Tim Horton


With his 28th point in 1980-81, Borje Salming became the Leafs' all-time scoring leader amongst defensemen, passing the legendary Tim Horton.

It took almost 30 years more to move Horton to third.  Tomas Kaberle pulled that off in setting up Colton Orr for his first of the season on Tuesday.  He's still 310 points back of Salming, though, so odds are Borje is safe for the rest of the year, at least.

More importantly, there's no evidence that either Kaberle or Salming can make coffee or doughnuts to save their lives, so Tim's contribution to Canadian culture reigns supreme.

The passage of time and the success of his business has made the name "Tim Horton's" into a brand rather than a name.  My nieces and nephews are almost shocked to learn that there actually was a person by that name, that he played hockey and was one of the greats.  The removal of the Ken Danby portrait from the restaurants - part of the settlement with the family, I think - certainly contributes to this.  It removes the name from the person and leaves it simply with the product.

It's a shame, becuase he really was one of the greats.  I've said many a time that the best thing I get from LeafsTV is an appreciation of some of the players I never got to see, and Horton is first and foremost in that regard.

Really, in any game from the 50s or 60s, I find myself watching for a glimpse of number 7, almost to the exclusion of anyone else.  It's just something about the way he played - the composure in his own end, the way he cleared the zone, total calm under pressure.

In his earlier years, in the games we don't see because they either weren't televised or aren't otherwise available, Tim was far more of a rusher.  On the back of the card, they call him the Leafs' "razzle-dazzle" defenseman.  He learned to pick his spots better as he aged, I guess.  It's the later years where he was the perennial all-star, when he'd get the Norris votes even if he never put up quite the point totals to let him win one.

He was an early adopter of the slap shot.  Bernie Geoffrion gets a lot of credit because he was a flashy forward who scored a lot of goals with it.  Horton was the other one who had it early.  As a defender, he'd be the one cranking it from the point, a low, heavy shot, looking for the deflection - really the way a modern defenseman would play it.

Tim had his first cup of coffee (pun vaguely intended) with the Leafs in the late 1940s - as he got older he'd often make the point that he'd first learned NHL defense under Hap Day.  In the early '50s, the Leafs looked to him to fill the void left by Bill Barilko.  Tim was a tough defenseman, too, but really a very different player.  Not as big as Bill or the same style of hitter, Tim had much better offensive skills and was a more accomplished rusher.

Getting his leg and jaw broken on a Bill Gadsby hit in 1955 almost finished him.  It took a couple of years before his game was really back, and he was very close to being traded away to Montreal.  As they say, it's the trades you don't make....

Tim wasn't without his faults - he could be a mite rambunctuous when into the beers and liked to drive a lot faster than he should have, but it's always striking when you hear people talk about him just how highly regarded he was as a person.  He was a person of integrity and decency and he did a lot of work in the community that was never really documented because he never did it to get in the papers.  His death was devastating to everyone who knew him. 

Anyhow, next time you buy a coffee, raise a toast to the third-highest scorer among Leaf defensemen and one of the best to play the game.  It's not just a brand - it's a person.


The current top five defensive scorers as of today:

Salming 1099 148 620 768 1292
Kaberle 764 75 384 459 212
Horton 1185 109 349 458 1389
Turnbull 580 112 302 414 651
McKenny 594 81 246 327 292







You know someone is special when there's a clip on youtube that doesn't involve fighting:

Tim's stats:

 1946-47  Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen  NOJHA  9   0   0   0   14   5   0   1   1   0 
 1947-48  St. Michael's Majors  OHA-Jr.  32   6   7   13   137 
 1948-49  St. Michael's Majors  OHA-Jr.  32   9   18   27   95 
 1949-50  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  1   0   0   0   2   1   0   0   0   2 
 1949-50  Pittsburgh Hornets  AHL  60   5   18   23   83 
 1950-51  Pittsburgh Hornets  AHL  68   8   26   34   129   13   0   9   9   16 
 1951-52  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  4   0   0   0   8 
 1951-52  Pittsburgh Hornets  AHL  64   12   19   31   146   11   1   3   4   16 
 1952-53  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   2   14   16   85 
 1953-54  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   7   24   31   94   5   1   1   2   4 
 1954-55  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  67   5   9   14   84 
 1955-56  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  35   0   5   5   36   2   0   0   0   4 
 1956-57  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  66   6   19   25   72 
 1957-58  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  53   6   20   26   39 
 1958-59  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   5   21   26   76   12   0   3   3   16 
 1959-60  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   3   29   32   69   10   0   1   1   6 
 1960-61  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  57   6   15   21   75   5   0   0   0   0 
 1961-62  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   10   28   38   88   12   3   13   16   16 
 1962-63  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   6   19   25   69   10   1   3   4   10 
 1963-64  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   9   20   29   71   14   0   4   4   20 
 1964-65  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   12   16   28   95   6   0   2   2   13 
 1965-66  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   6   22   28   76   4   1   0   1   12 
 1966-67  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  70   8   17   25   70   12   3   5   8   25 
 1967-68  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  69   4   23   27   82   +20 
 1968-69  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  74   11   29   40   107   +14   4   0   0   0   7 
 1969-70  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  59   3   19   22   91   +4 
 1969-70  New York Rangers  NHL  15   1   5   6   16   -7   6   1   1   2   28 
 1970-71  New York Rangers  NHL  78   2   18   20   57   +28   13   1   4   5   14 
 1971-72  Pittsburgh Penguins  NHL  44   2   9   11   40   +5   4   0   1   1   2 
 1972-73  Buffalo Sabres  NHL  69   1   16   17   56   +12   6   0   1   1   4 
 1973-74  Buffalo Sabres  NHL  55   0   6   6   53   +5 
 Leaf Totals  1185   109   349   458   1389   97   9   32   41   135 
 NHL Totals  1446   115   403   518   1611   126   11   39   50   183 

First All-Star Team Defense (1964, 1968, 1969)
Second All-Star Team Defense (1954, 1963, 1967)    

- Traded to NY Rangers by Toronto for future considerations (Denis Dupere, May 14, 1970), March 3, 1970.
- Claimed by Pittsburgh from NY Rangers in Intra-League Draft, June 8, 1971.
- Claimed by Buffalo from Pittsburgh in Intra-League Draft, June 5, 1972.
- Died from injuries suffered in automobile accident, February 21, 1974.

the HHOF take on Tim:

"Though it would be impossible to prove, the case could be made that Tim Horton was the strongest man ever to lace up skates in the National Hockey League. As a junior player with the St. Michael's College team in the Ontario Hockey League, Horton had NHL scouts and executives claiming he'd be the league's all-time great defenseman. But Horton's career, for all of its early promise, got off to a slow start. Though his attributes were obvious, he took a while to mature as a defensive player and spent several years moving back and forth between Toronto and its minor-league team in Pittsburgh. When he did find a regular job with the Maple Leafs during the 1952-53 season, respect was hard to come by, mostly because the expectations had been so high during his junior days.

In 1954, having just turned 24, Horton was selected to the league's Second All-Star Team and his career took off from there. With a few weeks left in the 1954-55 season, however, Horton broke his leg and jaw in a thunderous collision with the New York Rangers' Bill Gadsby. Gadsby later said it was the hardest hit he ever delivered. Horton, in traction and fed intravenously for days afterwards in the hospital, certainly agreed. When he returned to the ice after missing almost half of the 1955-56 season, he was slow to regain his form.

In 1958-59, Horton was paired on the blue line with Allan Stanley. Stanley's solid play allowed Horton to take a few more chances carrying the puck, knowing he had the speed to recover should he lose possession and that Stanley would be there to back him up. With Bobby Baun and Carl Brewer also starring on defense, the Leafs had a core of skilled, rugged and reliable defensemen. And the defense was the foundation of a Toronto team that won the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963 and 1964, with Horton earning a spot on the Second All-Star Team in 1963 and First Team honours in 1964. The team went through a minor slump in 1965 and for part of the season coach Punch Imlach moved Horton to the right wing on a line with George Armstrong and Red Kelly, another defenseman turned forward. Horton scored 12 goals, many of them with his huge slapshot from close range.

After the Leafs' last Stanley Cup win in 1967 - after which Horton was once again selected to the league's Second All-Star Team - the Maple Leafs went into decline. Many of the stars of the championship teams moved on or retired. Though he remained and was a First Team All-Star the following two seasons, Horton was tempted to retire in 1969 because of the success of his business off the ice, a chain of donut shops bearing his name, and of Punch Imlach's dismissal as coach of the club.

Horton claimed he wanted double his salary to even consider returning. Lacking any veteran leadership on its blue line, Toronto surprised Horton by giving him over $80,000, roughly double his salary of the year before. The team, so young that Horton was the oldest defender by 16 years, was dead last in the league in the spring of 1970. Horton's large salary was impractical for a team with little promise and he was traded to the New York Rangers. He spent a full season in New York in 1970-71, but was then selected in the next two intra-league expansion drafts, moving first to Pittsburgh for an injury-plagued season in 1971-72 and then to Punch Imlach's Buffalo Sabres.

Early in the morning of February 21, 1974, Tim Horton was killed in a single-car crash while driving home to Buffalo after a game in Toronto against his old team. Police who chased the sports car reported that it was traveling over 100 miles per hour before it crashed just outside of St. Catharines, Ontario. Toronto won the game that night, but Horton, even though he missed the third period with a jaw injury, was selected as the game's third star for his standout play. He left behind a wife and four daughters. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977. Today there are Tim Horton donut shops all across Canada."




Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Pension Plan Puppets

You must be a member of Pension Plan Puppets to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pension Plan Puppets. You should read them.

Join Pension Plan Puppets

You must be a member of Pension Plan Puppets to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pension Plan Puppets. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.