|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1976|
November 8, 1924 |
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Weight||170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)|
|Played for||New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
John William Bower (born John Kiszkan on November 8, 1924), nicknamed "The China Wall", is a Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender who won four Stanley Cups during his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs. On January 1, 2017, in a ceremony prior to the Centennial Classic, Bower was part of the first group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
After the war, Bower returned to Prince Albert in 1943 to play junior hockey in Prince Albert and in the AHL, largely for the Cleveland Barons, for 11 seasons in the late 1940s and 1950s, and proved himself the star goaltender of the circuit, winning numerous awards and leading his teams to three Calder Cup championships.
During his first professional year of hockey, he changed his name from John Kiszkan to Bower, to make it easier for sports writers.
He was finally picked up by the New York Rangers of the NHL for the 1953–54 season, but was sent back down to the minor leagues the following season. Bower would toil in the minors four more years in Providence (Reds 1945–46, 1955–56 and 1956–57), Vancouver (Canucks 1954–55), Cleveland (Barons 1945–53 and 1957–58) and then again with the Rangers in 1954–55, before being claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1958 Inter-League Draft. He would play 11 full seasons in all with the Leafs, the remainder of his career.
After the 1962 victory, Bower complained about Bobby Hull, Chicago Black Hawks left-winger and his hard slap shot, improved from that of Montreal Canadiens right-wing Bernie Geoffrion. Bower said, "He needs another shot like I need a hole in the head, which I may get."
His career would be hampered by poor eyesight, but despite that he remained a top-tier goaltender. He was known for his hard-nosed, scrappy playing style and would win another Stanley Cup in 1967 in tandem with another Hall of Famer (Terry Sawchuk). Bower claimed, "I wasn't all that glad to see the two-goalie system come in. I wanted to play as many games as I could." Bower and Sawchuk shared the Vezina Trophy when the Leafs allowed the fewest goals in the NHL in 1964–65. On April 22, 1967, in the second game of the Stanley Cup Finals, he shut out the Montreal Canadiens for his fifth (and final) career playoff shutout — four of them against the Canadiens. In the third game of the Stanley Cup Finals, on April 25, 1967, and in his last Stanley Cup Finals appearance, he became the second-oldest goalie to play in the Finals at the age of 42 years, 5 months, 17 days (refer to Lester Patrick for record). The Leafs won in double overtime when Bob Pulford scored. On April 6, 1969, at the age of 44 years, 4 months, and 29 days, Bower became the oldest goaltender to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game. His last full season was 1968–69. He played his final game on December 10, 1969, a 6–3 loss to Montreal; mainly due to injuries, this was his only game of the 1969–70 season. At the time, he was the oldest full-time player ever to participate in an NHL game, and remains the oldest goaltender (45 years, 1 month, 2 days). Forward Gordie Howe would become the NHL's oldest player ever a decade later while playing for the Hartford Whalers: he played his final regular-season game on April 6, 1980, aged 52 years and 6 days, and his final playoff game on April 11, aged 52 years and 11 days. Defenceman Chris Chelios would pass Bower for second-oldest on April 6, 2010, when he played his final game at 48 years, 2 months, and 12 days as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.
On March 19, 1970, Bower publicly announced his official retirement — four months after his 45th birthday. When asked, in light of his retirement, if he might reveal his true age, he replied "If you don't know by now, you never will". He subsequently revealed his birth date as November 8, 1924.
His regular season career statistics include: 552 games played, 250 wins, 195 losses, 90 ties, 37 shutouts and a 2.51 GAA. In addition, he remains the AHL career leader in wins.
Bower was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976, and the AHL Hall of Fame as a member of its inaugural class in 2006. In 1998, he was ranked number 87 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. He was assistant coach for the Leafs from 1976–78. Bower also became a member of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, and was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Bower is married to wife Nancy with a son, two daughters, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and resides in Mississauga, Ontario.
In January 2004, Bower was featured on a postage stamp. As part of the NHL All-Stars Collection, Bower was immortalized along with five other All-Stars. In 2005, the Royal Canadian Mint featured Bower on a non-circulating fifty-cent coin, as part of its four-coin Legends of the Toronto Maple Leafs coin set. In 2007, it was announced that Bower would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
On May 24, 2014, Bower attended a street renaming ceremony in Weston Village in Toronto, where he once lived for many years. Patika Avenue was ceremonially renamed Johnny Bower Boulevard to honour Bower for the time during the 1960s when he lived at 16 Patika Avenue. Local barber, Peter Kalamaris of World Famous Peter's Barber Shop, collected close to 500 signatures to support this initiative. Bower proudly stated "It’s a great day for me and my family...this is a better ovation than I used to get at Maple Leaf Gardens." After the street sign unveiling, hundreds of fans lined up at the barber shop to get their picture taken with Bower and the Vezina Trophy. Approximately $1,200.00 was raised in under two hours for the Alzheimer Society of Toronto, in memory of Peter Kalamaris' father Pantelis.
Bower was once again immortalized on September 6, 2014, when the Leafs unveiled him, alongside Darryl Sittler, as two of the first three inductees of Legends Row (Ted Kennedy was the first, announced some months earlier), with statues outside Air Canada Centre depicting twelve of the greatest players in Maple Leafs history.
Bower holds the Leafs franchise record for most community appearances by a Leafs alumnus.
Awards and honours
- Three-time Hap Holmes Memorial Award: 1952, 1957, 1958
- Two-time Vezina Trophy winner in 1960–61, 1964–65.
- Four-time Stanley Cup winner: 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, 1966–67.
- Selected to NHL First All-Star Team in 1961.
- Played in 1961 NHL All-Star Game.
- Three-time Les Cunningham Award winner: 1956, 1957, 1958.
- Three-time Calder Cup winner: 1948, 1951, 1953.
- The Hockey News' list of the Top 100 NHL Players of All Time: #87.
- Hockey Hall of Fame inductee (class of 1976).
- AHL Hall of Fame inductee (class of 2006)
- Star on Canada's Walk of Fame
- Number (1) retired by the Cleveland Monsters (for his career with the Cleveland Barons)
- Number (1) retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs (alongside Turk Broda)
- In January, 2017, Bower was part of the first group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
Regular season and playoffs
|1944–45||Prince Albert Black Hawks||SJHL||10||5||4||1||630||27||0||2.57||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1944–45||Prince Albert Black Hawks||M-Cup||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||3||0||3||180||23||0||7.67||—|
|1953–54||New York Rangers||NHL||70||29||31||10||4200||182||5||2.60||.922||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1954–55||New York Rangers||NHL||5||2||2||1||300||13||0||2.60||.917||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1956–57||New York Rangers||NHL||2||0||2||0||120||6||0||3.50||.882||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1958–59||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||39||15||17||7||2340||106||3||2.74||.913||12||5||7||746||38||0||3.06||.906|
|1959–60||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||66||34||24||8||3960||177||5||2.68||.918||10||4||6||645||31||0||2.88||.916|
|1960–61||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||58||33||15||10||3480||145||2||2.50||.922||3||0||3||180||8||0||2.67||.911|
|1961–62||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||59||31||18||10||3540||151||2||2.58||.918||10||6||3||579||20||0||2.07||.927|
|1962–63||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||42||20||15||7||2520||109||1||2.62||.913||10||8||2||600||16||2||1.60||.949|
|1963–64||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||51||24||16||11||3009||106||5||2.11||.933||14||8||6||850||30||2||2.12||.930|
|1964–65||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||34||13||13||8||2040||81||3||2.38||.924||5||2||3||321||13||0||2.43||.916|
|1965–66||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||35||18||10||5||1998||75||3||2.25||.929||2||0||2||120||8||0||4.00||.893|
|1966–67||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||27||12||9||3||1431||63||2||2.64||.924||4||2||0||183||5||1||1.64||.957|
|1967–68||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||43||14||18||7||2329||84||4||2.25||.934||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1968–69||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||20||5||4||3||779||37||2||2.85||.910||4||0||2||154||11||0||4.29||.888|
|1969–70||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||1||0||1||0||60||5||0||5.00||.868||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
"Johnny Bower's stats". The Goaltender Home Page. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- Woolsey, Garth (2008-12-14). "Winter reading for the hockey fan". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
- "100 Greatest NHL Players". NHL.com. January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
- NHL (2017-03-22), Johnny Bower led Leafs to four Stanley Cup titles, retrieved 2017-04-25
- FOCUS ON PHILATELY, The Ukrainian Weekly (February 1, 2004)
- Canada Post - Press Releases - Ice dreams : Fifth set of hockey All-Stars to be honoured with stamps Johnny Bower, Brad Park, Larry Robinson, Marcel Dionne, Ted Lindsay and Milt Schmidt selected for Canada Post's All-Star <nobr>list for 2004</nobr>
- Johnny Bower (1953-70)
- Leafs Trump Habs with Right Bower The Montreal Gazette - April 24, 1967, page 25. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Pulford Gives Leafs 3-2 Overtime Win The Montreal Gazette - April 26, 1967, page 39. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Punch fired as Leafs Ousted The Montreal Gazette - April 7, 1969, page 21. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Canadiens’ rally beats Toronto 6-3 The Montreal Gazette - Dec. 11, 1969, page 11. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Johnny Bower: A Goalie For All Ages, February 16, 2009
- "Johnny Bower". oshof.ca. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
- Canada's Stamp Details, January to March 2004, Volume XIII, No. 1
- The Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 61st Edition, p.209, W.K. Cross, Editor, 2007, The Charlton Press, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 0-88968-315-8
- "Maple Leafs Legends Row starts with Ted Kennedy, Darryl Sittler, Johnny Bower". thestar.com. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- "Legends Row - Johnny Bower". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
- AHL Hall of Fame
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
- Age never got in Bower's way
- AHL Hall of Fame bio
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
|Winner of the Vezina Trophy
with Terry Sawchuk
and Charlie Hodge