Toe Blake Biography - Signed With Montreal, Chronology, Won Stanley Cups, Retired As A Player, Began Coaching Career
Canadian hockey player
Hector "Toe" Blake was one of the most influential hockey coaches in the history of the National Hockey League. He won eight Stanley Cups as a coach, five of them in consecutive seasons, with the Montreal Canadiens. He had a .634 winning percentage as a coach, and was a mentor to Scotty Bowman, the only man to win more Cups as a coach, with nine. Many consider Blake to be one of the best coaches in any sport. In addition to his coaching career, Blake had a Hall of Fame playing career as left wing, primarily with the Montreal Canadiens, for twelve seasons.
Blake was born on August 21, 1912, in Victoria Mines, Ontario, Canada. He was given his nickname, "Toe," by which he was commonly known, by a younger sister who could not pronounce his first name. While hockey was already an important part of Canadian culture, Blake's mother did not want him to play hockey, but instead get a steady job in one of the local mines. Thus, before the age of 12, Blake played hockey as a goalie. In this time period, it was common for goalies to not wear skates to play the position. After getting a job hitching horses for a milk company to make their rounds, he bought own skates and began playing as a skater. Hockey soon became the focus of his life.
By the time he was seventeen, Blake began his playing career in the Sudbury-Nickel Belt League, first with the Cochrane Dunlops, then for the Sudbury Industries. From 1930-32, he played for the Sudbury Cub Wolves of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association. While playing for one of the Sudbury-based teams, Blake drew attention from NHL scouts. Blake then played in the Ontario Hockey Association Senior's League for the Hamilton Tigers from 1932-34. During this time period, Blake would play hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer.
Sketch by A. Petruso
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