George Mara, a friend to Maple Leaf Gardens and to hockey for nearly all his life, died recently at 84.
George Mara gave up his best chance at hockey stardom in the war years, passing up an offer to play with the Detroit Red Wings to enlist in the navy. A star for Upper Canada College and the Toronto Marlboros, Mara wasn't able to crack the lineup of Conn Smythe's Maple Leafs after the end of World War II.
Instead he turned his head to business, building his family's wine and spirit importing business from the ground up.
The game was never far away from George Mara. In 1948, he returned to the sport as the star player for the RCAF Flyers team that won Olympic gold in St. Moritz.
Mara satisfied his craving for the sport by sitting on the Maple Leaf Gardens board from 1957-1969 and enjoyed a brief term as president.
His honors included included the Order of Canada in 1976 and a spot in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mr. Mara died after complications from heart surgery set in. He leaves a son, George Jr., and a daughter Diane.