Take a look inside some of hockey’s finest fan caves

Jeff Libonati

Hockey fans are a special breed. So special, in fact, we dedicated an entire issue, appropriately dubbed the Fan Issue, entirely to the hockey fan. Be it cheering (or jeering) habits, your fantastic fan stories, or a little bit about the players you love the most, we wanted to give you the issue you’ve always wanted.

In return, we asked for one small thing: pictures of your fan cave – the place you go, decked out with all your favorite gear, to watch your team 82 times during the regular season as they work towards chasing hockey’s ultimate prize.

We received a number of submissions, but below you can find our favorites: Read more

Leafs, Sens players honor veterans at National War Memorial

Adam Proteau
Craig Anderson (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Before their makeup game in Ottawa Sunday night, the Maple Leafs and Senators honored the sacrifices made by the Canadian military in a number of ways.

The two teams began the day paying their respects at the National War Memorial, the site of an Oct. 22 attack that claimed the life of Canadian Cpl. Nathan Cirillo:

Later on, the teams wore camouflage jerseys in the warmup that will be auctioned off in support of the Soldier On charity: Read more

Charlie Conacher once dangled his Maple Leafs teammate out a window

Stan Fischler
Charlie Conacher (B Bennett/Getty Images)

Only one team in NHL history ever had the sobriquet “Gashouse Gang” attached to it, and that was the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1930 through 1937. They earned the label by pulling off some of the most mirthful, colorful off-ice antics imaginable. “As their coach, they were my dream team type of players,” said Dick Irvin. “But they were certainly my nightmare types in hotels and on trains.”

No prank was too outlandish and no hostelry was too swank, not even Boston’s high-brow University Club, where one Maple Leaf, Charlie Conacher, once barricaded his buddy, Harold ‘Baldy’ Cotton, in their room just for the fun of it. Only Cotton’s screams brought an unsuspecting Irvin to the rescue. “It was during an era that lasted all too briefly,” said Ed Fitkin, an erstwhile Maple Leafs press agent. Read more

Happy 90th Birthday to you, Johnny Bower

Ken Campbell
Johnny Bower  (Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Johnny Bower lied about his age to get into the army (he said he was older) and to play in the NHL (he said he was younger), but today he’s fully prepared to embrace every one of his 90 years on Earth.

At some point today, the Hall of Famer and former Leaf great will blow out 90 candles on his birthday cake, without much of a problem. He still gets around really well, even straps the blades on occasionally, and approaches life with the same vigor he did 50 years ago when he was helping the Toronto Maple Leafs win Stanley Cups. He’ll mark to occasion in a small private party that will include Nancy, his wife of 66 years, and his children and grandchildren. Then, true to form, Bower will head to the Air Canada Centre to watch the only two NHL teams he ever played for when the New York Rangers visit the Maple Leafs.

“I looked at Nancy and said, ‘Can I go?’ “ Bower said enthusiastically. “And she said, ‘Oh yeah, go and see the game.’ “

Bower is the third-oldest living Leaf behind Howie Meeker, who turned 91 last Tuesday, and 95-year-old Wally Stanowski. But there’s little doubt he’s one of the most popular players ever to wear the uniform. Any Leaf who was on the four Stanley Cup teams in the 1960s is still revered in Toronto and Bower is still a regular at Leaf home games and gets out to a good number of charity events and signings. That’s mostly because he can’t seem to sit still.

“If I stayed home and watched television all the time, I’d be dead in a month,” Bower said. “I’ve got to go out and walk and exercise at home. I can still touch my toes. Up and down, up and down.”

Perhaps one of the factors in Bower’s longevity is that the NHL miles didn’t start piling up for him until later in life. Bower toiled in the minors for years and didn’t play an NHL game until he was almost 30 years old. After one season with the Rangers, he bounced around the minors again and didn’t become a full-time NHLer until the Leafs picked him up when he was 35. By that time, Bower preferred to stay in Cleveland because he was secure with his family and had post-hockey job offers, but he also had a childhood dream of getting his name on the Stanley Cup and the only way that could be fulfilled was for him to play in the NHL.

“I finally decided to go when Mr. Hendy (the GM of the Cleveland Barons in the American League) told me, ‘John, I’ll put it in your contract that if you can’t make it in Toronto, you’re coming back to Cleveland,’ “ Bower said. “Hooray! That’s what I said. I guess I made a pretty good decision.”

Indeed. Bower went on to forge a Hall of Fame career with four Cups and make an indelible mark on the franchise. When the organization conceived its Legends Row statues to salute its past greats, Bower joined Ted Kennedy and Darryl Sittler as the first three to be honored. He was the oldest goaltender to win his first Stanley Cup when he did so in 1962 and is the oldest goalie overall to have his name on the Cup, something he achieved five years later. Even after retiring, Bower has remained remarkably healthy, something he attributes to Nancy.

“Thank God I’ve got a wonderful wife. I wouldn’t trade her for all the tea in China,” Bower said. “We have our ups and downs like everyone else, but we always iron them out before we go to bed. I kiss her goodnight and say, ‘I’m sorry Sweetheart. You were right and I was wrong,’ and I always get a smile.”

As for the age thing, well, that’s just a number. After all, Bower lied about his age for years when he played, thinking that if he told people he was born in 1928 he’d have a longer career in the NHL.

“I was almost 45 years old and still playing in the league, but it caught up to me,” Bower said. “Punch (Leafs GM Imlach) said to me I couldn’t see and I said, ‘I can see, but I don’t want to wear a mask He said to me, ‘It doesn’t matter if you can see or not, you’re not stopping anything anyway,’ and that was it.”

Terrifying moment for Leafs’ Daniel Winnik after scary fall

Adam Proteau
Daniel Winnik (Doug Pensinger, Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Daniel Winnik had a frightening episode Thursday night in Colorado when a check from Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda left him motionless on the ice for several minutes before he was removed on a stretcher.

Winnik had just chipped the puck past Hejda at Colorado’s blueline in the first period when the Avs blueliner hit him with a clean check; Winnik’s feet kicked up and his head fell back, and he landed on the ice directly on his neck-and-upper-body area: Read more

UPDATE: Does Carter Ashton deserve 20-game suspension for PEDs?

Matt Larkin
Carter Ashton will not appeal his suspension and claims he unknowingly used a PED while treating his asthma. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

UPDATE FROM THN SENIOR WRITER KEN CAMPBELL:

The agent for Carter Ashton said his client fully accepts responsibility for what he puts into his body, but wonders whether the punishment in this case fits the crime.

Ashton was suspended 20 games by the NHL for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. In a separate statement, which is provided below, Ashton admits to taking Clenbuterol through an inhaler during an asthma attack. According to Ashton’s agent, Rick Valette, his client has had mild asthma since childhood, but nothing that would necessitate the use of an inhaler.

That apparently all changed this summer when, while working out with a player who plays professionally in Europe, Ashton had a significant asthma attack and was administered the inhaler by his workout partner. Ashton subsequently kept the inhaler, which he used one more time during training camp when another asthmatic episode occurred. Valette said Ashton then immediately went to the Leafs medical staff and got the proper medication, then was tested and the banned substance was still in his system.

The league will not comment on the veracity of Ashton’s claims. In an email to THN, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said to comment on the case would be a direct violation of the collective bargaining agreement: “I can’t comment at all on the case. Strictly prohibited from doing so.”

“He knows where he went wrong, he just didn’t think about it,” Valette said. “But the kid wasn’t trying to cheat. But under the league’s rules you get 20 games for HGH and you get 20 games for making a mistake on an inhaler. That’s the unfairness of it. He did this, he’s not denying it, but I think we need to look at this and I think there has to be more discretion. This is just collateral damage. This isn’t a guy trying to cheat.”

Valette acknowledges that it’s Ashton’s fault and Ashton should have to take responsibility for what goes into his body. But to have to wait until Dec. 21 to play again and lose almost $170,000 in salary amounts to a heavy price for a mistake.

On the other hand, this substance abuse policy has been collectively bargained and players, generally speaking, know they can’t put anything foreign into their bodies without first having it approved. This is not like Nicklas Backstrom, who was suspended by the International Ice Hockey Federation and missed the gold medal game at the Sochi Olympics for failing a test after taking medication that was approved by the Swedish team doctors prior to him stepping on the ice.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Jumbo Joe says he won’t go, Ducks searching for backup

San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton

Former San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton has no intention of waiving his no-movement clause anytime soon. Despite an off-season in which Thornton was stripped of the captaincy and mentioned in trade rumors, he told the Toronto Sun’s Mike Zeisberger he considers the Sharks a very good team capable of doing something.

During the summer, there was speculation claiming Sharks management might try to pressure the 35-year-old into accepting a trade. The rumors carried over into this season, as Zeisberger cited a recent report linking Thornton with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Read more

Celebrity overtime: Seven questions with Arrested Development’s Will Arnett

Amber Dowling
Will Arnett (Trae Patton/CBS)

Stars like hockey too, and everyone once in a while they’re more interested in chatting up last night’s game than they are in pontificating about their latest TV or film projects. In our weekly “Celebrity Overtime” feature, we take five minutes with various celebrities to discuss their love of the good old-fashioned game.

Will Arnett is a renowned fan of the game. Since leaving Toronto to star in series like Arrested Development, Up All Night and most recently, CBS sitcom The Millers alongside Beau Bridges and Margo Martindale, he’s carried his Leafs love loud and proud. He even has a friendly behind-the-scenes rivalry with The Millers creator Greg Garcia, a hardcore Caps fan. Read more