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03-21-2013, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadiens1958 View Post
You raise an interesting point. 1957 after Howie Meeker was not renewed as coach the Leafs hired Billy Reay - going outside MLG for the first time since Dick Irvin Sr left and Conn Smythe turned to Hap Day. Reay did not survive Punch Imlach who quickly assumed the Coach/GM role and started limiting the access former Leaf players had to the team.... This was followed by some disruption of the junior feeder system and the minor league farm clubs. King Clancy was the only survivor. Imlach brought in his loyalists - Joe Crozier and slowly changed the team culture.
Billy (accredited as being the 1st player to raise his arms & stick in celebration after a goal) Reay's first year of 57/58 the Leafs didnt make the Playoffs, Imlach firing him 20 games into the next season having only won 5. Likely wouldnt have mattered if he'd won all 20 though, as anyone who'd followed Imlachs career previously with the Quebec Aces of the QSHL would attest. Reay of course went on to Coach Chicago from 63/77, being fired a few days before Christmas in the form of a note slipped under his office door by the always classy Wirtz.... Imlach was eventually dismissed by Stafford Smythe after having had a major spat with rising star Mike Walton (amongst others) who he considered a threat & company man as Mike was married to one of the Smythes. Walton refusing to even play for Punch. Replaced by John McLellan. Able but not exactly an independent thinker, creative. Did what he was told.

Punch, in partnership with Joe Crozier & Foster Hewitt had bought the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL, knowing full well expansion to this city was on its way. He padded the odds in advance of the Expansion Draft in 70, burying guys who were easily NHL calibre players in the minors, with the Nucks, in Tulsa & elsewhere from like 65/66 onward, wouldnt promote them to the Leafs or trade them despite all kinds of offers & unknown to Stafford Smythe & Ballard who were drunk most of the time anyway, oblivious. Happy Racals they were at that time C58. Top O' the World Ma!... Before everything went to Hell, the Police, the handcuffs.....

Anyhoo, Punch, Joe & Foster despite coming very very close and likely with Ballard & Smythes vehemence that Imlach be rejected even if he did have the money was absolutely persona non grata. Not ever, NEVER welcome as an owner, lost out to a Minnesota based medical company, who just a short time later got into all kinds of trouble themselves, fraud, SEC, FBI, you name it. Remember too Ballard & Smythe sent packing from Vancouver early 60's when they tried to extort land from the city to build an arena, again, knowing full well Expansion was on the horizon, Vancouver a pretty much given (but rejected in 67 when applying first time, Smythe & Ballard holding a grudge) Imlach & Crozier/Hewitt however still made out like Bandits. Selling the Canucks name, players etc to the Meds company for a cool $2.8M, a fair chunk of change back then. It was thought Punch would be hired as President/GM of the NHL Canucks, offered the job in fact, but instead, he opted for Buffalo, promising "sharper uniforms than the Leafs, better team, ohhhh, now your really in trouble, fire me will ya"?!!!. Joe Crozier as well "looked after"... Meanwhile the culture of the Leafs was so screwed thanks to his nonsense and had taken full root, exacerbated by Ballards Shenanigans for near on 23 long years thereafter.

Last edited by Killion: 03-21-2013 at 06:34 PM.
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