Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

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    Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    They came to his table in droves, offering Johnny Bower their photos, pucks, jerseys, miniature Stanley Cups — even a pair of vintage goaltending gloves.

    cOURTEsy JOhNNy bOwER cOLLEcTiON, FiLE Toronto Maple Leafs goaltenders Terry Sawchuk, left, and Johnny Bower share a happy moment during the mid-1960s.

    Sadly, they didn’t bring a single bra. The Toronto Maple Leafs netminding legend still blushes about that one, a lovely 20-something woman having pulled a delicate, lacy number from a bag at a collectibles show a few years ago.

    “First, she asked me to autograph a card, which I was happy to do,” Bower said Saturday during his Montreal signing. “And then she pulled a brassiere from a brown paper bag.

    “Well, I couldn’t sign it. I asked her, ‘How do I know you’re not a lady of the night? How would it look for me to be signing that?’ ” he added. “I’m telling you, she got pretty mad at me.”

    For 90 minutes, beneath an NHL Alumni cap, Bower signed his name, posed for photos, told tales and shook hands, extending a grip with soft, meaty paws of oversized knuckles and fingers that can’t decide the direction they’d like to take. For nearly a dozen seasons in Toronto, from 1958 through a final game in 1969, Bower was both cursed and appreciated by Montreal Canadiens fans, a goaltending robber of remarkable talent who won two Vezina trophies and four Stanley Cups with the archrival Maple Leafs.

    He’d spent 10 seasons in the American Hockey League before arriving in the National Hockey League in 1953 as a 29-year-old rookie with the New York Rangers. The Maple Leafs claimed him from the AHL Cleveland Barons in the 1958 interleague draft; so began his Toronto career at age 34, well past the best-before date of many pros.

    Bower won his first Vezina 50 years ago this spring, winning 33, losing 15 and tying 10 with two shutouts, a goals-against average of 2.50 and an unofficial save percentage of .923. He brought the lead-weight plaque to Montreal, along with a framed photo of then-NHL president Clarence Campbell presenting him the trophy.

    “That was a few million pucks ago,” said a joking Bower, who would share his second Vezina four seasons later with Terry Sawchuk.

    “I had a good team in front of me. (Coach) Punch Imlach had told me when I arrived, ‘Work hard in practice and I’ll put you in every game.’ ”

    Team owner Harold Ballard was somewhat less generous.

    “He wanted to send me to the minors, but Punch wouldn’t let him because of my age,” Bower recalled. “I guess Mr. Ballard was pretty happy with me, though, even if we didn’t speak a word until it was time to negotiate my contract.

    “He’d ask, ‘Do you like your job?’ and I’d reply, ‘Yes, sir.’ He’d just say, ‘Well, then, get on the ice!’ “

    Bower, then 42, and Sawchuk, 37, would backstop the fossilized 1967 Leafs over the Canadiens in the final pre-expansion Stanley Cup final, ruining Montreal’s plan to use the trophy as a centrepiece at Expo 67.

    It is the most recent Leafs championship, and Bower is stunned — and more than a little proud — to learn he’s the only goaler alive to have won the Cup for Toronto.

    “Some years back a fella of about 90 stopped me at a show in Toronto and told me, ‘The Leafs aren’t doing too well, are they?’ ” he said. “I told him, ‘You’ve got to give ’em a little time,’ and he shot back, ‘It’s been 40 years, how much time do they need?!’ He was pumping me pretty good.

    “I find it very flattering that they know me no matter where I go at home,” he said. “I guess the worry is when they don’t ask to talk to you. “These folks paid my salary at one time — maybe they didn’t, but their parents and grandparents did.”

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from Chowdahkid-. Show Chowdahkid-'s posts

    Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    Nice post Stuke. Brings back memories of the Original 6 days. Met Bower and Carl Brewer at a card show a long time ago.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from jman4. Show jman4's posts

    Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    Played minor hockey against his son, Mr Bower was present at a lot of the games
    (Faustina vs Weston) he was always a gentelemen and had time for everyone who said hello.

    A friend of mine met him a few weeks ago in Florida and said the same thing. A great person.

    Go B's 
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Canadianfan6. Show Canadianfan6's posts

    Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    Yes and back then he played with out a mask!
    Can you imagine?
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Bookboy007. Show Bookboy007's posts

    Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    First things first - who cares!  F the Leafs.  (That's how I felt about the Leafs then, especially in the dark Bruin days of the 60s, and it's how I feel now).

    When they make the movie of Sawchuk's life, I hope Liam Neeson's available.

    "10 years in the AHL" "...29 year old rookie..." "...two Vezina trophies..."  Sound like anyone you know?

    Canadianfan6 - I can.  And it's one of the best arguments for the need to dial back the tech in today's game to make it safer.  Bower played without a mask, but the guys shooting played with wooden sticks, straight blades (until his final years), and not a lot of guys had an effective slapper. 

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from Chowdahkid-. Show Chowdahkid-'s posts

    Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!

    In Response to Re: Nice article on Johnny Bower - for us old folk that remember!:
    First things first - who cares!  F the Leafs.  (That's how I felt about the Leafs then, especially in the dark Bruin days of the 60s, and it's how I feel now). When they make the movie of Sawchuk's life, I hope Liam Neeson's available. "10 years in the AHL" "...29 year old rookie..." "...two Vezina trophies..."  Sound like anyone you know? Canadianfan6 - I can.  And it's one of the best arguments for the need to dial back the tech in today's game to make it safer.  Bower played without a mask, but the guys shooting played with wooden sticks, straight blades (until his final years), and not a lot of guys had an effective slapper. 
    Posted by Bookboy007


    I've cared a lot about the Leafs ........the last two seasons !
     
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