Nowadays the off-season is an important time for players to rejuvenate and relax after a taxing season of hockey and travel. However, most players also use that time to continue their community efforts. Whether it’s charity golf tournaments, hockey clinics for youngsters or the many other appearances, the main goal is to raise funds for great causes.
As mentioned in last week’s Throwback Thursday, community has always been a large part of the Leafs organization. Today’s photo dates back to an off-season charity baseball game in 1951 and was snapped at old Maple Leaf Stadium. Formerly at the foot of Bathurst St. beside the Tip Top Tailors Building, Maple Leaf Stadium, was home to the International League Toronto Maple Leafs. This picture features Leafs Harry Watson and Cal Gardner, two of the Turk Broda NHL All Stars, that would play charitable games in the off-season.
Cal Gardner played his junior hockey in Winnipeg before serving in the military for the duration of World War II. He would go on to play for the New York Rangers in the 1945-46 season before joining the Leafs two years later. In his 4 years with the blue and white he would make two NHL All-Star appearances and celebrate two Stanley Cup victories.
Harry Watson spent his junior hockey career with the Saskatoon Chiefs, Dodgers, and Junior Quakers. He would go on to win a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII and playing for the Montreal RCAF team. He would return to the NHL as a member of the Wings until a trade brought him to Toronto a year later. He would win 4 Stanley Cups before continuing his career in Chicago and eventually finishing his playing career in the AHL in 1958.