Early in the New Year, the days are devoted to one final accounting.
It’s that way with banks and businesses and families and it’s that way with storied sporting franchises as well.
While the death of former Leafs’ coach Pat Burns garnered widespread attention, the Maple Leafs organization lost eight former players in the last calendar year.
Their service ranged from Aut Erickson’s sole Leaf game in the 1967 playoffs to Gaye Stewart’s total of 165 regular season appearances for the blue and white.
In all, these eight men contributed 710 regular season games and 146 goals.
They would win 13 Stanley Cups with the Leafs.
When hockey was over, they picked up briefcases or shovels. There was no retirement financed by a life in hockey. These men were neighbours, parents and soon enough grandparents.
At the rink and away, their stories were woven into a greater fabric.
Gaye Stewart: In his 87th year, Stewart garnered three Stanley Cups for the Maple Leafs from 1942-1948. Stewart would play with Chicago, Detroit, New York and Montreal and finish with 185 NHL goals. He won the Calder Trophy while a Maple Leaf in 1943.
Murray Armstrong: In his 94th year, the Saskatchewan native played with the Leafs, New York Americans, and Detroit Red Wings. He also coached the Regina Pats for five seasons and managed four winning seasons in as many tries at the University of Denver.
Ed Litzenberger: In his 78th year, Litzenberger enjoyed a 15 year career that included an unmatched six consecutive titles with a succession of teams. While he played in only 19 regular season games and just one playoff games for the Leafs, Litzenberger was nonetheless a Stanley Cup winner with the club, his last NHL employer, in 1964.
Don Simmons: The first goalie to follow Jacques Plante’s lead and begin wearing the face mask, Simmons won three Stanley Cups backing up Johnny Bower. He died in his 79th year.
Pete Langelle: the Winnipeg native died in his 93 year. He played 137 games with the Leafs and scored the winning goal to earn the Leafs, and himself, the 1942 championship.
Bob Hassard. A native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, Hassard died in his 81st year. The former Marlies’ captain played 137 games for the Leafs over three seasons and in 1951 won a Stanley Cup with the team.
Aut Erickson. A Lethbridge native who died in his 72nd year, Erickson managed a Stanley Cup despite playing just one game for the Leafs in the 1967 playoffs. Erickson did better elsewhere. He played 226 NHL games with Boston and Chicago and spent two winning years coaching the WHL’s Phoenix Roadrunners.
Vic Lynn. The only player to suit up for every Original Six team, Lynn won three Cups. He died in his 85th year. Lynn scored 32 goals in 213 games.