Vintage Toronto Ads: Find the Puck

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New Liberty, October 1948.

Can you help Maple Leafs Hall of Fame goalie Turk Broda find the puck before the Boston Bruins offense does?

Launched in 1932 as the Canadian edition of an American general interest publication known for providing readers with the estimated amount of time required to read each article, Liberty magazine was purchased by Jack Kent Cooke and Roy Thomson in 1946. Briefly renamed New Liberty, the publication adopted a sensationalist tone that increased its circulation (the cover story for the edition today’s ad appeared in promised to tell “the truth about margarine”). Thomson sold his share of the magazine in 1948 when it appeared profits were nowhere on the horizon, but Cooke persevered and managed to make a little money from Liberty during the 1950s as its focus shifted to chronicling showbiz personalities on both sides of the border. Cooke sold off “Canada’s young family magazine” in 1961 to new owners who let it limp along for three more years.

This game shot was likely taken during the 1947/48 hockey season, as the Leafs didn’t start the 1948/49 season until this issue was almost off the newsstands. Besides Broda, other Toronto players searching for the puck are Joe Klukay (number 17) and Bill Barilko (number 21; he switched to number 19 for the 1948/49 season, then to his eventually-retired number 5 before the 1950/51 season). It was a good era to be a Maple Leafs fan as, despite a losing record during the regular season, the 1948/49 squad became the first NHL team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups in a row.

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The answer, as shown in the December 1948 edition of New Liberty.

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Vintage Toronto Ads: Hockey Night in the 1930s

Originally published on Torontoist on January 15, 2008.

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Toronto Star, December 3, 1937 (left), December 6, 1937 (right).

The rumour mill is swirling around the Maple Leafs this week, as a less-than-stellar season and mixed signals from club ownership lead to daily reports about the fate of the team’s management and captain. With all signs pointing to a third straight early vacation at season’s end, the team’s followers are steamed.

Fans 70 years ago may also have been frustrated with the club, though in their case the problem was a team that usually reached the Stanley Cup finals but couldn’t quite win Lord Stanley’s silverware. At least if the team lost, the TTC was there to offer a cheerful bow before a warm trip home.

Under the stewardship of coach Dick Irvin, the 1937/38 edition of the Leafs finished first in the Canadian Division, eight points ahead of the New York Americans. The NHL would drop its divisional structure after the season, when its active membership fell to seven teams after the Montreal Maroons suspended operations (the franchise initially asked for a year off, tried to relocate to St. Louis and officially folded after the 1938/39 season). The existence of the Maroons explains why the Montreal Canadiens are billed by their nickname in today’s ad, as other period game notices indicated the city the Leafs were up against.

The game in question resulted in a 3-3 tie, highlighted by a stick-swinging fight initiated by future Habs coach Toe Blake. The Toronto Daily Star’s headline two days later read “Leafs Draw With Canucks But Lose to Tough Mick.”

The major hiccup during the season was the loss of captain Charlie Conacher in November, due to a dislocated shoulder. Doctors urged Conacher to retire—he sat out the rest of the season, but would return to action with the Red Wings the following year. Leading scorers for the Leafs, and the league, were right winger Gordie Drillon (26 goals, 52 points) and center Syl Apps (21 goals, 50 points).

TTC conductors would have had a busy playoff season, as the Leafs fought their way past the league-leading Boston Bruins into the Stanley Cup finals. Transit authorities didn’t have to worry about a mass victory celebration as the Leafs lost the Cup on the road to the Chicago Black Hawks, a team that still holds the record for the lowest regular season winning percentage by a Cup holder (14 wins, 25 losses, 9 ties). The Leafs may have tempted the fates by rejecting calls for goaltending assistance by Chicago after Mike Karakas suffered a broken toe—legend has it that the Black Hawks approached veteran minor leaguer Alfie Moore while he was drinking in a Toronto bar. It was the fourth time the Leafs had gone down in the Cup finals since their last championship in 1932 and they would lose twice more before hoisting the Cup in 1942.