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Toe Blake (right) with teammate Maurice Richard
Born August 21, 1912(1912-08-21),
Victoria Mines, Ontario
Died May 17, 1995 (aged 82),
Montreal, Quebec
Height
Weight
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
162 lb (73 kg; 11 st 8 lb)
Position Left wing
Shot Left
Pro clubs Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Maroons
Career 1934 – 1948
Hall of Fame, 1966

Hector "Toe" Blake, CM (August 21, 1912 – May 17, 1995) was a Canadian ice hockey player and coach in the National Hockey League (NHL).[1]

Contents

Nickname

His nickname came out of his childhood for his younger sister was unable to pronounce his name. When she said it, it often sounded like Hec-toe, hence Toe as his nickname which later replaced the nickname he had been given as a scorer, the Old Lamplighter, because he often activated the light behind the goal.[1]

Biography

The Punch line: Maurice Richard (bottom left), Elmer Lach (centre), and Toe Blake (bottom right)

Born in what is now the ghost town of Victoria Mines, he was raised playing outdoor hockey in the town of Coniston near the city of Sudbury in Northern Ontario. Blake played junior and senior hockey in the Sudbury area and was part of the 1932 Memorial Cup champions, the Sudbury Cub Wolves. He played for the Hamilton Tigers of the Ontario Hockey Association before joining the NHL club with which he won his first Stanley Cup, the Montreal Maroons, in 1935, then playing for the Montreal Canadiens until his retirement in 1948. For the last eight seasons, he was team captain, and led the Canadiens to Stanley Cups in 1944 and 1946.

While playing with the Canadiens, he was part of a trio called the "Punch Line," which featured Elmer Lach and Maurice Richard. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion in 1938–39. He also scored the Stanley Cup clinching goal in the 1944 Stanley Cup Finals at 9:12 of the first overtime of Game Four, helping the Canadiens complete a four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks.

A little after January 11, 1948, he suffered a double fracture of his ankle, ending his NHL career.[1] In 1998, he was ranked number 66 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

After retiring from the Canadiens he resided permanently in Montreal, raising his children and subsequently where his grand children were raised. The "Toe" Blake Tavern, which he owned, became a successful watering hole in Montreal and "la belle province".[1]

After eight years coaching several of the Canadiens' minor-league affiliates, he was named head coach of the Canadiens in 1955, replacing Dick Irvin. Blake was fluent in French (his mother was a Franco-Ontarian), and Canadiens management also felt that Blake was best-suited to control Richard's explosive temper (which had led to a riot the past spring).

Blake coached the Canadiens for 13 years, winning eight Stanley Cups—the most for any coach in the team's history and second in the NHL. He is still the winningest coach in Canadiens' history. He was known for his tough, but fair coaching style; his players always knew he was on their side.

Blake turned down Jacques Plante's request to wear a mask during games for fear that it would impair his vision. However, after a shot broke Plante's nose on November 2, 1959; Blake finally relented.[1]

Blake was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982. A park located next to his Montreal West home is named in his honor.

In the end, it was Alzheimer's Disease, which Blake had for more than eight years, that ended his life. When respected writer Red Fisher visited him in the nursing home in 1989, Toe could not recognize his old friend. Toe Blake died of pneumonia, typical of Alzheimer's patients, on May 17, 1995, at the age of 82.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1932–33 Hamilton Tigers OHASr ? 9 4 13 0
1933–34 Hamilton Tigers OHASr ? 19 14 33 0
1934–35 Montreal Maroons NHL 8 0 0 0 0
1935–36 Providence Reds CAHL ? 12 11 23 65
1935–36 Montreal Canadiens NHL 11 1 2 3 28
1936–37 Montreal Canadiens NHL 43 10 12 22 12 5 1 0 1 0
1937–38 Montreal Canadiens NHL 43 17 16 33 33 3 3 1 4 2
1938–39 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 24 23 47 10 3 1 1 2 2
1939–40 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 17 19 36 48
1940–41 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 12 20 32 49 3 0 3 3 5
1941–42 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 17 28 45 29 3 0 3 3 2
1942–43 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 23 36 59 26 5 4 3 7 0
1943–44 Montreal Canadiens NHL 41 26 33 59 10 9 7 11 18 2
1944–45 Montreal Canadiens NHL 49 29 38 67 25 6 0 2 2 5
1945–46 Montreal Canadiens NHL 50 29 21 50 2 9 7 6 13 5
1946–47 Montreal Canadiens NHL 60 21 29 50 6 11 2 7 9 0
1947–48 Montreal Canadiens NHL 32 9 15 24 4
1948–49 Buffalo Bisons AHL 18 1 3 4 0
1949–50 Valleyfield Braves QSHL 43 12 15 27 15
1950–51 Valleyfield Braves QSHL 1 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 577 235 292 527 282 57 25 37 62 23

Awards

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Christie, James. Canadiens taskmaster won on skates and in a fedora, E6. The Globe & Mail, May 18, 1995.

External links

Preceded by
Gordie Drillon
NHL Scoring Champion
1939
Succeeded by
Milt Schmidt
Preceded by
Eddie Shore
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1939
Succeeded by
Ebbie Goodfellow
Preceded by
Walter Buswell
Montreal Canadiens captain
19401948
Succeeded by
Bill Durnan
Preceded by
Bill Mosienko
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1946
Succeeded by
Bobby Bauer
Preceded by
Dick Irvin
Head coaches of the Montreal Canadiens
19551968
Succeeded by
Claude Ruel
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