Thursday, April 21, marks the 65th anniversary of Bill Barilko scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, which technically means we can commemorate that memory with a senior moment or two.
Back in November, I wrote a feature in the print edition of The Hockey News telling the tale of the Hamilton, Ont., family who claimed it had possession of Barilko’s Cup-winning puck. Harry Donohue was a 16-year-old in attendance at that 1951 game against the Montreal Canadiens and he hopped on the ice after the overtime goal and fished the puck out of the net. Here’s a link to that story entitled Harry’s Puck.
The gist of the feature is the Donohue family were preparing to loan that puck to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 when they found out the Hall already had a puck designated Barilko’s Cup-winning puck. But, as was pointed out in the November story, the Hall of Fame’s Barilko puck was a Spalding-made puck, used in NHL games from 1920 to 1942. The Donohue Barilko puck has an emblem that was used in NHL games from 1950 to 1958, which fits the time period of that seminal moment in hockey history.
While the Toronto Maple Leafs made progress in the first season of their rebuild, they still lack a quality starting goaltender. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons notes the only reason for Jonathan Bernier’s return next season is the year remaining on his contract. He thinks the Leafs could accelerate their rebuild with an upgrade in the crease.
Finding a good goalie this summer won’t be easy. There are slim pickings via unrestricted free agency, with former Leaf James Reimer the best of the bunch. It’s unlikely they’ll bring him back.
Options are also few in the trade market. Last month, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello scouted Frederik Andersen of the Anaheim Ducks.
Andersen, 26, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from UFA eligibility. If the Ducks are committed to John Gibson as their starter, Andersen could be shopped this summer. The Leafs could face competition for his services, as the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes could also come calling. Read more
If you ever wanted an indication of the power Lou Lamoriello wields in the hockey world, it was fully on display this morning. The Toronto Maple Leafs announced new six-year deals for defenseman Morgan Rielly and center Nazem Kadri and no reporter leaked the news. In fact, even after the Leafs revealed the extensions, no reporter had the dollar amount for almost an hour. That’s unprecedented.
Now we know: Rielly gets an average annual value of $5 million and Kadri $4.5 million. So what can we parse from these pacts?
All hail the Frozen Four champs from North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks stomped all over Quinnipiac in the final and while Vancouver pick Brock Boeser has confirmed his return for another campaign, several free agents are drumming up interest now. Boeser’s linemate, Drake Caggiula, helped his cause with two goals in the final, while defenseman Troy Stecher is expected to leave school early for an NHL contract. In the meantime, San Jose won the derby for Lithuanian goalie Mantas Armalis and the Michigan Wolverines lost their two best players to the pro ranks. Read about them and more in our weekly prospect wrap:
There have been over a dozen cartoons featuring hockey, but sadly, most of them are not very good. Cartoons like The Raccoons on Ice (1981) and The Magic Hockey Skates (2012) are your typical children’s stories where the good guys come out on top no matter the odds. Others, like Hockey Homicide (1945) and an episode of South Park from 2006 entitled “Stanley’s Cup” play up the violent aspect of the sport without giving any of the game’s more graceful elements a second thought.
But among the clichés of heroes overcoming impossible odds or hockey really just being about the fights are three excellent cartoons that are required viewing for hockey fans, young and old.
No. 1 –The Sweater (1980)
What it is about: A Montreal Canadiens’ fan recalls his boyhood in Quebec during the 1940s, where every boy idolized Maurice (Rocket) Richard and owned a Habs sweater with No. 9 on the back. When the boy’s mother orders him a new Canadiens’ jersey from the Eaton’s mail order catalog, he receives a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey by mistake and is ridiculed by his friends and teammates.
Why it is awesome: No other hockey-themed cartoon comes close to The Sweater, written and narrated by Roch Carrier, and based on his book The Hockey Sweater. We know what it is like to be a kid in awe of an athlete — and what it is like to love a team and to hate that team’s rival. Carrier’s tale is as funny as it is relatable, regardless of your age, nationality or favorite team.
No. 2 –Shaybu! Shaybu! (1964)
What it is about: In this Russian cartoon, a young hockey player gets his shot on a local team during a championship game when a player is injured.
Why it is awesome:Shaybu! Shaybu! — Russian for “Puck! Puck!,” or more specifically, “Give me the puck!” — is your typical hero’s journey. Most who play hockey aspire to make it to the next level, to prove themselves and dream to be the hero of the game. The cartoon, by animation director Boris Dёzhkina, has virtually no dialog, meaning that anyone can appreciate this tale of rising to the challenge. Four years later, Dёzhkina created another hockey cartoon, aptly titled The Rematch, which is not as good but still fun to watch.
No. 3 – The Simpsons: Lisa on Ice (1994)
What it is about: In this episode from the sixth season of The Simpsons, Lisa is failing gym class. To get credit for gym, she joins a youth hockey team and plays goalie — much to the chagrin of her brother Bart, who is the star forward on another team.
Why it is awesome: Released back when The Simpsons was still at the height of its popularity, “Lisa on Ice” has many great hockey references. Lisa joining an all-boys team as their goalie is an obvious nod to Manon Rheaume, while Bart’s team — The Mighty Pigs — is clearly meant to riff on one of the NHL’s newest expansion teams at the time. Even Homer Simpson does a great job at being a stereotypically-bad hockey dad. The episode culminates in a championship game between the siblings, but in the end proves that the bonds of family are stronger than the thrill of competition.
The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:
Ladies and gentlemen, start your conspiracy theories. Wait, how many games do the Toronto Maple Leafs have remaining this season? Oh, four. And how many games did Nazem Kadri get suspended? Hmm, four. Well, now, isn’t that convenient.
Kadri just happens to be the Maple Leafs best player of late. He also happens to be their hottest scorer, with eight points in his past six games, and their leading scorer with 45 points. (Although that point total definitely puts him in fastest-kid-at-fat-camp territory.) So having Kadri out of the lineup for the final four games of the regular season obviously enhances the Leafs chances of running the table with losses and catching the red-hot Edmonton Oilers for last place overall and the best chance of winning the draft lottery.