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Gus Mortson passes away at 90

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs

It is with great sadness on Saturday the Toronto Maple Leafs learned of the passing of Gus Mortson. He was 90 years old.

Prior to joining the Maple Leafs, the New Liskeard, Ont., native came to the club by way of the St. Michael's Majors where he played from 1943 to 1945. He captured the 1945 Memorial Cup as a member of the Majors at Maple Leaf Gardens. They defeated the Moose Jaw Canucks in five games.

Following the Memorial Cup campaign, Mortson turned pro during the 1945-46 season and played 51 games with the Tulsa Oilers. He recorded 19 goals and 48 points and added a goal and six points in 13 playoff games. After a successful pro debut, he was brought into the Maple Leafs by Conn Smythe. It was a reunion for Mortson and fellow blueliner and former Majors teammate Jim Thomson.

Mortson and Thomson went on to become anchors of the Maple Leafs blueline, earning the nickname "The Gold Dust Twins." While Thomson was a steady, stay-at-home presence for the Leafs, Mortson provided flash and a willingness to throw the big hit and wear down opponents in the corners. He came to be known as "Old Hardrock" — a fitting tribute to his style of play on the ice, as well as his Northern Ontario pedigree.

In six years with the Maple Leafs, Mortson captured Stanley Cups in 1947, 1948, 1949, and 1951 playing alongside Thomson. Mortson also played in five of his eight all-star games as a member of the Maple Leafs in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1952. He was the Leafs' lone First Team NHL All-Star in 1949-50 and one of two All-Star selections that season as Toronto captain Ted Kennedy was named a Second Team NHL All-Star.

Mortson played 371 games in Blue and White, recording 21 goals, 92 points and 709 penalty minutes.

Following the 1951-52 season, Mortson was part of a four player trade to acquire goaltender Harry Lumley from the Chicago Blackhawks. He played in 390 games over six seasons for the Blackhawks, recording 25 goals and 105 points as well as 649 penalty minutes. He was the NHL leader in penalty minutes on four occasions, twice as a Leafs and twice as a Blackhawk.

Before the 1958-59 season, Mortson was traded to the Detroit Red Wings where he played his final 36 games in the NHL. Mortson continued to play minor league hockey in Buffalo, Chatham and Oakville and was named a Second Team AHL All-Star in 1960. He retired from his career as a player during the 1966-67 season.

After his retirement, Mortson lived in Oakville, Ont., where he owned and operated a food brokerage business. In 1970, Mortson and his family settled in Timmins, Ont., where he worked as both a stock broker and sales rep for a mining company. He passed away at the Golden Manor Home in Timmins and is survived by his wife Sheila and six children. His son Angus Mortson Jr. passed away in 2010.

Angus 'Gus' Mortson's NHL career spanned 13 seasons. He played 797 games between three teams. He played in eight NHL All-Star Games, was named to the NHL First All-Star Team on one occasion. He was a four-time Stanley Cup champion, winning all four as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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