Monday, February 6, 2012

A Look Back: February 6, 1947

It is the crowning moment for hockey players who have made their way through the system. The endless hours of crafting their skills from youth hockey to minor league play, finally paying-off with a single ring of the telephone. The call all players lingering in the American Hockey League and other pro leagues wait for.

Exactly 65-years-ago this evening on February 6, 1947, both Bill Barilko and Sid Smith made their debut in Leaf uniforms against the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum.

The Globe and Mail in their game report the next day, gave a brief account of the two newcomers in the Leaf line-up.

"The Toronto team introduced two rookies to NHL competition. Sid Smith a Toronto boy up from the Pittsburgh Hornets, played at left wing with Ted Kennedy and Howie Meeker. Bill Barilko. up from the Hollywood Wolves, played on defence and was a bright spot in the Toronto cause with his ability to hit the opposition."

The results for the Leafs and their two new additions were much better in their next contest on February 8th. Barilko and Smith skated onto the ice surface at Maple Leaf Gardens for their first regular season home game. The opposition being provided by the Boston Bruins.

When the final bell was sounded, the Maple Leafs and their fans celebrated a 5-2 victory over Boston. This time around, both Barilko and Smith had an impact on the outcome. Sid Smith's first NHL goal in the final frame provided Toronto with a 4-2 advantage. Then, with less than 4-minutes remaining in the game, Bill Barilko joined Smith in the scoring summary by notching his first National Hockey League goal. In each case, goalie Frank Brimsek was defending the Boston goal, and teammate Howie Meeker earned the lone assist.

Sid Smith played his entire NHL career in the colours of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bill Barilko was a Maple Leaf until his sudden death in the summer of 1951.

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