Monday

Jack Church

This is Jack Church. He is one of only two players in NHL history with that last name. Brad Church, who played 2 games with Washington in 1997-98, is the other.

Jack Church, a defenseman from Kamsack, Saskatchewan played in 130 NHL games in the years surrounding World War II.  Best remembered as a Leaf, though he also played with the Brooklyn Americans and Boston Bruins, he scored 4 career goals and 23 career points.

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Tuesday

Ernie Dickens

This good looking young man is Ernie Dickens. The defenseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba made a favorable impression as a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs, helping the Leafs come back from 3 games down to defeat Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals.

But Dickens had to put his NHL aspirations on hold. After his rookie season he was summoned off to the Canadian military as part of the effort in World War II.

Dickens did not return until 1945. He played one more season with the Leafs, but was no longer the highly anticipated youngster. In fact, he was replaced by the next star young defenseman - Bashin' Bill Barilko. Dickens spent most of the next couple of seasons in the minor leagues before he was moved to Chicago as part of the big Max Bentley trade.

Dickens played four seasons in Chicago, quietly providing reliable defense with the Hawks.


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Sunday

Pete Backor

Fort William, Ontario (better known today as Thunder Bay) has always been a hotbed for hockey, but especially back in the early days. Brothers Pete and Hank Backor were both excellent players with the Fort William Forts. While they both dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League and both would enjoy long professional careers, only Pete would make it to the big leagues.

Pete didn't make the jump to pro hockey any too soon though. The defenseman found a good spot with the senior league St. Catherines Saints, playing and working in the southern Ontario town for five years during World War II.

The war was nearing an end by 1944-45, but the Toronto Maple Leafs still needed replacements with many of their players still under commitment to the Canadian military. Backor was brought in to play on the blue line that season. A good offensive defenseman, Backor scored 4 goals and 9 points in 36 games.

That would be Backor's only taste of NHL action, seeing as that many of the conscripts would return to the Leafs the following season. He was sent to the Leafs' AHL farm team in Pittsburgh where he would star with the Hornets until 1954. He was a 5 time all star and in 1952 he led the Hornets to the Calder Cup championship.

Backor, who was Rudy Migay's brother in-law, returned to Ontario late in his career to play some senior and semi-pro hockey. He retired in 1956.

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Friday

Inge Hammarstrom


Hammarstrom was born in Sundsva back in January of 1948. The son of an engineer, he was raised in the paper mill town of Timre.

Hammarstrom grew up playing a lot of sports, but he excelled at two: tennis and especially hockey. By 15 he was named to the Swedish national junior team and was a regular on the senior national team at 19 years old.

Despite his success, he never gave much thought to a career in the National Hockey League. European players were all but non-existent in the early 1970s. But that changed in large part to Hammarstrom and his good friend, Borje Salming.

On May 12th, 1973 the Toronto Maple Leafs signed the two Swedes. The 21 year old Salming would go on to become a Hockey Hall of Famer and one of the best defenseman in the NHL for the next 15 seasons.

Hammarstrom, who was 25 when first arrived, was not so lucky. He averaged more than 20 goals a year in four seasons with the Leafs, but he did not adapt well to the harder hitting style of play in North America. And miscreant Leafs owner Harold Ballard made sure Hammarstrom was labelled as soft for all of eternity, famously stating, “Hammarstrom could go into the corner with a dozen eggs in his pocket and not break any of them."

The charge was unfair. Canadian players like Jean Ratelle or the Leafs own legendary Dave Keon played the game cleanly and without malice, but Hammarstrom was vilified largely because he was European.

A superb skater and stickhandler, Hammarstrom was strong in his convictions about how the game should be played.

"My game is the one of skills we were taught in Sweden. We also were taught self discipline. I hate to be roughed up and am tempted to drop my gloves and fight at times, but I do not believe that is the way the game should be played."

Hammarstrom stayed with the Leafs for 4 seasons before moving on to St. Louis for 2 more NHL season. He returned to Sweden to play for Byrnas, and later retiring in beautiful Gavle on the Baltic Sea, spending time on his boat and playing badminton. Yes, badminton.

"It takes more skill than most people realize and it's a shame it isn't played by more people."

But he also spent a lot of time watching hockey games all across Europe. From 1990 through 2008 Hammarstrom served as the chief European scout for the Philadelphia Flyers. His best find - Peter Forsberg.

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Monday

Busher Jackson

Mostly forgotten by today's fans, Harvey "Busher" Jackson ranks as one of the greatest and most controversial players in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

Conn Smythe signed 18 year old Busher (the youngest player in the league) and Charlie Conacher in 1930 and immediately placed both of them on "The Kid Line" with Joe Primeau at center. They would become hockey's dominant line for the next few years, and would win the Stanley Cup in 1932. Jackson, a power forward long before anyone coined the term, led the whole league in scoring in 1932 and was recognized as an All Star in 5 of the following six years.

When Primeau retired Busher and brother Art Jackson teamed up with Pep Kelly for a while before Busher found a home on a line with Syl Apps and Gordie Drillon in 1937.

Hap Day remembered Busher's jet-like speed - as fast as the legendary Howie Morenz some insisted.

"Busher is so fast that one night in Montreal he circled his net, started down ice, and shot the puck when he was nearing center. And you know what? He was travelling so fast that he caught up with the puck and passed it before he got to the blue line."

Okay, Day had to be exaggerating there. But there was little doubt that Busher was the class of the league. Frank Selke Sr. once remembered Jackson as "the classiest left winger I ever saw.

For all of Busher's on-ice greatness, Leafs boss Conn Smythe grew increasingly disenchanted with Jackson. Jackson, you see, was quite the party boy and a heavy drinker. Smythe, a strict disciplinarian with elitist standards, despised Jackson's behaviour. As a result there was no denying the two were at odds until Jackson's inevitable departure in 1939.

Jackson, coming off a dislocated shoulder, was traded off to the New York Americans with Buzz Boll, Doc Romnes, Jimmy Fowler and Murray Armstrong in exchange for Sweeney Schriner. Schriner would go on to become a favorite of Smythe. Jackson, meanwhile, played (alongside Lorne Carr and Murray Armstrong) two unsatisfactory years in New York. The cash-strapped Amerks sold Jackson off to Boston in 1942.

Reunited with his brother Art in Boston, Busher was hot and cold in Boston in his final 3 years in the NHL. He often played on a line with Art. Bill Cowley and Herb Cain were regular linemates as well. Busher even played some defense in Boston.

Conn Smythe's disdain for Jackson's lifestyle continued long after Jackson hung up his blades. Based on his ability, there was no doubt Jackson belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame. After all, his 241 career goals in Toronto remained a Leafs all time record until Frank Mahovlich broke it in the 1960s. But Smythe blocked any and every attempt to induct Jackson into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The HHOF embargo was finally lifted in 1971 when Jackson was inducted. Unfortunately Jackson's enshrinement came five years after his death. The respect he so struggled to get and truly deserved never came in time for Jackson. For Smythe, who resigned as president of the Hall after Jackson's inclusion, it was his lowest act.

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Sunday

Tom "Windy" O'Neill

Tom "Windy" O'Neill put aside his education and a career as a lawyer to play in the National Hockey League. But he would soon return to school and then the courts and enjoyed a lengthy career as a lawyer in Toronto.

The attended famous St. Michael's school and hockey program in the early 1940s. It was at St. Mikes that he earned his interesting nickname. No, it had nothing to do with his speed on the ice or any gastrointestinal issues. No, he was dubbed Windy by a priest at school who did not take well to his long winded debates!

A law career may have been his realistic goal, but a shortage of NHL players due to Canada's efforts in World War II opened the door for O'Neill to play with the Leafs for two seasons.

In 1943-44 O'Neill played in 33 games and scored 8 goals and 15 points. The following season O'Neill again played in 33 games, but his production fell off, scoring just twice with five assists. He did not play in the playoffs, which is unfortunate as the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup that year.

When he did play he was utilized strictly as a defensive forward. In fact, one story has coach Hap Day instructing O'Neill to never cross the other team's blue line. Not much of a claim to hockey fame, though he was dubbed "the best piano player in the National Hockey League" by writer Scott Young. He was a very good musician.

O'Neill moved on from the NHL after that season. He originally moved to Vancouver to be a sports reporter for The Vancouver Sun newspaper, but he soon moved back east. He spent a season in Quebec City playing senior hockey with the Aces, and then 3 seasons in Halifax. All the while he studied law, first at Laval University (where he also studied French which, along with Italian and English, would make him trilingual) and then Dalhousie.

Interestingly, his legacy in the maritimes has more to do with football than hockey. He served as president of the Athletic Union at Dalhousie and was instrumental in bringing collegiate football to Canada's east coast.

Upon his return to Toronto he made some of his biggest impact on the NHL. He, along with Lionel and Charlie Conacher, founded the NHL Oldtimers Association to represent the Alumni of the NHL. Years later that organization was instrumental in the pension fight to reclaim $50 million dollars taken by the NHL from the pension fund.

O'Neill was a devoted member of the Liberal Party, though he failed to win a federal seat for the party in 1958.

Windy O'Neill died suddenly of a heart attack in 1973. He was just 49 years old.

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Johnny McCreedy

John McCreedy only played two seasons in the National Hockey League. But both times he helped the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Detroit Red Wings in epic 7 game showdowns.

The first came in 1942. That was the magical year when Toronto erased a 3-0 series deficit to win four games in a row and steal the Stanley Cup right out of the hands of the Red Wings.

McCreedy remained in Toronto the next two seasons, but served with the Royal Canadian Air Force rather than the Maple Leafs. But he returned to the Leafs in the 1944-45 season, again helping the Leafs defeat the Wings for the Stanley Cup.

McCreedy hung up his blades after that championship and returned to University.

He had dropped out of school and left his native Winnipeg after winning the Memorial Cup in 1937. He moved to Trail, British Columbia. He made a good living there for two seasons, working for Cominco and playing for the about-to-be famous Smoke Eaters. Not only did they win the Allan Cup in 1939 as Canada's amateur champs, but they represented the nation at the 1939 World Championships, winning gold before touring the continent.

McCreedy headed to the mining town of Kirkland Lake, where the Blue Devils won the Allan Cup in 1940. Due to the World War the World Hockey Championships were cancelled, so McCreedy never had a chance to return to Europe.

The following year McCreedy moved to Sydney, Nova Scotia and led the Millionaires hockey team right back to the Allan Cup finals, only to come up short to the Regina Rangers.

That's a pretty amazing record - two Stanley Cups, two Allan Cups, 1 Memorial Cup and 1 World Championship all in a span of 8 seasons!

By the way, Mr. McCreedy earned his bachelor of science in mining and joined nickel giant INCO in 1949. He stayed with the company and became Vice Chairman in 1979.

Interestingly, McCreedy played a significant role the creation of one of hockey's most cherished trophies. When the Canada Cup tournament became a reality starting in 1976, McCreedy had INCO finance the famous half maple leaf trophy. Interestingly the original trophy was made of solid nickel, weighed 125 pounds and cost $50,000 to make! INCO made a much lighter, nickel plated trophy for the subsequent tournaments.

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Bob Davidson

To younger fans Bob Davidson may be better known as a famous Leafs scout. He spent 3 decades as a scout for the Maple Leafs, often putting in long hours and miles with little fanfare or thanks. He spotted many of the Leafs great players over that time, including Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon and Carl Brewer.

But there was also a time when he was a beloved member of the on-ice Toronto Maple Leafs too.

From 1935 through 1946 Davidson earned a reputation as a hard working winger better known for his two-way play than his offense. From 1935 through 1942 Davidson's career high was just 8 goals. During the diluted era of World War II when the NHL lost many of its players to military commitments, Davidson emerged as a moderate scoring threat. He reached double digits from 1942 through 1945. He topped out at 19 goals and 47 points in 1943-44.

Although he often played on the Leafs' top line with Syl Apps and Gord Drillon - the DAD Line - offense wasn't a true measure of Davidson's value to the Maple Leafs. He was a physical yet usually clean checker known affectionately as "Rugged Robert." Davidson earned the reputation as one of the top defensive forwards in the game during his 12 year career. He accomplished this by perfecting the now-commonly used though illegal ploy of "clutching and grabbing." Davidson was an expert at it. He knew how to interfere with his check just enough to keep him from getting open for a shot without getting a penalty himself. Davidson, despite his reputation, spent very little time in the penalty box - in his career he spent 398 minutes in the penalty box in nearly 500 games.

A disciple of coach Hap Day's tight checking brand of defense, Davidson often drew the assignment of checking the top right winger on the opposing team many nights in his 491 game career in the NHL. Davidson was a wily veteran by the time Montreal's volcanic right winger Maurice Richard arrived in the league, but his battles with "The Rocket" are often more remembered than any other battles.

Unfortunately for Davidson, most hockey history books that refer to Davidson often bring up game 2 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals in 1944. Toronto was facing Montreal and Richard was particularly hot, scoring 23 goals in his last 22 games. Much hype was made when it became obvious that night that the Leafs were employing Davidson against Richard in the tightest of fashions. Anywhere the Rocket went, so would Davidson, even if the play was 100 feet away. Davidson's only job that night was to worry about Richard at all times, and not to help out his other teammates defensively or offensively.

Davidson's clutching and grabbing successfully frustrated Richard in the first period. But Richard broke loose in the second frame, scoring a hat trick. Richard potted two more in the third as Montreal won the game 5-1. It was one of the single greatest performances by one player in National Hockey League history.

Experts agree that Richard's legendary night was more of a reflection of Richard's greatness than Davidson's ability. It is too bad for Davidson that this one night is the one that seems destined to be remembered in his career, as he was truly a great defensive forward much like a Bob Gainey or Guy Carbonneau of modern times. He personified the word industrious as much as any hockey player ever has, and he deserves to be remembered as such.

Davidson was born in Toronto on February 10, 1912, and lived every Toronto kid's dream. He grew up to become a junior star in the city, most notably with the Toronto Canoe Club and Toronto City Services junior hockey team before graduating to the Toronto Marlboros in 1932. In 1933 he joined the Marlies senior team before turning professional in 1934.

Davidson spent parts of two seasons apprenticing in the minor leagues with the International Hockey League's Syracuse Stars. But by 1936 he was a full time member of the hometown Toronto Maple Leafs! He would enjoy more than a decade's run with the Leafs highlighted by 2 Stanley Cup championships and a career 2 year reign as captain of the most fabled team in English Canada!

In the late 1970s Davidson's 40-plus year affiliation with the Leafs came to cruel end. Harold Ballard axed his pay in half, and a heartbroken Davidson resigned in disgust. Ballard was unexplainably eliminating anything and anyone that was a part of the Maple Leafs glorious past. Davidson, like so many others, did not deserve to be treated the way he had been.

Davidson passed away at the age of 84 on September 28, 1996. Both his son (Jim) and grandson (Bryce) have also played minor professional hockey.

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Wednesday

Corb Denneny

Corb Denneny, the lesser known brother of Hall of Famer Cy Denneny, was a pretty good hockey player in his own right. And a heck of a lacrosse player, too. He started playing pro lacrosse at the age of 14!

But it was hockey where Corb made his name. The Cornwall native enjoyed his best hockey years in Toronto, be it with the NHA Ontarios and Blueshirts and the NHL Arenas, St. Patricks and Maple Leafs. He also briefly played in Ottawa (NHA), Hamilton and Chicago (NHL) before heading out west. The vagabond enjoyed years in Saskatoon, Minneapolis and Newark.

Corb was not as prolific of a scorer as his brother, but he is one of the few NHL players to score 5 goals in one game (vs Hamilton on January 26th, 1921). He was at his best when playing on a line with hard hitting Reg Noble and sniper Babe Dye.

A Stanley Cup champion in 1918 and 1922 (and a finalist on three other occasions), Denneny finished in top 6 in NHL points in three seasons and in NHL goals in four seasons. Yet he never quite got the accolades for big brother Cy. The most common adjective hockey history seems to have assigned him is "solid."

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Saturday

Art Smith

This is Art Smith. In the late 1920s he played 3 seasons with Conn Smythe's Toronto Maple Leafs and another season with the Ottawa Senators. In 144 NHL games he picked up 15 goals, 25 points and truculent 249 PIMs.

Smith was an all around athlete. He played with the Toronto Argonauts football club and was an oarsman for the Toronto Canoe Club.

Art passed away in Toronto on May 15th, 1962. He just completed a business trip to Europe for Art Smith Construction Supply Ltd., when he passed suddenly at home.

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Monday

John Brenneman


This is John Brenneman. He was a vagabond NHL/minor league forward. Original Chicago property, he also played with the Rangers, the Red Wings, the Maple Leafs and Seals, never playing a full season in the NHL. The most he played in any one season was 41 games with Toronto in 1966-67.

He was described as a solid winger with excellent speed and was capable of occasional exciting scoring chances. But the slightly built forward did not thrive in physical games. His teammates gave him the ultimate compliment when they said he was one of those guys who came to play every night.

He was popular with teammates too, always looking to enjoy life away from the rink too. Perhaps his coaches over the years did not appreciate Brenneman's taste for the finer things in life, though.

John Brenneman played in 152 NHL games scoring 21 goals and 19 assists for 40 points.

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Friday

Bob Bailey

Bashin' Bob Bailey was a hard hitting defenseman whose professional career lasted an impressive 17 seasons. In that time he was definitely a hockey vagabond, playing with 14 teams in 7 leagues. That also earned him nicknames such as "Here and There and Back Bob."

Wherever Bailey went he was sure to find trouble. Most infamously he assaulted referee Jerry Olinski during the 1956 Calder Cup playoffs, drawing an indefinite suspension and a fine. On two other occassions in his career he attacked referees, too, including in his final game of his career. On another occassion he was also suspended 12 games for his baseball-swing usage of his hockey stick on Ted Harris.

The Kenora, Ontario born Bailey also found time to play in the National Hockey League during the 1950s, no easy feat back in the glory days of the six team league. Including playoffs he played in 92 games with Toronto over three seasons; 45 games with Detroit over two seasons; and 28 games with the Chicago Black Hawks for one season. He scored 15 goals in 165 games, 15 of which came in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Another curiosity about Bailey's career: He was traded in exchange for Bill Dineen on three different occassions!

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Saturday

Hank Goldup


The fact that Hank Goldup did not own his own pair of skates until he was 16 years old did not prevent him from achieving success in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers in the 1940s.

Conn Smythe first noticed Goldup as a 17 year old when he scored 29 goals in just 16 games in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario. Smythe signed him up and brought him to Toronto to continue his amateur career. 

Goldup ended up playing at Northern Vocational school in Toronto along side Herbie Carnegie. Swivel Hips Carnegie was as fine a hockey player in the country at that time, but he would not be destined for the NHL due to his skin colour. Carnegie was the son of Jamaica immigrants. But in this season the two worked magic together, with Goldup averaging 2 goals per game. 

Speedy Hank would move on to star with the Toronto Marlies, leading the entire OHA in scoring with 25 goals and 41 points in just 14 games. 

Goldup finally signed a pro contract with Smythe's Leafs in 1939. He started the season with the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets but finished the season in Toronto alongside fellow newcomer Pete Langelle and veteran winger Gus Marker. 

Impressions of Goldup's first NHL games were mixed at best. He scored 6 goals in 21 games and newspaper reports at the time suggested he showed little interest in playing defensively. But by playoff time he was turning into a star, scoring 5 goals (including a couple of game winners) in 10 games, tying Syl Apps for the playoff scoring lead. Newspapers changed their tune, proclaiming "Hankus Pankus Goldup" as "the most consistently dangerous puck pusher" on the team. Another paper said Goldup "makes Houdini look like a rookie."

The New York Rangers would win the Stanley Cup in 1940, but Goldup had made his impression in the NHL. It was a good thing, too. He would never recapture that playoff magic in the next couple of seasons in Toronto, thanks in part to a nasty hip injury when he crashed into the immovable goal posts of the day. Still, he was a member of the Leafs amazing 1942 Stanley Cup championship team.

While the Leafs grew impatient with him, the Rangers remembered his previous exploits and gave him a chance. They traded future Hall of Famer Babe Pratt for Goldup and Red Garrett. Pratt would go on to greatness, while Goldup and Garrett went on to serve in World War II shortly thereafter. Only Goldup would return. 

Goldup rejoined the Rangers in 1945 but only for a season and a half before being demoted to the minor leagues. His stay there was successful but short thanks to injuries suffered in a summer softball game. Torn ligaments all but ended his playing days in 1947.

Goldup retired and became a salesman for Molson Breweries and Andres Wines. Later he served as a sales executive for Victoriaville hockey sticks. He stayed involved with hockey by coaching youth, including his own son Glenn who would go onto his own NHL career in the 1970s. 

Hank Goldup suffered a stroke in 2002 and for the final three years of his life he lived in a care facility, unable to communicate verbally. But legend has it when the Stanley Cup dropped by for a visit Goldup whispered the trophy's name.

"Those were the clearest two words I heard him speak in years," Glenn said. 

Hank Goldup died in 2008.

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Monday

Teeder Kennedy

The Montreal Canadiens loss turned out to be the Toronto Maple Leafs gain, even if Conn Smythe didn't think so at the time.

The Canadiens were the first to discover the hard working Ted Kennedy, and offered to pay his living and schooling expenses if he would come to Montreal to play junior hockey. However a homesick Kennedy quickly grew tired of the junior team's bumbling of his living and schooling arrangement, so Kennedy packed his bags and headed back to his native Port Colbourne, Ontario

Once he arrived at home he met an old NHL warrior by the name of Nels Stewart. "Old Poison," as he was known, was coaching a senior team in the area and offered the 16 year old Kennedy a chance to play. Stewart took Kennedy under his wing and helped to polish this diamond in the rough.

Stewart would later recommend to the Leafs that they should take their chances on his young protégé. The Leafs, being run by Frank Selke while Conn Smythe was overseas fighting on the front lines of World War II, traded a highly thought of young defenseman in Frank Eddolls to Montreal for the rights to Kennedy.

Smythe was very angry at the move. Feeling like Selke and the Leafs were abusing their authority in his absence, and he loathed the trade from day one. The trade led to the deteriorating relationship between Smythe and Selke, which eventually led to Selke's departure to Montreal.

As much as Smythe hated the deal, even he would have to admit in hindsight that it was perhaps one of the most lopsided deals in franchise history. Eddolls would play in the National Hockey League with little fanfare for 8 seasons, while Kennedy would go on to become one of the all time greats.

Universally known as Teeder (a nickname that stuck since childhood because some people had trouble pronouncing the name Theodore), Kennedy was the ultimate Leaf. While he was a horrendous skater, he made up for it with his competitive zeal that would make him arguably the greatest leader in franchise history, and maybe in hockey history. He led by example, fearlessly battling some of hockey's all time greats. He could shoot and pass and stickhandle with the best of them, yet was a proud defensive player and a superior faceoff specialist.

Kennedy grew up dreaming of playing for the Leafs and idolizing the great Charlie Conacher. Needless to say, Kennedy was ecstatic when his dream suddenly became true. But come game time he was totally focused, and always played every game at the highest level. For Kennedy every game was played with a level of desperation as if it were game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Very few players in league history can have that said about them.

Kennedy broke in with the Leafs in 1943-44. His arrival was well timed as several veteran players were called upon for war duty. Kennedy, too young for war duty himself at the time, stepped in and contributed 26 goals and 49 points in 49 games. Yet it wasn't his offense but his hustle that earned him the most admiration. There was no doubt this man would one day be captain of the Blue and White.

Kennedy led the Leafs to an upset victory against the Montreal Canadiens in the 1945 Stanley Cup finals. The Canadiens were a powerhouse led by the unthinkable exploits of Rocket Richard. The Habs top line of Elmer Lach, Toe Blake and Richard - who scored 50 goals in 50 games that season - finished 1-2-3 in scoring during the year and were supposed to tear Toronto apart. But a wondrous defensive effort by a line centered by Kennedy (flanked by Bob Davidson and "Sudden Death" Mel Hill) kept the feared Punch Line at bay for much of the series. In the mean time Kennedy contributed a playoff leading 7 goals to capture the silver chalice.

It was in the playoffs that Kennedy was at his best. Although he put up impressive scoring totals throughout his career, he was hockey's version of Mr. October. In 1947 the Leafs captured another Stanley Cup, thanks Kennedy's cup winning goal against Montreal. The Leafs would repeat as champions in 1948, as Kennedy scored a playoff high 8 goals and 14 points. The following season Syl Apps - to that point probably the most revered Leaf in team history - retired and Kennedy, just 22, became the youngest captain in club history. Even without Apps, Kennedy would lead the Leafs to the first ever Stanley Cup "three-peat".

The Leafs would win again in 1951, making it 4 out of 5 years with the Cup. They were upset in the 1950 Stanley Cup final, otherwise they would have won 5 consecutive Cups and be remembered - as they should still be - as one of hockey's greatest teams.

A very famous - or perhaps infamous - incident occurred in that 1950 showdown with Detroit. The soon-to-be legendary Gordie Howe was just a young player but he had the word special written all over him. But his great career - and perhaps even his life - were put in jeopardy in the opening game of the finals. Gordie Howe attempted to throw Kennedy off balance. Howe missed as Kennedy pressed forward, forcing Howe to tumble face first into the boards. A horrified crowd watch the superstar being carried off the ice with a badly broken skull. Kennedy and the Leafs of course claimed it was an accident, but Red Wings of course claim it was a deliberate attempt to injure. To this day there is question to this horrific incident as no video or photo evidence of the collision exists.

The Leafs began the inevitable fall from the top as the 1950s progressed while Detroit and Montreal became hockey's top teams. Kennedy's already atrocious skating became slower and his game declined a step as well, although in 1954-55 - in his last full season in the league - he was named as the most valuable player. The award was perhaps more of a sentimental life time achievement award than anything, but Kennedy deserved the honor.

Kennedy would retire at the end of that season, but would attempt a comeback with the leafs in 1956-57, playing 30 games Kennedy retired with 696games played. In that time he scored 231 goals and 329 assists for 560 points. In the playoffs, this 5 time Stanley Cup champion scored 29 goals and 60 points in 78 contests.

As a kid Ted Kennedy just wanted to play hockey, but never imagined he would ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1966 hockey's elite immortalized the hustle and success of Teeder Kennedy by his inclusion in the Hall - hockey's highest honor.

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Dave Keon

Dave Keon, known as one of the greatest two-way centres in the history of the game, was an amazing athlete who spent 22 seasons in professional hockey. He appeared in an impressive total of 1,725 regular season and playoff games in both the WHA and the NHL, and in all that time he picked up only 151 penalty minutes!

Keon attended the famed St. Michael's College in Toronto prior to turning professional. When he arrived he was a scoring sensation who paid little attention to defense, but that changed by the time he graduated from the Maple Leafs training camp. Keon, under the guidance of Father David Bauer and Bob Goldham, transformed himself into the epitome of a perfect hockey player. He combined skating and stick handling gifts with superior hockey sense in all zones of the rink, both offensively and defensively. He became so good that he was the pre-eminent checking center while remaining a top offensive force.

At 5'9" and 165 pounds Keon was hardly a big man, which often made his task of shutting down the opposition's top scorer that much tougher. But Keon was tough in his own way. He was strong though slight, and mastered the art of angling opponents out of harm's way. While no one questioned Keon's heart or toughness, he always preferred to play within the rules. He won the Lady Byng as the NHL's most gentlemanly player in both 1962 and 1963. In fact he averaged only 6 minutes in penalties in each of his NHL seasons.

Keon hit the Garden ice in 1960 without spending a minute in the minors - a rare feat in those days as boss Punch Imlach was usually dead set against using unpracticed players on his veteran laden team. All eyes were focused on the speedy youngster to see if he could handle the rough stuff. By season's end he had 20 goals, a considerable sum in those days, and was named the Calder Trophy winner as the best rookie in the league that year.

Keon was a sparkplug who ignited the Maple Leafs. The following season saw Keon scored 61 points and was named to the Second All Star team in just his second year. More importantly, he began proving himself where all of the game's greats are made or broken - in the Stanley Cup playoffs Keon helped the Leafs capture their first Stanley Cup championship in 11 seasons.

The Leafs would three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions. In 1963 Keon's 7 goals and 12 points paced the Leafs. In 1964, Keon repeated a team leading 7 goals, including all three of the team's goals in the final game in the semi-final against Montreal. He then turned his attention to shutting down the Detroit Red Wings.

In a surprise championship, the Leafs captured their 4th Cup of the decade in 1967. Keon's relentless checking and premier faceoff abilities were first and foremost, and he was rewarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league's most valuable playoff performer.

Shortly after the 1967 championship, the Leafs headed into transition. The team aged into decline, and a new man rose to power in Toronto in 1971 - Harold Ballard.

Ballard's clashes with players, coaches, media - pretty much everybody and anybody - are as legendary as they are infamous. Perhaps no player's battle with Ballard went as deep and long lasting as Keon's.

Keon was named as captain in 1969, but when Ballard arrived he didn't support Keon as the captain of his hockey team. Keon undoubtedly had an abrasive personality, but was extremely popular with the fans, and was understood by his teammates. As their public battles continued, the Leafs fortunes under Keon's captaincy went downward. Keon himself continued to excel, but he didn't have the supporting cast to help him.

Ballard could have traded away Keon (one common rumor had the New York Islanders very interested) but he refused by asking for the moon and the stars in return. Ballard wanted Keon right out of the NHL and when his contract was up in 1975 he left Keon with little choice but to sign with the World Hockey Association - something Keon remained bitter about years after Ballard's death.

Keon brought his intelligent game to the WHA where he played for Minnesota, Indianapolis and New England over the next four seasons before making his triumphant return to the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, who merged with the NHL once the WHA collapsed.

Keon continued to play until his retirement at the conclusion of the 1981-82 season.

Keon never forgot or forgave Harold Ballard for the way he was treated. Keon felt disrespected and unappreciated in the often public and sometimes deeply personal verbal assault Ballard waged. Keon refused to take part in any Maple Leaf functions for years after his retirement, despite his status as one of the most popular Leaf players of all time among fans.

Once Ballard passed on, the new Maple Leaf regime and particularly Cliff Fletcher looked to repair old wounds with many former players, including Keon. Although the relationship has never been fully repaired with the stubborn Keon, there has been a modest thaw in the cold war.

Hopefully one day Keon will be able to return to Toronto and perhaps participate in some sort of thank you ceremony that Keon deserves, and the fans desire.

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Frank Mahovlich


Frank Mahovlich is one of a very select few who would star with Canada's two most cherished sports franchises, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. He also starred with the Detroit Red Wings.

Starting his career in Toronto, The Big M is arguably Toronto's most cherished hockey hero, yet also one of its most criticized.

The Leafs enjoyed their greatest success with Mahovlich leading the way. He helped them to 4 Stanley Cup championships in the 1960s. Mahovlich was a big man with a long powerful stride that powered himself through the opposing team's defense. Add to that his uncanny stickhandling and an overpowering shot, and Mahovlich was pretty much a perfect hockey player.

In his book Maple Leaf Legends, author Mike Leonetti describes Mahovlich:

"Mahovlich moved like a thoroughbred, with a strong, fluid style that made it look as if he was galloping through the opposition. In full flight, he was an imposing figure. An explosive skater, Mahovlich could spot the right moment to turn it on and burst in on goal. He had a great move where he would take the puck off the wing, cut into the middle of the ice and try to bust through two defencemen for a chance on goal. He didn't always get through but when he did he scored some memorable goals. His style of offence caused teammate Dave Keon to remark: Nobody scores goals better than Frank."

Despite the team's great success and Mahovlich's status as one of the greatest of his day, many believed we never got to see the best of The Big M. Most of his best years were spent in Toronto under boss Punch Imlach. Imlach, who could never pronounce Frank's last name, tried to reign in Mahovlich. He and Mahovlich never got along. Imlach was an old stubborn hockey man who was determined to break Mahovlich, who just shrugged off Imlach's antics, although he secretly hurt for years. Therefore, many believed as good as Mahovlich was, he could have been better under a different coach.

Mahovlich tried to become the player his coach wanted him to become as well, focusing on defense more and more instead of going on the attack at all times. This lead to many fans turning against their hero. They had seen how good he could be, why was he holding back so much?

A talented and diverse athlete (he turned down an offer from the Boston Red Sox organization to play pro baseball), Mahovlich entered the league in 1958. That year he won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, beating out another hotshot left winger named Bobby Hull.

Frank played parts of 12 seasons in Toronto. He was a constant 30 goal threat, topping out at 48 in 1960-61 when he played on a line with Red Kelly and Bob Nevin. In that year he actually reached 48 goals with 14 games remaining. Poised to break Rocket Richard's record of 50 goals, Mahovlich inexplicably went into a scoring slump. When talk around the league should have been about the 23 year old's magnificent season, it was all about his year end slump.

Mahovlich and the Leafs would win the Stanley Cup for three consecutive seasons starting in 1962, and capture a 4th title in the much ballyhooed 1967 season. During this time Mahovlich averaged over 30 goals a year, but there was much criticism of him from coach Imlach and a loud number of the fans who bought into Imlach's campaign. It seemed nothing Mahovlich could do was good enough. Things got so bad that the Big M was actually hospitalized with acute tension and depression, and later would leave the game after suffering a nervous breakdown. Described as a shy and sensitive person, the hockey prodigy paid a high price for hockey stardom.

Mahovlich was dealt to Detroit in 1968 in one of hockey's biggest blockbuster deals. Garry Unger and Pete Stemkowski went with The Big M to Detroit in exchange for Paul Henderson, Norm Ullman and Floyd Smith. In Detroit he was teamed with Gordie Howe and Alex Delvecchio on a line that would leave goalies sleepless the night before facing the Wings. Relieved from the pressures of Toronto, Frank enjoyed his best season as a Wing. In 1968-69 he scored 49 goals!

Frank's tenure in Detroit was fairly short-lived as in 1971 he was moved to the Montreal Canadiens and helped them to two Stanley Cup Championships thus giving him 6 rings of his own. He also cherished the opportunity to play with his little brother, Peter. Frank averaged 37 goals a season in 3 full seasons in Montreal. Mahovlich was absolutely dominant in the two Stanley Cup seasons he spent in Montreal, leading the team in scoring in the 1971 playoffs and finishing 2nd in the 1973 campaign.

After 3 years with Montreal he jumped to the World Hockey Association with, somewhat surprisingly, the Toronto Toros and later the Birmingham Bulls. In all he spent 4 seasons in the WHA before retiring in 1978.

His effortless style made some fans wonder if he could have been better. 533 goals and 1103 points, 9 NHL All Star teams and 6 Stanley Cup rings tells you just how good he was.

One of the classiest people you'll ever meet, nowadays "The Big M" is known as Senator Frank Mahovlich. In 1998 he was appointed to the Canadian senate by Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

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Friday

Wilf Loughlin

Wilf Loughlin was the younger but bigger brother of fellow PCHA star Clem. Wilf was 6'2" 200lbs and played both on the left wing and on defense.

Wilf's followed in his brother's footsteps by playing senior hockey in Winnipeg before joining his brother with the PCHA's Victoria Cougars. Both Wilf and Clem were second team all stars in 1921.

By 1923 Wilf was traded away from Victoria and his brother, but to the NHL. Sold to the Toronto St. Pats (later named Maple Leafs), Loughlin was used sparingly in the 1923-24 season. He only participated in 14 games, scoring no points in limited ice time.

Loughlin played parts of three more seasons with minor leagues in Regina, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Moose Jaw.

Wilf Loughlin died on June 25th, 1966.

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Dave Farrish

Dave Farrish played in 430 NHL games with the Quebec Nordiques, New York Rangers and the Leafs. He scored 17 goals, 110 assists and 127 points in his career. He won the Eddie Shore award as the top defenseman in the American League in 1982, but at the NHL level he was a decent depth level defenseman with a strong first pass out of the zone.

Farrish got a lot of attention in junior hockey with the Sudbury Wolves, as he was defensive partner of Randy Carlyle. Carlyle was a coveted defenseman out of junior who went on to star in the NHL, winning the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 1981.

Interestingly, Farrish and Carlyle were not only a dominant defensive pairing but life long best friends. Both would go on to long coaching careers. When Carlyle was hired as the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, he brought Farrish along too. The duo helped the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007.

"Randy's like family to me, and I would assume I'm like that to him," explained Farrish to HHOF.com. "We have cottages four doors apart on Manitoulin Island and we've got houses about a five-minute walk apart in Anaheim. I'm very blessed that he saw something in me that encouraged him to bring me to the Ducks. I'm indebted to him forever for the opportunity!

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Saturday

Dmitri Yushkevich

Dmitri Yushkevich was a solid NHL defenseman for over a decade. He continued his career with several seasons back home in Russia, as well.

Yusekvich was trained in Russia in the dying days of the great Soviet hockey empire. Yet he was not a classic Russian defenseman in that he was not a great skater. He was neither speedy or particularly agile. But he was very heady, and could surprise many forecheckers with a smart pass or a deft carry of the puck to make a quick transition from defense to offense. His on-ice smarts were matched by his very good puck handling. These skills plus a heavy shot made allowed him to play regularly on the power play even though h e was not a classic PP quarterback by any stretch.

Defensively he was fit and compact, making him a physical defender. He played the game with a bit of a mean streak, making him far from easy to play against. He struggled with consistency over the course of his career, but then again many defensemen do. He was never an elite player, but rather a solid support player. He was quite adept at blocking shots.


Drafted by Philadelphia, Yushkevich is best known as a Toronto Maple Leaf where he thrived under Pat Quinn. He also played briefly with Florida and Los Angeles. Internationally he was a regular with Team Russia, winning Olympic gold in 1992 and silver in 1998. He also played in 4 world championships (winning gold in 1993), 3 world juniors (winning gold in 1989) and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Yushkevich returned to Russia to play starting in 2003. Perhaps his relatively early exit from the NHL had something to do with blood clotting problems scaring off NHL teams. He returned to Russia, where he found the transition from the NHL more difficult than when he left home for North America over a decade earlier.

Yushkevich continued to play through the 2010 season, briefly retiring to take care of his three children after the tragic death of their mother in 2008. She died in California, reportedly from a liver disease.

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Tuesday

Sid Smith

Sid Smith was the Toronto Maple Leafs "master of the tip-in" from 1949 thorough 1958. That's how one reporter described the hometown left winger who made a career out of deflecting point shots.

"It became my trademark, in a way." said Smith. "The thing was to keep an eye on the puck coming in from the point or in the direction of the net and just make that slight deflection because it threw the goalie off. He's play it for the shot from the point or wherver its from and I'm just sort of cruising in and making a deflection, or sometimes you caused a problem with the goalie. He'd lose sight of it because you are hanging around."

At 5'10 and 175lbs Smith was of pretty average size for his era, but he couldn't rely on parking himself in front of the net like today's giants do. Instead he had to keep zipping in front of the goalie.

"If you stood still you were going to get knocked on your keester!"

Another difference between now and then was back then the slapshot had still not be invented.

"If it was today, you'd really have to be careful or you're liable to get killed! That slapshot is just treacherous!"

Smith grew up in Toronto admiring the Maple Leafs, but was never noticed until he reached junior hockey. The Leafs never expressed any interest in him, so it came as a suprise to Smith when he learned the Leafs had placed him on their protected list.

"I never knew I was even on the list or anything," he said. "I figured that was just about it as far as making the NHL goes."

After playing some games in the Quebec Senior League, Smith signed with Toronto in 1946 but spent much of the next 3 years bouncing back and forth between the big leagues and minor leagues.

In 1948-49 Smith had a AHL season to remember. He set new scoring records in the top minor league, scoring 55 goals and 112 points! Although he appeared in just 1 regular season game with the Leafs, he was recalled for the Leafs playoff drive. Smith replaced Vic Lynn in the lineup and played on a line with Teeder Kennedy and helped Toronto win the Stanley Cup! Perhaps his most famous game came in game 2 of the Cup Finals against Detroit when Smith scored all 3 Leaf goals in a 3-1 victory.

Needless to say Smith had a spot on the Leafs roster for the next season, and for the next few seasons. He was a constant 20-25 goal threat in an era when that really meant something. Twice he topped 30!

Towards the end of his career Smith slowed down production wise considerably. By 1957 the Leafs had a deal to send Smith to Detroit. Instead, Sid accepted a two year contract as a playing coach with the Whitby Dunlops, a senior club preparing for the world hockey championships.

"I'm kind of sorry in one way and glad in another because we played for a world championship and we won it. On the other hand I would have liked to continue on with my career and score a few more goals. But winning the world championships against the Russians compensated for everything."

In those days the switch from the NHL to international hockey was a shock to say the least. Games were sometimes played on outdoor rinks. Smith recalls having to play in snow and hail. He also recalls the brutal officiating. International referees frowned upon Canada's game of heavy body contact.

"We could hardly make a move. They did not call stick infractions like spearing and slashing, that were an art among European teams. We had more injuries from sticks playing against those European teams than we did in our own league in Canada!"

Smith ranks the experience of winning the world championship as "very, very close" to that of winning the Stanley Cup. "The Stanley Cup is every hockey players dream though" he conceded.

Smith and the Dunlops went on to win the Allan Cup the following year. He attempted to return to the National Hockey Leage in 1960 at the urging of Leafs boss Punch Imlach, but the league did not reinstate him.

After hockey, Smith went into the graphics business. He also formed a NHL Oldtimers hockey club that played games for charity.

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Monday

Jim Korn

A huge 6'4" defenseman who was moved up to forward at various times in his career, Jim Korn played nearly 600 NHL games for five teams.

Jim was a very physical player and earned his NHL paycheck by being just that. He was very willing to drop the gloves. Some nights he could play a very effective role by punishing teams physically in terms of body checks and clearing out the front of the net, but more often than not such play would result in skirmishes. Tangible skills were not readily evident with Jim. He had decent speed for a giant of the ice, but no agility. He couldn't do much with the puck other than dump it out of the zone, and any goal he scored would be by banging in front of the net, or the occasional shot from the point that the goalie couldn't see due to traffic in front of him.

Born in Hopkins, Minnesota, Jim played three years at Providence College where he became familiar with future NHL executive Lou Lamariello. Drafted by Detroit in 1977, by his final year of college in 1979 he was an ECAC all star and represented the United States in the World Championships.

Jim played nearly three years with the Red Wings beginning in 1979-80 but disappointed with his progress. He would be traded to arch rival Toronto Maple Leafs in March 1982.

Jim's days in Toronto were a little more successful if not more volatile. He cemented his reputation as one of the league's legitimate heavyweights, recording well over 200 penalty minutes in each of his full seasons in Toronto. Jim spent 3 seasons in Toronto, and split much of that time between the defense and left wing position. As a left winger he was better able to fulfill the traditional tough guy role, and even chipped in with an impressive 12 goal, 26 point season in 1983-84.

Disaster struck in 1984-85. He continued to play well and even was seeing some powerplay time before he was felled with the injury bug. Injuries would plague Korn throughout the entire 1985-86 season as well. A serious knee injury suffered in training camp 1985 cost Jim the entire season.

Jim's injured knee certainly wouldn't have helped his already below average skating ability feared the Leafs, so they traded him to Calgary who then swapped him to Buffalo just days before the 1986-87 season. Jim put in a yeoman's effort in his lone season in Buffalo. He returned to the blueline and though he appeared in just 52 games was physical presence and steady contributor. He also earned rave reviews for his leadership on and off the ice.

The Sabres moved the defenseman to New Jersey to begin the 1987-88 season. The Sabres acquired a skilled forward in Jan Ludvig, but he would spend two years on the injury list in Buffalo. Korn, reunited with Lou Lamariello, would go on to enjoy 2 and a half strong seasons in New Jersey. Not only was he able to lighten the rough-housing roles of players like Ken Daneyko, Pat Verbeek and Kirk Muller, but he chipped in with a career best season in 1988-89 when he tallied 15 goals and 31 points.

1989-90 proved to be the last year for Korn. Injuries kept him out of much of the season, and a late season trade saw him go to Calgary. In those days the Flames and Oilers always stocked up on tough guys at the trading deadline for the playoff wars. Jim would play in 4 of the Flames 6 playoff games, and scored a goal. It wasn't enough though as the defending Stanley Cup champions were ousted from the playoffs in the first round.

Jim retired at the end of the year. The veteran of 597 games earned over 1800 minutes in the penalty box, but also chipped in nicely with 66 goals and 188 points. He is well respected among peers of his era.

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Thursday

Scott Pearson

The 1988 NHL entry draft featured some of the greatest players of the coming 10-15 years. Mike Modano and Trevor Linden went 1-2. Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind'Amour and Teemu Selanne also were first rounders. Other graduates include Mark Recchi, Tony Amonte, Rob Blake, Alexander Mogilny and Valeri Kamensky.

But the NHL draft is often a crapshoot. Two first rounders never played in the league. Five others played less than 45 career games.

Somewhere in between are players like Scott Pearson. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Pearson 6th overall. Pearson was a highly respected player because of his blue collar aggressive play with one of the worst junior teams in all of Canada - the Kingston Canadiens. Pearson was heralded as a good pro player because of his zealous physical game and never ending hustle no matter how bad his team was.

Pearson lived up to the solid role player tag well enough, but being drafted 6th overall placed other expectations on the young left winger. When his lack of natural skills prevented him from developing into a regular NHLer let alone into a top line player, the Leafs gave up on him relatively early.

By 1991 Pearson, a good friend of troubled Nords project Bryan Fogarty, was moved to the Quebec Nordiques, but lost most of the two seasons due to injury. He did get in half a season in 1992-93, and registered 13 goals.

His most successful NHL stint came with the Oilers in 1993-94. It was his first and only full season in the NHL. He was applauded for improved dedication to the game, and he had career highs of 19 goals and 18 assists.

The success in Edmonton was short lived. After scoring just 1 goal in the first 28 games the following season, Pearson was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. Pearson participated in parts of two seasons with the Sabres, but injuries and inconsistency kept him out of the Sabres line up on a regular basis. He got into 41 games over the 2 years, scoring 6 goals and 7 points.

The Toronto Maple Leafs gave Pearson another shot for the 1996-97 season. However a nagging abdominal injury cost Pearson almost the entire season. He only got into 14 minor league games plus one game with the Leafs.

Unable to find NHL employment, Pearson signed on with the independent Chicago Wolves of the IHL and enjoyed three solid season. He did return to the NHL for a short tryout with the New York Islanders.
Scott Pearson was a player who entered the NHL too early. With more maturity and a more stable environment, he could have been a very effective player.

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Wednesday

Lorne Carr


Lorne Carr's career started out with the New York Rangers. NHL records indicate that he played in 14 games with the Rangers in 1933-34, even though Carr hardly played during any of those 14 games.

Carr moved across the city the next year to play for the New York Americans. It was with the Americans that Carr established himself as a bonafide NHL player. Lorne recorded 31 points in 48 games in his first real season in the NHL. He ended up playing seven seasons with the Americans, recording more than 25 points on five occasions, before he was traded to the Maple Leafs after the 1940-41 campaign.

Lorne became a league star in Toronto. In 1942-43 he exploded for 60 points in 50 games and in 1943-44 Lorne finished third in the NHL with 36 goals, 38 assists and 74 points. He was an NHL First Team All-Star in both 1943 and 1944. Lorne was also a solid playoff performer, helping the "Buds" won the Cup in both 1942 (playing on a line with Billy Taylor and Sweeney Schriner) and 1945 (Gus Bodnar replaced the departed Taylor by this time).

In those days didn't celebrate a Cup championship the same way as they do now Lorne didn't get a Cup ring until sometime in the 2000s, and in 2005, he got to spend time with the Cup once more as the oldest living Cup champ. They even poured a can of ginger ale in the Cup for him to drink.

Carr retired after the 1945-46 campaign. Carr left the NHL with career totals of 204 goals, 222 assists and 426 points in 580 regular season games while adding 19 points in 53 playoff contests.

In retirement Carr moved to Calgary and opened the Amylorne Motel, which featured an 18 hole golf course and driving range. He also opened a pool hall with former teammate Fred Hergerts.

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Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison started to play hockey at an early age in Alberta and was soon a product of the Bruins junior system. He played for the strong Estevan Bruins team between 1964-68. Jim collected 232 points (107 goals, 125 assists) in 178 games for the Estevan team. His great performance in the 1968 playoffs where he led all scorers in goals (13), assists (22) and points (35) in only 14 games gave him the playoff MVP award.

The Bruins had high hopes for Jim when he joined them in 1968-69. He split his time between Bruins farm team in Oklahoma (CHL) and the Bruins. He played 16 games (1 goal) for Boston as a rookie and saw very limited ice time on the powerful Bruins team. When Jim only scored 4 points (3 goals) in the first 23 games for Boston the following season (1969-70) the patience ran out. When Jim looked back he wasn't all that surprised that he was traded.

"When I was with the Bruins, I had such a bad shot I was embarrassed to shoot," Jim said.

With that in mind it wasn't so strange that Jim had trouble putting points on the board. The Bruins shipped Jim to Toronto on December 10, 1969 for Wayne 'Swoop" Carleton. In Toronto Jim saw more ice time, but there he was stuck behind a pretty solid bunch of centers as well. Dave Keon would scored over 300 goals and Norm Ullman over 400 goals in their careers. These were two centers who were headed for the Hall of Fame. Even though Jim had his best season in 1971-72 (19 goals and 36 points) he wasn't all that happy with his situation in Toronto. The Leafs GM Jim Gregory offered him a contract but Jim declined.

Shortly thereafter Alberta/Edmonton Oilers (WHA) GM Bill Hunter approached Jim for a possible deal. Jim accepted Hunter's offer and walked away with a 4-year contract worth $300,000 and a new Buick Riviera every season!.

Years later Jim admitted that he was glad to get out of Toronto.

"Yeah, I was definitely glad to get out of Toronto. I was kind of lost in the shuffle. I had a rap to be inconsistent but general managers say things like that when they're angry."

Jim wasn't exactly taken with the Oilers when he first arrived, although it was his home territory. His wife was homesick for her family in Toronto,and he was upset by the small crowds for many of the games.

"It was almost like playing junior again, the crowds were so small," Jim said.

He however quickly adjusted to the small crowds. Jim played very well in his first WHA season (72-73) scoring a fine 86 points (39 goals and 47 points)  in 66 games. He missed 13 games with a fractured kneecap when he slid into a  goalpost in Philadelphia in late November. He then returned in late December and  managed to only score one goal in the next 21 games, still he wound up with 39 goals.

On one of these nights he exploded for 10 points, a WHA record. It came on January 30, 1973 when the Alberta Oilers pounded the New York Raiders 11-3. He had a hat trick (his first hat trick in 226 pro games) and seven assists. In one 53-second span in the final period he counted three points against the baffled Raiders goalie, Ian Wilkie, who ironically became a teammate in Edmonton with Jim later on.

That season proved to be Jim's best pointwise. In 1973-74 he had 69 points in only 47 games. He then was selected to play in the 1974 WHA-Soviet series. He appeared in 3 games and had one assist.

In October 1974 Jim was traded to the Cleveland Crusaders (still WHA) where he played for two seasons, scoring 114 points in 119 games. That was it for Jim in the WHA. He finished his WHA career with 269 points (117 goals and 132 points) in 232 games.

He returned to the NHL for the 1976-77 season to play for Chicago. During that season he scored a fine 41 points (18 goals and 23 points) in only 60 games. The rest of his career was shortened by various injuries. He only played 26 games for Chicago in 77-78 and 21 in 78-79. On September 24, 1979  he was traded back to the Edmonton Oilers. This time the Oilers were  to play in the NHL. Jim only played in three games for Edmonton during that 1979-80 season before he was forced to retire due to back problems that had bothered him for several years.

Jim was a willing worker, especially in the corners and along the boards. He was also a fine penalty killer. His reckless style was often the reason why he was injured so much.

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Monday

Nikolai Borschevsky

Ten years after Russian players were allowed to leave their homeland to pursue National Hockey League careers, there was much debate as to who was the best Russian in the NHL. Pavel Bure, Sergei Federov, Alexei Yashin, Alexander Mogilny....there is no shortage of candidates.

But who does the most famous Russian hockey player feel was the best?

Vladislav Tretiak, the great Soviet goalkeeper and first Russian in the Hockey Hall of Fame, had great admiration for diminutive forward Nikolai Borschevsky. His NHL career was brief due to injuries and lack of size, but had the heart and courage that many of the more talented Russian players lacked.

"If the others had Borschevsky's passion, then they would be very, very good." said Tretiak. "The best in the world no doubt."

Borshevsky was an outstanding skater - lightning quick and slippery in crowds. Most defensemen had problems keeping him in check. Add to that his sniper's wrist shot, which was doubly scary because of his quick release, and Nikolai caught many goalies unprepared for his shot.

The spunky Borschevsky was not a stereotypical Russian in that he was quite chippy. Not a disturber in the classic sense, Nik nonetheless could get under his opponents skin.

Nikolai spent six seasons with Moscow Dynamo, the perennial second banana to the Central Red Army in the Soviet Elite League. In 1989-90 he moved to Spartak and in 1991-92 he led the CIS National and Olympic teams in scoring.

In 1992-93, at age 27, Nikolai made his North American debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had drafted him 77th overall in the 1992 Entry Draft. He stepped right in to the Leafs lineup, and contributed 34 goals and 74 points! It looked like the Leafs found a gem, especially after scoring the over time series winning goal in game 7 of the playoffs series vs Detroit.



However Borschevsky's career took a sharp downturn in his sophomore season. Early in the season he ruptured his spleen. The spleen had to be removed in emergency surgery. Nik lost a lot of time in recovery and was never quite the same again.

Nik returned to Russia during the 1994-95 lockout. When the labour dispute was finally resolved Nik returned to Toronto but really struggled. He scored 0 goals and 5 assists in 19 games before ending his season in Calgary. Nik doubled his assist total with 5 more assists in 8 games with the Flames, but no goals.

Borschevsky signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars, but appeared in just 12 games, scoring 1 goal and 3 assists. However by the end of the season Borschevsky was out of the NHL. He finished the year in Germany.

In 1996-97 Borschevsky returned to Spartak to continue his career for two seasons.

In retirement Borschevsky returned to Southern Ontario coach youth hockey and run his own hockey school. He later returned to Russia to coach in the pro leagues back home.

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Sunday

Hugh Bolton

Hugh Bolton was a towering defenseman - 6'3" and 185-190lbs - in an era known for much smaller players. A classic defensive defenseman, "Yug" did possess good passing and shooting skills, though rarely got a chance to display them in his 3 full seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hugh's big NHL break came after the tragic death of Bill Barilko. Hugh had appeared in 13 games in the previous two seasons with the Leafs, but was a full time Leaf come the 1951-52 season. Hugh had an agreement with the Leafs that he would play part time as he slowly continued his studying of engineering at the University of Toronto at the same time. It is believed he put his studies aside in 1951-52 but that's why he appeared in only 13 games the previous two years.

Hugh returned to part time play the following two seasons though not entirely due to his studies. He was a very injury prone player, breaking his leg/ankle three times, his right arm three times, fracturing his skull and smashing his sinus cavity. He once took a Boom Boom Geoffrion shot to the face, cracking his jaw.

He was as rugged as he was tough, using his big size to unceremoniously welcome opposing skaters to the Leafs defensive zone. The noted shot blocker and poke checker was particularly good in 1955 when he finished 5th in Norris Trophy voting as the league's best defenseman.

Bolton played from 1954 through 1956 relatively injury free but early in 1956-57 he broke his leg yet again. He retired in 1957, tired of battling injuries and still looking to complete his University degree.

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Friday

Nick Kypreos

Nick Kypreos was a perfect 4th line hockey player.

Kypreos was a tough player but was intelligent enough to keep his emotions under control when his team really needed disciplined aggression. He excelled in the 4th line role because of his combination of work ethic, fearlessness and understanding of the game and his own limitations.

Despite incredible strength in his legs Kypreos lacked foot speed to become much of an offensive player. He however excelled in the corners where his leg strength gave him power and endurance in the wars along the boards. He willingly paid the price needed in order to get the puck and put it on net or to a teammate. His playmaking skills once he got the puck were very much underrated.

He also was a willing fighter known for a good left hand.

Like many role players, Nick made immeasurable contributions off the ice. His intensity and energy always inspired his teammates. He was great in the dressing room and always kept his teammates in good spirits.

Nick was never drafted  despite some averaging a goal a game in his final two years of junior. The Philadelphia Flyers offered him a minor league contract in 1984. However Nick never played with the Flyers.

After two strong years in the minors Nick was picked up in the pre-season waiver draft by the Washington Capitals. It was with the Capitals that Nick broke into the NHL, playing 3 seasons as a highly thought of role player.

Despite his contributions the Capitals moved Kypreos to Hartford in exchange for veteran Mark Hunter. Kypreos had a strong season. He scored a very respectable 17 goals and 27 points while accumulating 325 penalty minutes!

Despite that strong season Nick was included in the big three way Steve Larmer trade early in the 1993-94 season which saw both Nick and Larmer join the New York Rangers. It was a good move for both players as they were members of the historic 1994 Rangers Stanley Cup team.

Nick stayed in New York until a traded on February 29, 1996 took him to Toronto. However Kypreos was the center of much unwanted attention in the 1995-96 playoffs against St. Louis when he landed on Blues goalie Grant Fuhr in the crease, tearing up Fuhr's knee, an injury that early on looked like it might end Grant's illustrious career. The play, which many said Kypreos could have prevented, was one of the more controversial plays in the playoffs during the 1990s.

An injury plagued 1996-97 season proved to be Nick's last in professional hockey. He eventually had to retire after missing the entire 1997-98 season because of a serious concussion. Ironically the concussion he sustained happened in a preseason fight against the New York Rangers Ryan Vandenbusche on Sept. 15, 1997. Ironic because Kypreos was one of the NHL's toughest fighters. Usually Kypreos was the one causing damage in a fight - this time Kypreos was KOed straight to retirement. Kypreos' decision to retire came at the advice of Chicago neurosurgeon Dr. James Kelly.

Kypreos had 46 goals, 44 assists and 1,210 penalty minutes in 442 games and 34 playoff games with the Washington Capitals, Hartford Whalers, New York Rangers and his home town Toronto Maple Leafs.

He later became a well known television broadcaster.

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Sunday

John Anderson

John Anderson is one of the few Toronto born and raised hockey players who played their junior hockey at Maple Leaf Gardens and did not escape the grasp of the Maple Leafs. It was a dream come true for the man with the unmistakable moustache.

Anderson played four years with his hometown Toronto Marlies of the OHL where he demonstrated great skill and goal scoring ability. After a final season in junior where he scored 57 goals and 199 points in 64 games, the Leafs grabbed Anderson with the 11th overall draft pick in the 1977 entry draft. Anderson was selected ahead of the likes of Ron Duguay, Mike Bossy, John Tonelli and Rod Langway.

While he may not have earned the status of those other draft picks, Anderson developed into one of the top left wingers in the game in 1980s. He had speed to burn, and the agility to go with it. He had great puck skills - able to softly lay a pass to a streaking teammate or power a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle. He was a mainstay on the powerplay, and although he did not play aggressive defensive hockey, was a good penalty killer because of his skating abilities.

After an impressive year of apprenticeship in the minor leagues, John joined the Leafs full time in 1978-79. He had his ups and downs in his first three years in the league, but by 1981 he had found a home on the Leafs top line. Anderson's speed and puck skills were a perfect compliment for slippery center Bill Derlago and heavy shooter Rick Vaive.

Anderson, who operated several hamburger restaurants in Toronto as well, scored 30 or more goals for 4 consecutive seasons while on the top line. Yet playing in Toronto was not easy for Anderson, or for many star players either. Anderson came to this realization after being a key player for Canada in the 1985 World Championships in Prague.

"Over there, I realized how much the pressure in Toronto had hurt me. The fans at the Gardens are demanding, as they have every right to be, but it seems as though your problems are magnified. You try harder and that makes things worse. When I got to Europe, it was like having a weight lifted off of my shoulders."

Anderson's comments were one of the last he made as a Leaf, although the words played no role in his departure. He was traded late in the summer of 1985 to Quebec for solid defenseman Brad Maxwell. The red headed Anderson didn't last a full season in Quebec before landing in Hartford where he briefly enjoyed his best days in the NHL. He finished the 1985-86 season with 8 goals and 25 pints in just 14 games, and added 13 more points in 10 playoff games. He followed that up with a 31 goal, 7 5point season in 1986-87 before slowing down in his final two years in the league.

Although he was out of the NHL scene by 1989, Anderson continued to excel in the AHL, IHL and Italy until 1994. He then stepped behind the bench and became a top coach in the minor leagues, which led to a two year coaching stint with the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers.

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Russ Adam

An industrious winger who made the most of his skills, Russ Adam defied the odds and played in the National Hockey League.

The Windsor born center played junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers in the late 1970s, earning a NHL draft selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1980. He was picked 137th overall.

Adam would go onto play with the Leaf's affiliate teams, although he did get a 8 game look-see in 1982-83. He even scored a goal and 2 assists before disappearing to the minor leagues again.

Adam's vagabond hockey career would take him to Germany and to his now-adopted home of Newfoundland, where he starred and coached in the senior leagues. His career even came full circle when the Leafs hosted their top farm team in St. John's and Adam became an assistant coach.

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Saturday

Doug Acomb

Doug Acomb was a hometown hero with the Toronto Marlboros, scoring 55 goals in 54 games in his last year of junior in 1968-69, and leading the Marlies to two Memorial Cup appearances before that. The Toronto Maple Leafs took notice, signing the diminutive center in the summer of 1969.
 
His professional career would be a short one, with two uninspiring years bouncing around the minor leagues. His highlight was his two game call up to the NHL in which he registered a single assist.

Acomb would return to southern Ontario in 1971 and star with the Barrie Flyers on the OHA senior circuit. In 1974 he led Barrie to the Allan Cup championship as Canada's top amateur team.

The following season he returned to professional hockey, although it was in Austria. After that interesting experience he returned to Barrie, played one more season of senior hockey and then hung up his blades.

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Thursday

Art Duncan

Art Duncan was playing with the Vancouver Millionaires of the Pacfic Coast Hockey Association in the 1915-16 season when enlisted for the military in World War 1. When Duncan returned from the war, he came decorated with the military cross and returned to play for the Millionaires where he helped the team win 4 PCHA championships.

Duncan (seen here on the left, wearing funky pants and shaking King Clancy's hand) made the jump to the NHL in the 1926-27 campaign as a player/coach for the Detroit Cougars which later became known as the Detroit Falcons and the Detroit Red Wings. But after just one season with Detroit Duncan was replaced by Jack Adams. Art wasn't discouraged by that and he went on to play for the Toronto St. Pats. As Art arrived to Toronto Conn Smythe just bought the Toronto franchise. He renamed the team to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In 1930-31 Smythe decided to go out and purchase King Clancy and Alex Levinsky to help out on their blueline. Since Duncan's main postion was defence and his skills were no longer needed he retired as a player and went on to coach. Duncan was again replaced as coach by Dick Irvin in the 1931-32 campain. That was the first year the Maple Leafs won their first Stanley Cup.

When Duncan retired he had played in 156 games. He scored 18 goals and 16 assists for 34 points, and he tallied up 225 PIM. It was too bad that after his career he wasn't able to make it as a head coach in the NHL. Then again if Duncan could see how quickly NHL head coaches change jobs nowadays he probably wouldn't feel that bad.

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Denis Dupere

Denise Dupere was born in Jonquiese, Quebec in June 21, 1948. Aside from playing in the NHL, Dupere could also claim fame in the fact that he was a cousin of professional wrestling legend Mad Dog Vachon.

Dupere was a penalty killing specialist and extraordinary faceoff expert for over 400 NHL games with 4 organizations. A large left winger at 6'1" 200lbs, Dupere was a very clean player, picking up only 66 penalty minutes in his 8 year NHL career.

Originally recruited by the New York Rangers, he was traded to Toronto to complete the Tim Horton trade. He spent most of his first two pro seasons in the CHL, but did play in 20 games with the Leafs in 1970-71.
By 1971-72 he had made the NHL on a regular basis. He enjoyed three seasons with the Leafs, including scoring 36 points in just 61 games in 1972-73. However when expansion came callin in 1974, the Washington Capitals snatched up the journeyman. Dupere's stay in Washington was short but successful. He scored 20 goals and 35 points in 53 games before he was traded to St. Louis where he added 3 more goals and 9 more points. Dupere would join Kansas City the next season and would move to Colorado when the franchise relocated and became the Rockies.

Dupere's stay in Colorado wasn't overly heartwarming. The team refused to trade Dupere, instead they banished him to the minors and told him they would terminate his contract at the end of year. Dupere did get recalled though, and made the most of his new lease on life. With the Rockies looking for a playoff spot and with scoring star Wilf Paiement in a slump, Dupere scored 20 points in 15 games to finish the season. The Rockies made the playoffs where Dupere scored 1 goal in the team's 2 games. Dupere's late season heroics earned him a verbal agreement with ownership over a new one-way deal, however the team was sold to new owners before a contract could be officially signed. The new owners refused to grant Dupere a one way contract, so he retired from hockey.

Dupere, who had a good wrist shot, scored 80 goals and 179 points in 421 NHL games. He rounded out his hockey career by playing and coaching in France.

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Wednesday

Alexander Godynyuk

The Toronto Maple Leafs were one the later teams to take advantage of the Soviet invasion of the NHL in the early 1990s. One of their earliest such acquisitions was a good sized Ukrainian defenseman named Alexander Godynyuk.

Godynyuk was hardly the best known Soviet player at the time. Born in Kiev, the defender played 5 seasons with Sokol Kiev. Most notable on his resume was the Directorate Award as best defenseman and all star team nod at the 1990 IIHF World Junior Championships.

The Leafs drafted Godynyuk later that year, taking him in the 6th round, 115th overall. He would join the Leafs half way through the following season.

The Leafs had hoped Godynyuk would blossom into an offensive presence. He had the tools - good size and skating, unafraid to handle the puck, and a strong break out pass.

But far too often he was an inconsistent enigma. He had wild swings in consistency, and that reportedly dated back to his years in Kiev. On one night he could be the best player on the ice, and the next he could be the worst. He was often caught out of position, especially on a turnover on one of his many end to end forays, or would forget about his defensive assignment.

The Leafs packaged Godynyuk and 4 others up to acquire Doug Gilmour. Gilmour adopted Godynyuk's #93 sweater number and became a legend. Godynyuk, meanwhile, was a bust, in Calgary. The Flames exposed him in the expansion draft, allowing Florida to take him, only to become a spare part there.

He was moved to Hartford in December, 1993,  and made a great first impression - recording three assists in his first game with the Whalers, and that came without the benefit of even one practice. But Godynyuk continued to underwhelm and even frustrate over the long term in Hartford.

After spending considerable time in the minor leagues, Godynyuk returned to Europe in 1998. He left the NHL with 223 career games and 10 goals, 29 assists and 39 points. He will always be remembered as an intriguing player who was haunted by consistency issues and ultimately an inability to adapt his game to the satisfaction of NHL coaches.

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Monday

Les Kozak

Les Kozak was a solid prospect of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Born in Dauphin, Manitoba on October 28, 1940, Kozak played his junior hockey with the famous St. Michael's Majors of the OHA for 3 seasons. In that time, the 6' 185lb left winger scored 37 goals and 77 points in 123 games. A good skater and clean player, the Leafs were impressed enough to sign him knowing that he would need time to develop first at the minor league level.

A very religious man, Kozak actually quit hockey for 1 year at the age of 20. He would have turned pro and gone to the Leafs training camp, but instead he entered the Seminary. He missed the entired 1960-61 season while studying to become a priest.

Kozak returned to hockey the following year. He appeared in 12 games with the Leafs and even scored 1 goal, but spent most of his time with the AHL's Rochester Americans developing his game. However his career came to a tragic end on February 23, 1962. Playing against Providence, Kozak suffered a severe head injury. He was carried off the ice and never played competitive hockey ever again.

It is assumed Les Kozak continued persuing his religious beliefs following his hockey days.

Kozak certainly isn't the only religious man to play in the NHL. In fact an ordained minister with ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs played one game in 1943. George Abbott doubled his religious duties as the Leafs practice goaltender. When the Boston Bruins came to town in November of 1943, their goalie, Bert Gardiner, became violently ill and couldn't partipate in the game. As teams didn't carry backup goalies at the time, the Leafs allowed the Bruins to use their practice goalie for the game.

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Saturday

Scott Thornton

One player I watched come from junior hockey and into the NHL was Scott Thornton. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted the Belleville Bulls hulking center 3rd overall in 1989.

The reason? At about that time I had a huge man-crush on Calgary's Joel Otto. A physically dominant, extraordinary defensive center with incredible size and great faceoff ability. Every team wanted Otto. And, I believed, Toronto had drafted the next one when the draft Thornton ahead Stu Barnes and Bill Guerin.

Thornton went on to become a bit of a poor-man's Otto rather than the next dominant defender. He was outstanding on faceoffs. He played with a different variety of toughness - he was never chippy or cheap. He was a real solid player, though prone to both injuries and bad penalties.

Though he had decent skating ability - strong and balanced - he was not fast. He was smart positionally on the defensive side. Offensively he never really was a threat, except for one season in San Jose where he played a lot of left wing alongside his superstar cousin, Joe Thornton. Many people would expect more offensive production from a 3rd overall draft pick - one who was traded as a key part of the trade to Edmonton for Grant Fuhr. But I certainly would not consider him a disappointment.

In fact, even though he was a favorite of mine, even I was actually quite surprised to realize he survived parts of 17 NHL season, totalling nearly 1000 regular season games. He spent a long time in obscurity on 4th lines in Toronto, Edmonton, Montreal, Dallas, San Jose and Los Angeles. It all added up to a very decent National Hockey League career.

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