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Leafs beat writer takes fans inside team history in humorous new book

TORONTO - One of the most X-rated interviews of a coach ever recorded has finally made its way into print.

Get ready for a four-letter John Brophy barrage in "Tales From The Toronto Maple Leafs" by David Shoalts. The actual recording, made by Lance Hornby after a Toronto loss in Minnesota on Feb. 22, 1988, has been discreetly played for some of his pals over the years, but nobody ever dared to have it published - until Shoalts, like Hornby a Leafs beat writer, waded in with this hilarious look at some of the hijinx associated with the storied franchise during the last 50 years.

Don't let the kiddies near this book. It is for adults only, and any Leafs fan who doesn't mind the uncensored truth will love it.

Brophy used what Shoalts terms "the f-bomb" 72 times during the infamous interview way back when.

Shoalts got his inside dope on a lot of other shenanigans from people close to the scene, including rich anecdotes from Bob Haggert, who was the team's trainer for 14 years beginning in 1954. Some of the descriptions of how Conn Smythe and Hap Day ran things are priceless, and Haggert describes in detail what went on during the 1964 Stanley Cup final when Bob Baun scored the winning goal in Game 6 on a broken leg.

Jim McKenny, Gord Stellick, Bob Stellick, Bill Watters, Joe Bowen and others who were employed by or worked around the team also provided Shoalts with inside info that weaves the reader through episodes of team history.

Behind-the-scenes takes on the late owner Harold Ballard and the late GM Punch Imlach are particularly revealing. We learn that Ballard once peed in his seat in a press box, and was once urinated on by a lion. Imlach's baffling superstitions are unravelled.

We find out what it was that George Armstrong used to wet the rocks in the team sauna on one rather nefarious occasion. Hint: it was not water.

Foster Hewitt, Cliff Fletcher, Pat Burns, etc. - Shoalts touches on them all.

This is no candy-coated exultation of the glories of the Maple Leafs. Rather, this is the stuff fans might hear whispers about but never find out about on a printed page. Shoalts bares it all. Don't miss out on the fun.

There has been little push by the firm that published this treasure trove of tantalizing tidbits but word of mouth will surely put it in the hands of Leafs fans who want to know what really went down around the hockey team that called Maple Leaf Gardens home.

(168 pages,, $24.95)



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