Thursday, March 30, 2017

BODNAR TO MARNER



When it comes to the success of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, most of the credit goes to goalie Frederik Andersen and their crop of talented rookies. In particular, the scoring punch provided by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. This trio of sharp-shooters, along with other members of the 2016-17 freshmen class, are establishing new marks when it comes to rookie production on offence.

Tuesday night (March 28), Auston Matthews set a new goal record of 35. This pulled him ahead of Wendel Clark. Tonight, against Nashville, Mitch Marner notched his 41st assist to break Gus Bodnar's 73 year-old record of 40 assists by a Leaf rookie.

 On March 18, 1944, at Maple Leaf Gardens, the Leafs played their final regular season game of the 1943-44 schedule. In a primer for the playoffs, Toronto turned up their game and crushed the Boston Bruins 10-2.


For rookie Gus Bodnar (above), it was a night to add to his already impressive numbers. When the final bell rang, Bodnar left the ice with two goals and three assists to his credit. His record-setting 40th helper came at the 9:10 mark of the third period. He earned the assist on a goal scored by Lorne Carr.

Bodnar, a native of Fort William, Ontario, played between Bob Davidson and Carr. Named the winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy (top rookie) before the Boston contest, Bodnar's performance in game 50 was the icing-on-the-cake. He closed out the year with 22 goals and 40 assists.

In a strange twist, the Bruins had Leaf practice goalie, Benny Grant, between the pipes. As one reporter put it the "Leafs parked the puck back of Grant three times in the first four minutes of the first period and it was just a practice outing for the locals the rest of the distance." Bodnar and his linemates made the most of this situation.


And on another front, a belated Happy Birthday (March 27, 1945) to Brit Selby (above). A talented winger with the OHA Jr. "A" Toronto Marlboros, Selby made the most of his rookie campaign with the Maple Leafs in 1966. He was the last Leaf to win the Calder.

After the current NHL season, another Leaf - Matthews, Marner or Nylander - could join Syl Apps ('37), Gaye Stewart ('43), Gus Bodnar ('44), Frank McCool ('45), Howie Meeker ('47), Frank Mahovlich ('58), Dave Keon ('61), Kent Douglas ('63) and Selby as a Calder Memorial Trophy winner.

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