“Bill Barilko disappeared, that summer, he was on a fishing trip. The last goal he ever scored, won the Leafs the cup. They didn’t win another, ’till 1962, the year he was discovered.”
– “50 Mission Cap” by The Tragically Hip
That song tells the story of one of the saddest moments in Toronto Maple Leafs history. Barilko’s No. 5 was retired by the Leafs in 1992, even though he only wore the number for one season, but still well-deserved.
Barilko was born in Timmins, Ontario in 1927. His professional hockey career began in 1945 with the Pacific Coast Hockey League’s Hollywood Wolves. He would play two seasons there before being called up to the Maple Leafs.
He would at first wear the No. 21 for two seasons, then switch to No. 19 for another two before switching to No. 5 for his final season.
He amassed 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in his five-year career. He would win four Stanley Cups with the Leafs. However, there is one moment that stands out most in Barilko’s career.
Barilko’s final goal in the NHL would be a Stanley Cup-winning goal in the 1951 Final against the Montreal Canadiens.
He would then disappear while on a fishing trip that summer, and well, the song tells that story best.
Author’s Note: I will be slowing down the By The Numbers series to one article a week. This will allow me to make these articles better and also focus on writing about today’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
Happy Thanksgiving Canada!