Thursday, November 5, 2009

A legendary Leaf

Hockey is so ingrained in the culture of Toronto, as it is in the other Original Six cities, that I'm envious of hockey fans lucky enough to live there. Not only do they have a team steeped in history, but hockey's hallowed hall, which inducts a fantastic class this weekend, also calls the city home.

And while the Loafs may not have enjoyed much success this season, it certainly hasn't kept the team's fans, some of the NHL's most rabid (and I use that in a positive vein), from honoring heroes from hockey's past.

Al, Hound Central 5.0's Toronto-based correspondent, did just that recently, taking in a signing show with Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower, who led Toronto to three straight Stanley Cups from 1962-64 and winning the Vezina Trophy in 1961 and 1965 while wearing the Maple Leaf.

Here's Al's report:

"Just as I expected, Johnny was in fine form. Smiling from ear to ear the whole time I saw him, thanking people for coming out and taking his time to talk to everyone.

"He signed this mini mask, explaining that it was a very good replica of the original. He also said that he only wore it for about 16 games.

"Then, he told me that the night before, the Toronto Marlies (the Leafs AHL farm club) honored him and gave out bobbleheads in his image. He said he spent the night signing those for people during the game. He also said the bobblehead's bases were so small that he went blind."

Now, I don't know about you, but I'd dare say his eyesight was restored. That's one of the nicest autographs, inscriptions and all, that I've seen in a long, long time. Then again, from what Al reports, it sounds like Mr. Bower is a pretty classy guy.

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