TLN’S ALL-TIME GREATEST LEAFS TEAM: RED HORNER

Despite what his nickname suggests, Red Horner was 100% a Blue and White man at heart. A product of the Toronto Marlboros junior hockey club, Horner never played for a team outside of the Toronto area his entire career. Born in Lynden, (just outside of Hamilton), Horner was a 1930s version of a hometown hero and elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965. (Despite this, his number is not among those honoured at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs are funny sometimes.)

In an era where teams typically carried just two pairs of defencemen, Red Horner was arguably the Leafs #3 behind King Clancy and Hap Day for much of his career. However, he was quite the player in his own right.

Career statistics


Horner’s offensive totals won’t blow you away, but a career average of 0.31 points per game isn’t too shabby either. However, it’s likely another standard statistical category that’ll likely stand out: his 2.56 penalty minutes per game. To put it bluntly, Red Horner was a nasty MF who didn’t play by the rules. He led the league in penalty minutes his last eight seasons in the NHL. (I’m not really sure how this helped the team win, but he did get into a share number of fights and was supposedly renowned for his toughness.)

Most Memorable Moments

Via Sportsnet.ca:

While Dec. 12, 1933, at Boston Garden will forever be remembered as the night Boston’s Eddie Shore ended Ace Bailey’s career, Horner was front and centre. He had been pounding the Bruins’ leader with punishing bodychecks all night. Frustrated at one point in the second period after getting drilled, Shore mistook Bailey for Horner on his way back up the ice and violently upended the Leafs forward, slamming his head on the ice. (Emergency brain surgery would save his life, but Bailey would never play hockey again.) While trainers, doctors and players tended to an unconscious Bailey in the Leafs’ end of the rink, Horner skated up to Shore, informed him that this behaviour would not be tolerated, and promptly laid him out with a single punch.

Horner’s cup win in 1932 was memorable, but not as unique as the time he was forced into net after a Lorne Chabot penalty. (In those days, goalies were required to go to the penalty box for their infractions).

Legacy

Horner reitred at 31 after a pair of seasons as Leafs captain. Horner lived until age 95 and was both the oldest NHL player alive and the last surviving member of the 1932 Stanley Cup Champion team at the time of his death. Horner was very business-savvy and saw himself involved in the Coal industry for much of his post-hockey career.

Had Horner played in the modern era, he may not have been as succesful, but in his time, Red was royalty. 

To another famous Red who played for the Leafs, he was also a childhood hero. Mr. Kelly recalled to Mike Ulmer in 2006: 

“I had always dreamt of playing for the Maple Leafs. I remember, when I was a kid, Red Horner and Charlie Conacher came to the Simcoe fair. There were in a white convertible. I remember I shook Red Horner’s hand. I didn’t wash that hand for a week.”