Top Toronto Maple Leafs Pop Culture Moments of All-Time

Eddie Shack of the Toronto Maple Leafs 1975 (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
Eddie Shack of the Toronto Maple Leafs 1975 (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO – APRIL 21: Bill Barilko of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores the overtime game winning goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images) /

Fifty Mission Cap by The Tragically Hip

Leave it to the lads from Kingston, The Tragically Hip, to produce a gem of Canadiana, a paean to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the legend of Bill Barilko in one fell swoop.

“Fifty Mission Cap” appeared on the Hip’s 1993 album, Fully Completely. At time the Hip were at the peak of their popularity having become the most popular rock band in Canada, and with the release of Fully Completely they were making major inroads internationally as well.

This meant that a lot of people who weren’t necessarily Toronto Maple Leafs fans got to hear this song.

The song revived interest in the tragic story of Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko who disappeared on a fishing trip only months after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens in 1951 to win the Buds’ only cup of the 1950s.

More than a decade would pass before the Leafs would win the cup again.  In 1962, Barilko’s body was recovered near Cochrane, Ontario, and that year the Maple Leafs would win the first of their four Stanley Cups during the 1960s.

As Tragically Hip singer and lyricist Gord Downie observed in the song, “The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the cup. They wouldn’t win another until 1962, the year he was discovered.”

The appearance of the song on FM rock radio coincided with the resurgence of the Maple Leafs in the early 90s following the worst decade in team history.

Everything changed for the Leafs with the addition of Doug Gilmour (another fine Kingston product). Suddenly, with Leafs contending in playoffs once again, it was no longer shameful to be a Leafs fan, and this song became sort of an anthem of the time and the team’s climb back to respectability.

“Fifty Mission Cap” has acquired a legendary status of its own much like Barilko, its subject.

When the song’s author, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, passed away in October of 2017, the Maple Leafs organized a tribute at Air Canada Centre featuring a moment of silence for Downie accompanied by the lowering of Bill Barilko’s retired number 5 banner.

Next. 3 Worst Moves By Brian Burke as Leafs GM. dark

It was a fitting moment for two Canadian icons-one a legendary Maple Leaf and the other a legendary member of Leafs Nation.