Wednesday, 15 March 2017


Nome, Alaska, 1900 (US Public Domain)
When vast amounts of gold were discovered in Yukon Territory in 1896 and once word got out about it to the rest of the world a year later, the shocking result was the largest human stampede in recent memory. Over 100,000 people set out to strike it rich in the freezing cold Canadian north a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle. Of the 100,000 who had originally set out on this back-breaking journey, 30,000 got there, and only 4,000 had actually struck any significant amounts of gold. Dawson became the epicenter of what history now knows as the Klondike Gold Rush. A tent town comprised of a mere 500 sturdy miners in 1896, Dawson evolved into a modern city of 30,000 within two short years.  

From 1896 to the end of the 19th Century, almost $30 million in gold ($700 million today) had been removed from the area. However, by 1899 the rush had ground to a halt. Prices across the board were dropping steadily that summer. Prospectors from nearby creeks were now seeking work in Dawson after their claims had turned up empty.  But there was no work to be found: too many people, not enough jobs. Everyone waited for something…anything…

Then, out of the blue, rumors raced up the Yukon River from the west--news of a gold strike on the Bering Sea, a destination much easier to arrive at than the grueling trek over the Rocky Mountains to the Klondike. Within a few days, the rumors were confirmed. Yes, gold had been discovered on the beaches at Nome, Alaska, a town so far north that it was well above the tree line. In one week, 8,000 people fled Dawson to seek their fortune elsewhere. One gold rush ended and another started. Thousands more people left for Alaska from mainland Canada and United States in the coming weeks and months. Nome was the place to be, and the Klondike was old news.

Ending 1899, Nome encompassed 10,000 people (populated heavily by the incoming Klondike sourdough prospectors) who lived in tents opposite their claims adjacent to the turbulent, freezing cold  Bering Sea. And it was true that the gold nuggets were found right there in the beach sands--for 30 miles up and down the flat coastline. Thousands more gold seekers came in 1900 aboard steamships that had departed San Francisco and Seattle.

Nome, Alaska, 1903 (US Public Domain)

Incorporated as a city on April 9, 1901, Nome became the largest city in Alaska. It was typical of most get-rich-quick boomtowns. It was a cesspool of sewage pouring daily into the Bering Sea and nearby creeks, resulting in bad drinking water. Houses and other wood structures, including those of businesses, quickly started replacing the tents. Soon, Nome had a perpetual clamor from saws and hammers, combined with grunts and moans from the wind-beaten workers. Methods of mining changed, too: Sluices, rockers, hoses and pumps took over from the simple panning by hand procedures. Due to the penetrating cold, damp weather and the permafrost only a few feet below the surface, most miners worked only from June to late-September then headed south to more pleasant temperatures.

Going ashore from ships at Nome during the early gold rush days was a problem because there was no harbor. Smaller boats had to take the passengers to the beach, for a price, of course--when the Bering Sea was finally free of coastal ice for the season. When it wasn’t, which was most of the time throughout the year, passengers made their way to shore by dogsleds. By 1901, a loading crane was constructed, four years later a proper wharf, finally replaced in 1907 by a tramway. Reaching a population of 20,000 in 1905, Nome had newspapers, various stores and shops, electric lights, churches and schools, along with plenty of brothels, gambling houses, and saloons to satisfy many patrons with “booze, broads, and cards.” By 1909 the rush was over and the population slid to a mere 2,600 brave individuals, with large companies running the show.

Nome’s most famous citizen--during the warmer months each year for four years at the turn of the century--was Western gunslinger Wyatt Earp, who had made his reputation during the Gunfight at the OK Corral twenty years earlier in Tombstone, Arizona. Earp had the good sense not to attempt his hand at mining. No, sir. Instead, he fleeced the miners by operating The Dexter Saloon which he co-owned and advertised as “The Only Second Class Saloon in Alaska.” According to the exterior signs on his place of business, he featured “Eastern Beer Only.” He also had “girls” upstairs for those men lacking some love life that far north.

The routes to Nome, Alaska from Seattle, Washington (US Public Domain)

Tex Richard--the future boxing promoter, besides the first owner of hockey’s New York Rangers in the Roaring Twenties--was Earp’s only real competition in town. One of those who came down the Yukon River from Dawson, Rickard ran the Northern Saloon. Despite rivals, Rickard and Earp became friends for life. It’s estimated that when Earp left Nome for good, he had with him $80,000 (about $2 million today). Prior to Earp packing it all up and heading south, gold was discovered in the Alaskan interior near Fairbanks in 1902, bringing about another stampede. Too bad William Seward was not around to witness it all.

Up to the time of the Nome and Fairbanks gold stampedes, Alaska had been American property for only a few decades. In 1864, William H. Seward, US Secretary of State to President Abraham Lincoln, had heard rumors that Russia--in deep financial trouble--wanted to sell their Russian America, a massive piece of land about one-fifth the size of the continental United States. Seward--then Secretary of State to Andrew Johnson, following Lincoln’s assassination--approached the Senate in early 1867 with a purchase proposal that ended up passing by only one vote on April 9.

For $7.2 million in gold, approximately two cents per acre, Alaska became part of the United States. Then the mockery kicked in, something that Seward had to live with the rest of his life until his death in 1872. Alaska soon became “Seward’s Folly,” “Uncle Sam’s Icebox,” “The Land of the Midnight Sun,” and “Seward’s Icebox.” Alaskan settlement was slow, at first. By 1890, the largest towns were Sitka and Juneau, 1,000 people each. The entire state had only 30,000 people, with 22,000 of those natives, 4,000 white, and the rest of mixed heritage.

But Americans weren’t laughing when gold was discovered in Alaska at the end of the century, along with oil and natural gas years later. Due to the influx of settlers, Alaska became a territory in 1912, then a state in 1959, initiated by a wild gold rush on a stretch of beach beside the Bering Sea in 1899. 

Thursday, 2 March 2017


When “Red” Kelly finished his Junior A hockey career with the Memorial Cup winning St. Michael’s Majors--an amateur team sponsored by the Toronto Maple Leafs--in the spring of 1947, he wasn’t supposed to be talented enough to make the NHL: according to Leafs scout Squib Walker, who was convinced Kelly wouldn’t make it past 20 games in the NHL. Detroit Red Wings super scout Carson Cooper thought otherwise and signed the defenseman.

'52-53 Parkhurst gum card of
Red Kelly (Cdn Public Domain)
As it turned out, the strong, six-foot, 195-pound Kelly didn’t play a single game in the minors. At 20, he jumped right to the Red Wings in the fall of 1947 and stayed in the NHL until he retired in 1967. Six times a First Team All-Star on defense, including five in a row, and twice on the Second All-Star Team, he was the first recipient of the then-new James Norris Trophy in 1953-54 as the NHL’s best defenseman. In his 20 seasons played, his teams missed the playoffs only once and he was on eight Stanley Cup winners. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969; and in 1998 was ranked 22 on The Hockey News list of 100 greatest hockey players.

Leonard “Red” Kelly was born July 9, 1927 in Simcoe, Ontario. A typical Canadian boy, he learned to skate and stickhandle at an early age on frozen ponds near the family farm. At St. Mike’s College in Toronto, Kelly had the good fortune to be coached by ex-Leaf Joe Primeau, who had centered the Kid Line with teammates Charlie Conacher and Busher Jackson a decade before. All three are Hall of Famers.

Primeau taught Kelly--a left winger for the first two seasons--and his teammates to get the puck out of their zone quickly. Kelly did so well at clearing that he was put on defense in his last year.  Primeau also emphasized that you win games on the ice, not in the penalty box--words that Kelly never forgot in his pro years. Four times he was awarded the NHL’s Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship combined with talent.

In his first year with Detroit, Kelly was the fifth defenseman on an exceptional Red Wing team. By Christmas, he got his big chance when Doug McCaig broke his leg. As a regular, Kelly played alongside Leo Reise, a stay-at-home defenseman, which allowed Kelly to cut loose with his puck-carrying skills into the offensive zone. Kelly would also sub at center or left wing when injuries hit the team. On the power play, it was up to him to trigger the offense. While killing penalties, he often played up front as a checker.

During the 1949-50 season, right winger Gordie Howe sustained a serious head injury that forced him from the playoffs. As a result, GM Jack Adams juggled the lineup. He brought Marcel Pronovost up from the minors, where he was put on defense, thus slipping the versatile Kelly into a left wing spot. Despite Howe gone, the Wings still won the Stanley Cup that spring. By Kelly’s third year with Detroit, coach Tommy Ivan told the Toronto Star that Kelly was “The greatest all-around player in the league today.”

Kelly’s talents were not ignored by the opposition either. By the mid-1950’s, Leaf owner Conn Smythe said that “Kelly is the most valuable player in the NHL today.” New York Ranger coach Bill Cook added, “I’ve never seen anyone equal to him when it comes to bringing the puck out of his own end.” When Boston Bruins coach Lynn Patrick was asked which player he’d want on his team, Rocket Richard or Gordie Howe, Patrick said that he’d take Kelly instead. “Red is not only great on defense, he can score, too.” Montreal Canadiens GM Frank Selke paid Kelly the ultimate compliment: “Red is the best hockey player I have ever seen.”

The Red Wings finished first in the standings seven straight times from 1949-1955 and won four Stanley Cups with Kelly playing a major role in the team’s success as one of the first offensive defensemen in the post-war game: His goal totals were 15, 17, 16, 19, 16, and 15 respectively, and he had at least 30 assists every season except one.

By 1958-59, the Red Wing dynasty was ending due to several disastrous trades made in the front office by Jack Adams. The defense in disarray, the 32-year-old Kelly broke his ankle near the end of the season and was asked by Adams and coach Sid Abel to keep playing, despite the injury. Kelly obeyed, but he could barely turn on his skates. The Wings finished dead last, the first time out of the playoffs in 21 years. The injury was kept silent until Kelly, himself, leaked it in passing the following season to Trent Frayne, who had been working on a hockey piece about Kelly for the Star Weekly.

Kelly, by that time, was healthy and his play had improved dramatically. Marshall Dann, a Detroit Free Press reporter, picked up the Star Weekly story at the end of January 1960 and expanded on it under the headline, “Was Red Kelly forced to play on a broken foot?”

The news got back to Jack Adams, who called Kelly into his office on February 4 after a home game for a meeting with him and owner Bruce Norris. There, Adams informed Kelly that he was traded to New York along with forward Billy McNeill for Bill Gadsby and Eddie Shack, and told to be at the Leland Hotel at 8 AM to take a bus to New York. Kelly stood his ground, and said he’d think about it.

“What do you mean, you’ll think about it? Be there!” Adams roared in the player’s face.

Kelly repeated, “No, I’ll think about it.”

Kelly then went to his Detroit home to talk the situation over with his wife, Andra. By morning, he decided he was going to retire. McNeill, whose wife had died only weeks before, also refused to report. The furious Adams threatened to suspend Kelly, until the Maple Leafs made an offer to take Kelly off Detroit’s hands. Adams wanted a young defenseman named Marc Reaume in return. The deal was made before a stunned hockey world on February 10 and turned out to be one of the most lopsided transactions ever in NHL history.

'63-64 Parkhurst gum card of Red Kelly
(Canadian Public Domain)
Leafs coach Punch Imlach immediately made Kelly a full-time center. The following year, 1960-61, Kelly anchored a line with sharpshooter Frank Mahovlich, turning the youngster into a scoring machine. Kelly finished with 20 goals and 50 assists, helping the Big M collect 48 goals. Many people felt that if Kelly had not been injured for the last six games, Mahovlich would no doubt have reached the coveted 50.

By the time he retired in 1967, Kelly played on four more Stanley Cups winners as a Leaf. By adding in the four he had seen with Detroit, he holds the record for most Stanley Cup wins for a player not a Montreal Canadien. Meanwhile, Reaume played only 77 more games in the NHL, with the majority of his professional seasons in the minors until his retirement after 1970-71.

Kelly also found time to serve three years from 1963-1965 as a Liberal MP for Toronto’s West York riding in the federal parliament at the same time as the great flag debate. Lifetime, Kelly scored 281 goals and 542 assists in 1,316 games. In 164 playoff games, he scored 33 times and assisted on 59 others.  Kelly was known to never swear and was one of the least penalized players in his day--only 327 minutes in the regular season and 51 minutes in the playoffs.

Kelly went on to coach 10 seasons with three teams in the early years of expansion: The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs before leaving the game for good and going into business. One of his greatest accomplishments coaching was his development of a young, frustrated left winger named Lanny McDonald--Toronto’s first pick in the 1973 draft and fourth overall--who had trouble scoring and was often booed by the impatient hometown Leaf fans. Under Kelly’s tutelage, McDonald found his scoring touch and was placed on a line with center Darryl Sittler and right winger Errol Thompson. These three fit like a glove, terrorizing opposition goalies throughout the late-1970’s.

I’ve been in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena for some hockey games over the years, and when I look up and see retired uniforms belonging to such greats as Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Terry Sawchuk, and Steve Yzerman, I just shake my head. Where’s Kelly’s jersey? Some people seem to think that it may have been because he refused to report to New York in 1960. Really? What about Ted Lindsay? He bucked the Red Wing ownership as well as the NHL establishment when he organized his Players’ Association in 1957. His Number 7 is raised high over the ice.

Why not Kelly’s Number Four?

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Major-General Isaac Brock, 1809
(Canadian Public Domain)
In fact, you might say that Willcocks was Canada’s Benedict Arnold. Arnold was the American general who had sold his soul to the British during America’s fight for independence during the Revolutionary War almost thirty years prior to 1812. Irishman Joseph Willcocks was a whole different story, a man of changeable loyalties who left both sides—Canadian and American—wondering how committed he really was to either cause because he seemed to have a love-hate relationship with both countries 

Willcocks was born 
in Palmerstown, Ireland in 1773 and at 27 sailed the Atlantic to live in York, Upper Canada (now Toronto, Ontario). He became a clerk at cushy various government jobs that he had been handed, thanks to kin membersbusinessman William Willcocks and Receiver General Peter Russell, both distant cousins. Some of Joseph’s positions were a receiver and payer of fees in the Surveyor General’s Office, registrar of the probate court, and sheriff of the Home District, an expanse that encompassed Simcoe and York countiesIncidentally, as sheriff, he was removed from office for obnoxious behavior in 1807. 

Politically minded, 
he was an 18th century WhigThe elitist group known as Whigs believed in free trade and parliament over absolute monarchy. They also received financial support from wealthy merchants and strong industrial interests. Willcocks was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada in 1807, 1808 and 1812, representing York, as well as 1st Lincoln and Haldimand regions. On one occasion he was jailed for contempt of the House. In 1807, when he moved to Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario), he founded the opposition newspaper Upper Canada Guardian; or Freeman’s Journal. Yes, both names were used with a semi-colon in between.  

Through his rebellious paper
, he viciously attacked the British government on a regular basis in his four-page, 11-by-17-inch publication combating subjects such as oppressive land laws and fees, and misuse of power on many occasionsIn short, he promoted liberty, justice, and a future republic in Upper Canada much like the Republic of Ireland of which he had left. Willcocks also claimed to be the only person in Canada who dared to speak the truth. Many people thought he was being swayed by disgruntled American and Irishmen living in Upper Canada. Willcocks published his small but influential spread from July 24, 1807 to June 1812 before selling it to for $1,600. During those turbulent five years, he was jailed twice for libel.

An example of Joseph Willcocks' looting in the Niagara area (Canadian Public Domain)

By 1812, while
 war loomed with the United Statesmilitary commander of Upper Canada Major General Isaac Brock sought the help of Willcocks in securing the Six Nations natives--inside Willcocks’ constituencies--as Brit allies. That accomplished, and much appreciated by Brock, Willcocks then fought alongside Brock and his men consisting of British and Canadian soldiers, Canadian militia and native warriors at Queenston Heights that October when the Americans had invaded Upper Canada’s south. Brock was killed in action and the British incorporated martial law, which Willcocks--true to his nature--had always opposed, going back to when it had been first suggested in the Legislative Assembly at the beginning of hostilities 

On May 27, 1813, the Americans with 5
,000 troops attacked Niagara near Newark, capturing adjacent Fort George and chasing the Canadian-British troops as far back as Burlington Heights at the base of present-day Hamilton. Two months later, Willcocks decided to sail across the Niagara River on his own and offered his services to the Americans at Fort Niagara. He may not have been that pro-American, however. He merely thought they would win the conflict. Not only had Willcocks “turn-coated,” he had committed a treasonous act because he was still being a member of the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly 

Within a
 few weeks, Willcocks had recruited and took command of about 120 men soon to be called the Company of Canadian Volunteers--mostly American immigrants and some pro-American Canadians living in NiagaraTwo of his officers were prominent elected officials: Abraham Markle and Benajah Mallory.  Reminiscent  of American Civil War Confederate guerilla leaders “Bloody Bill” Anderson and William Quantrill fifty years later, the newly-appointed Major Willcocks led his crew in foraging, scouting, and a reign of terror by burning pro-Brit farms--property belonging to people he had known, including many political enemies, friends and neighborsWillcocks took several hostages, throwing them into prison south of the border. Then that December, Willcocks, now a lieutenant colonel, went too far. 

Following crucial defeats at the battles of Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams in June, the badly beaten Americans gradually retreated to Fort George which they eventually abandoned on December
 10Nearby was the town of Newark, where Willcocks had lived and printed his controversial newspaper for six years. Following orders from the American officer in charge at the fort and upon Willcocks’ urging, Brigadier General George McClure, the Americans forcibly removed  the Newark townspeople, mostly women, children, and elderly from their homes into a bitter-cold snow storm with only the clothes on their backs, about 400 civilians in all. Then Willcocks and his raiders, along with the other retreating Americans burned approximately 150 houses to the ground, leaving only three houses, forcing the locals to find what shelter they could in the nearby woods, amid two- and three-foot snowdrifts.  

In one situation, Willcocks ordered two of his men to remove a sickly woman, bed and all, and deposit her in the snow. Earlier that year, Willcocks had sent her husband, William Dickson, stateside as a prisoner. Now Willcocks wanted 
to destroy the Dickson property, too. While the two Canadian Volunteers wrapped the woman and took her out the door, Willcocks personally torched the two-story house along with all the contents. Once the fiery, dirty deed was done to their liking throughout the townthe band of Americans proceeded to advance across the Niagara River, with the Company of Canadian Volunteers bringing up the rear within sight of the British troops led by Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond 

Lt-General Gordon Drummond
(Canadian Public Domain)
Hot on the heels of the Americans, the British were enraged at the sight of the smoldering ruins of Newark as they approached from the south. They took on the retreating Canadian Volunteers, killing two and capturing several soldiers, while Willcocks and the others got away.  In retaliation, Drummond and his men sailed across the river within a few days, captured Fort Niagara with a surprise attack, and in the next few weeks torched several towns and villages, including Lewiston, Black Rock and Buffalo on the American side, and occupied the shores of the river until war’s end. No building along the Niagara River between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie was safe.  

How many Newark civilians died during December 1813 was undocumented. Undoubtedly, many froze to death. The shocking events of that day made headlines in many newspapers in England. Shortly after his order to burn the town, McClure was relieved of his command and dismissed from the US Army, while Joseph Willcocks 
now had a price on his head.

British vengeance didn’t stop with 
the burning of Newark. Once Napoleon’s army was defeated in April 1814, the British now turned their attention to the all-out war effort in America by sending thousands of troops across the Atlantic. When they invaded Washington in August, the Brits left the White House (known then as the President’s House), the Capitol Building, and many other government structures in flames and smoke, in direct response to the unwarranted destruction at Newark. Luckily for the Americans, hours after the attack on Washington, a wicked thunderstorm--quite possibly a hurricane--raced through the city and put the flames out.  

In 1814, 
19 captured people were charged with high treason and others not in Canadian custody were also marked following the Ancaster Bloody Assize Trials of 1814, in Ancaster, Upper Canada. As a result, eight of Willcocks’ comrades were hanged and seven others banished. Willcocks met his own violent end that September succumbing to a gunshot would during the Siege of Fort Erie--the last skirmish between the British and American forces on the Niagara front 

Due to potential retaliation or even death 
once the Treaty of Ghent was signed in early 1815 to end the War of 1812, the surviving members of the Company of Canadian Volunteers settled in the United States where it was much safer for them. Two of these had been mentioned earlier: Benejah Mallory, who had subsequently taken over the Canadian Volunteers upon Willcocks’ death, and Abraham Markle.  

Joseph Willcocks is buried in an unmarked grave in Buffalo, with neither side ever considering honoring the notorious rebel of questionable loyalties. And who says Canadian history is boring? 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017


St Lawrence Starch Co Beehive photo of Turk Broda (Canadian Public Domain)

On April 7, 
1936, Toronto Maple Leafs’ owner Conn Smythe--looking to replace his 40-something netminder George Hainsworth who had allowed nine goals that evening in a Stanley Cup final  game to the Detroit Red Wings--decided to stay back in Detroit to scout Earl Robertson of the Windsor Bulldogs who would be playing in an International Hockey League game the next evening against the Detroit Olympics. Smythe had heard that Robertson was a shoe-in as a future NHL goalie and wanted to see for himself without consulting any scouts 

The next evening, a
s the game progressed, however, Smythe was more impressed with the goalie at the other end of the ice: a short, dumpy 21-year-old named Walter “Turk” BrodaRed Wing property and four years younger than RobertsonSmythe quickly sought out Red Wings GM Jack Adams after the game and asked how much for BrodaAdams, who already had a solid goaltender in Normie Smith, replied, “Eight thousand.” Smythe had no problem with that. He and Adams shook on it and the two teams officially signed the deal a few weeks after Detroit took the Stanley Cup in the best-of-five series by three games to one.  

, a lifetimLeaf, would go on to backstop Toronto to five Stanley Cups, including three in a row and four in five seasons, during his star-studded 14-year Hall of Fame careerOn the other hand, Robertson played in six playoff games in 1936-37 for the Red Wings (replacing an injured Normie Smith) in a losing Stanley Cup final cause, then spent five uneventful NHL seasons with the not-so-hot New York-Brooklyn Americans from 1937-38 to 1941-42 before finishing up in the minors.  

1955-56 Parkhurst card
of Turk Broda
(Cdn Public Domain)
Born May 15, 1914 in Brandon, Manitoba to a Ukrainian family, Walter “Turk” Broda received the nickname of “Turkey Egg” in his childhood for the many freckles he had. He played his junior hockey with the Brandon Native Sons and the Winnipeg Monarchs before the Detroit Red Wings signed him. Broda was a fun-loving, good-natured individual who seemed quite relaxed between the pipes: relaxed enough to fell asleep before the occasional game, and sometimes in between periods, much to the chagrin of his coaches.  

He also loved to eat. A lot. And drink ice-cold beer. The Toronto press liked to call him “The Fabulous Fat Man.” They were the same press who thought Smythe was nuts to sign Broda in the first place, thinking that the netminder would eat his way out of the NHL on his big league salary. Broda’s weight was always an issue with owner Conn Smythe He made huge headlines going partway into the 1949-50 season when Smythe ordered Broda to lose weight or he would lose his job.  This was after Broda had minded the Leaf net for 215 straight games since returning from the Royal Canadian Artillery during World War II. Serious with his threat, supposedly, Smythe brought up two Leaf property goalies from the minors who were ready to go in on short notice: Al Rollins from the Cleveland Barons, and Gilles Mayer from the Pittsburgh HornetsIronically, the five-foot-six, 135-pound Mayer was the direct opposite of Broda: He was so skinny that his nickname was “The Needle.”  

The whole 
Broda weight thing may have been more of a publicity stunt than anything else, but it put the Leafs on the city’s front pages, something Conn Smythe always relished. Broda had fun with the so-called threat by jogging up and down Yonge Street to the delight of well-wishing fans who cheered him on. After missing only one gamea 2-0 loss to Detroit on December 1 with Mayer in net, Broda eventually lost the 10 pounds he needed to keep his job, then finished the season with a 2.48 GAA and a league-leading 9 shutouts, and three more shutouts in the playoffs in a losing cause to the Red Wings in a seven-game first round. 

 won two Vezina trophies in his career (2.00 GAA in 1940-41 and 2.38 in 1947-48), but some people felt he should have won more. His regular season GAA was 2.53 lifetime in 628 games with 62 shutouts. Every so often he would let in a bad goal, a “floater.” Only in the regular season, though. Early in his career he had a bad habit of allowing long goals, from 20-30 feet out. But through extensive practice conducted by coach Hap Day, Broda learned to correct that side of his game: Day had Broda--without a stick--face puck after puck shot from just inside the blue lineIn the playoffs, however, something inside Broda kicked into high gear. He was a different man. He excelled to the point where his lifetime GAA dropped HALF a goal to 1.98. In 101 playoff games, he shutout the opposition 13 times.  

Broda’s lifetime regular season/playoff GAA comparison standing at 2.53/1.98., how does that rival the other noted NHL goalies who had spent their entire or major portion of their careers in the Original Six? 

*Jacques Plante2.38/2.14…six Stanley Cups (Montreal) 
*Glenn Hall2.49/2.78…one Stanley Cup (Chicago) 
*Terry Sawchuk 2.51/2.54…four Stanley Cups (Detroit 3, Toronto 1) 
*Johnny Bower 2.51/2.47…four Stanley Cups (Toronto) 
*Frank Brimsek 2.70/2.54…two Stanley Cups (Boston) 
*Bill Durnan 2.36/2.07…two Stanley Cups (Montreal) 
  Al Rollins 2.78/2.38…one Stanley Cup (Toronto) 
  Gerry McNeil  2.38/1.89…two Stanley Cups (Montreal) 
*Harry Lumley 2.75/2.49…one Stanley Cup (Detroit) 
*Gump Worsley 2.88/2.78…four Stanley Cups (Montreal) 
  Don Simmons 2.89/2.59…three Stanley Cups (Toronto) 
*Hall of Famer 

On the basis of these GAA stats, Broda was the greatest clutch goalie ever to play the game during the Original Six era. In a class by himself, he was a true money goalie. The others couldn’t match his ratio of 0.55 better in the playoffs, with the closest being Montreal’s Gerry McNeil at 0.47Al Rollins at 0.40 and Don Simmons at 0.30. “If I had to play one game with everything at stake,” Conn Smythe once said to a reporter, “Turk Broda would be my goaltender.” 

Two of 
Broda’s teammates added to the quality of his play. “Turk was a great goaltender, but he seemed to be able to go up another notch when he went to the Stanley Cup final,” said Ted Kennedy. Howie Meeker went further: “Broda was the best playoff goaltender I’ve ever seen.” 

It seems that 
Broda had another talent, this one outside of hockey. According to Louise (Hastings) Carley--a girl friend of Leaf defenseman Bill Barilko--as stated in the 2004 book entitled Barilko without a trace by Kevin Shea, Turk Broda was an exceptional dancer at team get-togethers during his playing days. “Turk Broda was the best dancer I ever met in my life. He was so light on his feet. He has to go down in history as the best dancer ever!” 

After retiring, 
Broda coached the Toronto Marlboros to back-to-back Memorial Cups in 1955 and 1956, both times beating my hometown Regina Pats. He was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1967, our centennial year, then died five years later of a massive heart attack