Howie Meeker, a four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Toronto Maple Leafs who was known by later generations of fans as an analyst on “Hockey Night in Canada,” died Sunday. He was 97.
The forward from Kitchener, Ontario, was the last living member of Toronto’s Cup-winning teams from 1947-49 and 1951. He played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1947, 1948 and 1949.
Meeker joined the Maple Leafs in 1946-47 and was voted winner of the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year after scoring 45 points (27 goals, 18 assists) in 55 games. Five of his goals came in one game against the Chicago Black Hawks at Maple Leaf Gardens on Jan. 8, 1947, setting a single-game NHL record for rookies. He scored three goals and six points in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games, helping the Maple Leafs win their first of three consecutive championships — the first team in NHL history to do so.
Though Meeker never came close to producing offensively like he did as a rookie, he was a valuable member of Toronto’s championship teams in 1948, 1949 (though he missed the playoffs with a broken collarbone) and 1951. He retired from the NHL after the 1953-54 season with 185 points (83 goals, 102 assists) in 346 regular-season games and 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 42 playoff games, though he continued to play with senior teams in Canada until the late 1960s.
Meeker coached the Maple Leafs in 1956-57, when they finished 21-34 with 15 ties and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Beginning in the 1970s, a new generation of hockey fans came to know Meeker through his work on TV, most notably on “Hockey Night in Canada.” He was one of the first analysts to use a telestrator, and his catchphrase, “Stop it right here,” became a trademark. He was the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner in 1998 for excellence in hockey broadcasting and was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010.
Meeker was involved with Special Olympics for nearly 50 years, launching Special Olympics Canada after being invited to participate by former NHL referee Harry “Red” Foster. He also lent his name and support to the Howie Meeker Charity Golf Classic, hosting the fundraising event until 2018.