Bill Barilko

Longer Video of Brokentooth's Ride From MLG to Bill Barilko's Grave

Brokentooth's Ride from Maple Leaf Gardens to Bill Barilko's GraveIn February, I shared a short video of Brokentooth's ride from Maple Leaf Gardens to Bill Barilko's grave.

I love the legend of Bashin' Bill, and I dig this longer video Brokentooth just sent me of his pilgramage to Bill Barilko's grave. This is Blue Line.

It's pretty awesome.

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Brokentooth's Ride from Maple Leaf Gardens to Bill Barilko's Grave

Brokentooth's Ride from Maple Leaf Gardens to Bill Barilko's GraveI love this little video because I love the legend of Bashin' Bill Barilko and this is precisely the kind of thing I would do.

Well before this site was a blog, it was a personal home page with a tribute to Bill Barilko that's well preserved here.

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Bill Barilko Audio Recording - Listen to Bill Barilko Speak

Bill BarilkoFor the longest time, I was #1 in Google when you searched for Bill Barilko. Something called Wikipedia has since passed me, but I'm usually #2. I've maintained a tribute to Bashin' Bill for a decade, complete with video evidence of his overtime winner in '51, but I've never heard his voice... until today.

A site called is now hosting audio recordings of Bill Barilko. It's surreal hearing Barilko speak for the first time after wearing his #5 jersey all these years. Listen to him here chatting with his older brother Alex in Hollywood where Bill was playing for the Wolves in the PCHL. It's a greeting for their mother and sister Anne back home in Timmins.

[via @barilko]

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Ned Turofsky, His Graflex Camera, and a Frozen Legend

LeafsI just read a piece by James Marsh for the National Post that gave me shivers.

James was in Maple Leaf Gardens that April 21, 1951 night Bill Barilko scored in overtime to win the Leafs the cup. Here's an excerpt from his article.

Foster Hewitt, broadcasting to three million listeners on the radio, described what happened at 2:53 of the aptly named sudden-death overtime: “He shoots, he scores! Barilko! Barilko has won the Stanley Cup for the Leafs!” Ignoring his coach’s constant imprecations to stay back and keep his position, Barilko had pounced on the centering pass, tripped over teammate Cal Gardner (who might have scored with the same loose puck) and backhanded the puck over the sprawling McNeil.

“You see! You see! Barilko!” I shouted to Granny. She was quiet. For her, the thrill of victory was always far less pervasive than the relief of not losing.

How much of the enduring appeal of that goal is owing to the subsequent tragedy is hard to say. The following summer, on Aug. 26, 1951, Barilko and a friend took off in a fish-laden, single-engine bush plane and disappeared into the tangled forest of northern Ontario. I was devastated. How does a seven-year-old sort out the mythic implications of the death of a hero? Barilko’s number five was etched onto my heart and even today is the nearest thing I have to a superstition. The site of the crash was not discovered until 1962, supposedly lifting a curse and allowing the Maple Leafs to win another Cup, as they conveniently did that year.

More certain is the effect on memory of the astonishing photograph of the goal snapped by Ned Turofsky on his Graflex camera, with such exquisite timing that he caught the puck in the net before the goal light had flashed. McNeil is planted on his seat, having stumbled trying to follow Meeker’s antics behind the net. Richard waits for a pass he will never get. Meeker will never see the moment of glory, as he is plastered against the boards by Tom Johnson.

Bill Barilko, my hero, is suspended in mid-air, frozen in time. Forever elated, forever young.

That was 59 years ago yesterday. I'm less than 59-years old, but I feel as if I saw that game. I've been enamoured by Bill Barilko for as long as I can remember.

I've got an online tribute to Bill Barilko here that I've maintained for a great deal longer than I've had this blog. I own a custom-made vintage white Maple Leafs jersey with Barilko and #5 on the back that I wear to every Leafs game and Tragically Hip concert I attend.

Next year, Bashin' Bill's goal turns 60. Let's do something special.


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Finding Bill Barilko

LeafsThose who Google Bill Barilko usually end up at my tribute to Bashin' Bill. Here's the summary I wrote for that page.

It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

Marlene Pearce found my Bill Barilko page via a Google search and sent me the following note.

I am the daughter of Ron Boyd who was the helicopter pilot who found the crash site of Bill Barilko and Dr. Hudson's Fairchild 24. If you'd like more information and articles, government letters, etc. from my dad's scrapbook, I would be happy to share this with you. The story of the discovery of the site is quite interesting.

As you can imagine, I was very interested in everything Marlene could share with me about the discovery of Barilko's crash site. This is something I want to share with fellow fans of the legend of Bill Barilko. This, in essence, is why I blog.

Marlene sent me four images I'm sharing below. The verbiage above each image are Marlene's words. If you click a picture, it will take you to the Flickr page for the image where you can view it at a larger size.

1. Newspaper Article explaining the entire situation around the discovery of the plane and crash site. I think you'll find it interesting. My father's name was Ron Boyd and he was with his engineer, Mr. Phil Weston.

Barilko Newspaper2

2. A photo from the newspaper of the wreckage, along with original photos my father took with his camera of the wreckage, and the crash site as he and Mr. Phil Weston flew over it.

Barilko Newspaper Pictures & Photo3

3. A letter from the Department of Lands and Forests giving a commendation to my father and to those involved in the discovery.

Barilko Letter fromDOLF3

4. A letter from F. A. MacDougall, Deputy Minister to the Department of Lands and Forests re: my father's work in this case.

Barilko Letter sent to DOLF

Thanks, Marlene, for taking the time to scan these images and send them to me. It pleases me that this exercise brought back wonderful memories of your father and his career.

He's our Buddy Holly, immortalized by the Hip's "Fifty Mission Cap", and scorer of the 1951 Stanley Cup winner for my beloved Maple Leafs. Every year, Bill Barilko's legend grows.

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The Last Goal He Ever Scored

leafsIt's April 21, the day Bill Barilko scored his final goal. I celebrated the occasion by posting my first FPP at Metafilter, although I've just learnt it was covered four years ago, which got it deleted.

Here's what I wrote:

The legend of Bill Barilko grows each year. It was April 21st, 1951, game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. At the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period, Bill Barilko scored the last goal of his life winning the Stanley Cup for the Leafs.

The 24 year old defenseman perished in a light plane crash that summer while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario. Not until his body was recovered 11 years later in the bush near Cochrane, Ontario, did the Leafs win another championship.

How do you salute a Canadian legend of this magnitude? The Tragically Hip sing his praises, of course.

I stole this from a hockey card...

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Barilko's Winner Erased From Cup

Stanley CupThey recently added a new ring to the Stanley Cup for the Carolina Hurricanes and future cup winners, and that meant they had to remove a ring to make room. The ring they just removed included the Leafs' championship wins of 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. That's right, Bill Barilko's cup winner in 1951 is no longer on Lord Stanley's Cup.

We have 26 years to win a cup or all our championships will have been removed. The clock is ticking boys, and we ain't gettin' any younger.

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16 Months In Exile

StanleyTonight, all thirty teams in the NHL will see action. It's been sixteen long months since the Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sixteen long, tumultuous months of nothing.

Looking back, it all seems so surreal. The players were locked out, there was a great deal of hope in February followed by the cancellation of the season and another last gasp effort that came up empty. Then, there was a deal with new rules and parity that hasn't been seen in many years. The following entries demonstrate the roller coaster-like peaks and valleys of the past sixteen months.

  • Sigh (October 7, 2004) - "The NHL is a multi-billion dollar business that can't figure out how to divide all that money. They don't even seem to be trying. When was the last time the two sides spoke? When is their next meeting? Don't they care? This is a bunch of extremely wealthy people playing chicken at our expense."
  • The Big Tease (December 2, 2004) - "I read about this meeting between the NHLPA and NHL and I see a slight glimmer of hope. I see the possibility of hockey this season and a Stanley Cup champion crowned in 2005. I see my brothers and I gathered around friends drafting our playoff pool and I see James and I wearing our jerseys and celebrating loudly when Roberts/Sundin/McCabe/Nolan scores for Toronto. I see it all potentially unfolding before my eyes and I smile. Then I shake my head and realize it's all just a big tease."
  • Last Chance (December 9, 2004) - "Mr. Goodenow, Mr. Bettman, I implore each of you to salvage this season. To cancel the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring would be to break the collective heart of a nation. Save the season and bring hockey back, please. I miss it."
  • I'm Cancelling The Season (December 24, 2004) - "Driving the snow lined streets of Toronto this afternoon, I started thinking about hockey. I realized it was Christmas Eve and the 2004/2005 NHL hockey season has yet to begin. With the NHL and NHLPA deeply entrenched in a pissing contest, everybody is looking at January 14th, 2005, the day the NHL board of governors are set to meet, as the day the season is likely cancelled. This hockey fan has no interest in waiting three weeks for the NHL to confirm the worst. I'm taking action today. I'm cancelling the entire 2004/2005 NHL season."
  • Repugnant Bettman (February 15, 2005) - "While I slept last night, the NHLPA agreed to accept a salary cap. This was a most significant concession on their part. The NHL offered to remove its demand for a link between league revenues and player costs, a most significant concession on their part. With this glorious, unexpected progress being made at the eleventh hour, the NHLPA offered to accept a cap at $52 million. Sounds good, doesn't it? Bettman said no and talks broke down. The NHL won't accept a cap at $52 million but wants $40 million. They're going for broke on this one, even if it destroys the game I love."
  • An Open Letter To Gary Bettman (February 16, 2005) - "Today you cancelled the 2004-2005 NHL hockey season. As a result, I will be deprived of one of my passions. I won't be celebrating a Maple Leaf goal, feeling that tingle the morning of a Maple Leaf playoff game and exchanging high fives with James and my brothers following a big win. For the first time in a decade we won't be drafting a playoff pool, seeing an always exciting game seven or discussing potential trades at the deadline. For only the second time in the history of the Stanley Cup and for the first time since 1919 that precious mug we dream about as children will go unawarded. We are left with nothing."
  • Hopes Up (February 18, 2005) - "The media is full of reports that there is a chance that 2004-05 regular season and playoffs could be saved. In fact, there is some speculation that a deal will be struck this weekend...Should this be a false alarm, I'm really going to be angry. My friend Nick Carter said it best. Bettman and Goodenow: Quit playing games with my heart."
  • Do You Believe In Miracles? (February 18, 2005) - "The NHL season is expected to be "un-canceled" Saturday in New York, according to The Hockey News. A nation holds its collective breath. I have 99 reasons to keep the faith."
  • Premature Ecstatication (February 20, 2005) - "When the phone rang it felt like the dead of night so I asked Taryn to answer it because it had to be an emergency. It turned out it was only ten o'clock and it was my brother Steve calling to share the great news he saw reported on TSN. The players and league had reached an agreement and the season would be saved Saturday."
  • They're Back! (July 13, 2005) - "I saw this moment coming, and now that it's here I'm even happier than I thought I'd be. The NHL and NHL Players' Association have finally reached an agreement on a new six-year collective bargaining agreement. Assuming this deal gets ratified, the NHL will start back up again on July 21."

A wide range of emotions escaped my fingertips over the past sixteen months, and those ten entries are just a taste. There was disappointment, anger, sadness, hope, more disappointment, more anger, indifference and finally elation. Tonight, I'm picking up Steve, buying a pepperoni pizza and heading to Ryan's place to watch our Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Ottawa Senators in regular season NHL action. I'll be wearing my #5 Bill Barilko jersey, my heart on my sleeve and a big smile. Hockey is back and all is forgiven.

Go Leafs Go!

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54 Years Ago Today

LeafsOn this date in 1951, Bill Barilko perished in a light plane crash while on a fishing trip to Northern Ontario.

My tribute to Bill Barilko remains one of my most popular pages, no doubt due to Google searches on the subject. In March I interviewed Kevin Shea, author of "Barilko: Without a Trace". Bill Barilko is our Buddy Holly and we shouldn't ever forget him.

Tonight, I'll don my #5 and remember his goal at the 2:53 mark of the first overtime period of game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.

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The Barilko Spike

Maple LeafsToday has seen a great influx in the number of people visiting this site having searched Google for Bill Barilko. My Bill Barilko page ranks a proud third when you Google it. Thanks to some major coverage in the Toronto Star's sports section today, it seems a number of people are seeking to learn more about the legend of #5.

When you've finished checking out my tribute to Bill Barilko, you might want to read my interview with Kevin Shea, author of "Barilko: Without a Trace". Barilko is the Canadian Buddy Holly and a true legend. Spread the word.

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