Transcript: The Most Beloved Maple Leaf Ever | Dec 16, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, gray shirt, and gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "The most beloved maple leaf ever. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WHO IS THE GREATEST
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS' HOCKEY
PLAYER OF ALL TIME?
IT'S A QUESTION THAT COULD
PROMPT A FIERY DEBATE AMONG THE
SUPPORTERS OF MATS SUNDIN,
DARRYL SITTLER, OR DAVIE KEON.
BUT IN MY VIEW, THERE IS NO
DEBATE OVER WHO IS THE MOST
BELOVED LEAF OF ALL TIME.
HANDS DOWN, IT'S JOHNNY BOWER.
A STAR GOALTENDER IN THE
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE, JOHNNY
DIDN'T TRULY MAKE IT TO THE NHL
UNTIL HE WAS 33.
AND HE HELPED BACKSTOP THE
LEAFS' LAST STANLEY CUP VICTORY
IN 1967 WHILE IN HIS 40s.
AND EVEN MORE BIZARRE, HIS REAL
NAME WASN'T JOHNNY BOWER.
AUTHOR DAN ROBSON DETAILS IT ALL
IN "BOWER: A LEGENDARY LIFE."
HE IS SENIOR WRITER AND HEAD OF
FEATURES AT THE ATHLETIC CANADA,
A SPORT MEDIA INSTRUCTOR AT
RYERSON UNIVERSITY, AND HE JOINS
US NOW WITH THE NETMINDER'S STORY.

Dan is in his late thirties, with wavy brown hair and a boxed beard. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and spotted burgundy tie.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of Johnny Bower on the ice, in full gear.

Steve continues DAN, GOOD OF YOU TO SPARE SOME TIME FOR US.

Dan says THANKS FOR
HAVING ME.

Steve says THIS IS A GOOD TIME
TO TALK ABOUT JOHNNY BOWER
BECAUSE WE'RE COMING UP TO
BOXING DAY, THE SECOND
ANNIVERSARY OF HIS DEATH.
THE STORY FOR HIM STARTS IN 1925
IN SASKATCHEWAN, BUT THE CRAZY
THING IS, JOHNNY BOWER IS NOT
HIS NAME.

The caption changes to "Dan Robson. Author. 'Bower.'"
Then, it changes again to "He wasn't Johnny Bower."

Dan says HIS NAME IS JOHNNY KISHKAN.
HE CHANGED IT WELL INTO HIS
LIFE, BASICALLY STARTED THIS NEW
MYTH AROUND HIM THAT WAS
COMPLETELY SORT OF CREATED, THAT
MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ABOUT.

Steve says WE'LL TALK ABOUT HOW
THE NAME CHANGE CAME ABOUT IN A
SECOND.
WHAT WAS HIS LIFE LIKE IN THE
PRAIRIES BACK IN THE '20S?

The caption changes to "Dan Robson, @RobsonDan."

Dan says IT WAS TOUGH.
IT WAS VERY TOUGH.
JOHNNY GREW UP IN A HOUSEHOLD
WITH NINE SIBLINGS.
HE GREW UP BASICALLY INCREDIBLY
POOR.
GREW UP DURING THE GREAT
DEPRESSION.
TWO YOUNG PARENTS WHO HAD A
GREAT AMOUNT OF KIDS WITH NOT A
LOT OF MEANS, JUST SORT OF
SCRAPING TO GET BY.
IT WAS SORT OF A COMMON STORY,
ACTUALLY, OF LIFE IN CANADA AT
THAT TIME, ESPECIALLY IN
SASKATCHEWAN.
HIS PARENTS... HIS FATHER WAS A
HOMESTEAD FARMER WHO TRIED TO
SORT OF MAKE IT IN A NEW LAND.
FINALLY DECIDED TO GO INTO THE
CITY OF PRINCE ALBERT AND TRY TO
MAKE IT THAT WAY, AND HAD A
BUNCH... A VARIETY OF JOBS TO
TRY TO MAKE ENDS MEET.
LIFE AT THE BEGINNING FOR JOHNNY
WAS QUITE HUMBLE.

The caption changes to "Life in Saskatchewan."

Steve says LIKE MOST POOR KIDS
WHO WANTED TO PLAY HOCKEY, YOU
HAD TO IMPROVISE HOCKEY
EQUIPMENT.
WHAT DID JOHNNY DO?

Dan says HE CUT UP AN OLD INFANT
MATTRESS THAT HE AND A FRIEND ON
THE STREET FOUND TO MAKE GOALIE
PADS.
THAT IS HOW HE SORT OF
STRAPPED... HE STRAPPED THOSE TO
HIS LEGS AND WOULD STOP FROZEN
PIECES OF HORSE MANURE AS PUCKS.
SO THAT WAS SORT OF THE
BEGINNING DAYS OF JOHNNY, WAS
SORT OF... WHATEVER HE COULD
FIND, HE USED TO PLAY THE GAME.
THE GAME WAS REALLY SORT OF AN
ESCAPE FROM THE DIFFICULTIES OF
LIFE.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON
THAT.
BECAUSE HE EXPERIENCED SOMETHING
THAT VERY FEW PEOPLE AT THE TIME
DID, AND THAT WAS A SO-CALLED
BROKEN HOME.
HIS PARENTS SPLIT UP, WHICH
ALMOST NEVER HAPPENED BACK THEN.
WHAT HAPPENED?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Dan says THIS IS SOMETHING THAT JOHNNY
HIMSELF NEVER REALLY SPOKE ABOUT.
IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT THING
THAT HE CARRIED THROUGHOUT HIS
LIFE AND IT WAS ONE OF THE
STORIES THAT I WENT BACK TO LOOK
AT WHEN I WAS WRITING THIS BOOK
ABOUT HIM, BECAUSE AS A WRITER I
THINK THAT WHAT WE BECOME
OBVIOUSLY STARTS WHERE WE BEGAN,
AND I THINK THAT FOR JOHNNY, IT
WAS SOMETHING THAT HE HELD SORT
OF PRIVATELY AND QUIETLY
THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE BUT IN MANY
WAYS IT MIGHT HAVE HAD TO DO
WITH WHY HE EVENTUALLY CHANGED
HIS NAME.
BASICALLY HIS PARENTS SPLIT WHEN
HE WAS ABOUT 10 YEARS OLD AND...
THEY LIVED IN THE SAME TOWN, BUT
IT WAS A VERY SMALL TOWN.
SO THE REALITIES OF THAT KIND OF
SCANDAL AT THE TIME, THE KIND OF
GOSSIP, WAS SOMETHING THAT HE
DEALT WITH FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

Steve says HIS HOCKEY CAREER
BEGINS, HIS PRO HOCKEY CAREER,
BEGINS WITH A TEAM CALLED THE
CLEVELAND BARONS.
THIS IS THE AMERICAN HOCKEY
LEAGUE.
ONE LEAGUE BELOW THE NHL.
HE'S 20 YEARS OLD, AND AS YOU
POINT OUT, HE'S NOT JOHNNY BOWER
ANYMORE, HE'S JOHNNY KISHKAN.
TELL US ABOUT THE STORY BEHIND
THE NAME CHANGE?

The caption changes to "Turning pro."

Dan says JOHNNY TOLD A LOT OF STORIES
ABOUT WHY HE CHANGED HIS NAME.
IT'S INTERESTING, HIS WIKIPEDIA
PAGE RIGHT NOW IS STILL WITH
TONS OF ERRORS.
ONE IS ATTRIBUTED TO ME BECAUSE
PREVIOUSLY WHEN I INTERVIEWED
JOHNNY HE TOLD ME HE CHANGED HIS
NAME TO HIS MOTHER'S MAIDEN
NAME.
THAT CURRENTLY ON THE WIKIPEDIA
PAGE SAYS THAT AND IT'S CITED TO
AN ARTICLE I WROTE.
I TRIED TO CORRECT IT MANY TIMES
AND THEY WON'T ALLOW ME TO.
KISHKAN WAS HIS FATHER'S NAME.
HIS MOTHER'S LAST NAME WAS
JACOBSON.
I REALIZED THAT WAS ONE OF THE
STORIES HE TOLD.
HE ALSO TOLD THE STORY ABOUT
BEING ADOPTED WHICH WAS ONE HE
ACTUALLY USED MANY TIMES IN HIS
EARLY CAREER HE SPOKE ABOUT A
LOT.
BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF RUMOURS.
SO ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT
JOHNNY THAT I FOUND FASCINATING
WAS HE CREATED THIS NEW NAME AND
IN A WAY THIS SORT OF NEW
IDENTITY AFTER THE WAR WHEN HE
STARTED HIS PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY
CAREER, WHICH SORT OF SEPARATED
HIM FROM HIS PAST.

Steve says HOW MUCH OF IT MIGHT
HAVE HAD TO DO WITH PREJUDICE
AGAINST PEOPLE FROM EASTERN
EUROPE AT THE TIME?

Dan says THERE'S SOME SPECULATION,
THAT HAD A LOT TO DO WITH IT.
JOHNNY HIMSELF WASN'T THE KIND
OF GUY WHO WOULD SPEAK ABOUT
THAT OR GET INTO IT, BUT THE
REALITY IS IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR
PEOPLE OF EASTERN EUROPEAN
HERITAGE IN CANADA AT THE TIME,
THERE WAS A LOT OF
DISCRIMINATION THAT WE MIGHT NOT
BE AWARE OF NOW THAT NEW
CANADIANS FACED AND JOHNNY MIGHT
HAVE FACED.
THERE WAS ONE STORY THAT I WASES
TOLD ABOUT THE CLEVELAND BIRONS
SORT OF MANAGEMENT SAYING YOU
MIGHT WANT TO CHANGE YOUR NAME
BECAUSE KISHKIN SOUNDS A LITTLE
TOO EUROPEAN.

Steve says LET'S BRING UP THIS
SHOT.
THIS IS JOHNNY AS A MEMBER OF
THE CLEVELAND BARONS.
LOOK AT THE OLD EQUIPMENT.
HE GOT THE NAME CHINA WALL.
HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

In a black and white picture, Bower stands on the ice covering the goal in full gear.

Dan says CHINA WALL CAME FROM A SPORTS
WRITER AT THE TIME IN CLEVELAND
THAT WAS WRITING ABOUT JOHNNY.
JOHNNY'S CAREER IN CLEVELAND WAS
KIND OF REMARKABLE.
IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE BUT HE'S
STILL THE WINNINGEST GOALIE IN
AMERICAN HOCKEY LEAGUE HISTORY.
HE BASICALLY SPENT MOST OF HIS
CAREER, UNTIL HE WAS 33 YEARS
OLD, PLAYING IN WHAT WE NOW KNOW
AS SORT OF THE MINOR LEAGUES.
BUT JOHNNY BECAME A SENSATION IN
THAT TIME.
THE CHINA WALL WAS JUST SORT OF
A NAME THAT WAS GIVEN TO HIM
THAT KIND OF STUCK.
IT WASN'T NECESSARILY THE ONE
THAT HE LOVED, BUT IT WAS ONE
THAT KIND OF HELD UP AS THIS
GIGANTIC THING THAT NOTHING
COULD GET BY HIM.

Steve says AS WE SAW FROM THAT
PICTURE, HE PLAYED IN AN ERA
WHERE GOALIES DIDN'T WEAR MASKS.
WHAT KIND OF INJURIES DID HE SUSTAIN?

Dan says A REMARKABLE AMOUNT OF
INJURIES.
SOME QUITE HORRIFIC.
I WENT AT LENGTH SPEAKING TO
THEM.
NANCY, HIS LOVELY WIDOW, I SPOKE
TO HER AT LENGTH, AND SHE TOOK
ME THROUGH SOME HORROR STORIES
OF JOHNNY SHOWING UP AT HOME
WITH A SORT OF MANGLED FACE.
IN ONE INSTANCE HE LOST A LOT OF
HIS TEETH.
SOME HAD BEEN JAMMED INTO THE
NERVES OF HIS MOUTH.

Steve says OOF SCHAV.

Dan says THE TEAM BROUGHT HIM BACK ON
THE BUS THAT NIGHT FROM
CLEVELAND AND DIDN'T BANDAGE HIM
UP.
THEY SAID WAIT TO THE MORNING.
JOHNNY BEING A TOUGH MAN, SAID
OKAY.
IT WAS BASICALLY NANCY WHO SAID
FORGET THIS, WHO DROVE HIM TO
HOSPITAL AND GAVE THE TEAM SOME
SCOLDING IN THE MORNING.

Steve says HE GOES UP TO THE RANGERS.
THIS IS A SIX-TEAM NHL.
IT'S TOUGH TO CRACK IN.
EVENTUALLY BACK TO CLEVELAND.
HE WINS THE AHL MOST VALUABLE
PLAYER AWARD TWICE.
SETS THE RECORD FOR MOST
CONSECUTIVE MINUTES WITHOUT
GIVING UP A GOAL.
ALMOST FIVE STRAIGHT GAMES.
IT'S INCREDIBLE.
THE MAPLE LEAFS THEN WANT HIM
BUT HE'S NOT SURE HE WANTS THEM.
WHY NOT?

The caption changes to "To join or not to join the NHL."

Dan says RIGHT.
IT'S REALLY INTERESTING.
THAT'S PART OF THE STORY OF
JOHNNY'S PERSONALITY, IN A WAY.
CLEVELAND WAS HOME FOR HIM.
CLEVELAND, ALTHOUGH HE HAD PAID
IN PROVIDENCE AND IN VANCOUVER
AND HE HAD THAT STINT WITH THE
RANGERS THAT YOU MENTIONED, IT
ACTUALLY LEFT QUITE A SOUR TASTE
IN HIS MOUTH.
JOHNNY, AT THE END OF THE DAY, I
THINK WAS A GUY WHO LOVED
STABILITY, LOVED HOME, LOVED
LOYALTY.
HE WAS A VERY LOYAL MAN HIMSELF.
SO CLEVELAND TO HIM, ALTHOUGH
THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF TORONTO AT
THE TIME WERE... THERE WAS AN
OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE MORE MONEY
AND HAVE MORE FAME, HE WASN'T
SURE THAT HE WANTED IT.
HE WAS QUITE AT HOME IN
CLEVELAND AND WANTED TO RETIRE
THERE.
HE EVEN MADE A STIPULATION WHEN
HE FINALLY AGREED TO GO THAT IF
ANYTHING HAPPENED, HE'D BE SENT
BACK TO CLEVELAND.

Steve says HE MAKES HIS DEBUT
WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS AT THE AGE
OF 33.
HE IS THE SECOND OLDEST PLAYER
IN THE NHL.
AND SO BEGINS A CONTINUOUS
MYSTERY WHICH LASTS PRETTY MUCH
UNTIL THE END OF HIS LIFE.
HOW OLD ARE YOU EXACTLY?
WHY DID THIS PERSIST AS A
MYSTERY THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE?

The caption changes to "How old was he really?"

Dan says IT'S REALLY INTERESTING.
I MEAN, I THINK... THIS IS ONE
OF THE THINGS THAT FASCINATED ME
WHEN I WENT BACK AND LOOKED AT
THE RECORDS.
I WENT ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE
CHURCH AROUND THE CORNER FROM
WHERE HE GREW UP THAT HAD HIS
BAPTISMAL RECORDS AND FOUND
DEFINITIVELY THE DATE OF HIS
BIRTH BY THE PRIEST WHO BAPTIZED
HIM.
HE CREATED THIS MYTH.
AS THE PRESS STARTED TO WRITE
ABOUT IT, WE'RE NOT REALLY SURE
HOW OLD HE IS, IT STARTED WITH
HIS DESIRE TO ENTER THE WAR,
WHERE HE LIED ABOUT HIS AGE
SEVERAL TIMES.

Steve says HE WAS OLDER THAN HE REALLY WAS?

Dan says I HAVE HIS WAR RECORDS.
I LOOKED AT HIS MILITARY RECORDS
AND SAW HE TOLD DIFFERENT
STORIES ABOUT THAT THROUGHOUT
HIS LIFE, BUT THE RECORDS SORT
OF SHOW THIS SORT OF LYING ABOUT
HOW OLD HE WAS.
THAT AS IT PERSISTED I THINK IT
BECAME PART OF THIS MYTH THAT
JOHNNY EMBRACED IN A WAY.

Steve says AT AGE 36, HE WINS
THE VEZINA TROPHY AS THE NHL'S
BEST GOALIE.
HE'S THE OLDEST GOALIE EVER TO
WIN THAT TROPHY.
HE WINS THE STANLEY CUP IN '62,
'3, AND '4, AND THIS IS REALLY
STUNNING.
I DIDN'T KNOW THIS UNTIL I READ
YOUR BOOK.
AFTER BOWER'S MAPLE LEAFS DEFEAT
GORDIE HOWE'S DETROIT RED WINGS
FOR THE 1963 STANLEY CUP, WE'RE
GOING TO SHOW A PICTURE.
THERE IT IS RIGHT THERE.
THIS IS IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE
GAME ON THE ICE.
DESCRIBE WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

A black and white picture taking during a game, Bower falls on the ice with his legs spread out as his opponents attack.
In a second picture, a male reporter interviews Bower and another player, who wraps an arm around Bower.

Dan says SO GORDIE ACTUALLY GOES OVER
AND, YOU KNOW, PUTS HIS ARM
AROUND HIS GOOD... THEY GO WAY
BACK.
THIS IS ONE OF THE MORE
FASCINATING, I THINK, FRIENDSHIP
STORIES IN HOCKEY...

Steve says TWO SASKATCHEWAN BOYS.

Dan says TWO SASKATCHEWAN BOYS.
THEY GREW UP UNDER SIMILAR
CIRCUMSTANCES.
AND ACTUALLY ENDED UP SUMMERING
TOGETHER AT THE SAME LAKE NORTH
OF PRINCE ALBERT.
AT THE TIME JOHNNY WASN'T
FAMOUS.
JOHNNY WAS IN THE MINOR LEAGUE.
HE WAS WELL INTO HIS OWN
LEGENDARY CAREER.
BUT THEY WERE VERY LIKE-MINDED
PEOPLE.
THEY GOT ALONG VERY WELL.
I THINK IT'S PROBABLY TO DO WITH
THEIR ROOTS.
IT ALSO HAD TO DO WITH JUST
THEIR PERSONALITIES.
THEY WERE BOTH VERY HUMBLE MEN
WHO CHERISHED LOYALTY.
AND THE TWO OF THEM JUST HAD
THIS SORT OF INCREDIBLE
FRIENDSHIP THAT WAS REALLY
UNIQUE TO SEE.
AFTER THE GAME, GORDIE COMES
OVER AND PUTS HIS ARM AROUND
JOHNNY AND THEY DO THIS
INTERVIEW TOGETHER, WHICH KIND
OF BECOMES THIS CLASSIC MOMENT.

Steve says THEY DO AN INTERVIEW
LIVE AFTER THE GAME TOGETHER.
THAT NEVER HAPPENS.

Dan says AFTER LOSING THE STANLEY CUP.

Steve says IT'S REALLY A
DELIGHTFUL, AMAZING MOMENT.
LET'S TALK ABOUT ANOTHER GREAT
GOALIE HERE BECAUSE OF COURSE
LATER IN THE '60s, TERRY
SAWCHUK COMES TO TORONTO AND THE
TWO OF THEM WIN A VEZINA TROPHY
AS THE BEST TANDEM TOGETHER.
IN 1967, OF COURSE, THEY WIN THE
STANLEY CUP TOGETHER, THE FOURTH
STANLEY CUP FOR THE LEAFS IN THE '60s.

A black and white picture shows Bower and another young man sitting on a bench in a locker room, with an arm wrapped around each other, smiling.

Steve continues JOHNNY BOWER IS MAKING 11,000 dollars A
YEAR AS ONE OF THE BEST GOALIES
IN THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE.
SHELDON, BRING UP THIS PICTURE,
IF WE CAN.
LOOK AT THOSE TWO GUYS TOGETHER.
THEY WERE THE TEAM THAT BROUGHT
THE LEAFS THEIR LAST STANLEY CUP
52 YEARS AGO, NEED I REMIND EVERYBODY.
WHAT WAS THEIR RELATIONSHIP LIKE?

The caption changes to "Stanley Cup champ."

Dan says IT'S INTERESTING.
YOU PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE TWO
DIFFERENT CHARACTERS IN SORT OF
HOCKEY LORE.
TERRY SAWCHUK WAS FAMOUSLY
JOHNNY OBVIOUSLY BEING THIS
ALWAYS GREGARIOUS GUY THAT
EVERYONE LOVED, THE TWO OF THEM
WERE QUITE DIFFERENT, EVEN IN
PRACTICE AND THE WAY THEY PLAYED
THE GAME, TERRY WOULD SKATE OFF
THE ICE, HE DIDN'T WANT TO
PRACTISE, AND JOHNNY WOULD BE
THERE TO THE VERY END.
THEY BECAME GOOD FRIENDS,
ACTUALLY.
IT WAS TOUGH FOR BOTH OF THEM
BEING PREVIOUS VEZINA WINNERS IN
THE NHL AND BE TOGETHER AS A
TANDEM.
IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THEY WERE
DOING THIS.
BECAUSE OF THEIR AGE AND BECAUSE
OF SORT OF WHAT THEY NEEDED TO
DO TO GET THROUGH A SEASON, THE
LEAFS, PUNCH IMLACH, THOUGHT IT
WAS A GOOD IDEA TO PUT THEM TOGETHER.
THEY ENDED UP GREAT BUDDIES.
THAT IS A UNIQUE STORY IN HOCKEY.

Steve says LET'S BRING UP ONE
MORE PICTURE.
IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE.
HERE'S THE STANLEY CUP WITH THE
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, THE LAST
TIME THEY WON IT, AND JOHNNY
BOWER, 42 YEARS OLD, GETS TO
HOIST THE STANLEY CUP THERE.
BUT IT DOES COME AT A PRICE.
HE IS REALLY BEATEN UP IN THIS SERIES.

In a black and white picture, elated Maple Leafs players celebrate by pouring a fizzy drink into the Stanley Cup.

Steve continues AND HERE'S WHAT YOU SAY IN THE BOOK...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "If he was a horse..." The quote reads "'If Johnny Bower returns in this series, the Toronto club's staff of physicians will be a sure-pop cinch to win the 1967 Nobel Prize for medicine,' wrote the Globe and Mail's Jim Coleman. 'Observing Bower's limp, I can tell you what would happen to him if he was a horse on a well-supervised track. The track vet would issue orders to have Bower humanely destroyed."
Quoted from Dan Robson, "Bower." 2018.

Steve says HE DID MANAGE
SOMEHOW... I DON'T KNOW HOW...
TO LAST ANOTHER FEW YEARS.
HE PLAYED UNTIL HE WAS 45, EH?
DID HE WANT TO RETIRE AT 45?

Dan says I DON'T THINK JOHNNY EVER
WANTED TO RETIRE.
I THINK THE REALITY OF JOHNNY
WAS THAT, IN A WAY, HIS...
PERHAPS EVEN HIS ATTEMPTS TO
NEVER REALLY DISCUSS HIS AGE WAS
THAT HE WANTED TO GO AS LONG AS
HE POSSIBLY COULD IN THIS DREAM
THAT HE HAD SOMEHOW MANAGED TO
ACHIEVE, AND JOHNNY, BASICALLY
HIS EYESIGHT WAS FAILING, HIS
BODY WAS NOT WHAT IT WAS.
BUT HE WAS 45 YEARS OLD.
I MEAN, IT WAS EXCEPTIONAL JUST
TO THINK ABOUT WHAT HE DID IN
THE NHL FROM WHEN HE STARTED IN
HIS EARLY 30s TO MID 40s...

The caption changes to "A post-hockey life."

Steve says LET'S REMEMBER,
THERE'S NO MODERN TRAINING
TECHNIQUES OR NUTRITION, NONE OF
THE STUFF THAT KEEPS GUYS
PLAYING LONGER TODAY 50 YEARS AGO.
AND YET LOOK AT HIM.

Dan says LOOK AT THE WOUNDS HE
SUSTAINED ON HIS FACE.
IT'S A MIRACLE IN ITSELF THAT
JOHNNY GOT TO THAT POINT.
JOHNNY HIMSELF WOULDN'T WANT TO
STOP PLAYING.
THE DAY HE RETIRED HE WAS BACK
ON THE ICE PRACTISING WITH THE
LEAFS BECAUSE HE SIGNED ON AND
WAS BASICALLY WITH THE LEAFS
UNTIL HE WAS OFFICIALLY AT
RETIREMENT AGE AT 65, HE HAD AN
OFFICE WITH THE LEAFS.
HE WAS IN VARIOUS POSITIONS AS A
SCOUT, ASSISTANT COACH LATER ON.
I THINK AS ANYBODY FOLLOWING THE
LEAFS OF LATE KNOWS THAT JOHNNY
STAYED WITH THE TEAM BASICALLY
UNTIL HE DIED.

Steve says LET'S SHOW THE NEXT PICTURE.
THIS REALLY DESCRIBES IT.
I THINK THE PEOPLE THAT KNOW
MORE RECENTLY JOHNNY BOWER
RECOGNIZE THAT GUY.

A colour picture shows Bower in his seventies, bald and with a deep scar across the side of his head.

Steve continues THIS IS A GUY WHO WE SHOULD SAY,
1976, HE MAKES THE HALL OF FAME.
FOR THE NEXT FOUR DECADES, HE
BECOMES THE MOST BELOVED LEAF
EVER.
HE'S SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS, DOING
CHARITABLE EVENTS, AND DOING
THIS WELL INTO HIS 90s, DAN.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "A legendary life."

Dan says THAT'S WHY I THINK JOHNNY IS
SO SPECIAL.
HE NEVER STOPPED BEING GRATEFUL
FOR WHAT THE GAME HAD GIVEN HIM.
I THINK THAT ALWAYS WENT BACK TO
HIS VERY HUMBLE ROOTS IN
SASKATCHEWAN.
HE AT BEST HOPED TO WORK FOR THE
RAILROAD.
HE DIDN'T EVEN REALLY DREAM OF
BEING IN THE NHL BECAUSE THAT
DREAM WAS WAY BEYOND SOMETHING
THAT HE COULD HAVE IMAGINED.
WHEN HE WAS ABLE TO ACHIEVE IT,
I THINK JOHNNY WAS CONSTANTLY
GRATEFUL.
IT WASN'T THAT HE NEEDED THE
SPOTLIGHT OR THAT HE, YOU KNOW,
HE WAS, YOU KNOW, ARROGANT OR
PROUD, IT WAS THAT HE LOVED TO
MEET NEW FANS AND TO TALK TO
FANS AND BE THERE.
YOU KNOW, WHEN HE'S IN AN ARENA
LIKE THAT WITH THAT BEAUTIFUL
PHOTO WHEN HE'S ADDRESSING THE
CROWD, IT'S A VERY MOVING PHOTO,
AND I THINK THAT IT CAPTURES
SORT OF THIS GRATITUDE, NOT JUST
WHAT THE FANS WERE GIVING TO HIM
BUT WHAT HE WAS GIVING TO THE FANS.

Steve says THE LOVE ON HIS FACE
IN THAT PICTURE IS JUST
TREMENDOUS.
AS WE SAID AT THE OUTSET, TWO
YEARS AGO BOXING DAY, HE DIED.
WHAT DID HE DIE OF?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Dan says OF PNEUMONIA, IN THE END.
HE SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS RIGHT UP TO
TWO WEEKS BEFORE.
THIS IS A MAN WHO JUST TURNED 93
YEARS OLD AND HE WAS SITTING
THERE GRACIOUSLY TAKING
PHOTOGRAPHS, SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS,
AND ENGAGING WITH THE PEOPLE WHO
LOVED HIM.

Steve says THEY HAD A FANTASTIC
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR HIM AT I
GUESS WHAT IS NOW THE SCOTIABANK
ARENA.
WAS IT CALLED THAT BACK THEN?
MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE AIR CANADA
CENTRE BACK THEN.
I CAN'T REMEMBER.
DID YOU GO TO THAT?

Dan says I WASN'T ACTUALLY AT THAT.
IT WAS THE HOLIDAYS AND SORT OF
I WAS AWAY.
I REMEMBER WATCHING THE
HIGHLIGHTS OF IT, THOUGH.
AND ON MY WALL, I HAVE A PICTURE
THAT I RECEIVED WHEN I WAS A KID
OF JOHNNY BOWER FROM MY AUNT AND
HE SIGNED IT "TO DANNY," WHAT I
WAS CALLED WHEN I WAS A KID.
I WAS A GOALIE AND DREAMED OF
PLAYING IN THE NHL AND HE HAD
SIGNED IT TO ME.
AND I REMEMBER WATCHING THE
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MEMORIAL AND
THEN SORT OF LOOKING AT THAT
PAINTING AND JUST THINKING
ABOUT, LIKE, WHY WAS IT THAT I
EVEN CARED ABOUT SOMEBODY THAT I
NEVER SAW PLAY.
I KNEW ONLY OF HIM THROUGH THE
LEGEND THAT HE WAS.
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S WHAT
GRIPPED ME, WAS SEEING THAT
CONNECTION THAT SOMEBODY YEARS
AFTER, DECADES AFTER THEY
PLAYED, COULD STILL HAVE THAT
KIND OF A HOLD ON A FAN BASE AND
ON A GAME.
I THINK IT WAS UNIQUELY SPECIAL.

Steve says FIRST GAME I EVER
WENT TO IN THE NHL,
DECEMBER 1966, JOHNNY BOWER
SHUTS OUT THE BOSTON BRUINS 3-0.
I REMEMBER IT LIKE IT WAS
YESTERDAY.
THIS STUFF YOU DON'T FORGET.
WHERE'S HE BURIED?

Dan says SO HE'S BURIED IN MISSISSAUGA
NEAR HIS HOME WHERE HE AND NANCY
LIVED TOGETHER, A VERY SORT OF
NORMAL SUBURBAN HOME NEXT TO
JOHNNY BOWER PARK WHERE HE USED
TO GO AND PICK UP GARBAGE
BECAUSE HE WAS SO HONOURED THAT
THEY NAMED IT AFTER HIM THAT HE
TOOK CARE OF IT LIKE IT WAS HIS
OWN HOUSE, WHERE HE FED THE
BIRDS AND WOULD FEED THE DOGS
THAT WOULD WALK BY.
HE'S CLOSE TO THERE.
HE WAS CREMATED IN HIS... YOU
KNOW, IN A WALL, CELEBRATING ALL
KINDS OF LIVES, ALL KINDS OF
VERY IMPORTANT LIVES, BUT LIVES
THAT ARE MUCH LESS FAMOUS AND
HE'S JUST ONE OF THE MANY.

Steve says WHAT'S ON HIS HEADSTONE?

Dan says ON HIS HEADSTONE IS HIS NAME.
THERE ARE NO DATES.

Steve says NO DATES, NO LIST OF
ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
THAT'S HIM.
SO MODEST.

Dan says JUST THE NAME.
I THINK IT ENCAPSULATES WHAT HE IS.
IT'S HARD TO TAKE A PERIOD OF
TIME WITH JOHNNY BOWER AND SAY
THIS IS WHAT JOHNNY MEANT AND
THIS IS THE TIME THAT HIS LIFE
EXISTED.
I THINK BECAUSE OF THIS SORT OF
AGE MYTH THAT SORT OF SURROUNDED
HIM, ON TOP OF ALL THAT, HE ENDS
UP BEING TIMELESS.

Steve says AS CRAZY AS IT IS TO
SAY, I THOUGHT HE'D NEVER DIE.
I THOUGHT HE'D GO ON AND ON AND ON.

Dan says IT WAS SO SHOCKING WHEN HE
DID DIE.
WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT, HE WAS
93 YEARS OLD AND I THINK MOST
PEOPLE... THEY MIGHT HAVE
THOUGHT ABOUT THAT BUT THEY
DIDN'T THINK ABOUT THE REALITY
OF THAT.
HE FELT IMMORTAL.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin."

Steve says I'M SO GLAD YOU PUT
HIS STORY ON PAGES SO WE KNOW IT
SO MUCH BETTER.
"BOWER: A LEGENDARY LIFE."
BOY WAS IT EVER. DAN ROBSON.
THANKS SO MUCH, DAN.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Dan says THANK YOU.

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