro Colts. In a 3-1 loss against the Sammy Taft midgets on February 15, 1944, the Toronto Daily Star observed that, "Ivan Irwin was a standout for the losers."

Irwin played Junior B hockey in the OHA with the Scarboro Rangers. His work on the blueline didn't go unnoticed. After one playoff game in March 1946, The Globe and Mail noted:

But the real star of a magnificent exhibition was tall blonde Ivan Irwin, Rangers right defenceman, who belted Dels (De La Salle Oaklands High School) into submission in the first two periods, scored a goal and made plays for two others. In this book Irwin is the best prospect to be seen here in several years.  

In April 1947, he was selected to play in a tournament featuring youngsters from Ontario in a series of East versus West contests held at Maple Leaf Gardens. His coach on the East squad was former Toronto Maple Leaf great, Charlie Conacher. After ending his pro career, Irwin would once again lace-up his skates to play for the NHL Oldtimers with Charlie Conacher's son, Peter.

When Irwin wasn't playing hockey, he'd trade in his hockey gloves for a baseball glove. On a pleasant summer night in July 1945, Jerry Junkin pitched his fifth consecutive victory in a Scarboro Softball League contest. Junkin was a member of the Hollywood Wolves in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1944-45. A newspaper report informed that although being on the losing team, "Ivan Irwin .... starred for the Wrights," against Junkin's Evans team.

After Junior hockey, Irwin began his one-year stint with the Boston Olympics in 1947-48. His progression as a rough, physical defenceman continued with the Olympics. In a Quebec Senior Hockey League game against the Ottawa Senators, Irwin went toe-to-toe with Senators tough guy, Jack Irvine. His nickname, "Ivan the Terrible," reflected his style of play. He stood at 6'2" and weighed 185 pounds. Irwin's size enabled him to manhandle the opposition and protect his teammates.

While playing the next two seasons with Sherbrooke in the QSHL, Irwin's career was on the rise. In the autumn of 1949, the American Hockey League Cincinnati Mohawks gave him a three game tryout. His first coach in Cincy was the legendary Francis "King" Clancy. He made the most of the opportunity and remained with the Mohawks.

Cincinnati scribe, Whitney Tower, wrote that Irwin was "as unpolished as a 185 pound chunk of pig-iron and just about as hard to dent (and) was a smash from the start." Irwin worked at fine-tuning his game, in particular when it came to being noticed by the referees, and as Tower's would later point out, "He was using legal methods instead of grabbing his man around the throat and doing him in like a desperate commando."

Irwin's coach in 1951-52, Clint Smith, was impressed with his big defender. "He's as good as any defenceman in the league," stated the former NHL star. On October 3, 1951, Irwin became the property of the Montreal Canadiens in a cash deal, but he remained in Cincinnati.

On March 16, 1952, the Cincinnati Gardens and Mohawk Boosters Club, honoured Irwin before a tilt against the Pittsburgh Hornets. The event was billed as Ivan Irwin Night.

In 1952-53, Irwin finally got his chance to participate in an NHL regular season contest. He skated in four games with the Habs and earned his first point by assisting on a goal. Unable to earn a roster spot with Montreal, he was sent to the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League. In 58 games with Victoria, he recorded 25 points and 119 penalty-minutes.

An off-season trade in August 1953 between Montreal and New York, sent Irwin to the Rangers in exchange for Eddie Slowinski and Pete Babando.

Irwin started the 1953-54 season with the WHL Vancouver Canucks, but in early November was called-up by the New York Rangers to replace Allan Stanley, who was out with an injury.

On November 5, 1953, Irwin participated in his first contest with the Blueshirts. Early reviews of his performances on Broadway were positive. "He's all I thought he was and more," said Irwin's most important critic, his coach, Frank Boucher. "I wondered if he was (a) sound thinking fellow, whether he might be wild and wooly and get foolish penalties." Without missing a beat, Boucher laid to rest any fears he had about Irwin's discipline on the ice. "Why, he's cool and smart. He doesn't get excited. You'd think he'd been in the league for five years."

Boucher heaped further praise on the new addition to his back end. "He gives you that little opening then closes it. Bang, you're hit and you don't forget it." The Rangers boss didn't limit his comments to Irwin's on-ice activities. "Although he doesn't say a lot, he says the right thing at the right time. That helps pep-up the team in the dressing room."


How tough was Ivan Irwin? The above photo gives a good indication. It shows Irwin ready to go stick-to-stick against Montreal's Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Known for his temper and the ability to act on same, Richard with eyes glaring, was an intimidating player. But that didn't cause Irwin to retreat. He stood his ground and was ready to battle Richard.

From 1953-54 to 1957-58, Irwin played in 151 games with the big league club and 144 for their AHL affiliate the Providence Reds. Included in this stretch was a Calder Cup championship with the Reds in 1956. Also, he was an AHL First Team All-Star with Providence in '58 and '59.

At the age of 33, Irwin closed out his pro career in 1960 after spending two seasons with the AHL Buffalo Bisons. During a car ride home with his dad to Ontario from an exhibition game in Buffalo,  Irwin made a decision on his future in the game. In the exhibition game, Irwin suffered a nasty gash to his head. By the time father and son reached St. Catharines, Irwin chose to call it a career.

Irwin continued to play hockey when he joined the NHL Oldtimers. "Playing serious hockey isn't our ball game," an article quoted Irwin when it came to the entertainment factor for his new team. Part of Irwin's act included donning a wig, then offering no resistance as others dumped a pail of water over his head. Drenched in water, it was his turn to steal the spotlight. Irwin took off his wig and in a twisting and squeezing motion extracted the water.

When the Oldtimers held a dinner to honour Carl Brewer in April 1997, the four-time Stanley Cup winner with Toronto touched on Irwin the man and hockey player. "I've never met anyone who enjoyed life more, laughed better, or played the game better or harder than Ivan Irwin," stated Brewer. "When I think back to the dressing room stories, the guys talk about Ivan playing in the old Quebec League, playing for New York, playing wherever he was - but always laughing.

Brewer also commented on the weekly gathering to hit the ice. "We play on Sunday mornings now and nothing has changed. Ivan's out there with those feet - you can't get by them. The hands - he doesn't have hands, he has paws! The odd time during the course of the morning, he'll sneak up to the front of the net, thinking he should get a goal. He never has! But what I notice, he's always laughing. He enjoys life and makes life better for everyone."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

JUST LIKE 1951

Toronto's 4-3 overtime win against Montreal last night marked the first time since 1950-51 they gathered 6 straight wins over their rival.


The streak began on December 6, 1950, when the Leafs hosted the Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens. It was a big game for Tod Sloan of the Leafs. He added to his scoring advantage over fellow right wingers Maurice Richard of Montreal and Gordie Howe of Detroit. Sloan notched Toronto's third goal late in the third period.

 Writing in the Toronto Daily Star, Red Burnett described Sloan's tally as follows:

Sid Smith outwrestled two Habs for the puck, passed it behind the goal to Jim Thomson, who relayed it in front to Sloan. Tod looked like the Sloan of junior days as he toyed with the helpless Gerry McNeil like a cat with a mouse before slipping the biscuit home.

Toronto Daily Star, December 7, 1950


Over the next for meetings between the two clubs, Toronto won by scores of 6-1 (Dec. 20), 5-2 (Jan. 18), 4-3 (Jan. 24) and 3-1 (Feb.1). The four victories were split between the Gardens and the Montreal Forum.

The final game of 6 straight wins for Toronto over the Habs came on February 7, 1951, at MLG. Like the first game of the streak, the Leafs defeated Montreal 3-1. Sid Smith was the scoring sensation for the Leafs. He scored the game-winner at 16:43 of the first period and added an insurance goal early in the first frame. After the game, Leaf coach, Joe Primeau, made these comments to the press:

They were shooting the bundle at us and it wasn't enough. They know they have to pick up points while Rocket Richard is in the line-up, and they played it play-off style ... I though Al Rollins (Leaf goalie) played an excellent game, especially in that second period when the heat was on. Bill Barilko came up with his best game of the campaign. It was a good one to win (and) proved to me I have a pretty good ball team.

Toronto Daily Star, February 8, 1951


Joe Primeau and the Leafs domination over Montreal came to an end on February 15, 1951. On the road in Montreal, they fought to a 2-2 draw. Montreal and Toronto split the remaining two games of the regular season with the Canadiens defeating Toronto 3-1 on March 1 and the Leafs blanking Montreal 2-0 on March 21.

But that wasn't the end of the story. The two Canadian franchises met in the 1951 Stanley Cup final with game one taking place at the hockey palace in Toronto. The Leafs 3-2 overtime win was the first of five OT contests. In game five, Bill Barilko's goal at 2:53 resulted in Toronto's Cup victory.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IN A BICKELL

When you hear the J.P. Bickell Memorial Cup is being bestowed upon someone, you immediately take notice of the event. And that was the case last Saturday at the Scotiabank Arena. Prior to the contest between the Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins, former Leaf defenceman, Ian Turnbull, was in attendance to receive the Bickell Cup. The Bickell was last handed-out in 2003 to Pat Quinn.


Described as a team award, the recipient is selected by the Board of Directors of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. It was established to honour Bickell after his death on August 22, 1951. The first winner was Leaf great, Ted Kennedy, in 1953.

Bickell, an investor in the Toronto St. Patricks of the NHL, continued his involvement when the club was sold in 1927 and became the Toronto Maple Leafs. Along the way, Bickell would be named president of Maple Leaf Gardens and serve on the Board.

As pointed out in their book, J.P. Bickell: The Life, the Leafs and the Legacy, Jason Wilson, Kevin Shea and Graham MacLachlan noted:

It would be a Maple Leaf trophy, to be awarded to a Leaf player for performing with such a high standard of excellence that he would be truly a great member of the team, just as Mr. Bickell was.

Ian Turnbull's "performing with such a high standard" came on the night of February 2, 1977. In a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Maple Leaf Gardens, Turnbull set an NHL record for most goals scored by a defenceman in a single regular season contest. His five goals were scored against Ed Giacomin and Jimmy Rutherford.


Maple Leaf president, Brendan Shanahan, commented on Turnbull's selection. "Ian was a guy I thought didn't get the kind of credit for the kind of Leaf he was. My interpretation of this award was it had to stand the test of time. It's only been given out 22 times in Leaf history."

And what does Turnbull think of the longevity of his NHL record?

"I set it, but this concept of holding it, no. It's there for anyone to knock down. Some guys have come close. But it would be pretty unlikely the way coaches are in the game. Players play what's required in the script, they don't freewheel like we did."