Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Nunymare, Dec 12, 2014.
Lived a long life though! 93.
Sadly... Johnny Bower has died after a rather sudden & apparently rather quick bout with pneumonia. 93. Active with Leafs just up to a few days ago. One of the most popular Leafs of all time, long time Cleveland Baron. RIP China Wall.
... oops... edit to add... and ya, very sad Habsfan...
Suddenly a very sad holiday season. Perhaps the best way to celebrate Johnny Bower's love of life and people.
I dread seeing this thread at the top of the list. Always bad news.
Anytime you saw him interviewed, he came across as a really nice, likable guy.
R.I.P. Johnny Bower.
My lasting memory of Bower will be the 1969 playoffs where twice he had to come and relieve Bruce Gamble as the Leafs lost the first 2 games of that series by a combined 17-0. Bower stopped the bleeding as much as he could and was cheered by the Boston crowd.
Interestingly, Bower wasnt his real, family (grew up with 8 sisters, only boy, Depression era Saskatchewan) name... its Kiszkan. He changed it to Bower in 1945 so the reporters in Cleveland could get it right, stop mispronouncing & misspelling it... that & Anglicizing names, big thing in the 19th, 20th centuries.
RIP Mr. Bower.
One of my idols a million years ago when I played peewee .
The man was fearless or nuts. Hed think nothing of diving face first to poke check at a shooter. Without a mask.
God speed sir.
Yep.... the patented Johnny Bower Pokecheck. Absolutely gutsy moves, even more so without a mask, and something few goaltenders have really mastered or been able to employ with the same success as did Johnny. Takes some serious hutzpah when facing a 2 on zero, two forwards coming in at you with speed & size, passing it back & forth, and you at their mercy to time that move & nail it. Once you'd mastered it however, one of the most satisfying saves in the book. The sheer audacity of it still something I chuckle about at times. So thanks for that Johnny, and thanks for all the wonderful memories. A life well & fully lived. Just a great great guy, loved by all.
And it wasn't his skill or athleticism that caused his retirement; it was his failing eyesight.
I would imagine if youd grown up in Buffalo during the 60's & were able to pickup the CBC TV signal from Toronto & SW Ontario you'd have seen a lot of the Leafs & Johnny Bower Howie?... Buffalo of course pre-Sabres with an excellent brand of hockey & very successful team with the AHL Bisons.... Johnny a real workhorse in Toronto pretty much from the day he arrived, already in his 30's, a life & "other career" in Cleveland, which through the 50's was a real powerhouse with its own farm system, junior team & elite amateur sponsorships etc.
What a shame, a legend. Not many of these oldtimers left.
Also, R.I.P. to Don Hall (b.1930) and Dino Mascotto (b.1932), guys who played in the minor leagues.
Hall being a legend in Johnstown.
I remember JB in his forties still being so agile.
Currently reading Todd Denault`s book on Jacques Plante and ironically, the first game that Plante started with the mask was against the Leafs and Bower took a puck to the mouth and the game had to stopped while he went and got stitches.
A great ambassador for the Leafs and game.
Johnny Bower was a great guy. Even at the age of 93 he was relatively healthy, was interesting to listen to when he was being interviewed or telling a story from his playing days and he had a great sense of humor. A sad day for hockey as we lost one of the true legends of the game.
I came of age as a hockey fan during the last half dozen years of the Original Six, as a kid growing up in the Bronx and a Ranger fan. I saw Terry Sawchuck and Jacques Plante at the end of their careers, when they were well beyond the prime. I saw Glenn Hall when he still had some great years left. But Johnny Bower with Toronto during the early and mid 1960s......wow. Simply amazing. In fact, the best four goalies I have ever seen (in no particular order) were Glenn Hall, Johnny Bower, Dominik Hasek, and Patrick Roy. That’s how good Bower was.
The Sportsnet talk show had a nice tribute to him today - interviews with teammates Dave Keon, Ron Ellis, etc., who just loved the guy. As a goalie growing up in the region when Bower was in goal for the Leafs, was Bower a model for you, K? As a prominent goalie often on Saturday HNIC games, he must have been to tons of kids who put on the pads, not only in the GTA, but all around the nation.
By the way, that pokecheck move as you describe it must be a real thrill. My uncle played high school hockey here in goal around 1950, and the one play he thought worthy of telling me about was a poke check off an opponent's stick who was breaking away on him all alone. The dude went "A over teakettle" tripping over him and ended up in the net, according to my uncle, a little like the Gaborik breakaway in Detroit you can find on YouTube. In the first minute and a half of this clip from the '67 finals, Bower makes a pokecheck to sweep the puck off the stick of a breaking Yvan Cournoyer. RIP to a tough and good man.
The relectant hero.
Back when the NHL didn't have high salaries, Johnny Bower was perfectly happy in the AHL and did NOT want to play in the NHL and Toronto coach and GM Punch Imlach had to threaten to have him banned from the AHL if he didn't play in the NHL. Bower felt he had no choice then and reluctantly joined the Leafs.
Oh, damn. RIP Bower.
.... perhaps oddly in my case, no, Johnny Bower wasnt really an inspiration to me, wasnt someone I really looked up to or idolized, wasnt someone who inspired me to decide to play goal having started out as a Left Winger. I certainly didnt try & emulate his style though was taught a couple of the techniques that he excelled at, namely the poke check, dropping the puck from your catcher & swatting it into the left corner & just generally keeping the puck in play as much as possible rather than forever freezing it & working with ones Defencemen.
I think many sort of took Johnny Bower for granted. That he was just beyond solid & reliable, very "workmanlike", blue collar. He didnt possess any of the eccentricities or personality foibles of a Glenn Hall, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante or Gump Worsley. Very staid, even tempered, warm & friendly, easy going but who at the same time could be just as spectacular in making saves as his somewhat more heralded compatriots at the other end of the rink. For Imlach & the Leafs of that era, the players & the system deployed, he was absolutely ideal. Perfect fit, complimented the system, the players. Integrated. He just didnt stand out in quite the same way as Hall or Plante did, or as Terry Sawchuk did when he shared the crease with him in Toronto over several seasons.
... and yes, the Johnny Bower Pokecheck, a thing of beauty... you could use it on a 2-0, quickly & aggressively spearing the puck open ice as its being passed between two oncoming forwards who think they have you dead to rights or... when a guys coming in on you on a deke cradling the puck back & forth, head down, last thing he'd expect would be a rapier like stab of your stick at his blade, inevitably resulting in his losing control of the puck. Just so many uses for the JB Poke Check to stop plays & goals before they can happen. So I guess on the level of technique, yes, I did try & emulate his stickwork, was taught it not from the master himself but by a couple of his pupils who so too employed it with much precision. Real art to it. Timing, anticipation, read & speed, total confidence absolutely everything.
Growing up in Buffalo, I was familiar with Johnny towards the end of his career. And yes, the old rotary antenna allowed me to pick up CHCH Hamilton for HNIC on Wednesday Nights, and CBC Toronto for HNIC Saturday Nights! Channels #11 and #5 respectively. Later it allowed me to pick up Global for Toronto Toros games! Channel #48 I believe...
I lived in Cleveland for 5 years in the 80's, so the legend of the Cleveland Barons, AHL version, was passed on to me! Ironic, as I played soccer one game at Cleveland State only to find out I was standing on the old site of The Cleveland Arena!
All good memories......
Indeed. You could pick it up on UHF... our own @Fenway (Moderator here) got his start as a Cameraman with UHF CH29 Buffalo, they had a remote facilities truck, covering Sabres games when they hit the ice in 1970 providing the coverage & feeds for the out of town teams visiting the Aud..... And non-hockey but a none the less very popular figure in Buffalo, Western New York & Southern Ontario who was a big Sabres & Bills supporter & who brought us the news everynight for nearly 40 years beginning in the 60's has also passed away... RIP Irv Weinstein.
Maybe the best local anchor in any market ever. Viewers in Toronto watched him in big numbers and many there thought Buffalo was always on fire
I think many of us including his teammates have the same question.
December 10 - Al Rittinger, 92, former Boston Bruin. Played 19 games in 1943-44.
His family believed he was the way he was having lost 2 brothers during his childhood, formative years, idolizing his older brother who's goalie equipment Terry inherited.... Others suggesting that maybe he was bi-poplar, an oft over-used psychiatric diagnosis but I suppose possible..... Even at his height, early years in Detroit, he apparently felt "insecure" about himself & his lock on the job. Very likely Jack Adams deliberately keeping him unbalanced, not helping the situation....
His list of injuries & illnesses unbelievable, playing it in that super-low crouch as he did & maskless resulting in over 400 stitches to his face, multiple broken noses, cheekbones.... in constant pain, playing with & through it... the drinking of course, a respite, escape but so too a depressant & that combined with prescription & very likely non-prescription drugs, anything to relieve the physical pain... well, between the early emotional trauma, the highs & lows of the game... can be a real witches brew for some but you know what? If you asked him, others like him, held a Seance, Automatic Handwriting or whatever, communicating across the great divide... they'd probably tell you they wouldnt have changed a thing, just been kinder to those they loved, those who loved them.
First time I saw Bower play, maybe 1962, the TV announcers were calling him an old man.
Funny, he didn't play that way. Still had many good years left in him.