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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

HECTOR 'TOE' BLAKE

Inducted in 1975

Member Details

Date of Birth: August 21, 1912
Place of Birth: Victoria Mines, Ontario
Date of Passing: May 17, 1995
Sport: Ice Hockey
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1934-35

Stanley Cup - Montreal Maroons

1938-39

Hart Trophy & Art Ross Trophy

1943-1946

Stanley Cup - Montreal Canadiens

1955-68

Montreal Canadiens coach (eight Stanley Cups)

1966

Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

1982

Named to Order of Canada

Honoured Member HECTOR 'TOE' BLAKE
Inspire

Story

In 1935, a young hockey player named Toe Blake watched from the bench as his team, the Montreal Maroons, won the Stanley Cup. A rookie in the NHL, Blake had little experience in the big league, and he was forced to witness this victory from the sidelines. Little did he know that he would bear witness to another eight Stanley Cup victories from behind the boards, not as a benched rookie but as one of hockey's greatest coaches. Even as a player, Blake did not remain on the bench for long. He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1936, and by 1939 he was named the league's most valuable player and won the scoring title as well. Blake played left wing on the famous "Punch Line" with Maurice Richard (right wing) and Elmer Lach (centre), a powerful triple force that helped the Canadiens claim two Stanley Cups, in 1944 and 1946. Blake's scoring prowess earned him the nickname "Lamplighter" because of his incredible ability to set the red goal light aglow. A terrible leg injury put an end to Blake's playing days in 1948, by which time he had scored an amazing 235 goals in 572 regular-season games. Unfazed, he turned his attention to coaching, and after several years in the minors, he was called on to replace Dick Irvin as bench boss of the Canadiens in 1955. The promotion was based in part because of his record behind the bench but in part because it was thought that the Lamplighter was the best person to keep Rocket Richard's own burning flame under control. Blake not only kept Richard in line; he was able to bring out the best in the fiery right winger and the rest of the Canadiens. Under his direction, the Habs never missed the playoffs. In his 13 years behind the Canadiens bench, Blake led the team to an unprecedented eight Stanley Cups, including five consecutive victories between 1956 and 1960. He retired in 1968 after his final Cup victory and a career playoff record of 82-37. Blake once revealed his greatest motivation came from a John McCrae quote that had been inscribed in the dressing room of the home team at the Montreal Forum for decades: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high."


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