Former NHL star and Hockey Night in Canada icon Howie Meeker dies at 97


Howie Meeker, a former NHL player, Hockey night in Canada icon and legendary personality, died Sunday at age 97 at Nanaimo General Hospital in British Columbia

Meeker, who won four Stanley Cups with Toronto and was the oldest living Maple Leaf, was an NHL star who won Rookie of the Year in 1947 after scoring 27 goals and 45 points in 55 games. .

A spokesperson for the Maple Leafs, the team that signed Meeker to a free agent contract on April 13, 1946, confirmed his death earlier on Sunday. There was no immediate word on the cause.

Meeker became a broadcaster and was known for phrases like “Jiminy Cricket”, “Golly gee willikers” and “Stop it there! His work with HNIC earned him the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1998 after a 30-year career with CBC and TSN.

Born November 4, 1923 in Kitchener, Ont., Meeker played eight years with the Maple Leafs – winning NHL championships in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951 – and appeared in three all-star games.

He ended his NHL career at age 30 in the 1953-54 season with 83 goals and 185 points in 388 regular season games while adding 15 points in 42 playoff games.

Most famous, he passed the puck to Bill Barilko for the 1951 Cup overtime winner against Montreal.

Skated in its 80s

Among other career highlights, Meeker scored five goals in a 10-4 victory over Chicago on January 8, 1947, one of 44 players to total five or more times in a game.

He continued to play professional hockey on and off for another 15 years at various levels including the American Hockey League and the Newfoundland Senior League, among others.

Meeker retired from the game after the 1968-69 season and continued to skate until he was 80.

Dick Irvin, who has been on HNIC for 33 years, told the Montreal Gazette in 2014 that Meeker was the first TV analyst to break down the game and criticize gamers.

” ‘You can not do this!’ Irvin remembers telling Meeker. “” See what he did? It was wrong! This guy, JC Tremblay should never have done that. Tim Horton made a mistake! Look what he’s doing there! ”

Meeker spent two years as a Progressive Conservative MP while playing for the Leafs. He won the federal by-election in the Ontario riding of Waterloo South in 1951, but did not seek re-election two years later.

Ran hockey schools, writes books

In 2010, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada and inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Meeker, who has also lived in St. John’s over the years, has run hockey schools for over 30 years and literally wrote the book about hockey – 1973’s Howie Meeker’s Hockey Basics.

During the 1970s he offered exercises and counseling during his Howie Meeker Hockey School sessions sur CBC.

He then wrote another book titled Golly Gee – It’s Me: The Howie Meeker Story. And he never ran out of opinions on how to improve the game he loved.

Meeker had six children with his first wife Grace – they were married for 55 years before she died of cancer. He remarried, living with his wife Leah in Parksville on Vancouver Island where they were actively involved in fundraising for BC Guide Dog Services.

Funeral arrangements were pending.


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