Leafs approach 40th anniversary of last Cup win
Joe O'Connor, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007
TORONTO - Eddie (the Entertainer) Shack was up to his old antics Wednesday at the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto, drawing laughs from a smattering of old teammates, reporters and autograph seekers who turned out for a news conference promoting the gala dinner March 22 for the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Clown Prince, the cut-up, the head case in a hockey sweater, was arguably the most unprofessional professional player on the '67 Leafs roster.
Here was a squad stocked with button-down types such as Dave Keon, Red Kelly, Bobby Baun and George Armstrong.
Behind it was Punch Imlach, a disciple of old-school coaching tactics who played favourites, benched malcontents and readily traded away parts of a Toronto franchise that had won back-to-back-to-back Cups to start the 1960s if he felt they no longer fit.
And then there was Eddie Shack.
"You needed someone like Eddie," Ron Ellis said. "We had a team of chiselled veterans, and Eddie just had a way of keeping things light."
Ellis was terrified of Imlach. He addressed him as Coach Imlach or Mr. Imlach.
Shack called him Baldy and fired pucks at him during practice.
"Eddie could get away with it," Ellis said with a laugh. "I would have been benched. He just had a wonderful way about him."
It was a goofball persona Shack adopted while growing up in the tough nickel-mining, hockey-loving town of Sudbury.