Toe Blake

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Toe Blake
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1966
Maurice Richard and Toe Blake.jpg
Toe Blake (right) with teammate Maurice Richard
Born (1912-08-21)August 21, 1912
Victoria Mines, ON, CAN
Died May 17, 1995(1995-05-17) (aged 82)
Montreal, QC, CAN
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 162 lb (73 kg; 11 st 8 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Maroons
Playing career 1934–1948

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).[1] 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.

Nickname[edit]

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.[1]

Life and hockey[edit]

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 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.[2] 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.[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 grandchildren 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. 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.[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.

Recently, the community centre in Blake's hometown of Coniston, Ontario has been renamed the "Toe Blake Memorial Arena" in his honour.

Career statistics[edit]

    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

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
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
Total 914 500 255 159

Awards[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Christie, James (May 18, 1995). "Canadiens taskmaster won on skates and in a fedora". The Globe & Mail. p. E6. 
  2. ^ Coleman, Charles L. (1969). The Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol 2: 1927 – 1946 Inc. Sherbrooke, Quebec: Progressive Publications Incorporated. p. 238. 

External links[edit]

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
194048
Succeeded by
Bill Durnan
Preceded by
Bill Mosienko
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1946
Succeeded by
Bobby Bauer
Preceded by
Dick Irvin
Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
195568
Succeeded by
Claude Ruel