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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JOHNNY BOWER

Inducted in 1999

Member Details

Date of Birth: November 8, 1924
Place of Birth: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Sport: Ice Hockey
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1961, 1965

Vezina Trophy

1962-67

Four Stanley Cups - Toronto Maple Leafs

Honoured Member JOHNNY BOWER
Inspire

Story

For Johnny Bower, the puck didn't stop at age 35, or 40 for that matter. Known as the 'China Wall', both for his outstanding goaltending abilities and his ancient (in hockey terms) age, Bower enjoyed a glorious 25-year hockey career and didn't leave the ice until the age of 45. A native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Bower was drafted by Cleveland in 1945 and spent the greater part of the next 14 years playing in the American Hockey League. He had a brief stint with the New York Rangers during the 1953-54 and '54-'55 seasons, but he was sent back to the minors in the fall of 1955. This small taste of NHL hockey, however, had whet Bower's appetite, and he was determined to make it back to the big league. His chance came in 1958 when he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Just shy of his 34th birthday, Bower refused to admit his age to the public, and it remained a mystery until after his retirement in 1970. In his 12 years as the number-one goalie with the Leafs, Bower was pivotal in securing four Stanley Cup victories. He had a superb goaltending record, with 37 shutouts and a 2.53 goals-against average in his 534 games. He was three times a winner of the Hap Holmes Memorial Trophy as the leading goaltender in the AHL, and twice winner of the Vezina Trophy for the least goals allowed in a season in the NHL. Bower led the league in goals-against averages for four seasons, and was named the Leafs' most valuable player three times. After two fruitful careers with the AHL and the NHL, Bower embarked on a third as a scout and assistant coach for the Leafs throughout the 1970s and '80s. In total, Bower played an amazing 1,207 games over the course of 27 seasons, a remarkable feat that may never be matched by another goalie. Much like his namesake, the China Wall certainly is a wonder of the world.


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