The lost hockey teams of Toronto
Tonight at 7:00pm, the Toronto Maple Leafs will lace up for their 45th consecutive season in search of an elusive Stanley Cup.
If you need reminding, the end to last season was particularly traumatizing, even for a team that has seen its share of horrors. The Buds wrestled the heavy-hitting Bruins to the brink of defeat in the first round of the playoffs, poaching their way to a 4-2 lead with a little under 90 seconds left in the deciding game 7, before... well, the rest is moot. The quest continues.
But hockey isn't all about the NHL. Kids in Toronto have been playing Canada's game on frozen ponds and home-made rinks for more than a century.
These pictures, taken from around 1910 to the mid 1960s show school, city park, and recreation centre teams, usually in the east end, and feature young players across a range of ages. Some have uniforms, others play in plain clothes with cricket pads and gloves as their only measure of protection against slapped pucks.
One picture captures the touring "Fast Ojibway Indians" and the "Great Cree Indians" teams, who visited Toronto in 1928 during a 2,200-mile cross-country motor coach tour.
From the professional world, there's the Toronto Arenas a short-lived Stanley Cup-winning precursor to the Toronto St. Patricks, who became the Maple Leafs in the 1920s, and some images of the Army Daggers and Royal Canadian Air Force teams from the 1940s. Those squads feature players whose wonderful names could only be from the wartime period, who all sound like friends of your grandparents: Buddy Glover, Buck Jones, Lloyd Finkbeiner, Herb Mortimer.
The handful of action shots capture the scrape and clatter of pick-up games at Christie Pits Park (when there still were pits,) Riverdale Park, and the University of Toronto campus.
You can almost feel the pinch of the crisp winter air. Not long now.
Hockey at Christie Pits
Adam Beck - playground champions
Earl Grey school
East Riverdale boys
East Riverdale girls
Ice rinks at Riverdale Park with the General Steel Wares Building in the background
Essex playground team
Hodgson's championship team
Keele school juvenile champions
University of Toronto players
A match outside the St. Clair car barn
The Royal Canadian Air Force team celebrates a win
TTC's Danforth barns team
Buddy Davis of the Army Daggers
Buddy Glover from the Daggers
The Toronto Arenas
The Toronto St. Patricks
Toronto Maple Leafs
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
Images: City of Toronto Archives