Armstrong’s son has vivid memories of Maple Leafs’ last championship in 1967

By Sam Laskaris Writer Most Toronto Maple Leafs’ supporters do not need a reminder how long the franchise Stanley Cup drought has lasted. Many of the team’s faithful fans are aware that it was way back in 1967 that the Maple Leafs last won the Cup. What is likely less well known, however, especially for younger fans of the National Hockey League squad, is that there was an Indigenous connection during Toronto’s last championship, 55 years ago. That’s because George Armstrong, nicknamed Chief, was the Maple Leafs’ captain at the time. Armstrong had Indigenous ancestry through his mother, an Algonquin who had family roots with Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. Armstrong died in January of 2021 at the age of 90. And his wife Betty passed away in Toronto this past week. One individual, however, who still has vivid memories of the Leafs’ 1967 championship is Armstrong’s son Brian, who is now 68 and lives in Peterborough. “We always thought the Leafs would win again,” said Brian Armstrong, whose father was a member of four Stanley Cup winning squads in Toronto. “And he never thought it would be the last time they would win for a long time.” Brian Armstrong recalls being at the 1967 series-clinching Game 6 in Toronto with his mother. And though they were not sitting together, he remembers his grandparents were also at the match. With the Leafs holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and up 2-1 in that game with just over a minute remaining, Armstrong said his grandfather told him to join him as he was going to attempt to get onto the ice for the potential Cup celebrations. Since they were making their way down to ice level, Armstrong said he missed a key part of the game. But he remembers the commotion and hearing an usher yelling George Armstrong had scored and that the Leafs were going to win the Cup. “I was at the game but I never got to see my dad score that empty-net goal,” Armstrong said. But he did manage to get onto the ice to take part in the victory celebrations. A keepsake from that evening is a picture of his father and himself lifting up the Cup on the ice. George Armstrong also autographed the photo. It was certainly a different era when the Leafs, who were one of six entrants in the NHL, last won a league championship. Brian Armstrong believes this partly explains why the Toronto squad has not won since. “There’s more teams in the league now,” he said, alluding to the fact the NHL has expanded and now features 32 clubs. “And you have to have a bit of luck too. They’ve had some decent teams but they just haven’t made it through.” The Maple Leafs are considered one of the NHL’s better teams in the 2022-23 campaign. Though Armstrong knows the squad has its share of talented players, he doesn’t believe they have what it takes right now to end the franchise’s Stanley Cup drought. “I wish I could say that they’re going to win this season,” he said. “But I think they need more grit and more sandpaper in their lineup.”

By Sam Laskaris Writer Most Toronto Maple Leafs’ supporters do not need a reminder how long the franchise Stanley Cup drought has lasted. Many of the team’s faithful fans are aware that it was way back in 1967 that the Maple Leafs last won the Cup. What is likely less well known, however, especially for younger fans of the National Hockey League squad, is that there was an Indigenous connection during Toronto’s last championship, 55 years ago. That’s because George Armstrong, nicknamed Chief, was the Maple Leafs’ captain at the time. Armstrong had Indigenous ancestry through his mother, an Algonquin who had family roots with Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation. Armstrong died in January of 2021 at the age of 90. And his wife Betty passed away in Toronto this…

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