Friday, October 21, 2011

Digging into matters at Maple Leaf Gardens

Interesting news concerning items located in a time capsule at Maple Leaf Gardens. The find was made by workers conducting the renovations on the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. News Story.

Of note, is the location where the items were found. Media reports pinpoint the front entrance as the main area of focus. The last redo of the main lobby occurred during the summer of 1993. The highlight of the work involved murals of Leafs greats and moments being installed. These were the creation of artist John Richmond. At the time, the work was described as being extensive, but there was no news of finding any hidden treasures.

In the past, this wasn't always the case. During the summer of 1990 construction crews began work on a new weight room for the hockey club/ This involved building a tunnel under the Hot Stove Lounge. While conducting their duties, workers made several important discoveries, including pottery estimated to be 100 years-old.

From a hockey perceptive, there was an even bigger catch. The prize being a trophy found in Conn Smythe's former office. The space was being transformed for Don Giffin who held the position of president following Harold Ballard's death. Reports depicted the item as being a sterling silver and valued at $15,000. It originated back to a tournament held between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks in western Canada. The competition took place after the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1936.

The two teams set out for the west with a series of matches scheduled for Winnipeg and Calgary, before reaching Vancouver for their showdown. The tour consisted of two games in Manitoba and three in Alberta. The B.C. portion also called for three contests.

For hockey fans east of Ontario, it was an opportunity to witness the game being played by NHL players. The action kicked-off in Winnipeg on April 16, 1936 and concluded on May 1st in Vancouver. On hand for the events was broadcaster Foster Hewitt. Many in the crowds were more eager to see the face behind the voice than the players themselves.

In Vancouver, the Leafs were crowned champions with total-goals being the determining factor. The Hawks won the first game 5-3, but Toronto bounced back with 7-2 and 3-2 victories.

News reports from the day painted this picture of the winners reward, "a handsome Gyro Club, Totem Pole Trophy." The Gyro Service Club sponsored the trip west for Toronto and Chicago.

While in Vancouver, both teams, when not battling on the ice, relaxed at The Commodore. It was considered the place to be when it came to enjoying the nightlife. Of course, the players were the toast-of-the-town. The orchestra saluted Toronto by cranking out "The Maple Leaf Forever", with Leaf players joining in. Not to be outdone, Chicago players pipped-up with a unique twist to the words by adding this chorus "Toronto Maple Leafs, runners-up forever".

With great anticipation, we await the details from this latest discovery.

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