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The Official Site of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Remembering Joseph Turner

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

by Mike Ulmer

November 11, 2006

(TORONTO) -- The Joseph Turner Memorial Cup is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame, crowded in beside the AVCO CUP that commemorates the World Hockey Association, dead these 27 years.

The Turner Cup is unnoticed, and despite the honest efforts of the Hall, forgotten.

Joe Turner a real hero.
(Hockey Hall of Fame)

Who wants to see a trophy awarded to minor league champions, a trophy that hasn't been awarded since the International League folded in 2002?

But once there was a man named Joe Turner. He was from Windsor, a goalie, and a good one. He was a quiet man who fretted about keeping his playing weight down, an explosive athlete good enough to prompt Detroit GM Jolly Jack Adams to cast him as the backstop for a Red Wings team destined to win four Stanley Cups in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Turner starred with the Wings Indianapolis Capitals farm team and was even called up for one game, February 16, 1942. Detroit 3, the Maple Leafs 3.

Joe Turner enlisted and fought with the U.S. Army. In the Hurtgen Forest on December 13, 1944 in Belgium, a German shell found infantry corporal  Joe Turner, 79th Division.

Joe Turner was one of 45,000 Canadians killed in the Second World War. They buried him in a temporary grave and for 30 months, his number 1 was exchanged for another number X-5439 until his remains could be settled upon through a ring that bore his name.

They were transferred into a sea of white crosses in a Belgian military cemetery and sometime in the 1950s, he made his final journey home to Windsor's Victoria Memorial Cemetery.

Joe Turner was married 20 months when he fell. His parents, shattered by the loss, were dead less than five years after he was killed. His sister is dead. His wife remarried and moved to Florida. She too is thought to be long dead.

All that is left is the trophy that bears his name. When the old Michigan-Ontario Hockey League evolved into the International League, officials needed a name for their championship trophy. They thought of Joe Turner.

We are the Dead, wrote John McCrae.

Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Joe Turner existed. He lived, he loved and he died. He was as real as you and me, and so were  the 45,000 lost in the Second World War, and the 66,000 slaughtered in World War I..., each person had a face and a gift, and a future lost to the savage folly of man...lest we forget.

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