Hall of Fame defenseman Allan Stanley, a member of four Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960s, has died at age 87.
Nicknamed "Snowshoes" for his plodding style of skating, Stanley played for four of the Original Six teams after breaking into the NHL with the New York Rangers during the 1948-49 season. But it was with the Maple Leafs in the 1960s that he became known as one of the NHL's best defensive defensemen. He and longtime partner Tim Horton anchored a defense that helped Toronto win Cups in 1962, '63, '64 and '67.
Stanley played with Toronto through the 1967-68 season and finished his career with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1968-69 as a 43-year-old. He retired with 100 goals and 433 points in 1,244 regular-season games, as well as six goals and 39 points in 109 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1981.
Stanley helped the Ranger to the 1950 Stanley Cup Final, where they went to double overtime in Game 7 before losing to the Detroit Red Wings. But he ultimately became the target of boo-birds at Madison Square Garden, who wanted to see a big hitter on the blue line -- something Stanley was not.
Eventually, he was literally booed out of the building. Ire from fans was so strong that the team considered playing him only in away games. Ultimately, general manager Frank Boucher sent him to the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL in 1953-54 while playing him an NHL salary.
"Boucher made it clear to me it wasn't because of my play," Stanley said. "I was hurt and relieved at the same time. I knew I'd get another chance."
He went from the Rangers to the Chicago Blackhawks to the Boston Bruins before finding a home in Toronto in 1959 because Boston's management thought he was too old at age 32.
It turned out that Stanley's best years were still ahead of him.
Punch Imlach, who brought Stanley to Toronto, paired him with Horton in what turned out to be one of the NHL's most effective defense duos. They became friends as well as partners.
"Horton was my buddy. I roomed with Tim," Stanley later said. "We played together for most of 10 years. On the road, we were inseparable. It seemed like all the defensemen were pretty close, but Tim and I, wherever we went, we went together."
Stanley and fellow Hall of Famer Horton were instrumental in Toronto's run of three consecutive Stanley Cups from 1962-64. At age 41, he was still taking a regular shift when the Maple Leafs became one of the oldest teams (average age 31) to win the Cup by beating the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the 1967 Final.
After Stanley retired as a player, he ran a resort and hockey school near Bobcaygeon, Ontario. He also enjoyed being part of Maple Leafs history as a member of the franchise's last championship team.
"I don’t go through a day without somebody reminiscing about the old days,” Stanley told the Toronto Star’s Paul Hunter in 1987. “I love talking about it. It was my life. I loved every part of it."