Feb 13-16, 2009 - Red Horner
The story today seems not to be about last night's loss, but rather the fact that this is the tenth anniversary of the closing of Maple Leaf Gardens. The Leafs had a lot on their minds that night other than the game at hand and they managed to lose it 6-2 to Chicago.
When all was said and done, the closing ceremonies began. It was kind of a funny affair, really. There were some good moments and some awkward ones. As the old players came out, there were some who got great ovations and others barely a murmur. (There were a lot of the latter from the 1980s.) They got out of sync for a bit, then recovered as they got into the 1970s and 1960s.
The player introductions ended with the oldest player there, the sole surviving member of the 1931-32 championship team, Red Horner. Red really enjoyed the moment and the ovation he got, and he supplied probably the best moment of the entire ceremony, handing the flag over to a young Mats Sundin and telling him, "Remember us."
Red's most famous moment, at least in terms of the legends that survive on to today, was facing down Eddie Shore after Eddie had just about killed Ace Bailey with a vicious hit from behind, finishing him as a player. Red flattened him with a single punch and sent him off on a stretcher.
Red personified Conn Smythe's adage of "if you can't beat 'em in the alley, you can't beat 'em on the ice." He led the league in penalties eight straight seasons, but was more than just a goon. He was a team leader and captain from 1938-40. He was a Hall of Fame inductee after his playing days. He also relished his role as Leaf alumni and was often heard in interviews on TV or radio. He was sharp as a tack well into his late 80s.
So many of the early Leaf stars couldn't make that ceremony as they were no longer with us by 1999. Day, Apps, Bailey had all passed on in the early 1990s. King Clancy in 1986. It was really something to have Horner still there and able to carry off the ceremony the way he did.
From what I can tell, the signature on the card is legitimately Red's. I can't validate the coffee stain. :)
This is the HHOF tribute video to Red:
|1928-29||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||22||0||0||0||30||4||1||0||1||2|
|1929-30||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||33||2||7||9||96|
|1930-31||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||42||1||11||12||71||2||0||0||0||4|
|1931-32||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||42||7||9||16||97||7||2||2||4||20|
|1932-33||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||48||3||8||11||144||9||1||0||1||10|
|1933-34||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||40||11||10||21||146||5||1||0||1||6|
|1934-35||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||46||4||8||12||125||7||0||1||1||4|
|1935-36||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||43||2||9||11||167||9||1||2||3||22|
|1936-37||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||48||3||9||12||124||2||0||0||0||7|
|1937-38||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||47||4||20||24||82||7||0||1||1||14|
|1938-39||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||48||4||10||14||85||10||1||2||3||26|
|1939-40||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||31||1||9||10||87||9||0||2||2||55|
- Signed as a free agent by Toronto, January 20, 1929.
the HHOF take on Red:
Although he was born in a small rural community west of Hamilton, Ontario, Reginald "Red" Horner was playing bantam hockey with North Toronto by his early teens. He was one of seventy-two players trying out for Frank Selke's Marlboro juniors in 1926 and although young "Red" did not distinguish himself in that first practice, Selke felt that he would be as patient as possible with Horner. The fact that Red was Selke's grocery boy didn't hurt his chances but Horner nonetheless made the squad on his own merits. "He has his elbow in your kisser or his fanny in your face every time he is on the ice," said Marlie captain "Shrimp" MacPherson.
Conn Smythe thought that Horner's robust style was being wasted in the amateur leagues and soon called Red up to the Maple Leafs. Horner had already played a Friday night game with the Marlboro juniors and a Saturday afternoon tilt in the brokers' senior league when he was informed of his new assignment for Saturday night at the Gardens. He made his National Hockey League debut on December 22, 1928, at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game was Horner's third in a span of twenty-four hours. He suffered a broken hand in his second game and missed a good portion of the season, finishing his rookie campaign without any points and 30 penalty minutes in the 22 games he played. The statistical imbalance of points to penalty minutes would become a consistency in Horner's career.
He was not a graceful skater but could move the puck up ice quickly, usually feeding a tape-to-tape pass while having two forecheckers bearing down on him. Horner's tough, physical style of play earned him the league leadership in penalty minutes for eight of his twelve NHL seasons. He played in the 1934 and 1937 Benefit games for Ace Bailey and Howie Mrenz and was on a Cup winner with Toronto in 1932.
He played in a day when goaltenders served their own penalties and himself was called upon twice in his career to defend the Toronto net, surrendering one goal in three minutes of play, while his goalie sat in the penalty box. Horner played his entire career with the Maple Leafs and served as team captain from 1938 until his retirement in 1940.
Now into his nineties, he resides in Toronto but spends some of his time in Florida during the winter. He is the oldest living Maple Leaf captain and oldest living member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and was involved in the opening ceremonies for both the 65th anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens and the closing of the Gardens on February 13, 1999.
Red Horner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.
The MLG closing ceremonies (image flips a bit, be warned)