Welcome friends. Today we begin a series of posts covering the Maple Leafs' Captains. In this edition, we proudly present, the one and only, James Earl Jones, who will read the post to you out loud. Unfortunately, we don't have an audio-file, or even a microphone, so you're just going to have to imagine it. Most of the info for this post was taken from these five sites. The rest I made up. And now, please welcome, Mr. James Earl Jones, reading, The Blood Of My Chief.
In the earliest days of pre-history, from a time when overtime was a true test of survival and always ended in certain and sudden death, there emerged a leader among leaders, a champion in our quest for the Cup, that did rise to become the very first chief in our glorious tribe.
Before legends were born, men skated with demons as equals on the ice, and the Toronto Saint Pat's were the first to valiantly spill their blood in defence of an emblem that would become our identity.
The honour was bestowed upon him, the "C" on his sweater, by The Builder, as the emblem became this tribe's banner: The Toronto Maple Leafs. He is the first legend of legends, with his name on the Cup 7 times*, a name that is hockey, that means Maple Leafs, a name you'll never forget. He wore number #3. His name is Hap Day.
In 1932 our chief shared with a tribesman a joyous and bloody handshake at the end of their greatest victory. Before anyone had ever heard the expression "power forward", they called him the "Big Bomber", Charlie Conacher carried the blood of my chief, as the second Captain, from 1937 to 1938.
Among the legendary warriors whose names were engraved after the battle of '32, was a fierce and noble barbarian named Red. George Reginald Horner was a brute and a penalty minutes leader for eight straight seasons. In 490 regular season contests, Red Horner struck for 42 crushing goals from the blue-line, while delivering 1,264 penalty minutes worth of damage to his terror-stricken opponents. The blood Hap Day shared with Big Bomber was also shared with Horner, and then spread around the league until they called the man "Red". He was our third chief. He wore number #2.
Nearly a decade passed for our tribe in the wilderness without reclaiming the Holy Cup. A new legend was needed, and indeed, did emerge, the first ever winner of the Calder in 1937. Syl Apps was an outstanding soul, winning the Lady Byng in '42 by not taking a single penalty the entire season. That abundance of goodwill no doubt helped the Leafs secure the championship, though Syl Apps never contributed to blood-letting, he surely enjoyed the sweet taste of triumph.
The heroics of Syl Apps did not end there, for he was also a war hero, and in his courageous absence "Rugged Robert" Bob Davidson valiantly carried the torch and wore the "C", leading the team to another championship in 1945. When his days as a warrior were over, Davidson remained with the tribe, and was eventually crowned the Chief Scout.
Syl Apps heroically returned from his duties with the Canadian Army to lead our tribe to 2 more Cup glorys (1947, 1948). In every way, Apps was larger then life. He was captain of the football team at McMaster University in 1936, and the British Empire pole-vault champion in 1934, competing at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. In 1940 he ran for Parliament, but on election night Apps was on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens, scoring a goal in a playoff game against the Detroit Red wings. Apps lost the election by 5 votes, but the Leafs won the game, 2-1. Those who wore the emblem of the Maple Leafs never wore it prouder then on that night, nor was there ever a more distinguished Chief.
(To be continued...)
Special thanks to James Earl Jones for coming in on such short notice and lending his stunning voice to our blog. The series will continue, maybe as early as the next post, and by then we hope to have another guest reader scheduled to come in. Possibly Leonard Nimoy or William Shatner.
*Hap Day won one Stanley Cup as a player (1932), won 5 as a coach from 1940-50, and had his name engraved on the Cup for the 7th time in 1951, as the assistant general manager.
The photos are, in order top to bottom: Hap Day, Charlie Conacher, Red Horner, and Syl Apps. I couldn't find a picture of Bob Davidson.