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Howie Meeker

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Howie Meeker
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1998 (Broadcaster)
Meeker with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1947
Born (1923-11-04)November 4, 1923
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Died November 8, 2020(2020-11-08) (aged 97)
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Right wing
Shot Right
Played for Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing career 1946–1955

Howard William Meeker CM (November 4, 1923 – November 8, 2020) was a Canadian professional hockey player in the National Hockey League, youth coach and educator in ice hockey, and a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament. He became best known to Canadians as an excitable and enthusiastic television colour commentator for Hockey Night in Canada, breaking down strategy in between periods of games with early use of the telestrator.

In the NHL, he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the best rookie, is one of the few professional players to score five goals in a game, and won four Stanley Cups, all with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was given the Order of Canada and is in the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Hockey Hall of Fame as a broadcaster.

Meeker was the last surviving member of the Maple Leafs 1947 Stanley Cup team, the Maple Leafs 1949 Stanley Cup team, the Maple Leafs 1951 Stanley Cup team, and the inaugural NHL All-Star Game.


Early life[edit]

Meeker was born in Kitchener, Ontario, the son of Kathleen Wharnsby and Charles Howard Meeker,[1] and raised in New Hamburg, Ontario[2] He played his junior hockey with the Kitchener Greenshirts in the Ontario Hockey Association.[3] In 1941–42, Meeker joined the Stratford Kist. In only 13 games, he scored 29 goals and had 45 points,[4] helping the Kist win the OHA Junior-B title.[1] He played one more year of junior hockey before joining the Canadian Army. Meeker was badly injured during the war, but he made a full recovery. In 1945–46, after World War II had ended, Meeker returned to the OHA and played one season with the Stratford Indians.[5][6]

Professional career[edit]

Meeker was a right winger. In 1946–47, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League. He scored 27 goals and 45 points during his NHL debut and he was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy.[7] Meeker also played in the 1947 NHL All-Star Game and he also tied an NHL record for most goals by a rookie in one game with five goals against the Chicago Black Hawks. Meeker also won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs that season, the first of three consecutive Stanley Cups. The season, however, would prove Meeker's best as a pro, and he would never again approach that level of scoring.[8][9]

In 1947–48, Meeker scored 34 points in 58 games and played in the 1948 NHL All-Star Game. He also helped the Leafs win their second consecutive Stanley Cup.[10] Next season, Meeker sustained a collarbone injury that limited him to only 30 games and he did not play a single game in the playoffs as the Leafs took their third consecutive Stanley Cup.[11] In 1950–51, Meeker won his fourth Stanley Cup with the Leafs as they beat the Montreal Canadiens in five games. Meeker would play three more seasons with the Leafs before retiring from the NHL. He continued to play hockey sporadically for 15 more years with different senior clubs, finally retiring from playing in 1969.[12]

Coaching and general management[edit]

He also coached the Maple Leafs, replacing King Clancy on April 11, 1956, leading the Leafs to a 21–34–15 record. He was promoted to general manager in 1957 but was fired before the start of the 1957–58 season.[1][9]

Political career[edit]

Howie Meeker
Member of Parliament
for Waterloo South
In office
June 25, 1951 – August 9, 1953
Preceded byKarl Homuth
Succeeded byArthur White
Personal details
Political partyProgressive Conservative

Meeker spent two years as a Progressive Conservative MP while playing for the Leafs. In June 1951, Meeker won the federal by-election in the Ontario riding of Waterloo South. He did not seek re-election in the 1953 election.[13]

Canadian federal by-election, June 25, 1951: Waterloo South
Death of Karl Homuth
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Howie Meeker 8,950 42.24 +3.50
Liberal J. Mel Moffatt 6,483 30.60 -6.62
Co-operative Commonwealth Margaret Geens 5,754 27.16 +3.12
Total valid votes 21,187 100.0
Progressive Conservative hold Swing +5.06
"Waterloo South, Ontario (1867-1968)". History of Federal Ridings Since 1867. Library of Parliament. Retrieved September 6, 2015.

Hockey camps[edit]

Meeker later ran hockey schools as summer camps in Canada and the United States. His book Howie Meeker's Hockey Basics, published in 1973,[14] and his weekly telecasts based on these camps, Howie Meeker's Hockey School, which ran from 1973 to 1977 on CBC Television, cemented his reputation in the coaching trade. The TV show was produced in St. John's, Newfoundland. It featured boys learning the basic skills of the game: skating, puck control, and passing. Meeker's encouragement and delivery were all based on his premise that the game was suffering from poor instruction at the junior levels. He felt the game was not being taught properly so his message was directed at coaches across Canada. He also made vocal and detailed complaints about poor quality hockey equipment for child players, especially concerning protective gear. The television series had 107 fifteen-minute episodes. It was produced and directed by Ron Harrison and/or John Spaulding and aired weekly during the hockey season.[15][16]

Broadcasting career[edit]

In the 1970s and 1980s, Meeker became known to a new generation of hockey fans as an excitable, dynamic studio analyst-colour commentator on Hockey Night in Canada.[5] He would replay footage taken from an overhead camera that provided a full view of the ice, then use a telestrator to demonstrate his points.[17] During the telestrator segments, his favourite directive was, "stop it right here", to freeze the screen in order to analyze specifics in the replay.[5] He also worked on Vancouver Canucks telecasts on BCTV.[18][19] When TSN gained NHL cable TV broadcast rights in 1987, Meeker joined their team, where he stayed until retiring in 1998.[20] Meeker often used the phrase, "Keep your stick on the ice" (later popularized as a slogan of comedian Red Green[21][22]) during his educational segments on Hockey Night in Canada.

Philanthropic work[edit]

Meeker was involved with Special Olympics for over 40 years. He helped launch Special Olympics Canada after being invited to participate by former NHL referee Harry "Red" Foster shortly after the Special Olympics movement was created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the United States.[11] In 1988, at the age of 64, Meeker was contacted by Campbell River Special Olympics in Campbell River, British Columbia, to help with setting up a fundraising golf tournament for the local Special Olympics organization. He was initially serving as a go-between to get a regional sports star involved but eventually, Meeker himself lent his name and support to the Howie Meeker Charity Golf Classic at Storey Creek Golf Club. Each year for the next 30 years, Meeker participated in the successful fundraiser in person. In his 94th year and at the 30th running of the event in August 2018, it was announced that Meeker would be taking a step back and welcoming a new co-host to carry on with the event. NHL player Clayton Stoner had signed on to be co-host with Meeker to ensure the fundraiser continues in Meeker's name into the future.[23][24]

In 2004, Meeker was invited to headline a golf tournament fundraiser to benefit BC Guide Dog Services. Originally intended as a one-off event, it was such a success that the Howie Meeker Golf for Guide Dogs tournament ran on Vancouver Island for four years and is now held annually in the Metro Vancouver area.[25] From this beginning, Meeker and his wife, Leah, became the patrons for BC Guide Dog Services,[26] and through their involvement had helped raise over $350,000 as of July 2011.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Meeker moved to St. John's, Newfoundland, later in life, calling it home for several decades. He was married to his first wife Grace for 55 years, raising six children, until she died in 1998. After retiring, Meeker lived with his second wife Leah in Parksville, British Columbia.[28][5] He died on November 8, 2020, in hospital in Nanaimo, British Columbia.[5][18][19][29][30]


Upon hearing of Meeker's death, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman issued the following statement on behalf of the league: "Howie Meeker spent his long and remarkable life playing, teaching, and broadcasting the game of hockey and serving his country with incredible enthusiasm."

Awards and achievements[edit]

Career statistics[edit]


    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1940–41 Kitchener Greenshirts Big-10 Jr. B 9 13 10 23 2 4 4 2 6 0
1941–42 Stratford Kist Big-10 Jr. B 13 29 16 45 20 4 8 11 19 4
1941–42 Stratford Kist M-Cup 9 13 1 14 2
1942–43 Stratford Kroehlers OHA-Jr. 6 6 4 10 4 2 0 1 1 0
1942–43 Brantford Lions OHA-Jr. 2 0 1 1 0
1945–46 Stratford Indians OHA-Jr. 7 8 5 13 4 5 6 5 11 0
1946–47 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 55 27 18 45 76 11 3 3 6 6
1947–48 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 58 14 20 34 62 9 2 4 6 15
1948–49 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 30 7 7 14 56
1949–50 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 18 22 40 35 7 0 1 1 4
1950–51 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 49 6 14 20 24 11 1 1 2 14
1951–52 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 54 9 14 23 50 4 0 0 0 11
1952–53 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 25 1 7 8 26
1953–54 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 5 1 0 1 0
1954–55 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 2 0 0 0 2
NHL totals 346 83 102 185 329 42 6 9 15 50

Coaching record[edit]


Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
TOR 1956–57 70 21 34 15 - 57 5th in NHL Did not qualify

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hawthorn, Tom (November 8, 2020). "Colourful analyst Howie Meeker was on-air hockey teacher for generations of Canadians". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  2. ^ "Howie Meeker one of the great things about New Hamburg". New Hamburg Independent. August 10, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "GOLLY GEE! Howie Meeker made his mark across hockey world for generations of fans". National Post. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "1951 Parkhurst Howie Meeker | PSA CardFacts®". Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA). Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Goldstein, Richard (November 8, 2020). "Howie Meeker, Hockey Star and Colorful Broadcaster, Dies at 97". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  6. ^ "Howie Meeker". Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  7. ^ "Silverware -- 1946-47 Calder Memorial Trophy Winner". hhof.com.
  8. ^ a b "Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Howie Meeker". www.hhof.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d "Howie Meeker Hockey Stats and Profile at hockeydb.com". www.hockeydb.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Diamond, Dan, ed. (2000). Total Stanley Cup : an official publication of the National Hockey League. Toronto, Ontario: Total Sports Canada. ISBN 1-892129-07-8. OCLC 44122309.
  11. ^ a b "Meeker, former Maple Leafs player, 'Hockey Night in Canada' analyst, dies". NHL.com. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  12. ^ "Canadian hockey icon Howie Meeker dies at age 97". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  13. ^ Bradburn, Jamie (May 7, 2019). "Ontario's hockey-star MP: How Red Kelly represented the Leafs and the Liberals". TVO.org.
  14. ^ "Howie Meeker, former NHL star and Hockey Night in Canada icon, dies at 97". CBC. The Canadian Press. November 8, 2020.
  15. ^ "Howie Meeker Hockey School - CBC Archives". www.cbc.ca. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  16. ^ "Howie Meeker Hockey School: Stick tricks - CBC Archives". Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  17. ^ McCurdy, Bruce (November 8, 2020). "One-of-a-kind hockey pioneer Howie Meeker touched a lot of lives, including this one". edmontonjournal. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Little, Lyndon (November 8, 2020). "Famed NHL player and broadcaster Howie Meeker passes away at 97". The Pronvince. Retrieved February 19, 2024.
  19. ^ a b Bucholtz, Andrew (November 11, 2020). "Remembering Howie Meeker, a famed hockey player, coach, broadcaster, and Telestrator pioneer". Awful Announcing. Retrieved February 19, 2024.
  20. ^ "Howie Meeker – Builder (Hockey) – SportNL". Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  21. ^ Kaczmarczyk, Jeffrey (December 13, 2015). "Red Green returns to Michigan with wit, wisdom and duct tape". mlive. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  22. ^ Tougas, Maurice (September 5, 2016). "At 70, Red Green still keeps his stick on the ice". AlbertaPrimeTimes.com. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  23. ^ "Campbell River mourns passing of Howie Meeker – hockey icon, champion of Special Olympics". Campbell River Mirror. November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  24. ^ "Sold-out Howie Meeker Golf Classic set for this weekend". Campbell River Mirror. August 14, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  25. ^ "BC Guide Dog Services & Alberta Guide Dog Services". Archived from the original on November 1, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
  26. ^ BC Guide Dog Services founders Archived March 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Mitchell, Kevin (July 3, 2011). "Meeker loving life". Vernon Morning Star.
  28. ^ "Howie Meeker, who went from Stanley Cup-winner to colourful analyst, dies at age 97". thestar.com. November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  29. ^ "Canadian hockey and broadcasting legend Howie Meeker dies at age 97". Parksville Qualicum Beach News. November 8, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  30. ^ "Meeker, former Maple Leafs player, 'Hockey Night in Canada' analyst, dies | NHL.com". www.nhl.com. November 8, 2020. Retrieved February 19, 2024.
  31. ^ "Calder Memorial Trophy Winner 1946-47: Meeker, Howie - Legends of Hockey". www.hhof.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  32. ^ Podnieks, Andrew. (2000). NHL all-star game : 50 years of the great tradition. Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-200058-X. OCLC 44019389.
  33. ^ "Howie Meeker, former NHL star and Hockey Night in Canada icon, dies at 97". ca.style.yahoo.com. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  34. ^ "Howie Meeker, Shelagh Rogers get Order of Canada". CBC.ca. December 31, 2010.
  35. ^ "Howie Meeker". oshof.ca. Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  36. ^ "GOLLY GEE! Howie Meeker made his mark across hockey world for generations of fans". The Toronto Sun. Retrieved November 12, 2020.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
Preceded by Head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of Parliament from Waterloo South
Succeeded by