Howie Meeker, former NHL player & Hockey Night in Canada icon passes away

Howie Meeker, a former NHL player, Hockey Night in Canada icon and legendary personality, died Sunday at age 97 at Nanaimo General Hospital in B.C.

Meeker, who won four Stanley Cups with Toronto and was the oldest living Maple Leaf, was an NHL star who won rookie of the year honours in 1947 after scoring 27 goals and 45 points in 55 games.

A spokesperson for the Maple Leafs, the team that signed Meeker to a free-agent contract on April 13, 1946, confirmed his death earlier Sunday. There was no immediate word on the cause.

Meeker went on to become a broadcaster and was known for phrases such as “Jiminy Cricket,” “Golly gee willikers” and “Stop it right there!” His work with HNIC earned Meeker the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1998 after a 30-year career on CBC and TSN.

Meeker played eight years with the Maple Leafs — winning NHL championships in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951 — and appeared in three all-star games.

He finished his NHL career at 30 in the 1953-54 season with 83 goals and 185 points in 388 regular-season games while adding 15 points in 42 playoff contests.

Most famously, he passed the puck to Bill Barilko for the 1951 Cup overtime winner against Montreal.

Meeker spent two years as a Progressive Conservative member of Parliament while playing for the Leafs. He won the federal byelection in the Ontario riding of Waterloo South in 1951 but didn’t seek re-election two years later.

With files from Canadian Press and CBC

Photo: Howie Meeker with the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1947- Wikipedia

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