Friday, June 10, 2016


Today, the hockey world lost a true legend with the passing of Gordie Howe. He broke into the National Hockey League in 1946 with the Detroit Red Wings and the following season he teamed up with two special teammates. Howe wrote about the new trio in his book 'Gordie Howe - My Hockey Memories.' "Early in the year Ivan (Detroit's head coach) threw together a line that featured me on right wing, Ted Lindsay on left, and veteran centre Sid Abel in the middle. We clicked right away. Dubbed the "Production Line,"  we went on to finish the year one-two-three in team scoring..."

Now the lone survivor from that line, Ted Lindsay issued the following statement on the loss of his friend and former teammate:

I was very sad to learn today of the passing of my longtime teammate, and friend, Gordie Howe. Gordie really was the greatest hockey player who ever lived. I was fortunate to play with Gordie for 12 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and I've known him for over 70 years. He could do it all in the game to help his team, both offensively and defensively. He earned everything he accomplished on the ice.

Beyond hockey, Colleen and his family meant everything to him. Gordie was larger than life, and he was someone who  I thought would live forever. My wife Joanne and I extend our condolences to Gordie's children - Cathleen, Mark, Marty and Murray - and his entire family and many  friends during this time.

When Howe's NHL and WHA stats  (regular season & playoffs) are combined the results are staggering -  GP- 2,421 / G-1,071/ A-1,518 /P-2,589.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Today marks the 72nd anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 1944. On that historic day, the allied forces, which included Canada, began their assault on Western Europe at Normandy France.  Canadian forces concentrated on a beach front in an operation called “Juno”.

Numerous battles ensued after the June 6th invasion and many young Canadian men lost their lives fighting for future generations.

The hockey world wasn’t immune to the conflicts of World War Two. This story is about about one such brave individual, who loved playing hockey and more importantly, loved his country.

Red Albert “Ab” Tilson was born on January 11, 1924, in Regina Saskatchewan.  In 1941, Tilson travelled east to play junior “A” hockey in the OHA. Tilson became a member of the Oshawa Generals and played under coach Charlie Conacher.

 That season, the Generals went all the way to the Memorial Cup Final and faced the Portage La Prairie Terriers in Winnipeg. The Generals lost the best-of-five Final 3 games to 1. Despite his team’s loss, Tilson led Memorial Cup play in assists with 12 and points with 20.

The following year, 1942-43, Tilson won the OHA scoring title with 57 points in 22 games. Once again, the Generals played in the Memorial Cup Final held at Maple Leaf Gardens, but lost 4 games to 2 against the Winnipeg Rangers.

Tilson repeated as scoring champ in the tournament by recording 32 points in 11 contests. For most of his time in Oshawa, Tilson centered a line with Floyd Curry and Kenny Smith. He was a prospect with the Toronto Maple Leafs and by all accounts was a can’t miss NHL’er.

After the ’42-’43 season, Tilson, then 20 years old, enlisted in the service at Kingston, Ontario.  He chose Kingston in hopes of playing hockey with the senior “A” Kingston Frontenac Army Club. Ultimately, he played only 3 games with Kingston.

On June 17, 1943, Private Tilson underwent his basic training in Cornwall and on August 18 his rank was upped to acting Lance Corporal.

A year later, on May 2, 1944, Tilson arrived in Nova Scotia to become part of a training brigade in preparation for going overseas.

He departed Canadian soil on June 17 and arrived in England on June 24.  Now ranked a Private, Tilson landed in France on July 23, 1944, and was assigned to the Queen’s Own Rifles of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division’s 8th Brigade.

On August 9, 1944, Tilson got his first taste of action. The operation called for his unit to clear a path in the Quesnay Woods for an attack by a Polish Division, which was attached to the Canadian Army.

In October, Tilson, now back to his rank of Lance Corporal, was part of “Operation Switchback”. It involved clearing the south shore of West Scheldt (SHELL-T) in Belgium. It became known as the Battle of Scheldt.

On October 12, Tilson and the Queen’s Own began their crossing, but came under German fire. As a result, Tilson was injured and sent behind the front line for treatment.

When he returned, Tilson was ranked as a Rifleman.

On October 26, the Queen’s Own started their attack on the town of Oostburgh and secured the territory. Also, they took a number of prisoners. However, they soon faced a counter-offensive by the Germans, who were located nearby at Walcheren. They used 88-millimeter guns against the Canadians.

The Battle lasted several days and on October 27, 1944, Red Tilson was hit and died in action. He was 20 years old.

In time for the 1944-45-hockey season, The Globe and Mail donated a trophy to the OHA in honour of Tilson. The first winner of the Red Tilson Trophy as the league MVP was Douglas McMurdy of the St. Catherines Falcons. Johnny McCormack, then with St. Mike’s, finished second in the voting.

The first Leaf prospect to be awarded the Tilson was Tod Sloan. He was named the winner the following year. The last Leaf prospect to be voted the winner of the Tilson was announced just a couple of weeks ago when London’s Mitch Marner got the nod.



Saturday, June 4, 2016


At the Boston Garden on April 2, 1969, the Bruins and Leafs began their quarter-final series with a bang.

There were numerous highlights in the opener.

To start, this was the encounter where Leaf defenceman Pat Quinn laid out Bobby Orr in the second period and the fans quickly and aggressively turned on Quinn.

Sent to the sin-bin to serve a 5-minute major for elbowing, Quinn was verbally and physically abused by the Boston faithful.

Bruins president, Weston Adams Jr., was quoted as saying, “they’ll kill him,” in reference to the crowds response to Quinn’s hit on Orr.

A police officer said, “The fans here don’t like anybody to touch Orr.” He went on to say, “to me though it looked like a clean check.”

Quinn shared this assessment.

“It was a nice clean check. Maybe the people thought it was dirty, but like I said, I like to hit,” Quinn told reporters.

In the third period, all hell broke loose.

A massive brawl began when netminder, Gerry Cheevers, cross-checked Leaf forward Forbes Kennedy, who in turn, applied the lumber on Cheevers.

Then, the fun began.

Kennedy took on Ted Green, Johnny McKenzie and back-up goalie Eddie Johnston, who left the bench to come to Cheevers aid. 

When he got to Kennedy, Johnston placed him in a bear hug by the glass and this allowed the fans to lean over and plant some shots on Kennedy. This wasn’t Johnston’s intention, as he later explained that he was trying to pull his opponent away from the glass.

Also, one of Kennedy’s punches landed on linesman George Ashley.

Forbes Kennedy went into the record book for amazing 8 penalties and serving 38-minutes.

Six of Boston’s ten goals came on the power play. Phil Esposito, who scored four with the man-advantage, also added two assists. His six points equalled a playoff record for most points in a game. He shared this feat with the Canadiens Dickie Moore.

It truly was a wild game and the mix of Quinn’s hit on Orr, the huge brawl and the 10-0 beating the Bruins put on the Leafs, made it one to remember.