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From the Archives: Finding My Favorite Columnist

When Stan Fischler was growing up as a Leafs fan living Brooklyn, it was a challenge finding Toronto hockey news in New York. He looks back at what it was like finding his favorite writer at a newsstand in his early days of following the sport.
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As a passionate Maple Leafs fan living in Brooklyn, I found it impossible to find any meaty Toronto hockey news in my native New York newspapers.

But one day, in September 1946, while strolling in Times Square, I discovered a huge newspaper stand across from the famed Paramount Theater. It had a big sign overhead, OUT OF TOWN NEWSPAPERS.

And as my luck would have it, the stand actually carried the Toronto Globe and Mail which, of course, I hastily bought.

Turning to the sports section, I discovered what I had hoped to find, stories about my Maple Leafs as well as a subscription form. Within a week, I was receiving my Globe and Mail -- in the mail -- daily.

Apart from the blanket Leafs coverage, what I also found on the sports pages was a columnist named Jim Coleman so, naturally, I began reading his work.

Within a week, I realized that I had found a literary hockey treasure.

(I later learned that Coleman was regarded by his peers as one of the greatest of all Canadian sports columnists.)

This Coleman guy not only loved writing about the Leafs, he did it with humor. Nor did he have any trouble columning about other National Hockey League players. Naturally, every one of Jim's hockey columns wound up in my scrapbook. The one featured here was penned in March 1947 at a time when Montreal Canadiens ace, Maurice (The Rocket) Richard was the NHL's scoring terror.

"The Rocket is a physical marvel," Coleman wrote. "He isn't unduly large, but he is compact, and his legs and arms give the impression that they are constructed of steel.

"He can shoot with terrific force from any angle and, indeed, he has scored many goals while leaning over so far that he could have written his name on the ice with his schnozzle."

Interestingly, Coleman's column was written when the Hockey Hall of Fame was located in Kingston, Ontario and operated by Capt. James T. Sutherland. Jim suggested in the column that Sutherland should work on a plaque for Richard.

Coleman concluded: "It's very likely that Richard will be recognized as the best individual star the game has ever seen....they'll be writing about his career 40 or 50 years from now."

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In addition to Coleman's column that particular Globe and Mail sports page also featured hockey standings from all over the place. Apart from the NHL and AHL there were the OHA Senior A, All-Ontario Junior, Metropolitan League and the United States League listed as well as endless leagues throughout Toronto.

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The man some critics consider the greatest goalie of all-time was playing Junior hockey at the time for the Galt Red Wings. You'll find his name under the lineup under the OHA Title story.

Galt was a Detroit farm team losing a playoff game to the St.Michael College Majors. Future Toronto Maple Leafs, Les Costello, Fleming Mackell and Rudy Migay starred for St.Mikes.

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Another fascinating tidbit could be found under the headline

RECORD LATE DATE SEEN FOR STANLEY CUP WINDUP.

The NHL pointed out that the 1947 Stanley Cup Final could last as "late" as April 24th.

This season's Cup Final did not end until June 27th!

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