TLN’s All-Time Greatest Maple Leafs Team: Tim Horton

Tim Horton is easily one of the most recognizable names in Maple Leafs history. It helps of course that his name is plastered on giant signs at 4,500+ coffee shops worldwide, but still pretty impressive nonetheless.

Just a heads up… There’s going to be a few coffee jokes in here. Deal with it.

Horton was born in Cochrane, Ontario in 1930, playing hockey in his hometown and in nearby Timmins. In his late teens, he was discovered and signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Horton would move to the big city and continue his development at St. Michael’s College with the OHA Majors. Graduating to professional hockey in 1949, Horton spent three seasons in the American Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Hornets before breaking in with the Leafs full-time in 1952. Horton would remain with the organization until 1970.

Career Statistics

Horton was one the game’s best stay-at-home defencemen, back when such players were actually useful. Standing just 5’10 and weight only 180lbs, Horton was known for his toughness and for hitting like a truck full of coffee cans (filled). And while such style of play doesn’t usually lend itself to big point totals, Horton still ranks 14th all-time in scoring amongst Leafs players – and third amongst all Leafs blueliners – with 518 points.

More impressive than his points totals though (and a big reason why he scored as much as he did), is that Horton appeared in an incredible 1,184 games for Toronto. That’s just four games short of George Armstrong for most games played in a Leafs jersey. Some might disagree, but in my opinion the longevity of a player, and for how long he suited up for his organization, plays a pretty significant factor in making an All-Time team. 

Most Memorable Moment(s)

Horton won the Stanley Cup four times with Toronto, in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. There really isn’t much more to be said about that.

Also, speaking of Horton being crazy tough…

Leafs Milestones

  • 2nd in Games Played as a Toronto Maple Leaf (1,184)
  • 14th in Points as a Toronto Maple Leaf (458)
  • 4th in Penalty Minutes as a Toronto Maple Leaf (1389)
  • 1st in Fresh Pots per 20 (FP20)

Legacy

  • SEER

    Tim Horton was truly one of the great leaf defencemen who help anchor the top pairing as he worked perfectly with big Alan Stanley. These two were given the assighment of shutting down Beliveau, Howe, Hull, Bathgate etc.

    He had one of the hardest shots in the league and was very accurate with that shot. Goalies tended to fear when he would wind up at the point.

    Imlach even used him up on right wing for half a season as the club decided to take advantage of his shot.

    He was pound for pound the strongest player in the game as has been testified by his opponents. He wasn’t much of a fighter but would simply get you in a bear hug and squeeze the opposing player.

    There is a famous story in which he got into a wrestling match with Chicago’s Phil Esposito in the 1967 playoffs. It was the crucial game of the series and somehow Esposito’s pants got torn in the tussle and he had to go to the dressing room for repairs. He missed about 10 minutes of the action.

    Horton did a masterful job on Esposito in that series as the Hawks were favoured to win the round. Chicago management were disappointed with the play of Esposito and shipped off to Boston in the off season. Which proved to be one of the worst trades Chicago has ever made.

    He was a true quiet leader on the team as he had tremendous respect from his teammates but also his opponents.

    He ended his career with Buffalo and sadly was killed after playing a game in Toronto. On his return trip home he was doing over 100 miles an hour when he lost control of the car. With no seat belt he was ejected over 100 feet and died instantly. The medical report showed an alcohol level of double the limit along with a couple of medications.

    One has to remember players were paid peanuts in those days and most had an off season job. Tim opened up Tim Hortons donuts and the business started to take off. His partner Ron Joyce bought out his wife for $1 million and well the rest is history.

    What I’ll remember most about the late great Tim Horton was that he was a money player. He was a playoff performer who helped the leafs win 4 stanley cups in the 1960’s. Truly one of my all time favorite leaf players.