With the opening of NHL training camps, we can officially declare the summer of 2010 as being history. A return to the wonderful sounds of skate blades scrapping on ice, and pucks blasted against boards.
While doing research, I came across an interesting newspaper clipping from August 1948. In the current environment of the NHL, one would have the impression that rookie camps were a relatively new means of player personnel evaluation. Or, perhaps a marketing tool to sell recently drafted prospects and drum-up interest in the upcoming season.
The revelation from the '48 clipping can put that theory to rest. Although not referred to as a rookie camp, the concept appeared to be 62 years ahead of its time. The "Leafs Annual Hockey School". A total of 40 players were invited to participate, with a separate camp for those on the main roster. The likes of Ted Kennedy, Turk Broda and Gus Mortson clearly did not require "schooling" and were established big league players.
A review of the list with an eye towards the future activity of those 40 players as members of the Maple Leafs, reveals how difficult it was to enter into the big show. The results of the study are listed below. The first set of stats pertains to games played as a Maple Leaf. These include playoff games. Where applicable, the info in brackets relates to the players overall NHL career.
- Howie Harvey GP-0
- Cy Huck GP-0
- Roy McMeekin GP-0
- John Arundel GP-3, Tor, 1949-50
- John Ashley GP-0
- Alex Barilko GP-0
- Hugh Bolton GP-235, Tor, 1949-50 to 1956-57
- Bob Gray GP-0
- Eugene Martin GP-0
- Dean McBride GP-0
- Harry Pautka GP-0
- Bob Robertson GP-0
- Phil Samis GP-7, Tor, 1947-48 to 1949-50
- Bill Juzda GP-241, Tor, 1948-49 to 1951-52 (GP-440, NYR-Tor)
- Frank Mathers GP-23, Tor, 1948-49 to 1951-52
- Frank Sullivan GP-6, Tor, 1949-50 to 1952-53 (GP-8, Tor-Chi)
- George Armstrong GP-1297, Tor, 1949-50 to 1970-71
- Chuck Blair GP-1, Tor, 1948-49
- Eric Pogue GP-0
- Ray Ceresino GP-12, Tor, 1948-49
- Bill Johansen GP-1, Tor, 1949-50
- Danny Lewicki GP-132, Tor, 1950-51 to 1953-54 (GP-489, Tor-NYR-Chi)
- Rudy Migay GP-433, Tor, 1949-50 to 1959-60
- Eldres Kobussen GP-0
- Eugene Miller GP-0
- Ed Mulligan GP-0
- John McLellan GP-2, Tor, 1951-52
- Larry Regan GP-138, Tor, 1958-59 to 1960-61 (GP-322, Bos-Tor)
- Hugh Riopelle GP-0
- Tod Sloan GP-575, Tor, 1947-48 to 1948-49 & 1950-51 to 1957-58 (GP-792, Tor-Chi)
- Ray Timgren GP-267, Tor, 1948-49 to 1952-53 & 1954-55 (GP-281, Tor-Chi)
- Cy Thomas GP-8, Tor, 1947-48 (GP-14, Chi-Tor)
- Rene Trudell GP-0
- Ken Watson GP-0
- Elwood Small GP-0
- Denis Smith GP-0
- Gordon Simpson GP-0
- Don McRae GP-0
- Bill Kyle GP-0 (GP-2,NYR)
- John Wilson GP-83, Tor, 1959-60 to 1960-61 (GP-754, Det-Chi-Tor-NYR)
The most productive student to emerge from this school clearly was George Armstrong. The Chief became team captain, Stanley Cup winner (4), and an honoured member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. A future Leafs head coach was a student, Johnny McLellan. One of the most important goals in team history was scored by a graduate. Tod Sloan scored with seconds remaining in the 1951 Cup final, allowing Bill Barilko to work his magic in the overtime. His brother, Alex Barilko, received an invite to the school in September 1948. Phil Samis became a noted dentist; Frank Mathers became a successful executive in the AHL; John Ashley became a highly respected referee.
Yes sir, summer is over. Time for classes to commence in 30 NHL cities!