Howie Meeker, who went from Stanley Cup-winner to Canadian hockey icon as a colourful TV hockey analyst who wore his heart on his sleeve, has died. He was 97.
A spokesman for the Toronto Maple Leafs confirmed via email that Meeker died on Sunday. There was no immediate word on the cause of death.
Different generations had different memories of Meeker, but almost all involved hockey. He played it, talked about it and taught it.
The Maple Leafs said Meeker had been their oldest alumnus. He was given a standing ovation Sept. 15, 2019, when he attended a team alumni game in St. John’s, N.L.
As an NHL player, Meeker won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in 1947 — the same year Gordie Howe entered the league — and went on to play in three all-star games and hoist four Stanley Cups in eight seasons with the Maple Leafs.
Most famously, he passed the puck to Bill Barilko for the 1951 Cup overtime winner against Montreal.
Amazingly the winger spent two years as a Progressive Conservative member of Parliament while playing for the Leafs.
In June 1951 he won a byelection in the riding of Waterloo South. He did not run in the August 1953 federal election.
Meeker replaced King Clancy as coach of the Maple Leafs in April 1956. He went 21-34-15 in his one season behind the bench before moving upstairs to become GM the next season.
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While Meeker’s NHL playing career was over at 30 after 346 games — with 83 goals, 102 assists and 329 penalty minutes — he continued to play pro hockey on and off for another 15 years at a variety of levels including the American Hockey League and Newfoundland Senior League, among others.
He retired from playing after the 1968-69 campaign and kept skating into his 80s.
Meeker remained indelibly linked to hockey via the broadcast booth. He was honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award after a 30-year career on CBC and TSN.
“Howie was Howie. And he set the bar, no question about it,” fellow “Hockey Night in Canada” commentator Dick Irvin once said.
Meeker, oft clad in a CBC powder blue jacket, was hard to miss. He was the Don Cherry of his time, although he kept his focus on hockey.
His enthusiasm was straight from the heart, with “Golly gee willikers” and “Stop it right there” some of his trademark sayings during his video analysis.
Meeker’s excitement level often was like that of a child on a sugar high, but he knew his stuff having played and coached. He also ran hockey schools for more than 30 years and literally wrote the book on hockey — 1973’s “Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics.”
During the ’70s, he offered up drills and tips during his “Howie Meeker Hockey School” sessions on CBC.
He later wrote another book called “Golly Gee — It’s Me: The Howie Meeker Story.” And he never ran short of opinions on how to improve the game he loved.
In 2010, Meeker was inducted into the Order of Canada.
“I’ve had a marvellous kick at the cat,” he said at the time.
He was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame the same year.
Born in Kitchener, Ont., Meeker’s childhood entree into hockey was helped by the fact that his father had a Coca-Cola route that employed several NHL players during the summer.
New York Rangers defenceman Ott Heller gave the young Meeker his first hockey stick.
“I’ve had a hockey stick in my hand quite a bit in the last 75 years,” he said in 2002, recalling the memory. “I must have been four or five at that time.”
He grew up a Leafs fan but always had a soft spot for the Rangers thanks to Heller.
Meeker played junior hockey for the Stratford Kroehlers and the Brantford Lions before serving in the Second World War during which he was badly injured by a grenade in training.
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“I was very lucky to get out of that with as little damage to my leg as what happened, but it blew me up about eight feet,” he recalled.
He missed D-Day because of that.
“A lot of my very close friends didn’t come back,” he told Leafs Insider.
He recovered and returned to hockey with the Stratford Indians of the OHA Senior A in the 1945-46 season.
The Maple Leafs signed him to a free-agent contract on April 13, 1946. As a rookie, he scored 27 goals and registered 45 points in 55 games.
He also tied the league record for most goals in one game by a rookie when he scored five times in a 10-4 win over Chicago on Jan. 8, 1947.
Meeker had four goals and four assists in the ensuing playoffs as the Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the final.
In a 2010 TV interview, he said that first Stanley Cup was the most memorable.
“Never thinking that you’re ever going to be lucky enough to get to the Toronto Maple Leafs, you get there and you win a Stanley Cup in your first year, yahoo!”
Toronto also won Cups in 1948, ’49 and ’51. During his playing days with the Maple Leafs, the five-foot-nine 165-pound Meeker was a member of the “Tricky Trio” line with Ted Kennedy and Vic Lynn.
Whatever his age, Meeker had some advice to give.
In 2015, when he received an honorary doctor of laws at Memorial University’s convocation, he told the students that it was 20 years living in Newfoundland — he left in the mid-70s — that taught him balance in life was essential.
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“I hope you young ladies and gentleman have learned how to live by living here in St. John’s or in Newfoundland. Take it with you. Because all work and no play is not very good,” Meeker said to applause.
Meeker followed his own advice.
“If I had been born a multi-millionaire, I’d have paid someone to do what I’ve done all my life,” he said in a 2013 CBC interview.
Meeker had six children with his first wife Grace — they were married for 55 years before she died of cancer. He remarried, living with wife Leah in Parksville on Vancouver Island where they were active in fundraising for the B.C. Guide Dog Services.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Mike Tyson dominant as he fights to a draw with Roy Jones Jr. in exhibition – National Post
Mike Tyson showed age has not robbed him of his power as the former heavyweight champion, in his long-awaited return to the ring, dominated Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition fight on Saturday in Los Angeles that was surprisingly ruled a draw.
While there were no ringside judges to score the eight-round contest between two of boxing’s all-time greats, both over 50, and no official winner, the World Boxing Council formed a set of judges that remotely scored the bout.
“I’m used to doing it for three minutes,” 54-year-old Tyson said of the shorter rounds. “Sometimes, that two minutes felt like three minutes. I’m happy I got this under my belt to keep doing this and go further.”
Tyson, 15 years removed from his ignominious defeat to Irishman Kevin McBride in the last professional fight of his career, came out firing and was in control of the bout the entire way.
Jones Jr, 51, was the more visibly fatigued of the two fighters but managed to pick up the pace in the later rounds enough to earn the win on one scorecard and a draw on the other while Tyson took the third scorecard.
Investigators search doctor’s office in Maradona death probe – Al Jazeera English
Tearful Leopoldo Luque tells reporters he gave investigators all records of his treatment of the football star.
Argentine police have searched the home and office of one of Diego Maradona’s doctors, taking away medical records as part of investigations into the death of the 60-year-old football star that caused a wave of grief across the country.
Neurologist Leopoldo Luque told reporters after the searches that he had given investigators all of the records of his treatment of Maradona, as well as computers, hard drives and cellphones.
Weeping at times, he insisted he defended his treatment of the troubled football legend, who died on Wednesday of a heart attack following a November 3 brain operation.
“I know what I did. I know how I did it … I am absolutely sure that what I did the best for Diego, the best I could,” he said on Sunday.
Luque said he was not Maradona’s chief physician, but part of a medical team.
The search order was requested by prosecutors in the affluent Buenos Aires suburb San Isidro and signed by a local judge, according to a statement issued by the prosecutor’s office.
“Yesterday [Saturday] the investigation and substantiation of evidence continued with the taking of statements from people including direct relatives of the deceased,” it said.
“By virtue of the evidence that was collected, it was considered necessary to request searches at the home and office of doctor Leopoldo Luque,” the prosecutor’s office said in the statement.
The prosecutor’s office is overseeing a probe into the medical attention that Maradona received before his death, which caused an enormous outpouring of emotion across Argentina and among football fans across the world.
It provided no information on what prompted the investigation.
Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Moria, on Thursday said he would ask for a full investigation of the circumstances of the football legend’s death, criticising what he said was a slow response by the emergency services.
“The ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive, which was a criminal idiocy,” Matias said on Thursday in a Twitter post.
Argentine police search home of Maradona's doctor while probing soccer star's death – CBC.ca
Argentine police searched the home and office of Diego Maradona’s personal doctor on Sunday as part of investigations into the death of the 60-year-old soccer star, which caused a wave of grief across the country.
Reporters saw several police officers stationed at the door of the offices of neurologist Dr. Leopoldo Luque in Buenos Aires’ Belgrano neighborhood.
Court investigators have been taking declarations from Maradona’s relatives, according to a statement from the San Isidro prosecutor’s office, which is overseeing a probe into the medical attention Maradona received prior to his death on Wednesday.
It said investigators were trying to secure Maradona’s medical records.
Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by only two dozen people following a vigil at the presidential palace where tens of thousands of weeping fans lined up to filed past his coffin.
Maradona died of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation Nov. 3. He had suffered from a long series of medical issues, some related to addiction to drugs and alcohol.
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