Windsor Arena and the Discovery of a Toronto Maple Leafs Legend

Scouts impressed by Detroit Olympic Goalie Turk Broda 1935 game at Windsor Arena

Windsor Arena and Turk Broda

Like many other Canadian cities, Windsor Ontario’s history of protecting historical significant and heritage buildings is abysmal. St. Mary’s Academy, Glengarda are just two of the historic gems Windsor has allowed to be wiped out. The Jackson Park bandshell with it’s musical legacy history is currently in a precarious situation also.

Perhaps the most obvious current example of historical buildings ignored is the Windsor Arena at 334 Wyandotte Street East. It was built in 1924. Over 85 years of memories could be lost if this historic gem was torn down.  A deeper research should be to done to determine just how many other arenas of this age/design are left.

Turk Broda November 22nd, 1935

I want to give you just one small story to highlight this arena’s past.

The International Hockey League was a Minor Professional hockey league that operated from 1926 to 1936. In the 1935-36 season teams included the Windsor Bulldogs and Detroit Olympics.

Turk Broda played for Detroit Olympics in the 1935-36 season. 

During the 1935-36 season the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to replace their goalie, George Hainsworth at the end of the season.

On November 22nd, 1935, The Toronto Maple Leaf scouts went to watch a game at the Windsor Arena. They wanted to see highly regarded Windsor Bulldogs netminder Earl Robertson in a game against the Detroit Olympics.

Playing goalie that night for the Olympics was Manitoba born, Turk Broda. The scored ended 7-1 for the Detroit Olympics with Turk playing great and Earl not playing well. The Toronto scouts were so impressed with Turk Broda that night in Windsor they decided to buy Turk Broda's contract instead. 

He was acquired by the Maple Leafs in 1936 for $7,500. Turk ended the season the season with the Detroit Olympics who won the championships. In the 1936-37 season he joined the Leafs.

Turk Broda 1935-36

Turk Broda is one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. He was the Vezina Trophy winner twice as the league’s top goaltender and won 5 Stanley Cups with Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for the Leafs for 14 years. 

The Etobicoke Hall of Fame stated this about Turk Broda.  Broda’s legend was born during the 1942 Stanley Cup final, when Toronto found itself down three games to none against Detroit. Backed by their stopper’s brilliant play, the Leafs stole Game 4 and then rolled over the Red Wings 9–3 in Game 5. Frustrated Detroit fans pelted Broda with fruit and peanuts in Game 6, but Turk was outstanding, shutting out the Red Wings and then allowing just one goal in Game 7 as the Leafs completed the unprecedented comeback.

Turk Broda in net

Turk's Legacy

Broda spent the next two seasons in the army but returned to lead Toronto to four more championships, including a run of three straight titles from 1947 to 1949 and a nail-biting 1951 final that saw him turn away Rocket Richard’s Canadiens, with every game decided in overtime. Broda’s sparkling playoff resume includes 60 wins, 13 shutouts and a miniscule 1.98 goals-against average in 101 games. He once said that the lure of bonus money outweighed any pressure he felt on the ice—or as Toronto Star humorist Gary Lautens once quipped, “When the playoff bucks were on the line, the Turk could catch lint in a hurricane.”

In 1967, Turk Broda entered into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It all began that one night in Windsor arena in 1935. Let us hope that the Windsor Arena will be saved.


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