By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Oct. 20) – I may not be an expert on all things pertaining to hockey, but I do believe I can speak with authority on the subject of media guides: the annual publications NHL teams have been issuing since the mid-to-late-1950s. A large part of the personal collection I’ve been sharing with you in this space is roughly 1,100 media guides, including all issued by the Maple Leafs since 1962-63. As such, I can tell you, without reservation, that the current edition of the Leafs guide (pictured below) is the biggest and most extensive on record. It has ballooned, in fact, into a 496-page colossus – more than 90 pages added this year detailing game results and scoring statistics of every Toronto team since the NHL’s inaugural season of 1917-18, when the Arenas represented our city in a 22-game schedule. The final 34 pages of the guide are dedicated to the Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
What an incredible contrast the current edition presents to the oldest Leafs media guide in my possession (photo below) – that issued 49 years ago this autumn, after the club had won its first of three consecutive Stanley Cup titles in the early-’60s. The neat, little 48-page booklet – produced by the club’s publicity director at the time, Ed Fitkin – was limited, primarily, to player biographies and career statistics.
As you might expect, the sheer volume of player information has blossomed through the years to include season-by-season statistical notes; scoring numbers against all other NHL teams, and even personal preference… the Leafs are asked to fill out a small questionnaire during the summer outlining such things as their favorite restaurants; visiting arenas and players they watched while growing up. This information glut is immediately evident when comparing Ed Fitkin’s 1962 player bios of Billy Harris and Tim Horton (above) to the elaborate profiles of Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel (below) in the current guide. As well, there are extensive profiles of all management and coaching personnel with the Leafs.
The 2011-12 Maple Leafs guide offers a solid mixture of present and past, such as the terrific photo (below) of former captains George Armstrong, Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark.
Comprising a large section of the guide is a thorough review of all games and statistics from the 2010-11 Leafs season (above) and special profiles (below) of the 17 franchise legends whose jersey numbers have been honored with banners that are displayed in the Air Canada Centre.
As mentioned, the enormous edition to this year’s guide is a season-by-season review of game results; player statistics, and jerseys worn at home and on the road – such as the page (above) dedicated to the last season in which the Maple Leafs were Stanley Cup champions.
The 2011-12 Maple Leafs guide is a credit to the club’s media relations staff: editor-in-chief Pat Park; editor Craig Downey and associate editor Aaron Gogishvili. These folks are entrusted with the thankless task of serving the ever-growing horde of Toronto media during the long NHL season, and of compiling such extensive information during the summer months for the following year’s guide. Pat, Craig and Aaron did a job second-to-none with this season’s volume.
Leaf media guides are issued to reporters that cover the team, but are also available for purchase to the public. And though Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has occasionally been criticized for jacking the cost of items in the Air Canada Centre, the price for this phonebook-sized media guide is quite reasonable: $19.99. You can buy it at concession stands in the ACC during game-nights, or at the hockey club’s official store across from the arena: Real Sports Apparel at Maple Leaf Square. Those outside the region wishing to order a copy can do so by phoning Real Sports Apparel at (416)815-5746.