TORONTO – If memorabilia collectors don’t make the Johnny Bower banner one of the hot items on the Artifacts of Maple Leaf Gardens online auction, the legendary goaltender might just open his own wallet.
“If they don’t, I’m going to start bidding until it does (become popular),” Bower joked Thursday.
Bower was joined by fellow alumni Eddie Shack, Dick Duff and others for a media preview of the over 100 items from the Maple Leafs’ old home arena that are up for auction.
Framed collages, photos, banners—even the toilet from the locker-room—were on display at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in the historic Maple Leaf Gardens building. The public online auction is underway (at www.frozenpond.com) and will run until Nov. 14.
Company president Hersh Borenstein said the items came from a collector who spent about $500,000 at the original MLG auction in 2000.
“It’s pretty well sat in his basement for the last dozen years and he decided, ‘You know what, it’s time I shared it with people who will appreciate it as much as I have,'” he said.
Some of the featured items include the penalty boxes from the old rink, Bill Barilko’s retired number banner and the Stanley Cup banner from 1967—the last year the Maple Leafs won the championship.
“It’s a very unique opportunity to own artifacts and keepsakes from possibly the most historic building in Canada,” Borenstein said.
Borenstein added that many of the early inquiries have been about the locker-room toilet. It originally sold for $4,000 but the bidding will start at $250 this time around.
“An awful lot of famous butts have sat on that seat,” he said. “It’s an interesting item.”
About 800 items were available in the original MLG auction in November 2000. The team benches, goal nets, the Zamboni, turnstiles, banners, photos and signs were among the items sold.
The Maple Leafs played their last game at Maple Leaf Gardens in February 1999 before moving to their present home at Air Canada Centre.