|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1966|
August 21, 1912|
Victoria Mines, ON, CAN
|Died||May 17, 1995
Montreal, QC, CAN
|Height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Weight||162 lb (73 kg; 11 st 8 lb)|
|Played for||Montreal Canadiens
Joseph Hector "Toe" Blake, CM (August 21, 1912 – May 17, 1995) was a Canadian ice hockey player and coach in the National Hockey League (NHL). He is best known for his three-decade association with the Montreal Canadiens, with whom he won 10 Stanley Cups as a player or coach.
His nickname came from a childhood experience: his younger sister had difficulty pronouncing his name, rendering it as something like "Hec-toe". Thus, the nickname "Toe" arose, and ultimately replaced the nickname he had been given as a scorer, the Old Lamplighter, because he often activated the light behind the goal.
Life and hockey
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 during the 1934–35 season before he signed with the Montreal Maroons of the National Hockey League on February 22, 1935; he made his NHL debut two days later on February 24, against the Chicago Black Hawks. Blake played 8 games with the Maroons in the 1934–35 season, but failed to record a point; he was not played in any of the team's playoff games but when the Maroons won the Stanley Cup, Blake's name was added as a member of the team. then playing for the 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.
Shortly after January 11, 1948, he suffered a double fracture of his ankle, ending his NHL career. 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 grandchildren were raised. The "Toe" Blake Tavern, which he owned, became a successful watering hole in Montreal and "la belle province".
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. He retired at the end of the 1967-68 season, ending 33 consecutive years at ice level with the Habs organization.
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 1, 1959; Blake finally relented.
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.
Recently, the community centre in Blake's hometown of Coniston, Ontario has been renamed the "Toe Blake Memorial Arena" in his honour.
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Montreal Canadiens||1955-56||70||45||15||10||100||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1956-57||70||35||23||12||82||2nd in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1957-58||70||43||17||10||96||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1958-59||70||39||18||13||91||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1959-60||70||40||18||12||92||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1960-61||70||41||19||10||92||1st in NHL||Lost in Semi-Finals|
|Montreal Canadiens||1961-62||70||42||14||14||98||1st in NHL||Lost in Semi-Finals|
|Montreal Canadiens||1962-63||70||28||19||23||79||3rd in NHL||Lost in Semi-Finals|
|Montreal Canadiens||1963-64||70||36||21||13||85||1st in NHL||Lost in Semi-Finals|
|Montreal Canadiens||1964-65||70||36||23||11||83||2nd in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1965-66||70||41||21||8||90||1st in NHL||Won Stanley Cup|
|Montreal Canadiens||1966-67||70||32||25||13||77||2nd in NHL||Lost in Cup Final|
|Montreal Canadiens||1967-68||74||42||22||10||94||1st in East||Won Stanley Cup|
- Stanley Cup champion — 1935 (with Montreal Maroons as a player)
- Stanley Cup champion — 1944, 1946 (with Montreal Canadiens as a Player)
- Stanley Cup champion — 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968 (Head coach of Montreal Canadiens)
- Hart Trophy — 1939
- Scoring Leader — 1939
- Lady Byng Trophy — 1946
- NHL First Team All-Star — 1939, 1940, 1945
- NHL Second Team All-Star — 1946
- Christie, James (May 18, 1995). "Canadiens taskmaster won on skates and in a fedora". The Globe & Mail. p. E6.
- Coleman, Charles L. (1969). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol 2: 1927 – 1946 Inc. Sherbrooke, Quebec: Progressive Publications Incorporated. p. 238.
- Toe Blake's biography at Legends of Hockey
- Toe Blake's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
|NHL Scoring Champion
|Winner of the Hart Trophy
|Montreal Canadiens captain
|Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
|Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens