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From the Archives: Day Tosses Bouquets at Turk and Teeder

Like the New York Rangers of this past season, who handsomely rebounded from a non-playoff year to become an elite NHL team, the 1946-47 Toronto Maple Leafs did likewise. Stan Fischler looks at what that group became.
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Like the New York Rangers of this past season, who handsomely rebounded from a non-playoff year to become an elite NHL team, the 1946-47 Toronto Maple Leafs did likewise.

Rearmed with a healthy helping of rookies, coach Hap Day's team challenged the defending champion Montreal Canadiens for first place although -- like the Blueshirts -- critics had thought they'd be losers.

By late January 1947, I had become a subscriber to the Toronto Globe and Mail. This particular page intrigued me because it not only had a lead story on my favorites -- Leafs, of course -- but also a fascinating photo.

Written by Jim Vipond, one of the Globe's top hockey reporters, the story focuses on Toronto's surprise climb to the league lead and the key players behind the rise -- goalie Turk Broda and center Ted Kennedy.

Coach Day insisted that one or the other deserved keen consideration for the NHL's (MVP) Hart Trophy. "I thought we would be fighting it out for a playoff berth," said Day. "instead of leading the league with an eight point advantage."

At the time, Broda's goals against average was 2.20. His closest competitor was Charlie Rayner of the Rangers at 2.8.

As for Kennedy, the gifted center had been working with right wing Howie Meeker and left wing Vic Lynn. The unit had been dubbed The Kid Line. (Meeker, by the way, would win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.)

"Kennedy deserves credit for bringing along his rookie linemates," Day added. "It's become one of the most powerful forward combinations in the league. There's not another center who could have done the same job."

The Globe's headline -- DAY TOSSES BOUQUETS AT TURK AND TEEDER, HIS HART TROPHY BETS -- didn't include other key reasons for the Leafs success, the three V's -- vim, vigor and vitality.

"As for team spirit," the coach asserted, "there never has been anything like it while I have been with the club and I've had some mighty good teams in the past."

Being a crazy fan, I always got even more excited when a story was accompanied by a photo of my heroes. Pictures of the skaters in civilian clothes provided an added fillip for my enjoyment.

The photo here was taken by the Globe's Nat Turofsky who would gain fame as one of the finest hockey photographers of all-time.

The four Leafs (left to right) are Bob Goldham, Vic Lynn, Harry Watson and Garth Boesch. Like hockey players of that era, they are wearing fedoras and all are out with assorted injuries.

Venerable trainer Tim Daly coined a word -- "Jakeys" -- for wounded players. In the picture the "Jakeys" are each contributing a dollar (per injury) to a Jakey Fund.

"They neglected to mention what they intended doing with the funds," kidded the caption under the picture.

This hockey-filled Globe page also included a tidbit about Leafs captain Syl Apps who also coached a youth team at his alma mater, Upper Canada College; actually a high school.

Apps' team was trailing Saint Andrews College 4-3 when one of Syl's kids scored the tying goal. "But Appas flagged the referee and pointed out that his boy had batted the puck into the net with his gloved hand," read the caption.

Syl's sense of fair play cost his team a tie and earned him the title "Honest Syl."

A couple of other stories had neat twists. Start with the one headlined ICE 'CATCH-OF-THE-YEAR' TURNS OUT TO BE BUCKO.

Turns out that a pro hockey scout was enthused about the body-checking ability of a defenseman in the North Bay and District League.

But upon closer look, the bird dog realized that the heavy checker was none other than former Maple Leaf blue liner Wilfred (Bucko) McDonald who had played 11 NHL seasons and now was a member of the Canadian Parliament.

Finally, there's that tiny sidebar at the bottom -- NO CAGE UNIFORM SO LITTLE JOHNNY TURNED TO HOCKEY. It's all about rugged Black Hawks defenseman Johnny Mariucci, explaining how he turned from basketball to hockey at Eveleth, Minnesota.

"My high school basketball coach wouldn't give me a uniform," Mariucci said. "and the hockey coach did!"

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