TORONTO (Dec. 26) — Here’s hoping it was a quiet, peaceful and joyous Christmas Day 2015 for you and your family. I spent part of it looking at several of the most coveted items in my sports collection — the EXPORT Maple Leaf Gardens hockey calendars from the 1960’s and early 70’s.
Cigarette companies can no longer advertise in publications, much–less sponsor mementos such as these colorful, 26×16½–inch relics that were produced at the beginning of October each year; then displayed prominently in smoke and barber–shops across the city. I held onto the versions that I acquired in the 70’s, and lucked into a haul of older calendars in 2000, when my Dad’s brother — a doctor — presented me a giant roll of them from a patient that once worked at the Gardens. Sliding off a trio of rubber bands, I unraveled the roll to delightfully discover perfectly maintained calendars from the 1960’s. I placed them under a mountain of heavy books and forgot about them for more than a year. When I checked back, sometime in late–2001, they had flattened out, and the pages were much easier to flip.
Color photography in hockey was novel and quite uncommon in the 60’s, which made these items even more spectacular. The cover of each calendar (month of October) featured a color portrait of the previous year’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Inside pages showed the defending Stanley Cup champion; National Hockey League All–Star teams and trophy winners, along with team–photos of minor league and junior champions.
The EXPORT Gardens calendars re–produce in radiant color, all these years later.
Here are several from my collection:
THE 1966–67 TORONTO MARLBOROS WON THE MEMORIAL CUP AS JUNIOR ‘A’ CHAMPION OF CANADA. IN THE FRONT ROW IS (LEFT–TO–RIGHT) GENERAL MANAGER JIM GREGORY, ALTERNATE CAPTAIN GERRY MEEHAN, OWNER STAFFORD SMYTHE, CAPTAIN BRIAN GLENNIE AND PRESIDENT HAROLD BALLARD. FUTURE HALL–OF–FAME DEFENSEMAN BRAD PARK IS AT LEFT IN THE NEXT ROW. FUTURE MAPLE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN MIKE PELYK IS SECOND–FROM–RIGHT.
MARCH 1968 WAS SIGNIFICANT AROUND THE GARDENS. ON SUNDAY, THE 3rd, PUNCH IMLACH TRADED STAR WINGER FRANK MAHOVLICH TO DETROIT IN A MULTI–PLAYER DEAL THAT BROUGHT NORM ULLMAN, PAUL HENDERSON AND FLOYD SMITH TO TORONTO. MAHOVLICH AND THE RED WINGS PLAYED HERE SIX NIGHTS LATER. AN UNSCHEDULED GAME TOOK PLACE AT MLG ON MAR. 7, WHEN THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS “HOSTED” THE BRUINS. PHILLY HAD TAKEN TO THE ROAD AFTER HIGH WINDS TORE A HOLE IN THE ROOF OF THE SPECTRUM. THE MAR. 17 TORONTO AT PHILADELPHIA GAME WAS PLAYED AT THE COLISEE IN QUEBEC CITY, HOME OF THE FLYERS’ AHL FARM TEAM.
SEVERAL FUTURE LEAFS AND NHLers WERE PART OF THE 1963–64 MEMORIAL CUP CHAMPION TORONTO MARLBOROS, INCLUDING (LEFT–TO–RIGHT) WAYNE CARLETON, GARY SMITH AND RON ELLIS IN THE SECOND ROW; ALTERNATE CAPTAIN PETE STEMKOWSKI AND COACH JIM GREGORY IN FRONT. MARLIES PRESIDENT HAROLD BALLARD SITS TO THE LEFT OF STEMKOWSKI IN THIS PHOTO.
IN OCTOBER 1970, THE LEAFS WOULD UNVEIL RE–DESIGNED UNIFORMS AND A MODIFIED LOGO. THE ’69–70 LEAFS MISSED THE PLAYOFFS UNDER FIRST–YEAR GM JIM GREGORY AND COACH JOHN McLELLAN. MANY HOCKEY FANS WILL RECOGNIZE THE HANDSOME CHAP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TOP ROW (BELOW). DEFENSEMAN PAT QUINN WOULD LATER MANAGE AND COACH THE BLUE AND WHITE.
THE LEAFS REDESIGNED UNIFORMS FROM 1970 WERE FEATURED ON THE 1971–72 MAPLE LEAF GARDENS CALENDAR. TWO OF THE GREATEST GOALTENDERS IN NHL HISTORY PLAYED FOR THE LEAFS (BELOW): JACQUES PLANTE (1) AND BERNIE PARENT (30).