Former Toronto Maple Leafs legendary goaltender Johnny Bower died at the age of 93 on Dec. 26, and the team has gone great lengths to honour his memory. The Air Canada Center held a celebration of Bower's life on Jan. 3, while mayor John Tory announced the date would be "Johnny Bower Day" in the city.
As the Maple Leafs look to win their first Stanley Cup since 1967, the team is also using Bower as inspiration. According to TSN.ca, the team's dressing room has a slogan that reads "It's a privilege, not a right." Head coach Mike Babcock told reporters that the quote is inspired by the late Bower.
The Maple Leafs could undoubtedly use inspiration from the former franchise icon. The team has lost four of its last six games, and are chasing the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning for the top two seeds in the Atlantic Division. The team has regressed significantly since a 20-10-1 start.
Bower played for the Maple Leafs from 1958-70. He led the team to four Stanley Cup championships and won two Vezina Trophies as league MVP. His 219 wins trail only 'Turk' Broda for most in franchise history.
Before the Jan. 1 2017 Centennial Classic game between the Detroit Red Wings and Maple Leafs, Bower was formally named as one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players," in history. Bower was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976. On top of that, he received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
Because of his humble and classy personality, Bower is widely recognized as one of the most beloved NHL players ever. He had a larger-than-life status in the city of Toronto, and the franchise has made it evident with these honorary gestures.
The Maple Leafs continue their quest to make the playoffs and finally end the Stanley Cup drought. They'll be using the power and inspirational messages of Johnny Bower to reach the top.