The hockey world lost a true great last night as former New York Ranger and Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Johnny Bower passed away at the age of 93.
The announcement was made in a statement from his grandson John Bower III:
“It is with great sadness that the Bower family announces the passing of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Johnny Bower earlier today after a short battle with pneumonia. After a 12-year American Hockey League career, Bower rose to prominence with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1959-70, backstopping the team to their four most recent Stanley Cup championships...”
He was always recognized as one of the best goalies in NHL history, but until recently it was mostly anecdotal. That all changed recently this year. The NHL spent the time to add historical statistics to their website, updating save percentage all the way back to 1955.
In that time, no one has finished their career better than Johnny Bower. Dominik Hasek is tied with Bower, but their career .922 sv% is better than Ken Dryden (.921), Jaques Plante (.920), Glenn Hall (.917), Bernie Parent (.915) or Patrik Roy (.910).
He is unequivocally one of the best to ever put on a pair of pads and he did it all while battling rheumatoid arthritis.
Johnny Bower was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.
As great as he was on the ice, he was even more amazing away from it. Johnny Bower was one of the truly great men in hockey. I had the privilege of meeting him on numerous occasions and when they say “never meet your hero”, that most certainly doesn’t apply to Mr Bower.
He truly understood what it meant to be a role model and appreciate his fans.
“It costs you nothing to stop and smile and say: ‘Nice to meet you.’ In Montreal, I’ve just said a little ‘Bonjour, comment ça va!’ ”
"I can’t say no to these kids. Because when I was a child during Depression time we had nothing at all. Like my dad said it costs you nothing for a smile. Just go ahead and work and do your job and be good to people and they’ll be good to you."
Johnny Bower is one of the all-time greats and everyone who has ever strapped on a pair of goal pads owes him a debt of gratitude.
He will be missed.
Around the Hockey World
Though the Avalanche have been off, their fans got a brief glimpse of the future yesterday as the team’s top-2 prospects Conor Timmins and Cale Makar opened up the World Junior Hockey Championship with Team Canada. They beat Finland 4-2 and Conor Timmins played a big part. He was the only RD that played a regular shift for Canada and looked very solid next to Victor Mete.
Cale Makar did not see a ton of action. He looked ok while he was out there, but was relegated to being the team’s 7th defender for large portions of the game. They are back in action this afternoon against Slovakia.
Later today we should find out the fate of Zac Rinaldo. The Arizona Coyotes forward has waived his right to an in-person hearing with the NHL. He deserves a long suspension for his sucker punch on Sam Girard, let’s hope the Department of Player Saftey throws the book at him.
We started talking about one, why not finish with another great goaltender.