Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

The game of hockey contains many wonderful traditions. Such was the case in Toronto during the 1930s with "Kiddies Night" taking place at Maple Leaf Gardens.

December 24, 1932

On December 24, 1932 "Kiddie Night" was incorporated into the the game between the Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks. As a Christmas treat, a child accompanied by an adult who bought a ticket, got in free. An estimated 5000 "Kiddies" attended the game in 1932. Their roar could be heard loud and clear when Joe Primeau scored the lone Leaf goal in a 2-1 Chicago victory.

The biggest crowd noise came from both the children and adults, when referee George Mallison disallowed a Leaf goal. He claimed 2 Toronto players interfered with goalie Chuck Gardner, who was unable to stop a Charlie Conacher blast.

This tradition would continue for many decades, but there were some adjustments. The events official name was changed to "Young Canada Night". Also, subscribers were given first crack at securing tickets, with a general "Young Canada" sale to follow. In some years, the season ticket holders scooped-up all the tickets, leaving the general public in the lurch.

December 22, 1934

December 22, 1945
In December 1948, several Leafs were asked what "Young Canada" should be watching when they attend the game.

"I saw only one pro game before joining the Leafs. I learned how important puck control was that night and went home and worked at it", said Ted Kennedy.

"A goalie today must be as good a skater as a forward. A youngster can learn a lot from watching a top goalie use his hands and body. By watching how he plays the angles and rebounds", stated Turk Broda.

Turk Broda, Always a fan fav, "Young Canada Night", Dec. 1950

 On December 18, 1974 "Young Canada Night" featured a game between the Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins. A newspaper report noted that 16,327 tickets were purchased, but there were a number of empty seats. The writer explained that this was unusual happening on "Young Canada Night".

The times, post Original Six era, certainly were changing.

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