Hockey season is almost here, with the preseason underway many fans are very excited for the beginning of the 2014-2015 season to begin Wednesday October 8th. Arguably, some of the most excited fans are those of the white and blue. The Toronto Maple Leafs house some of the most enthusiastic fans in the league, and although the team has been taking their time with winning their 14th Stanley Cup, each season is met with as much excitement as the last.
This year before the season begins, the marketing team in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs website created a special segment dedicated to the newly emerging “Legends Row”, an area located outside Air Canada Center dedicated to honoring former Leafs for their exceptional contributions to the team. The area will contain bronze statues of players dating back to the 1940’s; the first three players have been added for the start of the 2014-2015 season.
The Original Legend: Ted Kennedy
The first player inducted into Legends Row is Theodore Kennedy. Kennedy played for the Leafs from 1942-1957 and was the first NHL player to win five Stanley Cups in their career. Ted Kennedy only played for Toronto during his career in the NHL and never expressed a desire to play for another team, was deemed the “Quintessential Leaf”, and was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. Kennedy passed away August 14th, 2009.
The Man With No Mask: Johnny Bower
The second Leaf inducted into Legends Row is Johnny Bower, goalie for the Maple Leafs from 1958-1970. Bower preferred to play with no mask and would intentionally block shots with his face. Bower has won four Stanley Cups in his playing career, three of which were won during the Leads three consecutive wins in 1962, ’63 and ’64 and his final win was during the Leafs final cup in 1967. Bower was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976, and into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1999,
Ten Points. One Game. Darryl Sittler.
Darryl Sittler played for the Leafs from 1970-1985. In the ’75-’76 season Darryl was named captain of the Maple Leafs, making him the youngest captain in history at 25 years old. During his first season as captain of the Maple Leafs, Sittler completed a double hat trick in addition to four assists. Six goals, four assists, a feat that has never been matched. Sittler was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Maple Leafs fans everywhere are excited to start the season in just over a week, and the marketing team in Toronto really knows how to fuel their enthusiasm. More bronze statues are expected to arrive over the span of a few short years, and Legends row will continue to astonish friends, family and fans alike.
“I’m very, very proud of it. I just can’t believe that this has happened to me here. It’s just wonderful, the fans, everybody,” said Bower. “I just don’t know what to say. I’ll never forget this as long as I live.”
The Maple Leafs will begin the season next Wednesday against their oldest rivals, the Montreal Canadians. Go Leafs Go!