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08-13-2012, 07:20 PM
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6'2 180 lbs center Andy Blair was a clutch playoff hero for the Maple Leafs in their 1932 Stanley Cup championship after being an Allan Cup hero in 1928 with 5 points in 5 games. Blair jumped from Manitoba to Toronto and in his rookie season centered the Leafs top line and immediately led the team in assists that 1928-29 season, 2nd in NHL assists leaguewide, 3rd in the NHL in points. The following year, Primeau took over top line duties and Blair went on to center the Pepper Boys Line, known for its aggressive play. Blair finished 3rd in team assists their cup season of 1932 before scoring key playoff goals. In 1934 he played in the all-star game for Toronto and scored a career-high 14 goals that year, tied for third in team goals with Primeau.

Conn Smythe in his memoirs describes Blair as a classy guy who stuttered and who Conn liked to talk about game strategy with in the dressing room. One funny moment:

Originally Posted by Conn Smythe: If You Can't Beat Them in the Alley, pg.97
Some crazy referee gave us a string of penalties. That was before the days of the delayed penalty, and eventually we were down to only two players on the ice, Chabot in goal and Blair out front. Before the face-off Blair skated over to the bench and leaned over. I went to see what he wanted. "Ww-w-w-well," C-Conn," he said, "what's the s-s-s-s-strategy n-n-n-now?"

... his peculiar whirling rushes have a very strong crowd appeal...

... a lanky center out of Winnipeg. At 6'2" and 180 lbs he was intimidatingly tall for his day. A distant cousin of the great Syl Apps and Murray Murdoch, Blair was quite the athlete growing up, starring in football, rugby, track and field and even golf. But it was hockey that was his game, and he was amongst the best young players in the city, starring at St. John's College high school.

Blair went on to the University of Manitoba where he earned a bachelor of arts degree. He was a star footballer and of course hockey player, leading the team to the Allan Cup championship in his final season. In those days the Allan Cup, given to Canada's amateur champions, was about as prestigious as the Stanley Cup. He also played with two other senior teams while going to school.

A young hockey executive named Conn Smythe was very impressed with Blair's play, and recruited him from the New York Rangers to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It would turn out to be a great move for the Leafs, and one that would haunt the Rangers.

Blair would step in nicely and contribute 12 goals and 27 points in 44 games in the 1928-29 season, second best totals on the team. Blair found himself playing along side two legendary Leafs: Ace Bailey and Baldy Cotton.

The team got stronger and by 1932 they challenged for their first Stanley Cup as the Leafs. Ironically for Blair, the competition was the New York Rangers. Blair teamed nicely with Bob Gracie and Frank Finnigan on "the Pepper Boys line," a revolutionary third line that was known for its "peppery" or aggressive style of play.

Blair chipped in with some timely offense as well. In the third and Cup clinching game, Blair scored the first two goals of the game. Toronto won the game 6-4 on Maple Leaf Gardens ice.

In 1933 Blair continued to improve his reputation as a go-to player in the playoffs. He was instrumental in the Leafs 1-0 five overtimes game against Boston on April 3rd. Though Ken Doraty gets the credit for scoring the goal, it was Andy Blair who stripped Hall of Famer Eddie Shore's pass and set up Doraty for the quick shot past Tiny Thompson.

WIth the game ending in the early hours of the morning, the Leafs had to scramble to the train station to once again meet the New York Rangers in the finals the very next day. The team did not arrive in New York until 4:30 in the afternoon, and were easy prey for the Rangers. The Rangers took the Cup in 4 games.

Last edited by VanIslander: 08-13-2012 at 07:46 PM.
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