It is a situation every fan can relate to - coming face to face with a childhood hero who laced up a pair of skates and took to the ice in the National Hockey League.
For Toronto historian, radio commentator and author (newspaper & books) Mike Filey, this opportunity presented itself several months ago at an NHL Oldtimers gathering.
As a regular reader of Filey's weekly work in the Toronto Sun - "The Way We Were" - I was aware of his appreciation for the rich history of sports in the city of Toronto and the people who were involved in making a contribution. Anytime Filey pens a piece on hockey, it is an added bonus when I open up my Sunday Sun.
Such was the case on January 8, 2012. In the article, Filey documented his memories of being a young hockey fan in the 1950s. Also, he shared his thoughts on meeting his favourite Leaf - Tod Sloan.
When the Habs took a second period lead on a goal by Rocket Richard at 8:56, it was Tod Sloan who knotted the contest at the 12-minute mark. Montreal would go ahead in the final frame when Paul Meger beat Toronto goalie Al Rollins.
The stage was set for a thrilling finish as Leaf coach Joe Primeau pulled Rollins for a sixth attacker. With each of the previous games in the series being decided in overtime, Toronto fans had their fingers crossed wishing for a similar result to unfold in Maple Leaf Gardens on April 21, 1951.
At 19:28, their wishes would come true. Once again, it was Tod Sloan coming through for the home side. His tally sent the game into overtime and led to one of the biggest goals in Toronto Maple Leaf history. It is simply known as the "Barilko Goal". At 2:53 of the first period of extra play, Bill Barilko scored to give Toronto another Stanley Cup championship.
With all this mind, Filey's one-on-one encounter with Tod Sloan occurred during the NHL Oldtimers Christmas lunch in December.
"Sitting there was my hockey hero, the one and only Tod Sloan. Mr. Sloan, I mean Tod (after all I felt I had known him, or at least of him, most of my younger life) reached up and shook my hand. We began to chat. Christmas had arrived early for me," wrote Filey on meeting Sloan at the NHL Oldtimers event.
At a recent lunch, Filey was recognized for his wonderful article by the NHL Oldtimers.
Summoned by former Leafs (top photo) Pete Conacher and Danny Lewicki (who was a teammate of Sloan's on the '51 team), Filey was presented with a framed copy of his column titled "Golden Days" of hockey.
In a way, it was a late Christmas present for Mike Filey. A gift to remember his Christmas lunch meeting with his hockey hero - Tod Sloan.