Friday, January 9, 2009

Johnny Bower, 55 year old goalie

29 years ago today, Johnny Bower dressed as an emergency backup for the Maple Leafs.
In a Vancouver Sun article by Dave Stubbs, he recounts how Bower, who was retired for over ten years was almost called on as replacement. January 9, 1980, the Leafs goalies, Mike Palmateer and Paul Harrison both had a bad case of the flu. Young Vincent Tremblay was summoned from the New Brunswick Hawks of the AHL, but it was uncertain if he'd arrive on time. Bower was a scout for the Leafs at the time, and was heading out on a road trip when GM Punch Imlach told him not to leave. Imlach signed him to a $1 contract and Bower headed to the Maple Leaf Gardens training room to find his duffle bag of goalie equipment he stashed away ten years prior.
Bower spent the game in the training room in full gear while Tremblay was pulled after four goals against in ten mimutes. The ailing Paul Harrison took over in the 5-3 Montreal victory, with Bower on guard as emergency replacement, thankfully not used that night. Bower remains one of the most popular ex-Leafs at 83 year old, and perhaps still currently a Leafs fourth string goalie.

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