26 minutes | Mar 10, 2021
Sarah Nurse: Olympic Barbie
Sarah Nurse was the first Black woman to ever play in an Olympic hockey final. Now, as part of the PWHPA, Nurse (who recently inspired an official Barbie doll in her image) has become a role model for the game’s next generation.Show NotesTo celebrate International Women’s Day, we at Barrier Breakers wanted to celebrate one of the most inspiring and outspoken women in our game: Hamilton’s own Sarah Nurse.As Sarah says off the top of our episode, “It's difficult for women and women of colour to get into hockey because there are so many people telling us that we can't and that we shouldn't.”We’ve talked a lot in this series about the importance of representation in hockey. Until you start seeing players like yourself in the NHL, or on the Olympic stage, it’s tough to truly believe you can make it there. But representation doesn’t come without a fight.Whether it’s said out loud, or communicated in subtle ways, the Game doesn’t always welcome everyone in with open arms. And no one knows this better than the pioneers of women’s hockey. The world of Hockey celebrates the women’s game now—greats like Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, Angela James, and Cammi Granato are all rightfully in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But in the 1950s, a nine year-old Toronto girl named Abby Hoffman had to cut her hair and register as ‘Abe’—a boy—because there was nowhere for women to play. Almost forty years later, the women’s game had triumphantly grown enough to warrant the creation of a World Championship. The first one took place right here in Toronto, in 1987. But the International Ice Hockey Federation—our sport’s governing body—didn’t even want to recognize it at first. It’s been a fight. And yet, the women’s game has never been better. The calibre of play on offer today is exceptional.At the time we recorded this episode, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association Dream Gap Tour had just made history, rolling into Madison Square Garden. Since then, it has also touched down in Chicago. Join Auston Matthews, Billie Jean-King, Cassie Campbell-Pascall and many more and put a stick in the ground in support of professional women’s hockey. If boys can dream of playing professional hockey, why can’t girls? The times, they are a changin’. And we are very excited that the Maple Leafs have partnered with the PWHPA to be a part of that change.To learn more about the Dream Gap Tour and how you can Put a Stick in the Ground, visit here.A very big thank you to Sarah for taking the time with us, speaking so candidly about her story and her hopes and dreams for the future of the game. Give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter.This has been our fifth episode of Barrier Breakers, our celebration of the amazing Black men, women, players and community organizers who are changing our game for the better. ‘Breaking Barriers’ was co-created by us here at Leafs Forever and Akil Augustine. Today's episode was written by Scott Willats and Paul Matthews, produced by Renita Bangert and Katie Jensen of Vocal Fry Studios for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.Further thanks to digital producer Emily Latimer and Executive Producer Michael Gelfand. If you liked the episode, tell people about it. And write us a review. Your feedback is always welcome. Especially on this series. Help us think about this issue in new and interesting ways, and if you have story suggestions for the types of things we should be talking about, let us know.
19 minutes | Mar 4, 2021
Wayne "The Train" Simmonds
Scarborough-born Leaf Wayne Simmonds is a potent force on the ice for the Leafs. But he’s working to bring change in the wider hockey community as well, through the Hockey Diversity Alliance.Show NotesAlthough he is presently out with a broken wrist, off-season acquisition Wayne Simmonds has already made a massive impression with Leaf Nation. Making his presence felt, physically and emotionally, whenever he’s been called upon. Wayne is the 8th Black player to wear the Maple Leaf. And he’s the first one to do so in a world where players feel confident enough to speak openly about racism in our game.Wayne grew up right here, in Scarborough. Despite a successful career—a career that has seen the 32 year-old rack up over 500 points, make an All-Star game (where he’d be named MVP) and play for his country—Wayne always felt the call back home. For years, he continued to hold his Road Hockey Warriors Charity Ball Hockey Tournament at Scarborough Arena Gardens. And now, here he is: back in Toronto, at the most interesting, exciting and important of times. A time where it’s clear he can make a huge impact on the ice for a team that’s ready to contend; and a time where his off-ice impact could be more keenly felt than ever. Read Wayne’s article on Wille O’Ree here.And check out the amazing O’Ree-inspired skates that Simmonds helped design with Bauer and Terry Smith Creations here.This has been your fourth episode of Barrier Breakers- our look at the amazing Black players and individuals who have changed our game for the better. We hope you’re finding the journey as entertaining, thought-provoking and essential as we are. A very special thank you to number 24 - Wayne Simmonds. We wish him a very speedy recovery from injury. We need your touch and your drive out there my guy.‘Barrier Breakers’ was co-created by us here at Leafs Forever and Akil Augustine. Today's episode was written by myself and Paul Matthews, produced by Renita Bangert & Katie Jensen at Vocal Fry Studios for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.Further thanks to Digital Producer Emily Latimer, Executive Producer Michael Gelfand, and Director of Production Shawna Morrison. If you liked the episode, tell people about it. And write us a review. Your feedback is always welcome. Especially on this series. Help us think about this issue in new and interesting ways, and if you have story suggestions for the types of things we should be talking about, let us know. I am Scott Willats. And until next time, Go Leafs Go.
25 minutes | Feb 26, 2021
Herb Carnegie: Game Changer
He could have been the Jackie Robinson of Hockey. Born too soon, Herb Carnegie still inspired generations—and left a Marvel-ous legacy.Show NotesHerb Carnegie may not have had the language to call out the racism he encountered in hockey in the 1930s and 40s. But that’s what it was. The game of hockey Herb Carnegie grew up in was staunchly and unapologetically racist. And you can’t just take that out of the sport and the culture in a decade. Or even over 70 years for that matter. Not without a real reckoning. Hopefully, we’re beginning to have that reckoning in our sport now. We wish Herb was still around to see it. And we hope we can all take his example as inspiration as we push the sport forward. Carnegie was scarred by the barriers that kept him from playing in the NHL, but he was never beaten. Instead, he relentlessly fought for what was good and what was right; for the capacity to make change. The playing field was not level for Herb Carnegie. But he never stopped fighting to make sure it would be for those who came after him. For the good of the game he loved, and the community he called home. Our un-ending gratitude goes to Bernice Carnegie, who has been so instrumental in guiding this episode to life over many, many months. If you liked this episode, please, do yourself a favour and go out and get A Fly in a Pail of Milk. The newest edition of Herb Carnegie’s autobiography now features a second part, written by Bernice. It’s about her father’s life and their relationship - must read stuff. You can find it where better books are sold. Bernice, thank you for your time and your grace and wisdom. We hope, we pray, we did your Dad’s story justice. There is an ongoing petition, led by Herb’s grandson Rane, to get Herb into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Consider giving it a sign. You can check it out here.‘Barrier Breakers’ was co-created by us here at Leafs Forever and Akil Augustine.Today's episode was written by Scott and Paul Matthews, produced by Katie Jensen and Vocal Fry Studios for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.Thanks to associate producers Jay Cockburn, Ren Bangert, Emily Latimer & Erika Dreher, along with Shawna Morrison, Jordan Hayles, Michael Gelfand - for all the help along the way.
28 minutes | Feb 17, 2021
Survivorman: John Craighead
From being the only Black kid in town to surviving life on the street, Leafs alumn John Craighead’s road to The Show was an epic of courage and persistence.SHOW NOTESPresented by Leafs Forever, Barrier Breakers is a mini-series about race, hockey and the way forward.The show aims to celebrate Black players and fans who’ve broken barriers and helped change our game for the better. Today’s episode tells the story of Leafs alumni John Craighead’s road to the NHL. Though he’d only play 5 regular season games for the Blue and White, John’s journey to the Show is an epic tale of courage and persistence. John overcame ignorance and intolerance from Day 1 – and he’s still fighting, now as an owner in the junior league where he got his break.This is the second episode of Barrier Breakers. Future episodes will come out every week for the next five weeks. Subscribe to Leafs Forever and please write us a review.Producer: Katie Jensen, Vocal Fry StudiosWriter: Scott Willats & Paul MatthewsDirector of Production: Shawna MorrisonExecutive Producer: Michael GelfandAssociate Producers: Renita Bangert, Emily Latimer, Erika Dreher, Savanna Hamilton
25 minutes | Feb 9, 2021
Black Girl Hockey Club
Renee Hess and hockey were never supposed to meet. But when they did, Renee’s nascent fandom inspired game changing community action, as the Black Girl Hockey Club was born.SHOW NOTESPresented by Leafs Forever, Barrier Breakers is a mini-series about race, hockey and the way forward.The show aims to celebrate Black players and fans who’ve broken barriers and helped change our game for the better.Today’s episode tells the story of Renee Hess, the founder of Black Girl Hockey Club. It charts her journey from hockey oblivious to hockey obsessed, and then charts the creation of the BGHC. After starting out as a social group on Twitter, the BGHC has become one of the most important voices in hockey advocacy. It hosts community events. It helps cover playing costs for young Black women. And it aims to fight racism and welcome new communities into the hockey world.In 2020, Black Girl Hockey Club launched its ‘Get Uncomfortable’ campaign, along with its anti-racism pledge. The document lays out a clear and collective direction for the sport on issues of racism, equity and inclusion.The Toronto Maple Leafs have joined other NHL teams in signing the pledge. And we call on all of Leafs Nation to do the same. To learn more and add your name, visit Black Girl Hockey Club's website.And to see the video Scott refers to in the episode of 11 year-old BGHC scholarship winner Canari Yonas, visit here.This is the first episode of Barrier Breakers. Future episodes will come out every week for the next six weeks. Subscribe to Leafs Forever and please write us a review.Producer: Katie Jensen, Vocal Fry StudiosWriter: Scott Willats & Paul MatthewsDirector of Production: Shawna MorrisonExecutive Producer: Michael GelfandAssociate Producers: Renita Bangert, Emily Latimer, Erika Dreher, Savanna HamiltonSpecial Thanks: Akil Augustine, Michael Bartlett, Toni Francis, Jordan Hayles, Justin Bobb
58 minutes | Jul 20, 2020
The Turnaround: How Passion Returned in '93
The story of the fastest 180 degree turn-around in franchise history; of how Cliff Fletcher re-built the Leafs in a year and brought the team within a missed call of a Stanley Cup Final.CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Special thanks to everyone who sat down with us to help us tell this story. First and foremost, Mr. Cliff Fletcher, Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Felix Potvin, Nikolay Borshevsky, Joe Bowen, and Andi Petrillo. You can catch Andi on Leafs Lunch every week day. Further thanks to Nick Konarowski for all the story consulting, research and interview help, and Mike Zemaitis and his team for the intensive archive pulls. We owe you guys huge. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.
27 minutes | Apr 14, 2020
Val James, 4 Games
If you blinked during the 1986/7 season, you might have missed Val James' stint as a Maple Leaf. But those four games broke the colour barrier for the Blue and White, and marked the culmination of an amazing story of perseverance. CREDITS: Today's episode was written by Scott Willats and Paul Matthews, and produced by Katie Jensen and Vocal Fry Studios for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Special thanks to the beautiful people who helped us tell this story. First and foremost, Val himself. But a big thank you too to Kwame Mason, whose film Soul on Ice, is a must watch. Go rent it on iTunes. And Bernice Carnegie, the daughter of Herb Carnegie, and the co-author of A Fly in a Pail of Milk: The Herb Carnegie Story. Also check out Val’s own autobiography, Black Ice, which he co-wrote with John Gallagher. Further thanks to our associate producers Ellen Payne Smith, Jay Cockburn, and Erika Dreher. Thanks to Jordan Hayles for consulting on the episode from the beginning, Duane Watson for his sage advice, and Nick Konarowski for his research.
50 minutes | Feb 6, 2020
The Ballad of "Bashin’ Bill" Barilko
He scored among the most iconic goals in Stanley Cup history, then disappeared without a trace. You may know Bill Barilko from the Tragically Hip’s ’50 Mission Cap.' But prepare to meet the man behind the myth. Amongst the treasured images and memorabilia inside the Leafs' locker room, few are quite as esteemed as one of two original lyric sheets to the Tragically Hip's '50 Mission Cap.' Signed by the band, and framed alongside the Pro Set 1991 hockey card that inspired lead singer Gord Downie to pen the song, the lyric sheet has pride of place in the equipment room - where it continues to inspire. As Hip bassist Gord Sinclair tells it, the song was nothing but a riff until, mid jam, Downie opened up a pack of hockey cards, read the Barilko story, and became an extemporaneous freestyle. That hockey card, written by historian James Duplacey, reads as follows: " Bill Barilko, The End of Innocence" Although he was not noted for his offensive skills, Bill Barilko scored one of the most celebrated goals in NHL history during the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals between Toronto and Montreal. This series was the only championship final that required overtime in every contest. In Game Five, the extra session was nearly three minutes old when Barilko spotted a loose puck near the Montreal crease. He dove in from the blueline and fired a shot over Montreal goaltender Gerry McNeil's outstretched arm to give the Leafs the Cup. Unfortunately, it was the last goal of Barilko's career. He disappeared that summer on a fishing trip, and the Leafs didn't win another Cup until 1962, the year his body was found." As Downie himself said of Barilko, and the song, 'we are all united in tragedy.' To learn more about Barilko's amazing life, check out Kevin Shea's Barilko: Without a Trace. This podcast could only scratch the surface. Bill's time as 'Hollywood Bill Barilko' alone could fill a book of its own. And be sure to check out Gord Sinclair's first solo album, 'Taxi Dancers,' out on February 28th. CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios. Production & research assistance from Ellen Payne Smith, Erin Brandenburg, and Erika Dreher. Special thanks to Mike Ferriman, Kevin Shea, Gord Sinclair, and Frank Klisanich for speaking with us. And special thanks to Nick Konarowski for helping us out with the archives. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.
51 minutes | Jan 8, 2020
Monsieur Eaton’s Mistake
The Hockey Sweater is among the most beloved children’s books in Canadian history. Author Roch Carrier and journalist Shireen Ahmed discuss how the story was written, and what it still has to teach us about our world, and our game. Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater still has an immense amount to say about sports, identity and belonging. It is still among the most read hockey stories written for children, but, as Shireen Ahmed acknowledges in this episode, keeping up with how the game is changing requires broadening the stories we tell about it as well. Here, courtesy of Shireen Ahmed, are four children’s books for that young reader in your life; stories that follow in the footsteps of The Hockey Sweater and capture the diversity of experience defining hockey in 2020: 1. Kicking Ice by Stephanie Philips - a Graphic Novel about the importance of inclusivity, equality and empowerment in sports. 2. Lucy Tries Hockey by Lucy Bowes - the story of a young girl who finds and falls in love with hockey. 3. Willie O’Ree by Nicole Mortillaro - the inspiring story of the NHL’s first black player. 4. And of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention our very own Zach Hyman's inspiring Hockey Hero, about how an awkward teen boy finds inner strength while at a PeeWee hockey tournament. Check out Shireen's own podcast, Burn It All Down and visit her website. To learn more about The Hockey Sweater, how it was written, translated and turned into an NFB documentary, check out Roy MacGregor’s piece in the Globe and Mail. And for those who’ve never seen Sheldon Cohen’s award-winning National Film Board short film, The Sweater, you can watch it for free on the NFB website. CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios. Production & research assistance from Ellen Payne Smith, Erin Brandenburg, and Erika Dreher. Special thanks to Roch Carrier, Shireen Ahmed, and Jenny Ellison for speaking with us. And special thanks to Mike Ferriman, Mike Zemaitis and Nick Konarowski for helping us out with the archives. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.
42 minutes | Dec 9, 2019
In 1976, no one picked the Toronto Maple Leafs to beat the back-to-back Stanley Cup-winning Philadelphia Flyers in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Leafs coach Red Kelly knew that, to best the 'Broad Street Bullies,' he'd need more than superior strategy. He'd need an ace in the hole: a twelve foot pyramid in the middle of his locker room. Whether he truly believed in the power of pyramids of not, he was willing to do anything. And in the mysticism-friendly 1970s, the power of pyramids almost inspired his troops to greatness. The world of this week's story seems a million miles away from today's NHL. The brand of hockey the Broad Street Buddies introduced to the league soon went the way of the Dodo. The league changed its rule book, introducing penalties for instigation and limiting the potential for bench-clearing. Then, the Scotty Bowman-coached Montreal Canadiens ascended to dominance, ending Philadelphia's supremacy. With the likes of Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer and Larry Robinson, the 70s Canadiens embodied hockey purists' idea of 'the best of the game.' Even Leafs fan had to tip their hats to the Habs' four straight Cup wins. Kate Smith's talismanic potency came to a gradual end around the same time the Flyers' supremacy ended. She couldn't help Philly beat Montreal, and her record fell of considerably after that. In 1987, the team erected a statue of Smith outside The Spectrum. The statue was transported to what is now the Wells Fargo Center when the team moved. But in 2019, controversy around racist sentiment in Smith's 1931 recordings led to the end of her use in sports matches in Philadelphia and elsewhere. The statue was torn down and permanently removed. No one in Philly talks about Kate much anymore. As for Red, after he was fired by Harold Ballard in 1977, he never coached in the NHL again. Instead, he went into business, working as a director on the board of Computer Aircraft Maintenance Programs (CAMP), a company owned by his wife Andra's family. CAMP is where Red would work alongside his daughter, Casey. It's where she got a front row seat to her father's leadership style. And where their relationship transcended that of father-daughter. Nowadays, few talk much about Red's time behind the bench. He is remembered more for his exploits as a player - and rightly so. That is where he truly achieved greatness. But for those Leafs fan who followed the team in the 1970s, the mere mention of 'Pyramid Power' still evokes the hopes and hilarious hi-jinks of the era. CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios. Production & research assistance from Ellen Payne Smith, Jay Cockburn, Erin Brandenburg, and Erika Dreher. Special thanks to Casey Kelly, Darryl Sittler, Derrik Bobb, Stephen Cole, and Kevin Shea for speaking with us. And special thanks to Mike Ferriman, Mike Zemaitis and Nick Konarowski for helping us out with the archives. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.
42 minutes | Oct 28, 2019
The Swedish Invasion
The Toronto Maple Leafs retain the largest NHL fanbase in Sweden. Every year, hundreds make the pilgrimage to Toronto to see the Hockey Hall of Fame and watch the Buds. The reason isn’t just because the 416 is the ‘Mecca of Hockey.’ It’s not even all to do with Mats Sundin. No, the connection between the Blue and White and the Scandinavian nation goes back much further - to 1973, and scout Gerry McNamara. We’ll talk to McNamara about his scouting trips to Sweden, and how the two players he found there - Borje Salming and Inge Hammarstrom - changed the NHL and Maple Leafs hockey in particular, creating a connection that abides and continues to grow. CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios. Production & research assistance from Cecilia Keating, Jay Cockburn, Ellen Payne Smith, and Erika Dreher. Special thanks to the men at the centre of the story, Borje Salming & Gerry McNamara, for making themselves available to us. Big huge thanks to Stephen Cole, author of Hockey Night Fever. Special thanks to Mike Ferriman, who knows and has access to more of the history than anyone else we know. Thanks to Mike Zemaitis and Nick Konarowski for digging through the Leafs TV archives again. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.
26 minutes | Sep 13, 2019
Grounded at Mile One
The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs planned a training camp in Newfoundland, the 9/11 attacks changed the world. And Mile One Centre in St. John's became the home to over 4,000 grounded passengers. CREDITS: Leafs Forever is hosted by Scott Willats & written by Paul Matthews. This episode was produced by Katie Jensen & Vocal Fry Studios. Production & research assistance from Ellen Payne Smith, Erin Brandenburg, and Erika Dreher. Special thanks to Mike Ferriman, Glenn Stanford and Brendan McCarthy for taking the time to talk to us, and to Mike Zemaitis and Nick Konarowski for digging through the Leafs TV archives. Subscribe to Leafs Forever on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.