The Most Colorful Toronto Maple Leafs of All-Time

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Brad Smith #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Minnesota North Stars during NHL game action on March 26, 1986 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 26: Brad Smith #29 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Minnesota North Stars during NHL game action on March 26, 1986 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 05: Statues of former Toronto Maple Leafs goalies Johnny Bower and Turk Broda . (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – JANUARY 05: Statues of former Toronto Maple Leafs goalies Johnny Bower and Turk Broda . (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Turk Broda

No list of colourful Toronto Maple Leafs would be complete without the inclusion of a goaltender.

Netminders have been famously peculiar throughout the history of the NHL, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have had no shortage of interesting netminders. One buds goalie stands out as particularly memorable for his spectacular play and his affable and colourful personality. That player would be Turk Broda-Leafs’ superstar goalie of the 1940s and early 50s.

The Brandon, Manitoba native made his NHL debut during the late 1930s, and by the 1940s had established himself and a bona fide NHL star while acquiring the nickname, “the China Wall.” Broda back stopped the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups during the 1940s and another in 1951.

Broda was once asked why he was so successful in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite the obvious pressure, and Broda responded, “the bonus money wasn’t much but I always needed it.” He also stated that perhaps he was just too dumb to realize that the situation in the playoffs was serious.

Despite his success, Broda found himself at odds with Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe over the matter of his conditioning and body weight. A big eater, Broda had amusingly posed in his goal crease in full uniform scarfing down a heaping plate of pancakes.

Prior to the start of the 1949-50 season, Smythe had informed Broda that he would be replaced for the season by two American Hockey League goaltenders if he reported for training camp over the 190 lb weight mark.

Broda whipped himself into fighting shape in just a few weeks and was able to weigh in at 189 lb and thus kept his job as the Leafs’ goalie for another season.