The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially lost a big part of their history.
According to a report from Bernie Pascal on social media, former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Howie Meeker has passed away at the age of 94. I must admit that 94 is a pretty good run for Mr. Meeker and the legacy he leaves behind, one that includes 4 Stanley Cup championships with the Maple Leafs, indicates that he lived a very full life.
Although Meeker will be best remembered by hockey fans for his success in achieving 4 Stanley Cups with the Leafs, it was his work off the ice that will likely make him an enduring figure in the world of Canadian sports long after his passing. After his hockey career Meeker was involved in launching Special Olympics Canada, a program that means so much to so many Canadian families, and he continued his involvement with that program for over 5 decades. The impact of Meeker's work has directly benefited hundreds of Canadian families thanks to a charity golf tournament that he ran for 30 years, and even in 2018 when he was getting on in his years he brought in current NHL player Clayton Stoner to help carry on the legacy of that charity tournament. I am only speculating here but I strongly suspect that Stoner will carry on that legacy even now that Meeker is gone, and at the very least I hope he does so.
On a final note, and I think I saved the best for last here, Howie Meeker has directly impacted every young hockey player around the world and I am pretty confident in that statement. Even though you may not know his name, especially not if you're a younger player, you've definitely been told at least once in your life to "keep your stick on the ice." That rather common slogan used by every hockey coach around the world was actually popularized by Meeker himself during his broadcasting career on Hockey Night in Canada. Meeker's broadcasting career began in the 70s and lasted all the way until 1998 when he retired.
All that being said I take solace in the fact that Meeker lived a full life, one filled with amazing moments and one that touched the lives of so many others in the world of sports.