Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bob Haggert

On June 6, 2011, former Toronto Maple Leafs trainer Bob Haggert passed away in Toronto.

Bob Haggert's time in the Leafs organization started with the Senior and Junior Toronto Marlboros. In 1955, he was promoted to the big league club and served as Tim Daly's assistant.

Following his service in World War 1, Daly became the trainer for Toronto's NHL franchise - the St. Pats. He held that post from 1926 to 1960.

In October 1958, Daly collapsed on a street in downtown Toronto. He spent 3 weeks in Toronto General Hospital, receiving treatment for a ruptured intestinal ulcer.

With Daly out of commission, Haggert filled in for his boss. Spending time at Maple Leaf Gardens was in Haggert's blood. As a youngster, Haggert would hang around the Gardens and became a rink rat. His favourite Maple Leaf player was Nick Metz.

Tim Daly returned to his duties during the 1958-59 campaign. Haggert continued to work as his assistant and became a student of his craft. He expanded his knowledge of physical fitness and paid special attention to creating a unique working environment within the dressing room.

In July 1960, Tim Daly retired from his position with the Maple Leafs. In addition to his duties as team trainer, Daly worked for the Gardens publicity department. In this role, he sold advertising for the Leafs program and attended speaking engagements.

Bob Haggert
Bob Haggert followed in his mentors footsteps, with the 1960-61 season being his first in the NHL. He would join coach/general manager Punch Imlach behind the Leafs bench for four Stanley Cups in the 1960s.

Haggert's responsibilities went beyond placing towels around the neck of  Dave Keon and company. In training camp, he would put the roster through their calisthenics prior to workouts. This was of vital importance, as Imlach would often skate his players into the ice.

Haggert was joined on the training staff by Tommy Naylor. For a number of years, Naylor was employed by sports manufacturer CCM. His knowledge of hockey equipment and knack for finding solutions for inadequate protection, made him an important contributor. Naylor, also served under Tim Daly.

When Haggert left the Maple Leafs in 1968, he didn't stray too far from the game.

In the 1960s, he was named president of the Bobby Orr - Mike Walton sports camp. The hockey school/camp had an impressive staff. Joining Haggert were future NHL coach Tom Watt (camp boss) and Bill Watters, player agent and future NHL assistant GM (sports director). The on-ice duties fell to Orr and Walton, plus Ricky Lee and Cam Newton.

In the business world, Haggert was president of Sports Representatives Ltd. This company focused on constructing outside business deals for NHL players. Haggert, recognized how Canadians related to their hockey heroes. They were the perfect resource for a company seeking to promote a product or event. Haggert helped corporate Canada see the light in this regard and he brought players and business together.

As pointed out in his obituary, Haggert "was a pioneer in the sports licensing  industry in Canada, establishing and maintaining licensing programs for such clients as the NHL, NHLPA, MLB and Labatt Breweries."

His resume includes involvement in the 1972 Team Canada/Soviet Union series and Canada Cups.

One of Haggert's greatest accomplishments was being involved in three major championships at different levels within the game.

In 1950, Haggert assisted the Senior Toronto Marlboros. After defeating the Sherbrooke Saints to become Eastern Canadian champs, Toronto travelled to Calgary. The Senior Marlboros defeated the Calgary Stampeders four games to one and were crowned Allan Cup champions.

In 1954-55, Haggert was trainer of the Junior Toronto Marlboros, who played for the Memorial Cup. After ousting the St. Catharines Teepees in the Eastern Final, Toronto headed west. The Marlboros lost game one to the Regina Pats, but took command by winning the next four.

In the National Hockey League, Haggert won Stanley Cups in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967, with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Dedicated to his profession, Haggert created the Canadian Athletic Trainers Association.

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